Posted in C-Haze, Missing, Missouri, True Crime

The Disappearance of Bianca Noel Piper

Bianca Noel Piper was 13 years old when she went missing from Foley, MO in March of 2005. Bianca was a troubled child, and suffered from ADD, as well as bi-polar disorder.

Some say Bianca had the mentality of a six or seven year old. Others claim that isn’t true, that she was an average teenager, albeit with some behavioral issues.

On March 10, 2005, Bianca and her mother, Shannon Tanner, got into an argument about Bianca doing the dishes. Shannon had been instructed by a mental health professional to drop Bianca some distance from their home to let her walk back when her temper became a problem. The hope was that this would give Bianca some time to cool off. In fact, Bianca had requested this treatment the previous day when she was out of sorts, and it had worked quite well.

Frustrated with her daughter’s temper, Shannon drove Bianca about a mile away from their home, and dropped her off around 6 PM with a flashlight and instructions to walk home.

She never made it.

By 8 PM, Shannon was panic-stricken, and by 8:20 had reported her daughter missing.

The road Shannon dropped her daughter off on is not well-traveled, and it isn’t likely someone who isn’t local to the area would have known about it. Besides, what are the odds that a predator happened to be sitting on that lonely stretch at the exact moment Bianca was dropped off there? Not very high.

Next, there’s Bianca’s physical size. At 13 years old, she was already 5’6″, and weighed approximately 185 lbs. She was large for an adult, let alone a child, and likely would have been mistaken as grown by any passersby in the dark.

Some speculated that perhaps Shannon Tanner had a hand in her daughter’s disappearance. If not her, then perhaps her live-in boyfriend, Jim Felt. These suspicions heightened to a near-frenzy when, mere months after Bianca vanished, Shannon was charged with the assault of another daughter, allegedly hitting her repeatedly with a curling iron and punching her in the head. According to police reports, Shannon threatened to tie her daughter up and lock her in her bedroom.

Then there were the domestic disputes between Jim and Shannon…

… It couldn’t all be coincidental…

Or could it?

Apparently, the answer is yes, it can be. Local law enforcement has stated neither Shannon nor Jim are suspects in Bianca’s disappearance. Both were investigated fully, and both have passed lie detector tests.

In 2007, two years after Bianca vanished, investigators announced they were looking to find any possible links between this case and the Shawn Hornbeck/Ben Ownby cases. Shawn Hornbeck had been kidnapped in 2002 in Richwoods, MO by Michael Devlin, and held captive in Kirkwood (a suburb of St. Louis) for five years. Devlin, likely growing tired of Shawn, later kidnapped Ben Ownby. Both boys were found, and were saved.

Unsurprisingly, no link was ever established between the cases. Devlin pretty clearly preferred young(ish) boys, and Bianca simply did not fit that mold.

The case of Bianca Piper’s disappearance grew cold.

Shannon moved from her home in Foley, MO, where for years she had kept Bianca’s room exactly as she’d left it, hoping she’d return. She split from Jim Felt, and life went on, though her daughter’s disappearance was never far from her mind.

Locals never forgot, but their lives, too, had to move on.

The case again made headlines in 2014, when one of Bianca’s sisters was charged with promoting prostitution. The woman, Tiffany Piper, admitted to trafficking two high school age girls for sex, and received an eight year sentence for her crimes. Tragically, it was learned Tiffany herself had been a victim of sex trafficking. It appeared to be a case in which the victim becomes the perpetrator.

The family of Shannon Tanner, and Ms. Tanner herself, appear to have lived lives that were anything but charmed. Criminal histories abound, but through their presence in both mainstream and social media, it’s clear one thought remains forefront in their minds:

Where is Bianca Noel Piper?

Posted in abduction, Abigail Hernandez, C-Haze, Missing, Mystery, News, North Conway, True Crime

Where is Abigail Hernandez?

abby vigilAbigail Hernandez was last seen three days before her 15th birthday in North Conway, NH. She was reported missing by her mother on October 9, 2013.

Not much is known about what happened to Abby, and the few facts available in the case are strange and at times contradictory.

We know for sure Abby went to school on the day of her disappearance. The last confirmed sighting of Abby is on her school’s surveillance camera, which shows her walking through the hallway. She had a backpack with her and an iPhone in her hand. She was alone.

A friend claims to have seen Abby walking home from school at about 2:30 that afternoon, and no one reports seeing anything suspicious. Abby was texting for about a half hour after this last sighting, with her last text, a heart symbol, being sent to her boyfriend a little after 3:00 PM.

By all accounts, Abby’s mother reported her missing on the evening of October 9, 2013, as soon as she got home from work. Some fine it strange, how quickly law enforcement reacted, immediately calling in state police, the FBI and the Secret Service for assistance with the investigation. There was no talk of a possible run away. Abby’s home was quickly sealed off, and was treated as a crime scene, though police said repeatedly they had no evidence a crime had been committed.

A massive search was launched, and through daily press briefings, law enforcement and the state’s attorney’s office would give daily “updates” about the case. Very little by way of information was released during these gatherings, but still, they continued.

Law enforcement set up roadblocks as part of their search effort, stopping cars along the route Abby is believed to have taken home on the afternoon of October 9. This was a busy time of year in North Conway, as many tourists were in the area to view the fall foliage. This area is an annual tourist attraction due to its unrivaled scenery and quaint lodges. It’s believed investigators pulled surveillance footage from neighboring businesses, though it’s unknown if Abigail was seen in any of the videos.

The woods were searched extensively, with human remains, unrelated to Abby’s case, having been found as a result.

Initially, investigators stated they believed Abby had made it home on the afternoon she went missing. This, they claimed, was based on the work of K-9s, who were able to follow Abby’s scent to her home. It was never determined whether there was any other evidence to support this belief. More recently, authorities have said they do not know if she made it home or not.

It was said early on that Abby was believed to have walked her “normal” route home. Later, however, Abby’s mother told the media that her daughter did not typically walk home, and that she was supposed to have ridden the bus on the day she vanished.

Days into the investigation, a report emerged that Abby had made a call on the evening she vanished, at around 6:30 PM. This call was said to have pinged off a nearby cell tower on Cranmore Moutain, a popular ski and tourist area a few miles away. During a press conference with law enforcement and the state’s attorney present, a member of the media asked one of the Fish and Game officers if that report was true. The officer confirmed the legitimacy of the report, and agreed that a call was made from Abby’s phone the evening she went missing, at around 6:30 PM.

Afterwards, however, investigators directly contradicted that report, and said publicly it was not true.

Police have asked people to be on the lookout for Abigail’s missing cell phone, an iPhone with a pink and gray case. Strangely, while Abby is also seen in the surveillance footage at her school carrying her backpack, and investigators claim to have no idea if she made it home that day or not, there has been no public plea to look for her bag, or a description of what it looks like. This, despite the fact that the surveillance at her school is reportedly the last confirmed sighting of her.

Has her bag already been located? Was it found at her home on the night she went missing, perhaps?

Law enforcement has always stated they do not know whether or not Abby was abducted, or whether she vanished on her own. Despite the massive police presence, and immediate involvement of multiple investigating agencies, it remains  a “missing person’s” case.

While refusing to publicly discuss Abby’s father, he has been ruled out as a suspect, along with her mother and older sister. Abigail’s boyfriend is not considered a suspect either, and the same holds true for her boyfriend’s father, who also shared a close relationship with the teen.

Many have said they believe investigators have much more information than they have released publicly. Others think law enforcement has no idea what happened to Abigail, and are simply trying to be as thorough as possible.

There has been speculation that Abigail’s mother, Zenya Hernandez, believes her daughter ran away, based on the statements she’s made asking anyone who noticed any changes in Abby’s behavior in the days leading up to her disappearance to contact authorities. She has addressed her daughter directly during press conferences, but has made no mention of an abductor, or anyone who may have taken her.

Rumors run rampant, with some even wondering aloud if Abby’s father is somehow involved in the military, or law enforcement, prompting the quick response from so many different investigative agencies. For weeks after she went missing, law enforcement refused to answer any questions about him, and would not identify him. He was not present at any press conferences.

Eventually, however, he wrote his daughter a public letter, pleading with her to let everyone know she is safe. He asked that she post her favorite bible verse so that he would know it was her reaching out, and not an impostor or her abductor.

The area is no stranger to tragedy. In recent years, the region has mourned the disappearances and  subsequent murders of Celina Cass and Krista Dittmeyer. Krista’s murderers were quickly caught, while Celina’s case remains unsolved. All three cases have been handled by the same state’s attorney, with some speculation that this fact explains the extreme and immediate response and involvement of law enforcement when Abby was reported missing.

Since she disappeared, Abigail Hernandez has turned 15 years old. She has missed Thanksgiving, and her family needs to know where she is, and what happened to their beloved daughter.

Posted in News, True Crime

Mother issues public appeal for return of missing Medfield girl

MEDFIELD–Fighting back tears, the mother of a missing Medfield teenager offered a plea to the unidentified man who left the local library with her daughter Monday afternoon.

Brittany Thompson was last seen leaving the Medfield Public Library at 4:25 p.m. Monday.

“Whoever you are, could you please just bring her home to us today?” said Maureen Thompson, the mother of 17-year-old Brittany Thompson, during a news conference at the town police station. “I want her to sleep in her own bed tonight.”

More…

 

Related Articles:

State Police Search for Missing Medfield Teen Who May Be in Danger

Brittany Thompson Missing: Police search for Mass. teen last seen with man she may have met online

Parents of missing Medfield teen make plea for her return

 

Posted in abduction, Busch Wildlife, Missing, St. Louis, True Crime, Unsolved

Who Killed Angie Housman?

In the St. Louis area, there is a child’s name that      everyone knows. When the name is mentioned, it  send shivers down the listener’s spine:

 Angie Housman

In 1993, Angie Housman was a fourth grader who  lived in St. Ann, a quiet suburb just outside of St.  Louis, MO. She was a trusting little girl, a child who  was unusually friendly.

“…Angie would meet you two or three times and you were her friend… she’d go up to people and say, `Hi. My name is Angie. Are you my friend?’ She was looking for attention.”

It was a cool November afternoon when Angie disappeared. She was at school that day, and the only episode of interest is that she told her teacher she was looking forward to a trip to the country with an “uncle”, scheduled for the following day. Angie was later seen on the school bus that afternoon, and she exited the bus at her normal bus stop. She had to walk past eight houses before making it to her own doorstep.

She never made it home.

It was a simple- yet terrible- coincidence that no one saw her walking from her bus stop that day. Usually, at least two people would have seen her: a woman that normally watches out her front window, and another lady who stands on her front porch as the bus drives by. Neither were present that fateful afternoon, and consequently, no one saw a thing. She had simply vanished, without a trace.

Angie was missing for nine days before her body was found in the Busch Wildlife Conservation area in Saint Charles County, a remote area near St. Louis. She was found by a deer hunter, and had been tied to a tree. She was alive when left there, and had died slowly of exposure. A small pile of ice chips had formed over her body.

It was later revealed that her abductor had kept her alive a full week, torturing and raping her, before taping her to the tree, abandoning her to die.

Law enforcement officials state they do have evidence in the case. They have the killer’s fingerprint from duct tape found at the crime scene, and they likely have his DNA. Still, almost 20 years later, no arrests have been made, no suspects announced. A sketch was issued years ago, depicting a bearded man in a long coat, thought to have been seen in the area of Angie’s disappearance two days prior to her abduction, but nothing ever came of that account. In addition, no one has ever identified the mysterious “uncle” Angie told her teacher about, and no member of the family had plans to take the child anywhere at the time of her disappearance.

Marking the longest-standing unsolved case in St. Louis’ Major Crimes history, no stone has been left unturned. Angie’s step-father was carefully investigated, as were countless others. Over the years attempts have been made to link Angie’s death to such characters as Michael Devlin (the kidnapper of Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Owenby), John Wayne Parsons (an admitted child molester from Florida who spent time abusing at least one child in Missouri), Gary Stufflebean (a local child molester, charged with attempted kidnapping in another St. Louis-area case) and many, many others.

Law enforcement has looked into whether other cases could be related to Angie’s- for a time a link was sought between this case and that of Cassidy Senter, another St. Louis-area child who was abducted and murdered in the same timeframe, from the same area, as Angie’s disappearance. Cassidy’s case, however, has since been solved, and authorities do not believe the two are connected. Since that time, other children have disappeared, girls murdered. Locals will remember the still-unsolved disappearance of Bianca Noel Piper (missing since March 2005), and the unsolved murder of 12 year old Heather Kullorn in 1999. While nothing is certain, authorities do not believe the cases are linked.

Almost 20 years later, the question still remains:

Who killed Angie Housman?

Posted in Missing, True Crime

The Mystery of Brittany Renee Williams

image

Born in Richmond, VA in March of 1993, Brittany Renee Williams had a difficult start. Her mother, Rose Marie Thompson, was diagnosed with AIDS while pregnant with Brittany, and passed the virus to her unborn baby girl.

Burdened with an illness that has no cure, both mother and daughter struggled; little Brittany bounced from foster home to foster home as Thomson tried, unsuccessfully, to get her life together.

In 1996, Rose Marie, close to death, gave guardianship of 3 year-old Brittany to Kim Parker. Parker was the founder of Rainbow Kids Inc., a charity that provided long-term care for children with AIDS. The charity is no longer in existence.

By all accounts, Kim Parker cared for little Brittany until sometime in 2000. In August of that year, Brittany was seen by a doctor. That same summer, Kim approached Brittany’s half-sister, an adult, and asked if she could take the child in and care for her. The older sister declined, as she was unable to provide the extensive medical treatment Brittany required. Parker then stated she would give the child to Linda Hodges and Kathie Evans, two Rainbow Kids Inc. volunteers.

No one has seen Brittany Williams since.

Sometime in 2003, authorities realized that Brittany had not been accounted for in over two years, despite the fact that Parker had been cashing the baby girl’s benefit check every month- using the money to renovate her house. Kim Parker told authorities that Brittany was in California with her charity’s ex-volunteers, Hodges and Evans.

She was not able to provide an address for the women.

Parker was soon placed under arrest, jailed for about three weeks for contempt of court, refusing to tell authorities where the child could be found.

All told, Ms. Parker accepted over $16,000 from government and charity organizations after Brittany disappeared, all under the pretense of caring for the sick little girl.

Police eventually located Linda Hodges and Kathy Evans, who were able to confirm what many had already feared: they had never had Brittany in their care, though both Hodges and a neighbor stated they had reported Kim Parker to Social Services on multiple occasions.

At this time, it is unclear why no action was ever taken.

Finally, in 2003, Kim was charged with more than 73 felonies- but was never charged in Brittany’s disappearance. The bulk of the charges were fraud-related, and Parker ultimately pleaded guilty in federal court to counts of mail and wire fraud. She was sentenced to eight years in prison, and received an additional two years for state charges of Medicaid fraud.

Later that year, authorities thoroughly searched Kim’s home, and drained her septic system in hopes of finding any evidence of what may have happened to little Brittany Williams. Nothing was ever found.

A possible link was even explored between the body of a decapitated little girl, found in 2001 in Kansas City, and Brittany Williams. It was later determined, in 2005 that the little girl, dubbed Precious Doe, was actually another missing child named Erica Michelle Maria Green. At three years old when she disappeared, Erica, like Brittany, had never been reported missing.

To-date, Brittany Renee Williams has never been located. No one has been charged in her disappearance, and due to her medical condition, it is not likely that she has survived all these years. Police confirm that after Kim Parker, no one ever used Brittany’s social security number or Medicaid benefits.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Henrico County Police Department.

Posted in Mystery, True Crime

The Cruel Hoax

How devastating to have a child go missing.

For Mike and Dorothy Sherrill, something that was already so horrifying it was unimaginable, actually got a lot worse.

In 1986, Mr. and Mrs. Sherrill were in the midst of a divorce. There little girl Shannon, 6, had just returned from her weekend visitation with her dad, Mike. Dorothy had moved into a trailer, a neighborhood that housed lots of other children, in addition to her own.

Though it was fall, that October day in 1986 was balmy, so Mrs. Sherrill had allowed Shannon to play outside with the other kids- including her two year old brother.

Barefoot, with a blue and white sundress on, Shannon was happy.

Throughout the afternoon, the kids played hide-and-seek, under the watchful eye of the neighborhood.

When it was time to come inside, however, little Shannon was nowhere to be found. Her young brother told their mother, Dorothy, that Shannon had gone “behind the trailer”. Mrs. Sherrill hurriedly looked there, but her daughter was gone.

The case was strange from the beginning- neighbors had been outside while the kids were playing- and many of them remembered seeing little Shannon amongst them. No one, however, can recall anything out of the ordinary… and no one seems to remember anyone in the area that did not belong there.

Immediately, Shannon was reported missing, and a massive search was launched. Hundreds of volunteers scoured the area, along with police, helicopters and bloodhounds. Before long, the searches got out of hand, with volunteers attempting to force their way into the homes of residents who didn’t answer their doors quickly enough.

The bloodhounds, it’s reported, tracked little Shannon’s scent to a field. Authorities even found tiny footprints, indentations that are believed to have been made by Shannon’s little feet. Accompanying those footprints were two separate adult prints- likely male- all of which led nowhere.

Shannon was never located, nor was any trace of what may have happened to her ever found. Days turned to months, and then years went by, all with no leads.

It was if she had simply vanished off the face of the earth, in the blink of an eye.

Mike Sherrill would give interviews on the anniversaries of his daughter’s disappearance, and would even reach out to psychics, who would tell him that Shannon was still alive.

Some people might say we’re grabbing at straws… but then, what else do we have?

Suddenly, in July of 2003, it seemed their prayers may have been answered.

Dorothy received a phone call from a young woman who stated, simply:

I think I might be Shannon.

The woman claimed her name- at least the name she answered to- was Beth Ann Harris. Living in Virginia at present, she had recently been in therapy, and it was through this counseling that she believed to have unearthed previously repressed memories. She now thought herself to be the long-lost Shannon Sherrill.

She mailed pictures of herself to Dorothy and Mike, and even had other members of her family- the Harris family- speak with both investigators and the Sherrill family. Beth Ann was able to describe landmarks from Indiana, down to the small town and elementary school that Shannon had attended. Best of all, she agreed to take a DNA test.

The excitement was palpable- finally, 17 years after Shannon went missing, she may have been found. 17 long years, with no leads, no clues, no nothing. That she may have been alive and well all that time was almost more than her parents could stand.

The local media began reporting the story in a frenzy. Rumors began circulating that Shannon had been found. National media arrived in the small town of Thornton, IN, where the child originally went missing. It was reported that preliminary tests on Beth Ann Harris were a match to Sharon Sherrill. The news was alive with new information, reporting that Beth Ann’s birthmarks, her scars, and even her dental records matched the missing child’s.

State Police Detective Jeff Heck, one of the original detectives from 1986 when Shannon disappeared, wanted to believe all of it. The investigator in him, however, pushed him to do his homework. He checked out every single one of Beth Ann’s stories and realized…

… It simply wasn’t true.

He began to trace the calls Beth Ann was making to the Sherrill family; Calls she claimed were coming from her home in Virginia.

Jeff Heck traced them to Topeka, Kansas.

The calls were traced to a woman who was lost, alright, but more in a mental sort of way- not so much in the physical sense. The lady’s name was Donna L. Walker. She was 35 years old (12 years older than the missing Shannon Sherrill), and was already known to the FBI for similar hoaxes, committed in California. Shannon Sherrill’s case, it was learned, was not the only high-profile case in which Donna Walker had involved herself.

Mike Sherrill didn’t learn the truth about Walker’s cruel hoax until it was almost too late. He arrived, as planned, at a pre-scheduled news conference. It was at this news conference that he was to receive official confirmation that his baby girl had been found.

When he was told the truth- that his family had been scammed, little Shannon had not been found, and investigators are no closer to the truth about what happened to her than they were in 1986- it proved too much.

Sobbing, he collapsed.

Donna Walker was taken into custody in Kansas. While pretending to be Shannon Sherrill, she was also scamming childless couples, claiming to be a woman named Deanna Poizner. Ms. Poizner was supposed to be 9 months pregnant, looking to give her fake baby up for adoption.

Walker was ultimately sentenced to 18 months in prison.

She served 9 of them, and walked free.

Mike and Dorothy Sherrill are still looking for their daughter Shannon, who vanished in October of 1986.

References:

The Charley Project

The Indy Star

Posted in Amber Wright, Charlie Kay Ely, Current Events, Hate, Murder, News, Relationships, Seath Jackson, True Crime

Seath Jackson, Facebook and the Farmhouse

So much can change in what seems like the blink of an eye.

In March of 2011, Seath Jackson was a happy guy. Just 15, he was in love, had lots of friends, and had dreams of becoming a UFC Champion.

Seath’s girlfriend, Amber Wright, was also 15 years old. The two were close that spring, as evidenced by Seath’s regular Facebook status updates. Many were just like this one, in March, that reads, “I love you Amber”.

Quickly- perhaps in the blink of an eye, even- the tenor changed.

Less than a month later, in the first week April, Seath is observed switching from love-speak, and suddenly begins referring to Amber as a slut, accusing her of cheating on him.

The drama, of course, teen love gone awry- one party moving on, losing interest, meeting someone else- is nothing new.

The terrifying twist in this story does not lie in the fact that Seath and Amber’s relationship, at 15 years old, did not last. It does not rest in the ugliness of the allegations Seath made against Amber; Nor does it have to do with Amber’s returned accusations, her allegations of suffering both verbal and physical abuse at Seath’s hands .

What was so horrifying, what put an extra-ugly edge to an already-ugly dance of angsty teenage-drama, was the public way in which it all played out. An added layer of humiliation was served cold by both Seath and Amber, and they dished all of it on Facebook. This is where they aired their dirty laundry, their relational dysfunction, their anger and heartache. Their large circle of friends began to take notice, and before long, they were chiming in too.

The more others began weighing in, the more bitter the battle of words became between Amber and Seath, until finally, they both declared themselves…

… DONE.

On April 8, 2011, after railing on Facebook (with the help of his friends) about Amber for almost 24 hours, Seath announced that he was ready to move on. He was finished with the “dumb shit”, and had decided it was time to let it go. Amber, for her part, seemed to have a difficult time believing Seth was really “done”, and told him so.

How are yuu done with it. When you continuously write shit about me. Talk shit about me. Hate on me. Fucking say shit to me? Huh tell me bc I really wanna fucking know! Exactly yuur not done with it if yuu keep bringing my name into shit! So learn the definition on DONE!

And with that public exchange, it seems there was finally…

… Silence.

The silence, however, was misleading.

Amber turned to her new boyfriend, 19 year old Michael Bargo, who already hated Seath, and began to share. Michael’s jealously raged, and with Amber’s help, began hatching a plan.

A chilling, deadly, horrible plan.

The kind of plan that causes everything to change, in the blink of an eye.

On Monday, April 18, 2011, police began looking for Seath. It didn’t take long for them to learn what had happened to the teenager, and by Tuesday afternoon, the truth began to unfold in gruesome, chilling detail.

Seath had last been seen Sunday afternoon, April 17, by friends. He had seemed fine, in an upbeat mood, until later in the day, when he began receiving phone calls and text messages.

The calls were coming from Amber and a friend of hers, Charlie Kay Ely.

Amber, it seemed, wanted Seath to come see her at Charlie’s house. Charlie, 18, had a home of her own, and it was isolated- a farmhouse, of sorts. Amber wanted Seath to meet her there so the two of them could patch things up.

She wanted to get back together, she said.

Seath, initially, declined. Amber, with the help of her friend, was able to change his mind, convincing him to meet the two at Charlie’s place.

When Seath arrived at the home, he realized- too late- that this was not to be a happy reunion. Immediately he was ambushed by Michael Bargo, who had help from Amber’s 16 year old step-brother Kyle Hooper, and 20 year old Justin Soto, a mutual friend of theirs.

The three men began beating Seath in the head with wooden objects. Later, Soto and Hooper held Seath down while Michael Bargo shot the teen several times with .22-caliber gun.

Next, the boys placed Seath in a bathtub, where they proceeded to break his knees in an attempt to fit him inside of a sleeping bag.

Bargo, realizing Seath was still alive, shot him again.

Jackson was placed inside the waiting sleeping bag, and his body was taken to the backyard of the home.

They lit a bonfire and burned him.

Seath’s remains were scooped into empty paint cans, and the step-father of Amber Wright and Kyle Hooper, 37 year old James Young Havens III, helped them clean up by bleaching the premises. Law Enforcement believes he knew about the plan in advance, and did nothing to stop it.

It was Kyle Hooper who, on that Tuesday afternoon, one day after they began looking for Seath Jackson, confessed to police the details of what had happened. Tracey Wright, Amanda and Kyle’s mother, had learned of the role her children had played in the death of their peer, and forced Hooper to tell the authorities.

Amber Wright had lured her one-time love to his death.

Michael Bargo, 19, has been charged with first degree-murder, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Justin Soto, 20, is also charged with first-degree murder, and faces the possibility of a death sentence as well.

Amanda Wright, 15, Kyle Hooper, 16, and Charlie Kay Ely, 18, were all charged with first-degree murder, though prosecutors have declined to seek the death penalty in each of the three cases.

James Young Havens III, 37, has been charged as an accessory after the fact.

Charlie Kay Ely is the only one of the five defendants who refused to waive her right to a speedy trial, and was convicted of first-degree murder. The jury voted to convict after deliberating for barely more than an hour. She will automatically receive a sentence of life in prison.

The others are still awaiting trial.

Posted in C-Haze, Current Events, Dating, News, Off The Wall, Porn, Pornography, Relationships, True Crime

The Stalker, the Student and the Stud

A woman was being stalked.

For three and a half years, Ruth Jeffery lived in fear. Someone, somehow, knew every detail of her intimate life. He knew her schedule, and even had access to her e-mail accounts.

Once, he posted “intimate” pictures of her on an adult website, prompting a stranger to show up, announced, at her home.

Ruth was at her wits’ end, and counted heavily on the support of her boyfriend, who she’d been dating for more than three years; a man she’d known for more than a decade.

In fact, her boyfriend, Shane Webber, was the one person she could lean on during the ordeal. “We did everything together. I would tell him everything”. She believed he was telling her everything in return.

When her stalker created an online profile that was similar to her own, and started reaching out to her friends, pretending to be her, she got scared. This person simply knew too much about her. Was it a friend? A classmate from school?

Who could do such a thing?

Ruth stopped eating, fell into a deep depression, and was filled with fear and paranoia. She began taking anti-depressants. At one point, her studies were impacted, she was so drastically affected, she had to retake her final exams.

She was suicidal, and told those closest to her, she wanted to die.

“I don’t want to be alive anymore”

 Finally, in desperation, Ruth turned to police. By this time, her harasser had pretended to be various classmates of hers, and had even hacked into her computer, sending intimate photos of her to all of her contacts from her own e-mail address. Ms. Jeffery found herself bombarded with sexually explicit photos and videos.

The desperation, depression and fear continued to spiral, Ruth was terrified, humiliated and ashamed.

Police diligently tracked the  stalker, meticulously documenting incident after incident of harassment.

At one point, authorities thought they were closing in on their perp. They arrested and interrogated a close friend of Ruth’s boyfriend. Police, briefly, believed they’d found their stalker.

They were wrong.

Undeterred, police refused to give up.

Finally, they got their break, and after nearly four years of constant harassment, arrested Ruth’s long-time boyfriend, Shane Webber.

Webber is charged with causing Harassment, Alarm or Distress.

He had been harassing, stalking and intimidating his own girlfriend for the entire time they had been dating.

He has pled guilty.

Upon hearing the news, Ruth issued a statement proclaiming, “I want him to be put in prison because he has wrecked the past three-and-a-half years of my life… I’ve known him for 10 years, so in a way it feels like the past 10 years have been wasted.”

Webber is due to be sentenced on October 6, 2011.

Posted in Abuse, Clay Waller, cold cases, Domestic Violence, Jacque Waller, Marriage, Missing, Murder, News, Relationships, True Crime

Exceptional Women Are Not the Exception

I’ve been closely following the case of Jacque Waller. Jacque was a woman from a town near Cape Girardeau, MO who disappeared in June of this year. Jacque had gone to her estranged husband’s house to pick up their son after a divorce hearing, and was never seen or heard from again.

The husband, Clay Waller, told authorities that the two had gotten into an argument, and that Jacque had stormed off. Her car was later found abandoned on the highway about three miles from the husband’s home, with no trace of the missing mother.

After months of denying his involvement, Clay Waller reportedly confessed to his father in federal court that he killed Jacque and dumped her body in a hole.

As yet, he has not been charged.

There is an epidemic involving the disappearance of women.

Almost daily we hear the news that another woman has vanished, only to be found brutally murdered days, weeks, months, or even years later.

Sometimes, they’re never found at all.

Too often, the last people to see these women alive are their boyfriends, fiancées, spouses or ex-lovers.

Rather than deal with the issues that come with involving themselves in a troubled or failed relationship, many men turn to murder, turn to making their “problem” disappear-  and quite literally so.

This, unfortunately, gives a whole new- and terribly morbid- meaning to the term “Til death do us part”.

The numbers certainly support the fact that domestic violence is an epidemic, with some studies listing homicide as anywhere from the second to the fifth most common cause of death among women. That said, I don’t want to get too caught up in statistics. One doesn’t need to be an expert to realize that women are being victimized by their male partners at an alarming rate.

I’d like to shift the focus from the numbers to the empowerment of women.

No one chooses to be the victim of homicide, obviously. A woman doesn’t get involved in a relationship thinking that her other half is the one who will kill her some day.

Be that as it may, many women tend to make terrible mistakes when choosing their partners.

All too often the warning signs are ignored, the writing on the wall has been scrubbed away by women who are willing to take deadly risks to be in a relationship. We are all too capable of working against ourselves, and against our best interests. Women have to stop wiping away the writing on the wall- and need to start paying attention to it.

I am in no way blaming victims of homicide or victims of domestic violence. I have experienced domestic assault first-hand and have an intimate knowledge of the pure evil that comes part and parcel with those who prey on women.

What I have learned, as part of my personal journey, is to identify the warning signs, listen to my gut, and trust my instincts.

Perhaps the most important lesson of all was to learn to love myself for who I am- not who someone else may want me to be.

I submit that learning to understand our value as women, learning to appreciate who we are as individuals, understanding that which we can contribute to the world is not just vital to our self-esteem, but is also critical to our safety and our survival.

A woman who loves and respects herself, a woman full of confidence and purpose, a woman with goals and solid plans, is less likely to be victimized.

No human deserves to be victimized by anyone, and they especially don’t deserve it at the hands of their spouses, lovers and ex-lovers. It’s true that no one, including women, can guarantee their safety in every situation, but we can be empowered, and we can make better decisions.

We can decrease the likelihood that we will find ourselves victimized, missing…

… Dead.

Once we can learn to appreciate who we are, we can make better choices involving men who do not love and respect us at least as much as we love and respect ourselves.

When it comes to dating and marriage, we need to stop thinking of ourselves as the exception, rather than the rule.

Yes, ladies, we are wonderful and unique. We have different talents and abilities, and what we bring to our relationships cannot be duplicated by any other human on this planet.

None of that, however, means we’ll be treated any differently than any other woman has ever been treated when it comes to certain men.

Some men are abusers, and it really is just that simple.

The fact that they abuse women has nothing to do with who we are- including our flaws, or our shortcomings- and has everything to do with who they are. Some men may try to convince us otherwise, but their words do not make reality.

If a potential suitor has a history of violence, the chances are good that this man is still capable of being violent. This is true regardless of all the wonderful things we may feel we can do for this suitor that all the other women in his life were unable/unwilling to do.

If a boyfriend’s temper seems a little close to the boiling point over minor issues while dating, it will get worse once married, worse still during pregnancy, and will continue escalating in the years following childbirth.

Yes, it will.

We are exceptional women- all of us- but we are being irresponsible to assume that we are the exception.

It’s time we stopped being victims.

Dedicated to Jacque Rawson Waller. My thoughts and prayers are with your children, family and friends. RIP, and know you were loved by many, near and far.

Posted in Bill Richardson, C-Haze, Capital Punishment, Change, Current Events, Death Penalty, Hope, News, Policy, Politics, Race, Religion, True Crime

New Mexico Governor Repeals Capital Punishment

Today I was happy to read that Governor Bill Richardson has signed a bill aboloshing the death penalty in New Mexico.

I realize that this was a very tough decision for him to make… Richardson does believe that the death penalty- in rare cases- is just punishment for especially heinous crimes.

His statement reads, in part:

Regardless of my personal opinion about the death penalty, I do not have the confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime.

The governor’s signing of the bill, as one would expect, was met with some criticism.

The New Mexico Sheriffs’ and Police Association (among others), opposes the bill.

They have issued a statement claiming that the state’s law enforcement officers are now in more danger as a result of the repeal.

The Association would have a point if there was any data whatsoever to show that the death penalty actually serves as a deterrent to crime.

In fact, statistics show states that do not have the death penalty actually have lower murder rates than states that do. In 2007, non-death penalty states had murder rates that were 42% lower than states that carry out the punishment.

42%.

That ain’t a small number…  and certainly not an insignificant one.

People who commit horrific crimes are typically not thinking about the potential consequences of their actions.

Generally speaking, would-be criminals do not walk around saying to themselves…

Gee, I’d really like to rape and murder that kid over there… and I sure would do it too… if it weren’t for that stupid lethal injection I’d probably get.

It just doesn’t happen that way… and available data pretty much proves it.

The death penalty is not a punishment that serves the interest of justice.

On the contrary, it serves the interest of revenge. 

It’s not difficult to understand why families of victims would prefer blood… death… an eye for an eye…

Who wouldn’t?

Human emotion, however, especially in such highly-charged circumstances, does not equate to justice served.

Our justice system- or court system, as I like to call it (in my opinion, it is sickeningly short on justice)- is imperfect, just like the humans who run it.

As long as there is a chance that even one single person could be killed for a crime he or she did not commit… as long as there is classism and racism running rampant in our society…

The only responsible action, in the interest of justice- true justice– is to repeal the death penalty.

New Mexico, while just one state, has done a great thing.

Let’s hope other states follow suit.