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 C-Haze, Children, News, Single Mom, True Crime

Denial, Psychos and the Mother that Never Should Have Been

What the hell is up with Casey Anthony?

For people who haven’t been following the story, Casey Anthony is the young mother of 3 year old Caylee Anthony.

Caylee’s been missing since June.

Her mother didn’t report her daughter’s disappearance for at least a month… and even then, only did so under durress from her family.

Ugh.

Casey Anthony is also a pathological liar.

She told police that she left her daughter, sometime in June, with a babysitter… even gave the sitter’s name and address… but hasn’t seen them since.

Right.

So police go and check the address Ms. Anthony provided…

… And…

No babysitter, no residents… no people living there…

… No nothing.

In fact, no one had lived at that address in months.

Casey lied.

She claimes she didn’t report her baby’s disappearance sooner because she was afraid she’d be considered a suspect; she instead decided to carry out her own investigation.

Unfortunately, no one can actually recall her doing much of anything, other than partying, in the month between the time her daughter disappeared and when the police were called.

There are pics to prove it… she entered a hot-body contest at a bar… and when that failed to help locate her daughter… she switched to more traditional forms of partying- such as bar hopping and clubbing…

Funny how that didn’t work either.

Oh- and police have found evidence of a decomposing body in Casey Anthony’s trunk, and have found hairs- linked to her daughter Caylee- in the trunk as well.

She’s now been charged with first-degree murder.

Problem is, there’s no body.

Casey’s friends all say she seemed like a good mom, but admit she lies… a lot… about everything.

In her jail cell, she has no pictures of her missing daughter.

She’s psycho.

She will not assist in the investigation into her daughter’s disappearance…

… She will not quit lying to police and everyone else…

And her parents, ever the loyal ones, continue the media rounds, completely convinced of their daughter’s innocence and their grandaughter’s safety.

Yup.

Denial, it seems, really isn’t just a river in Egypt.

Posted in C-Haze, Children, News

Child, 8- Double Murderer?

I am having a tough time wrapping my brain around this news of an 8 year old boy committing double homicide.

I just don’t know if I believe what I’m hearing…

According to news sources, this 8 year old kid inexplicably- but purposely- shot and killed his father, and his father’s roommate.

Huh?

Perhaps I’m naive… or overly optimistic… but how is it possible for an 8 year old to consciously, knowingly, commit murder?

To shoot two people…

On purpose.

There is no history of abuse… no known disciplinary problems…

… Just a regular ol’ kid… a regular ol’ dad… and a regular ol’ roommate…

Two of them dead.

A child’s life, ruined.

I don’t believe it… I can’t believe it.

The police interrogated the boy at length- without reading him his rights (who knows if he’d have understood them- but that isn’t the point), or having a parent or lawyer present.

He confessed.

I wonder… was it a confession?

Or coercion?

The story is missing huge chunks of information. It can’t possibly be as simple as we’re being told it is…

… Police, as yet, have no motive.

A gag order has been imposed by the judge assigned to the case.

The interrogation is public record, but no one associated with the case is allowed to discuss it publicly.

Legal analysts, lawyers and child advocates all seem to agree…

… Something doesn’t smell right.

Yeah.

It’s downright putrid.