Thursday, April 30, 2020

2010 East Texas church burnings

In January and February 2010, 10 churches were burned in East Texas. Two local men, Jason Bourque and Daniel McAllister, were arrested, pleaded guilty and were jailed indefinitely. Timeline: -January 1 – Little Hope Baptist Church, Canton – ruled accident until investigation, later ruled arson -January 1 – Faith Church, Athens – ruled arson -January 12 – Lake Athens Baptist Church – burned -January 12 – Grace Community Church, Athens – burned -January 16 – Tyland Baptist Church in Tyler – torched -January 17 – First Church of Christ, Scientist in Tyler – burned to the ground -January 20 – Prairie Creek Fellowship of Lindale on Highway 69 – arson -February 4 – Russell Memorial United Methodist Church in Wills Point (Van Zandt County) – destroyed the sanctuary (ATF soon confirmed the fire was the result of arson) -8:30 PM on February 8 – Dover Baptist Church on Highway 110 outside Lindale – mostly destroyed -9:30 on February 8 – Clear Spring Missionary Baptist Church, on CR 426 near the Smith-Van Zandt county line – found burning Suspects: A sketch was released of three persons of interest. On February 21, 2010, Jason Robert Bourque, 19, of Lindale, and Daniel George McAllister, 21, of Ben Wheeler were charged in connection with the Dover Baptist Church burning on February 8. Their bond was set at $10 million. Because they targeted places of worship, the crime is a first-degree felony carrying a maximum penalty of 99 years to life. Bourque was raised by his devout Christian maternal grandparents, while McAllister was homeschooled for religious reasons. Both men had started to question their faith, Bourque following his dropping-out from the University of Texas, and McAllister after the death of his mother and trouble finding work. Faced with overwhelming evidence, both men pleaded guilty. On January 14, 2011, Judge Christi Kennedy sentenced Bourque to life and 20 years in prison, and McAllister to a life sentence. On February 11, 2011, Bourque was interviewed by KLTV 7 from Smith County Jail. He blamed the drug Chantix, which he used to aid his quitting smoking, for psychotic episodes. He also claimed that McAllister had led the wave, targeting churches as he found them corrupt. Bourque stated that God had forgiven him. Cultural legacy: Theo Love's documentary, Little Hope Was Arson, interviews community members in East Texas reacting to the burning of the 10 churches.

Disappearance of Renee MacRae

Renee MacRae (born Christina Catherine MacDonald) is a Scotswoman who has been missing since 1976 and is presumed to have been murdered. Her disappearance, along with that of her 3-year-old son, Andrew, is currently Britain's longest-running missing persons case, and within Scotland, the case is as notorious as Glasgow's Bible John murders. On 11 September 2019, William (Bill) MacDowell was charged with the murder of Renee and Andrew. Their bodies have never been found. Disappearance: MacRae lived in Inverness and was married to Gordon MacRae, though the couple were separated. She had two sons, 9-year-old Gordon and 3-year-old Andrew. On Friday 12 November 1976 MacRae left her home in Cradlehall with both her sons. She dropped her elder son Gordon at her estranged husband's house and turned south on to the A9 in the direction of Perth to visit her sister in Kilmarnock. Neither MacRae nor her son Andrew have ever been seen again. Later the same night, 12 miles away, a train driver spotted MacRae's burning BMW car in an isolated lay-by. When the police reached the vehicle, it was charred and empty, apart from a rug stained with blood matching MacRae's blood type. One of the most intensive searches ever mounted in Scotland failed to find any trace. It was concluded that they had been murdered, that the murderer had made careful plans and had disposed of the bodies without leaving any clues. Witnesses on the A9 reported seeing a man dragging something they thought was a dead sheep not far from the car, while others saw a man with a pushchair near the quarry. MacRae was reported to have been wearing a sheepskin coat when she disappeared. As police investigated, it became apparent that MacRae's personal life was not straightforward. Circa 1971, unbeknownst to her husband, MacRae began to have an affair with Bill MacDowell, who was married with two children and worked for Gordon MacRae as an accountant and company secretary. Nobody knew about the affair except Valerie Steventon, MacRae's best friend. She revealed that MacRae had not been planning to visit her sister that night, but had intended to travel to Perthshire to visit MacDowell, who happened to be Andrew's biological father. MacRae had first confided to her friend about her conducting an affair in the spring of 1973, when she had been pregnant with Andrew. According to Steventon, "Renee was completely besotted by Bill", and he had told her that he had a job with Texaco in Shetland and had found a house where they could live. Although, according to Steventon, these details "turned out to be a pack of lies." MacDowell admitted their affair but has not spoken about the case again except to deny any involvement. Investigation: The revelation of MacRae's four-year affair with MacDowell led senior officers to admit that the case was "mired in a sea of deceit and untruthfulness from its start." Detective Sergeant John Cathcart coordinated the search and after eight months he had a breakthrough. While excavating Dalmagarry quarry he was hit by a stench after removing a layer of topsoil. Convinced it was a sign of corpses, he continued digging, but was told by a superior officer to stop as the bulldozer they were using had to go back to the contractors due to short funds. The inquiry was wound down two years later. However, a 2004 Grampian Television documentary, Unsolved, screened throughout Scotland, renewed interest in the case and the investigation was reopened. In 2004, Chief constable Ian Latimer launched a cold case review, which led to £122,000 being spent on an excavation of Dalmagarry quarry in August. Over the course of three weeks, 20,000 tons of earth from the quarry had been excavated and 2,000 trees were removed. All that was found were two crisp packets, some men's clothing and rabbit bones. As of August 2006, £250,000 has been spent re-investigating the case. In recent years speculation has focused on the bodies having been buried under the A9, which was in the middle of a major programme of upgrading at the time of the disappearance. An 80-year-old farmer with supposed divining skills took his divining rods to Dalmagarry and declared the bodies to be under a track, 12 ft down. He now thinks the bodies are under the A9, at a spot he has marked with a yellow circle. In 2010, the Scottish Government announced that a £2.6 million contract had been awarded for an overtaking lane at the location, which renewed interest from the farmer, who claims to have discovered "anomalies" in a radar survey of the area. However, a spokeswoman for Northern Constabulary said that after studying aerial photographs taken by the RAF during the construction of the A9, they were satisfied the bodies were not buried under the road. On 2 October 2018 it was reported that Leanach quarry, near to Culloden Battlefield was being searched by Police Scotland in relation to the case. Suspect: Northern Constabulary named a suspect in a report to the Procurator fiscal in October 2006, but the Crown Office declared there was insufficient evidence to go to court. From the start the prime suspect was MacDowell. He has always been reluctant to speak to the media, however in 2004, he broke his 28-year silence and insisted that he did not kill her. A week after the disappearance, MacDowell walked into Inverness police HQ to make a voluntary statement, however his wife dragged him out of the building and nothing was said ever again. More than 40 years after the disappearance, further details emerged of a suspect who had fled to the US the day after being interviewed by an investigator in the aftermath of the disappearance. James Taylor said his late friend Sandy Thompson, a senior officer who worked closely with MacRae's contacts, who carried out fieldwork investigating the case had been sure MacRae was murdered and buried on the A9 near a flyover. Taylor reported his concerns to Police Scotland following an appeal for information to mark the 40-year anniversary of the case. He said that Sandy Thomson spoke to a foreman in the roads department who had said someone had dug up a section of the road on the day Renee disappeared. There was one man he spoke to about the road and showed the evidence they had gathered. Taylor recalled: "Sandy said he knew right away when the man looked at it that the woman was dead, that was where she was buried and this man knew far more about it than he was telling." The man fled to the US the next day before returning to the UK later when the case had gone cold. In September 2019, detectives from Police Scotland's Major Investigation Team arrested a 77-year-old man in connection with the disappearance. At Inverness Sheriff Court on Wednesday 11 September MacDowell was charged with the murders of Renee and Andrew MacRae.

Disappearance of Trudie Adams

Trudie Jeanette Adams disappeared in the early hours of 25 June 1978 after attending a dance at the Newport Surf Life Saving Club, New South Wales, Australia. She left the event early before hitchhiking home, at which point she entered a vehicle on Barrenjoey Road, and has not been seen since. Her disappearance is significant in that it sparked New South Wales' biggest missing person search at the time, sparked extensive and ongoing national media attention, and eventually a $250,000 reward. Disappearance and investigation: Adams' ex-boyfriend, Steven Norris, and parents reported her missing on 25 June 1978 after she failed to arrive home from the dance. Although police initially believed that the car she entered was a green Kombi van, Norris as the main eyewitness, stated that he saw her enter a light-coloured 1977 Holden panel van. Police who investigated the case originally cast suspicion on Norris. Eventually he was cleared, and suspicion widened to those involved in the drug scene. In the days after the attacks, a number of female rape victims, who had been assaulted by two disguised men, began to report a series of then-unknown crimes to police. Investigators then suspected Adams' disappearance to be linked to the 14 now-known violent rapes that occurred in the Northern Beaches between 1971 and 1978, and may also be related to an attempted attack on a hitchhiker earlier that same evening.[12] On 16 August 1978, a reward of $20,000 was offered by the New South Wales Government, and over the years, her suspected murder has been investigated by police four times. Developments: -In 1992, the case was reopened based on a refocused interest in the possible involvement of the green Kombi van. -In 2008, the reward was raised to $250,000 for information which would lead to the conviction of her murderer(s). -In 2009, the case's prime suspect, a convicted drug dealer and sex offender known as Neville Brian Tween, who was identified by some of the rape victims, was finally interviewed by police regarding the disappearance. Tween, who had also been a police informant, however, denied any involvement in the Adams and rape cases (despite circumstantial evidence), and died in 2013. -In 2011, an inquest was held in order to further investigate the disappearance of Adams, which resulted in the Coroner declaring that Adams died of "homicide or misadventure." -In 2018, interest in the case was reignited by the airing of the second series of the ABC podcast series Unravel and TV documentary Barrenjoey Road. A number of non-reported crimes and previously unknown victims have also come forward due to the airing of the podcast.

vegan food

i like vegan food. I'm super into vegan to help my scoliosis. i like to help my health condition. it also helps other condition. i love my veganism and it helps my joints. it's tasty. i occasionally eat something semi-spicy. it helps and i like the sweeter spicier foods. chili veggie burgers are awesome.

Robert Charles Browne

Robert Charles Browne is an American man convicted of two murders and serving a double-life sentence in the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility. Browne is also a self-professed serial killer, alleging that he killed 48 people, mostly women, as well as an additional woman in South Korea during his time in the US Military. Though many claims made by Browne remain uncorroborated, if accurate his account would make him one of the most prolific serial killers in American history. Biography: Browne was born in Coushatta, Louisiana. According to a Red River Parish sheriff, Browne grew up as one of nine children in a hardscrabble family. He was a high school dropout who joined the United States Army and served from 1969 to 1976, when he was dishonorably discharged for drug abuse. Murder of Heather Dawn Church: Browne was arrested on March 28, 1995, on the charge of first-degree murder for the September 17, 1991, killing of Heather Dawn Church, 13. Although he initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, on May 25, 1995, in a plea agreement, he changed his plea to guilty so that prosecutors would not seek the death penalty. Later confessions: On July 27, 2006, in a similar plea agreement, he confessed to the death of Rocio Delpilar Sperry, 15, who was killed on November 10, 1987, at an apartment complex. Sperry's body has never been recovered. In his confession, authorities say Browne admitted to murdering up to 48 other people in a period spanning from 1970 until his arrest. Browne instigated a new investigation by sending a cryptic letter to the authorities in 2000. The letter read, "Seven sacred virgins entombed side by side, those less worthy are scattered wide, the score is you 1, the other team 48." The letter included a hand-drawn map with outlines of Colorado, Washington, California, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi, with a number written inside each state. Reception to Browne's claims has been mixed. John Suthers, Colorado politician and former state Attorney General, has stated that Browne's story is credible. Journalist Dave Herrera, in contrast, has expressed skepticism about Browne's claims of being a serial killer. Herrera notes that no bodies have been discovered or definitely linked to Browne and only seven of his confessions are detailed enough for even a tentative link to an unsolved crime. Herrera argues that Browne is motivated by a desire for attention and/or better medical care, and further describes previous journalistic investigation of Browne's claims as "surprisingly slipshod" and uncritical of his story. Alleged additional victims: -Katherine Hayes, 15 – killed in Louisiana in July 1980 -Wanda Faye Hudson, 21 – killed in Louisiana, date unknown -Faye Self, 26 – killed in Louisiana, date unknown -Melody Bush, 22 – killed in Texas in March 1984 -Nidia Mendoza, 17 – killed in Texas in February 1984 -Rocio Delpilar Sperry, 15 – killed in Colorado on November 10, 1987 -Lisa Lowe, 21 – killed in Arkansas in November 1991

Disappearance of Amy Wroe Bechtel

Amy Joy Wroe Bechtel (disappeared July 24, 1997; declared legally dead 2004) is an American woman who disappeared while jogging in the Wind River Mountains approximately 15 miles south of Lander, Wyoming. Despite extensive investigative work and media portrayals, her case remains unsolved as of 2019. She was declared dead in absentia by her husband, rock climber Steve Bechtel, in 2004. Background: Bechtel was born Amy Joy Wroe in Santa Barbara, California in 1972. She graduated from the University of Wyoming, where she met her husband, Steve Bechtel. In college, Bechtel was a competitive long distance runner, and hoped to try out for the 2000 Summer Olympics. Disappearance: On the morning of July 24, 1997, Bechtel told her husband, Steve, she was planning on running several errands in town after teaching a children's weight lifting class at the Wind River Fitness Center. She stopped at Camera Connection, a photo store near her home in Lander, around 2:30pm after teaching her class. Following her time at the photo store, she stopped by Gallery 331, where she spoke to the proprietor, Greg Wagner. Wagner noted that Bechtel seemed hurried, and repeatedly glanced at her watch during their conversation. Wagner's was the last confirmed sighting of Bechtel. After leaving the photo shop, it is believed by authorities that Bechtel drove to the Shoshone National Forest to practice the course of an upcoming 10K run she was enrolled to compete in. According to an eyewitness driving on Loop Road through the forest that afternoon, a woman resembling Bechtel was seen running along the road wearing black shorts similar to those she had worn earlier that day. At 4:30pm, Steve returned home after having spent the day with a friend and found his wife absent. At 10:30pm, he called police to report his wife missing. At 1:00am on the morning of July 25, Bechtel's car, a white Toyota Tercel, was discovered parked on a turnout at Burnt Gulch in Lander. Investigation: By 3:00am on July 25, 1997, an extensive search for Bechtel was underway from law enforcement, as well as Steve and the couple's friends and family. By July 27, police were receiving roughly 1,000 calls per day with tips and potential leads in Bechtel's disappearance; additionally, various lakes and mines were searched with no results. Investigators initially believed Bechtel to have fallen victim to the elements or potentially been attacked by a bear or mountain lion; however, they later suspected Steve after uncovering a series of his journals describing violence towards women and, specifically, his wife. Detectives interrogated Steve on August 1, 1997, falsely claiming to have evidence proving he had murdered his wife; in response, Steve terminated the interview. He would later claim the journals had comprised song lyrics he had written for his band, and that they were unrelated to Bechtel or her disappearance. In 1998, local police stated that Bechtel was not a central suspect in the case, but that they had wanted to clear him of suspicion in order to follow other leads, which they were unable to do after his lack of cooperation. Steve provided an alibi for the time of Bechtel's disappearance, which was corroborated by friends who agreed they had spent the afternoon with him rock climbing. However, he refused to submit to a polygraph test. Additionally, a woman driving through the area from where Bechtel disappeared claimed to have seen a truck matching Steve's in the area. In late August 1997, the FBI requested satellite photos from NASA of the area on the day of Bechtel's disappearance, but the satellite images provided no information. In January 1998, satellite images taken by the Russian space station Mir were also obtained by the FBI, but they also revealed nothing of note. Later developments: In June 2003, a Timex Iron Man digital watch was discovered by a doctor hiking near the Popo Agie River and was turned in to police. It was noted to be similar to a watch Bechtel had owned at the time of her disappearance; however, law enforcement was unable to determine whether or not the watch belonged to her. In a 2007 interview with the Billings Gazette, Sheriff Sgt. Roger Rizor stated: "I believe it was a homicide, and I believe what happened to her happened on the day she disappeared. In my mind there is only one person that I want to talk to, only one person who has refused to talk to law enforcement, and that's her husband." Dale Wayne Eaton, a convicted murderer on Wyoming's death row, has also been cited as a suspect in the case. According to Eaton's brother, he had been near the area where Bechtel disappeared at the time of her disappearance. However, Eaton has refused to discuss the case. Media depictions: Bechtel's case received significant media attention. On February 3, 1998, Steve appeared on The Geraldo Rivera Show with Bechtel's sisters, who pleaded with him to provide information regarding her disappearance. Steve denied any involvement in his wife's disappearance during the program. The case was profiled in both People magazine and Outside in 1998, as well as the television series Unsolved Mysteries. It was later profiled on the series Disappeared in 2013, and was also the subject of an extensive article featured in Runner's World in 2016.

Geezer Bandit

"Geezer Bandit" is the name given by the FBI to a man who was robbing banks in Southern California. The Geezer Bandit is accused of robbing at least sixteen banks so far, many in the San Diego, California area. His most recent robbery occurred on Friday, December 2, 2011. Investigation: The FBI's field offices in California are working with local law enforcement to solve the serial robberies in Southern California. The Geezer Bandit was listed on America's Most Wanted in October 2010. On February 5, 2011, John Walsh highlighted the Geezer bandit on America's Most wanted. Currently, the reward has been up to $20,000 to provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Geezer Bandit. Description: The Geezer Bandit is suspected to be a white male between the ages of 60–70 years old who is between 5'10" and 6'0" and between 190 and 200 lb with an average build and, judging from footage and eyewitness accounts, he is left-handed. Modus operandi: The Geezer Bandit comes into the bank like a normal customer, approaches the teller with a leather case, and then draws a revolver from the case and demands money from the teller by handing the teller a note. A teller who was one of the 13 people to have direct contact with the Geezer Bandit stated on America's Most Wanted that she was given a note that read, "Give me $50,000 or I will murder you." Theories: The man appears to be in his mid- to late seventies; however, some members of law enforcement have stated their beliefs that he may not be an elderly man. One theory is that the man is a master of disguise and is using a silicone mask made by SPFXMasks. The string of robberies started in August 2009 in San Diego, California. The FBI has started to question makers of special effects masks to get insight into the Geezer Bandit robberies. This comes in part after a white male in Ohio pleaded guilty to robbing banks in a mask that made him look like a black male. Interest in realistic theatrical disguise also increased after a young Asian man was able to board a plane from Hong Kong to Canada wearing the mask of an elderly white male. John Walsh, host of America's Most Wanted, believes the Geezer Bandit is actually a young person in disguise due to surveillance footage of his latest robbery, which showed him running abnormally fast for an elderly person after a dye pack exploded in the money bag he had. Robberies committed: -US Bank, On August 28, 2009 in Santee, California -San Diego National Bank, On September 12, 2009 in San Diego, CA -US Bank, On October 9, 2009 in San Diego, CA -Bank of America, On October 26, 2009 in Rancho Santa Fe, CA -Bank of America, On November 16, 2009 in San Diego, CA -San Diego National Bank, On January 27, 2010 in San Diego, CA -California Bank & Trust, On April 20, 2010 in Vista, California -US Bank, On April 30, 2010, in Vista, California -Bank of America, On May 11, 2010 in Santee, California, CA -US Bank, On June 7, 2010 in Poway, CA -Bank of America, on June 25, 2010 in Temecula, CA -Bank of America, on November 12, 2010, in Bakersfield, CA -Bank of America, on January 28, 2011 in Goleta, California -Heritage Oaks Bank on May 27, 2011 in Morro Bay, CA -Wells Fargo, on September 30, 2011 in San Diego, CA -Bank of America, on December 2, 2011 in San Luis Obispo, CA Pop culture- Copycat: An apparent copycat of the Geezer Bandit made an appearance in an attempt to replicate the robbery tactic. In an attempt to pull off a robbery, the fake Geezer Bandit was not careful in his getaway, and ended up in police custody. The police do not believe he is the real Geezer Bandit. Fanbase: The Geezer Bandit has a following that has started several Facebook pages showing support for him and his crime spree. Several news media outlets have reported that many people are trying to capitalize on the fan draw of the Geezer Bandit by make "Geezer Bandit" T-shirts imprinted with a picture of the felon from surveillance images of his robberies. On the February 5, 2011, episode of America's Most Wanted, one fan-made shirt read: GEEZER BANDIT is my name GETTIN' AWAY is my game

Joro the Paver

Joro the Paver, also known as the Bulgarian Jack the Ripper, is a serial rapist and murderer from the Konyovitsa neighborhood, who operated in Sofia in 1968. In the span of a few months, between 6 and 7 rapes occurred, as a result of which a 69-year-old woman died in hospital. The nickname "Joro the Paver" comes from the paver found on the scene, wrapped up in handkerchief next to one of the victims. The deaf and mute Milcho Milanov, from Rakita, was accused of being the perpetrator and arrested by police. Although he was sentenced and spent a significant amount of time in prison, he was later released due to lack of evidence. In the beginning of the 1970s, a new rapist occurred, known as "Joro the Paver, the Second", who raped 10 victims and committed a double murder. In 1975, the perpetrator Georgi Yordanov was captured, sentenced to death and subsequently executed by firing squad. Joro the Paver's true identity remains unknown, and it is also theorised that some rapes in later years have been his doing.

Interstate 80 rapist

The I-80 Rape Series is a series of rapes that was committed by a serial rapist in Sacramento, California. Crimes: While many have been convinced that other assaults took place by the same man, only three have been successfully linked by DNA: -September 9, 2013 at 4:20am -December 10, 2013 at 9:15pm -January 8, 2014 at 4:30am Suspects eliminated: -Robert Hill- Despite Hill being a convicted serial rapist, detectives from the Sacramento Sheriff's Department ruled him out and announced that he was not connected to the series of rapes. -Kenneth Anderson- Victims of the I-80 Rapist were convinced, when shown Anderson, that he strongly resembled their attacker. However, Anderson gave DNA and he was cleared as a suspect in the rapes.


The University Phantom of Bochum, shortened to the Uni-Phantom, is a German serial sex offender who is said to have committed up to 21 assaults, first in Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis and later moving to Bochum. The first act was committed in 1994 at Sprockhövel, with the last rape assigned to him occurring in December 2002. Assaults and perpetrator profile: The Phantom's first victim was a 12-year-old student from Sprockhövel. She was raped on January 7, 1994 at 1:10 PM, on her way home from in school in a wooded area. In September 1994, the perpetrator struck for the second time in Sprockhövel, sexually abusing a 44-year-old. He continued with the assaults around the area until June 1996, when he attacked in Bochum for the first time. From then on, the preyed mostly on young women in the vicinity of the Ruhr University Bochum, continuing until 2002. In 2003, another victim of the rapist came forward, with her assault occurring in August 2001. All of the rapes were determined to have been committed by the same perpetrator, after DNA analysis of semen traces. The detailed police investigations have led to various findings over the years. Early sketches of the Phantom showed the culprit as a middle-aged man, slim and with a mustache. He committed all his acts while disguised, dressed in all black and with a baseball cap. The police assumed based on statements that the offender likely has good local knowledge of the Sprockhövel area. It's assumed that he lives or lived there, and could possibly have family ties. All of the crime scenes were in the area of public transport stops, where the Phantom may have met his victims. He chose young women as victims, as they usually have a different recreational behavior than older women, and also use public transport at night. In the vicinity of the university, there were many student residences, and thus, many young women - this is considered the main reason for the Phantom relocating from Sprockhövel to Bochum. He used a knife to threaten his victims. Strikingly, there were intervals between the rapes - it never passed more than half a year before the next rape. The first series can be limited to the period of 1994 to 1997, with the last assault being committed on November 18, 1997. Subsequently, he struck again after almost three years, in the summer of 2000. Another assault followed in August 2000, before he paused yet again. The next known case is dated from August 2001, with another rape series taking place between summer and December 2002. On December 1, 2002, he committed his last known rape. Since then, the Phantom has not struck again, leaving many questions unanswered. Investigation of the Messer Commission: The serial offender, baptized "The Uni-Phantom" by the press, was the subject of a large-scale manhunt by the Bochum police. After his last assault in 2002, in Bochum, up to 40 civil servants spent months working on potential crim scenes. The investiationg Messer Commission (shortened to EK Messer) included at times up to 20 officers, including a profiler from Scotland Yard. Students and employees of the Ruhr University, as well as men from Sprockhövel and Bochum were asked for saliva samples, a strongly criticized move, especially by some students. A law student who refused such a sample appealed to the Federal Constitutional Court, but in vain. Despite this, the 10,000 samples collected by the profilers proved unsuccessful. The Bochum police turned the course of investigative work to work with the ZDF, and a review of the rape series was broadcast as part of the Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst programme. Even after many years, evidence still reaches the police in Bochum, with the investigation still persisting.

Malalai Kakar

Malalai Kakar was the most high-profile policewoman in Afghanistan after the ousting of the Taliban in 2001. As Lieutenant Colonel, she was the head of Kandahar's department of crimes against women. Kakar, who received numerous death threats, was assassinated by the Taliban on September 28, 2008. Kakar joined the police force in 1982, following in the footsteps of her father and brothers. She was the first woman to graduate from the Kandahar Police Academy, and the first to become an investigator with the Kandahar Police Department. Gender issues in Afghan law enforcement: The fate of Malalai Kakar illustrates the intricacies of gender issues in law enforcement in Afghanistan. Female Afghan police officers leave their homes hidden by a burqa, to don a police uniform and weapon at the police station to do their job. By the end of 2009 there were about 500 active duty policewomen in Afghanistan, compared with about 92,500 policemen. A few dozen serve in the southern provinces Kandahar and Helmand, where the influence of the Taliban is strongest. Policewomen play an essential role in the war against insurgents in Afghanistan. In a culture that is marked by a strict separation of the sexes, the security forces need women to perform special tasks, like the searching of women and homes. They are essential to conduct home searches, since Afghans are deeply offended when male soldiers or police enter premises where women are present, and at checkpoints men cannot search women for concealed weapons and other contraband. In December 2009, Col. Shafiqa Quraisha, the head of the Gender Issues Unit of the Afghan police, described a raid in which insurgents had collected women into a room where weapons were hidden. She was able to search both the women and the room, finding the weapons. Raiding a house, when a female officer is the first one to enter, male residents cannot complain that police had violated decorum by entering a residence with women inside. Other women have shared Malalai's tragic fate. Hanifa Safi and Najia Sediqi, heads of women affairs in Laghman Province, were assassinated in 2012. On Thursday 4 July 2013, Islam Bibi, a 37-year-old mother of three and the leading female police officer in Helmand, was gunned down on her way to work. A few months later, on 15 September, Bibi's 38-year-old successor, Negar, was also shot; she died the following day. Death: Malalai Kakar was shot dead between 7:00am and 8:00am in her car outside of her house while on the way to work 28 September 2008. When Kakar was killed she was reported to be either in her late 30s or early to mid 40s and had six children.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Cheshire, Connecticut, home invasion murders

The Cheshire, Connecticut, home invasion murders occurred on July 23, 2007. Two men, Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes, invaded the Petit family’s home in Cheshire, Connecticut. Dr. William Petit was severely injured. His wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit and his two daughters, 17-year-old Hayley Petit and 11-year-old Michaela Petit were all murdered. Upon entering the Petit's home, Komisarjevsky beat Dr. Petit with a baseball bat. He and Hayes then restrained Dr. Petit in the basement. Hawke-Petit and her daughters were also restrained. Hayes later kidnapped Hawke-Petit and forced her to withdraw money at a bank. After returning to the home, he raped her and strangled her to death. Michaela was raped by Komisarjevsky. Hayes and Komisarjevsky decided to burn down the house to destroy evidence. While Hayley and Michaela were tied to their beds, they doused them and the house with gasoline. They then set the house on fire, leaving the daughters to die of smoke inhalation. The case garnered a significant amount of attention in the state of Connecticut, with The Hartford Courant referring it as "possibly the most widely publicized crime in the state's history". The murders received national and international attention as well and had a significant impact on Connecticut's death penalty, ultimately delaying its abolition. Hayes was convicted of the murders and sentenced to death in 2010. Komisarjevsky was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to death in 2012. In August 2015, the Connecticut Supreme Court, in defiance of the State Legislature which had abolished the death penalty only for future cases, ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional, and commuted all death sentences to life-in-prison, even if that sentencing took place prior to the date that the death penalty was abolished. Background: In the evening of Sunday, July 22, 2007, 48-year-old Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her 11-year-old daughter, Michaela Petit went to a local Stop n Shop grocery store in Cheshire, Connecticut. They picked up food for a family dinner Michaela planned to prepare. During their trip to the grocery store, they attracted the attention of Joshua Komisarjevsky, who followed them home. Prosecutors argued at the trial that Komisarjevsky was motivated by money and his interest in Michaela, who he later sexually assaulted. Shortly afterwards, Steven Hayes sent a text message to Komisarjevsky that read, "I'm chomping at the bit to get started. Need a margarita soon." Hayes then texted, "We still on?" Komisarjevsky replied, "Yes." Hayes's next text asked, "Soon?", to which Komisarjevsky replied: "I'm putting the kid to bed hold your horses". Hayes replied: "Dude, the horses want to get loose. LOL." Home invasion: According to Hayes's confession, he and Komisarjevsky had planned to rob the Petit house under cover of darkness, leaving the family bound but otherwise unharmed. Both men attributed the grisly outcome to a change of plan. Upon their arrival in the early hours of July 23, they found Dr. Petit asleep on a couch in the sun room. Komisarjevsky entered the basement through an unlocked door. Leaning on the basement stairs was a baseball bat. Komisarjevsky then entered the sun room and used the bat to strike Dr. Petit four or five times. He and Hayes bound his wrists and ankles with plastic zip ties and rope. Dr. Petit remembers one perpetrator telling the other “if he moves, put two bullets in him.” The children and their mother were then bound in their respective rooms. Hayes and Komisarjevsky tied them by their wrists and ankles to their bedposts and placed pillowcases over their heads. After restraining the victims, Komisarjevsky and Hayes ransacked the house for cash. They then took Dr. Petit to the basement where they tied him to a support pole. Hayes and Komisarjevsky continued ransacking the house for money but were not satisfied with what they found. They then found a check register with $40,000. They decided to steal $15,000. Surveillance video from a gas station shows Hayes purchasing $10 worth of gasoline in two cans that were taken from the Petit home. After returning to the house, he took Hawke-Petit to the bank. The prosecution later claimed that this was evidence of premeditated murder. Hayes forced Hawke-Petit to withdraw $15,000 from her line of credit when the bank opened. Hawke-Petit informed the bank-teller that men were holding her family hostage in their home and threatening to murder them all. Bank surveillance cameras captured the transaction. The bank manager called 911 and reported the situation to police while Hawke-Petit was still with the teller. The manager reported to the 911 dispatcher, in real-time, as Hawke-Petit left the bank. The manager told the dispatcher that Hawke-Petit had indicated that the home invaders were "being nice", and that she believed they only wanted money. The Cheshire police responded to the bank's report by assessing the situation and setting up a vehicle perimeter, without revealing their presence. During this time, Hayes and Komisarjevsky aggravated the nature of their crimes. Komisarjevsky sexually assaulted 11-year-old Michaela, which he later confessed to when interrogated. He also raped her. Evidence of Komisarjevsky's rape of Michaela comes from her autopsy, during which State Medical Examiner Dr. Wayne Carver found his semen in her body. Komisarjevsky photographed the assault and rape on his cell phone. In his interrogation, he claimed that he believed Michaela was 14 or 16. Forensic testing results showed that there was bleach on Michaela's clothes, indicating that Komisarjevsky may have tried to eliminate DNA evidence from the assault. According to Hayes' confession, Komisarjevsky provoked him into raping Hawke-Petit. Dr. Petit was able to hear the thumping and moaning sounds caused by the rape of his wife. He yelled up and heard one of the invaders say “don’t worry. It’s all gonna be over in a couple of minutes.” Dr. Petit then managed to escape. He later testified in court that he felt a "jolt of adrenaline" and a need to escape after being told this. "I thought, it's now or never because in my mind at that moment, I thought they were going to shoot all of us." Hayes said in his confession that while he was raping Hawke-Petit on the living room floor Komisarjevsky entered and announced that Dr. Petit had escaped. Hayes then strangled Hawke-Petit. He and Komisarjevsky doused her lifeless body and parts of the house, including the daughters' bedrooms, with gasoline. While tied to their beds, both daughters were doused with gasoline as well. Investigators would later find the accelerant on the Petit sister's beds and on the clothing they were wearing. Hayes and Komisarjevsky started a fire and fled the scene. Hayley and Michaela both died of smoke inhalation. Hayley managed to escape her restraints and run out of her bedroom and into the hallway where she collapsed and died. Her body was found at the top of the staircase. Third and fourth-degree burns on her feet indicate that she got very close to the fire around the time she died. The medical examiner who performed an autopsy on her could not determine if the burns occurred before or after her death. Michaela's body was found in her bedroom. She was still in her bed, her hands tied to it and her lower body hanging off of it. Like with her older sister, Michaela's burns may have occurred while she was still alive. Dr. Petit had been able to free himself of his restraints, exit the house, and crawl to a neighbor's yard for help. The neighbor initially did not recognize Dr. Petit due to the severity of his injuries. Hayes and Komisarjevsky fled the scene in the Petit family car. They were immediately spotted by police surveillance, pursued, and arrested one block away after crashing into a police car. The whole invasion lasted seven hours. Both Hayes and Komisarjevsky confessed to the murders. Detectives testified that Hayes smelled of gasoline throughout his interrogation. Each assailant claimed that the other was the driving force and mastermind behind the home invasion. Komisarjevsky also blamed Dr. Petit for the murders. In Komisarjevsky's diary, which was later entered into evidence, he called Dr. Petit a "coward" and claimed that he could have saved his family if he wanted to. Victims: Jennifer Hawke-Petit was a nurse and co-director of the health center at Cheshire Academy, a private boarding school in Cheshire. She met her husband at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh in 1985 when she was a new oncology nurse and he was a third-year medical student at the University of Pittsburgh. She and Dr. Petit married in 1985. The Petit's eldest daughter Hayley had just graduated from Miss Porter's School where she played varsity cross country, basketball, and crew and was a high honor role student. While at Miss Porter's, she was elected to the senior leadership position of Athletic Association Head. She also won a school award for "exceptional community service." Hayley was scheduled to attend Dartmouth College where she wanted to study medicine. Hayley had been an active fundraiser for multiple sclerosis research, following her mother's diagnosis with that disease. She captained a Walk MS Team called Hayley’s Hope. The Petit's youngest daughter Michaela attended the Chase Collegiate School before her death. After Hayley left for college, Michaela planned on taking over Hayley's Hope and renaming it "Michaela's Miracle." Michaela often cooked for her family and had done so the evening before the murders. William Petit, the sole survivor of the home invasion, was an endocrinologist in Plainville, Connecticut. He was also the medical director of the Joslin Diabetes Center at Connecticut's Central Hospital. He survived when he escaped via a direct external exit from the basement despite his injuries. He has not returned to his medical practice since the murders, stating his desire to be active in the foundations set up to honor the memory of his family. He contemplated running for Congress as a Republican, but later decided against it. In the following election cycle, he successfully campaigned for the Connecticut General Assembly and now serves as a state representative. Perpetrators: Steven J. Hayes (born May 30, 1963, in Homestead, Florida) was convicted as an adult for the first time in 1980 at age 16. He was paroled in 1982 but violated it seven weeks later. During the time between this incident and the Cheshire murders, he was arrested nearly 30 times. He spent most of this time incarcerated. His last arrest before the Cheshire murders was in 2004 after he smashed a car window with a rock and stole a woman's purse. He was paroled in 2006 and was sent to the Silliman halfway house where he met Komisarjevsky. Hayes was found guilty on 16 of 17 counts related to the home invasion murders on October 5, 2010. On November 8, 2010, the jury returned with a recommendation for him to be executed. He was formally sentenced to death by Superior Court Judge Jon C. Blue on December 2, 2010. Hayes was an inmate of the Connecticut Department of Correction. Subsequent to sentencing for the Petit murders, and up until August 16, 2016 (when he was transferred to a correctional facility in Pennsylvania as part of an interstate corrections compact), he was incarcerated in the Northern Correctional Institution, which houses the state's death row for men, in Somers, Connecticut. The method of execution employed by Connecticut was lethal injection, and the state execution chamber was located in the Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers. This sentence became an automatic life sentence when Connecticut abolished the death penalty in 2015. Joshua A. Komisarjevsky was Hayes' co-conspirator in the home invasion and murders. He was born in 1980 to a 16-year-old girl impregnated by a mechanic who was "barely out of his teens" according to adoption officials. He was adopted by Benedict Komisarjevsky, the son of theatrical director Theodore Komisarjevsky and dancer Ernestine Stodelle, and his wife Jude (née Motkya). In the early 1990s Komisarjevsky's sister accused him of sexually assaulting her. During the penalty phase of his trial, Komisarjevsky's father conceded that this was probably true. Komisarjevsky committed his first burglary when he was 14. In 2002 he was arrested for 18 home invasions. His defense attorney at the time says that Komisarjevsky told him about every burglary he committed in perfect detail. Komisarjevsky told his attorney that after robbing the houses, he would go to the rooms where the occupants were sleeping and listen to them breathe. He did this because he enjoyed the feeling of invading people’s homes and violating their security. Komisarjevsky was convicted of 12 counts of burglary in December 2002. He was sentenced to nine years in prison with six years of special parole. During sentencing, Judge James Bentivegna described him as a “calculated, cold-blooded predator." Komisarjevsky was paroled in April 2007. Under Connecticut law, prosecutors were supposed to send the parole board a transcript of the sentencing proceeding. But the parole board that released Komisarjevsky never received the transcript and was not aware of all the details regarding his case. After being paroled, Komisarjevsky stayed at the Silliman Halfway House where he met Hayes. Komisarjevsky remained incarcerated at the Walker Reception Center in lieu of a $15 million bond until his conviction. His trial began on September 19, 2011, and on October 13, 2011, he was convicted on all 17 counts. On December 9, 2011, the jury recommended the death penalty. On January 27, 2012, Judge Jon Blue sentenced Komisarjevsky to death by lethal injection. His sentence also became an automatic life sentence when Connecticut abolished the death penalty in 2015. As of August 16, 2016, both Hayes and Komisarjevsky were transferred to separate prison facilities in Pennsylvania to serve their sentences. According to Connecticut state prison officials, the transfer was done as part of an interstate corrections compact due to reasons pertaining to "safety and security." On August 18, after being transferred, Komisarjevsky attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself. Hayes is currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution – Greene, a supermax prison in Franklin Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania. Komisarjevsky is incarcerated in the State Correctional Institution – Phoenix in Skippack Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Komisarjevsky is currently seeking a retrial. Prior to the first trial, his attorneys were not provided with recordings that he says could have helped his case, as they were destroyed due to a lightening strike in 2010. Backups were later found in 2014 at Cheshire Town Hall. Komisarjevsky's attorneys are arguing that the recordings could have helped bolster their argument that the police were inadequate in their response and therefore raise questions about the credibility of their testimony against him. Komisarjevsky also argues that he did not receive a fair trial due to the location it was held in. Judge Jon Blue denied a request by defense attorneys for the trial to be moved from New Haven to Stamford. Komisarjevsky claims that there was so much prejudice against him in New Haven that it was not possible for him to receive a fair trial there. In September 2019 it was revealed that the case would be heard by the Connecticut Supreme Court. The Court heard oral arguments in October 2019. In October 2019, Hayes was revealed to be transgender and to be undergoing hormone therapy in prison as part of his transition into a woman. He also revealed to be suffering from gender dysphoria. Trials- Hayes' trial: Hayes' trial began on September 13, 2010. The jury was composed of seven women and five men. Hayes' defense attorneys argued that Komisarjevsky was the mastermind behind the home invasion and that he was responsible for escalating the violent nature of the crime at every critical point. Prosecutors argued that both perpetrators shared equal responsibility. Following the completion of the trial, the jury deliberated for about five hours and reached guilty verdicts on October 5. The sentencing phase of the trial began on October 18, 2010, during which the jurors had to decide if Hayes should be executed or imprisoned for life. Deliberations began on November 5. The first day of deliberations ended with the jury split over whether to recommend life in prison or death. The second day of these deliberations began on November 6. Defense attorney Thomas Ullman told the jury that a sentence of life in prison would be the harshest possible punishment for his client Hayes, because he was so tormented by his crimes and would be isolated in prison. "Life in prison without the possibility of release is the harshest penalty," Ullman said. "It is a fate worse than death. If you want to end his misery, put him to death. If you want him to suffer and carry that burden forever, the guilt, shame, and humiliation, sentence him to life without the possibility of release." On November 8, 2010, the jury returned with a recommendation that Hayes be executed. The jury recommended a death sentence on each of the six capital felony counts for which Hayes was convicted. In the sentencing phase, the jury had deliberated for about 17 hours, over the course of four days before reaching a decision. Jurors later reported that they deliberated over a long period of time so that they could weigh all the evidence properly. Hayes had attempted to negotiate a life sentence in a plea bargain but prosecutors chose to take the case to trial so that he could get the death penalty. After the verdict, his defense attorney stated: "Hayes smiled upon hearing the jury's recommendation of a death sentence." He then added: "He is thrilled. That's what he's wanted all along." During a press conference after the verdict, Dr. Petit stated: "We all know that God will be the final arbiter and I think the defendant faces far more serious punishments from the Lord than he can ever face from mankind." He also spoke about his family, saying "Michaela was an 11-year-old little girl tortured and killed in her own bedroom, surrounded by stuffed animals. Hayley had a great future. She was a strong and courageous person, and Jennifer helped so many kids." For the first time in state history, the Connecticut state judicial branch offered post-traumatic stress assistance to jurors, who served for two months on the triple-murder trial, because they had been required to look at disturbing images and hear grisly testimony. On December 2, 2010, Hayes apologized for the pain and suffering he had caused the Petit family and added that: "Death for me will be a welcome relief and I hope it will bring some peace and comfort to those who I have hurt so much." Judge Jon Blue formally imposed six death sentences, one for each of the capital charges; Blue then added a sentence of 106 years for other crimes Hayes committed during the home invasion, including kidnapping, burglary, and assault, before finishing with, "This is a terrible sentence, but is, in truth, a sentence you wrote for yourself in flames. May God have mercy on your soul." The judge also gave Hayes an official execution date of May 27, 2011; Blue said that this date was a formality, because if Hayes appealed his case, his execution could be delayed for decades. His death sentence became a life sentence in August 2015 when the state abolished the death penalty. Komisarjevsky's trial: Komisarjevsky's attorneys offered for him to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, but prosecutors took the case to trial in order to get him the death penalty. Komisarjevsky's trial began on September 19, 2011. His attorneys blamed Hayes for the murders, arguing that he was the criminal mastermind, while their client was a confused and easily led man who did not intend to kill anyone. Komisarjevsky was found guilty on October 13, 2011. On December 9, 2011, the jury recommended the death penalty. On January 27, 2012, Komisarjevsky was sentenced to death by lethal injection. During the hearing, Judge Blue said "This is a terrible sentence, but it's one you wrote for yourself with deeds of unimaginable horror and savagery." Komisarjevsky made a statement during the sentencing hearing. He spoke about the shame, disappointment and hurt he had caused, saying: "I will never find peace within. My life will be a continuation of the hurt I caused. The clock is now ticking and I owe a debt I cannot repay." Though he acknowledged taking part in the crime, he insisted that he did not intend to kill anyone, saying: "Millions have judged me guilty of capital offenses I did not commit. I did not intend for those women to die. They were never supposed to lose their lives. I don't need twelve people to tell me what I'm guilty or not guilty of. None of them were there that morning. I know my responsibilities. I will bear them as I should. What I cannot do is claim responsibility for the actions of another." He spoke about how the trial affected him, saying that he had become "quite comfortable in the face of hatred and bigotry" and said that the jury who recommended the death penalty for him "believed me so worthless even my very existence is deemed intolerable." He also said that forgiveness was not his to have, and that he needed to forgive his worst enemy – himself. During his victim impact statement, Dr. Petit described the crime as his personal holocaust and said "I have a difficult time sleeping and trusting anymore. I hope to continue to honor my family. I push forward in the hope that good will overcome evil." Blue set July 20, 2012, as Komisarjevsky's execution date. As with Hayes, Komisarjevsky's death sentence was turned into a life sentence in August 2015. Subsequent developments in Connecticut capital punishment law: The Cheshire home invasion murders had a significant impact on Connecticut’s laws regarding the death penalty and on the debate surrounding the topic. The case motivated proponents of Connecticut's death penalty and was cited as a reason that any repeal of the capital punishment in the state should not extend to those already on death row. The Hartford Courant listed the Cheshire murders and the subsequent death penalty repeal as some of the top stories that shaped the 2010s. “The Cheshire home invasion murders and the subsequent repeal of the death penalty dominated the political and criminal justice landscapes in Connecticut for the first half of the decade." The murders halted momentum to end the state's death penalty and ultimately delayed that abolition. In 2009, the Connecticut General Assembly sent legislation to abolish the state's death penalty to Governor M. Jodi Rell ostensibly to be signed into law. However, on June 5, 2009, Rell vetoed the bill instead and cited the Cheshire murders as an exemplary reason for doing so. On November 8, 2010, Rell issued the following statement regarding the jury's recommendation of a sentence of death for Hayes: The crimes that were committed on that brutal July night were so far out of the range of normal understanding that now, more than three years later, we still find it difficult to accept that they happened in one of our communities. I have long believed that there are certain crimes so heinous, so depraved, that society is best served by imposing the ultimate sanction on the criminal. Steven Hayes stands convicted of such crimes – and today the jury has recommended that he should be subjected to the death penalty. I agree. On April 11, 2012, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted to repeal capital punishment for future cases (leaving past death sentences in place). The Connecticut Senate had already voted for the bill, and on April 25 Governor Dan Malloy signed the bill into law. In August 2015, the Connecticut Supreme Court declared all capital punishment inconsistent with the state constitution, effectively commuting the killers' sentences to life imprisonment. Aftermath: The home invasion murders led to immediate calls for reforms to Connecticut’s criminal justice system. On July 31, 2007, Governor Rell ordered electronic monitoring of paroled burglars. On September 21 she banned parole for violent offenders and ordered a review of convicts already on parole. On July 31 Governor Rell called for a special session to consider tougher crime legislation and on August 31 she appointed a task force to examine Connecticut's criminal justice system. On January 25, 2008, Rell signed a 43-page bipartisan crime bill. Home invasion became a new class of crime which could result in a prison sentence of up to 25 years. The bill also paid for an upgrade to computer systems for law enforcement agencies. In 2007, John Carpenter, an employee of the Chase Collegiate School, ran the New York City Marathon, raising $8,554 for the "Miles for Michaela" campaign – a scholarship benefit. The same year, William Petit established the Michaela Rose Petit '14 Scholarship Fund of the Chase Collegiate School. He also established the Hayley's Hope & Michaela's Miracle MS Memorial Fund. On January 6, 2008, over 130,000 luminaria candles were lit in front of thousands of homes across Cheshire in "Cheshire Lights of Hope", a fundraiser for multiple sclerosis and a tribute to the Petit family. Founded by a local couple, Don and Jenifer Walsh, the event raised over $100,000 for Hayley's Hope and Michaela's Miracle Memorial funds. The murder, and its aftermath, were featured on the news magazine show Dateline NBC, in a segment titled "The Family on Sorghum Mill Drive", and on December 9, 2010, William Petit appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in a full-hour episode about the murders of his family and the work of the Petit Family Foundation. On August 5, 2012, Petit married Christine Paluf, and moved to Farmington, Connecticut. He met her when she was volunteering with the Petit Family Foundation. HBO broadcast a documentary by filmmaker David Heilbroner called The Cheshire Murders about the murders on July 22, 2013. On August 1, 2013, Petit told station WFSB that he and Paluf were expecting a child together. The baby, who was revealed to be a boy and named William Petit III, was born on November 23, 2013. In October 2013, Petit announced that he was considering running for Congress for the Republican Party after being approached by the National Republican Congressional Committee, who had asked him if he would be interested in running. Petit ultimately decided not to be a candidate. But in May 2016, Petit announced a bid for Connecticut's 22nd House District. Petit was elected, ousting 11-term Democratic Representative Betty Boukus, and currently serves as representative in the Connecticut House of Representatives. Dr. Petit condemned the state's decision to abolish the death penalty in August 2015, saying he believed the court had overstepped its powers and urging it to give greater consideration to the "emotional impact, particularly on victims and their loved ones" that death penalty cases generate. Hawke-Petit's sister Cindy Hawke Renn told NBC News that she was "disheartened" by the court's ruling.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Saw-Killer of Hanover

The Saw-Killer of Hanover (German: Leichenfunde von Hannover) is the name of an unidentified German serial killer, who's supposedly responsible for murdering and dismembering at least four women and two men, whose body parts were found in Hanover and the surrounding area in the 1970s. None of the victims have been identified, and the case is also referred to as The Found Corpses of Hanover. The "SOKO Torso" Unit of the Hanoverian police, directed by Commissioner Günter Nowatius, investigated the murders at the time. Discovery: A total of 13 body parts were found in the years from 1975 to 1977, including a severed forearm at a power plant, a lower body in the city park and a torso on a dirt road. On September 26, 1975, the first corpse was found at the hydroelectric power plant Schneller Graben, near Maschsee. The torso of a young woman was found by a worker. The breasts of the deceased were severed and the abdomen cleared. The body had probably been in the water for about 10 to 14 days. The woman was about 23 to 25 years old and 155 centimeters tall. She had a scar on her abdomen and had given birth to at least one child. The body had been tied together with a decoration cord. The Special Commission designated the corpse as Torso 1; it was probably cut with either a saw (circular or band saw) or a surgical instrument, used to sever the torso from the woman's arms and legs. Despite having the fingerprints examined, authorities couldn't identify the victim. In the period from February 21 to 28, 1976, two upper halves of a body and the leg of a woman aged 25 and with a height of about 170 inches were found. The time of death had to occur two to three weeks before finding the body parts. The two halves of the thorax were later discovered between parked cars at the Hanoverian Landesfunkhaus Niedersachsen. The other leg was found in a dumpster by students of the local girls' school in Bonner Straße Other body parts were found floating in the Leine at Rudolf-von-Bennigsen-Ufer or close to the Maschsee. In the period from May 28 to June 11, 1977, six body parts from a young man were found at the hydroelectric power plant, always on the weekends. The victim was estimated to be 17 or 18 years old, and 170 centimeters tall. He also had an Iron Cross tattoed on his upper body. On June 5, the arm of an approximately 50-year-old man was found, again at the power plant. On July 10, the lower body of a woman was discovered by a person walking along the Eilenriede forest. The victim was at least 40 years old and was around 150 or 160 centimeters tall, wore a shoe size of 36, had an apprendectomy, had at least one child and suffered from atherosclerosis. The lower body had been severed with a machine saw. The finds from 1977 assured the coroner that the victims had suffered violence before being murdered. On December 18, the last corpse from the series was discovered on a dirt road near Hanover. The upper body of a 50-to-60-year-old woman was found wrapped up in an old cotton blanket, had strangulation marks on the neck, and both her arms and legs had been cut off. The woman was between 160 and 170 centimeters tall, had also had an appendectomy and at least one child born. An autopsy revealed that her death was caused by suffocation. Investigation: The common pattern from all the found corpses is that for most of the victims, the cause of death could not be determined. They were only dead for a short time before discovery, and were cut up with a saw or surgical instrument. The whereabouts of the rest of the bodies remain unknown. The body parts were always disposed of on Saturdays in conspicious places, so that they could easily be found by passers-by. According to Chief Detective Günter Nowatius, who investigated the case, the police had "no crime scene, no time of the crime, and neither the perpetrator's nor the victim's identity", and once the eleven individual body parts were assigned anatomically to the six victims, the situation complicated further: According to SOKO "Torso", the offender did not have profound anatomical knowledge, with the cuts being severed at the joints suggesting it might be the work of a butcher. It is striking that the perpetrators had no aspirations to hide body parts of the victims, but even with a certain "exhibitionist tendency" within two kilometers of the city near Maschsee, he dumped then not far from where the police headquarters of Hanover were located. The main obstacle to the investigation was the fact that none of the victims' identities were discovered. According to Nowatius, the offender would otherwise have "barely a chance to remain undetected". The perpetrator-victim relationships remained unknown. Investigations in local morgues, surveys of undertakers and the systematic comparison of missing persons did not uncover any clues. No missing person would fit with the body parts discovered. One possible motive could be the intention to put the inhabitants of Hanover into a panic. The criminologist Stephan Harbort suspected that this person was a "highly pathological" perpetrator. Police suspected that the perpetrator was on weekday employment and had to store the bodies cool in the meantime, to then transport them at the weekend by a car and drape them at conspicuous places, where there was much traffic. The case gained popularity after being broadcast on Aktenzeichen XY … ungelöst, with a very strong interest and cooperative participation from the audience. The fact that the murders ended abruptly in 1977 meant that the culprit probably changed his residence, was jailed at a correctional facility for another offense, or had died. Recent developments: Olaf Weinert and the Andrea B. case: More than 20 years later, in 1999, the case regained relevance when a female torso was found in Isenbüttel. This discovery led to the trail of a former butcher's apprentice Olaf Weinert from Walkenried, who confessed to this murder and was also convicted of other homicides. The first murder was a retiree from Celle who had been killed and dismembered by him. Weinert sought out his victims, among other things, from the street on Moorwaldweg, which was then located near the dump on Altwarmbüchener Lake. However, no connection could be established with the bodies from the 1970s. In autumn 2012, a similar case occurred, in which Ukrainian-German rapper and neo-Nazi Sash JM (real name Alexander K.), called the "Maschsee Killer", also dismembered his victim. The police took the 25-year-old violent offender, who by then had been admitted in a psychiatric clinic. The motive for the crime was murder. Andrea B. had probably been a victim of chance.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Murder of Jason Gage

Jason Gage was a 29-year-old gay man who was murdered in his Waterloo, Iowa apartment. The murder was compared by the national press to the slaying of Matthew Shepard and prompted a push for citywide laws protecting LGBT people. Background: Jason Gage was last seen alive on March 11, 2005, socializing with friends in Waterloo's downtown bars. Sometime that night he went home to his apartment in the Russell-Lamson building. With him was 23-year-old Joseph Lawrence. Gage was originally from Oelwein, Iowa. He'd lived in Chicago and Milwaukee before moving to Waterloo years earlier. He settled downtown, and worked waiting tables in the Italian restaurant of his apartment building. He enrolled at the College of Hair Design in Waterloo, Iowa, in January 2003, and his friends said he dreamed of working in a big city salon. Lawrence was born in Seaford, Delaware. He was removed from his birth parents after severe abuse and spent several years in foster care before being adopted at age 5. He moved with his adoptive parents to Maryland, New Jersey, and then to Ohio. During his time in Ohio, he decided he no longer wanted to be adopted and moved back into foster care at age 16. From there, he moved to Phoenix, Arizona and then on to New Mexico. In early 2003, Lawrence moved from Farmington, New Mexico where he had been an oil worker to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to be with his girlfriend—Elizabeth Hostetler—who was six months pregnant with their child. The couple—who had been together for a year—decided to move to Cedar Falls, because Hostetler had many "lifelong friends" in the area who could help with the baby. Hostetler said she introduced Gage and Lawrence about a week before Gage's murder. Hostetler had met Gage through an acquaintance and had known him for about two years. Murder: Witnesses said Gage and Lawrence were together the night Gage was killed. They were seen at Kings & Queens, the local gay club, before heading to an after hours party at The Times Bar. The two left at some point and headed back to Gage's apartment. According to Hostetler, Gage told Lawrence that he could wait for a ride at his apartment two blocks away from The Times Bar. A female friend and roommate of Hostetler's said Lawrence called late Friday or early Saturday asking for a ride home from downtown, because he "didn't like the hospitality of the place," and needed a ride or he was going to "end up in jail". An investigator said he received a call from a man who had been asked to give Lawrence a ride home from a downtown club. Lawrence never showed up for the ride, and the man said he later heard from Hostetler that Lawrence had beaten up Gage. In the early hours of March 12, phone records show Lawrence sent several text messages to friends in Iowa and New Mexico via his cell phone. "I just killed a guy I think," one read. A second sent to Michael Bailey in New Mexico flashed "U need to call me soon." A phone conversation between Bailey and Lawrence, in which Lawrence said "some guy" tried to "hit on him real bad" and described "a fight that got way out of hand," indicated that Lawrence may not have known Gage was dead. Discovery and arrest: At 11:00 p.m. on March 14, 2005, Gage's body was found in his bed when police entered his apartment, after friends expressed their concern that Gage did not show up at work on Monday and had not been seen for three days. Gage had been bludgeoned in the head with a bottle and stabbed in the neck with a shard of glass. Hours later, 23-year-old Joseph Lawrence of Cedar Falls was arrested and charged with Gage's murder. Police said Lawrence admitted he had fought with Gage, hit him with a bottle, and stabbed him in the neck with a piece of glass. An autopsy revealed that Gage died from severe head injuries. Gage's body lacked any defensive wounds that would suggest he had warded off an attack. When police entered Gage's apartment, two glasses were out, suggesting that Gates and Lawrence had been drinking and watching television. Confession and motive: Lawrence gave a videotaped statement at the Waterloo police station after plain-clothes police officer went to the home he shared with Hostetler and asked him to come in for questioning. In a police affidavit, Lawrence acknowledged hitting Gage twice with a bottle and stabbing him with a piece of glass. Hostetler, Lawrence's fiancée, offered a motive when she said Lawrence told her Gage had made sexual advances. Hostetler said that Lawrence had gay friends, hung out with gay people, and did not have "violent tendencies." She said that Gage must have made physical advances, the incident would never have happened had Lawrence not been drunk. "This was not a hate crime," Hostetler said. Hate crime charge considered: The Iowa Code does not have a law defining murder based on racial or sexual bias as hate crime. Murder, regardless of motive, is punishable by life in prison without parole. Another state law mentioned in Lawrence's case, titled "violation of individual rights," prohibits assaults, vandalism and trespass for reasons of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, age, or disability. In trial information formally charging Lawrence with murder, the prosecutor included a theory that Lawrence killed Gage while committing the crime of assault in violation of individual rights. Community response: Following Gage's death, the Waterloo Human Rights Commission asked the City Council to add sexual orientation protections to the city's human rights ordinance, permissible under Iowa state law. Waterloo Mayor Tim Hurley joined the commission in condemning Gage's murder, in a press conference outside the commission's offices, but said he had not formed an opinion on the addition of sexual orientation to the city's human rights ordinance. Gage's friends held candlelight vigils outside his apartment building, and his family and classmates held a memorial outside of the beauty school. His wake in Oelwein was attended by hundreds, and his funeral drew a crowd too large for the funeral home where it was held. Friends and community members started a scholarship in Gage's name, and sold T-shirts and buttons with his image to raise money. Three area churches took up collections for Gage. A benefit to raise money for the scholarship fund was held at the city convention center and attracted numerous attendees. It also attracted protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. About 20 Westboro members picketed six area churches and stood outside the convention center carrying signs and shouting that Gage was in hell. They were then joined by a second group, Consuming Fire Campus Ministries, let by Matt Bourgault. Plea and sentencing: On December 16, 2005, as part of a plea agreement, Joseph Lawrence entered an Alford plea in the case of Jason Gage's murder. The plea allowed Lawrence to avoid admitting guilt while acknowledging that he would likely have been found guilty of Gage's murder had the case gone to trial. Originally charged with first degree murder, which would have meant a life sentence without parole, Lawrence pleaded to the lesser charge of second degree murder. As part of the plea agreement, Lawrence also waived his right to appeal the plea and the sentence, and to pay a $150,000 civil penalty to Gage's estate. After entering his plea, Lawrence added "I have nothing appropriate to say," and sat silent during his sentencing. Judge Bruce Zager sentenced Lawrence to 50 years, which was the mandatory punishment under Iowa law. Lawrence must serve at least 70 percent—35 years—of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

Killing of Guin Richie Phillips

Guin "Richie" Phillips was a 36-year-old gay man in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Phillips disappeared on June 17, 2003. His body was found on June 25, 2003, in a suitcase in Rough River Lake. Background: On June 17, 2003, Phillips was seen having lunch at a restaurant in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, with a friend later identified by investigators as 21-year-old Joshua Cottrell. Several days later, his truck and other belongings were found abandoned in southern Indiana. A witness later told police she saw Phillips and Cottrell together in Phillips's truck the same day. That was the last time Phillips was seen alive. Phillips's mother – Marge Phillips – reported her son missing and told police she feared he had been harmed because he was gay. Discovery and arrest: On Wednesday, June 25, 2003, two fishermen pulled a suitcase out of Rough River Lake, unzipped it and found Phillips's body inside. Phillips was identified by personal items found with the body and a Wildcat tattoo on the shoulder. On Friday, June 27, 2003, Cottrell, an acquaintance of Phillips's, was arrested and charged with Phillips's murder. Prosecutors announced that they would seek the death penalty in the case. Trial and testimony: Cottrell was arraigned on June 28, 2005, at the Breckinridge County Courthouse, where he pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering Phillips. He was then held on $500,000 bond. In October 2003 Cottrell's trial was moved to Hardin County based on forensic evidence that showed Phillips was most likely killed in Cottrell's Elizabethtown hotel room. The change in jurisdiction delayed the start of the trial. A canceled check introduced into evidence showed that Cottrell purchased the suitcase six days before the murder. Drops of Phillips' blood were found on the bathroom tiles in the hotel. Cottrell's DNA was also found on a cigarette in Phillips' truck. Previously, investigators were unsure whether Phillips had been killed at Rough River Lake, where his body was found, or elsewhere. In May 2004, the trial was further delayed when Judge Henry Bland ordered a continuance after Cottrell's defense attorney filed new discovery documents. The trial got under way in January 2005, at the Hardin County courthouse. Friend and family testify: Rob Dewitt, a friend who introduced Phillips to Cottrell three years earlier said that Cottrell bought a set of luggage at the Elizabethtown J. C. Penney. Cottrell told Dewitt that he was planning to travel. Dewitt testified in court that he told Cottrell that Phillips was attracted to him, and that Cottrell said he would "cold-cock" Phillips if he ever made a pass at him. Dewitt also testified that he had never seen Phillips act in an aggressive manner. Cottrell's aunt – Wendy McAnly – testified that Cottrell confessed to the crime more than a week earlier, but his family didn't believe him. Cottrell's aunt and cousin testified that he had planned to kill Phillips because he was gay, and had lured Phillips into his hotel room where he hit and strangled him. McAnly said that Cottrell invited Phillips to his Elizabethtown motel room. When Phillips arrived, Cottrell asked if Phillips liked him without his shirt, and when Phillips said yes and touched him, Cottrell put him in a headlock and choked him. Cottrell's cousin – Tara Gaddie – testified that Cottrell arrived at her home in Phillips' truck after disposing of his body in Rough River Lake, and answered "He's gone. He's dead," when she asked him what he'd done. Gaddie also said she never heard Cottrell talk about strangling Phillips or use derogatory terms to describe him. Cottrell's testimony: In court, Cottrell testified that after he drove Phillips around Elizabethtown looking for a job, Phillips came into his motel room uninvited, tried to kiss him, and attempted to force him into oral sex. Cottrell then put Phillips in a headlock, pulled him to the floor and "started hitting him as hard as I could, as many times as I could." When he realized Phillips was dead, Cottrell says he panicked and put his body into the suitcase, which he said in court he'd brought to haul his belongings as he drifted between motel rooms and friends' houses. "Gay panic defense": Cottrell's defense attorney employed what is called a gay panic defense, arguing that Phillips's own actions "led to a chain of events that caused his death, " and that Cottrell was within his rights under Kentucky law to fight back to protect himself from being raped, including use of deadly force if necessary. "But what set it all in motion, he was privileged to do," Drabenstadt said. "What set it in motion were the actions of a 36-year-old man." Drabestadt may have been referring to a Kentucky "stand-your-ground" law permitting people to use deadly force to protect themselves against death, serious physical injury, kidnapping, and forced sexual intercourse. In February 2001, Kentucky Representative Bob Damron sponsored a bill that would have added "deviant sexual intercourse" to the existing law. The Kentucky House Judiciary Committee amended the measure to replace "deviant sexual intercourse" with "forced sodomy," and clarify its definitions of "force," "threat," and "attempt." Prosecuting attorney Chris Shaw argued in closing that Cottrell lured Phillips to his room in order to kill him, and then attempted to cover it up in a cold, calculated manner. Shaw added that Phillips's sexual orientation was immaterial in the case, except for Cottrell's "steaming anger" toward gay men. Shaw said that if Phillips made sexual advances Cottrell should have walked away. Verdict and sentencing: After deliberating for nine hours, the jury returned with its verdict. The jury had the option of finding Cottrell guilty of murder, reckless homicide, or manslaughter. The jury rejected the murder charge and instead found Cottrell guilty of second degree manslaughter, theft by taking of more than 300 dollars, and tampering with physical evidence. Cottrell was sentenced on March 1, 2005. The jury recommended Cottrell be sentenced to 30 years; 20 for manslaughter, and another ten for theft and tampering with evidence. However, state law limited the judge to sentencing Cottrell to a maximum of 20 years. In Kentucky, committing a crime against someone because of the victim's sexual orientation is considered a hate crime. At sentencing, a judge may deny probation or parole if it is determined that the victim's race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, or religion was a "primary factor" in committing the offense. The prosecution in Cottrell's case did not pursue hate crime charges against him. Neither the defense nor the victim's family had immediate comment on the verdict or sentencing. One month later Greg Phillips, the victim's brother, told The Advocate, "I think they were looking at my brother being a homosexual when they made their decision to pick the lesser charge." Cottrell was eligible for parole in July, 2007—2½ years after his conviction.

Seminole Heights serial killer

The Seminole Heights serial killer is an alleged serial killer who is believed to have murdered four people in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa, Florida, in October and November 2017. All four victims were shot dead seemingly at random. On November 28, 2017, police arrested Howell Emanuel "Trai" Donaldson III after he handed a pistol in a bag to his manager, who alerted police. Subsequent investigation revealed that the pistol may have fired the bullets used in the killings and that Donaldson's cell phone had been in the vicinity of the killings at the relevant times, while a search of Donaldson's vehicle found clothing similar to that seen in surveillance footage of the killing. On that basis, police charged Donaldson with four counts of murder. Donaldson stated that the pistol belonged to him but did not state whether he had committed the killings. Donaldson was indicted on the charges on December 7, 2017. He pleaded not guilty to all charges five days later. On January 23, 2018, Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren announced that the state would seek the death penalty against Donaldson. Victims- Benjamin Edward Mitchell: A man was shot and killed at about 12:00 p.m. on October 9, 2017, as he was waiting at a bus stop near N 15th Street and E Frierson Avenue in the Seminole Heights neighborhood. The victim was identified as Benjamin Edward Mitchell, a 22-year-old African American man. He is the first known victim of the unidentified killer. Mitchell had left his home about a block away and was on his way to see his girlfriend. Monica Caridad Hoffa: On the morning of October 13, a city landscape crew was about to mow an overgrown field in the 1000 block of E New Orleans Avenue when they stumbled upon a woman's body. The victim, later identified as Monica Caridad Hoffa, a 32-year-old white female, was shot dead while walking to a friend's home. The shooting is believed to have happened on the evening of October 11 or some time on October 12. Police said there was no clear connection between Hoffa and Mitchell, the first victim. Her body was found a half mile from where Mitchell was killed. Anthony Naiboa: A 20-year-old Hispanic man was shot dead at about 7:57 p.m. on October 19, on 15th Street near Wilder Avenue. Anthony Naiboa, who was diagnosed with autism and ADHD, ended up in the area after taking the wrong bus home from work. He was walking toward a Route 9 stop when he was shot in the head and killed on the sidewalk. He was the eldest of five siblings and child of Carmen Rodriguez and Casimar Naiboa. He was born in the Bronx, New York, but moved to Florida when he was nine years old to pursue a better education. He graduated Middleton High School in 2016 with a regular diploma despite his disabilities and has been described as a "symbol of determination." Ronald Felton: At about 4:50 a.m. on November 14, a 60-year-old man was crossing N. Nebraska Avenue just north of E. Caracas Street when the suspect came up behind him and fatally shot him. The victim, identified as Ronald Felton, was walking to the New Seasons Apostolic Ministries to meet the pastor to get ready to distribute food to families in need. He had been a volunteer at the food bank for more than a decade. Community response: On October 13, police deduced that the murder of Mitchell and Hoffa were connected based on ballistic evidence showing bullets from both victims came from the same Glock handgun. They increased patrols in the area and issued a statement urging people to not walk alone at night. Except for a grainy security cam video of a man in a hoodie, Tampa police had very few leads, and no suspects. Dozens of people from the Tampa Bay area came together to mourn the deaths of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa, and Ronald Felton on separate occasions, as well. On Halloween Day, 2017, over 50 police officers were stationed in the Seminole Heights area, as well as Tampa's Interim Police Chief (now full fledged Chief of Police) Brian Dugan and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, to ensure a safe night of trick-or-treating for the community's youth. Officers from FHP, Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office and Tampa Officers were stationed throughout the community in cars and on horseback. A $110,000 reward was put forward for information leading to the person(s) responsible for the murders. Portions were contributed by local law enforcement, FBI, CrimeStoppers, Tampa restaurateur Richard Gonzmart, and community fundraisers. Investigation: Surveillance video from the murders of Mitchell and Felton showed the suspect wearing a hoodie that was apparently light-colored, though detectives said the colors are misleading as dark colors often appear as light colors in infrared video. Furthermore, after Felton's murder, witnesses told police that the suspect was wearing all-dark clothing. At least one witness described the suspect as a black male with a light complexion and a thin build, estimated to be about 6 to 6 feet 2 inches tall. The Tampa Police Department arrested a suspect, Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, on November 28, 2017, at a McDonald's fast food restaurant in Ybor City. Donaldson, who worked at the restaurant, told Delonda Walker, his manager, that he was going to an Amscot location and would leave town after securing a cash advance, then handed her a gun wrapped in a paper salad bag. Walker notified a police officer who was coincidentally in the restaurant's parking lot. The officer called for backup, and police were waiting to arrest Donaldson by the time he returned. Donaldson consented to a search of his vehicle, where Tampa police found clothes, stained with what appeared to be blood and fitting the description derived from security footage and eyewitness accounts. They also discovered that his cell phone location data aligned with the date, time, and location of that provided in the security footage. Tampa police claim that ballistics tests show that Donaldson's Glock was used to commit all four killings, and that shell casings matching the weapon were found at the scenes of the crimes. His trial is scheduled to begin on August 10, 2020. If found guilty, Donaldson could face the death penalty. Delonda Walker was given the $110,000 reward for providing information leading to the arrest of the alleged serial killer.

Disappearance of Alex Sloley

Alexander Sloley disappeared without a trace or apparent cause on 11 July 2008 in the London Borough of Enfield. There has been no evidence of his fate. Background: Sloley went by the nickname “Gog”. He had studied at the Islington Arts and Media School and was attending City and Islington College. Sloley was 16 years of age when he disappeared and was only two days away from his 17th birthday. Sloley was described as someone who dressed smartly and was not scruffy. Sloley liked football and eating traditional West Indian food such as fried plantain, dumplings, and porridge. His parents were separated, and he had three sisters: Tasha, Tazrah, and Lattina. Sloley’s father, Christopher died in 2014 without learning of his son's fate. Disappearance: Sloley had been staying at a friend's house in Edmonton. He left there around noon on 11 July 2008 to return home for his birthday, but never arrived. When he disappeared he had little money and no change of clothes. Sloley did not have his passport with him. Sloley has a mobile phone with him but it stopped connecting when he went missing. His disappearance was uncharacteristic. Police found nothing to indicate where Sloley may have gone. “It’s like he disappeared off the face of the planet,” one officer said in 2012. No trace of Sloley was ever recovered from CCTV footage. Subsequent investigation: In September 2009 a possible sighting was reported in Ilford, but has never been confirmed. In October 2009 the charity Missing People and supermarket Iceland arranged for Sloley's story and photo to appear on milk cartons. Sloley's was one of the first cases to be publicised in such a manner, and he was featured on nearly 13.5m milk cartons. In July 2015, Sloley's mother Nerissa Tivy was surprised to learn that police had received numerous reports of sightings in 2009. Tivy stated that she had met with police a number of times and they had never told her about this list. In September 2017 Mick Neville, retired head of the Metropolitan Police’s Central Images Unit, drew comparisons between Sloley's disappearance and that of another bright maths student who disappeared without a trace. Andrew Gosden was 14 when he disappeared in 2007, less than a year before Sloley. Gosden's last known location was King’s Cross, and when Sloley disappeared he was thought to have been on his way to Islington, which is two miles from King’s Cross. “It raises the question on whether there is a serial killer on the prowl? the potential links between these cases need to be recognised,” said Neville. In September 2019 the Metropolitan Police released an updated e-fit depicting Sloley as he may look at that time. It was reported that there had been no use of Sloley’s, national insurance, bank account or passport in the intervening 11 years. Detective Constable Tom Boom of the Missing Persons Unit stated that there was no evidence of harm but the case had gone cold and there were no major leads. Criticism of police investigation: Sloley's mother feels police could have done more to look for her son. Police have maintained that everything possible was done to find him.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Freeman family murders

The Freeman family murders took place in Salisbury Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania on February 26, 1995. Together with their cousin, Nelson "Ben" Birdwell III, Bryan and David Freeman killed their parents, Brenda and Dennis Freeman, and their 11-year-old brother, Erik Freeman. For several years the brothers had been embracing neo-Nazi culture, though this had escalated in the months before the killings, with them going so far as to tattoo Nazi slogans on their foreheads. At the time of the murders, Bryan was 17 years old and David was 16. Both brothers and their cousin were given life sentences without the possibility of parole, though none of the three were convicted in the murder of Erik Freeman. It was reported in 2014 that those sentences would be upheld, despite the recent Supreme Court ruling that mandatory life-without-parole sentences were unconstitutional for juveniles convicted of murder.

Disappearance of Christopher Kerze

Christopher Matthew Kerze is a missing American teenager from Eagan, Minnesota, who was last seen on April 20, 1990. His abandoned vehicle was found two days after his disappearance. He is featured in Soul Asylum's music video for Runaway Train. Disappearance: On April 20, 1990, Kerze reportedly stayed home from school indicating that he was sick. The family vehicle, a blue 1988 Dodge Caravan, was missing when his parents returned home later that day. They found a note from Kerze stating that he would be back by 6 pm unless he got lost – which was unusual, as the word lost was underlined twice on the note. The family then received a letter from Duluth, Minnesota, on April 21, 1990, that indicated that Kerze may have lied to gain usage of the van and the writer indicated they did not know where Kerze was going. Kerze had an O.F. Mossberg & Sons 20-gauge shotgun with him, although he had not taken any ammunition. Authorities have speculated that he may have discarded the gun but they are not certain of that. The van was located abandoned two days later on April 22, 1990, near Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Searching for Christopher: After Christopher's disappearance, posters were distributed and extensive searches were made in an attempt to find him. In 2004 an anonymous letter was received by the Eagan Police Department suggesting they should stop trying to find Kerze and he would return home when he is ready. The police were unable to authenticate the communication. There was renewed interest in the case in late 2016 after Jacob Wetterling's case was resolved. New age-progressed photos of Kerze were created and missing persons posters were distributed with those photos. The family also gave media interviews regarding the case.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Phoenix Sinclair

Phoenix Victoria Hope Sinclair was a Canadian five-year-old girl who was murdered by her mother and stepfather. The circumstances of her life and death resulted in one of the largest public inquiries ever held in Manitoba, examining the child welfare system. Biography: Phoenix Sinclair was born on 23 April 2000 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to Samantha Kematch and Steve Sinclair. Her father chose her name. Both of her parents had previous involvement with child welfare authorities, and Kematch had a previous child who was a permanent ward of the state. Phoenix was immediately placed in the custody of the Child and Family Services (CFS) agency, as her parents were assessed as being unprepared to care for a baby. She was first housed in a temporary shelter and later with foster parents, where her parents were allowed visitation rights. Phoenix was returned to her parents in September, with conditions including that they receive training on how to care for children and supervision from social services; however, according to the inquiry on Phoenix's case, the training and assessment provided by CFS was inadequate. Phoenix's sister, Echo, was born 29 April 2001, at which point another CFS assessment was made but no change in custody was ordered. Police responded to a domestic violence call at the family home in June 2001; the couple had reportedly separated by early July 2001, with Steve Sinclair caring for both girls. Echo died of a respiratory infection on 15 July. As of summer 2001, Phoenix's case had been referred to CFS on several occasions. The agency considered Steve Sinclair to be the "primary caregiver" of record for Phoenix. However, during this period she spent most of her time at the home of Kim Edwards, a family friend. The agency's file on Phoenix was closed in early 2002, but another was opened when Phoenix was hospitalized in February 2003, as medical personnel expressed concerns regarding possible neglect. At the time of her hospitalization, she had had a foreign body (a piece of Styrofoam) lodged in her nose for nearly four months, and staff did not know whether her father would provide her with the necessary antibiotics to deal with the resulting infection. She was taken into custody by CFS in June 2003 and placed in the temporary guardianship of Kim Edwards in early July. In April 2004, Samantha Kematch took Phoenix from Edwards for what was to be a temporary visit. Around this time, Kematch became involved with Karl "Wes" McKay, and Phoenix began living full-time with the couple; Steve Sinclair left the province to live in Ontario. Phoenix was registered at Wellington School for nursery school in fall 2004, but school personnel reported never encountering either her or Kematch. New CFS files were opened for the family in November 2004, when the couple had another baby, and in March 2005 after reports of abuse; both were quickly closed. McKay and Kematch moved to Fisher River Cree Nation in April 2005, taking with them Phoenix, their other child, and a twelve-year-old son of McKay's from a previous relationship; a second son (aged 14) also lived with them occasionally. Another CFS file was opened in May 2005 after someone claiming to be a relative called the agency with concerns of possible neglect. On 11 June 2005, Phoenix Sinclair died. In the period leading up to her death, she had been physically and verbally abused by both McKay and Kematch. She was made to sleep in a cold basement, was given very little food, and was forced to eat her own vomit. McKay shot her with a BB gun and frequently played a "game" called "choking the chicken" in which he would strangle Phoenix until she lost consciousness. According to his testimony, on the day Phoenix died McKay's 12-year-old son saw his father beat her continuously for over 15 minutes as her mother looked on; when the pair left the house, the boy found that Phoenix was not breathing. Aftermath: McKay's sons were returned to their mother in Winnipeg by CFS in July 2005. McKay and Kematch also returned to the city with their baby in late 2005, and had a second child together in December; they continued to claim welfare funds for Phoenix, and told acquaintances that the girl was living with her father or another relative. In early March 2006, McKay's sons and their mother reported Phoenix's death to police. McKay and Kematch were arrested after trying to pass off another girl as Phoenix. Phoenix's body was found at the landfill at Fisher River on 18 March. The couple were convicted of first-degree murder in late 2008 and sentenced to life imprisonment. The convictions were later confirmed on appeal. Phoenix was buried in Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg in April 2009. An official inquiry into the case of Phoenix Sinclair was announced in October 2006 but was delayed until the completion of legal proceedings against Kematch and McKay. The Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU), which represents the social workers employed by CFS, filed a challenge to the province's authority to convene an inquiry on the case in early 2012, but the challenge was dismissed, as was a later attempt to impose a publication ban on the names of the social workers involved. The inquiry officially began on 5 September 2012 but was delayed by further legal challenges; it resumed in November. Further delays arose in February and March 2013 concerning a conflict of interest problem for some lawyers involved and a publication ban on the name of McKay's sons and their mother (which was granted). The inquiry was finally completed in July 2013 and the final report released in January 2014. All told, the inquiry cost between C$10 and 14 million, making it one of the largest and most expensive in Manitoba history. The inquiry report, written by commissioner Ted Hughes, made "62 recommendations for improving the child welfare system and is a call out to address 'deeply rooted' issues". He also recommended changes to the provincial school curricula and to programs for supporting those on welfare, among others. The province of Manitoba announced that it had or was planning to implement many of the suggested changes, and issued a formal apology, stating that "the child welfare system failed Phoenix Sinclair". Hughes concluded that To truly honour Phoenix, we need to provide all of Manitoba's children with a good start in life, and offer to the most vulnerable an escape from the cycle of poverty and vulnerability... The public interest that this Inquiry has received encourages me in the belief that achievement of the better protection of all Manitoba's children, and especially the most vulnerable, will be the true legacy of Phoenix Sinclair.