Ozark Couple Still Missing – No Info A Year Later


As tornados ravaged the Missouri Ozarks’ region a couple was going about their lives never sensing the dangers ahead. Within a few days, they would vanish without a trace. Their official date of disappearance is even disputed. What happened to this couple from Ozark, Missouri?


Kenneth Stephen Webb, 29 and Quincey Jeanne Hill, 23 have been missing for over a year now. No one is quite sure when they were last seen. Although the Missouri State Hwy Patrol website claims they disappeared on April 27th, April Jones, Stephen’s mother, claims to have taken Quincey to town. She saw her son in person when they returned home later that day. Quincey’s mother, Ashley, remembers speaking to her daughter on the morning of May 1st. To complicate matters further, there has been a claim that a friend may have received a message through Facebook Messenger on May 2nd. This has not been verified. During this window, several storms tore through the Ozarks, leaving devastation in their wake.

The pair were last seen in the vicinity of the Hilltop Vista trailer park in Ozark, MO. They don’t have a car although Quincey was going to get one in a few days from her mother. Neither one of them had a working cell phone, and Quincey requires glasses to see. It is unclear if anything was missing from the house and no one has reported seeing the couple since the possible message on May 2nd.

Quincey Hill is a natural red-head with bleached blond hair, she stands 5’6″ tall and weighs approximately 110lbs. She has a tattoo on the outside of her lower right arm running down from the elbow to the wrist. It says, “Fu#@ UP.”

If you have any information about this case, or if you have seen the pair, please contact Officer Blankenship with the Missouri Hwy Patrol (573) 757-3313, Sgt. Lewis with the Ozark Police Dept (417) 581-6600, or dial 911.


Birthday Demise

Audrey Moate turned 31-years-old on November 24, 1956. The Gramercy, Louisiana, woman’s birthday fell on a Saturday, and she celebrated in the same manner as she had nearly every other Saturday for the past two years, clandestinely.

Audrey, a recently divorced mother of three, had been having an affair with Thomas Hotard, a married father of two who was 15 years her senior.

No one close to either Audrey or Thomas had any inkling of their romantic involvement. Someone was aware of it and sought to put an end to the affair.

Thomas Hotard was found shot to death in his car along Lake Pontchartrain on November 24, 1956; Audrey is also assumed dead, but her body has not been found.

Audrey and Thomas were successful in keeping their affair a secret. The waters of Lake Pontchartrain appear determined to keep Audrey’s remains hidden as well.

Forty-six-year-old Thomas Hotard lived in Gretna, Louisiana, and worked as an engineer for the local Celotex chemical company. Audrey was a clerk for the Kaiser Construction Company in Gramercy 40 miles northwest of Baton Rouge.

Thomas and Audrey met in 1952 through their mutual interest in Boy Scouts activities. The two were often seen working together in organizing local troop projects. Letters found after Thomas’s death, show they began having an affair two years later. No one, including Thomas’s wife Beulah, had any suspicion of any romantic activity between the two.

Thomas told Beulah he had to work on Saturdays, and Audrey told their children the same story. Instead of working, the two lovers would rendezvous with each other and often travel to a remote area of Lake Pontchartrain.

Instead of working at their jobs on Saturdays, Thomas and Audrey were jointly participating in more recreational activities.

Thomas and Audrey met at a cafe in La Place, between Gretna and Gramercy, at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 24, 1956. After a quick breakfast and coffee, they went to their usual locale, a secluded area known as Frenier’s Beach, also referred to as a “lover’s lane” at the edge of Lake Pontchartrain, just west of New Orleans. Thomas may have had something special planned for Audrey’s birthday, but someone else had something deadly in mind.

At 9:00 a.m, hunter Henry Monaret and his young son saw a blue four-door 1953 Nash sedan parked approximately five yards from the water. A man and a woman were having sex in the backseat of the car. Around noon, another hunter saw a man in the car’s back seat in what he described as a “strange position,” but he did not investigate.

At 10:30 a.m. the following morning, Henry and his son passed by the area where they had seen the Nash Sedan parked. This time, they found the man they had surprised the day before was dead in the front seat of the car.

The apparent cause of death was a gunshot to the back. The bullet was determined to have been fired from a 16-gauge shotgun, fired at point-blank range through the back passenger window of the car. Police found the vehicle was registered to the murdered man, Thomas Hotard.

The car’s keys were still in the ignition. The back seat could be made into a bed, and the various articles of men and women’s clothing scattered along the floorboard suggested a couple had been making love in the vehicle. Among the female items found were a sweater, underwear, stockings, shoes, and skirt.

Investigators initially believed a woman had killed Thomas in a lover’s spat. Upon further investigation, however, several unusual discoveries were found.

Scattered on the ground outside the car were the partial contents of a woman’s purse and another set of car keys. A pair of small footprints, made by bare feet, were found beginning approximately 50 yards from the car. They were spaced far apart, indicating someone, likely a woman had been running. Behind each set of small footprints was a set of much larger tracks of men’s boots.

A scuffle appeared to have occurred five feet from where the car sat. A single track, possibly from a motorcycle, was found. No tire marks or any other physical evidence was found.

It appeared the woman, scantily clad, attempted to flee in desperation, and, in the process, she had spilled the contents of her purse. The purse itself was never found.

After learning of Thomas Hotard’s murder, a waitress at the cafe in LaPlace where he had met Audrey that morning called the sheriff’s office. Upon arriving at the cafe that evening, Percy Hebert found a car that had been parked there since morning. It was registered to Audrey, and her keys were found on the ground next to Thomas’s car.

After learning Audrey had neither worked that day or returned home, St. Sheriff Hebert searched her car. In doing so, he learned of the affair between Thomas and Audrey.

Sheriff Hebert found several love letters written by Audrey and addressed to Thomas. One letter contained a verse from the popular musical and recently released film “The King and I,” reading “We kiss in the shadows, we hide in the moon. Our meetings are few, and over too soon. We speak and whisper, afraid to be heard. When people are near, we speak not a word.”

The findings led investigators to conclude the woman’s footprints found at Frenier’s Beach earlier that day were Audrey’s.

Two weeks after the murder of Thomas Hotard, Leah Moate, Audrey’s former mother-in-law, received a phone call from a woman identifying herself as Audrey. In a distressed tone, the woman said, “I’m in trouble. I need help.” before the line went dead. Leah thought the voice was Audrey’s but could not be sure.

A waitress believes she saw Audrey in a New Orleans restaurant around the same time. The waitress said she recognized Audrey from her picture in the newspaper that she was dressed in shabby clothes and appeared exhausted. The woman left the restaurant when she realized the waitress was eyeing her.

This sighting was the last reported sighting of Audrey, but it was never confirmed to be her.

Two people emerged as suspects in the murder of Thomas Hotard and the disappearance of Audrey Moate.

Forty-year-old Edmond Duhe had recently shot and wounded a woman in New Orleans during a robbery attempt near Lake Pontchartrain. A purse was found in his vehicle matching the description of Audrey’s missing bag. It could not, however, be proven to be hers.

Newspaper articles say Duhe confessed to killing Thomas and Audrey after being given truth serum. He claimed to have buried her in a dump, but searches failed to find Audrey’s body or any indication she had been there. Duhe died in 2003. He was never charged for Thomas and Audrey’s disappearance.

A man named Jackson Lejeune claimed a friend who had been rejected by Audrey had murdered her and Thomas. Lejeune said his friend buried Audrey in the woods and threatened to kill him if he said anything. Investigators found too many discrepancies in Lejeune’s claims and dismissed them as having no credibility.

I was unable to find a picture of Edmond Duhe or Jackson Lejeune.

Police believe Acosta had seen Thomas and Audrey having relations in the Lovers Lane area of Frenier Beach several times and had become annoyed with them. On the morning of November 24, 1956, they believe he sneaked up on them while they were together and shot Thomas to death. Audrey fled afterward, probably wearing no more than her slip and her bra. Acosta overtook and killed her, then disposed of her body, perhaps in the manner he told his daughter. The theory is based mainly on his living a mile from where the shooting occurred and would explain why no tire marks were found at the scene.

Ernest Acosta died in 1981, a few months after his confession to his children. He refused to tell the police what he had told them.

I would think Acosta and Schlesser would have been questioned initially after the murder, but I could not find anything relating to if they were. I also could not find a picture of either.

Audrey’s first husband, George Moate, died in 2004. Nothing I found suggested he was ever considered a suspect in his former wife’s disappearance or the murder of her lover.

Beulah Hotard died in 1986. She, too, was never mentioned as a suspect in her husband’s murder. I could not find a picture of her.

Audrey’s daughter Dekki was nine-years-old when her mom disappeared. She submitted DNA samples in the hopes that it will one day lead to the location of her mom’s remains.

Dekki died of liver cancer on January 21, 2019, at age 71.

The area of Frenier Beach where Thomas Hotard was found shot to death and where Audrey Moate likely met her grizzly end was long ago taken over by the waters of Lake Pontchartrain.

Audrey Moate would today, November 24, 2019, be 94-years-old. She has been missing for over twice as many years as she lived.

Even after the passage of 63 years, authorities are still welcoming possible clues, no matter how obscure or unlikely they may seem. If you believe you have information about this case, please contact the St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff’s Office at 985-652-9513.


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Reading:

• The Advocate (Baton Rouge)

• Biloxi Daily Herald

• Charley Project

• Doe Network

• Monroe (Louisiana News-Star

• New Orleans Times-Picayune

• The Times (Shreveport, Louisiana)

• Unsolved Mysteries


This Week’s True Crime Bestsellers on Amazon:

If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood

The Pale-Faced Lie: A True Story


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.


Check out Synova’s Work on Amazon Here

ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Missouri’s Black Widow on the Run

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia




When a small-town girl dreams of escaping Independence, Missouri, and grows bored with her Mormon husband, what can she do? Divorce wasn’t an option, and her affairs were becoming cumbersome. She staged a murder and blamed it on their two-yr-old. The murder of James Kinne would ignite a bloody tale only Hollywood could conceive. Unfortunately, this story is true, and after the death of at least three, a media circus, and prison escape, the blood-thirsty vixen disappears. What happened to Sharon Kinne? Is she still out there luring men to their graves? 


Sharon Elizabeth Hall was born in Independence, Missouri, on November 30, 1939. This suburb of Kansas City couldn’t hold the dreams of young Sharon, and everyone knew she wanted out. She loved reading fashion magazines and anything about Hollywood. She was a small-town girl headed to California. By the age of sixteen, the young blond-headed beauty was busy looking for a boy who would help her escape Independence. 

James Kinne was a polite, good-looking Mormon boy a few years older than Sharon, but he was in college, and it looked like he was going places. Could he be her white knight ready to whisk her away from small-town life? Manipulative from the beginning, Sharon took the young fervently religious boy head-on and quickly beguiled him into a torrent love affair over the summer. The next fall, however, he was headed back to college and seemed to have no intention of taking her with him. This behavior simply would not do. Sharon had other designs for the young man, and she wouldn’t stop.

That fall, James gets a frantic call from his summertime fling. Sharon was pregnant and now came social astigmatism. What could the good-hearted young man do? It was the 1950s. He was compelled to drop out of college and make things right by marrying Sharon. It’s at this point in the story a strange little side note pops in. In all the articles I’ve read and all the documentaries I’ve watched, I didn’t find anyone who focused on this point. 

To get married, Sharon had to be eighteen or have her parent’s consent. Sharon simply lied on the paperwork claiming she was an eighteen-year-old widow who lost her husband in a car accident. While this tidbit of info may seem unimportant, wait until the end of this story and tell me what you think. 

James and Sharon married on October 18, 1956. The expected child never arrived. Sharon hoped to get pregnant right away to cover up her scheme, but when this didn’t work, she simply feigned a miscarriage. She did finally get pregnant and gave birth to their daughter Danna in the fall of 1957. It was a good thing too. She would need her daughter in a couple of years for an alibi.

After conquering her mild-mannered man, she quickly realized he wasn’t going to bring her the life of luxury she had hoped for. Sharon began having a string of affairs almost immediately after her marriage. It didn’t take James long to decide he wanted a divorce, but his devout parents encouraged him to stay married. This decision frustrated Sharon even more. She wanted out of Independence, but she was stuck, and now she was also trapped in a marriage she no longer wanted. What does she do? The unthinkable.

On March 19, 1960, the police received a call about a shooting. James Kinne lay dying on his bed, shot by his own gun. When the police arrived, a distraught looking wife explains her daughter was playing with the gun, and it simply went off killing James. Police believed the woman; she was always convincing. A few days later, the investigators run a little test and have the child try to shoot an unloaded gun like the one that killed James. They hoped to discredit Sharon’s story but were surprised when the child was not only able to pick up the weapon, and she was able to turn off the safety and to pull the trigger. The police had no case against the widow. 

Two months later, another death drew the attention of the local police. A devoted wife and homemaker was found murdered near a lovers lane out on Phelps Rd. The victim was shot four times, her underclothes stolen, and her dress was pulled up around her chest. It looked like rape and murder, but something was off to investigators. Whoever had done this had thought it through enough to pick up the shell casings. It was beginning to look more like a planned hit. 

The victim was quickly identified as Patricia Jones, the wife of a local car salesman named Walter. Walter had recently sold a beautiful young widow a Thunderbird and quickly began having an affair with the vixen. The girlfriend was none other than Sharon Kinne. Kinne had just received $29,000 (worth $250,000.00 today) from the insurance company after her husband’s death. In fact, after a few days of investigation, the police discovered that Sharon was in the middle of trying the same tactics on Wayne as she did her husband years earlier. Sharon had confronted Wayne claiming she was pregnant and demanded that he leave his wife for her. When he refused, Sharon made other plans. While this story seems obvious, convicting the manipulative criminal would be another story.

Instantly, Sharon Kinne became an overnight sensation. The media was everywhere, and Sharon loved every minute of it. She was smug, arrogant, and beautiful. Some reports claim she owned the courtroom. When the jury found her “not guilty,” a juror tracked her down afterward and asked for an autograph. While the media loved her, the police weren’t finished. They were going to see that this woman was put behind bars. 

In January 1962, Sharon was again in the courtroom, but this time she was accused of murdering her husband. This time she was found guilty, but eighteen months later, it was overturned on a technicality. Sharon was released until a new trial could be set. The third trial ended up in a mistrial, and just before a fourth trip to the courtroom, Sharon slipped town and headed towards Mexico with yet another male fling. 

On September 18, 1964, Sharon was arrested in a Mexican hotel. On the bed lay a dead Mexican-American named Francisco Parades Ordonez. Sharon tried to escape after shooting Francisco but ran directly into the arm of the hotel employee. Enrique Rueda heard the gunshots and was on his way to see what was going on when the beautiful blond woman fled the room. She shot him in the arm in her attempt to flee, but Rueda pushed her back into the room and locked her in until the police could arrive. She tried to pull her normal games, but they didn’t work this time.

Not one of the Mexican policemen believed she had shot the man in self-defense. If Ordonez was trying to rape her, then why was he shot in the back? While searching the room, they found a couple of different guns and a small cache of ammunition. This finding earned Sharon the nickname “La Pistolera: The female gunfighter.”

Missouri’s Black Widow couldn’t seem to face justice in a rural court of law but faced it in the Mexican system. She was sentenced to thirteen years for the murder of Ordonez. It looked like a fitting end for the murderous vixen, but this story is far from over. 

On the night of December 7, 1969, the woman’s prison was having a movie night when the lights went out. After the electricity came back on, Sharon Kinne was nowhere to be found. The Black Widow had escaped, and she’s still missing fifty years later.

While Mexican authorities organized a search, it didn’t take long for them to run out of leads. The case is still open. Some believe she made it across the border into Guatemala, others believe she had inside help to escape the prison and is now back in America. 

While in prison for the murder of Ordonez, Sharon missed the fourth trial for the murder of her husband, James. If she were ever found, she could still face a murder trial half a century after the crime.

Missouri investigators couldn’t pin the murder of Patricia Jones on her because they never found the murder weapon. In the meantime, Sharon was acquitted of this murder. Unfortunately, the Mexican authorities found the gun when they searched her hotel room after the shooting of Ordonez. Ballistics matched the gun to Patricia’s case, but it was too late. Due to double jeopardy laws in this country, Sharon can never be tried for Patricia’s murder again. 

Where is Sharon Kinne? Is she still out there manipulating, conning, and killing her way through life? How many victims does she have? I have mentioned three, but remember that little lie she told to get married to James? Was she actually married before, and if so, was her 1st husband’s death an accident? 

Like so many tales, this one leaves us with more questions than answers. Sharon Kinne would be in her seventies now. It is quite possible she is still alive and living life as someone’s grandma. 


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Information:

Wikipedia

Murderpedia


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


Serial Killin’ Slut : The True Story of Sharon Kinne
“I’m just an ordinary girl.” The Sharon Kinne Story

If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.


Check out Synova’s Work on Amazon Here

ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Diary of a Mad House Hand: Guest Post

Photo courtesy of Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

On November 14, 1994, police were summoned to a farm near Folsom, West Virginia. The source of the call was most unusual; a would-be burglar told them there was a dead body in the basement of the house. It sounded like a prank, but it still needed to be checked out.

When the policemen arrived at the farm, they entered the house cautiously. The burglar was not there, but as the policemen made their way down the stairs to the basement, they knew the would-be thief had been telling the truth. The lawmen were greeted by an overwhelming odor that they instantly recognized as the smell of decomposition.

On a bed in the basement, police found human remains, which appeared to have been there for a long time. An autopsy identified the remains as the farm’s proprietor, 37-year-old Tim Good. He had been strangled to death.

Neighbors were shocked that such a good man had met such an awful end. Diaries found in the home identified the prime suspect and reveled a bizarre tale of manipulation and brainwashing, ultimately culminating in murder.

Tim Good had moved to West Virginia from Collinsville, Pennsylvania, 1993. His friends were surprised by his move because he owned a successful 350-acre dairy farm in Pennsylvania, and the West Virginia farm was much smaller, and the land was not as suitable for dairy farming.

Ben Freeman worked for Tim for six years in Pennsylvania. Freeman, his wife Eliza, and their two children had also lived with Tim, a bachelor. The Freeman family moved with Tim to West Virginia, where the living arrangements remained the same. Strangely, upon arriving in West Virginia, Freeman introduced himself as Dave instead of Ben.

Shortly before Tim left Pennsylvania, acquaintances said both his and Freeman’s behavior had changed. Tim acted docile while Freeman gave the impression of being in charge of the farm, a pattern that continued in West Virginia. Although it was Tim who had purchased the farm, neighbors said Freeman acted as the boss and Tim the employee.

Several months after Tim arrived in West Virginia, the neighbors saw less of him and, within a year, both Tim and Freeman dropped from sight. They appeared to have left the area even though the farm had not been sold.

One year later, in October of 1994, neighbor George Anderson saw Freeman driving to the farmhouse. George, along with several other neighbors, went to inquire about Tim. Freeman told them he did not know where Tim was and that he, like the neighbors, had not seen him in over a year. Freeman said he and his family moved out of the home after Tim inexplicably vanished. He had only returned because he had heard the kitchen door had been broken. After checking it out, Freeman left the area again.

Three weeks later, Tim’s remains were found in the basement of his home. After performing an autopsy, the coroner believed Tim had been dead for approximately a year.

In searching the home, police found voluminous diaries written by Freeman, the contents of which revealed he had taken control of Tim’s life to the point that it appeared Tim had become a virtual slave in his own home.

Freeman fancied himself a self-made preacher and appeared to have made Tim his pigeon. Tim was estranged from his family and seemed to have turned to Freeman for spiritual guidance; instead, he had become Freeman’s puppet.

Freeman’s diaries revealed a medieval type living arrangement in the home: Freeman and his family lived like royalty in the lavishly-furnished upstairs, equipped with three big screens TVs, a hot tub and a wet bar. Tim, on the other hand, lived as a virtual prisoner in the dungeon-like basement. The diaries listed the chores Tim was to perform each day and what he was allowed to eat each day if anything. It appeared that Freeman controlled every aspect of Tim’s life.

Grocery receipts indicated Freeman and his family had lived in the house for approximately seven months after Tim was killed. Tim’s bank account, which had contained nearly $1 million, had been drained. The Freemans left the farm when Tim’s money was gone. In his diaries, Freeman indicated Tim had questioned him about the money. Police believe Freeman then realized his control of Tim might have been waning and murdered him.

In May of 1996, police tracked Dave Freeman to Sterling, Virginia, where he was working as a mechanic under the name William Cooper. He was arrested on May 18.

Freeman’s real identity was determined to be Winston Jelks. He pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to twenty years in prison but was released after serving ten years.

One source says Jelks may have murdered two of his children from a previous marriage, but it did not elaborate, and I could not find any other information on the subject.

Winston Jelks died in March of 2018 at age 60 from complications of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease.


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Reading:

• Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Unsolved Mysteries
• West Virginia Herald-Dispatch


This Week’s True Crime Bestsellers on Amazon:

If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood
The Pale-Faced Lie: A True Story

More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

2ndDIYpackage-templates

SIGN UP HERE


If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.


Check out Synova’s Work on Amazon Here

ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Mobster Monday: Tony Capo – Guest Post By Karen

Photo courtesy of Mafia Wiki

Born in 1959, Anthony “Tony” Capo grew up on Staten Island. In the early 1980s, Capo was a soldier in the DeCavalcante crime family. No one had heard of Tony Capo at the time, but that would all change.  While everyone has heard of the TV show The Sopranos, few people realize that this show was largely based on the DeCavalcante crime family out of New Jersey.

In 1989, John Gotti, Sr. needed a favor, and the DeCavalcantes agreed to help. Fred Weiss, a local reporter, and developer, was rumored to be an informant. Gotti wanted to execute the “stool pigeon.” Tony Capo was the driver for the hit. This job earned him recognition on the street, but also from local law enforcement. 

Later in 1990,  Capo found himself embarking on a new criminal career: illegal gambling and loansharking. While he worked for John D’Amato, members of the family learned that the mob boss was bisexual. Tony Capo and others believed this didn’t look good for the family, so a hit was put out on D’Amato. On the day of the murder in 1992, Capo and the hit team invited D’Amato out to lunch. He never made it to lunch. D’Amato was shot in the back of the head by Capo in the back seat. His body has never been found. 

There was one major problem with the murder of D’Amato. D’Amato was a family boss, and the big boys up north had not sanctioned his death. Capo avoided punishment, however, and he continued his deadly escapades. In 1997, he was involved in the plot to murder Charles Majuri, D’Amato’s replacement, which was, lucky for Majuri, eventually canceled. 

The end finally came for Capo in 1999, when he was indicted on conspiracy charges, as well as racketeering, murder, and loansharking. To save his neck, he rolled over on the family and became a state witness. After being promised a spot in witness protection, he snitched not only on the DeCavalcante’s; but also on the Colombo and Genovese families. On January 23, 2012, Anthony Capo met his maker, dying of a heart attack while in the witness protection program. He was only 52. 


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Reading:

Wikipedia

YouTube

The Daily Beast


Recommended Reading:

James Gandolfini: The Real Life of the Man Who Made Tony Soprano Giovanni’s Ring: My Life Inside the Real Sopranos

More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Synova Ink would like to welcome our newest guest blogger. Karen Reep is a new true crime writer learning to spread her wings on our Mobster Monday posts. Look for more of her writing in the near future.


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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SIGN UP HERE


If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.


Check out Synova’s Work on Amazon Here

ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Silenced by the Dixie Mafia Part 3: A Judge is Murdered


This blog post is a part of a series of stories about the Dixie Mafia. Make sure to subscribe to Synova’s True Crime Newsletter so you don’t miss out on any of the stories.

Join Here


According to an article on the FBI’s website, in 1983, federal authorities designated the entire Harrison County Sherriff’s office as a criminal enterprise. Sheriff Leroy Hobbs was hand in hand with the Dixie Mafia. In 1987, a prominent judge and his wife were murdered in their home and some of the local corruption would be exposed. Now 30 years later the rest of this story will be told. Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margret were murdered in their home on the evening of September 14, 1987. The official report states that Pete Halat and Charles Lager “discovered” the bodies on the morning of September 16th. The popular tv show “The FBI Files” even states this as fact. This, however, is merely another coverup perpetrated by this group of people. One lone woman knew the truth for decades and now everyone will know. Pete Halat had been to the house the day before with one honest cop bound by a gambling addiction and his name is Lt. Dan Anderson.

Can someone be honest and be a gambler? Yes. Can someone be bound by an addiction to gambling? Of course. We see this every day. Is it too far-fetched to assume this man could be forced into silence because of his addiction? What if his son had already died of suspicious circumstances? I will let you ponder those questions as I relate to you the story of September 15, 1987.

Lt. Dan Anderson worked as a court bailiff for Judge Vincent Sherry and considered him a friend. On the morning of September 15th, Anderson arrived early to the courthouse to get the building ready for the day’s legal wranglings. He turned on all the lights and adjusted the thermostat and made the coffee. Strangely, the judge never arrived. Judge Sherry hadn’t missed one court date in his entire career. As the clocked ticked past his first appointment his bailiff began to worry. Anderson made a phone call to the judge’s house but there wasn’t any answer. Finally, Anderson called the judge’s legal partner Pete Halat and asked if the judge happened to be in the office with him. The answer was negative. Concerned, Anderson told Halat that he wasn’t waiting any longer. He was going to drive over to the judge’s house and see what was going on. Halat immediately told the bailiff that he would meet him at the judge’s house.

Together they approached the door of the house and Dan Anderson noticed it was partially opened. He called out “Sherry,” a nickname for the judge and there wasn’t a response. Anderson carefully pushed open the door and found the body of the 58-year-old man lying on the floor. Continuing through the house, Anderson found the body of Mrs. Margret Sherry in the bedroom.

Struggling to keep his emotions in check, Dan Anderson told Pete Halat what he found. This is where the case gets even stranger. Instead of calling for backup, Pete Halat sends the bailiff home claiming that he would handle the situation. Supposedly, he didn’t want the media to find out about this until he could get the police on site and figure out what happened to the judge.

Lt. Anderson returns home distraught after seeing the corpses of his friends. Before he could get himself together, his daughter Phyllis happened to call. On this rare occasion, Dan Anderson poured out his emotional story to his daughter giving details of the crime scene. Phyllis listened and tried to console her father and promised to call and check on him later that evening. When evening came, her father was back to his tight-lipped self and refused to speak of it again. Phyllis had no way of knowing that her father was being forced into silence. She assumed it was his quiet way of dealing with trauma.

The next day Pete Halat makes a big deal of the judge being late for court and persuades his junior law partner, Charles Lager into driving out the judge’s house with him. This is where the “official” report begins. Halat barely steps into the house and steps back out onto the porch to report the two were dead. Later in trial Lager would confess that Halat didn’t seem shocked by their death. Also, he stated that Halat didn’t go all the way into the back of the house where Margret’s body lay. How did he know they were both dead? Well, you and I know the truth.

An investigation was launched and eventually, a partial truth came out. Pete Halat and a few others had been in league with the infamous Kirksey Nix, Jr on a big money-making scam. The FBI labeled it “The Lonely Hearts” scam. Basically, Nix had found a way to con hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the local gay community. He would post pictures of good-looking men in the paper along with a tear-jerking ad. This poor handsome gay man was looking for love, was being wrongfully accused, and needed money to help with his legal fees. Trying to help out, these victims would send in their money and their love letters. Then the criminal scumbags would turn around and blackmail these good-hearted men. In the 1980’s most of these men weren’t open about their sexuality and Nix found it easy to blackmail them.  By September they were raking in six figures. This is when Halat begins to get greedy. Why did he have to put all the money back in a safe deposit box for Nix? Instead, he transferred $100,000 to a safe deposit box he shared with Judge Sherry. When Nix found out about the theft, Halat blames it on the judge. Nix hires a hitman to kill the couple and Halat wins all the way around. You see, Halat wanted to run for mayor and one of his biggest political rivals was Margret Sherry. Now Halat had the money, the Sherrys were gone, and two years after their death he becomes the mayor.

The FBI investigators had to keep the case close to the chest for fear of tipping off the corrupt mayor, but in October 1996 Halat’s charade was over when he was arrested and tried for his involvement in the murder of Judge Sherry. Nix and the hitman would get life in prison, but Halat only received 18 years.

Phyllis knew about the case, but her father tried to keep her from paying too much attention to the news. Living two states away in Georgia, it was easy to get distracted by her own life and not follow the case too closely. It would take a chance meeting in a restaurant before Phyllis would get her father to speak of the case again.

Fast forward to early 1990. Phyllis and her husband were having dinner when she overheard the people behind her say something about the Sherry murders. Phyllis being a good ‘ole southern gal has never met a stranger and can talk to anyone. She turns around and innocently asks the man if he were talking about the murder of Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margret. To her surprise, the man glared at her and without saying a word he stood up with his woman and left the restaurant. Phyllis was taken aback and glanced at the table and noticed they hadn’t even eaten their dinner. When she returned home she phoned her dad and told him about the strange encounter.

Dan exploded on the phone demanding to know what the man looked like. Phyllis described him not understanding her father’s outburst.

“That was John Ransom. He’s the S.O.B. who killed Sherry and Margret.” Dan also told of Pete Halat’s involvement and then demanded that she never speak of this case to anyone again.

I wish I could say that this is the end of this story, but we have one more murder to cover next week. Lt. Dan Anderson would be killed. Guess what? His death was ruled suicide. Surely, by this point in this story, you won’t believe that for a moment. Below I have listed a few links to more information about the case of Judge Sherry and his wife.

More info:

https://www.sunherald.com/news/local/crime/article173225801.html


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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Back Cover Summary:

Deep in the heart of Dixie lies a hidden evil. It’s tentacles stretch from state to state, from county to county. The Dixie Mafia has produced infamous outlaws, bank robbers, and murderers. The story contains tidbits from each of their lives and even includes the story of a famous sheriff, but this book is not about them.

Silenced by the Dixie Mafia is about a big sister who has fought for answers for over five decades. It’s about a father who was an ex-alcoholic turned into a gambling addict. A father’s decisions would lead to the death of his disabled son and eventually lead to his own demise. Now left alone to find answers and make sense of the chaos is a brave little southern belle named Phyllis. 

Tying back to the ambush of Sheriff Buford Pusser on August 12, 1967, this story will change history as we know it. The world knew nothing about the Dixie Mafia until the murders of Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margaret in 1987. This public assassination brought this band of ruthless criminals into view, but the truth was still hidden until the death of the Andersons.

 Preorder Your Book Here


If you’d like to check out Synova’s other true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Murder, Incarcerated Innocence


After a messy divorce, 38-year-old-Susan Hamwi moved with her 18-month-old daughter Shane to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. On November 8, 1983, a concerned friend called the police, saying no one had heard from Susan for a week. When the police arrived at her home, they found the reason: Susan lay in a pool of blood on her kitchen floor. She had been strangled with a telephone cord and stabbed to death with a carving knife. In a bedroom, the lifeless body of baby Shane lay in her crib. The helpless infant had perished from dehydration after being unattended.

Two pieces of evidence found at the crime scene were a bloody carving and red human hair. The knife had been wiped of fingerprints, so investigators focused on the hair.

Authorities interviewed Susan’s neighbors, one of them being forty-two-year-old John Purvis. He and Susan knew each other casually. Immediately upon questioning him, investigators were struck by his noticeably red hair.

Unbeknownst to the police, John had been diagnosed as a non-violent schizophrenic with the IQ of an adolescent. He lived with this mother as he was unable to care for himself.

John was taken to the police station for questioning; his mother Emma, accompanied him, but she was not allowed into the interrogation room. Police questioned John for several hours, and as the interrogation became more intense, he became more agitated. When Emma, who was sitting in the police station lobby, heard the detectives yelling at her son, she stormed into the interrogation room, and immediately ended the proceedings.

The detectives, Rick Rice and Rich Martin, however, were sure they had their man. They were determined to continue questioning John, even if that meant sidestepping ethical police procedures.

In early December, four weeks after first questioning John, Detectives Rice, and Martin returned to the Purvis home, knowing Emma was not there. They coaxed John into again coming to the police station to be questioned.

Upon arrival, Dr. Joel Klass, a psychiatrist, proceeded to administer a personality test to John. John was not capable of comprehending his rights and was given the impression he had to adhere to police orders.

Dr. Klass administered a series of tests on John using the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) cards, featuring ambiguous drawings requiring interpretation from the tested subject. Several of the cards elicited unusual responses from John, and at one point, he asked Dr. Klass if he was going to jail and if Klass thought he had killed Susan. John repeated the questions several times before stating he liked Susan and had killed her when she rejected his attempts for a closer relationship.

When the detectives were brought in, they told John if he confessed to the crime, he could go home. John then repeated what he had told Dr. Klass. Instead, he was sent straight to a jail cell and charged with two counts of murder.

Only John’s confession to Dr. Klaas was allowed into evidence at his trial. The account was inconsistent with the details of the crime, and his hair, though red, did not match the hair strands collected at the scene. Nevertheless, John Purvis was convicted of the murders of Susan and Shane Hamwi.

In 1993, ten years after the murders of Susan and Shane Hamwi and following mounting pressure brought about by an “Unsolved Mysteries” broadcast of the case, the Fort Lauderdale Police re-opened the murder investigation.

Tim Bronson and Bob Williams, the new detectives assigned to the case, found their predecessors, detectives Rice and Martin, had been derelict in investigating the most obvious suspect, Susan’s ex-husband, Paul Hamwi.

Susan had divorced Paul after several years of abuse and only a few months after giving birth to Shane, whom Paul had little interest in raising. At the time of the murders in 1983, Paul Hamwi was in Aspen, Colorado, stricken with a broken leg. That was enough for Detectives Rice and Martin to eliminate him as a suspect, but their successors found he still should have been investigated.

Following on a tip received but dismissed by detectives Rice and Martin in 1985, detectives Bronson and Williams zeroed in on Aspen resident Robert Beckett. A woman who had been beaten by his son, Robert Jr., claimed she had heard him boast that his father had killed a woman in Florida.

Under questioning, Beckett admitted his involvement in the murder of Susan and Shane Hamwi. In return for immunity, he told police that he and Paul Serio had each been paid $14,000 by Paul Hamwi to kill Susan. Paul Hamwi’s motive was to avoid paying Susan $180,000.

Paul Hamwi had Susan sign a prenuptial agreement to protect himself in the event of divorce. Paul, a wealthy real estate developer, wouldn’t pay Susan anything. However, the deal was made under duress and declared null-and-void. Paul was ordered to pay Susan $180,000 in alimony.

In January of 1993, Paul Hamwi and Paul Serio were arrested for the murders of Susan and Shane Hamwi. They were each convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

On January 15, 1993, John Purvis was released from prison after serving nine years for a crime he did not commit. The following month he was officially exonerated of all charges concerning the murders of Susan and Shane Hamwi.

John received a $1 million judgment from the city of Fort Lauderdale in exchange for his mother’s (guardian) dropping any claims against the city. The Purvis family likely could have received much more money, but, with the appeals, it would have taken years to collect.

A lawsuit against the prosecutor for failing to disclose exculpatory information was eventually dismissed.

Paul Hamwi, now 74-years-old, is currently incarcerated at the Union Correctional Institute in Raiford, Florida. Paul Serio died in 2004 at age 57.

Robert Beckett received immunity for his role in the murders of Susan and Shane Hamwi in exchange for testifying against Paul Hamwi and Paul Serio. In 1995, however, he was convicted of first-degree murder in Los Angeles as was his son, Robert Jr., whose big mouth provided the big break in the Hamwi case.

The younger Beckett said he and his dad met 18-year-old Tracy Stewart at Hermos Bach on the day of her disappearance, August 9, 1981. Robert Jr. said he and his father convinced Tracy to go their apartment, where they raped and tortured the teen for three days before clubbing and strangling her to death. He said they dumped her body somewhere in the desert outside Los Angeles, in either Riverside or Orange County. Father and son were convicted of murder even though Tracy’s body was never found.

Robert Beckett Sr. died behind bars in 1997, coincidentally on August 9, exactly sixteen years after Tracy Stewart’s disappearance. Robert Jr. remains imprisoned. I could not find a picture of either man.


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


SOURCES:
• Associated Press
• Charley Project
• Los Angeles Times
• South Florida Sun-Sentinel
• Unsolved Mysteries


Recommended Reading:

Wrongly Convicted (Slater & Norman Mystery Series Book 12) Wrongly Convicted: Perspectives on Failed Justice (Critical Issues in Crime and Society)

More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

2ndDIYpackage-templates

SIGN UP HERE


If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Mobster Monday – Tom Pendergast

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Kansas City is in the spotlight this week with a look at Tom J. Pendergast. When Pendergast was born on July 22, 1872, he was the youngest in a family of nine children. His parents were Irish immigrants and worked hard to provide for their large family.

   Controversy surrounds his educational background, and despite claims of a college career, it is believed he only held a sixth-grade education. Despite this detriment, he learned much about politics and other civic duties from his older brother, James, who owned a tavern by the Missouri River. James held the position of alderman on the city council in Kansas City, and when he retired, Tom was named his successor. 

     Tom was married and had three children. He was active in his faith, which included being a Knight of Columbus in the Catholic Church. With this new position, he gained control of the city and began his reign of corruption. The tavern he owned with his brother enabled him to mingle with the underworld. Guns, prostitutes, gambling, and liquor all became commodities in his rise to power. Within these influential groups, politics also became fair game. Voter fraud and intimidation were used to ensure certain politicians were elected. Under these conditions, Tom and his brother were able to manipulate the system by providing care in the form of food and money to needy families in the area. These charitable contributions made them very powerful with voters and in political circles. 

     James died in 1911, and Tom married the same year. He and his wife Caroline had three children. His family life did not preclude him from corruption, however. He appointed Henry McElroy to City Manager, and this bolstered his political power. Throughout the next few years, Pendergast rose to the top of a very organized criminal organization. Among these shady individuals was Johnny Lazia, an Italian American with connections, whose reputation for kidnapping was known. Pendergast’s association with Lazia gave him infinite power in the mob world. In return, he gave Lazia the task of hiring police, which resulted in unchecked gambling and bootlegged liquor sales. By 1927, the city was called “Tom’s Town.”

     During this same time, Pendergast began to clean up his image. Portraying himself as a religious family man, he became friendly with Harry S. Truman. The Pendergast party heavily influenced the election of Franklin Roosevelt, who conveniently did not rally to investigate such corrupt enterprises. Things began to change, however, in 1934. It was found that several voter ballots were fraudulent, and many people were threatened and murdered at voting polls. 

   By 1936, things were coming to an end for Pendergast and his powerful posse. He suffered a heart attack and seemed to take stock of his losses. He realized he was close to being prosecuted and began to defend himself by using his health as an excuse. In truth, this health crisis did nothing to squelch Pendergast’s love of gambling. He had a special wire installed in his office, which allowed him to gamble freely from afar. He lost hundreds of thousands in the process, bringing his financial and political world to a standstill.

   In January of 1939, a grand jury was held, which resulted in an investigation of the “Pendergast Machine.” During this time, his bookkeeper Edward Schneider was found dead in what was deemed a “suicide.” Schneider had already rolled on him, however, and Pendergast was indicted on tax evasion. He was sentenced to fifteen months but served only twelve. After his release, Pendergast was a social outcast. After his wife, Carolyn, left him, his health deteriorated. After several heart attacks, he passed away from heart failure on January 26, 1945. He was seventy-two years old.  

    Pendergast’s corrupt politics began to fade after his death. However, much of what he built still stands. Many of his concrete business endeavors created the infrastructure seen in Kansas City today. 


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Reading:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Pendergast

https://historicmissourians.shsmo.org/historicmissourians/name/p/pendergast/

https://pendergastkc.org/article/biography/pendergast-thomas-joseph

National Crime Syndicate

Check out my friend Gary Jenkins’ podcast episode about Tom Pendergast HERE: Gangland Wire: The Mob & the Politician


Recommended Reading:


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Synova Ink would like to welcome our newest guest blogger. Karen Reep is a new true crime writer learning to spread her wings on our Mobster Monday posts. Look for more of her writing in the near future.


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

2ndDIYpackage-templates

SIGN UP HERE


If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.


Synova’s Amazon Author Page


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Silenced By The Dixie Mafia Part 2: Death of Innocence



This blog post is a part of a series of stories about the Dixie Mafia. Make sure to subscribe to Synova’s True Crime Newsletter so you don’t miss out on any of the stories.

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Six weeks after the ambush of Sheriff Pusser and his wife on New Hope Rd, another death was reported to police in Gulfport, Mississippi. 17-yr-old Ronald Anderson was said to have committed suicide in an apartment he shared with the teenager, Jeffery D. Bass. Anderson’s body was transported to the Lang Funeral Home in Gulfport, then transferred to Faith Chapel in Pensacola before being taken to Vernon, Florida, for burial. No Autopsy was performed, and no one in law enforcement questioned the suicide ruling by local coroner Frank Hightower. This life-shattering event for the family barely caused a stir amongst the locals and only generated one small article about the death inquest. No one seemed to care that this crippled teenager could have been gunned down. It was more convenient to label it a suicide and go on.

What I’m about to relate is highly controversial. I have researched and studied this case trying to provide evidence. I have uncovered some compelling facts and some disturbing theories. In the 25-page Sheriff’s Investigation report into this case, I have discovered a few more tidbits of questionable behavior by law enforcement. I have struggled to remain unemotional in this case, but I will try to relate the story to you with logic and reason. I will let you decide what happened to Ronald Anderson for yourself.

Before getting into the case, I must explain to you that I was raised with extreme respect for law enforcement. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who is willing to put their life on the line to protect someone else is a hero in my book. When I mention something derogatory in this article, please don’t think I’m attributing the actions of a few shady officials to the entire law enforcement community. I bleed blue for our guys and gals in uniform and don’t wish anyone to think otherwise. Like every position in any organization, there are a few shady characters, but that doesn’t mean the entire system is corrupt.

Ronald “Ronnie” Anderson had a rough life from the start. He contracted Polio at the age of three and would have to wear a leg brace for the entirety of his life. One leg was smaller than the other, so buying shoes was a difficult task. He would need two different sizes, and one shoe must be mounted onto his braces. Ronnie was a beautiful, sweet child with large brown eyes. His sister remembers how he would cry when his friends would go play and leave him behind. He wanted so desperately to fit in, and family members think that’s what led to his death.

September 26, 1967:

Ronnie had gotten a job working at McDonald’s and decided to move out of his father’s house with an older boy named Jeffery Bass. He was so excited to be starting out on his own and had even gotten a little “friend” named Cathy. Ronnie finally felt like he belonged, but this wouldn’t last. Two months after moving out he started having trouble with Bass. Bass was older and rowdy and is rumored to run with a shady crowd. On this morning, Ronnie’s sister Phyllis offered to let him come to visit her for a while. Ronnie was excited to go. His parents had divorced when he was quite young. Phyllis had been a segregate mother while their mother was working trying to provide for four children.

Ronnie’s father, Lt. Dan Anderson, went to see the teenager that morning and to take him some new shoes. The teenager was busy packing some clothes and ironing his shirt. His sister would arrive from Pensacola, Florida, in a few hours, and he wanted to be ready. Dan Anderson returned home only to receive a phone call within the hour. Ronnie was dead.

The distraught father raced to the hospital only to be met by his ex-wife Rose Moore. Rose was also Jeffery’s aunt. Instead of calling the ambulance, Jeff had called his aunt since she was supposedly a registered nurse. Rose cleaned up Ronnie and changed his clothes before calling the ambulance. Why? No one could answer that question.

So, what happened to Ronnie?

Bass told the police that he was sitting on the bed playing with a .410 shotgun, and it accidentally went off shooting him under the chin. According to Bass, it was a shock because they thought the gun didn’t have a firing pin. Could Ronnie have been toying with the weapon thinking it was inoperable and accidentally shot himself? If so, why would the aunt come racing in and wash the teenager and change his clothes?

If that wasn’t unusual enough to cause investigators to question this case, the other witness had a different story to tell. Cathy claimed that she and Ronnie had argued and then he went upstairs and shot himself. That’s what she told the police, but that’s not what she said in her frantic phone call to Phyllis the night before Ronnie was buried.

The inconsolable sister had been given sleeping pills by her doctor and had turned in for the night. The phone rang with a frantic woman insisting on talking to Phyllis. Her husband assured the woman that Phyllis was out cold and couldn’t come to the phone and asked to take a message.

“He killed him. We killed him,” was all Cathy said before disconnecting.

Phyllis took all these discrepancies to the police and tried to get her brother’s case re-classified, but she couldn’t find anyone who would help her. Every time she decided to call and ask questions she would receive a call from her father telling her to let it alone. Phyllis couldn’t leave it alone and wondered how her father could. She didn’t realize the trouble she was causing by asking questions. Phyllis was an innocent sister grieving the loss of her precious crippled little brother. So she kept digging.

More discrepancies:

The funeral director for Faith Chapel Home in Pensacola was friends with Ronnie’s stepdad and mother. This gentleman confided in the family, saying he didn’t think it was suicide because there wasn’t any gunshot residue around the wound. Could that just be because Rose washed him, or could it mean that he was shot from a distance by someone else?

Rumors say that Ronnie’s relationship with Cathy was one-sided. If this is true, could Cathy’s real boyfriend have shot Ronnie?

The local coroner has come under some scrutiny after many claims he rules cases as suicide too quickly and too often. Some locals even referred to him as “Suicide Hightower.” After researching, I couldn’t find any formal charges brought against the coroner. Could they be just rumors, or could those stories be based on facts? Who knows?

Little did Phyllis know that some of her local law enforcement officials and government officials were arm and arm with the Dixie Mafia. This story wouldn’t come out publicly for decades. Did Ronnie hear something he shouldn’t have? Could Bass and his friends have silenced the boy forever?

Phyllis continued to press the police department for answers until one day her father called.

“Leave it alone before you get someone else killed,” he demanded.

Shocked, Phyllis backed off and tried to investigate a little more quietly. What happened to her brother, and why wasn’t her father pushing the issue? This inner turmoil continued for 36 long years.

It was November 2002, and Phyllis always came into town to visit her father to celebrate Thanksgiving and her father’s birthday. The two went to the local Waffle House as usual. During their meal, Dan Anderson’s entire persona changed, and he mumbled “That Son of a $&*&^” under his breath. Surprised, Phyllis turned to look and was quickly reprimanded by her father.

Dan waited until the man was out the door and his car pulled out onto the road before he said anything else to his daughter.

“Do you know who that was?”

“No, but I can tell you don’t like him, Daddy.”

“That’s the old boy who killed Ronnie.”

Phyllis about fell out of her chair. For thirty-six years, her father had reprimanded her for saying the very same thing. He claimed his son’s death as suicide for nearly four decades, and now he just pointed out the man who killed his son. Of course, Phyllis had questions, but her father clammed up about the subject and wouldn’t speak another word of it.

After her father went out to his car, Phyllis hung back and talked to the waitress that knew all the local gossip. That’s when she was given the name Jeffery Bass. Unfortunately, years later, during the Sheriff’s investigation, this waitress and the other surviving witnesses would change their stories or conveniently forget it entirely. Were they intimidated into silence, or did they really forget?

Sadly, Lt. Dan Anderson would be dead a short time after pointing out his son’s killer. Surely the police would stand up and take notice. Nope. I’ll get into that and the revelation of the Dixie Mafia in the famous case of Judge Sherry’s murder.

**Since first writing about this case in 2018, new evidence has come in to prove Ronnie was lured to the docks, beaten by a group of thugs and shot in the face to stage a suicide. You can find out the details in my new book Silenced By the Dixie Mafia: The Anderson Files **

 Can an unlikely string of coincidences link all these cases, or are they tied together by the Dixie Mafia? I will leave it up to you to decide.


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Back Cover Summary:

Deep in the heart of Dixie lies a hidden evil. It’s tentacles stretch from state to state, from county to county. The Dixie Mafia has produced infamous outlaws, bank robbers, and murderers. The story contains tidbits from each of their lives and even includes the story of a famous sheriff, but this book is not about them.

Silenced by the Dixie Mafia is about a big sister who has fought for answers for over five decades. It’s about a father who was an ex-alcoholic turned into a gambling addict. A father’s decisions would lead to the death of his disabled son and eventually lead to his own demise. Now left alone to find answers and make sense of the chaos is a brave little southern belle named Phyllis. 

Tying back to the ambush of Sheriff Buford Pusser on August 12, 1967, this story will change history as we know it. The world knew nothing about the Dixie Mafia until the murders of Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margaret in 1987. This public assassination brought this band of ruthless criminals into view, but the truth was still hidden until the death of the Andersons. 


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