The Death of Dan Anderson

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-rmddn-fd7a1f

What would you do to protect your baby girl? Lt. Dan Anderson would be 97 years old today, but his life was cut short by members of the Dixie Mafia. His story ties into some of the most infamous Dixie Mafia murder cases. His daughter has been fighting for justice for over half a century. 

 

Read more about Dan in Synova’s Book: Silenced By The Dixie Mafia: The Anderson Files

https://tinyurl.com/b7j47dj4

 

The Walk of Death


On the afternoon of September 28, 1994, a University of Alaska Anchorage student was taking pictures from a hiking trail in a public park just off of the Seward Highway. She soon discovered another Alaska-Anchorage student was also there. The second student, however, was not enjoying the scenery. At the bottom of a 33-foot cliff, 18-year-old Bonnie Craig lay face down in the shallow waters of McHugh Creek.

Police initially believed Bonnie had died after falling from the cliff. The medical examiner determined she had drowned after sustaining severe head injuries, likely resulting from such a fall. However, Bonnie also had bruises on her knuckles and other defensive wounds indicative of a struggle.
A blood-soaked leaf found above the cliff area also suggested Bonnie was already injured before she fell. After her autopsy was completed, the medical examiner ruled Bonnie’s head injuries were not inflicted by a fall. Instead, she had been struck on the head by a blunt object.
Bonnie Craig’s death was ruled a murder, and two theories surfaced as to who had killed her. One held she was killed by a classmate, while the other offered that her death was ordered by a drug dealer.
After 13 years, however, it was proven that neither theory was correct and that Bonnie was killed in an all-too-common random crime.

Bonnie Craig was a freshman at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Her mother, Karen Campbell, and her father, Gordon Craig, divorced when Bonnie was three. For most of her life, Bonnie lived with Karen and her husband Gary, but in the fall of 1994, she was living with her dad.

Because Bonnie did not drive, she walked from her father’s home to a bus stop to take public transportation to campus. She did this twice a week; the walk generally took approximately 45 minutes. As Bonnie’s classes began early in the morning, it was always dark when she was on her school trek.

Bonnie had a 7:00 a.m. English class on the morning of September 28, 1994. A neighbor delivering papers saw her walking along the street at 5:20. An hour later, another neighbor saw her at the bus stop.

The next time Bonnie was seen, she was floating in the creek.

McHugh Creek, where Bonnie’s body was found, was ten miles from the bus stop where she caught her ride to campus. It was not a likely locale where one would normally hike along the stream. Bonnie had no reason to be there, particularly on a school day. Since she did not drive, it was theorized she had been kidnapped at the bus stop and transported to the park where she was killed.

The autopsy showed Bonnie had had recent sexual relations, but police said it could not be determined if the intercourse was consensual or if she had been raped. She and her boyfriend had not been together recently, and Karen was certain Bonnie would not have willingly engaged in such activities with another man.

Karen was a reserve officer with the Anchorage Police Department. She had partaken in multiple undercover sting operations resulting in the arrests of several small-time drug dealers. One such bust occurred on September 27, 1994, the day before Bonnie’s murder.

Several months afterward, Karen says an undercover acquaintance told her that Bonnie was killed by the head of an Anchorage drug ring. The fellow lawman said one of Karen’s stings resulted in the arrest of several members of the gang whose leader murdered Bonnie in retaliation.

Alaska State Troopers say no evidence was found to support the informant’s claim.

In 1995, nearly one year after Bonnie’s murder, a second suspect emerged when Karen received a phone call from one of her daughter’s college instructors.

The professor told Karen she believed a student who had been a classmate of Bonnie’s might have been responsible, or at the least, had some involvement in the crime. Her suspicions resulted from her reading the student’s class journal and the references he had made to the date of Bonnie’s murder.

Homework papers were supposed to be handed in on that day, but the student in question was absent without explanation. Later that afternoon, he brought his paper to the teacher’s office. He was in a state of disarray, dripping wet and out of breath. He told the professor he had just gotten out of the shower. He smelled, in the words of the professor, like he had “bathed in cologne.” The student apologized for not being in the morning class, saying he had overslept.

In his journal, the student made several references to the day of the murder, claiming it would be a “very tough day” and that he would be “put to the test.” The instructor said many of his writings before Bonnie’s murder were violent but that subsequent writings were peaceful.

Anchorage police investigated the student but ruled him out as a suspect when DNA on Bonnie’s body was not a match to his.

Though investigators had two promising suspects, they had no evidence connecting either one to Bonnie’s murder. For the next decade, the crime remained as cold an Alaskan winter.

In November 2006, however, police got their break when the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) matched semen found on Bonnie’s body to former Army soldier Kenneth Dion. At the time of the match, Dion was imprisoned in his native New Hampshire for a string of armed robberies.

After joining the Army, Dion was stationed at Fort Richardson in Anchorage. He stayed in Anchorage for a couple of years after leaving the Army, during which time he was consistently in trouble. Over those two years, he was in and out of jail on robbery and assault charges.

Dion was behind bars in Alaska until the end of July 1994, two months before Bonnie’s murder, and was returned to jail on a probation violation in November, two months after the murder.

Dion left Alaska sometime in 1996 and returned home to New Hampshire and to his old ways. In February 2003, after committing five robberies the previous year, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Three-and-a-half years later, DNA linked Dion to Bonnie’s murder.

None of Bonnie’s family or friends knew Dion, and, likely, she had never met him either. Her murder appeared to have been a crime of opportunity.

Dion probably abducted Bonnie at the bus stop. Karen does not believe her daughter would have accepted a ride from a stranger, particularly from a man. He likely killed Bonnie by striking her with martial arts weapons he often had in his car.

When first questioned by authorities about Bonnie’s murder, Dion claimed he had never met her. However, at his trial, when confronted with the DNA evidence, Dion changed his tune, saying he had had consensual sex with her.

Dion was also a wanderer as his wife said he was not at home during the last week of September 1994, and he could not produce an alibi for the day Bonnie’s murder.

In June 2011, Kenneth Dion was convicted of the rape and murder of Bonnie Craig. In October, he was sentenced to 124 years in prison.

Some lingering questions, however, still remain regarding the murder of Bonnie Craig.

Shortly after her murder, an anonymous caller to the Crimestoppers hotline claimed to have seen Bonnie, on the morning of September 28, at the bus stop talking to two men inside a vehicle. The caller did not pay much attention and could not recall any details of the men or the car.

Some have speculated one of the men was Dion, and the other was the student who was investigated in Bonnie’s murder. He had recently been accused of assault, and his bail was paid by a man who had been involved in a fatal shooting in Anchorage several years before. I could not find what became of the student’s assault charge.

Investigators, however, found no evidence that Dion and the student knew each other. They believe Dion was the only person involved in the murder of Bonnie Craig.

Further Reading:


• Anchorage Daily News
• Fairbanks Daily News
• KTTU TV NBC Affiliate Anchorage Channel 2
• Sitka Daily Sentinel
• Unsolved Mysteries

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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.

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More photos for this case can be found on Synova’s Patreon page! Check them using the button below Synova’s Patreon Page

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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 The Racketeer, 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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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.”)


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©2017-2020. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Serial Suicides or Land Grab for Oil Rights?

Victim #1: Janice Wilhelm

One suspicious suicide in a small town may not be unusual, but five deaths within a square mile of each other? Within a year, an oil boom hits Centerville, Texas, and the deaths are all swept under the rug. While a hand full of people get rich, the family members of the murder victims are left with nothing but questions. 

Usually, when someone writes a story, they start at the beginning of the tale. This bloody tale begins in the middle and expands exponentially in every direction. This case will take a few weeks to tell, so hold on for this Texas-sized tale of murder, forged wills, and oil wells.

December 8, 2010:

911 dispatch receives a call from Gerald Willhelm of Centerville, Texas. A strangely calm husband reports that he believes his wife has shot herself and that blood is pouring from her neck. One article states a distraught husband calls 911. I have listened to the call, and he does not sound upset at all. He says they were asleep in their recliners, and at some point, she woke up and shot herself in the neck. The authorities arrive and quickly rule the death as a suicide. Case closed. Investigation complete. Not really.

The .45 caliber bullet traveled into the neck at a downward trajectory, passing through the lungs and immediately severing the spinal cord through the 7th vertebrae causing instant paralysis. So, why do the crime scene photos show Mrs. Wilhelm’s hands neatly tucked under her lap blanket? Where did the gun land? Six feet away, the gun was lying on the floor, pointing away from her chair. The spent casing landed behind the sofa.

If Janice were a physically capable woman, she would have to hold the gun upside down, press it to her neck with her elbow wrenched out above her head. It might be possible IF you omit one crucial fact. Janice Willhelm had a tumor on her left arm the size of an orange removed a few years earlier. This surgery took much of her muscle tissue and damaged the nerves in her arm. It was physically impossible for her to hold her arm above her chest, much less over her head. This fact is more than mere conjecture on the part of grieving family members. It was corroborated by medical documentation. Janice could not have held that gun. Her daughter claims that Janice had a life-long fear of firearms and wouldn’t be holding one at all.

Gerald Willhelm claimed his wife was out of pain medication and killed herself because they couldn’t afford to get more. Crime scene photos show her medications are clearly sitting within arms reach of the recliner. To further dispel this accusation, U.P.S. had recently billed the couple for their prescription delivery service. She was on disability, and this covered most of her medications, and she had worked out a co-pay deal with the drug companies for the remainder of the fees. Janice Willhelm was not out of pain medication, and if anyone doubts this, they can refer to the toxicology reports that clearly showed the medications were in her system at the time of death.

Black Gold:

Almost immediately after his wife’s murder, Gerald Willhelm quickly pushed his wife’s Will through probate and quickly leased his wife’s land to a large oil company for drilling. Reports state the royalties of this well accounted for nearly half a million dollars within the first eight months. 

Strange, but not necessarily a crime, right? Wrong!

Janice had left behind two children, and both were suddenly written out of their mother’s will several months before her death. After fighting to get a copy of this Will, the kids were surprised to see their mother’s name. It was nothing like her signature. A child could see the differences. They send this document and several handwriting samples to two different specialists. Both adamantly claim this Will to be a forgery. Not only do they claim Janice did not sign this document, but they also say the handwriting looked more like Gerald’s.

Part 2:

Victim #2: Morris Robeson

Morris A. Robeson was a strong, strapping Texan, and a WWII Air Force veteran. Morris returned from war and started a lumber business in Centerville, Texas. He was involved in the entire process, from bidding on the trees to cutting them down, hauling the logs, and creating rough lumber in his sawmill. He would later own R.W.R. Lumber Company. This business would be the biggest employer in Leon County, Texas, during the 1950s.

After selling the company in the 1970’s, Morris and his wife Mable liked to travel in their motorhome. Morris fished the Gulf of Mexico and improved the family’s orchards. He was the epitome of a good ol’ boy with a lovely homemaker wife and two kids; Sam and Janice.

Life wouldn’t be the same for this Texas lumberman after the late 1990’s. Morris began to suffer when the vertebrae in his lower neck and upper back started to deteriorate. Then, he suffered a stroke in 1998. After this point, the once-powerful man was now unable even to lift a trimmer to clip his own stray hairs.

Despite his health problems, the family was shocked when they heard of Morris’ death on November 10, 2000. Somehow this man who could no longer lift a little plastic trimmer picked up a Colt .38 revolver with a six-inch barrel, twisted his arm up, and shot himself in the back of the head. 

Surely no one would believe such a thing, right? Wrong.

The neighbor was an off-duty Highway Patrol Officer named Joe Weaver. Weaver came over when he heard the news, and later told the family that he was suspicious of the investigation at the crime scene. While everyone immediately ruled Morris’ death as a suicide, Joe disagreed. Joe had one question for the family. Where was Gerald Wilhelm at the time of Morris Robeson’s death?

While the police department closed the case, the concerned neighbor would continue his own investigation into the suspicious death. If anyone could find Justice for Morris, it was Joe Weaver. He could if he wasn’t shot in the head ten months later. Guess what folks!? Joe’s death was ruled suicide too.

Part 3:

Victim #3: Joe Weaver

Morris’ neighbor is a highway patrol officer who stopped by the crime scene. Joe Weaver was off-duty and told the family the other officers were surprised to see him. He immediately noticed the crime scene wasn’t being handled as a homicide, but rather a suicide. Weaver was suspicious and began his own separate investigation.

Morris and his wife Mable had raised their grandson, Wayne Robeson, as their own and would treat him as their third child. Weaver spoke with Wayne and wanted to know the whereabouts of one Gerald Willhelm. Gerald has a strange story to tell, but his story will be coming later.

Morris Robeson was a veteran of WWII and had been struggling with neck and upper back pain associated with degenerative disks in his spine. This disability had reached the point where he was no longer able to trim his hair with an ear/nose trimmer.

The trimmer in question was weighed recently to give the reader a reference point. The trimmer weighed less than 2 ounces. Yet, despite the V.A. records to prove Morris Robeson’s disability, the authorities continue to label this case a suicide. The gun used to kill Morris Robeson was a .38 Colt revolver with a 6-inch barrel. This weapon was weighed as well. Its weight was just under 1lb.

If a man cannot lift 2 ounces, how can he lift a 1lb-object, twist it up behind his head, and pull the trigger?

After the death of his neighbor, Joe Weaver continued his investigation for several months, but his truth-seeking venture was cut short late in September 2001. If the Morris Robeson case wasn’t strange enough, here are the facts of the alleged suicide of Joseph Weaver.

On the day before his death, Joe’s wife picked up her daughter and their son from school. Joe’s step-daughter reported to her guidance counselor that Joe had molested her. (There has never been any proof of this claim, and it seems to just come out of the blue.) The wife tells her son to call Joe and ask him to leave the barn and go into the house. Yes, this is what it states in the report. Why was he in the barn? Why were these allegations brought up just now? Why was Joe’s young son the one who had to call his dad and tell him to leave the barn? Could Joe not decide to walk to the house on his own?

Why was he “holed-up” in his barn in the first place?

If that wasn’t unusual enough, the wife then calls Sherriff Price to go to the house and check on Joe. Price stated he arrived on-site just in time to see Joe Weaver walk slowly out of his barn and toward the house. He supposedly stopped before getting to the house, pulled out his service revolver, and killed himself. To this day, the authorities have denied all FOIA requests stating there wasn’t a police report written. No crime scene photos were taken.

This statement was proven false; however, when an anonymous witness sent a picture of the first page of the police report on Joe Weaver’s death to the family.

Snapshot of Joe Weaver Police Report sent to family anonymously

Why did Joe Weaver want to talk to Gerald Wilhelm? Why would all of this occur just a few years before the big oil boom in Centerville, Texas? Who has the farm now? How would Wilhelm con his way into the Robeson family? Why would his father-in-law be killed less than a year later? Hold on, guys. Chaos has settled down upon the Robeson farm like a tornado.


Part 4:

Part four of this saga leads us back to the beginning of this tragic tale; the strange death of disabled, Janice Robeson Wilhelm. Just to recap, Janice was found dead from a gunshot wound to her neck. She was sitting up in her recliner with her hands tucked neatly under her lap blanket.

The .45 caliber bullet entered the back left-hand side of her neck and traveled downward, passing into her lungs and severing her spinal cord, causing instant paralysis. Despite this, the authorities would have you believe that she threw the gun six feet away from her chair and tucked her hands back under her blanket.

Below are two pictures of the crime scene. The only changes that were made to these photos are the addition of the blacked-out portions hiding the graphic details of the deceased’s wounds.


Notice the following:

  • The gun is laying 6 – 8 feet away from the deceased. If this had been a suicide, then the weapon would have fallen directly beside the chair, not six feet away in front of the couch.
  • The shell casing is found several feet away behind the couch. Again, this wouldn’t be the case in a suicide. The shell casing would have landed in the chair or amongst the blankets.
  • It has been reported that the blood under the recliner was already coagulated. Why? If this happened as Gerald claimed, then the police arrived 12 – 15 minutes later, then there is no way that blood would be in such a state.
  • A gunshot residue test was done on Janice Wilhelm’s hands but was somehow lost in transit between the Dallas Medical Examiner’s office and the Leon County Sherriff’s office.

Blatant Lies:

Gerald claimed in the 911 call that Jan killed herself because she was out of pain medication, and they couldn’t afford more. This statement was proven false. The crime scene photos clearly showed Janice’s medication sitting on the table beside her chair, and the toxicology reports state she had pain meds in her system at the time of her death. Also, the children were able to prove that not only were Janice’s medicines mostly covered by Medicare, and the small remainder only amounted to a $5/month co-payment.

The report states that Janice left a suicide note. It was later determined that the so-called note was nothing more than a diary of her symptoms and the medications she had taken. These standard nursing notes were what they claimed to be a suicide note.

Final Proof of Homicide:

July 2001:

Janice Wilhelm was admitted to the Baylor Richardson Medical Center surgery. A large tumor measuring 4″ x 4 3/4″ x 3″ was removed from the upper portion of her left arm, leaving the muscular tissue and tendons severely damaged. This surgery saved her life but left her dominant arm nearly useless. Janice would no longer be able to lift her arm above her chest.

June 2015:

Vincent J.M. Di Maio, M.D., a forensic pathologist out of Dallas, reviewed Janice Wilhelm’s medical records and determined that it would be impossible for her to have committed suicide in such a manner. 

Aftermath & Motives Revealed:

The family waited for word of a will but were repeatedly told that Janice didn’t leave one. Then, suddenly within a couple of months of her death, Janice’s Will was quietly pushed through probate court.

After fighting to get a copy of her mother’s Will, Janice’s daughter was surprised at the supposed signature of her mother. It wasn’t even close to her mother’s signature, and yet there it was, and two people had witnessed it.

Finally, it was determined that both so-called witnesses had not seen Janice sign the documents at all. They were pre-signed before being presented for a witness signature. 

Why would anyone want seven acres of farmland in this area? Oil

Despite the Will being a blatant forgery and the lawsuits pending, Gerald Wilhelm signed off, and the oil companies came in. An oil well and a gas well were fully functioning within a year of Janice Wilhelm’s death. The Clayton #1H well generated $400,000 worth of royalties within the first eight months of its existence. Can we say motive?

Cold Case did a segment on this case in 2010, and Gerald Wilhelm actually agreed to an interview but refused to let it be recorded because of the pending lawsuits. Strangely, he was dead within a week after the show aired. He supposedly died of a heart attack, but there was no autopsy, and he was cremated before anyone could request one.

I wish I could say that was the end, but there are a few more twists in this homicidal tale. I will leave you with one question.

Who owns that land and oil wells now?

I will give you a hint. It’s a toss-up between a blond banker, a ranch hand, and a false witness. Mix that with an extramarital affair, a vindictive family member, and big oil, and you will have this Texas-Sized Tale.

Finale:

Last week we left wondering who in the world owns Janice Willhelm’s 7-acre farm just outside of Centerville, Texas. Her husband, Gerald Willhelm, had died mysteriously less than a week after he gave an interview to the media. While there is no one left to contest his sudden heart attack and cremation, Janice’s family still fights for justice in this greedy land grab.

Although the lawsuits were still pending, Gerald’s Will was quickly probated and pushed through the system. He left his wife’s farm to a blond banker from town and one of the witnesses that signed off on Janice’s forged Will. While the banker’s mother swears her daughter just had a “Father/Daughter” type relationship with Gerald Wilhelm, Janice’s family refused to believe such a thing. 

It will be proven in court one way or another, but in the meantime, Janice’s children are still fighting.

Janice Willhelm’s Will was a blatant forgery, and two different handwriting experts have verified this. The Will was pushed through without the children’s knowledge. This forged Will case is one battle for the Robeson family, but sadly, there is more.

Morris and his wife Mable raised their grandson as their own child and treated him accordingly. Unfortunately, this seems to have driven a wedge between their eldest son and their unofficially adopted one. Before Morris’ murder, the uncle began to wage war on the grandson, and it continues to this day. After the death, Mable sold her grandson a part of the property on the contingency that she could live out her days in the home. Of course, he agreed. This situation, unfortunately, drove the wedge deeper, causing the uncle to file lawsuit after lawsuit trying to pry the property from his nephew’s hands. 

The vindictive man even used his own mother’s name to file a lawsuit. When contacted, however, Mable was shocked by it and demanded that it be dropped. If I went into every detail of this family feud, this blog series would last for another year. After reviewing all the evidence, I am left with one question that I will relate to you.

Was this series of deaths a series of unfortunate events, or a series of homicides? 

Everyone that dives into this case too deep seems to end up in endless litigation or six feet under the Texas dirt.

The family continues to fight for justice, appealing their case up to the Texas Rangers only to hit a brick wall there as well. The only hope at this point may be the F.B.I. and the media. 


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


Synova’s podcast will be launching on March 31st! Follow the link below to subscribe so you won’t miss the debut episode!

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More photos for this case can be found on Synova’s Patreon page! Check them using the button below Synova’s Patreon Page

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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 The Racketeer, 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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Death of Innocence – The Murder of Ronnie Anderson

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-hpykg-fd43f1

It has been 54 years since this disabled boy was used as a pawn in a sadistic game and then slaughtered by the Dixie Mafia. His sister, Phyllis is still chasing justice and fighting for answers in the death of Ronnie Anderson.

 

Read more about Ronnie in Synova’s Book: Silenced By The Dixie Mafia: The Anderson Files

https://tinyurl.com/b7j47dj4

 

Mourning an Angel – Murder of Lyman Bostock

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

The Chicago White Sox defeated the California Angels on the afternoon of September 23, 1978. The loss was especially tough because it put them six games behind the Kansas City Royals with only seven games remaining in the regular season.

The Angels won the following day, and the Royals lost, meaning the Halos’ slim playoff chances were still alive. But the team was feeling far worse after the win than after the loss the day before.
Early that morning, one of their own, 27-year-old outfielder Lyman Bostock had been killed in a drive-by shooting.

Lyman Bostock spent his first three seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Minnesota Twins. A good defensive center fielder, Bostock also blossomed with the bat in 1976, finishing fourth in the American League with a .323 batting average.

Bostock was even better the following season, batting .336, good for second in the American League, behind his friend, teammate, and future Hall-of-Famer Rod Carew.

Bostock’s stellar performance came at the perfect time, as he became a free agent following the 1977 season. California Angels owner Gene Autry outbid the Twins, Yankees, and Padres for Bostock’s services, signing him to a five-year $2.3 million contract.

The Singing Cowboy was singing the praises of his new centerfielder, who he believed was a rising star.

Angels fans, and Bostock himself, however, were soon questioning Autry’s opening his pocketbook.

Bostock was off to an awful start in Anaheim. After batting only .150 for the month of April, he was so displeased with his performance that he offered to return his salary for the month to the team. Autry declined, saying the season was young and the team had faith in the young player.

Bostock’s performance did improve, but still not to his satisfaction. He accepted his pay for May but declined to keep it instead of giving it to various charities.

By summer, however, Bostock was in full swing, hitting .404 in June. Solid performances in July, August, and September followed, and the Angels’ new edition finally believed he was earning his money.

In the September 23 afternoon game against the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park, Bostick had two hits and a walk, but the Angels lost the game 5-4. California’s postseason hopes were on life support and would soon die.

That evening, the Angels centerfielder was also on life support; early the following morning, Lyman Bostock lost his life.

Bostock looked forward to games in Chicago because it allowed him to visit his uncle, Thomas Turner, who lived in Gary, Indiana, only 30 miles away.

After having dinner with relatives at Turner’s home on September 23, Bostock and his uncle went to visit a friend, Joan Hawkins, and her sister, Barbara Smith. Barbara was living with Joan after becoming estranged from her husband, Leonard. She had obtained a temporary restraining order against him four days earlier.

After the group finished dinner and chatted for a while, Thomas agreed to drive Joan and Barbara to their cousin’s house. Lyman Bostock and Barbara Smith rode in the back seat with Joan in the front passenger’s seat.

As the foursome entered the car, Leonard Smith was lurking outside the home and followed them as they departed. At 10:40 p.m., as the group was stopped at the intersection waiting for the light to change, Smith pulled his car alongside them, leaned out the window, and fired a shot into the back seat of Turner’s vehicle.

Smith tried to shoot Barbara, but Bostock was seated between her and the position from where Smith had fired. The bullet hit the ball player in his right temple. He was rushed to the hospital but died two hours later.

Barbara Smith was hospitalized with pellet wounds to her face but recovered.

Barbara Smith identified the shooter as her estranged husband Leonard, and he was arrested at his home.

Leonard Smith told police his ire was intended for Barbara, who he believed had repeatedly been unfaithful. Smith said he flew into a rage when he saw his wife and Bostock get into the back seat of the car together, believing they were on a date. The two, however, had only met when Bostock arrived at Joan’s home.

Smith said he had never met Bostock and did not know that he was a professional baseball player.

Smith was tried twice for Lyman Bostock’s murder, with his lawyers arguing that Barbara Smith’s alleged infidelity had driven him insane. The first trial resulted in a hung jury.

Smith was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the second trial. Psychiatrists declared him no longer mentally ill seven months later, and he was released.

The aftermath of Smith’s trial and verdict caused Indiana to change its insanity laws. The state legislature passed a bill mandating a person found to be insane at the time of the commission of a crime could still be found legally guilty and thus could be sent to prison if he or she was released from psychiatric treatment.

Following his release, Leonard Smith returned to Gary, Indiana, where he resided for the remainder of his life. In his later years, he moved into a high-rise apartment building for senior citizens only a few blocks from where he had shot Lyman Bostock.

Smith never again ran afoul of the law and declined all requests to comment on Lyman Bostock’s killing.

Leonard Smith died in 2010 at age 64.

The entire California Angels team attended Lyman Bostock’s funeral, as did many of his rival team players.

Among those who eulogized the ballplayer they lovingly called “Jibber-Jabber” were his Twins teammate Rod Carew and Angels teammates Bobby Grich and Ken Brett, bother of the future Hall-of-Famer George Brett.

All agreed the California Angel was now another kind of angel.

The Topps Company paid tribute to the slain ballplayer with an “In Memoriam” baseball card in its 1979 edition.

I am a card collector and have this card, as well as several others of Lyman Bostock.


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Further Reading:


Chicago Tribune
ESPN
Los Angeles Times
The Sporting News


Lyman Bostock Jr. had baseball in his blood. The son of a former Negro League standout, Bostock began his professional career with the Minnesota Twins in 1975. Two years later, he became one of the first players in major league baseball to cash in on the new era of free agency, signing with the California Angels for more than $2 million—one of the richest contracts in sports history at that time. But Bostock’s true potential would never be known. On September 23, 1978, Bostock was shot and killed in Gary, Indiana. He was just 27 years old.


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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.”)


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