Retired Lawman Blames Fellow Officers for Attack – The Doyle Wheeler Story


It is often said that an attack on one policeman is an attack on all policemen. Law enforcement officers usually support one another when a perpetrator targets one of them. When such instances occur, the brethren in blue are generally unanimous in their support of their fellow lawman.

Such was not the scenario, however, for a former San Diego Police Lieutenant. When Doyle Wheeler was attacked in his Suncrest, Washington, home in April 1988, many of his former colleagues dismissed the incident, believing it a farce orchestrated by, in their view, a disgraced former lawman.

Doyle Wheeler had been a decorated Lieutenant with the San Diego Police Department. But he was forever changed by one of the most infamous incidents in southern California history.

On July 18, 1984, sniper James Huberty killed 21 people. He injured nineteen others at a San Ysidro McDonald’s restaurant, immediately north of the United States-Mexican border and about 12 miles from downtown San Diego. The San Ysidro Massacre was, at the time, the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.

Wheeler was one of the first police officers on the scene, in charge of the SWAT team. He ordered officers to fire on Huberty, and they ultimately did so, but not before a deadly delay. For reasons that are still unclear, Wheeler’s order to fire was not executed until 26 minutes after it was issued. Wheeler believes four teenagers were shot to death by Huberty during this delay.

The San Ysidro massacre had such a traumatic effect on Wheeler’s emotional health that he attempted suicide in March of 1985. He recovered, but in October, he was forced to retire from the San Diego Police Department because of a stress-related disability. In June of 1986, Wheeler and his family moved to Suncrest, Washington, a suburb ten miles north of Spokane.

On April 19, 1988, Wheeler said two men broke into his home, tied him up with a rope, and held him at gunpoint. The men then dragged him to an upstairs office where they beat him and burned him with cigarettes. The former lawman says the assailants then threatened to harm his family and forced him to write a note: 

“To the San Diego Police. I lied at the trial about Donovan Jacobs and the Police Department. I’m sorry. I make this statement of my own free will. Doyle F. Wheeler.”

On April 24, 1986, Wheeler was subpoenaed to testify at the murder trial of Sagon Penn, a 22-year-old black man charged with killing San Diego Police Officer Thomas Riggs and wounding officer Donovan Jacobs. Penn claimed Jacobs had beaten him with a nightstick after pulling him over for a traffic violation. Penn said he grabbed Jacobs’ gun and fired the shots in self-defense against both officers.

Wheeler testified for the defense. He described Jacobs as a “hothead” and accused him of previously being “overly aggressive” in using excessive brutality on minorities. Several San Diego Police Officers corroborated that Jacobs had exhibited racist overtures, with one officer going so far as to say that Jacobs was “the most prejudiced white person I’ve ever known.” Other officers, fellow lieutenants, and administrative personnel, however, turned against Wheeler.

Penn was acquitted largely due to Wheeler’s testimony. After his acquittal, Penn was in and out of jail for the rest of his life. He committed suicide in 2002.

Donovan Jacobs soon left the San Diego Police Department.

Two months after his testimony at Sagon Penn’s trial, Wheeler moved to Suncrest, Washington. Shortly after relocating, he allegedly received death threats because of his testimony. Ten months later, in April of 1988, Wheeler was attacked.

Wheeler told Spokane investigators that after he was beaten and forced to write the note, one of the perpetrators dragged him to his family room, where he was placed on the floor with his hands and feet tied. Simultaneously, he could hear the other man ransacking his downstairs bedroom. While one man made a phone call, the other assailant shot Wheeler in the left side of the head. Wheeler played dead until he heard the men drive away. He then managed to free himself and summon help.

Phone records confirm a call was made from the Wheeler home at the time of the attack to the Narcotics Unit of the San Diego Police Department. The 30-second phone conversation, automatically tape-recorded, confirmed a male voice asked for Donovan Jacobs. However, before the call could be transferred, the caller hung up. The results of a voice analysis were inconclusive, with experts determining the voice was likely not Wheeler’s, but it was possible he “made the call and tried to disguise his voice.”

Two witnesses, however, seem to corroborate Wheeler’s account. A couple of hours before the attack, a neighbor noticed a blue Toyota, possibly an unfamiliar Celica hatchback parked across the street from Wheeler’s house. The neighbor saw the same car speed away several minutes before the ambulance arrived in response to the 911 call. The day before the attack, another neighbor noticed a car similar to the Celica hatchback parked 12 miles from Wheeler’s home. Four men were talking around the vehicle.

Suncrest investigators ultimately dismissed the San Diego Police Department’s suggestion that Wheeler had staged the attack on himself. The Suncrest Police are confident Wheeler was truthful in his accounts of his beating.

The two men who attacked Wheeler have never been identified. Wheeler thought he recognized the dark-haired assailant as an informant with the Narcotics Unit of the San Diego Police Department. Because the man worked undercover, his identity was protected.

In 1988, the dark-haired assailant was in his late 20s, 6’0″ to 6’2″ with a slender, athletic build, crooked teeth, and one large pockmark on his left cheek. The blond-haired man was also in his late 20s, 6’0″, thin, wore a gold earring in his left ear, and had a tattoo of a double lightning bolt (a Nazi symbol) on his left hand. He also a pockmarked face.

The men may have been driving a dark blue Toyota Celica hatchback. They would today likely be in their late 50s.


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:

• Los Angeles Times

San Bernardino County Sun

Seattle Times

• Unsolved Mysteries 


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.

Get Your own Fedora!

Amscan 390156 White Pinstripe Fedora Black Fabric Hat


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.

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


The Jean Moore Disappearance

Laughlin, Nevada, lies at the Silver State’s southern tip, straddling both the California and Arizona borders. Though its population totals just over 7,000 people, Laughlin is always packed with tourists because of Nevada’s gambling industry. Casinos fill the small town described as a scaled-down version of Las Vegas. Laughlin is the perfect locale for those who like to gamble but not deal with the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas.

Fifty-nine-year-old Jean Moore looked forward to a fun-filled few days in Laughlin in April of 1992. Instead, she became the center of a mystery, as she has not been seen in 28 years.

What happens in Vegas is said to stay in Vegas. Little brother Laughlin, however, has a secret of its own.

Al Henderson and Jean Moore were divorcees who had been dating for the better part of 20 years. They became engaged in December of 1991. Both were successful business people; Al had a multimillion real-estate business, and Jean was an escrow officer for a retail bank.

On April 6, 1992, Al and Jean left their home in Apple Valley, California, for a vacation in Laughlin, Nevada, approximately 200 miles away. The couple liked to play the slot machines at the Flamingo Hilton casino.

A waitress recalled serving Al and Jean at a coffee shop in Laughlin later that morning. From there, the chain of events is cloudy.

Al says he and Jean had a great time playing the machines on April 6, 7, and 8. The following is his account of the events of April 9.

Jean, Al says, wanted to play her lucky slot machine one last time before checking out on the afternoon of April 9. He says he left Jean at a side entrance of the casino and went to find a parking place. Unable to find one, he drove to the valet parking, where he told the valet he would give Jean the ticket and that she would pick up the car later.

Al entered the casino where Jean was waiting. He believes she had $600-$700 in cash in her purse, her winnings from the day before at her “lucky” machine. After giving her the valet ticket, Al claims he left the casino at 9:30 a.m. They planned to rendezvous at their hotel room at 11:45 a.m. Checkout time was 12:15 p.m.

After waiting for a few minutes and not finding a cab to take him back to the hotel, Al says he returned to the casino to play the slot machines with Jean. Because another person was using Jean’s favorite machine, he thought she might have gone shopping.

After searching the casino’s gift shops, Al returned to the casino’s slot machines to find Jean’s favorite game unoccupied. Al says he played that specific machine until approximately 10:15, believing Jean would return.

After Jean did not return, Al says he continued searching for her, unsuccessfully. He then returned to the hotel at 11:45 p.m. to meet her and check out. Not finding her there, he took a cab back to the casino to continue searching for Jean. Upon arriving, Al found the car still parked in the valet area; the valet said no one had brought a ticket for the vehicle.

Al says he then re-searched the casino’s lobby, the shops, and the gambling area, but again found no trace of his fiancee. He then reported her as missing.

Over the following few days, Al distributed thousands of missing person fliers of Jean in the Laughlin area, offering a $25,000 reward.

Al also paid $1,200 to charter a helicopter to fly over the desert area surrounding Laughlin. The chopper failed to turn up any leads.

Jean’s children from her first marriage, Joe Hamilton and Connie Christie, were skeptical of Al’s accounts. Joe pointed out the differences in Al’s statements. At first, Al claimed he dropped Jean in front of the casino and gave her the valet ticket there. Later he said he left Jean at a side entrance to the casino and gave her the ticket inside. I could not find anything from the police to verify or dispute Joe’s claim.

Her kids also found it strange that their mother left most of her jewelry, her engagement ring, and her purse behind in her hotel room. While she probably wouldn’t want to carry her bag around, why would she leave behind her engagement ring?

Jean’s children did not like Al, saying he often put their mom down in public. They had tried to dissuade her from marrying him, believing he did not love her. Joe and Christie were clearly biased against Al. Soon, however, an impartial witness would also cast doubt on Al’s statements.

Police viewed the Flamingo Hotel casino’s surveillance cameras, which monitored activity inside the casino nearly 24 hours a day. The cameras confirmed Al’s account of pulling into the parking lot at around 9:15 a.m. and record his entry into the casino.

From this point onward, however, the cameras seem to contradict Al’s claims.

One camera shows two views of the area where Al says he gave Jean the valet ticket and where he says they walked around. Neither camera showed any image of Jean. Besides, if Jean had been in the casino, four other cameras should have picked up pictures of her as she walked around the casino, but she was not seen on any of them.

None of the casino cameras showed Jean in the casino on April 6-8. The footage on these cameras is not great, but authorities believe it is good enough for them to have seen and recognized Jean if she had been in the casino.

The only person other than Al, who reported seeing Jean in Laughlin, was the waitress at the coffee shop on April 6, the day Al and Jean left their Apple Valley, California, home and arrived in Laughlin. No one else could recall seeing Jean in Laughlin or surrounding areas afterward.

One of Jeanne’s friends says she saw both Jean and Al at a gas station back in Apple Valley at approximately 4:30 p.m. on April 8, the day before Al reported Jean as missing. Al says the friend is mistaken, insisting he and Jean were in Laughlin at that time.

Phone records verify Al’s claims that calls were made from his Colorado Belle hotel room in Laughlin on April 8; one call was made at 3 p.m. and another at 7 p.m. Al says no one, other than he or Jean, was in their hotel room during their stay. The calls seem to confirm it was impossible for either he or Jean to have been in Apple Valley when Jean’s friend believes she saw them.

Al’s bookkeeper, Geraldine Fender, said Al and Jean called her from Laughlin on the evening of April 8. She says she spoke to both of them and that Jean was elated because she had a string of good luck on a poker machine. The call to Geraldine was less than 24 hours before Al reported Jean as missing.

The casino surveillance cameras seem to dispute Al’s account of events of April 9. Jean’s children believe Al was not being truthful in his intentions and suspect he killed their mother.

If Al did kill Jean, it seems odd that he would have done it before they were married. It would have been easier to obtain Jean’s assets or any insurance claims after tying the knot. Although Jean had sizable financial holdings, she was not as wealthy as Al. It seems as if money wouldn’t have been a motive in this case. Perhaps there wasn’t a pre-planned motive. She could have been killed in the heat of the moment during an argument.

Al Henderson died in 2001. Although he was never charged in his fiancee’s disappearance, he remains the primary person of interest.

The Flamingo Laughlin is now known as the Aquarius Casino Resort.

An attendant handles winnings over a certain amount. The winner has to go to the cashier window to present an ID for tax purposes and receive a W-2G form to claim the winnings. I do not know what the set amount would have been in 1992, but it seems that $600 would have been a large enough amount to have to do so. Jean was last seen in Laughlin by the coffee shop waitress on April 6. If she had won the $600-$700 on April 8 at the casino, I would think the casino would have had a record of her claiming the winnings, and that would confirm she was in Laughlin on April 8.

Jean Marie Moore has been missing since April of 1992. At the time of her disappearance, she was 59-years-old, 5’2″ tall, and weighed 125 lbs. She had a scar on her abdomen. Jean would today be 87-years-old.

If you have any information relating to the disappearance of Jean Moore, please contact the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department at 702-828-2907.


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.

More Info:
Charley Project
Nevada Missing Persons Directory
Laughlin Nevada Times-Mohave Daily News
Reddit
Unsolved Mysteries


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.

Get Your own Fedora!

Amscan 390156 White Pinstripe Fedora Black Fabric Hat

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.

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


Unlocking a Deadly Secret


Dinosaur bones were found on a Thermopolis, Wyoming, ranch in 1993. While this would typically be a big deal, the locals were still abuzz about the bones found the previous year.

The bones that diminished the dinosaur story had been unearthed on March 31, 1992, when Thermopolis resident Newel Sessions opened a long-forgotten footlocker. To his shock, a scattering of bones lay inside. Tests determined the bones in the footlocker were of a Caucasian male.

The footlocker had been left with Newel by former Thermopolis resident John Morris who moved to Texas in 1986. When contacted, Morris claimed only vague recollections of the chest, saying he thought he had bought it at a garage sale in Iowa in 1973. Morris also claimed he never opened his purchase because he did not have the right tools, and denied any knowledge of the man’s identity.

A rotted plastic bag bearing the Hy-Vee logo found in the trunk gave credence that the footlocker could have been in Iowa, the state in which the Hy-Vee Food Store chain was founded. The remains remained unidentified for a quarter of a century until his identity was finally confirmed in 2017.

Tests determined the bones were of a Caucasian male in his mid-50s to mid-60s. John Doe was approximately 5’8. Both of the man’s lower leg bones and one hand were missing. X-rays showed he had been killed shot. A bullet was still lodged in his skull, and he also appeared to have been shot in the chest. A three-dimensional clay figure was constructed depicting how the man may have looked.

After reading a newspaper article about the discovery, Des Moines, Iowa, resident Shelley Statler contacted the Hot Springs County Sheriff’s Office in 2017. She believed the man’s reconstruction bore a resemblance to several relatives. After obtaining a DNA sample from Shelley’s mother, the Wyoming state crime lab determined John Doe was Shelley’s grandfather, Joseph Mulvaney.

The circumstances of his murder will likely be an eternal mystery. Shelley and her mother suspect he was killed in Des Moines and initially buried in his back yard. Shelley believes her grandfather was either murdered by his wife or stepson, John Morris, who would have been sixteen-years-old at the time.

When Morris moved to Wyoming, he allegedly dug up Joseph’s remains and placed them in the footlocker. When he moved to Texas several years later, Morris left the footlocker with his neighbor, Newel Sessions.

John Morris’s fate is unclear. Some sources say he later moved to Mississippi, where he committed suicide, but in a 2019 Des Moines Register article, reporter Daniel Finney thinks he may still be alive and in his late 70’s.

Joseph Mulvaney was born in Illinois in 1921. In the 1930s, his family moved to Decatur, Iowa, where he attended high school. He enlisted in the National Guard in 1941 and served in Australia and the Philippines during World War II.

After the war, Joseph worked for several railroads that took him across America. In California, he married Des Moines native Mary McLees, and they had three children together. Mary also had a son, John Morris, from a previous relationship. The Mulvaneys moved to Des Moines in 1963, but Joseph disappeared shortly after that. Shelley’s mother was approximately six-years-old when she last saw her father. For reasons unclear, no one ever reported him as missing.

Joseph Mulvaney’s bones were cremated before his funeral on March 29, 2019, in Cody, Wyoming. He was laid to rest with full military rites, including a 21-gun salute.


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:

Des Moines Register
Doe Network
Hot Springs County, Wyoming, Sheriff Department


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 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.

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: Nick Spero- The Hippy Mobster


In 1970, FBI agents installed a wiretap on the telephone inside the Columbus Park Social Club located at 5th and Troost. This club was deep in the heart of what most K.C. residents called “Little Italy.” After the western District of Missouri U.S. Attorney obtained an indictment on the boss Nick Civella, the mob learned a couple of big bettors were going to be called as witnesses. One of these bettors was a Chevrolet dealer named Lester Moore. A mob associate named Carl Spero had introduced Moore into the Civella gambling ring, and Nick held him responsible for Moore.

Nick Civella sent word that Lester Moore was to be “taken care of.” By this time, Kansas authorities had convicted Carl Spero of a large warehouse theft, and he was incarcerated. The duty to handle this witness fell to the eldest Spero brother, Nick Spero. After consulting with Carl Spero and his other brothers, Mike and Joe Spero, Nick sent word back that this was not their job and refused to murder Moore.

Nick Spero grew up in what was known as “The North End” or “Little Italy” during World War II. He came from a large family with three brothers and two sisters. The Spero bothers, and their cousins ran the streets like the Gopher boys of New York City. Nick, being the oldest, was always the leader. The North End looked like the Mulberry street neighborhood in Manhattan, complete with two mafia social clubs, several small Italian restaurants, and a corner store ran by a part-time gambler called Cheebay. Nobody knew his real name. The homes were townhomes built out of red brick in the 19th or early 20th Century Federal style. They were very narrow with two or three floors above ground, and many had two floors below the street level. A few had tunnels under the street to a relative’s house. They used these tunnels to transport alcohol during prohibition. Some homes looked more like storefront businesses than residences. The Spero brothers and their cousins knew the back alleys and streets between Little Italy, the City Market, and downtown. They often got work helping produce vendors unload vegetables. They were all enthralled with the older gangsters at the Northview Social Club, where men like brothers Nick and Carl Civella held court out front on the sidewalk on warm days. They saw these men had respect and power, and they wanted to be part of that mysterious thing that scared most other men.

Nick got his first jobs with trucking companies in the East Bottoms just a few blocks away. He was a natural leader, and soon, he had a crew of other Teamsters stealing small appliances, cigarettes, watches, film, booze, and other desired items from the parked trailers. He graduated to holding up drivers on the road. He knew the schedule and could tell his gang exactly how to intercept a truck loaded with easy to sell merchandise. The drivers knew better than to resist, so they just took a small payoff and reported it as a robbery to their superiors.

Nick was not just an ordinary thief. He wanted more power inside the Teamsters Union and hatched a plot to increase his value to the freight line, Yellow Freight. First, he had his crew steal a load of liquor, and then he went to his bosses and told them he could recover the load. When he returned the load, minus a few cases of bourbon, they promoted Nick to a supervisor’s job. Of course, thefts increased after this promotion. In the end, they offered Nick Spero a cash settlement to just quit.

During these years, as Nick Spero matured into his 30s, FBI agents started making observations that he was a frequent visitor to the Columbus Park Social club. They witnessed him having conversations with the local crime bosses, Nick and Carl Civella. Nick Civella was the leader, while Carl was more likely to deal with people like Nick Spero. Nick Spero was running a crew who burglarized jewelry and fur stores, clothing warehouses and robbing Yellow Freight and other truck lines during this time. Nick Spero was a rising young mobster, but the generation gap caught him in a bind.

Nick Spero was of an age that he wanted to dress like his hippy peers with bell bottoms and flower printed shirts. Spero grew his hair long and had facial hair. But the boss, Nick Civella, had a few ironclad rules for his made guys and all associates. The dress code included conservative shirts and slacks, clean cut hairstyles, and no facial hair. Nick Spero rebelled on all accounts. Nick Spero grew his hair out to almost shoulder length and sported a long Fu Manchu beard.

An FBI informant told his controller, “What the…? This guy dresses like a f^&*@ hippy.”

Despite his rebellious nature, Nick Spero was a good thief and had a successful crew, so he continued to operate as an associate. When Nick Civella ordered a man named Sam Palma killed, someone in the hit team got Nick Spero to help set up a scene where the murder would appear as a suicide. The next day Palma’s body and the murder weapon were found lying across the grave of his father. While this did not fool the authorities, the murdered mobster’s family bought the story.

Nick Spero grew in power among his fellow Teamsters. He bought an R.C. Cola and Nehi Soda soft drink dealership and hired several salespeople and drivers. When a storeowner did not want to install a soda machine or buy his brands, Nick Spero made a personal visit, and usually, they became customers.

In the early 1970s, Civella ordered the Spero brothers to take care of Lester Moore. Because of his position as a trusted Civella Family associate, Nick Spero was expected to carry out this order. But, Spero was building his power base within the Kansas City Local of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union and the criminal community, so he refused. He sent word that Lester Moore was a Civella problem and not a Spero problem.

Later the FBI asked Spero why he hadn’t officially joined the Civella organization. His reply was, “I ain’t no jock strap and don’t want to be one. They use you until your stretch is all gone, then forget about you. I’ve always been my own man. The only man I listen to is my father, and he is dead”.

On April 11, 1973, a patrol car will find Nick Spero’s jockstrap yellow Cadillac convertible parked on a back road in a suburban neighborhood. The officers open the trunk to find the body of Nick Spero. He was dressed in combat boots, a silky patterned shirt, and bright green with yellow flower-patterned trousers. The autopsy stated someone shot Nick Spero twice in the body and once in the head.

The police or FBI will never solve this murder. They cannot get an informant to finger any specific person. Nick Civella forgot one thing, “When you set out to kill one brother, you had better kill them all.” This hit would be the start of the bloody Civella-Spero mob war in Kansas City.


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:

Gangland Wire Podcast


Recommended Works:

Brothers against Brothers: The Civella-Spero War
Nick Civella: The Kansas City Mafia and the Teamsters Union

About our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Gary Jenkins retired from the Kansas City Police Department in 1996. He served 25 years with 12 years in the Intelligence Unit investigating the mob. Jenkins attended the University of Missouri School of Law and was admitted to the Missouri Bar in 2000. He produced and released four documentary films. The most recent documentaries were Gangland Wire and Brothers against Brothers: The Civella Spero War. He wrote Leaving Vegas: The True Story of How FBI Wiretaps Ended Mob Domination of Las Vegas Casinos. This book recounts the inside story of the 1970s investigation into skimming from Las Vegas casinos. He created a Mob Tour app titled the Kansas City Mob Tour. He produces and hosts a mob-oriented podcast called Gangland Wire Crime Stories. The podcast can be found on all the usual podcast apps and at his website https://ganglandwire.com/

He can be reached at 

ganglandwire@gmail.com

Facebook @Ganglandwire


The Unsolved Homicide of Mary Ann Perez

On the evening of March 25, 1976, 33-year-old Mary Ann Perez went out with a girlfriend for dinner and drinks at the Chalmette, Louisiana, country club, eight miles east of New Orleans. Her friend had left the bar at around 10:00 p.m., and Mary Ann telephoned her daughter Donna at 10:30 p.m., saying she would be home shortly.

Around 1:30 a.m. on March 26, Donna was awakened by a phone call from a woman who said her name was Dorothy. She told Donna her mother was having car trouble but would be home soon. A half-awake Donna thought that was odd; her mom’s car was relatively new and would seem unlikely to have mechanical difficulties. Also, Donna did not know anyone named Dorothy and could not recall her mom ever mentioning anyone by that name.

Nevertheless, Dorothy sounded reassuring, telling Donna there was nothing to worry about and that her mom would be home soon.

“Dorothy” was never identified, and in November 2018, it was confirmed Mary Ann Perez would never come home.

Later that morning, Donna found her mother’s car parked in the Chalmette Country Club parking lot. Three days later, Mary Ann’s purse was found, weighted down with a brick, in Lake Pontchartrain, ten miles away.

No clues to Mary Ann’s fate surfaced for nine years. In 1985, Wichita, Kansas, inmates David and Donna Courtney confessed to a multi-state killing spree. One victim of the husband-and-wife killers sounded as if she might have been Mary Ann. David Courtney told authorities he saw an intoxicated woman as he pulled into a Louisiana bar’s parking lot. After convincing her she was too drunk to drive, he offered to drive her home. He said he picked up his wife, and they took the woman to their trailer, where the woman fell asleep. While she was passed out, Courtney says he and his wife both raped her. When she awoke, they continued making sexual advances toward her, at which point she became irate.

Courtney says he told the woman they would take her home. He says Donna drove while he and the woman were in the back seat. When the woman realized they were not taking her home, she again became hysterical. Courtney says he raped her and then strangled her with a coat hanger. Believing her dead, they dumped the woman’s body in a ditch near the Louisiana-Mississippi state line and did not attempt to hide her body.

On another occasion, Courtney said the woman was having car trouble, which fits in with what “Dorothy” had told Mary Ann’s daughter. He identified the woman as Mary Ann and also identified her car. Donna Courtney admitted throwing the woman’s purse over the side of a bridge, consistent with the area where Mary Ann’s bag was found.

However, New Orleans Police and Mississippi police showed no records of a body found in the area where Courtney said they dumped the woman. Some parts of Courtney’s story suggested the woman was not Mary Ann. Mary Ann was not a big drinker, and her friend said she was not drunk when she saw her at the bar at 10:00 p.m. Also, a mechanic who examined Mary Ann’s car determined it was in perfect running condition.

The district attorney determined there was not enough evidence to charge the Courtneys in connection with Mary Ann’s disappearance. No new leads surfaced for another five years.

In 1990, fourteen years after her disappearance, Mary Ann’s daughter-in-law received a phone call from an anonymous woman. She asked to speak to Mary Ann’s son, but he was not home, so his wife took the call. With fear in her voice, the woman claimed Mary Ann was still alive and implied she did not know who she was and was being held against her will. The caller said she was making the call in hiding, and, before hanging up, said she would not be able to phone again. Her identity is still a mystery, and it was not determined if she and “Dorothy” were the same person.

The bodies of all of the Courtneys’ known victims were found where they said they would be. However, the possibility that Mary Ann could still be alive seemed remote as no confirmed sightings of her surfaced. The case stalled again, staying cold for another 27 years.

Donna Courtney served ten years in prison as an accomplice in her husband’s killing spree. She was paroled in 1990, shortly before the anonymous phone call claiming Mary Ann was still alive, but police could not find any evidence she had made the call. Donna Courtney has since died.

Convicted of three murders, the now 77-year-old David Courtney is serving a life sentence in a Kansas prison. He will be eligible for parole in 2022.

In December 2017, New Orleans Police announced they believe they had found the remains of Mary Ann Perez. A Mobile County, Alabama cold-case investigator, contacted them, saying skeletal remains found by hunters in a cornfield matched Mary Ann’s features. The physical characteristics, the jewelry, and the clothes found on the corpse were consistent with Mary Ann’s stature and what she was wearing when last seen.

The remains were found in November 1976, eight months after Mary Ann’s disappearance, in an area fitting with Courtney’s account except for the remains being just across the Mississippi-Alabama border instead of the Mississippi-Louisiana border. Apparently, the Courtneys’ were having so much fun torturing Mary Ann they blacked out Mississippi.

In May of 2018, investigators announced Mary Ann had been in a car accident shortly before her disappearance and had a partial dental plate on her upper front teeth. This feature matched the dental plate found with the Mobile County, Alabama, Jane Doe. In November of 2018, DNA tests confirmed the remains were those of Mary Ann Perez.

Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi investigators are working together to determine where May Ann was murdered. David Courtney will probably soon be charged with her murder, but it remains to be seen what state and country or parish will file the charges.


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 Charley Project
Daily World, Opelousas, Louisiana
The Doe Network
Unsolved Mysteries


This Week’s True Crime Bestseller on Amazon:

The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America

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 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.

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

The Death of Roy DeMeo

This is part 2 of a blog series. If you want to read part one then follow this link:

https://mytruecrimestories.com/2020/09/14/roy-demeo/


On May 11, 1979, Roy DeMeo killed his close friend to appease the Cuban drug lords. Although he had killed and dismembered many people, this murder had a profound effect on his psyche. Afterward, the hunter became a victim of his consciousness. Paranoia eventually took over, and the end came quickly. In Roy’s final days, he was seen wearing a leather jacket with a concealed shotgun underneath.

On the night of January 10, 1983, he went to crew member Patty Testa’s house to meet with his men. He later failed to attend his daughter’s birthday party. It was highly unusual for him to miss any important occasion. His family members immediately suspected something happened to him. Ten days later, DeMeo’s Cadillac was discovered in the parking lot of the Veruna Boat Club. His partially frozen body was found in the trunk. He had been shot multiple times in the leg and had a bullet wound to his hand, assumed by law enforcement to be a defensive wound when his killers opened fire on him.

When Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso became an FBI informant in 1993, he said that Paul Castellano ordered DeMeo’s death. Due to the DeMeo Crew’s reputation, the Gotti and DeCicco crew had been unable or unwilling to carry out the hit.

DeCicco supposedly passed the contract to Casso, but many stories would surface. Ralph Scopo, a soldier for the Columbo crime family, was overheard saying DeMeo was killed by his own crime family.

Richard Kuklinski also claimed to have killed DeMeo, telling Philip Carlo he killed him in revenge. In the postscript of a later edition of his Iceman book, Carlo acknowledged, “there is a good likelihood that Kuklinski did not kill DeMeo.”

The remainder of the DeMeo crew was rounded up. Borelli, Joseph Testa, and Anthony Senter were imprisoned for life after two trials saw them convicted of 25 murders, car theft, and drug trafficking. The convictions were secured by the testimony of former members Frederick DiNome and Dominick Montiglio.

Paul Castellano was indicted for ordering the murder of DeMeo and a host of other crimes. He was killed in December 1985 while out on bail during the middle of the first trial.


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

National Crime Syndicate


Recommended Reading:

Murder Machine (Onyx True Crime)


For the Sins of My Father: A Mafia Killer, His Son, and the Legacy of a Mob Life


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Cricket Andrews is a new crime writer working on her own book to empower victim’s families. She has worked as a victim’s advocate for years and is passionate about helping those affected by violent crime.


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.

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


The Hit on the Hot-rodder

Photo courtesy of Guest Blogger

Mickey Thompson achieved the fast track to success literally– it was the fast track that brought him success. Viewed as an almost godlike figure in the auto racing world, he lived and loved life in the fast lane. Among his many innovations to the sport were the “slingshot” dragster and the home-built “Challenger 1,” which in 1960 became the first automobile to break the 400 mph barrier. Mickey’s pioneering designs changed the face of racing, and he also proved he was an adept businessman as he created a successful indoor stadium-racing venture.

Mickey Thompson was considered unbeatable in a race car. The king of the motorway, however, was killed in his driveway by men riding bicycles.

On March 16, 1988, police responded to calls of shots coming from the Thompson’s home in the predawn hours. Upon arriving, they found Mickey and his wife Trudy lying dead on their driveway. Each had been shot to death.

Despite a massive investigation, the case grew cold.

Mickey and Trudy Thompson lived in a wooded mountainous area near Bradbury, California, an affluent city in the San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles County, approximately 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

At approximately 6:00 a.m. on March 16, 1988, area residents awoke to the sounds of gunshots. One resident ran to his window and heard Mickey screaming, “Please don’t hurt my wife. Please don’t hurt my wife.” The neighbor then heard another series of shots followed by silence. He grabbed his gun as his wife called the police. When he returned to the window, he saw two black men on bicycles speeding from the Thompson residence. He yelled at them and fired several shots, but the men did not flinch one iota.

By the time police arrived, Mickey and Trudy were both dead. Trudy lay at the bottom of the driveway while Mickey had been killed near the garage. Trudy was shot as she backed their van out of the garage, and Mickey was shot as he walked out.

Trudy was wearing over $70,000 worth of jewelry, and, between them, the Thompsons were carrying about $4,000 in cash. The house was undisturbed. The crime clearly couldn’t be classed as a robbery gone wrong. Police believe the killers had hidden in the woods, waiting for the Thompsons to come out of their home.

Several people saw the shooters racing from the murder scene on bicycles. Composite sketches were created based on witness descriptions.

The men are both black and about 6’0 tall. In 1988, they were in their 20s or 30s, in good physical shape, although one was slightly stockier than the other. They were wearing dark-colored jogging suits and were skilled at riding bicycles. The perpetrators may have made their getaway in a 1988 white Mazda, perhaps driven by a third man who was white.

Multiple people reported seeing two men resembling the composites across the country in Pensacola, Florida, in the weeks after the murders. The men, however, have never been identified.

When police asked friends and acquaintances of anyone who would want the Thompsons dead, one name was repeatedly mentioned.

Michael Goodwin was Mickey’s former business partner in their indoor stadium racing venture. After their relationship soured and the business encountered financial difficulties, the two men were at each other’s throats. The partnership dissolved, with each man filing a civil lawsuit against the other. In the end, Goodwin’s case was dismissed, and he was ordered to pay Mickey Thompson $514,000. Following the decision, several friends said they heard Goodwin say he was going to kill Mickey. Knowing Goodwin was a hothead, they assumed he was blowing smoke. Authorities wondered if the hothead had followed through with his treats.

For 13 years, Goodwin remained the prime suspect in the Thompson murders, but no physical evidence connected him to the crime. In 2001, a witness came forward saying he had seen two men in a parked car in the secluded Bradbury neighborhood looking through binoculars at the Thompson home. The witness and his wife both identified Goodwin, and the other resembled one of the gunmen. Goodwin also owned a stun gun similar to one found at the crime scene and presumed to have been left by the killers, though it was not used. Police theorize the two men were learning the Thompsons’ daily routine. Still, with nothing directly linking Goodwin to the murders, the Los Angeles County prosecutor chose not to indict him.

In 2006, a new prosecutor reviewed the evidence and deemed it sufficient to charge Goodwin. In 2007, he was convicted of the Thompsons murders as he was found to have hired the hitmen to kill his former business partner and his wife.

Michael Goodwin’s appeal of his conviction was denied in 2015. He maintains his innocence.

Even with Goodwin’s conviction, the murders of Mickey and Trudy Thompson remains open as the hunt for the hitmen continues.

Shortly after the Thompson murders, Goodwin flew to the Caribbean for an extended stay. Police believe the killers may be Caribbean and that Goodwin paid them for the murders on the trip.

Police describe the Thompson murders as a classic professional hit. The calm demeanor of the killers led investigators to believe they could be professional hitmen.

The killers of Mickey and Trudy Thompson would likely be in their 50s or 60s today. Rumors say they are still working as hired guns in the Caribbean.

A $1 million reward is being offered for each man’s identification and apprehension.


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:

• America’s Most Wanted
Car and Driver Magazine
48 Hours
Fox News
Los Angeles Times
Motorsport .com
• Mickey Thompson Website
• Unsolved Mysteries


Recommended Reading:

Mickey Thompson: The Lost Story of the Original Speed King in His Own Words
Mickey Thompson

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 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.

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: Roy DeMeo Part 1

FBI mugshot, July 14, 1981

Some mobsters do the work required of them but only because they have to as part of The Life, but others enjoy the violence. Roy Albert DeMeo got off on the violence and would lead one of the most brutal murderous teams in mob history.


DeMeo was born on September 7, 1940, in Bath Beach, Brooklyn. He was drawn to the street life at an early age and began assisting in loan sharking operations while still in high school. He would later be brought into the Gambino crime family by Mini Gaggie.

Roy DeMeo started building a specialized crew. Each member had their specialty, and together they made a ruthless team. When they turned to murder, the team was nearly unstoppable. The DeMeo crew became infamous for the number of murders they committed and how they disposed of the bodies. It became known as the “Gemini Method.” They would take the target into the Gemini lounge, kill them, cut them up and dispose of them. The authorities claim they allegedly committed an excess of 100 murders with the majority carried out by DeMeo himself. The crew also became famous for car thefts across the city.

DeMeo joined a Brooklyn credit union in 1972 and gained a position on the board of directions shortly afterward. He utilized his position to launder money earned through his illegal ventures. He also introduced colleagues at the credit union to a lucrative side-business, laundering drug dealers’ money. DeMeo also built up his loansharking business with funds stolen from credit union reserves. DeMeo’s collection of loan shark customers, while still primarily those in the car industry, soon included other businesses such as a dentist office, an abortion clinic, restaurants, and flea markets. He was also listed as an employee for a Brooklyn company named S & C Sports Wear Corp. and frequently told his neighbors he worked in construction, food retailing, and the used car business.

In late 1974 a conflict erupted between the DeMeo crew and Andrei Katz. Katz was a young auto repair shop owner who was partners with DeMeo in a stolen car ring. In May 1975, DeMeo was informed by a crooked police officer that Katz was cooperating with authorities. In June, Katz was lured to a place where he could be confronted. After being abducted, he was stabbed to death and dismembered. An accomplice who helped bait Katz later confessed to her role. Joseph Tested, and Henry Borelli were both arrested, but they would secure an acquittal at trial in January 1976. This hit was his 1st known murder committed by the DeMeo crew, and for years it was thought to have been the 1st occasion where DeMeo or members of his crew had dismembered a body for disposal. In 2003, however, new information was provided to the FBI by Bonanno underboss Salvator Vitale. Vitale claimed that in 1974 he was ordered to deliver a corpse of a murder victim to a garage in Queens so it could be disposed of by DeMeo.

In 2011 former Gambino associate Greg Bucceroni alleged that during the late 1970s and early 1980s, DeMeo utilized his henchman Richard Kuklinski on behalf of Robert “DB” DiBernardi & the Gambino family’s pornography establishments in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. Here Kuklinski would traffic illegal pornography, collect debts, and carry out contract killings.

In the latter half of 1975, DeMeo became a silent partner in a peep show/ prostitution establishment in New Jersey after the business owner was unable to pay his loansharking debts.DeMeo also began dealing in illegal pornography. When Gaggi found out about DeMeo’s involvement in such taboo films, he ordered him to stop. However, DeMeo defied Gaggi and continued the practice. Gaggi didn’t retaliate. According to his nephew Dominick Montiglio, the subject was never brought up again as long as DeMeo continued making payments to Gaggi. DeMeo also dealt in narcotics despite the Gambini family strictly forbidden such activity.

As 1975 drew to a close, DeMeo was the subject of IRS investigations into his income. Months earlier, the Boro of Brooklyn credit union had been pushed insolvency due to DeMeo’s plundering of its finances. Before an indictment could be handed down against him, he uploaded false affidavits from businesses owned by friends and aquaintances claiming he was on their payroll as an employee. These affidavits served to account for some of his income, allowing him to settle with the IRS.

DeMeo’s sources of income, as well as his crew, continued to grow. By July 1976, he added and automobile firm by the name of Team Auto. Mathew Register also purchased stolen vehicles from the crew and sold them at a New Jersey car lot he owned. He also involved himself in hijacking delivery trucks from the JFK national airport. His team now included Danny Grillo, a hijacker who had just been released from prison. In the fall of 1976, the Gambino family went through a massive change when it’s boss Carlos Gambino died of natural causes. Paul Castellano was named the boss, with Aniello Dellacroce retaining the position of underboss.

The implications of this were twofold for DeMeo. Gaggi was elevated to the position of caporegime, taking over the crew of men Castellani previously headed. This promotion was beneficial to DeMeo who’s mentor was now even closer to the family leadership. Another advantage was that new associates would be eligible for membership in the family. Castellano didn’t immediately “open the books” for new members, opting to promote existing members and shuffle around the crew’s leaders. He also allegedly opposed the idea of DeMeo being made.

Castellani involved himself in white-collar crime and looked down on street level members such as DeMeo. Additionally, Castellano felt DeMeo was uncontrollable. Gaggi’s attempts at persuading Castellano to make DeMeo were continually rejected. By 1977 DeMeo became distraught by this and searched for opportunities to ensure larger returns for his superiors.

The Westies Alliance and Rosenberg:

DeMeo secured his induction into the Gambino family by allying with the Irish-American gang known as the Westies. The leader of the Westies, Mickey Spinner, was causing delays for the construction of the Jacob K Javits Convention Center, much of the frustration of Gambino boss Paul Castellano who had a part in the project. After the unsolved murder of Spillane in May 1977, James Conan assumed control of the gang.

Shortly afterward, Coonan and his second-in-command Mickey Feather stone were called to a meeting with Castellano. They agreed to become a de facto arm of the Gambino family and share 10% of all profits. In exchange, the Westies would be privy to several lucrative union deals and take on murder contracts for the family. It was the pivotal role in the Westie/Gambino alliance that reportedly convinced Castellano to formally induct DeMeo into the family.

He was ordered to get permission before committing murder, and he was told to avoid the drug dealing scene. The DeMeo’s crew didn’t obey and continued to commit unsanctioned killings. One such case was the homicide of Johnathan Quinn, a car thief suspected of cooperating with law enforcement, and Cherie Golden, Quinn’s 19 yr old girlfriend. DeMeo’s crew dumped the bodies in locations where they would be discovered to serve as a warning against the cooperation with authorities.

In 1978 Frederick DiNome, previously DeMeo’s chauffeur, joined the crew. November 14, 1978, Edward Grillo was killed. He had fallen into massive debt with DeMeo and was believed to be becoming susceptible to police coercion. Grillo, who was dismembered and disposed of like many other victims, was the 1st known internal crew discipline occurrence. The next member to be killed was Rosenberg, who set up a drug deal with a Cuban man living in Florida, and then murdered him and his associates when they traveled to New York to complete the sale.

This murder raised the possibility of violence between the Gambino family and the Cubans unless Rosenberg was taken out. DeMeo was ordered to kill Roseburg and stalked him for weeks during this period. In a fit of paranoia, DeMeo committed his most public murder. The victim was an innocent college student named Dominick Ragucci, who was paying for his tuition by working as a door to door salesman. DeMeo saw him parked outside his house and assumed he was a Cuban assassin.

DeMeo and crew member Joseph Guglielmo pursued Ragucci and then shot the student. After returning home and gathering with his family, DeMeo drove them out of New York and left them at a hotel for a short time. According to DeMeo’s son Albert, he started crying when he discovered he had murdered an innocent boy. Gaggi was infuriated by the murder of Ragucci and ordered DeMeo to kill Rosenberg before there were any more innocent victims.

On May 11, 1979, Rosenberg reported to the Gemini clubhouse for the crew’s usual Friday night meeting. Shortly after his arrival, DeMeo fired a bullet into Rosenberg’s head. The usually ice-cold DeMeo hesitated when the still living Rosenberg managed to rise off the floor to 1 knee, but Anthony Senter moved in and finished him off with four shots to the head. Unlike Grillo, Rosenberg’s body was not dismembered or made to disappear.

The Cubans demanded that his murder make the papers. DeMeo’s men placed his body in his car on Cross Bay Boulevard (near Gateway National Wildlife Refuge) to be found. Albert DeMeo later recounted that Rosenberg’s murder affected his father profoundly and that when DeMeo came home after the killing, he went to his study room and didn’t come out for two days. TO BE CONTINUED.


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

National Crime Syndicate


Recommended Reading:

Murder Machine (Onyx True Crime)
For the Sins of My Father: A Mafia Killer, His Son, and the Legacy of a Mob Life

More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Cricket Andrews is a new crime writer working on her own book to empower victim’s families. She has worked as a victim’s advocate for years and is passionate about helping those affected by violent crime.


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.

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


A Deadly Wild Goose Chase – The Murder of Kyle McElroy

The morning of March 10, 2000, began like any other for Kevin McElroy. He arrived at the plastics factory he owned in Troup, Texas, at about 8:30 a.m. Within the hour, his day, and his life, had been turned upside down.

At 9:20 a.m., Kevin received a phone call from a woman saying his son Kyle had been kidnapped. The caller demanded a ransom. Kevin thought it was a cruel joke, but it soon became clear it was no hoax and that Kyle McElroy was in grave danger.

Instead of another day at the office, Kevin McElroy was forced to embark on a desperate quest to save his son’s life.

Kyle McElroy worked as the night shift supervisor at the plastics factory owned by his father. He was last seen in the early morning hours of March 10, 2000, after his shift was completed.

The woman who called the factory later that morning identified herself as “Sara.” She told Kevin, “We have your son… Do not call the police. We are watching you.” In a terrified tone, his son said, “Dad, do what they say. They mean it, or they’re going to kill me.” Kevin recognized his son’s voice but believed it was a recording.

Despite “Sara’s” warning, Kevin contacted the police. For the remainder of the day, they were thrust into a movie-like scenario, directed to various locations, and finding a note at each one instructing them to another locale. Ultimately, $200,000 was demanded Kyle’s release.

At 8:00 p.m. Kevin, as instructed, returned to his office to wait for a phone call. The caller told Kevin to leave the money behind a local laundromat. Kevin was able to keep the caller on the line long enough for the FBI to trace the location. The call was traced to one of Kevin’s employees at his plastics factory. Kevin knew the man as Victor Feredes, but his real name was David Rios.

The FBI set up surveillance around the laundromat. On the following morning, March 11, two men attempted to pick up the money. As they did so, they were arrested. They were identified as Ernesto Balion and Alfredo Romero. Rios was also arrested. All three men were illegal immigrants.

Under questioning, the culprits told the police where they had been holding Kyle captive. At an abandoned farm in rural Cherokee County, the agents found the teen’s body. The Medical Examiner determined he had been choked to death.

The macabre scavenger hunt had been a wild goose chase. Kyle was likely murdered before the first ransom call was made, and, as Kevin suspected, it was a recording of his son’s voice played during the initial phone call.

All three men were convicted for their roles in Kyle’s kidnapping. Romero was sentenced to 30 years in prison, Baylon received 50 years, and Rios was put away for life.

The kidnappers identified “Sara” as Desiree Perkins, a prostitute known to frequent migrant camps. For four years, they were unable to locate her. In 2004, however, they received information saying she may have fled to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Mexican police agreed to help attempt to track her.

On October 7, 2004, Nuevo Laredo police on a routine patrol noticed a woman riding on a bicycle. She aroused their suspicion by attempting to lose their trail by weaving in and out of traffic. The police caught her and brought her in for questioning. The woman was identified as Perkins. She had been living in the area under the alias Alejandra Gutierrez.

Perkins was extradited to the United States. She pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison. She will be eligible for parole in 2044 when she is 75-years-old.


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: 


Amarillo Globe-News
Jacksonville Progress
JUSTIA US Law
KLTV News East Texas
My Plainview
Unsolved Mysteries


Recommended Reading:

Check out this week’s true crime best seller on Amazon

Goodnight Sugar Babe: The Killing of Vera Jo Reigle

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 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.

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


The Murder Manual: The Murders of Millie and Trevor Horn


Before going to work on March 3, 1993, Vivian Rice stopped as usual at the Silver Spring, Maryland, home of her sister, 43-year-old Mildred “Millie” Horn. This visit, however, would be anything but routine.

Vivian was surprised both garage doors were open, and she became alarmed when the door leading from the garage into the home was also standing open. She called out Millie’s name but received no response. Vivian cautiously entered and came upon a gruesome scene. The lifeless body of her nephew lay in his bed. On the floor was the body of his home care nurse. She had been shot to death. The nightmare continued as Millie ran upstairs to find her sister shot to death in her bedroom.

Vivan suspected someone from the beginning, but he had an airtight alibi, as he was on the other side of the country. Dogged detective work eventually connected the dots and brought the perpetrators to justice. The murders of Millie and Trevor Horn also resulted in a landmark legal ruling.

Larry Horn was a household name in Detroit during the 1960s. He was recognized as one of the top recording engineers and producers for Motown Records. Among his many credits was Junior Walker and the All-Star’s hit “Shotgun.” Horn went with the booming Motown when the company moved to Los Angeles in 1972.

On his flight to L.A., Horn met stewardess Millie Maree. The two began dating and married the following year. The couple had three children, a daughter Tiffani, born in 1974, and twins Tamielle and Trevor, born in 1984.

Both Horn’s career in Los Angeles and his marriage to Millie were rocky. Although Horn did have some initial success in producing records in Los Angeles, the money was not coming in as it had in Detroit. By the mid-1980s, Motown’s fortunes were waning, and Horn was laid off. In 1987, after eight years of on-again-off-again divorce proceedings, Larry and Millie finally made it official.

As his career disintegrated and his debts accumulated, Larry Horn became desperate. How he attempted to alleviate his troubles proved a devil was residing in the City of Angels.

Without much of a fight from Larry, Millie gained custody of their three children following the divorce. They moved across the country to Silver Spring, Maryland, where they lived only a block from Vivian’s sister.

On the evening of March 2, 1993, Tiffani was in her dorm room at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Tamielle was spending the night at a friend’s house. Millie and Trevor were home along with the nurse on duty, 38-year-old Janice Saunders. Trevor required 24-hour care following a botched surgery when he was only two-years-old. The incident left him with severe brain damage and had left him a quadriplegic.

Autopsies on Millie and Trevor showed they were killed at approximately 2:00 a.m. on March 3, 1993. Someone had deactivated the alarm, gained entry to the home, and attempted to make the murders appear to be a robbery gone wrong. Millie and Janice were both shot multiple times in the head. Janice had been a last-minute substitute as Trevor’s regular overnight nurse could not make it that evening. I could not find a picture of Janice Saunders.

The killer had disconnected the tracheostomy tube Trevor needed to breathe. The defenseless child was then smothered to death as the killer placed his hand over Trevor’s nose and mouth.

Larry Horn was painting the town on the evening and morning of March 2 and 3, 1993, and the town around which he was gallivanting was Los Angeles, not Silver Spring, Maryland. Horn made sure every person he came in contact with remembered seeing him. Many felt Horn was going out of his way to make his presence known.

Horn succeeded in proving he was not in Silver Spring, Maryland, on March 3, 1993. But he failed in covering his tracks.

Investigators discovered many phone calls made from payphones to Horn’s old stomping grounds in Detroit. They also found a substantial Western Union payment made under a fake name to James Perry of Detroit. Perry, a former acquaintance of Horn from the music man’s Motown days, had recently been released from prison for committing a series of armed robberies.

After months of painstaking work, detectives established the phone calls, and the payment had been made by Horn. Perry had been careful not to leave a trail, but he made one seemingly fundamental mistake. He believed by paying for his motel room in cash; he would not be asked to show identification. However, the Silver Spring motel required identification from all guests, no matter the method of payment. Perry was forced to show them his driver’s license, proving he was in Silver Spring at the murders’ time.

The felon-turned-minister James Perry was fond of reciting the Ten Commandments. However, he did not always practice what he preached as he had violated the sixth commandment of Thou Shalt Not Kill.

After several lawsuits resulting from Trevor’s botched medical procedure, a $1.7 million malpractice settlement was established in the form of a trust fund. If Trevor died, his parents were the beneficiaries. If Millie were dead as well, Larry Horn would be the sole beneficiary.

Horn’s motive for wanting his ex-wife and son dead were simple; the former Motown millionaire wanted money again, and Millie and Trevor being eliminated provided an opportunity. The former hitmaker turned to hire a hitman.

James Perry and Larry Horn were both convicted in the murders of Millie and Trevor Horn, and Janice Saunders. Perry was sentenced to death, but his conviction was overturned on appeal. He was convicted in a second trial but was spared death, instead of being sentenced to three life terms. He died in 2009.

Larry Horn was also sentenced to three life terms behind bars. He died in 2017.

The murders of Millie and Trevor Horn and Janice Saunders resulted in a unique lawsuit.

Published by Paladin Press in 1983, the book “Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors” is, essentially, a blueprint on how to commit murder. In committing the murders, James Perry had followed the book’s suggestions nearly to a tee.

In “Rice v. Paladin Enterprises,” the Horn and Saunders families sued Paladin Press, claiming the company had “aided and abetted” in the murders (“Rice” is the last name of Millie’s s sister, Vivian.) The families argued that Paladin, by marketing the book as a “How-To” manual, was culpable in that the book could be used for reference by would-be criminals in the solicitation, planning, and commission of murder for hire.

In 1997, an Appeals Court ruled the book was not protected by the Free Speech/Free Press clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution, and thus Paladin could be held liable for a crime committed by one of its readers.

In 1999, Paladin’s insurance company, against the wishes of Paladin Press itself, agreed to an out-of-court settlement with the families. The company agreed to pay an undisclosed amount of money (believed to be several million dollars) to Horn and Saunders families. In addition, Paladin decided to destroy the remaining 700 copies of the book in its possession and surrender any rights it had to publish and reproduce the work. Some praised the ruling, but others criticized it as “economic censorship.”

It is believed nearly 13,000 copies of “Hit Man” were sold, although Reason Magazine estimates there are 20,000 copies of the book still in existence. The book is allowed to be purchased from independent sellers. I also found it available for sale on both Amazon and eBay.


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: 

Washington Post

Murderpedia


Recommended Reading:

The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War

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 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.

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