Cherrie Picked – The Disappearance of Cherrie Mahan


On February 22, 1985, a typically cold winter day in Butler County, Pennsylvania, eight-year-old Cherrie Mahan got off the school bus at approximately 4:05 p.m. Three other children got off with her and began walking to their homes on the outskirts of Cabot. None of them noticed anything unusual. Cherrie’s friends saw her walking toward her house, only about 50 feet away, but she never arrived.

Cherrie’s Mahan’s disappearance helped launch a program that has helped locate over 1,000 missing children, but she is not among them. For nearly three decades after Cherrie’s ill-fated bus stop, few leads surfaced, indicating what may have happened to her. During the last several years, however, police have received information claiming to know her fate. Unfortunately, if the tips are accurate, the final chapter in Cherrie’s story will not have a happy ending.

The most promising possible lead in Cherrie’s disappearance was a green or light blue van seen behind the school bus. A snow-capped mural of a man in red and yellow clothing skiing down a mountain made the vehicle hard to miss. No one recognized the van, and despite the distinctive painting, it was never located.

Because no one in the greater Pittsburgh area recalled seeing the distinctive van after Cherrie’s disappearance, police theorized the occupant(s) fled western Pennsylvania after Cherrie’s disappearance.

For nearly 30 years, few leads of substance surfaced. In 2014, police received several tips saying Cherrie was living in Michigan under another name. Investigators, however, determined it was another woman who resembled the computer-aged image of Cherrie.

In 2015, police announced they had received more promising information regarding Cherrie. They would only say the lead was from a person who “would have known Cherrie” and “has the potential” to lead them to specific people. Unfortunately, authorities say the tip makes it “highly unlikely that she is alive.”

In August 2018, Cherrie’s mother received an anonymous handwritten letter saying Cherrie was murdered. The letter, mailed around the time of Cherrie’s birthday, detailed who the author contends killed Cherrie, why they did it, and where her body could be found. The letter ended: “I pray you find some peace after you find her body.” It was signed by someone calling himself “Pastor Justice.”

Cherrie’s mother gave the letter to police who are still analyzing the contents to determine its credibility. They have refused any comment on the letter so far, saying they will discuss it once the analysis is complete. They have also not said if they believe the letter to be related to the information received in 2015 or to the van.

Investigators have said they received another tip, which led them to search an old mine shaft in Butler County and a junkyard near the city of Armstrong, 27 miles northeast of Cabot. Again, though, they have not yet released any information about the findings.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was founded in 1984, the year before Cherrie vanished. In conjunction with the direct-mail marketing company ADVO, they launched the “Have You Seen Me?” program. It helps locate missing children through the mass distribution of the children’s pictures on detached address labels. Vlassis, the company which acquired ADVO in 2007, continues the program today.

Cherrie Mahan was the first child featured on the labels. The program has been remarkably successful. Of the approximately 2,100 highlighted cases, nearly 1,200 children have been recovered. Cherrie wasn’t one of them.

The success of the ADVO program also led to missing children being featured on cardboard milk cartons.

Cherrie Mahan was declared legally dead in 1998. If she has somehow beaten the odds, she would today be 43-years-old.

If you have any information on her disappearance, please contact the Pennsylvania State Police at 412-284-8100.


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: 

Butler Dispatch

Wikipedia

NBC News


Recommended Reading:

Missing

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


A Prime Target: The Murder of Prime Minister Olof Palme


A Prime Crime

The nation’s Chief Executive is shot while in public and is rushed to the hospital. Doctors work feverishly but are unable to save him. A shocked nation goes into mourning. Years after the assassination, conspiracy theories abound as to who was responsible.

Such an occurrence describes the globally known assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy over 56 years ago. It also describes a murder occurring in 1986, which, outside of Scandinavia, is lesser-known.
The Prime Minister of Sweden is the Nordic country’s equivalent of the President of the United States. Thus, the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme can rightfully be compared to President Kennedy.
A cornucopia of conspiracy claims continues to surround both crimes. One huge factor, however, separates the two assassinations. History has officially closed the book on the Kennedy assassination, but the murder of Prime Minister Palme is still open.

Olof Plame became Prime Minister of Sweden in 1969, a position he held until his murder 17 years later. He was the leader of the left-wing Swedish Social Democrat Party.

Palme’s reign coincided with the escalation of Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. He adopted a policy of non-alignment with both superpowers and spoke critically of both countries’ foreign policies.

Palme drew the particular ire of the United States when he became the first Western head of state to visit Cuba following the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power. His speech praising the revolutionaries was not well received by Cuba’s neighbor to the north.

Prime Minister Palme valued his independence and was determined to live as ordinary as possible for a head of state. He was often seen in public without any bodyguard protection; the evening of February 28, 1986, was one such occasion.

Despite protests from his entourage, the Prime Minister gave his protectors the evening off as he looked forward to a night at the movies with his family.

That evening Palme and his wife Lisbet met their son Marten and his girlfriend at Stockholm’s Grand Cinema, where they watched the comedy “The Mozart Brothers.” After the movie ended at approximately 11:00 p.m., the foursome chatted for fifteen minutes before the two couples headed their separate ways. Olof and Lisbet Palme began walking toward the Hötorget metro station.

After crossing the street, the Palmes briefly stopped to gaze at some displays in a shop window before continuing past a corner deli.

Several minutes later, officially at 11:21 p.m., according to Swedish authorities, a man approached the couple from behind and twice shot the Prime Minister in his back at point-blank range. After firing a third shot that grazed Mrs. Palme, the perpetrator jogged into the darkness.

Paramedics quickly arrived on the scene and rushed Sweden’s first couple to Sabbatsberg Hospital. The shots had severed the Prime Minister’s spinal column and aorta, and he was pronounced dead. Lisbet Palme was not seriously wounded.

Multiple people witnessed the shooting but could provide only vague descriptions of the assassin. He was generally described as between 30-50 years-old, 6″-6’2″ tall, 185-200 pounds, and wearing a dark jacket or coat. The descriptions varied so much that police deemed them insufficient to develop a composite sketch of the suspect.

The shots were determined to have probably been fired from a Winchester-Western .357 Magnum 158 grain metal piercing revolver. The two bullets recovered from the street were the only forensic evidence as such weapons do not automatically eject cartridge cases.

Based on the bullets’ lack of certain characteristic deformations, investigators concluded the shots had been fired from a barrel not shorter than 4 inches, meaning the murder weapon would have been a conspicuously large handgun.

Thirty-three-year-old Victor Gunnarsson, a right-wing extremist who hated Palme’s polices, was immediately declared the prime suspect in the murder of the Prime Minister. He matched the general description of the assassin. A witness placed Gunnarsson at a bar near the Grand Cinema that evening, voicing his discontent about the Swedish leader to anyone who would listen.

Gunnarsson was arrested but soon released after no one picked him out of a police lineup. Nothing linked him to the killing, but he was guilty in the eyes of public opinion.

Ostracized and unable to find work in his home country, Gunnarsson moved the United States, settling in Salisbury, North Carolina, a town of approximately 33,000 people in the west-central part of the Tar Heel state. In January 1994, Gunnarsson’s near-naked body was found in a wooded area about 90 miles from his home. He had been shot twice in the head with a .22 caliber firearm.

Olof Palme’s murder has been called the Swedish equivalent of President Kennedy’s assassination. Gunnarsson was not the likely assassin, and he was not silenced for the same reason many believe Lee Harvey Oswald was killed. Instead, he was shot to death by a jealous former boyfriend of the woman he had recently begun dating.

Regardless, many in Gunnarsson’s homeland still believe his murder was poetic justice. Despite his disdain for Olof Palme, no evidence has been found linking him to the assassination.

In December 1988, almost three years after Prime Minister Palme’s murder, an alcoholic and drug user named Christer Pettersson was charged with the murder after Lisbet Palme picked him out of a lineup as her husband’s killer. Pettersson, who had previously been convicted of manslaughter, was convicted of Palme’s murder, but the verdict was overturned on appeal the following year.

The Swedish appellate court cited several reasons for reversing the lower court’s decision.

• Failure of the prosecution to produce the murder weapon;
• Lack of a motive for the murder;
• Doubts about the reliability of Mrs. Palme’s identification of
Pettersson and her testimony; and
• “extremely gross errors” by the police in arranging the lineup.

In the late 1990s, several people came forward saying Pettersson had confessed to killing the Prime Minister. He allegedly told associates it was a case of mistaken identity. He had intended to kill fellow drug dealer Sigvard Cedergren. Cedergren resembled Olof Palme and often walked along the same route the Prime Minister was walking that evening. However, the claims were made by petty criminals who altered their stories, and officials deemed the contentions uncredible.

Pettersson was awarded about $50,000 in compensation for defamation by the police and wrongful imprisonment. He quickly squandered his windfall on alcohol and drugs but augmented his income through media interviews.

In 1998, the Swedish Supreme Court rejected an appeal to retry Pettersson. He died from a cerebral hemorrhage in 2004, legally declared not guilty in the assassination of Prime Minister Olof Palme.

As with the assassination of President Kennedy, no shortage of conspiracy theories exist regarding the murder of Prime Minister Palme. Some of the opinions are listed below.

• He was silenced by the CIA for his support of communist Cuba
• As the U.N. mediator seeking an end to the Iran-Iraq war, he was
assassinated because he fell afoul of Iran-Contra
• He was taken out by an operative of the former Yugoslavian security service.
• He was killed by the South African Cooperation Bureau for speaking out against Apartheid.
• His murder was linked with arms trades to India.

• He was killed by Chilean Fascists for granting asylum to leftist
Chileans following the overthrow of Salvador Allende in 1973.
• He was killed by a conspiracy among Swedish right-wing extremist police officers.
• He was killed by the PKK (Kurdish Worker’s Party) for the arrests of Kurds living in Sweden.

Olof and Lisbet Palme had been married for thirty years at the time of his assassination.

Lisbet did not remarry. She died in October 2018 at age 87, still believing Christer Pettersson was the man who had murdered her husband.

On February 18, 2020, Krister Petersson, the Swedish chief prosecutor in charge of the investigation into the assassination of Prime Minister Olof Palme, announced a likely assassin had been identified and that further information will be provided at a later date.

Petersson, (different spelling and no relation to Christer Pettersson) also announced that if prosecutors are denied the opportunity to try the suspect, they will close the investigation into the murder of the Prime Minister.


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:
Dagens Nyheter
Los Angeles Times
New York Times


Recommended Reading:

Blood on the Snow: The Killing of Olof Palme

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 Oliver Munson Disappearance

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup, text that says 'OLIVER MUNSON'


A man’s love for restoring cars leads to his disappearance. What happened to Oliver Munson after he unknowingly stepped into the middle of a chop shop ring?


A neighbor thought nothing as he waved to Oliver Munson on the morning of February 13, 1984. The 39-year-old bachelor was presumably on his way to the middle school, where he taught Industrial Arts. Little could the neighbor have known, he likely was the last person to have seen Oliver alive. When Oliver rounded the corner, he drove into oblivion.

Oliver Munson disappeared the day before Valentine’s Day, and his story involves love, not the love of another person, but the love of a hobby which likely led to his death. The beloved shop teacher may have been done in by a man running a different kind of shop.

Oliver Munson was an industrial arts teacher at the now-defunct Ellicot City Middle School in Catonsville, Maryland, 13 miles west of Baltimore. His colleagues respected him, and “Mr. Munson” was well-liked by his students.

Oliver’s hobby was buying and restoring run-down cars. In January of 1983, he eagerly bought a fully-loaded used, but classic, 1973 Datsun 240Z, from a man named Dennis Watson.

As a teacher, Oliver was strict about his students doing the homework he assigned, but he didn’t do his homework on Dennis Watson.

Dennis Watson had not sold the Datsun to Oliver in good faith. Watson was the ringleader of a car theft ring, and he had stolen the Datsun three months earlier, in October of 1982. The car garage Watson owned was a cover for his “chop shop,” where cars were dismantled for parts, or resold with fake papers. Watson had done the latter with the Datsun he sold to Oliver.

For several weeks, police had been gathering information and building a case against Watson. On March 16, 1983, they raided his shop and arrested him and his associates.

In searching the shop, police discovered illegal car titles, partially dismantled autos, and stolen vehicle I.D. tags. Oliver Munson’s name was found in the confiscated records.

Police confiscated the Datsun Oliver had purchased from Watson. After speaking with Oliver, the police were convinced he had no part in the operation and believed he had purchased the car, thinking it was legitimate.

Oliver reluctantly agreed to testify against Watson. Legal wrangling delayed the trial for eleven months, but it was finally set to begin on February 16, 1984.

On February 13, the neighbor saw Oliver, driving his regular Ford Pinto, depart from his home at 7:50 a.m. He turned onto the road leading to the Ellicot City Middle School, never to be seen again.

Three days later, on the day he was to testify at Watson’s trial, Oliver’s car was found parked on another road two blocks from his home. The right front tire was flat. Oliver’s touring cap, school papers, and a sack lunch were found on the front seat, but there was no evidence suggesting what had happened to him.

Dennis Watson became the focal point of the investigation into Oliver’s disappearance, and authorities discovered an ominous similarity to two other people associated with Watson.

Ten years earlier, in 1973, a man named Clinton Glenn was scheduled to testify in an armed robbery trial against Watson. The day before the trial, Glenn burned to death in a car registered to Watson.

Based on the testimony of another witness, Watson was indicted for the murder. That witness, however, soon died of a drug overdose investigators called “suspicious.” The murder charges against Watson were dropped.

On February 27, 1984, two weeks after Oliver disappeared, a man named Hilton Solomon contacted police. His car had been stolen only a few hours before Oliver vanished on February 13, and he happened upon it parked on a residential street.

The car was returned to Hilton, and while cleaning it, he found a hat that did not belong to him. It was determined to have been Oliver’s. Hilton also found several receipts from a video rental store that were signed in Oliver’s name.

Investigators examined the car and found a spent cartridge case beneath the track of the right front seat. They also found a red-brownish stain on the driver’s side and red smudges on one of the video store receipts. Tests revealed the stains were human blood, type O Positive. These findings suggested Oliver had met with foul play, but with no records showing his blood type, and no other hard evidence, the investigation stalled.

Police say despite the advances of DNA technology, the blood sample is now too deteriorated to be tested for a potential match.

Clinton Glenn was murdered the day before he was to testify against Dennis Watson. Oliver Munson disappeared and was likely murdered three days before he was to testify against Watson. Authorities did not think either event was a coincidence but could not make a case against Watson in either instance.

The witness who fingered Watson in Clinton Green’s murder was himself murdered, and Watson refused to talk to police about the disappearance of Oliver Munson. The only thing on which Watson could be charged was on running the auto theft ring.

Oliver’s disappearance had no apparent effect on the outcome of Watson’s trial. He pled guilty and was sentenced to ten years in prison. He was paroled in 1989, after serving half of his term.

Though his body has never been found, Oliver Munson was declared dead in 1985, ruled the victim of a “presumptive homicide.” Investigators believe the man who taught shop was murdered by those who ran a chop shop.

Oliver Wendell Munson has been missing since February 13, 1984, when he was 39-years-old. At the time of his disappearance, he was 5’10” tall and weighed 160 lbs. He had black hair and brown eyes. He would today be 75-years-old.

If you have any information on the disappearance of Oliver Munson, please contact the Baltimore County (Maryland) Police Department at 410-887-3943.


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:

Unsolved Mysteries

Baltimore Sun

The Charley Project


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.

Gifts For All Those True Crime Fans:

SignsAndTagsOnline Insured by Mafia You Hit Me We Hit You! License Plate Funny Mafia Auto Tag


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.

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


Image may contain: 1 person, closeup, text that says 'OLIVER MUNSON'

No Justice for Nona Dirksmeyer


Three times the state of Arkansas has tried a man for Nona Dirksmeyer’s murder and three times they have failed to get justice for the beloved beauty queen. Will the family ever find answers?


Nineteen-year-old Nona Dirksmeyer both sounded and looked exquisite. The college student had a beautiful soprano voice and a body that turned all the boys’ heads. She parlayed her talent and looks into competing in, and winning, several beauty pageants. The teen queen was only 11 days from turning twenty, but the disputed events of one awful evening prevented that occurrence.

On the evening of December 15, 2005, emergency workers responded to a frantic call for help at Russellville, Arkansas’s Inglewood Apartment complex. Inside Apartment 12, they encountered a gruesome scene. There lay the lifeless body of Pope County’s Beauty Queen. Nona had been stabbed and beaten to death.

Fourteen years after the bombshell’s brutal slaying, Nona Dirksmeyer’s case remains rife with aftershocks, marked by allegations of police incompetence, lawsuits, and three costly and emotionally draining trials resulting in no convictions.

Nona Dirksmeyer’s short life ended brutally, and no ending to her story can yet be written. After Nona Dirksmeyer graduated from Dover High school in 2004, she entered Arkansas Tech University in nearby Russellville. At the time of her murder, she was a sophomore majoring in music education and living off-campus.

Nona had taken the crowns in several beauty pageants: Pope County Beauty Queen, Miss Teen Nebo, and Miss Petit Jean Valley for 2005. That same year, she had also competed in the Miss Arkansas Pageant.

Nona and Kevin Jones had been high school sweethearts. The two continued their relationship while attending Arkansas Tech and even after Kevin transferred to the University of Arkansas.

Kevin had returned to Russellville on the evening of December 15, 2005, and planned to spend time with his girl. He expected to hear from her after she had completed a final exam, but several calls and texts were unanswered. As he had plans to attend a party with his mother, Kevin asked his friend, pizza delivery driver Ryan Whiteside, to go to Nona’s apartment to check on her. Kevin expected Ryan to call him, saying something to the effect that she had dozed off. But when Ryan did call, Kevin’s concern grew.

Ryan rang Nona’s doorbell and received no answer even though her car was in the parking lot, and the lights in her apartment were on. En route to the party, Kevin and his mom, Janice, made a detour to Nona’s place.

Kevin and Ryan went to the apartment’s sliding glass door. As he peered in, Ryan saw Nona lying naked on the floor. The door was unlocked, and the two men rushed inside. Nona did not answer Kevin’s repeated cries. He attempted to give her CPR, but Nona still did not move.

When paramedics arrived at the apartment, they too attempted to revive Nona, but their efforts were in vain as well. Nona Dirksmeyer was pronounced dead at the scene, having been stabbed and beaten to death.

Kevin described the sight of finding the woman he loved as a nightmare. And it was only beginning. After the police were called and conducted their investigation of the crime scene, a distraught Kevin agreed to be questioned at the police station. After a couple of hours, he was told he could leave.

In questioning Nona’s friends, police learned she had been casually seeing several other people since Kevin had left Russellville for Fayetteville. All of the young men were questioned, their alibis were confirmed, and they were eliminated as suspects in Nona’s murder.

Afterward, the investigators’ focus returned to Kevin as they believed the crime scene looked staged. The medical examiner determined Nona had been stabbed and beaten repeatedly on her head, neck, and chest, all signs of personal attack. Police were certain Nona’s murder was a crime of passion. Crimes of passion are usually committed by those closest to the victim. Investigators asked Kevin Jones if he would take a polygraph test. He agreed and, according to one investigator, failed worse than anyone to whom he had ever administered the test in his twenty years in law enforcement.

On March 31, 2006, Kevin Jones was charged with the murder of his girlfriend. The prosecution believed Kevin murdered Nona in a jealous rage. A used condom wrapper was found on Nona’s kitchen counter, but although Nona was found nude, there was no physical evidence she had been raped.

Prosecutors contended that upon seeing the condom wrapper, an enraged Kevin grabbed a knife and began repeatedly stabbing Nona. His bloody palm print was found on the bulb of a lamp, and the prosecution claimed he had used it to crush his girlfriend’s skull. When questioned, Kevin said he had not touched the lamp.

Nona’s autopsy showed she had been killed several hours before her body was found. The prosecution contends that after murdering her, Kevin left the apartment and later made the phone calls and sent the text messages to appear concerned. He also waited until the evening, the state contended, to return with his mother and friend to “find” her body. Kevin’s defense team, however, had an answer to all of the state’s contentions. First, an independent expert found the questions administered during Kevin’s polygraph examination were skewed to ensure his failure. The determination was a good start, but it was not of great help because polygraph test results are not admissible as evidence in court. Fortunately for Kevin, the finding was only the beginning.

The defense refuted the relevance of Kevin’s bloody palm print being on the lamp’s light bulb. The lamp was presumed to be the murder weapon because an EMT recalled it was within a foot of the body. The defense argued he had likely touched it without realizing it in his panic to revive Nona. Another weapon in the defense arsenal proved to be those in uniform: the Russellville Police. They declared the crime scene investigators, headed by first-time homicide detective Mark Frost, mucked up the investigation into Nona’s murder from the moment they arrived.

The defense emphasized that the only area investigators fingerprinted was around Nona’s body even though blood was near the front door and on the Venetian blinds. The front door was locked, but the back glass sliding door was unlocked, suggesting the route the killer had exited. The back door had not been fingerprinted. Although the killer would have walked across the kitchen floor to exit the apartment through the back door, the floor was not checked for footprints.

While prosecutors acknowledged mistakes had been made by police, they still felt the empty condom wrapper was a critical piece of evidence against Kevin Jones. They claimed upon finding the condom and believing his girlfriend had been with another man, Kevin killed Nona. Again, however, Kevin’s defense team was ready.

Kevin said he never noticed the condom wrapper, and his lawyers argued if he had, he would have picked it up and would have left his fingerprints on it. The prosecution did not have the wrapper tested; the defense did. Fingerprints and DNA were found on the condom wrapper, but they were not Kevin’s. They belonged to another male whose profile did not match any on file in the database. Kevin’s grandmother also testified he was with her in Dover at the time of the murder. After eight hours of deliberation, Kevin was found not guilty of Nona’s death in July of 2007.

Many agreed with the jury’s verdict, but some believed Kevin had gotten away with murder. Three months later, the arrest of another man for another crime led to his arrest for Nona’s murder, seemingly vindicating Kevin. He was, however, in for a rude awakening. Although another would be charged with the murder of Nona Dirksmeyer, Kevin Jones would, in a sense, be put on trial again.

In September of 2007, two months after Kevin’s acquittal, Gary Dunn was arrested for burglary. Dunn had lived in the same apartment complex as Nona and had been questioned and cleared by police. He agreed to submit his fingerprints and a DNA sample. After the tests were completed several weeks later, they suggested the DNA on the condom wrapper found in Nona’s apartment was Dunn’s. The fingerprints found on the wrapper were also consistent with Dunn’s but were not sufficient to be deemed a legal match.

When questioned again by police, Dunn said he had an alibi for December 15, 2005, the day Nona was murdered. He told them he was shopping with his mother, and she backed up his story. They told investigators the items they had purchased and from which stores. Investigators found receipts from the stores showing the items were purchased on December 13, not the 15th.

A new prosecutor found the DNA evidence and faulty alibi enough to charge Gary Dunn with the murder of Nona Dirksmeyer. His trial began in April of 2010. The new prosecution team argued the same theory as their predecessors that Nona was killed in a crime of passion. The accused man was now Gary Dunn, whom the state painted as a sexually violent man who had his eyes set on Nona.

Dunn’s former wife, Jennifer, testified against him at the trial. She was married to Dunn and lived with him in the apartment across the small parking lot from Nona’s at the time of the murder. By the time of Dunn’s trial, she had divorced him. Jennifer testified her former husband was often violent toward her and that in the weeks before Nona’s murder, she had caught lurking at Nona’s front door and looking in her bedroom window in the middle of the night.

The prosecution contended that Dunn, whom Jennifer also said had violent sexual habits, entered Nona’s apartment with the intent of forcing a sexual encounter and that he brought a condom which he disposed of but had left the wrapper behind. He forced all of her clothes off but killed her without raping her. Like the prosecutors in Kevin Jones’s trial, the state attorney’s evidence was attacked vigorously by Gary Dunn’s lawyers. They argued the DNA on that condom wrapper was only a mixed partial match to Dunn, and that it could also partially match thousands of other people.

Dunn’s attorneys conceded their client was not shopping with his mother on the day of Nona’s murder, but that he had not lied to the police. On the contrary, he cooperated fully by telling investigators where he had shopped and what he had purchased. Dunn’s lawyers argued he had simply forgotten the day he had gone shopping since he was questioned two weeks after the fact. He was in his apartment at the time of Nona’s murder.

The Double Jeopardy clause prohibits a person from being tried a second time for a crime for which he or she has been acquitted. At least officially. Despite Kevin Jones’s acquittal of Nona’s murder three years earlier, he was unofficially put on trial again and became the focus of Gary Dunn’s defense team. Dunn’s counsel argued Jones, his mother, grandmother, and friend, all gave conflicting statements to the 911 operator, the paramedics, and the police. They offered that Kevin, who admitted to using Marijuana, Xanax, and Adderall, may have killed Nona while high on the drugs.

In an ironic twist, Gary Dunn’s defense team also used the same argument as Kevin’s prosecutors in that Kevin knew of Nona’s seeing other boys and, upon finding the condom wrapper, killed her in a state of fury. The attacks on Kevin Jones were enough to dent the prosecution’s case against Gary Dunn. After three weeks of deliberation with the jury deadlocked, a mistrial was declared. Undeterred, prosecutors immediately filed charges to try Dunn again.

The state felt confident this time would be different, mainly because the testimony of Kelly Jo Harris was allowed to be admitted as evidence. In 2002, three years before Nona’s murder, Dunn had attacked her as she jogged along an isolated trail. He approached her from behind and hit her over the head with a large stick, knocking her down. Dunn pinned her to the ground and threatened to kill her, but Kelly was able to break free and summon help. When police arrived at the scene, they found Dunn hiding in the water.

Dunn was convicted of the attack and served 18 months in jail. After being released, he moved into the apartment across from Nona’s. Dunn’s lawyers, however, again successfully offered the same arguments they had used in his first trial. Despite the admission of his criminal past as evidence in his second trial, prosecutors were again unable to get a conviction. The second trial of Gary Dunn resulted in another hung jury.

In 2017, Dunn was sentenced to ten years in prison for a firearms offense. He was paroled in August of 2018 after serving only one year. Four months later, however, Dunn was in trouble again and was arrested on two counts of attempted kidnapping and one count of indecent exposure. Each of the incidents occurred in Russellville, Arkansas.

In November of 2019, Dunn accepted a plea deal and was sentenced to 15 years in prison with ten years suspended. He will have to serve 70 percent of his sentence before he’s eligible for parole. The state of Arkansas could charge Gary Dunn for the murder of Nona Dirksmeyer again but has not given any indications of plans to do so. Many feel the state, after three strikes, has struck out in its attempt to get a conviction in the murder of Nona Dirksmeyer.

Kevin Jones sued former Detective Mark Frost, former Police Chief James Bacon, Gary Dunn, and the City of Russellville, claiming all had conspired to conceal evidence and deprive him of his constitutional right to a fair trial. The actions, he claimed, resulted in his malicious prosecution under federal and state law. In October 2014, the Eighth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals upheld the District Court’s rule that the claims were time-barred by statute limits.

Nona Dirksmeyer, the Dover beauty, was killed by a beast. Fourteen years later, no one has been convicted of the crime. Her story is ended with a question instead of an answer: Will there be no justice for Nona?


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:
• Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

KATV Channel 7 ABC Affiliate Little Rock


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.”)


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

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



Silenced by the Dixie Mafia – Part 1: Buford Pusser Story

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Photo courtesy Wikipedia: fair use

The movie Walking Tall tells the Hollywood version of the real-life story of Sherriff Buford Pusser’s war with the Dixie Mafia. A two-hour film cannot possibly explain the entire story, nor can it relate the stories of all the secondary characters. Unfortunately, the story of murder, betrayal, and cover-ups didn’t end with the death of Sherriff Pusser. I will try to relate this massive tale to you, but it may take more than one post.

1967:
The Dixie Mafia was known as the State Line Mob and was led by Carl Douglas “Towhead” White. White was in prison when his lover, Louise Hathcock pulled a gun on Sherriff Pusser and was killed. Upon hearing the news, White called his friend Kirksey Nix, Jr and ordered the hit on Sherriff Pusser and his wife, Pauline.

August 12, 1967:
Sherriff Pusser received a disturbance call in the wee hours before dawn. Pauline Pusser decided to ride along with her husband as she had done on many occasions. The pair drove out to New Hope Road to check it out. The disturbance was a ruse to ambush the young sheriff and his wife.
Pusser passed the New Hope Methodist church looking for the reported disturbance but continued driving when he found the place quiet. A black Cadillac pulled out from behind the church and followed the sheriff with its lights off. As the two cars reached a narrow bridge, the Cadillac flashed on its headlights and came racing up beside the officer’s car.
The Cadillac’s passenger opened fire hitting Pauline in the head. The sheriff ducked stepped on the gas. The engine roared to life, and the car lurched ahead of the assassins. He sped up the road a couple of miles until he was sure he had lost his tail, and then pulled over to check on Pauline. Moments later the assassins again found their mark and gunshots rang out hitting Sherriff Pusser in the face and jaw blowing it apart. Somehow the sheriff would survive the attack, but Pauline was killed.
At first, Pusser declared he knew precisely who was responsible and named Towhead White, George McGann, Gary McDaniel, and Kirksey Nix. After 18 days in the hospital and a dozen surgeries to repair his face, Pusser declared he couldn’t tell who had shot him.

Was it the trauma that caused his amnesia or was the hard-nosed police officer going to exact his own revenge?

Time would witness the deaths of three of the conspirators, but Kirksey Nix would remain on the loose. Legends would be told about the great Buford Pusser, but the story didn’t end with his death in a 1974 car wreck. Kirksey Nix continued and became the head of the Dixie Mafia. By 1987, Nix would be embroiled in another major hit.

Here is where the side stories start creeping into this case. The Dixie Mafia and the State Line Mob were prevalent in the area due to the payoffs of local officials and the coverups by local police departments. This allowed the mob to rule without much interference. Although a few shady officers corrupted the police departments, other lawmen were threatened into silence. At this point in the story, I would like to interject one officer named Lieutenant Dan Anderson of the Harrison County Sherriff’s Department.
Six weeks after the ambush of Sherriff Pusser on New Hope Rd, Lt. Dan Anderson’s son, Ronnie Anderson was shot and killed in his apartment. The case was immediately ruled suicide despite massive evidence to the contrary.

What happened to this 17-yr-old polo victim in leg braces?

What kind of threat could he really have been?

I will dive deeper into the case of Ronald Anderson next week and follow up with the murder of his father, Dan. Along the way, we will highlight the nationally publicized case of the slaying of Judge Sherry and his wife. All these bizarre murders are tied together with a delicate string. That string is the Dixie Mafia. Find out more next week when this cold case story continues.

The El Dorado Jane Doe Mystery

Mugshot courtesy of Pinterest


Her face is well known, her murderer has about served his time, and we still don’t know her name. Who was this mysterious woman?


July 10, 1991, a life ended but a three-decade-old mystery began. A supposed prostitute named Mercedes was murdered in room 121 of the Whitehall Motel in Eldorado, Arkansas.

Witnesses overheard the argument with her ex-boyfriend, James McAlphin. Others heard a gunshot and seen McAlphin running from the scene. It didn’t take long to arrest and convict the murderer.

Unfortunately, the victim still doesn’t have a name. It’s been nearly thirty years.

Last year there was finally a huge break in the case. Investigators submitted Jane’s DNA to an ancestry site and got a hit. These distant relatives have no missing persons in their history and so far no one recognized Jane although they see a family resemblance.

Jane’s Many Aliases:

Cheryl Ann Wick was the name she was using at the time of her murder, but investigators quickly realized it wasn’t her true identity. The real Cheryl Wick was alive and well living in Minneapolis.

Jane used several names including Sharon Wiley, Cheryl Kaufman, Kelly Karr, and Kelly Lee Carr.

Theories:

Jane’s past is checkered with prostitution, homeless shelters, pimps, and aliases. It seems everywhere she went, she had another story about her past.

Some say she had been on the streets since she was sixteen. This story began with being kidnapped and trafficked by a pimp named Jeffrey Davis.

Another time she was running from the mafia in the witness protection program. I’ve never heard of the Witness Protection program stealing people’s identities.

One of the latest theories was put forth by her murderer. He claims in his rambling letters to Huff Post reporter, David Lohr. McAlphin claimed Jane was a Russian operative and they took her out. I doubt if anyone believes that, but it’s just another theory upon a stack of them.

The recent development, in this case, may finally shed some light on this cold case. Stay tuned and I will keep you updated on this case as it unfolds.


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

Huff Post

Scribd documents


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.


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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 Homemaker Homicide – Shawnda Slote Reed

Photo courtesy of Family FB Page

A homemaker was slaughtered in her own home; two neighbors were named as persons of interest; her husband was named as well. Strangely an unknown insurance policy popped up, and another person’s name appeared. Still, with all of this, there have been no arrests. What happened to Shawnda Reed?


Shawnda Slote Reed, 28, was found shot to death in her own home by her two youngest children. When they couldn’t wake their mom, the two ran to a neighbor’s house for help. Brian Richey took the children in and called the authorities.

Investigators found blood on the kitchen floor and the body of the 28-year-old mother in the bedroom. A bullet lay beneath her head. Fingerprints were lifted from the patio door and the garage. There was no sign of forced entry.

A week later, a press release publicly named a person of interest. Frances Kempker and his live-in girlfriend Georgette Henley were eventually both named. They were later arrested on unrelated charges stemming from illegal drugs and theft.

Shawnda’s ex-husband, Nickey Kmiec, was quickly excluded as a suspect. The authorities haven’t given specifics, except they said they knew where he was at the time of her murder. Her current husband, John T. Reed, remains a person of interest to this day. Although police followed hundreds of leads, nothing seemed to lead to an arrest.

Strangely, an unknown life insurance policy is set to pay out to the widower and the mortgage holder of the family home. Yes, you read that right. Not only was this unusual, but it seems as if Shawnda didn’t even know about the policy.

The family sues the insurance company claiming the mortgage holder had no right to the fraudulent policy. The funds were eventually split five ways between Shawnda’s three children, her husband, and the mortgage holder.

Some people wonder if this was the motive behind the slaying of this gentle homemaker. Others wonder if her death could have been tied to another home invasion that happened in the area a few days prior. Could she have died during an interrupted robbery? It seems unlikely since there weren’t any signs of forced entry.

Whatever happened, this case remains unsolved nearly fifteen years later. The children were between the age of 5-10 and are now between 20-35. What happened to Shawnda Slote Reed? Her family needs an answer.

If you have any information on this case, please contact the Mid Missouri Major Case Squad at (573) 592-3155.


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:

Columbian


Recommended Reading:

For more unsolved crimes, check out The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes on Amazon today.


Support Synova’s Cause:

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


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

2ndDIYpackage-templates

SIGN UP HERE


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


Synova’s Amazon Author Page


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


Missouri Missing – Amanda Jones

Photo courtesy of FBI.com

A pregnant woman nearing her due date vanishes after a surprise meeting with the uninterested father of the unborn child. Although the man was named as a person of interest, he hasn’t been named as a suspect. Who could have taken this mother? Why is this case still unsolved fourteen years later?


August 14, 2005, Amanda Jones from Festus, Missouri, received a call from the man she claimed was the father of her baby. Although he wasn’t interested in a relationship with her, she hoped he would be interested in the child. Up until that point, he had shown no interest in either mother or baby.

It was a humid Sunday morning, and Amanda was on her way to church. She told the man she would meet him at the Hillsboro Civic Center around 1 pm after the Sunday Morning service. After church, Amanda drove her four-year-old daughter to her grandparent’s house. She told them she would be back in two hours and was never seen again.

Around 1:15 pm, Amanda received a phone call on her cell phone and wasn’t heard from again. According to Bryan Westfall, he met with the pregnant woman around 1 pm. They talked for an hour, then she excused herself to go to the restroom, and she never returned. He claimed he went out to his car around 5 pm and seen her sitting in her car.

Why would a pregnant woman sit in a hot car without an air conditioner for three hours?

Although this story is questionable, to say the least, Westfall hasn’t been officially named a suspect. He supposedly cooperated with the initial investigation but won’t talk about it anymore. A preliminary search was conducted on the family farm, but a thorough search needed a warrant. Police are hoping someone will come forward with the evidence they need to obtain the search warrant, but nothing has come in.

The family feels they already know who killed their daughter, but the police need evidence before they can do anything. If you have any information about this case, please contact your local FBI office.


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:

True Crime Daily

KSDK


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.


Support Synova’s Cause:

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


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

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

Synova’s Amazon Author Page


Guest Post Thursday – Mystery of Mel Wiley

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All Photos in this post are courtesy of our wonderful guest blogger Ian Granstra & his True Crime Facebook Group

For seven years, Mel Wiley served the people of Hinckley County, Ohio. After stints with the FBI and Defense Department, Mel joined the Hinckley Township Police Department in 1978 and became police chief in 1982. He was considered a dedicated cop who did his job well. By 1985, however, Mel appeared to tire of clamping the ‘cuffs on criminals. His real passion was putting pen to paper as he longed to be a mystery writer.

Mel told friends and colleagues he had started writing a murder mystery called “Harvest of Madness.” No one knows if he completed his novel because Mel is not here to tell. Instead of writing a great mystery, Police Chief Mel Wiley has been starring in a real-life mystery.

Unlike most of the missing people I have written about, however, Mel Wiley’s disappearance appears to be of his own choosing.

The morning of July 28, 1985, was like any other. Mel entered Hinckley’s K&K Doughnuts and ordered his usual sinkers and coffee. After jokingly grumbling the doughnuts were awful, he went on his way. No one, however, knows where “his way” took him.

Since exiting the doughnut shop that summer day, Mel Wiley seemingly vanished off the face of the Earth.

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That afternoon, Mel’s car was found abandoned on Lake Erie’s Lakefront State Park in Cleveland, 25 miles north of Hinckley. The car was locked and contained most of Mel’s pertinent belongings including his wallet, credit cards, and his police identification badge. A search of the area involving the Hinckley police and surrounding departments turned up no trace of the police chief.

The day before his disappearance, the divorced 47-year-old Mel told his girlfriend he was meeting an out-of-town friend to go swimming at the lake. He made plans for a date with her for the following day.

Authorities initially believed Mel had either drowned in Lake Erie or had been murdered by the unnamed friend. Evidence soon began surfacing… but not on the lake.

Mel’s trial ended in Cleveland, the “Mistake by the Lake.” But investigators believe it is a mistake to believe Mel lay in the lake.

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As he was the police chief, it was naturally wondered if someone Mel had previously arrested had done him in. However, during Mel’s tenure with the police department, the small Hinckley community had experienced few crimes of significance and no instances of major crimes. Investigators could find no one with an obvious motive to have the small-town police chief murdered.

The only person with a motive for Mel Wiley to disappear appeared to be the police chief himself.

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An analysis of the ribbon on Mel’s office typewriter showed he had written a letter, addressed to a friend, saying he was tired of his life and wanted to disappear. Mel said he would be 2,500 miles away by the time his friend received the letter, in which he wrote, “I will have, in one sense of the word, gone away. It’s a one-way trip, so I’m told, with no option of ever returning and perhaps that’s just as well for any and all concerned.” Mel’s friend, however, never received the letter, and it has never been found.

In the early 1960s, while in the military, Mel had been stationed at California’s Fort Ord and developed a love of nearby San Francisco. Investigators found, written in Mel’s handwriting, Greyhound bus schedules from Cleveland to San Francisco, a distance of roughly 2,500 miles.

Perhaps finding nonfiction preferable to fiction, the police chief decided to concoct his own mystery. Friends believe that having grown bored with his job and experiencing the frustrations every writer goes through, Mel said the hell with Hinckley and left his law career for a life of solitude and sanctuary in the city by the bay. As police chief, Mel had access to materials such as fingerprints and social security information which would aid him in assuming another identity. In addition, with his law enforcement background, he would know how to stay off the radar.

No trace of Mel Wiley has been found in the 34 years since his disappearance, nor has any evidence surfaced indicating murder or suicide. He was declared legally dead in 1993. If he is still alive, Mel Wiley would today be 81-years-old.

Is the former police chief living his golden years in splendid isolation from society? Perhaps, Mel, will one day return to write the final chapter to his own mystery. More likely, though, the former police chief will leave us to ponder the fate of the long-gone lawman.

If you believe you have any information related to the disappearance of Mel Wiley, please contact the Medina, Ohio, County Sheriff’s Department at 330-725-9116.

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If you happen to come across this post, Mel, shoot me a message. I would like to read “Harvest of Madness” if you have completed it, but even more, I would be interested in a Wiley lawman’s opinions on my writings, including in your own case.

Every mystery deserves a good ending, Mel. I would love, if you would give me the privilege, to write the conclusion to the tail of “The Long Gone Lawman”… on your terms and conditions of course.🧐

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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.


Further Reading:

Akron Beacon Journal
The Huff Post
The Charley Project


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.


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.”)

Recommended Reading: 


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.


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

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Dixie Mafia Takes Out The Queen of Bootleggers – Cleo Epps


She was known as the Queen of Bootleggers, but she ended up at the bottom of a septic tank piled under 100lbs of rock and debris.


Cleo Epps started as a school teacher with a big heart. Her students said she was more of a mother than a teacher. Born on a farm in Arkansas, the young Cleo not only finished high school but also finished college. Afterward, she moved to rural Oklahoma and taught school.
Cleo’s first husband had a drinking problem that would eventually lead to divorce.

Cleo never drank alcohol but ended up marrying a man who became a bootlegger. That’s how a compassionate, soft-hearted school marm became a bootlegging queen. It’s also the beginning of the end for Cleo Epps. Although she eventually divorced for a second time, Cleo kept up the business.


During the 1940s and 1950s, Epps ran moonshine and had regular run-ins with law enforcement. Everyone loved her, even the police, and she would always continue business as usual. By April 1966, Epps was indicted on a multi-million dollar moonshine racket. Authorities claimed her business poured over 2,000 gallons of shine into the Tulsa area monthly.

Cleo Epps was making a lot of money, and it seemed no one could touch her. Although Oklahoma was a dry state, society shrugged off the law and continued to have shine delivered to their homes regularly.
By the end of prohibition, Cleo had successfully funneled her illegal income into a legitimate business. Epps became a sort of bank for those people looking to buy a home. She would hold the mortgage and receive the interest payments and principal.


How did she meet such a horrible end?


Cleo Epps had one problem. Although she was a shrewd businesswoman, it seemed she had a problem in the area of relationships. She tended to fall in love with the wrong men, and one of those men would end up plotting her murder.

During her run as the Queen of Bootleggers, Epps had developed many working relationships with various criminals. Some of these men were members of the Dixie Mafia. Thomas Lester Pugh and Albert McDonald were two associates of the moonshine distributor. At one point, Epps had even considered marrying one of them.

On August 25, 1970, a local judge’s car blew up in his driveway in an assassination attempt. The dynamite had been borrowed from Cleo Epps by a man she thought she could trust. When he came by a few days earlier claiming to need dynamite for some tree stump removal projects on his property, she believed him.

Cleo was devastated when she heard the news. Luckily the judge survived, but all Cleo could think about was the judge’s little girl. What if his daughter had gotten in the car to tell her daddy goodbye before he left for work? It was too much for the soft-hearted former bootlegger.


Although she knew her life was at stake, Cleo agreed to testify to a grand jury. She came in complete disguise, and the authorities were supposed to protect her. That didn’t happen.

A short time later, Cleo disappears. Her body was found at the bottom of a septic tank. She had been shot twice in the head and tossed into the tank. Nearly 100lbs of rocks and debris were piled on top of her.
Pugh and McDonald were charged with her murder, but somehow Pugh got off due to lack of evidence.


Further Reading:

Tulsa World

Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Justia.com


Recommended Reading:


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.


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.


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

2ndDIYpackage-templates

SIGN UP HERE


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

Synova’s Amazon Author Page