Something Afoot – The Disappearance of Bryan Nisenfeld

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Something Afoot

Steven Nisenfled was puzzled by his son’s report card after he returned home for the winter break of the 1996-97 school year. Eighteen-year-old Bryan had been an honors student in high school, but his grades after his first semester of college were a different story. Bryan told his dad he was changing his major from Architecture to English and assured him he would do better in the second semester.

Steven was concerned by his son’s struggles. That concern soon escalated into panic and then into horror. Something other than the rigorous academic material was weighing on Bryan’s mind, and it may have led to his death.

Bryan grew up in New Jersey. He was well-liked, although he was an introvert who had few close friends. He preferred writing poetry over attending parties and proms.

Bryan had done well in high school, but his first semester at Roger Williams College in Bristol, Rhode Island, was a different story. The classes were more challenging, but Bryan’s struggles may have been compounded by another problem, the nature of which is unknown.

Shortly after midnight on January 30, 1997, an agitated Bryan called his father Steven and, with his voice trembling, said that another student was harassing him and threatening to beat him up.

Steven telephoned the Roger Williams campus security; they then called the student adviser in Bryan’s dormitory. When the adviser went to Bryan’s room, Bryan had calmed but again said he had received a threatening telephone from a former student he refused to name. Bryan assured the adviser he was alright. Bryan then called his dad again and assured him he had overreacted and did not need to come to Rhode Island.

Eight days later, on February 6, 1997, Bryan attended his afternoon literature class. He was not doing well in the class, and the professor attempted to speak to him regarding his struggles. Bryan, however, brushed her off. The professor said something appeared to be weighing heavily on him.

The following day, a Friday, Bryan failed to attend any of his classes. The weekend passed with no word from him, and he was a no-show for classes on Monday and Tuesday of the following week. On February 12, six days after Bryan was last seen, the college notified Steven of his absence.

Steven searched Bryan’s dormitory room. Other than being uncharacteristically messy, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Steven thought it appeared as though Bryan had stepped out briefly intending to return.

Six months passed with no sign of Bryan until a very troubling and puzzling clue surfaced.

On Labor Day weekend, as Lori Vales and her daughter walked along Hog Island Beach, only three miles from Roger Williams University, they noticed a shoe on the sand at the beach’s high tide line. After picking up the shoe, Lori was astounded to discover a human foot inside. Another bone lay nearby. Tests determined it was a human shinbone.

The boot was consistent with a pair owned by Bryan that was not among the items found in his dorm room. DNA tests identified the foot and shinbone as his. No other remains were found, but the finding all but assured that Bryan was dead.

The remains found were not enough to determine how Bryan had died or how his foot had become separated from the body.

Reporter Jody Ericson wrote a series of articles about Bryan’s disappearance.

After talking to Bryan’s parents and reading some of his poetry, she concluded he was questioning his sexuality and detected undertones of a homosexual relationship with Josh Cohen, a former Roger Williams University student.

Jody says whatever the nature of the friendship was between Bryan and Josh, it abruptly ended in late 1996 or early 1997. She believes the falling out may have occurred because Josh was going to expose their relationship, and Bryan did not want anyone to know he was gay.

Josh admitted he had made the harassing phone calls to Bryan, but claims they were only made in jest and that Bryan had made similar calls to him. He also said they were only friends and that there was no homosexual relationship between them.

The police are satisfied Josh had nothing to do with Bryan’s disappearance and likely death. I could not find a picture of Josh.

Jody Ericson theorized that anti-homosexuals might have learned that Bryan was gay and killed him. Authorities say there is no evidence to support that theory.

Bryan spent many hours alone, writing his poetry while sitting on the Mount Hope Bridge at Hog Island Beach, only a few miles from his campus dormitory.

Investigators have found no evidence of foul play in Bryan’s probable death and believe he either took his life by jumping from or accidentally falling off the 285-foot-high bridge.

Bryan’s parents do not believe he would have committed suicide, but they concede he may have accidentally fallen from the bridge. However, they lean toward believing their son was murdered and that Josh Cohen knows more than he is saying.

Bryan’s mother, Marianne Brown, said she received an anonymous phone call saying a Roger Williams University Administrator and two faculty members were withholding information about Bryan’s case.

The University denies the claim, and authorities found no evidence the college officials were not forthcoming.

Unless the rest of Bryan’s remains are found, the cause of death may never be discovered.

The chances of finding his remains are remote as they likely long ago decomposed in the Mount Hope Bay.


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:
48 Hours
websleuths
Facebook
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.

Gifts For All Those True Crime Fans:

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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


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Vanished – The Kyle Clinkscales Mystery

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Photo courtesy guest blogger

College dropout tries to go back a year later and finish but this time when he doesn’t show up it’s for a more dreadful reason. 44 years later, Kyle Clinkscales still hasn’t been seen.


John and Louise Clinkscales were frustrated but not overly concerned when their son Kyle did not attend his classes at Auburn University during the week of January 27, 1976. A familiar pattern was unfolding as the 22-year-old was trying collegiate life again. Kyle had dropped out the previous year after the academic demands proved too much. His second attempt was being met with similar results as his grades were still far below par.

It appeared Kyle was not college material. The elder Clinkscales believed their son had again become discouraged at not making the grade and had gone into seclusion to reflect on his life. When Kyle came out of his shell, whenever that was, John and Louise would be there to support their only child in whatever he chose to do. That day, however, never came.

Kyle Clinkscales has not been seen or heard from in 44 years. He had more significant problems than his academic struggles and is believed to have become entwined with an unsavory character.

His remains have not been found, but it appears that Kyle Clinkscales met a violent end.

Kyle was a student at Auburn University in Alabama and worked part-time as a bartender at the Moose Club in his hometown of LaGrange, Georgia, in the west-central part of the state, only a few miles from the Alabama border. He left the bar after finishing his shift at approximately 11:00 p.m. on January 27, 1976.

Kyle planned to drive the 35 miles to Auburn, but he did not attend classes for the week. On February 3, with still no word from Kyle, his parents reported him missing. The police investigation yielded few clues suggesting what happened to him.

In 1981, a man named Danny Moore contacted John and Louise Clinkscales, saying he believed he was Kyle. Danny told them he had gotten into a car accident in 1976, the year of Kyle’s disappearance. He claimed he was unable to remember any of his life before the accident.

Danny appeared to be the same age as Kyle and bore a physical resemblance to him. Dental records, however, confirmed he was not Kyle. A doctor said studies of Danny’s brain showed he had suffered a traumatic brain injury at some point in his life. Police believed Danny was sincere in his belief that he could have been Kyle.

In 1987, 11 years after his disappearance, Kyle’s Exxon credit card was found on a kayaking and canoe trail along Flat Shoal Creek, 11 miles south of LaGrange. No new evidence, however, surfaced from the finding.

Nearly three decades passed before police received a major break in the disappearance of Kyle Clinkscales.

In 2005, a man contacted Georgia State Police, saying Kyle had been murdered by Ray Hyde, the owner of a salvage yard in Kyle’s home county of Troup, Georgia.

When he was seven years old, the caller had witnessed Kyle’s body’s disposal, saying it was covered with concrete, stuffed into a barrel, and dumped in a private pond. The caller, whose identity has not been revealed, told police that his grandfather helped dispose of the barrel under Hyde’s orders. The caller said Hyde threatened to kill both his grandfather and him if either said anything.

Through information provided by the tipster, investigators learned Ray Hyde was a member of the Moose Club, where Kyle worked. They believe Kyle was murdered because of his knowledge of Hyde’s criminal activities, which involved car theft and drug dealing. Hyde died in 2001.

Information provided by the caller also led to the arrest of Jimmy Jones and Jeanne Johnson. Jones was charged with concealing a death, hindering a criminal’s arrest, and two counts of making false statements. Johnson was charged with concealing a death, making false statements, and obstructing justice.

Jones ultimately admitted to helping dispose of Kyle’s body, but he denied taking part in his murder. He told police he found Kyle shot to death upon arriving at Hyde’s home in the early hours of January 28, 1976. Jones admitted helping Hyde drag Kyle’s body into his shop but says Hyde later told him he moved the remains into the nearby pond and then to another location, which he refused to reveal, saying it would never be found. Hyde’s prophecy has proven true as drainage of the pond turned up no sign of the barrel or any remains. Investigators also dug up Hyde’s property, but that too produced no evidence. Kyle’s car, a white 1974 Ford Pinto, has also never been found.

Jimmy Jones was sentenced to nine years in prison for hindering the police investigation into Kyle’s disappearance. He has since been released, and authorities say there is no proof that he took part in Kyle’s murder.

Jeanne Johnson was confirmed as being at Hyde’s home on the evening of Kyle’s disappearance, but she was cleared of any involvement in Kyle’s probable murder. I could not find what sentenced she received.

Kyle’s father John wrote the book “Kyle’s Story: Friday Never Came” about his son’s disappearance and several other missing persons. The book was written in 1981, five years after Kyle vanished and is available on Amazon.

Sadly, Friday never came for Mr. Clinkscales as he died in 2007 without learning his son’s fate. Kyle’s mom, Louise, is now in her nineties and hopes her son’s remains will be found before she dies.

Kyle Wade Clinkscales has been missing since January 27, 1976, when he was 22-years-old. At the time of his disappearance, he was 5’11” inches tall and weighed approximately 155 lbs. He had brown hair, hazel eyes and had earlier fractured his ring finger.

Kyle’s car, a white two-door 1974 Pinto Runabout with the Georgia license plate number CEF-717 and the VIN 4T11Y207954, has never been recovered.

Kyle would today be 66-years-old.

If you have any information on the disappearance of Kyle Clinkscales, please contact the Troup County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Department at 706-883-1746 or 706-883-1616.

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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:
Associated Press
Charley Project
“Kyle Story: Friday Never Came”; by John Dixon Clinkscales


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.

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


Remnants Of A Tortured Life

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Photos courtesy of Guest Blogger



As a telephone company laborer went to work on the morning of October 4, 1978, little did he know he would make a discovery that would instigate one of Iowa’s most wrenching mysteries?

The worker was laying cable along Highway 182 in rural Lyon County, near Rock Rapids in the far northwest corner of the Hawkeye state. In the course of his work, he found more than a few dead lines. He found one dead human. The skeletal remains of a half-naked woman lay in a ditch along the north side of a gravel road approximately one mile from the Rock Rapids school. The remains were too decomposed to identify.

The remains found near Rock Rapids remained unidentified for over 27 years until, January of 2006 when a Des Moines lab technician matched the woman’s left thumbprint to one sent to various labs from Los Angeles, California. The woman in the ditch finally had a name; Wilma June Nissen. Sadly, she had suffered a rough life.

Wilma was born in San Francisco, California, in 1954. Her younger sister, Mona, was deaf and unable to speak. Wilma’s mother abandoned her children when she was eight, and her father abused his daughters. While he was at work, Wilma and Mona were locked in a closet. After he was fired from his job, the young girls moved from the closet to the car, where Mona was confined for most of the day while Wilma was dispatched to the streets to scour for food. Wilma never attended school and could neither read nor write.

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In 1964, after the state of California removed the Nissen children from their father’s “care,” they spent the remainder of their youth bouncing around foster homes. Perhaps predictably, as she became a young adult, the uneducated and desperate Wilma resorted to prostitution.

Wilma married three times and had two children. In February of 1978, the 23-year-old went to Atlanta, Georgia, with 54-year-old Charles Belt, the last known person to have seen her alive, eight months before her remains were found in Lyon County, Iowa. I could not find a picture of him.

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Investigators believe Wilma was placed in the Lyon County ditch in either July or August of 1978, 5-6 months before her remains were discovered. She was naked from the waist up, and her feet were tied together with a braided hemp rope. The cause of death could not be determined, but it had been horrendous. All but two of her teeth had been pulled. The rest of her teeth, along with her lower jawbone, her other clothing, and belongings, were never found.

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In August of 2009, a suspect emerged in the death of Wilma Nissen when 82-year-old John Van Gammeren was charged with six counts of perjury after lying to detectives about transporting strippers and prostitutes from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, across the Iowa border to his home in Inwood. The ditch where Wilma was found was not far from Inwood. However, the charges against VaGammeren were later dismissed.

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Seven years later, in 2016, investigators announced they believed they knew one of the people who killed Wilma Nissen.

Authorities believe that after leaving Atlanta, Georgia, sometime between February and July of 1978, Wilma made her way to northwest Iowa after connecting with an escort service based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Police say the woman pictured below was a prostitute and escort for the same company as Wilma during the mid-1970s when the photo was taken. Lyon County investigators believe she is one of the people who murdered Wilma Nissen. Police say they have conducted several interviews with her, but she has steadfastly denied any involvement in Wilma’s death. They know her true identity and where she is currently living but have not yet divulged that information.

In the summer of 1978, investigators say several Lyon County residents attended sex parties in the western part of the county, near the South Dakota border. Both Wilma and this woman worked as dancers, escorts, and prostitutes at these parties. Police believe Wilma was killed at one of the parties and that robbery was the motive, as the woman pictured below frequently stole from other prostitutes, escorts and dancers.

Authorities say they need someone to independently identify this woman; so far, no one has done so.

Another prostitute, known only by her stage name of “Peaches,” is also believed to have participated in Wilma’s murder. Authorities do not have a picture of her but say she is a light complected black female from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, who was in her mid-to-late ’20s in the late 1970s.

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Investigators would like to speak to Donald Wellington, one of Wilma’s former husbands. It is emphasized that he is not a suspect in Wilma’s murder and is only being sought for questioning. Authorities believe he may be living in the Palmdale, California, area. The below photo was taken in 2000.

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Wilma Nissen’s short and tortured life ended with her brutal death in an area to which she had no connection– rural northwest Iowa. Lyon County, nevertheless, considers the woman who had no name for over a quarter of a century as “Our Girl.” Wilma June Nissen is buried in Rock Rapids’ Riverview Cemetery.

By investigators’ own admission, a little luck led to learning Wilma’s identity. Perhaps luck will one day make a curtain call and lead to her killer’s identity.

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A $10,000 reward is offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Wilma Nissen’s death. If you have any such information, please contact one of the people below:

• Detective Jerry Birkey, Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, (712) 472-8300
• Special Agent J.R. Mathis, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, (712) 252-0507
• Special Agent Jon Moeller, F.B.I., (712) 258-1920


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SOURCES:
• ABC Affiliate KSFY TV
• CBS Affiliate KELO TV
• Iowa Cold Cases
• Lyon County, Iowa Sheriff’s Office
• Northwest Iowa Review
• Sioux City Journal 


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 About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


Support Synova’s Cause:

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


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

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SIGN UP HERE


Recommended Reading:

Follow the heart-rending cases Synova first wrote about on her blog in 2018. Filled with missing persons’ cases, unsolved homicides, and even serial killer cases, this book will give you a greater insight into the shattered lives behind every story. Cases Included in this book: Jayme Closs, Haley Owens, Josh Robinson, Timothy Cunningham, Carol Blades, Pam Hupp, Arthur Ream, Angela Hammond, The Springfield Three, Jennifer Harris, Danny King, Angie Yarnell, Jack Robinson, Madelin Edman, Alexis Patterson, Amber Wilde, Sandra Bertolas, Jennifer Casper-Ross, Crystal Soulier, Jody Ricard, Carmen Owens, Brandon Tyree McCullough & The I-70 Serial Killer.

A portion of the profits of this book will go to support the Missouri Missing Organization.


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


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


MISSING IN VEGAS – THE AMANDA FRAVEL CASE

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CHARLEY PROJECT

A beautiful young woman disappears from Vegas in 1986. Her roommate seems to have fallen off the map. What happened to Amanda Fravel, and what was her roommate’s real name? You can’t find a guy if you don’t know his name. Maybe that was the plan.


Amanda (Mandy) Lee Fravel, 20 was an all American child of the ’80s. With big hair and an even bigger smile, she loved musicians and rock music. Although her home life was difficult, Mandy found refuge in Las Vegas, NV in the fall of 1985. At first, she moved in with a friend from high school, but Cammi was a newlywed with a new baby, so it was just a temporary arrangement. Mandy stayed about a month, but quickly found a place of her own. She lived by herself for a short time before answering an ad in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. A man named Lew Frank needed a roommate to share expenses. Mandy applied and was approved.

During her time in Vegas, Mandy ran into a musician named Xavier. The couple hit it off and began dating. Soon they found they were better friends, so they parted ways. The two remained close, but not close enough for Mandy to introduce him to her new roommate. It wasn’t until after her disappearance did anyone close to Mandy actually meet Lew Franks. And every one that met the guy was immediately uneasy about him. No one is even sure that is his name, and since no one can find the guy, Lew Frank was likely an alias.

On Friday, June 13, 1986, Mandy Fravel was supposedly last seen by her roommate. She reportedly left the apartment to go to her job at Taco Bell to pick up her paycheck. Then she planned to go to Xavier’s house. This story is corroborated by Xavier who said he had spoken to her on the phone and was expecting her to show up, but she never did. Despite the troubles at home, Mandy’s mother had sent her airfare to travel back to California. No one was sure if it were for a few days, or indefinitely. Xavier waited around for her to show up, but thought nothing of it when the hours past without seeing her. Perhaps she had changed her mind about stopping by. For you millennials out there, this was before the days of cell phones, and this type of thing was common. Xavier never thought anything about it until a few days later when Mandy’s mother called from California saying she never arrived. Mandy was gone.

Mandy’s parents flew in from California to begin searching for their daughter. They spoke to Cammi and Xavier and even visited the apartment Mandy shared with Lew Frank. Mandy’s stepdad, Tom took notes about his visit to Vegas. He was the one who wrote Lew’s name down. He was the person who chose the peculiar spelling. Now, over time, he cannot remember why he spelled it L-E-W. Tom was even put off by the man in his mid-forties. Why was he living with a 20-yr-old, and more disturbingly, why did he randomly mention that he wanted to move to a nearby county and start a brothel? Who says that during a missing person investigation?

When Tom visited the apartment, all of Mandy’s things were packed in boxes by the door as if they were waiting for someone to pick them up. Did Mandy pack them to move back to California? Did Lew pack them to give to her parents? From what I can gather by reading in between the lines, Lew didn’t even know her parents were coming, so how could he pack her stuff?

To make the mystery more unusual, no one has seen or heard from Lew Frank since Mandy’s disappearance. Internet sleuths have gone over all the online records looking for everyone named Lew, Lou, Lewis, and Louis, but nothing has been found. If he were in his late 40’s – early 50’s in 1986, he would be in his 70’s by now. He may not even be alive. Either way, no one can find the guy. This is where my love of Sherlock Holmes stories really kicks in. Lew Frank doesn’t sound right to me. Who would name their kid Lewis Frank? To me, it seems reversed. What if his name was Frank Lewis? This could provide the reason for the odd spelling of Lew. Maybe I’m wrong, but a quick internet search dug up three different men named Frank Lewis in the Las Vegas area. All the men were mid-late 70’s. Maybe you armchair sleuths out there can keep digging for me, and perhaps we can find Mr. Vanishing Act.

Whether Lew Franks is a suspect or a person of interest, he is still the last person to see Mandy Fravel alive. If you have any information, in this case, please contact the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (702) 828-3111 or 1-800-492-6565.


The following links are for the benefit of Synova’s readers and are not an all inclusive source listing.

Further Reading:

Unfound Podcast

Charley Project

Websleuths

Youtube


This Week’s Recommended True Crime Book:

The Battle for Las Vegas: The Law vs. The Mob


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. 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. ©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.

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Missing In Vegas

fravel_amanda4 Photo courtesy of The Charley Project

A beautiful young woman disappears from Vegas in 1986. Her roommate seems to have fallen off the map. What happened to Amanda Fravel, and what was her roommate’s real name? You can’t find a guy if you don’t know his name. Maybe that was the plan.


Amanda (Mandy) Lee Fravel, 20 was an all American child of the ’80s. With big hair and an even bigger smile, she loved musicians and rock music. Although her home life was difficult, Mandy found refuge in Las Vegas, NV in the fall of 1985. At first, she moved in with a friend from high school, but Cammi was a newlywed with a new baby, so it was just a temporary arrangement. Mandy stayed about a month, but quickly found a place of her own. She lived by herself for a short time before answering an ad in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. A man named Lew Frank needed a roommate to share expenses. Mandy applied and was approved.

During her time in Vegas, Mandy ran into a musician named Xavier. The couple hit it off and began dating. Soon they found they were better friends, so they parted ways. The two remained close, but not close enough for Mandy to introduce him to her new roommate. It wasn’t until after her disappearance did anyone close to Mandy actually meet Lew Franks. And every one that met the guy was immediately uneasy about him. No one is even sure that is his name, and since no one can find the guy, Lew Frank was likely an alias.

On Friday, June 13, 1986, Mandy Fravel was supposedly last seen by her roommate. She reportedly left the apartment to go to her job at Taco Bell to pick up her paycheck. Then she planned to go to Xavier’s house. This story is corroborated by Xavier who said he had spoken to her on the phone and was expecting her to show up, but she never did. Despite the troubles at home, Mandy’s mother had sent her airfare to travel back to California. No one was sure if it were for a few days, or indefinitely. Xavier waited around for her to show up, but thought nothing of it when the hours past without seeing her. Perhaps she had changed her mind about stopping by. For you millennials out there, this was before the days of cell phones, and this type of thing was common. Xavier never thought anything about it until a few days later when Mandy’s mother called from California saying she never arrived. Mandy was gone.

Mandy’s parents flew in from California to begin searching for their daughter. They spoke to Cammi and Xavier and even visited the apartment Mandy shared with Lew Frank. Mandy’s stepdad, Tom took notes about his visit to Vegas. He was the one who wrote Lew’s name down. He was the person who chose the peculiar spelling. Now, over time, he cannot remember why he spelled it L-E-W. Tom was even put off by the man in his mid-forties. Why was he living with a 20-yr-old, and more disturbingly, why did he randomly mention that he wanted to move to a nearby county and start a brothel? Who says that during a missing person investigation?

When Tom visited the apartment, all of Mandy’s things were packed in boxes by the door as if they were waiting for someone to pick them up. Did Mandy pack them to move back to California? Did Lew pack them to give to her parents? From what I can gather by reading in between the lines, Lew didn’t even know her parents were coming, so how could he pack her stuff?

To make the mystery more unusual, no one has seen or heard from Lew Frank since Mandy’s disappearance. Internet sleuths have gone over all the online records looking for everyone named Lew, Lou, Lewis, and Louis, but nothing has been found. If he were in his late 40’s – early 50’s in 1986, he would be in his 70’s by now. He may not even be alive. Either way, no one can find the guy. This is where my love of Sherlock Holmes stories really kicks in. Lew Frank doesn’t sound right to me. Who would name their kid Lewis Frank? To me, it seems reversed. What if his name was Frank Lewis? This could provide the reason for the odd spelling of Lew. Maybe I’m wrong, but a quick internet search dug up three different men named Frank Lewis in the Las Vegas area. All the men were mid-late 70’s. Maybe you armchair sleuths out there can keep digging for me, and perhaps we can find Mr. Vanishing Act.

Whether Lew Franks is a suspect or a person of interest, he is still the last person to see Mandy Fravel alive. If you have any information, in this case, please contact the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (702) 828-3111 or 1-800-492-6565.


The following links are for the benefit of Synova’s readers and are not an all inclusive source listing.

Further Reading:

Unfound Podcast

Charley Project

Websleuths

Youtube


This Week’s Recommended True Crime Book:

The Battle for Las Vegas: The Law vs. The Mob


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. 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. ©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.

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fravel_amanda4

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.


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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.


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.


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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 – The Death of Dana Stidham

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Photos courtesy of Guest Blogger

Larry Stidham was feeling a bit under the weather on Tuesday, July 25, 1989. He was home sick, and his wife Georgia was at work. When his 18-year-old daughter Dana came home to do her laundry, Larry asked her to go to the store to get him some Alka-Seltzer. Dana was glad to help her ailing dad.

The following day, Larry felt much worse. He had not received his medicine, but a new ailment was weighing far more heavily on him. He was sick with worry as Dana had failed to return. Larry eventually recovered from his original illness, but his worry worsened with each passing day as Dana remained missing. The illness was contagious; it spread to family and friends.

On September 16, nearly two months after she left on the errand, the worry turned to grief, heartbreak and devastation as most of Dana’s remains were found in a wooded area.

Dana had most likely been stabbed to death. Thirty years later, no one has been charged with her murder.

Dana had recently graduated from Gravette High School in northwest Arkansas, only a few miles from the Missouri border. She lived in an apartment with her older brother, Larry, and another roommate in Centerton, seven miles north of her parents’ home in Hiawese.

At approximately 3:00 p.m., Dana drove her gray Dodge Omni to get her father’s medicine at the Phillips Foods store in Bella Vista, four miles away. She had previously worked there and several store employees and customers she knew recalled seeing her. She chatted a few minutes with some of them before purchasing the medicine and a couple of other small items. Nothing appeared amiss.

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When the door swung open at the Stidhman home shortly after 4:00 p.m., Larry was hoping it was Dana. It was, however, Georgia coming arriving home from work. It was the only time in his life Larry was disappointed to see his wife, as his concern for his daughter was growing.

When told of the situation, Georgia said she would go look for Dana. Larry, despite not feeling well, insisted on going with her, thinking Dana may have encountered car trouble. After searching the entire afternoon and mid-evening, the Stidhams found no trace of their daughter or her car. Calls to Dana’s friends yielded no clues as well.

Larry and Georgia reported Dana missing at 9:15 p.m.

At 6:30 a.m. the following day, July 26, a policeman making her rounds found Dana’s car in the southbound lane of U.S. Highway 71 just north of the Bella Vista Town Centre.

The keys were still in the ignition and the driver’s side window was halfway down. The left-rear tire of the car was marginally deflated but the vehicle was still operable. The driver’s side seat was pushed far back, indicating someone much taller than the 5’2″ Dana was the last person to drive the car. Dana’s purse and its contents were missing. A receipt from Phillips Foods in the back of the car, time-stamped 3:17 p.m., was consistent with the time store employees remembered seeing Dana. Some of Dana’s laundry was discovered 1,700 feet from her car.

Larry and Georgia had searched that section of Highway 71 the previous evening but found no sign of Dana’s car. In addition, Arkansas State Troopers were running radar in the area until midnight and they, too, did not come across the car. Dana’s Omni had been abandoned along Highway 71 sometime in the early morning hours of July 26.

On August 5, one-and-a-half weeks after Dana’s abandoned car was located, a dog returned to his owner’s Bella Vista home carrying a treasure in his mouth. It was not a bone or an animal, but a woman’s purse. When the dog’s owner opened the purse, he was shocked by what he found. Several items bore the name of Dana Stidham.

Investigators searched the wooded area the dog frequented, just over a mile north of where Dana’s car was found. Strewn into the weeds alongside the road they found her driver’s license, checkbook, and several photos. Authorities believe the items had been thrown from a moving car.

Fearing the worst, volunteers joined police in combing the lakes and woods surrounding Bella Vista.

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On September 16, seven weeks after she was last seen, a hunter’s grisly discovery brought the search for Dana Stidham to a devastating end. Most of her skeletal remains were found scattered along a creek bed in far eastern Bella Vista, close to the Missouri border. Her skull was intact, as was most of her jaw. Several pieces of her jewelry and the clothes she was wearing on the day she disappeared were found. The t-shirt she wore was plastered with several pieces of duct tape.

Evidence of stab nicks was found on Dana’s left shoulder blade and neck, but it could not be definitively determined how she had died because her sternum was never found, probably having been devoured by animals.

Dana had also likely been sexually assaulted, but her body was too decomposed to say for certain.

Though it had taken nearly two months to find Dana’s remains, it took authorities less than two minutes to develop a suspect in her murder.

Police were initially confused by why Dana had driven four miles to Bella Vista to get her father’s medicine when she could have gotten it at the Hiawese Dairy Freeze convenience store only a few blocks from the Stidham home in Hiawase. It was soon clear, however, why she bypassed the quicker option.

The Hiawese store was owned by the parents of Michael McMillan who was often at the store. He and Dana had gone to high school together and McMillan had asked her out multiple times. Dana was not interested in such a relationship and rejected him each time. She felt uncomfortable in his presence.

Even though it meant driving a few miles, Dana was more at ease picking up OTC medicine at the Bella Vista store.

In December of 1989, three months after Dana was buried, McMillan was arrested for stealing the temporary headstone on her grave. He admitted doing so, paid a fine, and said he committed the act because he wanted the marker as a memory of Dana.

Seven years later, investigators tracked down the truck McMillan had been driving on the night Dana disappeared. Its new owner allowed them to search the vehicle, and, despite the passage of several years, hair samples were found which closely matched Dana’s. They were, however, not enough to make a definitive match.

McMillan agreed to an interview with police and submitted to a polygraph test. He failed the polygraph test and during the interview, McMillan made a seemingly cryptic statement. He seemed devastated by Dana’s murder and said, “Sometimes I think I did kill Dana, but I know I didn’t.”

The court ordered McMillan to submit his hair samples to be tested against those found on Dana’s clothing. McMillan’s samples bore similarities to those found on the clothing, but, again, could not be deemed a 100% match.

The Benton County Prosecutor declined to charge McMillan with Dana’s murder, saying the evidence was not strong enough.

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Another person of interest in Dana’s murder is Orville Goodwin. In 2013, he was convicted of attempted murder after shooting a woman in the face. Police have not confirmed if Goodwin knew Dana, only saying advancements in technology have led them to investigate him.

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 Thirty years after her brutal murder, no one has been charged with the murder of Dana Stidham.


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:

Dateline NBC

Yourtango

Reddit


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.


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.

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Trace Evidence Solves 41-Yr-Old Cold Case

Photo courtesy of Scoopnest

She was found slumped over the steering wheel of her father’s 1976 Toyota Celica on March 22, 1978. Susan Schmidt had been shot multiple times through the open passenger side window. Detectives gathered what trace evidence they could find, but no answers came. The case went unsolved until August 21, 2015, when authorities arrested a man nearly 2,000 miles away!


It had long been classed as Glendale’s Oldest Unsolved Homicide, but the cold case of Susan Schmidt’s murder was never forgotten. Forty-one years later, a suspect sits in jail, awaiting trial for murder. As of this writing, the case is still in the pre-trial conference phase, but it looks as if a murder trial will commence in February 2020. Will this poor girl finally receive justice?

Susan Schmidt, 21, was an avid student at both the local Glendale Community College and the larger Arizona State University. The former cheerleader was known to help tutor her fellow students who struggled with the classes. Susan was well-liked and seemed to have life by the tail. Why then, was she found shot to death on a rural road heading out of town? The police were left with little in the way of evidence and called the case baffling.

On the night of March 22, 1978, Schmidt was heading back from the local mall where she’d spent the evening shopping. For some unknown reason, she pulled to the side of the dark two-lane road and rolled down the passenger side window. No one knows why, but I tend to think maybe it was for a hitchhiker, or perhaps someone seemed to need help

Without warning, Schmidt was shot several times with a .22 caliber handgun at close range. Around 8:30 pm, a jogger was running along the 7800 block of 55th Avenue and discovered the body of Susan Schmidt slumped over the wheel of her car. Back in the days before cellphones, the witness ran a few blocks down the street to the local fire station to find help, but it was too late. Susan Schmidt was gone.

At first, everyone thought it was a robbery gone wrong, but this was quickly dismissed because the victim’s purse and all of her belongings were still in the car. Strangely, the only thing that seemed missing was her car keys.

Investigators labored over this case file for the next 37 years before an arrest would be made. It seemed as if this case would never be solved, but in August 2015, investigators shocked the world when they announced an arrest.

Physical evidence pointed to a man nearly 2,000 miles away from the crime scene as the killer. Edward Meinhold, 54, was arrested on August 21, 2015, for the 1978 murder of Susan Schmidt. The authorities are elusive to questions regarding the type of “Physical Evidence” used in this case because the trial is still pending.

Lead Investigator Roger Geisler confirmed that old evidence was sent in for some new tests, and those results are what lead them to their suspect. Meinhold was living in Bristol, Virginia, at the time of his arrest and strangely had very little in the way of a criminal record. He has a small ordeal over a bad check, but nothing in history pointed to murder.


Geisler did confirm that a 17-yr-old Meinhold lived near the crime scene at the time of the murder. Other than that, the authorities are being tight-lipped as to the nature of their evidence. I guess we will have to wait and see if it’s strong enough to convict a man after four decades. I will keep you posted.


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 RECOMMENDEaD READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.

Further Reading:

https://www.scoopnest.com/user/courtpio/689850474976047104-next-court-date-in-state-v-edward-meinhold-is-a-pretrial-conference-on-2182016-at-830-am

https://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_6ba74694-50f3-11e5-bb64-1b1d83eab34c.html

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3212060/Edward-Meinhold-Virginia-arrested-1978-cold-case-killing-Susan-Schmidt-Arizona.html

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/police-arrest-suspect-in-glendales-oldest-cold-case-murder-7599876


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.


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.


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.

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Shattered: behind every story is a shattered life

Every year Synova compiles the most popular blog post from the previous year into a case files book. In 2018, Synova Ink was filled with serial killer cases, cold cases, famous cases, and many obscure unsolved missing persons’ cases. Don’t miss this one. 

Order your copy of Synova’s New Casefiles book HERE!


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Come Quick!

Small Town Murder Mystery – Carol Blades

carol blades

1969 would change the face of rural Nixa, Missouri forever. Nixa was a small town in Christian County that boasted a low crime rate. The county sheriff was known as an enforcer and no one wanted to be caught breaking the law in Buff Lamb’s territory. So, when a quiet little housewife disappeared from the local laundromat it really caused a stir. Nearly fifty years later and the case is still unsolved.


December 15, 1969, Carol Blades was on her way to do some laundry at the laundromat in Nixa. Her husband came home from his night shift and went straight to bed never knowing that he wouldn’t see his lovely blond-headed wife again. The 20-yr-old woman dropped her clothes off and had a habit of visiting her cousin, Sue Horton who lived nearby. Today Sue wouldn’t see her cousin and when Larry Blades called to ask about his wife that evening, Sue knew something had gone terribly wrong.


The police were called in and Sherriff Lamb was the lead investigator. His team of three men looked around the laundromat. Their search extended a mere five miles before Lamb came to the conclusion that Carol had simply run off. Her car was later found on the side of HWY 160 a mere quarter of a mile away. The car had been driven hard. There was mud on the windshield, scrapes down the side of the doors, and oil was splashed all over the oil pan. Carol was nowhere around, and the car keys were missing. They would be found later in the large field that separated the highway from the laundromat.

Much to the aggravation of family members, the car was left unlocked by the side of the road for days before taken to the police station. Then it was again left unlocked in the parking lot. It sat there so long that passersby would leave “wash me” notes on it not realizing they were tainting evidence in a murder case.
Three people saw a man park the car and run across the field towards the laundromat. They claim he had his jacket up over his head but ran into some bushes and dropped the covering allowing the witnesses to get a good look at him. In a small rural community of approximately 800, they claimed they hadn’t seen the man before.


It would be over a year before the remains of Carol Blades were found. A farmer was out looking for his cattle on Christmas day 1970 when he stumbled upon the skeletal remains of the once vibrant young woman. His 200-acre farm was just south of Nixa in Ponce. The Stone County sheriff and his team were called to the scene and the Christian County team was brought in to assist.


Lamb began to immediately blame Larry Blades, but the distraught husband passed two lie detector tests and was eventually cleared as a suspect. The shenanigans would continue to the point that some people wondered if Buff Lamb knew more about the case than he let on. At one point the sheriff was even named a suspect.


Buff Lamb died in 2001 amid controversy. His tough tactics earned him a ruthless reputation from some and a no-nonsense lawman from others. It has been almost 50 years since Carol Blades went missing and we still have no answers. Perhaps someone will come forward with a tip, but as a long-time resident told me, “Be careful with this one sis. There’s snakes in them woods.”


If you have any information regarding this case no matter how big or small, please contact the Christian County Sherriff’s office at (417) 582-5350. Don’t let past intimidations keep you from doing the right thing. I have been reassured that this case is still being actively investigated even though it’s been cold a long time. Christian County hasn’t forgotten Carol Blades.


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