Serial Suicides or Land Grab for Oil Rights?

Victim #1: Janice Wilhelm

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

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

December 8, 2010:

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

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

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

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

Black Gold:

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

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

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

Part 2:

Victim #2: Morris Robeson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 3:

Victim #3: Joe Weaver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snapshot of Joe Weaver Police Report sent to family anonymously

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


Part 4:

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

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

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


Notice the following:

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

Blatant Lies:

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

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

Final Proof of Homicide:

July 2001:

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

June 2015:

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

Aftermath & Motives Revealed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who owns that land and oil wells now?

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

Finale:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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Mobster Monday: Dixie Mafia Hitman – Bill Clubb

Photo courtesy of Worthpoint

Dixie Mafia Hitman, implicated in the Gypsy Camp Murder, never faces justice for the murder of Gypsy Queen Margie George. Bill Clubb, along with his cohorts, Kirksey Nix, Jr, and three others walk free after the state’s witness is found shot dead beside the road just outside of Shreveport.


William Mansker “Bill” Clubb was a 6’3″ good ‘ol’ boy from Dixieland. He seemed to be a polite, soft-spoken gentleman who loved custom suits and handmade cowboy boots. Those who crossed him knew of his darker side.

Bill Clubb was a highly skilled thief, safecracker, and hired hitman. He was one of five men to be implicated in the Gypsy Camp Murder, but he never faced justice for this crime.

February 18, 1969, five masked men stormed in into a gypsy camp of carnival workers. The band was parked in the Skeebow Trailer Court off of Lake Pontchartrain just outside of New Orleans.

Rumors swirled around the traveling carnival workers. Amid the carnie camp was a safe rumored to hold hundreds of thousands of dollars. This tall tale caught the attention of local Dixie Mafia members, and soon a robbery would be planned.

Mardi Gras was in full swing, and most of the camp’s men were away working, leaving the women and children alone and unprotected. Twenty four people were bound with chains, and their homes ransacked.

The armed gunmen came up with a few thousand dollars worth of cash and jewelry. Some reports claim the gypsies lost close to $40,000, but they claimed the amount was much smaller to avoid problems over unclaimed income.

Whatever the case, the total was much less than the Dixie Mafia crew expected. The Gypsy Queen, Margie George, was taken and beaten in an attempt to find the elusive safe. George refused to talk and became belligerent. Instead of realizing their error and leaving with the money, one robber hit the woman over the head with a hatchet. Another gunman shot her shortly after that to put her out of her misery. The poor woman was only 44.

A local Dixie Mafia thief was arrested almost immediately. Bobbie Gail Gwenn quickly spilled the story and implicated Dixie Mafia Kingpin, Kirksey Nix, Jr, Bill Clubb, and three other men.

Clubb was arrested two days later with $9,000 in cash and a loaded .38 caliber pistol. Police then raided his home and found several guns and an assortment of burglary tools. Some of the weapons were traced back to a home robbery in Ormond Beach, Florida.

Clubb fought extradition to Louisana and succeeded in stalling the process. He was eventually extradited to Louisiana, but it was too late. Just before Clubb was transferred, the stool pigeon was found shot dead beside the road.

One other hitman implicated in the Gypsy Camp Raid, Gary Elbert McDaniel, was found dead in the Sabine River. His death brought on a giant controversy. McDaniel was rumored to be involved in the ambush of Buford Pusser on New Hope Rd. Some wonder if the revenge filled Sheriff could have taken out the killer, or if he was silenced by his own people because he was rumored to be working with authorities.

After the death of Bobby Gwenn, the case against Nix and Clubb fell apart, and Clubb was released. He would continue to have run-ins with law enforcement for the next 13 years.

Clubb was a pilot and used his skills to run drugs throughout the Southern states for the Dixie Mafia. On June 5, 1982, his Piper Cherokee plane crashed just outside of Houston. The soft-spoken killer was dead at 55.


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.

Further Reading:

http://www.texarkanagazette.com/news/texarkana/story/2013/dec/02/dixie-mafia/295497/

https://www.newspapers.com/US/Florida/Orlando/The%20Orlando%20Sentinel_4644

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/1957-fbi-wanted-poster-william-1900773718


Preorder your copy today!

Back Cover Summary:

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

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

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

 Preorder Your Book Here


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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!

Texas Judge Convicted Of Bribery – Rudy Delgado

Photo courtesy of NYPost

Disgraced Texas judge convicted of bribery, travel act violations, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy. One more corrupt judge down, how many more to go?



Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado, 66, was convicted of eight counts of bribery last July and faced his sentencing hearing last week. Delgado was convicted of receiving thousands of dollars worth of bribes from former attorney Noe Perez. In turn, Delgado would “go easy” on Perez’s clients.


The bribes ranged from as little as $250 to several thousands of dollars. At one point, Perez gave the judge a $15,000 truck. The scheme ran for several years, while Delgado was the presiding judge of the 93rd District Court of Texas.


There was no mention of the controversy that sparked back in 2017 when it was discovered Hildago County spent over $1,000 on a “judge’s retreat.”
The Texas Monitor reported Delgado was once a candidate for a spot on the 13th District Court of Appeals. Now the disgraced judge is looking forward to five years in prison for his corruption.


What do you think? Do you think this man received his just punishment, or do you feel his crimes warranted a longer sentence?


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:

NY Post

Texas Cover UPs

Texas Monitor

LawsInTexas.com


Recommended Reading:


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.


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

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“One of the few books written that gives the reader an insight into the criminal mind” – Retired FBI Agent Egelston Raised in a mob-controlled suburb of Chicago, Sidney Heard grew up wanting to be a gangster. He was on probation by the age of thirteen and continued building his criminal resume over the next half a century. He was a professional arsonist for nearly twenty years; escaped from jail twice; ran a gold scandal grossing over a quarter of a million dollars, and that’s just to name a few of his illegal escapades. To top it off, he played a role in one of the most important Supreme Court Decisions of all time (Gideon vs. Wainwright).Sidney’s underworld connections ran from the Chicago-based Italians to the Mexican Mafia. He even worked undercover for the Federal Government at one point in his life. However, all of Sidney’s so-called glory would come with a price. While working undercover for the F.B.I. D.E.A., Sidney became hooked on drugs. He soon found himself staring at 125 years of jail time , a massive criminal record, and pushing his fiftieth birthday. Can a career criminal change? Frank Abagnale’s criminal career lasted ten years and was featured in the movie Catch Me If You Can. Sidney Heard’s criminal career spanned five decades!
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Sit back and relax as Synova regales you with tales of master art thieves, bumbling criminals, and multi-million-dollar art heists from around the world. There will be stories of mafia-commissioned heists, of Daredevil art thieves, and of the brave men and women of the FBI Art team who are trying to stop this multi-billion-dollar industry of art crime. Enjoy.

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It’s a tale of two judges; one a well-liked defender of the law, and the other a cold-blooded manipulator. Judge C.E. Chillingworth was by all accounts a man of honor, so why were he and his wife taken from their home on June 15, 1955, in the wee hours of the morning, bound, gagged, weighted down, and thrown into the ocean?

When the Chillingworths disappear it would take nearly five years and one drunken hitman to finally uncover the truth behind West Palm Beach’s “crime of the century.”
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Now you can own all Synova’s best-selling Seriously Stupid Criminals Series in one box set!

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.

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


Synova’s Swag Store is now open check out her new merchandise by clicking on the Shop! link at the top of this page!

Come Quick!

A Strange Suicide – The Controversy Surrounding the Autopsy & Death of Lt. Dan Anderson

48387950_263445567660369_1743446475213373440_o.jpg Photo courtesy of the Murdered In Mississippi Facebook Page

A very tidy 80-yr-old trudges out through his grassy lawn in his sock feet with his pants undone, shoots himself in the head, falls backward leaving an abrasion on the back of his head, and then flops over cutting his shin and bruising the top of his toes. If that wasn’t enough to question the suicide ruling then hold on, there’s more. Why did he have gun powder residue on BOTH hands when the hairpin trigger on his service revolver was easily manageable? Why did the blood splatter on his pants look as if he were kneeling? Why were the bullet casings destroyed a few days later WITHOUT the consent of family? Why was the daughter’s name forged on the consent form?


April 18, 2003:
Around 4:30 pm, Lt. Dan Anderson supposedly walked out to his driveway and shot himself in the head with his service revolver. Anderson lived on a busy street, yet there weren’t any witnesses during rush hour traffic. Years later the police somehow drag up two people who say they heard a gunshot sometime in the afternoon, but no one can find these witnesses to re-question them. It seemed they appeared just in time for the FOIA request but disappeared again afterward. Who knows? All of that is merely speculation. I will let you speculate on your own time. Here are the facts of this case as I can prove from interviewing the victim’s family and working through the official autopsy.
Ms. Learn told the police that Dan had sent her to the store to buy cigarettes, and when she returned, she found him in the driveway. The FOIA documents clearly state what she told the police. Learn told the investigator that she parked right behind Dan Anderson’s Cadillac and she confirmed that this car was still there when she moved out of the house later that day after the death of Anderson. I will tell you why that is significant later.
Around midnight Phyllis received a phone call from her father’s attorney stating that Dan Anderson had committed suicide. She fell to the floor, devastated and screamed, “not again.” She packed up and went to Gulfport. When she got there the coroner, Gary Hargrove wouldn’t allow her to see her father’s body. Instead of showing some compassion for the grieving family, he chose to be rude and arrogant. Since she wasn’t getting anywhere with the coroner, Phyllis drove over to her father’s house. She expected to see some evidence of a crime. Instead, the house looked like nothing had happened. There wasn’t any crime scene tape, the driveway was clean, and there weren’t any bloodstains. She walked into the house looking for evidence of violence but found none. It was as if time had stopped, and this was a bad dream.
Dan liked to keep everything neat and tidy, but the house looked as if it had been detailed. There wasn’t a speck of dust in the place. To make matters worse, Learn had lived there for a month, and there wasn’t any evidence of her left. Phyllis said she couldn’t even find a bobby pin. In the FOIA papers MS. Learn said she only lived there four days, but Phyllis had received a phone call about her two weeks before her father’s death, so we know that’s a lie.
As Phyllis slowly took in her surroundings, she noticed something odd. On the nightstand by her father’s bed was a carton of cigarettes with four packs in it. She walked into the den where her father spent a lot of time, and there were two more packs on the end table. One pack was full, and the other was only missing four cigarettes. Why had Learn gone out for cigarettes when there were so many packs laying around the house?
She also noticed that her father’s valuables had been taken. He was a 33rd degree Mason and had beautiful rings, but they were nowhere to be found. All the china and crystal in the house had been thinned out and the remaining pieces spaced out on the shelves so their removal wouldn’t be apparent. The more she looked, the more she noticed things missing. Also, the Cadillac wasn’t in the driveway anymore. Police would later claim that it had been sold months before her father’s death but remember the FOIA papers said that it was IN THE DRIVEWAY on the day of Anderson’s death.
Now let’s move on to the autopsy report. If you aren’t already questioning this case and its suicide ruling the first few lines of the autopsy report will force you to question it.
The autopsy diagnoses dated 4-19-2003 states the following:

  1. One recent gunshot wound of the head entering the right temple, contact, exiting the left temple through the brain (no bullet in the wound)
  2. blood spatter and powder particles on BOTH HANDS

Ok. It also states that his pants were unbuttoned and the zipper down. His socks were covered in dry plant material. It also indicates that his fingernails and toenails were neatly clipped and clean.
Ok. Here goes the rant…
Dan Anderson was a tidy person, and I’ve been told that wouldn’t go outside in his sock feet. If he wanted to, there was a driveway and a sidewalk to walk on. He was particular enough to have nice nails, but he ran outside with his pants undone?
The documents say one hammerless Smith & Wesson 38 service revolver, four bullets, one shell casing, and one leather holster was recovered from the scene. No one recovered the spent bullet. The autopsy said it was a through and through wound, so why wasn’t it recovered in the grass? No ballistics testing was done to prove that this gun was the weapon used to kill Anderson. To make it even worse, the FOIA request shows the police department destroyed the bullets and shell casing four days after Anderson’s death. They sent Phyllis a copy of this release that she supposedly had signed. Phyllis swears she has never seen the paper before and the signature on the bottom of it was not hers.
Who signed Phyllis’ name?
Dan Anderson was 80, but he was a strong man and didn’t suffer from Parkinson’s disease. Why then would he have to use both hands to fire his service revolver? Remember the autopsy said there was gunshot residue and blood spatter on BOTH hands. Anderson showed no signs of suicidal tendencies.
Now here comes the outline of the wounds found on Dan Anderson’s body, excluding the gunshot wound. To reconstruct these wounds, I got help from my son. I drew all the markings on his hands and legs with a washable marker and photographed them. This is what I found.
Left index fingertip anteriorly (meaning the palm side) there was a fresh wound. The left middle finger dorsally (meaning the backside of the hand) over the proximal Phalanx was another wound. Proximal Phalanx means the backside of the hand down between the base of the finger and the first knuckle.
The autopsy also states he had a large wound on the FRONT of his RIGHT shin and on the top of the right big toe. Lastly, it says he had an abrasion on the back of the left-hand side of his head just above the hairline. Dan Anderson had male pattern baldness.
If Lt. Anderson somehow shot himself with both hands and fell BACKWARD, that would account for the wound on the back of his head. If this is the case, then why the scrape down his right shin and his right toe? If he fell FORWARD, he might receive a small abrasion on his knee, but not a large scrape, and he wouldn’t have a wound on the back of his head.
My armchair conclusion is Lt. Anderson’s death should not be ruled suicide. It is highly unlikely that this man would suddenly decide to send off his housekeeper, undo his pants, walk out in his front yard and shoot himself using both hands on his snub-nosed revolver. He wasn’t drunk. He wasn’t suicidal, and he cared about neatness enough to keep both his fingernails and toenails groomed.
The officials would like to make you believe this is what happened, and to add to the fairytale, he must have shot, then fell forward, dragged himself around the yard scrapping his leg up, then dropped down upon his back hitting the back of his head. If all of that makes sense to you, then I must add all the details of the missing items and the missing Cadillac. If you believe all of that, then I have some oceanfront property in Kansas that I would like to sell to you.
After writing about this case a year ago, Phyllis has been blessed to find a forensic investigator willing to take on her case. This investigator has found many new details about this case, and witnesses have come forward to clear up some missing links. Now, there is some indication that the original autopsy might have been manipulated to bolster the suicide claims. Unfortunately, those details must be held close until after the trial, but you can bet your bottom dollar I will be writing more about it when I get the green light.


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 Information On This Case:

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ForeverMissed

Slabbed

Murdered In Mississippi


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Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia


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