An Athlete Murdered Young – Death of Aimee Willard

Photo courtesy of guest blogger. Check out his FB group here: Ian’s Group

June 20, 1996

Aimee Willard‘s athletic accomplishments earned her a scholarship to play lacrosse and soccer at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. It was in lacrosse that the 22-year-old tomboy particularly excelled; by her junior year, she led the Colonial Athletic Association in scoring and assists. She was designated as one of the top 25 female lacrosse players in the United States, but because of a man described as “pure evil,” she became an athlete who died young.

In the early morning hours of June 20, 1996, Aimee’s car was found abandoned along Interstate 476 near Philadelphia. That afternoon, her badly beaten body was found in the north part of the city.

Three people emerged as suspects in Aimee’s murder, but all were cleared after DNA identified the true culprit. Twenty-four years after Aimee’s murder, her killer remains on Pennsylvania’s death row, his appeals nearly exhausted.

The only mystery remaining in the murder of Aimee Willard is when will the man who took her life pay for the crime?

On June 19, eleven days after her 22nd birthday, Aimee met friends at Smokey Joe’s Tavern in Wayne, just north of Philadelphia. Conversing at the tavern for nearly three hours, the girls had a great time catching up with each other. Aimee drank only a small amount of alcohol and left the bar between 1:30-1:45 a.m. on June 20.

On the day before summer officially started, the warm Pennsylvania morning was about to be marred by a chilling crime.

Shortly after 2:00 a.m., off-duty paramedics found Aimee’s car parked along the shoulder of an Interstate 476 off-ramp. Its engine was running, the lights were on, and the radio was playing. The driver’s side door was open, and a trail of fresh bloodstains dotted the pavement. A bloody tire iron lay by the side of the car, which was later identified as Aimee’s.

Police were summoned and found more blood along the passenger side of the car and the nearby guardrail. Later that morning, they found underwear and tennis shoes at the top of the ramp, also determined to be Aimee’s. Her other clothes were never found.

That afternoon, 17 miles away in North Philadelphia, two children playing in a vacant lot discovered Aimee’s nude body. An autopsy determined she had been sexually assaulted and killed by blunt force trauma that crushed her skull. She had been killed at approximately 7:00 a.m. on June 20.

Three men became suspects in the murder of Aimee Willard. Disturbingly, two of them were in law enforcement, and the third had previously masqueraded as such. 

As police searched the ramp where Aimee’s abandoned car was found, 23-year-old Andrew Kobak approached them, saying he had been on the ramp early that morning and had seen the car. Kobak had once worked five blocks from where Aimee’s body was found. More interestingly, he had previously been arrested for impersonating a police officer.

Kobak allowed police to search his car. They found handcuffs and a flashlight similar to those used by law enforcement. A search of his home-produced police paraphernalia as well as a magazine that could be used to order police equipment. After the searches, Kobak stopped cooperating with authorities.

Police were convinced they had their man, believing he approached Aimee under the guise of a police officer. Two bona fide law enforcement officers, however, also emerged as suspects.

An off-duty Pennsylvania state trooper, who lived only a few blocks from Aimee’s home, claimed to have seen both Aimee’s car and a police officer parked in a squad car behind it. The trooper said he spoke briefly with the officer, offering his assistance. When told he was not needed, the trooper said he drove away.

All of the police officers who responded to the call of Aimee’s abandoned car, however, said no one identifying himself as a state trooper spoke to them. Furthermore, authorities determined the trooper was in a different location at the time. The trooper soon resigned from the Pennsylvania State Patrol.

One week later, a local police officer not involved in the investigation into Aimee’s murder came forward, saying he had come upon her car while the paramedics were on the scene but before the police arrived. The officer said he saw the paramedics parked behind her car and that he spoke with them. The paramedics, however, contradicted the officer’s account, saying they neither saw nor spoke with him. Like the state trooper, the police officer later admitted to lying to his fellow lawmen. He, too, resigned shortly thereafter.

Investigators had three suspects in the murder of Aimee Willard: Andrew Kobak, who pretended to be one of them, and two of their actual own; the Pennsylvania State Trooper and the local police officer. DNA tests, however, exonerated all three men.

The only connection Aimee’s killer had to law enforcement was his multiple arrests. 

In December 1997, one-and-a-half years after Aimee’s murder, semen found on her body was matched to 38-year-old Arthur Bomar, Jr.

Police were led to Bomar after nineteen-year-old Patty Jordan reported an attempted carjacking near Philadelphia. A man had tailed her after she left a local nightclub and purposely struck the back of her vehicle. He tried to get her to pull over, but she refused.

As Patty drove off, she memorized the car’s license plate number. The plate was traced to Bomar. In December 1997, one-and-a-half years after Aimee’s murder, semen found on her body was matched to 38-year-old Arthur Bomar, Jr.

Police were led to Bomar after nineteen-year-old Patty Jordan reported an attempted carjacking near Philadelphia. A man had tailed her after she left a local nightclub and purposely struck the back of her vehicle. He tried to get her to pull over, but she refused.

As Patty drove off, she memorized the car’s license plate number. The plate was traced to Bomar.

Bomar was no stranger to authorities. He had previously been convicted of several assaults on young women and the second-degree murder of a woman in Nevada in 1978. He had been sentenced to life in prison but was granted parole after serving only eleven years. The parole board evidently thought Bomar had been rehabilitated. They would soon be proven deadly wrong.

In 1990, less than a year after he was paroled, Bomar was charged with the attempted murder of a woman named Theresa Thompson; the charges were dropped after she died of a drug overdose in 1991 before the case was brought to trial. He was also believed to be connected to the rape of a Philadelphia college student, though the evidence was not sufficient to charge him.

The evidence, however, was more than sufficient to charge him with the murder of Aimee Willard.

At approximately 8:30 p.m. on the evening of June 19, 1996, Philadelphia police had pulled Bomar over for a traffic infraction only six blocks from where Aimee’s car would be found in the early morning hours of June 20. Police sought to question him but could not initially locate him.

The following week, Bomar was arrested after trying to break into a woman’s apartment. As the three other men emerged as suspects, authorities turned their attention away from Bomar and did not question him then about Aimee’s murder.

After the DNA evidence linked Bomar to Aimee’s murder, his girlfriend told authorities he was at Smokey Joe’s Tavern on the evening of June 20, 1996. It is believed he noticed Aimee at the bar and followed her along Route 476 after she departed.

Due to the damage found on the front of Bomar’s car and the back of Aimee’s car, police believe he purposefully rammed the back of her car to get her to pull over. When Aimee exited her vehicle to exchange information, Bomar is believed to have struck her with the tire iron later found alongside her car.

After knocking Aimee unconscious, Bomar is believed to have taken her to north Philadelphia, where he raped her and killed her with three blows to her head from another large object. Afterward, he is believed to have run over her with his car. A burn pattern found on Aimee’s back was consistent with the oil pan on the bottom of Bomar’s Ford Escort, which was found in a junkyard with slight damage to the front bumper. Its tires matched the impressions found near Aimee’s car.

Furthermore, DNA testing showed blood found on the car’s door was Aimee’s.

In February 2003, six-and-half years after Aimee’s murder, Arthur Bomar, Jr. was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death. He was also convicted of rape, assault, kidnapping, and abuse of a corpse.

At his sentencing, Bomar professed he was convicted only because he is black. He then flipped his middle finger at Aimee’s mother, Gail, and told her to f**k herself. He also threatened to kill her and her two other children.

When Bomar had been arrested for breaking into the woman’s apartment a few days after Aimee’s murder in June 1996, he had a set of keys for a Honda in his pocket. Police learned he had put his Ford Escort’s license plate on the Honda. It was the license plate Patty Jordan had memorized when the car rammed her.

The plate was registered to Bomar, but the Honda belonged to 25-year-old Maria Cabuenos, another Pennsylvania woman who had been reported missing in March 1996, three months before Aimee’s murder. Maria is also believed to have been abducted on Route 476, near where Aimee’s car was found. Dried blood was found in the trunk of her Honda, and both bumpers were slightly scraped, as were the bumpers on Aimee’s car. Moreover, Aimee’s blood and hair were found in Maria’s car.

In January 1998, three months after Bomar’s conviction for Aimee’s murder, Maria Cabuenos’ remains were found in nearby Bucks County. Like Aimee, she had died of blunt force trauma.

Bomar is the prime suspect in Maria’s murder, but he is not likely to be charged because of his death sentence. 

Over 17 years after his conviction for the murder of Aimee Willard, Arthur Bomar, Jr. remains on Pennsylvania’s death row, still exhausting his appeals. In 2014, his appeal was rejected by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. His remaining options are few, but a date has still not been set for his execution.

Bomar maintains he did not kill Aimee and still insists he was convicted only because he is black. No one of any color is supporting his claim.

Authorities continue to investigate Bomar’s possible involvement in other homicides. They believe he may be a serial killer but have not yet been able to link him to any more murders.

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, AKA “Aimee’s Law,” was introduced by then-Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and was signed into law by President Clinton in 2000.

The Act encourages states to keep murderers, rapists, and child molesters behind bars longer and holds a state financially accountable if it fails to do so. In addition, it allows interstate parole violators to be jailed in their state of residence at the expense of the state where the original offense was committed. Furthermore, it permits for offenders to be jailed in another state if circumstances allow it.

A small roadside memorial on the exit ramp from Interstate 476 to southbound U.S. Route 1 marks the site where Aimee Willard’s car was found.

US Lacrosse, the national governing body of the sport in the United States, established the Aimee Willard Award. Created in conjunction with Aimee’s mother, her high school coach, and the Philadelphia Women’s Lacrosse Association, the award is given each year in recognition of the outstanding collegiate athlete participating in the USWLA National Tournament.

George Mason University honors Aimee with the yearly Aimee Willard Commemorative Award, presented to the Mason student-athlete who best exemplifies the standards of quality set by Aimee: intensity, consistency of purpose, achievement, and teamwork. 


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:

• Cold Case Files

• Philadelphia Inquirer

• Unsolved Mysteries

• Washington Post


Join Our GUEST BLOGGER’S FACEBOOK GROUP here


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.”)


Each week Synova & her team of guest bloggers highlight an obscure cold case. Synova works directly with the victims’ families to give them a voice and to generate leads for law enforcement. The potential viewership currently sits at 500,000!

Help Synova’s team reach a million people with these cold cases. Together we can solve some of these cases.

As a way of saying “Thank You” when you sign up for Synova’s true crime newsletter, you will get her Grim Justice eBook as a free gift! Please help us reach out to more people in our search for truth.

SIGN UP HERE


Check out Synova’s new Podcast, Chasing Justice

Chasing Justice is on Podbean, Stitcher, google podcasts, itunes, and spotify. Listen on you favorite app! Look for the logo above. There is another Chasing Justice podcast out there.


Karma Finds A Murderer


The sad tale of Erica Richardson is all too common. In 1996, the pharmacy manager was introduced to John Feiga. Erica was instantly attracted, and for several months, Feiga treated her like royalty, surprising her with flowers and other small gifts and showering her with affection.

Erica thought she had found her knight in shining armor. She couldn’t have been more wrong.

On December 8, 1997, Erica was stabbed to death in her Valrico, Florida, home, 15 miles east of Tampa. John Feiga was the prime suspect, but he was never tried for the crime because he was murdered four months later.

John Feiga is presumed to have murdered his former girlfriend, Erica Richardson. No one knows who killed Feiga.

Erica Richardson was the first person in her family to graduate from college.

After finishing her degree in microbiology from the University of Florida, she obtained a Pharmacy degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Erica returned home and accepted an offer to manage a Walmart pharmacy in Seffner, 14 miles east of Tampa. She also bought a home in Valrico.

Erica had offers from larger pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies which would have paid her more money. Still, she wanted to be near her parents, Sam and Imogene, who lived in Progress Village, 12 miles south of Seffner.

The only thing missing in Erica’s life was a suitable mate. Sam and Imogene initially liked John Feiga. He was a respected mechanic and had previously worked for the Tampa Electric Company.

Feiga was initially charming and treated Erica well. Shortly after moving into her home, however, he became jealous and controlling of his girlfriend. Erica told her mother she was beginning to fear him.

As her affections for John deteriorated, Erica asked him to move out; John did, but he did not want her to move on without him.

Feiga continued to harass Erica by following her and frequently visiting the pharmacy for no reason other than to ask her to take him back. After she repeatedly rejected him, Feiga’s ire grew, and he threatened his former girlfriend with physical harm. Erica then obtained a restraining order against him, but the harassment continued, and Feiga was arrested.

Not even several days in jail and the threat of prison time, however, deterred him.

On December 6, 1997, as Erica and Imogene were Christmas shopping at a Tampa mall, Feiga approached them. He was calm and apologetic. Despite the restraining order she had against him, Erica agreed to meet with him. She told her mom she and Feiga were going to her home to discuss their situation.

Imogene pleaded with her daughter not to go with him, but Erica assured her everything would be fine. She was wrong.

Imogene phoned her daughter’s home repeatedly over the following two days but received no answer. She became panicked when she phoned the pharmacy and was told that Erica, uncharacteristically, had neither shown up for work nor called with an explanation.

Imogene drove to Erica’s home and was alarmed to see John’s truck in the driveway. Peering through a window, she saw a bloody knife on the floor. She summoned Erica’s neighbor, a highway patrolman.

They found Erica’s blood-soaked body in the kitchen. Her murder was clearly a crime of passion; she had been stabbed 67 times.

The prime suspect was her former boyfriend and the last person with whom she was seen, John Feiga. He, too, had not arrived for work.

Feiga had been seen driving Erica’s 1992 Honda on the day she was last seen. It was located 770 miles away on December 23, two weeks after Erica was last seen, in a parking lot near his hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana. None of Feiga’s family or friends in the area claimed to have recently seen him.

Signs of a struggle were found in Erica’s kitchen. Tests showed her blood had been mixed with that of another person. Detectives suspected it was Feiga’s, but they could not locate a sample of his DNA for comparison.

They soon, however, obtained Feiga’s DNA which confirmed their suspicions and closed the case, but not in the way they had hoped.

On April 13, 1998, five months after the murder of Erica Richardson in Florida, the body of an unidentified man was found in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya River. The man remained unidentified for over a decade until July 2008, when the mixed DNA found on Erica’s body matched the John Doe’s.

Dental records confirmed the remains were those of John Feiga. DNA testing confirmed he was Erica Richardson’s killer.

Perhaps poetic justice had been served; John had also been murdered. Authorities have not disclosed how he died, and his killer remains unknown.

If you believe you have information relating to the murder of John Feiga, please contact the St. Mary Parish, Louisiana Sheriff’s Office at (337) 828-1960.

Although John Feiga was not found guilty in a court of law, authorities have declared him the killer of Erica Richardson.


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Reading:

America’s Most Wanted
Tampa Bay Times
Unsolved Mysteries


Join Our GUEST BLOGGER’S FACEBOOK GROUP here


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.”)


Each week Synova & her team of guest bloggers highlight an obscure cold case. Synova works directly with the victims’ families to give them a voice and to generate leads for law enforcement. The potential viewership currently sits at 500,000!

Help Synova’s team reach a million people with these cold cases. Together we can solve some of these cases.

As a way of saying “Thank You” when you sign up for Synova’s true crime newsletter, you will get her Grim Justice eBook as a free gift! Please help us reach out to more people in our search for truth.

SIGN UP HERE


Check out Synova’s new Podcast, Chasing Justice

Chasing Justice is on Podbean, Stitcher, google podcasts, itunes, and spotify. Listen on you favorite app! Look for the logo above. There is another Chasing Justice podcast out there.


The Chosen One – The Horrific Kidnapping & Murder of Jacob Wetterling



According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, approximately 800,000 children go missing each year, but 97% are returned unharmed within a few days. The vast majority either run away or are abducted by a relative, generally the non-custodial parent; most of the rest are taken by someone they know.

Every once in a while, though, there is a rare and sensational exception. The kidnapping of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was one of the oddest on record; the FBI could find no similar abduction in its files, past or present.
For over 27 years, the abduction of Wetterling was one of America’s most infamous kidnappings, and the clues to his fate were few and far between. Jacob Wetterling‘s kidnapping may have been unique, but of the 3% who do not return within a few days, the end result is all too common.

On the evening of October 22, 1989, 11-year-old Aaron Larson stayed overnight at Jacob’s home. It was a Sunday, but because of a teacher’s conference the following day, the boys would not have to go to school and could stay up later than usual.

Shortly after 9:00 p.m., Jacob called his parents, Jerry and Patty, who were attending a dinner party. He asked if he, Aaron, and Jacob’s 10-year-old brother, Trevor, could ride their bikes to the nearby Tom Thumb convenience store to rent a video. The store was only one mile from the Wetterling home.

After a bit of pleading, Jacob convinced his dad to let them go to the store. The boys left home shortly after 9:00 p.m. It was dark, but they all had lights on their bicycles.

Jerry told the boys to be careful and to watch out for cars. The thought of a lurking kidnapper never crossed his mind.

The boys arrived at the store, purchased a video, and headed back to the Wetterling home.

Halfway there, a masked man jumped out in front of them and ordered the boys off their bicycles. The boys laughed, believing it was an early Halloween gag: Aaron even said something to the effect that Halloween was still over a week away. But when the man repeated his instructions, this time brandishing a gun, the chuckles instantly turned to fear.

The masked man ordered the three boys to toss their bikes to the side of the road and lie face down. He then asked each boy his age, and each boy answered. The man ordered Trevor to run into the woods, saying he would be shot if he looked back. The gunman then ordered Aaron and Jacob to turn over; when they complied, he looked at each boy. He then ordered Aaron to run from the scene. Aaron caught up with Trevor, and when the two no longer heard voices, they looked back and saw nothing but darkness. The masked man, and Jacob, were gone.

With their hearts pounding and still in shock over what had occurred, Aaron and Trevor ran to the Wetterling home and summoned neighbor Merlyn Jerzak who called 911. Police arrived within minutes and immediately mounted a search, confident they would find the culprit and Jacob would be home that evening. They were wrong on both counts.

Despite the prompt action of police and the extensive national publicity, the kidnapper was not identified, and Jacob never came home.

As the days passed, police received thousands of tips of possible sightings of Jacob from across America, Canada, and even overseas. None, however, checked out.

Even as the years grew into two decades and then a quarter of a century, Jacob’s kidnapping continued to be periodically profiled on crime shows and news magazines. Despite the continued publicity and the offer of a $200,000 reward, few substantive leads surfaced in the case.

In May 2014, investigators announced they believed Jacob’s 1989 kidnapping was related to the sexual assaults of five teenage boys, which had occurred southwest of St. Joseph in 1986 and ’87. The assaults occurred in and around Cold Spring and Paynesville, 11 and 28 miles, respectively, from St. Joseph.

All of the boys, like Jacob, were kidnapped from the roadside. All of the others, however, were taken in daylight. All were sexually molested and, unlike Jacob, were then released. No arrests were made, and no suspects were publicly named.

One of the Cold Spring’s victims, twelve-year-old Jared Scheierl, had been abducted and sexually assaulted in January of 1989, seven months before Jacob’s kidnapping.

It was not until October 2015 that DNA from his sexual assault was found to match that of Danny Heinrich, a lifelong area resident living in Paynesville at the time of the attack.

Heinrich was interviewed by investigators in December 1989, two months after Jacob’s kidnapping, and again several months later. He bore a strong resemblance to the composite made based on Jared’s description of his attacker. Police, however, could find no evidence linking him to the crime, and Jared did not pick him out of a photo lineup.

Heinrich’s DNA was taken, but it would be nearly 27 years before the technology advanced enough to produce a match to that found on Jared Scheierl.

Heinrich could not be charged with the sexual assault of Jared Scheierl because the statute limitations for the crime had expired. When they searched his home, police found thousands of images of child pornography involving young boys on his computer. Heinrich was arrested on October 28, 2015, and charged with multiple counts of possession of child pornography.

Because of the similarities between Jared and Jacob’s cases, Heinrich was also officially named as a person of interest in the 1989 kidnapping of Jacob Wetterling. With the federal pornography charges certain to imprison him for the rest of his life, Danny Heinrich decided it was time to come clean.

In August 2016, the imprisoned Heinrich, through his attorney, told authorities he was the man in the mask from that October evening of nearly 27 years ago. He agreed to lead them to Jacob’s remains in exchange for a reduced sentence.

On September 1, 2016, Heinrich led investigators to some farmland near Paynesville, approximately 30 miles from where Jacob was abducted. After an hour of digging, Jacob’s clothing was found.

Human remains were discovered a short time later. On September 3, dental records confirmed the remains were Jacob’s.

Under the terms of the agreement, for revealing the location of Jacob’s remains, Heinrich, plead guilty to only one of the 25 federal child pornography charges. He had to testify in court about the sexual assault of Jared Scheierl and give the details of Jacob’s kidnapping and murder but would not be charged with either crime.

In a soft, somber tone far from the demanding and thundering tone of 1989, Danny Heinrich described in chilling detail how he ended Jacob Wetterling’s life.

Heinrich testified that he drove Jacob to a remote location near Paynesville, where he handcuffed and sexually molested him. Afterward, he uncuffed Jacob and told him to get dressed. As Jacob was doing so, Heinrich said he was crying, “What did I do wrong?” and begging, “Please take me home.”

Heinrich claimed he told Jacob he would take him home and planned to let him go, but the sirens of a police car racing to the kidnapping scene caused him to panic. Instead of releasing Jacob, as he had done with his other victims, Heinrich shot him in the back of the head and buried him at the locale near a gravel pit.

A year later, Heinrich says he returned to the site and found that Jacob’s jacket had risen to the surface, becoming visible. He then moved the remains and reburied them on the farmland where they would be found.

In accordance with the plea agreement, Danny Heinrich was sentenced to the maximum prison term of 20 years for the child pornography charge. He will be eligible for parole after 17 years, in 2033, when he will be 70 years old.

State authorities may seek Heinrich’s civil commitment as a sexual predator at the end of his federal prison term, which could prevent him from ever going free. Should he ever be released from prison, he will be required to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life.

Investigators say they are certain Jacob is the only person Heinrich murdered.

Four months after Jacob’s abduction, his parents, Jerry and Patty Wetterling formed the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, an advocacy group for children’s safety. In 1994, the federal Jacob Wetterling Act was passed. It was the first law to institute a state sex-offender registry.

Patty Wetterling ran for the congressional seat of Minnesota’s sixth district in 2004 and 2006 but was defeated both times. She is the current chair of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.


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 Info:
• ABC News
• Fox News
The Hunt with John Walsh
Minnesota Daily
Minnesota Star Tribune
NBC News


Each week Synova & her team of guestbloggers highlight an obscure cold case. Synova works directly with the victims’ families to give them a voice and to generate leads for law enforcement. The potential viewership currently sits at 500,000!

Help Synova’s team reach a million people with these cold cases. Together we can solve some of these cases.

As a way of saying “Thank You” when you sign up for Synova’s true crime newsletter, you will get her Grim Justice eBook as a free gift! Please help us reach out to more people in our search for truth.

SIGN UP HERE


Order Your Copy Today!

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.

Order Your Book Here


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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Murder or Wrongful Conviction? The death of Debbie Race


The evening of May 11, 1982, was unfolding as Larry Race had hoped. He and his wife Debbie were celebrating their 14th anniversary. The Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota, couple had dinner on the veranda of an upscale restaurant with a breathtaking view of Lake Superior. Afterward, they enjoyed a romantic evening on the shores of the lake, drifting in their small boat as they talked and listened to music. To Larry, the enchanted evening felt like a second honeymoon. But the events soon turned as dark as the Minnesota night.

On the following afternoon, Debbie’s body was found along Lake Superior’s shore. She had perished in the lake’s chilly waters.

Larry said he had done everything he could to save his wife. The state of Minnesota disagreed, saying what happened was a clear cut case of cold-blooded murder.

Larry and Debbie’s families both supported Larry’s story. A jury, however, agreed with the state.

Larry and Debbie Race, each 33-years-old, had three children and lived in Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota, in the northeast part of the state, 75 miles from Lake Superior. The couple’s marriage had been rocky for several years because of Larry’s numerous girlfriends.

Larry acknowledges his infidelity but says he was putting an end to his affairs. He also says Debbie had forgiven him and agreed to give him another chance. The romantic evening along Lake Superior was to be the start of repairing the relationship.

Larry was an avid boater and scuba diver. He owned a small boat named the “Jenny Lee” named after their two daughters.

The following is Larry’s account of the events that unfolded after he and Debbie left the restaurant on the evening of May 11, 1982.

Larry says the sun was setting as he and Debbie set sail. For nearly an hour-and-a-half, they drifted approximately a mile offshore of Lake Superior.

Around 9:00 p.m., after darkness had fallen, they noticed the Jenny Lee was taking on water. Larry says he turned off the engine, and the leakage stopped, but the boat still would not restart. Larry re-examined the engine and heard gushing noises at the bottom of the boat.

Larry says he grew concerned and that Debbie panicked. As the boat continued to take on more water, Larry says Debbie insisted on getting off the boat and that he, not using sound judgment, agreed.

Larry says he had two life rafts on board and that he attempted to inflate one of them but found holes in it and tossed it into the lake. Larry says he inflated the second raft, but it was meant for only one person.

Debbie put her purse and other valuables and Larry’s shoes into a gear bag. She took it and the scuba tank onto the life raft. Larry had his dry suit and scuba tanks on board the boat. He was a strong swimmer and thought he could tow Debbie and the raft to shore because he had done so with his daughters when the Jenny Lee had previously broken down. Larry says he was making progress on getting the raft to shore but was getting cold. When he attempted to get into the raft with Debbie, it started to sink.

Larry says the cold water’s effect on his body hindered his judgment and made another poor decision. He says he saw lights in the distance that appeared to be closer than the shore, so he decided to swim toward them. As he did so, Debbie continued to inch her way to shore.

However, it soon dawned on Larry the light he had seen in the dark was from the Jenny Lee. He made it back to the boat, and, this time, the engine started.

After catching his breath, Larry says, continued to search for Debbie, all the while firing distress signals in the air. Unable to find her, he returned to shore and notified the Coast Guard. They conducted a grid search of the lake but to no avail.

On the following afternoon of May 12, a boy walking home from school found Debbie’s body, lying face-up, along the lakeshore. An autopsy determined she had not drowned. Instead, Debbie had succumbed to hypothermia, a reduced body temperature that occurs when a body dissipates more heat than it absorbs.

The average body temperature in humans is 98.6°Fahrenheit; hypothermia is defined as a core body temperature below 95.0 °F. Although the weather was warm on the evening of Larry and Debby’s debacle, the temperature of Lake Superior’s waters was only 37 ° F, easily cold enough to kill someone who had been in the water for as long as Debbie had been.

Neither the police nor prosecutors bought Larry’s story that Debbie’s death was an accident brought about by circumstances beyond his control. They believed the actions leading to Debbie’s demise were brought about purposefully by an unfaithful husband wanting out of his marriage.

Larry Race was arrested and charged with his wife’s murder.

Prosecutors believed Larry’s motives for killing Debbie were the oldest in the books: to collect insurance money. In November of 1981, seven months before Debbie’s death, Larry had taken out life insurance policies on Debbie, totaling $108,000.

Larry’s Appellate Attorney countered that $37,000 was mortgage insurance on their house, and the rest was part of a group policy through his credit union. Several relatives also contend it was Debbie who had sought the extra life insurance.

Multiple women testified to Larry’s infidelities. Prosecutors established that he had had at least four extramarital affairs during his 14-year-marriage to Debbie.

One woman testified that she had been with Larry the weekend before Debbie’s death and that he had professed his love for her and his disdain for Debbie.

Larry’s lawyers acknowledged his affairs.

A Deputy Sheriff testified that approximately two weeks before Debbie’s death, Larry had told him he had two life rafts aboard the Jenny Lee, although the deputy did not see them. When he was initially questioned 11 days after Debbie’s death, the deputy made no mention of hearing about two life rafts.

Larry is adamant two life rafts were aboard the Jenny Lee on the evening of May 11, 1982. The raft which he says he tossed into Lake Superior after finding holes in it was never found. Although multiple friends testified on Larry’s behalf at his trial, none could ever recall having seen two rafts aboard the Jenny Lee. Also, the Coast Guard’s search and rescue team are confident that if that second raft had been tossed into the water as Larry contends, they would have found it during their search.

The raft, which was found, became a cornerstone of the prosecution’s case against Larry Race. Five puncture cuts were found in the bottom of the raft, and several experts testified the cuts had been made in the raft while it was inflated because no knife cuts on the top of the raft corresponded with the bottom punctures, meaning the air chambers were inflated when the cuts were made.

Prosecutors argued this shows the cuts were not random acts such as vandalism or that they had developed through wear and tear.

The state argued Larry pushed Debbie into the raft well away from the Jenny Lee and then returned to the boat to don his scuba equipment. They contend Larry swam back to Debbie’s raft and slashed it with a knife, leaving her to sink and freeze to death in the icy waters. Once Debbie had been set adrift, Larry dragged the life raft back to the Jenny Lee to support his story about attempting to inflate the first raft.

A knife was found aboard the Jenny Lee, but its punctures did not match those in the raft. The knife used to cut the raft was never found, nor was the gear bag in which Larry says Debbie had put her valuables.

Witnesses place the Jenny Lee near the mouth of the Talmadge River at 8:30 p.m. and again at 9:30 p.m. Debbie’s body was found seven miles west of that spot.

Underwater expert Jean Aubineau testified for the defense, saying it would have been impossible for a body to drift seven miles without a raft. He said a body with a life vest such as Debbie was wearing would have traveled only 1-2 miles before hitting the shore and that the only way Debbie could have traveled seven miles downriver was on a raft.

However, the prosecution negated the testimony by arguing that because the Jenny Lee’s location was unknown at the time Larry and Debbie abandoned her, it was impossible to develop a legitimate drift theory.

Larry’s attorneys claim the skin lividity in Debbie’s body also proves that she came ashore in a life raft.

Lividity is a settling of the blood in the lower portion of the body postmortem, causing a purplish red discoloration of the skin. Debbie’s blood had not sunk to her feet, and the defense claimed it would have done so if she would have been kept in an upright position by a life vest.

The state said the lividity of Debbie’s blood following her death was toward her back, which is consistent with floating in the water with a life jacket without a raft. An expert testified for the prosecution that the particular life jacket worn by Debbie would have kept her face-up on her back, as she was found, while she floated after her death.

On his attorneys’ advice, Larry Race did not testify on his own behalf at his trial.

In November 1983, he was found guilty of the first-degree murder of his wife Debbie and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 17 years.

After his conviction, Larry hired a new team of lawyers for his appeal. They argued Larry should be granted a new trial because of ineffective legal counsel and subsequent mechanical problems aboard the Jenny Lee.

Following his trial, Larry sold the Jenny Lee to help pay his legal bills. In June of 1984, the small boat again malfunctioned on the waters. The new owner, familiar with Larry’s case, contacted authorities. They had an independent mechanic, unfamiliar with the case, examine the boat.

The mechanic said the engine was worn and would have caused an intermittent starting failure akin to the one Larry says occurred. He could not say that the problem existed on the evening of Debbie’s death two years earlier.

The appellate court ruled the ex post facto mechanical difficulties aboard the Jenny Lee as irrelevant and denied a new trial request.

In 1992, two men claimed to have seen a life raft floating on Lake Superior approximately one year after Debbie’s death. The men said the raft was blue and yellow, the same colors as of the recovered raft from the Jenny Lee.

The men’s stories were inconsistent. In some instances, they claimed to see the raft in 1983, but they later seemed to think it was much later. Furthermore, they gave differing accounts of where the raft was found, sometimes saying it was in Lake Superior but at other times saying it was found in a nearby river. As a result, their contentions were deemed insufficient in warranting a new trial.

Larry Race’s multiple appeals for a new trial were all denied, as was his first attempt when he became eligible for parole in 2001. In May of 2005, after serving over 21 years in prison, Larry Race was granted parole. He continues to maintain his innocence in the death of his wife, Debbie.


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More Info:
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• Unsolved Mysteries


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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.


Blind Injustice: A Former Prosecutor Exposes the Psychology and Politics of Wrongful Convictions 

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More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2020. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Unlocking a Deadly Secret


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Reading:

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


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


Support Synova’s Cause:

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


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

SIGN UP HERE


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


Check out Synova’s Work on Amazon Here

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


The Death of Roy DeMeo

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Reading:

Wikipedia

National Crime Syndicate


Recommended Reading:

Murder Machine (Onyx True Crime)


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


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


Support Synova’s Cause:


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


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

SIGN UP HERE


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


Synova’s Amazon Author Page


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


A Deadly Wild Goose Chase – The Murder of Kyle McElroy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Reading: 


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


Recommended Reading:

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

Goodnight Sugar Babe: The Killing of Vera Jo Reigle

More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


Support Synova’s Cause:

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


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

SIGN UP HERE


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


Check out Synova’s Work on Amazon Here

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


The Murder Manual: The Murders of Millie and Trevor Horn


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Reading: 

Washington Post

Murderpedia


Recommended Reading:

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

More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


Support Synova’s Cause:

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


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

SIGN UP HERE


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


Check out Synova’s Work on Amazon Here

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


Poisoned Son


In rural Chester County, Tennessee, in the town of Mifflin, lies the New Friendship Cemetery. It is the final resting place for those who lived as long ago as the early 1800s. I have always found cemeteries interesting, but there are five graves there that hold a mystery. Five young siblings are buried there, all with tombstones with a one-word, ominous message, poisoned

In 1840, before Chester County was created, Silas Vestal and his son, Enos, made a round trip, on foot, to a settlement called Mifflin. At that time, it was a part of Henderson County. Plans were made for the family to resettle in this area, and gradually, over the next several years, members of the Vestal family began relocating. Silas moved before Enos and his family and, unfortunately, died in the Spring of 1846, just before their arrival. Enos had sold his farm in Chatham County, North Carolina, and he and his family started their journey to their new home on Christmas Day 1845. They had one wagon, pulled by three horses, Dowdy, Nell, and Mack. Enos was less than enthusiastic about the journey and wanted to turn back. One can understand why he might have wanted to do so. It was an arduous journey that included crossing the Appalachian Mountains during the winter’s cold and snow. His wife, Milly, encouraged him to proceed and reminded him that they had family expecting them. They arrived in Mifflin in late April 1846, and Enos purchased a 400-acre farm about three miles south of Mifflin.

According to the 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Enos and his family lived in District 3, Henderson County, Tennessee.

According to family folklore, in 1857, Enos had a dispute over a land purchase with a Widow Brower. Soon after, the children became sick. Solomon died at the age of 20, Jesse at 19, and John succumbed at the age of 16. Their sister, Catherine, was only 15 at the time of her death. Brother Daniel also became sick, but lingered on for some time, joining them in death in 1858. Allegedly, a local doctor diagnosed the problem as arsenic poisoning. Widow Brower was accused of poisoning their water source.

Who was Widow Brower? Why did the family think that she poisoned the children? Did she ever pay for her crimes?

I recently began doing some research and discovered that there was only one Brower family in this area during that time. Leander Brower and wife, Barbary Ward, originally came from North Carolina and settled in Henderson County in the early 1820s. Leander Brower, born in 1808 in Randolph County, North Carolina, and married to Barbary Ward, who was born in 1810 in Randolph County.

They moved from North Carolina to the unsettled area of West Tennessee very early in their young marriage. By the time of the U.S. Federal Census of 1830, we find them in Henderson County, Tennessee. The Leander household consists of two males, ages 15-20, one male, age 20-30, one female, age 15-20, and one female, age 50-60. So, we can deduce that other family members settled with them.

According to the 1837 Henderson County, Tennessee tax list, three Browers are listed in District 4, Leander, Jacob, and John.

By the time of the 1840 U.S. Federal Census, Leander’s family consists of two males, ages 0-5, one male, age 5-10, one male, age 30-40, one female, age 0-5, one female, age 5-10 and one female, age 20-30. So it appears that the Browers have three sons and two daughters.

By 1850, Leander and Barbary had ten children and, according to the U.S. Federal Census, were residing adjacent to a couple, Enos and Milly Vestal, and their ten children.

According to family records, Leander died in 1855, at the age of 47. (The alleged poisoning occurred in 1857). Perhaps the dispute was over property left to the widow?

As if we did not have enough questions, in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, five years after her husband’s death, we find Barbary has married Francis A. Hite (born in Indiana and seventeen years her junior). They are residing on the property that presumably passed to her upon her husband’s death. Also in the household live Wesley, age 15, Mary Ellen, age 13, James; age 11, Leander Columbus, age 6, John Hite, age 5, and Franklin .J. Hite, age 3.

Enos Vestal and his family are still living on the adjacent property, although his wife, Milly, may be deceased.

The next ten years bring many changes, though we can only hypothesize about all of the details. By the 1870 U.S. Federal Census, we find Barbary (age 59) living with her daughter, Elizabeth, son-in-law, Hayden Bailey, and eighth-month-old grandson, Prentice, in Dublin, Graves County, Kentucky. Her husband, presumably, her ex-husband, Francis, is residing in District 13, Gibson County, Tennessee, with his two sons, John and Franklin.

In 1877, Francis Hite married Sallie C. Reeves. He did not pass until 1915. Barbary died on December 4, 1882, at the age of 72, in Dent County, Missouri.

In 1870 and 1880, Enos was still residing with his family in Henderson County. He did not pass until 1885.

So, we have a partly solved mystery, with many questions left unanswered. What happened to Enos’ wife, Milly? What was the cause of death for Mr. Brower? What was the dispute between Widow Brower and Enos? Why would she kill the children? Why was she never brought to justice? Who is this Mr. Hite from Indiana? Where is the mother of his children? Why did they divorce? (Were they ever actually legally married?) Most interestingly, why can we find no recorded information about these deaths?

There will be information to come if my research reveals any new details.

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.


Recommended Reading:


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Synova Ink would like to welcome our newest guest blogger, Revonda Kirby. Kirby was raised among the State Line Mob and the Dixie Mafia. She is currently working on a book about her life.

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


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