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.


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

SIGN UP HERE


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

Synova’s Amazon Author Page


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


Murder, Incarcerated Innocence


After a messy divorce, 38-year-old-Susan Hamwi moved with her 18-month-old daughter Shane to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. On November 8, 1983, a concerned friend called the police, saying no one had heard from Susan for a week. When the police arrived at her home, they found the reason: Susan lay in a pool of blood on her kitchen floor. She had been strangled with a telephone cord and stabbed to death with a carving knife. In a bedroom, the lifeless body of baby Shane lay in her crib. The helpless infant had perished from dehydration after being unattended.

Two pieces of evidence found at the crime scene were a bloody carving and red human hair. The knife had been wiped of fingerprints, so investigators focused on the hair.

Authorities interviewed Susan’s neighbors, one of them being forty-two-year-old John Purvis. He and Susan knew each other casually. Immediately upon questioning him, investigators were struck by his noticeably red hair.

Unbeknownst to the police, John had been diagnosed as a non-violent schizophrenic with the IQ of an adolescent. He lived with this mother as he was unable to care for himself.

John was taken to the police station for questioning; his mother Emma, accompanied him, but she was not allowed into the interrogation room. Police questioned John for several hours, and as the interrogation became more intense, he became more agitated. When Emma, who was sitting in the police station lobby, heard the detectives yelling at her son, she stormed into the interrogation room, and immediately ended the proceedings.

The detectives, Rick Rice and Rich Martin, however, were sure they had their man. They were determined to continue questioning John, even if that meant sidestepping ethical police procedures.

In early December, four weeks after first questioning John, Detectives Rice, and Martin returned to the Purvis home, knowing Emma was not there. They coaxed John into again coming to the police station to be questioned.

Upon arrival, Dr. Joel Klass, a psychiatrist, proceeded to administer a personality test to John. John was not capable of comprehending his rights and was given the impression he had to adhere to police orders.

Dr. Klass administered a series of tests on John using the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) cards, featuring ambiguous drawings requiring interpretation from the tested subject. Several of the cards elicited unusual responses from John, and at one point, he asked Dr. Klass if he was going to jail and if Klass thought he had killed Susan. John repeated the questions several times before stating he liked Susan and had killed her when she rejected his attempts for a closer relationship.

When the detectives were brought in, they told John if he confessed to the crime, he could go home. John then repeated what he had told Dr. Klass. Instead, he was sent straight to a jail cell and charged with two counts of murder.

Only John’s confession to Dr. Klaas was allowed into evidence at his trial. The account was inconsistent with the details of the crime, and his hair, though red, did not match the hair strands collected at the scene. Nevertheless, John Purvis was convicted of the murders of Susan and Shane Hamwi.

In 1993, ten years after the murders of Susan and Shane Hamwi and following mounting pressure brought about by an “Unsolved Mysteries” broadcast of the case, the Fort Lauderdale Police re-opened the murder investigation.

Tim Bronson and Bob Williams, the new detectives assigned to the case, found their predecessors, detectives Rice and Martin, had been derelict in investigating the most obvious suspect, Susan’s ex-husband, Paul Hamwi.

Susan had divorced Paul after several years of abuse and only a few months after giving birth to Shane, whom Paul had little interest in raising. At the time of the murders in 1983, Paul Hamwi was in Aspen, Colorado, stricken with a broken leg. That was enough for Detectives Rice and Martin to eliminate him as a suspect, but their successors found he still should have been investigated.

Following on a tip received but dismissed by detectives Rice and Martin in 1985, detectives Bronson and Williams zeroed in on Aspen resident Robert Beckett. A woman who had been beaten by his son, Robert Jr., claimed she had heard him boast that his father had killed a woman in Florida.

Under questioning, Beckett admitted his involvement in the murder of Susan and Shane Hamwi. In return for immunity, he told police that he and Paul Serio had each been paid $14,000 by Paul Hamwi to kill Susan. Paul Hamwi’s motive was to avoid paying Susan $180,000.

Paul Hamwi had Susan sign a prenuptial agreement to protect himself in the event of divorce. Paul, a wealthy real estate developer, wouldn’t pay Susan anything. However, the deal was made under duress and declared null-and-void. Paul was ordered to pay Susan $180,000 in alimony.

In January of 1993, Paul Hamwi and Paul Serio were arrested for the murders of Susan and Shane Hamwi. They were each convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

On January 15, 1993, John Purvis was released from prison after serving nine years for a crime he did not commit. The following month he was officially exonerated of all charges concerning the murders of Susan and Shane Hamwi.

John received a $1 million judgment from the city of Fort Lauderdale in exchange for his mother’s (guardian) dropping any claims against the city. The Purvis family likely could have received much more money, but, with the appeals, it would have taken years to collect.

A lawsuit against the prosecutor for failing to disclose exculpatory information was eventually dismissed.

Paul Hamwi, now 74-years-old, is currently incarcerated at the Union Correctional Institute in Raiford, Florida. Paul Serio died in 2004 at age 57.

Robert Beckett received immunity for his role in the murders of Susan and Shane Hamwi in exchange for testifying against Paul Hamwi and Paul Serio. In 1995, however, he was convicted of first-degree murder in Los Angeles as was his son, Robert Jr., whose big mouth provided the big break in the Hamwi case.

The younger Beckett said he and his dad met 18-year-old Tracy Stewart at Hermos Bach on the day of her disappearance, August 9, 1981. Robert Jr. said he and his father convinced Tracy to go their apartment, where they raped and tortured the teen for three days before clubbing and strangling her to death. He said they dumped her body somewhere in the desert outside Los Angeles, in either Riverside or Orange County. Father and son were convicted of murder even though Tracy’s body was never found.

Robert Beckett Sr. died behind bars in 1997, coincidentally on August 9, exactly sixteen years after Tracy Stewart’s disappearance. Robert Jr. remains imprisoned. I could not find a picture of either man.


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


SOURCES:
• Associated Press
• Charley Project
• Los Angeles Times
• South Florida Sun-Sentinel
• Unsolved Mysteries


Recommended Reading:

Wrongly Convicted (Slater & Norman Mystery Series Book 12) Wrongly Convicted: Perspectives on Failed Justice (Critical Issues in Crime and Society)

More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


Support Synova’s Cause:

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


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

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SIGN UP HERE


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


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


The CIA’s Fall Guy

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“The most efficient accident, in simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface.” So reads a passage in the first manual of assassination developed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA.) This passage was designed to eliminate individuals considered enemies of the United States. Some, however, believe the CIA used its most simple assassination tactic to kill one of its own.


On the evening of November 28, 1953, CIA scientist Frank Olson was found barely alive on the sidewalk in front of New York City’s Statler Hotel. He had fallen from a window from the hotel’s 10th floor and died a few hours later. Foul play was ruled out in his death, which was determined to be either an accident or suicide.

Twenty-two-years after the fall, an investigation chaired by the second most powerful person in America questioned the official ruling of Frank Olson’s death.

Frank Olson had a brilliant mind, and it is believed the CIA sought to control his thoughts. Many contend that when he expressed resistance, he was eliminated by the agency he served.

Frank Olson graduated with a B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin. He and his wife Alice had three children, sons Nils and Eric, and a daughter Lisa.

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For several years, Frank headed the military’s biological warfare research and development program at Fort Detrick, Maryland. The 43-year-old was an expert in aerobiology, the delivery of deadly viruses, and infectious microorganisms via spray and aerosol cans.

In addition to his military position, Frank was also on the CIA’s payroll as the covert agency was involved in germ warfare in association with the Special Operations Division, the most top-secret research being conducted at Fort Detrick. Frank was the CIA’s Deputy Acting Head of Special Operations.

In November of 1953, Frank went to a three-day conference with some of his colleagues. He told Alice the men would be discussing research and development projects but that he could not tell her where the event was being held. Upon his return home, Alice noticed a pronounced change in her husband’s demeanor. Frank had become severely depressed and withdrawn.

Frank told Alice he had done something wrong. The tone in his voice and body language made Alice suspect it was something severe. Frank told her he could not tell her what he had done, but he had not broken national security.

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Olson’s boss, Vincent Ruwett, told Alice he believed Frank was near a nervous breakdown. Shortly before Thanksgiving of 1953, Ruwett took Frank to New York for treatment.

Alice did not hear from her husband for a week. When Frank did call on the evening of November 18, 1953, he said he was exhausted but feeling better. He told Alice he loved her, to kiss the children good night for him, and to tell them Daddy would be home soon.

The phone call, however, was the last time Alice spoke to her husband, and Frank’s children never saw their dad again.

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That evening, Olson and fellow CIA scientist Robert Lashbrook shared room 1018A on the tenth floor of New York City’s Statler Hotel, now known as the Pennsylvania Hotel. Lashbrook said both he and Frank went to bed at approximately 11:00 p.m. He said the room’s window was closed.

Lashbrook said the next thing he remembered was being awakened by the sound of breaking glass shortly before midnight. As he looked outside the broken window, he saw Frank lying on the sidewalk, clothed only his underwear and a T-shirt. Several people were gathered around him.

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The police investigating the incident found no evidence of foul play.

Alice was told her husband had suffered a nervous breakdown and had either committed suicide by jumping through a closed window or had accidentally fallen through the closed window to his death. She and many others were skeptical of the determination.  Suicide victims who leap to their deaths don’t usually jump through closed windows, and it seemed unlikely a person could generate enough force on his own to fall through a closed window accidentally.

Nevertheless, the official ruling of suicide stood for over two decades.

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In 1975, twenty-two-years after Frank Olson’s fatal fall, the Rockefeller Commission was formed to investigate charges of past abuses carried out by the CIA.

Various reports mentioned a government scientist who had plunged to his death from a hotel window ten days after being dosed with the hallucinogenic drug (LSD). The scientist was not mentioned by name, but it was later confirmed to be Frank Olson.

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After learning of the report’s findings, Alice Olson and her three children announced they planned to sue the CIA over Frank’s “wrongful death.” The government offered them an out-of-court settlement of $1,250,000, which was later reduced to $750,000. The Olsons accepted and received formal apologies from President Gerald Ford and CIA director William Colby. They were also given what was said to be a complete set of documents relating to the last nine days of Frank’s life.

After reading the documents, the Olsons were convinced the CIA, either intentionally or indirectly, was responsible for Frank’s death.

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The CIA reports said Frank was among ten scientists who had gone to a retreat in Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland in November of 1953. The stated purpose of the meeting was to discuss ongoing research, but in reality, the men were to be used as guinea pigs in testing the effects of LSD.

The Cold War was rapidly heating up, and the Soviet Union was viewed as the most dangerous threat to America. The CIA feared the Russians would use LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs to produce anxiety and fear in captured CIA agents. The agency sought to test the effects of LSD to prepare its American operatives for that possibility. Officials chose their own scientists as the unwitting subjects of their experiment.

The documents revealed eight of the ten men drank Couitreau after having dinner. Unbeknownst to them, the French liqueur was spiked with doses of LSD. The effects were visible within an hour as the men became delusional, dizzy, and discombobulated.

The LSD was said to have been put into the drinks either by Sidney Gottlieb, head of the CIA’s technical services staff or by his deputy, Lashbrook. When Gottlieb told the scientists the drinks had been spiked with LSD, the men became agitated.

Frank Olson was said to be the angriest. The documents say he told his bosses he no longer wished to work for the CIA or have any involvement in germ warfare programs.

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Later that week, the documents went on to say, Frank was taken to New York, supposedly suffering from a nervous breakdown as Vincent Ruwet had told Alice in 1953. Frank was treated by Dr. Harold Abramson, an allergist-pediatrician and LSD expert who worked with the CIA in researching the drug’s psychotropic effects.

Over the next few days, Frank made several more visits to Dr. Abramson, always accompanied by Lashbrook and Ruwet. The documents released to the Olson family, however, do not say what occurred during these sessions.

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The documents do state that while he was in New York, Frank experienced delusions and, in one instance, threw away all his identification and money.

After reading the report and going public with its findings, the Olsons were contacted by Armand Pastore, the night manager at the Statler Hotel at the time. He said shortly afterward Frank was found have fallen from the window, that the hotel’s telephone operator told him she heard the man calling from room 1018A (Lashbrook) say, “Well, he’s gone.” and the man on the other end reply, “Well, that’s too bad.”. Then they both hung up.

After reading the report and hearing Pastore’s account, the Olson family believes that Frank told his superiors of his intention to leave the CIA and end his involvement in germ warfare research. The agency had determined he was a security risk and decided to have him eliminated. Author Ed Regis concurs, saying Frank told Ruwet he wanted to quit the biological program after the LSD experiment.

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When Alice Olson died in 1993, Nils, Eric, and Lisa had their father’s body exhumed to rest beside hers. Before Frank Olson was reburied, however, the children had an autopsy performed on him.

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George Washington University Professor and renowned forensic scientist James Starrs performed Olson’s autopsy forty years after his death. Dr. Starrs was pleasantly surprised and amazed that the remains were in excellent condition.

After completing his examination of Frank’s remains, Dr. Starrs criticized the original autopsy performed by the New York Medical Examiner in 1953, saying the report was incomplete as the examiner had not checked for foreign substances or accurately charted Frank’s physical injuries. The New York Medical Examiner had stated that there were multiple lacerations on Olson’s face and neck, but Dr. Starrs found no such injuries.

Dr. Starss said that if Frank had fallen out of a closed window, he would have incurred numerous cuts and abrasions. He found no such wounds.

What Dr. Starrs did find was a large hematoma on the left side of Olson’s head and a significant injury on his chest. The forensic team concluded injuries likely occurred in the room before the fall. He believes the window was broken after Frank fell to his death.

Dr. Starrs concluded the police and CIA ruling of Frank Olson’s death as either suicide or accident was, “rankly and starkly suggestive of homicide.”

After the findings were made public, Lashbrook, who was in the room with Frank before he plunged to his death, changed his story and said he could not remember if the window had been opened or closed.

Robert Lashbrook died in 2002 at age 84.

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In 2012, Eric and Nils Olson filed suit in the United States District Court in Washington, D.C., seeking unspecified compensatory damages and access to additional documents related to their father’s death, which they claim the CIA had withheld from them.

The lawsuit was dismissed in July of 2013 because of the 1976 settlement between the family and government.  U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote, “While the court must limit its analysis to the four corners of the complaint, the skeptical reader may wish to know that the public record supports many of the allegations [in the family’s suit], far fetched as they may sound.”

In 2017, Netflix released “Wormwood,” a documentary detailing the controversy surrounding Frank Olson’s death.

In the six-part miniseries directed by Errol Morris, journalist Seymour Hersh says high ranking sources told him that during the height of the Cold War, the government had a security process to identify and execute domestic dissidents perceived as a risk to the United States. He said that Frank Olson was viewed as such a dissident and that his death was covered up by his CIA colleagues. Hersh, however, says he cannot elaborate or publish on the facts because it would compromise his source.

The Wormwood documentary is still available for viewing on Netflix.

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Frank’s death was not the only tragedy the Olson family endured. Another untimely family death also occurred in New York.

Lisa Olson Hayward was only seven-years-old when her father died. On March 19, 1978, she, her husband Greg, and their one-and-a-half-year-old son perished in a plane crash. As a result of intensely high winds, the twin-engine Beechcraft crashed into the Katy Mountain in the Adirondack Mountains near Lake Clear, New York. The pilot and one other passenger were also killed. Lisa was 32-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.


SOURCES:
• Associated Press
Frederick (Maryland) News Post
Los Angeles Times
New York Times
Newark Advocate
The Telegraph
Unsolved Mysteries
• UPI
Washington Post
• Washington Times 


Recommended Reading:

More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


Support Synova’s Cause:

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


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

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SIGN UP HERE


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


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


Last Call

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As South Carolina State Trooper Roy Caffey’s shift was nearing an end on the evening of October 8, 1972, he radioed dispatch, saying he would meet his relief at the Interstate 26 interchange, just north of Orangeburg. Approximately one minute later, he again contacted dispatch, saying he was pulling over a red Mustang. About 10 minutes later, another call came from Trooper Caffey’s car to dispatch. But this call was from another trooper saying the two words every lawman fears hearing: “Officer Down.”

A fellow patrolman found Trooper Caffey lying in a pool of blood, shot to death near his patrol car. His gun and holster were missing, and it appeared a struggle had occurred in the vehicle. Witnesses remembered seeing Trooper Caffey pull the Mustang over, and later motorists saw him talking to two men.

A quarter of a century passed before an arrest was made in the murder of Trooper Roy Caffey. 

In 1997, 25 years after the murder of Patrolman Roy Caffey, Betsy Kemmerlin was charged in connection with the crime. Officials say her bragging to friends about her role in the incident and getting away with it for so long led to her arrest.

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Kemmerlin, 15-years-old at the time of the incident, identified her brother, Ben Kemmerlin, and their friend, Lee Mizzell, as the two men seen arguing with Trooper Caffey on the evening of October 8, 1972. Betsy Kemmerlin claimed Mizzell threatened to kill her if she fingered them.

Both Ben Kemmerlin and Lee Mizzell had since died. 

Kemmerlin said Trooper Caffey saw drugs in the car after he pulled itover for a traffic violation. As he attempted to confiscate them, the two armed men fought with him outside the car. One of them shot Trooper Caffey during the struggle. Kemmerlin, who claimed to have stayed in the car during the altercation, said she could not tell which man had fired the fatal shot and also claimed she knew nothing about who owned the Mustang or what happened to it after the murder. It has never been found.

Police believe Ben Kemmerlin and Lee Mizzell borrowed the car from a woman for a drug purchase. The men also had access to heavy machinery, and police believe they likely used it to destroy the vehicle. Trooper Caffey’s gun and holster have also never been found; police believe they were either buried or thrown into a pond.

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In February of 1999, Kemmerlin pled guilty to murder as an accessory after the fact. She was given a ten-year suspended sentence and was placed on probation for five years. After violating her probation by failing a drug test in 2000, she was sentenced to one year in prison. She was released in December of 2001. Betsy Kemmerlin died in 2009 at age 52.

In 2014, the Orangeburg County, South Carolina rest areas located at mile marker 150 on Interstate 26 East, and near mile marker 152 on Interstate 26 West were named the “SCHP Patrolman First Class Roy O. Caffey Memorial Rest Stop.”

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SOURCES:

• Herald-Journal (Orangeburg, South Carolina)

• Index-Journal (Greenville, South Carolina)

• Seattle Times

• Tulsa World

• Unsolved Mysteries 


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


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


Support Synova’s Cause:

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


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

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SIGN UP HERE


Recommended Reading:

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

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

Get Your Copy Here


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


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


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Remnants Of A Tortured Life

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Photos courtesy of Guest Blogger



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


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Recommended Reading:

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

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