The Secret Service’s First Female Fatality


The United States Secret Service is synonymous with the protection of the President. The legislation creating the agency was on Abraham Lincoln’s desk when he was assassinated on the evening of April 14, 1865, and the organization was formally established ten weeks later.

The Secret Service, however, was not initially given the task of protecting the President; that responsibility came thirty-seven years later following the assassination of President William McKinley.

As the Civil War ended in April 1865, a currency war was still being fought. Over a third of the currency in circulation was believed to be bogus. The Department of the Treasury established the Secret Service to combat the counterfeit currency crisis. Though it is now under the Department of Homeland Security, investigating counterfeiting crimes is still one of the Secret Service’s primary responsibilities.

Twenty-six-year-old Julie Cross was one of the few female Secret Service Special Agents in 1980. While investigating a counterfeiting operation on June 4, she became the first female Secret Service Special Agent to be killed in the line of duty.

Julie Cross seemed destined for a law enforcement career, first in her community and then serving her country. Her interest in police work started when she was young. She lost both of her parents by age ten and was raised by her brother, a reserve police officer.

After graduating with a Criminal Justice degree from San Diego State University, Julie became an officer with the San Diego Police Department. Three years later, she was accepted by the United States Secret Service.

On June 1, 1980, Julie was assigned to a team of agents investigating a man suspected of producing counterfeit currency in Los Angeles.

Three days later, on June 4, eight Secret Service Agents were scattered in a section of Westchester, an area of Los Angeles near the International Airport. The agents were staking out the apartment complex of the suspected counterfeiter.

Julie and her partner, Special Agent Lloyd Bulman, were in an unmarked car at the street’s end. They were assigned to follow the suspect if he exited the apartment and entered his vehicle. Another Secret Service Agent sat in an unmarked van across the street from the residence.

The agents were awaiting word that the warrant had been signed to arrest the suspect. Agents Bulman and Cross noticed a brown vehicle, either an early ’70s Buick or Pontiac, drive past them and turn a corner. Approximately five minutes later, they saw the same vehicle drive past them again, but this time the driver parked 100 feet in front of them. Two black men exited the vehicle and went into a different apartment complex from the one under surveillance.

Approximately five minutes later, the agents saw the men exit the apartment complex, enter their vehicle, and drive off again.

Five to ten minutes later, after darkness had fallen, Agent Cross, sitting on the passenger side of the surveillance car, noticed a man with a gun approaching from the rear. Another armed man approached the driver’s side of the vehicle. Julie was able to exit the car and get her gun drawn on her assailant. She had him place his hands on the vehicle, but the second gunman got the drop on Agent Bulman and held a gun on him before he could get out. A standoff ensued.

With his gun aimed at Bulman, the driver’s side assailant ordered Agent Cross to let his partner go; she refused. Bulman tried to reason with his assailant; the gunmen seemed surprised and panicked when he told them he and Cross were Secret Service Agents.

Agent Cross’s assailant came to the driver’s side of the car, took the key out of the ignition, and removed a shotgun from inside. Agent Bulman did not see what occurred, but the assailant had somehow freed himself from Agent Cross.

What happened next is also not clear. The next thing Agent Bulman noticed, his partner jumped into the front of the car, and three gunshots rang out. As Bulman then fought with his assailant outside the car, Agent Cross’s assailant shot several times but did not hit him. Bulman pretended he had been hit and feigned being dead. As he did so, the assailants made their way to their car and fled.

Bulman ran back to his car to radio for help. None of the other Secret Service agents had heard the gunshots, which were drowned out by the roar of low-flying jets.

Police and ambulances arrived quickly, but not in time. Special Agent Julie Cross was pronounced dead three days after beginning her assignment in Los Angeles.

She was the first female Special Agent to be killed in the 115-year history of the Secret Service.

The attackers made off with two weapons from the agents, a Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum Revolver and a Remington Model 870 shotgun.

Under hypnosis, Agent Bulman recalled details enabling composite sketches of the suspects to be developed. Both assailants were black. One stood around 6’2″ and the other around 5’10”. Each weighed approximately 180-190 lbs.

The men were driving a brown 1970-72 Buick or Potomac two-door car.

In 1992, twelve years after the murder of Julie Cross, Andre Alexander was arrested for a 1978 triple murder in Palms. The victims, coincidentally, were involved in counterfeiting.

Alexander was operating a money-order forgery scheme and had not paid his cohorts. After they threatened to go to the police, he murdered them. Alexander was convicted of the triple murder.

In their investigation of Alexander, authorities found evidence suggesting his involvement in the murder of Julie Cross twelve years earlier. He bore a resemblance to the composite of one of the suspects, and a pair of prescription glasses found at the scene was identical to a pair he wore in 1980.

Lloyd Bulman identified Alexander as the passenger-side assailant from a photo line-up. Vehicle records showed Alexander drove a medium-sized faded brown car at the time of the murder.

At his trial, Alexander’s former girlfriend testified a blood-splattered Alexander arrived at her house on the evening of the murder carrying a shotgun in a blood-soaked bag. She also said he told her he had murdered someone near the airport but pressured her not to say anything.

Terry Brock, a long-time friend of Alexander, was identified by Special Agent Bulman as the second gunman. At the time of the shooting, Alexander’s girlfriend was Brock’s sister.

Andre Alexander was convicted of the murder of Secret Service Special Agent Julie Cross in 1996 and was sentenced to death. His final appeal was exhausted in 2010. He remains on death row and is incarcerated at California’s infamous San Quentin prison.

I could not find any source stating what punishment Terry brock received.

Investigators are certain the murder of Secret Service Agent Julie Cross was a random act unrelated to the counterfeit operation she was investigating.

It was only a coincidence that Andre Alexander was later involved in counterfeiting. I found nothing indicating he was associated with the counterfeiter Special Agents Cross and Bulman were staking out on the evening of her murder.


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 Info:

Associated Press
United State Secret Service
Unsolved Mysteries


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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


Where’s the Line of Culpability? The Margo Freshwater Story


Carrying her young grandchild, Tonya McCarter walked through the parking lot of a local gym in Columbus, Ohio, on the morning of August 13, 2002. Her husband, Daryl, her adult grandson, and his fiance were all there when two men approached the group and asked Tonya for her name. She replied, “Tonya McCarter.” But one of the men, an undercover policeman, replied he had reason to believe she was a woman who had escaped prison over thirty years earlier. Daryl and his son laughed at the question; Tonya, however, remained stoic. Her past had finally caught up with her.

Tonya McCarter’s real name was Margo Freshwater. For 32 years, she had been living a lie, unbeknownst to her friends and family. She was a convicted murderer who had escaped a Tennessee prison after serving only eighteen months of a 99-year sentence.

Margo Freshwater’s life, from naive teenager to escaped inmate to fugitive mother and grandmother, had come full circle.

In the fall of 1966, 18-year-old Margo Freshwater’s world was crumbling. A native of Worthington, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, she had dropped out of high school after becoming pregnant. After being dumped by her boyfriend, the penniless Margo gave her son up for adoption and, shortly after that, attempted suicide.

Margo soon had another boyfriend, Al Schlereth, but he had his problems. After several minor brushes with the law, he was arrested for armed robbery in Memphis, Tennessee.

Desperate to free her new beau, Margo traveled to Memphis, where she sought the help of attorney Glenn Nash.

Margo had no money to pay Nash and couldn’t even afford a place to stay. Although he was also broke, Nash agreed to take the case pro-bono and put Freshwater up at a local boarding house.

Glenn Nash had once been a respected attorney. Friends and colleagues described him as extremely bright, and tests would later show he had a genius-level I.Q. Nash, however, was also tormented as his alcoholism was out of control. Although he had been cleared the year before of two federal charges involving theft of money orders and treasury bonds, he was still under investigation by the Memphis Bar Association for other instances of misconduct. Paranoia had overtaken him, and he believed agents from the bar were conspiring against him. Nash’s marriage was crumbling as he descended into perpetual drunkenness, and, many believed, he was losing his grip on reality.

Had Margo Freshwater visited Glenn Nash several years earlier, all would likely have been fine. But when the attractive but troubled teen walked into the equally troubled lawyer’s office in the fall of 1966, it was a recipe for disaster. An immediate spark ignited between the two tormented souls, which soon exploded into a fire that raged out of control. The 18-year-old high school dropout and the married 41-year-old paranoid and alcoholic lawyer began an affair.

Margo’s first boyfriend had left her with an illegitimate child; her second lover was imprisoned, but the third man in Margo’s quest for love was not the charm as he would lead her imprisonment.

On December 6, 1966, Nash told Margo’s landlady the couple was going bowling; they instead went on a killing spree, striking in three states.

The first stop was the Square Deal liquor store in Memphis. After entering the store, Nash pointed a gun at the store clerk, 60-year-old Hillman Robbins, and ordered him to give him the money from the cash register, approximately $600.

Nash then ordered Margo to stay behind the cash register while he took Hillman into the back room. During that time, a customer came into the store and later told investigators that a friendly Margo waited on him and gave no indication that she was in trouble.

As Margo waited on the customer, Nash tied up Hillman with rope in the backroom. He then shot him five times in the head, using two guns, a .22 caliber and a .38 caliber.

Witnesses saw a man and a woman fleeing the liquor store and get into a white Ford Fairlane. Glenn Nash owned such a vehicle.

Whether Margo knew of Nash’s intentions to rob the liquor store and to kill the clerk is still debated, as is her culpability in the subsequent events.

Twelve days later, on December 18, a nearly identical crime occurred over 1,000 miles away at the Jackson Mini Market convenience store in Oakland Park, Florida, a part of metropolitan Fort Lauderdale.

Witnesses reported hearing gunshots and seeing a man and woman fleeing the store and getting into a white Ford Fairlane. When police arrived at the store, they found the body of 44-year-old clerk Esther Bouryea. She had been shot multiple times in the neck and had been bound with a rope just like Hillman Robbins.

Nearby, an abandoned Ford Fairlane was found along a highway shoulder. It was registered to Glenn Nash of Memphis, Tennessee. Inside, police found ropes and shell casings matching those used in the murder of Hillman Robbins. Margo was identified as Nash’s companion, and an All Points Bulletin (APB) was issued for the pair’s arrest.

On December 28, ten days later, the body of 55-year-old cab driver C.C. Suratt was found in a ditch in Mississippi. He had been shot twice in the back of the head. Shell casings matched those used in the murders of Hillman Robbins and Esther Bouyea.

Nash and Freshwater had returned home and resumed killing. Surratt is believed to have been shot after picking up the pair just across the state line in Millington, Tennessee.

After staking out bus stations throughout Tennessee and Mississippi, police spotted Nash and Freshwater at a Greenville, Mississippi station, 150 miles south of Memphis near the southeastern Arkansas border.

The couple was arrested and charged with the murders of Hillman Robbins and C.C. Suratt; only Nash was charged with the murder of Esther Bouyea.

After a psychiatric examination, however, Nash was declared insane and incompetent to stand trial. He was instead sentenced to incarceration in a mental hospital.

Despite never having fired a shot, Freshwater stood trial twice for the murder of C.C. Surratt. She claimed Nash was violent and out of control, believing all three victims were members of the bar association who were “out to get him.” She insisted she was fearful of Nash and participated in the crimes out of fear for her own life.

Both trials resulted in hung juries, and mistrials were declared. The state declined to try her a third time for the murder of C.C. Surratt.

Three years later, in 1969, Margo was tried for the murder of the first victim, Hillman Robbins. Nash was still deemed insane and would not stand trial in the courtroom where he had tried several cases before his descent into madness.

Freshwater again claimed that Nash was holding her prisoner, and she was terrified of him. She testified she had no idea he planned to kill Hillman Robbins when they robbed the liquor store in Memphis and that Nash forced her to participate in the subsequent robbery and murders of Esther Bouyea C.C. Surratt.

Freshwater, however, was fresh out of luck with the Memphis jury. They did not believe her claims of captivity and, although she had not pulled the trigger, found her guilty of the murder of Hillman Robbins. She was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

The state of Florida sought to charge Nash, alone, for the murder of Esther Bouyea, but the insanity ruling prevented them from doing so. Freshwater was never charged in connection with her murder.

Freshwater was incarcerated at the Tennessee State Prison for Women in Nashville. After serving only 18 months of her 99-year sentence, she took it upon herself to make a fresh start.

On October 4, 1970, she and several other inmates were being escorted by an unarmed guard outside the prison. Freshwater and another inmate, Faye Fairchild, scaled the prison’s barbed-wire fence and made a run for freedom. Both women were young and fit; Margo had run track in high school. In contrast, the guard was older and not in good shape. The women quickly ran out of his view and hitched a ride to freedom.

The women made their way to Baltimore, Maryland, where Fairchild had a family. After laying low for several weeks, they were seen on the street saying goodbye to each other.

Fairchild was apprehended; several sources say she was captured two years later in Chicago, but another says it was only a couple of days after being last seen in Baltimore. Yet another source says she stayed at large for over 20 years, not being captured until the early 1990s.

Margo Freshwater stayed off the radar for over three decades.

Authorities eventually came to believe Freshwater was using the names “Tonya” and “Tanya.” In 2002, investigators used police computer databases to check nationwide for anyone named “Tonya” or “Tanya” with Freshwater’s birth date of June 4, 1948.

They found that a woman named Tonya McCarter had the same date of birth. What caught investigators’ eyes was that the woman lived in Worthington, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, where Margo Freshwater had been born and lived before her life of crime. Employment records showed the woman had not worked from 1966-70, the same time Margo Freshwater was jailed and then imprisoned.

When investigators obtained a copy of Tonya McCartor’s driver’s license, they were astounded by the similarities between the woman and an old photo of a young Margo Freshwater.

Tonya McCarter was arrested as she was leaving the Columbus health club on May 19, 2002. Fingerprints confirmed she was Margo Freshwater.

With her true identity uncovered, Freshwater revealed the details of her three-plus decades as a fugitive. She had avoided detection by not resuming her criminal career and by living a simple life.

Amazingly, Margo Freshwater lived many years undetected in the town where she had grown up.

After escaping prison, Freshwater told investigators she and Fairchild hitched a ride with a trucker to Baltimore. From there, Fairchild took a train to Chicago; Freshwater went to Ashland, Ohio, 80 miles southwest of Columbus. She obtained a driver’s license and social security number under the name Tonya Myers. She found work as a waitress and lived at a boarding house.

Freshwater soon gave birth to a son. She said she was pregnant when she escaped from prison but refused to divulge the father; he is believed to have been a prison guard. She had been imprisoned for 18 months, so Nash could not be the father.

Freshwater began dating Phillip Zimmerman, a man she had met at the Ashland boarding house. She told him she had been raped in a juvenile jail while serving time for petty theft. Although they were never married, Freshwater and Zimmerman raised her son and had a daughter together before parting ways after seven years.

Freshwater then married and had a son with Joseph Hudkins, a railroad worker from Columbus. After he died in 1988, Freshwater, under the name Tonya Hudkins, began working as an administrative assistant for MetLife Insurance. Through her job, she came in contact with many people in her hometown, but she never “met” anyone who recognized her.

Freshwater had cut off all contact with her family. She said she had encountered an aunt and a high school classmate while in public, but neither recognized her.

Freshwater met Daryl McCarter, a long-haul trucker, through a telephone dating service in 1998. When they married within a few months, she quit her job with MetLife Insurance to travel the country together.

Freshwater was returned to the Tennessee State Prison for women, the same prison she had escaped from 31 1/2 years earlier to serve her 99-year sentence. After having served nine years, however, Freshwater’s conviction for the murder of Hillman Robbins was overturned.

Johnny Box, a cellmate of Glenn Nash, wrote a letter in 1969 to the district attorney prosecuting Freshwater. He said Nash told him that he alone had killed Hillman Robbins and confirmed Margo’s claims of being controlled. However, it was learned that the district attorney provided only one page of the letter to Freshwater’s lawyers.

A Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled the full letter should have been turned over to the defense team, and Freshwater was given a new trial. In October 2011, the court accepted Freshwater’s best interest guilty plea, allowing her to plead guilty to the murder of Hillman Robbins while maintaining her innocence.

Margo Freshwater had spent, in total, approximately 10 1/2 years in prison and was given credit for time served. She was released from prison in November 2011. Daryl McCarter took his wife back after her release from prison.

Now 71-years-old and legally named Tonya McCarter, Margo Freshwater lives in Worthington, Ohio, where she was born.

Glenn Nash was released from the mental hospital in 1983, declared fit to re-enter society. Despite efforts to try him for the murders, he was still ruled to have been insane at the time, and the courts have not allowed his prosecution.

Nash returned to his wife, to whom he was married when he had the affair with Freshwater. A 2011 article states he was living in West Memphis, Arkansas. He appears to have stayed out of further trouble.

Freshwater and Nash both say they had no contact with each other after Freshwater’s escape from prison. The 2011 article said Nash was contacted after Freshwater’s release from prison that year, but he refused to comment.

As far as I can tell, Glenn Nash is still alive at age 93-94.

The saga of Margo Freshwater has been compared to that of Patty Hearst, who was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army and subsequently committed several crimes in conjunction with group members. Both women claimed to have committed their crimes out of fear and manipulation.

It is interesting that Freshwater lived as a fugitive under the name “Tonya” and that Patty Hearst went by the name “Tanya” while an SLA member.

Hillman Robbins Jr., whose father was the first person killed by Nash, was a professional golfer who had a successful amateur career, highlighted by winning the 1957 U.S. Amateur. Hillman Jr. died at age 49 in 1981.


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 Info:
• 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.


American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst

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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


The Unsolved Homicide of Mary Ann Perez

On the evening of March 25, 1976, 33-year-old Mary Ann Perez went out with a girlfriend for dinner and drinks at the Chalmette, Louisiana, country club, eight miles east of New Orleans. Her friend had left the bar at around 10:00 p.m., and Mary Ann telephoned her daughter Donna at 10:30 p.m., saying she would be home shortly.

Around 1:30 a.m. on March 26, Donna was awakened by a phone call from a woman who said her name was Dorothy. She told Donna her mother was having car trouble but would be home soon. A half-awake Donna thought that was odd; her mom’s car was relatively new and would seem unlikely to have mechanical difficulties. Also, Donna did not know anyone named Dorothy and could not recall her mom ever mentioning anyone by that name.

Nevertheless, Dorothy sounded reassuring, telling Donna there was nothing to worry about and that her mom would be home soon.

“Dorothy” was never identified, and in November 2018, it was confirmed Mary Ann Perez would never come home.

Later that morning, Donna found her mother’s car parked in the Chalmette Country Club parking lot. Three days later, Mary Ann’s purse was found, weighted down with a brick, in Lake Pontchartrain, ten miles away.

No clues to Mary Ann’s fate surfaced for nine years. In 1985, Wichita, Kansas, inmates David and Donna Courtney confessed to a multi-state killing spree. One victim of the husband-and-wife killers sounded as if she might have been Mary Ann. David Courtney told authorities he saw an intoxicated woman as he pulled into a Louisiana bar’s parking lot. After convincing her she was too drunk to drive, he offered to drive her home. He said he picked up his wife, and they took the woman to their trailer, where the woman fell asleep. While she was passed out, Courtney says he and his wife both raped her. When she awoke, they continued making sexual advances toward her, at which point she became irate.

Courtney says he told the woman they would take her home. He says Donna drove while he and the woman were in the back seat. When the woman realized they were not taking her home, she again became hysterical. Courtney says he raped her and then strangled her with a coat hanger. Believing her dead, they dumped the woman’s body in a ditch near the Louisiana-Mississippi state line and did not attempt to hide her body.

On another occasion, Courtney said the woman was having car trouble, which fits in with what “Dorothy” had told Mary Ann’s daughter. He identified the woman as Mary Ann and also identified her car. Donna Courtney admitted throwing the woman’s purse over the side of a bridge, consistent with the area where Mary Ann’s bag was found.

However, New Orleans Police and Mississippi police showed no records of a body found in the area where Courtney said they dumped the woman. Some parts of Courtney’s story suggested the woman was not Mary Ann. Mary Ann was not a big drinker, and her friend said she was not drunk when she saw her at the bar at 10:00 p.m. Also, a mechanic who examined Mary Ann’s car determined it was in perfect running condition.

The district attorney determined there was not enough evidence to charge the Courtneys in connection with Mary Ann’s disappearance. No new leads surfaced for another five years.

In 1990, fourteen years after her disappearance, Mary Ann’s daughter-in-law received a phone call from an anonymous woman. She asked to speak to Mary Ann’s son, but he was not home, so his wife took the call. With fear in her voice, the woman claimed Mary Ann was still alive and implied she did not know who she was and was being held against her will. The caller said she was making the call in hiding, and, before hanging up, said she would not be able to phone again. Her identity is still a mystery, and it was not determined if she and “Dorothy” were the same person.

The bodies of all of the Courtneys’ known victims were found where they said they would be. However, the possibility that Mary Ann could still be alive seemed remote as no confirmed sightings of her surfaced. The case stalled again, staying cold for another 27 years.

Donna Courtney served ten years in prison as an accomplice in her husband’s killing spree. She was paroled in 1990, shortly before the anonymous phone call claiming Mary Ann was still alive, but police could not find any evidence she had made the call. Donna Courtney has since died.

Convicted of three murders, the now 77-year-old David Courtney is serving a life sentence in a Kansas prison. He will be eligible for parole in 2022.

In December 2017, New Orleans Police announced they believe they had found the remains of Mary Ann Perez. A Mobile County, Alabama cold-case investigator, contacted them, saying skeletal remains found by hunters in a cornfield matched Mary Ann’s features. The physical characteristics, the jewelry, and the clothes found on the corpse were consistent with Mary Ann’s stature and what she was wearing when last seen.

The remains were found in November 1976, eight months after Mary Ann’s disappearance, in an area fitting with Courtney’s account except for the remains being just across the Mississippi-Alabama border instead of the Mississippi-Louisiana border. Apparently, the Courtneys’ were having so much fun torturing Mary Ann they blacked out Mississippi.

In May of 2018, investigators announced Mary Ann had been in a car accident shortly before her disappearance and had a partial dental plate on her upper front teeth. This feature matched the dental plate found with the Mobile County, Alabama, Jane Doe. In November of 2018, DNA tests confirmed the remains were those of Mary Ann Perez.

Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi investigators are working together to determine where May Ann was murdered. David Courtney will probably soon be charged with her murder, but it remains to be seen what state and country or parish will file the charges.


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:

The Charley Project
Daily World, Opelousas, Louisiana
The Doe Network
Unsolved Mysteries


This Week’s True Crime Bestseller on Amazon:

The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America

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 Hit on the Hot-rodder

Photo courtesy of Guest Blogger

Mickey Thompson achieved the fast track to success literally– it was the fast track that brought him success. Viewed as an almost godlike figure in the auto racing world, he lived and loved life in the fast lane. Among his many innovations to the sport were the “slingshot” dragster and the home-built “Challenger 1,” which in 1960 became the first automobile to break the 400 mph barrier. Mickey’s pioneering designs changed the face of racing, and he also proved he was an adept businessman as he created a successful indoor stadium-racing venture.

Mickey Thompson was considered unbeatable in a race car. The king of the motorway, however, was killed in his driveway by men riding bicycles.

On March 16, 1988, police responded to calls of shots coming from the Thompson’s home in the predawn hours. Upon arriving, they found Mickey and his wife Trudy lying dead on their driveway. Each had been shot to death.

Despite a massive investigation, the case grew cold.

Mickey and Trudy Thompson lived in a wooded mountainous area near Bradbury, California, an affluent city in the San Gabriel Valley region of Los Angeles County, approximately 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

At approximately 6:00 a.m. on March 16, 1988, area residents awoke to the sounds of gunshots. One resident ran to his window and heard Mickey screaming, “Please don’t hurt my wife. Please don’t hurt my wife.” The neighbor then heard another series of shots followed by silence. He grabbed his gun as his wife called the police. When he returned to the window, he saw two black men on bicycles speeding from the Thompson residence. He yelled at them and fired several shots, but the men did not flinch one iota.

By the time police arrived, Mickey and Trudy were both dead. Trudy lay at the bottom of the driveway while Mickey had been killed near the garage. Trudy was shot as she backed their van out of the garage, and Mickey was shot as he walked out.

Trudy was wearing over $70,000 worth of jewelry, and, between them, the Thompsons were carrying about $4,000 in cash. The house was undisturbed. The crime clearly couldn’t be classed as a robbery gone wrong. Police believe the killers had hidden in the woods, waiting for the Thompsons to come out of their home.

Several people saw the shooters racing from the murder scene on bicycles. Composite sketches were created based on witness descriptions.

The men are both black and about 6’0 tall. In 1988, they were in their 20s or 30s, in good physical shape, although one was slightly stockier than the other. They were wearing dark-colored jogging suits and were skilled at riding bicycles. The perpetrators may have made their getaway in a 1988 white Mazda, perhaps driven by a third man who was white.

Multiple people reported seeing two men resembling the composites across the country in Pensacola, Florida, in the weeks after the murders. The men, however, have never been identified.

When police asked friends and acquaintances of anyone who would want the Thompsons dead, one name was repeatedly mentioned.

Michael Goodwin was Mickey’s former business partner in their indoor stadium racing venture. After their relationship soured and the business encountered financial difficulties, the two men were at each other’s throats. The partnership dissolved, with each man filing a civil lawsuit against the other. In the end, Goodwin’s case was dismissed, and he was ordered to pay Mickey Thompson $514,000. Following the decision, several friends said they heard Goodwin say he was going to kill Mickey. Knowing Goodwin was a hothead, they assumed he was blowing smoke. Authorities wondered if the hothead had followed through with his treats.

For 13 years, Goodwin remained the prime suspect in the Thompson murders, but no physical evidence connected him to the crime. In 2001, a witness came forward saying he had seen two men in a parked car in the secluded Bradbury neighborhood looking through binoculars at the Thompson home. The witness and his wife both identified Goodwin, and the other resembled one of the gunmen. Goodwin also owned a stun gun similar to one found at the crime scene and presumed to have been left by the killers, though it was not used. Police theorize the two men were learning the Thompsons’ daily routine. Still, with nothing directly linking Goodwin to the murders, the Los Angeles County prosecutor chose not to indict him.

In 2006, a new prosecutor reviewed the evidence and deemed it sufficient to charge Goodwin. In 2007, he was convicted of the Thompsons murders as he was found to have hired the hitmen to kill his former business partner and his wife.

Michael Goodwin’s appeal of his conviction was denied in 2015. He maintains his innocence.

Even with Goodwin’s conviction, the murders of Mickey and Trudy Thompson remains open as the hunt for the hitmen continues.

Shortly after the Thompson murders, Goodwin flew to the Caribbean for an extended stay. Police believe the killers may be Caribbean and that Goodwin paid them for the murders on the trip.

Police describe the Thompson murders as a classic professional hit. The calm demeanor of the killers led investigators to believe they could be professional hitmen.

The killers of Mickey and Trudy Thompson would likely be in their 50s or 60s today. Rumors say they are still working as hired guns in the Caribbean.

A $1 million reward is being offered for each man’s identification and apprehension.


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
Car and Driver Magazine
48 Hours
Fox News
Los Angeles Times
Motorsport .com
• Mickey Thompson Website
• Unsolved Mysteries


Recommended Reading:

Mickey Thompson: The Lost Story of the Original Speed King in His Own Words
Mickey Thompson

More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


Support Synova’s Cause:

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


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

SIGN UP HERE


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


Check out Synova’s Work on Amazon Here

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

The Oliver Munson Disappearance

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Further Reading:

Unsolved Mysteries

Baltimore Sun

The Charley Project


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


Support Synova’s Cause:

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

Gifts For All Those True Crime Fans:

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


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

SIGN UP HERE


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

Synova’s Amazon Author Page


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


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

No Justice for Nona Dirksmeyer


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Further Reading:
• Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

KATV Channel 7 ABC Affiliate Little Rock


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


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

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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 Homemaker Homicide – Shawnda Slote Reed

Photo courtesy of Family FB Page

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Further Reading:

Columbian


Recommended Reading:

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


Support Synova’s Cause:

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


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

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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.


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.


Guest Post Thursday: Bishop’s Sins

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Photos courtesy of Guest Blogger

Brad Bishop seemed to have a life most people would envy, having lived in three different continents, he was Yale-educated and had a high-paying job as a United States Foreign Service officer. Married with three sons, and living in a beautiful home in Bethesda, Maryland, Bishop appeared to be living the American dream. But appearances are all too often deceiving.

Brad Bishop was a ticking time bomb and he exploded on March 1, 1976. That evening, the respected government employee committed an act that would make him one of the government’s most wanted. The man who seemed to have it all traded his life of envy for a life on the lam. In some respects, the horrific crime Bishop is said to have committed has been overshadowed by his eluding capture. Bishop is one of the FBI’s most frustrating cases as a global manhunt now into its fourth decade has failed to produce his capture.

William Bradford Bishop II grew up in Pasadena, California. After graduating with a history degree from Yale University in 1959, he married his high school sweetheart Annette Weis. Three years later, Bishop earned a Master’s Degree in African Studies from UCLA.

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Bishop then joined the Army and spent four years working in counterintelligence. He also learned to speak four foreign languages fluently: Italian, French, Serbo-Croatian, and Spanish.

After leaving the Army, Bishop joined the U.S. State Department and served in the Foreign Service. He received his Master’s degree in History while stationed in Italy, and he also served overseas in Ethiopia and Botswana. In 1974, somewhat to his disappointment as he loved living abroad, Bishop was brought back home to work at the State Department Headquarters in Washington, D.C. as an Assistant Chief in the Division of Special Activities and Commercial Treaties.

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By 1976, life seemed complete as the 39-year-old Brad and 37-year-old Annette had three sons; 14-year-old Bradford III, 10-year-old Brenton and 5-year-old Geoffrey.

Brad’s 68-year-old mother Lobelia lived with them as she had helped them purchase their upscale home in Bethesda, Maryland.

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Bishop had become the State Department’s Director of Commercial Practices and Trade. He worked as an assistant chief in the Division of Special Activities and Commercial Treaties. He was rising through the state department ranks but not, in his opinion, quickly enough.

On the afternoon of March 1, 1976, Bishop’s colleague Roy Harrell encountered him outside of the State Department. Bishop was upset over not getting a promotion he had sought. He told Roy he was not feeling well and was leaving work early. As Roy hailed Bishop a taxi, he told him to get some rest and to return only when he was healthy. Bishop nodded in agreement.

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On the following day, March 2, a State Park Ranger in Columbia, North Carolina, 282 miles south of Bethesda, Maryland, responded to a report of a brush fire in a remote wooded area. As the flames were suppressed, he saw the calling cards of an arsonist—an empty gas can and a shovel. Those discoveries, however, were only the beginning.

As the smoke cleared and the heat subsided, the Ranger made a chilling discovery. Interred in the ashes were the remains of five partially charred bodies buried in a shallow grave. The bodies were those of three young boys and two women. Two articles of the victims’ clothing bore the labels of department stores in Bethesda, Maryland. The shovel was also shown to have been purchased at a hardware store in Bethesda.

The Bethesda Police Department were baffled as they had no reports of missing persons report of which they could link to the bodies. Six days later, however, a gruesome discovery would provide the answers.

On March 8, Bethesda police responded to call from one of the Bishops’ neighbors. She was worried because she had not seen any member of the family for over a week. The Bishops traveled frequently and often for extended periods of time. When doing so, they told the neighbor so she could pick up their newspapers, mail, and water their plants. This time, though, they had not contacted her.

When police arrived at the home, the neighbor gave them the key to gain entrance. As a detective approached the home, he saw no signs of forced entry. However, he did see several newspapers lying outside of the door, some nearly a week old. Upon seeing several blood drops leading out of the door and into the driveway, he realized this was not going to be a routine check on a missing person. Several blood drops leading out of the door and into the driveway suggested that bodies had been dragged out of the house.

Upon entering the home, the detective saw more blood drops leading from the doorway through the foyer to the stairs leading to the upper bedroom. The upstairs wall and ceiling were also coated with blood. Bloodstains of all members of the Bishop family were found. The detective described the house as the most gruesome crime scene he had ever seen.

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On March 18, almost three weeks after the murders, a Ranger at Tennessee’s Great Smokey Mountains National Park discovered an abandoned station wagon. The ranger saw what appeared to be dried blood in the back of a car parked at the Elkmont Campground near Jakes Creek Trailhead. It appeared as though the car had been abandoned for several days. A check on the license plate showed the car was registered to Brad Bishop of Bethesda, Maryland.

When police searched the car, they found a blanket and spare-tire well in the trunk. Each was covered in blood. They also found dog biscuits. Bishop’s dog Theo had disappeared along with his master.

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Bethesda police now knew the identities of the charred remains. The five bodies found the previous week in North Carolina were those of Annette, William III, Brenton, Geoffrey, and Lobelia Bishop. Noticeably missing among the discovered bodies was one William Bradford Bishop II.

The following day, a grand jury indicted Bishop on five counts of first-degree murder, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

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Investigators believe they have pieced together Bishop’s activities leading to the murders. On March 1, after leaving the State Department saying he was not feeling well, Bishop withdrew several hundred dollars from his bank account in the Foggy Bottom area of Washington, D.C., the neighborhood where he worked at the U.S. State Department Headquarters. Bishop is then believed to have gone to a local hardware store where he purchased a small sledgehammer, shovel and gasoline can. His next stop was a gas station where he filled the can.

Police believed he returned to his home, arriving between 7:30-8:00 p.m. Probably around 9-10 p.m., after the children had gone to bed, police believe Bishop began committing familicide. Annette was probably killed first as she was bludgeoned to death with the sledgehammer as she was reading a book. Bishop then proceeded upstairs to slaughter his children as they slept. Last on the killing list was his mother Lobelia, who was beaten to death when she returned home from walking the dog. All five victims were beaten to death with the sledgehammer and none had an opportunity to defend themselves. The dog’s life was the only one spared by Bishop.

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After slaughtering his family, police believe Bishop loaded the bodies into the back of his Chevy station wagon and drove the 282 miles south to the sparsely populated countryside of Columbia, North Carolina, where he dug a shallow grave, tossed the remains inside and set them on fire.

Using his credit card, Bishop then purchased a pair of tennis shoes at a sporting goods store in Jacksonville, North Carolina, 145 miles southwest of Columbia. A witness said he had his dog with him and may have been accompanied by a woman he described as “dark-skinned.”

Brad Bishop was not seen for two years. In July of 1978, a Swedish who had collaborated with Bishop while he was stationed in Ethiopia, reported she had spotted him twice in a public park in Stockholm during a span of one week. However, the sightings were not reported until several months afterward because she did not know at the time that he was wanted for murder in the United States.

The following year, a nearly surreal chance encounter occurred. Roy Harrell, the last person to see Bishop before the murders, was vacationing there was vacationing in the tourist town of Sorrento, Italy. He had gone to the Piazza Tasso Square to board a train bound for Rome but first went to the men’s room. As he was washing his hands, he saw a bearded, disheveled looking man enter the restroom. He is certain the man was his former State Department colleague, Brad Bishop.

Upon seeing Roy, the man he believed to be Bishop ran from the restroom and disappeared in the landing where the boats went to Capri. As unlikely as the chance encounter seems, the FBI believes the sighting is credible because Bishop and Annette had previously visited Sorrento and he was known to be very fond of the area and had spoken of wanting to live there.

The next and last sighting deemed credible of Bishop was 15 years later in 1994, when a former neighbor vacationing in Basel, Switzerland, believes he saw a clean-shaven Bishop getting into a car.

Bishop had a week’s head start from the time the murders were committed to when the bodies were identified. Police believe he may have had one or more false identities secured before the murders enabling him to get out of America and travel between countries. As a State Department employee, he would have known how to create false papers. Obtaining and using fabricated documents to hop from country to country was a lot easier in the 1970s that it is today.

Approximately a month before the murders, in early February of 1976, Bishop traveled to northern Italy on business. Several people reported seeing him at a ski lodge in the company of a dark-skinned, possibly Caribbean woman. Shortly after the murders, a similarly-described woman was seen with Bishop in a Jacksonville, North Carolina, clothing goods store and several other sightings of Bishop and the woman were reported in the Jacksonville area in the days after the murders but before the bodies were identified.

Whether the woman seen with Bishop in Italy and North Carolina are one and the same is not known. She has never been identified.

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In 2010, the FBI announced that prior to the murders, Bishop had been corresponding with Kenneth Bankston, a federal prison inmate in Marion, Illinois. In total, police believe there six letters exchanged between Bishop and Bankston. In the last letter, dated March 15, 1976, two weeks after the murders, Bankston references a woman about Bishop had apparently inquired. Bankston says he is almost positive the woman is in the North Carolina state prison system but he does not name her. Investigators believe the woman mentioned in the letter could be the same unidentified woman seen with Bishop on two separate occasions on two different continents. However, a check of the women incarcerated in North Carolina at the time has failed to produce any legitimate possibilities.

The FBI does not know how Bishop and Bankston knew each other. Bankston worked in the oil industry prior to his incarceration. Bishop’s father had owned an oil company, but police have not been able to find any evidence that Bankston worked for him.

Both Bankston and Bishop served in the military, but in different branches; Bankston served in the Air Force and Bishop served in the Army. The two men were never stationed near each other.

The letter also mentions a second inmate named David Allen. His involvement, as well, is a mystery. Both Bankston and Allen had died before the discovery of the letters.

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In October of 2014, authorities received a tip that an unidentified man killed in a hit-and-run accident in Alabama in 1981 bore a strong resemblance to Bishop. DNA testing determined the man was not the long-sought fugitive. The Alabama man remains a John Doe.

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In April of 2014, the FBI placed Brad Bishop on their Ten Most Wanted List. It was an unusual move to place a fugitive on the Top Ten list so many years after the crime had been committed. Bishop was removed from the list in June of 2018 to make room for a “dangerous fugitive.” Despite the removal, the FBI considers the apprehension of Bishop to still be a “major priority.”

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Brad Bishop’s motive for murdering his family has been debated almost as much as where he may be hiding. Some State Department workers, including Roy Harrell, said Bishop was constantly chastised by Annette and Lobelia as being inadequate and not advancing fast enough in his career.

Friends of the couple say Bishop was unhappy with his desk job and wanted another foreign post but that Annette did not want to live abroad again. She had begun to study art at the University of Maryland and was seeking work despite, friends say, for her husband’s desire for her to remain a stay-at-home mom.

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In the 43 years since the slaughter of his family, sporadic sightings of Brad Bishop have been reported across Europe. Among the countries believed to have been visited by one of America’s longest and most infamous fugitives are Belgium, England, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Spain, and the three most credible sightings mentioned earlier in Sweden, Italy, and Switzerland. His fluency in four languages would allow him to blend into any of those countries.

The FBI says they have no evidence that Bishop is dead and they are continuing the global search for him. William Bradford Bishop II would today be 82-years-old.


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

Further Reading:

America’s Most Wanted

Baltimore Sun
Bethesda Beat
FBI


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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

Recommended Reading: 


Support Synova’s Cause:

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


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

2ndDIYpackage-templates

SIGN UP HERE


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

Synova’s Amazon Author Page


Shattered: behind every story is a shattered life

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

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


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

Come Quick!

An Obvious Homicide – The Janice Wilhelm Story


A disabled woman incapable of lifting her arm is found dead from a gunshot wound to the neck. Somehow it is labeled a suicide even though she lacked the tendons and muscle tissue after having a tumor removed years earlier. The victim’s medical records and the subsequent autopsy report was reviewed by a renown forensic pathologist. After reviewing the records, he claims the death of Janice Wilhelm warrants further investigation. Janice Wilhelm could not have shot herself. Why won’t the authorities reopen the case then? Your guess is as good as mine. Read on to find out more about this startling case. 


December 8, 2010:

911 dispatch received a call from Gerald Willhelm of Centerville, Texas. The strangely calm husband reported his wife had shot herself. He claimed they were asleep in their recliners and at some point, she woke up and shot herself in the neck. Officer Grimes of the Leon County Sheriff’s Department arrived on-site twenty-two minutes later to find the first responders and strangely a county judge. 

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. This would cause instant paralysis, so why do the crime scene photos show Mrs. Willhelm’s hands neatly tucked under her lap blanket? Where did the gun land? Six feet away the gun was laying on the floor pointing away from her chair. The spent casing landed behind the sofa.

If Janice was 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. This might be possible IF you omit one very important fact. Janice Willhelm had a tumor on her left arm the size of an orange removed. This surgery took much of her muscle tissue and damaged the nerves in her arm making it impossible for her to hold her arm above her chest, much less over her head. This is not merely conjectured on the part of grieving family members. This fact is corroborated by medical documentation. 

Gerald Willhelm claimed his wife was out of pain meds and killed herself because they couldn’t afford to get more. Crime scene photos show her medications were clearly sitting within arms reach of the deceased. To further dispel this accusation, UPS 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 show medications in her system at the time of death.

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 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 claims in the 911 call that Jan killed herself because she was out of pain medication and they couldn’t afford more. This 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 copayment.

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 a possible extramarital affair, a vindictive family member, and big oil, and you will find the truth hiding in there somewhere. 


More Info:

911 Call

Crime Watch Daily Part 1

Crime Watch Daily Part 2

Crime Watch Daily Part 3

Synova’s Interview on Crime Wire


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


Support Synova’s Cause:

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


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

2ndDIYpackage-templates

SIGN UP HERE


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

Synova’s Amazon Author Page


Shattered: behind every story is a shattered life

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

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


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

Come Quick!

Small Town Murder Mystery – Carol Blades

carol blades

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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