The Man Who Died Twice – The mystery of the death of Clarence Roberts

May be an image of 2 people and text that says 'CLARENCE AND GENEVA ROBERTS'

On November 18, 1970, a fire destroyed a barn at the home of Clarence and Geneva Roberts. While sifting through the debris, the fireman found the remnants of a body burned beyond recognition. It was initially identified as that of Clarence Roberts.

Ten years later, on November 29, 1980, another fire destroyed the new home of Geneva Roberts. Two bodies were found amidst the debris; one was that of Geneva, and the second body was identified as Clarence Roberts.

Today, the small town of Nashville, Indiana, is still divided over the fate of the man who was twice declared dead. The official ruling is that Clarence killed an unidentified man who was found in the first fire only to himself be killed in the second fire ten years later. Some, despite the forensic evidence that says otherwise, still believe he perished in the first fire.
A select few others reject both scenarios; they believe Clarence Roberts did not die in either fire and lived the last years of his life in hiding.

Both lifelong residents of Brown County, Indiana, Clarence and Geneva married in 1941 and settled in rural Nashville, a town of 800 people 60 miles south of Indianapolis.

The Roberts had four sons.

Clarence was a respected member of the community, having served as Brown County Sheriff and as a board member of the town’s bank. He was also active in the local chapter of the Masons.

Clarence and his brother Carson had operated two successful Nashville businesses together, first a lumber company and then a hardware store.

Both Carson and Clarence were earning good livings and living comfortably. Carson was content, but Clarence was not.

Clarence’s financial success had gone to his head. He had a good amount of money but not enough to finance the lifestyle he was living in 1969.

Clarence was becoming an out-of-control spendthrift. He purchased three luxury cars as well as a fashionable and expensive home.

When asked about the lavish purchases, Clarence said he had made a windfall from investments. In reality, he had incurred a pitfall, having lost nearly all of his money in failed investments in an apartment complex and several grain elevators.

The 52-year-old Clarence had been raised in a low-income family but had worked himself from rags to riches. Now, he was returning to the rags, and that was only the beginning of his troubles.

By the fall of 1969, Clarence was in serious financial peril, and several lawsuits had been filed against him.

One bank had recently been granted a $45,000 judgment against Clarence, and another was alleging he had defaulted on his home’s mortgage. In addition, the Wabash Insurance Company, which had loaned Clarence money for building the apartment complex, also filed suit, claiming he had submitted to them altered and fictitious bills totaling between $131,000-$200,000.

In June 1970, Clarence and his attorney discussed his filing for bankruptcy. Against his lawyer’s advice, Clarence rejected the option. In October, two of his prized luxury cars were repossessed.

On the afternoon of November 18, a bank officer went to Clarence’s home to discuss a note on which the bank suspected Clarence had forged his brother’s signature. Clarence’s remaining cars were at the location, and the bank officer believed he saw him in the home. Clarence knew of the bank’s suspicions and did not answer the door. He may have seen only one way out of his predicaments.

At 6:15 p.m. on November 18, 1970, neighbor Ella Cummings reported a small fire on the Roberts property. Geneva and her kids were not at home at the time of the fire.

By the time the fireman arrived on the scene, the fire had engulfed the grain barn the Roberts had used as a garage and storage area. By the time the blaze was suppressed, the barn had been reduced to ashes.

Beneath the remnants, the fireman found a body next to a half-melted shotgun. The body was too charred to recognize, but it was presumed to be Clarence. Knowing he had been severely depressed, authorities initially believed he had committed suicide.

The gun had been recently fired, but no gunshot wounds were found on the burned body. In addition, the gun’s position over the body was not compatible with the recoil, which would have followed its firing.

Further questions were raised when a tooth discovered near the body was identified as a lower right second molar. Clarence had that same tooth removed several years before the fire.

Amidst the ashes, Clarence’s Masonic ring was also found, only slightly damaged.

Investigators believe the ring was planted after the fire because it was virtually unscathed.

Brown County Coroner Jack Bond found an absence of carbonous material and internal burning in the victim’s respiratory tract. Because of the large amounts of carbon monoxide in the blood, Dr. Bond believed the victim had died from carbon monoxide intoxication before the fire.

Dr. Bond refused to sign the death certificate for Clarence Roberts and deemed definitive identification of the body impossible.

The Indiana State Medical Examiner, however, did rule the remains to be those of Clarence Roberts.

Geneva and her children, along with other family members, were certain it was Clarence found in the barn.

Clarence’s nephew Bob White surmised that Clarence had accidentally set the barn afire while shooting himself. Bob said his uncle kept gasoline for his lawnmower in the barn, which may explain the barn’s rapid burning.

The declared remains of Clarence Roberts were buried at the local cemetery.

Because the fire investigation produced a growing list of perplexing questions, the remains were exhumed on December 21, 1970. The findings raised additional red flags when the victim had type AB blood. Clarence’s military records showed his blood type was B.

Clarence’s family countered that the military records of servicemen’s blood type were often inaccurate. They still believed he died in the fire.

Two days before the fire, Clarence had been seen at a bar in Morgantown, 13 miles south of Nashville, in the company of a man who appeared to be a vagrant. He was about the same age and height as Clarence and bore a physical resemblance to him. No one recognized the man.

As the men left the bar together, the vagrant nearly collapsed outside the bar. He had been drinking heavily, and some patrons believed he was excessively drunk; others thought he appeared to suffer a small seizure. Clarence said he would take the man to a hospital.

Police checked all the hospitals within a 300-mile radius. They determined the vagrant had not been admitted to any of them. He has never been identified and, because of his resemblance to Clearance, some believe he may have been the man found burned to death in the Roberts barn.

Several years after Clarence supposedly died in the fire, a dead man walking was reportedly sighted.

An acquaintance believed he had seen Clearance and an unknown woman in his tavern in April 1972. Other acquaintances think they saw him in 1974 and 1975.

An insurance investigator said he received reports of Clarence’s living in New Mexico and abroad in Mexico and West Germany.

In 1975, based on the alleged sightings and the forensic evidence suggesting he had not perished in the fire, a grand jury indicted Clearance Roberts for the murder of the now declared “John Doe” found burned to death on his property November 1970. The grand jury found the fire was an attempt to make the vagrant appear to be Roberts and that he had committed suicide.

Clarence had purchased several life insurance policies in the months before the fire, nearly $640,000 (although some sources say the amount was close to $1 million). He was ruled to have orchestrated the scheme to avoid paying his debts by having the insurance companies award Geneva his life insurance proceeds.

Geneva insisted her husband had died in the fire. Still, the Wabash Live Insurance and Modern Woodmen of America challenged her claims, saying the evidence was insufficient to declare Clarence dead.

Geneva filed an action against the insurance companies. The case dragged for several years. When it finally came to trial in 1978, a judge ruled in favor of the insurance companies, concurring that insufficient evidence existed to prove that Clarence Roberts was deceased.

Geneva’s claims to the life insurance money were denied.

Devastated by the ruling, both financially and mentally, Geneva had to move to a smaller home on the outskirts of Nashville. She became a recluse; when people arrived at her home, she would always greet them outside at the back door. She never let anyone, including family members, into the house.

After taking a kitchen job at a local Howard Johnson’s motel, Geneva began buying large cases of beer from local shopkeepers. Strangely, she was a diabetic who rarely drank. Geneva’s late husband, however, like to sip the suds, and the brand of beer she purchased just happened to be Clarence’s favorite.

When neighbors reported seeing a man on the grounds of Geneva’s home, rumors began to swirl. The man never let anyone get close to him. Police set up surveillance on her home, but they never saw him.

Geneva’s sister, who lived on an adjacent lot, said she could hear Geneva talking to the man but was certain the man’s voice was not Clarence’s.

Some believed Clarence Roberts had returned to Nashville. Soon, coincidence or not, a second catastrophic fire came.

On the evening of November 29, 1980, just over ten years after Clarence had supposedly perished in a fire, another inferno broke out at Geneva’s new home. After it was extinguished, firefighters found her body in the ashes.

Several hours later, a second body was found in another part of the house. It was identified as that of Clarence Roberts.

The second fire was a clear case of arson, and police determined Geneva had been murdered. The burn patterns from her bed led to the adjacent room where the second body was found, then down a hallway and out the home’s back door.

Turpentine was used to start the fire, placed from the bedroom to the back door, but it could not be determined whether it had been started by the man identified as Clarence or by a third party.

Investigators say they are 100% certain the male body found in the second fire’s debris is that of Clarence Roberts.

However, they cannot determine whether Clarence had murdered Geneva, died accidentally, or if he, too, had been murdered.

Some believe an unknown third party murdered both Clearance and Geneva. Others theorize that Clarence and Geneva committed suicide together so their children could collect on their life insurance policies.

A few believe a more sensationalized story: That a desperate Clarence, wanted for murder, out of money, and with nowhere else to go, returned to Nashville after living in hiding for a decade, only to find Geneva with another man and murdered her in a jealous rage before again setting the home on fire.

The Roberts children still believe, despite the forensic evidence, that their father was killed in the first fire in 1970.

Although investigators are certain the second body found in the second fire is Clarence Roberts, exactly who lies beneath this grave, however, is still the subject of local gossip.

The headstone for Clarence Roberts reads that he died on November 29, 1980. The Roberts children, however, still believe his death occurred on November 10, 1970.

I could not find anything stating where the remains of the still-unidentified man killed in the first fire are now buried.

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


Further Reading:
• Indianapolis Star
• Terre Haute Tribune
• Unsolved Mysteries
• UP


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Dixie Mafia Tales – Killer Charles “Russ” Hamilton – Guest Blog

I grew up in McNairy County, Tennessee, the home of Sheriff Buford Pusser of “Walking Tall” fame. Stories about Pusser and the Stateline Mob were as common to me as talking about my cousin who lived down the road. I fondly remember sitting on the sun-bleached, rain weathered front porch of my Grandparent’s log house and soaking in tales of mystery, intrigue, and murder. 

Maybe these were not the best choices of stories for young ears, but they are a part of my heritage and a part of me. I learned the chemical compositions that can dissolve a body by hearing about a man who killed his wife, put her body in an abandoned well and poured lye on it, so it would quickly dissolve. Bribery and bootleg whiskey was always a common topic. 

One tale, however, always stood out. In Chewalla, Tennessee, a neighboring town, there lived a man, who by today’s terminology, would be considered a serial killer. Russ Hamilton would meet his demise in 1968, in a Christmas Day shootout with Sheriff Pusser. This was two years before my birth, and certainly not a “hot” news story by the time I was listening to front porch storytelling. In fact, I never had a name to attach to the horrific tale of how he murdered one of his wives until I was an adult and began researching for my writing. As a child, my Grandfather would recount how in 1940, Russ tortured and killed Grace Burns, his “wife” (no one can confirm if they were, indeed, legally married), tied her up in the woods and left her to die. Body parts were strewn by animals through the woods, ultimately leading to her body being found. Other versions of the story state that he had dismembered her. At any rate, it was quite a lot for a child’s imagination. 

This is where the story takes a sharp left turn, not in the details of the horrific murder, but rather in learning how close a connection my Grandfather had to this man! They were “running buddies”! Grandpa, who had long passed when I began my research, is quoted as often saying that Russ, “…was the nicest man you would ever want to meet unless he had been drinking.” That seems to ring true, when you look at his life history, although I am not certain that bootleg whiskey, alone, was the catalyst for his callousness and evil temper. 

No one knows exactly when Russ started killing. It seems that he was an odd child and possessed the stereotypical serial killer characteristic of torturing and killing helpless animals. Family members, transients and lovers suffered unusual and untimely deaths or simply disappeared. The first documented murder was in 1931 when he killed Deputy John York in Chewalla, Tennessee. In 1933, he went to the Tennessee State Penitentiary for that killing but was paroled and pardoned in 1938. 

In late August/early September of 1940, he brutally tortured and murdered his wife, Grace, for which he would negotiate a plea deal of 2nd Degree murder with a ten-year sentence. However, he was paroled on June 29, 1948. In January 1951, his mother, Ben Ella Hamilton, was found dead and although he was never charged, it is commonly held that Russ 

killed her. While being questioned about her death, he was found to be in violation of parole and did go back to prison. (Maybe a measure of justice there.) He was paroled, again, on January 1, 1953, but was arrested for assault and battery, less than two months later and returned to prison until June of that year, when he was finally discharged. 

Russ tended to bounce between the McNairy County, Tennessee area and Lauderdale County, Alabama and it was there, in October of 1960, that he killed a co-worker, John G. Grossheim. He was found guilty of 2nd Degree murder and sentenced to 40 years to life. However, he was granted a new trial in 1963 and the jury returned a verdict of 1st Degree manslaughter with a ten-year sentence.

He was released in February of 1967 and went to live with a cousin, Don Pipkin, in Selmer, Tennessee, who owned a small apartment that Russ would rent for $20 a month. On Christmas Day, 1968, one of Russ’ drunken rampages would end his life. He fell through a plate glass window during a Christmas celebration and when Don took him home, he became belligerent and drew a gun on him. Don retreated and called the law. When Sheriff Buford Pusser arrived at the front door and announced himself, Russ started firing as he came through the door. Sheriff Pusser was wounded but returned fire and shot Russ right between the eyes. A lifetime of killing was brought to an end by one bullet. 


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:

Find A Grave

Christmas Day Shootout with Buford Pusser

Pinterest


Recommended Reading:

Read about more Dixie Mafia & State Line Mob stories:


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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

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


Gunned Down For guns – Thursday Guest Post

All Photos Provided by Guest Blogger

Twenty-six-year-old Todd McAfee was a corporate farm manager of a 300-acre tomato farm for the Bonita Packing Company in Myakka City, Florida. A company trailer on the property doubled as his home and office. The nearest neighbors were four miles away.

Todd was an avid outdoors man whose primary recreational activity was hunting. It was common knowledge that he kept his weapons in his trailer. Todd’s gun collection was valuable monetarily, but not nearly as valuable as it was to him personally. He collected guns because he liked them and believed his guns would also serve him as a source of protection in the secluded locale. Instead, they likely led to his murder.

At 6:30 A.M. on August 18, 1987, Bonita farmhands were surprised to find that Todd had not unlocked the gate for them. By 7:00 A.M., there was still no sign of him and fear soon set in as the farmhands observed blood stains in Todd’s truck, parked outside the gate.

Shortly thereafter, two miles away, employees discovered his body in one of the tomato fields he managed. He had been shot four times.

The police concluded Todd had been dead for approximately twelve hours before he was found. They believe his death was the result of a robbery gone wrong. Police believe the burglary was in process as Todd arrived home from the grocery store. As he tried to intervene, the panicked assailants ambushed him with their guns, before absconding with nearly all of his guns. Evidence showed Todd had been shot to death outside of his home shortly after exiting his car, which sustained no gunshot damage. After the initial shots, he attempted to get back into his car, leaving the bloodstains. Todd probably knew the people who killed him.

Todd was a big man, standing 6’5 and weighting 215 pounds. Investigators believe more than one person tossed him into the ditch where his body was found. Locals knew that a swamp by the ditch was the home of an alligator and police believe the killers had hoped Todd’s body would be its supper. However, it was discovered before being gobbled by the gator.

A receipt found in the grocery bag in Todd’s truck helped pinpoint the time of his death to between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. At around 6:15 p.m. on the night of August 17, two of his friends passed by the trailer and noticed an orange van parked next to it. The orange van had been seen earlier at a local gas station where a witness recalled seeing two men and a woman near it. 

Composites of one of the men and the woman are below.

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In 1991, prison inmate Jacob Scott, serving time at the Desoto County Jail, told police he had information about Todd’s murder. Scott had previously been jailed with Ruthie Anderson, who had been Todd’s housekeeper. Her husband Wilbur had also previously worked for Todd.

Scott claimed while he and Ruthie were incarcerated together, Ruthie had told him she had planned the burglary of Todd’s trailer because she believed he kept the company payroll there. Scott went on to say that Ruthie told him Todd was killed after coming upon her, Wilbur, and another man burglarizing his trailer.

Shortly after Scott revealed this information, a man was arrested with a .30-caliber Plainfield semiautomatic rifle which had been stolen from Todd’s home. This man told police he had purchased the gun from Wilbur Anderson. In a Mississippi junkyard, investigators located an orange van matching the description of the one seen at Todd’s home on the night of his murder. The junkyard owner told police Wilbur had sold it to him.

In October of 1994, Ruthie Anderson was charged with the murder of Todd McAfee. Wilbur was charged only with stealing and selling Todd’s guns. However, as the trial was about to begin, Jacob Scott recanted his statements and the case against Ruthie was dismissed. No significant leads have developed since.

Ruthie and Wilbur Anderson later separated. Ruthie is believed to now be living in Mississippi. Wilbur later served a prison sentence in Mississippi for an unrelated robbery case that occurred after Todd’s murder. He was released in 1996 and is now is believed to be living in Alabama. Both have refused any comment about the murder of Todd McAfee.

Police still consider the Andersons persons of interests but have nothing forensically linking them to the murder.

Some of Todd’s stolen handguns were found, but his more valuable shotguns and rifles remain missing.


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

Sources:
Bradenton Herald (Fl.)
• DeSoto Sun
• Sarasota Herald-Tribune


Recommended Reading:

Read about inspirational stories involving firearms:


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.


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


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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


Scoville Skips: Guest Post Thursday

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All Photos Provided by Guest Blogger

In the 1970s, Raymond Scoville was transitioning from hippie to businessman. As the editor of an underground Chicago newspaper in 1970, he had penned an article entitled “How to Get a New Identity,” geared toward those sought by law enforcement.

In the 1980s, Scoville personally tested his work, as he made another transition, from businessman to murderer. Unfortunately, he has aced the test.

Scoville knew about what he wrote, and, evidently, practiced what he preached as he has been on the lam for over 37 years.

By the latter part of the 1970s, as the counterculture movement was coming to a close, Raymond Scoville was remodeling his Chicago drug paraphernalia shop into a record and videotape shop.

Scoville’s new store was a success, and the hippie-turned-businessman soon opened five more stores in the Joliet, Illinois, area.

Colleen Racich was a bubbly teen hired by Scoville as a part-time clerk at one of his stores. She proved herself a good worker, but Scoville was evaluating more than her job performance. The former deadhead had a thing for redheads. Colleen was flattered by the attention of the “hip” business owner. Soon, the 31-year-old Scoville and his 14-year-old employee were having an affair.

The two continued their romantic relationship as Colleen grew into adulthood. By 1982, as she proved herself a good businesswoman, Scoville made his now 22-year-old trophy girlfriend the part-owner of three of his businesses. Colleen was on the fast track, but she soon discovered her lover and business partner had been off track for several years.

Colleen, the astute young businesswoman, examined the company books and was startled at what she found. For several years, Scoville had been skimping on his responsibilities. Colleen’s lover-partner was heavily in debt, had defaulted on several bank loans, and had not paid taxes for
several years. Colleen immediately ended the romantic partnership and took the first steps toward dissolving the business partnership.

After Colleen alerted the authorities, several of Scoville’s stores were shut down. The former lovers and partners became bitter of enemies as each filed civil suits against each other.

On August 3, 1982, Scoville and Colleen met in one of the record stores to discuss the state of their businesses and partnerships. Several people saw the two engaged in heated arguments. These were the last sightings of Colleen Racich.

Colleen’s family reported her missing the following day. Four days later, police found her car at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital parking lot. Beneath a pile of newspapers in the back seat lay Colleen’s body. She had been shot eight times.

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All Photos Provided by Guest Blogger

When police questioned Scoville, he admitted killing Colleen but claimed it was self-defense, saying she had attacked him with a knife. Under interrogation, however, Scoville broke down, admitting he had struck his former lover on her head with a mallet before shooting her to death. Afterward, he took Colleen’s keys, wrapped her body in a bag and blanket, put it into her car and drove to the hospital parking lot.

Raymond Scoville was arrested on August 10, 1982, and charged with the murder of his former lover and business partner, Colleen Racich. In a written confession to police, he stated he had shot Colleen after she accused him of embezzling funds from their businesses.

Scoville’s mother posted his $50,000 bond. On April 12, 1983, four days after his trial began, a motion to suppress his confession to Chicago police was denied. The following day, Scoville was a no-show in court.

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All Photos Provided by Guest Blogger

On June 20, 1983, nine weeks after fleeing, Scoville was seen by a former employee at a Chicago restaurant. This is the last confirmed sighting of Raymond Scoville.

Scoville’s trial continued without him and in September of 1983, he was convicted in absentia of Colleen’s murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Instead of sitting in a prison cell, however, Scoville has been in hiding for nearly that amount of time.

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All Photos Provided by Guest Blogger

Scoville is also suspected of killing two former girlfriends, one of them being Jill Clark. Soon after Scoville began his affair with Colleen, Jill was found shot to death. Although it was determined the gun that killed Jill belonged to Scoville, her death was ruled a suicide.

I was not able to find a source naming the other ex-girlfriend Scoville is suspected of killing. I also could not find a picture of Jill Clark.

Image may contain: 1 person, closeup, possible text that says 'RAYMOND HATES EVERYONE'
All Photos Provided by Guest Blogger

In recent years, retro stores have become increasingly popular, and vinyl records have been making a comeback.

Not so, Raymond Scoville. He remains in hiding over 37 years after killing Colleen. Scoville spoke fluent Spanish, and authorities believe he may have fled to central or South America. He may be using the names David Shaw, Robert Branch or Harvey Lnu. Scoville would today be 68-years-old.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Raymond Scoville, please contact the Chicago Police Department at (312) 746-6000 or the Chicago FBI office at (312) 421-6700.

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


SOURCES:
• America’s Most Wanted
• Chicago Sun-Times
• Chicago Tribune
The Herald News (Joliet, IL.)
• New Lenox Patch

Recommended Reading:

Read about more cold cases in

The Killer Book of Cold Cases: Incredible Stories, Facts, and Trivia from the Most Baffling True Crime Cases of All Time (The Killer Books)

More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


Support Synova’s Cause:

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


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

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SIGN UP HERE


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


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


Missing In Vegas

fravel_amanda4 Photo courtesy of The Charley Project

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Further Reading:

Unfound Podcast

Charley Project

Websleuths

Youtube


This Week’s Recommended True Crime Book:

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


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. ©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


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

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Mobster Monday: Albert Anastasia

Albert Anastasia Pic Courtesy of Wikipedia

He changed his name so he wouldn’t bring shame to his mother as a criminal, but he didn’t think twice about brutally slaying Joe Turino in front of a dozen people. Witnesses say the fury in his face while he stabbed and strangled Turino was terrifying. With the Mafia’s help and the disappearances of four main witnesses, Albert Anastasia was set free.


Umberto Anastasio was born on September 26, 1902, in Parghelia, Italy. His parents were Raffaelo Anastasio and Louisa Nomina De Filippi. Tragedy struck young Anastasio’s life early on. At the age of ten, Raffaelo died, leaving his wife and a dozen kids behind. Life was tough on the family, and soon, the older boys left home to find work elsewhere.


Umberto and his brother Antonio took jobs working on a ship. When the ship docked in New York, the two brothers jumped to shore and never looked back. The docks may have offered the brothers a place of employment, but it was back-breaking work run by the mob. It wasn’t long before Umberto’s temper overtook him in an argument with a fellow dock worker.


The young Italian brute slew Torino with fury. Witnesses say it was terrifying to watch the slaying. Torino was stabbed repeatedly and strangled in front of a dozen people. Umberto didn’t seem to care. It was almost as if he enjoyed the entire process. He was arrested and sentenced to death.


Unwilling to bring shame to his mother, Umberto changed his name to Albert Anastasia. It’s incredible how someone so vicious and brutal could care about such a thing. While Albert changed his name, his brother Tony did not. Tony would continue to rule the docks for the majority of three decades, although he never gained the notoriety of his psychopathic brother.


This murderous escapade landed the young illegal alien in Sing Sing prison. While there, he grabbed the attention of a fellow inmate with mob connections. Those connections would end up winning Albert a new trial. Unfortunately, by the time the new trial came around, four of the main witnesses had disappeared.

Anastasia now had connections with the likes of Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lanski, and Frank Costello. When Luciano wanted to take out his boss, he called in Anastasia as part of the hit squad. After Luciano re-structures the mob, Anastasia is set up as the head of the Mafia’s hit squad; Murder, Inc.


Anastasia ruled the elite team of assassins alongside Jewish mobster Louis “Lepke” Buchalter. Their headquarters was in the most unlikely of places. Down on the corner of Saratoga and Livonia Ave in Brooklyn sat a 24-hour candy store called Midnight Rose. This place was owned by a pleasant little elderly lady named Rosie Gold. Along the back wall of the shop was a row of payphones.


The team of mafioso killers would hang around the candy store, waiting for the next hit to be called in. Anastasia would take the call, make a plan, and send out a hit team. By the end of this decade of bloodshed, the FBI estimates the body count of this team was well over 1000.
Unlock most mob bosses, Anastasia wouldn’t pass off the dirty work to an underling. Anastasia enjoyed taking part in the actual murder. It wasn’t enough to plan it; he wanted to be involved. If he weren’t a part of the squad, he would witness the event from across the street. His bloodlust was disturbing and seemed to be growing.


1935: Dewey Wages War:
Special Prosecutor Thomas Dewey declared an all-out war on organized crime in New York. He took down the powerful Lucky Luciano, and then no one was safe. The next on his list was Louis “Lepke” Buchalter. Anastasia tried to hide his friend from the feds, but his attempts were futile. Dozens of witnesses were killed during this process, and now the mafia commission was wondering if Buchalter was worth the trouble
Finally, Anastasia received word from the commission. It was Buchalter or the Mob. Anastasia chose the mob and played a pivotal role in the double-crossing of Lepke Buchalter. During this time, one of Murder, Inc’s hitmen were arrested.


Abe “Kid Twist” Reles decided to turn state’s evidence in an attempt to save himself from the chair. Reles began telling everything he knew about Murder Incorporated. His testimony would send seven mobsters, including Lepke, to the electric chair. This landed the FBI’s target square on the back of the “Mad Hatter.”


Mad Hatter? Let me explain this nickname. When Lucky Luciano took over the Mafia, he structured it like a giant corporation and put down some basic ground rules. Breaking these rules came with the penalty of death.


The commission was supposed to sanction the hits before anyone was killed, but Anastasia had his own ideas about that. Public figures and civilians were off-limits. If they were killed, they would bring too much publicity. There was one more rule that Albert would break. You weren’t supposed to kill your boss. Anastasia would break all of these rules. His blood lust would give him the name The Mad Hatter, and his complete disregard for mob rule would sign Albert Anastasia’s death warrant.


On October 25, 1957, Anastasia walked in to see his barber at the Park Sheraton Hotel. His driver parked the car and went for a stroll. While the Mad Hatter had his face covered in a warm towel, three gunmen barged into the room. Albert Anastasia was hit with ten bullets and died on the floor next to his barber chair.


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 Candy Shop

Here are a few books about Albert Anastasia on Amazon.


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.


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


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Taken At the Ballgame

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All Photos Provided by Guest Blogger

On the evening of June 9, 1995, Colleen Nick and her six-year-old daughter Morgan traveled to Alma, Arkansas, to watch the children of friends play in a Little League baseball game.

As darkness fell, Morgan and two friends lost interest in the game. Instead of watching young boys catch fly balls, the children wanted to catch fireflies. They asked their parents if they could go play in a nearby field. The play field was within eyesight of the ball field, near where the cars were parked. With reluctance following Morgan’s persistent begging, Colleen let her go with her friends. A grateful Morgan thanked her mom, hugged her and gave her a big kiss before setting off on her quest to nab the glowing critters. As the game wound down, Colleen periodically glanced to the field and saw Morgan playing. The last images she has of her daughter is of her gleefully playing in the sand.

At the ballgame that evening, far more than bases were stolen. In an instant, someone stole a child, and the ripple effect would be stolen innocence, stolen memories, and a stolen life. Morgan, who dreamed of performing in the circus when she grew up, had disappeared. News of her presumed abduction spread beyond Alma, through all of Arkansas, and then all of America. Twenty-four-years later, however, Morgan remains missing.

When the ball game ended at approximately 10:45 p.m., the children began walking from the playing field to the ball field. Morgan stopped at her mom’s car to clean the sand from her shoes. She told her fiends she would meet them at the ball field, but she never arrived.

By the time Colleen reached her car, Morgan was gone. The police were summoned and conducted a search of the area but found no trace of her.

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Morgan’s friends remembered seeing a man they described as “creepy” talking to Morgan in the playfield. Several people recalled seeing a man matching the girls’ description watching Morgan play on the field earlier in the evening. While Morgan was playing with a different group of children, the man approached them and asked a question. Police have not released any details about what was asked. The man was in a red pickup truck. By the time police arrived to search for Morgan, the truck was gone.

Earlier that day in Alma, the same man is believed to have attempted to entice a four-year-old girl into his vehicle. Her mother saw it happen and screamed. The man heard her, saw her running toward his vehicle, threw the girl out of the vehicle, and sped away– in a red pickup truck.

The following day in Fort Smith, 15 miles southwest of Alma, the same man is believed to have tried to entice a nine-year-old girl into a men’s restroom at a convenience store. He stopped when the girl resisted. The girl said the man was driving a red truck.

Because the man in both instances resembled the man believed to be Morgan’s abductor, and because the truck involved in both incidents resembles the one seen at the ball field that evening, police believe they are linked to Morgan’s abduction.

Police believe the man is a loner, with few friends. He had a scruffy beard and salt-and-pepper hair. He is Caucasian, and in 1995 was between the ages of 23-38-years-old and spoke with a “hillbilly” accent. He weighed approximately 180 pounds and stood about 6’0 tall.

The truck the man was driving was a low wheelbase, red Ford pickup with dulled paint and a white camper shell with curtains covering the windows. Witnesses noted the shell was too short for the bed and the rear passenger side was damaged.

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In 2002, seven years after Morgan’s kidnapping, police received a tip that she may be buried on a private piece of land in Booneville, Arkansas, 53 miles southeast of Alma. However, after digging on the property, authorities found no trace of Morgan or any evidence that she had ever been there.

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In August of 2012, seventeen years since the last trace of Morgan Nick, Tonya Smith was arrested for computer fraud after attempting to assume Morgan’s identity. She was sentenced to six years’ probation and fined $2,500.

Police believe Smith was not involved in or has any knowledge of Morgan’s disappearance.

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Acting on another tip, on November 15, 2010, investigators searched a vacant house in Spiro, Oklahoma, 35 southwest of Alma, for DNA evidence that Morgan had once been in the house. At the time, the property was vacant, but a former occupant who once rented a mobile-home on the property had recently been convicted of the sexual molestation of a child and was considered a person of interest in Morgan’s disappearance. The search produced nothing relative to Morgan.

Granted permission by the new owner, on December 18, 2017, investigators returned to the house to conduct another search after receiving another tip. This search proved deja vu as no evidence was found suggesting Morgan had ever been there.

The previous occupant, now jailed in Oklahoma for the rape and molestation, remains a person of interest in Morgan’s abduction.

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One year after Morgan’s abduction, Colleen Nick established the Morgan Nick Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to prevent children from going missing and offers a support system to families who are facing the hardships of a missing child. The foundation has helped bring several children home safely, but its namesake child remains missing.

The state of Arkansas renamed its Amber Alert system after Morgan Nick.

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It is rare, but not unprecedented, that a child is found alive years after being kidnapped by a stranger. The rescues of Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard, and the Cleveland children Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight give hope, however faint, that Morgan could still be alive and will one day come home.

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Beginning with her establishment of the Morgan Nick Foundation, Colleen Nick has become a crusader in searching for missing children. She relentlessly searches for her daughter, confident her efforts will not be in vain.

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Police say over the years there have been hundreds of reported sightings of Morgan across the country, but none could be confirmed.

At the time of her disappearance, Morgan’s teeth were crowded and she would have needed orthodontic braces in adolescence. Police hope if she were kidnapped to be raised as another person’s child, a worker in the dental field will have recalled doing the procedure.

Morgan Nick would today be 31-years-old.

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Further Reading:
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
• Arkansas Times
Charley Project


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


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


Support Synova’s Cause:

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


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

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


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 Racketeer Restaurateur: Guest Post Thursday

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All Photos courtesy of Guest Blogger

June 16, 1991

Affable. Bright. Caring. Loving. Sensitive. Those words were used by friends and acquaintances to describe Richmond, Virginia, restaurateur Leo Koury.

Manipulative. Vicious. Ruthless. Vengeful. Murderous. Those words were used by business associates and the FBI to describe Leo Koury.

Both descriptions were accurate as Leo Koury was a classic example of a Jekyll and Hyde personality. The devoted church goer and volunteer softball umpire was also an underworld boss and a cold-blooded killer.

For over a dozen years, Leo Koury was one of the most wanted men in America. He eluded detection by living a spartan existence while in hiding, enabling him to never answer for his crimes.

In the mid- 1970s, Leo Koury opened Richmond’s first nightclubs catering to homosexuals. In a time when gays were still frowned upon and could legally be refused service by businesses, Koury saw a great opportunity. His bars were venues where gays could gather and feel comfortable. Koury made a bundle as he was able to charge excessive prices because of his virtual monopoly on the homosexual bars. He became known as the “Godfather of the Gay Community,” and one associate described him as “the Jack Ruby of Richmond.” Koury himself was not gay as he was married with four children.

Rival bars catering to homosexuals soon opened, forcing Koury to lower his prices. The newer establishments were nicer than Koury’s “dives” and soon the patrons were flocking to them. Most of Koury’s bars became ghost towns. Koury, wanting to re-obtain his monopoly, attempted to buy out his competitors. When most would not sell, Leo became lethal, sending armed thugs into the rival clubs to terrorize the patrons. Three people were shot to death and more were injured. Chuck Kernahgan, a bouncer at a rival club, was also believed to have been murdered on Koury’s orders. Koury’s cohorts told investigators Kernaghan was shot to death after being lured to a home on the premise of discussing a business deal. His body was placed in a trunk, weighed down with the bumper from a 1957 Chevy, then dumped into the Rappahannock River. His remains have never been found.

The shootings were investigated as hate crimes until one of the gunmen, Eddie Loehr, was caught trying to kill, on Koury’s orders, rival club owner Jim Hilliard. In exchange for a lesser sentence, Loehr revealed he was a hired gun of Leo Koury. Loehr agreed to wear a wire enabling police and the FBI to gather information and build a case against Koury. After several months, Leo’s laundry list of crimes was exposed.

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With his Hyde side exposed, Richmond’s racketeer restaurateur went into hiding. The week before the indictments, Koury fled, allegedly with over $1 million stuffed into the trunk of his car. On April 20, 1979, he was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.

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Nearly 200 sightings of Koury were reported over the next dozen years. Among the most promising was that he was living the circus life, traveling with the carnivals along the east coast. Others suggested he had gone abroad and was living the good life in South America. Still, others claimed he had fled to Lebanon, from where his father had emigrated and where he had many relatives. None checked out, and as it turned out, the truth was far less glamorous.

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On June 15, 1991, over 12 years after Koury fled, a convenience store clerk known as Bill Biddle was admitted to a San Diego, California, hospital in failing health. The following day, he died of complications following a stroke. The hospital received an anonymous phone call, saying the name Bill Biddle was an alias; the man who had died was Leo Koury. The FBI made a positive identification and, after nearly thirteen years, was able to close the voluminous file on the senior member of its Ten Most Wanted List.

Richmond’s reputed racketeer had been living as a recluse in a small rent-controlled apartment in east San Diego. The Gay Godfather who was believed to have had millions of dollars had been working a minimum-wage part-time job at a convenience store. He did not own a car and he lived a very sheltered life, rarely socializing with anyone. As far as could be determined, “Bill Biddle” lived as Jekyll; the FBI found no evidence of criminal activity by Koury during his years on the lam.

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In the pre-Internet days, the FBI often used billboards in an effort to track down their most wanted.

In 1991, at the time of Leo Koury’s death, the FBI offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of a Ten Most Wanted Fugitive. Today, the minimum rate for a Top Tenner is $100,000.

San Diego County officials believed the county was entitled to the reward, because a county investigator had called the FBI, enabling them to confirm Koury’s identity. The FBI said the reward money applied only to the tips that led to the capture of fugitives, not to those leading to their remains. However, after some negative publicity, the FBI relented and agreed to pay San Diego County the $25,000.

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As a volunteer umpire, Koury worked several charity softball games in which FBI employees played. Jack Colwell, the FBI agent who would later be in charge of tracking Koury, played in one of those games. He described his later prey as an overall good umpire, though he thought Koury’s strike zone was a little too liberal.

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

Further Reading:
New York Times
Richmond Post-Dispatch
Washington Post
WTVR CBS Affiliate Channel 6 Richmond, VA


Recommended Reading:

For more FBI stories check out these books on Amazon today!


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.


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


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.


Mobster Monday: The Mobster Florist

Photo courtesy of Historythings.com

He was the leader of Chicago’s infamous North Side Gang and a rival of Johnny Torrio and his underling Al Capone. He was also an avid florist with a beautiful Irish Tenor voice. These polar opposites made up one fierce gangster named Dean O’Banion. His death would spark a bloody gang battle that would culminate in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.


Charles Dean O’Banion was born on July 8, 1892, in Maroa, Illinois, to Irish Catholic parents. After his mother died in 1901, his father moved him and his siblings to the Irish suburb of Kilgubbin. The area was notorious for crime and violence.

As a youngster, O’Banion sang in the Holy Name Cathedral, but later on, he would use his talents as a singing waiter at the McGovern’s Liberty Inn. While the audience was distracted by his music, his buddies would raid the coatroom and pickpocket the patrons. Sometimes the thieves would take it a step further and spike the drinks of some visitors. When the incapacitated person left the establishment, they would be jumped outside and robbed.

O’Banion and his group of friends became “sluggers” for the Chicago Tribune and then later the Chicago Examiner. Sluggers were hired thugs who worked for the newspaper. If anyone refused to sell the paper or gave them grief, the newspaper’s owners would send out the sluggers to give them a beat down.

Prohibition:

O’Banion started his own bootlegging business and arranged shipments from Canadian suppliers. He also staged robberies against his rival bootleggers. At the height of his bootlegging operations, reports claim he was making a million dollars a year on the illegal liquor.

1921:

O’Banion marries Viola Kaniff and also buys an interest in a local flower shop. He was a skilled florist and had a passion for flowers. It wasn’t long before his shop was the “Go -to” florist for mob funerals. Needless to say, he had plenty of business.

The shop sat across the road from his beloved Holy Name Cathedral, where he regularly attended mass with some of his gang members. The upstairs area of his shop was the headquarters of the North Side Gang.

Dividing Chicago & Deanie’s Downfall:

O’Banion and the North Side Gang were raking in the dough, but they were always at odds with the Italian based South Side Gang and Johnny Torrio. Torrio was Capone’s mentor at the time. Finally, Torrio works out a deal with his northern criminal counterparts and divides Chicago into territories to maintain peace between the rival factions. It would last for three years.

Soon, a third gang from the west side began to push their way into the deal. They were smart enough to align themselves with the Italians down south, but not smart enough to stay out of O’Banion territory. Their persistent efforts would eventually lead to a bloody war.

When Torrio refused to take care of the Westside gang, O’Banion took care of it himself and eventually signed his own death warrant by double-crossing Torrio himself.

November 3, 1924:

A local mobster had was killed, and a group of three men visited the flower shop on a couple of different occasions under the pretense of ordering flowers. Instead, they were studying the layout of the shop.
On the fateful day, Frankie Yale, John Scalise, and Albert Anselmi walked into the shop. Yale shook the florist’s hand, and before he could finish arranging the flowers before him, O’Banion was shot dead. The florist’s life has been immortalized in several mob movies over the years.


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


Further Reading:

Wikipedia

The Mob Museum

The National Crime Syndicate

The Gangland Wire Podcast


Recommended Reading:

For more information on Dean O’Banion check out Rose Keefe’s book Guns & Roses by following the link below.


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


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.