Tag Archives: On the case with Paula Zahn

#CrimeTime ~ On the Case with Paula Zahn ~ “Little Lamb” – #AHAgrp #Blog

#CrimeTime with Alicia Dean ~ 

I love watching true crime shows…as long as they are about murder…, and I watch them every night. (Since I write suspense, thriller, and mystery, it’s not a waste of time…it’s research, right? 🙂 Each week, I blog about some of the recent episodes I’ve seen and I’d love to know your thoughts.

One of my short stories, Blood and Breakfast, is about a crime junkie who gets a little closer to murder than she anticipated. You can buy the Kindle version here for only $2.00 Blood and Breakfast – It’s also part of a print book with 6 other scary stories: A Collection of Friday the 13th Stories

 

On the Case with Paula Zahn, Season 20, Episode 5,  “Little Lamb”

Port Arthur, Texas, May 2010

On the night of May 4, 2010, in Port Arthur, Texas, a couple found the SUV belonging to their neighbor, Allison Clark, on the side of the highway with its hazard lights flashing. They approached and found her slumped over the wheel, covered in blood. They were horrified to discover her three-year-old daughter, Cadence, asleep in her car seat in the back seat. They picked up the child and called police.

The child was uninjured. Police found a bullet hole in the driver’s side window. The twenty-four year old mother of two was shot once in the chest. The bullet was found lodged in the driver’s seat, and investigators concluded it was fired from a Glock.

They determined robbery was not the likely motive. Her purse was found in the floorboard and, next to it, was a ten dollar bill with a drop of blood on it. Her cell phone was on the floor as well. It seemed clear she was trying to call for help while she was dying.   

They found no DNA or fingerprints at the scene, very little evidence at all. 

It appeared she was driving when she was shot. She was able to stop, park and put on hazard lights, most likely for the sake of her child. Even while she was dying, she had the mindset to protect her child. The police were especially affected by the tragedy of this young mother’s death and were determined to find her killer.

Her family said she was a wonderful mom. Her three and one year old children were her world. She planned to go back to school to be a teacher. And she and her husband wanted another child.   

In the examination of her body, stippling was found on her shoulder. That indicated the shooting was from up close, which ruled out their theory that she was shot by a stray bullet from someone target practicing. It left investigators with one conclusion—Allison was the target. A vehicle had to have pulled up close to her window and shot her.

Police turn their attention to her husband, Josh Clark. His demeanor raised their suspicions. He was emotionally detached. He told them his wife was headed to the store and that she only took the oldest child. When asked if someone could verify his whereabouts, Josh said he was at home and his brother was there. But the brother stated he was in the room watching a movie with the volume up so he couldn’t know whether Josh left the house.

On the night of the murder, it took a while to reach Josh. He didn’t answer any of the calls her family made to him. He claimed he had logged onto a computer game and had headphones on. He saw a call from his brother-in-law but ignored it. When another call came in, he decided to answer. That was when he learned Allison has been murdered. About forty minutes elapsed that he couldn’t account for.

They brought him in for questioning. A detective asked if he was right or left handed. He replied, “I’m right handed but I shoot a gun left handed.” This struck the investigators because no one had mentioned a gun.

The detective asked if Josh had killed Allison, what would he have done with the murder weapon. He said, “On the way back to the house, I would have thrown it in the canal.” They found this odd. Most people wouldn’t answer like that, they would just emphatically deny they’d killed their wife.

They asked him to take a polygraph and he agreed. It was inconclusive. He showed deception on one question, “Do you know who killed Allison?”

Josh was interviewed on the show. He said the detective told him, “I think you did it. You’re the one who did it.” They were firing questions at him, such as, “Where do you think would be a good place to drop weapon?” He told them probably the canal. The police dragged the canal but came up empty. 

Josh’s explanation for the issue on the polygraph was that the exact question they asked was “Do you know who killed her?” He was thinking that gang members did it, but all he could answer was yes or no. He couldn’t tell them what he was thinking. They gave a second poly and changed the question to “Did you kill Allison?” This time, he passed and they were able to clear him.

A witness came forward who saw someone in a gray pick up fifteen minutes before Allison was shot and about four miles away. The person was firing a gun out the vehicle window. The officers went to a nearby gas station and saw a gray F150 in the video surveillance. They were unable to make out the license plate.

They put out an alert and made traffic stops but there were 450 Gray Ford F150s in that county alone. The investigation stalled. While it disappeared from the media, the detective said it never disappeared for them.

Six years later, an informant heard two individuals talking about the West Port Arthur murder. The two men, Sabino Orlando Martinez and Ozzie Nelson Ibarra were known to police. In Ozzie Ibarra’s rap sheet, they found a possible connection to Allison’s murder.  He’d been arrested for robbery a month after the killing and he drove a gray truck. They were able to track down the truck. It had been sold, and the new owner allowed them to search it. The owner’s wife made an offhand remark that caught their attention. She said that her husband had cleaned the truck when they bought it. He found a shell casing and had kept it. They were able to match the shell casing to the bullet that killed Allison.

Police learned that Ibarra and Martinez had been terrorizing and robbing women for years. They targeted women who were along and referred to them as ‘little lambs.’

All the police had was circumstantial evidence and it was not enough for an arrest. Then, investigators got an unexpected break when Ibarra’s girlfriend Jessica Bellas was arrested on an unrelated charge.

She told police she had been behind the wheel on a dark Friday night. She said, “Pino was in the passenger seat. I’m driving, I hear pow, and the window is down. I remember seeing a young girl. A young female. Pino shot that girl on West Port Arthur Road.” After the shot was fired, she was told to turn around. She pulled behind the SUV which had drifted to a stop with hazard lights on. They looked inside the window. Then walked around to passenger side of car. She said Pino said something about a baby in the back.

She gave other critical details only someone involved could know. She told how they pulled up to the vehicle, side by side. And were close when Pino shot the woman. They interviewed Ibarra, who claimed they didn’t plan to kill her. They wanted to scare her so she would pull over and they could rob her. He said when he found out there was a baby in the car, he was furious with Martinez.

The prosecutor was worried the testimony wouldn’t be enough, so she offered them a deal. Ibarra took the deal and was sentenced to thirty-five years. Martinez sent word that he wouldn’t accept anything with a ‘three’ in front. So they went to trial.

Assistant attorney Leslie Woods found a unique path to justice. She discovered a law that allowed her to combine Allison’s murder with the other robberies .

During the trial, Martinez labeled Jessica a snitch. They ended up using that against him. The prosecutor said, “Would you agree that only guilty people have snitches?” He said yes and then realized he’d made a huge mistake. But it was too late to take it back.

He never showed any remorse. He was sentenced to eighty years in prison. I am sure he now wishes he’d accepted something with a ‘three’ in front of it. 😊

The prosecutor said she cried for two hours. She said she’s never taken a case that personally.

Allison’s husband, Josh, is raising their two girls and keeping their mother’s memory alive. He holds no grudges against law enforcement for suspecting him. He knows they were just doing their job, trying to find his wife’s killer. 

1 Comment

Filed under Crime Time

Crime Time ~ On the Case with Paula Zahn ~ “Where’s Crystal”

#CrimeTime with Alicia Dean ~ 

 

On the Case with Paula Zahn ~ Season 17, Episode 4, “Where’s Crystal”

Bardstown, Kentucky – July 2015

I usually avoid episodes where the victim survives (sorry, but I find murder much more interesting than attempted murder) or the case is never solved, but sometimes I get sucked into one or the other. Today’s post is about a case that was never solved.

Crystal Rogers, a thirty-five-year-old mother of five, went missing on or around July 3, 2015. Her family became concerned when a few days went by with Crystal not responding to their texts or calls. According to her live-in boyfriend, Brooks Houck, on the evening of July 3, he and Crystal and their two-year-old son went to Houck’s family farm and stayed until around midnight. After they returned, Crystal stayed up late playing games on her phone. When Brooks awoke the next morning, she was not in the house. Funny that he didn’t bother reporting her missing. He claims that she often went to stay at her cousin’s, so he didn’t think anything about it. However, all those who knew her insist she never went anywhere without her youngest son, Eli.

Other suspicious/interesting facts…

  • Crystal’s car was found on July 5, 2015 on the shoulder of the Bluegrass Parkway. Her tire was flat and her purse, keys and cellphone were found inside. The seat was moved back in a position that would have been too far back for Crystal.
  • Brooks was named a suspect but has denied having anything to do with Crystal’s disappearance. Brooks’ brother, Nick, was a police officer in Bardstown. He was fired for interfering after calling Brooks in the middle of his interview with police and warning him not to say anything. He wanted him that “they might be trying to trip him up” and “he should protect himself.” Video surveillance captured the two brothers, Nick in his police cruiser and Brooks in his truck, going to the family farm a few hours after Brooks’ interview with police.

Brooks’ interview:

  • Nick was questioned and claimed he does not remember what they did at the farm. He was given a polygraph and failed. As a cop, you would think he could do better than ‘I don’t recall what we did’ – That sounds highly suspect. When confronted with the results, Nick denied that he was lying, saying, “I don’t give a goddam what your f*cking computer said… You’re calling me a f*cking liar [and] I don’t like it when people call me a liar.”

Nick’s interview:

  • Crystal’s father, Tommy, launched his own intense investigation into his daughter’s disappearance. He checked out every lead and searched relentlessly. On November 19, 2016, he was fatally shot when he took his grandson hunting. The shooter has never been identified. Coincidence? I think not.

Sherry and Tommy Ballard

  • In November of 2018, a panel of judges determined that Brooks’ and Crystal’s son, who was six by then, could no longer visit Crystal’s mother, Sherry Ballard. She and her now deceased husband filed for grandparent visitation after Crystal’s disappearance and Sherry was exercising visitation with the child every other weekend. However, Brooks filed to have those visits stopped. He testified that after returning from visits with his grandmother, the child is sullen and uncooperative. And that he is accusatory, asking him ‘what did you do to my mommy,’ and that ‘everyone wants to know.'”
  • Crystal’s mother appeared on an episode of Dr. Phil in February of this year. Since then, new tips have been pouring in. Hopefully, they will lead to the arrest and conviction of Crystal’s killer, and her body will be found.

I’m just completely amazed that the case has not yet been solved and the brothers have gotten by with the lies and subterfuge. What do you think? Are the brothers guilty?

[I love true crime shows, and I watch them every night. (Since I write suspense, thriller, and mystery, it’s not a waste of time…it’s research, right? 🙂 ) I love Investigation Discovery and watch many of the various shows, although some are a little too cheesy. However, there are plenty of shows that are done well enough to feed my fascination with murder. Each week, I’ll blog about some of the recent episodes I’ve seen and I’d love to know your thoughts.]

1 Comment

Filed under Crime Time