Tag Archives: True Crime

#CrimeTime ~ Fear Thy Neighbor ~ “Daddy’s Got a Gun”

#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

Fear Thy Neighbor,  Season 3, Episode 7, Daddy’s Got a Gun

Seaside New Jersey, April 2002

The idyllic neighborhood in Seaside Heights was a place where neighbors treated one another like family and gathered regularly for barbecues and other events. One neighbor, police officer Ed Lutes, was a single father raising his daughter, Sarah. The others living on the block felt safe having a police officer in their midst. Little did they know their safety would soon be shattered.

Dominick and Gail Galliano watched Sarah during the week before school, since her father had to report to work early in the morning. It was a perfect arrangement. The Gallianos adored having Sarah there and Ed trusted them implicitly.

When Ed started dating Cindy Mansuy and moved her and her three children into the home, it was a huge adjustment for the children, especially Sarah, who was used to having her daddy all to herself. One day, Sarah’s stepsister found her crying. When she asked what was wrong, Sarah admitted that their neighbor, Dominick Galliano, had exposed himself to her. The stepsister insisted that she tell her dad. When she did, Ed went nuts. He stormed across the street and threatened Dominick and told him to stay away from his daughter. Sexual assault charges were filed against Dominick. The neighbors initially all sided with Ed. But neighbors Gary and Tina Williams noticed that Sarah seemed totally unaffected. And, they knew Dom and couldn’t see him doing something like that. Cindy, Ed’s girlfriend, confessed to the Williams that she didn’t believe Dom was guilty. She thought Sarah had made the accusation to get her dad’s attention after the changes in the household. The Williams went to Dom and apologized and said they believed him. They also testified as character witnesses. Ed was furious, claiming that they were ‘all against him’. At the trial, Dominick was acquitted for lack of evidence.

Ed asked Cindy to marry him, and she agreed, now taking his side, although it was believed she secretly still felt Sarah had lied. One day, when Cindy was picking up her wedding dress, she was involved in a car accident and killed instantly. This seemed to push Ed over the edge. He drank and gambled and became more threatening and violent. The neighborhood became tension-filled. The Williams and Gallianos were the victims of various acts of vandalism. They were certain Ed was behind them but the police claimed there was no proof, so nothing was done about it. Ed posted flyers all over the neighborhood with a photo of Dom and the words: ‘Pedophile’ above and ‘Every Dad has his Day’ below. One night, the neighbors noticed a bright light coming from Ed’s house and saw that he was projecting the words onto his house: Every Dad has his Day. It was obvious Ed was spiraling completely out of control.

On April 9, 2002, Ed Lutes took his police issued MP5 machine gun and burst into the Williams’ front door. Tina was sitting on the sofa. Ed opened fire, then stalked into the dining room where he shot Gary. Their daughter was away for a quick fifteen-minute trip but their son was in the bedroom and heard the shots. He came out and saw Ed, then ran back into the room and managed to escape out the window. His sister was arriving home. He flagged her down and told her what had happened. Police arrived and the Williams’ daughter noticed the Gallianos’ door was wide open. She told the officers to check the house, that they would find more victims. Inside the Galliano home, police found the bodies of Dominick, his wife Gail and their twenty-five-year-old son, Christopher, all riddled with bullets.

Police found the below voicemail messages on Ed’s machine. They began a manhunt that ended twelve hours later, when they found Ed in his vehicle, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot. Ed had also driven to the police chief’s home—angry at being overlooked for a promotion—and shot him as well. The chief managed to escape with only minor injuries.

Voicemails from Ed Lutes:

It’s an emergency hu[sic]. Well guess what, I finally got pushed over the edge. Had to do what I had to do. And you know what, I’m continuing on and I’m doing it more. You don’t know where I’m at, but I’m doing it more. There’s gonna be a lot of dead *** bodies all over the *** place. Everybody had it coming to em, no they’re gonna *** get it. Good-bye. You know what Ruth Ann. I always loved you. Tell my daughter I’m very sorry, but I did this  to protect her. Cause something had to be done. I snapped. I couldn’t do it anymore. But it had to be done. I couldn’t deal with my daughter being violated and this *** scumbag, criminal justice system did not work in the way it’s supposed to work and my daughter got the bad end of the stick. Do you know what, I did this for my daughter. So [S.], I love you honey. I did it for you baby. Please don’t ever think bad of daddy. Daddy done it for you. Daddy took away these bad *** people for you. I love you baby. Please grow up to be a good girl. You’re not gonna see daddy again cause daddy can’t go to jail. Cops don’t go to jail. You’re not gonna see daddy again, so please grow up to be a good girl. And listen to your mommy and please. Please be with Ruth Ann and, you know, do what she tells you. And try to do the best you can baby. I love you so much but I had to do this honey. I had to do it. I’m gonna miss you so much. Daddy will see you up, up in heaven and you’ll know why I did it for you. I love you, bye baby.  

* * *

Yeah it’s an emergency. You can answer the phone right now. (inaudible). (inaudible) go out and killed already, but you know what, it’s not gonna stop yet. Until I’m not done. It’s gonna be “suicide by cop”. I’m gonna be killed by a *** cop, one of my own, you believe it. I’m gonna be killed by a cop, one of my own. But you know what, all this boils down to what happened to [S.] I *** snapped, you made me snap, you took my *** final snapping point, and you made me snap. And guess what, I snapped on the right people and I killed the right people. Everybody that needed to be dead (inaudible) is dead right now. And guess what, I don’t give two ***. Okay so at least you could do is pick up the phone. Tell [S.] my love, [S.] baby, my love daddy done it for you. You know, daddy would never let anybody hurt you. Somebody hurt you, guess what, daddy had to pay back. He had to pay back in a bad way. He had to pay back in a way that you’ll probably never see me again. But he had to pay back. He had to pay it back. Cause it couldn’t go untouched. It couldn’t go untouched. It had to be done baby. It had to be done baby girl. You know that as well as I do. People can’t just touch you and get away with it. They’re all gonna know or they’re not gonna know because they’re dead. But you know what, you live a nice life with your mom and Ruth Ann, please. You’re not gonna see daddy again. But I want you to grow up to be a big girl. I want you to grow up to be  (inaudible) little girl and I want you to stay with Ruth Ann and mommy. You know, they’ll teach you the right thing. Daddy had to do this honey. I can’t let anybody hurt you. There were people hurt you and the justice system failed us, it failed us. And I finally just had enough and I had to do what I had to do. And there gotta be paybacks. You know that daddy pays back everything. And there gotta be paybacks. You know that daddy pays back everything.  

A lawsuit was filed against the Borough of Seaside Heights where the three surviving children of the Williams family received $2.3 million and relatives of the Gallianos received $3.4 million.

This story is shocking, tragic and heartbreaking. It’s unfathomable that anyone, especially an officer of the law, could go to such lengths and commit such heinous crimes. I don’t know if Sarah was lying or if she was telling the truth about the molestation. Either way, that’s a huge burden to bear, knowing that a story you told—especially if it is untrue—resulted in the murder of five people and your own father’s suicide. The contents of his voicemail would only make her feel that much more guilt, I would think. He literally told her he murdered for her. How awful would it be to have to live with something like that?

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#CrimeTime ~ Evil Lives Here ~ “Evil Undercover”

#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

Evil Lives Here, Season 5, Episode 3, Evil Undercover

Westminster, Colorado, August 2003

Lori McLeod and her first husband divorced when their daughter, Kaysi, was four years old. Lori was not looking for a relationship when she met Scott Kimball at casino in Blackhawk, Colorado. His mom was in a wheelchair, and he moved furniture so she could sit and play and Lori was impressed, thinking that it showed what a kind, caring person he was. They struck up a conversation. Scott had two young sons, but he only had them part time. He told her he worked for the FBI. She thought, if the FBI trusts him, why couldn’t she?

She was reluctant to allow someone in, but they got close quickly and she trusted him, even though she found him a bit secretive. They would stay at her house, and he would leave in the middle of the night. He told her he was working undercover and went on to say, even though it was breaking the rules, he would tell her details. He said he was working a case where a girl named Jennifer was killed by drug dealers. He said that, for her own safety, he couldn’t tell her exactly where he was going and what he was doing.

 

Lori McLeod

The first time Lori went to Scott’s house, she was a bit taken aback. Based on the feminine décor, she could tell it had been decorated by a woman.  She asked if he’d decorated it or if he had a wife. He explained that the house belonged to his friend, Jennifer, and he was leasing it while she was away. She asked if it was the missing girl in the case he was working. He said no, they just have the same name. There were no female personal items to make her think someone was living there, so she wasn’t all that suspicious.

Their relationship became more serious, and he found a farmhouse for them to live in. Their kids met one another and got along well. One day, Scott asked Lori to deposit a check for him. In the memo line was the name ‘Jennifer’ and she thought it must be related to the case he was working on.

One night, they’d been to casino and they were walking to the car when several police cars converged on them and arrested Scott. He was home the next day and explained that it was just part of what he was doing for the FBI.

After they moved in together, Lori started to see a more hateful side of him. He seemed to enjoy killing prairie dogs that roamed around the area. As he focused on one, he’d say ‘this is my mom,’ then he would kill it with a pellet gun, then say ‘this is my brother,’ and ‘your turn, Dad.’ One day, she said, “Please tell me one of those prairie dogs doesn’t have my face on it,” and he said, “I wouldn’t shoot you. No, I’d do something really special for you.” She wasn’t sure if he was kidding

He appeared to be a great father but, as she got to know him, she saw that he could be cruel. He was out with his boys one day and the younger one ran into the house yelling for her to call 911. He said his brother was hurt. Scott came running toward them with his son in his arms. He explained that a storm grate had fallen on him. While she was on the phone with 911, she saw Scott’s truck heading out and knew that he was taking his son to the hospital. When she arrived at the hospital, the child was covered in blood. She was confused, because the doctor said the injuries were from a fall. She said “No, a storm grate fell on him.” Scott explained that, on the way to the hospital, the boy was getting sick and he tried to open the window but accidentally opened the door and fell out. The little boy almost died and was in a medically induced coma. When he was able to speak, the first thing he said was, “Why did Dad do this to me? I don’t know why he pushed me.” Lori was stunned and horrified The neuro surgeon said the child had a brain injury and didn’t know what he was saying. Lori was worried but believed the doctor. Why would Scott be taking him to the hospital if he wanted to hurt him?

One day, Scott’s Uncle Terry came to live with them. Lori didn’t like it. The man gave her the creeps, but she tolerated his presence. She arrived home one night to find that the furniture had been moved around and their white sofa was outside by pool. She asked what happened and Scott told her that Terry’s dog got sick on the sofa. He explained that Terry had hit won a lottery and took off with his stripper girlfriend. Lori found the story hard to believe, but she didn’t question it because she was glad he was out of her house.

After Lori’s daughter, Kaysi, graduated from high school, she moved out of the home. Her new roommate introduced her to crystal meth. She struggled with her addiction for a while but finally got clean, found a job, and moved back home. Things seemed to be going well until the day Scott showed Lori a vial of drugs and said he’d found it in the house. Lori knew that neither she nor Scott did drugs, so they had to belong to Kaysi. Brokenhearted, not wanting to see her child die from drug use, Lori confronted her. Kaysi swore they weren’t hers and pleaded with her mother to believe her. Lori was certain she was lying. Lori planned to take Kaysi to the police station and asked Scott to watch her while she grabbed some things.  When she got downstairs, Scott said, “She’s waiting it the car.” But, they got outside and Kaysi was nowhere to be found.  Days went by and Lori didn’t hear from her daughter—nor had anyone else. Lori searched but couldn’t find her. She tried to file a missing persons report but the police wouldn’t file it since Kaysi was over 18 and it was ‘her right to be missing.’ Scott reassured Lori, telling her to calm down, just let her do her thing, she’ll come back.

Lori married Scott the same month Kaysi disappeared.

Not long after Kaysi went missing, her boyfriend, CB, called and told Lori that he and Kaysi had been staying at a motel and Scott had been paying for it and taking Kaysi to work. Lori didn’t believe it at first, but CB said that the day she disappeared from Lori’s house, Scott gave her money and put her on her bike, and she took off. The last day Kaysi was seen, Scott had taken her to work, and she never came back. Lori confronted Scott and he denied it and said CB was a liar and a drug addict. He said, “If I pass a polygraph, can we just never talk about it again?” She agreed and Scott seemed surprised. She believes he expected her to think that, if he was willing to take the test, he must be telling the truth. He took the polygraph and passed every question except “Do you know where Kaysi is?” He explained that it was probably because he was the last one to see her (at their house that day Lori was going to take her to the police) and knew where she’d disappeared from. Lori believed him.

Kaysi McLeod

One day, Scott told Lori that he went into Kaysi’s room and found that her make up case gone and her necklace that CB had given her was hanging on her doorknob. Scott suggested she’d left it there as a clear message that she wanted it given back to CB because she was done with him. He said, “She doesn’t want you to call the police on her. She’ll come around when she’s ready.” Lori was relieved. It meant her daughter was okay. She left money on the bed in case she came back to the house. But Kaysi never took the money.

A year after Kaysi went missing, Scott didn’t come home one night. A detective knocked on Lori’s door and asked where he was. Lori said, “He’s on a case working for you. I’m sure your office can track him down.” He said, “Scott doesn’t work for us, he’s an informant. He’s a convicted felon for writing bad checks. But now he’s on the run.” The detective went on to explain that he was linked to a missing person and was the last one to have seen her. He showed her a photo of a girl, Jennifer Marcum and said he was trying to solve her murder. He also showed Lori a photo of Leann Emery, who was also missing and linked to Scott. The detective asked if she knew of any other missing people surrounding Scott. She mentioned Kaysi.

When Lori confronted Scott, he claimed the police were setting him up. It was easier for Lori to believe that, because it meant her daughter could still be okay. She wanted him to convince her that he was telling the truth.

One day in 2007, the FBI called Lori and said she and her ex-husband, Kaysi’s father, needed to come talk to them. The FBI told the parents that hunters had found human remains and they needed DNA to identify them. Lori gave them Kaysi’s baby teeth. They used them to confirm that the victim was Kaysi.

The police searched Scott and Lori’s house. They found blood under carpet that was matched to Scott’s uncle. Lori learned that the townhouse Scott was living in—the one he said he was leasing from a friend–belonged to Jennifer Markham. He’d moved into her home after killing her.

One thing that Scott had told Lori was true. He was an FBI informant. He’d been released from jail in 2002 when he told the FBI his cellmate Steve Ennis, had asked him to kill a witness in a drug case. Once released, Scott himself killed Ennis’s girlfriend, Jennifer Marcum. Scott was given a 70 year sentence for the murders of Kaysi McLeod, Jennifer Marcum, Leann Emory and Terry Kimball.

Lori had to live with the guilt of her daughter’s death. “There are days I think I’ve forgiven myself but when I take time to think about it, I am the one who brought him into our lives. I’m the one responsible for her being gone.”

Many people agree that she was naïve and stupid and should have seen what the psycho was capable of. I have mixed feelings. She did seem very naïve, but I am sure she never dreamed Scott would murder her child.

In 2015, Lori was diagnosed with breast cancer and given 6 months to 2 years to live. After the shock wore off, she was excited. “I get to leave sooner and be with my kiddo. When I pass, my plan is to be cremated and they will open Kaysi’s casket and my cremains will be placed there. We’ll be together in heaven.”

In December, 2019, several months after the episode aired, Lori passed away.

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Crime Time ~ JonBenet Ramsey ~ Who do you think is guilty?

#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

(This is not based on a particular ID episode…it’s about a case that is all too familiar to us all)

A sweet, innocent child, murdered. A vicious killer unpunished

Boulder, Colorado, December 26th, 1996

Some of these things are what I’ve heard/read in reports and articles. They may not all be accurate, but enough of them are to make this a very troubling case.  

  • Those who believe it was an intruder mention the unidentified DNA, but any DNA found, such as on her panties, is suspect because of the way the crime scene was decimated.
  • Burke never seemed upset about his sister’s murder. Not as a child during the police interviews nor as an adult in the Dr. Phil interviews, where he had this creepy weird smile on his face the entire time. He said he was lying in bed, wondering if something had happened to JonBenet. Why would he wonder that?
  • Dr. Phil said to Burke in the interview: There still are people who believe that you killed your sister. What do you say about that?
  • Burke replied, Look at the evidence or the lack thereof. (Isn’t this a strange response? Almost sounds like, ‘they can’t prove it, can they?’)
  • Handwriting was similar to Patsy’s and so was some of the phrasing? From a Christmas note from the Ramseys: Had there been no birth of Christ, there would be no hope of eternal life, and hence, no hope of ever being with our loved ones again. From the ransom note: If we monitor you getting the money early we might call you early to arrange an earlier delivery of the money and hence an earlier pickup of your daughter.
  • How come John and Patsy never paid attention to the time and/or noted that the deadline for kidnappers to call had passed?
  • If an intruder was in the house for hours, there would have been some kind of DNA/evidence of his/their presence?
  • If the intruder wrote the note before the murder, what did he do with it during the murder? He didn’t put it on the stairs right away, because the Ramseys would have seen it earlier. He didn’t have it folded in a pocket. The sheets were laid out straight with no ‘wear’ on them.  What are the logistics of his movements? Let himself into the home while they are gone. Wait til all are asleep. Grabbed JonBenet. Took her down to basement and killed her. At what point during this did he go back  upstairs and write and leave the note? There was no reason for an intruder to leave a note, period. He never called to collect any money. If that was his intent, he would have taken her body with him. What was the purpose of the note from an intruder’s perspective? From the Ramseys perspective, a note makes perfect sense, since they would want to steer the blame to a stranger.
  • If there was an intruder, he passed a handful of exits he could have used to leave the house with JonBenet, why carry her down to the basement where he’d be trapped if anyone in the house got out of bed?
  • In the 911 call, Patsy was hyperventilating but not crying. Her word choices were weird and distant. Most of us would shout, My daughter’s missing. Please help. Or something like that. She said: ‘We have a kidnapping’ and ‘she’s 6 years old and blonde’ – Also, why hang up instead of staying on the phone to make sure they were coming?
  • It’s odd to refer to the following year as 1997, which Patsy did in her Christmas letter of 1996 and the writer of the note did. Why not say, ‘If you want her to see tomorrow or a new day or next year’ – 1997 was almost a week away. The kidnappers surely didn’t plan to keep her that long (had they had her at all, which they didn’t)
  • John Ramsey went down into the basement on his own a short time before he was asked to search the house.
  • Most families of murder victims constantly call the police to see if they’ve made any progress. The Ramseys did not.
  • Patsy seems very clinical in interviews. Her excuse of ‘I have to compartmentalize and treat it clinically’ doesn’t make sense. What loving, innocent mother would or could force herself to be so calm and emotionless. She says ‘the case’ and ‘the crime’ etc. Very detached language.
  • The marks on JonBenet’s body that some claimed were from a stun gun also matched the piece of toy train track that belonged to Burke.
  • The Ramseys did not stay together and comfort one another. Each hung out with friends. John went through his mail. He claims he as looking for something from kidnapper, but if she’d been kidnapped that morning, how would he have time to get something in the mail?
  • Why would the writer of the ransom note refer to themselves as a small foreign faction, which is vague and odd and doesn’t make them seem very powerful or threatening? And this line: We do respect your bussiness [sic] but not the country that it serves. Why compliment John’s company?
  • The Ramseys immediately called the police, even though the note said their child would be beheaded if they did.
  • They immediately called their friends to come over. Odd.
  • They sent Burke away, rather than keeping him close. If one child had just been brutally murdered by a stranger and someone who they felt had it out for John, why wouldn’t they keep Burke close to protect him and keep an eye on him? Some say they would have kept him close if guilty because of being afraid he’d talk. But the police were at their house. That is the place where they’d most NOT want him talking.
  • Though Patsy and John were in separate rooms, when confronted about the ransom note, they both said that perhaps the ransom note was written by a woman. A strange conclusion for both of them to draw on their own, suggesting they had discussed what they would say to investigators. Even more chilling in Burke’s interview, to some questions he responds, “not that I recall”. This was the exact same phrase Patsy used in her interviews, suggesting to investigators that Burke had been coached by Patsy.
  • Why did the Ramseys tell friends not to talk to police? You’d think they would want everyone to talk to the police in the hopes they might learn something that could lead to their daughter’s killer.
  • Why didn’t Patsy rush in the room when John brought JonBenet’s body up? It’s my understanding that she waited a few minutes before going into the room.
  • Why leave the note spread out on the stairs? Why take a practice run? Why use a pad and pen that was in a drawer of the home? If you plan to kidnap someone, you would likely write the note ahead of time, not hang around the house for hours and write a 3 page note while in the home, risking someone getting up and finding you.
  • Why would the kidnappers/killers refer to themselves as a small foreign faction, which is vague and odd and doesn’t make them seem very powerful or threatening? Why compliment John’s company?
  • Why was Patsy wearing the same clothes from the night before if she’d been asleep all night? She said when she woke up, she got dressed and went downstairs. At that time, she supposedly didn’t know anything was wrong, so it’s not like she was so upset, she just threw on her previous night’s clothes without thinking. She was a classy, wealthy woman and it makes zero sense she’d get up and put on the previous night’s party clothes.
  • Why would a kidnapper hang out so long and write such a lengthy, rambling ransom note rather than getting to the point of his/her demands? It might not make sense for Patsy to write such a note either, but if she wrote it, she was no doubt out of her mind with grief and fear and confusion, and she wouldn’t be making much sense.
  • Why would a kidnapper not bring anything with him and use things found in the home?
  • Why would an intruder snatch, kill, assault JonBenet while in the home and leave her body in the home instead of taking it with them? They increased their risk of being caught every moment they were in the house. The note was left on the back staircase, which wasn’t obvious. Patsy came down that way, but the kidnapper would have no way of knowing that and would most likely leave it in the kitchen or the front staircase.

So….what are your thoughts?

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Blood and Breakast by me…Alicia Dean. :) A ‘Friday the 13th Story’

Happy Friday the 13th!! Welcome to the thirteenth and final post about a brand new series of 13 suspenseful “Friday the 13th” short stories, each by a different author.

Today, I am happy to share my Friday the 13th Short Story, “Blood and Breakfast” – Now available for sale for $1.99 or #FREE on #KindleSelect

AND…be sure to check out our contest:

Enter to win 13 FREE books brought to you by our 13 Friday the 13th authors. See contest link HERE for details.

Fun Fact:

I was plotting my story and trying to figure out why a normal family man would suddenly snap and murder his family. I realized that hallucinations could cause people to do crazy things, so I researched what could make people hallucinate. I discovered that the plant, jimson weed, can cause serious hallucinations. I also wanted to incorporate some kind of an authentic local legend in my story, so I researched legends in various states and came across the Devil’s Footrock in Rhode Island.  I was able to mesh the two–jimson weed and the Devil’s Footrock–to come up with how the husband/father in my story lost his mind and killed his family. It’s so much fun when ideas click and make a story come together. Here’s a photo of Devil’s Foot Rock:

Cool, right? You can learn about the legend surrounding the footprint by reading my story. Or, you can just google it 🙂

Now, more about Blood and Breakfast…

Blurb:

Determined to boost the sagging ratings of her internet radio show, “A Dark Place,” murder junkie Sasha Gillette checks into the Talley House Bed and Breakfast in North Kingston, Rhode Island. She and her co-host plan to broadcast an episode about the murders that took place there thirteen years earlier on a Friday the 13th, when a man butchered his entire family.

Not long after Sasha arrives, the other guests begin to disappear. Has a killer from the past resurfaced or is there a copycat on the loose?

One of the lone survivors, Sasha finds herself trapped with a sadistic killer and, suddenly, murder isn’t as much fun as she thought.

Excerpt:

The bedside lamp glowed, but the room was cast in shadows. The door to the balcony stood open, and the sheer drapes fluttered in the cool breeze. Juliana wrapped her arms around her body and strode over to close the sliding glass doors.

She paced the wooden floor, clenching and unclenching her fists. “The bitch. The little whore.” A knot formed in her throat, and she swiped at the tears streaking her cheeks. “And, the sorry son of a bitch. How could he? On our honeymoon?”

She continued to pace and curse, then took her phone from the nightstand and fired off a text to Bradley.

Sleep on the fucking couch tonight, you sorry piece of shit. I don’t want to see your face.

For a brief moment, she regretted sending it and wished she could take it back. But that lasted only a moment. His return text shattered her heart.

Fine by me. Fuck off.

The sobs that had been building broke free. She dropped to the bed and covered her face in her hands. Her soul felt like it was ripping in two. How did things go so wrong so fast? She thought he loved her. That he would fight for her. Instead, the first slut he encountered, he became a cheating asshole.

A sound penetrated her consciousness, and she sniffled back her tears. The door swung inward. In spite of her fury, her heart lifted. She stood and faced the door as she waited for Bradley to enter. Should she play it cool and make him beg? Or should she forgive him and put this behind them. Start anew?

She took a step toward the door as he entered, then froze. The man standing inside the room was not Bradley. She knew this because he was taller than Bradley, bigger. Besides, why would Bradley be wearing a ski mask?

“Who—who are you?” Her voice quivered. “What do you want?”

He stalked across the room and clapped a gloved hand over her mouth. With his other hand, he gripped her neck and squeezed. She tried to speak but could only make a gurgling sound. Her skin tightened with fear, and her stomach quivered. Terror seized her insides. She grabbed his wrists, clawing at his flesh, trying to loosen his grip. Her hands, slippery with sweat, couldn’t get a good hold.

In the murky semi-darkness, something metallic flashed in her vision. Oh God…a knife.

His hot breath wafted over her neck as he whispered into her ear, “We’re going for a walk. Make one sound, and I’ll slice you open from neck to navel.”

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Crime Time ~ Sins & Secrets ~ “Lexington”

#CrimeTime with Alicia Dean ~ 

Sins & Secrets, Season 2, Episode 1,  “Lexington”

Lexington, Kentucky, July 17, 1994

A group of University of Kentucky students were hanging out, celebrating the twenty-first birthday of Trent DiGiuro, a well-liked student at the university. Trent was a football player but, at 6’2 and 260 lbs., he was told he was too small and too slow to play. But, he went out and tried anyway, giving it all he could and holding his own with the other, bigger players. He was thrilled when he made it on the team.

At around 12:30, when the party was starting to wind down, a shot rang out. Shawn, one of the friends, asked Trent DiGiuro if he’d heard it. It was in that moment, he realized Trent had been shot. A friend held a shirt on Trent’s head as they waited for an ambulance.  The shirt was immediately soaked in blood. Although Trent was rushed to the hospital, he died—the coroner stated that he died within seconds of being shot.

All of the partygoers were interrogated and tested for gun residue. They told of some guys who drove up in a pickup and wanted to crash the party and were told it was a private party. That ended up leading nowhere. It was determined that the shot, which was directly into Trent’s ear, came from a distance, most likely from a spot above where Trent was located. People wondered if UK football players were being targeted.

For two years, the investigation went unsolved. Then, authorities received a call that they should check out a student named David Cante. They went to David’s house and were shocked at what they found. It was clear that Cante had an unhealthy interest in Trent DiGiuro. They not only found a cache of weapons; they found a rifle that was similar to the one that killed Trent. They also found several paper plates with creepy messages written on them, including one that said he and Trent were twins. He seemed to be obsessed with the victim, which raised a red flag. But, when they dug deeper, they found no connection between Cante and Trent’s murder.

Three more years passed without a break in the case. The story was featured on America’s Most Wanted, which brought in a ton of leads. None of them resulted in anything worthwhile. Then, in January 2000, an attorney called police and told them he had some information from someone who wished to remain anonymous. The attorney gave them the name of Shane Ragland. They learned that Shane was another student at the university. The anonymous source said the motive was Shane being blackballed from a fraternity. Police spoke to a friend of Trent’s who said he was pledging with Shane and Trent was there. On the wall was a calendar of college girls. Shane pointed to one and said he’d slept with her. She was a friend of Trent’s and the girlfriend of the president. Later, the president confronted Shane and he was blackballed from the fraternity. Shane blamed Matt and went after him, attacking him in a bar. When Trent learned of the attack, he called Shane and told him that Trent was the one who told the president. He said if he had a problem, he should take it up with him. Unfortunately, those words sealed Trent’s fate.

Even though this seemed like a minor conflict and shouldn’t have led to murder, it was the only thing police had. Police thought Ragland sounded like a solid suspect but couldn’t go anywhere without knowing the identity of the source. They convinced the attorney, who gave them her name–Aimee Lloyd, a former girlfriend of Shane. She told them she and Shane were out drinking one night and they played the game, “What’s the worst thing you’ve done?” When it was Shane’s turn, he said he’d shot someone. He told her he killed Trent. He even showed her the rifle he’d used. And made her promise she’d never tell anyone. For five years, she kept the promise, Then, one day she read an article about the anniversary of Trent’s death. All she could think about was what his family was going through and knew she had to do something.

She agreed to work with police on a sting operation. They set up a ruse that Aimee would email Shane to establish contact. She did, and they began to communicate frequently. Shane suggested they meet get together some time, and Aimee agreed. She told him she would have a layover in Lexington if he wanted to meet with her. Aimee met with Shane in a lounge at the airport. Some of the other patrons were undercover cops, and Aimee was wired. Police had gone in the night before and set up the bar so they could record audio.

At first, they talked about old times, then Aimee began to cry. She said, “Something has been bother me, something you told me a long time ago, and I wish you never had. I need to know how you feel about it, so I can find out what kind of person you are before we go further.” He told her that he regretted it. She asked if he was ever going to do anything about it and asked if he could live with himself. He told her he didn’t have a choice. Then, he said, “You’re not setting me up, are you?” Aimee nervously laughed off the question, then said goodbye and headed to her flight, a nervous wreck.

The confession was enough to get a search warrant and they found a rifle that was the same caliber as the one that killed Trent. They arrested Shane. When he they interrogated him, he refused to admit he killed Trent.

Shane’s wealthy father posted his 500,000-dollar bond and hired the best attorney. Aimee took the stand at the trial and Shane’s attorney cautioned the jury to be careful believing her. They had Aimee’s diary and read extremely personal, explicit entries she’d written about hers and Shane’s sex life. Shane’s defense claimed that a person with behavior that racy couldn’t be trusted as a witness. Ugh, that’s outrageous. I’m shocked the judge allowed it. They had his freaking OWN words saying he regretted killing Trent, yet they put forth a defense like that?

The jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to thirty years. However, a motion was filed by Shane’s attorneys, claiming that one of the ballistics experts gave false testimony. His guilty verdict was overturned. After discussing the option with Trent’s family, prosecutors offered Shane a deal. He plead guilty to manslaughter. With time served, he walked out a free man. So disgusting. His family wasn’t thrilled with the plan but said they didn’t have much choice. I’m not sure why they didn’t. It seems to me that they had a pretty solid case and should have tried it again. Although, they did get the satisfaction of having Shane admit he killed their son.

Aimee Lloyd was so terrified Shane would seek revenge that she went underground. She had to change her identity and completely disappear.

Not wanting Shane to live a life of luxury and enjoy his daddy’s millions, the DiGiuro family sued Ragland, and in 2008, the family was awarded $63.3 million, including $3.3 million in lost wages. It was the largest amount awarded in Fayette County and the second largest ever in Kentucky.

In 2012, Ragland sustained a spinal cord injury in a traffic accident where he was driving too fast on wet roads and not wearing a seatbelt. He has been confined to a wheelchair since. I guess Karma is indeed a bitch. However, it doesn’t seem he’s learned his lesson. In 2015, he was in Court on charges of domestic abuse for beating his girlfriend and her children. His only consequence was that he was ordered not to be around the children, although the woman stayed with him. Sometimes, the things people do amaze me.

 

[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.]

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Crime Time ~ American Monster ~ “The Last Valentine”

#CrimeTime with Alicia Dean ~ 

American Monster, Season 3, Episode 7,  “The Last Valentine”

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – February 14, 2001

On Valentine’s Day in 2001, a frantic 911 call came in to the Oklahoma City Police Department.

Affluent OKC gynecologist, John Hamilton, was calling to report that he’d found his wife, Susan, dead on the bathroom floor:

Operator: 911.

John Hamilton: Please, please, send police, please send an ambulance, please.

Operator: What’s the problem?

John Hamilton: My wife’s, my wife, my wife I think my wife is dead. Please, please.

Operator: Sir, sir.

John Hamilton: Please, please.

He told the operator he was trying CPR.

911 call:

John Hamilton: Listen, I’m a doctor, I’ve been trying CPR. Please send somebody quick.

EMSA: OK. Is she not breathing?

John Hamilton: No, she’s not breathing, I don’t get a pulse. Please, hurry.

EMSA: OK, you’re doing CPR?

John Hamilton: Yes, I’m trying. Yeah, I’m going to hang up so I can continue. Please.

EMSA: Alright. We’ll be right there.

John Hamilton: OK.

John and Susan married in 1987 and everyone who knew them felt they were a perfectly happy couple. Susan worked for Dr. Hamilton a few days a week, running his clinic. Seemingly the only dark cloud over their happiness was the conflict concerning the abortions Dr. Hamilton performed. Pro-Life advocates held several protests at his clinic and the couple received numerous threats.

February 14th, 2001, would have been their fifteenth Valentine’s Day together. But, it was also the day Dr. Hamilton returned home from his second surgery of the morning to find his wife dead—lying in a pool of blood. She’d been bludgeoned and strangled.

Investigators explored various theories—

~Robbery – The couple was wealthy and would certainly draw the attention of robbers.

~ Revenge for the abortions the doctor performed – Just the week before Susan was murdered, a wanted poster had been left for Dr. Hamilton that read, “A reward in heaven will be bestowed on anyone contributing to bringing this murderer to justice.” And both John and Susan had received threatening phone calls that week.

~ And, of course, the spouse – The morning of the murder, John went home after an early morning surgery to exchange cards with his wife. The hospital paged him at 9 a.m. to get back for another surgery. By 9:30, he was scrubbing up for the operation — a complicated removal of a tumor. The procedure came off without a hitch, and later none of the other doctors reported anything at all unusual in his behavior.

By 10:45, he was on his way home again, which is when he says he discovered Susan in a pool of blood. The timeline was extremely tight for the doctor to even be considered as a suspect. He’d have to have committed the violent murder in that narrow window between his two surgeries. His former medical partner, for one, doesn’t think that was possible. She didn’t believe he could do a surgery, go commit a violent crime, then come back and do another surgery, so calmly and without a hitch.

But investigators weren’t so sure, especially after finding a few clues that indicated the doctor might have been the killer. A card from his wife was found inside his Jaguar that read: “Obviously, I bought this before last Monday, so I guess now it doesn’t seem as appropriate. I do still love you though. Have a good day. Susan”

As is turns out, Susan suspected John of having an affair with a stripper—who was one of his patients–after finding numerous calls he’d made to the woman. But John explained to his wife that the woman had been having severe issues and had threatened suicide. He was only trying to help her.

In addition to the not so romantic card, investigators were suspicious of John because there were no bloody footprints leading away from the crime scene, and Susan’s blood and tissue were found in his Jaguar—which he explained away by saying he’d gotten in the car to move it while waiting on the ambulance after realizing they would need the parking space. However, his hands were shaking too badly to start the car.

The doctor’s strange behavior didn’t help ease their suspicions.  Hamilton had told the 911 operator he was performing CPR. But when the first responder arrived on the scene, he thought there was something odd about the way the doctor was performing chest compressions. He had one hand on her chest and one hand on her abdomen, rather than interlocking his hands with the palm in the center of the chest. There were no signs that the doctor had attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

When investigators placed John in the back of a police cruiser, his behavior became more bizarre. He scraped his knuckles on the mesh screen in the police car and banged his head into it. Police took him to the station where they confiscated his clothing for evidence and placed him in an interview room. They kept him there for hours and taped him on the surveillance camera. Hamilton seemed to be checking out his shoulder area. Police wondered if he was checking for injuries and if his actions in the cruiser were so he’d have an excuse for any abrasions they might find. On the show, they played a video of Dr. Hamilton in the interview room. He was definitely acting strange.

And as the detectives looked more closely into the doctor’s timeline that morning, they saw a hole — not a big one but maybe enough time to kill and get back. They’d learned that second surgery, originally scheduled for 9 am, hadn’t actually gotten underway until 9:40 because Hamilton was late. The surgical team was about to get started when they realized the doctor was not there. They had the patient under anesthesia, but no doctor, which is pretty much unheard of.

That same afternoon, police arrested Doctor Hamilton for his wife’s murder, and he was thrown in jail immediately and denied bail. As they worked to build their case against him, the prosecution was amazed at the support the doctor had. A crowd lined up to attend the proceedings — loyal patients, former employees, and fellow physicians — all standing behind the doctor.

But the prosecution contended he was guilty. The case they presented was that the doctor knew Susan was considering divorce. They argued and he snapped. He choked her and grabbed a nearby object and beat her to death. He now had to cover up his frenzy by going back to perform his second surgery as though nothing had happened. He had to have left the house by 9:20 to make it back to the hospital by 9:30, when he was seen scrubbing up for surgery. Susan, as it turns out, should also have left by 9:20, because she had a 9:30 meeting at a friend’s house ten minutes away. However, it appears she never had much of a chance to get ready — when she was discovered, she was still undressed, her hair still wet. Which means if he didn’t do it, whoever did had to have come in immediately upon his departure.

Nothing had been stolen, but a friend of Susan’s found expensive jewelry hidden in Susan’s underwear drawer, leading the prosecution to believe John had hidden it there to make her attack look like a robbery. Maybe he planned to go back and remove it, but he was arrested before he could do that.

The final nail in his coffin, though, was the blood spatter. Defense attorneys called a blood stain expert to testify that most of the spatter on John’s clothes and shoes could be explained by his attempts to perform CPR. Before he left the stand, prosecutor Wes Lane asked if there was any information about the spatter they were missing. After a brief hesitation, he stated: In my examination, I found additional blood that was not talked about anywhere, on the inside of the right cuff.

He went on to say that the only way he could see that it could have gotten there was when he was beating her with that blunt instrument that was driving the blood up inside his shirt. And this was a witness the defense had called—and paid.

Dr. Hamilton was sentenced to, and is serving, a life sentence without the possibility of parole. As a side note, he was also ordered to pay $11,104 for the cost of his stay in the Oklahoma County jail. It was the first such order in Oklahoma County. Talk about adding insult to injury. 😊

While I am usually one to think everyone is guilty, and it certainly looks as though this guy is guilty, one question nags at me. Logistically, I don’t understand how the doctor had on bloody clothes at the time he called 911 and emergency personnel and police arrived. Apparently the morning played out something like this…

7:00 a.m. – Dr. Hamilton leaves the house to head to the hospital where he performs a surgery. He is, I assume, wearing street clothes although he changes into scrubs at the hospital.

Appx 8:40 a.m.– In those same clothes, Dr. Hamilton returns home to exchange cards with his wife (he lives very close to the hospital) and it is then that he kills her. He attempts to clean up the mess. I would assume he changed out of bloody clothes. At around 9:20, he heads to the hospital to perform another surgery, wearing fresh clothes. Because, I am going to guess that he doesn’t arrive at the hospital for his next surgery wearing blood-soaked clothes, so yes, he changed. We’ll call the first outfit of the day, Outfit 1, which he was wearing when he killed his wife. The clothes he changed into will be called Outfit 2.

Appx 10:45 – Dr. Hamilton returns home wearing Outfit 2. He finds his wife on the floor, which he knew she would be because he killed her there. He performs CPR, so that it looks like he tried to revive her. He calls 911. He’s still wearing Outfit 2. Emergency personnel arrive, she’s dead. He’s covered in blood, in Outfit 2, because of trying to perform CPR.

Police investigate, they take Outfit 2 and it ends up being the blood evidence that hangs him, because of the spatter found inside his sleeve, of what I assume is Outfit 2. If all he did in Outfit 2 was pretend to do CPR, how did it get the spatter that eventually convicted him? I can understand that they would find that in Outfit 1, his ‘killing clothes’ -which I assume were never found – I find it unlikely that, at some point, he would change back into Outfit 1 after returning home in Outfit 2.

Am I making sense? What am I missing?

[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.]

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Crime Time ~ Handsome Devils ~ “Hurricane Love”

#CrimeTime with Alicia Dean ~ 

 

Handsome Devils, Season 1, Episode 2,  “Hurricane Love”

New Orleans, Louisiana, October 2006

This has to be one of the most bizarre murder cases I’ve come across.

In October 2006, Police were called to the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel after a report that a man’s body was on the roof of the parking garage. Police arrived and found the dead man. His body was severely mangled, and it was obvious he’d fallen or had been pushed and died on impact. Looking for an ID, investigators searched the man’s pocket and found a note. Below is a brief excerpt from the note:

This is not accidental. I had to take my own life to pay for the one I took.

If you send a patrol to 826 N. Rampart you will find the dismembered corpse of my girlfriend Addie in the oven, on the stove, and in the fridge along with full documentation on the both of us and a full signed confession from myself…

Zack Bowen.”

Authorities rushed to the location–a small apartment above the Voodoo Spiritual Temple. When they entered, they encountered a horrific scene straight from a horror movie.

The apartment was cold. The air had been set down to 60. On the walls were painted messages such as “I’m a failure,” along with a request to call Zack’s ex-wife and the mother of his children and tell her he loved her.

Some of the messages were arrows pointing to specific areas of the apartment, stating “Look here” or “look inside.” On the stove, they found a pot containing a human head, burned beyond recognition. In another pot they found hands and feet. Inside the oven, in a large roasting pan, were arms and legs, also burnt. There appeared to be seasoning on the limbs. Next to the stove on the counter were cut-up potatoes and carrots. Inside the refrigerator, in a large plastic bag, they found the torso.  They would soon learn that the murder victim was Addie Hall, Zach Bowen’s girlfriend.

Friends of Zach and Addie were shocked. They knew the couple had a tumultuous relationship and had argued frequently but never dreamed it would end in such a gruesome manner.

The two had worked together at a bar in the French Quarter. Zach was known as a charmer and Addie a free-spirit. When Hurricane Katrina was coming, Addie let Zach stay with her and, rather than evacuate, the two chose to ride out the storm. After Katrina, they gained media attention and were featured in The New Yorker because of their ‘party’ lifestyle and upbeat attitudes even with all the devastation around them. They had no power, no water, but they hung out in the streets and served drinks to passersby. They treated it as though they were camping out and thrived amidst all the destruction.

Once the power was restored and real life encroached—including jobs and bills–the relationship began falling apart. They fought constantly, it was rumored they cheated on one another, and increased their drug use to a dangerous level.

A lady Addie worked for was interviewed on the show, along with Zach’s mother. (Can you imagine your son doing something like this, dying like this?). Addie’s boss thought of Addie as a daughter. She said Zach was extremely jealous and would say that if he couldn’t have her, no one could She called it ‘graveyard love’ which is a pretty accurate description of the way things turned out.

Both Zach and Addie had issues. She’d been molested as a child and grew up to become involved in several abusive relationships.  Zach had been a military police officer in Kosovo and Iraq — including time at Abu Ghraib. One experience in particular that friends said “messed him up” the most was when a girl he had befriended in Iraq was killed — along with her whole family — when her family’s shop was bombed. He returned home depressed and suffering from PTSD. He was discovered with 27 burns on his body and stated in the journal that he burned himself with a cigarette for every year of his life as punishment for his failures.

The beginning of the end started when Addie went to the landlord to try to have Zach taken off the lease because she wanted to kick him out after learning he’d cheated. Zach was furious. Apparently, this led to an explosive, physical altercation. He went nuts and choked her to death.

Zach’s version of the events was relayed in an 8-page confession he wrote in Addie’s journal. The letter read, in part:

“I killed her at 1 a.m. Thursday 5 October,” he wrote. “I very calmly strangled her. It was very quick.”

After killing her, he sexually violated her corpse several times before passing out next to it. The next morning, he got up and went to work. When he returned, he moved Hall’s corpse to the bathtub, where he dismembered it using a hacksaw and a knife. Afterward, he meticulously cleaned the bathroom.

It took him four days to decide what to do with Hall’s remains. During that time, he went on about his life as normal — friends who met with him during the two weeks between the murder and his suicide said he seemed to be in good spirits, and even spoke of going on a vacation. In fact, his confession letter stated that he wanted to enjoy his last days on earth to the fullest, indulging in “good food, good drugs, good strippers.”

Apparently, he decided to cook Hall’s remains only in order to make them easier to dispose of. Despite the crime scene and the rumors that circulated, no human remains were found in his system during the autopsy.

He went on to say in the journal, “I scared myself not only by the action of calmly strangling the woman I’ve loved for one and a half years, but by my entire lack of remorse. I’ve known forever how horrible a person I am (ask anyone).”

The security cameras at the Omni Royal Orleans captured Bowen approaching the terrace and looking over it several times. Finally, he downed a final drink, then threw himself to his death.

There is one more bizarre twist to the case. Director Rob Florence decided to make a documentary called Zach and Addie about the case after meeting Margaret Sanchez, a friend of the couple. The film took 8 years to make and Sanchez is featured frequently discussing the tragedy. During the time it took to make the documentary, Sanchez ending up in the middle of her own horrific dismemberment case. Only this time, she was accused and eventually confessed to the murder. The victim was Jaren Lockhart, a dancer and mother in New Orleans. Sanchez and her boyfriend stabbed and dismembered Lockhart after luring her into their trap by claiming they wanted to hire her for a private dance.

Some speculate that this is just too coincidental and perhaps Margaret was involved in Addie’s death as well. If so, Zach has taken that knowledge to the grave with him. Margaret was not mentioned in his rambling confession.

How crazy is this case?

 

 

[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.]

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Crime Time ~ Fear Thy Neighbor ~ “Home is Where the Hearse is”

#CrimeTime with Alicia Dean ~ 

 

Fear Thy Neighbor ~ Season 1, Episode 5,  “Home is Where the Hearse is”

Miami, Florida, October 4, 1986

In 1983, after serving in the military, Jimmy Escoto returns to his Cuban neighborhood in Miami to live with his mom, his stepbrother and his eight-year-old son, Anthony.  The neighborhood is an idyllic, respectable area where the friendly residents get along well.  Older neighbor, Baldomero Fernandez, and Escoto soon become friends. Jimmy is trying to put himself through nursing school, and Fernandez hires him to do odd jobs around his property.

Finally, Jimmy realizes his dream and graduates nursing school. He gets a job and no longer has time to help Fernandez. Fernandez, who was involved in local politics and was friends with the mayor, sees himself as someone who has earned respect. Not only does Jimmy refuse to work for him, he hosts parties, parades a string of women in and out of his home, and parks a truck he’s restoring on a strip of property between their houses that Baldomero claims is his. When Jimmy will not obey Baldomero’s demands that he keep off of that piece of land, Baldomero builds a fence. Jimmy calls the assessor’s office. A rep comes out and determines the area does not belong to Baldomero and the fence must come down. However, that ruling is quickly overturned, most likely due to Baldomero’s friends in high places. Not long after, the rep is fired and it is determined the land belongs to Baldomero after all.

Jimmy Escoto

This is just one of the many feuds that would transpire between these neighbors who were once friends. Baldomero seethes with rage and watches Jimmy’s every move, calling the police each time he feels Jimmy has violated any kind of law. The police find nothing to charge him with and eventually slap a restraining order against each of them.

Over the next few years, tensions escalate between the two. During that time, Baldomero threatens on more than one occasion that he will kill Jimmy. He even makes the threat to Jimmy’s mother.

In 1986, Jimmy lands a dream job…private nurse to the son of former Miami Dolphins linebacker, Nick Buoniconti. In 1985, when he was nineteen and a linebacker himself, Marc Buoniconti was injured in a game between Citadel and East Tennessee State when he hit, helmet first, into another player’s back. After the hit, he lay motionless on the ground. He was rushed to the hospital where it was determined he had suffered a dislocation between the third and fourth cervical vertebrae. His spinal cord was crushed, and he was paralyzed from the neck down.

Marc Buoniconti

Marc was interviewed on the episode and he credits Jimmy with getting him off the respirator. He pushed and encouraged Marc and Marc made remarkable progress under his care. Marc spoke of Jimmy’s kindness and his caring, selfless nature. Jimmy’s son, Anthony, now a grown (and might I say, very handsome) man, was interviewed on the episode as well and told about what a great father Jimmy was and how much he still misses him.

On October 1, 1986, Jimmy accompanies Marc to New York to attend the first annual, “Great Sports Legends” charity dinner for the Buoniconti fund to cure paralysis, which is still active today. The guest list included Joe DiMaggio, Sugar Ray Leonard, Joe Namath, Howard Cosell and Richard Nixon.

Three days later, on October 4, 1986, Jimmy’s son, Anthony, was out riding his bike and didn’t come home when Jimmy thought he should. Jimmy went out looking for him and when he returned, Fernandez was parked in his car, on Jimmy’s lawn. Jimmy approaches the car and curses at Fernandez, telling him to leave. Instead, Fernandez pulls a gun. Jimmy doesn’t think he will shoot him, and he doesn’t back down. Fernandez pulls the trigger.

Injured and shocked, Jimmy stumbles back, begging for his life. Fernandez climbs out of the car and continues firing. Jimmy runs. Weak and losing blood, he runs up onto a woman’s lawn. The woman sees the man chasing Jimmy, brandishing a weapon, and she rushes inside to call the police. As she is begging them to hurry, Fernandez runs out of bullets. Jimmy staggers away, but Fernandez chases him down and beats him with the butt of the pistol.  Fernandez’s wife arrives on the scene and takes the gun away from her husband. At that point, Fernandez picks up a cement slab and slams it into Jimmy’s head, over and over. The police finally arrive and Jimmy is rushed to the hospital, but it is too late. Jimmy Escoto is dead.

Anthony Escoto, who is now a Miami Firefighter

Fernandez was arrested and charged with second degree murder. He claimed he feared for his life and that Jimmy had attacked him with a chain. On the program, the Chief of Police stated that Fernandez was checked for injuries from the chain he claimed Jimmy hit him with, and there was no indication of any injury.

The community for the most part supported Fernandez. Among his supporters was the mayor of Miami. Fernandez was sentenced to seven years in prison, but he only ended up serving three.  

In my research I found stories that spoke of ‘vigilante justice’ and how the ‘criminal became the victim’ and all the support that Fernandez had. I know there is more than one side to every story, but the facts that were presented in the program–from people who were around at the time, including the chief of police–indicate that the feud went both ways and the violence that erupted that day was all on Fernandez. He not only shot Jimmy, he stalked him and beat him repeatedly, crushing his head with a cement block as Jimmy lay helpless on the ground. Fernandez leaves a family destroyed and a young boy fatherless. And, for that, the man serves three years? That, in my opinion, is appalling.

What do you think? Was justice served?

 

[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.]

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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.]

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Crime Time ~ Scene of the Crime ~ “Deadly Breakup”

#CrimeTime with Alicia Dean ~ 

 

Scene of the Crime with Tony Harris, Season 1, Episode 5, “Deadly Breakup”

Monroeville, Pennsylvania – August 15, 2007

Fifteen year old Demi Cuccia was a beautiful, popular high school cheerleader. When her older brother’s friend, John Mullarkey, expressed an interest in her, she was thrilled, and they began dating.

Outwardly, things appeared fine between the couple, but a year after they started seeing each other, John’s controlling possessiveness finally became too much, and Demi broke up with him. He wouldn’t leave her alone, though. He did not want to accept the breakup. He texted and called her over and over, insisting, begging, harassing.

On August 15th,  the day after Demi’s sixteenth birthday, her mother was taking son Jake to a community college for orientation. Demi wasn’t feeling well and stayed home. Just before they left, Demi was laying on the sofa, and her phone rang. It was John. Demi was annoyed and didn’t answer. She told her mother that all she wanted to do was rest, and he wouldn’t leave her alone. Demi called her father that evening and said she was supposed to be working on cheerleading posters but wasn’t feeling well. She didn’t mention to him that John was coming over to talk about their relationship.

Demi and her mother

Demi and her father

Later that evening, Officer Sarah Bonner received a call that there had been a stabbing. She arrived at the location and a neighbor waved her down. Not knowing if the assailant was nearby, Officer Bonner drew her weapon. As she approached the neighbor, she saw Demi at the neighbor’s feet, covered in blood. The officer holstered her weapon and focused on Demi, reassuring the girl that she would be okay. Down the street, a man was laying on the ground. He’d slit his own throat after stabbing Demi sixteen times. The ambulance arrived and went immediately to him, rather than Demi. Officer Connor directed them to Demi, and said, “I have the victim here.” They treated her and rushed her to the hospital, but her injuries were too severe. She died at the hospital. The man—who turned out to be John  survived.

Demi’s devastated parents were interviewed during the episode. Her father had videotaped his son’s graduation only two months prior, and he’d videotaped John graduating as well. How could someone who was their son’s close friend, someone they’d welcomed into their home, do something so heinous to their beautiful child?

The truth came out during the investigation. There was a dark side to Demi’s life that she didn’t share with her parents. Her friends knew just a little of what was going on, but not the extent of the obsessive nature of their relationship. John didn’t want Demi hanging out with her friends. He kept close tabs on her and wanted her all to himself. His behavior became more and more abusive and controlling, but Demi didn’t understand the danger she was in.

John was charged with first degree murder, but his defense claimed he didn’t intend to kill her and wasn’t aware of what he was doing. He was suffering psychosis from taking the acne drug, Accutane. The prosecution believed he went to Demi’s with the intent of either getting the answer he wanted, or killing her. He texted beforehand, asking if her brother was going to be there. And…he brought the knife, the murder weapon, with him. Sounds like his intentions were clear.

The murderer

The jury took just forty-five minutes of deliberation to agree, convicting Mullarkey of first-degree murder. He was sentenced immediately to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The only time the defendant showed emotion was when he was handed the sentence. He never once apologized to or addressed Demi’s family.

After sentencing, John’s family hired an attorney to try to get John’s sentence reduced. John’s family refused to be interviewed for the show, but the attorney agreed to speak with Tony. He claims that Mullarkey had ineffective counsel and that the jury didn’t have all the facts. He found a forensic psychologist who will testify that John was in a frenzied, maniacal state and would not have acted without provocation. Tony asked the attorney, “Do you believe there was provocation?” The attorney replied, “There was a dispute between these two at the time.” Tony said, “He was texting her non-stop, she’d moved on, he had not.” The attorney blithely stated, “But, he didn’t break the door.” I know it’s his job to defend his client, but his statement infuriated me. It was obvious it pissed Tony off as well. He said, “Wow, she didn’t tell him to bring a knife to stab her. You can’t blame Demi for this. Sixteen stab wounds, doesn’t that speak to intent?” The attorney replied, “No, it was in the heat of passion.”

Such a tragic story, and unfortunately, not all that uncommon. Many teens are in controlling relationships and are the victims of abuse. Demi’s parents are on a crusade to get the message out and they travel around to various schools to tell their story, hoping it will save other teens from this same fate. The message is simple, if someone is trying to control and isolate you, then those are serious warning signs. It’s not normal…it’s not love…it’s not okay.

[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.]

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