Silenced by the Dixie Mafia Part 3: A Judge is Murdered

Dixie Mafia

According to an article on the FBI’s website, in 1983, federal authorities designated the entire Harrison County Sherriff’s office as a criminal enterprise. Sheriff Leroy Hobbs was hand in hand with the Dixie Mafia. In 1987, a prominent judge and his wife were murdered in their home and some of the local corruption would be exposed. Now 30 years later the rest of this story will be told. Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margret were murdered in their home on the evening of September 14, 1987. The official report states that Pete Halat and Charles Lager “discovered” the bodies on the morning of September 16th. The popular tv show “The FBI Files” even states this as fact. This, however, is merely another coverup perpetrated by this group of people. One lone woman knew the truth for decades and now everyone will know. Pete Halat had been to the house the day before with one honest cop bound by a gambling addiction and his name is Lt. Dan Anderson.

Can someone be honest and be a gambler? Yes. Can someone be bound by an addiction to gambling? Of course. We see this every day. Is it too far-fetched to assume this man could be forced into silence because of his addiction? What if his son had already died of suspicious circumstances? I will let you ponder those questions as I relate to you the story of September 15, 1987.

Lt. Dan Anderson worked as a court bailiff for Judge Vincent Sherry and considered him a friend. On the morning of September 15th, Anderson arrived early to the courthouse to get the building ready for the day’s legal wranglings. He turned on all the lights and adjusted the thermostat and made the coffee. Strangely, the judge never arrived. Judge Sherry hadn’t missed one court date in his entire career. As the clocked ticked past his first appointment his bailiff began to worry. Anderson made a phone call to the judge’s house but there wasn’t any answer. Finally, Anderson called the judge’s legal partner Pete Halat and asked if the judge happened to be in the office with him. The answer was negative. Concerned, Anderson told Halat that he wasn’t waiting any longer. He was going to drive over to the judge’s house and see what was going on. Halat immediately told the bailiff that he would meet him at the judge’s house.

Together they approached the door of the house and Dan Anderson noticed it was partially opened. He called out “Sherry,” a nickname for the judge and there wasn’t a response. Anderson carefully pushed open the door and found the body of the 58-year-old man lying on the floor. Continuing through the house, Anderson found the body of Mrs. Margret Sherry in the bedroom.

Struggling to keep his emotions in check, Dan Anderson told Pete Halat what he found. This is where the case gets even stranger. Instead of calling for backup, Pete Halat sends the bailiff home claiming that he would handle the situation. Supposedly, he didn’t want the media to find out about this until he could get the police on site and figure out what happened to the judge.

Lt. Anderson returns home distraught after seeing the corpses of his friends. Before he could get himself together, his daughter Phyllis happened to call. On this rare occasion, Dan Anderson poured out his emotional story to his daughter giving details of the crime scene. Phyllis listened and tried to console her father and promised to call and check on him later that evening. When evening came, her father was back to his tight-lipped self and refused to speak of it again. Phyllis had no way of knowing that her father was being forced into silence. She assumed it was his quiet way of dealing with trauma.

The next day Pete Halat makes a big deal of the judge being late for court and persuades his junior law partner, Charles Lager into driving out the judge’s house with him. This is where the “official” report begins. Halat barely steps into the house and steps back out onto the porch to report the two were dead. Later in trial Lager would confess that Halat didn’t seem shocked by their death. Also, he stated that Halat didn’t go all the way into the back of the house where Margret’s body lay. How did he know they were both dead? Well, you and I know the truth.

An investigation was launched and eventually, a partial truth came out. Pete Halat and a few others had been in league with the infamous Kirksey Nix, Jr on a big money-making scam. The FBI labeled it “The Lonely Hearts” scam. Basically, Nix had found a way to con hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the local gay community. He would post pictures of good-looking men in the paper along with a tear-jerking ad. This poor handsome gay man was looking for love, was being wrongfully accused, and needed money to help with his legal fees. Trying to help out, these victims would send in their money and their love letters. Then the criminal scumbags would turn around and blackmail these good-hearted men. In the 1980’s most of these men weren’t open about their sexuality and Nix found it easy to blackmail them.  By September they were raking in six figures. This is when Halat begins to get greedy. Why did he have to put all the money back in a safe deposit box for Nix? Instead, he transferred $100,000 to a safe deposit box he shared with Judge Sherry. When Nix found out about the theft, Halat blames it on the judge. Nix hires a hitman to kill the couple and Halat wins all the way around. You see, Halat wanted to run for mayor and one of his biggest political rivals was Margret Sherry. Now Halat had the money, the Sherrys were gone, and two years after their death he becomes the mayor.

The FBI investigators had to keep the case close to the chest for fear of tipping off the corrupt mayor, but in October 1996 Halat’s charade was over when he was arrested and tried for his involvement in the murder of Judge Sherry. Nix and the hitman would get life in prison, but Halat only received 18 years.

Phyllis knew about the case, but her father tried to keep her from paying too much attention to the news. Living two states away in Georgia, it was easy to get distracted by her own life and not follow the case too closely. It would take a chance meeting in a restaurant before Phyllis would get her father to speak of the case again.

Fast forward to 1997. Phyllis and her husband were having dinner when she overheard the people behind her say something about the Sherry murders. Phyllis being a good ‘ole southern gal has never met a stranger and can talk to anyone. She turns around and innocently asks the man if he were talking about the murder of Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margret. To her surprise, the man glared at her and without saying a word he stood up with his woman and left the restaurant. Phyllis was taken aback and glanced at the table and noticed they hadn’t even eaten their dinner. When she returned home she phoned her dad and told him about the strange encounter.

Dan exploded on the phone demanding to know what the man looked like. Phyllis described him not understanding her father’s outburst.

“That was John Ransom. He’s the S.O.B. who killed Sherry and Margret.” Dan also told of Pete Halat’s involvement and then demanded that she never speak of this case to anyone again.

I wish I could say that this is the end of this story, but we have one more murder to cover next week. Lt. Dan Anderson would be killed. Guess what? His death was ruled suicide. Surely, by this point in this story, you won’t believe that for a moment. Below I have listed a few links to more information about the case of Judge Sherry and his wife.

 

More info:

http://themississippilink.com/2013/05/22/ex-biloxi-mayor-still-denies-role-in-killings/

https://www.sunherald.com/news/local/crime/article173225801.html

 

 

Blue Lives Matter campaign

An officer is gunned down every 58hrs in this country. This is unacceptable! I am starting my Blue Lives Matter campaign and will be giving a free book to a uniformed officer at every book signing. I’ve been studying graphic design and created this logo for my campaign. Feel free to share it every where to show your support.

Synova’s Mission

I’ve been highlighting this case for a couple weeks now. Check it out and share. I’m on a mission to highlight those long forgotten cold cases, to work with the victim’s families, and to make sure no victim is forgotten. Please help me in my quest. Share this. Together we can generate leads and bring justice to those who have suffered so much.

Silenced by the Dixie Mafia – Part 2: Crippled Innocence – Murder of Ronnie Anderson

 

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Six weeks after the ambush of Sherriff Pusser and his wife on New Hope Rd another death was reported to police in Gulfport, Mississippi. 17-yr-old Ronald Anderson was said to have committed suicide in an apartment he shared with the teenager, Jeffery D. Bass. Anderson’s body was transported to the Lang Funeral Home in Gulfport, then transferred to Faith Chapel in Pensacola, before being taken to Vernon, Florida for burial. No Autopsy was performed, and no one in law enforcement questioned the suicide ruling by local coroner Frank Hightower. This life-shattering event for the family barely caused a stir amongst the locals and only generated one small article about the death inquest. No one seemed to care that this crippled teenager could have been gunned down. It was more convenient to label it suicide and go on.

What I’m about to relate is highly controversial. I have researched and studied this case trying to provide evidence. I have uncovered some compelling facts and some disturbing theories. In the 25-page Sherriff’s Investigation report into this case, I have discovered a few more tidbits of questionable behavior by law enforcement. I have struggled to remain unemotional in this case, but I will try to relate the story to you with logic and reason. I will let you decide what happened to Ronald Anderson for yourself.

Before getting into the case, I must explain to you that I was raised with extreme respect for law enforcement. As far as I’m concerned anyone who is willing to put their life on the line to protect someone else is a hero in my book. I am currently running a Blue Lives Matter too campaign with my events. So, when I mention something derogatory in this article, please don’t think I’m attributing the actions of a few shady officials to the entire law enforcement community. I bleed blue for our guys and gals in uniform and don’t wish anyone to think otherwise. Like every position in any organization, there are a few shady characters, but that doesn’t mean the entire system is corrupt.

 

Ronald “Ronnie” Anderson had a rough life from the start. He contracted Polio at the age of three and would have to wear a leg brace for the entirety of his life. One leg was smaller than the other, so buying shoes was a difficult task. He would need two different sizes, and one shoe must be mounted onto his braces. Ronnie was a beautiful, sweet child with large brown eyes. His sister remembers how he would cry when his friends would go play and leave him behind. He wanted so desperately to fit in, and family members think that’s what led to his death.

 

September 26, 1967:

Ronnie had gotten a job working at McDonald’s and decided to move out of his father’s house with an older boy named Jeffery Bass. He was so excited to be starting out on his own and had even gotten a little “friend” named Cathy. Ronnie finally felt like he belonged, but this wouldn’t last. Two months after moving out he started having trouble with Bass. Bass was older and rowdy and is rumored to run with a shady crowd. On this morning, Ronnie’s sister Phyllis offered to let him come to visit her for a while. Ronnie was excited to go. His parents had divorced when he was quite young. Phyllis had practically been a segregate mother while their own mother was working trying to provide for four children.

Ronnie’s father, Lt. Dan Anderson went to see the teenager that morning and to take him some new shoes. The teenager was busy packing some clothes and ironing his shirt. His sister would arrive from Pensacola, Florida in a few hours and he wanted to be ready. Dan Anderson returned home only to receive a phone call within the hour. Ronnie was dead.

The distraught father raced to the hospital only to be met by his ex-wife Rose Moore. Rose was also Jeffery Bass’ aunt. Instead of calling the ambulance, Jeff had called his aunt since she was supposedly a registered nurse. Rose cleaned up Ronnie and changed his clothes before calling the ambulance. Why? No one could give an answer to that question.

So, what happened to Ronnie?

Bass told the police that he was sitting on the bed playing with a .410 shotgun and it accidentally went off shooting him under the chin. According to Bass, it was a shock because they thought the gun didn’t have a firing pin. Could Ronnie have been toying with the weapon thinking it was inoperable and accidentally shot himself? If so, why would the aunt come racing in and wash the teenager and change his clothes?

If that wasn’t unusual enough to cause investigators to question this case, the other witness had a different story to tell. Cathy claimed that she and Ronnie had argued and then he went upstairs and shot himself. That’s what she told the police, but that’s not what she said in her frantic phone call to Phyllis the night before Ronnie was buried.

The inconsolable sister had been given sleeping pills by her doctor and had turned in for the night. The phone rang with a frantic woman insisting on talking to Phyllis. Her husband assured the woman that Phyllis was out cold and couldn’t come to the phone and asked to take a message.

“He killed him. We killed him,” was all Cathy said before disconnecting.

Phyllis took all these discrepancies to the police and tried to get her brother’s case re-classified, but she couldn’t find anyone who would help her. Every time she decided to call and ask questions she would receive a call from her father telling her to let it alone. Phyllis couldn’t leave it alone and wondered how her father could. She didn’t realize the trouble she was causing by asking questions. Phyllis was an innocent sister grieving the loss of her precious crippled little brother. So she kept digging.

More discrepancies:

The funeral director for Faith Chapel Home in Pensacola was friends with Ronnie’s stepdad and mother.  This gentleman confided in the family saying he didn’t think it was suicide because there wasn’t any gunshot residue around the wound. Could that just be because Rose washed him, or could it mean that he was shot from a distance by someone else?

Rumors say that Ronnie’s relationship with Cathy was one-sided. If this is true, could Cathy’s real boyfriend have shot Ronnie?

The local coroner has come under some scrutiny after many claims he rules cases as suicide too quickly and too often. Some locals even referred to him as “Suicide Hightower.” After researching, I couldn’t find any official charges brought against the coroner. Could they be just rumors, or could those stories be based in facts? Who knows?

Little did Phyllis know that some of her local law enforcement officials and government officials were arm and arm with the Dixie Mafia. This wouldn’t come out publicly for decades. Did Ronnie hear something he shouldn’t have? Could Bass and his friends have silenced the boy forever?

Phyllis continued to press the police department for answers until one day her father called.

“Leave it alone before you get someone else killed,” he demanded.

Shocked, Phyllis backed off and tried to investigate a little more quietly. This inner turmoil wondering what happened to her brother and why her father wasn’t pushing the issue continued for 36 long years.

It was November 2002, and Phyllis always came into town to visit her father to celebrate Thanksgiving and her father’s birthday. The two went to the local Waffle House as usual. During their meal, Dan Anderson’s entire persona changed, and he mumbled “That Son of a $&*&^” under his breath. Surprised, Phyllis turned to see who he was referring to only to be reprimanded by her father.

Dan waited until the man was out the door and his car pulled out onto the road before he said anything else to his daughter.

“Do you know who that was?”

“No, but I can tell you don’t like him Daddy.”

“That’s the old boy who killed Ronnie.”

Phyllis about fell out of her chair. For thirty-six years her father had reprimanded her for saying the very same thing. He claimed his son’s death as suicide for nearly four decades, and now he just pointed out the man who killed his son. Of course, Phyllis had questions, but her father clammed up about the subject and wouldn’t speak another word of it.

After her father went out to his car, Phyllis hung back and talked to the waitress that knew all the local gossip. That’s when she was given the name Jeffery Bass. Unfortunately, years later during the Sherriff’s investigation this waitress and the other surviving witnesses would change their stories or conveniently forget it entirely. Were they intimidated into silence or did they really forget?

 

Sadly, Lt. Dan Anderson would be dead a short time after pointing out his son’s killer. Surely the police would stand up and take notice. Nope. I’ll get into that and the revelation of the Dixie Mafia in the famous case of Judge Sherry’s murder. Can all these cases be linked by an unlikely string of coincidences or are they tied together by the Dixie Mafia? I will leave it up to you to decide.

 

You can listen to Phyllis’ interview on Stitcher’s Crime & Scandal podcast here:

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/levi-page/the-haleigh-cummings-mystery/e/52987090

 

Silenced by the Dixie Mafia – Part 1: Buford Pusser Story

Buford_Pusser

Photo courtesy Wikipedia: fair use

The movie Walking Tall tells the Hollywood version of the real-life story of Sherriff Buford Pusser’s war with the Dixie Mafia. A two-hour film cannot possibly explain the entire story, nor can it relate the stories of all the secondary characters. Unfortunately, the story of murder, betrayal, and cover-ups didn’t end with the death of Sherriff Pusser. I will try to relate this massive tale to you, but it may take more than one post.

1967:
The Dixie Mafia was known as the State Line Mob and was led by Carl Douglas “Towhead” White. White was in prison when his lover, Louise Hathcock pulled a gun on Sherriff Pusser and was killed. Upon hearing the news, White called his friend Kirksey Nix, Jr and ordered the hit on Sherriff Pusser and his wife, Pauline.

August 12, 1967:
Sherriff Pusser received a disturbance call in the wee hours before dawn. Pauline Pusser decided to ride along with her husband as she had done on many occasions. The pair drove out to New Hope Road to check it out. The disturbance was a ruse to ambush the young sheriff and his wife.
Pusser passed the New Hope Methodist church looking for the reported disturbance but continued driving when he found the place quiet. A black Cadillac pulled out from behind the church and followed the sheriff with its lights off. As the two cars reached a narrow bridge, the Cadillac flashed on its headlights and came racing up beside the officer’s car.
The Cadillac’s passenger opened fire hitting Pauline in the head. The sheriff ducked stepped on the gas. The engine roared to life, and the car lurched ahead of the assassins. He sped up the road a couple of miles until he was sure he had lost his tail, and then pulled over to check on Pauline. Moments later the assassins again found their mark and gunshots rang out hitting Sherriff Pusser in the face and jaw blowing it apart. Somehow the sheriff would survive the attack, but Pauline was killed.
At first, Pusser declared he knew precisely who was responsible and named Towhead White, George McGann, Gary McDaniel, and Kirksey Nix. After 18 days in the hospital and a dozen surgeries to repair his face, Pusser declared he couldn’t tell who had shot him.

 

Was it the trauma that caused his amnesia or was the hard-nosed police officer going to exact his own revenge?

 

Time would witness the deaths of three of the conspirators, but Kirksey Nix would remain on the loose. Legends would be told about the great Buford Pusser, but the story didn’t end with his death in a 1974 car wreck. Kirksey Nix continued and became the head of the Dixie Mafia. By 1987, Nix would be embroiled in another major hit.

Here is where the side stories start creeping into this case. The Dixie Mafia and the State Line Mob were prevalent in the area due to the payoffs of local officials and the coverups by local police departments. This allowed the mob to rule without much interference. Although a few shady officers corrupted the police departments, other lawmen were threatened into silence. At this point in the story, I would like to interject one officer named Lieutenant Dan Anderson of the Harrison County Sherriff’s Department.
Six weeks after the ambush of Sherriff Pusser on New Hope Rd, Lt. Dan Anderson’s son, Ronnie Anderson was shot and killed in his apartment. The case was immediately ruled suicide despite massive evidence to the contrary.

What happened to this 17-yr-old polo victim in leg braces?

What kind of threat could he really have been?

I will dive deeper into the case of Ronald Anderson next week and follow up with the murder of his father, Dan. Along the way, we will highlight the nationally publicized case of the slaying of Judge Sherry and his wife. All these bizarre murders are tied together with a delicate string. That string is the Dixie Mafia. Find out more next week when this cold case story continues.

 

New Father Gunned Down in Cold Blood – The Unsolved Murder of Danny King

danny king - crime stoppers flyer

He was a 20-yr-old newlywed with a three-day-old baby. Daniel W. King was also the son-in-law of a prominent local judge in St. Louis County, MO. He was working as an apprentice pipe fitter at Honeywell, Inc., and life seemed to be starting off on the right foot, unfortunately, this would come to a screeching halt on June 18, 1982.

Danny went to the local hospital to have dinner with his wife and new baby before heading out to his weekly softball game with the Pipe fitters Local 562. At the game, the ecstatic new father handed out pink cigars to all his teammates. After the game, a few of the guys went to a local bar to celebrate. Danny drove two of his teammates home around 2 am and was heading to his home in Florissant, MO.

For some unknown reason, Danny pulled his 1976 Ford Futura to the side of the road. It is unclear if a vehicle was already parked there, or if one pulled over in front of him. Whatever the case, a shooter exited the other car and begins shooting Danny King through the passenger side window. Tire tracks show that the wounded man threw his car into reverse and tore up the road backward. The car careened up the grassy embankment before crashing back down across the road only coming to a stop when the car hits the concrete median.

The autopsy showed three of the five shots hit King in the side and arm. No one knows who would have wanted the young man dead. He had no known enemies. Police quickly ruled out robbery since his wallet was undisturbed. While everyone was asking questions, it seemed the investigators didn’t ask enough. Danny’s brother, Jim has gone back and talked to all his brother’s close friends and even his wife. None of them had been interviewed by police. Why? What happened?

When the news was reported, ten different witnesses called into the police to report what they had seen. Every one of them said there were two men standing outside of Danny’s car that night. Who were these men? Why did he pull over in the first place? There wasn’t anything wrong with his car. Why weren’t these leads followed up? All these questions would haunt the King family.

This case sat dormant for over thirty years until Jim King finally caught the attention of the local authorities. St. Louis County Police officially reopened the case in November of 2016. Maybe now the family will find answers.

If you have any information on this case please call the St. Louis Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-866-371-TIPS (8477). Reference case #82-1179

The Blood Pact

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October 2014 – Iron River, Michigan
Chris Regan was finally breaking free from the little crime-ridden town of Iron River. Nestled amongst the vast forest lands and scenic lakes, it looked like a perfect place for an outdoors enthusiast like Regan. He worked at a local manufacturing company and there he met Kelly Cochran. After a while, the two would hook up at his apartment after work. Friends say he wasn’t “dating” Cochran and it was more about sex. They never ventured beyond Regan’s place. Small town gossip could be problematic, especially when Cochran was a married woman.

Chris Regan was an Air Force veteran with a weak knee. His job required him to stand all day and it was beginning to take a toll on his injury. In October, Chris landed a job in Ashville, North Carolina. He put in his two-week notice at work and was preparing to move. He was finally breaking out of this small town, but he wouldn’t escape. Regan had stepped into the grasp of a sadistic predator.

Just before leaving the state, Kelly Cochran invites Regan to meet at her house. He hadn’t been there before, so he had to jot down directions to find the place. Investigators would find this note in Regan’s abandoned vehicle a few days later. Before meeting up with Kelly, Regan made plans with a friend to have dinner on Saturday night. This friend would eventually be the one to file a missing person’s report when Chris Regan disappeared.

The rumor mill supplied investigators with the name of Chris Regan’s lover and investigators immediately visited the Cochran home. They note the strange behaviors of both Kelly Cochran and her husband Jason and proceed to request a search warrant for the home. Before this could be done, the Cochran couple left town leaving most of their possessions in the house. The house was a disastrous mess, but amazingly there weren’t many clues. If Chris Regan was murdered in that house, there wasn’t much left to go on.
While Iron River Investigators struggled to find the evidence needed to tie Kelly and Jason to the murder of Chris Regan, the Cochran couple were living in Hobart Indiana.

Two years would pass, and it looked like the case wouldn’t be solved, but then Iron River Investigators hear the news that would ultimately solve their own case. Kelly Cochran had been arrested in Indiana for killing her husband. That’s right. She murdered her husband by giving him an overdose of heroin and then suffocating him. She confessed to everything during a 70-hr interview with the Indiana police.

“I hated my husband because he took the best thing in my life,” Kelly told investigators. “It was revenge for Chris Regan.”

During the interview, the gruesome details of Chris Regan’s murder were discovered. Kelly had lured Chris to her house for sex and lasagna. After having sex with him, she walks him to the stairwell and positions him perfectly at the top. There Jason Cochran ambushed Regan shooting him in the back of the head with a long barreled .22 rifle. The couple pulled Regan’s lifeless body to the basement where everything had been covered in plastic. There they took an electric saw and mutilated the body and stuffed it into trash bags. They shoved Chris Regan into the trunk of his own car and drove him out to the woods and scattered his remains before leaving his car at a local Park & Ride.
If all of that weren’t bad enough, here is where the story takes a hideous turn. Years earlier Kelly and Jason had taken a blood oath. If either one of them had an affair, they were required to kill the lover. To make matters even worse, it would come out in a jailhouse phone call that Kelly may have killed 9 – 20 more men across four states over the years. These names haven’t been released to the public. If all of that wasn’t enough to make you sick to your stomach, one other tidbit would come out in Investigation Discovery’s new docu-series “Dead North.”
The Cochran couple hosted a neighborhood BBQ a few days after Chris Regan’s disappearance and some of the burgers didn’t come from a cow. For more information on this case check out the ID Channel’s docuseries “Dead North.”

When Rumors Destroy Cold Cases – The Jennifer Harris Story

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Small town America might be a great place to raise a family, but sometimes it isn’t the best place to die. Many rural communities lack the resources and experience to solve major homicide cases. When you add in the rumor mill of small-town gossip and the loss of major evidence, some people wonder if the case is solvable. Such is the case of Jennifer Harris from Bonham, Texas.
Jennifer Harris was a vivacious 28-yr-old with fiery red curly hair. Everyone around the community loved her including two men; Rob Holman and James Hamilton.
Holman was Jennifer’s childhood sweetheart. They were married shortly after high school and it looked like a happily ever after situation. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the case. The couple had a rocky relationship and some even claim Rob had abused Jennifer. It hasn’t been confirmed whether this was physical or verbal abuse and no police reports were ever filed.
As time passed and Jennifer went to college the couple began to grow apart. Rob enjoyed the laid-back pace of Bonham, Texas while Jennifer was enjoying living in the city. Things began to fall apart even further when Jennifer met James Hamilton in the massage therapy school she had been attending. The two hit it off and decided to open a business together. That wouldn’t be all they did together and soon Jennifer was living in the city and seeing James while Rob moved back to Bonham.
Hamilton was living with the mother of his two children and had a baby on the way but was insisting on marrying Jennifer. Jennifer refused and was quickly losing interest in Hamilton. By early 2002, Jennifer had lost her massage business with Hamilton and was facing bankruptcy. What does she do? She looks up Rob, who had a new girlfriend by this time. It didn’t seem to matter. The couple frequently met and slept together. All this soap opera style drama would lead up to Mother’s Day, 2002 and a mystery that has haunted Bonham, Texas for sixteen years.
Jennifer visits a friend during the early evening hours of May 12, 2002, and leaves around 8 pm. She wouldn’t be seen alive again. A woman takes her dog out for a walk down a lonely country road and notices a dark green jeep abandoned at the side of the road but thinks little of it until she sees it again the next day. She calls the police. The Jeep is quickly identified as belonging to Jennifer Harris. It would be a long six-day search before a fisherman would discover Jennifer’s lifeless body in the Red River.
The medical examiner determined the cause of death to be homicidal violence but couldn’t determine the exact cause of death. Her body had been severely decomposed, and her uterus was missing. This is where the rumor mill of small towns kicked into overdrive. As soon as that story was released theories ran wild. Friends of Jennifer Harris said she had confided in them about her pregnancy, but there wasn’t any hard evidence to verify it. Could she really have been pregnant, and the murderer removed her uterus to destroy evidence? This is what the townsfolk claimed. It would be years before her autopsy would be reexamined. After this examination, it is determined that Jennifer’s uterus was indeed missing, but so were other organs and body parts. The latter examiner determined that Jennifer had suffered some sort of severe injury that left her organs exposed to fish and turtles in the river.
Both Rob Holman and James Hamilton were initially interviewed by police and were named as possible suspects, but no arrests were made. Hamilton claimed he was at an Mc Donald’s over an hour away on the May 12th. After reviewing the case files new investigators and consultants are discouraged by the way this alibi was handled. It wasn’t verified properly, and no one ever pushed it. Rob Holman, on the other hand, claimed to be out driving around for over five hours on the night Jennifer disappeared. Hamilton supposedly passed a lie detector test, but Rob was never given one. To make matters worse, most of the evidence, in this case, has either been lost or damaged when the storage pods got wet. The clothing that was found was lost and so was her laptop. Nobody was even sure if the jeans and t-shirt were even Jennifer’s.
This case has more twists and turns than a roller coaster so hold on, there’s more. Jerry Harris took notes on the case from the beginning and was determined to find justice for his daughter. This meticulous record keeping brought up a sinister revelation years later. Two months after Jennifer’s body was found her ex-boyfriend, James Hamilton called the grieving father to ask about Jennifer’s life insurance policy. In all the case files, this is the only reference to an insurance policy. I have many questions about this. Was there actually an insurance policy taken out on the life of Jennifer Harris? If so, who was the beneficiary? Was there money paid out? Who received it? None of this has been reported. If the beneficiary was Rob or James then that would supply the investigators with a serious motive for murder. Who knows if this lead was even followed? The case file for Jennifer Harris is so slim no one knows what leads were followed and which ones weren’t.
A year later, a woman is watching the news when she hears about the Harris cold case. Incredibly, Deborah Lambert hadn’t heard about the case. She quickly called the police and gave a recorded statement. Deborah and her mother had driven across the Red River Bridge on Mother’s Day a year earlier and had witnessed a frightening scene around 5 pm. She vividly recalled a red-headed woman being rough-housed by three men. Deborah said she made eye contact with the woman and saw terror in her expression. Her mother said, “that girl is about to be raped and killed.” Deborah claimed she was too afraid to call the police at the time. Deborah claimed two men were wearing jeans and one man was wearing shorts. Because of the time discrepancy, the original investigators dismissed Deborah’s statement completely. The new team doesn’t dismiss it so quickly. In reality, the time difference can be explained. Most people don’t continuously watch the clock. Deborah and her mother could have traveled across the bridge later than she remembered, and or Jennifer’s friend could be mistaken on the time she left her home.
Jennifer’s younger sister Alyssa and her filmmaker husband Barry has taken up the case along with private investigator Daryl Parker and the new sheriff Mark Johnson. Everyone hopes to find justice for Jennifer. This case was recently highlighted on the show 48 Hours. Hopefully, the renewed interest in the case will generate some leads. If Deborah Lambert’s statement is correct, there could be two other men out there that know something about this case.
At one point, the local D.A. was accused of being involved in the murder of Jennifer Harris. This rumor was completely unfounded but based on the fabricated fact that her uterus was missing. Authorities researched this rumor extensively and found absolutely no connection, but the D.A. still lost his job over this case.

 

This case was so mishandled that people wonder if it can be solved at this point. I believe it can, but I have many questions. Here are a few of my questions and theories.
– Is it normal for a body to decompose so quickly in the river, or was she partially mutilated before her body was dumped?
– I would like to know what happened to Rob. Did his second marriage fall through? Is his wife/ex-wife still alive?
– Did a forensic team investigate Jennifer’s Jeep?
– Has anyone checked Jennifer’s online footprint? Yes her laptop is missing, but surely her accounts would still be there. Everyone had a MySpace account. If someone remembered Jennifer’s email address then they might be able to reopen the accounts and see who she was talking to at the time of her death.

My suspicion and theory:
Rob Holman claimed Jennifer had called him and wanted to see him on the evening of May 12th. He told the police that he refused to meet her because he had plans with his new girlfriend, but when asked for an alibi Rob said he didn’t have one. He was out driving around for four hours that night.
Ok. What is it then? Was he with his new girlfriend, or was he out driving around? Also, I looked up the historical weather data for that day. It was rainy, overcast, and pop up thunderstorms all evening. Who drives around in thunderstorms? Curious.

I have reached out to Sherriff Johnson and Daryl Parker with questions about this case. I haven’t heard back from them as of this writing, but I will update you all when I get some answers to my questions. As always, if you have any information regarding the murder of Jennifer Harris, please contact the Fannin County Sherriff’s office at (903) 583-2143

Missing 26 years – no answers

A small house on Delmar Street once witnessed the echoes of excitement, but now it remains a mystery that has haunted Springfield, Missouri for 26 years.

On the night of June 6, 1992, it held three women just beginning new chapters in their lives. Sherrill Levitt, 47 was a newly divorced cosmetologist who was looking forward to starting a new life. Susie Streeter,Levitt’s daughter was a 19-yr-old newly graduated senior. Staying with them for the night was Susie’s friend Stacy McCall,18. Saturday had been a whirlwind day. The two teenagers had attended all the graduation breakfasts, dinners, and events before attending the official ceremony. After graduation, the two attended several parties with various classmates and planned to meet up with a group the next day. Together they would travel south to Branson and spend the day at White Water and Silver Dollar City.

The last official sighting of Suzie and Stacy was around 2 am on June 7, 1992, when they left the house of Janelle Kirby. They promised to call Kirby when they woke the next morning, but the call never came. Back in the days before cell phones, Kirby and her boyfriend called the house but got the answering machine. They decided to drop in on the three women and see what happened. When they arrived they noticed all three women’s vehicles were parked in the driveway, so they assumed they were still there. Kirby knocks on the door but no one answers. The boyfriend notices the glass globe covering the porch light had been busted and lay shattered on the front porch. Without thinking he picks up a broom and cleans up the mess. Finding the door unlocked the two teenagers enter the house, but it is empty.

The beds look like they were slept in, nothing was missing, and the women’s personal belongings were all accounted for. Strangely, the women’s purses were all lined up in a neat little row, but Sherrill’s still contained $900 and her cigarettes. The front room television was on, but turned to a channel that was nothing but “snow.” The teens turned to leave thinking the women must have stepped out and would return shortly. Before they closed the door the telephone rang. Kirby picks up the phone only to find a man’s voice making sexual innuendos. Aggravated, she hangs up, but the phone rings yet again before she could get out the front door. It was the same caller. The two teens continue on to Branson thinking they will meet up with the girls down there. They would never see their friends again.

Several hours later, frustrated by her teenager’s lack of communication, Janis McCall drops by the little house on Delmar street looking for her daughter, Stacy. It would be Janis that calls the police to report the three women missing. Here is the most frustrating part of this case. The police don’t make it to the house until the next morning leaving the house unguarded for over 24 hours. It is estimated that at least ten friends and family members had trampled through the house before investigators arrived to secure the crime scene. Some friends even admitted to “picking up the place.” No one believed that three women secure in their home could just disappear. Surely they would return and this would all be cleared up soon. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

After the missing person’s investigation began to take shape in the local news, an elderly woman came forward with a tip. She always sat on her front porch in the mornings and noticed an older model van pull into her driveway in the early morning hours of June 7th. A young blond woman was driving and looked stressed. She heard a man’s voice speak to the young woman from the back seat in a harsh tone. He said something along the lines of, “back out slowly if you know what’s good for you.” When the investigators showed the witness a photo lineup, she picked out Susie Streeter as the driver. All of this took place only a couple blocks from the Delmar house. Police immediately follow the clues trying to find this light green van. The woman said it looked like a late 1960’s to an early 1970’s model. Tips began to pour in about the van sighting. Investigators said at one point the suspected van had been every color of the rainbow. How could they tell which tip was credible and which tip was not? It didn’t matter. The police doggedly followed every semi-credible lead in hopes of solving this unbelievable case. Up until this case, Springfield was viewed as a safe community. Nobody locked their doors. Children played in the streets and walked to school alone in the mornings. No one wanted to believe this could happen in their town. Now the entire city reeled at the news.

Without any physical clues at the crime scene, police began their investigation by digging into the backgrounds of the three women. Sherrill Levitt had just gone through a divorce and had recently purchased the home on Delmar Street. Could the ex-husband be a suspect? The police investigated him thoroughly and quickly ruled him out. Also, Levitt had an older son named Bart. He was nine years older than Susie and had a falling out with his mother recently. Bart also had a drinking problem. Could he be a suspect? Police quickly rule him out as well, but this wasn’t the end of the possible suspects connected to Susie Streeter. Streeter had recently broken up with a boy named Dustin Recla. Recla and his two friends, Michael Clay and Joseph Riedel had been in trouble with the law recently. Recla and his friends had been arrested for vandalizing a mausoleum at a local cemetery. They broke into the above ground grave, tore open several caskets, rummaged about the corpses and stole jewelry and gold teeth. It was said that they even stole a few skulls.

Now it takes a sick individual to desecrate a grave, disrespect a corpse, handle human remains, and tear out their teeth. It is said that Susie Streeter found out and was going to be a witness against them. Could these teenage boys be capable of kidnapping the three women? Possibly.

During a police interview, Michael Clay said he wished they were all dead. This was after they had been missing for quite awhile, so he couldn’t claim a lack of knowledge of this case. Despite this and the inability to verify the boy’s alibi, there isn’t any firm connection between the three missing women and the teenage boys. They remain suspects in this case to this day. Ok, so surely this is the end of this wild tale. Nope.

This investigation has dug up several monsters that were hiding in the Springfield area in 1992. I will give you a short list and will highlight their particular crimes at a later date.

Robert Craig Cox:
– Convicted kidnapper, murder suspect, living in the area at this time
– Worked at car dealership with Stacy McCall’s father
– Known to target teenage girls
– Made claims in a Texas prison that he knew what happened to the Springfield Three

Larry Dewayne Hall & Gary Hall:
– Twin brothers that traveled around the country doing Civil War Reenactments, known serial killers
– Larry claims his brother Gary was stalking one of the teens that night

Gerald Carnahan:
– Convicted killer of teenage girls
– Recently convicted of a 20-yr-old cold case through DNA evidence

Steven Eugene Garrison:
– Kidnapped, raped and tortured 20-yr-old college student in Springfield around the same time as this case
– Claimed his “friend” confessed to killing the missing women during a night of binge drinking

More conjecture:
While all of these men could be viable suspects, there isn’t enough evidence to convict any of them at this point and this case remains as cold as the Arctic Circle. Theories, rumors, and even psychic revelations have sensationalized this case to the point where it is hard to distinguish facts from folklore. Psychics claim they are buried under the parking lot of a nearby hospital. Some claim the girls witnessed a drug deal during their night of partying and they were killed as a result. Others claim they are buried in the Mark Twain National Forrest, or in Arkansas. I get letters from people with all sorts of theories. I reviewed one such letter today. I hope someday a viable lead will turn up in this case and give the victims’ family some answers. As a native of this area, I know this case affected me growing up. When I went to start looking at wedding dresses for my wedding, I went to the McCall’s Bridal shop. It had been five years after the disappearance, but the first thing I saw as we walked in was the yellow poster pictured above this post. It changed this entire area. It changed me. As always, if you have any information regarding this case please contact the Springfield Police Department at (417) 864-1810.