The Misidentified Serial Killer

cleophus cooksey jr

Photo courtesy of Arizona Police Department

Cleophus Cooksey Jr, 36 was released from prison in July of 2017 only to kill nine people four months later. Cooksey was immediately labeled a serial killer, but I tend to disagree. The FBI defines a serial killer as someone who kills three or more people with a cooling-off period in between. Serial killers tend to kill for sexual gratification and chose victims according to their fetish desires. Spree killers, on the other hand, tend to kill two or more people in a short period of time. These killers escalate quickly and don’t have a cooling-off period between the murders. I argue that Cooksey would fall into the spree killer category. I will present the facts as they are available and let you decide.

Cooksey was the grandson of an Arizona civil-rights leader Roy L. Cooksey. The civil rights activist opened the state’s first black-owned daycare center in Tucson and helped to establish the Afro-American Coordination Committee in 1960. Surely his children and grandchildren would follow in his footsteps and become pillars in their community, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. Cleophus Cooksey, Jr. would have continuous run-ins with Arizona law enforcement during his teenage years and was imprisoned by the age of 18 convicted of manslaughter. He would be behind bars for 16 years.
Cooksey was released from prison in early 2015 even after being charged with 22 infractions while behind bars. Freedom would last ten months before he was arrested for a DUI. After his release from the DUI, he would again be arrested in May 2016 on another parole violation. This hopping in and out of jail continued until he was finally released under supervision on July 28, 2017. This time he would go on to kill nine people four months after his release.

victims of cleophus cooksey jr

Photo courtesy of Arizona Police Department

November 27, 2017:
Andrew Remillard, 27 and Parker Smith, 21 were found shot to death in a Phoenix parking lot.
December 2, 2017:
Salim Richards, 35 was robbed and shot. He would die at the scene before paramedics could get him stabilized.

December 11, 2017:
Jesus Bonifacio Real, 25 was shot and killed. Mr. Real was the brother of Cooksey’s ex-girlfriend.

December 13, 2017:
Latorrie Beckford, 29 was killed

December 16, 2017:
Kristopher Cameron’s remains were found discarded in a field. He was only 21.
Later the same day, Maria Billanueva, 43 was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and killed.

December 17, 2017:
The police were called when neighbors heard shots fired. The authorities arrived to find Rene Cooksey and Edward Nunn shot and killed. Cleophus Cooksey, Jr. was arrested for the death of his mother and stepfather the same day. It would take a little while before ballistics would link the other slayings with Cooksey. It is unclear what set off Cooksey, or what his motive was in the slayings. I will keep you posted as I follow the case.

Synova’s Rantings:

I contend that the media uses the word “serial killer” a little too much. A spree killer doesn’t seem to draw the same attention. I will let you draw your own conclusions, but I feel the media uses “click bait” titles to draw attention. I wish we could go back to reporting the facts of cases and stop muddying the water with sensationalized news. The suspected crimes of this man, if proven true are heinous enough without the dramatizing of headlines.

 

Synova Appearing in Springfield, MO – 1 Day Only!

Synova will be appearing THIS Saturday at the ABC bookstore in Springfield, MO.

Do you like to chat about true crime cases? Do you like reading true crime books? Come out and meet S.W. MO’s #1 True Crime Writer/Blogger.

Time: 11 AM – 4 PM

ABC Books

2109 N Glenstone Ave Ste J
Springfield, Missouri 65803

Serial Killer or Psychotic Windbag?

Arthur Ream

“Art had a thing for little girls,” said Arthur Ream’s ex-wife. Unfortunately, this information wouldn’t be taken seriously for 22 years after the disappearance of Cindy Zarzycki. Now nearly forty years from her death the authorities wonder if this serial pedophile and child killer could actually be a serial killer. I will let you decide.

Who is Arthur N. Ream?

Art Ream is a 68-yr-old convicted pedophile, child molester, and child killer. His lengthy criminal record extends back to the early 1970’s. He was arrested in 1975 for taking indecent liberties with a child and served five years. By 1986, Ream was living in East Detroit, Michigan. (The town would be later renamed as Eastpointe)
Cindy Zarzycki, 13 was madly in love with a boy named Scott. He was her dreamy first crush and he was all she could talk about. In April of 1986, Cindy had been grounded for disobeying her father and was supposed to stay home. The single father had his hands full raising a family on his own, but he had to keep an eye on his teen girl and the rebelliousness that comes with adolescence. Knowing the world for what it was, he had one rule that must be obeyed. It was simple. “Do not walk home alone.”
Cindy disobeyed and walked home from the local mall and was grounded for it. This simple rule, had it been followed could have saved the young girl’s life. Puppy love is blinding, however, and Cindy found herself sneaking out to go to her “boyfriend’s” surprise birthday party. She was to meet Scott’s father at Dairy Queen at 11 am. There was one piece of critical information hidden from sweet Cindy. Scott’s father was none other than the convicted child molester, Arthur Ream. There wasn’t a birthday party. Scott wasn’t even in the state at the time. Cindy headed towards the Dairy Queen on April 18, 1986, and was never seen again. The case was viewed as a runaway and overlooked for several weeks before falling into the cold case files.
Years later cold case detectives notice Linda Bronson’s statement about her ex-husband and reached out to her. That coupled with witness statements from childhood friends made Arthur Ream the prime suspect. Finally, in 2008, the family watched Arthur Ream receive a life sentence for the murder of their innocent little Cindy. Eventually, with some physiological wrangling, the detectives convinced Ream to lead them to Cindy’s body. Buried with her was her favorite denim purse filled with the mixtape she made for her beloved Scott’s birthday.

Fast forward to 2018 and now Ream is in the headlines again when investigators have possibly linked up to six more cold cases to the child killer. Evidence led them to believe that the bodies of several other young girls had been buried near Cindy’s gravesite in the early 1970’s. Here is a brief synopsis of each of the possible victims.

 

• Cynthia Coon, 13
Coon was last seen in Ann Arbor, Michigan on January 19, 1970. This was just before Art Ream’s first prison sentence. Cynthia Coon loved to walk the one mile to school every morning. She was on her way to the Forsythe Junior High School building on the morning of January 19th but never arrived.

This case was unusual because she actually contacted her parents three months later in April 1970. She was afraid and couldn’t tell her parents her location. The police wondered if it was another runaway situation, but this theory was dispelled when the parents received an extortion phone call a month later. After that horrifying call, there has been no contact from the missing thirteen-year-old.

Police are still looking for possible links between the missing girl and Arthur Ream and wonder if they will find her remains in Ream’s morbid cemetery in Macomb Township.

• Nadine O’Dell, 16

Nadine was a quiet teenager that frequently babysat other children. August 16, 1974, she was on her way to meet her boyfriend to babysit for his young siblings. He was planning to meet her at the halfway point so she wouldn’t have to walk alone the entire way. She never made it to the rendezvous point. The cold case remains unsolved 44 years later.

• Kim Larrow, 15

Kim was visiting her friend who worked at an ice cream shop in Canton, Michigan. The girls were making plans to meet at Haggerty Field that evening, but the teenager was never seen again. Unfortunately, a child of divorced parents Kim had become a bit rebellious and found herself experimenting with drugs. This was the excuse that was given later when it was discovered that the family didn’t file a missing person’s report for several days. Whatever the reasons, Kim’s case has remained cold since June 8, 1981.

• Kellie Brownlee, 17

On May 20, 1982, Kellie Brownlee had hitchhiked to the Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, Michigan where she planned on submitting several job applications. She applied at a few locations and was even spotted by a family friend, but never returned home.

• Kimberly King, 12

The youngest of Ream’s possible victims was a 12-yr-old named Kimberly King. September 15, 1979, Kim was supposed to go to the movies with her friends, but when plans changed she called them from a local payphone. Kimberly never showed up to meet her friends.

 

So, is Arthur Ream a serial killer, or was he merely bragging to other inmates to bolster is jailhouse persona? The FBI and Michigan authorities don’t think so. They spent a week out digging the wooded area trying to find human remains. Unfortunately, the area is huge. The team finally closed the dig site and is currently restructuring the dig. I will continue watching this case and will let you know what they find out. As always if you have any information on this case please contact the FBI at 1-800-CALLFBI

Missouri’s Madame Murderer

Missouri’s Madame Murderer

When a wife is found murdered in her home the first person suspected is always the husband. Maybe it’s the old TV shows that program us to believe the bad guy is always the butler. As viewers, this concept makes for good television, and it is expected among the collective masses. The problems begin when the investigators believe this notion and refuse to look past it. This is what happened in the case of Russ and Betsy Faria.

Two days after Christmas in 2011, Russell Faria arrives home to find his wife dead in the floor. He calls 911 in a panic to report that his wife has committed suicide. There was one problem with this theory. She had been stabbed 55 times and the knife was left in her neck. It was obviously not a suicide. This made the police look harder at Russell Faria. The rest of the clues should have led to another suspect, but once Russ was suspected they didn’t look at anyone else. One key witness would make sure their focus stayed squarely on Russ Faria’s chest. Her name was Pam Hupp.
The Farias were a happily married couple struggling through Betsy’s bout with terminal cancer. They had just returned from a cruise and were planning another vacation the upcoming March. During Betsy’s battles, she relied a great deal on her best friend Pam to help with rides to the doctor and such. She also allegedly depended on Pam to become the beneficiary of her life insurance policy upon her death. The $150,000 was to be placed into a trust for her daughters and it was. So, what’s the problem? The trust was set up four days before the trial of Russell Faria and then it was wiped out right after the husband was convicted of murder. The children never received a penny. The very fact that Hupp received the insurance payout should have been a red flag, but it was overlooked and wasn’t allowed into the trial.
Even though Russ had a solid alibi for the night of the crime backed up by four witnesses, time-stamped receipts, cell phone towers, and surveillance cameras, the prosecution kept the blinders on and focused on him anyway. The crime scene held some unusual clues that could have pointed at Russ, but to an open-minded investigator they could have spelled out “set up.”
Russell Faria was convicted of the murder of his wife to everyone’s surprise. After the first trial, the investigators would review old evidence and Pam Hupp’s behavior after Russell’s conviction.
Betsy Faria was stabbed 55 times. Let’s look at that. Upon close examination, it was discovered that most of the stab wounds were done posthumously, or after death. The slits across Betsy Faria’s wrists were done deliberately to give the first impression of suicide. The other wounds weren’t readily visible, so Russ’ 911 call was beginning to make more sense. Couple that with the fact that Betsy had threatened suicide a few times during her bout with cancer, it became clear that this wasn’t an open and shut case against the husband.
During the second trial, the defense was allowed to bring up the evidence against Pam Hupp. This included the fact that she was the last to see Betsy alive, and she had taken the life insurance money without giving it to the children. This along with Russell’s alibi exonerated him of his wife’s murder. That’s the end of the story, right? Nope.
A few months later the case was brought back into the spotlight when a woman dials 911 in a panic. A man was supposedly breaking into her house with a knife and threatening to kill her. Suddenly the operator hears several gunshots and the woman cries profusely. Pam Hupp had just killed Louis Gumpenberger. In the man’s pocket was a note that mentioned Russell Faria and money. Could Russ have hired a hitman to go after poor Pamela Hupp? No. This time the police saw through her ruse quickly. Her staged crime scene and her vicious hitman began to fall apart. Gumpenberger was anything but vicious. It turns out Pam Hupp had lured a mentally disabled man to her home and shot him dead. Why? To frame Russell Faria. Or maybe I should say re-frame? You’d think she wouldn’t try the same failed idea twice, but she did.
Police arrest Pamela Hupp for the murder of Gumpenberger and haul her off to jail. Her attorneys are currently fighting to keep the evidence of the previous two murders out of this trial. Wait. Did I say two murders? Yes, I did. You see this isn’t the first time Pam Hupp was suspected of murder. Allegedly Pam’s own mother died when she accidentally fell off a balcony years ago. I bet you can’t guess who got money out of that deal? Now after delving into that case, it seems that Shirley Neumann’s death was likely a homicide. Time and investigation will tell.

5a78ac62ed67c.image
What do you think? Do you think there is a triple homicide here, or do you believe Hupp’s claims that the evil Russell Faria is out to get her? Currently, Hupp’s trial has been postponed until September of this year. I will update you as the case progresses.

 

Let’s chat at my next book signing event!

I will be in Joplin, MO this Saturday from 11 am – 2 pm. You can find me at the Always Buying Books bookstore.

5357 N Main St, Joplin, MO 64801

Show me this meme and get a discount on my books!

The Phantom Assassin

I-70sketches

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48155940

Is there really such a thing as the perfect crime? The Golden State Killer got away with murder but was still caught 44 years later. But what happens when there isn’t any DNA to link the killer to the icy cold case?
This is what happened in the 26-year-old cold case of the I-70 serial killer. Many people confuse this case with the I-70 Strangler, but that guy was caught. His name was Herb Baumeister and he targeted gay men.
This case is strange in the fact that the killer walked into a store, shot his weapon, and walked right back out leaving behind shell casings and the body of a petite brunette. That’s all. There weren’t any sexual assaults to leave DNA. He didn’t torture his victims. He simply wanted to kill.
April 8, 1992:
A 26-yr-old brunette woman opened the Payless Shoe Source shoe store in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her name was Robin Fuldauer. Register receipts show that sometime between 1:30 pm and 2 pm, a man walked into the store and shot Robin in the back of the head with a .22. A customer walks in around 2 pm and finds the place empty and calls the police. She hadn’t noticed Robin’s body face down in the back room. Strangely only a few dollars was stolen from the cash register. Police wonder if this was a botched robbery attempt. That theory would be dropped quickly when the Phantom Assassin found his next target.

April 11, 1992:
Three days later & 700 miles east along I-70 the killer strikes again. This time there were two victims. Both women are petite with shoulder length brown hair. They were busy closing the bridal shop and were waiting for a late customer to arrive.
Pat Majors and Patricia Smith had already shut off the lights and locked the door when a man knocked on the front glass. Patricia Smith unlocked the door with the customer’s order in hand. He had already paid so she expected to merely hand it out the door. Instead, she was pushed inside and ordered to the back by the Phantom Assassin. The two women were quickly shot in the head, but before the killer could leave the customer showed up.
The gunman tried to force the man into the back room, but instead, the witness entered a dialog with the killer. Somehow he was able to persuade the killer to let him go. The witness fled the scene and called the police. They arrived on site not knowing what to expect. The two women were quickly found in the back room. One was declared dead at the scene and the other died later in the hospital. The only clues left behind were the shell casings and the witness description. Surely that would be enough to catch the guy. Right? Wrong.

April 27, 1992:
Sixteen days later in Terre Haute, Indiana, the killer strikes yet another petite brunette working alone in Sylvia’s Ceramics. This time the killer gets sloppy. His victim was actually a man named Michael McCowan. The store was named after his mother Sylvia. He wore his brown hair in a long ponytail and wore earrings. Perhaps the deranged psychopath thought Michael was a female in his haste to appease his inner demons. Who knows? Whatever the case it was clear that a petite brunette wasn’t safe working alone in a storefront building along I-70.

May 3, 1992:
One week later the killer would find his next target. This time it was Nancy Kitzmiller. She was working in a western wear store in St. Charles, Missouri.

May 7, 1992:
Four days later the killer shoots Sarah Blessing in Raytown, Missouri. This time there were two witnesses. The suspect walked down the sidewalk looking in the windows and caught the gaze of a young man in an electronics store. The witness noticed the man was wearing a large heavy coat and thought it was odd in the warm weather. A few moments later the witness heard a loud pop next door. When he peered out the door he saw the stranger calmly walking down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. The man ran next door to find Sarah had been shot. She died on the scene.
A grocery store employee was out gathering shopping carts from the parking lot and noticed the suspect climbing the slight embankment towards I-70. Both witnesses gave the same descriptions that the police had heard before. He was a white man in his late 20’s – mid 30’s. He was small around 5’9” – 5’10” with sandy blondish hair. Some recall his hair having a dull red tint.

Suddenly the killings seemed to stop leaving the investigators wondering what happened. Maybe the killer had been arrested on an unrelated charge. Police poured over all the surrounding area’s arrest records. One by one they were all ruled out and the case was faltering on the brink of becoming a cold case.

September 25, 1993:
Sixteen months after Sarah Blessing’s murder, a killer surfaces in Texas off I-35. His MO is eerily similar to the I-70 killer and investigators wonder if they could be the work of one man. Mary Glasscock, another petite brunette, was murdered by a single gunshot to the back of the head with a .22. She had been working alone at the Emporium Antiques store in Fort Worth, Texas.

November 1, 1993:
Amy Vess was working alone in a dancewear shop when the killer shot her, stole some cash from the register and left behind a shell casing from a .22.

January 15, 1994:
Vicki Webb was shot by an unknown killer while she worked alone in a Houston gift shop. A spinal abnormality caused the bullet to ricochet off the vertebrae and lodge in her head. The bullet paralyzed her but didn’t kill her. At that moment she made a decision that would save her life. She chose to play dead. Webb could hear him rummaging through the cash register and then he returned to her. He rolled her over and looked at her for a moment. Then he pressed the barrel to her forehead and pulled the trigger. The gun misfired. Almost as an afterthought he pulled her pants down to her ankles and walked out of the store. Was he not buying her act? Was he planning to sexually assault her and was scared off by something? In later interviews, Webb said she really didn’t think he was aroused by pulling off her pants. It was almost as a last minute idea. Maybe he was trying to throw off the cops, or maybe his MO was changing. Was he becoming a sexual predator?
Vicki Webb lived and after many surgeries and countless hours of physical therapy, she was able to walk again. She lived in fear that he would return to finish the job and for decades she kept her face out of the newspapers. It wasn’t until an episode of Dark Minds that she allowed an interview. She claims she wants to see her attacker in court just to show him that she won. I hope she gets the chance.

Some investigators have a hard time linking the I-70 slayings and the I-35 killings. Here are the facts as I have uncovered them. I personally believe they are the same man, but I will let you decide.

Location:
– All the hits were within easy access to a major interstate highway providing an easy escape
– All the targets were working alone in a small storefront type store

Victims:
– All the victims were shot execution-style in the back of the head
– No torture
– No sexual assault
– No major reconnaissance beforehand

Weapon: Here is where some investigators question the connection.
– The I-70 killer used a different .22 than the I-35 killer used

My explanations:
During the 16-month hiatus, there was a big media blitz. My theory is that he saw something on the news that scared him. So he changed weapons and location.
My researching continues on this case and I hope to write a book about this case. Hopefully, I can get it completed by the year’s end. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Below is a wanted poster to show the killer’s gun. If you have any information on this case please contact the St. Charles P.D. 1-800-800-3510 or contact your local police department.

wanted pic

 

Golden State Killer Caught after Four Decades

golden state killer

Who is the golden state killer? If you’re anything like me you probably hadn’t heard of this man until a few days ago. People in and around the Sacramento California area during the 1970’s knew exactly who he was. He was known then as the East Area Rapist.

The 1st known attack happened in 1976. He started out raping women who were home alone. He would blind them with a flashlight to wake them out of their sleep, before binding their hands and feet with shoe strings in a peculiar knot.

He would take momentos from their house and would even go as far as to call and taunt them over the phone afterwards. After several rapes something was said in the newspaper about him only attacking women who were home alone and that he didn’t attack a home where a man was present.

Just to prove them wrong his next attack was upon a man and a woman. He tied them both up and placed a cup and saucer on the man’s back. Then he told them that if he heard it fall to the floor he would kill them all.

In some cases he threatened to chop up the woman’s children and bring body parts back to her if she dared scream or move. After 50 rapes in several counties in northern California the rapes suddenly stop.

Three months later and 350 miles south the same man attacks again only this time he has graduated to murder. Some of the original investigators thought that the MO was so similar that it must be the East Area Rapist but even their own police department refused to believe them.

Later in 2001, a Cold Case squad would finally link the East Area Rapist, the Golden State Killer, and the Original Night Stalker as one man. His DNA profile had been on file for decades but they still could not trace him.

A 120 home invasions, 50 rapes, 12 murders, and 40 plus years later a genealogy website helped the authorities link a face and a name to the DNA profile of the Golden State Killer.

The name that evaded police for so long was Joseph James DeAngelo. He was arrested last Wednesday at the age of 72.

No one knows why his murderous rampage seemed to end in 1986. I for one do not believe that he quit murdering people. Serial killers don’t quit they are usually captured or killed. I personally believe DeAngelo continued until he got too old to pull it off. I do not believe that he quit at the age of 40 in 1986.

I will continue to follow this case and update you with new information as I receive it. I will be curious to find out what has been happening over the last 32 years of this serial killer’s existence.

FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted – #10: The Murderous Missionary

#10: The Murderous Missionary

preview
November 29, 2004:

It was a quiet Monday morning at a local mall in Phoenix, Arizona. The employees were recovering from the mad rush of Black Friday events, and the busy shopping season was well underway. An armored truck was busy making its rounds picking up the weekend’s receipts when it pulled into the parking lot of the AMC movie theater. Robert “Keith” Palomares, 24 was the truck’s “hopper” so he jumped from the vehicle and headed inside never realizing this would be his last day on Earth.
As the guard exited the theater a hooded thief pulled out a .45 semi-automatic Glock and shot six times hitting the unsuspecting guard in the head with five of the six rounds. He was down immediately without a chance to defend himself. As the young man lay bleeding to death the thief mounted a blue and silver mountain bike and took off down the alleyway. Palomares died on the scene. He was a newlywed of only 15 months.

The police had little to go on in this case in the way of forensic evidence until the gunman’s bike was found stashed under a bush only half a mile away. The man had forgotten to wipe the handles for fingerprints, but this evidence would bring even more questions.
Witnesses had described the shooter as a Hispanic male in his mid-twenties, but the evidence showed a 35-year-old Mormon surfer boy. Jason Derek Brown wasn’t your typical street thug. By all accounts, he was raised in a good, financially stable, family in Laguna Beach. His family was active Mormons. Brown spent two years as a missionary in France after high school. He got married and then enrolled in the master’s program at the Monterrey Institute of International Studies. It seemed like he had a good life ahead of him, but somewhere in the 1990’s, he changed.
Brown divorced his wife and took his party life on the road. He collected lavish cars, ATVs, and toys, but no one ever seen him go to work. Somehow, he always had a boatload of cash. Over the next ten years, Brown traveled around the U.S. creating various scams to fund his lavish lifestyle. Still, how does a Mormon missionary turn into a scheming conman and then into a cold-blooded killer? Perhaps it was his financial troubles. We may never know, but in Phoenix, Arizona Brown had morphed into a murderous killer stalking his prey. He went out and purchased a handgun and took his conceal and carry course that day. He stayed at a friend’s house for a week and stalked the armored truck to learn its routes. The day before the murder, Brown left his friend without explanation and rented a hotel room. The day before the murder, Brown took his gun out to the desert for some target practice.
During this practice session, he inadvertently shot a man’s vehicle and promised to pay for the damages. Brown gave Max Newton his name, address, and phone number and promised to send a check if Newton would get an estimate of the damage. Fast forward within a few hours of the shooting and Brown gets the phone call from Newton. Again, Brown calmly promised to send Newton a cashier’s check. The price of the repairs was $1300.
Before the robbery, Brown parks his BMW a mile from the movie theater and pulls out his mountain bike. Witnesses at his hotel remember him trying to fit the large bike into the two-seater. Brown takes out across the alleyway and ends up at the theater and waits. He kills the guard, takes the money, hops on his bike and is well out of the area before the police arrive on the scene.
With all the evidence one would think Jason Brown would be rotting in a jail cell somewhere, but that’s not the case. After his picture is seen on the news, Brown takes off towards Mexico leaving an electronic trail of credit card purchases along the way. The FBI is in hot pursuit until the trail goes cold. Somehow his Cadillac Escalade is found abandoned not at the Mexican border, but in Portland Oregon. The FBI believes he crossed over into Canada and no one has seen him since. Strangely, Max Newman received a cashier’s check in the mail for $1,300 just as promised.
It’s been almost 14 years. Brown speaks fluent French, and some speculate that he could have returned to Paris. Others wonder if he is hiding in the Mormon community. Whatever the case, Jason Brown has not paid for his crimes and was placed on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list on December 8, 2007. As always if you have any information regarding Jason Derek Brown please contact your local FBI office. 1-800- CALLFBI

 

Unsolved Cold Case: No answers after nearly half a century.

carol blades
1969 would change the face of rural Nixa, Missouri forever. Nixa was a small town in Christian County that boasted a low crime rate. The county sheriff was known as an enforcer and no one wanted to be caught breaking the law in Buff Lamb’s territory. So, when a quiet little housewife disappeared from the local laundromat it really caused a stir. Nearly fifty years later and the case is still unsolved.
December 15, 1969, Carol Blades was on her way to do some laundry at the laundromat in Nixa. Her husband came home from his night shift and went straight to bed never knowing that he wouldn’t see his lovely blond-headed wife again. The 20-yr-old woman dropped her clothes off and had a habit of visiting her cousin, Sue Horton who lived nearby. Today Sue wouldn’t see her cousin and when Larry Blades called to ask about his wife that evening, Sue knew something had gone terribly wrong.
The police were called in and Sherriff Lamb was the lead investigator. His team of three men looked around the laundromat. Their search extended a mere five miles before Lamb came to the conclusion that Carol had simply run off. Her car was later found on the side of HWY 160 a mere quarter of a mile away. The car had been driven hard. There was mud on the windshield, scrapes down the side of the doors, and oil was splashed all over the oil pan. Carol was nowhere around, and the car keys were missing. They would be found later in the large field that separated the highway from the laundromat.
Much to the aggravation of family members, the car was left unlocked by the side of the road for days before taken to the police station. Then it was again left unlocked in the parking lot. It sat there so long that passersby would leave “wash me” notes on it not realizing they were tainting evidence in a murder case.
Three people saw a man park the car and run across the field towards the laundromat. They claim he had his jacket up over his head but ran into some bushes and dropped the covering allowing the witnesses to get a good look at him. In a small rural community of approximately 800, they claimed they hadn’t seen the man before.
It would be over a year before the remains of Carol Blades were found. A farmer was out looking for his cattle on Christmas day 1970 when he stumbled upon the skeletal remains of the once vibrant young woman. His 200-acre farm was just south of Nixa in Ponce. The Stone County sheriff and his team were called to the scene and the Christian County team was brought in to assist.
Lamb began to immediately blame Larry Blades, but the distraught husband passed two lie detector tests and was eventually cleared as a suspect. The shenanigans would continue to the point that some people wondered if Buff Lamb knew more about the case than he let on. At one point the sheriff was even named a suspect.
Buff Lamb died in 2001 amid controversy. His tough tactics earned him a ruthless reputation from some and a no-nonsense lawman from others. It has been almost 50 years since Carol Blades went missing and we still have no answers. Perhaps someone will come forward with a tip, but as a long-time resident told me, “Be careful with this one sis. There’s snakes in them woods.”
If you have any information regarding this case no matter how big or small, please contact the Christian County Sherriff’s office at (417) 582-5350. Don’t let past intimidations keep you from doing the right thing. I have been reassured that this case is still being actively investigated even though it’s been cold a long time. Christian County hasn’t forgotten Carol Blades.