Murdered In Missouri – The Geneva Phelps Hastings Mystery – Part 1

genevahastings

 

A new teenaged mother goes out to see her friends at an outdoor party near Wolf Creek, MO. She wouldn’t make it home. Who stabbed this young mother? Forty years later and no one is talking.

Geneva Phelps Hastings, 18 was a kindhearted teenager growing up in rural Missouri. She surprised everyone when she announced her pregnancy. It hadn’t been planned, and she didn’t have a steady boyfriend at the time. Strangely, the beautiful blond headed mother-to-be didn’t talk much about the baby’s father. No one knows why, but Hastings wasn’t going to let it bother her. She got an apartment, and when the baby came, she was ready. The family rallied around the young mother and life was pleasant.

Three weeks after the birth of her baby on June 27, 1975, Geneva was ready to go out and see her friends. She left her little boy with her mother and traveled to Wolf Creek where a large group of teens had an outdoor party. Several witnesses recalled seeing her there and also witnessed her leaving. Nothing seemed abnormal or troublesome, but that would be the last time anyone saw the young mother alive.

Later that evening, Tom Phelps, Geneva’s stepfather was returning home when he noticed her car abandoned by the side of the road. He stopped thinking she was having car trouble, but she was nowhere to be found. Perhaps she had walked on to the house, but she wasn’t there either.

Five days later Geneva’s body was found off lover’s lane near Pine Valley Rd. It was apparent that more than one person had pulled the woman through the woods from her car and beat her to the ground before stabbing her with a small weapon.

In 1975, the local police immediately began to look into the stepfather and unfortunately although he had an airtight alibi they never looked at anyone else. Now with a new sheriff, the case has been resurrected. Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs says it’s clear that the officials were focused on Tom Phelps from the very beginning and never looked elsewhere. Dobbs has completely taken Phelps off the suspect list and has started the investigation anew. Surprisingly, he believes the teenager may have been targeted because of her child. What are the secrets that lurk in the father’s story? Dobbs is determined to find answers before Geneva’s aged mother runs out of time.

If you have any information on this case, please contact the Butler County Sherrif’s Department (573) 686-8070.

 

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

 

 

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Sleepover Nightmare: Tracy Pickett Cold Case

tracy pickett

She spent the night with a friend and was never seen again. Police have had a suspect for 26 years, but without a body, justice for 14-year-old Tracy Pickett seems impossible.


It’s a parents worse nightmare and unfortunately, Glenda “Kay” Blaser cannot wake up from it. On August 11, 1992, Blaser agreed to let her daughter spend the night with a friend. Another girl was coming too, and Blaser knew the three girls would have a great time. If she had known who would show up in Webb City that evening, Blaser would have kept her little girl home. Two ex-convicts showed up to the girls’ party. One guy was dating one of the girls, and he brought along a friend named “Al.”

The sun broke over the horizon on August 12, 1992, and Blaser expected to see her daughter soon. Instead of her sassy little girl bounding through the front door, Blaser received a strange voicemail. It almost sounded pre-recorded. The female voice was unfamiliar to the worried mother.

“Tracy is on her way home to change her clothes”

This strange message was sent twice, but Tracy never showed up. Blaser went to the friend’s house searching for her daughter and found Tracy’s shoes in the closet, but didn’t find her little girl. “Al” was nowhere to be found, but witnesses claim he was the one who gave Terry a ride home to get new clothes.

Police discover “Al” is an ex-con named Lowell Andrew Billy. He drove a black van with Oklahoma license plates. The van had louvers down the side windows and boasted two sunroofs. Witnesses say they saw a gun inside. It took police a week to track him down, but by then “Al” had left the state by then. He claimed to have dropped the teenager off in front of a pawnshop in downtown Joplin on the morning of August 12th.

Neighbors claimed to have seen a young girl running down the alleyway screaming “leave me alone,” on the next morning. There was a possible sighting of the van near Carthage, MO. Witnesses say they saw “Al” cleaning out the van around noon, but authorities were unable to verify this sighting.

A year later, “Al” was arrested in Oklahoma for kidnapping and forcible rape of an Oklahoma woman. Police claim Lowell “Al” Billy is the prime suspect in the disappearance of Tracy Pickett, but there isn’t enough evidence to arrest him. “Al” spent time in jail for his crimes in Oklahoma but was released after a few years. He was re-arrested a short time later for failing to file as a sex offender and was incarcerated.

In 2005, police attempted to drain a mining pit in the local area without results. In July 2018, the Joplin police department began searching local ponds following leads on the other ex-con that showed up that night. Ernest “Michael” Hensley was dating one of the girls and was friends with “Al.” Police are looking into the now-deceased Hensley in hopes of finding evidence as to what happened to Tracy Pickett.

If you have any information in this case, please contact the Joplin Police Department (417) 623-3131

Further Reading:

Joplin Globe

The Charley Project

Joplin PD Facebook


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


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Synova Joining KGBX’s Women’s show in Springfield,MO

 

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True Crime Case Files Magazine

The winter 2018 edition is out. Read all about the nationally acclaimed forensic pathologist who worked the Jon Benet case

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Missing In Missouri: The Phoenix Coldon Mystery

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A black SUV slowly pulled out of a driveway in Spanish Lake, MO. The vehicle is found 25 miles away in the roughest part of St. Louis. The door was slung open, the engine left running, and the driver was missing. What happened to this beautiful young college student? Seven years later her grieving parents still pray for answers.

Phoenix Coldon, 23 had recently moved back into her parent’s home in the Spanish Lake suburb of St. Louis Missouri. The deeply religious family upbringing had sheltered the young woman from the dangers of the world around her. On the outside, the smart, outgoing Phoenix had a bright future ahead of her. She was a fencing champion, a talented pianist, and made friends easily. She was surrounded by love, how could this sweet girl go awry? I wish I knew.

On December 18, 2011, Phoenix and her mother attended morning services at their local church. The pair made a stop on their way home but arrived in the early afternoon. Around 3 pm, her father noticed Phoenix walk out to her black SUV and pull out of the driveway. He didn’t think much about it until she didn’t return. What happened to his lovely daughter? Phoenix had lived away from home for a while, but as long as she lived under their roof, she never stayed out past 2 am. The next morning Phoenix was nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, when Goldia Coldon tried to file a missing persons report she was informed her daughter was of age and the report wasn’t taken seriously. Goldia tried to explain that her daughter still lived at home and had always come home on time. Finally, the report was taken, but that wouldn’t be the only obstacle the parents would face. They quickly found that getting media attention was nearly impossible.

Within three hours of the SUV leaving the driveway, the vehicle was found abandoned in one of the roughest places in East St. Louis. The location was only 25 miles from her home, but it was a world away from the quiet life she led. No one could understand why she would go to East St. Louis. The vehicle brought on more questions, a few conspiracy theories, but unfortunately no answers.

For seven years it has been told this way:

The 1998 Chevy Bronco was found parked in the traffic lane on the corner of 9th St & St. Clair Ave, East St. Louis, Illinois. The driver’s door was open, and the engine was running. The initial reports claimed there wasn’t anything left in the vehicle. The 911 call came it at 5:27 pm on December 18, 2011, and the officer arrived on the scene at 5:35 pm. Here is where the problems begin. For seven long years, people were working with this story with these facts. It leads people to believe that poor Phoenix was pulled from her vehicle in a violent way. The Bronco was found next to Interstate 70 which is known as the human trafficking highway. This made investigators immediately think of this possible scenario. I’m not so sure, and I will tell you why.

When conducting interviews for the documentary “The Disappearance of Phoenix Coldon,” the hosts speak with the first officer on the scene. This interview would shake up the entire investigation. The attending officer claimed the vehicle was not running when he came upon it, and the driver’s door was not open. Where did this story come from then? Who knows?

The Double Life of Phoenix:

Investigations tend to kick up all your dirty little secrets and seems Phoenix wasn’t as saintly as initially described. Everyone has their problems, and it appeared the 23-year-old was struggling with her share of difficulties. Phoenix was homeschooled for most of her education and many wonder if she was too sheltered and just decided to break out and try something new. In fact, she did move out of the house when she started college. But, if her home life was so restricting and terrible, then why would she move back into her parents’ home in early 2011. This theory doesn’t hold water with me. There are many other ways to leave the nest.

Phoenix was leading a double life of sorts. After her disappearance, her parents discovered she kept a separate cell phone just to speak with friends she thought her parents wouldn’t approve of. Also when she had rented an apartment earlier, she wasn’t living with a female friend. Going against her religious upbringing, Phoenix was living with her boyfriend; Michael B. Supposedly, she was on the phone with Michael B. on the day she disappeared, but frankly, nothing seems for sure in this case. If Michael B. was the last person to talk to her, then why do investigators adamantly claim he wasn’t involved in her disappearance. It’s strange to hear an investigator say that they are 100% sure someone wasn’t involved. Maybe the guy was in jail, or in the hospital, I don’t know. But everything was so vague, and it’s hard to understand why the police wrote him off as a person of interest.

Continuing with Phoenix’s secrets, we also find out that she had been dating another man from school also named Michael. We will call him Mike#2. It was later determined that Mike #2 had a violent nature with women when his ex-girlfriend came forward to talk to investigators. She would eventually have to file a restraining order against him. Could Mike #2 have anything to do with Phoenix’s disappearance? The ex is unsure. He did seem to be overly interested in the case but said it was just because he had known her.

“Why are you worrying about someone who’s dead?”

Those are the words that fell from the lips of Mike #2 when his ex-girlfriend continued to question him about his interest in this case. How did he know she’s dead? More importantly, what are investigators doing about it?

Phoenix’s Best Friend:

When interviewed by the investigators for the documentary, Phoenix’s next door neighbor and best friend came forward to talk with the hosts. She claimed to know some things about her friend and had been afraid to say anything in the beginning. This friend claims Phoenix had grown paranoid in the last few months before her disappearance. She claimed Phoenix talked about leaving and even said she was afraid something terrible was going to happen to her. She claimed Phoenix was driving around with a large knife tucked in beside the drivers’ seat of her Bronco. Strangely, this knife wasn’t found in the abandoned vehicle.

Honestly, I don’t know what to do with this. Yes, there is evidence to show that Phoenix had gotten mixed up with a rough crowd, but why would the friend just now be showing up to talk? Why would she talk on camera if she were so afraid? She didn’t even ask for them to hide her identity. I don’t know. Maybe she is legit, but I find it funny when someone who’s afraid to come forward suddenly jumps into the limelight of television.

The Fateful Video:

When the hosts spoke with the family, they were given a bunch of evidence and documentation the family had collected over the past seven years. In this pile of evidence was a “selfie video” of Phoenix. In this video, we see the true nature of Phoenix’s mental anguish. She felt like she couldn’t turn to anyone and she just wanted to start over. After watching the film, it is apparent that Phoenix’s life was spiraling out of control. What had she gotten involved with? Why did she say she would have been better off to stay the way she used to be?

Investigators came back to the poor parents and said they believe the runaway theory. Of course, if this is true, she sure did a great job hiding her identity for seven years. I still think if she’s alive she was lured away by someone. I don’t believe she would go through all of this without stashing away some clothes and building an identity for herself ahead of time. Her family still thinks she was forced into the sex trade. They even interviewed local prostitutes and visited the strip clubs hoping someone would recognize their daughter.

Tragedy upon Tragedy:

During the most difficult time of their lives, the Coldon family should be surrounded by loving friends and supportive strangers. Instead, their misfortune has been compounded by grief upon grief. A few days after Phoenix went missing, Goldia received a phone call from a female claiming to be her daughter. Police tracked down the caller to find it was a 14-year-old prankster from California. Who would do such a thing?

If that weren’t bad enough, the Coldons spent every dime they had trying to investigate their daughter’s disappearance. When they had spent their savings and were nearly wiped out they got a tip out of Texas claiming their daughter was in a prostitution ring. This caller needed money to buy her out. Of course, the grief-stricken parents gave them the money only to find out it was another horrid hoax. This one left them nearly homeless. Their family home was behind, and the lender was threatening to foreclose. A stranger stepped in and helped negotiate a quick sale for the family. Although they avoided foreclosure, they still lost their family home.

“It’s just money, and it’s just a house,” Goldia said. “It wasn’t a home when she’s not there.”

Sightings & Rumors:

To make this case even more bizarre, the private investigator says there is evidence that Phoenix had been taking money from her parents’ safe and had found out she had two separate birth certificates. One certificate was with the Coldon name, and the other was with her mother’s maiden name. The parents’ deny this, but why would their own private investigator say this? Also, when tracking down the maiden name theory, investigators found a person by that name living in Alaska. They made the trip up there only to find out the person at the given address had never heard of Phoenix. Could that be a coverup? Could Phoenix really have run away and used a random address? Who knows.

If that’s not enough twists for you, here’s another one. Two years after Phoenix went missing one of her church friends was on an airplane coming home from Vegas when she saw Phoenix in a group of well-dressed women. She called out her name, and strangely the woman looked at her.

“Do I look like someone?” was the woman’s response. Two men were with the group, and the crowd moved past the stunned friend. Was this really Phoenix? The concerned woman immediately reported the incident to airport security. The entire place was searched, but no one found Phoenix or the group of people. Was this really Phoenix? Were the ladies high priced escorts and the men their bouncers, or was this a random group of people?

Through all the chaos, hoaxes, and turmoil Goldia and Lawrence Coldon are still searching for their precious baby girl. Where is Phoenix Coldon? Who took her? Did she go on her own? Is she still alive? These questions and more torment the poor mother causing panic attacks and even a heart attack. If you have any information or if you have seen Phoenix, please contact the St. Louis County Police Department 314-615-5317

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The Hollow Gaze – The Linda Sherman Mystery

linda sherman

Outside a popular Mexican restaurant, nestled beneath the Yucca plant peered the hollow eyes of a human skull. The morbid sight caused two customers to call over the manager who quickly phoned the police. A nearby cemetery was being relocated at the time, so the skull was placed on a shelf in the mortuary and nearly forgotten until an anonymous letter arrived at the Vinita Park Police Department a year later.

“Bridgeton P.D. has L. Sherman’s Skull.”

Who was the anonymous tipster? Why was Linda Sherman’s skull strategically placed in front of her husband’s favorite drinking spot? Was it to intimidate him, or was it because he couldn’t remarry since she hadn’t been officially declared dead?

This fateful tale began a decade earlier with the marriage of two high school sweethearts. Linda Lutz and Don Sherman decided to marry after Linda became pregnant. Neither teenager had graduated high school, but both were determined to make it work. Don graduated a few months later and went to work at a gas station to help provide for his family. Linda gave birth to a baby girl during summer vacation that year and named the child Patty. When the fall semester rolled around, Linda was back in school determined to complete her senior year. The couple rented a house next door to Linda’s parents, and Patty stayed with Linda’s mother. Life was difficult, but the couple seemed to be happy in the first few years.

Between the strain of young love, parenthood, and financial woes the couple’s relationship quickly became toxic. Linda repeatedly left Don and took their daughter only to reconcile a short time later. Linda even went as far as to file for divorce once, just to then call it off. At one point Linda got a restraining order taken out against her husband claiming he was mentally unstable. Somehow, Don always found a way back into his wife’s good graces, and life moved on. Things would take a drastic turn in the spring of 1985 however.

The couple worked opposite shifts, and Don became increasingly paranoid about his wife’s activities. Her brother, Dennis reported his brother-in-law was obsessed with Linda’s every move. A short time before her disappearance, Don claimed to have seen Linda at a restaurant with a male coworker and another female. Was this a casual lunch with two coworkers, or was she cheating on him? No one would ever know for sure because Linda filed for divorce again. Eleven days later she would disappear altogether.

On April 22, 1985, Linda arrived home around 2:15 am from her night job. Don claims they had a discussion about her late arrival before she fell asleep on the couch. Early the next morning, Don takes their 9-yr-old daughter Patty to school. Patty recalls this was very odd because her mom always dropped her off at school. Patty told Unsolved Mysteries that her mother was still on the couch facing the back. The thought it was strange when her mother didn’t get up and kiss her goodbye. The child had no way of knowing that she would never see her mother again.

Don claims he returned home later that evening around 6 pm to find Linda in a panic because she was running late for work. She took off in her ’71 Volkswagon Beetle in a hurry. Linda never reported to work that evening, and after prodding by the family, Don files a missing persons’ report two days later. He claims his wife had left him again and said an overnight bag was missing from the house. While Linda had left him before, there was one major difference this time around. Linda always took Patty with her. This time Patty was left behind with her father.

Four days later, Linda’s Volkswagon Bug was found abandoned at the St. Louis Lambert Airport. The doors were locked, and some of her belongings were inside. The police opened the unlocked trunk half expecting to find the missing woman inside, but she wasn’t there. Five years passed without any movement on the case. It looked like Linda was lost forever.

June 28, 1990, two TSA workers were having lunch at the popular Casa Gallardo restaurant near the airport when one of the women noticed an eerie gaze peering out from under the well-manicured sidewalk area. There between the gravel and Yucca plants were the hollow eyes of a human skull. The restaurant manager quickly called the police, and soon the place was swarming with crime scene investigators. Coincidently, the nearby graveyard was being relocated to expand the airport at this time, and investigators thought this could be a prank. The Bridgeton P.D. checked their missing persons’ reports and didn’t have a missing female, so they simply placed the skull on a shelf at the mortuary.

A year later the Vinita Park Police Department received an anonymous unsealed letter. It contained one sentence stamped in purple ink. There were no fingerprints and no DNA. It read, “The Bridgeton P.D. has L. Sherman’s skull.” This sentence had been stamped on the back of a flyer for the Casa Gallardo restaurant.

The investigators were skeptical at first. How could a police department ten miles away have Linda’s skull and they not know about it? All skepticism flew out the window however when they made the phone call and found out the truth. Ten days later the skull would be identified as Linda Sherman’s using dental records.

Police suspicion had always been on the husband, but now it was falling harder on Don’s shoulders. To make matters worse, the Casa Gallardo was one of Don’s favorite drinking spots. He visited the restaurant at least twice a week and had even been there the night the skull was found. Could this be a coincidence or was someone trying to taunt the man?

Don gave the police several different theories as to his wife’s disappearance and demise. First, he claimed she had run off with another man and abandoned her child. Then, he claimed she had gotten mixed up in drugs, and someone killed her because she knew too much. None of Don’s theories held weight with the authorities, and although several sites claim he has been cleared as a suspect, I could not find evidence of this. When the police chief was interviewed for Unsolved Mysteries, he clearly stated that Don Sherman was the one suspect that he could not clear. Even Patty believes her father killed her mother.

Strange fact about Don Sherman: While it has no official bearing on the case, just before Don’s marriage to Linda Don’s mother was convicted of shooting and killing Don’s father. Could this violence have damaged Don psychologically and caused him to be abusive to Linda? Who knows?

After watching the Unsolved Mysteries episode, I found one thing strange about the interview with Don Sherman. Every time he mentions Linda he refers to her full name. Who calls their deceased wife by her full name as if talking about a stranger?

The official theory: Don killed his wife when he found out she had filed for divorce again. When Patty saw her mother on the couch, she was already dead. He takes Patty to school, disposes of his wife and continues. Five years later, he isn’t granted a divorce because Linda hasn’t officially been declared dead. Suddenly, her skull shows up outside his favorite drinking hole. When the investigators don’t connect the dots, an anonymous letter arrives at the police station.

An ex-girlfriend claims Don admitted to her that he had killed Linda, but there wasn’t enough evidence to prove it. Police Chief Michael Webb spent his career chasing leads in this case but died in 2009 never knowing what happened to Linda Sherman. His son said it has become a family obsession and hopes it will be solved one day. Don died in 2015, and Linda’s brother Dennis died in 2016. It would seem this mystery will outlive the participants. Where is Linda’s body? What happened to this young mother?

If you have any information, please contact the Vinita Park P.D. 314-499-6090

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

Further Reading:

The Occult Museum

The Riverfront Times

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Unsolved Mysteries

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