Writing on the Wall – The John Hill Murder Mystery

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After a brutal, prolonged attack, John Hill was found dead in his laundromat. He had been stabbed 21 times and shot. Other than the bloody corpse, the most disturbing clue was written across the wall. The ink was John’s blood.

 


 

On Monday, November 22, 1976, two men entered the Ottumwa laundromat just after 5 am. Inside they found the owner sprawled across the floor in a pool of blood. He’d been stabbed 21 times. Evidence told authorities that John Hill had put up a prolonged fight for his life.

Near his right hand lay a .25 caliber pistol. It had been fired five times, and five bullet holes were discovered near the front door. Only four bullets were found on the scene, and reports don’t mention what type of bullet or gun was used to shoot the victim.

Hill’s pockets were left inside out, and it appeared that he had been robbed of a few hundred dollars. Was money the motive for such a long and frenzied attack? I doubt it. Twenty-one stab wounds sound pretty personal to me. I have a feeling that the money was stolen to disguise the real motive behind the murder of Mr. Hill.

At some point, a message was written in blood. The clue contained two words. The first word was hard to read, but it either said “black” or “lack.” The second word was “older.” Who wrote these words? Did John write them with his dying breath, or did the killer leave this ominous message?

I would like to know the exact location of the message. I think this would clear up a lot of speculation in this case. Was the message close enough to the body that a dying man could have written it? If it were written on a wall, were measurements taken? How tall was John Hill? A few of these basic details would go a long way to determine who wrote these words. Most people write at eye level, so it would be easy to determine if the words were written above the man’s head. Also, were the words written low on the wall as if a man were slouched on the floor as he wrote? 

To make this case more perplexing, the public reports don’t explicitly state how or where the victim was shot. We know a .25 caliber handgun was near his right hand, but there is no information on what type of bullet entered Hill’s body. We know the gun was fired five times. We also know there were five holes in the wall near the front door.

Strangely only four bullets were found. I must point out that these reports state that four bullets were found on site. They do not say bullet casings. That makes me think that four bullets were most likely embedded in the wall near the door, but where’s number 5?

Some armchair sleuths say the fifth bullet was the one that killed the victim, but I must disagree. Here’s my reasoning. I doubt John stood himself up against the door jam and shot himself. It is conceivable that he was held against the wall and shot, but I don’t agree with that theory either. There would be only two options if John were shot while standing near the door.

  • #1: The bullet didn’t exit the body – This wouldn’t have left a hole in the wall
  • #2: The bullet exited the body leaving a hole in the wall – Where’s the bullet then?

I could write an entire story titled the mystery of the extra bullet hole, but I won’t. Hey, that sounds like one of those old Nancy Drew mysteries. I digress.

Within days of the murder, the local police had two suspects on their radar. Their identities were never publicly revealed however and without enough evidence no charges were ever made. Forty-three years have passed, and police are no closer to solving this heinous crime.

If you have any information in the death of John Robert Hill from Ottumwa, Iowa, please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010.


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The Strange Disappearance of Marshall “Andy” Priestley

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Father of four disappears from Cross Lanes, WV, no one’s talking, and then the house burns down a few months later. Marshall “Andy” Priestley has been missing for three years, and the police still have no answers for the family.

Andy Priestley was four days shy of turning forty, and his mother expected to hear from him on the big day. When his birthday passed without a call, she began to worry. She tried to visit his home and was greeted by his significant other. Although her name will not be mentioned the woman wasn’t eager to file a missing person’s report on Andy. Pam filed the report on March 16, 2016, but after a little research, it was discovered that Andy hadn’t been seen since February 29th. Disturbingly, the activity on his cell phone ended on that day as well. What happened to this father of four?

Several months into the missing person’s investigation, the house on Christian Drive burned down mysteriously. If that isn’t suspicious enough for you, there’s more. Although there isn’t much information available online, the jailhouse rumor mill has been churning out stories. Tales range from confessions to dismemberments, but nothing has been verified publicly.

Sadly, Andy had his first grandchild on the way when he went missing, and now it seems he will never know the joys of being a grandpa. If you have any information on this case, please contact the Kanawha County Sheriff at (304) 357-0560.

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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Marshall “Andy” Priestley

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Missing Mother – Sarah Burton

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Mother of two goes missing in America’s heartland, and the police still have no answers. What happened to Sarah Burton after visiting the Payless shoe store with a friend? Why did said friend stop by Sarah’s mother’s house to drop off Sarah’s purse and a shoe a short time later?

On July 16, 2018, Sarah Burton was dropped off near 10th Street and Rex Avenue. She never returned home from this trip leaving her two small boys behind. Sarah’s parents and grandparents are looking after 3-year-old Xander and 8-month-old Zane while police search for the young mom. Although Sarah had a troubled past, family members are adamant that she would not have left her boys.

Burton was battling an addiction to drugs at the time of her disappearance. It has been reported that this former high school cheerleader had been a victim of a violent crime and began using drugs as a way to cope. Whatever the reason, 2018 found a determined young mother battling her demons and struggling to make a better life for her sons. Burton was seeking long term drug treatments, attending all of her court dates and working with an attorney to help with her legal issues. She had held a job for a year, but somehow trouble with her sons’ father caused her to lose this position. I would love to have more information on this incident, but there isn’t much available online.

Sarah stayed at the Lafayette House in September and October of 2017. The Lafayette House is a sanctuary for domestic violence victims, sexual abuse victims, and for those recovering from substance abuse. It seemed Sarah was finally getting her life together, but strangely when things appeared to be going well, she vanished without leaving a trace. The Joplin Police Department has constantly chased leads and conducted two searches over the 2018 holiday season trying to find the missing woman. Captain Trevor Duncan graciously answered my questions for this post. He states the case is active and ongoing and hasn’t grown cold. Joplin investigators followed lead #66 last Friday and were working on #67 yesterday. These leads have included several surrounding counties and the states of Oklahoma and Kansas. Joplin P.D. is actively searching for answers for the Burton family.

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

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.

Don’t Forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter and receive her ebook Grim Justice as a free gift.

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#SarahBurton – #BringSarahHome – #MissinginMissouri – #TrueCrime – #UnsolvedCase

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Cold case interview – Dixie Mafia Murders

The countdown has begun. Only 2hrs until I go LIVE and discuss a series of Dixie Mafia cases. Log onto my author page atHttp://facebook.com/synovacantrell

15 People Looked the Killer in the Eye – No Arrests

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After shooting down a prominent businessman, the killer looked up and gazed at the people in the factory windows. Why would a hitman do this? Was he confident, arrogant, or was he backed by the Mafia and knew he was untouchable? Whatever the case, Wolf Rimann lay dying in his car, and the killer got away. Seventy years later we have a full description of the killer, but no arrests.

Wolf Rimann, 43 was a marked man. He had been warned. Perhaps he thought he was too powerful in Kansas City to be taken out so easily. Rimann was a Deputy Sherriff in Jackson County. He was neck deep in corruption and thrived. Rimann was a golf professional and the manager of the Hillcrest Country Club. He also owned the Western Speciality Company which supplied jukeboxes and pinball machines to area businesses. Rimann was known to slip a few strategically placed slot machines in as well. It was a well-known fact that Rimann would use his badge to force tavern owners to install his slot machines. If the bar owner refused, Rimann would decide to enforce the county’s
“dry” laws and shut the bar down. At one point there were four other officers on Rimann’s payroll for this sole purpose.
The local Mafia kingpin, John Blando had exclusive rights to the Schenley Liquor products and was making a boat-load of money on the deal. Rimann decided he wanted a piece of the action and bypassed Blando. He went directly to New York and was given permission to sell Schenley liquor. This obviously upset Blando, so he sent word for Rimann to back off, but Rimann refused and continued to stock a warehouse full of the product.

On March 24, 1949, Wolf Rimann was walking towards his car on the corner of 14th & Chestnut when a black Ford peeled around the corner. One man stepped out and stood as a century. Another man stepped out firing a pistol. Rimann was riddled with bullets as he opened the car door. He slumped across the front seat of his car as the shooter approached. The hitman’s final bullet met its mark in Rimann’s skull. Then the killer did something very odd. He turned and looked at the factory windows full of witnesses exposing his face to the crowd. If this were a Hollywood film, he probably would have tipped his hat. After the strange moment passed, the two men jumped back into the Ford and raced away.

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The sketch above says the Ford was parked, but early reporting of this case say the Ford never stopped and the two men who exited the car had to jog to catch back up to it. The getaway car was found ten blocks north of the crime scene. The vehicle was traced back to a St. Louis car dealership. It was recently purchased by an Italian man claiming to be from Denver. He paid with cash and asked to borrow a couple of license plates. He never picked up the car title. He apparently had other plans for the car. The mysterious Italian was never found.

After his death, Rimann’s illegal business dealings came to light and exposed how deep the corruption had become in Kansas City. Although the case was never solved, the Kansas City Crime Commission was formed because of the murder of Wolf Rimann. Everyone knows the mob killed Rimann, but the triggerman was never found, and the crime boss of K.C. was never convicted of hiring the hit.

More Info:

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Youtube Video #2:

Kansas City Star

All photos used in this article are from the Kansas City archives. I do not own the copyright on any of these and no infringement is intended. This article is for informational purposes only,

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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