Mobster Monday: The Mobster Florist

Photo courtesy of Historythings.com

He was the leader of Chicago’s infamous North Side Gang and a rival of Johnny Torrio and his underling Al Capone. He was also an avid florist with a beautiful Irish Tenor voice. These polar opposites made up one fierce gangster named Dean O’Banion. His death would spark a bloody gang battle that would culminate in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.


Charles Dean O’Banion was born on July 8, 1892, in Maroa, Illinois, to Irish Catholic parents. After his mother died in 1901, his father moved him and his siblings to the Irish suburb of Kilgubbin. The area was notorious for crime and violence.

As a youngster, O’Banion sang in the Holy Name Cathedral, but later on, he would use his talents as a singing waiter at the McGovern’s Liberty Inn. While the audience was distracted by his music, his buddies would raid the coatroom and pickpocket the patrons. Sometimes the thieves would take it a step further and spike the drinks of some visitors. When the incapacitated person left the establishment, they would be jumped outside and robbed.

O’Banion and his group of friends became “sluggers” for the Chicago Tribune and then later the Chicago Examiner. Sluggers were hired thugs who worked for the newspaper. If anyone refused to sell the paper or gave them grief, the newspaper’s owners would send out the sluggers to give them a beat down.

Prohibition:

O’Banion started his own bootlegging business and arranged shipments from Canadian suppliers. He also staged robberies against his rival bootleggers. At the height of his bootlegging operations, reports claim he was making a million dollars a year on the illegal liquor.

1921:

O’Banion marries Viola Kaniff and also buys an interest in a local flower shop. He was a skilled florist and had a passion for flowers. It wasn’t long before his shop was the “Go -to” florist for mob funerals. Needless to say, he had plenty of business.

The shop sat across the road from his beloved Holy Name Cathedral, where he regularly attended mass with some of his gang members. The upstairs area of his shop was the headquarters of the North Side Gang.

Dividing Chicago & Deanie’s Downfall:

O’Banion and the North Side Gang were raking in the dough, but they were always at odds with the Italian based South Side Gang and Johnny Torrio. Torrio was Capone’s mentor at the time. Finally, Torrio works out a deal with his northern criminal counterparts and divides Chicago into territories to maintain peace between the rival factions. It would last for three years.

Soon, a third gang from the west side began to push their way into the deal. They were smart enough to align themselves with the Italians down south, but not smart enough to stay out of O’Banion territory. Their persistent efforts would eventually lead to a bloody war.

When Torrio refused to take care of the Westside gang, O’Banion took care of it himself and eventually signed his own death warrant by double-crossing Torrio himself.

November 3, 1924:

A local mobster had was killed, and a group of three men visited the flower shop on a couple of different occasions under the pretense of ordering flowers. Instead, they were studying the layout of the shop.
On the fateful day, Frankie Yale, John Scalise, and Albert Anselmi walked into the shop. Yale shook the florist’s hand, and before he could finish arranging the flowers before him, O’Banion was shot dead. The florist’s life has been immortalized in several mob movies over the years.


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Reading:

Wikipedia

The Mob Museum

The National Crime Syndicate

The Gangland Wire Podcast


Recommended Reading:

For more information on Dean O’Banion check out Rose Keefe’s book Guns & Roses by following the link below.


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


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ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. 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. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Missouri Missing – Amanda Jones

Photo courtesy of FBI.com

A pregnant woman nearing her due date vanishes after a surprise meeting with the uninterested father of the unborn child. Although the man was named as a person of interest, he hasn’t been named as a suspect. Who could have taken this mother? Why is this case still unsolved fourteen years later?


August 14, 2005, Amanda Jones from Festus, Missouri, received a call from the man she claimed was the father of her baby. Although he wasn’t interested in a relationship with her, she hoped he would be interested in the child. Up until that point, he had shown no interest in either mother or baby.

It was a humid Sunday morning, and Amanda was on her way to church. She told the man she would meet him at the Hillsboro Civic Center around 1 pm after the Sunday Morning service. After church, Amanda drove her four-year-old daughter to her grandparent’s house. She told them she would be back in two hours and was never seen again.

Around 1:15 pm, Amanda received a phone call on her cell phone and wasn’t heard from again. According to Bryan Westfall, he met with the pregnant woman around 1 pm. They talked for an hour, then she excused herself to go to the restroom, and she never returned. He claimed he went out to his car around 5 pm and seen her sitting in her car.

Why would a pregnant woman sit in a hot car without an air conditioner for three hours?

Although this story is questionable, to say the least, Westfall hasn’t been officially named a suspect. He supposedly cooperated with the initial investigation but won’t talk about it anymore. A preliminary search was conducted on the family farm, but a thorough search needed a warrant. Police are hoping someone will come forward with the evidence they need to obtain the search warrant, but nothing has come in.

The family feels they already know who killed their daughter, but the police need evidence before they can do anything. If you have any information about this case, please contact your local FBI office.


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Reading:

True Crime Daily

KSDK


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. 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. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


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If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.

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Guest Post Thursday – Mystery of Mel Wiley

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All Photos in this post are courtesy of our wonderful guest blogger Ian Granstra & his True Crime Facebook Group

For seven years, Mel Wiley served the people of Hinckley County, Ohio. After stints with the FBI and Defense Department, Mel joined the Hinckley Township Police Department in 1978 and became police chief in 1982. He was considered a dedicated cop who did his job well. By 1985, however, Mel appeared to tire of clamping the ‘cuffs on criminals. His real passion was putting pen to paper as he longed to be a mystery writer.

Mel told friends and colleagues he had started writing a murder mystery called “Harvest of Madness.” No one knows if he completed his novel because Mel is not here to tell. Instead of writing a great mystery, Police Chief Mel Wiley has been starring in a real-life mystery.

Unlike most of the missing people I have written about, however, Mel Wiley’s disappearance appears to be of his own choosing.

The morning of July 28, 1985, was like any other. Mel entered Hinckley’s K&K Doughnuts and ordered his usual sinkers and coffee. After jokingly grumbling the doughnuts were awful, he went on his way. No one, however, knows where “his way” took him.

Since exiting the doughnut shop that summer day, Mel Wiley seemingly vanished off the face of the Earth.

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That afternoon, Mel’s car was found abandoned on Lake Erie’s Lakefront State Park in Cleveland, 25 miles north of Hinckley. The car was locked and contained most of Mel’s pertinent belongings including his wallet, credit cards, and his police identification badge. A search of the area involving the Hinckley police and surrounding departments turned up no trace of the police chief.

The day before his disappearance, the divorced 47-year-old Mel told his girlfriend he was meeting an out-of-town friend to go swimming at the lake. He made plans for a date with her for the following day.

Authorities initially believed Mel had either drowned in Lake Erie or had been murdered by the unnamed friend. Evidence soon began surfacing… but not on the lake.

Mel’s trial ended in Cleveland, the “Mistake by the Lake.” But investigators believe it is a mistake to believe Mel lay in the lake.

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As he was the police chief, it was naturally wondered if someone Mel had previously arrested had done him in. However, during Mel’s tenure with the police department, the small Hinckley community had experienced few crimes of significance and no instances of major crimes. Investigators could find no one with an obvious motive to have the small-town police chief murdered.

The only person with a motive for Mel Wiley to disappear appeared to be the police chief himself.

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An analysis of the ribbon on Mel’s office typewriter showed he had written a letter, addressed to a friend, saying he was tired of his life and wanted to disappear. Mel said he would be 2,500 miles away by the time his friend received the letter, in which he wrote, “I will have, in one sense of the word, gone away. It’s a one-way trip, so I’m told, with no option of ever returning and perhaps that’s just as well for any and all concerned.” Mel’s friend, however, never received the letter, and it has never been found.

In the early 1960s, while in the military, Mel had been stationed at California’s Fort Ord and developed a love of nearby San Francisco. Investigators found, written in Mel’s handwriting, Greyhound bus schedules from Cleveland to San Francisco, a distance of roughly 2,500 miles.

Perhaps finding nonfiction preferable to fiction, the police chief decided to concoct his own mystery. Friends believe that having grown bored with his job and experiencing the frustrations every writer goes through, Mel said the hell with Hinckley and left his law career for a life of solitude and sanctuary in the city by the bay. As police chief, Mel had access to materials such as fingerprints and social security information which would aid him in assuming another identity. In addition, with his law enforcement background, he would know how to stay off the radar.

No trace of Mel Wiley has been found in the 34 years since his disappearance, nor has any evidence surfaced indicating murder or suicide. He was declared legally dead in 1993. If he is still alive, Mel Wiley would today be 81-years-old.

Is the former police chief living his golden years in splendid isolation from society? Perhaps, Mel, will one day return to write the final chapter to his own mystery. More likely, though, the former police chief will leave us to ponder the fate of the long-gone lawman.

If you believe you have any information related to the disappearance of Mel Wiley, please contact the Medina, Ohio, County Sheriff’s Department at 330-725-9116.

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If you happen to come across this post, Mel, shoot me a message. I would like to read “Harvest of Madness” if you have completed it, but even more, I would be interested in a Wiley lawman’s opinions on my writings, including in your own case.

Every mystery deserves a good ending, Mel. I would love, if you would give me the privilege, to write the conclusion to the tail of “The Long Gone Lawman”… on your terms and conditions of course.🧐

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THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Reading:

Akron Beacon Journal
The Huff Post
The Charley Project


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. 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. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)

Recommended Reading: 


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.

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Dixie Mafia Takes Out The Queen of Bootleggers – Cleo Epps


She was known as the Queen of Bootleggers, but she ended up at the bottom of a septic tank piled under 100lbs of rock and debris.


Cleo Epps started as a school teacher with a big heart. Her students said she was more of a mother than a teacher. Born on a farm in Arkansas, the young Cleo not only finished high school but also finished college. Afterward, she moved to rural Oklahoma and taught school.
Cleo’s first husband had a drinking problem that would eventually lead to divorce.

Cleo never drank alcohol but ended up marrying a man who became a bootlegger. That’s how a compassionate, soft-hearted school marm became a bootlegging queen. It’s also the beginning of the end for Cleo Epps. Although she eventually divorced for a second time, Cleo kept up the business.


During the 1940s and 1950s, Epps ran moonshine and had regular run-ins with law enforcement. Everyone loved her, even the police, and she would always continue business as usual. By April 1966, Epps was indicted on a multi-million dollar moonshine racket. Authorities claimed her business poured over 2,000 gallons of shine into the Tulsa area monthly.

Cleo Epps was making a lot of money, and it seemed no one could touch her. Although Oklahoma was a dry state, society shrugged off the law and continued to have shine delivered to their homes regularly.
By the end of prohibition, Cleo had successfully funneled her illegal income into a legitimate business. Epps became a sort of bank for those people looking to buy a home. She would hold the mortgage and receive the interest payments and principal.


How did she meet such a horrible end?


Cleo Epps had one problem. Although she was a shrewd businesswoman, it seemed she had a problem in the area of relationships. She tended to fall in love with the wrong men, and one of those men would end up plotting her murder.

During her run as the Queen of Bootleggers, Epps had developed many working relationships with various criminals. Some of these men were members of the Dixie Mafia. Thomas Lester Pugh and Albert McDonald were two associates of the moonshine distributor. At one point, Epps had even considered marrying one of them.

On August 25, 1970, a local judge’s car blew up in his driveway in an assassination attempt. The dynamite had been borrowed from Cleo Epps by a man she thought she could trust. When he came by a few days earlier claiming to need dynamite for some tree stump removal projects on his property, she believed him.

Cleo was devastated when she heard the news. Luckily the judge survived, but all Cleo could think about was the judge’s little girl. What if his daughter had gotten in the car to tell her daddy goodbye before he left for work? It was too much for the soft-hearted former bootlegger.


Although she knew her life was at stake, Cleo agreed to testify to a grand jury. She came in complete disguise, and the authorities were supposed to protect her. That didn’t happen.

A short time later, Cleo disappears. Her body was found at the bottom of a septic tank. She had been shot twice in the head and tossed into the tank. Nearly 100lbs of rocks and debris were piled on top of her.
Pugh and McDonald were charged with her murder, but somehow Pugh got off due to lack of evidence.


Further Reading:

Tulsa World

Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Justia.com


Recommended Reading:


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. 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. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.

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109 Yr Old Triple Murder Mystery – The Murder of Janie Sharp

Photo courtesy of Find A Grave

She was slaughtered while walking home along a country road in Rural Hill, Mississippi. Her murder leads to an overturned conviction, an acquittal, two more murders, and a trial that would divide the community. The local paper bred chaos and sensationalism, the truth was forgotten and 109 years later we still don’t know who killed Janie Sharp.


Peninnah Janie Sharp was born on April 14, 1892, to William and Martha Sharp. They had a large family with eight children. Janie was well-liked in the rural farming community and was an excellent dressmaker. On July 21, 1910, Janie helped her mother clean up the dishes from the noon meal before setting out to town. She walked the mile and a half to the local post office and then continued to the general store. She was seen leaving the store around 3 pm, but she never made it home.

By nightfall, the entire community was worried about the 18-year-old and several local men created a search party. Armed with torches they searched well up into the night until they finally broke up with a promise to resume searching in the morning.

Along the way home, Janie’s brother, Lee continued his search. He looked along the west side of the road and followed the ravine that leads down to the water. Around 2 am, a gruesome sight confronted him. There laying half-submerged in the muddy water was his sister. Her throat had been slashed from ear to ear. Several stab wounds were under her chin and she had suffered severe blunt force trauma to the head. The sight caused her brother to faint. I can’t imagine how horror-stricken the poor brother was after witnessing such a sight flickering in the light of his torch.

Lee Sharp began to scream for help and ran to find his father. William came and removed his daughter from the desolate site and carried her home. William Sharp suffered from palsy. The thought of this disabled father stumbling through the darkness trying to carry his child home is heart-wrenching, but this story is just beginning.

The next morning a crowd gathered including Sheriff Hull. The crime scene was examined and told a terrible tale. According to the footprints in the area and the strewn belongings of Ms. Sharp it appeared she put up quite a fight. Two to three areas looked as if a terrible scuffle had taken place and it looked like poor Janie had escaped her captor more than once. Who could have such a thing?

No one had noticed any strangers in the area and suspicions immediately fell on a local boy named Swinton Parmenter. Some say he was acting strangely during the search. Others say he had a thing for Janie, but nothing could be proven. Did that matter? No. Before nightfall, Permenter would be surrounded by a lynch mob. 

This tale is far from over. There will be a trial, actually two trials, a conviction, and an acquittal. Two more suspects will be named, and the investigator who found them will be brutally murdered. Swinton’s brother will be killed, and all the while a local paper will stir up a lynch mob. Unfortunately during all of this, the truth will be lost in t


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.

Further Reading:

Find A Grave

Reddit

Winston Web News Article (There is a series of eight articles on this site. Only the first article has been linked. I encourage you to read them all if you have time)


Recommended Reading:

You can read more about this case in Murder in Rural Hill by W. McCulley.


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. 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. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.

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Guest Post Thursday – The Death of Dana Stidham

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Photos courtesy of Guest Blogger

Larry Stidham was feeling a bit under the weather on Tuesday, July 25, 1989. He was home sick, and his wife Georgia was at work. When his 18-year-old daughter Dana came home to do her laundry, Larry asked her to go to the store to get him some Alka-Seltzer. Dana was glad to help her ailing dad.

The following day, Larry felt much worse. He had not received his medicine, but a new ailment was weighing far more heavily on him. He was sick with worry as Dana had failed to return. Larry eventually recovered from his original illness, but his worry worsened with each passing day as Dana remained missing. The illness was contagious; it spread to family and friends.

On September 16, nearly two months after she left on the errand, the worry turned to grief, heartbreak and devastation as most of Dana’s remains were found in a wooded area.

Dana had most likely been stabbed to death. Thirty years later, no one has been charged with her murder.

Dana had recently graduated from Gravette High School in northwest Arkansas, only a few miles from the Missouri border. She lived in an apartment with her older brother, Larry, and another roommate in Centerton, seven miles north of her parents’ home in Hiawese.

At approximately 3:00 p.m., Dana drove her gray Dodge Omni to get her father’s medicine at the Phillips Foods store in Bella Vista, four miles away. She had previously worked there and several store employees and customers she knew recalled seeing her. She chatted a few minutes with some of them before purchasing the medicine and a couple of other small items. Nothing appeared amiss.

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When the door swung open at the Stidhman home shortly after 4:00 p.m., Larry was hoping it was Dana. It was, however, Georgia coming arriving home from work. It was the only time in his life Larry was disappointed to see his wife, as his concern for his daughter was growing.

When told of the situation, Georgia said she would go look for Dana. Larry, despite not feeling well, insisted on going with her, thinking Dana may have encountered car trouble. After searching the entire afternoon and mid-evening, the Stidhams found no trace of their daughter or her car. Calls to Dana’s friends yielded no clues as well.

Larry and Georgia reported Dana missing at 9:15 p.m.

At 6:30 a.m. the following day, July 26, a policeman making her rounds found Dana’s car in the southbound lane of U.S. Highway 71 just north of the Bella Vista Town Centre.

The keys were still in the ignition and the driver’s side window was halfway down. The left-rear tire of the car was marginally deflated but the vehicle was still operable. The driver’s side seat was pushed far back, indicating someone much taller than the 5’2″ Dana was the last person to drive the car. Dana’s purse and its contents were missing. A receipt from Phillips Foods in the back of the car, time-stamped 3:17 p.m., was consistent with the time store employees remembered seeing Dana. Some of Dana’s laundry was discovered 1,700 feet from her car.

Larry and Georgia had searched that section of Highway 71 the previous evening but found no sign of Dana’s car. In addition, Arkansas State Troopers were running radar in the area until midnight and they, too, did not come across the car. Dana’s Omni had been abandoned along Highway 71 sometime in the early morning hours of July 26.

On August 5, one-and-a-half weeks after Dana’s abandoned car was located, a dog returned to his owner’s Bella Vista home carrying a treasure in his mouth. It was not a bone or an animal, but a woman’s purse. When the dog’s owner opened the purse, he was shocked by what he found. Several items bore the name of Dana Stidham.

Investigators searched the wooded area the dog frequented, just over a mile north of where Dana’s car was found. Strewn into the weeds alongside the road they found her driver’s license, checkbook, and several photos. Authorities believe the items had been thrown from a moving car.

Fearing the worst, volunteers joined police in combing the lakes and woods surrounding Bella Vista.

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On September 16, seven weeks after she was last seen, a hunter’s grisly discovery brought the search for Dana Stidham to a devastating end. Most of her skeletal remains were found scattered along a creek bed in far eastern Bella Vista, close to the Missouri border. Her skull was intact, as was most of her jaw. Several pieces of her jewelry and the clothes she was wearing on the day she disappeared were found. The t-shirt she wore was plastered with several pieces of duct tape.

Evidence of stab nicks was found on Dana’s left shoulder blade and neck, but it could not be definitively determined how she had died because her sternum was never found, probably having been devoured by animals.

Dana had also likely been sexually assaulted, but her body was too decomposed to say for certain.

Though it had taken nearly two months to find Dana’s remains, it took authorities less than two minutes to develop a suspect in her murder.

Police were initially confused by why Dana had driven four miles to Bella Vista to get her father’s medicine when she could have gotten it at the Hiawese Dairy Freeze convenience store only a few blocks from the Stidham home in Hiawase. It was soon clear, however, why she bypassed the quicker option.

The Hiawese store was owned by the parents of Michael McMillan who was often at the store. He and Dana had gone to high school together and McMillan had asked her out multiple times. Dana was not interested in such a relationship and rejected him each time. She felt uncomfortable in his presence.

Even though it meant driving a few miles, Dana was more at ease picking up OTC medicine at the Bella Vista store.

In December of 1989, three months after Dana was buried, McMillan was arrested for stealing the temporary headstone on her grave. He admitted doing so, paid a fine, and said he committed the act because he wanted the marker as a memory of Dana.

Seven years later, investigators tracked down the truck McMillan had been driving on the night Dana disappeared. Its new owner allowed them to search the vehicle, and, despite the passage of several years, hair samples were found which closely matched Dana’s. They were, however, not enough to make a definitive match.

McMillan agreed to an interview with police and submitted to a polygraph test. He failed the polygraph test and during the interview, McMillan made a seemingly cryptic statement. He seemed devastated by Dana’s murder and said, “Sometimes I think I did kill Dana, but I know I didn’t.”

The court ordered McMillan to submit his hair samples to be tested against those found on Dana’s clothing. McMillan’s samples bore similarities to those found on the clothing, but, again, could not be deemed a 100% match.

The Benton County Prosecutor declined to charge McMillan with Dana’s murder, saying the evidence was not strong enough.

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Another person of interest in Dana’s murder is Orville Goodwin. In 2013, he was convicted of attempted murder after shooting a woman in the face. Police have not confirmed if Goodwin knew Dana, only saying advancements in technology have led them to investigate him.

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 Thirty years after her brutal murder, no one has been charged with the murder of Dana Stidham.


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.


Further Reading:

Dateline NBC

Yourtango

Reddit


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. 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. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)

Recommended Reading: 


Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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SIGN UP HERE


If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.

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5 THINGS SUCCESSFUL WRITERS DO THAT YOU DON'T! *PART 3*

Photo courtesy of Gerd Altmann

Could only five minor adjustments make or break your writing career? Synova thinks so. Here are five things you can implement today to help you succeed. This is part three of a five-part series.

#3 Self Study

Successful authors are continually studying. I know that sounds scary to those who hated school, but it’s easy when you find your perfect way of studying.

Whether you choose to self publish or to be traditionally published, you must learn how to market your book. When you have your manuscript completed, you are only 5% finished. Yes, you read that right. 95% of an author’s work is in marketing.

Hard Truth:

Publishers will NOT market your book for you!

I know it says on their website that they are going to help with marketing, but their idea of helping is uploading it to their website with all the other books they have published. You will not be found. Publishing houses spend their marketing budget on the top 3% of authors. That means unless you have a name like J.K. Rowling, you will not have one dollar spent on your marketing campaign. Trust me on this. I learned it the hard way.

Nowadays, the marketplace is flooded with books, and it’s your job to stand out from the crowd. If you can’t accomplish this, then you will be lost in the sea of want-to-be writers.

Don’t Despair. There’s Hope!

Successful authors know they have to keep an eye on their market. They have found their target audience and are actively studying their interests.

True Crime Example:

As usual, I will give you an example from the true-crime side of my business. I wrote my first book Unorganized Crime and marketed it as the biography of an ex-gangster from Chicago. There is one problem with this. The market has been flooded with Mafia-style books, and now the public is more interested in cold cases, serial killers, and even the Dixie Mafia. The Italian Mafia is slowly becoming “Old News” in the marketplace. I will be rebranding this book and relaunching it after the first of the year.

Constant study is necessary to stay on top of these market trends. Also, you need to be studying delivery methods in the marketplace. Facebook Algorithms are continually changing. Youtube video guidelines are changing. Technology is continually evolving, and a good marketer will change along with them.

I also make it a habit to study the best in my field. Find the leaders in your genre and model their business plan. Don’t copy them, but find out what works for them and use it as inspiration to create your own business plan.

Self-study is the key to success in any field of endeavor, but some people hate book work. I understand that. Luckily, we live in the information age, and we can acquire the knowledge we need in various ways. Videos abound online, and most of what you need to get started, you can find for FREE on Youtube. Other video tutorials have a small cost, but it’s worth it when your business starts to flourish.

Audiobooks are a valuable resource, and you can get a subscription to Amazon’s Audible for less than $15/month. I recently found the Scribd App. It allows its subscribers to have unlimited audiobooks a month for less than $7/month. Look over the various options for audio programs. You can listen to them on your daily commute. Think about it. If you drive minutes to and from work, that is an hour a day that you could be studying. That hour will multiply to a whopping 260 hours a year! Do you realize the average college student only spends approximately 72 hours in the classroom a semester? This is the equivalent of 3.6 college courses, and all it cost was the price of an audiobook.

I listen to audio courses, seminars, and workshops on my earbuds while I clean the house. I particularly hate doing dishes and folding socks. Those chores, of course, have to be repeated daily, so I use my house cleaning time to study. I literally have a pen and notebook by the kitchen sink. I will be scrubbing my pots and pans and then dry my soapy hands to write down some notes.

...But I don’t have time

I hear this all the time, and it’s simply not true. Think about it. If you really want to do something, you will find the time. This sounds harsh, but believe me that I say it with utmost love and appreciation for you. I am a homeschooling mother of two. I do not have a babysitter, and so my children always want something from me. I run a cold case blog that goes out to half a million people each week. I blog twice a week, I have several books published, and I’m currently working on two more. I am going to launch a podcast series soon, and I am also working on two courses for authors. Yes, it is hard to squeeze in time for my study, but I know it is essential for my business, and I find a way.

Whatever you do, find a way to continue your education in your chosen field, and you will find yourself ahead of the pack.


This post is part of a blog series designed to help you with the business side of writing. If you missed Part 1 you can find it here:PART ONE. If you missed Part 2 you can find it here: PART TWO

Look for PART 4 next week. Also, keep your eye out for Synova’s new book Titled Ten Things Successful Writers Do That You Don’t…coming soon!

If you’d like even more help with your writing business, Synova is launching two online courses for her fellow authors.

For Newbies:

This course will focus on helping aspiring writers develop their craft and show them how to build a business from their writing. Synova will be looking for BETA testers for this course soon! If you’d like to learn more, hop on over to her Facebook Group and join in. The first ten people to sign up for this course will receive a 75% discount! You don’t want to miss the launch day!

JOIN SYNOVA’S SIMPLY BIZ FACEBOOK GROUP HERE


For Frustrated Authors:

This course is designed to help the seasoned author find the tips and tricks they need to further their writing business. It’s made to help those authors frustrated with their results.

This course will focus on helping aspiring writers develop their craft and show them how to build a business from their writing. Synova will be looking for BETA testers for this course soon! If you’d like to learn more, hop on over to her Facebook Group and join in. The first ten people to sign up for this course will receive a 75% discount! You don’t want to miss the launch day!

JOIN SYNOVA’S SIMPLY BIZ FACEBOOK GROUP HERE


AMARILLO ARSONIST HEATS UP THE GOLD MARKET WITH COUNTERFEIT KRUGERRANDS


Check out the Full Biography of the Amarillo Arsonist HERE

What happens when a local crime boss grows bored with arson, promiscuity, and gambling? A headline in the Wall Street Journal caught the ambitious gangster’s eye. An entire shipment of African gold coins had been stolen in Canada. Sidney Heard didn’t have the stolen ones, but he could counterfeit them. This scheme would eventually wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court, change the U.S. counterfeit laws, and spell the downfall of gangster, Sidney J. Heard.


Sidney Heard was a misplaced Chicago gangster who found himself boss of his own crime family in the Amarillo area. By the early 1980s, Big Sid had his own organization that dealt with everything from hot cars, hot women, and drugs. He had also sucessfully torched twenty-two buildings in his insurance fraud scheme, but the Amarillo Arsonist was growing bored.

Big Sid was a schemer from childhood, and boredom was his primary enemy, whether he was in solitary confinement or out in the free world. By the fall of 1981, the Chicago-native was its clutches once more. He had grown tired of his routine illegal dealings and was eager to find the rush of adrenaline a new con brings. That’s when he stumbled across the newspaper article about stolen Krugerrands.

The African Krugerrand was unfamiliar to Sidney, but after a little research, he discovered the gold coin accounted for 90% of the gold market worldwide. Sidney was instantly struck with gold fever and set out to find a way to counterfeit the coin. He purchased a coin the next day for $700 from a reputable dealer and began to study it under a microscope.

Within a short time, Sidney and his crew had started counterfeiting the coin and using them all over Texas in various nefarious deals. Sidney even used them in Mexico to buy a couple of kilos of cocaine. Every transaction was kept under a specific price point to avoid detection. This kept the crew under law enforcement’s radar, but once this rule was broken, they’d have the FBI coming down on them hard.

Sidney Heard and his crew took out a loan from the president of Tascosa National Bank for ninety grand using 300 of the African gold coins as collateral. The process went without a hitch, so it was repeated three times. The plan was to have the bank robbed if things started getting hot.

In early October of 1980, Sidney waltzed into the Tascosa National Bank clad in a three-piece suit, looking every bit the part of a wealthy businessman. His cool blue eyes watched the bank president count the forged coins, fill out the financial paperwork, and then hand them a check for ninety grand. Although he had been duped by the fake coins, Robert Ringo’s biggest mistake was in agreeing to avoid submitting the necessary paperwork to report the currency transaction.

Federal law states all transactions involving currency totaling more than $10,000 must be reported. Of course, Sidney didn’t want the transaction reported, so he coaxed Ringo into foregoing the process. Ringo would later resign as bank president because of this scandal

This last transaction was being monitored by law enforcement, and Sidney was taken down on the sidewalk as he exited the bank. How did they catch him after 15-months of investigation? Check out Synova’s Unorganized Crime book for the full biography of Sidney Heard today.

“One of the few books written that gives the reader an insight into the criminal mind” – Retired FBI Agent Egelston

Raised in a mob-controlled suburb of Chicago, Sidney Heard grew up wanting to be a gangster. He was on probation by the age of thirteen and continued building his criminal resume over the next half a century. He was a professional arsonist for nearly twenty years; escaped from jail twice; ran a gold scandal grossing over a quarter of a million dollars, and that’s just to name a few of his illegal escapades. To top it off, he played a role in one of the most important Supreme Court Decisions of all time(Gideon vs. Wainwright).Sidney’s underworld connections ran from the Chicago-based Italians to the Mexican Mafia. He even worked undercover for the Federal Government at one point in his life. However, all of Sidney’s so-called glory would come with a price. While working undercover for the F.B.I. D.E.A., Sidney became hooked on drugs. He soon found himself staring at 125 years of jail time , a massive criminal record, and pushing his fiftieth birthday. Can a career criminal change?

Frank Abagnale’s criminal career lasted ten years and was featured in the movie Catch Me If You Can. Sidney Heard’s criminal career spanned five decades!

GET YOUR COPY HERE


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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SIGN UP HERE


If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.

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Trace Evidence Solves 41-Yr-Old Cold Case

Photo courtesy of Scoopnest

She was found slumped over the steering wheel of her father’s 1976 Toyota Celica on March 22, 1978. Susan Schmidt had been shot multiple times through the open passenger side window. Detectives gathered what trace evidence they could find, but no answers came. The case went unsolved until August 21, 2015, when authorities arrested a man nearly 2,000 miles away!


It had long been classed as Glendale’s Oldest Unsolved Homicide, but the cold case of Susan Schmidt’s murder was never forgotten. Forty-one years later, a suspect sits in jail, awaiting trial for murder. As of this writing, the case is still in the pre-trial conference phase, but it looks as if a murder trial will commence in February 2020. Will this poor girl finally receive justice?

Susan Schmidt, 21, was an avid student at both the local Glendale Community College and the larger Arizona State University. The former cheerleader was known to help tutor her fellow students who struggled with the classes. Susan was well-liked and seemed to have life by the tail. Why then, was she found shot to death on a rural road heading out of town? The police were left with little in the way of evidence and called the case baffling.

On the night of March 22, 1978, Schmidt was heading back from the local mall where she’d spent the evening shopping. For some unknown reason, she pulled to the side of the dark two-lane road and rolled down the passenger side window. No one knows why, but I tend to think maybe it was for a hitchhiker, or perhaps someone seemed to need help

Without warning, Schmidt was shot several times with a .22 caliber handgun at close range. Around 8:30 pm, a jogger was running along the 7800 block of 55th Avenue and discovered the body of Susan Schmidt slumped over the wheel of her car. Back in the days before cellphones, the witness ran a few blocks down the street to the local fire station to find help, but it was too late. Susan Schmidt was gone.

At first, everyone thought it was a robbery gone wrong, but this was quickly dismissed because the victim’s purse and all of her belongings were still in the car. Strangely, the only thing that seemed missing was her car keys.

Investigators labored over this case file for the next 37 years before an arrest would be made. It seemed as if this case would never be solved, but in August 2015, investigators shocked the world when they announced an arrest.

Physical evidence pointed to a man nearly 2,000 miles away from the crime scene as the killer. Edward Meinhold, 54, was arrested on August 21, 2015, for the 1978 murder of Susan Schmidt. The authorities are elusive to questions regarding the type of “Physical Evidence” used in this case because the trial is still pending.

Lead Investigator Roger Geisler confirmed that old evidence was sent in for some new tests, and those results are what lead them to their suspect. Meinhold was living in Bristol, Virginia, at the time of his arrest and strangely had very little in the way of a criminal record. He has a small ordeal over a bad check, but nothing in history pointed to murder.


Geisler did confirm that a 17-yr-old Meinhold lived near the crime scene at the time of the murder. Other than that, the authorities are being tight-lipped as to the nature of their evidence. I guess we will have to wait and see if it’s strong enough to convict a man after four decades. I will keep you posted.


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDEaD READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.

Further Reading:

https://www.scoopnest.com/user/courtpio/689850474976047104-next-court-date-in-state-v-edward-meinhold-is-a-pretrial-conference-on-2182016-at-830-am

https://www.glendalestar.com/news/article_6ba74694-50f3-11e5-bb64-1b1d83eab34c.html

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3212060/Edward-Meinhold-Virginia-arrested-1978-cold-case-killing-Susan-Schmidt-Arizona.html

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/police-arrest-suspect-in-glendales-oldest-cold-case-murder-7599876


ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. 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. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Recommended Reading:

Support Synova’s Cause:

EACH WEEK SYNOVA HIGHLIGHTS OBSCURE COLD CASES ON HER BLOG AS A VICTIMS’ ADVOCATE WITH MISSOURI MISSING ORGANIZATION. SHE NEVER CHARGES FOR HER SERVICES. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT HER IN THIS WORTHY CAUSE, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE AFFILIATE LINKS ON THIS PAGE. BY PURCHASING ONE OF HER BOOKS, OR USING THESE LINKS YOU WILL BE SUPPORTING SYNOVA’S WORK ON COLD CASES AND WILL ENSURE HER ABILITY TO CONTINUE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE VICTIM’S FAMILY.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

2ndDIYpackage-templates

SIGN UP HERE


If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.

Synova’s Amazon Author Page


Shattered: behind every story is a shattered life

Every year Synova compiles the most popular blog post from the previous year into a case files book. In 2018, Synova Ink was filled with serial killer cases, cold cases, famous cases, and many obscure unsolved missing persons’ cases. Don’t miss this one. 

Order your copy of Synova’s New Casefiles book HERE!


Synova’s Swag Store is now open check out her new merchandise by clicking on the Shop! link at the top of this page!

Come Quick!

Guest Post Thursday: Bishop's Sins

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Photos courtesy of Guest Blogger

Brad Bishop seemed to have a life most people would envy, having lived in three different continents, he was Yale-educated and had a high-paying job as a United States Foreign Service officer. Married with three sons, and living in a beautiful home in Bethesda, Maryland, Bishop appeared to be living the American dream. But appearances are all too often deceiving.

Brad Bishop was a ticking time bomb and he exploded on March 1, 1976. That evening, the respected government employee committed an act that would make him one of the government’s most wanted. The man who seemed to have it all traded his life of envy for a life on the lam. In some respects, the horrific crime Bishop is said to have committed has been overshadowed by his eluding capture. Bishop is one of the FBI’s most frustrating cases as a global manhunt now into its fourth decade has failed to produce his capture.

William Bradford Bishop II grew up in Pasadena, California. After graduating with a history degree from Yale University in 1959, he married his high school sweetheart Annette Weis. Three years later, Bishop earned a Master’s Degree in African Studies from UCLA.

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Bishop then joined the Army and spent four years working in counterintelligence. He also learned to speak four foreign languages fluently: Italian, French, Serbo-Croatian, and Spanish.

After leaving the Army, Bishop joined the U.S. State Department and served in the Foreign Service. He received his Master’s degree in History while stationed in Italy, and he also served overseas in Ethiopia and Botswana. In 1974, somewhat to his disappointment as he loved living abroad, Bishop was brought back home to work at the State Department Headquarters in Washington, D.C. as an Assistant Chief in the Division of Special Activities and Commercial Treaties.

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By 1976, life seemed complete as the 39-year-old Brad and 37-year-old Annette had three sons; 14-year-old Bradford III, 10-year-old Brenton and 5-year-old Geoffrey.

Brad’s 68-year-old mother Lobelia lived with them as she had helped them purchase their upscale home in Bethesda, Maryland.

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Bishop had become the State Department’s Director of Commercial Practices and Trade. He worked as an assistant chief in the Division of Special Activities and Commercial Treaties. He was rising through the state department ranks but not, in his opinion, quickly enough.

On the afternoon of March 1, 1976, Bishop’s colleague Roy Harrell encountered him outside of the State Department. Bishop was upset over not getting a promotion he had sought. He told Roy he was not feeling well and was leaving work early. As Roy hailed Bishop a taxi, he told him to get some rest and to return only when he was healthy. Bishop nodded in agreement.

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On the following day, March 2, a State Park Ranger in Columbia, North Carolina, 282 miles south of Bethesda, Maryland, responded to a report of a brush fire in a remote wooded area. As the flames were suppressed, he saw the calling cards of an arsonist—an empty gas can and a shovel. Those discoveries, however, were only the beginning.

As the smoke cleared and the heat subsided, the Ranger made a chilling discovery. Interred in the ashes were the remains of five partially charred bodies buried in a shallow grave. The bodies were those of three young boys and two women. Two articles of the victims’ clothing bore the labels of department stores in Bethesda, Maryland. The shovel was also shown to have been purchased at a hardware store in Bethesda.

The Bethesda Police Department were baffled as they had no reports of missing persons report of which they could link to the bodies. Six days later, however, a gruesome discovery would provide the answers.

On March 8, Bethesda police responded to call from one of the Bishops’ neighbors. She was worried because she had not seen any member of the family for over a week. The Bishops traveled frequently and often for extended periods of time. When doing so, they told the neighbor so she could pick up their newspapers, mail, and water their plants. This time, though, they had not contacted her.

When police arrived at the home, the neighbor gave them the key to gain entrance. As a detective approached the home, he saw no signs of forced entry. However, he did see several newspapers lying outside of the door, some nearly a week old. Upon seeing several blood drops leading out of the door and into the driveway, he realized this was not going to be a routine check on a missing person. Several blood drops leading out of the door and into the driveway suggested that bodies had been dragged out of the house.

Upon entering the home, the detective saw more blood drops leading from the doorway through the foyer to the stairs leading to the upper bedroom. The upstairs wall and ceiling were also coated with blood. Bloodstains of all members of the Bishop family were found. The detective described the house as the most gruesome crime scene he had ever seen.

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On March 18, almost three weeks after the murders, a Ranger at Tennessee’s Great Smokey Mountains National Park discovered an abandoned station wagon. The ranger saw what appeared to be dried blood in the back of a car parked at the Elkmont Campground near Jakes Creek Trailhead. It appeared as though the car had been abandoned for several days. A check on the license plate showed the car was registered to Brad Bishop of Bethesda, Maryland.

When police searched the car, they found a blanket and spare-tire well in the trunk. Each was covered in blood. They also found dog biscuits. Bishop’s dog Theo had disappeared along with his master.

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Bethesda police now knew the identities of the charred remains. The five bodies found the previous week in North Carolina were those of Annette, William III, Brenton, Geoffrey, and Lobelia Bishop. Noticeably missing among the discovered bodies was one William Bradford Bishop II.

The following day, a grand jury indicted Bishop on five counts of first-degree murder, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

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Investigators believe they have pieced together Bishop’s activities leading to the murders. On March 1, after leaving the State Department saying he was not feeling well, Bishop withdrew several hundred dollars from his bank account in the Foggy Bottom area of Washington, D.C., the neighborhood where he worked at the U.S. State Department Headquarters. Bishop is then believed to have gone to a local hardware store where he purchased a small sledgehammer, shovel and gasoline can. His next stop was a gas station where he filled the can.

Police believed he returned to his home, arriving between 7:30-8:00 p.m. Probably around 9-10 p.m., after the children had gone to bed, police believe Bishop began committing familicide. Annette was probably killed first as she was bludgeoned to death with the sledgehammer as she was reading a book. Bishop then proceeded upstairs to slaughter his children as they slept. Last on the killing list was his mother Lobelia, who was beaten to death when she returned home from walking the dog. All five victims were beaten to death with the sledgehammer and none had an opportunity to defend themselves. The dog’s life was the only one spared by Bishop.

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After slaughtering his family, police believe Bishop loaded the bodies into the back of his Chevy station wagon and drove the 282 miles south to the sparsely populated countryside of Columbia, North Carolina, where he dug a shallow grave, tossed the remains inside and set them on fire.

Using his credit card, Bishop then purchased a pair of tennis shoes at a sporting goods store in Jacksonville, North Carolina, 145 miles southwest of Columbia. A witness said he had his dog with him and may have been accompanied by a woman he described as “dark-skinned.”

Brad Bishop was not seen for two years. In July of 1978, a Swedish who had collaborated with Bishop while he was stationed in Ethiopia, reported she had spotted him twice in a public park in Stockholm during a span of one week. However, the sightings were not reported until several months afterward because she did not know at the time that he was wanted for murder in the United States.

The following year, a nearly surreal chance encounter occurred. Roy Harrell, the last person to see Bishop before the murders, was vacationing there was vacationing in the tourist town of Sorrento, Italy. He had gone to the Piazza Tasso Square to board a train bound for Rome but first went to the men’s room. As he was washing his hands, he saw a bearded, disheveled looking man enter the restroom. He is certain the man was his former State Department colleague, Brad Bishop.

Upon seeing Roy, the man he believed to be Bishop ran from the restroom and disappeared in the landing where the boats went to Capri. As unlikely as the chance encounter seems, the FBI believes the sighting is credible because Bishop and Annette had previously visited Sorrento and he was known to be very fond of the area and had spoken of wanting to live there.

The next and last sighting deemed credible of Bishop was 15 years later in 1994, when a former neighbor vacationing in Basel, Switzerland, believes he saw a clean-shaven Bishop getting into a car.

Bishop had a week’s head start from the time the murders were committed to when the bodies were identified. Police believe he may have had one or more false identities secured before the murders enabling him to get out of America and travel between countries. As a State Department employee, he would have known how to create false papers. Obtaining and using fabricated documents to hop from country to country was a lot easier in the 1970s that it is today.

Approximately a month before the murders, in early February of 1976, Bishop traveled to northern Italy on business. Several people reported seeing him at a ski lodge in the company of a dark-skinned, possibly Caribbean woman. Shortly after the murders, a similarly-described woman was seen with Bishop in a Jacksonville, North Carolina, clothing goods store and several other sightings of Bishop and the woman were reported in the Jacksonville area in the days after the murders but before the bodies were identified.

Whether the woman seen with Bishop in Italy and North Carolina are one and the same is not known. She has never been identified.

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In 2010, the FBI announced that prior to the murders, Bishop had been corresponding with Kenneth Bankston, a federal prison inmate in Marion, Illinois. In total, police believe there six letters exchanged between Bishop and Bankston. In the last letter, dated March 15, 1976, two weeks after the murders, Bankston references a woman about Bishop had apparently inquired. Bankston says he is almost positive the woman is in the North Carolina state prison system but he does not name her. Investigators believe the woman mentioned in the letter could be the same unidentified woman seen with Bishop on two separate occasions on two different continents. However, a check of the women incarcerated in North Carolina at the time has failed to produce any legitimate possibilities.

The FBI does not know how Bishop and Bankston knew each other. Bankston worked in the oil industry prior to his incarceration. Bishop’s father had owned an oil company, but police have not been able to find any evidence that Bankston worked for him.

Both Bankston and Bishop served in the military, but in different branches; Bankston served in the Air Force and Bishop served in the Army. The two men were never stationed near each other.

The letter also mentions a second inmate named David Allen. His involvement, as well, is a mystery. Both Bankston and Allen had died before the discovery of the letters.

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In October of 2014, authorities received a tip that an unidentified man killed in a hit-and-run accident in Alabama in 1981 bore a strong resemblance to Bishop. DNA testing determined the man was not the long-sought fugitive. The Alabama man remains a John Doe.

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In April of 2014, the FBI placed Brad Bishop on their Ten Most Wanted List. It was an unusual move to place a fugitive on the Top Ten list so many years after the crime had been committed. Bishop was removed from the list in June of 2018 to make room for a “dangerous fugitive.” Despite the removal, the FBI considers the apprehension of Bishop to still be a “major priority.”

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Brad Bishop’s motive for murdering his family has been debated almost as much as where he may be hiding. Some State Department workers, including Roy Harrell, said Bishop was constantly chastised by Annette and Lobelia as being inadequate and not advancing fast enough in his career.

Friends of the couple say Bishop was unhappy with his desk job and wanted another foreign post but that Annette did not want to live abroad again. She had begun to study art at the University of Maryland and was seeking work despite, friends say, for her husband’s desire for her to remain a stay-at-home mom.

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In the 43 years since the slaughter of his family, sporadic sightings of Brad Bishop have been reported across Europe. Among the countries believed to have been visited by one of America’s longest and most infamous fugitives are Belgium, England, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Spain, and the three most credible sightings mentioned earlier in Sweden, Italy, and Switzerland. His fluency in four languages would allow him to blend into any of those countries.

The FBI says they have no evidence that Bishop is dead and they are continuing the global search for him. William Bradford Bishop II would today be 82-years-old.


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Further Reading:

America’s Most Wanted

Baltimore Sun
Bethesda Beat
FBI


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)

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