Suicide or Dixie Mafia Hit? – Death of Norman Ladner

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Photo courtesy of Unsolved Mysteries 

A seventeen-year-old boy spends his days exploring his family’s 122-acre property. Even at a tender age, Norman Ladner was an experienced outdoorsman. He loved hunting, fishing, and exploring the nature around him. Why then was he shot in the head and left in the woods to die? Did he witness one of the Dixie Mafia’s narcotics planes? Was the radio device found hanging in a nearby tree used to signal a drop? Thirty years later, these questions are still unanswered.


On August 21, 1989, Norman Ladner spent the day exploring his family land like he had done almost every day. Ladner was the oldest child and was very responsible. Everyone that remembers him tells of his dependability and his kindness. The Ladner family also owned the local country store. When Norman finished his day of exploring the outdoors, he would usually show up at the store to help his parents close up shop and prepare for the next day. You could set your watch by him. Norman always strolled in around 7 pm. On occasion, he would be closer to 7:30, but never later. On this night, his father began to worry when his son never showed up at the store. Norman Ladner Sr. hurried home to see if his son was in his woodworking shop in the barn. The teenager was nowhere to be found.

Worried, but not frightened, the father gathered a few friends and together they formed a search party. Everyone thought the boy had gotten lost, or maybe injured. No one expected what they would find in those woods on that fateful night. Sr. stumbled upon his son laying beneath a tree. When he reached down and touched his boy, the chill of death shot through him. The distraught father sat with his son in the dark woods until his search party to could return to the house to call the police. 

Pearl County Sheriff Lorance Lumpkin arrived on the scene around 10 pm. There he found Norman laying on his back with his legs curled up underneath him. He was rolled partially to the side a gunshot wound in his temple. From the outset, the authorities began speculating the death was a horrible accident. Perhaps the teenager had jumped down from the tree and fell. Maybe the impact caused his rifle to go off.

A few days later, the coroner came into the family store with two deputies to speak to the family about his results. He told the family that he was 90% sure it was a terrible accident. Strangely, when the official ruling came out a few days later, it was classed as suicide. The family was shocked. They couldn’t believe it. Nothing about it made sense. Norman was a happy child. If it were suicide, why did he have a large gash on the top of his head?

The family went to the sheriff and tried to speak about the case, but the sheriff flat out said they were wrong. It was a suicide, and they were just grieving parents who refused to see the truth. 

Evidence Against The Suicide Theory:

  • Why did the boy have a gash on TOP of his head, and how does that relate to suicide? I wasn’t doing a handstand while trying to hold a rifle and shoot himself in the temple.
  • I was unable to verify this, but it was once reported that the head wound had live maggots while the temple wound held larva. This would lead one to believe that the head wound came first, and the temple wound was secondary.
  • The police never processed the scene as a crime scene. They didn’t find a bullet. The father would find one on his own later.
  • Norman’s gun was never tested or fingerprinted. 
  • No one determined what type of weapon that killed him. They never checked because they believed it was his own gun from the beginning. 
  • Norman’s wallet with $140 was missing. I’m sure he just stole his own money, threw away his wallet, and marched into the woods to shoot himself, right? I don’t think so!

 

The family repeatedly tried to get the sheriff to reopen the case, but he flat out refused. The father, desperate for answers went out into the woods to begin his own investigation. There in the dirt under where his son’s head would have been, they found a bullet with human blood and hair. It seemed to the father that his son was slumped on the ground rolled to the side and someone standing above him shot the boy through the temple. The bullet then traveled through the hair and skull and buried into the dirt. It makes sense. If the boy had somehow pulled the trigger on his own rifle, then the gun would have flown through the air and landed at another location.

I should also mention that in some reports the boy was carrying a shotgun and other stories call it a rifle, so I cannot say what type of gun the boy had. I can tell you that it was most likely a shotgun. Either way, it isn’t easy to shoot oneself in the temple with a shotgun or a rifle. 

Still desperate for answers, the poor father took the bullet to the sheriff and was immediately dismissed. The police claimed that since they didn’t find the bullet, then they couldn’t prove it was the one who killed Norman. The father argued that they didn’t look for a bullet, but it was no use. Since he was getting nowhere with the local sheriff, Norman Sr. took the bullet to the state ballistics lab. He explained how the bullet was too long to fit in his son’s gun and asked the examiner to look over the bullet. The results came back inconclusive siting the same lines as the sheriff almost verbatim. To make matters worse, when the bullet was returned to the family, it was a different one than the bullet they had sent in.

During their frequent trips to the coroner’s office, Norman’s mother was approached by a stranger. He asked if he could discuss her son’s case with her, so of course, the mother agreed to step away and speak with him. When the pair were out of earshot of her husband, the stranger turned and uttered a chilling threat to the poor mother. He told her that she had other children and she should just drop this investigation and raise them because they’d never find Norman’s killer. Frightened, she hurried back to Norman Sr. and told him about the threat. The man was gone before anyone could find him. 

Determined to find the truth, the now somewhat paranoid father makes another trip into the woods to find clues. Three hundred yards from his son’s position, he saw a strange object hanging in a tree. It was a homemade radio device of sorts covered in tape and wires with a small antenna protruding from the top. Of course, the father took it to the sheriff and was dismissed. Norman then turned to a neighbor and told him about the device. The neighbor put him in contact with a retired DEA agent who lived in the area. 

The DEA agent knew what the strange object was immediately and explained these devices transmit signals. The narcotics plans would fly over an area, and when the signal was picked up on their devices, then they would drop their load of drugs. Was this the answer the family had been looking for? Did their poor boy run up on a drug trafficker and a narcotics drop?

To make matters worse, the sheriff would later be charged with dogfighting and other illegal activities. Although some believe he had ties to the local group of Dixie Mafia drug cartel, nothing has been proven. Norman Ladner, Sr. died in 2003, and the sheriff died in 2007. Thirty years have passed, and most of the witnesses are long gone. What evidence the family found is no longer available. Still, questions remain. What happened to Norman Ladner? Was it suicide or murder?


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:

Unsolved

Only In Your State

Who killed Norman Ladner? from UnresolvedMysteries

Trace Evidence Podcast Video 

picayuneitem.com


This week’s Recommended Reading:


The Boys on the Tracks


The Life and Times of Frank Balistrieri: The Last, Most Powerful Godfather of Milwaukee


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Recanted Murder Confession – Killer on the Loose

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Her unsolved case will be studied by Crime Con’s Executive Producer’s Crowd Solve event. Can a group of armchair sleuths join seasoned investigators to solve this decade-old mystery? What happened to Nancy Moyer?


It’s a cold night in Washington state, and an exhausted single mother heads home from work. Nancy Moyer, 36 takes a coworker home before stopping by the store to pick up a few groceries before heading home. Although the young brunette had been going out occasionally on the weekends, this time she planned to stay at home.
Moyer and her husband, Bill, had separated two years earlier but worked diligently to maintain a good relationship for the sake of their two daughters. Nancy would have the girls throughout the week, and Bill would take them on the weekends. Both parents were always eager to see the girls and never missed a pickup time. That would all change on Friday, March 6, 2009.
Bill pulled up in front of his estranged wife’s home and noticed the door standing open. He found it odd but thought perhaps she stepped out and would return quickly. The man and his daughters walked in the open door and called for Nancy, but she didn’t respond. They waited a little while but soon left. Bill took the girls back home and returned later expecting to see Nancy, but she was nowhere to be found. It was time to call the police.
Police would find not only was the door left open, but a half glass of wine sat on the coffee table, and Nancy’s purse was still in the house. She wouldn’t leave without it or her car, which was still parked out front. Investigators work to establish a timeline in hopes of finding a clue to Nancy’s disappearance. She dropped off the coworker around 6 pm and then went to the store. A police officer was parked down the street running radar not far from the young woman’s home. He later recalled seeing her at home around 9:30 pm unloading groceries from her car. No one knows what happened next.
Tenino, Washington was a small town in Thurston County with a population around 1,600 in 2009. It wasn’t the kind of place where women go missing, but the town would be shocked when a traveling meat salesman is arrested for driving around with a warm corpse in his truck. Yes, you read that right.
Bernard Keith Howell III, 26 was arrested in August 2010 with a still-warm corpse in his truck. Vanda Boone, 60 was discovered wrapped in plastic and a sleeping bag riding around in this traveling meat salesman’s truck! At one point Howell stopped some random stranger and asked him to help him dispose of a body. Of course, the man refused and flagged down a police officer. Howell was apprehended near the Parkside Elementary School in Tenino. Howell claimed to have found the deceased Ms. Boone on the Yelm-Tenino trail and wanted to bury her himself to save the family from having to pay funeral expenses. Howell eventually confessed and received 30 years in prison.

How does Bernard Howell tie to the Nancy Moyer case?

Howell lived less than a mile from Nancy, and while the police were searching her home for clues, they came across some meat in her freezer that had Howell’s label. It isn’t clear if Howell worked for a company or had his own business, but the meat clearly tied him to Moyer. To make sure, the investigators showed her daughters a picture of Howell and asked them if they had seen him before. They said yes. Howell has been entirely uncooperative with police and refuses to admit that he’s ever seen, Nancy Moyer. Could this deranged door to door meat salesman be the answer to this cold case? Hold on there’s more.
Ten years pass, and it looks like the case will never be solved. The girls grow up without their mother and face all the hardships; only a victim’s family member could understand. Then in July 2019, a podcast host decides to dive into this cold case for his Hide and Seek podcast. His work brings the case back into the public eye, and it looked like it may have put the heat on the murderer.
A neighbor and coworker named Eric Roberts calls 9-1-1 and admits to killing Nancy Moyer during a rough sex act. He is promptly arrested but recants his confession almost immediately. Officials hold the man and search his property for two days but can’t find enough evidence to charge him with murder. Where is Nancy’s body?
Desperate to keep a hold of their man they re-arrest him on weapons charges when they find an illegal firearm in his home. Those charges would be eventually dropped, however when they discover the weapon was indeed legal. For now, it seems they lost their man. Eric Roberts walks free, and the case is still unsolved.

If you have any information on this case, please contact:

Thurston County Sheriff’s Office 360-786-5279


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:

king5.com/video

nbcnews.com

www.chronline.com

Nancy Moyer disappearance from UnresolvedMysteries

truecrimedaily

theolympian

hideandseek podcast


This week’s Recommended Reading:


American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century


Murder In Spokane: Catching a Serial Killer


The Life and Times of Frank Balistrieri: The Last, Most Powerful Godfather of Milwaukee


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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.

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

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9-1-1 Victim or Missing Person? Sneha’s Story – Guest Post Thursday

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Photo courtesy of Guest Blogger’s Facebook Page

September 11, 2001

In the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, Sneha Philip’s image was one of the thousands on flyers plastered around New York City’s Ground Zero. Surrounded by so many missing-person photos, it was easy to miss the detail that differentiated the 31-year-old Indian-American physician from the others. The flyer of Sneha Philip read, “Missing since Monday, September 10th.”

As with many victims of the World Trade Center bombings, the remains of Sneha Philip were never found. It isn’t clear if she was in the vicinity of the World Trade Center when the twin towers came tumbling down. In fact, no one saw Sneha on September 11; the last confirmed sighting of her was on the evening of September 10.

Sneha was ruled legally dead in 2004 but was not declared a victim of the terrorist attacks. That decision, however, was reversed on appeal, and today, she is officially listed as a victim of the September 11 attacks, and her name appears on the National September 11 Memorial.

Sneha Philip and her husband Ron Lieberman lived in the Battery Park City section of New York City, four blocks from where the World Trade Center stood.

Both Ron and Sneha were physicians. Ron was a doctor at Jacoby Hospital while Sneha was in her third year of residency at St. Vincent’s Hospital, now Richmond University Medical Center.

Ron left home for work at 11:15 a.m. on September 10, 2001; Sneha had the day off, but it would hardly be a day of relaxation.

That morning, Sneha had been arraigned in court on a charge of filing a false complaint to the police. She had accused an intern at work of grabbing her inappropriately, but police found no evidence supporting the claim. Sneha was charged with filing the false report after refusing to recant her claim.

When Ron returned home at 11:15 p.m., Sneha was still gone. He assumed she had spent the night with either a brother or a cousin who lived nearby; she often did so when he worked late.

Sneha, however, still had not returned home the following morning, September 11, when Ron left for work at 7:30. After an airplane hit the first tower at 8:46 a.m. (EST), Ron called home to check on Sneha but received no answer. At 10:30 a.m., Ron phoned home again, shortly after the second plane crashed into the second tower. Due to the burgeoning chaos, however, the phone lines were dead.

After the lines were restored several hours later, Ron phoned home but again received no answer. He was able to reach Sneha’s brother and cousin, but Sneha had not spent the evening of September 10 with either of them. Ron was soon able to reach other relatives and friends who also knew nothing of Sneha’s whereabouts. When Ron was finally able to return to the couple’s apartment, he learned no one who had been in the building that morning had seen Sneha.

Ron filed a Missing Person report with the New York City Police Department. The police were inundated with such reports and didn’t have the manpower to thoroughly investigate all of them.

When Ron returned home at 11:15 p.m., Sneha was still gone. He assumed she had spent the night with either a brother or a cousin who lived nearby; she often did so when he worked late.

Sneha, however, still had not returned home the following morning, September 11, when Ron left for work at 7:30. After an airplane hit the first tower at 8:46 a.m. (EST), Ron called home to check on Sneha but received no answer. At 10:30 a.m., Ron phoned home again, shortly after the second plane crashed into the second tower. Due to the burgeoning chaos, however, the phone lines were dead.

After the lines were restored several hours later, Ron phoned home but again received no answer. He was able to reach Sneha’s brother and cousin, but Sneha had not spent the evening of September 10 with either of them. Ron was soon able to reach other relatives and friends who also knew nothing of Sneha’s whereabouts. When Ron was finally able to return to the couple’s apartment, he learned no one who had been in the building that morning had seen Sneha.

Ron filed a Missing Person report with the New York City Police Department. The police were inundated with such reports and didn’t have the manpower to thoroughly investigate them all.

Gallant initially theorized Sneha may have stopped for a drink and/or supper at the nearby Millennium Hotel and that something may have happened there that led to her disappearance.

The hotel was closed down after the attacks, and the entire area where Sneha was last seen was in ruins. If something happened to her at the hotel, it would be virtually impossible to prove.

However, five days after the attacks, a clerk at the Century 21 Department Store contacted police after seeing Sneha’s missing person flyer. The clerk recognized Sneha and recalled her being with another woman in the store on the evening of September 10. Her companion appeared to be of Indian descent. Sneha told the clerk the woman was a friend.

Ron and Ken viewed the tape again and could see two women leaving the department store together. They believe Sneha to be one of the women but cannot say for sure. None of Sneha’s friends or relatives could identify the woman.

The woman who may be Sneha was carrying two large bags of merchandise which were not found at her apartment, suggesting she never returned home.

This possible sighting of Sneha with another woman led Ron and Ken to speculate she may have stayed at this woman’s home on the evening of September 10. The woman could also have been visiting the city and staying at a hotel. They theorize the woman may have been an old friend whom neither Ron nor Sneha’s inner circle knew. If this were the case, Sneha might have been heading home at the approximate time of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Sneha’s friends and family believe if she were in the area at the time of the attacks, she, as a doctor, would have tried to help the wounded. Had she done so, she most likely died in the attacks.

Police initially believed it possible that Sneha disappeared of her own accord.

In addition to her legal troubles related to the alleged false complaint, Sneha had been reprimanded at work several times for arriving late and for a drinking problem. She was on thin ice; one more screw up and she would be fired.

Several acquaintances alleged Sneha had a substance abuse problem, that she and Ron were having marital troubles, and that she had engaged in several lesbian affairs. Those contentions are denied by both Ron and Sneha’s families.

Despite the initial suspicions, most investigators came to the conclusion that Sneha perished as the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed on that awful day.

Police could never identify either woman seen on the department store video. They believe if it is Sneha on the tape, the other woman is the key to learning her fate.

The second woman was described as possibly being of East Indian descent, approximately 5’2, 115-120 pounds, with short black hair.

In 2002, Ron Lieberman petitioned to have Sneha declared a victim of the September 11 attacks.

A Circuit Court declared Sneha Philip legally dead in 2004 but also ruled evidence to conclude she had died in the September 11 attacks was insufficient. In January of 2008, an appeals judge agreed there was no proof Sneha had perished in the Twin Towers but concluded it was the most likely explanation for her disappearance.

Sneha Philip is now officially listed as a victim of the September 11 attacks. Her name is located on Panel S-66 of the National September 11 Memorial’s South Pool.

The September 11 victim’s fund closed in 2003, and Ron never collected any monetary compensation from it.


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:


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra

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 “beaglelover.”)

This week’s Recommended Reading:


I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001 (I Survived 6)


The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (Authorized Edition)


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

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Tip From Dying Witness Breaks 46-yr-old Dixie Mafia Cold Case

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A trucker was found dead in the cab of his tractor-trailer. Bullet holes riddled the man’s torso and the cab of his truck. John Constant was shot 17 times by a high powered rifle, but there wasn’t any blood in the cab leading investigators to wonder if the hit was staged. Forty-six years later a dying witness blows this frozen case wide open. Will the killer finally face justice?


John Raymond Constant, Jr. was found murdered in the cab of his truck on March 16, 1973. The tractor-trailer truck was parked near the Little Tennessee River just off Hwy 411. The driver had suffered seventeen gunshot wounds, but police quickly began to suspect the crime scene was staged. Although the cab was riddled with bullets and Mr. Constant was shot multiple times, there was no blood found at the scene.

A witness lived in the area recalled hearing a car with a loud exhaust come by followed by what sounded like gunfire. A few moments later, he heard the vehicle pass again. Was this man ambushed while he rested in his cab, or was the scene staged? Was the car with the loud exhaust filled with the killers, or was it the escape route after staging the scene?

Strange Side Note:

The tractor-trailer truck’s emergency flashers were left blinking. Obviously, whoever did this wasn’t too worried about being caught, or they would have hidden the truck and shut off the lights.

Possible Motive:

Why would anyone want to murder this man? It seems Constant was starting to keep records of the shipments he was hauling. These shipments included bootleg cigarettes and black market items shipped by the local chapter of the Dixie Mafia. Family members claim John had been threatened and had decided to go to the FBI with his records.

Within a few months, outside investigators were brought in to form a task force since there were rumors of involvement by prominent citizens in the local community. Investigators wondered if this case could be tied to the Ray Owenby murder in June of 1973. The two men were good friends, and both were murdered three months apart.

Ray Owenby was shot while clearing land for development in Spring City, TN. He was shot four times but still managed to drive the bulldozer a mile down the road to find help. He collapsed upon arrival. No suspects emerged in the case, but the similarities made police wonder if there was a connection.

Investigators believe John Constant was killed the day before his body was found and was transported to the location. Witnesses would emerge early in the investigation that seemed to corroborate this theory. Constant was seen at a garage in Etowah owned by H.B. Calhoun. Another man claimed to have seen John Constant and two men at a car wash in Etowah on March 15. While the witness washed his car, he heard something like firecrackers, and then a truck drove away with someone slumped in the seat. The witness was put under hypnosis, and a few new details emerged. The driver was Marvin Ray “Big John” Pittman, and the other man was supposedly Harold Buckner.

Big John Pittman was a drifter and worked as a hitman for the Dixie Mafia. He would eventually be murdered in his home in Tampa, Florida. His body was found on June 5, 1975. He had been shot once in the temple and left for dead.

Harold Buckner’s story doesn’t have such a quick ending. Buckner would be arrested in September 1982 after a witness came forward on their deathbed. Buckner had just run for Sheriff and lost and claimed it was a politically motivated arrest. It would take a year, but the charges were eventually dropped due to lack of evidence. To this day, Buckner claims he was framed, and the investigation was nothing more than a “witch hunt.”

After the deathbed witness statement and the subsequent events, the case sat dormant for decades. Richar Fisher, former D.A. told reporters that he always believed several people had a hand in the murder plot against John Constant. If something didn’t come up soon, everyone would be dead.

Although the case went cold, the victim’s family believed they knew the murderer from the beginning and fingered Max Calhoun (son of H.B. Calhoun). John’s two brothers threatened the Calhoun family within weeks of the murder, and eventually, a protection order was placed on them.

“I am confident in my mind that you set my brother up to be murdered.” – Harold Constant to Max Calhoun.

Forty-six years later, a witness comes forward, and her story could finally solve this case, but is it too late for justice?

Arwana Lee Amos,65 came forward in December 2018 with a statement. Amos is terminally ill and wanted to tell police what she knew about the historic case before she passed away. Law enforcement has not released the details of her statement, but soon afterward they arrested the 67-year-old Max Calhoun.

After half a century is justice possible in this case? The alleged shooter was killed decades ago, and the only man left standing is Calhoun. Is he the one? Time will tell, but who knows how long this chain of murder extends?


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:

Newspapers.com

middle Tennessee mysteries

knoxnews.com

The daily times

advocate and democrat

tba.org

knoxnews.com


This week’s Recommended Reading:

Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia

 

 

Rock Solid, The True Story of Georgia’s Dixie Mafia

 


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

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Powelifter’s Death Shockingly Attributed to Inability to Roll Over

tanner barton.png

Photo courtesy of the In Memory of Tanner Barton‘s Facebook group

He could deadlift 500 lbs but couldn’t roll over?

I shouldn’t be writing about this case. Writing this story is like playing with lit sticks of dynamite. The drama, chaos, and lawsuits surrounding this story have destroyed the case. Touching it could cause third-degree burns, but I believe this teenager needs the adults investigating his death to grow up, observe the facts, avoid the opinions, and bring him Justice.


Tanner Barton, 19 was a freshman at Marion University, an excellent student honored with being named on the Dean’s list, and was playing college football as an offensive lineman. He wasn’t just any football player, he was one of the best in the state and was one of the few who could continue the game into college. In 2010, Tanner was selected to be a part of the All-State Football team.
The Marion Star reported his accomplishments in Track & Field on May 5, 2011. The 6′ 3″ 290lb giant of a lineman was also an excellent discus thrower. Despite his size, Tanner was very active and physically powerful. During his high school wrestling days, he broke all the school weight lifting records and was an accomplished wrestler. If that wasn’t enough, he was a start football player and powerlifter. That’s right. Tanner Barton could deadlift over 500 lbs!
On the field, Tanner Barton was a giant powerhouse, but off the field, he was a loveable teddy bear. He was well-liked by all who knew him, and it seemed he had a great future ahead of him. No one realized his life would end on April 22, 2012. How could it end so soon? Why would it end? Seven years later, his mother is still asking the same questions.

On the night of his death, Tanner went to the movies with a friend and then stayed the night at a friend’s house. Around 3 am he collapsed in the basement. A young girl witnessed him on the floor and said he was making a funny noise. She thought perhaps he was snoring. For some odd reason, she said she checked his pulse, stepped over him, and went to bed. By the next morning, the football star was dead. The events of the following day have been disputed throughout the community, across the nation and even on the Dr. Oz show. Now after all the drama, the original questions remain, but somehow the case has been closed. Yes, you heard that right. The case was closed by the police department in 2018. So, why am I still writing about this case? Read on to find out.
At first, the coroner’s report said they couldn’t get a urine sample and then a short time later, a sample appears out of nowhere, and toxicology reports are made from it. This is only one of many discrepancies in this report and throughout the entire case file, but I have one primary objection to this whole deal.
The official ruling on the case says that Tanner had an enlarged heart, was morbidly obese, had a short neck, and died due to positional asphyxia. Basically, the big man falls down. Big man suffocates because he is unable to reposition his body to get oxygen. Here is my objection. There was NO EVIDENCE that his heart had anything to do with his collapse. If you study the causes and effects of an enlarged heart, you will find that if it had caused his collapse, there would have been evidence of heart failure of some sort in the autopsy, but there wasn’t any. So, it wasn’t his big heart that caused him to collapse. What then?
Some say he was drinking and smoking marijuana. This powerful man’s blood alcohol levels were a mere 0.06%. That would have in no way caused him to pass out. Here come the messed up toxicology reports. One report said there wasn’t any marijuana in his system, then, later on, another test came back positive for the drug. Hum. Ok then. We will leave that right there and move on.
There was a rumor mill report saying that “Special K” may have been passed around that night, but again that’s not been proven either. One particular person, who we won’t name because of all the needless drama, was in the the house and had access to the drug known in the medical world as Ketamine. This drug is a hallucinogenic, tranquilizing effect and could have been the reason why the powerlifter was unable to move his head enough to get oxygen, but again there isn’t any official evidence to support that either.
How does a beloved football player slump to the floor at the bottom of the staircase, lay there for hours until he suffocates, and no one notice? That’s my question. Sure it was in the early morning hours, and some of the people were asleep, but one person claimed he had foam coming out of his mouth and another claimed he had made a strange snoring sound. Why then, didn’t someone turn him over on his side so he could breathe? Why did it take several hours before 911 was called and why were calls to several other people made first? It doesn’t make sense.
To make a bigger mess, this case had gotten nationwide attention when Tanner’s mother made a public plea on the Dr. Oz show. Unfortunately, the investigation wasn’t complete, and some of the people involved were overly eager to get the show aired. This caused some major chaos when some other people threatened to sue. More drama unfolded, and many have tried to discredit Tanner’s mother. I have plenty to say about that!

You cannot expect an untrained, emotionally drained, grieving mother to conduct an investigation.

Of course, she’s going to have a lot to say. Of course, she’s going to keep calling investigators. Of course, she’s going to get frustrated when the case takes longer to solve than she thinks it should. If everyone would grow up, do their jobs, drop the high-school drama crap, and focus on the case, this case would be solved by now. Instead, the case is closed with a half-thrown together conclusion, the mother has gone through Hades, and now it’s going to take a major breakthrough to re-open the case of the Powerlifter Who Was Too Weak To Roll Over. Can we just get back to the facts? What made him collapse, and more importantly, what kept him from turning his head to get oxygent. Some say it could have taken him up to two hours to die. Why couldn’t he move? THAT IS THE QUESTION that should re-open this case.
If you can help get this case re-investigated and re-opened please contact Tanner’s Voice on Facebook. Tanner needs some justice, and his grieving family needs answers.


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:

mayo clinic: Enlarged Heart

Youtube: Tanner’s Football Memories

Youtube: Northwestern High School Team Intro

Facebook Video: Justice 4 Tanner


This week’s Recommended Reading:

Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime, and Complicity


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

Synova’s Amazon Author Page

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Click on the pictures to read more about each title and order your copy!


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Come Quick!


tanner barton


Tammy’s Terrible Trek – The Tammy Zywicki Case

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Photo courtesy of Murders, Missing People, and more Mysteries Facebook Group

Guest Post By Ian Granstra:

The July 2018 disappearance of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts made national headlines. When the University of Iowa student’s remains were discovered shortly over a month later, people across Iowa and America were devastated. It is still hard to fathom how an All-American girl in the prime of her life was killed by a man she had never met. Sadly, Mollie’s was not the first horrific murder involving an Iowa coed.

On September 1, 1992, 21-year-year Grinnell College student Tammy Zywicki met a similar fate. Nine days after she was last seen, her remains were found in southwest Missouri. Both girls attended colleges in Iowa, and they were petite, attractive women in their early twenties. Each victim was stabbed, and neither knew her assailant. There is one significant difference between the brutal deaths of these two young women. A suspect has been arrested and is awaiting trial in the murder of Mollie Tibbetts. After 27 years, no one has been charged with the slaying of Tammy Zywicki.

 Zywicki hailed from New Jersey but was attending college in Grinnel, Iowa. Her brother Darren was a student at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. On Sunday, August 23, 1992, Tammy drove her brother to his dorm room. She departed Evanston that afternoon en route to Grinnell where her classes for the 1992-93 school year began the following day. The distance between the two schools is just under 300 miles, and Tammy planned to arrive in Grinnell that evening. 

 In the late afternoon of August 23, an Illinois state trooper found a 1985 Pontiac T1000 abandoned at the side of Interstate 80 near LaSalle, Illinois, approximately 100 miles southwest of Evanston. He assumed the car had mechanical difficulties and that the occupant had pulled to the side of the road to fix them. The following day, after finding the car still sitting beside the highway, the Illinois State Police towed the vehicle. The car with New Jersey license plates turned out to be Tammy Zywicki’s.

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Photo courtesy of Murders, Missing People, and more Mysteries Facebook Group

The Illinois police soon received a call from a concerned woman in Marlton, New Jersey. JoAnn Zywicki told them her daughter had not arrived in Grinnell as planned. A sinister scenario was unfolding. An attractive college girl was missing, and her car abandoned along the side of a busy highway. Authorities feared the worst. Nine days later, those fears were confirmed.

 On September 1, Tammy’s body was found in a ditch off Interstate 44 just east of Sarcoxie in Lawrence County, Missouri, 22 miles east of Joplin. She was bound in duct tape and wrapped in a red blanket. An autopsy determined Tammy was sexually assaulted and stabbed eight times. The location of Tammy’s remains was approximately 500 miles from where the car was discovered.

 Several motorists traveling along Interstate 80 on August 23 came forward saying they saw Tammy standing near her car at mile marker 83 near LaSalle in north-central Illinois. These sightings were all believed to have been between 3:10 and 4 p.m. The witnesses also recalled seeing a white tractor-trailer parked near Tammy’s car. It was described as five-axle with rust-colored diagonal stripes on the trailer and cab. A logo was juxtaposed over the lines, but no one could recall from which company.

One witness recalled seeing Tammy standing beside her car on the shoulder of the Interstate. The car’s hood was open, and an agitated Tammy appeared to be struggling to fix the problem. A man was standing near the vehicle, watching as Tammy played mechanic. He was described as 35-40 years old, white, and at least six feet tall with dark, bushy hair. 

A September 1992 Des Moines Register article stated the witness who reported seeing the man was a male trucker, but later reports say the witness was a female nurse. The nurse also reported that a woman came for a blood test to the medical facility where the nurse worked that same day of August 23. The patient said her husband was a trucker and that he had recently given her a musical watch. The description matched that of a watch Tammy possessed when she left Evanston and which has not been found. 

 The long-haul truck driver and possible serial killer Bruce Mendenhall is a person of interest in Tammy’s murder. 

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Photo courtesy of Murders, Missing People, and more Mysteries Facebook Group

In 2007, Mendenhall was arrested for the murder of 25-year-old Sara Hulbert in Tennessee. Subsequently, his truck was examined, and the blood of several murdered or missing women was found in it. None of the blood, however, was determined to be Tammy’s. 

Mendenhall was convicted of Sara Hulbert‘s murder In 2010. He has also been charged with the murders of three other women at truck stops in Indiana, Tennessee, and Alabama. He is also a suspect in the murders of women in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, and his native Illinois. Mendenhall is currently imprisoned in Tennessee. 

One source I found says Mendenhall has been ruled out as a suspect in Tammy’s murder because it was proven he was not in the midwest at the time. Other sources, however, say he has not been officially cleared.

 The name  that is mentioned most frequently as the possible killer of Tammy Zywicki is that of another long-haul trucker, Lonnie Bierbrodt. He had been sentenced to three concurrent twenty-year terms in prison for two armed robberies and attempted murder but was somehow paroled in 1990. 

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Photo courtesy of Murders, Missing People, and more Mysteries Facebook Group

In addition to his violent past, many investigators consider Bierbrodt the prime suspect in Tammy’s murder because he had been visiting family who lived only a few minutes from where Tammy was last seen in Illinois, and he lived near where Tammy’s body was discovered in Missouri. Also, the red blanket covering Tammy’s body bore a Kenworth logo; Bierbrodt drove a Kenworth truck which he had steam-cleaned and sold shortly after Tammy’s murder. 

Articles state authorities identified Beribrodt as the man seen with Tammy, that he was questioned, and that he provided blood and hair samples. Bierbrodt died in 2002 at age 41. Several newspaper articles state that the nurse at the medical facility identified the man she saw as Bierbordt, and that police determined he was the man seen with Tammy along the side of the Interstate. 

Robert Kotlarek is a member of our group and also operates the Facebook group, “Who Killed Tammy Zywicki.” He clarifies this point below. This information was told to him by Martin McCarthy, the now-retired lead detective in investigating Tammy’s murder, and Tammy’s mother, JoAnn: 

“The bushy-haired, semi-truck driver has gotten conflated with Bierbrodt over the years. Like the old “telephone” game children play (or once played), the information has gotten distorted. The nurse witness reported seeing a green pick-up truck and a man with “short brown hair” that was possibly “thinning on top.” She later (December of 1992) thought that Lonnie was the man she saw on the side of the road. Bierbrodt’s wife Carrie did own a blue pick-up that was sold after Tammy was murdered. The nurse witness never mentioned a semi-truck in her initial interview with police, and as far as we can tell Bierbrodt was not driving a semi in Illinois on August 23, 1992. So basically, the “bushy-haired” truck driver and the nurse witness’ description of the man that matched Lonnie Bierbrodt are from (at least) two separate accounts.” 

Join Robert’s group, “Who Killed Tammy Zywicki.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/71031476920/?hc_location=ufi

 

The FBI still features Tammy’s case on its website and continues to offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to the identity of her killer. Also, a separate $100,000 reward is being provided by an anonymous person or group from Tammy’s hometown of Marlton, New Jersey. The FBI has DNA evidence obtained from Tammy’s body, which they believe will lead to the killer’s identity. 

If you have any information about the murder of Tammy Zywicki, please contact the Illinois State Police at (815) 726-6377 or the Chicago FBI Field Division Office at (312) 421-6700.


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:

IowaColdCase

Chicago Tribune

Reddit


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra

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 crime 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 “beaglelover.”)

 


This week’s Recommended Reading:


The Face of Evil: The True Story of the Serial Killer, Robert Black


The Happy Face Murderer: The Life of Serial Killer Keith Hunter Jesperson


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


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

Synova’s Amazon Author Page

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“I Was Stolen As A Baby” – The Infamous Baby Snatcher Georgia Tann

tannbaby copy.jpg The only photo of Barbara Jean Haggerty as a child with her adoptive mother Alveretta (Riley) Childs – Photo of Barbara Jean Haggerty as a baby: used with permission

Barbara Jean Haggerty doesn’t know when to celebrate her birthday. She has no idea how many candles should be placed on her cake. Only one baby photograph of her exists. There are no momentoes, such as hospital records or newborn photographs. Barbara Jean was one of the thousands of children stolen and sold through the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, a black-market baby business operating from the 1920s to 1950 by Memphis murderer, child molester, and baby thief Georgia Tann.

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: Georgia Tann

Memphis, Tennessee, is famous for the music, the food, and the crime. In the last few years, FBI data has consistently placed Memphis in the top 20% in United States cities with the highest crime rates. Along with good barbeque, tours of Graceland, and Beale Street, murder, robbery, and gang activity have become a natural part of the scrappy city’s landscape, its history. In the late 1940s, crooked politicians and questionable law enforcement tactics greased the city’s financial wheels. It was a setting that welcomed someone like Georgia Tann. And Georgia Tann loved Memphis.

Beulah Georgia Tann (1891-1950) a matronly, smiling woman, created the unlicensed, Memphis-based Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Behind its facade, the Society was nothing more than a black-market baby operation. One of the babies who came through that door was Barbara Jean Haggerty. Like so many others, Tann stole the child when she was about two days old. Haggerty considers herself “a lucky baby” because she was sold quickly. Babies who did not sell were murdered.

The local newspapers were filled with adoption advertisements. People ordered children as if they were ordering furniture, and Tann gladly supplied the demands, charging astronomical figures.

“(We have) the merchandise in hand and in stock to deliver to you” a 1944 Tennessee Children’s Home Society letter read to a prospective client. “We can never tell when we can fill an order,” another letter explained to parents waiting to purchase a child.

Tann employed “spotters” to scout for children to steal and parents to scam. A Tann spotter walked into an elementary school, playground, or low socioeconomic neighborhood and would leave with a child, both never to be seen again. A Tann spotter, disguised as hospital staff or a visitor, would casually stroll into a maternity ward, scoop up a newborn, and disappear out a door. The spotter might visit an unwed mother to make a deal.

“We’ll take care of your baby for you, save you the expense and shame… and pay you.” In desperation, the women would allow the exchange. Barbara Jean Haggerty believes the latter scenario may have been her case.

Georgia Tann hired a crew for the children’s home, eschewing background checks, and any personnel paperwork. Molesters, parolees, and abusers were employed at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Tann also sexually abused her charges; behind that matronly appearance laid an evil mind that was abusive and cold. Barbara Jean is thankful she did not stay at the children’s home for long.

TN_Child_Society The building that housed the Tennessee Children’s Home Society still stands today – onlyinyourstate.com

Tann sold or exchanged babies, as well as monetary gifts, between law enforcement, media, judges, movie and music stars, and elected officials for political favors and legal protection. Her political connections, including the Mayor of Memphis, assisted in skirting adoption laws or creating legal loopholes from which to operate. Tann’s lover, Judge Camille Kelly, was a high-ranking official of the Shelby County Family Court in Tennessee. Kelly looked like anyone’s kindly grandmother. Both Georgia Tann and Judge Kelly were well known in the Memphis area. Tann was a national figure. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt publically praised her. Tann sold children to mobsters, child molesters, abusers, and for hard labor (one child toiled in a field at 18 hour days, eventually running away from the adoptive family). The repercussions of her work have caused a ripple effect lasting decades.

Besides high ranking officials and the wealthy, Georgia Tann assisted private clientele who wanted children, married couples desperate to adopt who scraped together the funds to do so. One of those families was Alveretta (Riley) and Jesse Aubrey Childs, both in their late twenties and living in Shelby County, Tennessee. Barbara Jean (Haggerty) was sold to the Childs family.

Alveretta and Jesse owned a popular diner called “Mamma Child’s.” This restaurant was one of the favorites of Judge Kelly; “I can remember, as a little girl, seeing Judge Kelly at the restaurant, laughing and talking and visiting with my mother,” Barbara Jean recalls. Even at that age, she has no doubt who Judge Kelly was; everyone knew.

Barbara Jean believes Alveretta confided in Judge Kelly; unable to conceive, and she longed to be a parent. Arrangements were made. The $5,000 Tann charged Alveretta and Jesse to “adopt” Barbara is a low sum, considering her client list included Joan Crawford, Pearl Buck, and Lana Turner.

As in all the adoption cases, Judge Kelly forged legal paperwork for Barbara Jean’s transfer. Kelly also assisted by destroying legal documents and creating a new history for Barbara Jean. Barbara Jean now had a new birth certificate bearing Judge Kelly’s signature. (Some years ago, a private investigator “borrowed” the document for research and never returned it.)

camille-kelly.jpg Judge Camille Kelly: painting, Memphis TN courthouse

Alveretta and Jesse then adopted Barbara Jean. With the falsified birth certificate in hand, they strolled out cuddling their newly “adopted” child.

“I was a ‘bestseller’ because of my blonde hair and blue eyes. And (the Home Society) only dealt in white children.”

In her later years, Alveretta would admit to her family, “I purchased Barbara Jean for $5,000 off the black market.” In Barbara Jean’s early years, Alveretta would amend or outright lie about everything else in Barbara Jean’s past. “She didn’t want to hurt my feelings, so sometimes she lied, or changed the story a bit,” Barbara Jean explains. She is not angry with her parents, nor does she hold grudges against them for the lies and deception. Barbara knew she was loved.

“My mother was a wonderful woman,” Barbara explains. As a teen, she had suffered a stroke. The specialists told her “mother” that Barbara would never be able to walk again. Alveretta refused to believe them and set about rehabilitating the girl. Against the odds, and with her mother’s love and patience, Barbara Jean did regain the use of her limbs.

Barbara Jean Haggerty is one of the thousands of children from Tennessee Children’s Home Society who were stolen and sold. At least 40-50 children died in less than four months while housed in the illegally operated home in 1945 alone. Children were starved, beaten, molested, mentally abused, and never received medical attention. Unwanted babies were left outside on the lawn in their cribs in the hot Tennessee summers to wither away slowly.

Barbara’s granddaughter is assisting her with trying to unearth her past, but the digging is slow. There are names and dates, but little more:

Alveretta Riley (1917-1997) was born in Arkansas to Thomas O’Riley and Willie Rogers. Alveretta married several times:
She divorced her first husband (name unknown) and moved to the Shelbyville, Tennessee area in 1940 at 23 years of age.
Jesse Aubrey Childs (05-20-09 to 12-28-75), an electrician, was her second husband. Alveretta’s third husband was Dalton Marshal.

Besides Mama Child’s, Alveretta and Jesse owned “Top Hat” (which later became Sonic Drive-in), a third restaurant, and three nightclubs. Records indicate Alveretta also worked as a “caseworker.”

Barbara’s real name may be Belinda Diane Bullard, born October 2 or in July around 1945; she is now approximately 68 years old. Barbara was adopted after Alveretta’s first two babies died. One baby picture exists of Barbara (see above photo). Barbara may have three siblings: a sister who died in a car wreck and two brothers who were lost in the Vietnam War. Barbara’s siblings include Winnie Lee, Sidney F., and Thomas R.

Tann was never prosecuted and died a very wealthy woman. A plaque commemorating Judge Camille Kelly hangs in the Memphis courthouse. Their legacy continues. There’s corruption in the Memphis Youth Courts, laws created to protect wrongdoings, and people who have no idea of their true heritage like Barbara Jean Haggerty.

grandmother0019)_09.14.16 copy.jpegPhoto of Barbara Jean Haggerty today: Judith a yates used by permission

“I’m not bitter or mad. I just want to know if I have brothers and sisters,” she says wistfully. “I want to know my real birthday and how old I am. I’d like to know about my blood relatives.” She shrugs. “I guess some people may think it’s silly, or too late. But I just want to know: who am I?”


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:

All That’s Interesting

Unsolved Mysteries

NYPost

Youtube


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:
69460161_2472196159734351_6622222276257382400_n.jpg

J. A. Yates  is an award-winning author and criminologist who has appeared as a guest speaker, lecturer, and instructor for organizations across the United States for almost 30 years, to include Dallas Area Paralegal Association, PFLAG (Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians & Gays), Texas Association of Licensed Investigators, Tennessee Correction Association, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and many more.
Her resume lists loss prevention, the Sheriff’s Department, the federal prison system (minimum to maximum, male & female),  investigations, and criminal justice professor/instructor. She is the only journalist who is continually investigating the disappearance of Tabitha Tuders, Nashville’s most baffling missing child case.
Not only is she an author, but she is also an investigator who carefully researches each book. A percentage of each book benefits nonprofit organizations and is made in the victim’s name.
Ms. Yates is Texas-born, Irish/Native American/Kentucky – bred; a left-handed Taurus. She volunteers in animal rescue and locating missing/murdered. Hobbies include horseback riding, perusing flea markets, and video gaming. She is addicted to bottled Coca-colas. She has a phobia of clowns, dental offices, and alligators (not in that particular order)

Check her out here: www.judithayates.com


This week’s Recommended Reading:


The Baby Thief: The True Story of the Woman Who Sold Over Five Thousand Neglected, Abused and Stolen Babies in the 1950s.


Books by Yates:

41cbpJ5Qp7L._AC_UY218_   61b4ciRpf+L._AC_UY218_   51SsDk8iMEL._AC_UY218_  91SbZIvC80L._AC_UY218_  41YufSSAHuL._AC_UY218_

Click on the pictures to read more about each title and order your copy!


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


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.©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


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

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A Strange Suicide – The Controversy Surrounding the Autopsy & Death of Lt. Dan Anderson

48387950_263445567660369_1743446475213373440_o.jpg Photo courtesy of the Murdered In Mississippi Facebook Page

A very tidy 80-yr-old trudges out through his grassy lawn in his sock feet with his pants undone, shoots himself in the head, falls backward leaving an abrasion on the back of his head, and then flops over cutting his shin and bruising the top of his toes. If that wasn’t enough to question the suicide ruling then hold on, there’s more. Why did he have gun powder residue on BOTH hands when the hairpin trigger on his service revolver was easily manageable? Why did the blood splatter on his pants look as if he were kneeling? Why were the bullet casings destroyed a few days later WITHOUT the consent of family? Why was the daughter’s name forged on the consent form?


April 18, 2003:
Around 4:30 pm, Lt. Dan Anderson supposedly walked out to his driveway and shot himself in the head with his service revolver. Anderson lived on a busy street, yet there weren’t any witnesses during rush hour traffic. Years later the police somehow drag up two people who say they heard a gunshot sometime in the afternoon, but no one can find these witnesses to re-question them. It seemed they appeared just in time for the FOIA request but disappeared again afterward. Who knows? All of that is merely speculation. I will let you speculate on your own time. Here are the facts of this case as I can prove from interviewing the victim’s family and working through the official autopsy.
Ms. Learn told the police that Dan had sent her to the store to buy cigarettes, and when she returned, she found him in the driveway. The FOIA documents clearly state what she told the police. Learn told the investigator that she parked right behind Dan Anderson’s Cadillac and she confirmed that this car was still there when she moved out of the house later that day after the death of Anderson. I will tell you why that is significant later.
Around midnight Phyllis received a phone call from her father’s attorney stating that Dan Anderson had committed suicide. She fell to the floor, devastated and screamed, “not again.” She packed up and went to Gulfport. When she got there the coroner, Gary Hargrove wouldn’t allow her to see her father’s body. Instead of showing some compassion for the grieving family, he chose to be rude and arrogant. Since she wasn’t getting anywhere with the coroner, Phyllis drove over to her father’s house. She expected to see some evidence of a crime. Instead, the house looked like nothing had happened. There wasn’t any crime scene tape, the driveway was clean, and there weren’t any bloodstains. She walked into the house looking for evidence of violence but found none. It was as if time had stopped, and this was a bad dream.
Dan liked to keep everything neat and tidy, but the house looked as if it had been detailed. There wasn’t a speck of dust in the place. To make matters worse, Learn had lived there for a month, and there wasn’t any evidence of her left. Phyllis said she couldn’t even find a bobby pin. In the FOIA papers MS. Learn said she only lived there four days, but Phyllis had received a phone call about her two weeks before her father’s death, so we know that’s a lie.
As Phyllis slowly took in her surroundings, she noticed something odd. On the nightstand by her father’s bed was a carton of cigarettes with four packs in it. She walked into the den where her father spent a lot of time, and there were two more packs on the end table. One pack was full, and the other was only missing four cigarettes. Why had Learn gone out for cigarettes when there were so many packs laying around the house?
She also noticed that her father’s valuables had been taken. He was a 33rd degree Mason and had beautiful rings, but they were nowhere to be found. All the china and crystal in the house had been thinned out and the remaining pieces spaced out on the shelves so their removal wouldn’t be apparent. The more she looked, the more she noticed things missing. Also, the Cadillac wasn’t in the driveway anymore. Police would later claim that it had been sold months before her father’s death but remember the FOIA papers said that it was IN THE DRIVEWAY on the day of Anderson’s death.
Now let’s move on to the autopsy report. If you aren’t already questioning this case and its suicide ruling the first few lines of the autopsy report will force you to question it.
The autopsy diagnoses dated 4-19-2003 states the following:

  1. One recent gunshot wound of the head entering the right temple, contact, exiting the left temple through the brain (no bullet in the wound)
  2. blood spatter and powder particles on BOTH HANDS

Ok. It also states that his pants were unbuttoned and the zipper down. His socks were covered in dry plant material. It also indicates that his fingernails and toenails were neatly clipped and clean.
Ok. Here goes the rant…
Dan Anderson was a tidy person, and I’ve been told that wouldn’t go outside in his sock feet. If he wanted to, there was a driveway and a sidewalk to walk on. He was particular enough to have nice nails, but he ran outside with his pants undone?
The documents say one hammerless Smith & Wesson 38 service revolver, four bullets, one shell casing, and one leather holster was recovered from the scene. No one recovered the spent bullet. The autopsy said it was a through and through wound, so why wasn’t it recovered in the grass? No ballistics testing was done to prove that this gun was the weapon used to kill Anderson. To make it even worse, the FOIA request shows the police department destroyed the bullets and shell casing four days after Anderson’s death. They sent Phyllis a copy of this release that she supposedly had signed. Phyllis swears she has never seen the paper before and the signature on the bottom of it was not hers.
Who signed Phyllis’ name?
Dan Anderson was 80, but he was a strong man and didn’t suffer from Parkinson’s disease. Why then would he have to use both hands to fire his service revolver? Remember the autopsy said there was gunshot residue and blood spatter on BOTH hands. Anderson showed no signs of suicidal tendencies.
Now here comes the outline of the wounds found on Dan Anderson’s body, excluding the gunshot wound. To reconstruct these wounds, I got help from my son. I drew all the markings on his hands and legs with a washable marker and photographed them. This is what I found.
Left index fingertip anteriorly (meaning the palm side) there was a fresh wound. The left middle finger dorsally (meaning the backside of the hand) over the proximal Phalanx was another wound. Proximal Phalanx means the backside of the hand down between the base of the finger and the first knuckle.
The autopsy also states he had a large wound on the FRONT of his RIGHT shin and on the top of the right big toe. Lastly, it says he had an abrasion on the back of the left-hand side of his head just above the hairline. Dan Anderson had male pattern baldness.
If Lt. Anderson somehow shot himself with both hands and fell BACKWARD, that would account for the wound on the back of his head. If this is the case, then why the scrape down his right shin and his right toe? If he fell FORWARD, he might receive a small abrasion on his knee, but not a large scrape, and he wouldn’t have a wound on the back of his head.
My armchair conclusion is Lt. Anderson’s death should not be ruled suicide. It is highly unlikely that this man would suddenly decide to send off his housekeeper, undo his pants, walk out in his front yard and shoot himself using both hands on his snub-nosed revolver. He wasn’t drunk. He wasn’t suicidal, and he cared about neatness enough to keep both his fingernails and toenails groomed.
The officials would like to make you believe this is what happened, and to add to the fairytale, he must have shot, then fell forward, dragged himself around the yard scrapping his leg up, then dropped down upon his back hitting the back of his head. If all of that makes sense to you, then I must add all the details of the missing items and the missing Cadillac. If you believe all of that, then I have some oceanfront property in Kansas that I would like to sell to you.
After writing about this case a year ago, Phyllis has been blessed to find a forensic investigator willing to take on her case. This investigator has found many new details about this case, and witnesses have come forward to clear up some missing links. Now, there is some indication that the original autopsy might have been manipulated to bolster the suicide claims. Unfortunately, those details must be held close until after the trial, but you can bet your bottom dollar I will be writing more about it when I get the green light.


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.

More Information On This Case:

BlogTalkRadio

ForeverMissed

Slabbed

Murdered In Mississippi


This week’s Recommended Reading:


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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.©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


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

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Battered, Bruised, and Betrayed: The Terry Brooks Rewis Story

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Photo courtesy of the Is There No Justice For Terry Brooks “Bubba” Rewis Facebook Page

He went to a street festival in Midville, GA, with a group of friends. Some say he walked home after a fight broke out, and others say he was riding the back of a truck with a few other people. Either way, he ended up dead on the highway. What happened to this young man? Was this a fatal hit and run accident, or a vicious murder? Seventeen years later, the files are missing, and no one is sure what happened to Rewis.


Terry Brooks “Bubba” Rewis, 23 was a jokester and enjoyed spending time with his family. He had a rough childhood and found himself jumping from one foster home to another. His sister remembers he tried to make everyone laugh despite the difficult circumstances. By 2002, Rewis was living in Nunez, Georgia and was trying to get his life back together after a few run-ins with the law.
April 21, 2002, was the annual Ogeechee River Redbreast Festival in Midville, a town twenty-five miles north of Nunez. Rewis attended the festival with a friend named James Kirby and a few others. At some point, a fight broke out, and the police were called in to break it up. At this point in the narrative, the reports begin to vary. Some people say, Terry Rewis was asked to leave, so he took off walking towards home. This might be feasible if he lived in town. To make it back to Nunez, Terry would have to walk 25.7 miles south along HWY 56 in the dark. If you race down this highway on Google Earth, you will see there isn’t one street light to be found until you get down to Swainsboro.
Another witness claims, Terry and a group of people piled into a pickup truck and headed south. Terry and a few others were riding in the back. This witness also claims a fight broke out while the vehicle sped down the highway towards Swainsboro. During the scuffle, Terry Rewis was thrown from the moving vehicle and subsequently ran over. This was the story that circulated around the small town of Nunez according to the woman.
Whatever the case, two hunters would find the mutilated remains of Terry Rewis the next morning. It appeared his body had been drug several yards down the highway at a high rate of speed.
Of course, the rumor mill kicked into high gear feeding information to the family and friends, but no physical evidence could be found to help them get justice for their beloved Terry. To make matters worse, it seemed as if the investigation wasn’t high on the priority list. A lot of times during investigations, the police are working quietly behind the scenes, and the family becomes frustrated because they don’t see any results. We may never know if this was the case because, in 2017, the new investigator informed the family that the original files on the case had been lost.
If this were the end of the story, I would tend to believe that this might just be a terrible accident, and the crime was abandoning the scene of a crash. Basically, the case seems to scream vehicular manslaughter, but some unusual things have come out in the 17-year fight for justice.
Four months later another young man was found dead beside the road only a few streets over from HWY 56. His name was James Felton Williams. He was only 19, and it isn’t clear if he had any ties to Terry Rewis. The location, the timing, and some of the accident details seem to parallel Terry’s case.
In 2016, NBC did a write up about Terry’s case, and in 2017, Terry’s sister hosted a “Keeping Memories Alive” event in Swainsboro. Shortly beforehand, James Kirby had spoken with Terry’s sister for over an hour. He didn’t offer any details about that fateful night, but repeatedly expressed his condolences and told her how much he cared for Terry. Several days after the event, Kirby was dead. Investigators are torn on the cause of death. Some say it was an overdose others say it was a brain aneurism. We may never know what happened on that night in 2002 between these two best friends. If you happen to have information on this case, please come forward. You can contact the Emanuel County Sherrif’s Department at (478) 237-7526.


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This week’s Recommended Reading:

Terry’s story is part of the award-winning Grief Diaries series featuring true stories about real-life experiences, Project Cold Case is a portable support group for people who have lost a loved one to an unsolved kidnapping or murder. Filled with answers to poignant questions, the stories invite readers into a world where they’re surrounded by warmth and compassion as they seek comfort and understanding in the aftermath of their own loss.


Grief Diaries: Project Cold Case

Grief Diaries: Project Cold Case


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.

Further Reading:
NBC News
Podcast about Terry
Terry’s Facebook Pg
Youtube


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. I do not own the photos used in this post. All photos are used under the fair use act. No copyright infringement intended.©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


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


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

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Deadly Secrets: The Death of A Father

D4E5C044-3733-42CE-BF29-F9A2DD6C73D9 Photo courtesy of the Murdered In Mississippi Facebook Page

A gambling addiction got him mixed up in something too big to handle, but impossible to escape. He held his tongue after the ambush of Buford Pusser although his car may have been used without his knowledge. He kept their secrets despite them killing his crippled son, and he fought valiantly to keep his daughter safe. Now, it was time to pay the piper and Lt. Dan Anderson knew it. 


If you have been following my Mobster Monday posts, then you have heard the name Lt. Dan Anderson before. His story is interwoven throughout the entire series on the Dixie Mafia going all the way back to Buford Pusser up at the state line. By this point, it has been established that Anderson’s Cadillac was most likely the one used in the ambush of Buford Pusser and his wife on New Hope Rd. on August 12, 1967. Strangely, this car disappeared right after the death of Ronnie Anderson, Dan’s son.

For years, Phyllis, Dan’s daughter called the Gulfport police department begging them to look into her brother’s mysterious suicide case. They always refused to re-open the case and within minutes of her call to the police, Dan would call her and tell her to back off. This was the game for over thirty years until the fragile house of cards began to crumble one day in the fall of 2002. The sweet and sassy southern bell always visited her father over the holidays to celebrate his birthday. It was a tradition to go to the local waffle house and this year was no different. A chance encounter during this trip would bring down the house and culminate in the death of Dan Anderson.

During the meal, Phyllis noticed her father’s demeanor change drastically as he looked past her into the booth behind them.

“That Son of a $&%$%” he mumbled.

Startled, Phyllis started to turn and look but received a quiet rebuke from her father. A few minutes later the man strolled past the table glaring at Dan Anderson and his daughter. Dan waited a short while before speaking and then asked his daughter if she knew who the man was that just left the building? Of course, she had no idea.

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

Shocked, Phyllis sat watching her father as he visibly withdrew into a shell of a man. After 36 years her father had finally admitted what Phyllis had believed all along. She was shocked to find out that the killer was the roommate her brother had trusted and shared a house with. Dan Anderson had been constantly intimidated by the man for over three decades. What changed? Why would Dan finally drop such a bombshell? Was his son’s killer threatening to kill Phyllis too? We may never know.

After the holidays things began to escalate quickly. Late February or early March Dan’s attorney found a housekeeper to help around the house. He was always a tidy person who hated to have a cluttered space. A woman came to help out, but strangely never really cleaned anything. Aggravated by her, Dan called Phyllis and asked if she would come to throw out the housekeeper. Phyllis happened to have her leg in a cast all the way up to her hip but promised to come as soon as she could get it off. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be soon enough.

A few days later, Phyllis speaks with the housekeeper and tells her to ship out because she would be coming to Mississippi soon. Within days she would travel back to Gulfport, but not to throw out a housekeeper. She would be attending to her father’s final affairs.

April 18, 2003, around midnight Phyllis would receive the call that would tear her heart out. Dan Anderson was dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“Not again!” was all Phyllis could think.

The official story:

Dan Anderson, 80 had sent the housekeeper out to buy cigarettes because they were out. She found him when she returned dead at the end of the driveway. His pants were undone and he was in his sock feet. The subsequent autopsy was full of strange details and discrepancies and recently more information has come out leading us to wonder if the entire report was fabricated. We will wait until next week to dive into the conspiracy surrounding the death of Dan Anderson and why Phyllis believes her father was a victim of a gangland-style slaying. Stay tuned folks. This ride’s not over yet.


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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. THE SOURCE LINKS ARE PLACED WITHIN THE BODY OF THE TEXT.

This week’s Recommended Documentary:


Moonshine and the Dixie Mafia

This week’s Recommended Reading:


Wrath of the Dixie Mafia


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. I do not own the photos used in this post. All photos are used under the fair use act. No copyright infringement intended.©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


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


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