The El Dorado Jane Doe Mystery

Mugshot courtesy of Pinterest

Her face is well known, her murderer has about served his time, and we still don’t know her name. Who was this mysterious woman?


July 10, 1991, a life ended but a three-decade-old mystery began. A supposed prostitute named Mercedes was murdered in room 121 of the Whitehall Motel in Eldorado, Arkansas.

Witnesses overheard the argument with her ex-boyfriend, James McAlphin. Others heard a gunshot and seen McAlphin running from the scene. It didn’t take long to arrest and convict the murderer.

Unfortunately, the victim still doesn’t have a name. It’s been nearly thirty years.

Last year there was finally a huge break in the case. Investigators submitted Jane’s DNA to an ancestry site and got a hit. These distant relatives have no missing persons in their history and so far no one recognized Jane although they see a family resemblance.

Jane’s Many Aliases:

Cheryl Ann Wick was the name she was using at the time of her murder, but investigators quickly realized it wasn’t her true identity. The real Cheryl Wick was alive and well living in Minneapolis.

Jane used several names including Sharon Wiley, Cheryl Kaufman, Kelly Karr, and Kelly Lee Carr.

Theories:

Jane’s past is checkered with prostitution, homeless shelters, pimps, and aliases. It seems everywhere she went, she had another story about her past.

Some say she had been on the streets since she was sixteen. This story began with being kidnapped and trafficked by a pimp named Jeffrey Davis.

Another time she was running from the mafia in the witness protection program. I’ve never heard of the Witness Protection program stealing people’s identities.

One of the latest theories was put forth by her murderer. He claims in his rambling letters to Huff Post reporter, David Lohr. McAlphin claimed Jane was a Russian operative and they took her out. I doubt if anyone believes that, but it’s just another theory upon a stack of them.

The recent development, in this case, may finally shed some light on this cold case. Stay tuned and I will keep you updated on this case as it unfolds.


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

Huff Post

Scribd documents


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.


Synova’s Amazon Author Page


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.


The Racketeer Restaurateur: Guest Post Thursday

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All Photos courtesy of Guest Blogger

June 16, 1991

Affable. Bright. Caring. Loving. Sensitive. Those words were used by friends and acquaintances to describe Richmond, Virginia, restaurateur Leo Koury.

Manipulative. Vicious. Ruthless. Vengeful. Murderous. Those words were used by business associates and the FBI to describe Leo Koury.

Both descriptions were accurate as Leo Koury was a classic example of a Jekyll and Hyde personality. The devoted church goer and volunteer softball umpire was also an underworld boss and a cold-blooded killer.

For over a dozen years, Leo Koury was one of the most wanted men in America. He eluded detection by living a spartan existence while in hiding, enabling him to never answer for his crimes.

In the mid- 1970s, Leo Koury opened Richmond’s first nightclubs catering to homosexuals. In a time when gays were still frowned upon and could legally be refused service by businesses, Koury saw a great opportunity. His bars were venues where gays could gather and feel comfortable. Koury made a bundle as he was able to charge excessive prices because of his virtual monopoly on the homosexual bars. He became known as the “Godfather of the Gay Community,” and one associate described him as “the Jack Ruby of Richmond.” Koury himself was not gay as he was married with four children.

Rival bars catering to homosexuals soon opened, forcing Koury to lower his prices. The newer establishments were nicer than Koury’s “dives” and soon the patrons were flocking to them. Most of Koury’s bars became ghost towns. Koury, wanting to re-obtain his monopoly, attempted to buy out his competitors. When most would not sell, Leo became lethal, sending armed thugs into the rival clubs to terrorize the patrons. Three people were shot to death and more were injured. Chuck Kernahgan, a bouncer at a rival club, was also believed to have been murdered on Koury’s orders. Koury’s cohorts told investigators Kernaghan was shot to death after being lured to a home on the premise of discussing a business deal. His body was placed in a trunk, weighed down with the bumper from a 1957 Chevy, then dumped into the Rappahannock River. His remains have never been found.

The shootings were investigated as hate crimes until one of the gunmen, Eddie Loehr, was caught trying to kill, on Koury’s orders, rival club owner Jim Hilliard. In exchange for a lesser sentence, Loehr revealed he was a hired gun of Leo Koury. Loehr agreed to wear a wire enabling police and the FBI to gather information and build a case against Koury. After several months, Leo’s laundry list of crimes was exposed.

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With his Hyde side exposed, Richmond’s racketeer restaurateur went into hiding. The week before the indictments, Koury fled, allegedly with over $1 million stuffed into the trunk of his car. On April 20, 1979, he was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.

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Nearly 200 sightings of Koury were reported over the next dozen years. Among the most promising was that he was living the circus life, traveling with the carnivals along the east coast. Others suggested he had gone abroad and was living the good life in South America. Still, others claimed he had fled to Lebanon, from where his father had emigrated and where he had many relatives. None checked out, and as it turned out, the truth was far less glamorous.

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On June 15, 1991, over 12 years after Koury fled, a convenience store clerk known as Bill Biddle was admitted to a San Diego, California, hospital in failing health. The following day, he died of complications following a stroke. The hospital received an anonymous phone call, saying the name Bill Biddle was an alias; the man who had died was Leo Koury. The FBI made a positive identification and, after nearly thirteen years, was able to close the voluminous file on the senior member of its Ten Most Wanted List.

Richmond’s reputed racketeer had been living as a recluse in a small rent-controlled apartment in east San Diego. The Gay Godfather who was believed to have had millions of dollars had been working a minimum-wage part-time job at a convenience store. He did not own a car and he lived a very sheltered life, rarely socializing with anyone. As far as could be determined, “Bill Biddle” lived as Jekyll; the FBI found no evidence of criminal activity by Koury during his years on the lam.

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In the pre-Internet days, the FBI often used billboards in an effort to track down their most wanted.

In 1991, at the time of Leo Koury’s death, the FBI offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of a Ten Most Wanted Fugitive. Today, the minimum rate for a Top Tenner is $100,000.

San Diego County officials believed the county was entitled to the reward, because a county investigator had called the FBI, enabling them to confirm Koury’s identity. The FBI said the reward money applied only to the tips that led to the capture of fugitives, not to those leading to their remains. However, after some negative publicity, the FBI relented and agreed to pay San Diego County the $25,000.

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As a volunteer umpire, Koury worked several charity softball games in which FBI employees played. Jack Colwell, the FBI agent who would later be in charge of tracking Koury, played in one of those games. He described his later prey as an overall good umpire, though he thought Koury’s strike zone was a little too liberal.

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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:
New York Times
Richmond Post-Dispatch
Washington Post
WTVR CBS Affiliate Channel 6 Richmond, VA


Recommended Reading:

For more FBI stories check out these books on Amazon today!


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.”)


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.


Synova’s Amazon Author Page


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


Guest Post – Crimes Against Man's Best Friends


The Overlooked Crime Against Man’s Best Friend: Guest Post By J.A. Yates

All of you people standing before me have been found guilty of the newly created federal offense of “Operating A Puppy Mill.” Meaning all of you will now be treated “exactly as you have treated the animals in your care,” so say the voters in your state. 

To remind you, a puppy mill is any dog breeding operation that puts money over a dog’s well being. We know some of you have licenses under the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you are going to sell to a pet store, licensing is a requirement. But licensing means nothing: “Current laws provide inadequate protection against harm to breeding dogs and puppies associated with commercial breeding establishments” (McMillan, 2013). And you’re smart enough to hide the nastiness. Puppy mills can be large, over 100 dogs, or small, as in “backyard breeding” – breeding for profit or “love” of the breed and treating the animals like numbers.

Found guilty, here is your punishment:

First, we will assign you a cage that is half your body size. As you see by the dimensions of your pen, you probably won’t be able to stand, and turning around will be difficult. If it’s too cold or too hot, that’s ok. You have skin to protect you.

The cage is wire, so over time, it will rust, and wires will break; the broken wire will poke your feet, body, maybe your eye. If it causes a wound, let us know, but we probably won’t do anything about it. Your injury might fester, and in time you could lose the limb or the eye. In that case, well, we won’t discuss it; the people outside don’t want to know. They’d instead think you live a happy life here.

Food: you will eat from these dishes – yes, they’re filthy! We reuse them over and over; we’re not going to add to our expenses. Or, we’ll toss food into the cage. This way, feeding time goes much faster. One reason we stack your cages on top of each other: food can drop to the next person. Plus, we can tell the outside world you have a healthy meal three times a day.

There are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the United States, both licensed and unlicensed. There are so many of you – perhaps three to ten persons working in the mill. We can’t catch all of you; it cost about $500,000 to bust a puppy mill of 250 animals, and no one has that kind of funding, especially nonprofit organizations. 

The International City and County Management budgeting recommendation for animal control programs is only $4,000 to $7,000 annually. Besides, who is going to turn you in? Not the public, because they are buying the puppies online and in pet stores. They haven’t a clue where the dogs come from; they don’t research. But they will brag they have a purebred dog “with papers” – and might even try to breed it because it’s a good-looking dog, or to make money. Well, there’s an estimated 3 million dogs and cats euthanized by shelters annually. Many of those were once this cute puppy – a purebred dog “with papers” – a good-looking dog that made money. Most pet stores have stopped selling puppies. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating an outbreak strain of Campylobacter jejuni. “Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicate that contact with puppies, especially those at pet stores, is the likely source of this outbreak.” (Outbreak, 2019)

But, back to your punishment: you will have water if you don’t tip your water bowl. Hope you get enough water. There are no bathrooms in the cage, so it runs down into the cages below or sticks to the bottom of your pen, you better hope your water is clean. Don’t worry about the stench and diseases arising from the filth! That’s part of it all.

When you lose hair or pieces of skin or even body parts (remember we discussed that wire-poking business), it will gather in your cage. You can step around it; sleep on it, whatever is most comfortable. Do people go mad here? Great question! Of course, they do! We’ve seen them chew themselves until they bleed, scream until their vocal cords are raw, even chew off legs and hands. It happens. You will learn to adapt because you will live like this 24 hours. And when you die, we’ll pitch your body into a pit or a heap. No headstone, no monuments to say you were on this earth. No one will shed a tear. 

Were all of your puppy mills as bad as described above? No. But even one infraction: living in a cage, breeding for profit, issues with food, water, and health care can mean future physical and mental problems with a dog. A study conducted in 2011 reveals “a broad range of abnormal behavioral and psychological characteristics in the …breeding dogs from large-scale commercial breeding establishments.” (McMillan, 2011). You have also exhibited poor business practices and animal cruelty. 

Now, get into your cage. Go to sleep. When you wake up, you will realize this was all a dream. Puppy mill operators will never receive this treatment! In reality, if caught, they might receive an infraction, a fine, and they will continue to operate. Puppy mills are legal in almost half of the United States, and the other states have lax operation laws.

The victims, the dogs, will never wake up, because this is their real life.


Raise Awareness & Support the Cause:


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 Information On This Topic:

American Veterinary Association. https://www.avma.org/

“Differences in behavioral characteristics between dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores and those obtained from noncommercial breeders.” FD McMillan, JA Serpell, DL Duffy, E Masaoud, IR Dohoo. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association2013; 242: 1359-1363.

“Mental health of dogs formerly used as ‘breeding stock’ in commercial breeding establishments.” FD McMillan, DL Duffy, JA Serpell. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2011; 135: 86-94.

Outbreak of Multidrug-resistant Campylobacter Infections Linked to Contact with Pet Store Puppies. (December 17, 2019). Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Obtained from https://www.cdc.gov/campylobacter/outbreaks/puppies-12-19/index.html

Puppy Mills: Facts and Figures (January 2014). The Humane Society. Obtained from http://www.humanesociety.org/sites/default/files/archive/assets/pdfs/pets/puppy_mills/puppy-mills-facts-figures.pdf

Stop Online Puppy Mills. https://www.stoponlinepuppymills.org/

The Puppy Mill Project website. www.thepuppymillproject.org

An excellent video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roWnRNN-1BI&feature=youtu.be

See what laws exist in your state about puppy mills: https://protectedpaws.org/legislation/puppy-mill-laws-by-state


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More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

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


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.


Synova’s Amazon Author Page


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.


Mobster Monday: Tony "The Ant" Spilotro


The Ant is buried in a cornfield. The sentence may sound odd, but to fans of the Italian Mafia, it’s standard jargon. Tony “The Ant” Spilotro’s body was found buried in a cornfield along with his brother’s.



Anthony John “Tony, the Ant” Spilotro, was born on May 19, 1986, to immigrant parents. Pasquale “Patsy” Spilotro, Sr. had six sons. Five of them would join the criminal underworld, but one went to school and became a respected oral surgeon in Chicago.


No one knows why some people choose the life of crime, and others choose a better path. Perhaps Patsy’s restaurant turned mobster hangout introduced his sons to crime at an early age. Who knows? Whatever the reasons, Tony chose the Mafia. He dropped out of high school and started his life of crime with petty larceny and purse snatching.


Spilotro officially became a made member of La Cosa Nostra in 1963 at the age of 25. In 1971, “Joe Batters” put Spilotro in charge of Las Vegas matters, but Spilotro would spell the beginning of the end of the Mafia’s reign of Las Vegas. He was a brutal enforcer and brought a lot of media and law enforcement attention to the operations.


In 1974 an article in the L.A. Times stated there were more gangland-style killings in Vegas than in the past 25 years combined! Obviously, that type of spike in murder will draw attention from the FBI and local law enforcement.


Two years after that article hit the headlines, Spilotro decided to branch out beyond the Mafia’s control. He created the “Hole in the Wall Gang.” Like most other monikers, the name was given to him by the media. The group was known to drill through walls and ceilings to gain access to their target. The stolen goods were fenced through the Gold Rush, LTD pawnshop that sat right off Sahara Ave. in Las Vegas.


During this time, The Ant’s relationship with his childhood friend became strained. Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal was a casino executive and ran four different major casinos for the Mafia. Lefty and The Ant’s relationship reached a boiling point when The Ant began having an affair with a Vegas showgirl named Geri McGee. McGee was married to Lefty at the time.


July 4, 1981:The Bertha’s Robbery Disaster

The Hole In The Wall Gang had spent weeks laying out an elaborate plan to rob the Bertha’s Gifts & Jewelry store. Spilotro and his gang were set to cash in big time, but there was one problem. Sal Romano was a specialist in disabling alarm systems. He was also an informant. By the time the robbery went down, the FBI and the local police had the building under surveillance.


Six members of the gang were arrested, but four avoided the arrest. After sitting in jail for six months, the authorities successfully turn one of Spilotro’s men. Somehow the police had gotten Spilotro on tape hiring a hit on Frank Cullotta. This was all that Frank could take. He had done everything for The Ant. Cullotta agreed to turn state’s evidence and testify against Spilotro.


Spilotro was tried and acquitted due to lack of evidence, but he had bigger problems lurking in the shadows of his organization. A secret meeting had taken place, and the Mafia wasn’t happy with Spilotro’s behavior. He was supposed to be protecting the mob’s interest in the casinos, not running around with a mobster’s wife, and bringing attention from the FBI for his robberies. A hit was sanctioned, and two of the six Spilotro brothers would pay.

June 14, 1986: The Disappearance:

Tony Spilotro and his brother Michael left Mike’s home in Oak Park and was never heard from again. Mike’s car was found abandoned in a motel parking lot near the O’Hare International Airport.


Eight days later, their bodies were found by an Indiana farmer 96 miles south of Chicago. The farmer noticed the fresh grave and thought a poacher had buried an illegally killed deer, but he was in for a shock. Tony Spilotro and Mike Spilotro had been killed by blunt force trauma, stripped of their clothes, leaving nothing but their underwear and buried on top of each other. The burial plot was in a cornfield near the Willow Slough Preserve just outside of Enos, Indiana.


Sadly, the one brother who took the high road ended up having to supply his own brothers’ dental records for identification. This case would go unsolved for nineteen years. On April 25, 2005, the FBI announced it had indicted 14 members of the Chicago Outfit for 18 murders, including the two Spilotro boys.


By the time of his death, the FBI suspected Tony “The Ant” Spilotro in 22 murders. This information and more was obtained through the FBI’s inquiry called “Operation Family Secrets.” Not only were several mobsters indicted, but two former Chicago police officers were also included.

Anthony Doyle was a former officer included in the indictment. Doyle worked as a counterintelligence officer for the Mafia and kept the mob bosses informed of various investigations. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.


The other officer indicted was Michael Ricci. Ricci was convicted of passing information for the imprisoned mob boss, Frank Calabrese, SR.
During this investigation, officials learned the true story of what happened to the Spilotro brothers. The two men were lured to a house in Bensenville, IL, under the pretense of making Michael a made man. Once the brothers entered the basement, they were beaten to death and taken to the cornfield.


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:

Chicago Tribune


Recommended Reading:

There have been several books written on Tony Spilotro. Here are a couple of them.


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


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.


The Homemaker Homicide – Shawnda Slote Reed

Photo courtesy of Family FB Page

A homemaker was slaughtered in her own home; two neighbors were named as persons of interest; her husband was named as well. Strangely an unknown insurance policy popped up, and another person’s name appeared. Still, with all of this, there have been no arrests. What happened to Shawnda Reed?


Shawnda Slote Reed, 28, was found shot to death in her own home by her two youngest children. When they couldn’t wake their mom, the two ran to a neighbor’s house for help. Brian Richey took the children in and called the authorities.

Investigators found blood on the kitchen floor and the body of the 28-year-old mother in the bedroom. A bullet lay beneath her head. Fingerprints were lifted from the patio door and the garage. There was no sign of forced entry.

A week later, a press release publicly named a person of interest. Frances Kempker and his live-in girlfriend Georgette Henley were eventually both named. They were later arrested on unrelated charges stemming from illegal drugs and theft.

Shawnda’s ex-husband, Nickey Kmiec, was quickly excluded as a suspect. The authorities haven’t given specifics, except they said they knew where he was at the time of her murder. Her current husband, John T. Reed, remains a person of interest to this day. Although police followed hundreds of leads, nothing seemed to lead to an arrest.

Strangely, an unknown life insurance policy is set to pay out to the widower and the mortgage holder of the family home. Yes, you read that right. Not only was this unusual, but it seems as if Shawnda didn’t even know about the policy.

The family sues the insurance company claiming the mortgage holder had no right to the fraudulent policy. The funds were eventually split five ways between Shawnda’s three children, her husband, and the mortgage holder.

Some people wonder if this was the motive behind the slaying of this gentle homemaker. Others wonder if her death could have been tied to another home invasion that happened in the area a few days prior. Could she have died during an interrupted robbery? It seems unlikely since there weren’t any signs of forced entry.

Whatever happened, this case remains unsolved nearly fifteen years later. The children were between the age of 5-10 and are now between 20-35. What happened to Shawnda Slote Reed? Her family needs an answer.

If you have any information on this case, please contact the Mid Missouri Major Case Squad at (573) 592-3155.


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:

Columbian


Recommended Reading:

For more unsolved crimes, check out The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes on Amazon today.


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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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.


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.


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.


Synova’s Amazon Author Page


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.


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 – 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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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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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.


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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.

Synova’s Amazon Author Page