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


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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Recanted Murder Confession – Killer on the Loose

moyer_nancy8 Photo courtesy of The Charley Project

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


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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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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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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Dixie Mafia Exposed – Justice for The Sherry Murders

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Photo courtesy of the Clarion-Ledger May 22, 1991

The battle raged for ten long years, but two warriors refused to abandon the case. Lynn Sherry Sposito and FBI agent Keith Bell kept fighting until justice was served for the murders of Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margaret.


How did this criminal enterprise finally crumble? Although it would take a decade to find justice for the Sherry murders, the foundations began to erode when investigators learned of the Dixie Mafia’s involvement. The first clue came in rather quickly after a neighbor spoke to Lynn Sposito about a strange car in the area on the night of her parent’s murder.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reported on the abandoned car believed to be the getaway car. It was found on September 22, 1987, within a couple of miles from the Sherry house. This 1981 Ford Fairmont would lead straight back to the Dixie Mafia and would get the case rolling.

Screenshot 2019-08-15 at 9.23.07 AM Photo courtesy of the Greenwood Commonwealth September 24, 1987

Not only was this vehicle found close to the murder scene, but it also matched the description given by the neighbor. Strangely, the dome light had been purposely dismantled and the bulb removed. Whoever was driving this car did not want to be seen when he opened the car door.

The car had been stolen off a lot shortly before the murder. Some reports say it was stolen the day before, but in the book Mississippi Mud, it says the car was stolen on the same day. This is not the only discrepancy reported in the book and newspapers. You must remember that both the newspapers and the book were written as the story broke, so they could only write what was known at the time. It is easier to write a story decades afterward in my opinion.

The license plates on this stolen car were registered to another abandoned vehicle from three years earlier. This stolen Firebird had been abandoned in front of an apartment complex. A known Dixie Mafia member named Lenny Sweatman had stripped the car for parts before it was towed away. That tangled web is what led the investigators to the doorstep of the Dixie Mafia. Sweatman would lead to the club owner, Mike Gillich. Gillich would lead back to Kirksey Nix and his Lonely Hearts scam.

The scam was on the police radar for a while and investigators wondered if the murder was connected, but they had no proof. It would take a couple of snitches, a little legal wrangling, and a lot of patience to bring down the killers.

Bobby Joe Fabian was serving a life sentence in Angola prison when he decided to work with investigators in hopes of shortening his sentence. Fabian was the informant who would officially link the scam to the murders. He told of Kirksey Nix’s involvement and implicated Pete Halat. He also told authorities that known hitman, John Ransom was the triggerman. This would later be proved false, but it was enough to get the ball rolling.

Bill Rhodes, an associate of Ransom turned states evidence and claimed he had been hired to drive the getaway car. He claims to have met with Mike Gillich and Pete Halat several months before the murder. Rhodes was to drive and Ransom was to kill the Sherry’s, but this plan fell through when John Ransom was arrested five months before the death of the Sherrys.

As it turns out, Ransom provided the weapon used to kill the judge and his wife, but was not the triggerman as first alleged. Eventually, investigators persuaded Mike Gillich to turn informant. When he finally told his side of the story he spoke in great detail even telling how the hitman put superglue on his fingers so he wouldn’t leave prints behind in the house. He also gives the name of the actual triggerman. Thomas Leslie Holcomb was offered $20,000 to kill the Sherrys.

Nix and the crew were indicted in May 1991, but Pete Halat somehow escaped the noose. It was difficult for investigators seeing the Mayor’s smiling face on the news knowing he was involved in murder, but knowing they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him. Finally, their day came when Gillich spilled the beans and Pete Halat was convicted in 1997.

Halat was working with Nix’s former girlfriend Sheri La Sharpe. Together they would stash the money in a safety deposit box, but Halat got greedy and moved the money to a different safety deposit box that only he had access to. Conveniently there was one other name on the box. Judge Vincent Sherry. Sherry had been Halat’s law partner before he left to become a judge. This would give Halat an “out” when Nix eventually noticed the money was missing. Now Halat could blame the innocent judge for the theft and Halat could get off scot-free.

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Photo courtesy of the Enterprise-Journal Sept 23, 1997

Although the Sherrys got justice, this story will continue next week with the only man to have inside information on this case. His knowledge would eventually lead to his death and his murder would be labeled suicide. Find out more about Lt. Dan Anderson’s connection to this case and his murder next week.


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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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:

Sun Herald Article

WLOX

Caselaw

Djournal.com

newspapers.com


This week’s Recommended Documentary:

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Biloxi Confidential

This week’s Recommended Reading:


Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and 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.


Screenshot 2019-08-15 at 9.11.14 AM

“Where’s Opie?” – The Jesse Ross Disappearance

jesse ross


A local K.C. radio personality leaves for a college field trip in Chicago and never returns. “Opie Cunningham” from 95.7 The Vibe was going to a conference with thirty other students from the University of Kansas City. The group was scheduled to return home two days before Thanksgiving, 2006 but Opie wasn’t among them. Where’s Opie?


Jesse Ross, 19 was a sophomore at UKC and worked as a radio personality on a local station. With his flaming red hair, freckles, and slightly mischievous personality, Opie (as in Ron Howard’s character on the Andy Griffeth Show) was an obvious nickname. Jesse carried this moniker into his radio career and became part of a segment called “Where’s Opie?” For these shows, Jesse would broadcast from random points throughout the city, and the listeners would then be required to call in and guess his location. This quick-witted young man thrived on the radio waves, and just before his trip to Chicago, Jesse Ross had been promoted from intern to paid employee with the station.

In November 2006 Jesse was scheduled to attend a four-day conference with thirty other students and his professor. The meeting was set up like a mock United Nations conference, and over 1,200 students from across the nation would gather at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago for the event. Donald Ross, Jesse’s father, dropped his son off at the school in the wee hours of the morning and told his son goodbye. He never realized it would be the last time.

November 20, 2006, was the last full day of events, and everyone was attending little parties and meetings as the event wound down to a close. Jesse calls his mother and says he’s having a great time. He promises to call the next day when the group loads up in the van and starts their long drive home. A party was held that final night, but reports differ on the details. Some say the party lasted from 10 pm to 3 am, while others say it was held from midnight to 3 am. Whatever the case, there was alcohol involved, and in the middle of the party, a mock “Emergency Security Meeting” was called. All of this seems strange, but supposedly it had a purpose. Around thirty students attended this meeting, and the group took a break around 2:30 am.

Why was a bunch of kids called to a meeting at 2:30 in the morning to pretend to negotiate affairs of state? Seems strange.

The events were held in one building, and most of the group were staying at the 4 Points Sheratan Hotel half a mile away. The walkway between the venues was well-lit, heavily trafficked, and entirely covered by security cameras. What could go wrong? Hum. Let’s see about that. We have a group of underage kids drunk walking after dark in one of the most dangerous cities in America. Oh, I have a great idea! Let’s call them to a meeting at 2:30 am.

During the break, Jesse is seen leaving the conference room by the security cameras in the hotel, but no one can say what happened next. Did he go to the room of another college student to party? Did he have an accident inside the hotel and it was covered up? No one can prove that Jesse left the building, and no security footage picked him up, walking back to his hotel room. What happened to this teenager? Almost thirteen years have passed, and no one can find him. Did he meet a predator on his way back? Did he stumble his way down to the bridge and fall in?

A new documentary titled, “When I last Saw Jesse,” was released this past April at the K.C. Film Festival. Local filmmaker, Brian Rose spent six years trying to interview those college kids at the conference and claims to have a new witness.  He doesn’t disclose what type of information this witness gave, so we can only hope it will help solve this strange case. If you have any information on this case, please contact the Chicago P.D. at (312) 744-8266.


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:

Jesse’s Facebook Page

Find Jesse Ross Website

True Crime Garage Podcast Episode #1

True Crime Garage Podcast Episode #2

Reddit


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 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


Each week Synova highlights obscure cold cases on her blog as a victim’s advocate with the Missouri Missing organization. She never charges for her services. If you’d like to help support Synova in this worthy cause, please check out the affiliate links below and on the sidebar of 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. Thank you.

Synova’s Recommended Reading:

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer


jesse ross

K.C. Mob Hit – Unsolved Mystery of Sal Manzo

salvatore_benjamin_manzo_1Photo courtesey of The Charley Project

He was snatched by a monster leaving behind nothing but his clothes. It sounds like a fairytale straight from the Brothers Grimm, but in the case of Sal Manzo, the truth is scarier than fiction.


Salvatore Benjamin Manzo, 60 was a low level associate of the Civella Mob family out of Kansas City.

He owned the Sound Track Nightclub on Independence Ave. Although he’d had a few run-ins with law enforcement  FBI Agent William Ouseley would later say he wasn’t violent.  Why then was this grandfather targeted for such a hit?

On September 4, 1987, Sal Manzo attended a wake at the Passantino Funeral Home around 3:30 pm. The funeral home sat in the 2100 block of Independence Ave. Some reports say there was a possible dispute after the wake, but the rumor mill couldn’t provide substantial evidence of this. Whatever the case, Salvatore Manzo was never seen again.

An anonymous tip led the police to a dumpster near Cliff Dr. and Paseo Blvd. There the investigators found Sal’s clothes and shoes. His beige 1982 Oldsmobile Toronado was located near a grocery store on Independence Ave and Paseo Blvd. The body of Sal was never found, and unless he decided to flee the mob-controlled city naked, it is reasonable to assume he was murdered.

Manzo was on probation at the time of his disappearance. Four years earlier a federal judge opened an indictment charging fifteen people with conspiracy to skim $2 million from Las Vegas Casinos. Carl DeLuna, Carl Civella, and Sal Manzo were named among the conspirators. Was this the reason behind his murder?

It’s been nearly thirty-two years since this man disappeared and although everyone has a general idea of what happened, the family would still like to have some answers.  If you have any information about this unsolved disappearance of Salvatore Benjamin Manzo, please contact the Kansas City Police Department at 816-234-5136


The following links are for the benefit of Synova’s readers and are not an all inclusive source listing.

Further Reading:

UPI Archives 

The Charley Project 

KC Star


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


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


Each week Synova highlights obscure cold cases on her blog as a victim’s advocate with the Missouri Missing organization. She never charges for her services. If you’d like to help support Synova in this worthy cause, please check out the affiliate links below and on the sidebar of 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. Thank you.


SABRE Pepper Spray & Stun Gun Self-Defense Kit— Police Strength SABRE Red Pepper Spray, PLUS a Compact, Stylish & Powerful Purple SABRE Stun Gun with Flashlight


Unorganized Crime: Journey to Redemption

Banded Fedora HAT for Kids Trilby Gangster Panama Classic Vintage Short Brim Style (Black Sequined)


salvatore_benjamin_manzo_1

Gambling with the Mafia – Paul Douglas Cappo Mystery

paul_douglas_cappo_1 photo courtesy of The Charley Project

Gambling addict leaves for Vegas in fear and is never seen again. What happened to Paul Douglas Cappo in June 1980? Between his ties with organized crime and his $75,000 gambling debt, Cappo knew his life was at stake. Why in the world would he go to Las Vegas if he knew death was near?


Paul Douglas Cappo, 28 told his wife goodbye on June 10, 1980, and drove off into the horizon. Cappo was nervous about his trip to Vegas and told his wife that his friends would rather “stab you in the back than look at you.” Mrs. Cappo was to contact his attorney immediately if her husband missed a scheduled call.

In hopes of taking care of his family, Paul took out a $50,000 life insurance policy with an additional $50,000 accidental death clause. Why was this poor man so nervous? The answer might lie in his organized crime contacts, or perhaps it could be the $75,000 gambling debt he owed to the Tropicana Casino? Who knows?

Cappo was last seen driving a dark blue 1977 Plymouth 4-door car. The car had Kansas City license plates and had a damaged front fender. Perhaps the gambler had a premonition, but whatever the case neither Paul Cappo nor his car was ever seen again. Unfortunately, no one knows who he was going to meet in Sin City, and very few leads have come in on this case over the past 39 years.

If you have any information on this case, please contact Sgt. Benjamin Caldwell with the Kansas City Police Department at (816)234-5136.


The following links are for the benefit of Synova’s readers and are not an all inclusive source listing.

Further Reading:

The Charley Project

The Doe Network 


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


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.

Blog sign up

SIGN UP HERE 


Each week Synova highlights obscure cold cases on her blog as a victim’s advocate with the Missouri Missing organization. She never charges for her services. If you’d like to help support Synova in this worthy cause, please check out the affiliate links below and on the sidebar of 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. Thank you.


The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen


SABRE Pepper Spray & Stun Gun Self-Defense Kit— Police Strength SABRE Red Pepper Spray PLUS a SABRE Stun Gun with Anti-Grab Technology & Flashlight


paul_douglas_cappo_1

A Well Dressed Corpse

SomertonMan2 Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

A well-dressed corpse is found on the Somerton Beach in 1948 setting off a mystery of astounding proportions. A strange note was found sewn into a hidden pocket in the man’s pants. The words Tamam Shud were typed upon a scrap of paper. The translation is, “It is finished.” Seventy-one years later and no one can figure out who this man was or who killed him. Was he a spy? Who knows?


The Somerton Man: Seven Decades Later

Unless more evidence appears soon, the death of the Somerton man will forever remain a mystery. The issues surrounding his death were not the only mystery, but his identity and his killer’s identity remain unsolved by forensic science.

On the first day of December 1948, Neil Day was riding his horse on the Somerton beach when he discovered the body of a man. There wasn’t any form of identity on the Somerton man. The stand out features was that he was clean shaven, wearing a bespoke brown suit and staring into the sky while sitting in a gentleman position. The night before, people claimed to have seen a man that looked like the Somerton man. The assumption is that he’s either drunk or in a deep sleep.

For anyone hearing about the case of the Somerton man for the first time, the poser will be; how will a well-dressed man in a suit be sitting on the beach wall alone? Or is his death pre-mediated with the torn page of the book found in his pocket? This is one mystery that remains a hard nut to crack for the intelligence units of Australia, The United States, and Scotland.

Who is The Somerton Man?

In a case that went down as Australia’s most baffling cold case, the identity of the Somerton remains one of the biggest unanswered questions of the case.

It’s somewhat baffling that a man with such a display of means had no identification on him. A small amount of cash was found on the man, but his wallet was missing.

Since no one is aware of the identity of the Somerton man, the next will be to ascertain which nationality he is. It was confirmed that he was not a local man as no one knows him or have ever seen him before.

With his clothing and the items found on him, there was a strong indicator that the Somerton man had an American link. However, when his fingerprints were sent to the American authorities, it came back without any results. Investigators found on him; a railway ticket to Henley Beach, an American metal comb, and some other items that did little in revealing the identity of the Somerton man.

Where Is The Somerton Man Going: The Suitcase At The Adelaide Railway Station?

While the entire world was still grappling with the shock and mystery surrounding the news, investigators find his brown suitcase and hope it will lead to answers.

The contents of the bag were a modified knife, a screwdriver, pencils, scissors, clothes, and a stenciling brush.

What kind of job would require these types of things? He was a clean cut, well-built man with hands that looked as if he hadn’t done a day of manual labor in his life.

The Rubáiyát and The Tamam Shud: What’s The Somerton Man Trying To Say.

In less than a month when the mystery of the Somerton man caught everyone unaware, another piece of evidence was found. One of the items found in the pocket of the Somerton Man was a rolled piece of paper with “Tamam Shud” written on it. In Persian, it means “it is finished. What is finished? Another new question added to the numerous ones.

No one knows where the paper came from until a man walked into the police station with the book titled; The Rubáiyát. The back page of this book had been torn, and after investigating further, they found the scrap to fit the page perfectly.

Why did this man have the book?

The man claimed he was driving along the beach and parked his car there the night before the body was discovered. He went for a walk with his friend, and when they returned to the automobile, a book was on the floor of the car. The two men didn’t pay any attention to it until the story of the Somerton man broke on the news. In the book, there were two phone numbers; one was a dead end, and the other went through to a lady; Jestyn.

Jestyn and The Rubáiyát: A Twist to The Story

Interestingly, Jestyn lived nearby to the Somerton beach. Even though she claimed never to know the Somerton man, she was close to fainting when she saw the cast of his face. Jestyn never wanted to talk to the police. She later admitted that she gave a copy of The Rubáiyát to a man named Alfred Boxall. When that lead was followed, the man still had the copy of the book with the last page intact.

Recent Discoveries and Theories

The story of the Somerton man is still a subject of debate. Many are still wondering what could have killed the man. The theory of being a spy tops the list. Another angle is that he must have committed suicide or poisoned with an untraceable poison. So also, it was believed that the death of the man could have been natural due to the position he was sitting. More recently, DNA evidence traced the Somerton man to the US East coast, and he could have been related to Thomas Jefferson.


The following links are for the benefit of Synova’s readers and are not an all inclusive source listing.

Wikipedia 

ABC News

Buzzfeed Unsolved 


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


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


Each week Synova highlights obscure cold cases on her blog as a victim’s advocate with the Missouri Missing organization. She never charges for her services. If you’d like to help support Synova in this worthy cause, please check out the affiliate links below and on the sidebar of 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. Thank you.


SABRE Pepper Spray & Stun Gun Self-Defense Kit— Police Strength SABRE Red Pepper Spray, PLUS a Compact, Stylish & Powerful Purple SABRE Stun Gun with Flashlight


The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen


SomertonMan2

When Arson Becomes Homicide

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Photo courtesy of NY State Police

A mother and her son die in a tragic house fire, but the estranged husband escapes. Why was he there violating the restraining order for a second time? And why, has this case gone unsolved for twelve years?


September 9, 2007, around 10:40 pm an explosion rocked the house on Second Street. Neighbors called the fire department, but the entire first floor was engulfed in flames by the time they arrived. A grueling seven hours later the arson had become a double homicide.

Luciana Davey and her 11-year-old son, Frank III were gone. Their bodies were found near the second-floor window. The cause of death was smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Fire investigators quickly ruled the fire as an arson. There were several points of origin and accelerants were detected. Although the authorities haven’t officially named a suspect, there is one obvious suspect in my book.

Luciana and her husband Frank Jr. were estranged, and Luciana had a restraining order against him. Jr. wasn’t allowed on the property, but he had violated that order. He was sentenced to 45 days in jail but was released early on good behavior two days before the fire. Luciana’s family claims they didn’t even know he was out of jail.

On the night of the fire, Jr. claims he was in bed with his wife when they heard the explosion. They ran and got little Frank, and they all gathered around the second-floor window. The father leaned out the window and was pushed by his wife. He reached safety, but his family never followed. Jr. was eventually arrested for violating the protection order and given a year in jail plus a fine.

At his sentencing hearing, Mr. Davey apologizes for breaking the order but asks for leniency since he’s been punished enough by the death of his family. Witnesses say his apology seemed hollow, but until further evidence arises, this case may go unsolved forever.

If you have any information about this case, please contact State Police Troop B Violent Crime Investigation Team at 518-897-2000.


The following links are for the benefit of Synova’s readers and are not an all inclusive source listing. 

NY State PD

America’s Most Wanted


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


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.

IMG_20190316_075643_170.jpg

SIGN UP HERE


Each week Synova highlights obscure cold cases on her blog as a victim’s advocate with the Missouri Missing organization. She never charges for her services. If you’d like to help support Synova in this worthy cause, please check out the affiliate links below and on the sidebar of 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. Thank you.


SABRE RED Pink Pepper Spray Keychain for Women with Quick Release for Easy Access, Maximum Police Strength OC Spray, Finger Grip for Accuracy, 10-Foot Range with 25 Bursts, Helps Fight Breast Cancer


First Alert Fire Extinguisher | Standard Home Fire Extinguisher, Red, 1038789


 

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Missouri Missing – Luther O. Boyt

luther_o._boyt_3


In the middle of moving back home to care for his dying father, Luther Boyt disappears without a trace. He was last seen at a local gay bar having drinks with friends. Witnesses say he was happy and although he had a couple drinks, he wasn’t drunk. What happened after he left, and why did authorities find his car abandoned in a local park?


Luther Boyt, a Louisiana native had moved to the Kansas City area in 1966. He worked as the director of Vital Statistics at the city hall until retirement in 1989. Boyt lived in a beautiful home on Janseen Place and loved to throw lavish parties. His hobbies included buying antiques and traveling.

During the summer of 2000, Boyt sold his manson and planned to assist his mother who was caring for his ailing father. By the end of November the move was nearly complete. on November 25, 2000, Boyt was seen at the Buddies’ Bar having drinks with friends. He was happy and seemed fine. Around 2:30 am on the 26th, Boyt leaves the bar and is never seen again.

Later the same day, movers arrive at the house to finish moving the last of Mr. Boyt’s furniture, but the owner never arrives. Friends become worried and begin searching for Luther Boyt. His car is found in Penn Calley Park the next day. Everyone said there would be no reason for Boyt to drive to the well-known gay hookup spot.

Strangely, inside the car was $360 which Boyt had apparently stashed under the floor mat. A friend later recalled he had said something about stopping by an ATM and getting cash to pay the movers.

Sadly, three days after Boyt’s disappearance, his ailing father died. It was on what would be Boyt’s 60th birthday. Family and friends are adamant that Boyt would not have willing gone to that dangerous park alone at night, so what happened to him and why was his car abandoned there? Whatever the case, Mr. Boyt’s friends and family need answers and nineteen years later they are still searching.

If you have any information about this cold case, please contact the Kansas City Police Department at (816) 234-5136.


The following links are for the benefit of Synova’s readers and are not an all inclusive source listing.

Further Reading:

Reddit

Charley Project

Missouri Missing – Facebook 


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


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.

IMG_20190316_075643_170.jpg

SIGN UP HERE


Each week Synova highlights obscure cold cases on her blog as a victim’s advocate with the Missouri Missing organization. She never charges for her services. If you’d like to help support Synova in this worthy cause, please check out the affiliate links below and on the sidebar of 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. Thank you.


Self-Defense for Women: Fight Back


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