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.

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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.


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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 Lie, An Alias, & the Other Woman: The Sandra Bertolas Story

bertolas

On April 24, 1988, Sandra Bertolas left her family’s home in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin to confront her ex-boyfriend. Not only did he give her an alias, but he was hiding the fact he was in a long-term relationship with another woman. Frustrated, she told family members that she was going to meet him in West Allis. The 20-year-old was never seen again. Her car was found a few days later abandoned in a bowling alley parking lot.

Sandra Bertolas was pretty, spunky, and smart. She loved makeup, fashion, and was studying cosmetology at the Waukesha County Technical College. Sandra was the youngest of eight children and seemed to have everything going her way until April 1988. She attended the wedding shower of a friend earlier in the day. There, she confided to friends that her boyfriend was cheating on her. To make matters worse he had also given her a fake name.

Family members say she left home around 7 pm. Her boyfriend had called and begged her to meet with him. She finally agreed and told her family that she was going to meet him before she left. When she hadn’t returned by midnight, her father became worried and started calling the local hospitals. Perhaps she had been in an accident. Sandra always called home.

The following June, a tip came in that lead the authorities to Mount Olivet Cemetery. Search dogs were brought in and focused on a 12-foot area around a grave that had been open at the time of Sandra’s disappearance. after getting permission the authorities opened the grave and searched in hopes of finding the missing woman. She was not there.

While many families keep hoping that their missing relatives will be found alive, the Bertolas family firmly believes that their beloved Sandra is deceased. They have a grave plot reserved for her in Saint Anthony’s Cemetery right next to her father’s grave. Her father died in 2010 never knowing what happened to his sweet Sandra.

The family hopes after 30 years someone will come forward with some information that will lead to the remains of their loved one. If you have any information please contact:
Menomonee Falls Police Department
Lt. D. Mueller
262-532-8700

Agency Case Number: I88-1528

More information on this case:

Missing Thirty Years

Charley Project

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.

The Strange Case of Jayme Closs

800JaymeCloss-FBI

Someone burst into a rural home in Barron, Wisconsin in the early morning hours of October 15, 2018. Neighbors heard something that sounded like two gunshots, and twenty minutes later 911 received a garbled emergency call from Mrs. Closs’ cell phone. When police arrived, the mother was deceased, and the father died shortly after the police arrived. Thirteen-year-old Jayme Closs was missing. Where can this quiet, well-mannered teen be?

There’s a ton of online theories on this case, but the evidence released thus far doesn’t point to any of them. As of today, the parents are deceased, and Jayme is considered missing and endangered. The murder weapon wasn’t found on the scene, and the police are quick to say that Jayme is in no way a suspect in this case.

It’s been eleven days, and hundreds of tips have poured in, and the authorities are checking every one of them. The FBI is offering a $25,000 reward for information that leads to the whereabouts of Jayme.

The family members made an emotional plea for information on October 24th proclaiming their love for their missing loved one. The authorities are looking for two vehicles. Surveillance videos picked up a red or orange Dodge Challenger or Charger and a Black SUV believed to be a Ford Edge or an Acura MBX.

In a small town of 3,500 people, 2,000 volunteers gathered to search for the missing teenager. Unlike other cases, the authorities have kept the searches well organized in hopes of finding the one clue that could save a child’s life. Unfortunately, the searches haven’t yielded the smoking gun everyone was hoping for. Citizens are left to wonder why this happened and how could it have happened in their otherwise safe community.

If you have any information, please contact 1 (855) 744-3879

jayme.png

Almost Rescued – The Angela Hammond Disappearance

angela hammond

She was kidnapped while on a pay phone talking to her boyfriend. Jumping in his truck and tearing down the street towards the payphone, Rob sees Angela in the kidnapper’s truck. Dropping a U-turn in the middle of the road the hero tries to chase down the kidnapper, but tragically this story is still looking for it’s happy ending 28 years later.


The disappearance of Angela Hammond, 20 has tormented Rob Shafer for nearly three decades. In April 1991 Shafer was a high school senior engaged to the beautiful Angie Hammond. She was four months pregnant and they were both looking forward to their life together. Both the Shafer’s and the Hammond’s families were eagerly awaiting the marriage and the birth of the new grandbaby. Life was going to be great.
Reality struck hard, however, on the night of April 4, 1991. Angie and Rob spent the evening at a BBQ before Rob had to return home to babysit his younger brother. The couple planned on meeting up again later. Angie promised she would call in an hour and left Rob on his doorstep. Back in the day before cell phones, Angie would call her fiancé from a local payphone. Today with all the crime shows on TV, no woman in her right mind would be alone at 11 pm talking on a payphone, but things were different in the rural town of Clinton, Missouri.
The entire community population was less than 8,000 people. Most were farmers, factory workers, or owned a small local business. Teenagers would cruise around the town square for fun and hang out in the parking lots of the local grocery store. The police station was only two blocks away and violent crime was unheard of. This naïve environment would be shattered before Angie and Rob’s phone call was completed.
Standing in the grocery store parking lot, the 20-yr-old Angie was chatting with her fiancé. She mentioned to Rob that a strange truck kept circling around the square. It was a late 60’s early 70’s model Ford F-150. Being a native of Clinton, she knew most of the vehicles that usually cruised the square. Neither caller thought much about it and their conversation continued. Angie stated that she was getting tired and decided to go on home instead of waiting around for Rob. Moments later Angie described the strange man that emerged from the two-toned truck. She said he was a dirty looking old white guy with a white beard and mustache. He had used the phone next to her and then returned to his truck, but he didn’t leave. This made Angie nervous. Suddenly the man returned, and Rob hears Angie scream. Dropping the phone in a panic, Rob runs out to his car and barrels down the road the seven blocks to the payphone. As he approaches the scene the old Ford pickup passes him on the road. Angie screams “Robbie” and Rob shoves his car into reverse and spins around in the road to give chase.
The hero saves the girl, beats down the bad guy, the police come and arrest the kidnapper, and everyone lives happily ever after, right? No. Reality is grim, and those sudden spins you see cars do in the movies are not real. When poor Robbie slammed his car into reverse and spun, it also destroyed the car’s transmission. The older model car gave chase for about two miles but died in the middle of the street. Robert Shafer was left to watch the truck disappear down the dark rural lane. Helpless and alone he made his way back to the police station to report what happened.
It is here that Rob discovered the sad truth about an inexperienced police department. With the low crime rate, the police had little experience dealing with violent crime. This would stall the process, but the case went forward. Of course, Rob was the first suspect, but after a week-long investigation, he was cleared. They ran checks on all the trucks in the area that might fit the description, but that too came to no conclusion. Rob was able to add to the truck’s description the fact that it had a window decal covering the back glass. The decal was of a fish jumping out of the water. Still, with this added info the truck seemed to vanish into the night.
Rob gave details to the police sketch artist about the truck’s driver. This is where details seem to differ from Angie’s description over the phone. This discrepancy caused some people to look narrowly at Rob, but investigators came to a different conclusion. Below is pictured the composite sketch of the driver as remembered by Rob.

angela_marie_hammond_10

You can clearly see that this man does not have a white beard and mustache. I would argue that the facial hair was fake. I will give you my theories later.
Almost immediately after Rob Shafer was ruled out as a suspect, the officials began to try to link this disappearance with two other missing women from Missouri. One woman was Trudy Darby from Macks Creek, Missouri. Darby worked at a local convenience store. On January 19, 1991, she had been robbed, kidnapped, and murdered. Her body was discovered two days later.
The second woman was Cheryl Ann Kenney. Like Darby, Kenney was robbed, kidnapped, and presumed murdered, but her body hasn’t been found as of this writing. Kenney was kidnapped from Nevada, Missouri.
Now it’s time for a geography lesson. It is 69 miles from Clinton, MO to Macks Creek, and 74 miles from Clinton to Nevada, MO. If you were to plot out a giant triangle on a Missouri roadmap the final side would be 83 miles from Macks Creek to Clinton. Although these aren’t great distances to travel, the way in which these crimes took place it makes me think they are not connected.

Two years later the case of Trudy Darby was solved. Two brothers, Jesse Rush and Marvin Chaney confessed to robbing, raping, and murdering Darby. After intense investigations, they never found any links between Angie Hammond and the brothers.

So who could have taken Angie Hammond from the phone booth that night in Clinton, Missouri? Some wondered if a serial killer was on the loose in rural Missouri. Although these cases weren’t necessarily related there was indeed a serial killer hiding out only 70 miles up the interstate. This brutal slayer of women was wanted by Texas authorities and was flying under the radar by using the alias of Richard Fowler. His name was Kenneth McDuff. This serial killer was featured on America’s Most Wanted in April 1992. He was recognized by a coworker and arrested on May 4, 1992. Some say that McDuff was responsible for many more victims than he was given credit for. Others wonder if those reports are inflated. Below is a mugshot of McDuff.
Could this be the man behind the disappearance of Angela Hammond? There’s a good possibility. He was in the area. He had a habit of picking random women and brutally killing them. And if you look at the specific details of the composite sketch you will find eerie similarities.

angela_marie_hammond_10mcduff003a

Ok now, look at the individual characteristics of the face. Look at the bridge of the nose. Notice the small indention? It is visible in both photos. Notice the marking under the left eye and the dark brows. What do you think? Could this be the man behind Hammond’s disappearance? Could he have worn a fake beard and during the struggle to get Angela into his truck it came off somehow?

I would like to see investigators check out his alias, Richard Fowler to see if he owned a pickup like the one witnesses seen in Clinton, MO. We may never know for sure. McDuff was executed for his heinous crimes on November 17, 1998. If Hammond’s body could be found and DNA extracted then there might be a chance of tying it back to him, but after nearly three decades finding the DNA of a killer on the bones of a victim might be impossible.

As with every case I highlight, if you have any information on the disappearance of Angela Hammond please contact the Clinton Police Department at (600) 885-2679.


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.

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How To Be Your Own Bodyguard: Self defense for men and women from a lifetime of protecting clients in hostile environments


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angela hammond

The Misidentified Serial Killer

cleophus cooksey jr

Photo courtesy of Arizona Police Department

Cleophus Cooksey Jr, 36 was released from prison in July of 2017 only to kill nine people four months later. Cooksey was immediately labeled a serial killer, but I tend to disagree. The FBI defines a serial killer as someone who kills three or more people with a cooling-off period in between. Serial killers tend to kill for sexual gratification and chose victims according to their fetish desires. Spree killers, on the other hand, tend to kill two or more people in a short period of time. These killers escalate quickly and don’t have a cooling-off period between the murders. I argue that Cooksey would fall into the spree killer category. I will present the facts as they are available and let you decide.

Cooksey was the grandson of an Arizona civil-rights leader Roy L. Cooksey. The civil rights activist opened the state’s first black-owned daycare center in Tucson and helped to establish the Afro-American Coordination Committee in 1960. Surely his children and grandchildren would follow in his footsteps and become pillars in their community, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. Cleophus Cooksey, Jr. would have continuous run-ins with Arizona law enforcement during his teenage years and was imprisoned by the age of 18 convicted of manslaughter. He would be behind bars for 16 years.
Cooksey was released from prison in early 2015 even after being charged with 22 infractions while behind bars. Freedom would last ten months before he was arrested for a DUI. After his release from the DUI, he would again be arrested in May 2016 on another parole violation. This hopping in and out of jail continued until he was finally released under supervision on July 28, 2017. This time he would go on to kill nine people four months after his release.

victims of cleophus cooksey jr

Photo courtesy of Arizona Police Department

November 27, 2017:
Andrew Remillard, 27 and Parker Smith, 21 were found shot to death in a Phoenix parking lot.
December 2, 2017:
Salim Richards, 35 was robbed and shot. He would die at the scene before paramedics could get him stabilized.

December 11, 2017:
Jesus Bonifacio Real, 25 was shot and killed. Mr. Real was the brother of Cooksey’s ex-girlfriend.

December 13, 2017:
Latorrie Beckford, 29 was killed

December 16, 2017:
Kristopher Cameron’s remains were found discarded in a field. He was only 21.
Later the same day, Maria Billanueva, 43 was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and killed.

December 17, 2017:
The police were called when neighbors heard shots fired. The authorities arrived to find Rene Cooksey and Edward Nunn shot and killed. Cleophus Cooksey, Jr. was arrested for the death of his mother and stepfather the same day. It would take a little while before ballistics would link the other slayings with Cooksey. It is unclear what set off Cooksey, or what his motive was in the slayings. I will keep you posted as I follow the case.

Synova’s Rantings:

I contend that the media uses the word “serial killer” a little too much. A spree killer doesn’t seem to draw the same attention. I will let you draw your own conclusions, but I feel the media uses “click bait” titles to draw attention. I wish we could go back to reporting the facts of cases and stop muddying the water with sensationalized news. The suspected crimes of this man, if proven true are heinous enough without the dramatizing of headlines.

 

Ex-coach given death penalty for kidnapping and killing child.

 

She was a beautiful, brown-eyed, 10-year-old from Springfield, MO. Hailey Owens was walking home from a friends house in the 3200 block of W. Lombard St. It wasn’t a long way, nor was it unusual for the child to traverse the area. On February 18, 2014, neighbors watched in horror as she was snatched off the street and tosed into a pickup truck. The male witness jumped in his vehicle and tried to chase the truck, while the woman wrote down the lisence number and made a frantic call to 911. Unfortunately, the heavy traffic afforded the kidnapper an easy escape.

Police arrived on the scene just before 5 pm to take witness statements. The statewide Amber Alert was issued by 7 pm. By 8:30 pm the truck was located at the home of Craig Wood.

Police arrested Wood and began searching for Hailey hoping to find her alive. After all, it had only been four hours since she was snatched. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

Officers noticed a strong bleach smell as they entered the basement of Woods’ home. Later, Hailey’s body was found stuffed in a plastic tub. She had been raped and shot in the back of the head.

Anger erupted across the Ozarks and quickly spread nationwide. How could an ex-coach rape and murder a tiny 77lb girl?

Wood, 45 was a former employee of the Springfield school system. He worked as a teacher’s aide and a football coach for sixteen years. Officers found child pornography including pictures of four young female students from the school where he had worked.

A candlelight vigil was organized on February 23rd. 10,000 people marched from Commercial St. to the Jefferson Ave. footbridge. The bridge was lit up with purple lights. Purple was Hailey’s favorite color.

See more:

https://youtu.be/bZyFGOP2dl8Hailey’s Vigil

The murder trial of Craig Wood

The trial began on October 30, 2017. Wood claimed his Meth binge caused him to kill Hailey Owens. He was convicted of 1st degree murder on November’s 4th. Defense attorneys argued that the lack of premeditation should spare Woods from the death penalty. Much to the public’s surprise, the jury couldn’t decide on the death penalty.

Defense attorneys quickly filed a motion requesting a new trial citing errors by the judge.

While the public went on with their holiday celebrations, the family of Hailey Owens were forced to wait on justice. The ruling wouldn’t come until after the new year.

January 11, 2018:

Judge Thomas Mountjoy denied Craig Wood’s appeal for a new trial. Later the same day he sentenced Wood to death by lethal injection.

Hailey’s Law:

Hailey’s parents are working hard to get “Hailey’s Law” passed. If passed, it will help streamline the Amber Alert system in hopes of saving lives. A 2-hour window elapsed between Haily’s abduction and the Amber Alert. Could those 120 minutes have saved Hailey? We will never know, but if it saves one child in the future then I say pass it. Get it on the books.

This case took an odd turn when Craig Woods’ family joined Hailey’s family in trying to push through Hailey’s Law.

Synova’s note:

There are many photos available of Craig Woods online, but I refuse to plaster his sorry face on my blog. If you want to see him then you can google it.

Hailey’s Facebook Memorial:

https://www.facebook.com/HaileyOwensInfo/