Unsolved Cold Case: No answers after nearly half a century.

carol blades
1969 would change the face of rural Nixa, Missouri forever. Nixa was a small town in Christian County that boasted a low crime rate. The county sheriff was known as an enforcer and no one wanted to be caught breaking the law in Buff Lamb’s territory. So, when a quiet little housewife disappeared from the local laundromat it really caused a stir. Nearly fifty years later and the case is still unsolved.


December 15, 1969, Carol Blades was on her way to do some laundry at the laundromat in Nixa. Her husband came home from his night shift and went straight to bed never knowing that he wouldn’t see his lovely blond-headed wife again. The 20-yr-old woman dropped her clothes off and had a habit of visiting her cousin, Sue Horton who lived nearby. Today Sue wouldn’t see her cousin and when Larry Blades called to ask about his wife that evening, Sue knew something had gone terribly wrong.
The police were called in and Sherriff Lamb was the lead investigator. His team of three men looked around the laundromat. Their search extended a mere five miles before Lamb came to the conclusion that Carol had simply run off. Her car was later found on the side of HWY 160 a mere quarter of a mile away. The car had been driven hard. There was mud on the windshield, scrapes down the side of the doors, and oil was splashed all over the oil pan. Carol was nowhere around, and the car keys were missing. They would be found later in the large field that separated the highway from the laundromat.
Much to the aggravation of family members, the car was left unlocked by the side of the road for days before taken to the police station. Then it was again left unlocked in the parking lot. It sat there so long that passersby would leave “wash me” notes on it not realizing they were tainting evidence in a murder case.
Three people saw a man park the car and run across the field towards the laundromat. They claim he had his jacket up over his head but ran into some bushes and dropped the covering allowing the witnesses to get a good look at him. In a small rural community of approximately 800, they claimed they hadn’t seen the man before.
It would be over a year before the remains of Carol Blades were found. A farmer was out looking for his cattle on Christmas day 1970 when he stumbled upon the skeletal remains of the once vibrant young woman. His 200-acre farm was just south of Nixa in Ponce. The Stone County sheriff and his team were called to the scene and the Christian County team was brought in to assist.
Lamb began to immediately blame Larry Blades, but the distraught husband passed two lie detector tests and was eventually cleared as a suspect. The shenanigans would continue to the point that some people wondered if Buff Lamb knew more about the case than he let on. At one point the sheriff was even named a suspect.
Buff Lamb died in 2001 amid controversy. His tough tactics earned him a ruthless reputation from some and a no-nonsense lawman from others. It has been almost 50 years since Carol Blades went missing and we still have no answers. Perhaps someone will come forward with a tip, but as a long-time resident told me, “Be careful with this one sis. There’s snakes in them woods.”
If you have any information regarding this case no matter how big or small, please contact the Christian County Sherriff’s office at (417) 582-5350. Don’t let past intimidations keep you from doing the right thing. I have been reassured that this case is still being actively investigated even though it’s been cold a long time. Christian County hasn’t forgotten Carol Blades.


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carol blades

Supposed Suicide – No Investigation **WARNING: Graphic Crime Scene Photos**

Joshua Robinson was found hanging from the swing set in Amsler Park on February 16, 2006. Just shy of his 20th birthday, this man hadn’t shown any suicidal tendencies, wasn’t on medication for depression, and although he had been a drug user in the past, wasn’t on anything. Toxicology reports would prove this.

Why would this man commit suicide? His family and friends vehemently declare he wouldn’t. After viewing the crime scene photos it would seem impossible for him to end up in such a peculiar position.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Backing up. What are the particulars in this case?

First, you have a 19-year-old man who ends up dead. He is 5′ 8″ tall and weighs a 185 pounds. Joshua Robinson lived with his mother Cynthia and his brother Michael in McGregor Texas. He had been dating a woman named Kayla for a while now but her family was not happy about it. On many occasion, Kayla’s grandmother would refuse to let Joshua see her granddaughter at all.
The night before Josh was death a woman appeared at Cynthia’s home and threw a fit wanting to talk to Joshua. He was not home but when Cynthia mentioned the possibility of Kayla being pregnant the woman became irate and threatened to have Josh were arrested for statutory rape. Cynthia would later discover that this woman was none other than Mary Casareza; Kayla’s aunt.

When Joshua made it home that evening his mother related the story to him. He immediately went out to visit Kayla’s family and to smooth things over. When he came back he vented his frustrations on his mother and decided to go for a walk to cool off. This was a standard practice for him. It was not unusual for Joshua and his mother to have a row, nor was it unusual for him to choose to walk around the perimeter of the nearby Amsler park.

When Joshua didn’t return home in the morning Cynthia was worried, but that fear became a panic when her neighbor found a man hanging from the swing set in the park and made a frantic call to 911.

Here is where things become even stranger. When one hears of a person hanging from the swing set one automatically pictures the victim hanging from the crossbar above his head, but this is not the case. Viewing the crime scene photos, one is struck by the strange position of the body.

(ATTN READERS: If you have the stomach for it, scroll to the end of this blog and you will see the crime scene photo.)

For those who can’t handle the crime scene photos at the end of this post, I will try to explain them. First of all, he is on his knees, the chain is partially wrapped around his neck, and oddly the seat of the swing is flipped upside down upon his back. He is not facing forward as one would assume. His body is angled towards the swing next to him with his feet turned inward and angled towards the exterior poll of the swing.

In order to land in this position, this man would have had to climb up on to the cross beam on the end of the swing and dive inwards towards the swing. At 5′ 8″, this would be very difficult to do. After obtaining pictures of the swing set, I am startled to realize that the A-frame crossbar is missing. (Also strange: shortly after this event, the city removed the swing completely)

If this were the only discrepancy, in this case, one could assume that gravity and physics could have played a trick upon us, but this is just the beginning of the discrepancies.

Here is the timeline for this case:
5:15 a.m. – A jogger sees the body hanging from the swing set and in a panic dials 911
5:35 a.m. – The police were dispatched to the scene
5:36 a.m. – The police radio into dispatch that they are on site

Former officer Walter Kirby claimed to be the 1st officer on the scene. His report states that he ran to the body to check for a pulse and found none. The only problem is there is no record of his car being dispatched to Amsley park until 6:48 a.m.

According to their own statements all 4 officers that were on site claimed to not have known the victim and yet 8 minutes later they called in and ran a “Wants & Warrants” check on the victim. How could they have run this check if they had no idea of the victim’s identity?

If this where the end of the discrepancies one might excuse this case, but this is only the beginning.

At the autopsy, one would figure the medical examiner would label the cause of death as “Death by Strangulation.” Instead, the M.E. found something unusual about the cause of death. The bruises from the chain around the victim’s neck were only surface deep.
There was no damage to the tendons and muscles in the neck and the neck itself was not broken. The victim was not strangled by the chain around his neck. Therefore, the M.E. initially ruled the cause of death as “Undetermined.”

This ruling was changed when the medical examiner received a report from Detective, Kory Martin. It contained three things.

1. The victim was a drug user
2. He had a fight with his mother the night before
3. It was an apparent suicide (chain vs. neck)

Somehow this was enough to change the medical examiner’s report from an undetermined cause of death to suicide.

Cynthia’s arguments on these points:
1. Although Joshua had been arrested as minor for possession of marijuana, his toxicology reports came back clean he had no drugs or alcohol in his system. (For the record: I have seen the toxicology report)

2. As for the argument with his mother, this was a common occurrence but they had a very loving relationship otherwise.

3. The chain only left surface bruising, not enough to cause strangulation.

Another strange twist, in this case, was the odd bruising that appeared upon the body after death. The victim had bruising to the tips of his fingers on his left hand, and bruising upon his right bicep and shoulder as if he had been clawing at the chain. If he were choking, why didn’t he stand up? That was all that was required to release the pressure.

Studying the autopsy reports:

5’8″  male – 185 lbs.
The neck was not broken, no obstructed airway. No damage to the strap muscles in his neck.

What caused this man’s death?

Here’s a little anatomy lesson for you:

The lungs are covered with a thin membrane, called parenchyma, this is where the Alveoli are. Alveoli are tiny lung capillaries covering the lungs. These tiny vessels burst, causing ‘reddish-purple spit to drip from mouth. The chest cavity fills with blood causing congestive heart failure, or as in this case, death by suffocation. The official diagnosis: Red-purple parenchyma with pulmonary edema

How does this happen?

When a person is lying face down and a heavy object is placed between the shoulder blades, this puts pressure on the diaphragm. If the pressure is too great the Alveoli burst causing suffocation.

Could a knee have been placed in the middle of his back?

This would have been my first question as an investigative journalist and armchair detective. Why then, wouldn’t the authorities investigate this as a possible homicide until proven otherwise?

What follows appears to be a small town police force refusing to investigate a murder. Maybe they were understaffed? Maybe they had already come to their own conclusions because the victim had been labeled by his criminal record? Who knows, but what follows is even stranger than the story so far.

All four on scene officers were forced to resign within three months of this event. No public reasons were given. To make things look even worse, the interim chief of police resigned within the year. Why? We may never know.

Synova’s two cents:

While I was raised to respect law enforcement, I find all of these discrepancies hard to swallow. I fall short of thinking there was a massive police cover-up, but I find it strange that no one investigated Kayla’s family. Could there have been an irate brother or cousin that resented Joshua? She certainly had an aunt that did.

Twelve years a poor mother has struggled and fought to have this case investigated. Her emotions have run wild, she has spent years trying to drink away her sorrow. Sure her son wasn’t perfect and he had a criminal record, but does that mean he deserved to die without the basic rights of all Americans? Did he deserve to be labeled as a thug and therefore he gave up his right to have his death investigated? I think not.

If someone reading this has compassion for a grieving mother, and possesses the ability to get this case reopened I think it is your responsibility to do so.

 

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**Warning: Graphic crime scene photo below**

 

 

 

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