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

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

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


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

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

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


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. Synova strives to cite all the sources used during her case study, but occasionally a source may be missed by mistake. It is not intentional, and no copyright infringement is intended.

More Information On This Case:

BlogTalkRadio

ForeverMissed

Slabbed

Murdered In Mississippi


This week’s Recommended Reading:


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All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online or can be verified by the guest blogger. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is innocent until PROVEN guilty. I do not own the photos used in this post. All photos are used under the fair use act. No copyright infringement intended.©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


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Silenced Witnesses – Disgraced Cop – Ex-cop linked to two murdered women

5afb5fe99a4b4.image Photo courtesy of Jacksonville Progress

He pled guilty to tying his belt around her neck and trying to drag her to his van to keep her from testifying against him. The belt broke, and she escaped, but two other women witnesses against former cop Larry Pugh wound up dead. Why then is Pugh out of jail after eight years? What happened to Terri Reyes and Shunte Coleman?


These types of cases are the hardest ones for me to write. I bleed blue for the police officers who are gunned down in the line of duty, but it seems like the ones who deserve a bullet between the eyes get off scot-free. Read on, and you’ll see what I mean.

Larry Pugh joined the Jacksonville Police Department in January 2003 and was suspended in October 2005 after the accusations arose. In 2006, former Jacksonville Police Officer, Larry Pugh was arrested by the FBI and facing multiple charges of sexual assault. Eight women came forward accusing Pugh of rape and sexual assault. Larry Pugh was given bond and released. The Longview News-Journal reported on Wednesday, July 25, 2007, that during this time, two of the women on the witness list disappeared. To make matters even worse, he found one of the witnesses and bound his belt around her neck. Then he proceeded to drag her to his van. The belt snapped, and she was able to escape with her life. Pugh would plead guilty of this in September 2006.

53cbf15eb306e.image Photo courtesy of Jacksonville Progress

Terri Reyes, 38 of Athens was last seen on May 21, 2006. Like many others, she was scheduled to testify against the ex-lawman. Her body would be found later in a wooded area in San Augustine County, Texas. Reyes had three children.

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Photo courtesy of Tyler Morning Telegraph

Shunte Coleman, 24 was last seen on July 2, 2006. Her grandmother was worried about her because of the case with Pugh. Coleman’s body wouldn’t be found until March 2014 and it wouldn’t be officially identified until June 2014. She was found by a forester in a heavily wooded area near San Augustine not too far from where Terri’s remains were found eight years earlier.

It seemed that officer Pugh had been targeting women who were in legal trouble and using that as leverage for his sexual gratification. When he was allowed to release a statement he adamantly denied the charges claiming they were unwarranted allegations made by “crack heads.”

When did someone with addiction problems suddenly deserve to be sexually assaulted? When did our laws change to say that a person with a minor criminal history deserved to be strangled to death?

Surely the strange disappearance of two witnesses, the testimony of the woman who escaped his wrath, and the other 25-30 witnesses against Larry Pugh would be enough to see this man spend the rest of his life behind bars. That’s not what happened. Larry Pugh was released in May 2018. Yes, I said RELEASED!

Even with all the circumstantial evidence, Pugh’s confessions, and the bodies found, law enforcement claims they have no evidence to link Larry Pugh to the corpses. What else do they need? This is one case where I found so much information online that I couldn’t put all the links within the text of my blog post. Scroll down and read the several articles sited below for more details on this disturbing case.


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

Further Reading:

KTBS News

CBS News

Porchlight USA

Jacksonville Progress

Larry Pugh’s Statement

websleuths

Texas Public Corruption

KTRE Channel 9

Corruption In Cherokee County, Texas

KLTV

daily sentinel


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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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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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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Murder Mystery – Room 1046 – Part 2

 

room-1046

 

Roland T. Owen walked into the Kansas City hotel carrying a comb, a brush, and a tube of toothpaste. After several strange encounters with hotel staff, Owen would be carried out on a gurney a few days later. Blood covered the walls and bed in room 1046, and investigators say it was already solidified leading them to assume Owen had been bleeding for over six hours. Who tortured and killed this man? Why was his door always locked from the outside? Who were the anonymous benefactors that paid for his burial?

 

Last week I quickly highlighted this Alfred Hitchcock style murder mystery for my readers. This story was so strange and mysterious; I knew it would take more than one post to cover it. If you haven’t seen that post, you can follow this link to read Part One of the mystery.

 

Strange Sighting: (Thursday, January 3, 1935 – 11 PM)

Robert Lane was driving down 13th Street when he saw a man dressed in trousers and an undershirt. The man’s attire seemed strange in the cold winter weather of January. He was running and waving frantically. Robert Lane pulled over, and the stranger ran up to the door. He looked surprised.

“I’m sorry. I thought this was a taxi. Can you take me to where I can find a cab?”

Lane agreed, and the man climbed into his back seat. The man looked as if he’d been in a scuffle and Lane made a remark about this. The man mumbled, “I’ll kill that__________ in the morning.”

While all the newspapers were too proper to write the actual word that was uttered, 84 years later it could have helped investigators if there was some sort of record of this remark. Was the stranger talking about a male or a female? Who knows?

Lane noticed the man had a large cut down his arm and was cupping his hands trying to catch the blood. As the car reached a nearby intersection, the passenger jumped out and ran across to a parked cab. Seeing the driver wasn’t with his car, the stranger honked the horn. Presently, the cab driver rushed out of a nearby, and that was the end of Robert Lane’s interaction with the stranger.

Police disputed this story since no one noticed Owen leaving his room. Police would discount this and take the investigation in different directions. I find this odd because no one ever saw Owen coming or going from his room. Who was locking the door from the outside if Owen was still sitting inside? At one point the housekeeping staff walked into the room thinking it was empty to find Owen laying across the bed fully clothed and staring into the darkness.

To understand this story, you must understand the hotel’s door locking mechanism. The door could be locked from the inside and could not be opened externally. It could also be locked from the outside with a key, and the hotel staff could use the passkey to open the door and clean. On more than one occasion this outer lock was used while Owen was still inside the room.

By Friday morning the staff noticed the phone was off the hook in Owen’s room. The first contact that was made by the hotel staff was around 7 am. Evidence would later show that Owen was already beaten, stabbed and bloody by this time. That’s when the bellboy heard a voice call through the door and say, “Come in. Turn on the light.” Was this Owen trying to get the man to come in and help him? We’ll never know.

To make the story, even more, perplexing the second time a bell boy was sent to the room that morning, he opened the door with the hotel passkey. This, of course, means that between the bell boy’s first contact and second contact someone had left that room and locked it from the outside. The attendant used his key and opened the darkened room. He noticed the side table was knocked over, and the phone was on the floor. A shadowy figure of a naked man lay sprawled across the bed. The bellboy would later note that there were dark shadows on the sheets around the man, but he didn’t turn on the light. Instead, the bellboy replaced the phone, closed the door, and reported that the guest was drunk on the bed. Could this man have saved Ronald T. Owen if he had taken a moment to check on him?

An hour and a half later the phone was still off the hook, and finally, the bellboy had lost his patience. He opened the door and switched on the lights to discover a horrific scene. Owen was two foot from the door and naked with a rope tied around his neck, wrists, and ankles. He was on his knees and elbows. His bloody head was in his hands. When police asked who did this Owen replied, “Nobody.” He would slip into a coma on the way to the hospital and die shortly after midnight on January 5th.

Strange Clues:

The police immediately began searching for evidence in Room 1046 but found it had been stripped. Owen’s clothes, all of his belongings, even the hotel’s shampoo and soap were missing. The only things found in the room were: a hairpin, a safety pin, a label from a tie, a bottle of undiluted sulfuric acid, and two glasses. One broken glass was in the bathroom sink and was missing a shard of glass. Four little fingerprints were found on the lampshade leading the investigators to believe they could have been from a woman.

Anonymous Benefactor:

Investigators quickly realized the name Roland T. Owen was an alias and began digging for the man’s identity. In the meantime, the body was transported to the local morgue where it was placed for public viewing in hopes of getting a definite identification on the man. Many people came forward thinking they knew the victim, but all were dismissed. This is when Robert Lane came forward and confirmed the man in the morgue was the man he had picked up on that Thursday night. Authorities claim they can’t prove this, but I find it the most credible. Owen didn’t look overly normal. With his height and scars, he was a rather imposing figure which would make him hard to forget.

After much ado, the papers announced the unknown victim with the alias Roland Owen would be buried in a pauper’s grave since no one claimed him. This prompted another series of strange events. Before the body could be buried the funeral director received an anonymous call from an unknown male. He asked them two wait a little longer in burying Owen and he would send money for a proper burial. A few days later the funeral home received an envelope filled with cash wrapped in newspaper. The donor requested the body to be buried in Memorial Park Cemetary so he could be next to the donor’s sister.

“Love Forever, Louise”:

The florist received an anonymous phone call around the same time from an unknown male. He requested 13 roses to be sent to the grave of Ronald T. Owen and the card should be signed, “Love forever, Louise.” The florist tried to ask a few questions, but the man simply stated that he was just doing this for his sister.

Another phone call:

After the newspaper article about this case was printed, the editor received a phone call from a woman. She said the report was wrong and Roland’s funeral arrangements were paid.

Searching for Don:

During one of the interchanges with the hotel staff, Owen was heard speaking on the phone to a man he called “Don.” Another time the housekeeper saw a note with the same name. Was Don a friend? Was he a Mafia Don? Investigators searched for years and couldn’t find the true identity of Don.

Artemus Ogletree:

Eighteen months after the newspaper article about this mystery a woman saw the pictures and claimed Roland T. Owen was her son Artemus Ogletree. Although original reports claimed he was in his mid-20’s, Ogletree was 17 at the time of his death. To make matters more mysterious, Mrs. Ogletree had received three separate letters from her son. They were all typewritten which she thought was strange since her son didn’t know how to type. Also, these notes used a lot of slang terms Mrs. Ogletree had never heard her son use. After researching this story, she realized those three letters could not have been from her son. Someone out there not only knew what happened Roland T. Owen in that hotel room, but they also knew his real name and his mother’s address.

One More Mysterious Caller:

If that wasn’t enough of a mystery for you, there was a new chapter to this tale that happened to a Kansas City Librarian in 2003. John Horner spent a lot of time researching this case and writing it up for the library’s blog. One day he too received a strange phone call. It was an out of state caller claiming to be going through a deceased relative’s belongings. They found a large box of newspaper articles from about the Roland T. Owen case and in the box was a specific object that had been referenced in the original newspaper article. Then, the line went dead. What was in the box? Who were the mysterious caller and their relative? Was it the woman Louise? Was it Don? Like all good mysteries. We may never know the truth in this strange tale.

Despite spreading this case across two blog posts, there are even more details I couldn’t include here. Below are some links for further reading on this strange tale.

Reddit
KC Library Archives

Sleepover Nightmare: Tracy Pickett Cold Case

tracy pickett

She spent the night with a friend and was never seen again. Police have had a suspect for 26 years, but without a body, justice for 14-year-old Tracy Pickett seems impossible.


It’s a parents worse nightmare and unfortunately, Glenda “Kay” Blaser cannot wake up from it. On August 11, 1992, Blaser agreed to let her daughter spend the night with a friend. Another girl was coming too, and Blaser knew the three girls would have a great time. If she had known who would show up in Webb City that evening, Blaser would have kept her little girl home. Two ex-convicts showed up to the girls’ party. One guy was dating one of the girls, and he brought along a friend named “Al.”

The sun broke over the horizon on August 12, 1992, and Blaser expected to see her daughter soon. Instead of her sassy little girl bounding through the front door, Blaser received a strange voicemail. It almost sounded pre-recorded. The female voice was unfamiliar to the worried mother.

“Tracy is on her way home to change her clothes”

This strange message was sent twice, but Tracy never showed up. Blaser went to the friend’s house searching for her daughter and found Tracy’s shoes in the closet, but didn’t find her little girl. “Al” was nowhere to be found, but witnesses claim he was the one who gave Terry a ride home to get new clothes.

Police discover “Al” is an ex-con named Lowell Andrew Billy. He drove a black van with Oklahoma license plates. The van had louvers down the side windows and boasted two sunroofs. Witnesses say they saw a gun inside. It took police a week to track him down, but by then “Al” had left the state by then. He claimed to have dropped the teenager off in front of a pawnshop in downtown Joplin on the morning of August 12th.

Neighbors claimed to have seen a young girl running down the alleyway screaming “leave me alone,” on the next morning. There was a possible sighting of the van near Carthage, MO. Witnesses say they saw “Al” cleaning out the van around noon, but authorities were unable to verify this sighting.

A year later, “Al” was arrested in Oklahoma for kidnapping and forcible rape of an Oklahoma woman. Police claim Lowell “Al” Billy is the prime suspect in the disappearance of Tracy Pickett, but there isn’t enough evidence to arrest him. “Al” spent time in jail for his crimes in Oklahoma but was released after a few years. He was re-arrested a short time later for failing to file as a sex offender and was incarcerated.

In 2005, police attempted to drain a mining pit in the local area without results. In July 2018, the Joplin police department began searching local ponds following leads on the other ex-con that showed up that night. Ernest “Michael” Hensley was dating one of the girls and was friends with “Al.” Police are looking into the now-deceased Hensley in hopes of finding evidence as to what happened to Tracy Pickett.

If you have any information in this case, please contact the Joplin Police Department (417) 623-3131

Further Reading:

Joplin Globe

The Charley Project

Joplin PD 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.

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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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Shot in Savannah – The Brandon Tyree McCullough Cold Case

brandon tyree mccullough

He stepped outside of his apartment to smoke his last cigarette. No, he wasn’t quitting the habit. He would be shot and killed with the lit cigarette still hanging from his mouth. Who would kill the beloved Brandon Tyree McCullough? Why was he beaten up the week before his death? Who was the man seen fleeing the scene? Most importantly, why has this case gone unsolved for nine long years?


Brandon T. McCullough was the eldest son of Audry McCullough, and like all mothers, she had high hopes and dreams for his future. Unfortunately, those dreams would be destroyed when she got the news that her son had been shot in the head outside his apartment building.

On December 27, 2009, Tyree, as he was lovingly called, stepped outside of his apartment to smoke a cigarette never knowing that it would be his last. A lone gunman walked up to the man and shot him point blank in the head with a .38 caliber weapon. The police report stated there were powder burns on Tyree’s hat. Tyree slumped against the wall and witnesses reported seeing a tall, slender black male with dreadlocks fleeing the scene. Witnesses also describe seeing a two-toned Ford F150 pickup with the driver matching the previous description.

Tyree was taken to a nearby hospital but died a few hours later. During the investigation, another witness claimed she had witnessed a Gray Gallant with four black males before the shooting. She found it odd because as soon as she stepped out into the breezeway, the car hurried away. This witness also reported an incident that happened a week before the death of Tyree. She saw a tall black man running from the breezeway just moments before Tyree stumbled down the stares with a torn shirt and a shoulder injury.

Could this man be the shooter? Who were the four men in the gray Gallant and why did only one of them return?

If you have any information, in this case,, please contact the Crime Stoppers Tip Line (912) 234-2020


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.


Don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter and recieve her popular e-book, Grim Justice for 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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Snatched: The FBI’s Top Ten Art Crimes and more (Synova’s Case Files)

 

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Missing Ballerina – The Jennifer Casper-Ross Disappearance

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Jennifer Casper-Ross had achieved every little girl’s dream of becoming a professional ballerina. At the age of 19, she was the youngest to ever audition for the Greg Thompson Productions. Eleven years later she would disappear completely without a trace. What happened to this beautiful dancer?


Jennifer went from ballet to working as a showgirl. She was featured on show posters, billboards, and commercials.

While working at Harrah’s she met and fell in love with a crewman named Sean Ross. They married and had one son.  Sadly, her career was cut short by an injury, and she began giving ballet lessons. Life was good until then, but she continued pressing forward battling her demons and trying to make a good life for her son. The showgirl glitz was pretty from the outside, but Jennifer was struggling with mental health issues and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Her marriage was beginning to crumble as well.

Like many women, Jennifer suffered post-partum depression, and it spiraled down from there. That’s when her drug and alcohol use began, according to her husband. No one knows what happened between husband and wife, but the fighting came to a breaking point in the early morning hours of May 5, 2005, and Jennifer walked out.

Jennifer was seen at the Peppermill Hotel & Casino having a drink with a friend and some witnesses recall marks on her wrists and arms. Were they from abuse or were they self-inflicted? No one knows for sure.

Around 5 a.m. she used her friend’s cell phone to call her father in Las Vegas. She told him she wanted to come to visit, then she took a cab to a local taxi business on Gentry. There she hoped to see her mother who usually worked the graveyard shift. Unfortunately, her mother was off. Witnesses say she was seen climbing a fence and walking off. No one has seen her since.

The husband called in a missing persons’ report the next day. Reports say the investigators found two blood-stained notes. After testing, they confirm that they were written by the missing woman and it is her blood. Were they written under duress? Was the medication and alcohol mix causing her to lose control? Maybe, but there’s more.

On the opposite side of this dark spectrum is the young woman with a 3.9 GPA at the University of Nevada. In 2001, she had been inducted into the Dean’s List. She had majored in veterinary medicine but switched to bio-medical engineering and was awarded the NASA national space grant college and fellowship program in 2000. She was smart, passionate and independent. Was her world really crashing down, or was it brought down?

Strange tidbit:

Three months after his wife’s disappearance, Ross divorces his missing wife and files for sole custody of their son. Who does that? Did he really think she was out there somewhere refusing to come home, or did he know more?

If you have any information about this case please contact the

Reno Police Department at (775) 334-2155


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

More Info:

The Charley Project

Facebook Page

Synova Ink’s Youtube video 

NBC News


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.


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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

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Without a Trace

John Lee Hamilton

This week’s blog post is a guest post from fellow blogger Shurlock Holmes. More of his work can be found on the Crimeblogger1983.blogspot.com website.
By the “Consulting Detective” for the Hamilton Family:
Before I start with the entry, I want to thank Johnathan’s mom Angie for talking with me regarding her son’s case. I want to say ahead of time that I personally do not agree with many of her theories regarding her son’s disappearance. And that is ok. We both can agree to disagree. One thing I’d like to make clear is that even if we don’t agree I understand she is a mother who is in pain searching for her son. Law Enforcement should be more sympathetic to her plight. The persons named in this entry are not guilty of anything. I am simply naming the people involved to the best of my knowledge. I did try and contact Justin Edward Earls in advance. But was unable to get a hold of him. Also, I want to thank Marissa from The Vanished for making this entry a little easier. I’ll probably continue with updates to this entry whenever I have new information. So keep checking this entry if you are interested in this case.
In a recent development, Bastrop PD is checking for any connection between Jonathan’s disappearance and Centerville Texas which is located in Leon County and along Interstate 45.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Bastrop Police Department at (512) 332-8600 or (512) 332-8603

NOTE: The entire timeline of this case is open to interpretation. It’s like a puzzle. We know he left his home in Houston on the 2nd, and his car was found on the 4th in Bastrop. Bastrop Police make contact with him on the 4th. The rest is open to interpretation. I urge the readers to listen to the 2nd part of the Vanished episode. Marissa did a great job obtaining info regarding this case.

Bastrop Police Department Case Number: 2015-0560
NAMUS Case Number: 33350
Doe Network Case Number: 5173DMTX
Charley Project
The Vanished Ep-Part 1
The Vanished Ep-Part 2

JOHNATHAN LEE HAMILTON

DATE OF BIRTH: 5/28/1988
HEIGHT & WEIGHT: 6’2 210 LBS
EYE AND HAIR COLOR: BROWN
LAST SEEN: 5/4/2015 Best Buy Parking lot in BASTROP, TEXAS
WEARING: LSW denim shorts, T-Shirt “EZEKIAL” written on the front, tennis shoes (BROWN SUEDE, COLEMAN LIKE-BRAND SIZE 12.5 TO 13)
MEDICAL CONDITIONS: TYPE 1 DIABETIC, suffered from BIPOLAR DISORDER. Recently hospitalized before disappearance INSULIN DEPENDANT.
PARENTS: ANGIE SIMS-HAMILTON & MICHAEL WAYNE HAMILTON
DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: After an accident in 2012, Johnathan has a scar on his right eye after facial reconstruction surgery. He also has a plate and screws in his hip.
HABITS: was known to drink alcohol, smoke Marlboro American Spirits

  • Jonathan lived with his parents in Houston, TX
  • was disabled on a fixed income
  • Completed his welding classes a few days before his disappearance
  • On the 27th & 28th of April, he was rushed by ambulance to two different hospitals suffering from complications of Diabetes. (EVENTUALLY DISCHARGED)
  • May 2, 2015: He left his home driving his father’s vehicle (2008 GMC ENVOY) His parents haven’t seen him since.
  • 2 days later the 2008 GMC Envoy was found in Bastrop. It was parked in a handicapped parking spot. (PARKING WAS DESCRIBED AS HAPHAZARDLY)
Bastrop is approximately a 2-hour drive from Houston

The white spot is where the car was parked. Second spot second row. However, it could have been the 1st spot of the second row as well. Either way, it was one of those two parking spaces.

  • The Bastrop PD was alerted to the car as well as a man who was “acting strangely” in the Best Buy parking lot
  • Officer Jason Pierson and Officer James Altgelt made contact with Johnathan. (THERE IS AN ISSUE ON HOW THEY VERIFIED HIS IDENTITY. ONE OF THE OFFICERS STATES HE DID SO VIA DRIVER’S LICENSE. WHICH COULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED. HE LEFT IT AT HOME. I BELIEVE THE OFFICER LIKELY FORGOT AND ASSUMED THAT HE VERIFIED WITH THE DL SINCE THAT IS PROB WHAT HE DOES THE MAJORITY OF THE TIME.)
  • The officers discovered the Missing Persons’ report filed by his parents and notified them by phone. The Hamiltons made the 2-hr drive to the Bastrop Police Dept.
  • While on the drive, Johnathan called his dad stating that he didn’t need to be picked up. He was going to leave the keys in the car which was out of gas.
  • The call was made from a cell phone from a good Samaritan. The good Samaritan’s name is JUSTIN EDWARD EARLS.
  • He apparently also called his ex-girlfriend. He told her that he had been robbed. Justin denies the robbery ever happened or was even mentioned.
  • Angie asked the Bastrop P.D. to detain Johnathan until they arrived, but they told him they couldn’t since he hadn’t broken any laws.
  • The Hamiltons even called a family member that lived nearby to ask him to pick up Johnathan since the police couldn’t hold him.
  • When the Hamiltons arrived they found the car parked where it was reported. One of the windows was rolled down and the car was ransacked. Papers from the glove box were scattered all over the floor. A bottle of perfume had been dumped in the passenger seat and the keys were missing. Johnathan’s insulin was in the car, but his meter was not.
  • THEY THEN PROCEEDED TO LEAVE TO GET GAS AND GET SOMETHING TO EAT. WHEREUPON THEY MEET JOHNATHAN’S DAD’S COUSIN. A KENNETH ERIC HAMILTON. ACCORDING TO THE ANGIE AND HER HUSBAND. KENNETH ADVISED THEM TO SEARCH THE WOODS TO FIND JOHNATHAN. AND IF HE WAS HIS KID HE WOULD “TAKE HIM INTO THE WOODS, TIE HIM TO A TREE, AND BEAT HIM.” (YEAH WOW, BUT PUT THAT IN CONTEXT OF HIM SAYING THAT IN REGARDS TO JOHNATHAN TAKING THE CAR FOR 2 DAYS AND SHOWING UP IN BASTROP AND NOT LEAVING THE KEYS TO THE CAR. THIS IS BEFORE HE HAD BEEN MISSING FOR A PROLONGED PERIOD.)
  • Kenneth E. Hamilton apparently took a call from the Bastrop P.D. on the 4th.
  • Kenneth Eric Hamilton (the family member that lived nearby) said he never made contact with Johnathan.
  • Later, he told the family that Johnathan wanted to purchase a new car for his dad and wanted Kenneth to take him to the dealership. (HE DIDNT HAVE THE MONEY FOR GAS LET ALONE A NEW VEHICLE) Besides this, the dealership was only across the street from Best Buy. Why would he need a ride?
  • There was a theft reported around the time of Johnathan’s visit. Nothing of value was taken, but some of these items were later found in the car Johnathan abandoned
COVERT CHEVROLET DEALERSHIP
  • The Hamiltons have had no contact with the cousin since 2015
  • Later that day the Hamiltons made contact with a few officers from Bastrop P.D. According to the Hamiltons, they felt intimidated by the officers. The officer began running checks on the Hamiltons and searched both cars. ONE OFFICER STATED “IF I WASN’T ON DUTY. I’D TELL YOU A STORY.” (?)
  • apparently sometime that day a police officer gave Johnathan a courtesy ride to Walmart to get money.

One of the routes he could’ve taken to get to the address. I know this is showing the driving route. Google’s walking route is the same, it just takes more time. (36 minutes)

  • Johnathan appeared at a residence located at 313 FARM TO MARKET 969 at around 11 pm.
  • He came upon the residents of the house and told them he came out of the Colorado River while canoeing but lost the oars. (SOME OF THE WITNESSES SAID HE WAS WET. OTHERS STATE HE WAS DRY. EVERYONE AGREES THAT JOHNATHAN WAS NOT IN HIS RIGHT STATE OF MIND)

313 FARM TO MARKET 969 AERIAL VIEW

  • After making contact with the residents he left the area with Justin Edward Earls who according to him to Walmart where he purchased a gift card, a bushel of bananas, and coffee. (IN ANOTHER VARIATION OF THE STORY HE BOUGHT HIM A BUSHEL OF BANANAS, A $25 GIFT CARD, AND A PACK OF WINSTON CIGARETTES. NOTE THAT THIS ISN’T THE BRAND HE USUALLY SMOKED.)
  • After that, Justin took him to Taco Bell where he ordered plain chicken tacos. Then after he had eaten he started acting normal again.
  • Justin and Johnathan then parted way and agreed to meet back up at a Taco Cabana. While at the taco place he called his grandma and told her he was sick and ended the call by throwing up.
  • In one variation of the story, Justin drops him back off at the Best Buy parking lot. The other has them parting ways at the Taco Cabana and agreeing to meet back up there.
  • Justin claims when he showed back up he couldn’t find Johnathan. Justin claimed he slept in his car all night hoping Johnathan would return, but he never saw Johnathan again.