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.

59ef85123b896.image

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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Unorganized Crime: Journey to Redemption

Snatched: The FBI’s Top Ten Art Crimes and more (Synova’s Case Files)


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.


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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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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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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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brandon tyree mccullough

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.

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.


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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

jayme.png

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.

Vietnam War Hero Killed – Where’s the Justice?

jack l robinsonJack was one of the lucky ones to survive Vietnam. He retired from the Air Force as Technical Sergeant and went on to work at the Moncrief Army Health Clinic. At 65, Jack Robinson lived a tranquil life spending his retirement volunteering. It was what most Vietnam Vets wanted. Peace. Why then was this war hero murdered near an obscure boat ramp on the edge of the Congaree River? Twenty-two years later his daughter is still asking this same question.

Jack L. Robinson was born on July 24, 1931. Jack spent 25 years in the U.S. Air Force, and upon his retirement, he went to work at the local army clinic. Jack would eventually retire from the clinic as well. He had one daughter from a former marriage named Tammy. By 1996, Jack was newly retired and spent his time volunteering with his local democratic party, and at the local homeless shelter.

Three weeks after his 65th birthday on August 17, 1996, Jack Robinson drove ten miles to the Rosewood Boat Landing. This obscure boat ramp was nothing more than a concrete slab jutting down into the Congaree River. Even most locals didn’t know of its existence. A wooded area surrounded it, and there was a rock quarry nearby. There was a gravel parking lot of sorts and here is where three witnesses were parked waiting for a nearby concert to begin.

Rosewood boat ramp pic 2

This wooded area is where Jack Robinson headed on his last day. He parked his car and witnesses said that he spoke to a Hispanic man. The two men walked off into the woods together. A moment later they heard a loud argument. They heard Jack say, “I can get you money,” and, “What do you want from me?”

Rosewood boat ramp pic 1

A moment later Jack stumbled from the woods clutching his stomach. He had been stabbed in the stomach three times and was bleeding profusely. An ambulance arrived and took him to the hospital, but he would pass away a short time later.The three witnesses gave their statements to the police, and together they came up with a composite drawing of the murderer.

According to the eyewitnesses, the man was a short, Hispanic male only about 5’5” tall. He wore aviator sunglasses, had olive colored skin, had a mustache, and was between the ages of 25-35. By all accounts, he was a small man weighing around 150-180lbs.

jack l robinson - suspect sketchDespite three reliable witnesses, the police are at a loss trying to find suspects. A year later a suspect is handed to them on a silver platter. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the right one and years would be spent trying to chase leads that didn’t exist.November 1997, Max Knoten sexually assaulted and killed a family friend named Kimberly Brown, 30. Kimberly’s sister was having problems and so Kim was caring for her niece indefinitely. Knoten put Kim’s body in the trunk of the car then took her three-year-old niece, Layla with him to “look for your aunt.” Investigators would find the bodies of the two along the Congaree River.Knoten was arrested relatively quickly after his alibi fell apart and he admitted to seeing the victim the night she went missing. He also immediately became a suspect in the Jack L. Robinson murder case. Admittedly there are a few coincidences, but there is very little in the way of evidence to link the two cases.

Links between crimes:

  • Knoten dropped the bodies off in the Congaree River.
  • Kimberly Brown had worked at the same army health clinic as Jack Robinson
  • The scent dogs led investigators from the spot of Jack’s murder to a nearby business. Knoten happened to work there.

Discrepancies between crimes:

  • Knoten is not Hispanic. He is a lighter-skinned African American
  • Knoten wasn’t 25-30 at the time of Jack’s death. He would have been 19.
  • He didn’t have a mustache at the time of Jack’s murder.
  • He is 6’ 1” and has a large build
  • Although his victim may have known Jack Robinson, there is no evidence to tie Knoten to Jack.

Despite these discrepancies, the authorities ran with this lead for years and even let Jack’s daughter, Tammy think that if Knoten ever got out of prison, they would put him on trial for her father’s death. Tammy believed this and went on with her life the best that she could. Years would pass, and in the mid-2000’s she was internet surfing trying to find some relatives when she came across her father’s case. Instead of showing it as solved, it was plastered all over the cold case page. His case was classed as “victim killed by the unknown suspect, no motives determined.”Tammy was in shock. She felt as if she was transported by to 1996 and was starting all over. After researching further, she found the charges against Max Knoten had been dropped three years after his arrest. Cold case investigators now think the man was in this country illegally and think that’s why they are struggling to find him.A little information on the area in 1996:Up the road from where Jack was killed was a large open-air vegetable market. These markets tended to employ a lot of illegal aliens, and the owners would house and shelter them. This was a well-known fact, but it also clouds the investigation drastically. I contend, if the murderer was an illegal alien and was being sheltered by locals, then someone knows this man. Although investigations have been ongoing, no one has been to the market to spread flyers or interview the market owners.Jack was also a volunteer at the local homeless shelter. Could the man have been from the homeless shelter? No one will ever know. It seems while the investigators were distracted with Knoten that no one ever visited this shelter to inquire about Hispanic males staying there. A lot of these shelters don’t keep excellent records, and most wouldn’t have those records 22 years later.

Another possible wild goose chase?It would seem that once the investigators stopped focusing on Max Knoten on this case they turned their focus to the gay community. While the daughter is out doing interviews and trying to get media attention, the police are saying that her father was killed by a jilted lover. No one can verify this, but that’s the theory the investigators seem to be stuck on now.My thought is whether the man was gay or not the investigators need to question the nearby business that hired illegal Hispanic males. That’s the first obvious step. Then question those that worked at the homeless shelter. Whatever this man’s sexual preference every avenue needs to be checked out.

What can be done now?It’s a well-known fact that most cold cases are solved one of two ways. New advances in DNA testing will sometimes lead to the perpetrator. Unfortunately, DNA testing, in this case, has brought no answers. The other way to solve a cold case is to have new witnesses come forward. That is our best hope with this case. People don’t come forward for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they are afraid. Sometimes they don’t realize the information they have is valuable. In reality, they may hold the one tiny piece that fits the entire puzzle together. Somebody knows this man. Please come forward.

Jack L. Robinson was willing to sacrifice his life in Vietnam for your freedoms. Don’t let this man’s death go unsolved. Where is the justice for this hero?

jack l robinson - military pic 2

If you have any information, please contact the Richland County Sherriff’s Department(803) 576-3000 or 1-888-CRIME-SC

More information on this case:http://www.blogtalkradio.com/unresolved/2018/01/21/jack-robinsonhttps://www.fugitive.com/2015/09/25/jackson-robinson-murdered-on-south-carolina-boat-ramp-in-1996-sheriffs-detectives-release-suspect-sketch-on-this-cold-case/http://news.midlandscrimestoppers.com/2015/03/cold-case-jack-robinson.html


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