Suicide or Dixie Mafia Hit? – Death of Norman Ladner

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Photo courtesy of Unsolved Mysteries 

A seventeen-year-old boy spends his days exploring his family’s 122-acre property. Even at a tender age, Norman Ladner was an experienced outdoorsman. He loved hunting, fishing, and exploring the nature around him. Why then was he shot in the head and left in the woods to die? Did he witness one of the Dixie Mafia’s narcotics planes? Was the radio device found hanging in a nearby tree used to signal a drop? Thirty years later, these questions are still unanswered.


On August 21, 1989, Norman Ladner spent the day exploring his family land like he had done almost every day. Ladner was the oldest child and was very responsible. Everyone that remembers him tells of his dependability and his kindness. The Ladner family also owned the local country store. When Norman finished his day of exploring the outdoors, he would usually show up at the store to help his parents close up shop and prepare for the next day. You could set your watch by him. Norman always strolled in around 7 pm. On occasion, he would be closer to 7:30, but never later. On this night, his father began to worry when his son never showed up at the store. Norman Ladner Sr. hurried home to see if his son was in his woodworking shop in the barn. The teenager was nowhere to be found.

Worried, but not frightened, the father gathered a few friends and together they formed a search party. Everyone thought the boy had gotten lost, or maybe injured. No one expected what they would find in those woods on that fateful night. Sr. stumbled upon his son laying beneath a tree. When he reached down and touched his boy, the chill of death shot through him. The distraught father sat with his son in the dark woods until his search party to could return to the house to call the police. 

Pearl County Sheriff Lorance Lumpkin arrived on the scene around 10 pm. There he found Norman laying on his back with his legs curled up underneath him. He was rolled partially to the side a gunshot wound in his temple. From the outset, the authorities began speculating the death was a horrible accident. Perhaps the teenager had jumped down from the tree and fell. Maybe the impact caused his rifle to go off.

A few days later, the coroner came into the family store with two deputies to speak to the family about his results. He told the family that he was 90% sure it was a terrible accident. Strangely, when the official ruling came out a few days later, it was classed as suicide. The family was shocked. They couldn’t believe it. Nothing about it made sense. Norman was a happy child. If it were suicide, why did he have a large gash on the top of his head?

The family went to the sheriff and tried to speak about the case, but the sheriff flat out said they were wrong. It was a suicide, and they were just grieving parents who refused to see the truth. 

Evidence Against The Suicide Theory:

  • Why did the boy have a gash on TOP of his head, and how does that relate to suicide? I wasn’t doing a handstand while trying to hold a rifle and shoot himself in the temple.
  • I was unable to verify this, but it was once reported that the head wound had live maggots while the temple wound held larva. This would lead one to believe that the head wound came first, and the temple wound was secondary.
  • The police never processed the scene as a crime scene. They didn’t find a bullet. The father would find one on his own later.
  • Norman’s gun was never tested or fingerprinted. 
  • No one determined what type of weapon that killed him. They never checked because they believed it was his own gun from the beginning. 
  • Norman’s wallet with $140 was missing. I’m sure he just stole his own money, threw away his wallet, and marched into the woods to shoot himself, right? I don’t think so!

 

The family repeatedly tried to get the sheriff to reopen the case, but he flat out refused. The father, desperate for answers went out into the woods to begin his own investigation. There in the dirt under where his son’s head would have been, they found a bullet with human blood and hair. It seemed to the father that his son was slumped on the ground rolled to the side and someone standing above him shot the boy through the temple. The bullet then traveled through the hair and skull and buried into the dirt. It makes sense. If the boy had somehow pulled the trigger on his own rifle, then the gun would have flown through the air and landed at another location.

I should also mention that in some reports the boy was carrying a shotgun and other stories call it a rifle, so I cannot say what type of gun the boy had. I can tell you that it was most likely a shotgun. Either way, it isn’t easy to shoot oneself in the temple with a shotgun or a rifle. 

Still desperate for answers, the poor father took the bullet to the sheriff and was immediately dismissed. The police claimed that since they didn’t find the bullet, then they couldn’t prove it was the one who killed Norman. The father argued that they didn’t look for a bullet, but it was no use. Since he was getting nowhere with the local sheriff, Norman Sr. took the bullet to the state ballistics lab. He explained how the bullet was too long to fit in his son’s gun and asked the examiner to look over the bullet. The results came back inconclusive siting the same lines as the sheriff almost verbatim. To make matters worse, when the bullet was returned to the family, it was a different one than the bullet they had sent in.

During their frequent trips to the coroner’s office, Norman’s mother was approached by a stranger. He asked if he could discuss her son’s case with her, so of course, the mother agreed to step away and speak with him. When the pair were out of earshot of her husband, the stranger turned and uttered a chilling threat to the poor mother. He told her that she had other children and she should just drop this investigation and raise them because they’d never find Norman’s killer. Frightened, she hurried back to Norman Sr. and told him about the threat. The man was gone before anyone could find him. 

Determined to find the truth, the now somewhat paranoid father makes another trip into the woods to find clues. Three hundred yards from his son’s position, he saw a strange object hanging in a tree. It was a homemade radio device of sorts covered in tape and wires with a small antenna protruding from the top. Of course, the father took it to the sheriff and was dismissed. Norman then turned to a neighbor and told him about the device. The neighbor put him in contact with a retired DEA agent who lived in the area. 

The DEA agent knew what the strange object was immediately and explained these devices transmit signals. The narcotics plans would fly over an area, and when the signal was picked up on their devices, then they would drop their load of drugs. Was this the answer the family had been looking for? Did their poor boy run up on a drug trafficker and a narcotics drop?

To make matters worse, the sheriff would later be charged with dogfighting and other illegal activities. Although some believe he had ties to the local group of Dixie Mafia drug cartel, nothing has been proven. Norman Ladner, Sr. died in 2003, and the sheriff died in 2007. Thirty years have passed, and most of the witnesses are long gone. What evidence the family found is no longer available. Still, questions remain. What happened to Norman Ladner? Was it suicide or murder?


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS. SYNOVA STRIVES TO CITE ALL THE SOURCES USED DURING HER CASE STUDY, BUT OCCASIONALLY A SOURCE MAY BE MISSED BY MISTAKE. IT IS NOT INTENTIONAL, AND NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS INTENDED.

Further Reading:

Unsolved

Only In Your State

Who killed Norman Ladner? from UnresolvedMysteries

Trace Evidence Podcast Video 

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This week’s Recommended Reading:


The Boys on the Tracks


The Life and Times of Frank Balistrieri: The Last, Most Powerful Godfather of Milwaukee


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ALL INFORMATION USED TO CREATE THIS CONTENT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD AND CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE OR CAN BE VERIFIED BY THE GUEST BLOGGER. ANY PARTICIPATION OR ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF ANY PARTY MENTIONED WITHIN THIS SITE IS PURELY SPECULATION. AS THE LAW STATES, AN INDIVIDUAL IS INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. I DO NOT OWN THE PHOTOS USED IN THIS POST. ALL PHOTOS ARE USED UNDER THE FAIR USE ACT. NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. ANY AND ALL OPINIONS ARE THAT OF THE GUEST BLOGGER AND DON’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SYNOVA INK©2017-2019. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Tammy’s Terrible Trek – The Tammy Zywicki Case

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Photo courtesy of Murders, Missing People, and more Mysteries Facebook Group

Guest Post By Ian Granstra:

The July 2018 disappearance of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts made national headlines. When the University of Iowa student’s remains were discovered shortly over a month later, people across Iowa and America were devastated. It is still hard to fathom how an All-American girl in the prime of her life was killed by a man she had never met. Sadly, Mollie’s was not the first horrific murder involving an Iowa coed.

On September 1, 1992, 21-year-year Grinnell College student Tammy Zywicki met a similar fate. Nine days after she was last seen, her remains were found in southwest Missouri. Both girls attended colleges in Iowa, and they were petite, attractive women in their early twenties. Each victim was stabbed, and neither knew her assailant. There is one significant difference between the brutal deaths of these two young women. A suspect has been arrested and is awaiting trial in the murder of Mollie Tibbetts. After 27 years, no one has been charged with the slaying of Tammy Zywicki.

 Zywicki hailed from New Jersey but was attending college in Grinnel, Iowa. Her brother Darren was a student at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. On Sunday, August 23, 1992, Tammy drove her brother to his dorm room. She departed Evanston that afternoon en route to Grinnell where her classes for the 1992-93 school year began the following day. The distance between the two schools is just under 300 miles, and Tammy planned to arrive in Grinnell that evening. 

 In the late afternoon of August 23, an Illinois state trooper found a 1985 Pontiac T1000 abandoned at the side of Interstate 80 near LaSalle, Illinois, approximately 100 miles southwest of Evanston. He assumed the car had mechanical difficulties and that the occupant had pulled to the side of the road to fix them. The following day, after finding the car still sitting beside the highway, the Illinois State Police towed the vehicle. The car with New Jersey license plates turned out to be Tammy Zywicki’s.

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Photo courtesy of Murders, Missing People, and more Mysteries Facebook Group

The Illinois police soon received a call from a concerned woman in Marlton, New Jersey. JoAnn Zywicki told them her daughter had not arrived in Grinnell as planned. A sinister scenario was unfolding. An attractive college girl was missing, and her car abandoned along the side of a busy highway. Authorities feared the worst. Nine days later, those fears were confirmed.

 On September 1, Tammy’s body was found in a ditch off Interstate 44 just east of Sarcoxie in Lawrence County, Missouri, 22 miles east of Joplin. She was bound in duct tape and wrapped in a red blanket. An autopsy determined Tammy was sexually assaulted and stabbed eight times. The location of Tammy’s remains was approximately 500 miles from where the car was discovered.

 Several motorists traveling along Interstate 80 on August 23 came forward saying they saw Tammy standing near her car at mile marker 83 near LaSalle in north-central Illinois. These sightings were all believed to have been between 3:10 and 4 p.m. The witnesses also recalled seeing a white tractor-trailer parked near Tammy’s car. It was described as five-axle with rust-colored diagonal stripes on the trailer and cab. A logo was juxtaposed over the lines, but no one could recall from which company.

One witness recalled seeing Tammy standing beside her car on the shoulder of the Interstate. The car’s hood was open, and an agitated Tammy appeared to be struggling to fix the problem. A man was standing near the vehicle, watching as Tammy played mechanic. He was described as 35-40 years old, white, and at least six feet tall with dark, bushy hair. 

A September 1992 Des Moines Register article stated the witness who reported seeing the man was a male trucker, but later reports say the witness was a female nurse. The nurse also reported that a woman came for a blood test to the medical facility where the nurse worked that same day of August 23. The patient said her husband was a trucker and that he had recently given her a musical watch. The description matched that of a watch Tammy possessed when she left Evanston and which has not been found. 

 The long-haul truck driver and possible serial killer Bruce Mendenhall is a person of interest in Tammy’s murder. 

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Photo courtesy of Murders, Missing People, and more Mysteries Facebook Group

In 2007, Mendenhall was arrested for the murder of 25-year-old Sara Hulbert in Tennessee. Subsequently, his truck was examined, and the blood of several murdered or missing women was found in it. None of the blood, however, was determined to be Tammy’s. 

Mendenhall was convicted of Sara Hulbert‘s murder In 2010. He has also been charged with the murders of three other women at truck stops in Indiana, Tennessee, and Alabama. He is also a suspect in the murders of women in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, and his native Illinois. Mendenhall is currently imprisoned in Tennessee. 

One source I found says Mendenhall has been ruled out as a suspect in Tammy’s murder because it was proven he was not in the midwest at the time. Other sources, however, say he has not been officially cleared.

 The name  that is mentioned most frequently as the possible killer of Tammy Zywicki is that of another long-haul trucker, Lonnie Bierbrodt. He had been sentenced to three concurrent twenty-year terms in prison for two armed robberies and attempted murder but was somehow paroled in 1990. 

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Photo courtesy of Murders, Missing People, and more Mysteries Facebook Group

In addition to his violent past, many investigators consider Bierbrodt the prime suspect in Tammy’s murder because he had been visiting family who lived only a few minutes from where Tammy was last seen in Illinois, and he lived near where Tammy’s body was discovered in Missouri. Also, the red blanket covering Tammy’s body bore a Kenworth logo; Bierbrodt drove a Kenworth truck which he had steam-cleaned and sold shortly after Tammy’s murder. 

Articles state authorities identified Beribrodt as the man seen with Tammy, that he was questioned, and that he provided blood and hair samples. Bierbrodt died in 2002 at age 41. Several newspaper articles state that the nurse at the medical facility identified the man she saw as Bierbordt, and that police determined he was the man seen with Tammy along the side of the Interstate. 

Robert Kotlarek is a member of our group and also operates the Facebook group, “Who Killed Tammy Zywicki.” He clarifies this point below. This information was told to him by Martin McCarthy, the now-retired lead detective in investigating Tammy’s murder, and Tammy’s mother, JoAnn: 

“The bushy-haired, semi-truck driver has gotten conflated with Bierbrodt over the years. Like the old “telephone” game children play (or once played), the information has gotten distorted. The nurse witness reported seeing a green pick-up truck and a man with “short brown hair” that was possibly “thinning on top.” She later (December of 1992) thought that Lonnie was the man she saw on the side of the road. Bierbrodt’s wife Carrie did own a blue pick-up that was sold after Tammy was murdered. The nurse witness never mentioned a semi-truck in her initial interview with police, and as far as we can tell Bierbrodt was not driving a semi in Illinois on August 23, 1992. So basically, the “bushy-haired” truck driver and the nurse witness’ description of the man that matched Lonnie Bierbrodt are from (at least) two separate accounts.” 

Join Robert’s group, “Who Killed Tammy Zywicki.” https://www.facebook.com/groups/71031476920/?hc_location=ufi

 

The FBI still features Tammy’s case on its website and continues to offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to the identity of her killer. Also, a separate $100,000 reward is being provided by an anonymous person or group from Tammy’s hometown of Marlton, New Jersey. The FBI has DNA evidence obtained from Tammy’s body, which they believe will lead to the killer’s identity. 

If you have any information about the murder of Tammy Zywicki, please contact the Illinois State Police at (815) 726-6377 or the Chicago FBI Field Division Office at (312) 421-6700.


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

Further Reading:

IowaColdCase

Chicago Tribune

Reddit


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra

Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.
Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries”  in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current crime cases in the news.
When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beaglelover.”)

 


This week’s Recommended Reading:


The Face of Evil: The True Story of the Serial Killer, Robert Black


The Happy Face Murderer: The Life of Serial Killer Keith Hunter Jesperson


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


If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.

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Battered, Bruised, and Betrayed: The Terry Brooks Rewis Story

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Photo courtesy of the Is There No Justice For Terry Brooks “Bubba” Rewis Facebook Page

He went to a street festival in Midville, GA, with a group of friends. Some say he walked home after a fight broke out, and others say he was riding the back of a truck with a few other people. Either way, he ended up dead on the highway. What happened to this young man? Was this a fatal hit and run accident, or a vicious murder? Seventeen years later, the files are missing, and no one is sure what happened to Rewis.


Terry Brooks “Bubba” Rewis, 23 was a jokester and enjoyed spending time with his family. He had a rough childhood and found himself jumping from one foster home to another. His sister remembers he tried to make everyone laugh despite the difficult circumstances. By 2002, Rewis was living in Nunez, Georgia and was trying to get his life back together after a few run-ins with the law.
April 21, 2002, was the annual Ogeechee River Redbreast Festival in Midville, a town twenty-five miles north of Nunez. Rewis attended the festival with a friend named James Kirby and a few others. At some point, a fight broke out, and the police were called in to break it up. At this point in the narrative, the reports begin to vary. Some people say, Terry Rewis was asked to leave, so he took off walking towards home. This might be feasible if he lived in town. To make it back to Nunez, Terry would have to walk 25.7 miles south along HWY 56 in the dark. If you race down this highway on Google Earth, you will see there isn’t one street light to be found until you get down to Swainsboro.
Another witness claims, Terry and a group of people piled into a pickup truck and headed south. Terry and a few others were riding in the back. This witness also claims a fight broke out while the vehicle sped down the highway towards Swainsboro. During the scuffle, Terry Rewis was thrown from the moving vehicle and subsequently ran over. This was the story that circulated around the small town of Nunez according to the woman.
Whatever the case, two hunters would find the mutilated remains of Terry Rewis the next morning. It appeared his body had been drug several yards down the highway at a high rate of speed.
Of course, the rumor mill kicked into high gear feeding information to the family and friends, but no physical evidence could be found to help them get justice for their beloved Terry. To make matters worse, it seemed as if the investigation wasn’t high on the priority list. A lot of times during investigations, the police are working quietly behind the scenes, and the family becomes frustrated because they don’t see any results. We may never know if this was the case because, in 2017, the new investigator informed the family that the original files on the case had been lost.
If this were the end of the story, I would tend to believe that this might just be a terrible accident, and the crime was abandoning the scene of a crash. Basically, the case seems to scream vehicular manslaughter, but some unusual things have come out in the 17-year fight for justice.
Four months later another young man was found dead beside the road only a few streets over from HWY 56. His name was James Felton Williams. He was only 19, and it isn’t clear if he had any ties to Terry Rewis. The location, the timing, and some of the accident details seem to parallel Terry’s case.
In 2016, NBC did a write up about Terry’s case, and in 2017, Terry’s sister hosted a “Keeping Memories Alive” event in Swainsboro. Shortly beforehand, James Kirby had spoken with Terry’s sister for over an hour. He didn’t offer any details about that fateful night, but repeatedly expressed his condolences and told her how much he cared for Terry. Several days after the event, Kirby was dead. Investigators are torn on the cause of death. Some say it was an overdose others say it was a brain aneurism. We may never know what happened on that night in 2002 between these two best friends. If you happen to have information on this case, please come forward. You can contact the Emanuel County Sherrif’s Department at (478) 237-7526.


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This week’s Recommended Reading:

Terry’s story is part of the award-winning Grief Diaries series featuring true stories about real-life experiences, Project Cold Case is a portable support group for people who have lost a loved one to an unsolved kidnapping or murder. Filled with answers to poignant questions, the stories invite readers into a world where they’re surrounded by warmth and compassion as they seek comfort and understanding in the aftermath of their own loss.


Grief Diaries: Project Cold Case

Grief Diaries: Project Cold Case


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS.

Further Reading:
NBC News
Podcast about Terry
Terry’s Facebook Pg
Youtube


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’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.

Synova’s Amazon Author Page


Synova’s Swag Store is now open check out her new merchandise by clicking on the Shop! link at the top of this page!

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Deadly Secrets: The Death of A Father

D4E5C044-3733-42CE-BF29-F9A2DD6C73D9 Photo courtesy of the Murdered In Mississippi Facebook Page

A gambling addiction got him mixed up in something too big to handle, but impossible to escape. He held his tongue after the ambush of Buford Pusser although his car may have been used without his knowledge. He kept their secrets despite them killing his crippled son, and he fought valiantly to keep his daughter safe. Now, it was time to pay the piper and Lt. Dan Anderson knew it. 


If you have been following my Mobster Monday posts, then you have heard the name Lt. Dan Anderson before. His story is interwoven throughout the entire series on the Dixie Mafia going all the way back to Buford Pusser up at the state line. By this point, it has been established that Anderson’s Cadillac was most likely the one used in the ambush of Buford Pusser and his wife on New Hope Rd. on August 12, 1967. Strangely, this car disappeared right after the death of Ronnie Anderson, Dan’s son.

For years, Phyllis, Dan’s daughter called the Gulfport police department begging them to look into her brother’s mysterious suicide case. They always refused to re-open the case and within minutes of her call to the police, Dan would call her and tell her to back off. This was the game for over thirty years until the fragile house of cards began to crumble one day in the fall of 2002. The sweet and sassy southern bell always visited her father over the holidays to celebrate his birthday. It was a tradition to go to the local waffle house and this year was no different. A chance encounter during this trip would bring down the house and culminate in the death of Dan Anderson.

During the meal, Phyllis noticed her father’s demeanor change drastically as he looked past her into the booth behind them.

“That Son of a $&%$%” he mumbled.

Startled, Phyllis started to turn and look but received a quiet rebuke from her father. A few minutes later the man strolled past the table glaring at Dan Anderson and his daughter. Dan waited a short while before speaking and then asked his daughter if she knew who the man was that just left the building? Of course, she had no idea.

“That’s the ol’ boy who killed Ronnie.”

Shocked, Phyllis sat watching her father as he visibly withdrew into a shell of a man. After 36 years her father had finally admitted what Phyllis had believed all along. She was shocked to find out that the killer was the roommate her brother had trusted and shared a house with. Dan Anderson had been constantly intimidated by the man for over three decades. What changed? Why would Dan finally drop such a bombshell? Was his son’s killer threatening to kill Phyllis too? We may never know.

After the holidays things began to escalate quickly. Late February or early March Dan’s attorney found a housekeeper to help around the house. He was always a tidy person who hated to have a cluttered space. A woman came to help out, but strangely never really cleaned anything. Aggravated by her, Dan called Phyllis and asked if she would come to throw out the housekeeper. Phyllis happened to have her leg in a cast all the way up to her hip but promised to come as soon as she could get it off. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be soon enough.

A few days later, Phyllis speaks with the housekeeper and tells her to ship out because she would be coming to Mississippi soon. Within days she would travel back to Gulfport, but not to throw out a housekeeper. She would be attending to her father’s final affairs.

April 18, 2003, around midnight Phyllis would receive the call that would tear her heart out. Dan Anderson was dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“Not again!” was all Phyllis could think.

The official story:

Dan Anderson, 80 had sent the housekeeper out to buy cigarettes because they were out. She found him when she returned dead at the end of the driveway. His pants were undone and he was in his sock feet. The subsequent autopsy was full of strange details and discrepancies and recently more information has come out leading us to wonder if the entire report was fabricated. We will wait until next week to dive into the conspiracy surrounding the death of Dan Anderson and why Phyllis believes her father was a victim of a gangland-style slaying. Stay tuned folks. This ride’s not over yet.


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THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. THE SOURCE LINKS ARE PLACED WITHIN THE BODY OF THE TEXT.

This week’s Recommended Documentary:


Moonshine and the Dixie Mafia

This week’s Recommended Reading:


Wrath of the Dixie Mafia


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


If you’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.

Synova’s Amazon Author Page


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Jersey Girl Vanishes Without A Trace – The Patricia Jane Wagner Story

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Photo courtesy of Facebook

She goes out for coffee with a long-time friend and never returns, and strangely, he doesn’t either. Investigators believe he met with foul play as well. What happened to Patricia Wagner and her unnamed friend?


Patricia Jane Wagner, 26 was last seen going out for coffee with a g named Dennis. Neither would return. Investigators believe they met with foul play, but very little information is available on this case. I have spoken with family members, browsed through hundreds of Jane Doe files, and scoured newspaper archives and I still came up with nothing. It’s as if this woman disappeared from the human record. If it weren’t for her family, this poor woman would have been long forgotten.

October 20, 1972, was the last time Patricia was seen leaving her home on Rutgers Avenue in Jersey City. The address of her destination is unknown. There are so many unanswered questions in this case, but we believe someone knows what happened to this beautiful young woman. Although I am not at liberty to release his last name, Dennis was never seen again either.

Patricia is 5′ 3″ tall, weighs approximately 120lbs, has brown hair, and has blue eyes. No one is sure about the clothes she was wearing at the time.

According to the NJSP website, New Jersey has 237 unidentified persons listed on their database, and after reading every one of them, I found two possibilities. The first one is less likely, but I will start with it.

On May 16, 1986, a skull was found only eight miles from Jersey City in North Bergen. The estimated death was 1985 or earlier, and the estimated birthdate is from 1937-1956. The NIC# is U212789648 and Case # J5241. Unfortunately, that’s all the information on that one. The date of death makes me unsure, but the location and the estimated birth year are close enough to warrant further investigation. Patricia’s birthdate was July 17, 1946, so it definitely falls within the same timeframe.

The second Jane Doe I found was a little more promising. She was found on May 17, 1974, in the river near the north tip of the Burlington Island. The island is a 300-acre spot of land in the Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The estimated height, death, and age all line up close to that of Patrica Wagner. In fact, they line up so well I sent an email to the investigator to check out Patty’s case. Patricia’s cousin is waiting on the DNA to come back, and then we’ll know for sure. Sadly, there’s no word on Dennis, and he doesn’t seem to have a NAMUS page. If he does, I couldn’t find it. His family has their own investigators on the case and asked that I not disclose his details. The police do not believe he was involved in the disappearance of Patricia.

What happened to this woman? Her sons were raised without their mother, and her parents went to their graves, not knowing what happened to Patty. One armchair sleuth commented on Facebook and mentioned the convicted killer, Robert Zarinski. He was a known killer in the area and could have up to ten murders to his name. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1975 for the murder of Rosemary Calandriello and was suspected in several other homicides. Could Patty have met this predator along the way? If so, where is Dennis? Did something else happen to them?

If you have any information on this case, please contact the New Jersey State Police at 609-882-2000.


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. THE SOURCE LINKS ARE PLACED WITHIN THE BODY OF THE TEXT.

This week’s Recommended Documentary:

Have You Seen Andy?

This week’s Recommended Reading:

On Chapel Sands: My mother and other missing persons


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’d like to check out Synova’s true crime books follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.

Synova’s Amazon Author Page


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Dixie Mafia Exposed – Justice for The Sherry Murders

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Photo courtesy of the Clarion-Ledger May 22, 1991

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo courtesy of the Enterprise-Journal Sept 23, 1997

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


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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SIGN UP HERE


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS.

Further Reading:

Sun Herald Article

WLOX

Caselaw

Djournal.com

newspapers.com


This week’s Recommended Documentary:

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Biloxi Confidential

This week’s Recommended Reading:


Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia


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


Screenshot 2019-08-15 at 9.11.14 AM

Groomed & Trafficked – The Ashley Higgins Disappearance

ashley_standish_higgins_1Photo courtesy of The Charley Project

It’s the oldest unsolved missing person case in Orange County California. Two girls take a bus from Costa Mesa to Vegas and only one returns. What happened to Ashley Higgins and who was this mysterious older boyfriend she was going to see? Was he the man Ashley’s mother seen in the paper, the man arrested for running a prostitution ring?


Ashley Standish Higgins, 19 had recently graduated from the Newport Harbor High School and gotten an apartment in Costa Mesa, California. She shared the place with an older African American male named Lee Pippin. His name will come up later in this strange tale.

November 5, 1982, Ashley and her friend Melissa took a bus from Costa Mesa California to Las Vegas. Ashley was going out to meet her boyfriend and Melissa went along for the ride. When the two girls arrived at the Tam O Shantar hotel and met the boyfriend, Melissa got a terribly uneasy feeling. The boyfriend was a much older man and he gave Melissa the creeps. Everything about the situation worried her and she tried to convince Ashley to leave with her. Ashley refused. The last time anyone saw her she was heading down to the lobby to see a ring her boyfriend wanted to show her.

Melissa left the hotel and promised to meet up with Ashley at the bus stop on Sunday to head back to Costa Mesa together. Unfortunately, Ashley never arrived at the bus stop. Thinking she just missed her friend, Melissa headed home. Melissa was arrested immediately upon her return. While Ashley was an adult, Melissa was a 17-year-old minor on probation. She wasn’t allowed to leave the state. She would go on to get into drugs and it would be a long time before she even realized her friend was a missing person.

While Ashley was away, her roommate, Lee Pippins made several calls to Vegas. He called hotels, police, and hospitals. Why would he make so many strange calls to Vegas while his roommate was away? Strangely he also called a few select cities including Albuquerque, New Mexico. When law enforcement checked Ashley’s credit card it appeared Pippins had been using it.

What happened to Ashley Higgins? Who was this older African American man she met in Vegas? Why was her roommate making so many strange phone calls? Why was he using her credit card?

At first, law enforcement wondered if the woman wanted to disappear. It wasn’t uncommon for a 19-year-old to run away. The family refused to believe this. Why would she run away when she knew she was to inherit a large sum of money soon? Wouldn’t it make more sense to stay, collect the inheritance, and then leave?

Shortly after Ashley’s disappearance, her mother notices a newspaper article about the arrest of a man named Richard Leon Johnson. She immediately recognized him claiming she had seen him at her daughter’s apartment. Johnson was arrested for pimping and pandering. Could Johnson be Ashley’s boyfriend?

In 1978, Richard Johnson had been indicted by the El Paso County Grand Jury on pimping and pandering charges. His house and four vehicles were seized and eventually repossessed, but he somehow remained free and received probation. Disturbingly, Johnson was already on probation for pimping charges, but instead of being incarcerated he received another probation. If that isn’t disturbing to you then read on my friend. The Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph reported on April 18, 1978, that the prostitutes that were set to witness against Johnson couldn’t be located. What happened to these witnesses? Did they ever turn up? Were they murdered?

Later investigations revealed Johnson’s prostitution ring closely aligned with the cities Ashley’s roommate, Lee Pippins was calling on the weekend of November 7, 1982. Also, nearly a month after the pretty blond-headed girl went missing, her credit card was used to rent a car in Las Vegas. We all remember who had it that fateful weekend, right?

Were Pippins and Johnson grooming an innocent girl for their human trafficking ring, or were they, innocent bystanders? I hardly think they were innocent, but how could they not be tied to this case?

Everyone hoped Ashley had run away and she would appear when it was time to inherit her money, but she never came.  It was pretty obvious by this point that Ashley Higgins met with some sort of foul play.

Ashley’s brother, Andrew is a retired police officer and he’s spent nearly forty years looking for answers. He truly believes his sister has been found somewhere in the Pacific Northwest and is currently classed as a Jane Doe. If you have any information on this case, please contact the Costa Mesa Police Department at 714-754-5157.

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Distinguishing Characteristics:

  • Height: 5’2″
  • Weight: 120lbs
  • Hair: Blond
  • Eyes: Brown
  • A c-shaped scar on one knee
  • A surgical scar on chin
  • previously fractured hip from a childhood car accident
  • Front two top teeth are false

THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS.
Further Reading:

Crimewatchers

Facebook

Websleuths


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


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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SIGN UP HERE


This week’s Recommending Reading:


Human Trafficking (In the News)

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Runaway Girl: Escaping Life on the Streets

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TrafficKing: Jeffrey Epstein human trafficking case


ashley_standish_higgins_1

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

jesse ross


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS.

Further Reading:

Jesse’s Facebook Page

Find Jesse Ross Website

True Crime Garage Podcast Episode #1

True Crime Garage Podcast Episode #2

Reddit


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


If you enjoy this content don’t forget to sign up for Synova’s Weekly True Crime Newsletter. You will receive exclusive content directly in your inbox. As a gift for joining you will also receive the Grim Justice ebook free.

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SIGN UP HERE


Each week Synova highlights obscure cold cases on her blog as a victim’s advocate with the Missouri Missing organization. She never charges for her services. If you’d like to help support Synova in this worthy cause, please check out the affiliate links below and on the sidebar of this page. By purchasing one of her books or using these links, you will be supporting Synova’s work on cold cases and will ensure her ability to continue to give a voice to the victim’s family. Thank you.

Synova’s Recommended Reading:

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit

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


jesse ross

Do Legends Really Die? The Death of Buford Pusser

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Do legends die, or do they get distorted over time until no truth remains? The legendary lawmen Buford Pusser was killed in a fiery crash on August 21st, 1974. Although everyone in town knew he had a price on his head, the case was closed quickly and the records were sealed by court order. Why?


In Buford Pusser case, the controversy surrounding his life was insane enough, but now his detractors are pouring manufactured facts, rumor mill stories, and manipulated truths into the story trying to defame a rough-and-tumble lawman.

On August 20th, 1974, Buford Pusser and his daughter Dwana went to the McNairy County Fair. Earlier that day, Pusser had announced he had just signed a contract with Bing Crosby Productions to portray himself in the next Walking Tall movie.

Many locals saw him at the fair. He played basketball with some of them and seemed fine around 7 p.m. However, by 10 o’clock that night, some people noticed he began to slur his words a little bit and wondered if he had been drinking. The people at the food stand remember him ordering two BBQ sandwiches and a fish sandwich along with two glasses of water. He was seen carrying around this disposable cup most of the evening, but the only thing he was known to order was water.

Another witness claimed he saw Buford Pusser leave that evening and he tore out of the parking lot like some rowdy teenager. Although Buford Pusser drove his souped-up Corvette at high rates of speed, he was never that reckless. Others notice at the fair that Buford seemed a little off the longer the evening wore on. These witness statements and others lead people to believe that perhaps Buford Pusser had been poisoned.

One investigator who later would be completely discredited claimed to have proof he had been poisoned with a rare South American Indian poison called Cuare. Like with everyone else who went up against the Dixie Mafia, this investigator was publicly discredited and humiliated. Strangely, this investigator would wind up being shot execution-style a short time later. Everyone was quick to point out that it had nothing to do with the Pusser investigation. I think otherwise.

Just after midnight, Dwana and Buford decide to leave the fair. Dwana gets a ride with a friend and leaves shortly before her father. A few miles down the road Buford Pusser caught up with them and passed them at a high rate of speed. It took a few miles to catch up to the Corvette, but by then it was too late.

Some reports say the car was already on fire, but others say it started a few minutes later underneath the hood. The legendary lawmen lay on the ground near his beloved Corvette with a broken neck. Could he really be gone? It didn’t seem possible.

Rumors began immediately after his death. The tie rods had been sawed in two. The brake lines had been cut. He was poisoned. Investigators say Buford Pusser was drunk and driving to fast he wasn’t wearing a seat belt and he was ejected from the car no foul play, but no one in the town believed it several stateliners had contracts out on Buford Pusser and this was a well-known fact.

Some estimated car was traveling close to 100 mph others say it was a 120 mph. Whatever the case, why would he fly past the car he knew his daughter was in like a maniac? Wouldn’t that put his child in danger? It didn’t seem like Buford Pusser was really in his right mind that night.

This was the argument many people claimed proved poison theory. At the time of his death, Buford Pusser’s blood-alcohol level was 1.8. For a giant of a man 6 ft 6 in tall 250 lb that would not have affected him very much.

Rumor had it the brake lines had been cut on his car but if this was the case why were there 545 feet of skid marks left down the highway?

TNADApusser_ks30

photo courtsey of roadsideamerica.com

The manufacturing company investigated the wreckage and said there was no manufacturing default, and it didn’t look like it had been tampered with. Of course, if there had been a default, would they have admitted it? I doubt it. They would have to take responsibility for killing a legend. Besides all of that, if you look at pictures, there isn’t anything left of this vehicle. How could they tell if it had been tampered with? They said the tie rods were broken, but they think they were broken upon impact.

The accident was reconstructed and mapped out using photographs. The low flying machine had crossed into the opposite lane, crossed the grassy ditch, and passed an old gas station. Then it crossed the side road and slammed into an embankment. The big man was ejected from the vehicle and broke his neck upon impact. The legend had just enough strength left to whisper his daughter’s name.

Was Buford Pusser murdered? We may never know. Many have fought and spent thousands of dollars trying to find the truth, but this secret is buried deep in the Tennessee dirt.

What is the purpose of mankind? Humanity’s purpose is to serve others and leave a mark on this world. Whatever your opinion of this great lawman you must agree on one point. He definitely left a mark in history. He inspired thousands of people to stand up for what they believe in. Many people credit their law enforcement careers to his inspiration. What can you say? Have you done anything remarkable with your life? Walk on Buford the Bull.

I cannot possibly fit the entirety of this story in a blog post, so be watching out for a book. I will be writing about this famous lawman, his family, his enemies, and the stories that shaped McNairy County, Tennessee. When reading about this man’s exploits, an old Elvis Presley song came to mind. I would like to quote the lyrics here.

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid
Of the dark
At the end of a storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song
Of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed
And blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never
Ever walk alone
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never
Ever walk alone

Listen to the song here:

(Wikipedia says The single “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was an adaptation of the Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers standard.)

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.

IMG_20190316_075643_170.jpg

SIGN UP HERE


THIS LIST OF LINKS IS NOT AN ALL ENCOMPASSING SOURCE CITING. ALL OF THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE CAN BE EASILY FOUND ONLINE. LINKS BELOW WERE USED AS SOURCES AND ARE RECOMMENDED READING FOR SYNOVA’S READERS.

Further Reading:

WMC Action News

This week’s recommended Dixie Mafia Books include:

Walking On: A Daughter’s Journey with Legendary Sheriff Buford Pusser

Ghost Tales of The State Line Mob: Novel Based on Actual Events


TNADApusser_ks30

The Jonathan Estes Disappearance

jonathan paul estes Poster courtesy of the Find Jonathan Paul Estes Facebook Page

It’s the dreaded Triple D Threat; Domestic Dispute, Divorce, and Disappearance. After a rocky end to their 13-year marriage, the separation was inevitable, but when allegations arise of domestic abuse and the husband vanishes, this case takes a turn for the worse. What happened to Jonathan Estes?


Jonathan Paul Estes, 36 was last seen on June 2, 2018, in Bogue Chitto, Mississippi around his home. Estes was a construction worker and spent a great deal of time working out of town. He worked hard and enjoyed time with his children when he was home. It seemed as if the little family had life by the tail, but things aren’t always what they seem. The last year of his marriage to Cindy had been tumultuous, but Jon always tried to find ways to appease his wife.

Several months before filing for divorce, Jon began to suspect his wife was cheating on him while he was out of town working. He even placed a few deer cameras around his home to see who was pulling into his driveway while he was gone. Things finally deteriorated to the point that Jon hired a private investigator. These problems reached a boiling point when his 13-yr-old son found some lewd pictures on his mother’s phone and forwarded them to his father.

Jon filed for divorce and moved five miles away from the family home, but remained close enough to spend time with his kids. This should be the end of the chaos, but unfortunately, it was just the beginning.

When Jon took the divorce papers to the house for Cindy to sign a fight broke out, and life would never be the same for the Estes family. Cindy claimed that Jon raped her at gunpoint. Jon says that she became angry when he brought the papers and began attacking him. He turns to leave and while in her driveway, she runs him over with her car. While Jon is trying to recover Cindy raced down the street and straight to the police station. (It is assumed that she went straight there, but who knows she may have stopped for a coke.) Once there, she filed charges against Jon for the alleged rape.

Jon, driving his truck, was headed back to his house when he noticed the ‘GPS’ location device had suddenly been activated. Knowing his wife’s vindictive personality, he figured he would just dump the truck. Jon turned around and drove the truck (which was inconsequentially registered in Cindy’s name) across the hayfield behind the family home. The surrounding property was the cattle farm owned by Cindy’s family. There amongst the hay and treeline, Jon left his truck behind. He called a neighbor to pick him up and met her at the highway.

Jon returns to his home where his nosey neighbor keeps watch on the house. He told her that he was going to have a friend pick him up and take him to the police station so he could sort out this mess, but no one ever came to pick him up, and no one ever saw the man again.

The last known contact was when Jon called his friend the next morning to talk about the craziness of his divorce. During his conversation, he mentioned that a cop car kept driving back and forth in front of his house. He told his friend that he was going to walk out to the end of his driveway and talk to them. Maybe he could figure out what in the world was going on. Unfortunately, no one ever heard from him again. He never called his friend back, and the patrolling officers say he never walked out and talked to them. Where did he go? Did he run off like the police initially believed?

The family of Jon Estes doesn’t think he would have run away from his problems. He wasn’t the type, but it was a logical explanation at first anyway. Now, a year later, that option isn’t really on the table anymore.

Apparently, Jon Estes was a gentle person that would do almost anything to appease his wife, and I say this because of what came out later in the investigation. Jon and Cindy had been having trouble for quite a while. When Jon’s sister hacked into his email account, trying to find clues to his whereabouts, she found out how desperate he was to save his marriage. The last couple of years, he had agreed to a more open-type of marriage that involved couples and partner swapping. This was disturbing enough, but then she found the pictures and videos taken of Cindy while Jon was away. This wasn’t part of the deal.

The sister also found out about Jon’s own little investigation into his wife’s infidelity. He had been collecting information on her extramarital affairs in case he needed evidence during the divorce proceedings. Although no names have been released publicly, it seems evident that one of his wife’s lovers held some type of position of authority in the small community. Perhaps this is why Jon disappeared. Either way, Cindy never once tried to find her husband. She claims he ran off so he wouldn’t have to pay child support, but the family has the receipts to show Jon was paying child support to her months before his disappearance and before the divorce was even filed. He wanted his kids taken care of no matter what happened to his marriage.

If Jon had run away to avoid his problems, wouldn’t it make sense for her to try to find him to get justice for what he had supposedly done to her? Wouldn’t she hunt him down so he would be required to support his children? Obviously, Cindy doesn’t think so because other than bashing him online; she hasn’t publicly put forth any effort to find him.

Four months after the disappearance of Jonathan Estes, a grand jury convened to hear the case against him regarding the rape allegations. They find there’s no evidence to this story and drop the charges entirely. The family was informed that no charges would be brought against him if he happened to return because there simply wasn’t any evidence that an attack ever occurred. A short time later, Cindy filed for divorce citing abandonment by Jon and was granted full custody of their two kids.

STRANGE TWIST: A stolen bobcat bulldozer

As if this case wasn’t bizarre enough, there’s another twist to this saga. Cindy is coming up for trial for stealing a bobcat. For those of you who don’t know, a Bobcat is a small bulldozer used in construction. During the chaos of the missing person’s case, and before the couple could legally divide their belongings, Cindy was busily posting everything on Facebook for sale. During this time she sold a bobcat that was at the family home that didn’t belong to either Cindy or Jon. It actually belonged to his dad and was only borrowed.

Jon’s father drove the five hours to find his son and to file charges at the police station about his bulldozer. During the chaos, this wasn’t taken care of properly, and by the time the reports were filed, the bobcat had already been sold for a meager amount. Strangely, in this tiny town where everyone knows and is related to everyone else nobody knows what happened to this bobcat.

How does this missing piece of construction equipment play into this case? I really don’t know. I just hope it hadn’t been used in the process of covering up a murder. If you have any information on this case, please contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department 601-833-5231


This list of links is not an all encompassing source citing. All of the information used in this article can be easily found online. Links below were used as sources and are recommended reading for Synova’s readers.

Further Reading:

Charley Project

Unfound Podcast


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