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


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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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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“I Was Stolen As A Baby” – The Infamous Baby Snatcher Georgia Tann

tannbaby copy.jpg The only photo of Barbara Jean Haggerty as a child with her adoptive mother Alveretta (Riley) Childs – Photo of Barbara Jean Haggerty as a baby: used with permission

Barbara Jean Haggerty doesn’t know when to celebrate her birthday. She has no idea how many candles should be placed on her cake. Only one baby photograph of her exists. There are no momentoes, such as hospital records or newborn photographs. Barbara Jean was one of the thousands of children stolen and sold through the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, a black-market baby business operating from the 1920s to 1950 by Memphis murderer, child molester, and baby thief Georgia Tann.

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia: Georgia Tann

Memphis, Tennessee, is famous for the music, the food, and the crime. In the last few years, FBI data has consistently placed Memphis in the top 20% in United States cities with the highest crime rates. Along with good barbeque, tours of Graceland, and Beale Street, murder, robbery, and gang activity have become a natural part of the scrappy city’s landscape, its history. In the late 1940s, crooked politicians and questionable law enforcement tactics greased the city’s financial wheels. It was a setting that welcomed someone like Georgia Tann. And Georgia Tann loved Memphis.

Beulah Georgia Tann (1891-1950) a matronly, smiling woman, created the unlicensed, Memphis-based Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Behind its facade, the Society was nothing more than a black-market baby operation. One of the babies who came through that door was Barbara Jean Haggerty. Like so many others, Tann stole the child when she was about two days old. Haggerty considers herself “a lucky baby” because she was sold quickly. Babies who did not sell were murdered.

The local newspapers were filled with adoption advertisements. People ordered children as if they were ordering furniture, and Tann gladly supplied the demands, charging astronomical figures.

“(We have) the merchandise in hand and in stock to deliver to you” a 1944 Tennessee Children’s Home Society letter read to a prospective client. “We can never tell when we can fill an order,” another letter explained to parents waiting to purchase a child.

Tann employed “spotters” to scout for children to steal and parents to scam. A Tann spotter walked into an elementary school, playground, or low socioeconomic neighborhood and would leave with a child, both never to be seen again. A Tann spotter, disguised as hospital staff or a visitor, would casually stroll into a maternity ward, scoop up a newborn, and disappear out a door. The spotter might visit an unwed mother to make a deal.

“We’ll take care of your baby for you, save you the expense and shame… and pay you.” In desperation, the women would allow the exchange. Barbara Jean Haggerty believes the latter scenario may have been her case.

Georgia Tann hired a crew for the children’s home, eschewing background checks, and any personnel paperwork. Molesters, parolees, and abusers were employed at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Tann also sexually abused her charges; behind that matronly appearance laid an evil mind that was abusive and cold. Barbara Jean is thankful she did not stay at the children’s home for long.

TN_Child_Society The building that housed the Tennessee Children’s Home Society still stands today – onlyinyourstate.com

Tann sold or exchanged babies, as well as monetary gifts, between law enforcement, media, judges, movie and music stars, and elected officials for political favors and legal protection. Her political connections, including the Mayor of Memphis, assisted in skirting adoption laws or creating legal loopholes from which to operate. Tann’s lover, Judge Camille Kelly, was a high-ranking official of the Shelby County Family Court in Tennessee. Kelly looked like anyone’s kindly grandmother. Both Georgia Tann and Judge Kelly were well known in the Memphis area. Tann was a national figure. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt publically praised her. Tann sold children to mobsters, child molesters, abusers, and for hard labor (one child toiled in a field at 18 hour days, eventually running away from the adoptive family). The repercussions of her work have caused a ripple effect lasting decades.

Besides high ranking officials and the wealthy, Georgia Tann assisted private clientele who wanted children, married couples desperate to adopt who scraped together the funds to do so. One of those families was Alveretta (Riley) and Jesse Aubrey Childs, both in their late twenties and living in Shelby County, Tennessee. Barbara Jean (Haggerty) was sold to the Childs family.

Alveretta and Jesse owned a popular diner called “Mamma Child’s.” This restaurant was one of the favorites of Judge Kelly; “I can remember, as a little girl, seeing Judge Kelly at the restaurant, laughing and talking and visiting with my mother,” Barbara Jean recalls. Even at that age, she has no doubt who Judge Kelly was; everyone knew.

Barbara Jean believes Alveretta confided in Judge Kelly; unable to conceive, and she longed to be a parent. Arrangements were made. The $5,000 Tann charged Alveretta and Jesse to “adopt” Barbara is a low sum, considering her client list included Joan Crawford, Pearl Buck, and Lana Turner.

As in all the adoption cases, Judge Kelly forged legal paperwork for Barbara Jean’s transfer. Kelly also assisted by destroying legal documents and creating a new history for Barbara Jean. Barbara Jean now had a new birth certificate bearing Judge Kelly’s signature. (Some years ago, a private investigator “borrowed” the document for research and never returned it.)

camille-kelly.jpg Judge Camille Kelly: painting, Memphis TN courthouse

Alveretta and Jesse then adopted Barbara Jean. With the falsified birth certificate in hand, they strolled out cuddling their newly “adopted” child.

“I was a ‘bestseller’ because of my blonde hair and blue eyes. And (the Home Society) only dealt in white children.”

In her later years, Alveretta would admit to her family, “I purchased Barbara Jean for $5,000 off the black market.” In Barbara Jean’s early years, Alveretta would amend or outright lie about everything else in Barbara Jean’s past. “She didn’t want to hurt my feelings, so sometimes she lied, or changed the story a bit,” Barbara Jean explains. She is not angry with her parents, nor does she hold grudges against them for the lies and deception. Barbara knew she was loved.

“My mother was a wonderful woman,” Barbara explains. As a teen, she had suffered a stroke. The specialists told her “mother” that Barbara would never be able to walk again. Alveretta refused to believe them and set about rehabilitating the girl. Against the odds, and with her mother’s love and patience, Barbara Jean did regain the use of her limbs.

Barbara Jean Haggerty is one of the thousands of children from Tennessee Children’s Home Society who were stolen and sold. At least 40-50 children died in less than four months while housed in the illegally operated home in 1945 alone. Children were starved, beaten, molested, mentally abused, and never received medical attention. Unwanted babies were left outside on the lawn in their cribs in the hot Tennessee summers to wither away slowly.

Barbara’s granddaughter is assisting her with trying to unearth her past, but the digging is slow. There are names and dates, but little more:

Alveretta Riley (1917-1997) was born in Arkansas to Thomas O’Riley and Willie Rogers. Alveretta married several times:
She divorced her first husband (name unknown) and moved to the Shelbyville, Tennessee area in 1940 at 23 years of age.
Jesse Aubrey Childs (05-20-09 to 12-28-75), an electrician, was her second husband. Alveretta’s third husband was Dalton Marshal.

Besides Mama Child’s, Alveretta and Jesse owned “Top Hat” (which later became Sonic Drive-in), a third restaurant, and three nightclubs. Records indicate Alveretta also worked as a “caseworker.”

Barbara’s real name may be Belinda Diane Bullard, born October 2 or in July around 1945; she is now approximately 68 years old. Barbara was adopted after Alveretta’s first two babies died. One baby picture exists of Barbara (see above photo). Barbara may have three siblings: a sister who died in a car wreck and two brothers who were lost in the Vietnam War. Barbara’s siblings include Winnie Lee, Sidney F., and Thomas R.

Tann was never prosecuted and died a very wealthy woman. A plaque commemorating Judge Camille Kelly hangs in the Memphis courthouse. Their legacy continues. There’s corruption in the Memphis Youth Courts, laws created to protect wrongdoings, and people who have no idea of their true heritage like Barbara Jean Haggerty.

grandmother0019)_09.14.16 copy.jpegPhoto of Barbara Jean Haggerty today: Judith a yates used by permission

“I’m not bitter or mad. I just want to know if I have brothers and sisters,” she says wistfully. “I want to know my real birthday and how old I am. I’d like to know about my blood relatives.” She shrugs. “I guess some people may think it’s silly, or too late. But I just want to know: who am I?”


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:

All That’s Interesting

Unsolved Mysteries

NYPost

Youtube


More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:
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J. A. Yates  is an award-winning author and criminologist who has appeared as a guest speaker, lecturer, and instructor for organizations across the United States for almost 30 years, to include Dallas Area Paralegal Association, PFLAG (Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians & Gays), Texas Association of Licensed Investigators, Tennessee Correction Association, Federal Bureau of Prisons, and many more.
Her resume lists loss prevention, the Sheriff’s Department, the federal prison system (minimum to maximum, male & female),  investigations, and criminal justice professor/instructor. She is the only journalist who is continually investigating the disappearance of Tabitha Tuders, Nashville’s most baffling missing child case.
Not only is she an author, but she is also an investigator who carefully researches each book. A percentage of each book benefits nonprofit organizations and is made in the victim’s name.
Ms. Yates is Texas-born, Irish/Native American/Kentucky – bred; a left-handed Taurus. She volunteers in animal rescue and locating missing/murdered. Hobbies include horseback riding, perusing flea markets, and video gaming. She is addicted to bottled Coca-colas. She has a phobia of clowns, dental offices, and alligators (not in that particular order)

Check her out here: www.judithayates.com


This week’s Recommended Reading:


The Baby Thief: The True Story of the Woman Who Sold Over Five Thousand Neglected, Abused and Stolen Babies in the 1950s.


Books by Yates:

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


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

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tannbaby copy.jpg

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.


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

5afb5fe99a4b4.image Photo courtesy of Jacksonville Progress

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


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

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

53cbf15eb306e.image Photo courtesy of Jacksonville Progress

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

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Photo courtesy of Tyler Morning Telegraph

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

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

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

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

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


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

Further Reading:

KTBS News

CBS News

Porchlight USA

Jacksonville Progress

Larry Pugh’s Statement

websleuths

Texas Public Corruption

KTRE Channel 9

Corruption In Cherokee County, Texas

KLTV

daily sentinel


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


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

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

VIPERTEK VTS-989 – 58 Billion Heavy Duty Stun Gun – Rechargeable with LED Flashlight

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Synova’s True Crime books are also available on Amazon.com

Unorganized Crime: Journey to Redemption

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


A Well Dressed Corpse

SomertonMan2 Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

A well-dressed corpse is found on the Somerton Beach in 1948 setting off a mystery of astounding proportions. A strange note was found sewn into a hidden pocket in the man’s pants. The words Tamam Shud were typed upon a scrap of paper. The translation is, “It is finished.” Seventy-one years later and no one can figure out who this man was or who killed him. Was he a spy? Who knows?


The Somerton Man: Seven Decades Later

Unless more evidence appears soon, the death of the Somerton man will forever remain a mystery. The issues surrounding his death were not the only mystery, but his identity and his killer’s identity remain unsolved by forensic science.

On the first day of December 1948, Neil Day was riding his horse on the Somerton beach when he discovered the body of a man. There wasn’t any form of identity on the Somerton man. The stand out features was that he was clean shaven, wearing a bespoke brown suit and staring into the sky while sitting in a gentleman position. The night before, people claimed to have seen a man that looked like the Somerton man. The assumption is that he’s either drunk or in a deep sleep.

For anyone hearing about the case of the Somerton man for the first time, the poser will be; how will a well-dressed man in a suit be sitting on the beach wall alone? Or is his death pre-mediated with the torn page of the book found in his pocket? This is one mystery that remains a hard nut to crack for the intelligence units of Australia, The United States, and Scotland.

Who is The Somerton Man?

In a case that went down as Australia’s most baffling cold case, the identity of the Somerton remains one of the biggest unanswered questions of the case.

It’s somewhat baffling that a man with such a display of means had no identification on him. A small amount of cash was found on the man, but his wallet was missing.

Since no one is aware of the identity of the Somerton man, the next will be to ascertain which nationality he is. It was confirmed that he was not a local man as no one knows him or have ever seen him before.

With his clothing and the items found on him, there was a strong indicator that the Somerton man had an American link. However, when his fingerprints were sent to the American authorities, it came back without any results. Investigators found on him; a railway ticket to Henley Beach, an American metal comb, and some other items that did little in revealing the identity of the Somerton man.

Where Is The Somerton Man Going: The Suitcase At The Adelaide Railway Station?

While the entire world was still grappling with the shock and mystery surrounding the news, investigators find his brown suitcase and hope it will lead to answers.

The contents of the bag were a modified knife, a screwdriver, pencils, scissors, clothes, and a stenciling brush.

What kind of job would require these types of things? He was a clean cut, well-built man with hands that looked as if he hadn’t done a day of manual labor in his life.

The Rubáiyát and The Tamam Shud: What’s The Somerton Man Trying To Say.

In less than a month when the mystery of the Somerton man caught everyone unaware, another piece of evidence was found. One of the items found in the pocket of the Somerton Man was a rolled piece of paper with “Tamam Shud” written on it. In Persian, it means “it is finished. What is finished? Another new question added to the numerous ones.

No one knows where the paper came from until a man walked into the police station with the book titled; The Rubáiyát. The back page of this book had been torn, and after investigating further, they found the scrap to fit the page perfectly.

Why did this man have the book?

The man claimed he was driving along the beach and parked his car there the night before the body was discovered. He went for a walk with his friend, and when they returned to the automobile, a book was on the floor of the car. The two men didn’t pay any attention to it until the story of the Somerton man broke on the news. In the book, there were two phone numbers; one was a dead end, and the other went through to a lady; Jestyn.

Jestyn and The Rubáiyát: A Twist to The Story

Interestingly, Jestyn lived nearby to the Somerton beach. Even though she claimed never to know the Somerton man, she was close to fainting when she saw the cast of his face. Jestyn never wanted to talk to the police. She later admitted that she gave a copy of The Rubáiyát to a man named Alfred Boxall. When that lead was followed, the man still had the copy of the book with the last page intact.

Recent Discoveries and Theories

The story of the Somerton man is still a subject of debate. Many are still wondering what could have killed the man. The theory of being a spy tops the list. Another angle is that he must have committed suicide or poisoned with an untraceable poison. So also, it was believed that the death of the man could have been natural due to the position he was sitting. More recently, DNA evidence traced the Somerton man to the US East coast, and he could have been related to Thomas Jefferson.


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

Wikipedia 

ABC News

Buzzfeed Unsolved 


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.


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SABRE Pepper Spray & Stun Gun Self-Defense Kit— Police Strength SABRE Red Pepper Spray, PLUS a Compact, Stylish & Powerful Purple SABRE Stun Gun with Flashlight


The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen


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Missouri Missing – Luther O. Boyt

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In the middle of moving back home to care for his dying father, Luther Boyt disappears without a trace. He was last seen at a local gay bar having drinks with friends. Witnesses say he was happy and although he had a couple drinks, he wasn’t drunk. What happened after he left, and why did authorities find his car abandoned in a local park?


Luther Boyt, a Louisiana native had moved to the Kansas City area in 1966. He worked as the director of Vital Statistics at the city hall until retirement in 1989. Boyt lived in a beautiful home on Janseen Place and loved to throw lavish parties. His hobbies included buying antiques and traveling.

During the summer of 2000, Boyt sold his manson and planned to assist his mother who was caring for his ailing father. By the end of November the move was nearly complete. on November 25, 2000, Boyt was seen at the Buddies’ Bar having drinks with friends. He was happy and seemed fine. Around 2:30 am on the 26th, Boyt leaves the bar and is never seen again.

Later the same day, movers arrive at the house to finish moving the last of Mr. Boyt’s furniture, but the owner never arrives. Friends become worried and begin searching for Luther Boyt. His car is found in Penn Calley Park the next day. Everyone said there would be no reason for Boyt to drive to the well-known gay hookup spot.

Strangely, inside the car was $360 which Boyt had apparently stashed under the floor mat. A friend later recalled he had said something about stopping by an ATM and getting cash to pay the movers.

Sadly, three days after Boyt’s disappearance, his ailing father died. It was on what would be Boyt’s 60th birthday. Family and friends are adamant that Boyt would not have willing gone to that dangerous park alone at night, so what happened to him and why was his car abandoned there? Whatever the case, Mr. Boyt’s friends and family need answers and nineteen years later they are still searching.

If you have any information about this cold case, please contact 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:

Reddit

Charley Project

Missouri Missing – Facebook 


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states, an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. ©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


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

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


Self-Defense for Women: Fight Back


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Murdered Under The Christmas Tree – Cheryl Springfield

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Her body was found under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning 1980. Cheryl L. Springfield had been beaten, sexually assaulted, and strangled with the cord from a clothing iron. When her ex showed up with presents for their child, he found the toddler crying in the other room and a horrid scene under the tree. Who would do such a thing to this young mother?


Cheryl Springfield, 21 was recently divorced and lived in a house with three other girls, her child, and one other baby. One of Cheryl’s roommates was a woman named Cindy, who happened to be the sister of her ex-husband. On Christmas Eve, Cheryl attended a family Christmas party before returning home with her son. Her mother dropped them off at the house on Whitter street, never knowing the horrors that lay ahead for the young mother.

Around 6 am Christmas morning, Scott Springfield arrived at the home with presents for his child. The couple had recently divorced but were on friendly terms. They had married at a very young age, and the strains of parenthood and financial woes were more than Scott could take. They divorced, and shortly after Scott would regret the decision to end their union. The couple were working on things and had planned to make Christmas morning special for their child.

As Scott entered the house, he noticed someone lying under the Christmas tree but thought one of the girls had just gotten drunk and passed out. What immediately drew his attention were the cries of his child from the bedroom. He entered the room to find his son sitting in bed alone and his ex-wife not there with him. Dread began to wash over the man as he walked back into the front room. Nearing the body, his fears were realized. It wasn’t a drunken woman. It was the beaten corpse of his lovely Cheryl.

She had been beaten, sexually assaulted, and strangled with a cord from a clothes iron. Her nude body had been left near the foot of the Christmas tree. Sick with grief, Scott hurried back to the bedroom and called the police and family members. Friends came and took the toddler out of the house while the police conducted their search.

Of course, in these cases, the ex-husband is always a suspect, but Scott Springfield was quickly cleared. Who then, could have done such a thing? The family believes they know the answer. Barry Dean Kelly.

Barry was Cindy’s boyfriend and to say he was a predator would be an understatement. Barry and Cheryl couldn’t stand each other, and the family began to suspect the man rather quickly. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough evidence to charge the man. No one could even place Barry Kelly at the scene of the crime. Standing for her man, Cindy found herself alienated from her own family when she chose to marry Barry a few years later. This mistake would eventually make Cindy question herself on many levels.

The marriage was built of turmoil and would end within a year of its beginning. During this time, Cindy began to fear her husband and reports of one instance where he forced her to let him tattoo his initials on her hand. She claims he didn’t put the gun to her head, but it was sitting on the table next to him as he branded her with a homemade tattoo.

Shortly afterward, Cindy filed for divorce and ran to her mother for help. She then found herself hiding out in her mother’s house out of fear. One October day in 1980, Cindy makes a quick run to the store only to be followed by her ex. He grabs the poor woman and forces her into his car. Barry took her to a wooded area nearby and terrorized her for a few hours. When Cindy finally convinces him to let her go, she runs to the police.

Cindy was unaware of Barry’s recent activities when the police showed up on her door, asking questions. She would later learn that Barry had kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and murdered an elderly woman. Her name was Melva Teems. He had stolen her truck and drove it for a while. He also pawned some of her jewelry to get enough cash for a down payment on a vehicle. Later he abandoned her truck.

When the police found Melva Teems’ body, they found she had been strangled with a piece of cloth torn from her shirt. Investigators noted the knots used to kill Teems were the same type of knots used in the murder of Cheryl Springfield seven years earlier. Barry was seeing Melva’s daughter on the side, and Cindy wasn’t aware of the affair. It is unclear if this relationship was active during his short marriage, or if he had picked up an old flame after Cindy filed for divorce.

Barry Kelly was eventually convicted of the murder o Melva Teems and the kidnapping of Cindy. He would receive life in prison. Unfortunately, the police still couldn’t pin Cheryl’s murder on the known killer. Barry meanwhile vehemently declared his innocence in both cases despite overwhelming evidence in Melva’s murder. Strangely 37 years after Cheryl’s murder Barry reached out to cold case detectives saying he had information that would solve the case. Investigators traveled to his location to interrogate the inmate. Come to find out, Barry wanted a few jailhouse amenities, and when the officers couldn’t provide them, he refused to talk to them.

What was Berry Kelly going to tell the investigators? If he has proclaimed his innocence for nearly four decades, why would he re-insert himself into the murder investigation? What happened to Cheryl Springfield?

If you have any information that would help solve Cheryl Springfield’s case, please contact Fort Worth Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 817-469-8477.


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:

Facebook

All photos were taken from Cheryl Springfield’s Facebook page with permission from the Administrator.

Out of the Cold – Deanna Boyd

Find A Case


This week’s Recommended Reading:
She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement

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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Halloween Horror – The Karen Swift Murder Mystery

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A mother of four goes missing after attending a Halloween party. Her car was found abandoned with a flat tire. Inside was a Catwoman costume and a cooler of beer with a few cans missing. A month later the body of Karen Swift was found in a shallow grave a mere three miles from her car. Seven years have past and still no answers in this case. Who killed Karen Swift?


Karen Swift, 44 was a fitness instructor living in Dyersburg, Tennessee on the night of Halloween 2011. Karen was attending a party at a local country club when she received a call from her child who was spending the night with a friend. The child wanted to go home, so the mother left the party, picked up the child, and returned to her home on Willie Johnson Rd around 1:30 am on Sunday morning. Karen’s soon-to-be ex-husband was the last person to see her. He claimed she left home after putting the child to bed.

Karen and David were going through the divorce process, and Karen had confided in a friend about an affair. During this conversation, she also mentioned an anonymous donor had given her $10,000 for a divorce.

At the party, Karen had gotten into a verbal altercation with another woman. I haven’t found the woman’s name mentioned publicly, nor have we been told what the argument was about. All we know is a few hours later the mother had vanished. Karen’s 2004 Nissan Murano was found on Millsfield Highway near the intersection of Harness Rd. The vehicle had a flat tire and inside the investigators found the Halloween costume, Karen had worn earlier in the evening along with a cooler of beer. Reports state a few cans were missing. The car had been spotted by a hunter around 5 am.

Ten days after the disappearance the country club was robbed. The only thing stolen was the security cameras. This tells me that Karen’s killer was likely on those videos and was trying to cover his or her tracks. Of course, the husband came under scrutiny, but after seven years the investigators still don’t have any real evidence to pin this on him.

Karen’s body would be found a month later dumped at the Bledsoe Cemetery only three miles from where her car was abandoned. Investigators had searched the area previously and aren’t sure if the body in the ditch was somehow missed or if it had been dumped there at a later date.

At first, the local judge sealed the autopsy reports to shield the investigation, so Karen’s manner of death was not released. In November 2018, a reporter filed an FOIA request and was surprised to receive the autopsy report. The media jumped on it and ramped up the media coverage for this case once again. Sadly, some online trolls have bashed the reporter and all media in general for digging up things just for a story. They claim the media has destroyed the investigation.

There will always be haters online ready to pounce on the hating bandwagon, but this time I have to interject. Please forgive me as I digress into a bit of a rant. Let me explain to all of you that don’t realize how an FOIA request works. The request is sent by an American who by law has the right to ask for the documents. The request is then sent to the department in charge of the investigation. It is up to them what will be sent to the requesting party. If the judge wanted something sealed, then those parts of the document would be redacted. The investigators will not send out anything that will hinder their case, so all of you out there screaming at the media need to do your homework.

Seven years have passed, and this case is still unsolved. If you have any information concerning the murder of Karen Swift, please contact the Dyer County Sheriff’s Department at (731) 285-2802.


All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation, or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. ©2017-2019. All rights reserved.


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

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


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The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen


 

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A Serial Killer’s Little Black Book – The Tiffany Sessions Murder Mystery

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The daughter of a powerful real estate mogul was snatched on her evening powerwalk just a short distance from her apartment. Twenty-five years later cold case investigators find a clue in a serial killer’s tattered black address book. Five years have passed since the discovery, and still, Tiffany Sessions’ body hasn’t been found. What happened to this college student?


Tiffany Louise Sessions, 20 was a finance/economics major at the University of Florida in 1989. Her roommate said she returned from the holiday break on a fitness craze trying to lose a goal of 14lbs. She had a trip planned and like many other coeds wanted to look great for the summer. This had prompted the young blond to start power walking in the evenings near her apartment complex. On the night of February 9, 1989, she set off promising the roommate she would return within the hour. She left behind her keys, wallet, and jewelry.

When Tiffany hadn’t shown up within the hour, the concerned roommate jumped in her car and drove along Tiffany’s usual route. Perhaps she had fallen and needed medical attention. Tiffany was nowhere in sight, and the police were called in. That phone call would set off a thirty-year investigation that is still unsolved today.

Tiffany’s parents divorced when she was three months old, but both parents vowed to find their daughter whatever it took. Tiffany was Hillary Sessions only child. She set out trying to find every way possible to distribute flyers and posters. Patrick Sessions was the President of a major real estate corporation, and that’s how he handled the case. Instantly, he took charge and began pouring resources and manpower into the search. While there is much animosity between the two parents, and it’s easy to start blaming each other, both of them were doing everything in their power to find Tiffany.

A thousand volunteers joined to search for the missing coed, but her body was never located. Police plowed through false leads, false confessions, and pranksters preying on the victim’s families. Twenty-five years passed without answers. In 2014, the authorities finally found an obscure connection that pointed to an incarcerated serial killer. Paul Rowles was convicted in a case that had a ton of eerie similarities. The astute detective began to research Rowles movements at the time of Tiffany’s disappearance and found everything lined up. Rowles not only lived in the area, but he also worked delivering scaffolding to a construction site along Tiffany’s jogging route. Rowles had missed work on the very day of Tiffany’s abduction and moved from the area a short time afterward.

Investigators visited the prison to interrogate Rowles but found he was dying of cancer in the prison hospital. The convicted serial killer was in a coma. Time had run out. After the monster’s death, investigators raided his cell for any clues. There they found a tattered black address book. In this book, he had documented many illicit things including the date of Tiffany’s disappearance. Beside the fateful date was written, “#2.”

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According to the timeline of murders, Tiffany Sessions would have been his second killing. Although the investigators and the family agree that Paul Rowles killed Tiffany, there hasn’t been enough evidence to prove it without a doubt, and Tiffany’s body has never been recovered. The eerie clue was found five years ago, and investigators are still running down leads.

Do you have any information that would help solve this mystery? If so, please contact the Alachua County Sheriff’s Cold Case Unit at (352) 367-4161.

All information used to create this content is a matter of public record and can be easily found online. Any participation, or alleged involvement of any party mentioned within this site is purely speculation. As the law states an individual is Innocent until PROVEN guilty. ©2017-2019. All rights reserved.

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

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

Where’S My Tiffany?

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Missing Mother – Sarah Burton

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Mother of two goes missing in America’s heartland, and the police still have no answers. What happened to Sarah Burton after visiting the Payless shoe store with a friend? Why did said friend stop by Sarah’s mother’s house to drop off Sarah’s purse and a shoe a short time later?

On July 16, 2018, Sarah Burton was dropped off near 10th Street and Rex Avenue. She never returned home from this trip leaving her two small boys behind. Sarah’s parents and grandparents are looking after 3-year-old Xander and 8-month-old Zane while police search for the young mom. Although Sarah had a troubled past, family members are adamant that she would not have left her boys.

Burton was battling an addiction to drugs at the time of her disappearance. It has been reported that this former high school cheerleader had been a victim of a violent crime and began using drugs as a way to cope. Whatever the reason, 2018 found a determined young mother battling her demons and struggling to make a better life for her sons. Burton was seeking long term drug treatments, attending all of her court dates and working with an attorney to help with her legal issues. She had held a job for a year, but somehow trouble with her sons’ father caused her to lose this position. I would love to have more information on this incident, but there isn’t much available online.

Sarah stayed at the Lafayette House in September and October of 2017. The Lafayette House is a sanctuary for domestic violence victims, sexual abuse victims, and for those recovering from substance abuse. It seemed Sarah was finally getting her life together, but strangely when things appeared to be going well, she vanished without leaving a trace. The Joplin Police Department has constantly chased leads and conducted two searches over the 2018 holiday season trying to find the missing woman. Captain Trevor Duncan graciously answered my questions for this post. He states the case is active and ongoing and hasn’t grown cold. Joplin investigators followed lead #66 last Friday and were working on #67 yesterday. These leads have included several surrounding counties and the states of Oklahoma and Kansas. Joplin P.D. is actively searching for answers for the Burton family.

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

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 receive her ebook Grim Justice as a free gift.

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#SarahBurton – #BringSarahHome – #MissinginMissouri – #TrueCrime – #UnsolvedCase

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