Archive for the ‘ United States True Crime ’ Category

Tommy Lynn Sells gets his execution date

HOUSTON (AP) – A Texas death row inmate who’s been linked to more than a dozen slayings and who’s claimed to have committed as many as 70 murders around the country has an execution date.

Fox report and video

Tommy Lynn Sells is set for lethal injection April 3 in Huntsville.

Sells is 49 years old.

Sells’ lead appeals attorney said Friday lawyers were “kind of surprised” when they received a copy of the order.

Why??? The man brags about killing 70 people! He calls hiself “Coast to Coast” bragging about killing from coast to coast. I am surprised it is taking this long to rid the world of this piece of crap!

Wikipedia article on Sells

From an interview with Sells

INTERVIEWER

But, so, are you telling me that you walked in there intending to kill the woman with your bare hands?

TOMMY

I walked in there intending to do something, yeah.

INTERVIEWER

To whom?

TOMMY

Well, maybe once I get in there I went to the first room, and there he was, so there I went…

INTERVIEWER

But again, you’re saying maybe.

TOMMY

I’m speculating on, on, on, uh, seven, how many years ago?

INTERVIEWER

Seven.

TOMMY

Seven. I mean, you remember what you had for breakfast? I’m, I’m… Uh.

INTERVIEWER

But, but in fairness, it’s difference when it’s a murder than what you had for breakfast.

TOMMY

Well, it is until you let all of them run together. I, I mean, there’s thirteen that we know that, that we, we put a coffin in, a nail in that coffin. We know there’s thirteen of them that, that we, we went through, and each one of them had their own little P’s and Q’s, and you had to dot the I’s a certain way and cross the T’s. This is just another one.

Basically, having breakfast amd killing someone was all the same to him.

Now She Has a Name; Heidi Balch

Now She Has a Name: When a Serial Killer Visited My Small Town

Until the day the golfer spotted a dismembered head in the cool waters of Stony Brook, the scariest beast in Hopewell was the New Jersey Devil. As elementary school students, we were shown videos of the Devil rampaging flocks of sheep and terrorizing farmers in the Pine Barrens. This was frightening, to be sure, but the Pine Barrens were several hours by car southeast of Hopewell (pop. 2200) and the videos never showed the Devil’s face owing to budgeting constraints, as the filmmakers could not afford any special effects. Plus we had a professional hockey team named after him — the Devils — and they were an inspiration to young children, not a menace.

I remember receiving the news about the head late one night in a house in the Sourland Mountains in 1989. My friend George and I were locked in a fierce battle of Nintendo Ice Hockey, the chief variables of the game being to decide whether to choose a slow, plump player, who could shoot the puck hard and check anything in his path; a skinny player who was extremely lithe but who had a weak shot and could be easily bumped off his skates; or a medium-sized player who was a compromise between the other two body types. It was an addictive formula, and one that Nintendo continues to exploit in its games today. Anyway, we were engrossed in this battle when George’s parents mounted the stairs and solemnly told us that a severed head had been found in a creek by the Hopewell Valley Golf Club, and added that they had locked the doors and we’d been up late enough playing-your-games-and-you-should-get-some-sleep.

We did not sleep that night, of course. The thought of a head without its body was something that had never occurred to us, and we were old enough, about 10, to know that someone had killed this body before lopping off its head. We consoled ourselves, as our world views splintered and cracked, by watching The Ultimate Warrior thrash his opponents on the World Wrestling Federation until the sun pried open our dreary eyelids.

The local news followed the story of the severed head closely, and blood tests eventually revealed that it contained the AIDS virus. In 1989, AIDS was associated with two things, gays and blacks, and we believed you could contract it by cutting your head on metal and that the symptom was a long white hair on your tongue and throat. This only compounded our sense of terror: a dismembered head with a misunderstood virus.

The place where the head had been found was more bizarre, the seventh hole of an idyllic golf club. My family didn’t belong to the club, but I had been there with friends to swim in the pool, which had a deep-end colored a malevolent blue, so bottomless were its waters, and lifeguards that sneered as they twirled their whistles around their fingers. In my memories, the swimming pool is always sun-dappled and solar flared — enough to please J.J. Abrams — because we only went swimming on sunny days. Hopewell was a small town, and safe and complacent with its five churches, its family-owned deli, sport hunting shop, and pharmacy. It had once been a hotbed of the Ku Klux Klan, and before that a scene of fierce resistance during the Revolutionary War. Charles Lindbergh’s baby had been kidnapped from a second story window, and then discarded in the woods just outside town, but by the late 1980s Hopewell had become a desirable backwater with its ample green spaces, acres of woods, pristine creeks, Harvest Festival, and Memorial Day parade, where kids of all colors could roam freely without fear. We would ride our Huffies and Schwinns by the golf course, right over the spot where Stony Brook, the stream in which the head had been found, dipped beneath the road.

As time went on, and the head was never claimed, rumors began to circulate, and always seemed to end in one of two possibilities: the Mafia or a serial killer had done it. Serial killers were, of course, far scarier to a 10 year old than the Mafia. Unlike the Mafia, which (television had us believe) followed a moral code, serial killers were imbued with their own unique compass. As a kid, my main concern was to find out how many other killers were out there, because that would promote my survival. My parents reassured me that we were safe — what else could you say to a child about such a thing? — and I would believe them until the sun went down and our home filled with shadows. But there were deeper questions, too: Why hadn’t anyone noticed that a head was missing? Wasn’t the family looking for the head? The thought that no family member cared enough about this person’s head to claim it back was even more terrifying. If your family can’t search for your missing head, then what good are they, in the end?

Most of my questions about the head were fed by what my parents called “an active imagination,” but in hindsight the threats were never were too far away. While vacationing at my grandparents’ cabin in Wisconsin, my mom hid an ax under the bed because the bodies of slaughtered children had been turning up in the woods, before Jeffrey Dahmer had been caught; my best friend in Hopewell had once lived in Arkansas down the street from the mother of John Wayne Gacy, a serial killer who had apparently visited her regularly as my friend rode his bigwheel tricycle down the street.

Much later, working with asylum seekers in South Africa, I regularly met men and women from the Democratic Republic of Congo who fled war-torn areas where roving militias dismembered the bodies of civilian victims. The difference was that the practice was fed by a heady mix of psychotropic drugs, psychological warfare, and perverted interpretations of animist traditions. The scale of such murders was terrifying, but there were reasons in place. It was war and the militias feared the spirits of their victims. There was a certain logic.

As a Nigerian-American, I’ve also become accustomed to a few stereotypes, most of which revolve around Nigerian email scams, but also the selling of body parts. Not just internal organs, but arms, legs, feet, little fingers. (Just watch the South African film District 9, and you’ll see Nigerians who get off on dismembering people and also having sex with aliens from outerspace.) But again, there is a sort of reasoning to that illicit traffic. The bodies for these occult rituals are sliced apart for spiritual purposes, not as ends unto themselves.

Last week, after a 24-year search for more information about the head, the New Jersey State Police finally discovered the identity of the victim. She was a prostitute who had changed her name no less than 15 times, and she was identified by DNA tests that matched her with her aunt, who had filed a missing persons report with the police in 2001. Her name was Heidi Balch. She is believed to have been the first victim killed by Joel Rifkin, who confessed to murdering someone with the name of one of her aliases in 1993, and who had been sentenced to 200 years in prison after killing 17 prostitutes on a rampage. Rifkin claimed to have begun murdering prostitutes because he had contracted AIDS from one.

The HIV virus was the main character of South African author Kgebetli Moele’s 2009 novel The Book of the Dead, and the protagonist moved from victim to victim boasting of its conquests. It was not Moele’s best book — that would be Room 207, a must read — but it was chilling to read how the virus thrived on intimacy and broken relationships. Revenge was never the point of the virus in that story: it lived only for the sake of living. Rifkin, by contrast, claimed to be butchering for revenge and not for pleasure. In this, the fictional virus holds the moral upperhand, for it doesn’t pretend to be serving some larger purpose.

Like science fiction, serial killers twist our values on their head and allow us to reflect back on ourselves — What would happen if our planet had two suns instead of one? Or if we communicated through telepathy? — and, in the case of serial killers — what if you didn’t care if you killed someone? Or took pleasure in the killing? Serial killers are big business. Their psychological profiles and crafty, nefarious plotting can be patiently examined in a television series like Dexter or Bates Motel and people will watch them.

Only after I read the news about the discovery did I realize how long I had suppressed even thinking about the murder. For two decades, I now realized, I had been holding my breath as we drove along the road past the golf course; and all that time the head loomed spectral and ghoulish in the crenellations of my mind.

The New Jersey State Police managed to trace Heidi Balch’s identity by searching records of prostitution offenses at the time. If my consciousness was first shattered in 1989 when they found the head, it was this fact that shattered it again. Heidi Balch was killed because she had been pushed, by will or by circumstance, to the margins of our society to the extent that her very livelihood was a criminal act. Rifkin, Dahmer, and Gacy preyed on the weak and marginalized. It’s hard to imagine a sober conversation about legalizing prostitution in America today or empowering sex workers with rights, especially when abortion laws are becoming still more restrictive. Heidi Balch was unclaimed and nameless for 24 years. Now we know her name, but if she were alive today what would prevent us from forgetting her again?

Again we see how far the ripples of a killer reach into society. How it touches kids and parents and how and what they do.

Serial killer Anthony Sowell’s aftermath continues

Serial killer Anthony Sowell’s aftermath continues to stoke fears on Cleveland’s East Side: Phillip Morris

Convicted serial murderer Anthony Sowell’s Imperial Avenue home in Cleveland,OH, is demolished, Tuesday, December 6, 2011. But fear in the wake of his slaughter remains strong in certain Cleveland communities.

I first met Renee when they started pulling bodies out of Anthony Sowell’s backyard in 2009.

She called and said she wanted to talk to a reporter. She warned me that she was in the middle of a nervous breakdown and needed to scream.

When I arrived at her East Side home, Renee met me at the door with a picture of Kimberly Yvette Smith in her hand. She gave me the photo and began to shake and sob uncontrollably.

Awkward and haunting doesn’t begin to describe that introduction, but it’s the moment the serial killing became real for me.

Kim, an attractive young lady, was the ninth woman to be found buried in the home of Anthony Sowell, the convict Cleveland serial killer. She was also a close friend of Renee’s, as were four of the other women whose remains were found at the Imperial Avenue property.

But Renee wasn’t worried about Sowell. His career was over. She was worried about someone else; a man who she believed posed a continuing threat to her.

“I’m scared, Mr. Morris. There is someone else out here raping us. I was raped in July at gunpoint. The same guy, with the same M.O. has raped at least three more of my girlfriends. How can we get this guy off the street before he kills someone?

I’ve thought of Renee often in recent days as the level of tension and fear begins to rise again in certain neighborhoods on Cleveland’s East Side — neighborhoods near the house where Anthony Sowell killed and stashed the bodies of eleven women.

Police took the extraordinary step this week of issuing a warning to women to remain vigilant against stranger abductions as they seek whoever killed 20-year-old Jazmine Trotter and 45-year-old Christine (Crissy) Johnson-Malone.

The bodies of these two Cleveland women were found about a mile from each other last week in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Both died of head trauma and strangulation. Police say they have no evidence the incidents are connected, but a highly stressed community is already rushing to its own judgements.

The fear that another serial predator might have emerged continues to evolve, especially with the news Monday of an attempted abduction in the general vicinity of the two killings.

Perhaps it’s a community’s overreaction. But that is what can be expected in the wake of a successful serial killer, who operated under a city’s radar for years. Even after Sowell’s 2011 capital conviction, the paranoia and fears he stoked live on.

The current attacks have caused some to wonder whether another violent sociopath has picked up the killer’s mantel and resumed his work.

Cleveland, to its benefit, has changed in some important ways since Sowell made women disappear. The city’s police department doesn’t take missing person’s reports as cavalierly as it once did. Officers appear quicker to handle the complaints and more eager to ascertain a missing person’s whereabouts.

And the community is much quicker to report those who go missing. Families are doing a better job of keeping an eye on their own lost sheep and vulnerable loved ones.

Such proactive behavior helps improve the overall level of public safety, as sloppy predators – like Sowell – no longer have the luxury of operating in a climate marked by rank indifference.

Still, the warning and plea of Renee continue to haunt me. I don’t know if she’s living or dead. I have been unable to locate her.

If you’re out there Miss RYO, give me a call.

Her concerns remain just as valid now as they were when we spoke.

The first line of defense against a predator remains vigilance. Members of a community who assume direct responsibility for each other thwart a serial killer from operating under our radar.

Original Article

Charles Manson in the news again

Charlie just can not seem to behave and stay out of trouble even in prison. I mean, I am sure he had no idea that his follower (yes, Charlie still has plenty of them)  was trying to sneak him a cell phone. Just like Charlie had no clue that his other followers were murdering people.

probability-wat-duh-ffff

CORCORAN, Calif. — A follower of Charles Manson has been arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle a cell phone inside a California prison where the mass murderer is housed, authorities said Tuesday.

Craig Carlisle Hammond, 63, was arrested Sunday for investigation of conspiracy, possession of an illegal communication device and attempting to bring a cell phone into a prison, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections.

He was taken to jail and was released after posting bail. He is scheduled to be in court next month.

Craig Carlisle Hammond mugshot

Hammond had a wrist watch cell phone that was found by a correctional officer at Corcoran State Prison in an area where the device is prohibited, authorities said. The phone never got into Manson’s hands.

However, the notorious cult leader who is serving a life sentence for orchestrating a series of gruesome murders more than 40 years ago has been caught with a smuggled cell phone twice in the past four years.

In 2009, Manson was found with a phone and he had been calling and texting people in California, Florida, New Jersey and British Columbia. Two years ago, he also was found with a phone.

Recent legislation in California makes it a misdemeanor to smuggle a cell phone into a prison, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.

Hammond goes by the name Gray Wolf that was given to him by Manson and regularly visits the 78-year-old, according to the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/10fOUVL).

From Huffington Post

More info from L.A. Times

Manson has been caught with a cellphone in his cell twice. Manson called people in California, New Jersey and Florida with an LG flip phone found under his prison bunk in March 2009. For the offense, 30 days were  added to his sentence. The cult leader was again found with a cellphone in his cell Jan. 6, 2011.

That fall, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a Senate bill that makes it a misdemeanor to possess an unauthorized cellphone in prison or to try to take one into a prison. Violators face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

The proliferation of cellphones in prisons is a significant public safety concern, officials say. Inmates have run street gangs from behind bars, intimidated witnesses and orchestrated assaults on guards, they said. In 2011, 15,000 cellphones were found inside prisons.

Manson sees few visitors, but Hammond is among his regulars. Hammond controls a copyright on Manson’s music and is a self-described follower of the the inmate.

A Manson website maintained by followers and believers of Manson’s ATWA group –an acronym for Air, Trees, Water, Animals — reported that Gray Wolf was detained at Level 4 visitation entrance. According to the website, Manson was meeting with another friend when Gray Wolf was detained by guards. Manson and the two visitors were subsequently searched and the two visitors also consented to their vehicles being searched. Gray Wolf was then taken into custody and asked for a lawyer, according to the website.

I am not linking to ATWA, if you are curious it is easy to find.

I actually giggled when I read this article. Do not get me wrong, it is sad, disturbing and a concern that Manson still has people willing to go to jail for him but the fact that the dummy was busted and Charlie did not get his way makes me happy.

I kind of felt like this

charles manson loses

His crimes are in no way a joke but really, his legacy has become one to most people.

People have not forgotten, it is just that many see him as something to make fun of rather than to follow and that’s not such a bad thing.
It would have been better to rid the world of him, but I can stomach him being an object of ridicule (by most) much better than as an object to follow.

The Dead Man Talking Project

Hunting for Long-Gone Serial Killers: Inside the Dead Man Talking Project

 

Two California prosecutors are teaming to up to gather the DNA of deceased murderers and use it to close unsolved murders. But tracking down the saliva of a dead man isn’t always easy. Christine Pelisek reports.

By day, she runs the sex-crimes division of the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. In her spare time, she tracks down the DNA of dead rapists, murderers, and serial killers.

Carol Burke is on a mission to cross off as many cold cases as she can by matching swabs of known felons with evidence from unsolved-crime scenes. With Anne Marie Schubert, who is in charge of child-abuse cases upstate in the Sacramento D.A.’s office, Burke helps to run a project called Dead Man Talking, which has brought the pair closer than ever to bringing justice to the cases of some of the most sadistic serial killers in California history—even if the culprits themselves are long gone.

“It’s really rewarding,” Burke says of the project. “There is a lot of value to it, even though we can’t prosecute the offenders because they are dead. Families can at least have some closure. They finally know what happened to their loved ones.”

California has a DNA data bank that stores close to 2 million felon profiles. It also contains some 25,000 pieces of crime-scene evidence from murders, rapes, robberies, and burglaries—semen from a bed sheet, or a cigarette butt—that have never been linked to an offender.

Burke and Schubert believe that adding to the list of felon profiles could close countless unsolved cases. But a surprising number of known offenders are missing from the database. Schubert says that since 1984, close to 25,000 inmates have died in a California prison or on parole. Of those, nearly 19,000 were not swabbed for DNA before they died. Over 40 of them were death-row inmates.

Finding traces of these men can be extremely difficult, especially for two women with full-time jobs and no staff. Burke and Schubert are focusing first on death-row inmates and then widening their net to offenders who were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Each has their own white whale. Burke is devoted to tracking down the DNA of notorious “Freeway Killer” William Bonin, so called because many of his victims were left by the side of freeways in Southern California. “He’s my No. 1 target,” Burke says. “He was a really bad guy. He was so prolific.”

Image

Bonin was convicted of kidnapping, robbing, sexually assaulting, and killing 13 boys and young men in Los Angeles and Orange counties between 1979 and 1980. After he was arrested, Bonin, who had worked alongside various accomplices, including a factory worker named Vernon Butts, confessed to killing 21 young boys and young men, some of them he had picked up hitchhiking. Police believe his body count is closer to 30.

 Image

However, when Bonin was executed in San Quentin State Prison in 1996 before submitting a DNA sample, any hope of linking him to more killings died with him.

“I originally assumed they autopsied people in San Quentin,” says Burke. “That’s not the case. They were only autopsying people who committed suicide or were killed in prison. So someone who died of natural causes or was executed like Bonin was not autopsied.”

Burke says Bonin’s court files and trial exhibits have been destroyed. Nor has she had any luck finding his blood, semen, or saliva with the Los Angeles or Orange County police departments or with the coroner’s office. An attempt to track down the DNA of Butts, who Bonin said was an active participant in many of the murders, almost came to fruition when she discovered that he had committed suicide in a Los Angeles County jail and was autopsied. But, she said, law-enforcement personnel destroyed the forensic evidence in 2010.  

 The dead ends can be frustrating. “Bonin is the most notorious and the one who most likely left unsolved murders in his wake,” Burke says. “It sure would be great to get his sample so we could solve some of the unsolveds out there.”

Recently she found better luck in the case of Roland Comtois, who abducted two teenaged girls in 1987, killed one, and sexually assaulted the other. The 65-year-old inmate died in a prison hospital from an infection in 1994, but was never autopsied. But Burke’s sleuthing uncovered a bloody shirt that had belonged to the killer—left when police shot him trying to escape arrest and stored as evidence. So far, his DNA has not been linked to any new murders.

Schubert, who created Dead Man Talking in 2008, started the project in part to solve some of Sacramento County’s most notorious serial-killer cold cases that date back to the ’70s.

“It was a killing field, and not just here,” she says. “The number of body dumps across the state was enormous.”

One of the killers high on her list is the “Original Night Stalker,” who is believed to be responsible for over 50 rapes that began in Northern California and ended with multiple murders in 1986 in Santa Barbara, Orange, and Ventura counties.
 
“It terrified Sacramento and the region,” says Schuster, who was a child when the attacks began. “We still haven’t solved it. It’s highly likely that he has died in prison.”

 Schubert spent over a year searching for the DNA of serial killer Gerald Gallego, who along with his wife was responsible for the sex-slave murders of 10 young women in California and Nevada in the late ’70s. Gallego, who was sentenced to death in both states, died in 2002 of rectal cancer in Nevada and was never swabbed.
 
Image

Eventually, Schubert says, she found a saliva sample buried inside 14 boxes at a clerk’s office.  

“I can say he was suspected in multiple murders and not just the ones he was convicted of,” she says.

Last year the pair had their first major success when they linked L.A. serial killer Juan Chavez to the unsolved murder of 60-year-old Lynn Penn. Penn was found strangled in his apartment in July 1990.

 Image

Chavez committed suicide three months after he was convicted of killing five gay men. Schubert discovered that Chavez had been autopsied, and a sample of his blood was still in evidence. His DNA was uploaded into the DNA data bank  and last February it was linked to saliva found on a cigarette butt discovered inside Penn’s apartment.

 “I think I screamed,” said Schubert when she learned of the DNA hit. “I remember where I was. It’s like how everyone remembers where they were when Elvis died.”

Schubert is hoping to expand the project statewide and hire a full-time investigator. However, cold-case grants are hard to come by. Last year they were turned down for funding for the project.

“There are probably some people out there that are like, these guys are dead; it doesn’t matter. I don’t think that at all,” she says. “It does matter. It’s about seeking justice for those who were harmed by these people.”

 

I think it matters and I think it is very important to give the families closure. I applaud these two ladies and hope that the criminal justice system gets behind them.

Victim of Oregon serial killer Dayton Leroy Rogers finally laid to rest after 26 years

Full article and slide show here.

As her thoughts turned to renewal and hope each spring, Cherrie Letter would call the funeral home to ask about the murdered prostitute. For 26 years the answer remained the same. The young woman’s family never claimed her ashes. They languished in a simple urn stored on a shelf.

But Letter couldn’t forget Jennifer Lisa Smith. The two were forever connected by what happened one night in 1987.

That Friday in August, Smith’s screams brought Letter running out the door of an Oak Grove restaurant where she was talking with a friend. Letter saw the 25-year-old Smith lying naked in the parking lot — the final victim of Oregon’s most prolific serial killer Dayton Leroy Rogers.

Letter knelt beside the bleeding woman, trying to stanch the flow from the wicked stab wounds, telling her to hang on until help arrived. But Smith died at the hospital.

The killer had taken off in his truck, chased by a man in a car. Rogers raced through Milwaukie and Gladstone at speeds up to 100 mph. But the man was able to note the license plate to the pickup and deputies arrested Rogers that afternoon. A fingerprint matching Smith’s right ring finger was found on the outside of the truck’s passenger door. The case led to Rogers’ conviction and he’s now in the Oregon State Penitentiary.

Letter, 32 at the time, learned that Smith’s body went to Finley-Sunset Hills Mortuary off of U.S. 26. She sent flowers and a card to the funeral home for Smith’s family.

“I expressed my sorrow,” she recalled. “I wanted her family to know that she was a brave woman who fought for her life. I wanted them to be comforted to know that she wasn’t alone. I was there with her.”

Smith’s family never replied.

“After six months I called the funeral home,” Letter said. “The card and flowers hadn’t been picked up. Her ashes were still there.”

When she checked again six months later, no change.

“All of that made me to not want Jenny to be forgotten,” Letter said. “So I started calling the funeral home each year with the sense of hope that her family picked up the ashes. I prayed for Jenny and her family.”

Each year, the same call.

And each year, the same answer.

“I felt such profound sadness,” Letter said. “No one cared.”

But she did.

***

A month ago, in late February, it was time to call again. The ritual had become her way — like the way some people light a candle in a church — to honor Smith’s memory. Long ago, Letter had realized the similarities between their two lives.

Now 58, Letter had once worked for the Portland Police Bureau’s vice squad. She was 19 and earned college class credit and a bit of money to pose as a hooker to help cops arrest customers who trolled for women like Smith, known on the streets as Gypsy Roselyn Costello. Letter knew that no girl decides to grow up and be a prostitute. Smith had been forced to make some terrible choices to survive.

And in 1983, when Letter was in her late 20s, a man broke into her Southeast Portland home and sexually assaulted her. When she managed to escape, the intruder — later caught and convicted — chased her down, stabbed her five times and beat her in a parking lot, breaking her collarbone and smashing her head onto the pavement.

This year, Letter made the call with a sense of urgency. Cancerous tumors have spread through her body. While doctors plot a course of action, Letter — divorced with a daughter and granddaughter and living near Lincoln City — feels time is precious.

“The clock is ticking and I’m not sure how many ticks I have left,” she said. “Her own people never came to get her. When I go, everyone will have forgotten about Jenny.”

Letter said she started to recount her tale to the funeral home receptionist and was transferred to Evone Manzella, the mortuary manager hired six months earlier after moving from California.

“The call seemed strange,” Manzella said. “It was almost hard to believe the story. But there was something in her voice that touched me.”

Before getting into the funeral industry, Manzella had worked as a 9-1-1 dispatcher in Northern California. One call in particular haunts her.
“A young woman was being attacked and got away to call for help,” she said. “I took it. She was on the phone with me when the attacker chased her down. I heard her die.”

Manzella took Letter’s telephone number and said she’d get back to her.

After checking the Internet to verify Letter’s account of Smith’s murder, Manzella found a ledger book in the mortuary’s office safe. She flipped through the pages and found Smith’s name. Her unclaimed cremated remains had been at the home longer than anyone on record.

A file showed that in 1987 Smith’s parents had paid to have the mortuary take care of their daughter’s body. When they didn’t pick up the remains, the funeral home left phone messages and sent certified mail. They never responded. At a certain point, the mortuary decided to wait for them to come forward.

Manzella was moved by what she found out.

“I’m a mom,” she said. “I would hope that no child is ever forgotten.”

She was also impressed with Letter.

“Here’s this woman who has been carrying this burden for so long,” she said. “The right thing was to do something for both of these women.”

Manzella took the story and the records to the funeral home managers. Her bosses were amazed that someone who wasn’t a family member had cared for so long. They donated a niche in the ornate mausoleum and provided a bronze faceplate engraved with Smith’s name, birthday and the day she died.

When the paperwork had been completed, Manzella called Letter. They planned a memorial service for a day last week. Letter said she’d be there, along with two members of the clergy she asked to say a few words.

But about 15 minutes before the service, the receptionist told Manzella that Letter had called to say that one of her tumors had put pressure on her adrenal gland, causing her blood pressure to skyrocket and her heart to race. As a precaution, doctors wanted her spend the night in the hospital.

Three days later, when Letter felt better, the funeral home held a second memorial.
As services go, it was the smallest in the funeral home’s history: Letter, Manzella and a couple employees, one of whom would screw the faceplate over the niche.

Standing before the wall where Smith’s remains would be laid to rest, Letter reached into her purse and pulled out a small piece of blood amber in the shape of a heart that she found at the beach more than 25 years ago. She opened the urn’s lid, set the amber inside and closed it again.

“This,” she said, “goes with her.”

After the urn was placed in the niche and the faceplate solid, Letter walked to her car and pulled out 25 white helium-filled balloons.

Each one represented a year in Smith’s life.

She let them loose.

“Fly, Jenny,” she said. “Fly.”

— Tom Hallman Jr.

By Tom Hallman Jr., The Oregonian

R.I.P. Jennifer

R.I.P. Jennifer

Crime Library article on Rogers

This article made me tear up. How beautiful and inspiring. The people who work for the mortuary are outstanding and Ms. Letter is amazing.

Suspected serial killer seeking release

Suspected serial killer seeking release.

Reported by: Marcos Ortiz Images
(ABC 4 News) SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – It may be the state’s last attempt to keep a suspected serial murder behind bars.

Donald Younge has escaped charges of multiple murders in Illinois and Utah.

But in 2009, he was convicted of raping a Salt Lake City woman.

Now his attorneys are appealing that conviction before the Utah Supreme Court claiming the state took much too long to try Younge.

It all started with the murder of Amy Quinton. Her case was unsolved for six years.

That is until Younge went jailed in Illinios for a multitude of murders.

Police claim his DNA matched that found in the Quinton murder and a 1996 rape.

“He brutally raped and assaulted Rebecca Clawson assaulted and fled justice for six years,” says Jeff Gray, deputy Attorney General.

Younge’s murders in Illiniois were dismissed because a key witness was found murdered.

That’s when Younge was brought to Utah to face the murder and rape charges.

But the murder charges were also dropped because of sketchy testimony.

In 2009, Younge was convicted of the rape and his attorneys are now appealing to the Supreme Court.

Attorneys representing Younge in Tuesday’s hearing refused to comment afterwards. But Gray says they didn’t do anything out of the ordinary by waiting for Illinois to finish its case.

“We were simply taking our turn,” says Gray. “The state of Illinois had him in custody and when they were finished we brought him to Utah and tried him seven months later.”

The justices took the matter under advisement.

Serial Killer sits in county jail waiting for transfer

Serial killer’s letter highlights Oklahoma’s county jail backlog problem
A letter from a man described as a serial killer to the Cleveland County judge who sentenced him to life in prison last fall illustrates the state’s ongoing battle with what prison officials call county jail backlog.
By Andrew Knittle

Billy Dean Battenfield was convicted of his fourth murder in September after he pleaded guilty to the brutal slaying of Clair Owen Pollard, a retired social worker who originally lived in Maine.
Battenfield also was convicted of three murders in Texas and New Mexico in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The convict, who was described by a former FBI profiler as “serial killer,” had already spent more than half his life behind bars when he killed Pollard in late November 2011.
Cleveland County Judge Steve Stice sentenced Battenfield to life in prison — without the possibility of parole — in September.
The letter from Battenfield to Stice, dated Dec. 17, is seeking information about why the convict has yet to be transferred to a state prison.
“To this date, I am still waiting for the district attorney and the court clerk’s office to certify my judgment and sentence in order for the sheriff to transport me,” the inmate wrote.
Battenfield does not complain about the county jail or list any grievances in the one-page, handwritten letter.
Stice, who responded in a letter dated the following day, issued a simple response. But despite its brevity, the letter points to overcrowding in the state’s prisons as the reason for Battenfield’s perceived lengthy stay at the Cleveland County jail.
“I investigated your concern,” the judge wrote. “Your (judgment and sentence) has been prepared, signed and certified for some time.
“Your transport to DOC will happen as soon as space in DOC is available.”
Both letters are part of the case file available on the Oklahoma State Court Network website.

Before Pollard’s murder, Battenfield only had been out of jail for between five and seven months. Before that, he was in prisons in New Mexico and Texas for 30 years.

The article goes on to describe the problem of inmates staying in the county jail long after they should have been transferred. It explains the problem with what it costs the jails and how long it takes to get payment. That is a problem no doubt.

What bothers me even more though is that there is no way that a local county jail is as secure as a state prison. How secure is his cell? Has an escape risk assessment been done? Escapes from jails are not uncommon and it is disturbing to think that there is a serial killer just sitting in one due to overcrowding.
If the cost is an issue I am thinking that there is not extra security for this 1 prisoner.

Billy Dean Battenfield

Leads me to wonder if this is common throughout the United States.

What was serial killer doing while in North Texas? | wfaa.com Dallas – Fort Worth

2932-israel-keyes

Isrealkeyes

What was serial killer doing while in North Texas? | wfaa.com Dallas – Fort Worth.

While supposed serial killer Israel Keyes did kill himself in his Anchorage jail cell last month, the FBI still needs the public’s help to build a narrative of his crimes.
Investigators believe Keyes killed at least eight people across the U.S., zig-zagging the country kidnapping victims, robbing them and killing some. TIME Magazine reported in December that investigators didn’t know about the string of crimes until Keyes told them.
His spree lasted from 2001 until February 2012.
As TIME writer Madison Gray detailed, Keyes kidnapped 18-year-old Samantha Koenig from a coffee shop in Anchorage on February 1 of last year. The FBI says he took her debit card and sent out a flurry of text messages with her phone so acquaintances wouldn’t think she was missing. He got her PIN number. The next day, he killed her.
Keyes flew to Houston and back to Anchorage, eventually finagling the deposit of ransom money into Koenig’s account, which he withdrew from banks in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas, as TIME reported.
In March of last year, a Lufkin highway patrolman spotted Keyes driving his Ford Focus and pulled it over, recognizing it from a security video. Keyes was arrested and extradited. He confessed –– then confessed to at least eight murders. There may be more: Staring down at a possible death sentence, Keyes cut his wrists and hanged himself in his jail cell.
FBI investigators have pieced together Keyes’ travels since. And between February 12 and February 16, Special Agent Diego Rodriguez says he was in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
He told police that he was in Azle, Aledo and Cleburne. And, at some point, his car got stuck in a “muddy, rural area.” Rodriguez wants to speak to anyone who may have helped Keyes with his car.
Johnson County Sheriff’s deputies are also helping the FBI. They will be posting flyers Thursday at gas stations and restaurants in Godley and Cresson. Johnson County is also hoping new leads might help them solve a murder that happened in their jurisdiction last February.
“You start wondering if they are tied to it, in any way or not,” said Lt. Tim Jones from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department. “If they are to give closure to the family or not, eliminate them so we keep looking for the right person”.
During that same time period, Keyes may have also visited the Post Oak Cemetery in Glen Rose.

If you saw a blue 2011 Kia Soul with a TX license plate of CN8-M857, you’re asked to call 1.800.CALL.FBI.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department is also seeking information, (817) 556-6058.

Video at link as well.

Food for thought

%d bloggers like this: