Carl Ericsson: The Mad-at-the-World Homicidal Loser

     Norman Johnson and Carl Ericsson attended the same high school at the same time in Madison, South Dakota, a farm town of 6,500. That’s all they had in common. Johnson, a member of the class of 1958, had been a popular football star …

     Norman Johnson and Carl Ericsson attended the same high school at the same time in Madison, South Dakota, a farm town of 6,500. That's all they had in common. Johnson, a member of the class of 1958, had been a popular football star while Ericsson, in the class ahead of him, was a loner, and the team's water boy. As high school students, and as adults, these men lived vastly contrasting lives. Norman Johnson married his high school girlfriend and became a pillar of the local community, while Ericsson moved away, married, and lived in comparative obscurity.

     After college, Norman Johnson returned to Madison where, for the next 35-years, he taught high school English and coached the football team. In retirement, he stayed active in the community as a playground supervisor, proofreader for the hometown newspaper, and as a part time employee at the local hardware store. He was still married to his high school girlfriend, had two grown daughters, and lived in a modest two-story house in town. He was surrounded by former students who still called him Mr. Johnson.

     After high school, Carl Ericsson moved to Wyoming where he found a low-level job with the federal government. After retirement, he moved to Watertown, South Dakota 50 miles north of Madison. As an alcoholic who was chronically depressed, Ericsson was a surely, difficult man who loved his dog more than people. He lived in a tiny, one-story house with his long-suffering wife. As is the custom with profoundly unhappy maladjusted people, Ericsson did not get along with his father, a successful attorney in Madison, or his younger brother Dick who had followed their father into the law. He also complained and harassed the children in his neighborhood, gave people who irritated him the finger, and once even threatened to kill his younger brother. He was the type of person psychologists, psychiatrists, and medication can't fix. People avoided this guy like the plague.

     On the evening of January 31, 2011, Ericsson was seen in Madison prowling around backyards, knocking on residents' doors, and shinning his flashlight into homes. As further evidence he was up to no good, Ericsson was in possession of a Glock 45-caliber pistol with a 17-round clip, one of many handguns he owned.

     At 7:30 that evening, Ericsson pulled his brown Ford Taurus up to Norman Johnson's house,  walked up the sidewalk, and knocked on his front door. When Johnson appeared at the entrance, he did not recognize the man standing on his stoop with the shock of white hair and full beard. The men hadn't seen each other since high school. "Are you Norman Johnson?" Ericsson asked. Immediately after Johnson answered yes, the former water boy shot the retired teacher in the face--twice--leaving him to die in the doorway of his home.

     The next day, officers with the Madison Police Department took Carl Ericsson into custody. When a detective asked him why he had murdered a man he hadn't seen for 53 years, Ericsson said he had gotten even for a locker room prank Johnson and other students had played on him back in 1957. According to Ericsson, the football players had forced him to wear a jock-strap on his head, a high school humiliation he had brooded over for decades. He had fantasized about getting revenge, and that's what he did.

     Investigators, of course, had no way of knowing if this prank ever took place, or if it had, if Norman Johnson had anything to do with it. As a matter of law, and criminal homicide, all of that was irrelevant anyway. But some in the sob sister media, when covering this murder, focused on the bullying aspect of the story, suggesting that being forced to don a jock-strap can turn a person into a depressed, alcoholic, mad-at-the-world loser who will someday erupt into a cold-blooded killer.

     Carl Ericsson pleaded guilty to a South Dakota homicide offense called second-degree murder under circumstances of mental illness. (In many states this is called guilty but mentally ill.) This meant that Ericsson would receive mental health treatment at a state prison rather than in an institution for the criminally insane. Because he knew exactly what he was doing, this defendant was not criminally insane. He was a guy with a drinking problem and a lousy personality who couldn't cope with life. The woods are full of people just like him. Fortunately they are not all murderers.

     On June 16, 2012, a judge sentenced Ericsson to life without parole.              

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Nadia Malik Suspicious Death Case

     In February 2014, 22-year-old Nadia Malik resided with her one-year-old daughter and her parents in Broomall, Pennsylvania, a Delaware County suburb in the Philadelphia area. The one-year-old’s father, Nadia’s estranged boyfriend, 2…

     In February 2014, 22-year-old Nadia Malik resided with her one-year-old daughter and her parents in Broomall, Pennsylvania, a Delaware County suburb in the Philadelphia area. The one-year-old's father, Nadia's estranged boyfriend, 25-year-old Bhupinder Singh, lived with their four-year-old daughter at his parents' apartment in Solon, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. In 2012, the couple had an infant that, according to court documents, died suddenly under "suspect circumstances."

     Nadia and Bhupinder reportedly had a relationship described as "strained, on/off, and violent." Nadia had recently been fired from her job as a CVS pharmacy assistant in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania for missing too much work. 
     On February 9 and again on February 10, 2014, Nadia Malik sent text messages to her brother Faud Malik and her friend Thomas Singh (no relation to Bhupinder) informing them that Bhupinder was holding her against her will in a car. On February 9, Thomas Singh reported Nadia missing to the Lansdowne, Pennsylvania Police Department. (Shortly thereafter the case was transferred to the Marple Township police.) 
     On February 12, 2014, investigators traced Bhupinder Singh, through Nadia's cellphone, to his parents' apartment in Solon, Ohio. At the arrival of the police that day, Singh tried to escape out the back door but was arrested before he ran very far. Officers took him into the Cuyahoga County Corrections Center on a probation violation warrant issued out of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. 
     Singh, who claimed to have no knowledge regarding Nadia's whereabouts, had scratches on his face and a black eye. He told his interrogators the injuries were sustained in a fight he had with Nadia. The last time he saw her was on February 11, 2014 in Delaware County. He left her in his father's black 2007 Nissan Altima and took a bus to his parents' home in Solon. When arrested, Singh possessed Nadia's cellphone and her driver's license.  
     At ten-thirty on the morning of Thursday, February 20, 2014, an anonymous tipster called the Marple Township Police Department regarding a black 2007 Nissan Altima with heavily tinted windows parked on 30th Street near Market Street in Philadelphia. Police officers found eight parking tickets on the vehicle. 
     In the reclined front passenger seat of the Nissan, officers found Nadia Malik positioned on her side as though she had been sleeping. The dead woman was fully clothed with a duffel bag resting on top of her head. The car also contained a pile of clothing, loose change, and prescription bill bottles issued to Bhupinder Singh.
     The first parking ticket on the car had been issued on February 10, a few blocks away at 23rd and Market Streets. The second citation was issued on February 12 when the Nissan was parked in an emergency zone on Market Street. The first ticket placed on the car where it was found on February 20 had been issued two days earlier. 
     Based on the parking ticket history, Nadia Malik either died between February 18 and February 20, several days after Bhupinder Singh's arrest. If she had died before that, someone had moved the Nissan with her dead body in it.
     A Philadelphia forensic pathologist performed the autopsy on Friday, February 21, 2014. A spokesperson for the medical examiner's office announced there were no signs of physical trauma on Malik's body. The spokesperson did not reveal the time of death in the case, a vital piece of information, or the cause and manner of death.

     On October 16, 2014, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office announced that toxicological tests on Malik's body had not solved the mystery of what killed her or how she  had died.

     In February 2015, a year after Malik's suspicious death, the authorities released information regarding the February 28, 2012 death of Malik's 3-month-old daughter, Alina Singh. Paramedics had found the child next to her mother in a car parked near a Chinese restaurant in the Delaware County town of Springfield. The unresponsive infant was pronounced dead later that day. The Delaware County Medical Examiner ruled the cause of Alina's death as cachexia--a type of muscle atrophy commonly called "wasting syndrome." The manner of the child's death remained "undetermined."

     Detectives with the Philadelphia Police Department continued to investigate Nadia Malik's death as a possible murder case. When questioned by the police in Ohio, Bhupinder Singh said he had fled to Ohio on a Greyhound bus out of New York City after arguing with Malik on matters "concerning their relationship."

     After being found guilty in April 2014 of violating his probation, Singh spent a month in jail. Upon his release on parole, he took up residence in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. According to a police spokesperson in February 2015, detectives still considered Bhupinder Singh a suspect in what they believed was Malik's homicidal death.

     In July 2015, Nadia's brother, 32-year-old Khaled Malik, offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for his sister's death. As of November 2018, no arrests have been made in this mysterious case. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Thomas Gilbert High Society Murder Case

     Thirty-year-old Thomas Gilbert Jr. cut the figure of rich kid Dickie Greenleaf in the novel and film of the same name, The Talented Mr. Ripley. In the book and movie the slacker playboy was murdered by a friend who took up his ident…

     Thirty-year-old Thomas Gilbert Jr. cut the figure of rich kid Dickie Greenleaf in the novel and film of the same name, The Talented Mr. Ripley. In the book and movie the slacker playboy was murdered by a friend who took up his identify. In real life, however, when someone in a wealthy family is murdered, it's usually the man or woman who created the wealth, not an offspring who depended on it.

     In 2015, 70-year-old Thomas Gilbert Sr. resided with his wife in an apartment building on the east side of Manhattan just north of the United Nations headquarters. Besides their two sons, the couple had a 24-year-old daughter who aspired to be a writer.

     A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School, Mr. Gilbert, in 2011, started a hedge fund called Wainscott Partners Fund, a firm that specialized in the biotech and healthcare industries. Three years after its inception, the fund handled $200 million in assets. Only people with $500,000 or more to invest were invited to participate in the fund.

     Mr. Gilbert worked hard to get his relatively small investment firm off the ground. A friendly man who enjoyed the upper-crust social life, Mr. Gilbert belonged to exclusive organizations such as the Maidstone Club in East Hampton and the River Club in Manhattan.

     Mr. Gilbert's youngest son, Thomas Jr., grew up benefiting from his father's wealth, hard work, and success. His parents enrolled him in elite boarding schools--the Buckley School ($30,000 a year tuition) and Deerfield Prep ($54,000 annual tuition)--where the six-foot-three student with the thick blond hair excelled at sports. Following boarding school, Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert's quiet, reserved and socially awkward youngest son attended Princeton University. In 2009 Thomas Jr. graduated from the Ivy League school with a degree in economics.

     Notwithstanding his prestigious education, high social status, and all the advantages a young man could ask for, Thomas Jr. didn't enter the world of finance or any other business or profession. He wanted to start his own hedge fund but his father didn't think he had the ability or the drive to succeed in the field. As a result, Thomas assumed the role of a playboy reliant on his father's generosity. It didn't sit well with him.

     To maintain his high society lifestyle, Thomas needed more money than his father was willing to shell out. He existed on a $2,400 a month housing stipend and a $600 a week spending allowance. This was not nearly enough to support his expensive apartment in Chelsea, his gym fees, the party-going circuit, and his love of surfing. Deeply in debt, Thomas wanted a much larger allowance to continue living in the style he had become accustomed to.

     But there was a problem. Thomas and his father didn't get along. His father thought he was lazy and stupid and junior considered his father stingy and mean. Moreover, in September 2014, the family's 17th century mansion on eastern Long Island's East Hampton community burned down. Thomas Jr., an obsessive-compulsive sufferer who didn't always stay on his medication, surfaced quickly as the prime suspect in the arson. (No charges have been filed in the case.) That fire did not endear Mr. Gilbert to his son.

     A little after three in the afternoon on Sunday January 5, 2015, Thomas Jr. showed up at his parents' apartment to discuss his allowance with his father. Thomas Sr. had informed his son that he had decided to cut his weekly spending budget from $600 to $400.

     Upon his arrival at the apartment, the younger Mr. Gilbert sent his mother out of the building to buy him a sandwich. Shortly after she left the premises, the son, while confronting his father in the master bedroom, shot him once in the head with a handgun. In an inept attempt to make the shooting look like a suicide, Thomas laid the murder weapon on his father's chest and positioned the dead man's left hand over it.

     After the shooting, Thomas fled the apartment. When his mother returned with the sandwich, she discovered her husband's corpse and called 911.

     At ten-forty-five on the night of Mr. Gilbert's sudden and violent death, New York City detectives showed up at his son's apartment with an arrest and a search warrant. In the Chelsea dwelling officers found loose bullets and a shell casing that matched the caliber of the murder weapon.

     On Monday January 6, 2015, at his arraignment, the judge informed Thomas Gilbert Jr. that he had been charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon. After the judge denied the suspect bail, officers returned him to Riker's Island, the city's massive jail.

    On February 5, 2014, corrections officers took Gilbert Jr. out of his Rikers Island jail cell and escorted him to a Lower Manhattan courtroom. At the pre-trial hearing before Judge Melissa Jackson, the suspect pleaded not guilty. The defendant was represented by attorneys from the high-profile defense firm of Brafman & Associates.

     According to his attorneys, Thomas Gilbert Jr. had a long history of violent and erratic behavior. On the ground their client was insane, the defense petitioned the court to render Gilbert mentally unfit to stand trial. At the same time, the defense lawyers asserted that their client was innocent of the crime.

     As of November 2018, Thomas Gilbert Jr. has not been brought to trial.

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Michael David Elliot: Breaking Out of Prison Was the Easy Part

     In August 1993, a 19-year-old armed robber and arsonist named Michael David Elliot and a criminal associate entered a house near Midland, Michigan with their guns drawn. They had come to the Bentley Township home 140 miles northwest…

     In August 1993, a 19-year-old armed robber and arsonist named Michael David Elliot and a criminal associate entered a house near Midland, Michigan with their guns drawn. They had come to the Bentley Township home 140 miles northwest of Detroit to rob Michael and Bruce Tufnell and their friends Vickie Currie and Kathy Lane. Elliot and his accomplice needed the money for drugs. When the home invaders didn't find any cash in the house, they opened fired on the victims, killing all four of them. Before leaving the murder scene, Elliot set fire to the house.

     Four days after the mass murder, police officers arrested Elliot in Saginaw, Michigan. He still possessed the .38-caliber revolver that had fired ten of the fifteen bullets removed from the bodies of the four murder victims.

     At his August 1994 trial, Elliot claimed that he had purchased the murder weapon the day after the massacre from the real killer. He also asserted that at the time of the murders he was at his aunt's house. The jury found the defendant guilty of four counts of first-degree murder. At his sentencing hearing, Elliot told the judge that despite his conviction, he was innocent. The judge sentenced him to four life terms to be served at the Ionia Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in Ionia, Michigan.

     During the first 14 years of his incarceration, Elliot was a problem inmate with 20 acts of misconduct. But after December 2008, he began serving his time as a model prisoner. Perhaps he decided that a low profile would enhance his chances to escape.

     On February 2, 2014--Super Bowl Sunday--while the other inmates were headed for dinner, the five-foot-eight, 165 pound Elliot made his move. Dressed in a white kitchen uniform to blend in with the snow, Elliot pulled back the bottoms of two fences and crawled to freedom. (Is this what passed for maximum security in Michigan? Where was the fence electricity, the motion detectors, and the prison guards? Were all the guards watching the Super Bowl?)

     After trudging through fields and woods, the escapee walked into the town of Ionia where he used a box cutter to abduct a woman. Elliot and his hostage, in her 2004 red Jeep Liberty, crossed the Michigan border into Indiana. At 9:15 that night, correction officers performing a routine head-count discovered that inmate Elliot was missing.

     Just before midnight, Elliot and his captive stopped for gas at a Marathon station in the town of Middlebury. While he paid for the gas, she entered the gas station restroom and locked the door. Using the cellphone she had kept hidden, the kidnapped woman called 911. After calmly reporting the carjacking and describing her captor, Elliot came to the restroom door and told her to hurry-up. "Yeah, in a little bit," she said. "Sorry, it's taking me longer than what I thought." At that point Elliot decided to drive off without her.

     At 5 PM on February 3, 2014, Elliot pulled into Shipshewan, a town twenty miles east of Elkhart, Indiana. There he abandoned the Jeep Liberty and stole a Chevy Monte Carlo.

     Not long after the prison escapee stole the Monte Carlo, a La Porte County sheriff's deputy spotted the stolen vehicle and tried to pull it over. The high-speed chase that followed ended abruptly when Elliot drove over stop sticks that flattened the Chevy's tires. Officers took him into custody. He had been free less than 48 hours.

     In speaking to a reporter with the Detroit Free Press after his capture, Elliott said, "I just seen an opportunity. It was really simple." Of the five main strategies inmates use to escape low-security facilities--the cut-and-run, the ruse, the tunnel, the outside accomplice, and the walk-away, Elliott's methodology combined the ruse and the cut-and-run. The problem was, he was not incarcerated in a minimum security facility.

     On February 6, 2014, a spokesperson for the prison announced that two corrections employees had been suspended in connection with the escape. One was a corrections officer and the other a shift commander.

     Michael Elliot had found a way to escape from a maximum security penitentiary, but he wasn't equipped to elude capture once he got outside prison fences. While prison escapes are rare, it's even more unusual for escapees to remain at large for more than a few days. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Patrick Dunn Vigilante Murder Case

     If you check your local sex offender registry, you will probably be shocked by the length of the list. (You may also be shocked to find out who’s on it.) The shear number of American men who have been convicted of raping women and c…

     If you check your local sex offender registry, you will probably be shocked by the length of the list. (You may also be shocked to find out who's on it.) The shear number of American men who have been convicted of raping women and children is staggering. When considering these depositories of depravity, all kinds of questions come to mind, including why there are so many sex offenders in America. And has it always been this way?

     Everyone knows that rapists and pedophiles tend to be repeat offenders, and the harm they inflict on their victims is serious and long-lasting. This reality begs the question of why these registered sex offenders are out of prison. If you follow media crime reporting, you regularly come across cases where men with extensive sex conviction histories, after getting out of prison, are arrested for the same kinds of offenses. Are judges and parole board members idiots? For example, under what rationale would a man who has raped a child ever be let out of prison? Why are American judges so lenient in these cases? Other than first degree murder and aggravated assault, what is worse than rape? Could these judges be so naive as to believe these pathological offenders can be rehabilitated? Or is it simply that our prisons are so full of drug war arrestees there's no room for sex offenders?

     Patrick Dunn and Gary Blanton rented rooms in the same house near Sequim, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula in the northwestern corner of the state. Dunn, 34, had served time for assault and various drug related offenses. Twenty-eight-year-old Gary Blanton, in 2001, had been convicted of raping a 17-year-old girl when he was in high school. In June 2012, Blanton had been charged with child abuse. As a result of the rape conviction, Blanton was a registered sex offender in a state data bank the public can access.

     In the early morning hours of Saturday, June 2, 2012, Dunn, armed with a 9 mm pistol, shot and killed Gary Blanton. After shooting the victim several times, Dunn drove his rented car a few miles to the home of 56-year-old Jerry Ray, another registered sex offender. In August 2002, Ray had been convicted of raping two children, ages seven and four. After shooting Mr. Ray to death, Patrick Dunn abandoned his car on a remote road on the Olympic Peninsula.

     After receiving 911 calls regarding a suspicious person on foot near Sequim, deputies with the Clallam County Sheriff's Office came upon Dunn's abandoned rental vehicle. Inside, next to a box of 9 mm rounds, officers found a note signed by Dunn in which he took responsibility for killing Blanton and Ray, stating that "it had to be done."

     The following afternoon, after a three-hour manhunt featuring a Customs/Border Patrol helicopter, and tracking dogs, police found Dunn hiding in a woodshed deep in the forest. Later that Sunday, Dunn told his interrogators he had murdered Gary Blanton and Jerry Ray because they were sex offenders. The suspect said he had also intended to kill a third sex offender who lived in Jefferson County, and had planned to kill more registered sex offenders.

     On Monday, June 4, 2012, a judge informed Patrick Dunn that he had been charged with two counts of first-degree murder. The magistrate appointed Dunn an attorney, and denied him bail. If convicted of the two murders, Dunn would be eligible for the death penalty.

     In August 2012, Dunn pleaded guilty to both murders (some would call them hate crimes) to avoid the death penalty. On September 18, 2012, Superior Court Judge S. Brook Taylor sentenced Dunn to two life sentences without the possibility of parole.

     After the sentencing, the Clallam County prosecutor, in referring to a cluster of people associated with the dead sex offender's victims who were in the courtroom to show support for Patrick Dunn, said this to reporters: "It is unfortunate there are people who admire what he [Dunn] did. It is despicable and disgusting." One of Dunn's courtroom supporters, a relative of a sexual victim, called Dunn a "hero." Gary Blanton's widow called the Washington state sex registry a "hit list." (The authorities had classified Blanton and Ray as "level-two" sex offenders which meant they considered the risks of them re-offending as "moderate." One might argue that if there is any risk of re-offending, the state should error in favor of the public.)

     While Patrick Dunn got what he deserved for committing cold-blooded double murder, the fact there are those who consider him a hero reflects the frustration many people have over what they perceive as the criminal justice system's failure to protect women and children from sex offenders.
     

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Jean Soriano Vehicular Homicide Case

     In the early morning hours of March 30, 2013, on Interstate 15 eighty miles northeast of Las Vegas, a violent traffic accident took the lives of five people. All of the dead, and two others who were injured, had been in a Chevrolet …

     In the early morning hours of March 30, 2013, on Interstate 15 eighty miles northeast of Las Vegas, a violent traffic accident took the lives of five people. All of the dead, and two others who were injured, had been in a Chevrolet van smashed from behind by a Dodge Durango SUV occupied by 18-year-old Jean Erwin Soriano and Alfred Gomez, 23. The dead and injured were members of a single family who were returning to the Los Angeles area from Denver, Colorado where they had been visiting a sick relative.

     Because there were several empty beer bottles in the SUV, police officers immediately suspected that the driver of the Dodge SUV had been under the influence of alcohol. Soriano, the 18-year-old, told police officers at the scene that he had been the one behind the wheel. Three weeks earlier, Soriano had fled from a juvenile guidance center in Santa Ana, California where teenagers with serious drug and alcohol problems were treated. An analysis of Soriano's blood revealed a blood-alcohol content of 0.12, a percentage well about the Nevada legal limit of 0.08 percent.

     On April 10, 2013, a Clark County prosecutor charged Soriano with seven felony counts of driving under the influence causing death or substantial injury. The magistrate set Soriano's bail at $3.5 million.

     Not long after the filing of the criminal charges, Jean Soriano's attorney, Frank Cofer, announced to the media that his client had not been driving the Dodge that night. On July 10, 2013, following an evidentiary hearing pertaining to the fatal accident, the judge dropped all of the charges against Soriano. To a Los Angeles Times reporter covering the case, attorney Cofer said, "Blood evidence on the passenger window and console matched Mr. Soriano." This meant that Soriano had been a passenger, not the driver of the SUV. According to the attorney, a shoe-print on the driver's side of the vehicle did not match his client's footwear. According to the defense attorney, Alfred Gomez had "manipulated" and "intimidated" Soriano into identifying himself as the driver of the Dodge. (Because Mr. Gomez had not been a suspect that night, the officers had not tested him for drugs or alcohol.)

     At the time the charges against Jean Soriano were dropped, Alfred Gomez's whereabouts were unknown. To the Los Angeles Times reporter, attorney Cofer said, "Police should never rely solely on a confession that's not corroborated by the physical evidence. Physical evidence can't be intimidated, it can't be coerced." (That's true, but unfortunately forensic scientists can be intimidated and coerced into presenting false science.) This case illustrates the power of forensic science to exonerate as well as incriminate.

     No criminal charges have been filed in connection with the traffic accident that killed five people.

     The Sorpriano case called to mind the death of New York Yankees manager Billy Martin. On December 25, 1989, Martin was killed in a low speed, single vehicle collision during an ice storm not far from his home in upstate New York. Questions arose regarding who had been driving Martin's Ford pickup, Martin or his friend William Reedy. Forensic pathologist Michael Baden, after performing the autopsy and analyzing the physical evidence in the truck, concluded that Billy Martin, not Reedy, had been behind the wheel of the vehicle at the time of the crash. Billy Martin had been drinking and was intoxicated when the accident occurred. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Brenda Leyland and the Madeleine McCann Case: Death of a “Troll” or a Concerned Citizen?

     On May 3, 2007, doctors Gerry and Kate McCann, from the affluent village of Rothley in the central English borough of Charnwood, were on holiday in Praia da Luz, Portugal with their three children and another couple. That evening th…

     On May 3, 2007, doctors Gerry and Kate McCann, from the affluent village of Rothley in the central English borough of Charnwood, were on holiday in Praia da Luz, Portugal with their three children and another couple. That evening the McCanns reported their 3-year-old daughter Madeleine missing. According to the parents, someone had abducted the girl from the hotel room while they were dining 160 feet away from the resort.

     As in the JonBenet Ramsey case in the United States twelve years earlier, the public, influenced by tabloid-like media coverage, suspected the parents of foul play. When a British DNA analyst reported that the child had died in the hotel room, the authorities were under public pressure to arrest the McCanns.

     In September 2007, the police in Portugal made it official by declaring Doctors Gerry and Kate McCann suspects in the disappearance of their daughter. No arrest warrants were issued and in July 2008 the attorney general of Portugal closed the case against the parents citing lack of evidence.

     While officially cleared of criminal wrongdoing, Gerry and Kate McCann remained, in the tabloid press and the minds of millions in Great Britain and around the world, guilty of murder.

     The missing girl's parents, convinced that the police in Portugal had given up the search, hired private investigators to breathe new life into the case. Based on information uncovered by the PIs and Scotland Yard's release of the image of a man seen carrying a child toward the beach not far from the hotel on the night in question, the Portugese police, in October 2013, re-opened the case. Notwithstanding this development, the McCann child has not been found and no arrests have been made.

     In the years following the Madeleine McCann disappearance, a community of conspiracy buffs have targeted the missing girl's parents. Some would say these people have abused and harassed the McCanns through negative tweets, Facebook postings, text messaging, and other forms of online communication. People who engage in this form of social media activity have been labeled "Trolls," a catch-all term that covers everything from mild criticism to online death threats.

     According to social scientists who have studied this media phenomenon, trolls are often bored, lonely people who become obsessed with a particular crime. Some of them are manifestly insane. While  they annoy and may even frighten the targets of their wrath, they are, for the most part, harmless talkers.  These compulsive chatterboxes orbit every celebrated crime, usually offering up outlandish conspiracy theories. The Lindbergh kidnapping case and the JFK assassination, for example, attracted thousands of revisionist true crime buffs. In the wake of baby Lindbergh's abduction and murder in 1932, the 20-month-old's parents were almost driven crazy by obsessed and mentally ill people who showed up at their mansion and harassed them in public. Today, fixated crime buff simply take to their computers.

     In late September 2014, a British television news team published the identify of one of the more prolific McCann case trolls. Brenda Leyland, a 63-year-old resident of Burton Overy, a picturesque village in the Harborough district of Liecestershire, had published more than 5,000 tweets on the case. The soft-spoken divorcee used her Twitter account to draw attention to what she considered an appalling failure of justice. She called the McCanns neglectful parents and accused them, through their frequent media appearances, of profiting from their daughter's disappearance. Leyland once tweeted that the McCanns should "suffer for the rest of their miserable lives" for what they've done.

     Brenda Leyland regularly accused the metropolitan police (Scotland Yard) of dropping the ball in the missing persons case. She also took on the tabloid media for false and over-the-top reporting. At no time did she threaten the McCanns, and unlike some of her fellow Trolls, never called them baby killers.

     After being outed by the television reporters, Leyland became an online target herself. To avoid being harassed by reporters, she checked into a nearby Marriott Hotel in Grove Park, Leicester. On Saturday, October 4, 2014 at one-forty in the afternoon, police were called to Leyland's hotel room after a Marriott employee discovered her corpse.

     Investigators have found no evidence of criminal homicide in Leyland's sudden death. The autopsy, however, failed to reveal a cause of death. This has led to speculation that Brenda Leyland took her own life.

     Leyland's death will no doubt create a community of Trolls who will somehow link the government or the McCanns to her death. By attaching herself to celebrated case, Leyland briefly became famous herself. Perhaps this was one Troll who came to realize what it is like to be the target of other people's obsession, loneliness and boredom. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Dr. Jay Smith: The Prince of Darkness

     Dr. Jay Smith, principal of the Upper Merion High School in Merion, Pennsylvania, had acquired the nickname “Prince of Darkness” on account of his eccentric behavior. In June 1979, the body of Susan Reiner, a teacher at Upper Merion…

     Dr. Jay Smith, principal of the Upper Merion High School in Merion, Pennsylvania, had acquired the nickname "Prince of Darkness" on account of his eccentric behavior. In June 1979, the body of Susan Reiner, a teacher at Upper Merion, was found naked in her car, and she was later discovered to have taken out huge life insurance policies benefiting one of Smith's accomplices, Bill Bradfield, who was also on the staff of the school.

     In 1981, Bradfield was arrested and convicted of theft by deception. Two years later a prosecutor charged him with the Reiner murder that led to his conviction. Meanwhile Jay Smith had been in prison on other indictments and when he was released in 1986, faced charges arising out of the death of Susan Reiner. A jury found him guilty and he was sent back to prison for murder. Thus a man who was already known to be involved in drugs, swindling and Satanism also achieved star billing as a killer.

Brian Lane, Chronicle of 20th Century Murder, 1995

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Mystery of Criminal Motive: The Streeter Brothers Murder Case

     Douglas Ivor Streeter and his brother John owned and operated the Merino sheep farm near Maryborough, Australia, a town northwest of Melbourne in the state of Victoria. The brothers, in their mid-60s, had worked on the 7,000-acre fa…

     Douglas Ivor Streeter and his brother John owned and operated the Merino sheep farm near Maryborough, Australia, a town northwest of Melbourne in the state of Victoria. The brothers, in their mid-60s, had worked on the 7,000-acre farm since they were teenagers. They lived in the hamlet of Natte Yallock, and attended the local Anglican Church.

     While John Streeter was reclusive, Douglas and his wife Helen had been quite active in the local community. The couple had two adult sons, Ross and Anthony. In December 2012, Douglas was diagnosed with Motor neurone disease. His son, 30-year-old Ross Streeter, lived in the town of Bendigo, and worked on the sprawling farm with his father and his uncle.

     At six in the evening of Thursday, March 16, 2013, Douglas Streeter's wife Helen discovered the bodies of her husband and her brother-in-law. Someone had shot both men in the head with a shotgun. The double murder shocked this rural community. Who would have reason to kill these too well-respected farmers?

     At eleven-thirty the next morning, police officers followed an ambulance en route to Ross Streeter's house in Bendigo where paramedics treated the son for unspecified self-inflicted injuries. They transported Streeter to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where the patient was treated under police guard.

     Investigators believed that sometime after eight in the morning the previous day, Ross had used a shotgun to kill his Uncle John. After the murder the suspect left the farm, then sometime before noon, returned and killed his father.

     On Saturday, March 18, 2013, upon Ross Streeter's discharge from the hospital, police officers placed him under arrest for the two murders. Later that day investigators recovered the murder weapon. Charged with two counts of murder, he was held without bail. The motive for the double murder was a mystery.

     On March 14, 2014, Ross Streeter pleaded guilty to both killings. Supreme Court Justice Lex Laspry, at the November 2014 sentencing hearing, said he was dubious of Streeter's claim that he had no memory of the shootings. A psychiatrist had testified that the defendant did not suffer from any kind of mental illness and that his memory loss assertion was probably false.

     The judge imposed a sentence of 34 years. Mr. Streeter, under the terms of his sentence, would be eligible for parole after serving 25 years in prison. That meant he had no chance of freedom until he turned 55.

     Human behavior can be unpredictable, and in some cases, inexplicable. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Kyle Dube’s Plot to Kidnap Then Rescue Nichole Cable Turned to Murder

     On the night of May 12, 2013, in Glenburn, Maine, 15-year-old Nichole Cable left her parents’ home to meet a friend down the road from her house. She was under the false belief that the message she had received on her Facebook page …

     On the night of May 12, 2013, in Glenburn, Maine, 15-year-old Nichole Cable left her parents' home to meet a friend down the road from her house. She was under the false belief that the message she had received on her Facebook page was from Bryan Butterfield. The high school sophomore did not return home. The morning following her disappearance, Nichole's mother reported her missing to the police.

     At the request of investigators, officials at Facebook traced the message ostensibly from Bryan Butterfield to a 20-year-old man named Kyle Dube who lived in his parents house in Orono, Maine. Detectives questioned Dube's girlfriend Sarah Mersinger who revealed that Dube had used the fake Facebook account to lure Nichole out of the house that night so that he could kidnap her.

     According to Kyle Dube's brother, the idea behind the abduction involved Kyle later finding and rescuing the girl so that he could look like a hero. But something went wrong and the victim ended up dead. Dube's brother told detectives that Kyle had dumped the body in the woods near the community of Old Town, Maine. The brother said that Kyle's sexual advances toward the 15-year-old had been rejected. Dube's harebrained kidnapping plot and phony rescue scheme had been motivated by his desire to have sex with the girl.

     Police officers from a dozen police agencies, with the aid of cadaver dogs and hundreds of civilian volunteers, searched the woods near Old Town for Nichole's body. In the evening of May 20, 2013, one of the searchers came across the corpse.

     The next day, police officers arrested Kyle Dube on the charge of murder. In confessing to his interrogators, Dube said he had used the phony Facebook account to lure Nichole out of her parents' house. As she walked down the road to meet her friend Byran Butterfield, Dube hid in the woods wearing a ski mask. After ambushing the victim, Dube covered her mouth with tape and put her in the back of his father's pickup truck. When he checked on Nichole after driving to a remote spot near Old Town, Kyle discovered that she had died from suffocation. He left her body in the forest covered in branches.

     On May 22, 2013, a Penobscot County grand jury indicted Kyle Dube on the charge of murder. He was held in the county lock-up without bail.

     A trial jury, in March 2015, found Kyle Dube guilty of murder. Two months later, the judge sentenced him to sixty years in prison.

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/