The Haily Owens Murder Case

     In February 2014, ten-year-old Haily Owens was a fourth grade student at Westport Elementary School in Springfield, Missouri, a town in the southwestern part of the state. At four-thirty on the afternoon of Tuesday, February 18, 201…

     In February 2014, ten-year-old Haily Owens was a fourth grade student at Westport Elementary School in Springfield, Missouri, a town in the southwestern part of the state. At four-thirty on the afternoon of Tuesday, February 18, 2014, Haily, after visiting a school friend, walked along West Lombart Street on her way home. A few blocks from her house on Page Street, a witness saw a man in his forties with long, stringy gray hair, driving a gold 2008 Ford Ranger pickup truck, pull alongside the unaccompanied child.

     When the five-foot tall, ninety-pound grade schooler ignored the man in the truck, he drove away. But minutes later he returned to the girl. This time the man jumped out of the truck, grabbed the child, forced her into the cab through the driver's side door, and sped off. The witness called 911 and provided the dispatcher with the license plate number to the abductor's truck.

     Through the truck's registration information and the witness' description of the driver, investigators identified the kidnapper as 45-year-old Craig Wood. Forty minutes following Haily Owen's abduction, police officers had Wood's house on East Stanford Street under surveillance.

     At seven-thirty that night, the authorities issued an Amber alert for Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

     Forty-five minutes after the Amber alert, three hours into the police surveillance of the suspect's home, Craig Wood pulled up to the house in the gold 2008 Ford Ranger. Haily Owens was not in the truck. Police seized the vehicle and transported Mr. Wood to the Springfield Police Department. When confronted by detectives, the suspect refused to speak other than to demand an attorney.

     What kind of person would abduct a ten-year-old girl in broad daylight in front of at least one witness? Who is this man? In 1990, Craig Michael Wood pleaded guilty in Springfield to possession of a controlled substance. After he completed a court-ordered drug counseling program, the judge suspended his sentence. In 2001, he was convicted of illegal taking of wildlife, a misdemeanor offense. [I presume he was hunting or fishing without a license.]

     In 1998, the amateur bluegrass musician became a teacher's aide and middle school football coach at the Pleasant View School in Springfield. He also worked as a substitute teacher in the school district. In 2013 he earned a salary of $17,000 a year.

     Wood has no children and has never been married. His parents are wealthy and raise show horses.

     Later on the night of the abduction, police officers executed a search warrant at the suspect's house. Officers worked at the dwelling well into the early morning hours of the next day. During the search they found, in Wood's basement, Haily Owen's body. She had been stuffed into a trash bag and placed into a plastic container.

     The school girl had been shot in the back of the head. Crime scene investigators also noted ligature marks on her wrists that suggest she had been tied up. Wood's basement floor was still damp from bleach used to clean up physical evidence from the murder.

     At the Wood residence police officers found a three-ring binder containing pornographic photographs of young children. From the dwelling, searchers seized cameras, thirty video recordings, a handwritten journal, a spent .22-caliber shell casing, and the hat Haily Owens had been wearing when abducted.

     Charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, and armed criminal action, officers booked Craig Wood into the Greene County Jail. At the suspect's arraignment, his public defender's office attorney, Chris Hatley, announced that his client intended to plead not guilty to all charges. At the hearing, assistant prosecutor Todd Myers challenged Wood's use of a public defender, noting that police officers  found evidence of a $1 million trust fund in the suspect's name. "I think he can afford his own attorney," Myers said. The judge denied Craig Wood bail.

     In October 2016, Craig Wood, in order to avoid the death penalty, pleaded guilty to murdering Haily Owens. A Greene County judge, in February 2017, sentenced Wood to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Serial Killers and Mass Murderers are Different

     In both mass and serial murder cases, victims die as the offender momentarily gains control of his or her life…. But the differences between these two types of offenders outweigh the similarities. First, mass murderers are general…

     In both mass and serial murder cases, victims die as the offender momentarily gains control of his or her life.... But the differences between these two types of offenders outweigh the similarities. First, mass murderers are generally apprehended or killed by the police, commit suicide, or turn themselves in to the authorities. Serial killers, by contrast, usually make special efforts to elude detection. Indeed, they may continue to kill for weeks, months, and often years before they are found and stopped--if they are found at all.....

     People generally perceive the mass killer as one suffering from mental illness. This immediately creates a "they versus us" dichotomy in which "they" are different from "us" because of mental problems. We can somehow accept the fact that a few people go "crazy" sometimes and start shooting others. However, it is more disconcerting to learn that some of the "nicest" people one meets lead Jekyll-and-Hyde lives: a student by day, a killer of coeds by night [Ted Bundy]; a caring, attentive nurse who secretly murders sick children, the handicapped, or the elderly [Donald Harvey]; a building contractor and politician who enjoys sexually torturing and killing young men and burying them under his home [Wayne Gacy]. When we discover that people exist who are not considered to be insane or crazy but who enjoy killing others for "recreation," this indeed gives new meaning to the word "stranger."

Eric W. Hickey, Serial Murderers and Their Victims, Fourth Edition, 2006

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Jesse Dimmick Murder Case

     Jesse Dimmick and another man were suspects in the September 7, 2009 beating death of 25-year-old Michael Curtis, a murder that took place in Aurora, Colorado. The authorities arrested the other man, but Dimmick remained at large. O…

     Jesse Dimmick and another man were suspects in the September 7, 2009 beating death of 25-year-old Michael Curtis, a murder that took place in Aurora, Colorado. The authorities arrested the other man, but Dimmick remained at large. On September 12, 2009, police in Kansas encountered Dimmick driving through the state in a stolen van. Dimmick refused to pull over, and a high-speed chase ensued.

     In Dover, a suburb of Tokeka, Dimmick crashed the stolen vehicle near a house occupied by Jared and Lindsay Rowley. To hide from the police, Dimmick forced his way into the newlywed's home and held them hostage at knife-point.

     To calm the armed intruder, the Rowleys fed him Cheetos and Dr. Pepper as he watched the movie "Patch Adams." The terrified hostages  promised that when Dimmick left the house, they would not call the police. Later that night, when he fell asleep, the Rowleys slipped out of the dwelling.

     A short time after the hostages escaped, the home invader awoke to the sounds of a Topeka SWAT team storming into the dwelling. Officers cornered Dimmick in the bathroom and wrestled him to the floor. In the course of the scuffle, a police sergeant's AR-15 accidentally discharged. The bullet entered Dimmick's back as he lay face-down on the floor. The officer, a 21-year veteran of the force, was placed on a three-day leave of absence for not having the rifle's safety on.

     In May 2010, a jury in a Shawnee County, Kansas court found Dimmick guilty of two counts of kidnapping. The judge sentenced the defendant to eleven years in prison.

     The Rowleys, in October 2011, sued Jesse Dimmick for causing them emotional stress. At the time, Dimmick was incarcerated in the Adams County Jail in Brighton, Colorado awaiting his trial in the Michael Curtis murder case. The victims of the home invasion were seeking $75,000 in damages. A month later, Dimmick filed a counter-suit against his former hostages in which he sought $235,000 in damages. Dimmick accused the Rowleys of breaching their oral contract not to notify the authorities. Because he couldn't find a lawyer to take his case, Dimmick represented himself in the action. His damages were based on medical bills related to the police caused gunshot wound and his pain and suffering as a result.

     In January 2012, a Shawnee County judge dismissed Dimmick's counter-suit against the Rowleys. Eight months later, Dimmick was back in court, this time as a plaintiff in a civil action against the Topeka Police Department. Based on his assertion that he had been seriously injured as a result of Sergeant Guy Gardner's negligent handling of the AR-15, Dimmick was asking the city to reimburse him $185,000 for his medical bills, $150,000 for future economic loss, and $100,000 for his pain and suffering. In this civil action, Dimmick had professional legal representation.

     On September 13, 2012, the civil case jury, after deliberating two hours, found that the Topeka SWAT officer had not been negligent or at fault in Dimmick's accidental shooting. The jurors obviously did not want this plaintiff to benefit in any way from his invasion of the Rowley home.

     A Kansas appeals court, in September 2012, upheld Dimmick's kidnapping conviction.

     In May 2013, Dimmick pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the Michael Curtis murder case. The Adams County, Colorado judge sentenced him to 37 years in prison.

     The following month, Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis dismissed the Rowley lawsuit against Jesse Dimmick on procedural grounds. The Rowleys were free to refile the action. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Boston Strangler Murder Case

     Born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1931, Albert Henry DeSalvo grew up in a family defined by his alcoholic father’s abuse. Mr. DeSalvo, who had knocked out all of his wife’s teeth, forced young Albert and his siblings to watch him en…

     Born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1931, Albert Henry DeSalvo grew up in a family defined by his alcoholic father's abuse. Mr. DeSalvo, who had knocked out all of his wife's teeth, forced young Albert and his siblings to watch him engage in sex with prostitutes in their home.

     As a child, Albert tortured animals and stole from local merchants. In 1943, the twelve-year-old was sent to the Lyman School for Boys after being arrested for battery and robbery. Shortly after his release from reform school, DeSalvo stole a car which put him back into the institution. When he turned eighteen, DeSalvo joined the Army. Two years later, he was honorably discharged from the service.

     In June 1962, when Albert DeSalvo was thirty-one, women in Boston began turning up dead in their apartments. Because there were no signs of forced entry at the murder scenes, investigators theorized that the victims either knew the rapist/killer or he had gained entry by posing as a salesman or perhaps as a detective. The serial killer's last known victim, nineteen-year-old Mary Sullivan, had been raped and strangled to death on January 4, 1964. Like all but two of the other twelve murder victims, Mary Sullivan had been strangled with a piece of her own clothing. The unidentified serial killer had stabbed two of his victims to death. All of the murder victims had been raped, and eight out of his thirteen victims were women over the age of fifty-five.

     In October 1964, ten months following Mary Sullivan's murder, a young woman in Cambridge, Massachusetts allowed a man into her apartment who identified himself as a police detective. That man tied the victim to her bed and began raping her. Suddenly, in the middle of the assault, the assailant stopped, said he was sorry, and walked out of the apartment. The victim gave a detailed description of her attacker to detectives who, independent of the ongoing serial murder investigation, were trying to identify the Boston serial rapist.

     The rape victim's description of her assailant led to Albert DeSalvo's arrest. In the course of his confession to a series of rapes, DeSalvo identified himself as the so-called Boston Strangler.

     In 1967, pursuant to a plea bargain negotiated by his attorney F. Lee Bailey, Albert DeSalvo pleaded guilty to the Boston murders. In return for his guilty plea, the 36-year-old avoided the death sentence.

     Not long after being sent to the state prison in Walpole, Massachusetts, DeSalvo took back his murder confessions. In 1973, six years after he had confessed to being the notorious Boston Strangler, one of DeSalvo's fellow inmates at Walpole stabbed him to death.

     Because of the guilty pleas, prosecutors in Boston had not been put to the test of proving the murder cases against Albert DeSalvo. This fact encouraged true crime revisionists to question whether DeSalvo was really the Boston Strangler. Perhaps he was simply a false confessor drawn to the limelight of a celebrated serial murder case. These doubts over DeSalvo's guilt made recent developments pertaining to the old case all the more newsworthy.

     In July 2013, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley announced that forensic scientists, using advanced, cutting edge technology, had linked Albert DeSalvo to the January 4, 1964 rape and murder of Mary Sullivan. The district attorney told reporters that he planned to ask a superior court judge for an order to exhume DeSalvo's remains for further forensic testing.

     Gerard Frank's The Boston Strangler (New American Library, 1966) is considered the definitive book on the Albert DeSalvo serial murder case. The author leaves no doubt in the reader's mind that Albert DeSalvo was in fact the Boston Strangler. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Franciscan Friar Daniel Montgomery Murder Case

     Daniel Montgomery grew up in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, a town outside of Philadelphia. After graduating from Catholic high school, he studied religion in the midwest, and became a peace activist. In 1994, the 28-year-old joined…

     Daniel Montgomery grew up in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, a town outside of Philadelphia. After graduating from Catholic high school, he studied religion in the midwest, and became a peace activist. In 1994, the 28-year-old joined the Franciscans, a Catholic religious order. An odd, socially awkward man with a volatile temper and a foul mouth, Montgomery didn't get along with his church colleagues and superiors.

     In July 2002, after being bounced from one church to another, the misfit friar ended up in Cleveland at St. Stanislaus located in the city's Slavic Village neighborhood. Montgomery didn't fit in well at St. Stanislaus either. He offended fellow friars, parishioners, and the 68-year-old pastor of the church, William Gulas, affectionately known as "Father Willie." After three students accused Daniel Montgomery of touching them inappropriately, Father Gulas, in late November 2002, informed the troubled friar that he was being transferred to Our Lady of Lourdes Friary in Cedar Lake, Indiana. (Sounds like a case of passing the trash.)

    At nine in the morning of December 2, 2002, when extinguishing a fire in Father Gulas' rectory office, firefighters stumbled upon his corpse. When questioned that morning by the police, Montgomery said that when the fire broke out, he had been asleep in his second-floor bedroom. A ringing telephone awoke him at which time he smelled smoke, then called 911. After trying to put out the fire, Montgomery fled the church without realizing that Father Gulas was in the burning first-floor office.

     On the day after the St. Stanislaus fire, the Cuyahoga County Coroner announced that the blaze had not killed Pastor Gulas. Someone had shot the priest in the chest, then torched his office.

     On December 8, 2002, detectives brought Friar Montgomery in for further questioning. Following what evolved into a seven-hour interrogation, Montgomery confessed to murdering the St. Stanislaus pastor. The friar had been angry about being transferred to the church in Indiana. He had gone into the pastor's office that morning to ask Father Gulas to vacate the order. According to Montgomery, upon entering the pastor's office, he had said, "I can't [expletive] take it anymore." The angry friar then shot Father Gulas in the chest with a .38-caliber revolver he had purchased the day before from an employee of a neighborhood convenience store. (This person has never been identified.)

     After killing the pastor, Montgomery dropped the revolver (which was never found) and walked down the hall where he acquired the red butane lighter he used to ignite papers on Father Gulas' desk. After setting the fire, Montgomery returned to his room and fell asleep. A call from a parishioner woke him up.

     A Cuyahoga County grand jury, in January 2003, indicted Daniel Montgomery on the charge of aggravated murder. Nine months later the defendant pleaded guilty to a lesser homicide charge in order to avoid the death penalty. The judge sentenced him to 24 years to life. He began serving his time at the state prison in Marion, Ohio.

     In the spring of 2011, a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter named John P. Martin decided to look into Montgomery's case. (Montgomery was now maintaining his innocence.) The journalist's investigation led to a four-part Inquirer series published in July 2011. Pursuant to his claims of innocence, Montgomery, through his new attorney, Barry Wilford, had filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea in order that the case could go to trial. Attorney Wilford based his argument for reopening the murder case on three principal points: The prosecution had withheld exculpatory evidence; interrogators ignored signs that Montgomery was confessing falsely; and his defense attorney, Henry Hilow, did not provide him with the best defense.

     Problems in the prosecution's case against Montgomery included the fact the police never recovered the murder weapon. On the charred floor of Pastor Gulas' office, fire investigators found an open toolbox that once contained $1,600 in bingo proceeds. Father Gulas kept the padlocked box in his office safe. On the morning of the murder, a parishioner who supposedly had financial problems, was seen coming out of the pastor's office. Assuming this is true, could this man have committed the murder? Another mystery in the case involved the fact that Pastor Gulas' cellphone ended up in the hands of a convicted drug dealer.

     On the issue pertaining to the adequacy of Montgomery's defense, attorney Wilford argued that his client had not wanted to plead guilty. To back up this claim, Wilford cited parts of two letters Montgomery had sent to attorney Hilow months before his guilty plea. In a letter dated February 23, 2003 in which Montgomery asked to meet again with the psychiatrist who had examined him shortly after the murder, wrote: "I was in a state of schizophrenia that produced severe delusions in my thinking, causing me to make false statements on December 8, 2002 at the police interrogation. At that time I was suffering from delusions of grandeur that perhaps if I was no longer to be a Franciscan, then I was to be a martyr for a sinner, the killer and arsonist who committed the crime." On July 7, 2003, Montgomery had written: "I am firmly convinced that I must plead my innocence and follow God's law, which is above human law." (I have no idea what that means in the context of this case.)

     At the July 2011 hearing to determine if the Gulas murder case should be reopened, and a trial convened, Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecutor Salem Awadallah argued that there was nothing in Montgomery's motion to justify setting aside his guilty plea and going to trial. She pointed out that Montgomery had failed a polygraph test that had been arranged by attorney Wilford. The prosecutor noted that while the Cleveland police interrogation lasted seven hours, no evidence has been presented showing that Montgomery's confession had been coerced. (I presume he was given his Miranda rights. In 2002, detectives in Cleveland did not routinely record their interrogation sessions.)

     Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Joan Synenberg, on December 31, 2012, denied Daniel Montgomery's motion for a murder trial. She did not accompany her ruling with a written decision. Whenever an educated, adult defendant confesses and pleads guilty, without strong evidence of a false confession, or equally powerful evidence that someone else has committed the crime, the conviction will stand. In this case, Daniel Montgomery had failed to overcome the presumption of his guilt.

     In April 2013, the judge sentenced Daniel Montgomery to 24 years to life.

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Allen and Patricia Prue Murder Case

     St. Johnsbury, Vermont is a town of 6,200 in the northeast part of the state 40 miles south of the Canadian border. It is home to St. Johnsbury Academy, the prestigious prep and boarding school established in the 1840s. Until recent…

     St. Johnsbury, Vermont is a town of 6,200 in the northeast part of the state 40 miles south of the Canadian border. It is home to St. Johnsbury Academy, the prestigious prep and boarding school established in the 1840s. Until recently, this was not a place where people got murdered.

     Melissa Jenkins had been a science teacher and the girl's basketball coach at St. Johnsbury Academy since 2004. The 33-year-old single mother was completing her Masters Degree in Education and was employed part time as a waitress at Creamery Restaurant in nearby Danville where she had worked 12 years.

     On Sunday evening, March 25, 2012, 30-year-old Allen Prue and his wife Patricia, a couple from Waterford, Vermont, were riding about in their car. Allen made his living driving around the area delivering the local newspaper. In the winter, he plowed driveways. Two years before, he had plowed Melissa Jenkins' driveway, but after he had asked her out a couple of times, she discontinued his service. In the fall of 2011, Prue had showed up at her house drunk and asked if he could resume plowing her driveway. She declined his offer.

     As Prue and his 33-year-old wife drove around that evening, he got the idea "to get a girl." The girl he had in mind was Melissa Jenkins. To lure the intended victim out of her home, Patricia Prue called Jenkins and said that she and her husband had broken down near her house. Could she give them a lift?

     Before Jenkins left her house to help people she barely knew, she called her former boyfriend to report she had just received a "weird call from a girl and guy who used to plow her driveway." In case something happened to her, Jenkins wanted someone to know where she had gone. After speaking to her ex-boyfriend, Jenkins put her 2-year-old son Ty in the car and drove off to help the Prues.

     The moment Jenkins climbed out of her car, Allen Prue, with the school teacher's son looking on, grabbed and started strangling her. He pushed the stunned woman into his vehicle where, as he drove to his house in Waterford, Patricia Prue continued choking the victim "to make sure she wasn't breathing." The Prues left the Jenkins boy, unharmed, behind in his abducted mother's car.

     The Prues carried Jenkins (she may have been alive but unconscious) into their house where they removed her clothing, repeatedly stomped on her, then laid her badly bruised corpse onto a tarp. After pouring bleach on her body, the Prues carried the tarp-wrapped victim back to their vehicle, then drove to a spot along the Connecticut River near Barnet, Vermont. At the river's edge, in a wooded area, they tossed Jenkins' body, tied to cinder blocks to hold it down, into shallow water.

     Back in Waterford, the murderers burned the tarp, Jenkins' clothing, and the garments they had been wearing.

     Melissa Jenkins' former boyfriend, two hours after she had notified him about the "weird call" she had just received, tried but failed to get back in touch with her by phone. He drove to her house, and nearby, found Jenkins' idling SUV with her 2-year-old boy asleep inside. Next to her car, he found one of Jenkins's shoes. Fearing foul play, he called the police.

     An investigator with the Vermont State Police traced the "weird call" Jenkins had received back to the Prues. Confronted by the authorities, Allen Prue confessed.

     On Monday afternoon, March 26, 2012, the day after the murder, the police found Jenkins' body along the river about ten miles from her house. At the scene, officers recovered condoms and condom wrappers. The victim's feet had been tied with a length of white rope. Bruising of her face, neck, torso, arms, and legs suggested that the Prues had given Jenkins a severe beating. (Some or all of these wounds may have been postmortem.)

     Charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit murder, the Prues were held without bond at the Northeast Correctional Facility in St. Johnsbury. They pleaded not guilty. The medical examiner ruled Melissa Jenkins' death as "homicide by strangulation."

     The Allen Prue murder trial, following a change of venue, got underway in Burlington, Vermont on October 7, 2014. In her opening statement, Caledonia County state's attorney Lisa Warren told the jurors that the Prues had been engaging in a sexual relationship with a neighbor and wanted somebody they could "play with" on the night of Melissa Jenkins' murder.

     Defense attorney Robert Katims, in his opening remarks, blamed the murder on the defendant's wife. "Patricia Prue strangled the victim," attorney Katims said, "because in her crazy, twisted mind she had become obsessively jealous of Ms. Jenkins. The evidence will show that Patricia Prue strangled Melissa Jenkins without telling Allen she was going to do it, without planning it with him, and without Allen Prue agreeing in any way, shape or form with the idea of harming Ms. Jenkins in any way."

     The defense attorney informed the jurors that Patricia Prue suffered from multiple personality disorder and had complete control over her weak-minded husband who quit school at age 16. It was the defendant's low I.Q. that allowed detectives to break him down in a seven hour interrogation. The defendant's murder confession, according to attorney Katims, had been coerced and was therefore false.

     Following the testimony of the medical examiner, prosecutor Warren played the audio recording of the defendant's confession to the jury. She next called Patricia Prue to the stand who invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. A few days later, a Vermont state detective testified that Patricia Prue had used her laptop computer in 2011 to research tips on how to kidnap and rape a girl without getting caught. A search of the defendant's computer revealed that it had been used to shop for a stun gun. (The Vermont State Chief Medical Examiner had testified that a stun gun had been used on the victim the night she died.)

     On October 22, 2014, following nine days of testimony and the attorneys' closing arguments, the case went to the jury of six men and six women. After deliberating six hours the jury found the defendant guilty of first-degree murder and the other charges. While the murder verdict called for a minimum mandatory 35-year sentence, the judge sentenced Allen Prue to life behind bars without the possibility of parole.

     On February 12, 2015, Patricia Prue pleaded guilty to the charge of first-degree murder. The next day, at a sentencing proceeding that had been initially scheduled as a mental competency hearing on her former not guilty by reason of insanity plea, Prue apologized to Jenkins' family. She said she wished she had received the mental health help she so desperately needed. "I'm not sorry we were caught," she said to thirty family members present in the courtroom. "I am sorry that it ever happened."

     Patricia Prue's attorney, Brian Marsicovetere, used the sentencing hearing to call for more support for mental health services in the state. He said his client suffered from post-traumatic stress and various personality disorders. She also had panic attacks as a result of intense anxiety.

     Caledonia County State's Attorney Lisa Warren told the judge that Patricia Prue had spent months plotting Melissa Jenkins' murder. "The couple stalked Jenkins, acquired a stun gun and bought a prepaid cellphone to call the victim and ask for help," she said.

     The judge sentenced Patricia Prue to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
     

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Reshad Riddle Murder Case

     Reverend David Howard had just finished his Easter service on Sunday, March 31, 2013 at the Hiawatha Church of God in Christ in the northeastern Ohio town of Ashtabula. As congregants began to file out of the church, Reshad Riddle e…

     Reverend David Howard had just finished his Easter service on Sunday, March 31, 2013 at the Hiawatha Church of God in Christ in the northeastern Ohio town of Ashtabula. As congregants began to file out of the church, Reshad Riddle entered the building carrying a handgun and yelling something about God and Allah. A couple of church members grabbed the minister and ushered him to safety inside an office in the back of the building. Other congregants hit the floor and dialed 911 on their cellphones.

     The 25-year-old gunman walked up to Richard Riddle, his 52-year-old father, and shot him in the head. The victim died on the spot. Waving the gun in the air, Reshad Riddle screamed that the murder had been "the will of Allah. This is the will of God," he yelled.

     Police officers stormed into the church and took the killer into custody before he shot anyone else.

     In 2006, Reshad, then 18, was charged with felonious assault and kidnapping in connection with his attempt to cut his girlfriend's throat. A year later he was arrested for another felonious assault. Riddle was charged again in 2009 for possession of cocaine and tampering with evidence.

     Ashtabula Chief of Police Robert Stell told an Associated Press reporter that "There was no indication that the father and son had a bad relationship. Everyone thinks this was very surprising," he said. Really? Why wasn't this man in prison? Are they putting anyone away these days?

     After a local prosecutor charged Riddle with aggravated murder, officers booked him into the Ashtabula County Jail. The judge set his bond at $1 million.

     On December 20, 2013, a judge declared Reshad Riddle incompetent to stand trial. In this ruling, the judge relied on the testimony of two psychiatrists who had examined the defendant.

     In December 2014, Ashtabula County Judge Ronald Vettel, based upon the findings of psychologist Thomas Gazely, officially declared Riddle legally insane. On January 15, 2015, the judge sentenced Reshad Riddle to life at the Northeast Behavioral Health Care System in Cleveland, Ohio.

     The lifelong incarceration reflected the belief that Riddle's mental illness was not manageable and that he would remain a danger to society as long as he lived.  

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Camia Gamet Murder Case

     In 2013, 30-year-old Marcel Hill and Camia Gamet, 38, shared an apartment in Jackson, Michigan, a town of 34,000 in the south central part of the state. She had been raised in foster homes and claimed to have been raped by a foster …

     In 2013, 30-year-old Marcel Hill and Camia Gamet, 38, shared an apartment in Jackson, Michigan, a town of 34,000 in the south central part of the state. She had been raised in foster homes and claimed to have been raped by a foster dad. People who knew Gamet were aware of her violent streak and abuse of drugs, a combination that made her unpredictable and dangerous.

     Marcel Hill, a high school graduate and fast food worker, was by contrast friendly and child-like. According to members of his family, he suffered "cognitive limitations" that made it difficult for him to handle simple everyday tasks like paying his bills. Unlike Gamet, he didn't have a violent bone in his body. This odd couple relationship would cost Mr. Hill his life.

     A year or so earlier, Camia Gamet, in a fit of rage, stabbed Marcel Hill with a knife, then stitched up his wound herself. Neither one of them reported the assault to the authorities. On another occasion, she sent Marcel to the hospital with a punctured lung. That assault did not lead to her arrest. But in March 2013, a Jackson County prosecutor charged Gamet with domestic violence and felonious assault after she pounded Marcel on the head with a hammer. Because he was afraid to press the matter, and refused to cooperate with law enforcement personnel, the prosecutor had no choice but to close the case.

     In the early morning hours of Saturday, May 18, 2013, a neighbor called 911 to report domestic violence at the odd couple's dwelling. Responding police officers found a blood-covered Gamet staggering around and slurring her words outside the apartment. Inside, officers found smashed furniture, a broken floor lamp, a bloody filet knife, and a damaged frying pan covered in blood.

     Amid all of the destruction and gore, officers discovered Marcel Hill. He had been repeatedly bludgeoned with hard objects--presumably the broken lamp and the frying pan--stabbed eleven times, and cut wide open in the torso with the knife.

     Police officers arrested Gamet that night. On Wednesday, May 20, 2013, a Jackson County prosecutor charged Camia Camet with open criminal homicide. (This meant a jury or a judge could determine the appropriate degree of murder in the event of a conviction.)

     The Gamet murder trial got underway in late February 2014. In her opening statement to the jury, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kati Rezmierski portrayed the defendant as a violent person and a proven liar. According to the prosecutor, Gamet had deliberately and knowingly beaten, stabbed and slashed the victim to death.

     Defense attorney Anthony Raduazo told the jury that his client woke up from a drug-induced stupor that night to the sound of shattering glass. Believing that she was being attacked by an intruder, Gamet grabbed the lamp and the knife and used these objects to defend herself. Attorney Raduazo said the defendant had acted out of a "fear-driven rage," noting that in the encounter she had herself received cuts and bruises.

     After six days of prosecution testimony, the defense attorney put Gamet on the stand to testify on her own behalf. In telling her story of self-defense, Gamet did not come off as a very credible or sympathetic witness.

     In his closing remarks to the jury, attorney Raduazo said, "She is a woman and she is asleep and she is full of drugs and she is full of liquor. Did she react in a thoughtful manner? Or did she jump up and try to defend herself?" Raduazo pointed out that Gamet had not tried to dispose of Hill's body or clean up the death scene. "If this was preplanned and premeditated," he said, "it was a heck of a bad plan."

     Prosecutor Rezmierski, when it came her turn to address the jurors for the last time, said, "The victim did not die quickly. He knew his death was coming. The victim tried to protect himself and flee, but he was no match for the defendant. He never was a match." As to Gamet's supposed injuries, the prosecutor said, "She has barely a scratch, and he's eviscerated."

     On March 5, 2014, following a short period of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of first-degree murder.

     At Camia Gamet's sentencing hearing on April 16, 2014, County Circuit Court Judge John McBain saw the convicted murderer roll her eyes and snicker during a court presentation by one of Marcel Hill's aunts. The sight infuriated the judge who, in speaking directly to Gamet said, "You gutted him like a fish in the apartment! You were relentless! You stabbed, you stabbed, you stabbed, you stabbed, you stabbed until he was dead! I agree with the family, I hope you die in prison! You know, if this was a death penalty state, you'd be getting the chair!"

     Judge McBain sentenced Camia Gamet to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Afterward, defense attorney Raduazo told reporters he would appeal his client's verdict and the sentence.

     On February 4, 2016, justices on the Michigan Court of Appeals, in a unanimous decision, upheld Gamet's conviction. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

The Randolph Maidens Murder Case

     In April 2013, Dr. Rachael F. Maidens, a successful orthodontist, resided with her husband Randolph and their two-year-old daughter Natalie in a $900,000 home inside a gated, 600-acre subdivision in Brentwood, an affluent suburb outside of Nashville, Tennessee. The Brentwood native had attended Father Ryan High School, Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama, and the University of Florida College of Dental Medicine. She began practicing orthodontics in her hometown in 2006.

     Randolph Maidens, the 34-year-old orthodontist’s husband, worked for a biotech firm called Dendreon as a regional pharmaceutical sales manager. Rachel, her family, and Randolph Maidens’ fellow employees were concerned that the 42-year-old salesman had, over the past several weeks, lost control of himself. Maidens had been drinking heavily and fighting with Rachael. In February 2013, police in Brentwood arrested him for driving under the influence.

     Randolph and Rachael, while attending a Dendreon Company conference at the Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World, argued in front of other pharmaceutical company employees and their spouses. Randolph, in a drunken rage, smashed glasses and screamed that he was going to kill Rachel. The out-of-control sales manager, when fellow employees tried to settle him down, started throwing punches. The police came and took Maidens into custody. Charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct, he spent the night in jail. Three days later Maidens returned to work.

     At 5:50 PM on Sunday, April 21, 2013, Rachael Maidens’ mother, Elizabeth Frisbi, concerned that Randolph had become suicidal, asked officers with the Brentwood Police Department to make a welfare check at the couple’s home in the Governors Club subdivision.

     When the officers entered the house they encountered two-year-old Natalie who said, “Daddy gone. Daddy gone.” In a second floor bedroom they found Rachael who had been shot to death. Randolph was not in the dwelling.

     In the kitchen, police officers discovered a note in which Randolph apologized for what he had done to his wife. (I do not know the exact wordage of the note or if Maidens explained exactly what he was sorry for.) In the murder scene note, Randolph Maidens had allegedly written that he wanted his daughter Natalie placed into the custody of Rachael’s parents.

     Fearing that an armed madman was on the loose, police officers evacuated the homes in the vicinity of the murder and locked down the subdivision. At 6:30 the next morning, officers arrested Randolph Maidens when he returned to his house on Governors Way. He did not resist arrest and was not armed.

     In the trunk of Maidens’ car officers discovered $87,200 in cash. In the house they had found $8,500 in 100-dollar bills.

     Charged with first-degree murder, two counts of evidence tampering, and child neglect, officers booked Maidens into the Williamson County Jail. Two days later, a judge set his bail at $2.5 million.

     Shortly after his arrest, Maidens’ attorneys petitioned the court for a bail reduction. In June 2013, the judge reduced Maidens’ bail to $750,000. With the help of a bonding agency, Maidens gained his release by posting his bail. Corrections officers fitted the suspect with a GPS tracking device and the judge prohibited Maidens from contacting his daughter or members of his dead wife’s family.

     At a preliminary hearing on June 25, 2013, Maidens pleaded not guilty to all charges. In November a Williamson County judge announced that in December 2013, a date would be set for Maidens’ murder trial.

     On January 7, 2014, Williamson County Judge Timothy Easter revoked Maidens’ bond and sent him back to jail. The judge took this action because on December 10, 2013, Davidson County Sheriff Office deputies arrested Maidens at his apartment complex for public intoxication. (The charge was later dropped.) District Attorney Kim Helper had filed the revocation motion on grounds that Maidens was a threat to public safety.

     On September 15, 2014, Randolph Maidens pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the killing of his wife Rachael. In his plea statement he said, “And to Rachael, I promised to love and cherish you and I betrayed all of that. I will live with the anguish forever…No prison is worse than what I inflicted on myself. To all of Rachael’s family and friends, I am truly sorry for all the pain and for all the moments that could have been.”

     Judge Timothy Easter sentenced Maidens to 25 years in prison. 

     In April 2013, Dr. Rachael F. Maidens, a successful orthodontist, resided with her husband Randolph and their two-year-old daughter Natalie in a $900,000 home inside a gated, 600-acre subdivision in Brentwood, an affluent suburb outside of Nashville, Tennessee. The Brentwood native had attended Father Ryan High School, Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama, and the University of Florida College of Dental Medicine. She began practicing orthodontics in her hometown in 2006.

     Randolph Maidens, the 34-year-old orthodontist's husband, worked for a biotech firm called Dendreon as a regional pharmaceutical sales manager. Rachel, her family, and Randolph Maidens' fellow employees were concerned that the 42-year-old salesman had, over the past several weeks, lost control of himself. Maidens had been drinking heavily and fighting with Rachael. In February 2013, police in Brentwood arrested him for driving under the influence.

     Randolph and Rachael, while attending a Dendreon Company conference at the Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World, argued in front of other pharmaceutical company employees and their spouses. Randolph, in a drunken rage, smashed glasses and screamed that he was going to kill Rachel. The out-of-control sales manager, when fellow employees tried to settle him down, started throwing punches. The police came and took Maidens into custody. Charged with public intoxication and disorderly conduct, he spent the night in jail. Three days later Maidens returned to work.

     At 5:50 PM on Sunday, April 21, 2013, Rachael Maidens' mother, Elizabeth Frisbi, concerned that Randolph had become suicidal, asked officers with the Brentwood Police Department to make a welfare check at the couple's home in the Governors Club subdivision.

     When the officers entered the house they encountered two-year-old Natalie who said, "Daddy gone. Daddy gone." In a second floor bedroom they found Rachael who had been shot to death. Randolph was not in the dwelling.

     In the kitchen, police officers discovered a note in which Randolph apologized for what he had done to his wife. (I do not know the exact wordage of the note or if Maidens explained exactly what he was sorry for.) In the murder scene note, Randolph Maidens had allegedly written that he wanted his daughter Natalie placed into the custody of Rachael's parents.

     Fearing that an armed madman was on the loose, police officers evacuated the homes in the vicinity of the murder and locked down the subdivision. At 6:30 the next morning, officers arrested Randolph Maidens when he returned to his house on Governors Way. He did not resist arrest and was not armed.

     In the trunk of Maidens' car officers discovered $87,200 in cash. In the house they had found $8,500 in 100-dollar bills.

     Charged with first-degree murder, two counts of evidence tampering, and child neglect, officers booked Maidens into the Williamson County Jail. Two days later, a judge set his bail at $2.5 million.

     Shortly after his arrest, Maidens' attorneys petitioned the court for a bail reduction. In June 2013, the judge reduced Maidens' bail to $750,000. With the help of a bonding agency, Maidens gained his release by posting his bail. Corrections officers fitted the suspect with a GPS tracking device and the judge prohibited Maidens from contacting his daughter or members of his dead wife's family.

     At a preliminary hearing on June 25, 2013, Maidens pleaded not guilty to all charges. In November a Williamson County judge announced that in December 2013, a date would be set for Maidens' murder trial.

     On January 7, 2014, Williamson County Judge Timothy Easter revoked Maidens' bond and sent him back to jail. The judge took this action because on December 10, 2013, Davidson County Sheriff Office deputies arrested Maidens at his apartment complex for public intoxication. (The charge was later dropped.) District Attorney Kim Helper had filed the revocation motion on grounds that Maidens was a threat to public safety.

     On September 15, 2014, Randolph Maidens pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the killing of his wife Rachael. In his plea statement he said, "And to Rachael, I promised to love and cherish you and I betrayed all of that. I will live with the anguish forever…No prison is worse than what I inflicted on myself. To all of Rachael's family and friends, I am truly sorry for all the pain and for all the moments that could have been."

     Judge Timothy Easter sentenced Maidens to 25 years in prison. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Jason Beckman: The Murderous Son

     In 2009, 17-year-old Jason Beckman lived with his 52-year-old father, Jay Beckman, in South Miami, Florida. The South Miami High School student’s mother had died of cancer in 1998 when he was six. Mr. Beckman, since 2006, had been a…

     In 2009, 17-year-old Jason Beckman lived with his 52-year-old father, Jay Beckman, in South Miami, Florida. The South Miami High School student's mother had died of cancer in 1998 when he was six. Mr. Beckman, since 2006, had been a South Miami City Commissioner.

     In the afternoon of April 13, 2009, Jason Beckman called 911 to report an accidental shooting that had killed his father.  Police officers found Jay Beckman in his bathroom shower stall with his face blow away from a close-range shotgun blast.

     When questioned at the police station, Jason Beckman said he had taken his father's Browning Citori 12-gauge, double barrel shotgun out of the closet and assembled it. He carried the gun into his father's bathroom to show him that he knew how to assemble and load the weapon. In the bathroom he slipped and fell causing the shotgun to discharge. The boy claimed that his father's death had been a tragic accident. At this point, although Jason's story didn't make a whole lot of sense, detectives had no reason to suspect an intentional killing.

     A local prosecutor, on the theory the fatal shooting had been an accident, charged Jason Beckman with manslaughter by firearm, a lesser homicide offense involving negligent behavior rather than specific criminal intent.

     As the investigation into the violent death progressed, detectives began to question whether the shooting had been an accident. Among Jason's belongings investigators found a list of people he said he wanted to kill. Jay Beckman's name was at the top of the hit list. A Beckman neighbor told officers that Jason, for years, had made no secret of the fact he planned to kill his father some day. Jason's friends came forward and confirmed the boy's hatred of his father and his stated plans to murder him.

     Jason, when questioned by detectives a second time, stuck to his original account of the shooting. He did, however, say that his father had threatened to kill him.

     In light of the new, incriminating evidence, the prosecutor upgraded the charge against Jason Beckman to first-degree murder. Investigators now believed the killing had been intentional and pre-meditated.

     The Beckman trial got underway on November 4, 3013. Prosecutor Jessica Dobbins, in her opening statement to the jury, said, "We are here today because the defendant regularly talked about his hatred for his father and his desire to kill him." Defense attorney Tara Kawass told the jurors that Jason was not an aggressive person. "No one was scared of him," she said.

     On November 8, two of the defendant's classmates took the stand for the prosecution. According to both witnesses Jason kept a list of people who had crossed him. Moreover, the defendant had told several people, "countless times," that he hated his father and intended to kill him.

     Jailhouse snitch Michael Nistal took the stand for the prosecution. In 2008 the burglar had been involved in a high-speed police chase that ended with his brother being shot to death by the police. In 2009, while incarcerated at the Turner Guilford Knight Correction Center in West Miami, one of Nistal's fellow prisoners--Jason Beckman--told him why he had murdered his father.

     According to the jailhouse informant, just before the shooting, Jason had asked his father what he thought of an actress named Megan Fox. Nistal testified that, "Jason's father told him he [Jason] wouldn't know what to do with that. So he [the defendant] went and got a shotgun and blew his father's head off." After the shooting, according to Nistal, Jason poked his father's body to see if he was still alive.

     Nistal testified that Beckman had told him that he planned to beat the murder rap by claiming the shooting was an accident or by asserting self-defense or insanity. According to the witness, Jason knew right from wrong and was not mentally ill when he committed the murder.

     Tara Kawass, Beckman's attorney, did her best to convince the jury that testimony from jailhouse snitches was notoriously unreliable. She said that Nistal, who was serving a seven-year stretch in prison, had exchanged his bogus testimony for a lighter sentence. Attorney Kawass did not put her client on the stand to testify on his own behalf.

     On November 8, 2013 the jury, at eight o'clock that night, announced its verdict. The jurors found Jason Beckman guilty as charged. In Florida, first-degree murder brings a sentence that ranges between 25 years and life.

     The defendant, when he heard the verdict, shook his head. "I don't understand," he said. "I really don't."

     In December 2014, when Judge Rodney Smith sentenced Beckman to life in prison, he said, "You had no remorse. You even told your fellow inmate you were glad your father was dead." 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/