Guilty verdict in Maribel Ramos murder trial

July 29 2014

Kwang Chol Joy has been found guilty of the felony murder of 36 year old Iraq Army veteran Maribel Ramos, who went missing from her home in Orange, OC in May last year, after asking room mate Chol Joy to leave her apartment. He couldn't pay his share of the rent, and had also become obsessed with Maribel.

Credit: KTLA

Maribel's body wasn't found for two weeks in a remote area of Modjeska Canyon, off Santiago Canyon Road, and though it wasn't possible to ascertain her cause of death, investigators had been able to locate her because of the internet searches Chol Joy carried out - which virtually pinpointed where they might find her body. He also researched decomposition times.

Maribel had also made a distraught, 911 call before she vanished, saying she was in fear of her life.

Chol Joy also made investigators and friends suspicious because of his odd online postings before her body was found. You can read about them here.

Julie Harrod-Michaels seems to contradict her husband's account of when Bob went missing

July 27 2014

On Monday July 27th 2009, when Bob disappeared, none of his family living in SoCal reported him missing. That includes his three adult daughters, his adult grandson and his only son-in-law, Jeff Michaels, who was working in Bob's house that day. The reporting was left to Mrs Fontelle Harrod, who was thousands of miles away, in Missouri. She only found out Bob had disappeared when Bob's youngest daughter, Julie Michaels called her, that night. Julie's married to son-in-law Jeff Michaels, the last known person to have seen Bob Harrod alive, who was working in Bob's house that day.

Someone claiming to be middle daughter Roberta Brady posted, Jeff Michaels was fixing a leaky shower that day. Mrs Harrod has told media, she thinks Bob was murdered 'in that bathroom up there'.

Bob's youngest daughter, Julie (Harrod) Michaels, of Running Springs, San Bernardino County, gave a TV interview to media the day after Bob disappeared. She said she thought he'd gone missing at 'Maybe one? Noon?'. However her husband, Jeff Michaels, gave police a Home Depot receipt stamped at 3.02pm, as an 'alibi' that he'd been out of the house when Bob went missing. The housekeeper says she arrived at noon and Bob was gone, and Jeff Michaels drove up about 15 minutes later. Go figure.

Seems strange police didn't pick up on those inconsistencies straight away. Maybe the OC Cold Case Unit will be better at tracking what's happening to Bob Harrod's fortune now. That could turn up a clue or two, as things seem to be moving on the money front. Never forget, Bob Harrod was at least a millionaire, and police think, 'the details lie in the battle for the money'. See the Websleuths link here, for more details.

Five years ago today, somebody disappeared Bob Harrod

July 27 2014

Five years ago today, Bob Harrod was busy preparing his Placentia, Orange County home for the return of his beloved new bride, Fontelle. They'd been married and living together for a month, but while Fontelle was back in Missouri, packing her things and saying goodbye, he wanted to fix things up as a welcome for when she returned. Bob and Fontelle are both Missouri natives, but Bob had left for California to train as a marine, many decades before. That's how the young sweethearts had lost each other the first time. They were never going to let that happen again.

Five years ago today:

It was the last but one day before the house on Carnation Drive would once again have two occupants, and Bob would never be alone again.

It was the last but one day that the millionaire Bob would have his fortune all to himself - in the future, he'd be sharing it with his new wife. Maybe even his newly acquired step-children and step-grandchildren too, as Bob liked to lend a helping hand to others.

It was the last but one day where Bob's 'reasonable needs' that he was permitted to draw on from the family trust set up for his children, would be those of a single man who lived very sparingly. In future he'd be spending money and having fun with his new wife - he'd already started, in fact.

It was the first working day after a weekend meeting with his adult children, who'd wanted information about the will and family trust he'd set up with his first, deceased wife - their mother.

It was the first of only two days that week that Bob would have to finish his 'to do' list, before his new wife returned. Adding Fontelle's name to his bank accounts was on that list.

It was the last but one day where anyone could say Bob wasn't in his right mind, or was unfit to handle his own affairs, and it would just be his word against theirs - in future, he'd have a strong and loyal wife with to back him up and care for him.

It was the last day Bob could be almost guaranteed not to have non-family visitors all day - or would have been, if his housekeeper hadn't unexpectedly asked to bring her usual Tuesday visit forward to that Monday.

It was the last but one day left for Bob's son-in-law to finish up the small repairs Bob had asked him to carry out, before Fontelle's return, which meant he needed to be in the home.

Five years ago today, was probably the last day of Bob Harrod's life. He didn't know it at 10am, when police told a reporter his last verified call was taken. By 12 Noon, when his housekeeper says she arrived and found him missing, he probably did.

Five years ago today, police think someone probably murdered Bob Harrod, and 'the details lie in the battle for the money' and his 'close circle'.

On this day five years on, is it possible that there is a person walking free in Southern California right now, who murdered defenceless 81 year-old Bob Harrod, knows where his remains are, and was the deadliest of all competitors in that 'battle for the money'?

Did somebody decide on 27th July, 2009, that Bob Harrod would never live to see Noon?

One day away from the fifth anniversary

July 26 2014

There is only one day to go before July 27th is reached and millionaire Bob Harrod will have been missing five long years. Five years - a landmark maybe, in legal terms.

Law enforcement has said, the details lie in the battle for the money in Bob's case. Mrs Fontelle Harrod stood to lose by Bob's disappearance and death, because he hadn't had time to include her in his will. But who stood to gain?

Are those details beginning to emerge now, after five long years? Every dollar and cent of them?

Daughter begs Hesperia thieves to return Mom's ashes

July 26 2014

A burglary victim in Hesperia, San Bernardino County, is begging the thieves to return a priceless item that they stole - the urn containing her mother's ashes.

Although Vanessa Llanas was horrified to find her home had been ransacked and stripped of electronic goods and other valuables while she was away attending a family wedding, it's the loss of the urn that has broken her heart.

Credit: NBC Los Angeles

The dark blue casket it was in also contained a cross and flowers from the memorial ceremony for her mother, Yolanda Melina Bedoy, who died at just age 50 from Lupus, three years ago.

At the video link here a tearful Vanessa tells reporters that her mother was cremated beause she said she always wanted to be home with her grandkids. Police did recover some stolen items from a dumpster in Victorville but, sadly, not the urn.

Brito and Zavala guilty of manslaughter

July 25 2014

In a case that brought even the prosecutor to tears, two women have been convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the beating to death of 23 year-old aspiring journalist and writer Kim Pham, outside a Santa Ana nightclub once known as the Crosby, now the The North Left.

Although it wasn't disputed Kim threw the first blow, what should have been a fight ending up in pulled hair, scratches, black eyes and indignity, ended up in death because tiny Kim was kicked to death while she was on the ground.

'After the defendants were lead away, prosecutor Troy Pino became emotional when saying the lesson of the case should be to just "walk away" when things escalate while drinking... "Don’t get offended, walk away. Just walk away... You have one young woman who is dead," Pino said, tearing up. "And two young women who have been convicted of a homicide. Nobody wins."

He's wrong of course. Kim's thoughtfullness for her fellow human beings meant her organs were donated, so that in death, she gifted life. That's undoubtedly a win for her, as well as the organ recipients.

Candace Marie Brito and Vanesa Tapia Zavala will now serve up to 11 years in prison, although they could have faced life if the jury had found them guilty on the 2nd degree murder charges prosecution had brought.

Sentencing is scheduled September 12th.

Missing John Preciado was run down

July 20 2014

An elderly Mentone, San Bernardino man who went missing in the early hours Friday 18th July, was tragically run down and killed the same day, it's been revealed.

John Preciado, 86, was discovered to be missing from his residential care home at breakfast time, and while staff, law enforcement and family searched, poor John was run down and killed only a couple of miles from his old home in a San Bernardino. The driver failed to stop or report the accident.

'San Bernardino police say Preciado was crossing West Rialto Avenue in the middle of the 700 block when he was struck by an eastbound car, possibly an older model Toyota, around 8:50 p.m.', The San Bernardino Sun reports.

Anyone with information on this collision or the hit and run vehicle is encouraged to contact the San Bernardino Police Department. [071914 1030 TC].

Accused says kick not aimed at Kim

July 20 2014

The OC Weekly reports that in the Kim Pham Santa Ana nightclub murder trial, Vanesa Zavala has been subject to a strong cross examination by OC Deputy DA Troy Pino, during which she broke down in tears and could scarcely be heard.

Zavala's claims that she was actually kicking out towards Kim's male friend, Binh Dinh, in self-defence were rejected by the prosecutor. He asked why, if that was the case, she'd never mentioned being 'rushed' by Dinh, in her statement to police. He also led her, step by step, through video footage of herself where she appeared to pull and throw Kim (who was tusseling on the floor with a woman who's never been found) by her hair, and prepare to kick her.

You can read the full details here. Defence has now rested for Zavala and will present its case for her fellow accused, Candace Brito, Monday.

Vet's body buried in moving ceremony

July 20 2014

When airman Thomas Stanley Lyons was buried with full military honours in Lake Worth, Florida, last Friday, the ceremony was described as a positive one, despite the sorrow. Because Tommy, as his family call him, had been missing for 60 years; ever since the C-124 Globemaster carrying him and 51 other men crashed into a glacier in Alaska in 1952.

Credit: Lyons Family/Palm Beach Post

The aircraft was discovered two years ago but the recovery and identification of the remains of the 17 men found was only possible this year. Tommy's wallet with his papers and ID were still perfectly intact. Although Tommy was a Brooklyn boy, his sister Geraldine Evans asked that he be interred in South Florida National Cemetery, closer to her present, Boca Raton home.

Extended family members were present, as well as men who had served with Tommy. Perhaps the saddest note was struck by Tommy's nephew, who revealed that Tommy's mom had lived to be 101, and only missed her son's return by a year and a half.

A video of the arrival of Tommy's casket at the airport can be seen here.

Sobs in court as Kim's injured face shown

July 13 2014

The murder trial has begun in the case of two women accused of the nightclub beating death of Annie Kim Pham last January. In an ironic coincidence, the nightclub in question - The Crosby - which the owners closed permanently, reopened with a burst of publicity as The North Left, at the same time. It remains under the same ownership.

Defence for the accused, Candace Brito and Vanesa Zavala, have made it clear they will argue that Kim Pham '...didn't deserve to die, but the fact is she died because she took umbrage over a bump," and 'the victim was the aggressor'. Both accused have entered not guilty pleas to murder and assault charges.

The nature of the defence means the trial is likely to be extremely tough for the family and friends of Kim, whose death ultimately gifted life to the recipients of the organs she had previously chosen to donate. Wednesday, there was sobbing in court as a photograph of Kim's bruised and battered face was shown.

Credit: CBS News

During the opening days of the trial video footage was repeatedly played that showed Kim fighting on the floor with a third woman she is said to have struck first, but it is two others - who prosecutors say are Zavala and Brito - who run up and seem to kick and punch Kim in the head, from a standing position. Both defence and prosecution are using cell phone footage as crucial evidence in the case.

One eyewitness testified he only saw Brito kick Kim in the head, another (who also videoed the fight) said he saw the two accused strike out, but didn't see if the blows landed. Defence say the eyewitness to the kick, the nightclub security guard, has changed his story as he originally told police he saw a 'bleached blonde'. Both defendants have dark brown hair.

Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Troy Pino said it is Zavala who launched the final kick that saw Kim collapse and go limp on the ground. The OC Coroner's report on Kim ruled that she died of blunt force injury to the head, but could not distinguish if one or a combination of blows led to her death.

Perhaps the most telling part of the footage shown to the jury was the sound of one of Kim's friends screaming: 'It’s over. It’s over! Get the (expletive) off her!'

The trial continues Monday.

Ashton Sachs searched Wiki murder info

July 13 2014

Newly released Grand Jury transcripts have shed light on the prosecution case against Ashton Sachs, in the shooting dead of his parents and paralyzing of his 8 year-old brother in San Juan Capistrano, last February.

The LA Times reports that Sachs only came under suspicion when his cell phone records revealed he'd looked up degrees of murder and booked airline tickets back to his apartment in Seattle from CA. He had also arranged for his vehicle, which he'd left outside one of his parents' many places of business, to be brought back to Seattle.

Sachs is said to have blamed his parents for his 'messed up life', depression and favoring his siblings, and to have paced the floor for 15 mins after breaking into their home, before deciding to shoot them dead.

Sachs is alleged to have shot his mother eight times, his father seven, his brother twice (leaving him permanently paralyzed) and shot at his sister once, missing her. His sister, 17, testified she did not see who shot at her and found her little brother lying bleeding on the hallway floor, where he had managed to drag himself.

Sachs has pleaded not guilty. He is due to be arraigned late July.

Construction workers save senior lady from inferno

July 11 2014

There's a wonderful story coming out of Kansas city, MO, today.

An explosive fire in a resident's garage was spotted by Chris Mitchell and some other construction workers nearby. They leapt to the rescue of the senior lady inside, a Mrs Able.

She slammed the door in their faces, afraid.

They persevered though, and got her out, just in time. The lady in question is very grateful now, and unharmed but a little shaken up, we are told.

Credit: KCTV5

Read the story on KCTV5, here. It's a good one. And to the cheerful, unassuming construction workers of KC - time you got some Superhero logos on those t-shirts of yours. Congratulations and well done. We often only get a chance to be heroes once in our lives; you grabbed yours with both hands.

* Just noticed - their t-shirts already read 'Frontline' and one almost says hero, apart from one letter. What a coincidence!

Update: 'Ma'am, your house is on fire.'

Only in Missouri! Mrs Able's promised to bake her hometown heroes an apple pie - bet it'll be a good one. Read here.

Mike Herdman died instantly in cliff fall

July 5 2014

The Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office has ruled that much-loved Arcadia firefighter Mike Herdman died instantly, in a tragic, accidental fall from a cliff while searching for his lost dog, Duke, who was eventually rescued.

Although it hasn't been possible to establish exactly when he died, the Medical Examiner is sure that the nature of Mike's injuries meant his death would have been immediate.

Once again, we can only state our admiration for everyone who tried so hard to find Mike and his dog, from his hiking companion Taylor Byars, to the many, many SAR and LE professionals, as well as members of the public.

Mike leaves behind a wife and six year-old daughter. Our deepest condolences to them and the rest of his family and friends. Donations to the family can be made here at the Fire Family Foundation and should be earmarked 'Mike Herdman'.

Missing Claudio Cuajicalco Leonardo goes home

July 5 2014

An amazing community and country-to-country effort has helped reunite a missing man with his family in Mexico, 12 years after he went missing, the OC Register is reporting.

Claudio was working in Stanton, then just seemed to completely disappear and his family back in Mexico didn't hear from him for years. A kind Anaheim resident, Luz Vanegas, spotted a distressed-looking Claudio at a bus stop recently... and you can read the rest of the touching story of how the Salvation Army, Mexican Consulate, and simple good samaritans, helped reunite Mr Cuajicalco Leonardo with his grateful family, at the OC Register, here.

What woman found in rural OC may have looked like

July 5 2014

Back in March, we ran a news story that OC Sheriff's Office were appealing for help identifying a female's body found in Casper's Wilderness Park. Although found January 6th, details had only just been released and the biggest clues seemed to be her Auburn brand windbreaker-style jacket with 'Coach Williams' logo (and a volleyball or water polo ball), and a distinctive gold dental bridge on her left lower jaw.

Officials have now released drawings of what she may have looked like. A petite female aged at least 30, with shoulder length, wavy dark brown hair with light highlights, who may have broken her nose at some point.

Credit: OCSD

Her remains are thought to have been in the park at least six months, so it is likely to be someone who disappeared before around July 2013.

Credit: OCSD

In addition to the jacket, the deceased was wearing:

  • A pair of dark, athletic yoga style pants made of spandex/cotton with light colored stripes down the side of both legs and a rear positioned zipper. The inseam measured approximately 29”-30”.
  • A pinkish speckled short sleeved or tank top t-shirt with a black line design
  • A bright green hair scrunchie band

More photographs of the clothing can be seen here.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Unit at (714) 647-7055. Anonymous tips may also be submitted to Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS (855-847-6227) or online, here.

For older news stories, please visit our archive.


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