BOB HARROD - STILL MISSING
Six is a simple number, others are not
July 27 2015
81-year-old Robert Merle Harrod went missing Monday, July 27, 2009. This Monday, July 27, 2015 marks the sixth anniversary of his disappearance. It's a simple number. It lines up nicely with his status as a newlywed, to the sweetheart he'd once been engaged to 60 years before, Fontelle. But behind that simple six there is a complicated mystery that only grows as time goes on, and much of it centers around numbers.
Let's start with something else though; the silence. Good reporters rarely turn away from a story they think might catch the attention of their publication's readers, and it doesn't always have to be breaking news. There are stories that rumble and run and are looked at from different angles, sometimes for years. That's why Etan Patz's parents can still command attention, even though their little boy has been missing since 1979. Families of the long-term missing take up the baton for their loved ones even if there isn't any new news, and they make it. A former NFL player has just stepped forward to highlight the case of missing teen boaters in Florida, but it doesn't even need a famous person. Community candlelight vigils get coverage from community media, and loved ones getting involved in charitable events, or campaigns to help other missing people, can keep their missing loved one's name in the news. It might not lead directly to the missing person being found but it can and often does lead to information and tips that eventually help police to do their job of finding that person. Sadly, that doesn't seem to have happened for Bob.
Onto the numbers:
0 - The number of times the last known person to see Bob, his son-in-law, has spoken to media. The number of public vigils held.
1 - The number of days the wife of the last known person to see Bob spent talking to media. The hour she said he might have last been at home. The number of times another of Bob's daughters has spoken to media.
2 - The number of times another of Bob's daughters has spoken to media. The number of different times Bob's housekeeper was reported to have arrived at his house.
3 - The time of the Home Depot receipt police have, from the last known person to have seen Bob.
4 - The number of days before police interviewed the last known person to see Bob, after he went missing.
5 - The number of different times at which Bob is reported to have gone missing on that day in July.
6 - The number of very close adult family members who Bob has to activate on his behalf.
Six is perhaps not such a simple number after all. For some.
For the lady who spent 60 years longing for the sweetheart she lost, then after the briefest weeks of married bliss has spent another six years waiting for him, it is a simple number though. Painful, and more than anyone of her age should have to go through, but still simple.
For the most part, Fontelle's days are quiet. Her eyes are bad, so she can't drive. One of Bob's former neighbors is helping her, bringing her food or taking her shopping. There are days when the desire to return to her own family makes her ache, but she resists leaving.
"I want to find out who did this to him," she says. "I want whatever is left of him to take home."
Read more here.
Bob Harrod lived and went missing in Placentia, Orange County, California. But before that, he and his deceased wife Georgia lived in Monrovia for many years and he has connections in other parts of Southern California. If you knew Bob Harrod and his family, please think carefully about any information you might have, and think about contacting Placentia Police or tipping Crime Stoppers anonymously. Police say they think the reasons for Bob's disappearance rest within 'his close circle'. You might unwittingly hold the key to the mystery of his disappearance and nobody is going to be mad at you if a tip doesn't pan out.
Suspect lied about Florida toddler's disappearance, say police
July 26 2015
Jacksonville, Florida Sheriff's Office have stated that the caregiver of a reportedly abducted 21-month-old is officially a suspect. Little Lonzie Barton was reported missing around 2.30am Friday when William Ebron, boyfriend of Lonzie's mom, said he left Lonzie and his five-year-old sister in his car outside their Ravenwood apartment, while he went inside to take cocaine. Ebron told police the sister came inside because she was scared, and when he went outside, he saw his bright orange and black Honda Civic being driven off. He also told police there was a slight delay in calling them, as he had to charge his phone. He was supposed to be taking them along to pick up their mom from her workplace, Wackos Gentleman's Club - which sadly doesn't seem to have shared information about a worker's missing child.
The car was found a short time later not far from the apartments, keys in ignition and engine running. There seemed to be an untimely delay in police informing media about the missing toddler (not until 4.30am), as someone appears to have given them the impression he might have been taken by bio-dad, at first. Someone also gave police the wrong name for the child at first, as Lonzie's name was released originally as Aaron Ebron.
Since that original version, further discrepancies have arisen. There are suggestions William Ebron informed Lonzie's mom he could not pick her up, and police know he visited a laundromat and gas station. Initially co-operative - but painfully, in the way of 'pulling teeth', according to the sheriff's office - Ebron is now no longer co-operative and investigators say they no longer regard Lonzie's disappearance as a stranger abduction. Ebron is already in custody as his bond was revoked Friday from previous drug charges that put him on a curfew and specified he was not supposed to be going near Lonzi's mom, Lonna Lauramore, let alone be living with her. She's a co-defendant in the drugs case. He's now charged with child neglect.
A concise timeline of events can be found here: http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2015-07-25/story/disappearance-lonzie-barton-timeline-events but the case is complicated and confusing; a former girlfriend and her family were granted injuctions against Ebron over domestic violence allegations, and little Lonzie Barton's mom is from Baker County originally, where her family there also have another missing child in the family - Hayleigh Cummings.
Texas Equusearch have now been asked to assist with the search for Lonzie, which is now concentrated around retention ponds near Philips Highway. Ebron's financial records and most of all tips, are said to be helping police with the search. They still need to hear from anyone who knows William Ebron. Anonymous tips are fine and can be left here.
Joe Namath offers $100,000 reward for missing neighbor boys
July 26 2015
At a press conference called today for missing 14-year-old Florida teens Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, a neighbor stepped forward to help. He's NFL Hall of Famer Joe Namath, and he offered a $100,000 reward in the search for the boys, who went missing Friday on a fishing trip to the Bahamas.
The teens, who are experienced boaters and fishermen, were last seen buying fuel at Jupiter Marina at 1.30pm. Also today, their capsized boat was found in waters off Ponce de Leon inlet in Volusia County, near Daytona Beach, but there was no trace of the teens. A single lifejacket was onboard but it's not certain how many were carried originally.
The extensive search for the boys continues.
Missing woman who gave birth alone in forest loses custody of baby
July 26 2015
Californian Amber Pangborn, a 35-year-old who went missing in Plumas National Forest in June and gave birth alone while fighting off bees and eventually starting a fire, says Children's Services have taken custody of her baby. Pangborn voluntarily gave up custody of three children in the past, after her husband died and she began drinking heavily, although attempted to get them back after they'd been adopted.
According to Pangborn, she 'took a little meth to give (her) energy while missing' and both she and the baby tested positive after the birth. The cocaine was a gift from a man she gave a ride to on the way to a casino before she went missing, she says. The baby's father is in custody but the new mom says they would both agree to her own father being granted care of the baby, and she is 'no risk to my daughter or anything'. A hearing on the baby's immediate future is due next week.
Sex trafficker kidnapped LA woman's baby, police say
July 21 2015
An Amber Alert was issued early last Saturday when a woman who had been tortured and sexually assaulted was found in the Los Angeles desert. She told police her alleged attacker had also threatened to abduct her 13-month-old daughter, Penelope Rodriguez, left behind in a Motel 6 near Lancaster. When police checked the motel the baby was gone and an Amber Alert was issued, along with the name of a man police wanted to quesion in connection with the abduction.
Baby Penelope was found later that day, safe but dehydrated, alone in a remote shed in Palmdale, Los Angeles. It has now been revealed that the baby's mother is a trafficked sex worker so frightened of her suspected pimp that she even gave police a false name originally, for the man believed to have abducted her baby. The man named at first is not connected to the abduction, but 35-year-old Brandon Wynn and a juvenile were apprehended in a car in Palmdale and have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. The suspects told Lancaster Sheriff's officials where to find Penelope and that they were on the way back to the shed to retrieve the baby and 'drop her off at a fire station', apparently.
Wynn controls other sex-trafficked victims Lancaster investigators say, and the mother, despite a severe beating and torture, has 'such strong trauma bonds' with the suspects, she was willing to 'sacrifice the personal safety' of her baby by providing them with false information about the suspect. She is not facing charges and will receive help from social services and victims' advocates. Baby Penelope is in the care of child and family services.
Without meds, missing teen reverts to 7-year-old
July 19 2015
Jonathan Taylor Clarke, 19, went missing Saturday from his home in Altadena, California. He took money and his identification from his mom's purse before he left. That's not the problem though. Jonathan has severe autism and without his medicines every day, reverts to the mental age of around a seven-year old. He is also known to make 'poor decisions', the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says.
He is regarded as critical missing and anyone who sees Jonathan is asked to call the LASD Homicide Bureau on (323) 890-5500.
'Hoaxer' Denise Huskins was kidnapped, FBI says
July 13 2015
In a stunning development today, the FBI has said that a disbarred attorney is a suspect in the Vallejo, California kidnapping of Denise Huskins, March 23. Huskins was later found safe at Huntington Beach and her case was dismissed by law enforcement as a hoax, with 'no evidence' of a kidnap. The case seemed bizarre from the start, from the ransom demand of $8,500, to Huskins' boyfriend managing to fall asleep during the kidnap.
The case went quiet after that, until June 5 when 38-year-old Matthew Muller was arrested after a home invasion robbery. Muller is a former marine and a Harvard graduate and California lawyer who qualified in 2011 and was disbarred in 2015. Similarities to the case of Denis Huskins led investigators to arrest him for her kidnapping, the FBI just revealed, and now it's thought there may be other suspects and other victims out there. Anyone with information is urged to contact Sacramento FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).
Life without parole for 1995 OC kidnap, killing
July 13 2015
The gruesome 1995 murder of 24-year-old Gonzalo Ramirez in Irvine, California is at last resulting in killers being brought to justice. 45-year-old Gianni Anthony Van has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his role in kidnapping, hanging in chains and hacking the victim to death. Van's ex-wife, Norma Esparza, had told him she'd been sexually assaulted by the victim, and pointed him out to his killers, Orange County prosecutors say, and that was the motive for the murder. They were unable to bring a prosecution earlier because of Van and Esparza's hurried Vegas marriage after the crime, which meant she could not be compelled to testify against him.
Esparza moved abroad and became a professor of psychology in Geneva during the intervening years but was arrested when she visited Boston in 2012. Although she protested her innocence and said she did not feel morally responsible for the victim's death, she pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and testified against Van. She's expected to receive six years at sentencing later this year.
Shannon Gries of Santa Ana also goes on trial for the murder this week, while Diane Tran is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Her husband, Kody Tran, would have faced trial but shot himself during a standoff with police three years ago.
Millions try to identify dead girl found in trash bag in Massachusetts
July 5 2015
June 25th, a dog walker found the body of a young girl about four years of age inside a trash bag on Deer Island beach in Winthrop, Massachusetts. Her body was thought to have been left there a few days previously and no cause of death has been determined. By July 3rd, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children had released a computer-generated photo based on autopsy pictures and this, along with the polka dot leggings and blanket found with her, were posted on the Massachusetts police Facebook page.
Since then, the photo has been viewed an amazing 25 million times and shared around half a million. Police have also been inundated with tips from the public, trying to help identify the little one. Many noticed a startling resemblance to missing Aliayah Lunsford who disappeared from her West Virginia home in 2011, age three. Aliayah would be seven years old now though and police say they are sure the child found on Deer Island is not her.
Police are hoping that the distinctive photo of a black and white zebra-striped blanket and polka dot leggings found with the little girl will help lead them to her family. She was white or Hispanic, with brown eyes and hair, weighing about 30 pounds and about three and a half feet tall.
Missing Mike and Tina of Arizona found buried in neighbor's yard
July 4 2015
Arizona couple Mike and Tina Careccia disappeared after a father's day party at the family home in Maricopa, Arizona. Initially, it was thought that the couple -who had only been married a year - left their home at 5am June 22 in order to deliver a USB stick to her employer. Mike's 17-year-old son notified police later that day when Tina's employer called to ask why she hadn't turned up for work. 42-year-old Tina was an accountant, while 44-year-old Mike was a pilot with United Airlines, retired on medical grounds. Both have children from previous marriages.
From the beginning, it was obvious something was seriously wrong as the couple's car was quickly found abandoned about a mile from their home, covered in dirt. There was also the fact that Tina's purse, with the USB stick, was left in the home. This Thursday, the shocking news emerged that a neighbor, 38-year-old Jose Valenzuela, who had carried out electrical work for Mike and Tina and had been friends with them for two years, had told police he had attended the father's day party at the couple's home. He and the couple had used meth there, he alleges, and then after, Mike and Tina had gone to Jose's home to get more. After an altercation with Mike where they wrestled on the floor, Jose told police - during telephone negotiations - he shot Mike and, at a later point, shot Tina too. He then buried their bodies in his own backyard, using a borrowed backhoe.
Another man, 38-year-old Felix Rios Nunez is thought to have been present too but the accounts are conflicting and he has not been charged. A series of cell phone calls between Mike and Jose between 9pm and 11pm June 22nd played a vital role in focusing police suspicions on Jose within 24 hours, police say.
Mike and Tina were victims of an apparent serial arsonist last year, where their uninsured trailer with all their possessions and the frame of the house they were building beside it, were burnt to the ground. It's among 14 arsons in Maricopa last year thought to be the responsibility of one person, that have not been solved.
Family say they remain doubtful about allegations of drug use by Mike and Tina. A memorial for the couple was held Friday. Jose Valenzuela has been arrested on murder charges and bail is set at $2 million.
Body found in Lomita wall is missing woman, family say
July 4 2015
Wednesday, Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators found a body concealed within a wall in a unit at a Harbor Hills, Lomita housing project on the 26800 block on Western Avenue. A fortnight before, the sister of Raven Campbell, missing since 2009, had received a call telling her that Raven's body was hidden in a closet wall of a downstairs apartment at the Lomita housing project where Raven was living when she disappeared.
Raven, who had a 'diminished mental capacity', disappeared after leaving the apartment she shared with a female high school friend, to go shopping. However, family members say her purse was later discovered in the apartment and Raven's sister, Malaikah Manasseh, says Raven had 'a tic' about always wearing her purse hung around her body, and that she and the rest of the family believe the body found must be their missing loved one.
A wall within the apartment had to be demolished to recover the body, and neighbors in the apartments report 'a terrible smell' coming from the unit where the body was found. The present occupiers of the apartment were not in residence when Raven disappeared and have been relocated until the investigation concludes. Family say they are sure the body is Raven, but investigators have released no information other than that the remains have not yet been identified.
Escaped New York prisoner David Sweat shot, caught
June 28 2015
The intensive search for two escaped prisoners from the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York, is finally over. Convicted murderer David Sweat was shot twice in the head by police in Constable, six miles from the Canadian border. He is alive but his condition is unknown. His accomplice, Richard Matt, was shot dead by law enforcement two days ago. Sweat was in prison for killing a sheriff's deputy, Matt for killing and dismembering his former boss.
Their escape from the facility in Dannemore was carried out with the aid of power tools and two prison workers, Joyce Mitchell and Gene Palmer, are facing charges in connection with the escape.
Possible breakthrough in missing Kristen's case
June 28 2015
Buster, the famous black labrador search dog who almost - but for reasons not entirely clear - did not become involved in Bob Harrod's case, may have made a breakthrough in another missing person's case.
Kristen Modafferi of Oakland, San Francisco, has been missing since June 23, 1997 when she finished a shift at Spinelli's coffeehouse in the Crocker Galleria. Thursday, 18 years after her disappearance, 11-year-old Buster, who has lost a leg to cancer, alerted at several points around the basement of her old home at Jayne Avenue in Adams Point, near Lake Merritt. He also alerted at a concrete block in the basement there, and on a trail leading back from the house. The present owners, who have no connection to the time Kristen lived there, agreed to the search. Buster's handler is 61-year-old Paul Dostie, a retired police officer.
Oakland PD are checking out Buster's findings. Kristen's disappearance has been rumored to be connected to suspected serial killer Robert Durst (currently awaiting trial on murder charges) but police have said they've found no evidence of that.
War-interrupted couple get their prom day at last
June 28 2015
89-year-old Ralph Wozniak and his wife LaVerne of Riverview, Hillsborough County, Florida and are unlucky in a way. In 1944 while living in Milwaukee, WW2 came along and interrupted the young sweethearts' relationship. Like missing Bob Harrod, Ralph signed up with the marines. He didn't even get to finish high school, let alone attend his prom night with LaVerne.
The couple managed to have one big day - their wedding in 1949 - but Ralph was called up again to serve in the Korean war and any hopes of a prom night just disappeared from sight. The couple had four children and although Ralph was proud to see his children attend their own prom nights, he always felt a touch of regret that he didn't get one.
Jump to 2015 and enter the Hillsborough County Aging Services Senior Prom. Ralph and LaVerne finally got to go to the prom ball after all. They dressed up to the nines, and to cap it all, Ralph was crowned prom king. LaVerne was so excited, she snuck out of line to kiss him, like a teen. Nobody complained. After all, they have been married 66 years.
'That's my husband,' she said. 'That's the king'.
Riverside man may be unfit to stand trial for mom's murder
June 22 2015
The trial of a Riverside County, California man charged with the murder of his mother last November has been suspended. 51-year-old Danny Giles, who walked into Hemet Police Department to confess to the crime - and was scarcely believed - has mental competency issues. A mental evaluation has been ordered but one report has been returned for clarification and a judge could not make any ruling, Friday.
Giles told police they could find his mother's body in her apartment, and also where he had discarded his bloody clothes and a steak knife used to kill her. Dorothea Robert's body was found tucked up in bed, with her throat cut. Many prescriptions for Giles were also found there, for medications used to treat psychiatric conditions. Despite the information he gave to police, Giles has entered a not guilty plea. Giles remains in custody, with bail set at $1 million.
11 years on, boy's remains found in trunk of mom's Mustang
June 22 2015
A routine traffic stop for expired license plates on I64 in Richmond, Virginia earlier this month, led to an horrific discovery. Police found the remains of a child's body in the trunk of 44-year-old Tonya Slaton's black 2003 Mustang. The officer had noticed an odor of rotting flesh from a taped-up black plastic bag which was hidden under a pile of clothes. There was also a large white patch on the floor behind the front seats, that Slaton explained was due to a bleach 'spillage'.
It was confirmed on Friday that the remains were those of Slaton's son, Quincy Jamar Davis, who hasn't been seen since 2004 when he was 12 years old. He had never been reported missing. Slaton has been charged with concealment of a body and was due in Hampton General District Court Monday but her pre-trial hearing has been postponed to September 1st. Further charges are pending. She is being held in City of Hampton jail without bond.
Slaton has a previous conviction for firing four shots through a boyfriend's door after he jilted her in 2007, and served almost four years of a 15-year sentence for that crime.
Virginia State Police are asking for anyone to come forward who has any information about Tonya Slaton, her black Mustang and son Quincy Jamar Davis from around 2004, when he was a 7th-grader in Virginia Beach where his mom had a home. Call Virginia State Police at 757-424-6800.
Help needed to find victim's missing head
June 21 2015
A traumatic and gruesome missing case emerged this week from Inglewood, California. Legally blind 75-year-old Robert 'Mr Bo' Hollis was found dead in his Glenway Drive, Ingelwood apartment, Thursday. He had asked a neighbor for a ride Wednesday, and that person sounded the alarm when Robert didn't show. One of Robert's sons carried out a welfare check and found his father's body inside his apartment, the next day.
Robert's body was mutilated, with his head missing from his body and nowhere to be found. His son, Robin Hollis said his father 'did a good job of raising us' and that the family had no idea of who would want to do such a thing.
Robert was well-known and liked in his neighborhood and ran a business, via Facebook, called 'Mr Bo Jangles Custom signs in Carson'. Although some of his remains are found so he can't truly be said to be missing, both Robert's family and police urgently need to locate his head. It may have been taken to remove evidence left behind, or worse.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Inglewood police at (310)412-5246.
Preliminary hearing for Chase Merritt, charged with slaying McStay family
June 15 2015
Investigators revealed details for the first time today in a San Bernardino, California court of the evidence around the bodies of the McStay family found in Victorville in November 2013. The McStays - wife Summer, husband Joseph and children Joey, three and Gianni, four - went missing from their San Diego home February 4, 2010 and were thought to have crossed into Mexico after their Isuzu Trooper was found to have been towed from a border parking lot.
Self-proclaimed business partner Charles 'Chase' Merritt was charged with their murders when the family's bodies were found by a trailrider in San Bernardino, where Merritt has strong ties.
At the preliminary hearing today, attended by the victims' families, evidence was heard that will allow Judge Michael Smith to make a decision whether Merritt should face trial and a potential death penalty, for the murders. The San Bernardino DA's office is known for its hard line on crimes against children. The statements given by investigators so far paint a stark and painful picture that reduced Summer's sister to tears in court.
Dad Joseph McStay's body was found wrapped in the mysteriously-missing sofa cover at the McStay family home, with electrical cord (they were renovating and had supplies in their home) around his neck. He sustained four fractures to the skull, a broken ribs and broken leg before his death. A sledgehammer, with paint flecks matching some found on Summer's underwear, was also found in one of the two graves. Four-year-old Gianni received at least seven blows to the head, his skull revealed, while his little brother Joey is also thought to have been killed by blunt-force trauma to the head, although a cause of death was not determined. Mom Summer appeared to have been attacked face-on, with multiple fractures and breaks to the front of her head and jaw giving the impression someone wished to silence her with a vengeance.
The hearing also revealed that traces of Merritt's DNA was found on the steering wheel, gearshift and radio of the abandoned Isuzu, although he has said he had only ridden in it, not driven it. His cell pinged off a mast up near the Victorville gravesite just two days after the family disappeared, although he had made only one call from that area in the preceeding year and said he was not in the high desert that day. Investigators also revealed Merritt repeatedly spoke of the McStays in the past tense only days after their disappearance, raising suspicions. The McStay's house, when investigators visited it, was freshly painted and 'undergoing renovation' and almost unfurnished.
Money as a motive was also raised at the hearing, with investigators saying checks worth $11,000 were issued to Merritt in the three days leading up to the McStays going missing, although the accounting system used to do it was accessed from a computer not belonging to Joseph McStay. Three were later canceled and checks issued to Merritt the day after the McStays disappeared were edited via computer to appear as though they were issued a day earlier. Five days after they vanished, an associate at the Quickbooks accounting system Joseph used for his business said he received a call from Merritt's cell number trying to cancel the entire account. It seems likely larger amounts of money and gambling as a motive are likely to emerge at the hearing, which continues.
British couple's wedding sets record
June 13 2015
Eastbourne in England is known as a sedate coastal town with a good share of senior residents, so a wedding between a couple of them wouldn't generally cause a stir. Like missing Bob Harrod and his wife Fontelle, people in their 70s and 80s can find great happiness in a new marriage, even if it's brief. However, very few 103-year-olds marry a 91-year-old. In fact, so few that George Kirby and Doreen Luckie, who wed there Saturday, have set a record as the world's oldest newlyweds.
They have been together 27 years and didn't get around to marrying before, but got engaged on Valentines' Day this year. Their wedding, at the truly British, genteel Langham hotel, was attended by close family and friends - and media. George (103) a former boxer and Royal Air Force veteran, sported a few bruises (after a recent fall, not a boxing match) and wife Doreen (91) wore a blue flower-print dress and a smile as big as her husband's. Doreen's working career was as a typist for a DA, known as a director of public prosecutions in England, where she transcribed infamous British crime cases such as that of the Moors murderers.
In a radio interview following the wedding ceremony, Doreen sounded a little perplexed about all the fuss though:
'I don't think I'm that old, am I? There's a lot of people in their 90s,' she told the BBC.
George meanwhile, joked to the Daily Record about his proposal:
'I didn't get down on one knee, because I don’t think I would have been able to get back up.'
The happy couple have a bunch of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and after being together for so long, don't seem to be too fussed about a honeymoon.
Police officer investigated for rape, multiple strangulations
June 7 2015
A former Spokane, Washington police officer appearing in court on a rape charge from November 2014 was arrested on suspicion of the 1980s murder of Ruby Doss after the hearing in Kennewick, this week. Ominously, DNA 51-year-old Richard Aguirre submitted in the alleged rape case (he entered a not guilty plea) is also being considered in the cold-case investigations of the murders of at least four other women murdered in Spokane between 1986 and 1987.
Aguirre moved away from Spokane in 1988, to join the Pasco Police Department, also in Washington. He resigned from that department in May, after 27 years' service and his attorney Scott Richardson says he is 'disappointed' by the new arrest and that his client did not murder Ruby. All the victims were killed by strangulation. He also now faces charges of voyeurism for multiple images of a sexual nature and/or threatening nature found on his electronic devices and remains in custody, pending the posting of a total of $1 million bail.
Santa Clarita body in trunk is Jose David Flores
June 7 2015
A body found in the trunk of a blue Honda Accord in Canyon Country, Los Angeles a week ago has been identified as Jose David Flores. The 28-year-old was from Mendocino County and although a cause of death has not been established, LASD Homicide Bureau is in charge of the case. A photo of the victim has been released in the hope somebody with vital information will come forward.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the LASD Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Or call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477. It's completely anonymous.
Jarrae Estepp's mom sues over her murder
June 4 2015
Jodi Pierre-Estepp, whose 21-year-old daughter Jarrae Nikole Estepp is thought to be a victim of suspected Orange County serial killers Frank Cano and Steven Gordon, has filed a lawsuit against authorities she believes are responsible for allowing the suspects to roam free. The lawsuit is also being brought on behalf of Jarrae's five-year-old son, Nehemian McGee.
Jarrae's body was found on a conveyor belt at an Anaheim recycling center in March last year and she is the only one of five suspected victims to have been found. Both suspects were registered sex offenders wearing GPS tracking devices that were easily removed or blocked, the lawsuit says, and parole agents and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation failed to monitor them properly. Although the suspects were forbidden to have contact with each other, they actually lived together in a car where the killings are thought to have taken place.
The bodies of the remaining four victims have not been found and searches have been called off as they are thought to be unrecoverable in a landfill. The amount of the lawsuit has not been disclosed. Cano and Gordon are currently in custody, awaiting trial.
Lost German Civil War vet to have military funeral
May 31 2015
When Charles Schroeter emigrated to the US from Germany at age 25, he couldn't have known he'd eventually receive the Medal of Honor, or spend his next 25 years serving in his chosen country's military. Most of all, he wouldn't have expected to be buried in an unmarked grave because he took out a $200 insurance policy to pay for his burial. Just like missing Bob Harrod, he started out in Missouri, served in the marines, went to San Diego and ended up in an unknown grave in California.
Schroeter's story began much earlier than Bob's though. He first enlisted in St Louis, Missouri in 1863, to fight in the Civil War. After that ended, he was to be found fighting in the Indian wars in Arizona, where he received America's highest recognition for his valor, the Medal of Honor. After a quarter of a century of serving his adopted country, he retired as a sergeant in the Marine Corps. Somehow though, despite his insurance, when he died his ashes were left in an unmarked crypt in Greenwood Cemetery in San Diego. He never got the military burial he was due, unlike his 499 fellow Medal of Honor recipients.
Thanks to two years' of detective work by Bill Heard of San Diego's Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation though, Schroeter will become the first Medal of Honor recipient to be buried there, July 9, with full military honors. That's just a few days after Schroeter's birthday, July Fourth.
Countries apart, two students mysteriously vanished Friday
May 31 2015
Two female students disappeared Friday, thousands of miles and countries apart, with their cases linked only by the ominous mystery surrounding their disappearances.
16-year-old Laima Sinka of the UK is from Farnborough, Hampshire and last spoke to someone on the phone Friday morning, May 29. She has not been heard from since and her phone has now been discovered in Reading, beside the river Thames. Laima has distinctive long, dyed blonde hair shaved on one side and Hampshire police need anyone who has seen her to contact them by calling 101.
Again on Friday but this time in Texas, 22-year-old Leah Donnice Martin of Graford attended the Graham High School graduation. She spoke to a relative on her phone around 9.45pm and hasn't been seen since. Her car was found at her workplace Saturday morning but there was no sign of Leah. Graham police would like anyone with information to call them at (940) 549-6441.
Jury deadlocked in third Cal Harris murder trial
May 24 2015
Just over a week ago, a jury in Schoharie County, New York, declared it was completely deadlocked over a verdict in the third 'no body' trial of Calvin 'Cal' Harris, for the murder of his missing wife Michele Harris, in 2001. They were in the midst of a divorce - though still living in the same house with their children - and both had relationships with other people. Judge George Bartlett was eventually forced to declare a mistrial after 50 hours of deliberations, but stated the jury had been 'a model' one. Cal Harris has been convicted of his wife's murder in two previous trials, but both verdicts were overturned on appeal.
The decision means the case will return to court in August and a fourth trial is likely as prosecutors still believe they have a case. Most of the evidence revolved around blood splatter found in the couple's home and financial and controlling motives prosecutors say Cal Harris had to kill his wife.
Complete coverage of the trial can be found here.
Further details of the circumstances of Michele's disappearance are provided at the Charley Project.
After long delay, third man charged with Holly Bobo's murder
May 24 2015
John Dylan Adams has now been charged with the kidnapping, rape and murder of 20-year-old nursing student Holly Bobo, who disappeared from her Darden, Tennessee home in 2011. Neighbors had heard a scream early one morning and called her mother, who was out. But when Holly's mother called the house, she found her son thought Holly had gone into the woods with her boyfriend. Holly's boyfriend was nowhere near the house that morning though, and by the time police arrived, she had disappeared without a trace. Her remains were not discovered until September 2014, not far from a property belonging to the family of Zachary 'Zach' Adams, the brother of John Dylan Adams.
Zach Adams was charged with Holly's murder more than a year ago, along with his former friend, Jason Autrey. Up until this indictment by the grand jury, John Dylan Adams had faced charges of rape and tampering with evidence, but not for murder. The case has been marked with difficulties and delays, including DA Matt Stowe stepping down after disagreements with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Zach Adams being accused of witness coercion for allegedly threatening to put his own brother 'in the hole with her' if he didn't stop talking.
Special prosecutor Jennifer Nichols is now heading up the case, after a judge dismissed defense objections to her appointment. Two other brothers, Mark and Jeffrey Pearcy, are also facing charges of tampering with evidence and being accessories after the fact.
Irish burglars find missing couple in story stretching to Texas
May 19 2015
When burglars broke into a house in the village of Askeaton in Limerick, Ireland this week they found something they hadn't bargained on - the owners of the home laying dead in a bedroom upstairs. Police think they'd been there since March 14, when they went missing. The burglars fled in panic but in the early hours yesterday called local police (gardai) and told them what they'd found. They were well-known to police for targeting seniors' homes and were terrified they'd be blamed for murdering the couple.
Today, police have revealed that the bodies were those of 63-year-old Julia Holmes and 56-year-old Thomas Ruttle, and that two signed, handwritten notes had been discovered on the kitchen table that seem to indicate suicide, or murder/suicide. They also revealed that Julia Holmes was a wanted, serial fraudster who had been deported from the US after a half milllion dollar property fraud in Texas, and more. Details of her activities and victims in the US can be read here. She was wanted for more recent, alleged frauds committed in Northern Ireland and is also alleged to have owed local construction companies tens of thousands of dollars. The family of her partner, Thomas Ruttle, whose isolated farmhouse the bodies were found in, are said to have had serious misgivings about the couple's relationship. Ruttle, a farmer, was the registered owner of a shotgun and a rifle and a rifle is thought to have been found in the couple's bedroom.
The farmhouse had no source of heating or power but the decomposition of the bodies was advanced enough that an initial, overnight postmortem could not establish a cause of death. In a further mystery, when police followed up on the person named as someone to contact in the notes they found, that person denied any knowledge of the couple. Investigations are continuing but police say they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.
Missing OC couple related to victim in infamous murder case
May 17 2015
Cecile 'Paul' Knutson, 79, and Dianna Bedwell, 68, a Fullerton, Orange County, California couple who went missing on Mothers Day after visiting a casino, already have a tragic event in the family history, it has been revealed. Dianna Bedwell is the sister of 16-year-old murder victim Sylvia Likens, whose infamous torture and murder in Indiana decades ago was depicted in the 2007 movie 'An American Crime', starring Ellen Gere.
The last confirmed sighting of Knutson and Bedwell, who have been married 25 years, is surveillance footage of them leaving the Valley View Casino and Hotel in Valley Center at 2pm Sunday May 10, from where they were supposed to travel to their son's house about 100 miles away in La Quinta.They never arrived and both their phones and car tracking device have stopped working. The son, Robert Acosta, has sworn to find the couple, saying that his 'wonderful' parents 'have given me everything'.
Daughter Kristen Smith says the couple are both diabetic and need medication.
They were driving a white, 2014 Hyundai Sonata, plate number 7EHE981. Anyone with information is asked to call San Diego Sheriff's Department at 858-565-5200
Homicide investigators are assisting in the search, but it is still considered a missing persons case.
Baby found, mom dead, brother missing
Update: In tragic but not unexpected news, a body believed to be that of missing five-year-old Josue Ramirez Martinero has been retrieved from the Elkhorn River.
May 9 2015
Wednesday morning in Omaha, a horror story began to emerge that seemed like a reason to give thanks, at first. A passerby discovered an 11-month-old boy wearing just a diaper abandoned in a dumpster. He was unharmed and thankfully had been found before the trash was collected and compacted. It soon emerged though, that the baby's mom, Jesus Ismenia Marinero, and five-year-old brother Josue Ramirez Marinero, were missing.
Ominously, mom's relatives came forward to say she had been in fear of her life, had her home broken into several times and had even talked to them about what should be done if she was killed. In later interviews, they revealed they had been aware of who the likely suspects were, all along, but had been advised not to speak of their suspicions. Wednesday afternoon, her stabbed body was discovered by a couple walking in an Omaha suburb on Fourth and Cedar Streets.
Sadly, news grew even worse. Jesus Ismenia's own, adult son walked into Omaha Police Department Thursday night and, investigators say, confessed he had killed his mother and thrown his missing brother Josue in the Elkhorn river. The 25-year-old Roberto Martinez Marinero has been charged with first-degree murder over his mother's death, and the heartbreaking search for his little missing brother is continuing.
In the last few hour, news has also broken that Roberto's girlfriend, 24-year-old Gabriela Guevara, has been arrested and is charged with being an accessory to homicide.
11-month-old survivor Angel Ramirez Marinero who was saved from the dumpster, has loving family members to care for him.
Michael Gordon arrested over Taylor Clark's shooting
May 9 2015
A 24-year-old shot Southern Illinois University Edwardsville student, Taylor Clark, during his lunchbreak then returned to work, police say. Michael Gordon, who works at MTC Truck Driver Training in Hazelwood, Missouri, met the 19-year-old student there and was seen getting into the red, 2007 Nissan Taylor had advertised for sale on Craigslist, for around $11,000. A witness said that although the victim and suspect drove off along a spur road together, only Gordon returned in the car.
Both the car and (then) missing Taylor's body were found on the grounds of MTC earlier this week, and investigators say email and phone records connected the suspect to the victim. Following the arrest, police launched an appeal to find the suspect's own, missing red 1990 BMW 325i, which was located Thursday.
Michael Gordon is being held at the St Louis County Jail and bail is set at $1 million, which he has not made. He has been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. Investigators wouldn't speculate about a motive for the alleged killing, but Cpt Tim Fagan of Florissant PD urged people to exercise extreme caution when selling items online.
Erica Alonso of Orange County found deceased
May 2 2015
The remains of 28-year-old missing Californian Erica Alonso have been found in a dry creek bed in a remote stretch of Cleveland National Forest off Ortega highway. Biologists working for Caltrans discovered the Orange County woman's remains last Tuesday night and investigators were able to initially confirm her identity almost immediately. Final, official identification is expected soon.
Erica had been missing since just after Valentine's Day, when she drove away from her ex-boyfriend's Irvine home around 3.45am the morning of 15 February, he says. They had been out at the Sutra lounge earlier and had a fight on returning to his house. March 25, Erica's white Honda Civic was discovered about a mile away from her family's Laguna Hills home but there was no sign of what had happened to her.
An autopsy has discovered no obvious signs of trauma and no cause of death was announced. Toxicology results are pending.
Lt Jeff Hallcock of the Orange County Sheriff's Department said investigators will have further questions to ask of Erica's boyfriend but he is being co-operative and is not 'in custody as a suspect'.
Anyone with information is still asked to call Orange County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Unit at (714) 647-7055 or (714) 647-7000. Or contact Orange County Crime Stoppers here, it's completely anonymous.
Paraplegic man accused of shooting, imprisoning wife
April 28 2015
A paraplegic man in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino who is confined to a wheelchair, has been arrested on suspicion of shooting and imprisoning his wife for 26 days. She was not reported missing by anyone. Amazingly the woman, who has not been identified, continued to take her son to school during that period.
37-year-old Michael Venegas reportedly shot his 26-year-old wife as she was preparing to leave him April 1, and afterwards she was too afraid to seek help. It's thought she survived as the bullet went through her - he's alleged to have denied her medical treatment. Finally, last Sunday, she summoned the courage to visit the hospital and a social worker there informed police. Neighbors report the home having tinfoil covering the windows, hearing arguments and one even says he called police April 1st after hearing a shot. Police say they don't have a record of that call.
Michael Venegas has been charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and false imprisonment. His bail is set at $500,000.
LE asks for help finding baby's missing body parts
April 26 2015
A nine-year-old girl has discovered pieces of a newborn baby in the backyard of her home in the 1500 block of West 104th Street in Westmont, Los Angeles. Brittany Placencia was playing with her dog when she discovered a baby's leg, and a baby's head was later found near a fence.
LA Sheriff Department homicide investigators are asking residents to check their trash for the missing body parts. 'Significant' parts are still missing, officials say.
Anyone with information is asked to call the LASD Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477, it's completely anonymous.
After missing Brock Guzman found safe, parents file complaint
April 26 2015
Eight-year old Fairfield, California boy Brock Guzman was put into his mom's car a little after 4.45 am Monday April 20, as his parents prepared to drive another sibling to school. The the engine was left running with keys in the ignition by his dad, and somebody stole the car, along with the sleeping boy.
An immediate, intense search effort and Amber Alert were launched by Fairfield Police that included social media, and Brock and the vehicle were recovered safely a couple of miles from his Meadowlark Drive home, at around 8am. A passerby spotted the vehicle. The young boy was still sleeping and told police he'd woken briefly to hear a man say 'I didn't know you were in the car!' before falling asleep again. Police later took a person of interest into custody.
Matters did not end there however. Brock's parents, Suzanne and Paul Guzman, have announced they intend to file a complaint against Fairfield police for, they allege, 'treating them like criminals'. Both were handcuffed and taken to the police department before their son was found. Fairfield police, in turn, released a bodycam video of the moment a screaming and yelling Suzanne was cuffed after she refused to let officers search her house. They'd spotted what they thought was blood inside the home but which Suzanne insisted was spilt nail polish. She said at the time she did not want her home searched as it was her right, and her husband was not home.
Later, Paul Guzman provided the explanation that the family has a pitbull and a German Shepherd dog and his wife was afraid the officers would get bitten.
It appears no bite injuries were reported after police entered the house.
Missing 86-year-old and dog survive bears, mountain lions and freezing temps
April 19 2015
When 86-year-old Theresa Glenn and her dog went missing in McCloud, California on Saturday April 11, searchers with Siskiyou Sheriff's Department were very concerned. Theresa has Alzheimers and short-term memory loss and there are bears and mountain lions in the woods near where she disappeared. The search spread from Northern California to Southern Oregon, and was intense.
Five nights later, with temperatures below freezing each night and without food or water, Theresa and her dog were found safe in the woods. The search involved a Silver Alert, 200 searchers and a really amazing story of dedication and luck - the SAR member who found Theresa mistook her for a fallen log at first.
A neighbor said Theresa is 'the sweetest' person and locating her was certainly a sweet moment for searchers, who were left speechless. The full story of the search and rescue of Theresa can be read here.
Serial killer's parole denied for another seven years
April 19 2015
A parole application from serial killer Brett Matthew Paul Thomas was denied in San Diego, Friday. The application was opposed by OC DA Tony Rackauckas as well as family members of the victims. Thomas, then 18, and his friend Mark Titch, killed four people, badly injured another and traumatized relatives of the victims during burglary sprees in 1977. Both were sentenced to life with the possibility of parole. Just months later, changes would have made them eligible for the death penalty or life without parole. Titch died in prison.
The age of the victims ranged from 18 to 53, and included a sexual assault upon a 20-year-old woman, before she was killed. DA Rackauckas asked that Thomas' application be turned down because of the heinous nature of his crimes, and that he should be forbidden to reapply for parole for another 15 years. Lynette Duncan, who heard her sister and father being shot, also spoke and told the correctional facility authorities she would be at every parole hearing until she dies - or Thomas does.
Authorities decided Thomas, now 56, must wait another seven years before applying for parole again.
Remains of missing VA student Anjelica Hadsell found
April 12 2015
Working on a tip, Norfolk, Virginia police discovered the remains of 18-year-old student Anjelica Hadsell near a shed in the backyard of a home on Smith's Ferry Road in Southampton County last Thursday. A cause of death is not yet known.
Anjelica went missing March 2, after returning to her Tarrallton home for Spring break from Virginia Commonwealth University. Initial reports said she was last heard from via texts at 5.30am on that day and was reported missing at 9.15pm that night. According to her mother, the text messages she received from Anjelica didn't seem quite right and she couldn't be 100 per cent sure they were really from Anjelica.
No arrests have been made in relation to her death, however, Anjelica's stepfather is in jail without bond after he allegedly broke into a house that he says had some connection to her disappearance and where he says he found her jacket hidden. He also added that he was so angry he punched the family dog that was in the house. He also faces charges after 72 rounds of ammunition were found in his hotel room. Unfortunately, as Hadsell has a serious previous criminal history and illegally entered the home, any evidence he says he found there will likely be rendered useless anyway.
Wesley Hadsell also stressed to media in an interview that he had nothing to do with his stepdaughter's disappearance. Police have declined to comment on their investigations, except to say they are ongoing. Other members of Anjelica's family have said the discovery of her body brings 'no closure' and there are still 'lots of questions'.
Australia, land of the resilient and then some
April 7 2015
When 11-year old Luke Shambrook went missing from a campsite in Victoria, Australia, things didn't look good. Luke has severe autism and probably wouldn't have known he was lost; the terrain was tough, thickly wooded and the weather was turning bad; Luke was attracted to water and disappeared near big, deep Lake Eildon.
Having being plunged into an obvious tragedy, concerned people (and there were a lot of them) were given shreds of hope by those crazy Australians. Luke had a high pain threshold, they said. He was dressed in warm clothing. He was resilient. They wouldn't give up searching until they found him. Even when there was a false sighting and search and rescue found Luke's beanie hat that turned out not to be his, they were not deterred. Professionals and members of the public came forward in their hundreds to try and find him. So many, some had to be turned away at times.
After four days, with the weather worsening, hope was running out. For everyone except for all the Australians searching for Luke, who just carried on looking... which was fortunate, because they found him; very hungry, thirsty and cold but on the move and uninjured.
Acting Sgt Brad Pascoe was the lucky hero who spotted him from a police helicopter:
"I just, out the corner of my eye, caught a little flash of something," he said. "It wasn't much but it was enough to make me get the guys to turn the aircraft around.
"We were able to train the camera in and confirm it was Luke. We were just absolutely over the moon."
Luke was reunited with his parents at the scene and then taken to hospital, fully conscious and with no injuries.
Easter can wait until Luke Shambrook is found
April 5 2015
Australian public volunteers and search and rescue professionals are spending their entire Easter break searching desperately to find a missing 11-year-old in a huge national park in Victoria.
Luke Shambrook wandered away from a campground near Lake Eildon in Fraser National Park Friday April 3. He has autism and may not know he is missing, is attracted to water and is lost in very, very rough terrain. Despite foot, vehicle and helicopter searches, and an unconfirmed sighting by people who say they saw a lone child crying in the woods, Luke has not been located.
As California moves into Sunday afternoon, Australians in Victoria are just waking to Easter Monday morning. Spare a thought for all those heading out to search for young Luke again, and hope they find him.
Predator who kidnapped and harmed 2-year-old in LA must be caught
April 5 2015
Police urgently need the public's help to locate the suspect in the kidnapping of a two-year-old girl in Gardena, Los Angeles. She was with her mother Thursday April 2 at a car wash on West 149th Street and S. Western Avenue. The mother heard the child cry 'Mommy', and then she was gone. The little girl was abandoned naked, two hours later and about 10 miles away in Cudahy.
Police investigators say she was harmed and the suspect is a child predator who must be caught. They expressed shock at the case, with Gardena PD Lt. Steve Prendergast saying he hasn't seen a case like this in the 20 years he's been with the department.
Police think the suspect was possibly driving a white, four-door Nissan Altima, year 2008 to 2012. They are working to enhance surveillance to decipher the plate.
Anyone with information is asked to call Gardena police at 310-323-7911. Or call 911.
$100k reward for missing student Eloi Vasquez
March 30 2015
UPDATE: Sadly, it was discovered that Eloi Vasquez had been struck and killed by a vehicle in the early hours of Saturday March 28, the day he went missing. He was not immediately identified because of the extent of his injuries. Our sincere condolences to his family and friends.
A 19-year-old UC Berkeley student, Eloi Vasquez, has been missing since leaving a party near the Southern California campus in the early hours of Saturday morning, March 28. He left carrying only a cellphone and told friends he was going to the beach. Just under an hour later, at 2.18am, he called a friend and said he was lost. Eloi hasn't been seen since and had no money or credit cards with him.
Sunday, a $50,000 reward was offered. Monday, that reward was doubled to $100,000. Anyone with any information is asked to call police at 213-486-8582.
Sahray Barber explains why she went missing
March 30 2015
The DA is being asked to consider filing charges in the case of missing San Bernardino, California design student Sahray Barber, police have said. Sahray went missing after leaving her apartment close to Cal State San University San Bernardino, March 9 and her disappearance triggered full scale searches when her laptop and phone were found abandoned nearby. Investigators and the public were also extremely concerned because of a series of recent attacks at Cal State SB, including an attempted kidnapping.
After 10 days Barber was located safe in LA, where she had given a false name at a hospital and was voluntary missing.
In a statement, Barber said she had 'created a recipe for disaster' by not reaching out to family or authorities when she heard of the searches for her, but she had 'just wanted to lighten my load'. She had thrown her laptop and phone away herself, she added.
San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said the searches had cost nearly $30,000 in police overtime alone, investigators believed Barber's roommates had been deceptive and if any evidence of illegality was discovered, charges would be pursued.
OC kidnap, ransom victim Denise Huskins found safe
March 25 2015
Around 2pm Monday March 23, Aaron Quinn reported his 29-year-old girlfriend Denise Huskins missing from his home at Mare Island, Vallejo, California. She had, apparently, been kidnapped for ransom, her family said the 30-year-old Quinn told police. Denise Huskins had recently moved to Vallejo from Orange County, where her family still live at Huntington Beach.
Mysteriously, it was never explained why Huskins was only reported missing hours after she disappeared on Monday morning, or why it was believed she had been kidnapped for ransom. The FBI became involved and searches were carried out around the bay at Mare Island after K9s indicated there. Huskins' Honda SUV was towed away from the home, and then police released photos of her boyfriend's white Camry, which was found some distance from the home, and asked people to call in if they remembered seeing it.
Police stated to media that boyfriend Quinn was not a suspect in the case.
Today, Denise Huskins' father announced to media she has been found safe. So far, there has been no mention of her condition and no further details released about exactly what happened to her. However, an audio tape of a call Huskins made, saying she was 'kidnapped but otherwise fine', has just been released.
Missing SB Sahray Barber found safe at shelter
March 21 2015
Last Thursday, March 19, the parents of missing San Bernardino (SB) student and library worker Sahray Barber failed to show at a press conference called by SB police. Many feared the worst. Sahray's disappearance was being investigated as foul play and police had even found persons of interest. Her disappearance also followed hot on the heels of attacks on two women at Cal State San Bernardino, close to Sahray's apartment. She hadn't been seen since leaving for work March 9, and her laptop and phone were found thrown - or in some versions, carefully placed - beneath a bush outside her apartment.
But it turned out the reason her parents were called away from the press conference was that Sahray was at SB police station and she had called her father to tell him she was safe, earlier. The father had then informed police. She had been staying at a Los Angeles shelter and was unharmed. LT. Rich Lawhead of SB PD said:
“This kinda tops the chart right now for kinda strange. Especially because of the direction we were led in initially."
Police also said that many thousands of dollars had been expended over the two-week search, that things didn't quite 'add up' in the case, and they were not ruling out legal action to recuperate their costs. Sahray has made a statement to police, but details haven't been released.
Vigil for OC missing woman, Erica Alonso
March 21 2015
A vigil was held Friday at Mike Ward Community Park for missing Irvine, California 27-year-old, Erica Alonso. Family, friends and supporters light candles for the woman who has not been seen since February 14th, when she is said to have left her ex-boyfriend's home in the middle of the night, after a fight.
Erica left in her white Honda Civic, and that has not been located either.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the OC Sheriff's Department at (714) 647-7055 There is a reward. The amount will be announced next week.
Two people of interest in case of missing Sahray Barber
March 16 2015
San Bernardino police said Sunday they have two persons of interest in the case of missing 22-year-old Sahray Barber, who they have questioned multiple times. Police declined to release any details about the suspects, but a spokesperson did state Barber's disappearance is not believed to have any connection to recent attacks on Cal State San Bernardino students.
The search for the missing design student, library worker and much-loved daughter Sahray Barber continues.
Robert Durst's arrival in LA delayed
March 16 2015
The extradition of 71-year-old real-estate heir Robert Durst from New Orleans to Los Angeles on murder charges has been delayed - due to Louisiana authorities considering charges of possession of marijuana. A small amount was found in Durst's Marriott hotel room, when he was arrested. He was also found to be carrying a .38 revolver, although it's not been stated if he had a permit or not. LA authorities have stated they consider him armed and dangerous.
Durst is being extradited on suspicion of murdering Susan Berman in Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles, in 2001. His first wife, Kathleen Durst (nee McCormack) went missing after arguing with him in 1982 and has still not been found. The case will be covered in full here tomorrow, in the Wednesday feature.
Searches, vigils continue for Sahray Barber
March 15 2015
22-year-old Sahray Barber left her Sunrise Apartments, West Northpark Boulevard home in San Bernardino Monday, March 9, at 6am, heading for work. The young California designer hasn't been seen since. In the light of recent attacks on female students at Cal State San Bernardino, her disappearance is causing the greatest concern. The apartments are close to Cal State San Bernardino and students from Cal State live there, but Sahray studied and worked at the Art Institute of California, Inland Empire.
Searches took place at a Ranch in Live Oak Canyon Drive in Redlands this past week, following a tip. Other locations in San Bernardino were also searched by teams on foot and by helicopter. Ominously, Sahray's phone and laptop were discovered in bushes outside her apartment - there have been conflicting reports of whether they were thrown there, or carefully placed.
A vigil by classmates was held at Sahray's school Thursday and, touchingly, she won a bronze award in her absence, at a design ceremony held at the Mission Inn.
Sahray Barber is described as white, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 125 pounds, with long red-brown straight hair and green eyes. She also usually wears a green, Arthurian-style cape with a distinctive design on the back.
Anyone with information on her disappearance was asked to contact SB detectives at 909-384-5623 or the investigations bureau at 909-384-5615 and refer to case number 2015-26028.
Rookie police officer Henry Solis sought in connection with killing
March 15 2015
After 23-year-old Ontario resident Salome Rodriguez, Jr. was shot dead in Pomona Friday, Pomona police say they are looking for 27-year-old probationary LAPD officer Henry Solis, in connection with the killing.
Solis did not turn up for work Saturday at the Devonshire Division, where he was due to end his probation period in about seven months' time. He was off-duty at the time of the shooting, which happened around 3.30am at the junction of Third and Main streets. Witnesses report seeing a fight between two men there before the shooting.
Pomona PD says it believes Solis knows it is looking for him. He's thought to be driving a silver or gray 2013 Volkswagen Jetta with California license plate 7FAS527. He is described as 5-foot-9-inches tall, weighing 185 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information on the incident was asked to call Pomona police at 909-620-2085.
Marines, aircrew presumed dead in Florida helicopter crash
March 11 2015
A Black Hawk UH-60 on night training out of Eglin Air Force base at Fort Walton Beach, Florida, crashed last night with 7 marines and four air crew aboard. The service personnel were assigned to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. It went down in waters off a remote stretch of military-owned beach between Pensacola and Destin. Wreckage and human remains are being recovered. An additional UH-60 returned safely. Sadly, an anonymous official stated today that all aboard are presumed dead.
Fog hampered initial search efforts, which have now expanded to an area of 51sq miles of the Navarre Sound, East of Navarre Bridge. Officials are asking that anyone who witnessed the crash contact Captain Darrow at 510-847-6731.
Missing Bob Harrod was a Marine veteran. We salute these lost heroes and send our deepest condolences to the bereaved families.
Erica Melissa Alonso missing in OC
March 8 2015
27-year-old Erica Melissa Alonso hasn't been seen since leaving her boyfriend's Irvine, Orange County home in the early hours of February 15. The couple had a combative relationship and Erica had previously had a restraining order against her forbidding her to contact her boyfriend, and a domestic violence case, which was dismissed.
After a night at the Sutra Lounge in Costa Mesa, Erica and her boyfriend argued. A couple who had been invited to the boyfriend's home from the Sutra Lounge, left after the row between Erica and her boyfriend developed. Erica left shortly after in her white, four-door 2014 Honda Civic EX; California plate number 7FSS563.
Erica hasn't been seen since. Her boyfriend is not a suspect in the case, police say. Anyone with information should contact the OC Sheriff's department at 714 647 7000 or 714 647 7055.
Cathy Torrez murder accused; guilty
March 8 2015
Sam Lopez, the boyfriend of Placentia, California student Cathy Torrez, has been found guilty of her first degree murder. Cathy disappeared after leaving work in February 1994 and her brutally stabbed body was found a week later, in the trunk of her car at Placentia Linda Hospital. He showed no emotion as the verdict was announced last week.
Lopez had always denied involvement in Cathy's killing, but Orange County prosecutor Matt Murphy set out Lopez's jealous behaviour and, most crucially, a 30- minute gap in his timeline alibi during the crucial period when Cathy was almost certainly murdered. He said the murder, in which Cathy's throat and neck was slashed, was 'as cold blooded as you can get'. A workmate also testified that Cathy was due to meet Sam Lopez after work, on the day she died. Cathy's sister, Tina Mora, was married to Armando Lopez, Sam's brother, at the time and testified how Sam seemed indifferent to Cathy's death and failed to answer calls. They have since divorced and Armando is charged with being an accessory after the fact.
Cathy's mom, Mary Bennett, said her daughter 'could not get away' that night, so she had spent 21 years running instead, to find justice for her daughter.
Lopez's lawyer argued that cousin Xavier Lopez - whose bloody prints were eventually found in Cathy's car (when technology caught up) along with his DNA on her clothes - was responsible for her murder. Xavier, along with Sam Lopez's brother, Armando, are being tried separately. Prosecutors say Xavier has been co-operative and a plea deal is possible in his case. Sam Lopez will be sentenced May 1.
Cathy Torrez of Placentia, Orange County
February 28 2015
According to a work colleague, 20 year-old Cathy Torrez of Placentia, then a Cal State Fullerton student, left her job at Sav-On February 12, 1994, to meet her boyfriend, Sam Lopez, also of Placentia. Her body was found a week later, in the trunk of her car parked at Placentia Linda Hospital, with more than 74 stab wounds to her wrists and neck.0
Since then, Cathy's family - and especially her mother, Mary Bennett, have worked tirelessly to bring Cathy's killer to justice. Now the case has come to court, and they have Orange County DA Matt Murphy on their side. Detective Corinne Loomis, who has featured strongly in Bob Harrod's case, said investigators have been 'consistently' looking for Cathy's killer. Because of her youth, and the 'heinous' nature of the case. Now Sam Lopez and his cousin, Xavier Lopez, are finally on trial for the murder of Cathy Torrez. DNA tests have connected Xavier to the crime scene but his alibi is verified by Sam Lopez, his co-accused. Sam's attorney, Lewis Rosenblum, said in his closing statement Friday that cousin Xavier was responsible for Cathy's murder, perhaps during a robbery. Lopez's brother, Armando, is also charged in connection with the case, but is being tried separately.
DA Matt Murphy argues that Sam Lopez is responsible for the killing, and that he stabbed Cathy out of jealousy when their plans to elope fell through after he saw a hickey on Cathy's neck, the day she disappeared. He said that Lopez showed 'more emotion for the dirt on his hat', than Cathy, during questioning.
A verdict is expected next week.
Sacramento fills with headless corpses
February 28 2015
The roughly decapitated, mutilated bodies of animals have been turning up in Sacramento for several months. The animals in question range from creatures as small as a chicken or tiny lamb, to goats, to a full-grown cow.
These discoveries aren't connected with waste from food production - someone is sawing the heads off the poor animals roughly, with a saw. Then placing the bodies and heads in boxes or bags, before dumping them in public places. Because forensic testing hasn't been carried out, it's not known if the animals were alive or dead as they were slowly beheaded.
Despite the horrific nature of what's happening - and the possibility, perhaps, that the perpetrator may progress to much more serious crimes or someone may stumble across them in the act, no police number is provided to call and the investigation seems to have been left entirely in the hands of Animal Control, with its limited resources. Those who have followed crime cases involving the backgrounds of various killers of human beings, may just be feeling a little concern at this point.
Citizens living around the locations of Sully Street, Robla Creek or Reichmuth Park of Sacramento may want to make a note; if you happen across someone sawing the head off a living creature, you're advised to call animal control at (916) 808-8333 and wait for the response. Or run like heck while dialling 911 - and take the risk of getting into trouble for wasting police time...
OC student killed in robbery
February 21 2015
A Kaplan International, Irvine student was shot January 19, 2015 when a robber approached his car and demanded money and property at South Maxine Street in Santa Ana. When Mansour Alhazawbar said he had nothing to give, the attacker shot him once in the upper body.
Although Mansour managed to call for help, he later died as a result of his wounds, January 31. He was just a foreign student in California returning from a visit to a friend's house and was only 21 years old. His family in Saudi Arabia are devastated. The suspect is described as a male hispanic with a shaved head, who fled the crime scene on foot.
The suspect has still not been found and homicide investigators still need information. Call 714-245-8390 if you can help. Or contact OC Crime Stoppers. It's completely anonymous.
Mansour's death follows closely on the heels of the murder of Saudi Arabian student Abdullah Alkadi; (tribute here). The Cal State Northridge student went missing after trying to sell his Audi vehicle on Craigslist. His remains were found in Palm Desert, October 14. Agustin Fernandez has been charged with his murder.
A loving couple, still apart
Valentines Day, 2015
Back in February 2009, 81-year-old, recently widowed Bob Harrod was just a few months from reuniting with his fiancée Fontelle, from 60 years before. Bob was a loyal man - after the Korean war separated him from his first love, he stayed married to his new sweetheart - then wife - Georgia for over half a century, until her death. They brought up three daughters in Orange County, California - the state where he'd been sent to from his home in Missouri in the early 1950s, to do his duty in the war. By hard work, he ensured his daughters were all educated and they, and his only grandchild, had nice places to live in SoCal when they grew up.
When Bob lost Georgia in March 2008, he was devastated and very lonely, despite his close family all living nearby. He went looking for his youthful sweetheart but couldn't find her. Instead, with the help of a loving daughter, Fontelle found Bob. She had been alone and searching for him too. They married in June 2009 and were separated once again in July, when Fontelle left Bob's home in Placentia, OC, to collect her belongings and say goodbye to her loved ones back in Missouri. She was ecstatic at the thought of spending the rest of her days with her sweetheart from 60 years before in Kansas, Missouri, who she had never stopped loving.
Fontelle did not know Bob was a multimillionaire. It would have made no difference if she had, because Bob had not had time to write her into his will when he was disappeared on Monday July 27, 2009. Sadly, Bob's son-in-law did not alert police that Bob had disappeared that Monday back in 2009, though he was working in Bob's house that day. That caused delays, and further confusion means that Robert Merle Harrod is still missing today, February 14, 2015, without a single, large-scale search being carried out to find him.
It means that Mrs Fontelle Harrod is spending yet another Valentine's Day without the one she loves. This Valentine's Day, our thoughts are with her, and all the other people missing a loved one this February 14th.
Bill's love letter a day, for 4 decades
February 14 2015
Nearly forty years ago this Valentine's day, 74-year-old Bill Bresnan of New Jersey was 'struck like a bolt of lightening' by a beautiful woman from Northern Europe. In the early days of their courtship, he wrote her a love note each day, scribbled on restaurant napkins or whatever he had to hand, and signed 'I love you my darling'.
Four decades on and 10,000 letters later, Bill's still writing them to his beloved wife, Kirsten. Every single day. Using postcards if they are separated.
Bill and Kirsten say they never argue (perhaps they just have a real good understanding of whose turn it is to be wrong?) but they think the secret of a long and happy relationship is to never go to bed on an argument. Who'd argue with a loving couple with 40 years' worth of love letters behind them?
Happy Valentine's Day to all the beloved people spending today with their loved ones. Spare a thought for all those missing their loved ones. There are too many.
Everlasting love; Valentine's announcement of ancient lovers
February 14 2015
The Culture Ministry of Greece has announced the rare discovery of the 6,000 year-old remains of an embracing couple, in time for Valentine's Day. The couple - a young man and woman - were found in the cave of Diros on the Peloponnese. They have been carbon dated to around 3800 BC, and although they were found last year, the announcement was wisely held off until today's romantic date.
Not only is it very unusual for pre-historic couples to be found buried together in an embrace, but the remains of a second couple were discovered at the site, bound together with broken arrowheads. Poignantly, a child and an embryo were found buried nearby.
The excavations were part of a five-year program by a team from the Paleonthropology and Speleology Service of Southern Greece, led by Dr George Papathanasopoulos.
Mission Viejo senior charged with strangling wife
February 8 2015
A 74-year-old Mission Viejo, Orange County senior was charged with the felony murder of his wife last Thursday. Gary Lee Parsons argued with his 73-year-old wife Barbara Parsons while in bed at their home at Pueblo Nuevo Drive in the early hours of Tuesday February 3. He then strangled her until she lost consciousness and died. After tucking her into bed, he later called a family member, who called 911.
Parsons is held on $1million bail and faces a sentence of 25 years to life if found guilty.
Bride-to-be just wanted Charles Manson's corpse
February 8 2015
A writer seeking a publisher has announced that the forthcoming marriage between 80-year-old Charles Manson and 27-year-old Afton Burton (AKA 'Star') is off.
Apparently, it was all a fiendish plot on the part of the young woman and her friend, to gain ownership of Manson's corpse, and put it on public display. Journalist and author Daniel Simone says that Charles Manson has finally realized he was 'played for a fool' and also...he believes he's immortal so she's wasting her time anyhow. Simone is hoping to find a publisher for his forthcoming book, 'The Retrial of Charles Manson', who he 'spoke to regularly' before Manson's phone privileges were suspended two years ago.
Manson was the leader of a California cult in the late 60s and was jailed for life for ordering the horrific killings of heavily pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight other victims by his followers. His much publicized wedding failed to take place by Thursday, when the license expired.
However, the bride-to-be maintains on the Manson website she runs that a simple 'logistics' problem is to blame and the marriage (or trees and water issues, or something) will be 'moving forward', soon...ish. A marriage of 'true minds', the website states. Indeed.
Suspect arrest over body in suitcase
February 1 2015
San Francisco police searching for a suspect caught on surveillance near the site where a dismembered body was found in a suitcase, have detained two people.
Police said they received a tip Friday that the suspect on CCTV had been seen in the city's Tenderloin district. Friday, Mark Andrus, 59, and another unidentified man were detained and Saturday, Andrus was arrested on suspicion of murder.
After the discovery of the suitcase, more body parts were discovered in a nearby trash can. Investigators have no identity pending DNA tests, but have said the victim is a light-skinned male and there are indications his murder could be gang-related.
Missing teen found safe after fears she'd left state
February 1 2015
Lauren Jackson, a 14-year-old Westchester, Los Angeles teen who went missing Thursday, has been located safe. There were fears Lauren was heading out of state to North Carolina or Georgia, as police found evidence on her computer she had met someone online and might be traveling to meet them.
Airports and hotels were searched and the teen was eventually located safe, Friday January 30. No further details have been released.
Murder hunt as victim dies 57 years after stabbing
January 27 2015
In a twist that has left his daughter reeling with shock, a 97-year-old New York man's death last September has been determined as murder - from a stab wound inflicted in 1958 or 1959. The injury happened so long ago medical records have been lost, so the exact date of the attack isn't known.
Antonio Ciccarrello was Iowa-born but was taken to his parents' native Sicily age two where he stayed, working as a shepherd, until returning to the US aged 38 to work as a porter on Fifth Avenue in New York. On his way to work one day in '58 or '59 he felt a blow on his back, he told family. He had been stabbed by an unknown assailant on the street. Although he went to hospital to have an operation to repair his injuries, he never reported the attack to police.
It was that operation that nearly half a century later, led to a blockage in his bowels that caused the death of Mr Ciccarrello, the New York Medical Examiner decided. As the operation was a direct result of the stabbing, that made his death a murder and Manhattan police were required to open a homicide investigation.
Mr Ciccarrello's only surviving daughter Mary Palaglou says the family is totally baffled and she just wants him to rest in peace. The suspect, she believes, 'is probably long dead'. She was only two when her father was stabbed and has only been able to provide police with details of the attack she heard over the years.
Police have found no evidence, witnesses, crime or medical reports so far, but as colder cases than this one have been solved, perhaps the new publicity will shed light on who stabbed Antonio Ciccarrello that day way back in time, leading to his death more than half a century later.
OC man sues cops for not arresting him
January 19 2015
Back in 2013, an OC motorycyclist, Daniel Ray Fernandez, got drunk and then drove his motorcycle at over 100 mph on Interstate 5 near Disneyland, the OC Weekly reports. He was stopped by California Highway Patrol (CHP) and his motorcycle was impounded. For unknown reasons, he wasn't arrested though - which almost certainly would have led to a loss of his license, a fine, or even jail. Instead, he was left at the side of the highway.
The man was struck by a vehicle on a freeway ramp about half an hour later and sustained severe injuries, including several broken bones. Now he's launched a lawsuit against CHP, claiming the officer had a 'duty to arrest him'. He wants damages for the injuries he suffered, stating the officer should have known he was a danger to himself.
AIG Vice-President found deceased in Palm Desert
January 17 2015
The body of 33-year-old Omar Arce Meza, a Los Angeles resident who went missing from the JW Marriott Desert Springs golf resort in Palm Desert, California January 8, has been found. A cause of death has not been released. Riverside County Coroner confirmed his identity yesterday, although family had posted the sad news on Facebook Thursday.
Omar, a Vice-President at AIG in LA, was last captured on surveillance camera leaving his hotel around 11pm. When he failed to call his wife or contact colleagues as usual, the alarm was raised. Extensive searches (including dive searches) of the resort took place but although some items belonging to him were found, he was not. His desperate wife Diane refused to leave until he was found, and hoped that a previous car accident had led to temporary amnesia.
Sadly, Omar Meza's body was eventually spotted in a pond at the resort. Our deepest condolences to his family, and all those who worked so hard to find him.
Memorial, but Long Beach baby's killer still not found
January 11 2015
A memorial for baby Eliza Delacruz was held in Long Beach, Orange County Friday, where her grandmother, Guadalupe Lechuga, appealed for the public's help, saying 'someone must have seen something'. It was organized by LaWanda Hawkins, founder of Justice for Murdered Children, a San Pedro victim advocacy group.
Three-week-old Eliza was abducted from her Long Beach home January 3, after her mother, father and uncle were shot by an intruder. She was found deceased in a dumpster in San Diego County, the next day.
No artist drawings of the attacker have been issued yet, and Eliza's father has not spoken to media, despite being released from the hospital. Eliza's mother and uncle remain hospitalized with serious injuries. Police have said they do not believe the attack was random, and that people close to the case are very afraid. Homeless Harold 'Freddy' Sherman, who found Eliza in the dumpster though, says he 'is mad; mad as hell' that anyone could do that to a baby.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has now offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of little Eliza's killer. Anyone with any information about this case can contact Los Angeles Crime Stoppers here. It is completely anonymous.
Baby Eliza Cruz found in dumpster
January 5 2015
Baby Eliza Delacruz, who is less than a month old, was abducted from her West 51st Street, Long Beach home, just before 6pm Saturday. Her mom, father and uncle were shot during the abduction. Sunday, Eliza's body was found in a dumpster at Imperial Beach, not far from the Mexican border.
Eliza's mother and uncle remain in critical condition. Eliza's father has now been released from hospital but has not spoken to the media. No description has been issued of a suspect yet but the Mayor of Long Beach, Robert Garcia, has stated his determination that the suspect will be found, arrested and brought to justice. San Diego PD have offered a $1,000 reward for information.
Anyone with any information about missing Eliza is asked to call Long Beach PD on (562) 435 6711. Or contact LA Crime Stoppers. It's completely anonymous.
1989 Santa Ana cold case heats up
January 5 2015
Carla Salazer was found stabbed to death in her Santa Ana, Orange County apartment in 1989. Douglas Gutridge, 37 at the time but now 63, came forward to admit he thought he was the last known person to see the victim alive. It wasn't until 2008 however, that the OC crime lab (Cold Case Unit) discovered DNA linking Gutridge to the victim's apartment. It wasn't enough to bring charges.
This summer however, a multi-pronged approach by a cold case unit that included Huntington Beach, Fullerton, Anaheim and Santa Ana Sheriff's Office officials came up with DNA evidence indicating Gutridge had not only been inside the apartment, but had touched the victim as well, and so charges were laid.
Friday January 2nd, Gutridge, of Lodi, San Joaquin County, entered a not guilty plea to the charge of the murder of Carla Salazer. He remains in jail unless he can come up with the $1 million bond the judge has set. His next hearing is scheduled for February.
Christine McFadden, one of Carla Salazer's closest friends said recently: 'We gave up on the justice system but we never gave up on her'.
Gutridge might well be totally innocent of course. But if he isn't, this would not be the first time a killer has deliberately inserted themselves into a murder investigation, in order to find out what's going on and - disturbingly - to share in the notorietory of the case. Let's hope this forthcoming trial finally provides some resolution to the family and friends of the victim, Carla Salazer.
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