Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Disappearance of Irene Gakwa

Image source: CNN

Irene Gakwa has been missing since February 2022. 

The then-32-year-old was last seen in Gillette, Wyoming, where she lived with her boyfriend Nathan Hightman. Irene is originally from Kenya, but she moved to the United States in 2019 to pursue a nursing degree. Her parents remained in Kenya, and Irene stayed in touch with them via video chat on a regular basis. Irene was also frequently in touch with her two brothers, who live in Idaho. 

Irene had her last video chat with her parents on February 24th, 2022. Her parents continued to receive text messages from her phone via WhatsApp until March 9th. However, according to Irene's parents, the texts were not written in her usual texting style. It appeared that someone had used an online translator to send the messages in Irene's home language. Eventually, Irene's loved ones stopped receiving those messages too.

Irene shared a cell phone plan with her brothers in Idaho. After her brothers were unable to get ahold of her, they looked at her phone records and spoke to one of her close friends. It was then that they realized that Irene was back together with her boyfriend, Nathan, whom she had met on Craigslist and had been off-and-on with since 2020. Irene's brothers also learned that Irene had actually moved in with Nathan - which was a fact that no one in her family had known. As such, suspicions began to build against Nathan - who had not reported Irene's disappearance, nor had he reached out to anyone to say that she was missing. Irene's brothers finally filed a missing persons report on March 20th, 2022.

Police questioned Nathan, who said that Irene had left their home in late February and never returned. He said that she packed up her belongings and then left in a dark-colored SUV. Further than that, Nathan has been uncooperative with the investigation. He is considered a person of interest in the case. 

Investigators later learned that Nathan had accessed Irene's bank accounts and credit cards after she vanished. In May 2022, Nathan was arrested and charged with "two felony counts of theft, one felony count of unlawful use of a credit card, and two felony counts of crimes against intellectual property for allegedly changing [Irene's] banking account password and deleting her email account after she vanished." He claims he did all of these things so that Irene would be forced to contact him if she needed money. As of today, Nathan has not been charged with anything else related to Irene's disappearance.


Irene remains missing today. If you have any information that could lead to her whereabouts, please contact the Gillette Police Department at 307-682-5155.

UPDATE (March 2023): Nathan Hightman has pleaded guilty to charges related to stealing from Irene after she went missing. He admitted to stealing her money, using her credit cards, and deleting her email account after she vanished. Nathan is expected to be sentenced at a later date.

Authorities in Gillette are still investigating Irene's disappearance. In May 2022, it was announced that detectives are "asking the public for any information concerning a gray or silver-colored Subaru Crosstrek with Idaho license plates which may have been seen trespassing on private property or appearing out of place in rural areas of Campbell County between February 24, 2022 and March 20, 2022."

If you have any information that could lead to Irene's whereabouts, please contact authorities. 

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Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Disappearance and Murder of Katelyn Markham


Katelyn Markham was just days shy of turning 22 years-old when she vanished in August 2011. At the time of her disappearance, Katelyn was a student at The Art Institute of Ohio, and she was passionate about her studies. She was also working two jobs and participating in an internship. By all accounts, she was a responsible person and reliable employee. Katelyn's disappearance left both her inner circle and investigators baffled.

After Katelyn was reported missing, it was determined that she was last seen alive by her fiancĂ©, John Carter. On the evening of August 13th, John went over to Katelyn's condo in Fairfield, Ohio after she had finished her day at work. A friend of Katelyn's also came over to hang out with the couple, but she ended up leaving after she sensed tension between Katelyn and John. The friend noticed that Katelyn seemed quiet, which John said was due to magic mushrooms that the two of them had taken. 

According to John, he left Katelyn's condo between 11:00 PM and midnight to go hang out with some friends who were having a bonfire. The couple reportedly continued to text throughout the night. Katelyn sent her final text shortly before 1:00 AM. She was never seen or heard from again. John returned to his own home around 4:00 AM. He sent a "good morning" text to Katelyn shortly before going to sleep until the late afternoon. When he awoke to go to his job at Papa John's, he noticed Katelyn had not responded to the text. John said he continued to call or text her throughout the afternoon, but he never got a response. Worried, he left his job early to go check on Katelyn at her condo. 

John used his own key to enter the residence. When he got there, nothing seemed out of place - except Katelyn's dog, which was found locked in an upstairs bedroom. This was not the usual spot where Katelyn kept her dog. It also appeared that the dog had not been let out at all that day, which was also unusual. Additionally, Katelyn's car was parked in its normal spot outside the home, but Katelyn herself was nowhere to be found. At this point, the worries for Katelyn continued to build.

Soon, John learned that Katelyn's friends and family members had not heard from her either. He also heard that Katelyn had never shown up from her scheduled shift at David's Bridal. Shortly before 8:00 PM, John called police to report Katelyn as missing. The search began shortly thereafter. Over the next few weeks, volunteers passed out fliers, and search teams scoured the surrounding areas. Unfortunately, nothing was found. 

Over time, Katelyn's case went cold. Police followed tips and conducted interviews, but they seemingly got no closer to locating her. Then, on April 7th, 2013, human remains were found at Big Cedar Creek in Cedar Grove, Indiana - located approximately 30 miles from Katelyn's condo. A couple was searching for scrap metal in the area when they spotted what looked like a human jaw wrapped in a grocery bag. Police were called, and a search of the area resulted in the discovery of more remains. Dental records later confirmed that the remains belong to Katelyn Markham. To this day, Katelyn's cause of death has never been determined - but her manner of death is classified as homicide. 


Who killed Katelyn?

Katelyn's family members were inevitably devastated when they learned that Katelyn had been a victim of homicide - but they were also not incredibly surprised by the news. When she was first missing, Katelyn's loved ones clung to hope that she would be found safe. As weeks turned into months without any sign of her, their hopes dwindled. Eventually, Katelyn's family came to believe that Katelyn had been murdered. Once those beliefs were confirmed in April 2013, many questions still remained. The one key question being: who killed Katelyn? 

Many theories have emerged over the years, but no arrests have ever been in made in the case. Investigators have uncovered a lot of information about Katelyn's life before she was killed. They have also been able to establish a timeline of the events leading up to her disappearance. Both the information and the timeline have led to a few prominent theories.

Who was Katelyn?

Katelyn's loved ones describe her as a kind person who enjoyed making others happy. Her father Dave Markham describes her as warm, outgoing, positive, and energetic. She was always known as reliable, a good student, and a responsible employee. 

In 2011, Katelyn was living a busy life. As previously stated, she was student at the Art Institute of Ohio. Reports say that she was very dedicated to her craft. Katelyn also worked two jobs, one at David's Bridal and another co-op position at her school's bookstore. 

Katelyn was also engaged to a man named John Carter. The two had been together for about six years at the time of Katelyn's disappearance. They had been engaged for one year. 

The relationship.

Katelyn and John did not yet live together, as John lived with his family and Katelyn had her own place in Fairfield. However, John had a key to her condo and frequently spent time there. According to John, he and Katelyn were looking forward to the future. The couple reportedly wanted to move to Colorado after getting married. 

John and Katelyn would frequently text/call each other when they were not together. John said that when Katelyn did not respond to any of his texts on August 14th, 2011, he knew something was off. It was John who called 9-1-1 when he discovered Katelyn to be missing. Some believe he sounds genuinely concerned in the phone call, while others disagree. Audio of the call can be found here.

For nearly a decade, John was not named as a suspect in Katelyn's disappearance and/or murder. There were inevitably people who believed he was, in fact, responsible for her death - but it took years for charges to be brought forward. Initial suspicions on John were likely due to some of his actions/words around the time of Katelyn's disappearance. When he called 911 to report her missing, the dispatcher asked if he and Katelyn had been having issues in their relationship - to which he responded, "not at all". However, Katelyn's friend Michelle Feist has contradicted this. In fact, Michelle told Crime Watch Daily that Katelyn and John had a pretty heated argument just two days before her disappearance.

According to the Michelle, John and Katelyn got into an argument on August 12th, 2011, over some financial struggles. Despite this, the couple still attended a festival at a local church that evening. By Michelle's account, the argument between John and Katelyn carried over into the event. Eventually, Katelyn got very upset and ended up leaving the festival early. 

It's completely possible that John and Katelyn resolved their spat before she vanished - but, as previously stated, the couple seemed to have some tension the following night as well. A friend visiting the couple at Katelyn's condo decided to leave after she believed the two wanted to be alone. John said that Katelyn was not acting like herself because the couple had taken magic mushrooms - but many have questioned this. Katelyn arrived home from work approximately 15 minutes before the friend came over. Even if she had taken the mushrooms as soon as she walked through the door, it's very unlikely that she'd be feeling the effects that quickly. Some have questioned if Katelyn even took the mushrooms at all. She had just returned home from a long day of work, she was tired, and it seems unlikely that she'd want to experience the effects of mushrooms if she just wanted to lounge at home.

Another aspect of John's story that some people found odd was the bonfire. John told investigators that he left Katelyn's condo around 11:00 PM on August 13th to meet up with friends. He brought a bag full of documents belonging to Katelyn to burn in the fire. John explained that Katelyn wanted to shred the documents instead of throwing them away, but she did not have a shredder. Instead, John took the documents with the intention of burning them so she would not have to worry about it. 

Some find this to be an odd explanation as to why he destroyed Katelyn's documents, but it also didn't seem like too much of a stretch at first. He told investigators that he often ran errands for Katelyn - so it's possible that he truly was doing her a favor by removing the papers from her home. Still, some have questioned John's alibi in general. A few of the friends John alleged to be with that night have told a different story. In fact, some claim that there was never even a bonfire that night.

Although there was a lot of speculation about John, it appears that investigators eventually began to focus their attention elsewhere. Over the years, John spoke out publicly several times about Katelyn's case, and he continued to deny any involvement in her death.

A potential new lead.

In 2018, a new potential suspect came on the investigator's radar. A man named Michael Strouse had been charged with murdering 23-year-old Ellie Weik in West Chester, Ohio.

Michael Strouse

West Chester is located only an approximate 45-minute drive away from Fairfield, where Katelyn was killed. There were also some similarities between the two cases. The bodies of both Katelyn and Ellie were found in a field. Ellie's cause of death was asphyxiation, and she was found with a plastic bag over her head. While Katelyn's cause of death was undetermined, her skull was also found in a plastic bag.

The one thing that truly made Strouse seem like a viable suspect? He knew Katelyn. Sources say Strouse and John Carter had mutual friends. Several people sent investigators a picture on social media that includes both Strouse and John. 

However, there were many reasons to doubt that Strouse was involved in Katelyn's murder as well. Ellie Weik and Strouse were involved in a romantic relationship at some point prior to Ellie's murder. He had apparently been stalking her for months beforehand. There is no evidence to suggest that Strouse had ever stalked Katelyn, nor is there any physical evidence that connects him to Katelyn's case. 

An update in 2023.

In February of 2023, police announced that they arrested a man named Jonathan Palmerton (35) on perjury charges in relation to Katelyn's case. 

Palmerton is a resident of Fairfield, and he was arrested on February 17th. The arrest came after a search warrant was issued at his home. A search warrant was also reportedly executed at the home of John Carter - Katelyn's fiancĂ© at the time of her disappearance - but he was not charged with anything related to the case. 

It is suspected that Palmerton lied in connection to the investigation into Katelyn's disappearance/murder - but so far, police have not revealed any details. It's unclear how Palmerton is connected to Katelyn at this time, but several articles state that both John Carter's residence and the residence of Carter's "friend" were searched. It's possible that Palmerton is that friend, but at this time, we do not have that information. Updates will be provided if/when they are available.

Another 2023 update.

John Carter has been arrested and charged with Katelyn's murder. He is currently being held on 2 charges of felony murder. Very few other details have been revealed, but many have suspected that John was involved from the very beginning of the investigation. More information is expected to be revealed at a later point. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Murder of Brittany Brown

Brittany Brown was only 26 years old when she was found brutally murdered in Detroit, Michigan in March 2014. The young mother of two was last seen by her family members a month earlier--after she told them she was going to a local restaurant in Detroit. Brittany never returned home, and her family never heard from her again. 

On March 22nd, 2014, a man taking a walk on the 15000 block of Kentucky Street spotted a suspicious looking duffel bag in an alleyway. Inside the bag was Brittany's body. She had been tied up, raped, and brutally beaten to death. Her body had been burned. Brittany's death was very quickly labeled as a homicide. Her killer remains unknown to this day.

Brittany's family members are heartbroken and baffled by her murder. According to her mother, Brittany was well-liked in the community, but mostly kept to herself. There are very few details available about the investigation into Brittany's murder. Investigators reportedly said that Brittany was spotted near I-96 and Telegraph before her death, but it is unclear when, exactly, this sighting took place. 

There is a cash reward available for anyone with information that could lead to Brittany's killer. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please go here to submit an anonymous tip.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The Murder of Courtney Phillips

Courtney Phillips was only 23 years-old when she was murdered on April 5th, 2015. She lived in San Antonio, Texas prior to her untimely death. Courtney's body was found on the afternoon of April 5th, lying face down on the floor of a house in the 200 block of Edge Avenue. She had suffered stab wounds to the neck. Police were immediately able to determine that Courtney's wounds were not self-inflicted. Her death was quickly classified as a murder.

Throughout the investigation, detectives learned that Courtney went to the house on Edge Avenue that day to meet up with 19-year-old Isaac Estrada. There are not many details available about how detectives gained this information, and initial reports stated that they did not know why Courtney and Isaac planned to meet up that day. Still, Isaac was immediately named as the prime suspect in the case. To this day, he remains the only suspect. However, investigators have been unable to locate him. 

Isaac Estrada

It is believed that Isaac has been hiding from police since the murder. Years have passed, and he has still not been apprehended. There is a possibility that he is still hiding out in the San Antonio area. Both police and Courtney's family members are hoping that anyone with information on Isaac's whereabouts will come forward and help solve the case.

If you have seen Isaac Estrada, or if you have any other information that could help solve Courtney's murder, please call 210-207-7401 to submit an anonymous tip. 
UPDATE (2022): 

More details have become available in Courtney's murder case. It is now being reported that Courtney was dropped off at the house on Edge Avenue that afternoon for a date with Isaac Estrada. Courtney's text messages revealed that the two had arranged to meet up at the residence--however, Isaac did not live there. In fact, the homeowners were out of town at the time the murder took place.

Once Isaac was identified as a suspect in Courtney's murder, it was revealed that he had been accused of a similar crime just three months earlier. In this instance, Isaac reportedly lured the victim to meet up with him under the pretext of a date, and then ended up robbing the victim.

Isaac still remains on the run. It is believed that he is in Mexico. In 2016, Isaac reportedly showed up on social media feeds linked to Guadalajara. In 2019, investigators received a tip that he was in Sabinas. Despite these tips, Isaac has still not been located. 
UPDATE (March 2023):
Isaac Estrada has been captured.

After 8 years on the run, Isaac was finally located by authorities in Eagle Pass, Texas. He was arrested and taken into custody on March 4th, 2023. Estrada is being charged with evading arrest, first-degree aggravated robbery and first-degree murder. The charges are currently pending. 

Sunday, March 5, 2023

The Disappearance and Murder of Samantha Humphrey


Samantha Humphrey vanished from her family's Schenectady, New York home on November 25th, 2022. That evening, the 14-year-old snuck out of the residence around 11:00 PM to meet up with her ex-boyfriend at Riverside Park. Samantha never returned home and was never seen alive by her family and friends again. 

When Samantha's family discovered she had left the home and not returned, they began to search the area. Her father searched around Riverside Park and found Samantha's jacket in the Mohawk River. The hood of the jacket appeared to be stained with blood. At that point, concerns for her safety escalated.

After Samantha was reported missing, police discovered surveillance footage that captured her walking alongside Mohawk River on the evening of her disappearance. This is consistent with a text that she sent a friend, saying that she was planning to meet up with her ex in that area - which is known as a popular spot for local teens to hang out. Police confirmed that the cameras captured Samantha entering that area, but there is no footage of her leaving said location.

Samantha's ex-boyfriend has not been publicly identified due to his minor age. Very little has been said about his potential involvement in the case. However, an article from December 2022 stated that he was cooperating with the investigation, but he had not been ruled out. After that, news about Samantha's disappearance seemingly went stagnant.

On February 22nd, 2023, a fisherman spotted a body in the river. Police were called, and the remains were pulled from the water. Days later, it was publicly confirmed that the body belonged to Samantha Humphrey. Her death was classified as a homicide.

Investigators are still piecing together Samantha's exact cause of death. Updates will be provided if/when they become available. Meanwhile, police are searching for anyone with information that could solve Samantha's case. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact Schenectady Police at (518) 382-5200.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

The Disappearance of Jepsy Amaga Kallungi

Jepsy Amaga Kallungi (26) missing from Colorado Springs, CO

Jepsy Amaga Kallungi has been missing since March 21st, 2019. The 26-year-old woman was last seen in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she lived with her husband Dane Kallungi. Jepsy moved to Colorado from the Philippines in 2017, after meeting Dane online that same year. Jepsy’s mother, who is living in Hong Kong, last spoke to Jepsy on March 20th. After days passed without hearing from her daughter, Jepsy’s mother reached out to Dane on social media. He replied, saying he has no clue about Jepsy’s whereabouts—and then he promptly deleted his social media accounts. 

On April 4th, Colorado Springs PD received a request for a welfare check to be done at Jepsy’s home. After being unable to contact her, the missing person's report was filed. Police questioned Dane, who told them that he believed Jepsy was preparing to travel to the Philippines, Mexico, or Chicago to visit friends. However, there is not any known record of her traveling to any of those places.  

After Jepsy’s disappearance, Dane moved to California to live with his father. Dane also told Jepsy’s family that he and Jepsy had separated shortly before her disappearance, and that she had started seeing a new man named Travis. He reportedly said to Jepsy’s mother, “I hope she didn’t get into any trouble with him.” However, Jepsy’s family members and friends are not aware of her being close to a man named Travis and they were also unaware about her alleged separation from Dane. 

Colorado Springs PD is investigating Jepsy’s disappearance. If you have any information that could lead to her whereabouts, please contact them at (719) 444-7000.
UPDATE (June 19th, 2021): 

It's been confirmed that Dane Kallungi was, in fact, arrested and charged with Jepsy's murder. He was reportedly arrested while attempting to enter an Air Force base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Throughout the investigation in Jepsy's disappearance, authorities reportedly found physical evidence showing that a "domestic disturbance occurred where Dane Kallungi strangled Jepsy Kallungi and buried her body in an unknown location.” 

Jepsy's body has still not been found. 
UPDATE (March 2023): 

Dane Kallungi has been found guilty of murdering Jepsy back in 2019. 

During his trial, the prosecution played Dane's interrogation tape for the jury. In the recording, he is heard saying "I did not mean to kill her, I just wanted her to stop cursing at me." Dane's defense claimed the confession was coerced, and that he only admitted to the killing to protect his son and ex-wife.

The jury ultimately sided with the prosecution and convicted Dane of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Disappearance and Murder of Candice Taylor

Candice Taylor vanished at the age of 21 in March 2017. She was reportedly last seen in the northeast side of Columbus, Ohio. Candice’s mother reported her missing on March 17th, 2017. There is very little information on the exact circumstances of her disappearance, however Candice’s mother stated that she continued to receive text messages from Candice’s phone up until June 2017. 

The first text message was sent shortly after Candice was reported missing. The message stated that Candice was pregnant, and she was going to Cincinnati to “clear her head.” The next set of messages were sent during the months of April and May. During those months, Candice’s mother reportedly received messages from Candice’s phone, stating that she wanted “space for a month or two.” 

The last message Candice’s mother received was on June 24th, 2017—Candice’s 22nd birthday. Candice’s mother reportedly sent her a text to wish her a happy birthday, to which she received a response that simply stated “thanks”. At the time the messages were received, Candice’s mother appeared to believe that they were sent by Candice herself—even though Candice had not been seen by any of her family members or friends since March of 2017.

Just days after Candice was reported missing, on March 29th, 2017, a set of human legs were found in a garbage truck at a garbage sorting facility on the northwest side of Columbus. Investigators searched the areas along the garbage truck’s route but did not find any other remains or clues. It took nearly two years to identify who the legs belonged to, but in January 2019, investigators confirmed that the partial remains were that of Candice Taylor.

At the time the partial remains were found, Candice’s mother still believed that her daughter was alive—as she was still receiving text messages from her phone for months after the fact. However, once the human remains were identified, police shifted Candice’s case into a homicide investigation. If Candice has been deceased since March of 2017, it is clear that the text messages that her mother received from Candice’s phone were not from Candice herself. It appears likely that whoever had her phone knows what happened to Candice. The phone has never been located.

Police have not publicly named any suspects or persons of interest in Candice's case. Various sources report that she was living with her boyfriend at the time of her disappearance, but it's unclear if he is a suspect. Other than that, very little information about the investigation is available.

The rest of Candice's remains have not been found. Her murder remains unsolved. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact the Ohio homicide detectives at 614-645-4730.


The Disappearance of Irene Gakwa

Image source: CNN Irene Gakwa has been missing since February 2022.  The then-32-year-old was last seen in Gillette, Wyoming, where she liv...