Friday, June 24, 2022

The Disappearance of Yasmin Acree

 

Yasmin Acree has been missing since January 15th, 2008. The young girl was only 15 years-old at the time of her disappearance. Despite her young age, Yasmin had already been through very many hardships in her life. She spent several years in Kentucky's foster system in her early childhood, during which she faced both physical and sexual abuse. In 2001, Yasmin and her older brother Damarcus went to live with Rose Mae Starnes - an aunt through marriage - in Chicago, Illinois. Rose officially adopted them both in 2006.

According to relatives, both Yasmin and Damarcus struggled with behavioral issues due to their years of traumatic experiences. However, Yasmin was still an honor roll student and received good grades up until she finished middle school. In 2007, she began her freshman year of high school, and her grades began to slip. Around the same time, Rose kicked Damarcus out of the home - leaving Yasmin as the only child in the residence during the months leading up to her disappearance.

The day Yasmin was last seen was a seemingly normal day. Rose was out of town at the time, but her boyfriend Charles Burt was at the home. According to reports, Yasmin went to school that day and then went to the local YMCA. She returned home that evening and then did a load of laundry before going to bed. The following morning, Charles was taking out the trash when he noticed the door to the basement - where Yasmin slept - was opened. Upon closer look, he noticed that the door jamb was broken, and the padlock had been cut - indicating that someone had broken in. Yasmin was not in the basement, but Charles thought she had gone to school early, and that the break-in had happened after she left.

Rose returned home later that day. When Yasmin never returned home that evening, Rose called police to file a missing persons' report. Police came to the residence, but they did not collect evidence from the break-in scene - despite the fact that the break-in occurred through Yasmin's bedroom door. After interviewing a few of Yasmin's friends, police deemed her a runaway. This is likely due to the fact some of Yasmin's classmates told police that Yasmin left on her own accord and that they heard from her via phone. Cell phone records would later confirm that this was false, and two girls would later admit to misleading police. 

As time continued to pass without any sign of Yasmin, many began to criticize the Chicago police's handling of the case. Not only did they not collect crucial evidence from Yasmin's home, but police also failed to identify and/or question other tenants who had lived in the same home as Yasmin. It would take a year-and-half before police would learn that a violent offender had lived in the home prior to Yasmin's disappearance. This information, along with information discovered by reporters from the Chicago Tribune, finally led to some viable theories in Yasmin's case. 

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An offender in the home.

In 2009, a man named Jimmie Terrell Smith was arrested on charges of raping five females, two of whom were 14-year-old girls he also allegedly kidnapped. Yasmin's adoptive mother Rose saw a news broadcast about Smith's arrest and was prompted to contact detectives. She subsequently told them that Smith and Yasmin knew each other. 

During 2005, Smith had lived in a second-floor room in Rose's building. Prior to moving in, Smith had served ten years in prison due to an attempted murder conviction. Smith was already on public record as a convicted felon, yet police were unaware that he lived in the same home as a missing child until a year-and-a-half after said child's disappearance.

Jimmie Terrell Smith

Yasmin's relationship with Smith & her diary.

Smith was in his 30s at the time he was Rose's tenant. He reportedly took a liking to Yasmin, who was only 12 or 13 at the time. At one gathering, family members witnessed Smith giving Yasmin a beer and stroking her hair. At another gathering, Smith was heard complimenting Yasmin's looks. Smith and Yasmin reportedly kept in touch even after Smith moved out. The two reportedly saw each other at a family gathering that occurred approximately two weeks before Yasmin's disappearance.

In 2011, an article from the Chicago Tribune stated that their reporters uncovered Yasmin's diary - an item that police did not yet know existed. Yasmin reportedly wrote affectionately about Smith a few times in the diary, referring to him as "Tyrell". She scribbled things such as "I miss Tyrell..." and "I miss him and his sexy ass".

Interviews with Smith.

Once detectives were finally made aware of this information, they went to interview Smith. It's unclear what, exactly, Smith told detectives, but afterwards they had a warrant to search a home he had previously lived in. In 2011, Smith also spoke to reporters from the Tribune. During this interview, he said he knew what happened to Yasmin, but he was not going to speak up about it. Smith still did not admit direct involvement in her disappearance at that time.

Around two years later, in 2013, Rose went to meet with Smith at Cook County Jail. According to a timeline on uncovered.com, Smith admitted to involvement in Yasmin's disappearance during this meeting. The timeline states, "he tells her family that [Yasmin] had committed suicide. He claims that he had taken her to a house in the 2200 block of South Spaulding, but that he had burned her body in a garbage can to dispose of her body."

Police have not found any evidence to support Smith's claims. It's worth noting that Smith has a history of fabricating events, so many have had reasons to doubt his story. It's also worth noting that Yasmin's loved ones do not believe that Yasmin committed suicide - but they do believe that Smith is involved in her disappearance.

In 2017, Smith was sentenced to 110 years in prison after being convicted of the unrelated rape and kidnapping charges. As of today, he has not been charged with anything related to Yasmin's disappearance. 

A struggling family and a broken system.

Rose died in 2014 after years of battling health issues. Yasmin's remaining family members are still dedicated to learning the truth about what happened to Yasmin. Many have criticized the Chicago police for not thoroughly investigating Yasmin's disappearance. Some others have questioned if Yasmin was failed by the system before she ever vanished.

As previously stated, Yasmin and her brother Damarcus spent many years in the foster system during their early childhood. Before that, they lived with their biological mother, who struggled with drug addiction. Yasmin and Damarcus spent many of their young years being shuffled between their mother's home, group homes, and foster homes. It was during those years that they experienced horrific abuse. 

At one point, they settled with a foster family where they seemed to be doing well. After being with this family for two years, Yasmin and Damarcus' biological mother declared that she wanted them to live with family. The two siblings were then subsequently sent to Chicago to live with Rose. 

Although Rose loved Yasmin and Damarcus, she struggled with their behavioral issues as well. She admits to disciplining them by whipping them and locking them in the basement. Case workers routinely visited the home - including during the time period in which Smith was living there - but this was never documented by social services. Therefore, this information was not immediately on detective's radar when Yasmin was reported missing. Still, it appears detectives also failed to properly identify people in Yasmin's life. 

Where the case stands today.

Yasmin remains missing today. No suspects or persons of interest have been publicly identified. Many speculate that Smith is responsible for Yasmin's disappearance, but he has yet to be charged with anything related to her case.

There is a monetary reward available for anyone with information that could lead to Yasmin's whereabouts. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please submit a tip. 
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Sources:

Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Murder of Natasha Warren

 

Natasha Warren was only 23 years-old when she was murdered during August 2008. The young mother was driving to work in Richland County, South Carolina on August 22nd when her car got a flat tire. Natasha then walked to a nearby Sunoco station on Bush River Road. While there, Natasha called her boss to say she would be late to work. She then attempted to call her fiancĂ© for assistance, but he did not answer the phone. At some point, Natasha returned to her vehicle. She never arrived at work and never returned home. 

Two days later, on August 24th, 2008, Natasha was found deceased inside her car. She had been shot in the chest. It appears that somebody shot Natasha at some point after she returned to her car after leaving the Sunoco. Police have since released surveillance footage of Natasha at the Sunoco on August 22nd in hopes that it may jog the memory of someone who saw her that day. 


In 2010, police announced that they were hoping to talk to a man who was also spotted at the Sunoco the same evening as Natasha. Police said they did not consider this man a suspect, but they wanted to interview him. Years have passed, and it is unclear if this man was ever identified by authorities. 

Natasha's murder remains unsolved today. There has been very little news about her case, especially in more recent years. If you have any information that might lead to Natasha's killer(s), please contact Richland County authorities at 803-576-3000.
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Sources:
The Deck
WACH
Richland County SD

The Murder of Anna Scott

 

During the early-morning hours of February 3rd, 2022, police in Washoe County, Nevada received a call about a vehicle on fire in southbound shoulder area of Interstate 580. Officers responded to the scene and found the car burning about a mile north of the Galena Creek Bridge. Inside the vehicle, police found the body of a young woman. The medical examiner later identified the victim as Anna Scott of Reno, Nevada. She was just 23 years old. 

Anna's family members describe her as a loving mother who was dedicated to raising her young children. Anna was also a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and a beloved part of the community. Her loved ones are both heartbroken and baffled by her death. Anna’s family last heard from her the night before she was found deceased. Anna's stepmother said that Anna was posting on social media on the evening of February 2nd but did not post at all the following day--which was unusual. 

Around the same time, Anna's stepmother heard news about a car being found on fire with a deceased female inside. Days later, the family learned that the female inside the vehicle was, in fact, Anna. She had died from a gunshot wound to the head. It appears that Anna's killer(s) then set her car on fire in attempt to destroy evidence.

source: rdj.com

In the days that followed Anna's death, authorities stated that they were trying to an establish a timeline leading up to the murder. On February 7th, the Washoe County Sheriff's office announced that they were "trying to piece together [Anna's] movements and contacts in the hours and days before her body was found."  

Anna's stepmother said that the family heard from a friend who saw Anna that night, but the interaction was "odd". In a report from March 2022, her stepmother was quoted saying, "[The friend] did say she had seen Anna that night and that she had left Anna alone with some people that she hadn’t mentioned to us, I don’t know if she mentioned it to the detectives, but to me that was odd. How are you just going to leave your friend alone?" Other than that, there is very little information available about the events leading up to Anna's death.

About a month and a half after Anna's death, another young woman from Reno was murdered: 18-year-old Naomi Irion. A man named Troy Driver is currently charged with kidnapping and murdering Naomi. There was speculation that Driver could also be Anna's killer, but the sheriff's office stated that he is not a suspect in Anna's case.

Other than that, authorities are seemingly remaining tight-lipped about Anna's murder investigation. An April 2022 report on the case states that the sheriff's office did not respond to the reporter's request for updates. However, Anna's family members have vowed to not let Anna be forgotten. They also want to raise awareness about the numerous other missing and murdered indigenous women whose cases also remain unsolved. More information about this nationwide issue can be found here.

Anna's case remains open, and there is a monetary reward available for anyone with information that could lead to her killer(s). If you have any information that could help the investigation, please call the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Detective Division at (775) 328-3320 or Secret Witness at (775) 322-4900.
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Sources:
2 News

Today in True Crime: June 23rd, 2022

 Today's true crime anniversaries involve two murder cases that unfortunately remain unsolved today. 


1. The disappearance and murder of Lechmani Desroches


It's been five years since Lechmani Desroches vanished from Orlando, Florida on June 23rd, 2017. The then-23-year-old's family members were quite worried when he fell out-of-touch, as he was close with his siblings, and it was unusual for him to not contact them. Unfortunately, there was very little media coverage about his disappearance and the case quickly went cold.

Over a year later, in September 2018, human remains were found in a wooded area off of Marden Road in Apopka. Authorities obtained a DNA sample from one of Lechmani's sisters, which helped confirm that those remains did, in fact, belong to Lechmani Desroches. His death was labeled as a homicide. Since then, there have been very little updates in his case.


2. The disappearance and murder of Kelly Nolan

It's been 15 years since Kelly Nolan vanished in Madison, Wisconsin. At the time of her disappearance, the 22-year-old was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and she was spending her summer break in Madison. She was last seen alive by her friends during the early morning hours of June 23rd, 2007. The previous evening, Kelly and some friends had gone to a few different bars in downtown Madison. At some point, Kelly became separated from her friends. Various reports state that Kelly likely left the State Street area around 2:30 AM. She was reported missing after her family members were unable to get in touch. 

In the early stages of the investigation, police interviewed several people who had interacted with Kelly on the night she vanished. Police initially said that they did not have any evidence that foul play was involved in her disappearance. However, on July 9th, 2007, a search team was sent to a spot off Schneider Road in the town of Dunn. During that search, Kelly's body was found in a wooded area. She had no known connections to that area, and it is unclear how investigators were drawn to that specific location. Kelly's death was labeled as a homicide, but to this day investigators have still not revealed how exactly she died. Her case remains unsolved.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Today in True Crime: June 22, 2022

Today's true crime anniversaries involve two young women who actually vanished on the same day--although they disappeared from two entirely different areas and their cases are unrelated. Unfortunately, both cases remain unsolved today.

1. The disappearance of Brookelyn Farthing.

It's been nine years since Brookelyn Farthing vanished in Kentucky. The then-18-year-old disappeared after attending a party in Berea. Brookelyn accepted a ride home from the party from a male acquaintance named Joshua Hensley. The two left the party together, but instead of taking Brookelyn home, Hensley brought her to his home.

While at Hensley's house, Brookelyn texted several people asking for a ride home. She indicated that she was scared. Meanwhile, by Hensley's account, left his home early that morning to go move some horses in a nearby field. He claims that he returned to his house around 7am to find the couch where Brookelyn was sitting on fire, and Brookelyn was gone. However, her purse and some pieces of her clothing were left behind. The fire was deemed “suspicious” by investigators. Brookelyn has never been seen or heard from again.


2. The disappearance and murder of Heather Szekeres.

It has also been nine years since Heather Szekeres disappeared Shawano, Wisconsin. The 32-year-old mother never returned home after a night out at a local bar called The Final Lap. Heather lived in an apartment that shared with her husband and her mother, located just yards away from the bar. Nearly a year later, Heather's remains were found in a wooded area off of Peach Road. Her death was labeled a homicide.

There are a couple of different persons of interest in Heather's case. There has been speculation about her husband, especially since the couple had gone through some rocky times. There is also speculation about one of the owners of The Final Lap--who had been arrested for assaulting a 15-year-old girl in the basement of the bar. Heather was on a potential witness list for this man's trial.

Despite this, there have been no publicly named suspects in Heather's murder. It remains unsolved today.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Disappearance of Kierra Coles


Kierra Coles was three months pregnant when she vanished on October 3rd, 2018. The young woman worked for the U.S. Postal Service. However, on the day of her disappearance, she called out sick. Surveillance cameras later captured a person matching Kierra's description walking away from her Chicago apartment wearing her U.S. Postal Service uniform, despite the fact that she’d already called out of work. She was seen walking down 82nd Street and Coles Avenue, passing her car, before eventually stepping out of the frame. Kierra has never been seen or heard from again. She was reported missing by her mother a few days later.


Police conducted a welfare check at Kierra’s apartment but found no sign of her. Kierra’s car was still parked outside of the apartment, and her cell phone, wallet, and packed lunch were found inside the vehicle. Investigators quickly began to believe that foul play was responsible for Kierra’s disappearance. In fact, detectives working the case have stated that they “have a pretty good idea” of what happened to Kierra. 

Still, they have revealed very few details about the investigation and no arrests have been made. Investigators did state that they have persons of interest, though. One detective in particular told reporters that there are a “minimum of two or three people of interest” who were the last to see Kierra before she disappeared. The identities of the persons of interest have not been released at this time.

Kierra’s parents are still holding out hope that she will be found alive. Kierra’s father said that Kierra was looking forward to being a mother for the first time. Her due date was scheduled for April 23rd, 2019. Kierra’s family members are hoping to not only reunite with Kierra, but to meet Kierra’s baby as well. There is a $30,000 reward in place for anyone with information that could lead to Kierra’s whereabouts. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please call the Chicago Police Department’s Area South Special Victims Unit at (312) 747-8274 or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at (877) 876-2455.
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UPDATE (February 2021): 

Kierra's mother, Karen Philips, has provided more information about Kierra's disappearance. 

Karen explained to NBC 5 Investigates that the postal worker captured on surveillance cameras on October 3rd is not actually Kierra. Both Karen and investigators knew early on that the person in the video is not Kierra, but investigators reportedly told Karen to not reveal this information to the public.  However, investigators do have actual surveillance footage of Kierra from the night before her disappearance. On October 2nd, 2018, surveillance cameras captured both Kierra and her boyfriend/father of her unborn child, Josh Simmons, leaving Kierra's apartment. Later, surveillance cameras at a local ATM captured Kierra withdrawing $400 and giving the cash to Josh.

Josh has not been publicly named as a person of interest, and he does not have a criminal history. Kierra and Josh had been dating for about 6 years before her disappearance. Josh also had children with another woman. Kierra and this woman did not get along, and shortly before Kierra vanished; she had banned this woman from coming to her apartment. 

Karen initially did not believe that Josh had anything to do with Kierra's disappearance. Now that a significant amount of time has passed without answers, Karen thinks there is a possibility he was involved. After Kierra was reported missing, Josh reportedly did not help with the search at all. Eventually, he stopped talking to Kierra's mother and moved to Louisiana with the other woman. Josh has not responded to any requests to speak on the case.

Kierra remains missing today, and investigators still suspect that foul play was involved in her disappearance.
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UPDATE (June 2022):

The Chicago Police have released a new video of Kierra before her disappearance. The video depicts Kierra withdrawing cash from a local Walgreens on October 2nd, 2018. They have also released footage of the 'person of interest' parking Kierra's car near her home the following day.

As previously noted, Kierra's mother stated that the person with Kierra is her boyfriend/father of her unborn child. However, reporters still continue to refer to this person simply as a 'person if interest' and he has not been publicly named. 

The footage can be viewed here:


Kierra still remains missing today. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact authorities. 




Monday, June 20, 2022

The Disappearance of Kaila Morris

 

Kaila Morris has been missing since September 17th, 2009. The then-21-year-old was last seen in the New Hope community of Columbus, Mississippi. At the time of her disappearance, Kaila was a student at Mississippi State University in Starkville. She was living near the campus in a condo that she shared with her stepbrother. Kaila's mother and stepfather lived in the New Hope community; located approximately 36 miles away from her condo. On the day Kaila vanished, she was visiting her parent's house. 

Kaila's mother, Bonnie Thames, was on vacation in Florida during Kaila's visit to their home on September 17th. The only person at the residence was Kaila's stepfather, Robert 'Butch' Triplett. According to Butch, Kaila left the home around 8:00 PM, after saying she was going to Carrollton, Alabama to visit her best friend Labriska Walker, and her godson. Butch said Kaila was picked up in a dark-colored van or SUV. She left her own car and her dog at the residence. Kaila has never been seen or heard from again. 

Butch's version of events implies that there was some sort of mix-up between Kaila and Labriska. Butch claimed that Labriska and her son showed up at the New Hope residence about 15 minutes after Kaila left. It was reportedly not unusual for Kaila and Labriska to show up at each other's homes unannounced, as it was difficult for them to get in touch via call or text due to the lack of cell phone service in New Hope. 

The following afternoon, Kaila's mother Bonnie spoke to Butch, who told her that Kaila was still at Labriska's house. Bonnie thought it was odd for Kaila to leave for that long without taking her dog. Bonnie then decided to reach out to Labriska on Facebook, who told her that Kaila had never shown up at her house. Bonnie said she immediately knew something was wrong at that point, so she asked Butch to report Kaila missing to the Lowndes County Sheriff's Department. 

Although Kaila was an adult at the time she vanished, her loved ones were immediately concerned for her safety. Many have described Kaila as an extremely shy and cautious young woman. She would often lock the door to the condo that she shared with her stepbrother the second he'd leave the residence–even if he was just taking out the trash. In addition to her dog and her car, Kaila also left behind her medication, which she required daily, and many of her other personal belongings. With all of this is mind, it seems unlikely that Kaila vanished on her own accord. 

As police investigated Kaila's disappearance, they learned of many suspicious circumstances involving Butch. He initially presented himself as a concerned stepfather, even stating he was upset with himself for not getting more information from Kaila about her plans that evening. However, as the investigation continued, detectives learned some concerning information about both Butch himself and his relationship with Kaila. The events that followed Kaila's disappearance further deepened these concerns.

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Robert 'Butch' Triplett was not a stranger to police, even before Kaila vanished. In fact, during 1997 he was found guilty of forcible rape in Louisiana. Butch was sentenced to six years in prison, but in 2001 his conviction was reduced to a simple battery charge and he was released six months later. In 2003, he was yet again charged with attempted sexual battery, but those charges were dropped after the victim declined to show up to court. 

Butch also reportedly had inappropriate interactions with Kaila. At some point throughout the investigation, Butch admitted to giving Kaila a massage while she was topless. He also admitted to kissing her on the lips on two different occasions, but said he never did it again after it "seemed like she didn't like it". 

Investigators found that Kaila's bedsheets were freshly washed after she vanished. Butch claimed that she had asked him to wash them before she left the residence. He also said that Kaila asked him to check on property that she owned in Pickens County, Alabama. Butch said that he went to the property with an ax and a shovel, but got his ATV stuck for two hours. Investigators searched said property, but did not find any sign of Kaila.

Investigators eventually got a warrant for Butch's computer. Hundreds of child pornography images were found on the hard drive. Butch claimed he was unaware that the individuals in the photos were underage. He was subsequently arrested on charges of possession of child pornography. 

Kaila's mother Bonnie continued to support Butch. She maintained that she did not believe he was involved in Kaila's disappearance, nor did she believe he was guilty of the child pornography charges. However, Bonnie eventually changed her tune, stopped paying his legal fees, and filed for divorce. With his legal fees no longer being paid for, Butch ultimately pleaded guilty. He was deemed a habitual offender and as a result, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison. 

Butch has never been charged with anything related to Kaila's case, and he has continued to deny involvement in her disappearance. Kaila remains missing today, and it has been several years since an update in the investigation. 

If you have any information that could help solve Kaila's case, please submit a tip.
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The Disappearance of Yasmin Acree

  Yasmin Acree has been missing since January 15th, 2008. The young girl was only 15 years-old at the time of her disappearance. Despite he...