Sunday, May 21, 2023

The Disappearance of Ruthey Macenzie Smith

image source

Ruthey Macenzie Smith has been missing since March 2nd, 2022. The then-19-year-old was last seen in Los Angeles, California. Prior to her disappearance, Ruthey had been seen around Figueroa and 70th Street - an area well known for prostitution. She seemingly vanished from said area and has never been seen or heard from again.

According to family members, Ruthey was a typical kid throughout her early teenage years. She was an ally for the LGBTQ community, and she enjoyed listening to One Direction. Things seemingly changed for Ruthey after she became a mother at the age of 16. Ruthey's aunt stated that Ruthey needed financial help to support her daughter, and a group of new friends introduced her to sex work as a way to make ends meet. 

Ruthey initially did not share that she was involved in sex work, but her family had their suspicions. Those suspicions were confirmed on Christmas Day 2021. Ruthey showed up late to her family's Christmas celebration at their home in Long Beach - and reports state that she was "messed up". During that celebration, she admitted to being involved in sex work and she said she wanted to stop. 

Ruthey's family subsequently sought help from Gems Uncut - a nonprofit organization that helps victims of sexual exploitation. Ruthey still continued with the sex work, but it was clear she wanted out. In fact, just days before her disappearance, she once again stated that did not want to do it anymore, and she feared that she was going to get abducted. 

After Ruthey's loved ones discovered that she was missing, they immediately began to fear that she was trafficked. Unfortunately, Ruthey remains missing today. Authorities in Long Beach are investigating her disappearance. If you have any information that could lead to her whereabouts, please contact authorities at 562-435-6711.

Charley Project
Long Beach Post

Monday, May 15, 2023

The Disappearance and Murder of Trish Haynes


Trish Haynes was ready for a new start during early 2018. The then-25-year-old had been spending time in Stuart, Florida with her family after living in North Woodstock, New Hampshire for several years. According to family members, Trish planned to make a more permanent move to Florida at some point, but there was a court case in New Hampshire that was holding her back. In January of 2018, Trish returned to New Hampshire to attend required court dates. She was looking forward to the day she could return to Florida and have a fresh start in a new location. Unfortunately, that day never came.

Trish had spent the years of 2014 to 2017 in and off-and-on relationship with a man named Chris Hughes. Their relationship was toxic, and several people noticed signs that Chris had been abusing Trish. In 2017, Trish went to police to file a complaint against him. Chris was subsequently charged with domestic assault. However, Chris was later able to convince Trish to drop the charges against him. Detectives pleaded with Trish to continue with the case and to testify against Chris, but she ultimately ended up recanting her account. 

The North Woodstock authorities were not happy about Trish recanting her complaint, and as a result they charged her with filing a false police report. When she returned to New Hampshire for her planned court date, she arranged to stay with someone in Rumney. Rumney is a very remote area near Mountain State Park. The closest city is an hour's drive away, and the cell phone reception at Trish's host's house was not great. After Trish's court date was postponed until April 2018, she decided to look for somewhere else to stay. She had been reconnecting on Facebook with an old friend from high school named Ashley Smith. By the end of January, Trish decided to stay with Ashley and her husband Doug at their home in Grafton.

After moving in with the Smith's, Trish fell completely out-of-touch with her family members. It appears that her phone stopped functioning, and any brief communications her family had with her occurred on Ashley's phone. Trish's final confirmed conversation with her family occurred on May 16th, 2018. Trish's biological grandmother/adoptive mother Sandy had suffered a heart attack, so Trish used Ashley's phone to call her. According to Sandy, the conversation was very brief, and she could hear Ashley pressuring Trish to get off the phone. 

After that conversation, Trish's loved ones never saw or heard from her again. She was reported missing on July 6th, 2018 - but the public did not hear any reports about her disappearance until August 29th, 2018. A week after that, search teams searched Grant's Pond in Grafton and removed two large crates from the water. Inside the crates, police found a discarded washer/dryer combo with dismembered human remains inside. It took months, but by January 2019, those remains were positively linked to Trish Haynes. She had been murdered.

A girl from New Hampshire.

Trish was raised in New Hampshire by her biological grandmother, Sandy Tewksbury. She was very close with her family members, especially her great aunt Valorie Haynes-Alvarez, who lived seasonally between New Hampshire and Florida. Trish and Sandy were very close as well. At some point after Trish graduated from high school, Sandy and her husband moved full time to Florida. Trish remained in New Hampshire. 

According to Trish's loved ones, she was a kind girl but was often too trusting in relationships. Her friends believe she often overlooked red flags. Many people noticed red flags when Trish began dating Chris Hughes - but Trish continued to try and make their relationship work. 

An abusive relationship.

Trish met Chris Hughes while she was in her early 20s. They lived together in North Woodstock for a few years. During this time, Trish and Chris also worked at a restaurant. The employers and co-workers alike often noticed Trish coming to work with several bruises on her body. Many suspected that Chris was abusive towards Trish on a regular basis. Certain reports state that at one point, Chris even forced Trish to shave her head. 

Trish's loved ones were relieved when she had finally decided to go to the police about Chris. It seemed that after he was charged with domestic assault, Trish was ready to move on for good. However, Chris repeatedly apologized and begged Trish to drop the charges. She reluctantly agreed, which ended up hurting her even further - as police subsequently charged her with filing a false report. 

Family members encouraged Trish to stay in Florida and try and work out the legal matters from afar. Still, Trish insisted on returning to New Hampshire to try and get the matter over with quicker. This decision would unfortunately cost Trish her life.

The Smith's.

Doug and Ashley Ruff Smith

Most reports state that Trish and Ashley Ruff met in high school. Ashley herself said that they had known each other since childhood. In 2018, Trish and Ashley reconnected on Facebook. While staying in Rumney, Trish expressed her feelings of isolation from staying in a place so remote. It was then that Ashley offered for Trish to come stay with her and her family in Grafton. Trish accepted the offer.

It appears that Trish did not know what she was getting herself into when she moved in with the Smith's. She did not like the isolation of living in Rumney, but it turns out that Grafton is similarly remote. It's also an hour's drive away from Concord. Ashley and Doug were living there in a rented house on a plot of land.
Ashley was pregnant with her sixth child, and the other five children were also living in the house.

Both Ashley and Doug have a criminal record as well. Ashley's previous charges are mostly nonviolent in nature. Doug's charges, on the other hand, are a bit more serious. He has been a registered sex offender since 2009, after he was convicted of sexual assault at the age of 21. Doug has been convicted of several other felonies as well, including violations of restraining orders and physical assault. 

As previously stated, Trish's communication with her family members dwindled significantly after she moved in with Ashley and Doug. After that final phone call on May 16th, Trish's family members repeatedly tried to get in touch with her through Ashley. At certain points, Ashley told them that Trish wanted nothing to do with them anymore. Trish's grandmother Sandy knew this was out of character for her, so she asked Ashley if she could speak with Trish directly. Ashley told Sandy that Trish wasn't around; she had moved to Vermont with a new boyfriend. 

That same month, Trish's great aunt Valorie Haynes-Alvarez returned to Concord, New Hampshire after spending the winter in Florida. Valorie had learned that Trish had not shown up for her April court date, which was a huge red flag. She decided to go to Grafton to try and track her or Ashley down, but she didn't have any luck. At that point, Valorie thought that Trish had possibly gotten back together with Chris Hughes and was too embarrassed to tell her family. Valorie then decided to contact Chris, who said he actually had not heard from her in months. 

The worries for Trish continued to build throughout all of May and June 2018. Sandy continued to push Ashley and Doug for answers, but they continued to be vague. At the end of June, Ashley checked into a psychiatric ward. Once she returned, she had one final conversation with Sandy, during which she said, "if you file a missing person's report, you’ll never see your granddaughter again." When pressed for more information, Ashley said "I can’t handle this – I just got out of a psychiatric ward." Sandy, who was extremely concerned at this point, contacted the New Hampshire police. 

After Trish was reported missing, multiple people came forward saying that they had seen her being abused in the Smith household. Some said that they witnessed Doug slapping Trish. Others claimed they witnessed both Ashley and Doug manipulating Trish. One particular witness said that "Ashley and Doug had manipulated and taken control over Trish, beating her and forcing her to clean and take care of the kids. They apparently used her social security money and “pimped her out” to their friends to 'earn her keep'."

Suspicions inevitably fell upon Ashley and Doug once the public was made aware of Trish's disappearance. Both denied involvement in her disappearance. In August 2018, Ashley spoke to reporters from WMUR and expressed concern for Trish. During the interview, she said that she and Trish had been best friends since childhood, and she was worried sick about her. Ashley also said that she had not seen Trish since "June or July". In reality, it was a well before that. 

The discovery of remains.

In early September 2018, investigators received a tip that sent them to Grant's Pond in Grafton. During this search, investigators found the crates containing dismembered human remains. Detectives immediately believed that the remains belonged to Trish, but they did not announce this to the public - nor did they mention finding any remains whatsoever.

That same month, investigators asked Trish's grandmother Sandy to submit a DNA sample. Sandy provided said sample, unbeknownst that investigators would be comparing it to the human remains found in Grant's Pond. It was Sandy's DNA that helped positively link the remains to Trish. 

Three months later, in January 2019, investigators broke the devastating news to Sandy that Trish's remains had been found. However, as the investigation was still ongoing, detectives asked Sandy to not disclose this news to anyone. Sandy asked if she could share the new with Valorie, which was allowed - as long as they both kept the secret. 

Over the following months, both Sandy and Valorie had to pretend that Trish was still missing. Instead of grieving the loss, they had to act as if they were still searching. By summer of 2019, Valorie had grown tired of waiting. On July 10th, 2019, she contacted local news media and arranged to do an interview regarding Trish's case. Police must've caught wind of this, as that very same day, they announced that they had found Trish's remains. They stated that her date of death is believed to be May 18th, 2018.

The prevailing theories.

By the time it was announced that Trish's remains had been found, many people speculated that Ashley and Doug were responsible for her death. In fact, there is a widespread belief that Trish died inside the Smith home. 

It is now well-known that both Ashley and Doug were abusive towards Trish. However, many stated that Ashley was a bit crueler than Doug. Trish was claustrophobic, and as a joke Ashley liked to lock her inside an unused freezer that was stored in the basement. The freezer was kept shut with a padlock, and at times, Ashley would lock Trish inside.

Many believe that on May 18th, 2018, Ashley locked Trish in the freezer yet again. This time, she left Trish there while she and Doug went out for the day. When the couple returned home, they found Trish dead inside the freezer. She had suffocated to death. Upon returning home and discovering that Trish was dead, it is believed that Ashley and Doug dismembered Trish before hiding her remains in a washer/dryer combo piece. Then, they disposed of the machine in Grant's Pond.

Another theory is that Trish was accidentally shot with a bow-and-arrow, by someone associated with Ashley and Doug during a drug-fueled bonfire. The other partygoers reportedly witnessed the event, and some might have even helped with the dismemberment and disposal of Trish's remains.

Neither theory has been confirmed, but both point fingers and Ashley and Doug. Despite these theories, Ashley and Doug have yet to be charged with anything related to Trish's murder.

Continuing legal troubles.

In August 2019, Doug Smith allegedly fired a gun at a moving vehicle. After this, a warrant was obtained for his arrest for both brandishing/firing a weapon and possessing a weapon as a convicted felon. Doug turned himself in on September 5th, 2019. He was then charged with "
reckless conduct, possessing a weapon as a felon, and several misdemeanors of criminal threatening, mischief and theft." Doug posted bail after his arraignment and went home.

While awaiting court proceedings for those charges, Doug continued to get into trouble with the law. He failed to re-register as a sex offender, and he also was given voter fraud charges after he registered to vote in two different counties. Doug was once again taken behind bars, and once again he posted bail.

In January 2020, Doug reportedly violently raped a woman in Croydon. After the warrant for those charges became active, he went on the run. Doug remained missing until June of 2020, when police discovered he'd been staying with friends in Vermont, using the name Robert as an alias. When police apprehended him, he was accompanied by a woman who claimed to be his sister - but the woman was very obviously Ashley.

Doug is currently serving concurrent sentences for his various charges and will be in prison until, at the earliest, 2030. Ashley lost custody of 5 out of her 6 children. Still, neither of them has been charged with anything related to Trish's murder. 

Where the case stands today.

As of today, no arrests have been made for the murder of Trish Haynes. Most have all but concluded that Ashley and Doug are responsible. Trish's loved ones are hoping that one day justice will be served. They have vowed to continue the fight until they can see Trish's killer(s) convicted.

If you have any information that could help solve the murder of Trish Haynes, please contact the New Hampshire State Police at 603-223-4381.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

The Disappearance of Katrina Kinsey

image source

Katrina Kinsey has been missing since August 14th, 2021. The then-18-year-old was last seen at her family's home in Jackson, Mississippi. Katrina's father told authorities that he saw his daughter right before he left for an overnight work shift. When he returned home the following morning, Katrina was gone. She has never been seen or heard from again.

There are very few details available in Katrina's case. It appears that the local news has had minimal - if any - reporting about her disappearance. Katrina's social media accounts do not seem to have any pertinent information that would help solve the case. 

It is unknown is Katrina left on her own accord or if any of her personal items were missing from the home. The details of her life around the time of her disappearance remain unknown as well. What is known is that Katrina has not been seen since August of 2021 - and her wellbeing is not accounted for. 

The Jackson Police Department is tasked with solving Katrina's case. If you have any information that could lead to her whereabouts, please contact authorities at 601-960-1234.

Charley Project
Our Black Girls

Saturday, April 29, 2023

The Disappearance of Kristen Galvan

Kristen Galvan was only 15 years old when she vanished on January 2nd, 2020. She was last seen at her grandmother's home in Spring, Texas. Kristen left the home on the day of her disappearance and never returned. Her loved ones have never seen or heard from her again.

Despite the fact that Kristen left on her own accord, her loved ones immediately began to worry for her safety. Kristen's family members began to suspect that she had been sold into trafficking by an older boy whom she had been hanging out with prior to her disappearance. That boy was later identified as Aryion Jackson - a Houston-based rapper who used the stage name Yung Corleon. 

Kristen actually vanished with Jackson prior to January of 2020. During this time, Kristen's family learned that Jackson was also a pimp who had sex trafficked over a dozen girls and young women, including Kristen, at a house on Bissonnet Street. Kristen was at the house for about a week and a half before she was rescued. Unfortunately, she vanished again two and a half weeks later. 

Years have passed since this second disappearance, and Kristen still remains missing. A private investigator hired by Kristen's family has been investigating the case, and several leads have been followed. Still, the key question remains: where is Kristen?

Several different locations have been investigated in regard to Kristen's whereabouts. Witnesses have also come forward with information. A closer look into these locations and the witness testimonies may hold the answers needed to solve Kristen's case. 

Bissonnet Street.

As previously noted, Kristen was rescued from a house on Bissonnet Street just two and a half weeks before her January 2020 disappearance. When she vanished for a second time, her family inevitably wanted to investigate both the house and Aryion Jackson.

Kristen's family went to Bissonnet Street to search, but they saw no signs of her. Jackson was questioned, but he claimed that he did not have any knowledge of Kristen's whereabouts. In fact, he denied knowing Kristen altogether. Jackson was later sentenced to 27 years in prison after pleading guilty to sex trafficking minors with force, fraud or coercion.

Aryion Jackson (image source)

Jackson has not been charged with anything related to Kristen's current disappearance. It's possible, and some think it's likely, that he has information about Kristen's whereabouts, but at this time he has not revealed that information. 

The Atlanta lead.

During the spring of 2021, authorities publicly announced that they, too, believe that Kristen is a victim of sex trafficking. In fact, people have reported that they've seen Kristen's picture on a website that is well-known for prostitution. Rumors also began to swirl that Kristen was being trafficked in Atlanta. 

A private investigator hired by Kristen's family traveled to Atlanta to follow these leads. She reportedly found some of the girls listed on the website, but she was unable to find Kristen. 

Latasha's testimony.

That same month, the private investigator was contacted by a woman named Latasha who claimed to have been held against her will and trafficked out of the same Atlanta house as Kristen. She mentioned that Kristen was pregnant at the time. Latasha said that she managed to escape from the traffickers and felt guilty about leaving Kristen behind. 

The private investigator noted that Latasha provided information about Kristen that "nobody else would have known". However, Latasha later spoke to the FBI, and her testimony was deemed as not credible. 

The baby.

At an unknown date in the spring/summer of 2021, the private investigator received a Facebook message from a person claiming to be Kristen. The messages said that she had borrowed a phone from a man who "did not know the rules". The message also said that she had just given birth in a Port-a-Potty and was forced to leave the baby behind, and she wanted her mom to go get the baby.

On June 3rd, 2021, a deceased infant was found in a Port-a-Potty in Houston, umbilical cord still attached. A test was requested to see if the baby's DNA was a match to Kristen's DNA. Four months later, the private investigator received a text saying that the DNA was not a match - but they were never provided with any documentation from the tests. 

Other remaining questions.

Although the DNA from the deceased infant was reportedly not a match to Kristen, it seems odd that the private investigator never received the requested documentation with the DNA results. It also seems suspicious that the private investigator received a message that Kristen had given birth in a port-a-potty, and then a deceased infant was found in one. It's possible that someone was pretending to be Kristen - but who? And why?

The private investigator tried to get in touch with Latasha at a later date and learned that Latasha had passed away. She messaged some people on Latasha's Facebook friend list to see what happened. She was told by a friend that she was murdered, but Latasha's mother said that she had suffered an aneurism. 

Kristen remains missing.

Despite the numerous leads, Kristen remains missing. If you have seen Kristen or have any information on her disappearance, PLEASE contact authorities and/or leave an anonymous tip. You can also contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline in the following ways:
  • Phone: 1-888-373-7888
  • Text: 233733
  • Online chat: link
  • Anonymous online tip: link

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The Disappearance and Death of Shawnta Pankey

image source

Shawnta Pankey vanished in Idaho on April 15th, 2018. The then-25-year-old was seen near her Grangeville apartment with her boyfriend, Eddie Mills, around 2:00 AM. Surveillance cameras captured the couple making several trips back and forth from the apartment to Mills' car while carrying camping gear.  Shawnta and Mills left the apartment building in the vehicle around 2:15 AM. By 11:06 AM, Mills returned to the apartment building alone. Shawnta was never seen or heard from again.

Shawnta was reported missing the following day, after she did not pick up her daughter from her mother’s house as planned.  When Mills was questioned, he said that he and Shawnta got into an argument while camping at Pine Bar along the Salmon River. Shawnta then decided to talk a walk around 10:00 AM and never returned.

As the last person to have seen Shawnta, Mills was inevitably labeled as a person of interest. He denied any knowledge of her whereabouts and agreed to take a polygraph exam. Reports stated that Mills did not show up for the planned polygraph at first – but he did eventually take the exam, and he passed. This still did not rule Mills out completely, but it did prompt investigators to look at other possible scenarios.

One couple reported seeing a woman matching Shawnta’s description hiking up grade near the river between 10:00 AM and 11:00 AM on the day of her disappearance. Investigators conducted several searches in that area and in the surrounding areas, but they were unable to locate Shawnta. The area from which she vanished reportedly has very little cell phone service, so investigators were unable to track her cell phone pings.

On May 5th, 2019 - over a year after Shawnta's disappearance - human remains were found near Buffalo Eddy on the Snake River. Days later, it was confirmed that those remains were that of Shawnta Pankey. The FBI then began conducting a forensic examination on her remains. By late November 2019, it was announced that investigators had finished the forensic examination, but they declined to provide any further details. 

To this day, Shawnta's cause and manner of death has not been revealed. However, there is speculation that she was murdered. Many people still believe her boyfriend Eddie Mills was involved. Still - no arrests have been made in Shawnta's case.

Shawnta's loved ones are hoping to find answers in her case. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact the Idaho County Sheriff's Office at 208-983-1100.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Timeline: The Case of Katie and Steven Pladl

Katie Pladl (18) and her biological father Steven Pladl (42) pictured together in 2016

The story of Katie and Steven Pladl is one of the wildest cases I have ever covered. The disturbing and tragic story has caused a lot of discussion on the case's tumblr post. While the post covers the overall story, this timeline breaks down the details in chronological order. 

1995: 20-year-old Steven Pladl meets 15-year-old Alyssa Garcia on the Internet.

Alyssa Garcia (source)

January 1998: 17-year-old Alyssa gives birth to a baby girl fathered by Steven. They name the little girl Denise. 

Steven and Alyssa's baby girl (source)

1998 cont.: According to Alyssa, Steven was abusive towards their infant daughter. Alyssa alleged that Steven would pinch Denise “until her body was left black and blue. The cruel father would also stuff Katie in a cooler to drown out her crying, preventing Alyssa from freeing the terrified infant until she was on the verge of suffocating.” (DailyMail). Despite this, though, Alyssa stays with Steven and eventually ends up marrying him. 

1998 cont.: Alyssa and Steven place Denise up for adoption. She is adopted by Anthony and Kelly Fusco. The baby's new name is Katie Fusco, and she is moved to Anthony and Kelly's home in Dutchess County, New York. 

Town in New York, where Katie moved as an infant after being adopted by the Fuscos

2007: Almost 10 years after giving birth to Katie, Alyssa gives birth to her and Steven's second child--a baby girl. Alyssa stated that they were “more grown up and ready” to have children at this stage in life.

2012: Alyssa gives birth to their third daughter.

2016: Katie, now 18 years old, grows curious about her biological family. She tracks down Alyssa, now 37, and Steven, now 42, on social media. The estranged parents and daughter begin to correspond.

Katie Fusco at age 18 (source)

June 2016: Katie graduates from high school. She has plans to enroll in the local community college and then eventually transfer to SUNY Purchase to study digital advertising.

August 2016: After continuing to correspond with her birth parents, Katie’s plans change. Instead of enrolling in college, she opts to move to Henrico, Virginia to live with Steven, Alyssa, and their other two daughters. 

Alyssa Pladl and Katie Pladl reunited in 2016 - pictured together with Alyssa and Steven's two younger daughters (source)

September 2016: Steven begins sleeping on Katie’s bedroom floor each night. According to Alyssa, she and Steven had already been sleeping in separate beds for months prior. 

Sept-Nov. 2016: Steven and Katie begin a sexual relationship.

November 2016: Alyssa moves out of the home and files for divorce from Steven. They split custody of the two younger children. Alyssa allegedly had suspicions about Steven’s relationship with Katie but was not completely aware of how far it had gone. 

Late 2016-Early 2017: Steven instructs his two younger daughters to begin referring to Katie as their stepmom rather than their sister. At some point, Katie learns she is pregnant with Steven's child.

Katie and Steven in 2017, while Katie was pregnant (source

May 23rd, 2017: Alyssa reads her 11-year-old daughter’s diary after a visit with Steven and Katie. From there, Alyssa learns that her ex-husband was engaging in a sexual relationship with their oldest biological daughter. She also learns that Katie is pregnant with Steven’s baby. After confronting Steven about it, Alyssa decides to contact the police. 

Pages from the diary of Alyssa and Steven's 11-year-old, describing Steven's relationship with Katie. Click to enlarge. (source)

May 31st, 2017: Henrico County police officers interview Steven and Alyssa’s two other children. No arrests are made.

Summer 2017: Katie and Steven move to Knightdale, North Carolina. 

July 20th, 2017: Katie and Steven get married in Maryland. Their marriage was official; they were able to “legally” wed because they did not disclose their father-daughter relationship. Their wedding ceremony was complete with guests, including Steven’s parents and Katie’s adoptive parents. Katie’s adoptive parents reportedly felt there was “nothing they could do except support Katie.” (CBSnews)

Katie, Steven & family at their July 2017 wedding (dailymail)

September 1st, 2017: Katie gives birth to her father’s baby. They name the little boy Bennett. 

Katie with Bennett (2017)

November 29th, 2017: Henrico County police officers issue arrest warrants for Steven and Katie.

Late January 2018: Steven and Katie are arrested and charged with incest and adultery. They are later released on bond and ordered to have no-contact with one another. Katie moves back to New York with her adoptive parents. Steven’s mother gains custody of their son.

April 2018: Katie decides to end her relationship with Steven. Despite the no-contact order, Katie calls Steven to break-up with him.

April 11th, 2018: Steven picks up his and Katie’s baby from his mother’s house. He brings the baby back to his house, where he later suffocates him and leaves his body in a closet.

April 11th-12th, 2018: Steven drives through the night from North Carolina to New York.

April 12th, 2018: Steven waits outside of the home of Katie’s adoptive parents. He watched as Katie and her adoptive father left together in a vehicle. He followed the two as they drove from Wingdale to New Milford. While stopped at a stop sign between routes 7 and 55, Steven shot Katie and her adoptive father, killing them both, before turning the gun on himself.

Scene where Steven shot Anthony Fusco and Katie before turning the gun on himself

Unfortunately, this disturbing tale ended violently. An officer working the case stated, “we may never understand the mindset or motives of Steven Pladl, but we do know his actions have shattered the lives of countless people.”

Additionally, this case has brought more attention to a term called "genetic sexual attraction", which is "used to describe the intense physical and emotional feelings that some people experience following restored contact between an adopted person and a close member of his or her birth family. Some people believe genetic attraction to be a delayed by-product of “missed bonding". Believe it or not, Katie and Steven are not the first father-and-daughter couple to fall in love. A list of other similar cases can be found here. More information about GSA can be found here.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

The Murders of Tammy Jo Parker & Bryan Capnerhurst

Tammy Jo Parker (left) Brett Parker (center) and Bryan Capnerhurst (right)

Tammy Jo Parker and Bryan Capnerhurst were both killed by Tammy’s husband Brett Parker on April 13th, 2012. Tammy and Brett lived in the small town of Irmo, South Carolina. Brett and Bryan knew each other as business partners. Both were involved in illegal sports betting in Midlands—in fact, many referred to Brett as the “kingpin” of the operation. 

Reports state that both Brett and Bryan were addicted to gambling, and both were suffering from debt. It is believed that Brett’s debt motivated the killings. He had a million-dollar life insurance policy on Tammy that he wanted to collect, and he used Bryan as a person to place blame upon.

After the murders, Brett called the police and told them that Bryan had broken into their home and immediately shot Tammy. Then, he demanded money from Brett’s safe. Brett then said that he grabbed his own gun from above his safe and shot Bryan in self-defense. His explanation of events portrayed him as a victim in this situation, however it did not take very long for Brett’s story to fall apart.

Throughout the investigation, detectives learned of both Brett and Bryan’s involvement in the illegal sports betting. After speaking to Bryan’s widow Cindy Capnerhurst, investigators learned that Bryan was allegedly concerned about meeting with Brett on the day of his death. In fact, he reportedly told Cindy to call the police if she did not hear from him within an hour of his meeting with Brett.

Cindy explained to investigators that Brett owed Bryan money, and Bryan feared that Brett would become violent when confronted about said money. Investigators also learned about the lucrative life insurance policy that Brett had on Tammy, and that Brett had been exchanging flirtatious messages with other women in the years leading up to Tammy’s death.

Three months after the incident, Brett was charged for murdering both Tammy and Bryan. At the trial, prosecutors presented their belief that Brett wanted to relieve himself of debt and to get out of his marriage. As such, he concocted this plan to kill his wife and his business partner who wanted to collect money that Brett owed him. 

The prosecution then presented evidence Brett shot and killed Tammy before Bryan even arrived at their home, and Bryan was shot shortly after showing up. It was also revealed that Brett’s claim that Bryan immediately began to shoot as he entered the home was false as well, as surveillance footage from the Parker’s home showed that Bryan entered the house a full 11 minutes before 911 was called.

Brett and his defense team maintained his original story that it was actually Bryan who killed Tammy, and that Brett killed Bryan in self-defense. The jury did not buy his story and ultimately found him guilty for both murders. Brett was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. He attempted to appeal his case in 2016, but the conviction was upheld by a three-judge panel. Brett currently remains behind bars in a Columbia, South Carolina prison.

The Disappearance of Ruthey Macenzie Smith

image source Ruthey Macenzie Smith has been missing since March 2nd, 2022 . The then-19-year-old was last seen in Los Angeles, California. P...