Thursday, May 30, 2019

List Series: Deadly Age Gaps

Five cases of age-gap relationships that ended in murder. 

5. Tayler Harsch & Franklin Lee Burress

Tayler Harsch met Franklin Lee Burress when she was only 14 years old. Franklin was 25 at the time. Franklin was reportedly very controlling over Tayler, and the two had a rocky on-again, off-again relationship that at times turned physically violent. Despite their volatile courtship, Franklin and Tayler ended up marrying in 2014. Things did not improve after getting married, though--the two continued to fight and Franklin reportedly moved in and out of their Lake Monticello, Virginia time numerous times throughout the following year. 

On the evening of September 4th, 2015, Tayler left work around 9pm with plans to go out with a group of friends later that night. When she got home, she posted the above selfie to Facebook and texted her friends about what she was going to wear that night. However, around 10pm, Tayler began texting her friends to tell them that she was not feeling well enough to go out. Nobody heard from Tayler or Franklin again until 3am, when Franklin called his parents and said that he “snapped” and killed Tayler.  Franklin’s parents called the police. When they arrived at the couple’s home, police found Tayler’s body in their hot tub, and Franklin covered in her blood. He was arrested and charged with murder.

On July 7th, 2016, Franklin accepted a plea deal and plead guilty to second degree murder. He was sentenced to 40 years—the maximum sentence for murder in the second degree.

4. Michael Wolfe & Karissa Fretwell

Michael Wolfe is a 52 year-old married man from Salem, Oregon. Despite his marriage, Michael was engaged in an affair with a 25 year-old woman named Karissa Fretwell. Karissa got pregnant at some point during their affair, and she gave birth to their son William 'Billy' Fretwell in 2016. Michael and Karissa had already ended their affair by the time Billy was born, and Michael actually did not learn that he was Billy's father until 2018. Karissa and Billy disappeared on May 13th, 2019 and they were reported missing by Karissa's family members a few days later. About a week after that, police announced that they arrested and charged Michael with murdering both Karissa and Billy. 

After his arrest, it was revealed that Karissa had sought child support from Michael shortly before her disappearance. Cell phone records place both Michael and Karissa's phones in the same place on the evening of May 13th. Finally, in June 2019, investigators found their remains in a wooded area. Michael remains behind bars as the case is pending. [read more]

3. Dominique Pittman and Evalyce Santiago

Evalyce Santiago
 was only 16 years old when she was tragically murdered by 27 year-old Dominique Pittman on December 4th, 2017. Evalyce was found in the passenger seat of Dominique’s car as it burst into flames. She had gunshot wounds to both her hands and her head. The car had crashed into a private yard at a home in Waterbury, Connecticut and caught fire shortly thereafter.
Police encountered Dominique shortly after the incident. He was reportedly visibly shaken with cuts and bruises. It was immediately believed that he was responsible for the incident and he was subsequently arrested. After initially denying involvement Dominique confessed that he and Evalyce were in a sexual relationship. Evalyce apparently considered him to be her boyfriend, despite the fact that he had actually been dating Evalyce’s aunt for the past six years and had three children with her. Evalyce’s family members, including her aunt, were unaware of her inappropriate relationship with Dominique. In fact, Evalyce referred to Dominique as her uncle when talking to others.

However, on December 4th, Dominique and Evalyce were driving around in Dominique’s car when they got into an argument and Evalyce threatened to tell her aunt about their relationship.  In order to cover up the relationship, prosecutors alleged that Dominique shot and killed Evalyce before crashing the car and escaping from it before it burst into flames.  In September 2018, Dominique pleaded guilty to the murder of Evalyce Santiago. He maintains that Evalyce’s death was an accident–that he unintentionally shot her as the two struggled over the gun during an argument in the car. It is believed Dominique took the plea deal in exchange for a 35 year sentence, which he formally received on November 27th, 2018. 

2. Lindsay Nichols & Timothy Roses

Lindsay Nichols (22) met Dr. Timothy Roses (45) in 2011, while Lindsay was studying radiology at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, Iowa. The two began having an affair, unbeknownst to Timothy's wife--who was raising Timothy's children in Texas. Lindsay ended the affair in February 2012, and Timothy did not take the break-up well. He allegedly sent Lindsay several text messages while trying to win her back, but Lindsay refused. The situation escalated on March 21st, 2012--when Lindsay posted on Facebook that she was in a relationship with a new man. 

Enraged by Lindsay’s new relationship, Timothy then decided to take matters into his own hands. He rented a truck with out-of-state license plates and watched as Chase picked Lindsay up from Waterloo to drive her to his home in Jesup, a town located approximately 15 miles away. Timothy followed Chase and Lindsay all the way to Chase’s driveway. At that point, Lindsay realized it was Timothy who was following them and she got out of the car to confront him while Chase called the police. A brief argument ensued that ended with Timothy shooting Lindsay in the head before he turned the gun on himself. The incident was ruled a murder-suicide. [read more] [also on the 'Love Triangles With Tragic Endings' list]

1. Baleigh Bagshaw & Shaun French

Shaun French (24) moved into the home of Shawna Bagshaw in Salt Lake City, Utah during 2017. Shawna lived in the home with her daughter, Baleigh Bagshaw. Baleigh was only 14 years old at the time Shaun moved into their home, however that did not stop Shaun from pursuing Baleigh. The two quickly fell into a months-long sexual relationship. Shawna kicked Shaun out of their home in July 2017. Baleigh and Shaun still kept in touch after this, but Baleigh’s mother was unaware of the extent of their relationship until May 2nd, 2018. That day, Baleigh confessed to her mother that she had been in a sexual relationship with Shaun that began when she was 14 years old. Baleigh had recently ended the relationship, and Shaun was threatening to send her nude photographs to her mother and to post them on social media. In fact, as Baleigh and her mother were having this conversation, Baleigh’s mother received a nude picture of her daughter from a social media account that she did not recognize. The mother and daughter then decided to contact police and to secure a restraining order against Shaun.

A few days later, the situation escalated. On May 7th, 2018,  Shaun and a male friend spent the day in a park near Baleigh’s home in Salt Lake City. The male friend would later tell police that he dropped Shaun off at Baleigh’s house on the 7th, and when Shaun returned, he was covered in blood and said he had to leave the state because he had killed a girl while she was talking on the phone. He allegedly told his friend, “I damn near cut her head off.” Police ultimately located Shaun and his male friend on May 11th, 2018 in Colorado. After that, the friend told police his version of events and led them to a dumpster where they had discarded Shaun’s knife and bloody clothes.

Shaun was extradited back to Utah and charged with aggravated murder, obstruction of justice, and sexual exploitation. He pleaded guilty in June 2020. [read more]

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