Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Suspicious Death of Lauren Agee

One of the final photographs of 21 year old Lauren Agee (left), taken in July of 2015 at WakeFest in Smithville, Tennessee.

Lauren Agee attended the 2015 WakeFest with Christopher Stout (pictured above on the right), Hannah Palmer, and Hannah’s new boyfriend Aaron Lilly (pictured together below). The group was camping at the festival, which began on July 25th, 2015. Their campsite was located cliff-side, overlooking Center Hill Lake.

One night during the three day festival, Lauren and Christopher slept together in an ENO hammock hanging near the cliff. The following afternoon, Lauren’s body was found floating in the lake by two fisherman. An autopsy report suggested that Lauren, who had been drinking heavily, slipped off the cliff located near her campsite. The report mentioned blunt trauma that was consistent with the fall and possible drowning. Authorities ruled that there was no foul play involved in her death.

Lauren’s mother, Sherry Smith, has doubted that her daughter’s death was an accident from the get-go. She wasn’t the only one with doubts about the autopsy ruling. In fact, the officers who responded to the scene when Lauren’s body was found felt that a lot of evidence was ignored by investigators.

When one of the officers, Ryan Melanson, questioned Christopher, Hannah, and Aaron about what happened, they said that when they woke up that morning, Lauren was gone. Christopher said he “didn’t feel Lauren get out of the hammock,” but when he woke up alone that morning, he simply thought she was already at the WakeFest events. Hannah, a childhood friend of Lauren’s, said that she was “really worried” when she woke up and realized that Lauren was gone because Lauren left her shoes, wallet, and phone behind, which was out of character of her. However, Hannah said that the boys reassured her that Lauren had gotten a head start on the day’s festivities that they would see her later. While questioning the three, Officer Melanson noted that Christopher and Aaron in particular seemed nervous, but ultimately “unsympathetic for the death of their so-called friend.”

Sherry eventually hired private investigator Sheila Wysocki to investigate Lauren’s death. Wysocki also does not believe that Lauren’s death was an accident. After looking at the autopsy photos, Wysocki said there appeared to be a strange bite mark on one of Agee’s breasts, and she believes Agee’s body showed signs of strangulation. Wysocki was also able to interview Hannah, who told her the same thing she told police—that she didn’t call Lauren’s parents or the authorities the morning Lauren had disappeared because she thought her friend had just wandered off. However, midway through the interview, Wysocki said that Hannah received a phone call from Aaron. Wysocki believes that she was able to hear Aaron saying to Hannah, “stick to the story.” 

Equipped the information provided by Wysocki, Sherry filed a wrongful death civil suit against the three friends. When the three were eventually required to give depositions, they all replied by using their Fifth Amendments rights to not incriminate themselves. Forensic pathologists also disagreed with Wysocki’s findings that there was evidence of strangulation or bite marks on Lauren’s body. On March 24th, 2017, a judge ruled that there was not enough evidence for a wrongful death case against Hannah Palmer. The cases against Christopher and Aaron are still pending.

Since the ruling, an additional witness named Chris Brown has come forward with possibly more information on the case. Brown testified that on the night/morning of Lauren’s death, he and his family had traveled to Pate’s Ford Boat Dock on Center Hill Lake with some friends. He said that he was standing on the dock around midnight when he observed a white male swimming towards the dock and eventually climbing on to it. Brown said that the “young man appeared extremely distraught and worn out.” He apparently spit out water for several minutes before telling Brown and his family that he had almost drowned while swimming and searching for his friends. Brown said that he did not think much of the incident until he had learned about Lauren’s death later that day—he simply had a gut feeling that the young man he saw might’ve been involved. Months later, Brown said he was discussing Lauren’s death with his hairdresser when he was shown pictures of the group of friends Lauren was with that weekend. Brown recognized one of the young men in the pictures as the man he encountered that night. That young man turned out to be Aaron Lilly.

There is still a lot of debate about whether or not Lauren’s death was an accident. Other than the pending civil cases against Christopher and Aaron, Lauren’s case is considered closed.

The Murder of Cynthia Carver

Cynthia Carver (35) was reportedly abducted from her home in Newsoms, Virginia on February 21st, 2019. The small community of Newsoms only has a population of 299 residents, and many members of Cynthia's family lived in Newsoms as well. In fact, Cynthia was discovered to be missing by her mother, who drove by Cynthia's house around 1pm the following day. As she was driving by, she noticed the front door was open. Cynthia's mother explained, “I stopped and came in, and when I came in I saw blood and stuff in the house. [The blood was] right here at the door and in the living room, and there was a knife lying in front of the sofa.” Cynthia’s mother then called the police to report her daughter missing. Once investigators arrived on the scene, they determined that Cynthia likely did not leave her home voluntarily. From that point forward, Cynthia's disappearance was investigated as a kidnapping.

In March 2019, Cynthia's body was found in Suffolk, Virginia. She died of multiple sharp force injuries. The Medical Examiner's Office ruled Cynthia's death as a homicide. Investigators later revealed that they believe Cynthia was murdered by a man she planned to meet up with on the night of her disappearance. 

Finally, in June 2019, a man named James Goodwyn (39) was arrested and charged with Cynthia's murder. Police initially interviewed Goodwyn in March, and he told them that he spoke with Cynthia via Facebook messenger but did not go to her house on the evening of her disappearance. Investigators were able to determine that Goodwyn lied, and when they confronted him at this, he admitted that he did go to Cynthia's house that night, but he stayed inside his car and talked to her in the driveway. Investigators did not buy his story, and on June 28th, 2019, they were able to secure a warrant for his arrest. A motive has not been released at this time.

James Goodwyn

List Series: Mysteries with Suspicious Vehicles/Unidentified Drivers

Eight cases in which a person vanished after getting into a vehicle driven by an unknown driver. All of these cases remain unsolved today. 

8. Janina Vasquez

Janina Vasquez (27) vanished after leaving the Isle of Capri casino on February 12th, 2015. The young woman was living with her parents in Kansas City at the time of her disappearance. On the evening of Janina's disappearance, she told her parents she was going to meet some friends at the casino. Security cameras captured Janina exiting the casino at 7:40pm and getting into an unidentified red car. Janina never returned home after that, and her mother reported her missing on the evening of February 13th, 2015.

Just seven days later, a city worker found Janina’s body at the bottom of a well in Overland Park. Investigators determined that Janina had died from blunt force trauma. Despite this, authorities ruled Janina’s death as accidental. However, there are many factors in this case that lead Janina’s mother and many others to believe that Janina was murdered. The well that her body was found in is surrounded by a gate with a barbed wire. Janina suffered from chronic pains and seizures, and her mother does not believe she would have been able to climb over that gate by herself. Additionally, over a year after Janina was found dead, authorities told her mother that Janina apparently made a 911 call from the bottom of the well during on the night of February 12th. Apparently the officers who responded to the 911 call searched the park, but not the well, before leaving. It is unknown what Janina said on the 911 call, but her mother believes that somebody had thrown her into the well. The person who picked up Janina from the casino also remains unknown. It is unclear if police ever made an attempt to identify said driver. [read more]

7. Kalisha Madden

Kalisha Madden vanished at the age of 26 on November 28th, 2011. The mother-of-six was last seen after ending a shift at Club Vegas in Detroit, Michigan, where she worked as an exotic dancer. Kalisha was reportedly seen getting into a black truck outside of the club with three unidentified African-American men. It is believed that Kalisha had just met the men that same night. She never returned home to her children and has never been seen or heard from again.

According to Kalisha’s mother Pamela Johnson, Kalisha would never voluntarily leave her children behind. Pamela believes that her daughter was murdered. She told reporters, “word is in the streets that she is deceased and she is buried in Detroit.” It is unclear where Pamela received this information, however she believes that Kalisha met dangerous people while at her job. There is a local rumor that has been speculated about on various forums and social media sites as well. This rumor suggests that Kalisha was involved in another dangerous job that involved setting people up for robbery. One particular Detroit local posted that Kalisha “was setting people up to be robbed and this was payback for it. I’m not sure how true that is, just what I have heard.” Others commented on the post confirming that they, too, heard a similar statement. None of this has been confirmed by police, however investigators have remained quiet about the investigation. 

6. Sebia Archer (aka Sheba Daniels)

46 year-old Sebia Archer (also goes by the name Sheba Daniels) has been missing since May 18th, 2017. At the time, Sheba was living with her cousin Mike Hensley in Johnson City, Tennessee. Sheba was last seen around 8:30pm on the day she vanished. Witnesses spotted her at a Shell gas station on the corner of Cherokee Road and Southwest Avenue. Sheba was seen getting into a multi-colored car with car with an unidentified African American man. Witnesses do not believe that she appeared to be in distress at the time. 

According to family members, Sheba did frequently catch rides with people, however they do not believe she would get into a car with a person she did not know. It is unclear if investigators believe that Sheba knew the man she was last seen with, and he has yet to be identified. It is uncharacteristic for Sheba to be out of touch for this long and her family is concerned for her safety. Sheba remains missing today. [read more]

5. Bilial Hammette

Bilial Hammette vanished at the age of 18 on August 6th, 2011. On that day, Bilial’s mother last saw him at their home in Beloit, Wisconsin. He told his family members that he was going fishing. An unidentified person in a black vehicle picked Bilial up at the home, and that was the last time he was ever seen. His mother thought it was his parole officer that picked him up, which is why she did not worry when Bilial did not return home that night. However, after days passed without any word from him, Bilial’s mother reported him missing on August 12th. Bilial did not have a bank account or a cell phone at the time of his disappearance. This left police with very little to work with, and it is unclear if the person who picked Bilial up has ever been identified. Bilial’s family and friends maintain that he would not be out of touch for this long, and they are concerned for his safety. The Beloit Police Department is still investigating his case. [read more]

4. Sylvia Galvan

Sylvia Galvan vanished at the age of 30 in 2011. The circumstances surrounding Sylvia’s disappearance are clouded with mystery; likely because she was estranged from both her parents and her four children at the time she vanished. Due to this, it took a very long time for them to realize she was missing. In fact, Sylvia was not reported missing until 2013—over two years after she was last seen.

Throughout the investigation, detectives were able to determine that Sylvia was last seen in her hometown of Mount Morris, Michigan on October 1st, 2011. Detectives were also able to track down witnesses, who revealed that Sylvia was last seen getting into a vehicle with a group of unidentified men. Authorities have not revealed any further information on the investigation at this time, however they have stated that they believed foul play was involved in Sylvia’s disappearance. Sylvia remains missing today. [read more] [Disappearances with Reporting Gaps]

3. Brandon Bankhead

Brandon Bankhead (19) vanished after attending his great-grandmother’s funeral on May 28th, 2016. The funeral was held at Life Center International Church in St. Louis, Missouri. Once the service ended, Brandon was seen getting into a vehicle with some friends. He has never been seen or heard from again. 

Brandon’s family members did not recognize the friends he left the service with, and they believe that foul play is responsible for his disappearance. A few weeks after he vanished, Brandon’s mother received a threatening phone call stating that her son was being held captive in a vacant home in Walnut Park, and he was going to be killed. According to Brandon’s grandmother, the caller said, “We got your son, we got him in a closet tied up, and we getting ready to kill him.” The call has never been traced and it is unclear if the family and/or investigators believe the call was authentic. Brandon remains missing today. [read more] [Unsolved Mysteries & Suspicious Phone Calls]

2. Bianca Lebron

On the morning of November 7th, 2001, ten year-old Bianca Lebron arrived at her elementary school in Bridgeport, Connecticut and told her friends that she was not be attending class that day. Instead, she told them, she was going shopping with her uncle. Bianca asked her friends if they wanted to join, but they declined. Shortly thereafter, an older model brown/tan van pulled up in front of their school. Bianca’s friends watched as she got inside the car and it drove off. Bianca has never been seen or heard from again.

When Bianca did not return home from school that afternoon, her mother simply thought she had gone to a friend’s house. As hours passed, Bianca’s mother grew increasingly worried and ended up calling the police at 8:30pm that evening. Bianca’s family soon learned that Bianca never attended school that day. Investigators spoke to the friends who witnessed her getting into the van that morning. They told investigators that they were not worried when Bianca got into the van because they thought the driver was Bianca’s uncle. Her family members told investigators that Bianca does not have an uncle, and none of her relatives drive the car she was picked up in. At this point, it was clear that Bianca had been abducted. The suspect was described as a Hispanic male around 20 to 30 yrs old, 5"8 to 5"11 with an average build, black curly hair, long sideburns and a beard. He has never been formally identified and Bianca remains missing today. [read more]

1. LaQuanta Riley

18 year-old LaQuanta Riley was last seen by her family at their Montgomery, Alabama home on December 7th, 2003. LaQuanta’s last encounter with her family was very brief; she arrived at the family’s home around 11:30pm to get a jacket, then left immediately after that. During the short amount of time she was inside the house, LaQuanta’s brother noticed that she had been driven there by a person in a dark green car that he did not recognize. When he asked her who the driver of the car was, LaQuanta simply replied that the driver was her friend. After retrieving her jacket, LaQuanta returned to the dark green car and was driven away. She never returned home after that.

About a week later, LaQuanta’s mother received a voicemail that she believes was from her missing daughter. The message was not clear, but it sounded as if the caller said either “leave me alone,” or “let me go home.” Also in the voicemail, a man’s voice is heard in the background saying LaQuanta’s name. The call disconnected after that. To this day, that call has still never been traced.

There have been very few leads in LaQuanta’s case. The driver of the dark green car that LaQuanta was picked up in is still unidentified. The car is being described as a four-door sedan, possibly a Ford Taurus or a Chevrolet Caprice. Police are looking to identify that driver. Police are also still looking for leads in LaQuanta’s case. [Unsolved Mysteries & Suspicious Phone Calls]

Previously on the list:

Arionna Parham.
Arionna Parham (18) vanished shortly after leaving her home in Dickinson, Texas, on the morning of May 22nd, 2018. According to family members, that day began as a typical day for Arionna. She got up, got ready for school as usual, and then asked her...

Arionna Parham has been missing since May 22nd, 2018. The 18 year-old left her family's Dickinson, Texas home that morning on foot after telling her family members she was going to school. However, at some point, witnesses saw Arionna getting into a black Nissan Altima that was driven by a man who was originally only known as “Nicco.” She never arrived at school and has never been seen or heard from again. 

Arionna's family members do not personally know the man who reportedly picked Arionna up, however he was later publicly identified as a man named Armando 'Nicco' Cruz. Both Nicco and his brother Oscar Cruz are being investigated in Arionna's disappearance. Nicco has a criminal history including offenses related to drugs and sex trafficking. Additionally, his brother Oscar reportedly told a friend that he killed Arionna. However, Arionna remains missing today and no arrests have been made. [read more]

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Disappearance of Sage Smith

Sage Smith disappeared under suspicious circumstances on November 20th, 2012. Prior to vanishing, the 19 year-old was making a lot of positive changes in her life. Sage grew up in the foster care system, and reportedly had a very tumultuous childhood. Things were beginning to turn around in the fall of 2012—Sage was no longer a part of the foster system, so she was able to move into her own place in Charlottesville, Virginia. She had recently gotten a new job in that area, and she was looking forward to her future. Sage also had recently come out to her family and friends as transgender. Just weeks before her disappearance, Sage changed her gender on her Facebook page from male to female. According to Sage’s grandmother Lolita Smith, Sage was reportedly very happy to be living her truth.

On the evening she was last seen, Sage told her roommate, Aubrey Carson, that she planned to meet up with a man—possibly for a date—whom she had met online. That man was later identified as Erik McFadden (pictured below). Aubrey grew concerned the following morning, when he awoke to find that Sage had not returned home. He tried calling Sage, but her phone went straight to voicemail. Aubrey then called Sage’s grandmother, Lolita. After learning that Lolita had not heard from Sage either, Aubrey called the Charlottesville police.

Erik McFadden
By the time authorities determined that Sage had met up with a man named Erik McFadden, they were unable to locate him. In fact, Erik’s girlfriend ended up reporting him missing on November 24th—just four days after Sage was last seen. However, Erik ended up contacting Charlottesville authorities three days later on November 27th. He told them that he did plan to meet up with Sage on the evening of November 20th, but Sage never showed up. Still, investigators asked Erik to meet with them in person, but he told them that he couldn’t because he was in New York. When investigators asked him when he would be back, he hung up.

Although it appeared Erik himself was trying to avoid contact with authorities, Erik’s girlfriend continued to cooperate with the investigation. She told police that Erik planned to take a bus back to Charlottesville on November 29th. The next day, though, Erik changed his mind. He sent his girlfriend an e-mail saying that Sage was blackmailing him by threatening to tell people that the two of them had sex. Erik also stated that he did meet up with Sage on the night of November 20th, but he did not know what happened to her. This version of events clearly differed from the story that Erik told authorities, and he was officially classified as a person of interest after that. Unfortunately, investigators have never been able to question Erik in person. He reportedly has never returned to Charlottesville, and the last sign of him was an e-mail he sent to his girlfriend in May 2013, from an untraceable e-mail address.

The Charlottesville Police are still actively investigating Sage’s disappearance. In 2016, the investigation was reclassified as a homicide. Three years later, on June 26th, 2019, police announced that they officially filed a missing persons report for Erik McFadden. A $20,000 reward is in place for any information that could lead to Sage’s whereabouts and/or an arrest in the case. If you have any information about Sage and/or Erik McFadden’s whereabouts, please contact the Charlottesville Police Department at 434-970-3280.

The Kidnapping of Nefertiri Trader

Image result for nefertiri trader

33 year old Nefertiri Trader was forcibly abducted from her New Castle, Delaware home on June 29th, 2014. Early on that morning, a neighbor who lives on a nearby block witnessed a man dragging a woman, who he later identified as Nefertiri, to a her own car around 4am. The neighbor simply thought Nefertiri was involuntarily being taken to a hospital, so he did not call the police when he saw her being forced into the car.

Nefertiri never showed up for work that day. Her mother, Denise, showed up at Nefertiri’s house at 6pm–around the time when Nefertiri was expected home from work. Denise discovered an unopened box of cigarettes, a full cup of coffee, and a single wrapped condom on the front porch of Nefertiri’s house. Her flip flops were found by the front door, and her house was completely abandoned. Denise reported Nefertiri missing after that.

Nefertiri has not been seen or heard from since her abduction. The man who abducted her still remains unidentified and her car still has not been found. In March 2017, New Castle County Police announced that Nefertiri is presumed to be dead. Investigators did not announce what evidence they had to make said presumption, however they hoped their ruling would generate new leads in the case.

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Nefertiri's car
The FBI is actively investigating her case and looking for leads. There is a reward totaling $30,000 for solving Nefertiri’s disappearance, offered by both the FBI and New Castle County. The FBI is offering $20,000 for tips leading to an arrest and New Castle County is offering up to $10,000 for information on the case. If you have any information about Nefertiri’s disappearance and/or whereabouts, please report it to the FBI here.

The Murder of the Short Family

Pictured above: The Short Family, circa 2002.
The Shorts were known as an ‘everyday, average family’. Michael (50) and his wife Mary (36) owned a mobile home moving business and were raising their daughter Jennifer (9) in Bassett, Virginia. The trio...
Mary & Michael Short with their daughter, Jennifer (circa 2002)

The Shorts were known as a nice, average family. Michael (50) and his wife Mary (36) owned a mobile home moving business and were raising their daughter Jennifer (9) in Bassett, Virginia. The trio was described as a private, but happy family. According to acquaintances, the Short family tended to be on the quieter side, and they were not known to cause drama. Due to all of this, community was incredibly shocked when Michael and Mary were found shot to death at their home on the evening of August 15th, 2002. 

The police were called that evening after a co-worker who drove by the Short’s home spotted Michael laying in a pool of his blood inside their enclosed carport. One police arrived on the scene, they found Mary shot to death in the couple’s bedroom. Their daughter, Jennifer, was nowhere to be found. An Amber Alert was issued, and a search for the young girl quickly ensued.

All of the searches by professional search teams unfortunately came up empty. Then, over a month later, on September 26th, 2002, a gruesome discovery was made. A man’s dogs found human remains in a creek in Rockingham County, North Carolina. The remains were located approximately 35 miles away from the Short’s home in Virginia. The remains were sent to the lab for forensic testing and were later confirmed to be that of Jennifer Short. She had also been shot in the head. 

It was clear at this point that the Short family had been executed—but so many questions remain, such as: who would want the Short family dead? Why was Jennifer taken to a different location? Was she held captive for a period of time before she was killed? Perhaps the most haunting question, though, is the motive. Why did someone kill this entire family?

-continued from Tumblr post:

Over 20 years have passed since the Short family murders, and investigators are still baffled and haunted by the unsolved case. Even the experienced investigators working the case have acknowledged that it is quite unusual—which is perhaps why it is so haunting. In October 2018, the world was captivated by the disappearance of 13 year-old Jayme Closs, who went missing from her Barron, Wisconsin home after her parents were shot to death by an intruder. Much like the Short case, the investigators working the Closs case were baffled by the murders of James and Denise Closs and the disappearance of their daughter—and on numerous occasions they also acknowledged that this type of case is very unusual. 

The world was even more blown away in January 2019, when Jayme was fortunately found alive. She had been held captive by 21-year-old Jake Patterson at his home in Gordon, Wisconsin. After 88 days of captivity, Jayme was bravely able to escape while Patterson was out of the house. Patterson was arrested shortly thereafter and is currently serving a life sentence for killing Jayme's parents and kidnapping her.

Jake Patterson (left), Jayme Closs (right)

Once the news about the murders of James and Denise Closs and the disappearance of their daughter began to spread, many comparisons were made between the Closs case and the Short case. As weeks turned into months without any sign of Jayme, many began to fear that she suffered the same fate as Jennifer Short and would be found under similar circumstances. 

Statistically, children who are kidnapped and ultimately murdered are usually dead within the first three hours. Since Jennifer was ultimately found murdered, it is a high possibility that she was killed within 3 hours of being taken from her home on August 15th, 2002. If Jayme, too, had been murdered, it would also be a high possibility that she would have been killed within the first 3 hours of being taken from her home. 

However, Jayme’s case ultimately does not fall under this same statistical category as Jennifer’s, as she did not end up being murdered. Jayme’s case is similarly quite rare, though. According to the Polly Klaas Foundation, “only about 100 children (a fraction of 1%) are kidnapped each year in a stranger abduction. Only about half of these children are found alive.” Children who are missing for longer periods of time are also less likely to be found, which also makes Jayme’s case unique. 

Unlike the Closs case, the Short family case does not appear any closer to being solved. Many leads have been followed over the years, yet no arrests have been made and no suspects have been publicly identified. The Bassett community is still haunted by case and investigators are hoping to bring the family to justice. There is a $100,000 reward in place for anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for the deaths of Michael, Mary, and Jennifer. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact the Henry County Sheriff’s Office at (276) 656-4200. 

This case is also included on....
[Ten Home Invasion Mysteries] [Small Town Mysteries]

Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Murders of Morgan Harrington and Hannah Graham

Morgan Harrington

Morgan Harrington (20) was a student at Virginia Tech when she disappeared on October 17th, 2009. On that day, Morgan and some friends travelled to Charlottesville, Virginia to attend a Metallica concert. During the opening act, Morgan left her friends to go use the restroom. At some point, she exited the arena and was unable to get back in due to a strict “no re-entry” policy. Morgan spoke with her friends on the phone at 8:48pm, telling them not to worry—she would find her own ride home. Unfortunately, Morgan never made it home and she was never heard from again after that phone call.

Around 3 months later, on January 26th, 2010, Morgan’s remains were found on a farm ten miles away from the concert arena. The police did not release many details about Morgan’s death, however, her parents confirmed that she had been a victim of homicide. There were not any known suspects at the time Morgan’s remains were found, but forensic testing revealed that DNA found on Morgan’s shirt matched DNA evidence that the police already had on file for an unsolved kidnapping and rape case that occurred in Fairfax, Virginia in September 2005. The victim of the 2005 attack was able to escape from her kidnapper, but the police were unable to locate him after she reported the attack.

Years passed, and both the 2005 kidnapping/rape case and Morgan’s 2009 murder remained unsolved. Then, on September 13th, 2014, another young girl went missing from the University of Virginia: 18-year-old Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham

Sometime during the night of September 12th, Hannah became separated from her friends while walking to a party. She was last heard from at 1:20am on the 13th, after texting a friend that she was lost. Less than a week later, police released surveillance footage from the university mall from the night of Hannah’s disappearance. In the video, Hannah is shown stumbling through the mall by herself when an older, unidentified man approaches her and puts his arm around her.  Police were able to identify that man as Jesse L. Matthew Jr. He was taken into custody on September 24th and charged with kidnapping and intent to defile.

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Jesse Matthew

On September 29th, 2014, investigators announced that they found a forensic link between evidence taken from Matthew and the murder of Morgan Harrington. They also found a forensic link to the 2005 kidnapping and rape case in Fairfax. Hannah still remained missing, but police believed that they now had a serial rapist/killer in custody.

Hannah’s remains were found on October 18th, 2014, on an abandoned property in Albemarle County, Virginia. Matthew was subsequently charged with the kidnapping and rape for the 2005 case and with the murders of both Morgan and Hannah. In June of 2015, Matthew was given three life sentences for the 2005 attack. In March of 2016, he plead guilty to both Morgan and Hannah’s murders. Matthew will remain incarcerated for the rest of his life.

Morgan's mother has written a book about her daughter's murder titled Morgan Harrington Murdered and Dead for Good: A Mother’s Quest to Find a Serial Killer and Healing

The Disappearance of Heather MacCrossen

26 year-old Heather Ann MacCrossen (pictured above) was in the midst of escaping an abusive relationship when she vanished on August 17th, 2007. In the prior months, Heather was in a relationship with Andrelo Lasuard Witcher (pictured below), who was allegedly very violent and controlling towards her. Witcher is a registered sex offender with a long criminal record. Throughout Heather’s relationship with him, there were many documented instances of domestic violence. At one point, Witcher threatened Heather with a gun, beat her, and held her captive for two days before she escaped.

Andrelo Witcher

In July 2007, Heather decided to leave her home in Newberry, Florida and flee to Michigan, where her family lived. According to her family members, Heather arrived there with two black eyes. She stayed in Michigan for about a month before she had to return to Florida for a court date for a misdemeanor traffic ticket. Heather called her mother from a Greyhound bus stop in Gainesville, Florida on August 17th, 2007 to let her know that she had arrived safely. That was Heather’s last known interaction, and she has never been seen or heard from again. She never appeared in court for the traffic charge and a warrant was issued for her arrest shortly thereafter.

Heather’s loved ones immediately thought that Witcher was responsible for her disappearance. Witcher was interviewed numerous times about Heather, but denied having any knowledge of her whereabouts. Five years later, in 2012, Witcher became a person of interest in another young woman’s disappearance as well: 23 year-old Kamrie Mitchell. Kamrie disappeared on August 25th, 2012, just a few hours after she reported Witcher to the police for breaking into her father’s home, threatening her with a weapon, and stealing prescription medications from the home. Witcher was eventually arrested and charged with burglary while armed, possession of a weapon by a felon, and failure to comply with his sex offender registration.

Witcher was convicted for the burglary charges and sentenced to five years in prison. He was due to be released in December 2016, however in April 2016, Alachua County investigators announced that they filed manslaughter charges against Witcher for the 2007 death of Heather Ann MacCrossen. 

During early December 2018, Andrelo went to trial for manslaughter in Heather’s case. It took the jury only five hours of deliberations to find him guilty. There was very little physical evidence presented in the case, however multiple witnesses testified that Witcher was abusive towards Heather. Certain witnesses stated that Witcher repeatedly told Heather that he was going to “kill her and hide her body where her family would never find it.” It appears that Witcher kept his word to this day, as Heather’s body has never been found. 

In early January 2019, Witcher was sentenced to 30 years in prison. At the sentencing, Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell told the courtroom,“Knowing what I know about this case, and knowing that there are other cases that are very similar in nature that are believed to have been committed by this offender, Andrelo Witcher, this sentence of 30 years was very, very appropriate.” Witcher will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years. 


List Series: Betrayed by Blood

According to data from the FBI, over 50% of the murder victims each year are killed by someone known to them--such as a significant other, acquaintance, co-worker, etc. Out of the 50% of murder victims killed by someone known to them, almost half of those victims are killed by members of their own family. Below is a list of seven cases in which the victim was killed by a member of their family, and ultimately betrayed by their own blood.

7. Keaira Henderson
Murdered by her older brother, Gavin Henderson
Keaira Henderson (left), Gavin Henderson (right)
Keaira Henderson was only 15 years-old when she was brutally murdered by her own brother, 27 year-old Gavin Henderson, on June 18th, 2018. Gavin had moved in with his mother and his siblings at their home in Dunwoody, Georgia the previous year. At that time, he had recently been released from prison in Florida after serving several years behind bars for violent crimes. Gavin had violent tendencies towards his family members once he moved home, as well. In fact, prior to Keaira’s death, Gavin pulled a knife on another one of his sisters. Nobody called the police at that time; the family stated that they dealt with the incident privately.  

On the afternoon of June 18th, 2018, Gavin turned violent once again. He grew angry at his 15 year-old sister, Keaira, because he felt she was taking too long in the bathroom. By the time Keaira finally did leave the bathroom, it was too late—Gavin was already too angry. He then grabbed a 10-inch hunting style knife and chased Keaira outside. Keaira began banging on her neighbor’s doors for help, but nobody answered the door. Their terrified 12 year-old sister called their mother at work, who then called the police as she rushed home. Then, the 12 year-old opened the front door and witnessed a horrific sight: her brother Gavin was stabbing her sister Keaira as Keaira screamed and begged for him to stop.

Keaira died shortly after paramedics arrived on the scene. She had been stabbed over 53 times. Gavin was arrested shortly thereafter and is currently behind bars as he awaits further proceedings. [read more]

6. Jarmecca 'Nikki' Whitehead
Murdered by her 16 year-old twin daughters
Nikki Whitehead (left), Tasmiyah Whitehead (center), Jasmiyah Whitehead (right)
34 year-old Jarmecca ‘Nikki’ Whitehead was stabbed to death by her own 16 year-old twin daughters, Tasmiyah and Jasimyah Whitehead on January 13th, 2010. Nikki was a single mother, and at the time of her death, she lived with the twins in Conyers, Georgia. The mother-and-daughters had previously lived with Nikki's grandmother when the girls were young, but they moved to Conyers once the girls were teenagers. From that point forward, Nikki's relationship with her daughters began to sour. Tasmiyah and Jasmiyah felt their mother was too strict and they felt resentful towards her. There were numerous altercations at the home where police were called. It became clear during each incident that Tasmiyah and Jasmiyah were actively working as a team against their mother. Unbeknownst to Nikki, the two were formulating a plan that would have fatal results. 

The twins put their plan into motion on the morning of January 13th, 2010. The girls brutally attacked their mother inside the home, stabbing her over 80 times--nearly severing her spinal cord. Tasmiyah and Jasmiyah then placed their mother in a bathtub, cleaned themselves up, and went to school--leaving Nikki to die. When the twins returned from school that afternoon, they called the police and claimed that someone had broken into their home and killed their mother. Police eventually uncovered evidence that Nikki had been killed by her own daughters. The girls were eventually arrested and charged with murder. Both eventually confessed to killing Nikki and they are both currently serving a 30 year sentence. [read more] [Dangerous Duos]

5. Rachel Pernosky
Murdered by her older half-brother, Matthew Pernosky
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Rachel Pernosky was only 18 years-old when she was murdered by her half-brother Matthew Pernosky on March 16th, 2013.  The two share a father and are ten years apart in age--making Matthew 28 years old at the time of the murder. Although the murder occurred in 2013, Matthew had betrayed Rachel's trust for the first time many years earlier--when she was five and he was 15. That year, Matthew sexually assaulted Rachel. Charges were eventually sought against him--and by time he was 19, he was sentenced to probation for the assault.

After that traumatizing court case, Rachel seemed to move on as best as she could. By 2013, she had a 1 year-old son and loved being a mother. However, Matthew was not completely absent from her life. On March 16th, 2013, Matthew went to Rachel’s home in Mission and told her that he wanted to apologize for molesting her as a child. A conversation ensued, and at a certain point, one of Rachel’s friends texted her to ask her how the discussion with Matthew was going. Rachel reportedly told the friend that the conversation was “good, but emotional” and that she was tired and hoped Matthew would leave soon. This is the last time anyone ever heard from Rachel, and she was later reported missing after she did not pick-up her son. Unfortunately, just three days later, Rachel’s body was found hidden in steep terrain near Old Orchard Road in Chilliwack. 

Matthew was immediately looked into as a murder suspect, but he denied involvement in Rachel’s death. Investigators did have other evidence, however it initially was not enough to charge Matthew with anything related to Rachel’s case. Finally, in 2016, investigators had an officer disguise himself as the head of a criminal organization in order to infiltrate Matthew. The disguised officer, who used the alias “Mr. Big”, was able to get a full confession out of him. Matthew was subsequently arrested and charged with both Rachel’s murder. On May 28th, 2018, he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges. Matthew was given an automatic life-sentence, however he will be eligible for parole after 13 years. [read more]

4. Alycia Mesiti
Murdered by her father, Mark Mesiti
Alycia Mesiti (left), Mark Mesiti (right)
Alycia Mesiti was only 14 years-old when she was murdered by her own father on August 13th, 2006. Mark Mesiti was given custody of Alycia and her brother less than a year earlier. The children moved into Mark’s home in Ceres, California after a Santa Clara County court found their mother Roberta Allen to be an unfit mother who struggled with depression. Unbeknownst to the Judge that granted him custody, Mark was very, very unfit to be a father--or to be around children whatsoever. Not only did be begin to sexually abuse Alycia once she moved into his home, but he also began drugging her so she would not resist. He also had a large file of child pornography on his computer, which included explicit pictures of Alycia. On August 13th, 2006, Mark's abuse towards Alycia turned fatal. After feeding Alycia a cocktail of opiates, morphine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, benzodiazepines, diazepam, methadone, and anti-depressants, Alycia died of acute drug intoxication. Mark buried his daughter in his backyard and then told his girlfriend, Shelly Walker, that Alycia had runaway. Shelly reported Alycia missing as a runaway to the Ceres Police Department and police initially did not find any evidence of foul play. Mark was eventually evicted from his Ceres residence and he ended up moving to Los Angeles with Shelly.

After nearly 3 years passed without any sign of Alycia, the investigation shifted. In March 2009, investigators brought cadaver dogs to Mark’s old home in Ceres. After getting a hit, a team dug up the backyard and ended up finding remains. Those remains were later identified as that of Alycia Mesiti. When police went to Mark's new home in Los Angeles, they found out that he and Shelly were making meth inside their home where children were living with them.The two were subsequently arrested and booked on drug and child endangerment charges. While behind bars on those charges, investigators found evidence on Mark's computer that he had sexually abused and drugged Alycia on a continuous basis. Once it was revealed that Alycia had died of acute drug poisoning, it became clear to investigators that Mark was responsible for her death. He was eventually charged with her murder. Mark pleaded guilty and was sentencing to life in prison. [read more] [Runaway Theories Gone Wrong]

3. Kailee McMullen
Killed by her father, Ronald McMullen Jr.
Kailee McMullen (left), Ronald McMullen Jr. (right)
During the early morning hours of June 29th, 2017, 43 year-old Ronald McMullen Jr. called 911 and frantically told dispatchers that his daughter, 22 year-old Kailee McMullen had been shot in the face. The 911 operator is heard asking Ronald, “did she do it?”, to which Ronald replied “Yes.”

Paramedics and police officers were sent to Ronald’s home located in Norman, Oklahoma. When asked what happened, Ronald told police that Kailee had been playing with a wheel gun that went off when he tried to take it from her. As police pieced together the events over the following few days, they noticed many inconsistencies in Ronald’s story. The gunpowder residue found on Kailee’s face indicated that the gun was fired from around 18 inches away from her face. If Kailee had fired the gun herself, it could not have been more than 14 inches away. Police have stated that it is likely that the gun was fired out of Kailee’s reach. Police also spoke to Kailee’s friends and family about her relationship with her father, and learned that they had a dark past. Many described him as a “very controlling father” with abusive tendencies. In 2009, Ronald was accused of sexually abusing Kailee. No charges were ever filed. In the months leading up to Kailee’s death, she told her friends that her father had begun sexually abusing her again. He also allegedly slapped her in the face during an argument two months before her death.

On July 5th, 2018, Ronald McMullen was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in connection with Kailee’s death. He pleaded not guilty and remains behind bars as he awaits trial. [read more]

2. Michael Howell
Murdered by his 17 year-old daughter, Crystal Brooke Howell

17 year-old Crystal Brooke Howell reportedly began to think about murdering her father Michael Howell early in the day on February 24, 2014. That day, Michael and Crystal were on a shopping trip together in Ingles, North Carolina. During their shopping trip, Michael apparently caught Crystal attempting to shoplift. After this incident, Crystal started to think about removing her father from her life, permanently. When the two returned to their home in Maggie Valley, Michael took a nap while Crystal took a shower and allegedly continued to think about killing her father. Once she got out of the shower, Crystal grabbed a shotgun and shot her father once in the head as he napped on the couch. According to investigators, she then then hid his body in a plastic container inside the family’s storage shed. Then, she dumped the couch he was laying on and sold the shotgun that she used. Life seemed to just continue for Crystal after that–she began to drive her deceased father’s car, spend his money, and damage his house. Her friends moved in, and they often threw parties at the house. Crystal even had a stripper pole installed in the kitchen. When asked about her father’s whereabouts, Crystal told her friends that he moved to Georgia and then killed himself.

On March 22nd, 2014, two of Crystal’s house guests decided to move a pinball machine into their storage shed. While doing that, one of the men noticed the plastic container and found Michael’s body inside. The police were called, and Crystal was eventually arrested and charged with murder.  In October 2016, Crystal pleaded guilty to the murder of her father and was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison. She remains behind bars today. [read more]

1.The Pladl Family (2 generations)
Steven Pladl broke apart his first family by starting a relationship/having a baby with his oldest biological daughter. Then, he murdered his new family. 
Katie Pladl and her infant son that she had with her biological father (left), Steven Pladl (center), Alyssa Garcia Pladl, Katie's biological mother and Steven's first wife (right)
This case is a bit more complicated than the others, as it deals with betrayal that spans across two generations. Additionally, it deals with an inappropriate relationship between a young woman and her biological father. Alyssa Garcia and Steven Pladl gave birth to a baby girl they named Denise in 1998. According to Alyssa, Steven was abusive towards Denise and the couple eventually placed her up for adoption while she was still an infant. She was eventually adopted by a couple named the Fuscos, who renamed the little girl Katie and brought her to live with them in Duchess County, New York. Once Katie hit 18, she grew curious about her biological parents and eventually tracked the Pladls down on social media and began to correspond with them. During the summer of 2016, Katie decided to go with her Steven and Alyssa and their two other daughters at their home in Virginia. 

From there, a spiral of betrayal began. Katie began to have an inappropriate sexual relationship with Steven, despite the fact that he was her biological father. Alyssa reportedly felt betrayed by both her husband and her daughter. Alyssa moved out of the house shortly before Katie got pregnant with Steven's child. Eventually, Alyssa and Steven divorced, and Katie and Steven got married during the summer of 2017. The two were able to legally wed, as they did not disclose their father-daughter relationship. In the fall of 2017, Katie gave birth to their son. Just a few months later, Katie and Steven were arrested and charged with incest and adultery. Both were released on bail. Katie went back to New York to live with her adoptive parents, with Steven went to North Carolina to live close to his mother--who gained custody of Katie and Steven's son. Katie and Steven were ordered to have no contact, but Katie still decided to call him in early April 2018...because she wanted to end her relationship with him. 

Fuming from their breakup, Steven went to his mother's house and killed his infant son. Then, he drove all the way to New York where he followed Katie and her adoptive father in a vehicle before he shot them both to death. Then, he turned the gun on himself. [extensive timeline of this case]

The Murder of Alycia Mesiti

Alycia Mesiti was only 14 years-old when she was murdered by her own father on August 13th, 2006.

Mark Mesiti (pictured below) was given custody of Alycia and her brother less than a year earlier. The children moved into Mark’s home in Ceres, California after a Santa Clara County court found their mother Roberta Allen to be an unfit mother who struggled with depression. This left Alycia and her brother in Mark’s custody, despite the fact that Mark had a long criminal record. Seven years prior to gaining custody, Mark was convicted of several charges including drunk driving and bank fraud. He also had a domestic violence charge, for which he ended up accepting a plea deal and was ordered to attend anger management classes.

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Mark Mesiti

On August 14th, 2006, Mark’s girlfriend Shelly Walker took a flight from Los Angeles to Northern California to visit Mark at his home in Ceres. Shelly originally planned to pick Alycia up from a relative’s house in San Jose on her way from the airport, but Mark called her and told her to come straight to Ceres instead. When Shelly questioned Alycia’s absence, Mark allegedly told her that Alycia ran away. Shelly subsequently reported her missing as a runaway to the Ceres Police Department. Investigators stated that they initially did not find any evidence of foul play, and they believed Alycia actually had run away from home. Mark ended up being evicted from the residence in December 2006. He eventually moved to Los Angeles with Shelly. 

After nearly 3 years passed without any sign of Alycia, the investigation shifted. In March 2009, investigators brought cadaver dogs to Mark’s old home in Ceres. After getting a hit, a team dug up the backyard and ended up finding remains. Those remains were later identified as that of Alycia Mesiti. 

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Ceres backyard where Alycia's remains were found

After Alycia's remains were identified, investigators obtained a search warrant for the home Mark and Shelly shared in Los Angeles. There, it was discovered that Mark and Shelly were running a meth lab in the home where children were living. The two were subsequently arrested and booked on drug and child endangerment charges.

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Mark Mesiti and Shelly Walker mugshots

As these charges were pending in Los Angeles, investigators in Ceres began working with Stanislaus County prosecutors on Alycia’s case. An autopsy concluded that Alycia died of acute drug intoxication. The report states, “the body showed the presence of opiates, morphine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, benzodiazepines, diazepam, methadone, and anti-depressants.” Investigators believed that Mark provided his daughter with these drugs for a horrifying reason: to prevent her from resisting his sexual abuse. There was proof that Mark had been sexually abusing Alycia, as a numerous amount of pornographic images of Alycia and other minor children were found on his computer. Investigators also uncovered videos of Mark molesting his daughter while she was unconscious. Mark was convicted on the drug and child endangerment charges in 2011. After that, investigators had been sent back to Stanislaus County where he was charged with Alycia’s murder. He was also charged with sexually abusing Alycia and two other minor girls.

Mark’s trial began in October 2017. However, just a few days in, Mark decided to plead guilty. It is unclear what led him to change his plea, but just a few weeks later he tried to take the guilty plea back. The judge denied this, and Mark was eventually sentenced to life behind bars. He remains in prison today.


The Murder of Nicole Fitts and the Disappearance of Arianna Fitts

32 year-old Nicole Fitts and her 2 year-old daughter, Arianna

Nicole Fitts was a single mother raising her daughter Arianna all by herself in Oakland, California. Due to this, Nicole often had to work double shifts at her job at Best Buy to make ends meet. She ended up hiring two sisters named Helena and Ciolo Hearne to be Arianna’s full-time babysitters. The women loved sweet little Arianna so much, they told Nicole they were willing to watch her overnight. This allowed Nicole time to continue working and searching for a more permanent place for Arianna and herself to live.

Arianna had been staying with the Hearne sisters for quite some time when Nicole finally found a place to live in late March 2016. Her co-worker, Goyette Williams, had an extra room at her place that she offered to Nicole and Arianna. This was a perfect set-up for Nicole—the home was located only a few minutes away from work. However, Goyette’s home was also located miles away from the Hearne sister’s home, and Helena and Ciolo were not happy about having to let Arianna go. Nicole allowed Arianna a few extra days with the Hearne sisters while she settled into the new place, but she soon learned that they had taken Arianna 6 hours away to Disneyland without her permission. This was the last straw for Nicole, and she told Helena that she wanted Arianna to come home to her for good by April 3rd, 2016.

The Hearne’s actually returned to their home with Arianna before then, but Nicole still agreed to allow them to spend time with Arianna until the agreed upon date. On April 1st, 2016, Nicole withdrew $600 from an ATM and told Goyette that she had to go meet up with Helena at a local restaurant. According to Goyette, Nicole said “I have to meet my babysitter. She’s upset, I need to go see if she’s okay.” Nicole intended to be gone for only a few minutes, but she unfortunately never returned. Her last known communication was a text that she sent to Goyette at 12:45am—it simply stated that she was on her way to Fresno with a person named Sam. Goyette did not recognize that name, nor did she know how Nicole was getting to Fresno. Nicole never returned and she was reported missing by her family members on April 5th, 2016. By this point, none of Nicole’s relatives knew of Arianna’s whereabouts either, and she was also reported missing.

A few days passed without any sign of Nicole or Arianna. Then,
on April 8th, 2016, Nicole’s body was found buried in a shallow grave at John McLaren Park. Investigators have not revealed how exactly Nicole died, but it is clear that she was murdered. 

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According to friends, Nicole had been violated and her body was covered by a piece of plywood with some sort of symbol painted on it. Authorities believe that the person(s) who buried Nicole brought that board and they are appealing to the public for any information about the symbols painted on the board.

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Meanwhile, Arianna still remains missing. Police executed search warrants at both Helena and Ciolo’s homes, but reportedly have not found any sign of Arianna at either place. Investigators are currently not revealing much information about the Hearne sisters, however they have stated that their statements about Arianna’s whereabouts have been inconsistent. At this time, Helena and Ciolo are no longer cooperating with the police. Reporters have attempted to contact them as well, to no avail. In fact, when reporters visited Helena’s home, they were told by neighbors that Helena and her children were “long gone”.

Nicole’s murder and Arianna’s disappearance both remain unsolved. The FBI is actively investigating the case. Nicole and Arianna’s relatives have put forward a $10000 reward for information that could solve their cases. Additionally, the Best Buy that Nicole worked at has put forth another $10000 as well. If you have any information that could help, please submit a tip with the FBI here.

The Disappearance and Death of Danielle Griffith

image source The morning of May 17th, 2019 began as a fairly typical day in the town Tumwater, Washington. It was a partly cloudy day, and ...