Wednesday, June 12, 2019

List Series: Deaths Reclassified as Murder

It is common for a murderer to try and cover their tracks after they've killed a victim. Many have hid the victim's bodies, while others have tried to stage the victim's death as an accident or suicide. There are also occasions in which detectives suspect a person was killed by accidental means, only for the investigation to later reveal that the victim was murdered. Below are examples of five cases in which the manner of death was re-determined upon further investigation. Some of these cases still remain unsolved, and some involve perpetrators who almost got away with their crimes.

5. The Murders of Pamela & Helen Hargan
(originally reported to be a murder-suicide)

From left to right: Pamela Hargan (63), Helen Hargan (23), and Megan Hargan (35)
Pamela Hargan (63) and her daughter Helen Hargan (23) were found shot to death in Pamela’s McLean, Virginia home on July 14th, 2017. When their bodies were first discovered by the Fairfax County police, it was believed the deaths were a murder-suicide. In fact, it was originally reported that Helen killed her own mother before turning the gun on herself. However, within days investigators found evidence that suggested that something else happened.

It was soon revealed that a man from Texas called the local Virginia authorities on the day of the shootings. This man was eventually identified as Helen’s boyfriend, Carlos. During said call, a police dispatcher was recorded saying “Caller is third party. Says his girlfriend advised that her sister killed her mother.” This phone call suggests that Helen was alive for several minutes after Pamela was shot. Additionally, the phone call suggests that Helen was trying to hide from an attacker–as Pamela’s body was found in the downstairs laundry room, and Helen’s was found in an upstairs bedroom. Investigators eventually declared that Pamela and Helen had been murdered, and the crime scene had been staged to look like a murder-suicide.

After over a year of investigating, Pamela Hargan's older daughter Megan Hargan (35) was arrested and charged with the murders of her mother and sister in November 2018. Other relatives of the Hargans state that they are not surprised by Megan’s arrest at all. Pamela’s sister Tammy North said that she believes the murders were motivated by money and jealousy. Pamela had recently bought Helen a house that she was preparing to move into before she was killed. Tammy believes that Megan was jealous about this, as she and her 7 year-old daughter could not afford to move out of Pamela’s home. Megan is currently behind bars as she awaits further court proceedings. [read more]

4. The Murder of Kaylyn Whitaker
(originally ruled as suicide)
Kaylyn Whitaker (left) and Connor Scott
Kaylyn Whitaker (20) was shot to death inside her boyfriend’s Martinsville, Illinois home on October 31st, 2014. Her boyfriend Connor Scott told police that Kaylyn had shot herself in the head. When police arrived on the scene, they found Kaylyn’s body with a gun in her hand. Her death was ruled a suicide. However, after analyzing her wound, forensic experts doubted that Kaylyn could have shot herself based on spot the bullet entered her skull. Ten months after she was killed, Kaylyn’s death was reclassified as a homicide. Still, there were no arrests made in the case. Connor was an obvious suspect, but police did not charge him with anything at that time.

As years passed, Kaylyn's murder remained unsolved. Kaylyn's loved ones believed Connor killed Kaylyn from the beginning, but for whatever reason, police did not arrest him. Police did not even name him as a suspect or person of interest. Then, on February 23rd, 2019, the case took an unexpected turn: Connor walked into walked into a Danville, Indiana police department and confessed to murdering Kaylyn back in 2014. It is unclear what drove him to confess, but authorities in Martinsville were contacted. They subsequently went to Danville to interview Connor. Afterwards, Connor was extradited back to Illinois and formally charged with Kaylyn's murder. During the fall of 2019, Connor accepted a plea deal and pleaded guilty to first degree murder. He was sentenced to 37 years in prison. [read more]

3. The Murder of Jayla Thomas-Smith
(originally believed to have been killed in a car accident)

On the afternoon of February 24th, 2019, police in Greenville, South Carolina were alerted about a single-car crash along Piedmont Highway. Troopers arrived on the scene (pictured above on the right) and found the body of 21 year-old Jayla Thomas-Smith (pictured left) inside the vehicle. It was originally believed that Jayla died as a result of the car accident, however upon closer examination, it was determined that Jayla had actually been shot to death. At that point, the investigation into her death turned into a homicide case.

In April 2019, Deltravious Daquandra Howard was arrested and charged with murder in Jayla’s case. His brother, Delgardo Daquan Howard was arrested for lying to police about the case. Investigators state that Deltravious shot Jayla during a domestic dispute before abandoning her body in the vehicle. Both men remain behind bars as the cases are pending. [read more]

2. The Murder of Kathleen Savio
(originally ruled as accidental drowning)
Drew Peterson and Kathleen Savio

Kathleen Savio was found facedown in the bathtub at her home in Bolingbrook, Illinois on March 1st, 2004. Despite the fact that the bathtub was waterless, Kathleen's death was ruled as an accidental drowning. Just months before her death, Kathleen finalized her divorce from her ex-husband Drew Peterson. Kathleen was Drew's third wife and the couple had two children together. Their marriage was described by many as toxic and police had been called to their home on numerous occasions throughout their relationship. However, at the time of Kathleen's death, it appeared that her relationship with Drew had been over for good for quite some time. In fact, Drew married his fourth wife, 19 year-old Stacy Cales, just days after his divorce from Kathleen was finalized in October 2003. 

Suspicions against Drew began to build when Stacy vanished under suspicious circumstances in October 2007. He was named a person of interest in her disappearance just weeks after she vanished. Investigators had reportedly searched the Peterson home several times by that point, but they did not have enough evidence to charge him with anything related to Stacy's disappearance. Instead, investigators decided to take a second look at the death of Drew's previous wife Kathleen. They had her body exhumed, and they eventually determined that Kathleen had been murdered and her death had been staged to look like an accident. In May 2009, Drew was charged with Kathleen's murder. He pleaded not guilty but was ultimately convicted in 2012. To this day, Drew still denies killing Kathleen and also denies being involved in Stacy's disappearance. [read more]
1. The Murder of Kelsey Quayle
(originally believed to have been killed in a car accident)
รข€œ Kelsey Quayle (28) was fatally shot while driving to work in Clayton County, Georgia on October 8th, 2018. Kelsey was an aspiring model, and she was heading towards her job in Riverdale at the time she was shot. After becoming...

Kelsey Quayle (28) was fatally shot while driving to work in Clayton County, Georgia on October 8th, 2018. Kelsey was an aspiring model, and she was heading towards her job in Riverdale at the time she was shot. After becoming disoriented from her injury, Kelsey began driving her car on the wrong side of the road, into oncoming traffic. She crashed into three other cars and was transported to a nearby hospital. Paramedics initially thought that Kelsey was suffering from injuries from the car accident, however when she finally made it to the hospital, it was discovered that she had a bullet wound in the back of her neck as well. 

Kelsey unfortunately passed away at the hospital shortly thereafter. Both Kelsey’s loved ones and investigators are absolutely baffled by her death. Investigators are unsure if Kelsey was targeted, a victim of road rage, or if she was simply just caught in a crossfire. There is a person of interest who has been caught on surveillance camera, but he has yet to be identified. Her murder remains unsolved. [read more]

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