Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Disappearance of Sarah Burton

Sarah Burton (28) went missing during the early morning hours of July 16th, 2018. The mother-of-two was last seen at an apartment building in northwest Joplin, Missouri. When Sarah was first reported missing, it was believed that she was last seen near 10th Street and Rex Avenue on the east side of Joplin. This is the location where Sarah’s friend dropped her off after a night out together. Sarah reportedly told her friend that she wanted to walk the rest of the way home. A few days later, said friend brought Sarah’s purse and one of her shoes to her parent’s house. The friend told Sarah’s parents that Sarah had left the items in her car. Sarah’s mother reported her missing the following day.

A few months into the investigation, detectives learned that Sarah was seen an additional time after being dropped off by her friend. A detective working the case explained, “based on our investigation, she was actually seen later that same morning at a residence in the northwest part of Joplin.” Detectives have kept quiet about how they actually obtained this information, but it was revealed that the residence where Sarah was last seen was searched twice in December 2018. Both searches came up empty.

Sarah was struggling with addiction at the time of her disappearance. She had reportedly began using after she graduated high school. According to her mother, Sarah turned to drugs after she was the victim of a violent crime. Her drug use landed her in prison in 2010, but when she was released, Sarah was determined to turn her life around. Sarah’s mother said that she landed a steady job and stayed clean for about a year, until troubles with the father of her children led her to slipping into her old habits. In the months leading up to her disappearance, Sarah was living with her parents at their home in Joplin, however they were hoping to get her into a residential treatment program. Before they could, Sarah simply vanished.

Sarah’s mother fears that her daughter is dead. Both parents are clinging to hope that Sarah will come home safely. If you have any information that could lead to Sarah’s whereabouts, please contact the Joplin Police Department at (417) 623-3131. 

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Disappearance of Karlie Gusé

16 year-old Karlie Gusé disappeared during the morning hours of October 13th, 2018. She was last seen by her family at their home in Chalfant, California—a rural area in Mono County. Karlie’s stepmother Melissa Gusé told authorities that she last saw Karlie laying awake in her bed around 5:30 on the morning of the 13th. Melissa herself dosed back off to sleep after that, and when she woke up again around 7:15am, Karlie was gone. All of her personal belongings, including her cell phone, were still at the home. She was reported missing later that day.

Karlie’s family members later learned that three neighbors might have seen Karlie walking through the neighborhood between the hour of 6:30 to 7:30am. According to the stepmother, one neighbor was quite certain that they saw Karlie that morning, while the other two neighbors were not entirely sure because they had never met her before. However, all three neighbors provided the same description of the person they saw to police. One of the neighbors stated that they spotted someone who they believed to be Karlie on the corner of Highway 6, located about a mile away from her family’s home. When the news about Karlie’s disappearance began to circulate in the media, it was reported that she was last seen walking near Highway 6 around 7:30am.

The original report from the Mono County Sheriff’s Office on Karlie’s disappearance also stated that Karlie “may be disoriented.” There was no further elaboration on that statement, which caused a lot of speculation amongst sleuths and commenters on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. Karlie’s stepmother Melissa later explained to news reporters that Karlie had admitted to smoking marijuana while out with her boyfriend and a few friends on the evening of October 12th. When Melissa picked Karlie up around 8pm that evening, she said that Karlie acted paranoid and seemed disoriented. Melissa stated that she attempted to calm her stepdaughter down—she even slept in Karlie’s room with her that night to make sure she was okay. That explained how Melissa knew that Karlie was laying awake in her bed at 5:30am the following morning. It is believed that Karlie left the home sometime between 5:45 and 7:15am, while Melissa had fallen back asleep. If the neighbor’s potential sighting of Karlie around 6:30am was in fact Karlie, that means she likely left her house sometime between 5:45 and 6:30am.

Due to the fact that the stepmother Melissa is currently the last confirmed person to have interacted with Karlie, speculation has inevitably fell upon her. At this time, Melissa has not been named as a suspect, but various sleuths have expressed a disbelief in her statements. Many found it odd that Melissa told police that Karlie was last seen wearing skinny jeans, while the witnesses who potentially spotted Karlie that morning stated she was wearing sweatpants. Melissa later clarified to Nancy Grace that she only said Karlie was wearing skinny jeans because that was what she often wore. She explained, “I only said that because she always wears her skinny jeans. So I just assumed her had her skinny jeans on.” The witnesses who might have seen Karlie stated she was wearing dark grey sweatpants, a white T-shirt and Vans shoes.

A massive search for Karlie, which included scent dogs, helicopters, foot patrol and off-road vehicles turned up no clues to her whereabouts. As months passed without any clues to Karlie's whereabouts, the case grew cold. However, suspicious against Karlie's stepmother, Melissa, has continued to grow stronger. One of the more prominent theories is that Karlie passed away of an overdose inside the house, and her stepmother and father covered it up. This has not been confirmed by investigators and it is unclear if they have looked into this possibility. 

A $10,000 reward has been offered for any information about her disappearance. If you have any information that could help, please contact the Mono County Sheriff’s Office at 760-932-7549, option 7.
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[Disappeared in Distress]

The Abduction & Murder of Norma Lopez

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Norma Lopez was only 17 years-old when she was abducted and brutally murdered by 42 year-old Jesse Perez Torres on July 15th, 2010. The teen encountered Torres while she was walking home from summer school in Moreno Valley, California. Norma planned to walk to a friend’s house after school, but she never arrived. Norma’s sister, boyfriend, and friends later went to search for her along a footpath that she was known to take. At that point, they found Norma’s earrings, purse, and folder scattered in a field. The police were called, and a team launched a search party in the surrounding areas. No clues or any other signs of Norma were found.

Five days later, authorities announced a $35,000 reward in exchange for information leading to Norma’s safe return. Unfortunately, just hours later, Norma’s body was found under brush at the edge of a property on Theodore Street–about 2.5 miles away from where she was last seen. She was found naked from the waist up. An autopsy declared that Norma died from homicidal violence, however her exact cause of death was never able to be determined. From this point forward, detectives focused their investigative efforts towards finding Norma’s killer. 

A little over a year later, in September 2011, investigators noticed that Norma’s earring had DNA on it that matched a DNA sample from the state’s CODIS system. The match appeared on their system after Jesse Perez Torres was arrested for an unrelated charge. Once investigators determined who the DNA belonged to, they also were able to determine that Torres’ DNA was all over Norma’s pants and purse as well. About a month and a half after this discovery, Torres was arrested and charged with kidnapping and murdering Norma. 

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Jesse Perez Torres
Torres went to trial in early 2019. The prosecution stated that Norma’s murder was completely random, as Torres and Norma had not met prior to her abduction. In fact, the lead prosecutor said that in the days leading up to Norma’s murder, Torres was “looking out the window at the teenage girls kissing their boyfriends on the corner. Each and every day he was watching, he was waiting, he was looking through the blinds, he was lusting.” Torres was reportedly angry over his wife leaving him around the time of Norma’s murder as well. 

In March 2019, a jury found Torres guilty on all counts. The jury has recommended the death penalty.

The Disappearance of Lauren Elizabeth Thompson

32 year-old Lauren Colvin (also known as Lauren Elizabeth Thompson) has been missing since January 10th, 2019. The mother-of-three was last heard from that day after she called 911 around 2:30pm. Lauren told dispatchers that she was running through a wooded area of Panola County, Texas, and that somebody was chasing her. Dispatchers stayed on the phone with Lauren for over 20 minutes, and through phone pings the police were able to locate the area where the call was placed. Within minutes, police found Lauren’s car stuck in the mud on the side of the road near the Rock Hill community. However, they were unable to locate Lauren herself. 

Police were later able to identify some of the people Lauren was with prior to vanishing. Nobody has been publicly identified, however police did state that a male friend was in the car with Lauren when she ran off the road and got her car stuck in mud. The male friend reportedly told Lauren that he was going to walk to his house to get another vehicle to help Lauren’s car get out of the mud. At that point, Lauren began sprinting off into the woods, where she later called 911. A massive search for Lauren was launched in that area, but searchers were unable to locate her. However, searchers did find a shoe that was later confirmed to belong to Lauren.

Investigators announced that at this time, they do not have any reason to believe foul play with involved in Lauren’s disappearance. However, they also stated that nobody has been ruled out yet either. Lauren’s family is holding out hope that she is still alive, and they are offering a $5000 reward for anyone with information that could lead to her safe return. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact the Panola County Sheriff’s Office at 903-693-0333.
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[Disappeared in Distress]

Saturday, August 24, 2019

The Murder of Nicole Lovell

13-year-old Nicole Lovell disappeared from her family’s home in Blacksburg, Virginia after climbing out of her bedroom window during the early morning hours of January 27th, 2016. Prior to that morning, Nicole told her friends that she was planning to sneak out to meet up with her new 18-year-old boyfriend named David. This David was later identified as David Eisenhauer, an 18-year-old freshman at Virginia Tech.

Hours after Nicole climbed out of her bedroom window, her parents found her bedroom empty, her window open, and a drawer pushed up to her windowsill to help her climb outside. They immediately reported her missing. Investigators immediately began interviewing Nicole’s friends and neighbors. A few of those friends mentioned Nicole’s plan to meet up with an older boy named David. Three days later, David Eisenhauer was arrested. 

David Eisenhauer

David admitted to meeting Nicole online and to driving to her home during the early morning hours of January 27th to meet up. He said that he believed Nicole was 16 or 17 years old, but when he saw her that morning, he realized she was much younger and decided to leave. Investigators did not buy this story and charged David with Nicole’s abduction. Shortly thereafter, Nicole’s body was found on the side of the road near the Virginia/North Carolina border. She had been stabbed to death. David was then charged with murder in addition to abduction.

In a twist to an already tragic case, David later told investigators that he did not act alone. Fellow Virginia Tech freshman Natalie Keepers allegedly helped David in both the planning of Nicole’s murder and the clean-up of Nicole’s body. Natalie was subsequently arrested and charged with being an accessory to a felony before the fact and with concealing a body. 

Natalie Keepers

After searching Natalie’s dorm room, investigators found a Minions blanket that belonged to Nicole, covered in blood. When speaking to investigators, Natalie apparently referred to David as a sociopath, and to herself as a “sociopath in training.” She said the two of them became friends early on during their first semester of college, and that David approached her with a problem about a younger girl early on during the second semester. David apparently told her that he met Nicole at a party and thought she was 18 but found out that she was only 13 after having sex with her. David said that Nicole was threatening to expose their relationship, and as a result, David and Natalie came up with a plan for David to kill Nicole in order to keep the relationship a secret. 

After David went through with it, he originally left Nicole’s body hidden at Craig Creek Road. Then, he enlisted Natalie’s help in moving Nicole’s body, removing her clothing, wiping her body with Clorox wipes, and dumping her on the side of the road near the state’s border. When asked why she agreed to help David commit such a brutal act, Natalie told investigators that she was “excited to be a part of something special and secret.”

Both David and Natalie pleaded not guilty to all charges. Then, just four days after David's 2018 trial began, David entered a plea of no contest. Essentially, he admitted that there was enough evidence to convict him, but he did not confess to committing the crime. In September 2018, David was sentenced to 50 years in prison. During his sentencing, David offered an apology to the Lovell family: “I am sorry for the pain my actions have caused for Nicole Lovell and her family.”

 On August 13th, 2018, Natalie Keepers pleaded guilty to concealing Nicole's body. At that time, Natalie still faced charges of being an accessory before the fact to first-degree murder. Natalie’s guilty plea to the concealment of body charge was reportedly a legal tactic. Her attorneys hoped that this guilty plea would limit the evidence in the trial for the more serious charge of planning Nicole’s murder. Natalie still maintained her not guilty plea for that charge, and she went to trial in September 2018.

On September 20th, 2018 Natalie was found guilty of her role in the death of Nicole Lovell. At her trial, the prosecution played a recording of a Natalie’s initial interrogation with investigators. During the interrogation she ultimately admitted to helping David plan NIcole’s murder, however she stated that she did not think that David would actually go through with the plan. Hours into the interrogation, Natalie spoke of the life she wanted to live and eventually began to cry, telling investigators, “David ruined my life.” She was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

The Murder of Ashley Brown

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27 year-old Ashley Brown seemingly vanished during a party on December 18th, 2016. Nine months prior, Ashley moved to Nashville, Tennessee and began to work as a surgical technician at a hospital. The night she was last seen, Ashley and a few friends decided to celebrate both Christmas and Ashley’s upcoming 28th birthday at a bar called Santa’s in downtown Nashville. Afterwards, Ashley and her friends took an Uber to an apartment near Vanderbilt University for an afterparty. At some point while at the apartment, Ashley vanished and was never seen alive by her friends and family again. 

Ashley always kept in touch with her family members, so her sister Heather grew quite worried after she did not hear from Ashley for over a day. Heather called their stepmother to let her know that she had not heard from Ashley, and the stepmother called a friend of Ashley’s who was at the party with her that night. Said friend was helping with the post-party clean-up when it was discovered that Ashley’s purse, wallet, and keys were still at the apartment. Ashley’s family members were deeply concerned by this, and reported her missing to the Nashville Police Department later that day. When Ashley still did not show up for work the following morning, her family was sure that something had gone wrong.

Unfortunately, the family’s instincts were correct. Just four days later, Ashley’s body was found at a trash facility five miles away from the apartment where she was last seen. An autopsy was performed, which was initially inconclusive. However, a second autopsy revealed that Ashley had been brutally murdered: her cause of death was strangulation and blunt force trauma.

Ashley’s family members suspect that somebody who was at the party knows exactly what happened to Ashley. Unfortunately, Ashley’s family has been unable to speak to any of the partygoers that night. According to Ashley’s brother Trevor, they planned to meet with the resident of the apartment, but she backed out at the last minute, claiming that she was not comfortable meeting without the police present. Police, on the other hand, have interviewed the partygoers from that night but have not made any arrests or announced any suspects in the case.

Just two months later, 22 year-old Tiffany Ferguson was found dead in her apartment located three miles away from where Ashley was found. Tiffany was a nurse, and worked at the same hospital as Ashley. Due to this, police thought that it was possible the two cases were connected. Police eventually arrested a 24 year-old drifter named Christopher McLawhorn for Tiffany’s murder, after he was caught on surveillance camera exiting Tiffany’s apartment after the murder occurred. Many believed there was a serial offender at hand, however an extensive investigation determined that Ashley and Tiffany’s cases were not connected.

Ashley’s murder remains unsolved today. There may be a cash reward for anyone who provides information leading to Ashley’s killer. If you have any information that could help the case, please contact Nashville Crime Stoppers at (615) 742-7463.

The Disappearance of Elaine Smallcanyon

The last known image of Elaine Smallcanyon before she vanished on December 15th, 2015.
The 20 year-old woman uploaded this selfie to her Facebook page the previous day. She also wrote in a post, “Heading back to Kaibito so anyone wanna text or...
The last known image of Elaine Smallcanyon before she vanished on December 15th, 2015.
20 year-old Elaine Smallcanyon uploaded this selfie to her Facebook page the previous day. She also wrote in a post, “Heading back to Kaibito so anyone wanna text or message feel like messaging lol.” This was her final Facebook post. Kaibito is a remote area that belongs to the Navajo Nation, located in Arizona. According to the initial reports on Elaine’s disappearance, she was last seen in Page, Arizona—which is located roughly 40 minutes away from Kaibito. She was reportedly seen with 3 unidentified people at that time. Those individuals remain unidentified today.

Elaine’s missing persons report also states that the group she was with might have traveled to the Black Mesa area, or to Phoenix. Black Mesa and Phoenix are approximately 3 hours apart, and both are located hours away from Page as well. It is unclear if there is a specific link between Elaine and those places. Other than those vague details, there is very little information out there about Elaine’s disappearance.

The Page, Arizona police department is tasked with investigating Elaine’s disappearance. If you have any information that could lead to her whereabouts, please contact them at 928-645-2461.

The Disappearance & Murder of Tamika Huston

Tamika Huston vanished from Spartanburg, South Carolina during May of 2004. Shortly before her disappearance, the 24-year-old woman had recently quit her waitressing job and had been spending much of her time going to job interviews. It is believed that Tamika was last seen by her loved ones on or around May 27th, 2004. Due to the fact that she lived alone, it took several days for her family members to realize she was missing. After weeks passed without any contact from Tamika, her aunt reported her missing on June 14th, 2004. 

Spartanburg Police went to Tamika's house after she was reported missing. They reportedly found no signs of a struggle at the home, but they found Tamika's dog with a litter of puppies alone at the residence--and it appeared they had been left alone for quite some time. Police also found Tamika's cell phone, wallet, and uncashed paychecks inside her home. While there otherwise was no outward sign of foul play on the scene, it began to seem more and more likely that something bad had happened to Tamika. 

Six days after Tamika was reported missing, police found her car on the opposite side of town. A set of keys were found inside the car, but the keys did not match the car or Tamika's apartment. Investigators eventually matched the key to the apartment of Christopher Hampton. There was initially no clear affiliation between Tamika and Christopher. However, a friend of Tamika's told investigators that Tamika had recently begun dating a man named Chris prior to her disappearance. The relationship was barely a month old at the time, which is why Tamika's friend was not aware of the man's last name.

The relationship was also not believed to be too serious at that point, as Tamika's family members did not know that she was seeing anybody. Still, investigators did not think it was a coincidence that the tenant of this apartment had the same first name as person Tamika had been seeing before she vanished. Investigators immediately began to look for Christopher so they could question him.

When investigators were finally able to locate Christopher, they learned he was already in prison for a parole violation. After questioning him, investigators secured a warrant on his apartment. Inside, they found bloodstains on the carpet. DNA testing eventually confirmed that the blood belonged to Tamika. Still, Christopher told investigators that the bloodstains were tabasco sauce and ketchup. Investigators continued to build a case against him as he remained behind bars. In August 2005, the day he was released from prison, Christopher was arrested and charged with Tamika's murder. 

Christopher eventually led investigators to Tamika's body, which he had buried in a wooded area near Tyger River Drive. Despite this, Christopher pleaded not guilty to murder charges. Just minutes before his 2006 trial, though, Christopher ultimately ended up pleading guilty. Then, it was finally revealed that on May 27th, 2004, Tamika and Christopher got into an argument inside Christopher's apartment. Christopher angrily threw a hot iron at Tamika, causing her to collapse and fall over. Christopher made no attempt to help Tamika; he instead went to a friend's house to drink beer before going to a store to buy cleaning supplies. He later buried Tamika's body in the woods.

Christopher was sentenced to life in prison and remains behind bars. 
Tamika's case is featured on season 14 of Forensic Files. 

The Abduction & Murder of Kelsey Smith

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The evening of June 2nd, 2007 began as a typical night for 17 year-old Kelsey Smith. The teen went to a local Target store in Overland Park, Kansas shortly before 7pm that evening to buy an anniversary gift for her boyfriend. Before leaving the store, Kelsey briefly spoke with her mother on the phone. Then, Kelsey was seen in the store’s parking lot around 7:07pm. She never returned home and was reported missing by her family later that evening.

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Kelsey at the Target store in Overland Park

Around four hours after Kelsey was last seen leaving Target, her car was found abandoned in a Macy’s parking lot across the street. Many of her personal items--including her wallet, purse, and present she bought at Target--were left inside the car. Upon this discovery, investigators found it more and more likely that Kelsey had been abducted. 

Investigators then looked at Target’s surveillance cameras for potential evidence. In the footage, Kelsey is seen exiting the store and walking towards her car. At first glance, nothing seemed unusual--but after a second look, investigators noticed a “flash in the footage heading in the direction of Kelsey’s car.” The flash was reportedly consistent with someone running. After looking more thoroughly at the footage, it became clear that somebody had chased Kelsey and forced her inside her own car. 

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After uncovering that frightening surveillance footage, authorities placed a large effort into finding both Kelsey and her abductor. Footage from inside the Target store was pulled to search for someone who might have followed Kelsey inside the store. It was at that point when investigators noticed that a young man was in almost every single aisle that Kelsey was in while she was shopping in the store. The man made no effort to speak to her, but it was clear that he was looking at her a significant amount. While at this point there was still no concrete evidence that this man had committed a crime, police began to look at this man as a potential suspect. Images from surveillance footage from the Target store were then released to the public in hopes of identifying this man.

The suspect at Target

Meanwhile, the search for Kelsey continued as well. After days of reported pushback from Verizon Wireless, the cell phone company that Kelsey used, investigators were finally able to obtain her cell phone records. On June 6th, 2007, investigators learned that Kelsey's cell phone pinged off of a tower near Longview Lake in Grandview, Missouri. The area is located approximately 18-20 miles from where Kelsey was abducted. A team was sent to search the surrounding area, and within 45 minutes, Kelsey's body was found in a wooded area near the lake.  An autopsy revealed that she had been sexually assaulted and strangled to death with her own belt.

Around the same time, a man who had seen the footage of the potential suspect at Target recognized this man as his own neighbor. The man called in the tip and identified the suspect as 26 year-old Edwin Roy Hall. On the evening of June 6th, Hall was taken into police custody. The following day, he was charged with aggravated kidnapping and first degree murder. Hall originally claimed he did not have anything to do with Kelsey's abduction or murder. However, forensic testing on Kelsey's car revealed that Hall's fingerprints were on the seatbelt.

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Edwin Roy Hall mugshot

Over a year later, on July 23rd, 2008, Hall pleaded guilty to all charges. Prosecutors also revealed what they believed happened to Kelsey on the evening of June 2nd, 2007. It is believed that Hall spotted Kelsey driving into the Target parking lot after he had already been at the store. After noticing she was alone, Hall followed Kelsey for a bit to ensure that she was not meeting up with anybody. Then, as Kelsey was about to leave the store, Hall went to his truck and got his gun. Then, as Kelsey was approaching her car, Edwin abducted her at gunpoint. He drove her all the way to Longview Lake before sexually assaulting and murdering her. 

On September 16th, 2008, Hall was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Disappearance & Presumed Murder of Typhenie Johnson

Typhenie Johnson (25) has been missing since October 10th, 2016. She was last seen at her apartment complex in Fort Worth, Texas, with her on-again, off-again boyfriend Christopher Revill (34). The two were in an argument, and Typhenie was apparently heard telling Revill that “it was over” around 9pm.

Typhenie and Christopher Revill together

After a few minutes of silence, Typhenie’s brother Asher Johnson went outside to look for his sister. Asher couldn’t find Typhenie, but he did witness Revill slamming the trunk of his car shut and then driving off. On the ground where Revill was parked, Asher found Typhenie’s sock and cellphone. He immediately called the police.

The following day, police arrested Revill and charged him with aggravated kidnapping with intent to terrorize in Typhenie’s case. The charge was later upgraded to kidnapping with intent to kill. Revill denied all charges brought against him; he told investigators that he and Typhenie got into an argument and she got into a vehicle driven by someone he didn’t know and rode away.

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Christopher Revill mugshot

Throughout the investigation, Typhenie’s family learned that a previous girlfriend of Revill’s had also vanished, ten years earlier. This missing woman’s name is Taalibah Islam (20), who vanished on January 16th, 2006. Much like Typhenie, Taalibah was last known to be seen by Christopher Revill. In fact, when Taalibah disappeared in 2006, Revill apparently told investigators that he and Taalibah got into an argument and she got into a vehicle driven by someone he didn’t know and rode away. Ten years later, Revill told investigators an eerily similar story regarding Typhenie’s disappearance.

Despite being in custody, Revill is still not talking and has not given any up any information regarding Typhenie’s whereabouts. His trial is pending. In the mean time, Typhenie’s family is offering a $6,000 reward for information that leads to her location. Anyone with information can call the tip line at 817-713-2888.
UPDATE (8/22/19):

Christopher Revill has been found guilty for the kidnapping of Typhenie Johnson.
At trial, it was revealed that Revill's footprints were found in his parent's backyard next to a a shirt, a torn bra, and a broken fitness tracker that all belonged to Typhenie. His defense attorneys argued that Revill's arrest was a result of "lazy and sloppy" police work. The jury disagreed and ultimately convicted him for kidnapping. Christopher was sentenced to life in prison.

Typhenie still remains missing today. 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Disappearance of Marina Boelter

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18 year-old Marina Boelter disappeared in Bloomfield, Indiana on December 31st, 2014. That evening, Marina finished her shift at the Bloomfield IGA grocery store at 6pm and was spotted talking to a man in the store’s parking lot. After chatting for a minute or two, witnesses said that Marina got into his car. Marina’s ex-boyfriend, DJ Lockhart, along with three mutual friends, pulled into the parking lot around the same time. DJ told police that they showed up to ask Marina to join them in their plans for the night, but Marina declined. Witnesses said that DJ drove off in one direction, and the man drove off in the opposite direction, towards Marina’s apartment. The driver (who police are not identifying) told police Marina did not want him to know where she lived, so she asked him to drop her off at a closed down pizza restaurant nearby her apartment. This is the last known sighting of her.

Marina had plans to go to a New Year’s Eve party that night, at the home of an older married man whom she had been seeing. However, Marina apparently did not show up. The next day, that man went to IGA grocery to look for her. While there, he encountered Marina’s manager, who told him that Marina never showed up for work. The two men subsequently reported her missing.

Six weeks after her disappearance, Marina’s previously mentioned ex-boyfriend DJ was stabbed to death by Michael Rogers after he entered Michael’s home and attacked him. Investigators ruled Michael’s actions as self-defense and no charges were filed. Michael told police that DJ entered his home to confront him about two women he had previously dated–one of those women was Marina. Despite this, police stated that there is no evidence to suggest that DJ’s death is related to Marina’s disappearance.

There have been no arrests in connection to Marina’s case since her disappearance, and Marina remains missing. The FBI is actively investigating her case. If you have any information, please submit a tip here.

The Mysterious Death of Janina Vasquez

27 year-old Janina Vasquez disappeared from Kansas City on February 12th, 2015. Prior to her disappearance, Janina was living at her parent’s home in Kansas City. On the evening of the 12th, Janina let her mother know she was going out with her friends named Allen and Nicole. Janina’s mother did not recognize those names, but since Janina did not socialize very often, her mother was happy to hear that she was going out with friends. The last known footage of Janina is pictured below–pulled from CCTV at the Isle of Capri casino. The video footage shows 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.

Janina Vasquez exiting the casino
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.

Even though Janina’s case is (unfortunately) closed, her mother still hopes that somebody will come forward with answers as to what happened to her on the night of February 12th, 2015. If you have any information, please report it to Missouri Crime Stoppers here.

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The Disappearance of Tiffany Reid

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Tiffany Reid vanished at the age of 16 on May 17th, 2004. She was last seen while walking to her school in Shiprock, New Mexico. Tiffany never arrived at school and has never been seen or heard from again. 

After she vanished, a make-up bag and a number of clothing items were found scattered around the base of the Carrizo Mountains in Sweetwater, Arizona. At the time, that area was well-known as a place where teenagers would go to party. The make-up bag was eventually positively identified as Tiffany's, however investigators could not positively link the clothing to her.

Investigators believe that Tiffany is a runaway. They initially stated that she might still be in the Sweetwater area, or that she might have traveled to Mexico. However, over a decade has passed without any trace of Tiffany--there have been no reported sightings of her since her disappearance. She remains missing today.

If you have any information that could lead to Tiffany's whereabouts, please contact the Navajo Department of Public Safety at 505-368-1350 or the Shiprock Police Department at 505-368-1350.

The Murder of Vanessa Cocly

23 year-old Vanessa Cocly was tragically murdered by her ex-boyfriend on March 31st, 2018. She left her family’s Orlando, Florida home that evening around 8pm, after telling her parents that she would be back in a few hours. When Vanessa still was not home by the following morning, her parents used her Google Services account to track her phone’s location. The tracker revealed that Vanessa’s phone was at the home of 32 year-old Christian Ruben Valentin Penchi—her ex-boyfriend.

Christian Ruben Valentine Penchi

Vanessa’s parents were actually not worried when they first tracked her phone. Although Vanessa and Christian had broken up, Vanessa’s parents were relieved to see that she was still in the area and that her phone was still active. Her parents began to worry the following day when they noticed that her phone was shut off and she still had not returned home. She also had not shown up for her first day of training for her new job at Disney, nor did she show up for Easter dinner. Vanessa’s mother reported her missing around 5pm on April 2nd. She told investigators that Vanessa’s phone had been tracked to Christian’s home the previous day. However, when investigators went to talk to Christian on April 3rd, he was nowhere to be found. As it turns out, he had boarded a flight to Puerto Rico just hours earlier. There were no records of Vanessa boarding a flight with him, so the possibility of her traveling with him was quickly ruled out.

It was later revealed that Christian had visited a pawn shop just hours before Vanessa was reported missing. While there, Christian sold a .380 caliber handgun. Investigators found it suspicious that Christian had pawned a gun and left the country shortly after the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend. The suspicions continued to build after Vanessa’s car was located at a Panda Express restaurant near Christian’s home on April 4th. Investigators found Vanessa’s backpack with her school books in the back seat of her car, and her credit cards and purse in the trunk.

Meanwhile, Christian’s brother contacted the police that same day to report Christian missing. His brother was worried after having not heard from Christian for days. He told investigators that Christian was depressed about a custody battle with his ex-wife, and he had recently just lost his job. Additionally, Christian’s brother stated that Christian was actively trying to rekindle his relationship with Vanessa, but she was not interested. At this point, it was clear to investigators that Christian had not told anybody about any travel plans to Puerto Rico, and it appeared that he had, in fact, fled the country.

On April 5th, a judge signed a warrant to search Christian’s condo. While there, investigators found Vanessa’s body in the bathroom. She had suffered a gunshot wound to the head. Police captured and arrested Christian in Puerto Rico the following day, where he was arrested and charged with first degree murder. He was eventually extradited back to Florida, where he was held without bail in the Orange County Jail.

In January 2019, Christian pleaded guilty to the second degree murder of Vanessa Cocly. On April 12th, 2019, he was sentenced to life in prison.

The Disappearance of Miguel Sonny Scott

Miguel Sonny Scott has been missing since October 27th, 2011. The 19-year-old was last seen at Evergreen-Rotary Park, located in Bremerton, Washington. Miguel and his friends gathered at the park that evening to drink. He never returned home after said gathering and has never been seen or heard from again.

Miguel’s family members did not immediately worry when he did not return home, as it was not unusual for him to be out of touch for days at a time. Miguel’s mother was confident that he would resurface for a doctor’s appointment that he had scheduled for that following Monday. A few weeks before his disappearance, Miguel broke his jaw and had to have his mouth wired shut. This appointment was for follow-up care for the jaw injury. Unfortunately, Miguel never showed up. After that, Miguel’s loved ones realized that he had not been active on Facebook since October 26th, which was quite uncharacteristic of him. At that point, Miguel’s family members began to fear something bad had happened to him.

Over the years, there has been very little news on Miguel’s case. However, a few theories have been discussed online. Miguel’s mother mentioned that there were rumors that Miguel owed money to someone, but this rumor has never been confirmed. There is also speculation that alcohol and drugs played a role in Miguel’s disappearance. Miguel had been prescribed opiates after breaking his jaw, and he mixed the opiates with alcohol on the night he was last seen. It’s been theorized that he became disoriented and then fell into a nearby inlet. It’s also been theorized that Miguel overdosed and his friends panicked and disposed of him. None of these theories have been confirmed and it is unclear if Miguel’s friends have been investigated.

Miguel remains missing today. If you have any information that could lead to his whereabouts, please contact the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office at 360-308-5400.

The Disappearance & Murder of Ebby Steppach

Image result for ebby steppach

18 year-old Ebby Jane Steppach vanished on October 24th, 2015 in her hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. On the previous day, October 23rd, Ebby sent her stepfather Michael a text message stating she had been assaulted, and that the person who assaulted her recorded a video of it on his cell phone. Michael urged her to call the police, and she told him she already had and was planning to go to the station to officially file a report. The following day—the day of her disappearance—Michael and Ebby were supposed to meet at Ebby’s grandmother’s house. However, when Michael showed up, Ebby had already come and gone. According to Ebby’s brother Trevor—with whom she was living—she never returned home after going to her grandmother’s and she has not been seen since.

Family members made many unsuccessful attempts to get in touch with Ebby the rest of that afternoon and all throughout the next day, until she finally answered a phone call from her brother on the evening of October 25th. The two spoke for four or five minutes, and her brother said she sounded groggy and disoriented. He also said that Ebby kept saying that she was outside of his house—but she wasn’t—and she was unable to say where she really was and who she was with. That was the last time she has been heard from.

A few days later, Ebby’s car was found abandoned behind a high school in Little Rock. The car was running, but Ebby was nowhere to be found. Her belongings, including her cellular phone and contact lenses, were found inside the car. Despite this, police still initially treated her disappearance as a runaway case. Her family does not believe she ran away and fear she has been trafficked. After time passed without any sign of her, police reclassified her disappearance as an endangered missing person.

Nearly three years later, on May 22nd, 2018, Little Rock Police announced that human remains were found in a drainage pipe near the area where the missing teen’s car was found abandoned almost three years prior. The following day, those remains were positively confirmed to be that of Ebby Steppach. 

The drainage pipe was searched after a cold case detective decided the area from which Ebby disappeared deserved a second look. This time around, it did not take investigators long to find the remains at all–which is leading many to question the quality of the investigation when Ebby was first reporting missing. 

In fact, after Ebby's remains were found, Ebby's close friend Kailey Foley and her mother Margie Foley came forward stating that they tried to search the area where Ebby was found shortly after she vanished. Due to the fact that Ebby and Kailey were so close, Kailey was inevitably interviewed by detectives after Ebby went missing. 

Ebby Steppach (pictured right) and her friend Kailey Foley (pictured left) circa 2015.
As posted previously, Ebby went missing from her Little Rock, Arkansas home in October 2015. A day after her disappearance, her car was found abandoned at...
Kailey and Ebby pictured together in 2015

After the interview, Kailey and Margie decided to go to Chalamont Park themselves to see if they could find any clues. The two did not walk very far into the park before Margie said she was “hit with the smell of decomposition coming from a nearby drain.” Margie immediately called the detective who had just interviewed Kailey about Ebby’s disappearance, but he did not answer. Margie then called 911 and asked somebody to come investigate. She ended up calling 3 times before Little Rock Police finally showed up on the scene. However, once they were there, they dismissed Margie’s claims. When she expressed concern that the smell might be related to the case, an officer told her, “This park was gone through with dogs and they would have picked up on that. It must be an animal or something.”

As it turns out, Kailey’s mother was correct all along, as Ebby’s remains were found in the same drainage pipe almost three years later, in May 2018. It’s likely that Ebby was there the whole time. If the police had investigated when they were first asked, Ebby could have been found way sooner. 

Both Margie and Kailey believe that somebody should be held responsible for  for the handling of this information. Little Rock Police say this is an open investigation, but they won’t be doing any further interviews with the media.

Lists including this case:

The Murder of Matthew Leroy Grant

Matthew Leroy Grant (21) was murdered on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, Montana. He was last seen alive on December 15th, 2016. Matthew’s family members used social media to spread awareness about his disappearance, and they also pleaded for Matthew’s safe return. Unfortunately, on December 31st, 2016, Matthew’s body was found in an alley between the College Homes and South Glacier Homes neighborhoods in Browning.

Matthew’s death was classified as a homicide, however investigators have not released Matthew’s exact cause of death. According to Matthew’s aunt, “he had frozen ice in his hair. Snow covered. His shirt was partially pulled up like someone lifted him out of a vehicle and just tossed him there.” How Matthew ended up in the alley still remains a mystery—no arrests have been made in the case and very little information about the investigation has been released.

A year after Matthew’s murder, the FBI announced a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest of Matthew’s killer(s). No persons of interest have been publicly identified at this time and the FBI is continuing the investigate the case. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact authorities at 833-345-7872.

The Disappearance of Jessica Masker

Jessica Masker (24) gave birth to a premature baby two months before disappearing from Indianapolis, Indiana on April 15th, 2013. The baby had been hospitalized since birth due to the premature status, and Jessica had been visiting him regularly. She posted the above photos, amongst many others, to her Facebook page on March 3rd, 2013. By all accounts, Jessica appeared to be enthusiastic about her son’s progress and dedicated to her other child as well. However, a month and half after posting these photos, Jessica vanished.

According to relatives, Jessica had been struggling in the days before her disappearance. In fact, on the day before she vanished, Jessica was involuntarily committed to the hospital after possibly taking a drug overdose. She apparently checked out of the hospital a few hours later and went to stay with a cousin. Jessica then left her cousin’s home at 4:30am on the morning of the 15th after an argument. She called her mother shortly after leaving, saying she was afraid because two men “came at her wrong.” After that, Jessica has not been seen or heard from again.

Jessica’s family believes that she left her cousin’s house that morning to go get drugs. They also worry that she may have been attempting to meet up with her abusive boyfriend. Relatives claim that this boyfriend got Jessica hooked on drugs and had previously been in jail for abusing her. Police say they have spoken to this boyfriend, and that he claims he does not know what happened to Jessica. While both authorities and family members do not believe him, there is currently no other concrete evidence to prove otherwise.

Jessica remains missing today. If you have any information/tips about her disappearance, please report it here.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Disappearance & Death of Thomas Brown

“ 18 year-old Thomas Kelly Brown vanished on November 23rd, 2016. He spent that evening with two friends in their hometown of Canadian, Texas. One of his friends dropped him off at their high school parking lot around 11:30pm,...

18 year-old Thomas Kelly Brown vanished on November 23rd, 2016. He spent that evening with two friends in their hometown of Canadian, Texas. One of his friends dropped him off at their high school parking lot around 11:30pm, where Thomas’s car was parked. A few minutes later, at 11:36pm, Thomas was seen getting gas at a nearby gas station. He was expected to be home by his 12am curfew, but unfortunately he never showed up.

At 12:03am, Thomas’s brother texted him to ask where he was. That message was never read. Thomas’s final phone ping occurred shortly thereafter at 12:10am, near a tower close to the high school football field. Minutes later, at 12:22am, Thomas’s phone was shut off. This is the last known trace of him, and he has never been seen or heard from again. Thomas rarely ever missed his curfew, so his family immediately grew concerned when he did not show up as expected. They reported him missing by 1:30am.

The search for Thomas began immediately. At 8:45am on November 24th, searchers found Thomas’s car parked under some trees at a wastewater treatment. Thomas’s personal belongings such as his wallet, keys, laptop and cell phone were missing from the car. Additionally, a small fresh blood stain was found on the driver side door. That blood was later identified as Thomas’s. A .25 caliber shell casing was found at the scene as well.

Thomas’s family members and friends were completely baffled by his disappearance. He had a happy life at home and there was no indication that he planned to run away. Thomas was student body president at his high school and was popular amongst his friends. He had a girlfriend in college whom he always kept in touch with. Thomas’s friends told investigators that Thomas was acting normally before he vanished and nothing seemed amiss before they parted ways on the evening of November 23rd, 2016.

A few months after his disappearance, Thomas’s backpack was found in a wooded area a few miles way from where his car was found. The backpack appeared to have been in that location for months, and it contained Thomas’s school books and laptop. Investigators completed a forensic analysis on the computer that yielded no clues, as it only had school-related content on it.

Both investigators and Thomas’s family members never believed that Thomas left on his own accord. In fact, in June 2018, the lead investigator in the case stated that authorities are 90% sure Thomas was murdered.

Over two years after his disappearance, in early 2019, human remains were found off of Lake Martin Road in Lake Marvin, Texas. On January 15th, 2019, it was confirmed that the remains were that of Thomas Brown. In a press statement released by the Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office, it was explained that the remains “were found by a person that heard the call from law enforcement and the firm asking for everyone to keep an eye on Lake Marvin Road.” The investigation into Thomas’s death is still ongoing and a cause of death has still not been determined. His death is being investigated as a murder.

The Murder of Lauren Hugelmaier

“ Matthew Phelps (28) and Lauren Hugelmaier (29) were married for a little under a year when Matthew stabbed Lauren to death in their North Carolina home on September 1st, 2017. Matthew, an aspiring pastor, claims that he has no...

Matthew Phelps (28) and Lauren Hugelmaier (29) were married for a little under a year when Matthew stabbed Lauren to death in their North Carolina home on September 1st, 2017. Matthew, an aspiring pastor, claims that he has no recollection of the stabbing. He told police that he took too much cough syrup before bed, and when he awoke in the middle of the night, Lauren was dead. In his 911 call, Matthew is heard saying “I had a dream, and then I turn on the lights and she’s dead on the floor. I have blood all over me, and there’s a bloody knife on the bed, and I think I did it.”

Investigators were suspicious of Matthew’s story from the get-go. The cough syrup that Matthew allegedly took before the incident is called Coricidin HBP Cold and Cough. Hallucinations are listed as a side effect of the medicine, however, there is no other evidence to suggest that Coricidin is associated with violent behavior. Investigators also stated that they found evidence that suggests Lauren’s death was premeditated, but they did not immediately elaborate on that evidence. Matthew was arrested shortly after the incident.

Still, Matthew maintained that he did not intend to kill Lauren and does not remember doing so. He says that Coricidin is the real culprit in this case. A grand jury disagreed, and officially indicted Matthew on first-degree murder charges on September 28th, 2017. 

Over a year later, Matthew accepted a plea deal and has ultimately pleaded guilty to murdering Lauren. By accepting the plea, Matthew avoided the death penalty and will instead spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Court documents indicated that Matthew and Lauren were having marital problems around the time of Lauren’s death. Lauren was allegedly upset over Matthew’s overspending habits, and according to her friends, she was planning on ending her relationship with him shortly before she was murdered. Matthew was allegedly obsessed with the movie “American Psycho” and had expressed to his friends that he wanted to know what it was like to kill somebody. Additionally, Matthew told the police that he could not recall murdering Lauren, however investigators say he began to clean up the scene before he called 911. 

The Disappearance of Elijah Runningbear Diaz

20 year-old Elijah Runningbear Diaz (known as Bear by family and friends) has been missing since August 29th, 2015. He was last seen at his home in El Cajon, California, after his mother dropped him off around 10pm that evening. Bear is a member of the Barona Tribe, and many other members lived in his neighborhood as well. However, none of his neighbors recall seeing him leave that night. Bear sent a final text to his mother around 11:20pm that evening, and none of his family/friends have seen or heard from him again after that.

Around 4pm the following day, Bear’s mother showed up at his house to bring him dinner. When she arrived, Bear was nowhere to be found and many items were missing from his home as well. The bedding was missing from his bed, along with his big-screen TV and about a week’s worth of his diabetes medication. His toothbrush, glasses, and phone charger were left behind. Bear’s cell phone was turned off during the early morning hours of August 30th and has never been turned on again. He also has not accessed any of his social media pages since then.

Bear’s family members do not believe that he left on his own accord. He was in poor health due to his diabetes—he was underweight and had very limited mobility. At the time, Bear was unable to drive. His mother believes that somebody took him from his home and harmed him. Bear remains missing today and the El Cajon Police Department is investigating his case. If you have any information that could lead to his whereabouts, please report it by calling 619-579-3311.


The Disappearance & Murder of Kayla Reed

15-year-old Kayla Reed was last seen at her family’s home in Livermore, California on December 2nd, 2005. According to her mother Angel Sheets, Kayla was a habitual runaway— and on the evening of December 2nd, Kayla allegedly was last seen with a full face of makeup on right before she told her mother she was going sleep. Due to this, Angel suspected that Kayla was going to sneak out to meet her friends that night. The following morning, Angel called the police around 10:30am to report that Kayla was gone.

Detectives showed up at Angel’s home shortly after she called to report Kayla missing, but when they knocked on the door, Angel did not answer. She later stated that she fell asleep and did not hear the detectives knocking on the door. Angel waited two more days before contacting the police again on December 5th, 2005. This time, she successfully filed a missing person's report for Kayla. However, Angel told detectives about her suspicions about Kayla sneaking out the night she vanished; due to this, Kayla was classified as a runaway.

Detectives initially focused on Kayla’s Myspace page in the early stages of the investigation, as it was theorized that Kayla might have met up with somebody she met on the site. That theory never panned out, as investigators could not find any evidence that Kayla was corresponding with somebody she did not know on Myspace. Then, on January 10th, 2006, the investigation took an unexpected turn: Kayla’s body was found floating in the Delta Mendota Canal. An autopsy was unable to determine her cause of death, but it was reportedly clear that she had been murdered. Additionally, the autopsy revealed that Kayla had been dead for over a month by the time she was found—the same amount of time she had been missing. 

A year and a half after Kayla’s body was found, investigators announced that Kayla’s mother, Angel, was a person of interest in Kayla’s murder. Angel’s friend, Dennis Murphy, was also declared a person of interest.

Angel Sheets & Dennis Murphy

Throughout the investigation, detectives learned that Angel and Dennis were the last known people to have seen Kayla alive. Both Angel and Dennis also gave conflicting stories to detectives as well. Angel originally stated that she was the only other person in the house on the evening of December 2nd. Later, she admitted that Dennis had come over that night to do meth. Angel said that before she went to bed that night, she asked Dennis to keep an eye on Kayla in case she tried to sneak out. When Angel woke up the next morning, she said that both Kayla and Dennis were gone. Dennis, on the other hand, admitted to going to Angel’s house on the evening of December 2nd, but he told police that he left when Angel and Kayla began to argue. He said that he returned to Angel’s house the following morning, and at that time, Kayla was gone, and Angel seemed upset.

Despite their conflicting statements, neither Angel nor Dennis have been charged with anything related to Kayla’s death. Many of Kayla’s other family members believe that Angel knows exactly what happened to Kayla and that her “lifestyle” is likely what lead to Kayla’s death. The investigation into Kayla’s case is still ongoing today. If you have any information that could lead to an arrest, please contact the Livermore Police Department at (925) 371-4900.


The Murder of Stacey Burns

  Stacey Burns was found murdered inside her own home on May 10th, 2009. The then-41-year-old lived in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where she ...