Friday, August 14, 2020

List Series: Cases with Dead Suspects Vol. II

As explained in the original Cases with Dead Suspects list, investigators want to question persons of interest/suspects as soon as they are identified in any given crime. Unfortunately, though, there are quite a few cases in which a POI or suspect is identified, but said POI/suspect is deceased. This makes it especially difficult for investigators to solve cases; especially missing persons cases. These cases are often frustrating for the families of victims, as these situations often leave more questions than answers. Below is a list of 5 more such cases, where the identified suspect is deceased.

5. The Disappearance of Cortney Lake

Cortney Lake (24) has been missing since June 7th, 2017. The young woman was last seen getting into a truck in front of her Mount Pearl home--which is near St. John's in Newfoundland. Cortney was getting into the truck of her ex-boyfriend, Philip Smith (25). Just hours before that, Philip pleaded guilty to assaulting Cortney and to distributing intimate pictures of her. He was released from jail under the condition that he would stay away from Cortney, but obviously that did not happen. When Cortney never returned home, her family members reported her missing. 

Authorities questioned Philip on numerous occasions and he reportedly denied being involved in Cortney's disappearance. However, it was confirmed in August 2017 that Philip admitted to being the person who picked Cortney up on the evening she vanished. Months later, in November 2017, Philip was found dead near a family cabin in the woods. He had taken his own life.

Search teams scoured the area where Philip was found for any clues about Cortney's whereabouts, but unfortunately none were found. Still, Philip remains the one and only suspect in Cortney's disappearance. She unfortunately remains missing today.

4. The Disappearance & Murder of Nicholle Coppler
Image source: NY Daily News
Nicholle Coppler ran away from her Lima, Ohio home on May 19th, 1999. Although she left her home on her own accord, her family was significantly concerned for her safety. Nicholle was only 14 years old when she ran away, and she also had been spending time with an older man named Glen Fryer, who had a history of abusing young girls.

In 2002, Fryer was arrested and charged with raping a 12 year-old girl. Authorities searched Fryer's home, and they found both Nicholle's ID card and her diary among the possessions in the house. Nicholle's diary had an entry that was dated May 24th, 1999--five days after her disappearance--that stated she had run away and wanted to return home, but the people she was staying with would not allow her to leave. From that point forward, Fryer became the prime suspect in Nicholle's disappearance. Investigators eventually produced the theory that Fryer might have tried to force Nicholle into prostitution, but ended up killing her when she resisted. Unfortunately, prosecutors never had the chance to charge Fryer with anything related to Nicholle's disappearance. Four days after pleading no contest for the 2002 rape case, Fryer hung himself inside his jail cell. 

Although authorities searched Fryer's home numerous times, Nicholle remained missing. Years later, in 2012, the city of Lima decided to tear down Fryer's abandoned house after it was deemed a safety risk. While tearing down the house, the construction crews found human remains in the foundation. Those remains were later determined to belong to Nicholle. From that point forward, it seemed clear that Fryer did, in fact, kill Nicholle years earlier. However, there were other men living in the house at the time of Nicholle's disappearance and investigators are still hoping to identify said men to see if they can shed any more light on the case. [read more]

3. The Disappearance of Bekime 'Becky' Elshani

Bekime ‘Becky’ Elshani vanished in Colorado Springs, Colorado during the early morning hours of March 29th, 2008. The 22 year-old vanished in the midst of a volatile relationship with her live-in boyfriend Daniel Dereere. Their relationship was very rocky, and had a documented history of domestic abuse. In fact, just two months before Becky's disappearance, Daniel was arrested after he hacked into her MySpace page and posted an intimate picture of her. He was due to appear in court for these charges on April 1st, 2008--just days after Becky vanished. 

Becky was last seen by her family members on March 28th. Both she and Daniel had gone to Becky's parents house, but they ended up leaving after they got into an argument. Becky's family members grew concerned when they did not hear from her during the following two days. Police went to her home on March 31st to perform a welfare check. Upon approaching the residence, police heard gunfire. They entered the apartment and found Daniel dead from a gunshot wound. He had shot himself. Becky was still nowhere to be found, and there was otherwise no sign of a struggle at the apartment. Still, investigators clearly found it suspicious that Daniel took his own life two days after Becky vanished, and one day before he was supposed to appear in court for the charges from posting Becky’s nude pictures on Myspace. 

Becky remains missing today. Daniel remains the one and only suspect in her disappearance. Investigators searched Daniel’s car and reportedly found evidence that indicated foul play was involved in Becky’s disappearance, however they have not specified what exactly was found. Investigators did reveal that Daniel drove his car to a park in Teller County just hours after Becky was last seen. Unfortunately, though, a search of the park turned up no evidence. Becky's case remains unsolved today. [read more]

2. The Disappearance of Relisha Rudd

Relisha Rudd was only 8 years old when she vanished during March 2014. Prior to her disappearance, Relisha and her mother Shamika Young lived at a homeless shelter in Washington, DC. While living there, Shamika grew close to a janitor named Khalil Tatum. Unbeknownst to Shamika, Khalil had a long felony record for burglary, larceny, and breaking and entering. He was also known to fraternize with the residents of the homeless shelter. Once Khalil and Shamika grew closer, Khalil grew attached to Relisha, as well. Eventually, Shamika trusted Khalil enough to allow him to take Relisha with him overnight. Khalil allegedly then took Relisha to his home to stay with him and his grandmother. 

By February 2014, Relisha was spending a lot of time under Khalil’s care. She stopped attending school at that point, but her mother provided a note to the school that stated Relisha was having health problems and she was under the care of a “Dr. Tatum”. Shamika provided a number, and the school contacted who they thought was Dr. Tatum and asked him to come to the school for a meeting. On March 19th, 2014, when nobody showed up for the meeting, the school called the police to report Relisha missing. 

Once the search for Relisha began, authorities attempted to locate Khalil's wife to see if she could provide any insight on the case. Investigators learned she was last seen checking into a hotel in Oxon Hill, Maryland. When police went to her hotel room, they found Andrea dead--she had been shot to death. At that point, police announced that Khalil was the main suspect in both Relisha’s disappearance and Andrea’s death. In the following weeks, investigators worked tirelessly to locate both Relisha and Khalil. Then, on March 31st, 2014, Khalil's body was found in a shed in Kenilworth Park. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. There was no sign of Relisha at the scene. 

With their prime suspect deceased, authorities have struggled to find any other sign of Relisha. She remains missing today. [read more]

1. The Disappearance of Timmothy Pitzen
Two Years After He Went Missing, Search For Timmothy Pitzen Goes ...

Timmothy Pitzen was only 6 years-old when he vanished during May 2011. On May 11th, Timmothy's mother Amy Pitzen unexpectedly showed up at his school and told the front office that there was a family emergency and she needed to pick up her son. However, there was no family emergency. Instead, Amy had planned a surprise trip for Timmothy, to various amusement and water parks around the midwest area. Timmothy's father learned that Amy had picked him up early when he went to the school later that afternoon to pick him up.

The last known sighting of Timmothy was captured on surveillance cameras at Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin on May 12th. Amy and Timmothy were captured on the cameras waiting in the check-out line at the resort. The following day, Amy was seen at various stores in Rockford, Illinois. She was also seen checking into a local hotel. Amy was by herself during each of these sightings.

The following morning, a hotel maid found Amy dead in her room. She had taken a fatal amount of antihistamines and slashed her wrists. Amy left behind a note, stating that Timmothy was safe and cared for, but he would never be found. She mailed a similar note to her mother. No trace of Timmothy was found at the scene.

There are many theories about what might have happened to Timmothy. Rumors swirled that Amy might have sent Timmothy to live at an Amish community. In 2019, a young man came forward claiming to be Timmothy--however DNA testing confirmed his claims to be false. The most common theory that still stands today is that Amy killed Timmothy and disposed of his body before killing herself. However, since Timmothy remains missing today, this has never been confirmed. [read more]

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