Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Disappearance of Asia Wilbon

Asia Wilbon (16) vanished from the West Hill area of Kent, Washington on February 12th, 2020. The teen girl had just recently moved to her father's home in Washington from North Carolina. On the evening of her disappearance, Asia left her father's home to go for a walk. She never returned and has never been seen or heard from again. 

Asia's family members and friends began to try and locate her after they noticed she was gone. By the following afternoon, all calls to Asia's phone went straight to voicemail - indicating that it was either turned off or had a dead battery. Asia's father reported her missing on the evening of February 13th. 

After Asia was reported missing, investigators were able to determine that her last phone ping occurred in Federal Way at 1:35 PM on February 13th. Family and friends then began distributing fliers and appealing to the locals in Kent for anyone with information about her whereabouts. Four days later, on February 15th, 2020, it was reported that Asia was seen at the Federal Way Transit Center around 9:30 AM. Her loved ones focused their search on that area, but they were unable to find any sign of Asia. Since then, it appears that the search has hit a standstill.

On February 25th, 2020, the Kent police emailed a local reporter with some information - including that Asia was likely wearing black clothes and that she "may be upset because of her mother's death." Asia had moved to Washington after her mother passed away. Not only did she have to grieve the loss of her mother, but she also had to move across the country - leaving the life she had known for years behind. 

There are very few details about available about the investigation into Asia's disappearance. Years have passed, and she still remains missing. If you have any information that could help locate Asia, please call 253-856-5808 to submit a tip.

Friday, October 30, 2020

The Murder of Lesley Luna Pantaleon

Lesley Luna Pantaleon was brutally murdered on June 24th, 2020. The 17 year-old girl was last seen by her family members just hours before her death. Lesley left her family's Montgomery, Alabama home in her mother's car and never returned home. Her parents reported her missing later that day.

Days later, on July 4th, 2020, investigators received a tip that led them to Catoma Creek. Once investigators arrived on the scene, they found Lesley's body in the water. It was clear that she had been murdered. Lesley's case then shifted to a homicide investigation, and it did not take long for suspects to be identified. A few weeks after Lesley's body was found, it was announced that three 16 year-old girls were arrested in connection with the case. On July 21st, 2020, Ta’Niya Merriweather, Erin Taylor, and Tyeshia Whisenant were charged as adults with capital murder. 

Court documents state that Lesley got into a physical altercation with the three girls that resulted in fatal injuries. She had been beaten with a metal pole and stabbed to death. It is believed that Lesley was killed on Old Selma Road, located less than a mile away from where her body was found. The documents also state that, after dumping Lesley's body, the three girls took her phone and left the scene in her car. 

A motive for Lesley's brutal murder has not yet been released, however the investigation is still ongoing. Updates are expected. Ta'Niya, Erin, and Tyeshia all remain behind bars as their charges are pending. 
UPDATE (Oct. 2020): New details have been revealed about Lesley's brutal murder.

During a court proceeding on October 27th, a detective testified that the fight that ultimately lead to Lesley's death began over a missing gun. Lesley reportedly left her family's home on the afternoon of her murder to retrieve the gun from a residence near Gibbs Village. Ta'Niya Merriweather, Erin Taylor, Tyeshia Whisenant, and an unidentified teenage boy were at the residence prior to Lesley's arrival. Once Lesley showed up, she got into a fight with Tyeshia. Shortly thereafter, though, Lesley, the three girls, and the unidentified boy all left together in Lesley's car. 

Erin reportedly drove the car while Lesley and Tyeshia began to fight again. At that point, Erin pulled the car over near a wooded area on Old Selma Road. It was then that the defendants began to brutally beat Lesley with a metal pole and then stab her with a pocket knife that was allegedly provided by the unidentified boy. After the attack, the defendants left Lesley in the woods and drove to a friend's house. While there, they confessed to killing Lesley and took the friend to see her body. When they arrived back on the scene, they noticed that Lesley was actually still alive. The group then put Lesley in the back of the car and drove down a secluded road to a nearby creek. They then threw Lesley and the metal pole they beat her with into the water. According to Tyeshia, Lesley was observed attempting to swim before the group left the scene. 

Since their arrests, Ta'Niya, Erin, and Tyeshia have admitted to getting into an altercation with Lesley, but they have pointed the finger at one another in regards to her death. Erin and Tyeshia have both blamed each other for hitting Lesley with the metal pole. It is unclear if the boy they were with has been charged in connection with the case. 

The three girls remain behind bars as their cases are pending. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

List Series: Motive Still Unknown

When investigating a murder case, both detectives and prosecutors seek out the motive of the crime. Loved ones of murder victims often seek out the motive as well; in hopes for answers about what happened to someone they love. Identifying the motive of a murder not only may help in finding a victim's killer, but it also helps the prosecution build their case against the killer. However, there are cases in which a murderer was convicted without a motive ever being revealed. Although these cases are considered solved, they often leave victim's loved ones with more questions than answers. Below is a list of five such cases, in which the murderer is behind bars but the motive behind their crime remains unknown.

The Murder of Grant Nelson

Grant Nelson (34) was murdered by one of his Uber passengers during the early morning hours of May 30th, 2017. Police in Skokie, Illinois were called to a local condominium around 3:30 that morning after Grant began banging out the lobby doors, screaming for help.  He appeared to have suffered numerous wounds to the right side of his arm, his torso, his head, and his chest. When police finally arrived on the scene, Grant was barely conscious, but he was able to tell them that he had been attacked by his passenger. His Uber app was still open, and his latest passenger was simply listed as “Eliza”.

Paramedics transferred Grant to a nearby hospital, where he later died. Meanwhile, police searched the scene for Grant’s assailant. The followed a trail of blood to Grant's vehicle, which had been crashed into a median. Just a block away, they found a woman clutching a machete hiding behind an air conditioning unit. They ultimately had to use stun gun in order to take her into custody. Once police got a good look at her, they noticed she was a young girl. She was later identified as 16 year-old Eliza Wasni.

Self-defense was quickly ruled out in the case--as surveillance footage proved that Eliza had stolen a machete and knife from a nearby Wal-Mart just minutes before she order an Uber and was eventually picked up by Grant. Eliza and Grant did not know each other prior to this Uber ride, so it appears the attack was random. 

Eliza eventually pleaded guilty to the crime in 2020. However, she never revealed a motive for her crime. Eliza was sentenced to 27 years in prison and was also ordered to undergo mental health assessments. [read more]

The Murder of Mackenzie Lueck

Mackenzie Lueck (23) was murdered by Ayoola Ajayi (32) during the early morning hours of June 17th, 2019. Both Mackenzie and Ajayi lived in Salt Lake City, Utah. The two met on a dating app titled 'Seeking Arrangement'--which is targeted towards people looking for a 'sugar baby/sugar daddy' type relationship. Mackenzie and Ajayi reportedly met on the app in 2018, but did not arrange to meet in person until June 2019. 

Hours before they met, Mackenzie was in her hometown in California, visiting her family. She then took a flight that landed in Salt Lake during the early morning hours of June 17th. Instead of going home, Mackenzie took a Lyft to Hatch Park, where she met Ajayi for the first time. Ajayi took Mackenzie back to his home, where he ultimately attacked her. Ajayi reportedly bound Mackenzie's arms behind her back before strangling her and beating her to death. Mackenzie's family members reported her missing 3 days later. 

Phone records led investigators to Ajayi very early into the investigation, and he was arrested and charged with Mackenzie's murder on June 28th, 2019.  Mackenzie's body was found in Logan Canyon just days later. In October 2020, Ajayi pleaded guilty to murder. During the court proceedings, it was revealed at Ajayi had decided to murder Mackenzie before he even met her in person. However, there was no explanation on why he decided to kill her. Ayaji had been accused of sexual assault in the past, but no charges ever came to fruition. To this day, it is unclear if Ayaji wanted to murder Mackenzie as a "thrill kill", or if he had a personal vendetta against her. [read more]

The Murder of Joshua Rose

Joshua Rose (pictured left) was only 21 years old when he tragically died on August 25th, 2016. He spent that day at a friend’s home in Scranton, Pennsylvania with 19 year-old Preston Layfield, (pictured top right) and his ex-girlfriend, 20 year-old Amanda Wayda. (pictured center right). The group of friends were all using heroin while inside the home. At some point, Joshua lost consciousness and Preston and Amanda feared he had overdosed. Amanda then called 22 year-old Tyler Mirabelli (pictured bottom right) and asked him to drive them to the hospital. Tyler agreed, and he helped Preston and Amanda place Joshua inside his car.

Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned. The group drove straight past a hospital and continued to drive north down interstate I-81. At some point during the drive, the trio placed a plastic bag over Joshua’s head while Preston strangled him with a jumper cable. Once they were sure that Joshua had died, they put a hat and a pair of sunglasses on him to make it appear that he was still alive. They then stopped to buy gas at a nearby gas station before dumping Joshua’s body over an embankment in Susquehanna county. To this day, it is still unclear why the group did not take Joshua to the hospital as originally planned.

Preston, Amanda and Tyler all pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in early 2017. Still, to this day they have never given a reason reason for why they murdered Joshua instead of taking him to the hospital. Each were sentenced to 15 to 40 years in prison. [read more]

The Murder of Brittney Gargol

Brittney Gargol (pictured right) was murdered by her friend Cheyenne Antoine (pictured left) on March 24th, 2015. Both girls were 18 years old at the time. On the evening of the murder, both Cheyenne and Brittney made the above image their profile picture on their respective Facebook pages. The two then went out for the night in Saskatoon, Canada. By all accounts, it appeared that Cheyenne and Brittney were enjoying their time together and there did not appear to be any issues between the two of them.

At some point during the evening, though, Cheyenne attacked Brittney and strangled her to death with the belt she was wearing in the above image. She left Brittney's body on the side of Valley Road, located on the outskirts of town. When Cheyenne returned home, she posted the following message on Brittney's Facebook page: “Where are you? Haven’t heard from you. Hope you made it home safe.” Prosecutors will later claim that Cheyenne posted that in an effort to throw investigators off.

Two years into the investigation, police were finally able to link Cheyenne to the crime after using Facebook posts to create a timeline of events from the night of Brittney’s death. It was then that investigators came across this image. They noticed that Cheyenne was wearing a belt that was identical to a belt that was found by Brittney’s body. Cheyenne eventually accepted responsibility for Brittney’s death, although she claims that she has no memory of the event. However, a friend of Cheyenne’s told police that Cheyenne had admitted that she hit and strangled Brittney. Many believe that Cheyenne claims to not remember the event to absolve herself of guilt. A motive for why, exactly, Cheyenne killed Brittney remains unknown today.

Cheyenne was originally facing second-degree murder charges, but she eventually accepted a plea deal and plead guilty to manslaughter. She was sentenced to seven years in prison. [read more]

The 2019 Northern British Columbia Murders
From left to right: Lucas Fowler (23), Chynna Deese (24), Leonard Dyck (64), Kam McLeod (19), Bryer Schmegelsky (18)

Young couple Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese were found shot to death on the side of the Alaska Highway in British Columbia, Canada on July 15th, 2019. The couple had been taking a two-week long road trip across Canada at the time at the time of their murders. The minivan they were traveling in was found near their bodies. 

A few days later, two teenagers named Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky vanished while they were believed to be travelling to the Yukon territory. The car the two were traveling in was found completely burned out on July 19th, 2019, just days after Chynna and Lucas were found. The body of a 64 year-old man named Leonard Dyck was also found nearby. 
 Due to the close proximity of the crime scenes, police initially feared that Kam and Bryer fell victim to the same assailant as Chynna, Lucas, and Leonard. However, by July 22nd, police announced that Kam and Bryer were now considered suspects in the couple's murder and Leonard's murder.

The following month, authorities found the bodies of Kam and Bryer in a section of thick, dense brush alongside the Nelson River. Authorities found evidence of their final meal and other items belonging to them nearby. The teens also left video messages behind for their families to say goodbye. Kam and Bryer's deaths were later classified as suicide.

To this day, it remains unclear why these two teens went on a killing spree. The contents of their final video messages have not been released. [read more]

Sunday, October 25, 2020

The Disappearance & Murder of Britney Tiger

Britney Tiger (26) vanished from her home in Ada, Oklahoma on February 11th, 2018. The mother-of-three was a newlywed at the time of her disappearance–she had just married her husband William Gomez five months prior. On the evening Britney vanished, her children were visiting their respective fathers. According to William, he and Britney took that opportunity to go to bed early and get a full night’s sleep. William would later tell police that he awoke around 3:30 in the morning and noticed that he was in bed alone. Britney was nowhere to be found, and she was never heard from again.
Britney was reported missing by one of her sisters a week later, on February 18th, 2018. Britney’s sister told police that she had not heard from Britney in over a week, and she asked for a welfare check to be done. Detectives went to Britney and William’s house and found William there alone. At that point, William told detectives that Britney “must have” left in the middle of the night, and she allegedly took a few hoodies and a bag of makeup with her. When asked why William did not call the police earlier, he said that it was not unusual for Britney to disappear for weeks at a time. However, Britney’s sisters dispute this. They also live in the Ada area, and they stated that Britney always stayed in touch with her family and had never left her children for a long period of time.
Britney’s sisters were also reportedly baffled by William’s behavior when Britney vanished. According to Britney’s oldest sister, William and Britney were very close and nobody noticed any red flags in their relationship. Once Britney disappeared, though, it seemed that William was not feeling any sense of urgency to find her. Unfortunately, about a month after her disappearance, Britney’s body was found in a wooded area 15 miles away from her home. Due to the decomposed state of her body, an autopsy was unable to determine a cause or manner of death. In March 2018, detectives told reporters they were investigating Britney’s death as a homicide. About a year later, detectives stated that they never officially classified Britney’s death as a homicide, and at this time “there is no current evidence that a crime has been committed.”
Britney’s family members are hoping to one day see justice in her case, which is still open. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact the Ada Police Department at 580-332-4466.
UPDATE: An arrest has been made in Britney's case. 
Bodhi Chance Starns (25) was charged in March 2020 with unlawful disposal of a deceased corpse. Investigators have not commented on the connection between Starns and Britney, but they did say that the investigation is still ongoing. Britney's family members still believe that Britney was murdered. 

The Disappearance of Laroya Bray

Laroya Bray was only 15 years old when she vanished on March 26th, 2003. At the time, the teen lived with her mother and her mother's fiancé in Los Angeles, California. Laroya was reportedly last seen standing outside the apartment building where they lived near Arlington Avenue and Adams Boulevard. 

According to various reports, Laroya's mother was not home on the afternoon of Laroya's disappearance. In fact, it was reportedly Laroya's mother's fiancé who noticed that Laroya was missing. The fiancé called Laroya's mother around 5:30 PM to say that he could not find Laroya. A few hours passed, and Laroya was still nowhere to be found. When Laroya's mother finally returned home around 11:00 PM, she reported her daughter missing. 

Once police began investigating, they quickly announced that they believed that Laroya left on her own accord. She was subsequently classified as a runaway. Ever since, there has been very little news or information available about Laroya's case

In the early stages of the investigation, it was announced that Laroya was seen shortly before her disappearance with a black man described as 5'8" tall with a medium build. However, this information was later proven to be false. It's unclear how investigators were able to determine that the reported sighting was false.

It's also unclear why investigators were so certain that Laroya left on her own accord. She remains at the runaway status today - despite the fact that over two decades have passed without any sign of her.

Laroya's disappearance remains unsolved. If you have any information that could lead to answers in her case, please go here to submit an anonymous tip. 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

List Series: Solved with Surveillance

A list of eight disappearances/murders that were solved with the assistance of surveillance cameras. Each of these cases contain evidence via surveillance footage that provided investigators with information proven vital to solving the case. Without the evidence provided from the footage, there's a chance these cases would remain unsolved today.

The Disappearance & Murder of Michaela 'Mickey' Shunick
Image source: Daily Mail

Mickey Shunick was only 22 years-old when she vanished during the early-morning hours of May 19th, 2012. She spent the evening of May 18th attending a concert with friends at a venue called the Artmosphere in Lafayette, Louisiana. Afterwards, Mickey rode her bike back to a friend’s residence on Ryan Street. Then, around 1:45am, Mickey began to ride her bike back towards her family’s home. She had plans to attend a sibling’s graduation ceremony the following morning. Unfortunately, Mickey never made it home. After being unable to get ahold of her, Mickey’s parents reported her missing around 5pm that evening. 

Throughout the investigation, detectives obtained surveillance footage from cameras of businesses along Mickey’s route home. Around 1:48am on the morning of May 19th, Mickey was captured riding her bike on St. Landry Street. A white truck was also spotted driving in the camera’s frame as well. From that point forward, police worked to identify the owner of said truck. Weeks later, they learned his name: Brandon Scott Lavergne,  a 33 year-old registered sex offender. On July 5th, 2012, police obtained a warrant for Lavergne's arrest for failing to reenter his name in the sex offender registry. Once they apprehended him, they also charged him with kidnapping and murdering Mickey--despite the fact that Mickey had not yet been found. He was identified as the prime suspect in the 1999 murder of Lisa Pate. Lavergne was later indicted on murder charges for both women.

Lavergne pleaded not guilty to both murder charges, and the search for Mickey continued. Then, on August 7th, 2012, Mickey's remains were found buried on a property off Louisiana Highway 10 in Evangeline Parish.  Lavergne's next court date was just ten days after the discovery of Mickey's remains. Prosecutors originally planned to seek the death penalty against him--however on August 17th, 2012, Lavergne decided to plead guilty to both murders in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without parole. 

The surveillance footage from St. Landry Street was critical in this case, because it ultimately lead investigators to Lavergne. Even if he had eventually been arrested for failing to re-register as a sex offender, there's a chance he would not have ever come up on the police radar in Mickey's case if it had not been for the footage. [read more]

The Murder of Michaela MacVilla

Michaela MacVilla (21) vanished after leaving her job at Stewart's Shop in St. Johnsville, New York during the early morning hours of September 25th, 2018. Two days later, her cell phone was found on the ground on Mill Road. Her final phone call was made to a man named Daniel Nellis (45). When investigators initially spoke to Daniel, he denied knowledge of Michaela's whereabouts. He explained that he picked Michaela up on the morning of her disappearance. Daniel admitted to bringing Michaela to his home in Oppenheim that morning. He said that when he was driving her back home later that day, they got into an argument and Michaela asked to be let out of the car. He claims that he never saw her again after that. 

On October 2nd, 2018, Michaela's body was found under some brush on an access road near Kringsbush Road in Oppenheim. She had been shot to death. Daniel was arrested and charged with her murder just a few weeks later. At the trial, it was revealed that both surveillance footage and data from Michaela's FitBit helped to prove Daniel's guilt. Cameras near Daniel's home in Oppenheim captured Michaela and Daniel entering his house around 12:45am on the morning of September 25th. Approximately 12 hours later, they are captured leaving the house together. Data from Michaela's FitBit showed that Michaela's heart-rate spiked at 12:24pm before stopping altogether six minutes later. Just minutes later, surveillance cameras captured Daniel's car driving down the access road where Michaela's body was later found. 

Daniel was found guilty by the jury in June 2019. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison. [read more]

The Abduction & Murder of Alexis Murphy

Alexis Murphy (17) was last seen by her family and friends on August 3rd, 2013. That day, Alexis left her family’s home in Nelson County, Virginia, to head to the town of Lynchburg for a hair appointment she had planned in preparation for her upcoming senior portraits. The last known sighting of her occurred around 7:15 that evening at a gas station in Lovingston, Virginia. She disappeared shortly thereafter. Alexis' family reported her missing later that evening when she did not return home. The FBI joined the case two days later.

On August 11th, 2013, 48 year old Randy Allen Taylor was arrested on kidnapping charges in Alexis’ case. Investigators were lead to Taylor after they found that he, too, was at that gas station in Lovingston on the evening of August 3rd. In fact, surveillance footage shows Taylor opening the door to the gas station convenience store and Alexis walking in. The footage shows that the two did not speak and it did not appear that they knew each other at the time of this interaction. However, the two obviously did interact at some point before they left the gas station--because authorities later discovered that Alexis' last known cell phone ping was off of a tower near Taylor's camper off of US-29.

When investigators searched Taylor’s camper several days later, they found the t-shirt Taylor was seen wearing in the surveillance video stuffed under the couch. It was covered in bloodstains, and had long, dark hair extensions and artificial eye lashes wrapped up inside it. DNA tests later proved that the blood belonged to Alexis. Despite Alexis’ body not being found, prosecutors charged Taylor with her murder on January 6th, 2014. He pleaded not guilty to both kidnapping and murder and went to trial on May 1st, 2014. Just a little over a week later on May 8th, Taylor was found guilty of murder in the commission of an abduction and abduction with intent to defile by a Nelson County jury. He was sentenced to two life-terms.

In December 2020, Alexis' remains were found. They were finally identified in February 2021. Taylor still denies guilt.  [read more]

The Murder of Lisa-Marie Naegle

Lisa-Marie Naegle (36) vanished after leaving a party in Torrance, California during the early morning hours of December 19th, 2016. The young woman attended the party with a man named Jackie Jerome Rogers. Lisa-Marie and Rogers had been having an affair, but Lisa-Marie reportedly wanted to return to a monogamous relationship with her husband. Still, Lisa-Marie attended the party with Rogers and never returned home as planned. Her husband believed she had been at the party with her brother, and had decided to spend the night at his place after drinking too much. 

Lisa-Marie's family members began to worry when they learned she did not show up to work the following day. Her sister was aware of the affair she had been having, and she also knew that she attended the party with Rogers. Lisa-Marie's family members then contacted Rogers himself, who told them that he had driven Lisa-Marie to the party but had left her there when he got tired. Meanwhile, as the Naegle’s continued to question Rogers, a family friend went over to the restaurant in Torrance where the party was held. The friend was able to view the surveillance footage from that night, which revealed that Rogers and Lisa-Marie actually left the party together—even though he told the Naegle's that he left the party alone.

The Naegle’s turned the surveillance footage over to the LAPD, who brought Rogers in for questioning the following day. While there, Rogers cracked and told police where Lisa-Marie’s body could be found. He was then arrested on suspicion of murder as investigators went to said location and recovered Lisa-Marie’s remains. After his arrest, Rogers confessed what happened that night. He told investigators that he struck Lisa-Marie in the head with a hammer repeatedly after she told him that she wanted to break-up and resume a monogamous relationship with her husband.

Rogers went to trial in 2018 and was found guilty.  He was sentenced to 26 years in prison. [read more]

The Murder of Tiffany Ferguson

Tiffany Ferguson was only 22 years old when she was brutally murdered inside her own apartment on February 28th, 2017. She was stabbed several times during the early morning hours of that day by a 24 year-old drifter named Christopher McLawhorn. There was no known personal connection between Tiffany and Christopher before her murder–in fact, it appears the incident was completely random. Police were able to identify Christopher after he was captured on surveillance footage on the morning of the murder. The camera captured him walking around the apartment building, checking for unlocked cars and unlocked apartments. Unfortunately, Tiffany and her roommate left the door to their Nashville, Tennessee apartment unlocked the previous night. As a result, Christopher was able to enter the apartment without force.

Shortly before 6am, Tiffany’s roommate woke up to the sound of Tiffany screaming. When she went to check on her, she found Tiffany fatally injured in her bed, and the door to their apartment left wide open. Christopher had already fled the scene by this point. However, it did not take police long to identify him as a suspect in the case. In addition to the surveillance footage, two other homeless men told police that Christopher had bragged to them about killing someone.

Christopher was eventually arrested in March 2017. He was found guilty in 2018 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. [read more]

The Abduction & Murder of Christina Morris

Christina Morris (23) vanished after a night out with friends on August 30th, 2014. The group of friends spent the evening at various bars in Plano, Texas before heading to apartment to continue hanging out. Eventually, Christina decided to head home around 3:30am. Another person in the group, Enrique Arochi (24) decided to leave at the same time. The two exited the apartment building together to walk to their respective cars parked in a nearby garage. The two were caught by surveillance cameras walking together towards the parking garage. A couple minutes later, surveillance cameras captured Enrique’s car exiting the garage, but Christina’s remained inside. Christina never made it home and was never seen or heard from again.

When questioned by police, Enrique said that he and Christina walked into separate garages after leaving their friend's apartment. However, the surveillance footage obviously proved that was not true. This caused investigators to be quite suspicious of Enrique--and those suspicions continued to build after his co-workers said that Enrique showed up to work on August 30th covered in bruises, as if he had gotten into a fight. Investigators eventually seized his vehicle for forensic testing. On December 9th, 2014, the test results on Enrique's car came back-and it was determined that a significant amount of Christina’s DNA was present on the edge of the vehicle’s trunk opening. Enrique was subsequently arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping.

Meanwhile, Christina remained missing and Enrique denied any knowledge of her whereabouts. He eventually went to trial in 2016, and he was ultimately found guilty. Enrique was sentenced to life in prison, but he continued to maintain his innocence. Nearly two years later, in March 2018, human remains were found in a field in Anna, Texas. The area was close to Christina's final cell phone ping. Days later, it was confirmed that those remains were that of Christina Morris. At this time, Enrique has not been charged with her murder--however he will still remain in prison for the rest of his life. [read more]

The Abduction & Murder of Kelsey Smith

Kelsey Smith (17) was kidnapped while leaving a Target store in Overland Park, Kansas on June 2nd, 2007. Target's surveillance cameras captured the teen shopping in the store that evening, and they also captured a young man who appeared in every aisle that Kelsey walked down while in the store. As exited the store, the cameras over the parking lot captured Kelsey walking towards her car. Then, the cameras captured a person running in the direction towards Kelsey's car. The person eventually catches up with Kelsey and forces her inside her car. The car drives off, and Kelsey is never seen or heard from again.

Kelsey's family reported her missing later that evening after she never returned home. Just hours later, her car was found in a Macy's parking lot, across the street from the Target. Knowing that Kelsey had left her home that evening with the intention of going to Target, investigators decided to look at their surveillance footage for potential evidence. It was then that investigators stumbled upon the footage of Kelsey being abducted in the store's parking lot. From that point forward, investigators launched a massive search for both Kelsey and her kidnapper. 

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 Kelsey's body was found, 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. 

Over a year later, on July 23rd, 2008, Hall pleaded guilty to all charges. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. [read more]

The Murder of Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham (18) vanished during the early morning hours of September 13th, 2014. At the time, Hannah was a student at the University of Virginia. 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. (32) He was taken into custody on September 24th and charged with kidnapping and intent to defile.

The arrest of Matthew caused a ripple effect that led investigators to solving other unsolved cases throughout Virginia. A few years before Hannah's disappearance, another young woman named Morgan Harrington (20) vanished after being denied re-entry to a Metallica concert at the University of Virginia. Morgan's remains were found a few months later on a farm located ten miles away. DNA on Morgan's shirt matched DNA that investigators already had on file for an unsolved rape case in Fairfax, Virginia that occurred in 2005. Once Jesse Matthew Jr. was arrested for kidnapping Hannah Graham in 2014, they were able to match his DNA to the DNA from the Morgan Harrington case and the 2005 rape case. 

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. He pleaded guilty in all 3 cases and will remain incarcerated for the rest of his life.

If it had not been for the surveillance footage that captured Matthew approaching Hannah Graham, there's a chance that all three cases would remain unsolved today. [read more]

The Disappearance of Elyssa Vasquez

Elyssa Vasquez was only 12 years-old when she vanished on January 28th, 2003. She was last seen at her middle school in Doraville, Georgia. Elyssa disappeared at some point during the school day and has never been seen or heard from again. 

There are very few details available about Elyssa's case. It's unclear if anyone saw her leaving the school on the day of her disappearance. However, investigators classified Elyssa as a runaway. Her case remained at the runaway status for years before she was eventually reclassified as missing and endangered. 

Due to the scarce details, it is unclear why investigators initially classified Elyssa as a runaway. The runaway classification suggests that there was some sort of sign that she left on her own accord--or that investigators simply did not have evidence that she was kidnapped. In addition to the lack of information about how Elyssa left her school, there is also a lack of information about whether or not she spoke to anyone about running away. 

There are also very few details about the happenings in Elyssa's life prior to her disappearance. Posts on a Facebook page dedicated to spreading awareness about Elyssa's case, it appears her family believes that she is still out there somewhere. It's clear that they are still devastated about her disappearance, and they are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

If you have any information that could lead to Elyssa's whereabouts, please go here to submit an anonymous tip. 

Charley Project
Facebook page for Elyssa

Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Murder of Johnny Young Jr.

Johnny Young Jr. (38) was murdered inside his home in Summerville, South Carolina on April 6th, 2012. 

Shortly before his death, Johnny found out that his fiancé Tara Spann was pregnant. The two were reportedly excited about the baby, and they planned to get married soon. On the morning of his murder, Johnny and Tara went to a local ATM to withdraw gas money so Tara could drive to Manning. Tara then dropped Johnny back off at his house around 10:30 AM.

About an hour later, Tara's daughter Jontyrah Dobson, then 19, and her friend Reginald Edwards, then 20, went to Johnny's house to hang out. According to reports, they entered the house after their knocks went unanswered, and then stumbled upon a horrific scene: Johnny was dead on his kitchen floor, and it was clear he had been murdered.

Jontyrah and Reginald immediately called police and said they believed Johnny had been stabbed. When authorities arrived, they determined that Johnny had actually been shot three times in the chest. In the days that followed, investigators conducted interviews and searched for Johnny's killer, but they were unable to identify anyone as a suspect.

Early reports about the investigation state that Jontyrah's cell phone was seized by police, but it's unclear why or if anything of interest was found. To this day, no arrests have been made in the case. There have also been very few reports about the case in more recent years. 

Johnny's murder remains unsolved. If you have any information that could lead to his killer, please go here to submit an anonymous tip. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Murder of Mackenzie Lueck

Mackenzie Lueck was tragically murdered at the age of 23 during the early morning hours of June 17th, 2019. 

Mackenzie was a student at the University of Utah, and she lived in Salt Lake City. She spent the final days of her life in her hometown of El Segundo, California, as she was visiting family for a funeral. Mackenzie boarded a flight back to Utah on the evening of June 16th, which landed in Salt Lake during the early morning hours of the 17th. She texted her parents around 2:00 AM to let them know she had landed safely. After that final text, Mackenzie's family never heard from her again. 

Over the next few days, Mackenzie's family and friends began to notice that something was off. When her father tried to message her on the 18th, he noticed that the messages were going through as text messages rather than iMessages-even though they both had iPhones. Her friends began to worry when Mackenzie did not show up to her shift at Millbrook medical lab, nor did she show up for an exam she was scheduled to take. Knowing this was uncharacteristic of her, Mackenzie's worried parents contacted Utah officials to report her missing on June 20th, 2019.

Throughout the investigation, detectives learned that Mackenzie left the airport on the morning of her disappearance in a Lyft car. Surveillance cameras at the airport captured her exiting the building at 2:40 AM. 

Mackenzie leaving the Salt Lake airport on the morning of June 17th

Detectives questioned the Lyft driver, who told them that he dropped Mackenzie off at Hatch Park and observed her getting into another vehicle. Both Lyft records and cell phone pings confirmed that Mackenzie exited the Lyft at the park at 2:59 AM. Mackenzie's family and friends did not know why she asked the Lyft driver to take her to the park instead of taking her home, nor did they know about any plans for her to meet someone there. Detectives then worked to identify who she met up with at the park. 

Mackenzie's cell phone records revealed that she was messaging with another person while in her Lyft. In fact, Mackenzie's final text message was sent to this person at 2:58 AM - just one minute before she exited the Lyft at Hatch Park. Her phone was shut off shortly after 3:00 AM.

Detectives later identified the person Mackenzie was messaging as a 31-year-old man named Ayoola Ajayi. After learning that Ajayi was the last person to communicate with Mackenzie, detectives went to his house in Fairpark to question him. He initially denied knowing Mackenzie, but later admitted they had briefly messaged after meeting on a dating app. Both Ajayi and Mackenzie had a dating app called 'Seeking Arrangements' downloaded on their phone--which is an app designed for people seeking a 'sugar daddy/sugar baby' type relationship. 

On June 26th, 2019, authorities executed a search warrant at Ajayi's house. Several items were seized during the search. His backyard was thoroughly searched as well. Two days later, on June 28th, 2019, Ayoola Ajayi was arrested and charged with aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, desecration of a body and obstructing justice in relation to the Mackenzie Lueck case. 

It was then confirmed that detectives had found tissue/DNA belonging to Mackenzie at Ajayi's house. Additionally, it was revealed that on the morning of June 17th Ajayi's cell phone pinged off the same tower Mackenzie's phone pinged off of for the final time--and his ping occurred just a minute after hers. At that point, it became clear that Ajayi picked Mackenzie up at the park that morning. 

Once Ajayi was behind bars, investigators continued to comb through evidence and build their case. The evidence they gathered eventually revealed a harrowing story about what happened to Mackenzie.

Ayoola Ajayi

Both cell phone records and DNA evidence proved that Mackenzie and Ajayi were together during the morning of June 17th. Ajayi's cell phone records also revealed other information that would be vital to the case. The records showed that on June 25th, 2019 - very shortly after he was initially questioned by police - Ajayi traveled to Logan Canyon. 

On July 3rd, 2019, Mackenzie's body was found at said canyon. She was found with her arms bound behind her back with rope. It appeared her body had been burned, as well. An autopsy revealed that she had been beaten and strangled. Mackenzie's official cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma. 

After Mackenzie's body was found, it became clear that Ajayi had not buried her at Logan Canyon until June 25th--eight days after she was killed, and just one day after he was questioned by police. Evidence from Ajayi's backyard revealed that Mackenzie had previously been buried there. Additionally, Ajayi's neighbors told police that there was a "horrible smell" coming from Ajayi's backyard firepit on June 17th and 18th. 

Although it was clear that Ajayi was the person who murdered Mackenzie, investigators struggled to find a motive. He did not have a criminal record prior to this incident. However, he was investigated for a sexual assault case in 2014. The victim in this case was an adult woman, and she ultimately decided not to press charges.

Additionally, Ajayi's ex-wife revealed that she had stopped speaking with him years earlier, as he made her fear for her life. Ayayi also reportedly self-published numerous books to Amazon that depicted violence and murder. The books have since been removed. 

In October 2020, over a year after Mackenzie's murder, Ayayi pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and desecration of a human body. During the court proceeding, the prosecutor stated that Mackenzie and Ayayi met on the dating app at some point in 2018. The two finally decided to meet in person during June 2019. 

Unbeknownst to Mackenzie, Ayayi had already planned to murder her before they had even met. After picking her up at the park on the morning of June 17th, he brought Mackenzie back to his house where he bound her arms behind her back. Ayayi then began to strangle her. He eventually beat her before forcing her face down on the bed and strangling her with a belt.

In exchange for his guilty plea, the prosecution agreed to drop the kidnapping charges against Ayayi. The death penalty was also taken off the table. Ayayi will spend the rest of his life in prison. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Murder of Karen Swift

Karen Swift (44) went missing in Dyersburg, Tennessee on October 30th, 2011. The previous evening, Karen attended a Halloween party at a country club, but left early to pick up one of her daughters from a sleepover. She then returned to her home where she lived with her two daughters and her husband, David Swift. Karen had recently filed for divorce from David, however the two still lived in the same house, but in separate rooms. David stated that he saw Karen around midnight that night, and then one last time the following morning. She has never been seen or heard from again after that.
Karen’s car was found abandoned later that day, just a short distance from her house. She was subsequently reported missing later that evening when she failed to return home. After initial investigations, a search party was formed for Karen on December 10th, 2011. It was during that search that Karen’s body was found underneath some leaves near Bledsoe Cemetery in Dyer County. Her death was classified as a homicide.
David has been a person of interest in Karen’s case since the get-go. Their marriage was obviously strained around the time of her disappearance, and he was also the last known person to have seen her. Despite this, David has never been arrested or charged with anything in relation to Karen’s murder. 
For years, further details surrounding Karen's case remained a mystery. Her autopsy was sealed after it was performed, so the public knew very few details about her death. Karen's case finally got a fresh set of eyes in 2018, when a private investigator named Helen Michele Cohen began to investigate the murder. HMC's investigation finally revealed Karen's cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head. It was noted that Karen had significant injuries to her frontal and temporal lobes--which suggests that she was facing her attacker at the time she was struck. 
HMC's investigation revealed many other previously unknown detail about the case as well. These details have led to numerous new theories about Karen's murder.
In October 2011, it was well known that Karen was separated from her husband David. However, Karen might have been involved in a contentious situation with a few other people before her death as well. There were rumors that Karen had been in a relationship with a married couple. HMC spoke a close friend of Karen's in 2018, who confirmed these rumors. The friend reportedly also stated that Karen had confided that "she was involved in something that she wasn't proud of." It was later learned that the couple Karen was involved with had been giving her money.
Employees at the country club where the Halloween party was held also confirmed that Karen had been involved in an altercation with more than one woman that evening--one of those women being the daughter of a man who HMC refers to as "prominent man", who is suspected to be the owner of the country club. After Karen vanished, three separate witnesses reported seeing "prominent man" with a metal detector in the area where Karen's body was later found. 
Despite this new information, David Swift still remains a person of interest in the case. Still, nobody else in the case has been ruled out, either. Many people now believe there is a possibility that the aforementioned individuals might have information about her death. Karen's murder investigation remains open. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact the Dyer County Sheriff’s Office at 731-285-2802.