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]

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