Saturday, January 30, 2021

List Series: Killers Who Confessed

A list of ten murder cases in which the killer ultimately confessed to their crime. Some confessed immediately, while others took years to confess--but all ultimately ended up admitting that they committed murder. 

Brian Cooper

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Alisha Bromfield
was only 21 years old when she was savagely murdered by Brian Cooper on August 18th, 2012. Brian, who was 36 at the time of the murder, was Alisha's boss at Home Depot in Plainfield, Illinois. Alisha and Brian struck up a casual friendship while working together, but Brian reportedly wanted more out of the relationship. Unbeknownst to Alisha, who was pregnant with another man's baby, Brian was spying on her. He 
had secretly installed cameras in one of his bathrooms when Alisha was dog-sitting for him.  If Alisha had known about this, it's unlikely that she would have accepted Brian's invitation to his sister's wedding in Door County, Wisconsin. 

On the day of the murder, Brian drove both himself and Alisha on the 6-hour trip to Door County. During the ride there, the two reportedly fought and Alisha decided to end their friendship. She agreed to stay cordial during the wedding, but made it clear that their friendship was over by time they returned to Plainfield. 

Brian was enraged by the thought of not being in her life anymore, and that rage continued to build as he grew gradually more intoxicated at the wedding. Once Brian and Alisha were back at their hotel room, they were laying in their respective beds when Brian attempted to make plans with Alisha that coming Sunday. Alisha reminded Brian that they would no longer be friends once they returned home. Brian then snapped and attacked Alisha on her bed. A struggle ensued, and Brian strangled Alisha—killing both her and her unborn baby. Hours later, Brian stumbled into a gas station and used the clerk’s phone to call 911 and turn himself in.

Despite this confession, Brian pleaded not guilty to murder charges. His first trial ended in mistrial. However, during his second trial, it took the jury less than one hour to find him guilty. Brian was ultimately sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. [read more]

Franklin Lee Burress

Tayler Harsch was only 23 years-old when she was murdered by her husband, Franklin Lee Burress, on September 4th, 2015.  The couple had actually begun their relationship years earlier, when Tayler was only 14 and Burress was 25. According to family and friends, they had a rocky on-again, off-again relationship that often turned physically violent. Still, Tayler and Franklin married in 2014. The two lived together in Lake Monticello, Virginia. 

On the evening of September 4th, Tayler left work around 9pm with plans to go out with a group of friends later that night. When she arrived home, she posted the above picture to Facebook and texted with her friends about what she was going to wear that night. However, around 10pm, Tayler was texting her friends and telling them that she wasn’t feeling well enough to go out.  Nobody heard from Tayler or Burress again until 3am, when Burress called his parents hysterically crying, saying that he “snapped” and killed Tayler.  His parents called the police. When they arrived at the couple’s home, police found Tayler’s body in their hot tub, and Burress covered in her blood. He was arrested and charged with murder.

Burress confessed to the crime not long after it happened. In July 2016, he ultimately ended up pleading guilty to second degree murder. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison. [read more]

Samantha Stansifer

Jim ‘Anthony’ Hall (23) was brutally murdered by his on-again, off-again girlfriend Samantha Stansifer (20) on June 14th, 2015. The couple lived together at Anthony's home in Henryetta, Oklahoma. Anthony and Samantha had been together on-and-off for about 3 years at the time of the murder. Those closest to the couple described their relationship as toxic.

On the night of the murder, Anthony and Samantha got into an argument after Samantha reportedly saw texts from another woman on Anthony's phone. Their argument eventually settled down and then two decided to go to bed. Then, as they were about to fall asleep, Samantha reportedly  Samantha noticed more text messages from the same girl on Anthony’s phone. Samantha then told Anthony she was going to the kitchen to get a drink of water, but instead she grabbed two knives. She then returned and began to stab and mutilate Anthony’s body until he died. Afterwards, Samantha seemingly confessed on Facebook, posting, “I did it. He deserved it.” Then, Samantha called the police and told them, “I killed my boyfriend and now I can’t kill myself.” Officers quickly showed up on the scene and Samantha was arrested shortly thereafter. 

Much like Franklin Lee Burress, Samantha confessed to the crime shortly after it occurred. In April 2016, Samantha pleaded guilty to murdering Anthony. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole. [read more]

Cathleen Boyer

Kayla VanWert (pictured left) was murdered by her former friend/romantic rival Cathleen Boyer on May 29th, 2016. Kayla was only 18 years old at the time of her death--and Cathleen, her assailant, was only 16. Both teens lived in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Kayla and Cathleen had been in an ongoing fight over a 19 year-old named Jorge DeJesus. Kayla and Jorge had a one year-old child together, but Kayla also suspected that Cathleen and Jorge had been sleeping together as well.

On the day Kayla was killed, she confronted Cathleen on Facebook. The two sent angry messages back and forth to one another before Cathleen initiated a fist fight. They then met up at the 800 block of McKenna Court in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where a physical brawl ensued. Witnesses state that Kayla appeared to be “overpowering” Cathleen during the fight, when all of a sudden she began screaming “she’s stabbing me!” repeatedly. Once the witnesses realized that Cathleen had pulled a knife out on Kayla, they began to scatter from the scene. The police were called, and Cathleen herself able to flee before they arrived. Once they did arrive, Kayla was found laying on the ground with stab wounds to both her neck and chest. She was transferred to a nearby hospital where she later died.

Much like Samantha Stansifer, Cathleen also posted about her crime on Facebook. Cathleen wrote, “I’m wrong, I’ll admit it and I’m gonna turn myself in … but it is what it is at the end of the day, got to face the consequences … no remorse.” Cathleen was arrested shortly after this confession charged as an adult with criminal homicide.On July 3rd, 2017, Cathleen pleaded guilty to murder in the third degree. She was later sentenced to 7-20 years in prison. [read more]

Ethan Reid

Ethan Reid murdered his ex-girlfriend/mother of his child, Kaylah Hodges (20), on October 3rd, 2016. Ethan joins the list of the previously mentioned killers who confessed to their crimes on Facebook. However, unlike Samantha Stansifer and Cathleen Boyer, Ethan posted his confession on Facebook before the murder even occurred. The timing of his post indicates that Kaylah's murder was very much premeditated.

Kaylah and Ethan shared a 7 month old daughter together. They broke up some time after their daughter’s birth. Ethan had allegedly been abusive towards Kaylah, however Kaylah still maintained a good relationship with his mother, April Riley. Kaylah and her daughter lived with April at her residence in Scottsville, Kentucky. 

On the night of the murder, Ethan went to his mother's house armed with a rifle. Minutes before opening fire, he posted his confession: “Sorry guys. I’m truly not this bad of a person. I’ve been pushed to this point over of time. I’m dissapointed in myself too. I could have been so much more. It’s so sad. I’m a terrible person overall. Learn from my mistakes. Just know this was never my intentions. I love all of you. I’m just not meant to be happy. Ever. I’m sorry. I love you all. Xoxo.” Ethan then ambushed the house, pushing his mother out of the way as he pursued Kaylah. Kaylah ran out of the house in attempt to flee, but Ethan followed suit and shot Kaylah in the back. She collapsed. 

Police were called and Ethan was arrested and charged with first degree murder on the spot. Kaylah was taken the hospital, where she unfortunately succumbed to her injuries. On September 13th, 2017, Ethan plead guilty to murdering Kaylah. He was later sentenced to 35 years in prison. [read more]

Matthew Pernosky

Rachel Pernosky was only 18 years old when she was murdered by her half-brother, Matthew Pernosky, on March 16th, 2013.  Rachel and Matthew share a father, and the two had known each other for most of their lives. Unfortunately, the half-siblings had a very rocky past. In fact, when Rachel was a young child, Matthew molested her. He was around 15 years old at the time of the sexual assault, and he was sentenced to probation at the age of 19. 

By 2013, Rachel had a 1 year-old son and loved being a mother. However, Matthew was not completely absent from her life. On March 16th, 2013, Matthew went to Rachel’s home in Mission and told her that he wanted to apologize for molesting her as a child. A conversation ensued, and at a certain point, one of Rachel’s friends texted her to ask her how the discussion with Matthew was going. Rachel reportedly told the friend that the conversation was “good, but emotional” and that she was tired and hoped Matthew would leave soon. This is the last time anyone ever heard from Rachel, and she was later reported missing after she did not pick-up her son. Unfortunately, just three days later, Rachel’s body was found hidden in steep terrain near Old Orchard Road in Chilliwack. 

Matthew was a suspect very early on into the investigation, however it would take years before he admitted to any involvement in Rachel's death. Finally, in 2016, investigators had an officer disguise himself as the head of a criminal organization in order to infiltrate Matthew. The disguised officer, who used the alias “Mr. Big”, was able to get a full confession out of him. Matthew confessed to “Mr. Big” that he hit Rachel on the head and pinning her down before suffocating her by holding his hand over her nose and mouth. Afterwards, Matthew took Rachel’s body to his home in Abbotsford and sexually molested her post-mortem before dumping her Chilliwack. All of the information that Matthew provided to “Mr. Big” during his confession supported all the evidence that investigators had gathered over the years. Matthew was subsequently arrested and charged with both Rachel’s murder and two other counts of indignity to the human body.

On May 28th, 2018, Matthew pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges. He was given an automatic life sentence, but will be eligible for parole after 13 years.  [read more]

Aaron Trejo

17 year-old Breana Rouhselang was murdered by 16 year-old Aaron Trejo on December 9th, 2018. The two teens are from Mishawaka, Indiana–where Aaron played football at the local high school, and Breana competed as a cheerleader. Breana and Aaron first met when they were in elementary school, but they reportedly only began to have a romantic relationship during 2018. 

At some point during their relationship, Breana learned that she was pregnant. She reportedly waited until she was about 20 weeks along to tell Aaron that he had fathered her child. By then, it was too late to get an abortion. This infuriated Aaron, and he spent a week formulating a plan to solve his problem. On the evening of December 8th, Aaron asked Breana to meet up and discuss the pregnancy. Around 11pm, they met up in an alley behind her family’s home. Unbeknownst to Breana, Aaron had a knife and a garbage bag in his possession when they met. He allegedly confronted Breana over the fact that she told him about her pregnancy after it was too late to get an abortion. According to Aaron, an argument ensued and he ended up strangling Breana with her scarf before stabbing her to death. He then placed the garbage bag over her head and then placed her body in a restaurant dumpster located a block away.

After Breana’s body was found, her family members told police that she had left their home around 11pm to talk to Aaron. When police located and questioned Aaron, he initially denied meeting up with Breana that night. However, after being confronted with physical evidence, he admitted that Breana was pregnant with his child, and he was upset about it being too late for an abortion. When the detectives asked what he did about it, Aaron replied “I took action… I took her life.”

In October 2019, Aaron pleaded guilty to both murder and feticide charges. In January 2020, he was sentenced to 65 years in prison. The judge sentenced Aaron to 55 years for the murder of Breana, plus an additional ten years for the murder of their unborn child. [read more]

Melanie Eam

James Barry (21) was stabbed to death inside his mother’s Loxahatchee, Florida home during the early morning hours of November 17th, 2016.  Shortly before his death, James had broken up with his girlfriend Melanie Eam via text message. This angered her, and she went to James' mother's house to confront him about it. An argument ensued, and Melanie ended up stabbing James during a fit of rage. The boyfriend of James' mother, Guy Hand, heard their argument and subsequent screams. Guy ran into James’ bedroom and found him fatally wounded on his bed. It was clear that James had been stabbed, and the assailant had already fled the scene. Guy attempted to CPR to no avail; James died before the paramedics were able to get to him.

While investigating James' murder, detectives learned that James had recently broken up with Melanie via text. Melanie was tracked down in Silver Spring, Maryland just 3 days after James' death. After being taken into custody, Melanie admitted to stabbing James in a fit of rage. The confession was recorded, and in the recording a detective is heard asking Melanie how many times she stabbed James. Melanie replied, “I don’t know, it’s not like I counted.” When the detective asked her why she stabbed him, she explained that “he set me off” when he decided to end the relationship through text instead of in person.

Despite confessing to the crime, Melanie still pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. Her defense team pointed the finger at Guy Hand--the only other person who was present in the home on the night of James' death. Melanie’s defense likely created reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors, as a mistrial was declared in September 2018. However, Melanie was retried in early January 2019, and this time around she was found guilty. She was sentenced to 50 years in prison. [read more]

Connor Scott
image source: 9News

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

Years passed without any movement in Kaylyn's case. Then, on February 23rd, 2019, Connor walked into a Danville, Indiana police department and confessed to murdering Kaylyn back in 2014. It is unclear what drove him to confess, but authorities in Martinsville were contacted. They subsequently went to Danville to interview Connor. Afterwards, Connor was sent to Hendricks County Jail to await extradition back to Illinois. Once he was extradited, he was formally charged with Kaylyn's murder.

In October 2019, Connor pleaded guilty to her murder. As part of his plea deal, he was sentenced to 37 years in prison. [read more]

Liam McAtasney & Preston Taylor

Sarah Stern was only 19 years-old when she was murdered on December 3rd, 2016.  Sarah grew up in Neptune City, New Jersey, and was living there at the time of her death. Liam McAtasney and Preston Taylor were close friends of Sarah's while in high school. However, in December 2016, Liam committed the ultimately betrayal when he strangled Sarah to death inside her father's home. Preston later helped Liam dispose of Sarah's body into Shark River. They left Sarah's car the Belmar Bridge to make it appear as if Sarah had jumped. 

Liam reportedly killed Sarah after she had inherited money from her grandfather. After Sarah was reported missing, it did not take long for investigators to determine that Liam and Sarah had been in contact on the day of her disappearance. When questioned by police, Liam denied any knowledge of her whereabouts. However, Liam ended up confessing in detail to a friend of his. Unbeknownst to Liam, said friend was already working with police. The friend was able to record Liam's confession.In the recording, Liam is heard saying “it took me half an hour to kill her. The worst part of it is I thought I was walking out with $50,000 to $100,000 in my pocket. [But] she had one safe that she took money out of and it only had $10,000.” Liam also admitted to studying Sarah’s mannerisms–particularly her movements while driving–in the months leading up to her death. That way, when Liam left Sarah’s home in her car, the neighbor’s surveillance camera would capture movements identical to Sarah’s typical movements while driving and make it appear that Sarah was the one who voluntarily left her home in the car.  Liam also implicated Preston in the crime. 

By February 2017, both Liam and Preston had been taken into custody. While in custody, Preston also confessed to police. He admitted to helping Liam dispose of Sarah's body. Preston ended up pleading guilty to murder charges. Liam maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty. However, he was found guilty by a jury in 2019. Liam was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. [read more]

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