Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Suspicious Death of Lisa Cooper

 


Lisa Cooper was found deceased at the scene of a suspicious car accident on October 14th, 2020. The 46 year-old woman lived in Adair County, Kentucky at the time of her death. According to the Kentucky State Police, Lisa was driving a Toyota Camry eastbound on KY 900 shortly before 4PM when her car crossed to the other side of the road and hit a log truck. The driver of the log truck received minor injuries, while Lisa was pronounced dead on the scene.

Local media has portrayed Lisa's death as the result of a tragic accident. However, there are many aspects of the case that are quite suspicious. Lisa was married to a man named Greg Cooper, who had a history of domestic violence and other violent behaviors. According to Lisa's daughter, Greg was abusive towards not only Lisa herself, but her son with autism as well. Just a month before Lisa's death, Greg had made comments about hoping that Lisa would die. He also behaved suspiciously shortly after Lisa's wreck. After first responders notified Greg about the crash, he showed up to the scene to get Lisa's purse and then left before any other family members arrived.  Greg also proceeded to either steal or sell everything that belonged to Lisa--despite the fact that Lisa had left her house and her other assets to her daughter. According the daughter, Greg also got back together with his ex-wife the very next day.

In addition to Greg's questionable behavior, there are many suspicious circumstances surrounding the crash itself. The truck driver who survived the wreck stated that Lisa's head was down before their vehicles collided--which suggests that Lisa was already dead before the crash. There was also apparently no blood inside Lisa's car following the crash, nor were there any signs that she had suffered a stroke or heart attack. Lisa did have a history of drug addiction, but had gotten sober before her death. It appears that investigators still do not have a clear picture of what, exactly, led up to the crash. Despite the local media's portrayal of the wreck being an accident, the case is actually still open. Still, no suspects or persons of interest have been named.

Lisa's daughter firmly believes that Greg was involved in Lisa's death, and she is hoping to someday receive answers about what truly happened. Greg reportedly refused to move out of the house following Lisa's death, despite the fact that it legally belonged to her daughter at that point. Her daughter eventually had to go to court to have him evicted. Greg is currently incarcerated on charges of having firearms as a convicted felon. 

Lisa's death remains unsolved. If you have any information that could help solve her case, please call 1-800-222-5555 to submit a tip. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Kidnapping and Murder of Linda Stoltzfoos

 


Linda Stoltzfoos was kidnapped in the broad daylight on June 21, 2020. The 18 year-old Amish teen was walking home from a church service in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania when her abduction took place. Linda was supposed to meet up with her youth group that afternoon, but she never showed up. The members of the youth group initially thought that Linda was home sick, so they did not think much of her absence. However, Linda actually never made it home from the church service that occurred earlier that day. Her worried family members reported her missing around 2:30 AM on June 22nd. 

Both authorities and members of the community launched a search for Linda. Investigators spoke to numerous people who were in the area on the day Linda vanished. Many witnesses told investigators that they saw a red Kia Rio alongside the route where Linda was walking home from church. 



In fact, one couple stated that they saw a young Amish girl in the passenger seat of the car. Investigators eventually identified the owner of that car as 34 year-old Justo Smoker of Paradise, Pennsylvania. 


Police first interviewed Smoker on July 9th, 2020. He denied any knowledge about Linda's whereabouts and also denied being in the area on the day Linda vanished. Still, police continued to investigate his potential involvement. They pulled surveillance footage from a local business near the spot where Smoker's car was seen on the day of Linda's disappearance. At 12:40 PM, the cameras captured Linda walking along the route. One minute later, a man matching Smoker's description appeared in the camera's frame. The man is seen approaching Linda. According to investigators, they then saw what "appears to be motion toward the head area of [Linda] consistent with placing something over her head." Linda and the man are then captured walking out of the camera's frame. Moments later, the red Kia is captured driving southbound. 

After this discovery, investigators arrested Smoker and charged him with kidnapping Linda. It was then revealed that investigators had also found a zip tie, a knotted pair of stockings and a woman's bra buried behind a local business in Ronks, Pennsylvania. Family members confirmed that the clothing belonged to Linda. Additionally, witnesses confirmed that they saw a red Kia parked in the field near the business just two days after Linda disappeared.

Despite not having a body, prosecutors charged Smoker with Linda's murder in December 2020. Although prosecutors felt they had enough evidence to prosecute Smoker without Linda's remains, the search for her continued. Finally, in April 2021, investigators searched an area behind the water treatment building where Smoker was employed in Gap, Pennsylvania. During the search, human remains were found in a shallow grave. Just a day later, it was confirmed the remains were that of Linda Stoolzfoos. An autopsy revealed that she had been strangled and stabbed.

Investigators believe that Smoker initially buried Linda in the spot where her clothing was found, but later moved her to the spot behind his former workplace. It is also believed that Linda might not have been Smoker's first target. Other Amish girls in the community reported that Smoker had followed them in the same spot where Linda was kidnapped just one day prior to Linda's abduction. 

Smoker currently remains behind bars as his charges are pending. 
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UPDATE (July 2021): Justo Smoker has pleaded guilty to Linda's kidnapping and murder.
It has also been revealed that it was actually Smoker who led authorities to Linda's remains in April of 2021. According to his attorney, Smoker revealed the location of Linda's remains because he wanted to do "the right thing". 

In court, Smoker apologized for his actions, stating "I know Linda was a light. Because of me, the world is dimmer." He was sentenced to 71 years in prison.  

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Disappearance of Cindy Rivera



Cindy Rivera went missing at the age of 19 on June 30th, 2012. The young mother was last seen at her father's house in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where she lived with her family members and a bedridden man who was under her care. Cindy left the home on the evening of June 30th, after telling the bedridden man that she would only be gone for a few minutes. Unfortunately, she never returned. Cindy left her infant son in the bathroom, and the bedridden man reportedly heard the baby crying all night. When Cindy's family members returned home the following morning, they found Cindy's slippers, a few cigarettes, and a lighter strewn across the ground outside. Both Cindy and Cindy's car were nowhere in sight. She was reported missing shortly thereafter.

Over the years, police have reportedly followed many leads in the case, but Cindy has still not been found. Cindy's family members believe that she was kidnapped and murdered. In fact, they originally named two different men as the probable killers--one of them being her ex-husband and father of one of her children. The family members later stated that they believed the ex-husband was the one responsible--and they had even heard rumors that he bragged about killing Cindy and burying her in a remote desert area. Despite this, police have not named the ex-husband or the other man as suspects in the case. They stated that they simply do not have probable cause to execute search warrants on either man. Neither of them have been publicly identified, but they reportedly have not been cooperative with the investigation and have both obtained lawyers.

Cindy remains missing today. The Las Vegas, New Mexico State Police are investigating her case. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact authorities at (505) 425-6771. 
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UPDATE (July 2021): A man named Anselmo “Chemo” Richard Ortiz (37) has been charged in connection with Cindy's disappearance. According to the affidavits, Ortiz is believed to have helped Cindy's ex-husband,  Christopher Trujillo, kidnap and kill Cindy around the time of her 2012 disappearance. 

Many have long suspected that both Trujillo and Ortiz were involved in Cindy's disappearance. However, investigators initially did not have enough have enough to charge either of them. A year after Cindy's disappearance, Ortiz was convicted on drug-trafficking charges and was in prison from 2013 to 2019. Upon his release, Ortiz reunited with Trujillo and began working for him at his towing company. At that point, their relationship began to sour. Trujillo reportedly accused of Ortiz of using company credit cards for personal charges. He also threatened to harm Ortiz's son. 

During April 2021, Ortiz reached out to investigators--stating he wanting to speak with them about Cindy's disappearance. He also began to reach out to Cindy's family members on Facebook. Around the same time, Trujillo began behaving erratically. On May 2nd, 2021, Trujillo's wife contacted the police and stated that Trujillo was threatened to harm both Ortiz and himself. Shortly thereafter, Trujillo killed himself in La Cienega. Police retrieved his phone, which included record conversations that incriminated him in Cindy's disappearance. During one of the conversations, Trujillo stated "I killed my ex-wife, Cindy Rivera, and buried her in the national forest. I’m going to tell them [Ortiz] killed her and buried her."

Ortiz remains in jail while his charges are pending. Cindy's remains have still not been found. 

The Murder of Faith Hedgepeth

19 year old Faith Hedgepeth was a junior at UNC Chapel Hill when she was brutally murdered in her off-campus apartment on September 7th...