Saturday, April 30, 2022

The Murder of Esperanza Vicente Mestizo

 

Esperanza Vicente-Mestizo was only 28 years-old when she was killed in front of her home in Mattawa, Washington on February 11th, 2012. The young mother was unloading groceries from her minivan around 11:00 PM when a man in a black hoodie and sweatpants approached and began shooting. Esperanza, who was just weeks away from giving birth to her fourth child, was struck several times in the torso. 

A neighbor ran outside after hearing the gunfire and saw Esperanza lying on the ground. The neighbor also reported hearing Esperanza's daughter calling out for her father, shouting "dad, dad, my mom was shot!" By this point, the shooter had fled on foot and was nowhere to be found when authorities and paramedics arrived. Esperanza was transported to a hospital in Othello, but unfortunately both she and her unborn child died shortly thereafter.

During the early stages of the investigation, detectives stated they were unsure about a motive for Esperanza's murder. Esperanza's common law husband was inside their home with their children at the time of her murder, and he is not considered a suspect. Grand County Chief Deputy Ryan Rectenwald said that detectives were "certain this was not a domestic violence situation." However, Rectenwald also said that they were unsure if incident was gang-related, and they also could not be certain that the shooting was not random.

Friends and neighbors of Esperanza are also baffled by her murder. Those who knew her maintain that she did not have any enemies. Esperanza's friend Lola Cruz reporters that she believed Esperanza's murder was premeditated. Lola and Esperanza had been friends for 15 years before Esperanza's death. Lola described her late friend as "a quiet mother who was not involved in crime." Esperanza's neighbors agreed that Esperanza and her family were not known to have any issues with anyone.

Over a decade has passed since Esperanza's murder, and her case still remains unsolved. Very little news has been reported on the case since 2012. No suspects or persons of interest have ever been publicly announced. 

Anyone with information that could help solve Esperanza's case is asked to contact Grant County Sheriff’s Office at 509-762-1160.
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Sources:

The Disappearance & Presumed Murder of Monica Moynan

Ex-boyfriend named person of interest in Holly Springs mom's ...

Monica Moynan vanished at the age of 22 in April 2019. The mother-of-two was living in Holly Springs, North Carolina at the time of her disappearance. Monica was last seen in person by 44-year-old Brian Sluss--her boyfriend and father of her two daughters. However, from April to June 2019, Monica's family members and friends continued to receive text messages from Monica's phone. Her mother grew slightly concerned when she noticed that Monica had stopped calling her--as she previously would call at least once every two weeks. Still, the texts Monica's family members and friends received seemed to match Monica's normal texting style, so they were initially not too worried.

That all changed in early July 2019, when the manager at Monica's apartment called her mother and expressed concern for the young woman. The manager had reportedly seen Brian Sluss at their apartment numerous times but had not seen Monica at all since late March 2019. A welfare check was requested, and when police were unable to pinpoint Monica's whereabouts, she was reported missing. 

When police questioned Brian, he told them he had last seen Monica in June 2019. He said that she had grown addicted to heroin and ran away. Brian also admitted to sending texts from Monica's phone pretending to be her--but he claimed to do that because he did not know how to tell her mother that she was addicted to heroin and had run away. 

As police continued to investigate Monica's disappearance, they determined that Monica had actually not been seen since April 2019--and that Brian was the last person to see her. Police also found evidence that Monica might have been pregnant at the time of her disappearance. At this point, Brian began to appear increasingly more suspicious. Those suspicions grew after investigators searched their home and found evidence of a "crime-scene clean-up" on their kitchen floor. Tiles from the floor were removed, and investigators were able to determine that a large amount of human blood had been present in the cracks between the tiles. That blood was later confirmed to belong to Monica.  From that point forward, authorities began to investigate Monica's case as a murder. Brian and his ex-wife Jarlyn Sluss were named as persons of interest, but initially no arrests were made. 

Months later, in May 2020, Brian was finally arrested and charged with Monica's murder. Just days later, Jarlyn was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice and accessory to murder after-the-fact. Authorities said that Jarlyn had information about Monica's disappearance for months, yet she did not make any effort to help the investigation. Instead, she opted to assist in covering for Brian.

(cbsnews.com)

Both Brian and Jarlyn remain behind bars as their charges are pending. Monica's remains have still not been found.
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UPDATE (April 2022): 

Brian Sluss has been found guilty of murdering Monica Moynan.

During his trial, Brian took the stand in his own defense. He testified that he and Monica and a volatile relationship. He also claimed that he was not in a relationship with Monica at the time of her disappearance, but they were living together. Brian continued to maintain that Monica left on her own accord and that he does not know what happened to her.

However, the evidence showed that Brian used Monica's cell phone and created Facebook pages under Monica's name to make it appear that she was alive and well. Brian admitted to being deceptive both before and after Monica vanished, but still claimed to not have anything to do with her disappearance. His testimony evidently did not sway the jury, as they ultimately found him guilty of first-degree murder with a special circumstance of domestic violence.

Although Monica's body has still not been found, the jury still got to see an example of Brian's violent tendencies. Jurors were shown nanny cam footage from Brian's house that showed him violently punching his four-year-old child. The footage drew gasps from numerous people inside the courtroom. 

Monica's case is the first murder case in Wake County to be prosecuted without a body. Brian Sluss is also the first person to be charged under Britny's Law--which allows a defendant to be charged with first-degree murder if they already have a domestic violence charge against the victim. 

Brian was sentenced to life in prison.

Friday, April 29, 2022

The Murder of Jennifer Rothwell


Jennifer Rothwell (28) was reportedly murdered by her husband, Beau Rothwell (pictured right) during November 2019. The couple had been married since 2015 and they lived in St. Louis, Missouri. On the evening of November 12th, 2019, Beau reported his wife missing after he claimed that she never returned from work. He explained that he saw Jennifer for the final time shortly before 6:30am that morning before she left the house. Jennifer's car was later found abandoned, and her phone was found inside the vehicle. Police also noticed that Beau's vehicle smelled strongly of bleach, especially inside the bed of the truck. Authorities then searched the Rothwell's home and found traces of blood and hair inside the basement. The home also strongly smelled like bleach, indicating that there was an attempt to clean up a crime scene. 

After the blood was positively identified as Jennifer's, police arrested and charged Beau with her murder. A few days later, on November 18th, 2019, Beau led police to Jennifer's remains. News about the case remained quiet over the following weeks, until early December 2019, when the case's warrants were unsealed. The warrants revealed that Jennifer was approximately six weeks pregnant at the time of her murder. Her phone web searches indicated that Beau was not happy about the pregnancy. Shortly before her murder, Jennifer reportedly searched "what to do if your husband is upset you are pregnant." This reveals a possible motive in the case, as well.

Beau remains behind bars as his case proceeds. He is currently facing charges of first-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence. 
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UPDATE (April 2022): Beau Rothwell has been found guilty of the first-degree murder of Jennifer Rothwell.

During his trial, Beau took the stand in his defense. While testifying, Beau admitted to killing Jennifer, but claimed it was an accident. He said that on the evening of Jennifer's death, the two of them argued over Beau's extramarital affair. The argument escalated after Jennifer claimed that she, too, had cheated and that her unborn baby was not actually his. Beau said that this sent him into a "red haze", and he then hit Jennifer in the head with a mallet. As she stumbled away, he hit her once more, causing her to lose consciousness and fall down the stairs. Beau then put his wife's body in his truck and drove to a spot an hour away to dispose of her in the woods. 

A paternity test later confirmed that Beau was the father of Jennifer's unborn baby. The prosecution claimed that Beau knew all along that he was the father, and that he planned the murder of his wife. He sent texts to his girlfriend saying that if Jennifer miscarried, he would leave the marriage to be with her instead. 

The jury deliberated on April 28th, 2022, before ultimately finding Beau guilty of murder in the first degree. He is scheduled to be sentenced in July. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Suspicious Death of Alina Fitzpatrick

 

Alina Fitzpatrick was only 17 years-old when she vanished in Oklahoma City on November 4th, 2011. Five days later, her nude body was found in an empty lot in a northeast part of the city. Alina's body was covered in bruises and there was a gag inside her mouth. 

The gruesome discovery of Alina's body led to more questions than answers about what happened to her. The mystery began on the evening of November 4th, after Alina had somebody drop her off at the intersection of NW 24th and Western Avenue. She never returned home and was never seen alive by her family and friends again. Alina's family members attempted to call her several times, but their calls went straight to voicemail. She was reported missing shortly thereafter. 

According to reports, Alina went to that intersection on the evening she vanished to visit someone in a nearby apartment complex. However, she was apparently vague about who exactly she planned to meet. After Alina's body was found, an autopsy revealed that she had been abused physically around the time of her death. A 2012 report from The Oklahoman states that there were "multiple abrasions on [Alina's] head caused by blunt force, as well as hemorrhaging and swelling." 

The autopsy also revealed that there was a high level of methamphetamine in Alina's system when she died. The medical examiner stated that the level of drugs she had ingested could have been fatal, therefore it is possible that she died of an overdose. Still, that does not explain how Alina obtained the injuries on her body, or why she was found nude and gagged. It's clear that somebody harmed Alina, but investigators have reportedly been unable to determine if she was murdered. 

There has been a lot of online speculation and criticism about the investigation, or lack thereof, into Alina's death. Some have accused the Oklahoma City Police of not sufficiently looking for suspects or persons of interest. Various sources have stated that police stopped investigating after the medical examiner revealed the possibility that Alina died of an overdose. Years have passed without any updates in the case.

Alina's case remains unsolved. If you have any information that could lead to answers about what happened to her, please go here to submit a tip.
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Sources:

Saturday, April 23, 2022

The Disappearance of Alicia Navarro


Alicia Navarro has been missing since September 2019. The young teen was just 14 years old at the time of her disappearance. She lived with her family in Glendale, Arizona and was a student at Bourgade Catholic High School. Alicia is described by her family members as a sweet and intelligent girl. Various reports state that Alicia is on the autism spectrum and struggles with social anxiety. Prior to her disappearance, Alicia preferred to spend her free time at home on her Xbox. She enjoyed gaming and was very active in the online gaming community. 

During the early morning hours of September 15th, 2019, Alicia left her house. She never returned, and her family has never seen or heard from her again. Alicia's mother Jessica Nuñez noticed that something was amiss around 7:00 AM. The back door to their house was opened, and chairs were stacked against their backyard fence. Jessica then went to check on Alicia but found her bedroom empty. A note was left behind that read "I ranaway [sic]. I will be back, I swear. I'm sorry." At that point, it became clear that Alicia snuck out of the house and had stacked the chairs against the fence so she could climb over it and exit the property. 

(source: crimescoop.org)

According to family members, running away is extremely out-of-character for Alicia. She reportedly preferred to follow a strict routine, which is common for people on the autism spectrum. Due to this, it seemed incredibly unusual for Alicia to leave on her own accord. Her mother told reporters that "in the past, [Alicia's] sweetness had been taken advantage of, and online predators had attempted to make contact with her." Alicia's family fears that this time around, an online predator was successful in grooming and luring Alicia into running away. 
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It has been difficult for investigators to track Alicia's online activity, as she brought both her laptop and cell phone with her when she left her home. There has not been any digital trace of her since she left.

Alicia and her family members got along well, and before vanishing, she never indicated that she was unhappy or wanted to leave. However, Alicia's mother Jessica noticed some changes in her daughter's behavior during the months leading up to her disappearance. Alicia had a new-found interest in comic books, classic rock, fitness, and protein powders--all things in which she had never previously shown interest. She also began using fragrances and makeup, which she never liked to use in the past due to her sensory issues and desire for strict routine. Alicia's family fears that these new interests were influenced by an online groomer. 

An article on Alicia's case from uncovered.com states that the last sighting of Alicia was reported on September 20th, 2019--five days after she ran away. The article says "someone who knew Alicia personally mentioned to her mother and investigators that the day before, on September 19th, they saw Alicia at La Pradera Park, a park approximately 1.5 miles away from her house. Multiple witnesses corroborated seeing a girl that looked like Alicia." Some of these witnesses mentioned that Alicia was seen walking with a black man with several visible tattoos on his hands, neck, and face. There have not been any other confirmed sightings of Alicia since the early days of her disappearance. 

Alicia's family members believe that she fully intended to return home. Although she brought her laptop and cell phone with her, she did not bring the chargers for either device. Alicia also did not bring any extra clothes. It has been theorized that a predator lured Alicia out under the guise of gaming together, and said predator forced her into sex trafficking or harmed her in some other way. 

Alicia remains missing today. The FBI is involved in the search. If you have any information that could lead to Alicia's whereabouts, please go here to submit a tip. 
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Sources:

Friday, April 22, 2022

The Murder of Kaytlynn Cargill

 

Kaytlynn Cargill was only 14 years-old when she was brutally murdered on June 19th, 2017.  Prior to her untimely death, Kaytlynn lived with her mother in Bedford, Texas. Another local Bedford teen named Jordin Roache has been charged with Kaytlynn's murder. Jordin was only 16 years-old at the time the murder occurred. 

On the evening of June 19th, Kaytlynn was spending time with a male friend at her mother's apartment. The two teens were reportedly smoking marijuana together when Kaytlynn began to exchange text messages with Jordin Roache. Through their text messages, Kaytlynn and Jordin arranged to meet up at Jordin's apartment complex on Oak Creek Lane so Kaytlynn could buy marijuana from him. Kaytlynn and her friend planned to use the marijuana to make dabs, and then return the dabs to Jordin so he could sell them. 

Kaytlynn and her friend left her mother's apartment around 5:30 PM so Kaytlynn could meet up with Jordin. Jordin requested that Kaytlynn come alone, so her friend stayed back and watched while Kaytlynn met up with Jordin and another unknown male near the apartment complex's pool. Shortly thereafter, the friend watched as Kaytlynn ran away from Jordin and the unknown male. Once she met up with her friend again, she explained that she ran because Jordin and the unknown male had seen the friend watching them. 

Kaytlynn decided to try and meet up with Jordin again about an hour later. This time, Kaytlynn and her friend walked Kaytlynn's dog to a local dog park. Once there, Kaytlynn left the dog with her friend while she walked back towards Jordin's apartment complex. The friend expected Kaytlynn to return after a few minutes. Unfortunately, she never came back. 

--continued from Tumblr post:

While waiting for Kaytlynn to return, her friend tied her dog to a tree and played basketball at the park's basketball courts. After 30 minutes passed without Kaytlynn's return, the friend decided to go home. Then, the friend sent Kaytlynn a text message to ask if she was okay. After the texts went unanswered, the friend decided to return to the dog park. By that point, Kaytlynn's mother had already gone to the park to look for her and the dog. Kaytlynn's mother reported her missing shortly thereafter. 

Investigators quickly learned that Kaytlynn had been in touch with Jordin Roache shortly before her disappearance. They first questioned Jordin on June 20th, 2017. Jordin told investigators that he planned to meet Kaytlynn at the dog park, but that she was not there when he showed up. The next day, investigators learned that a body matching Kaytlynn's description was found in a landfill in Arlington County. The body was positively identified as that of Kaytlynn Cargill the following day. She had been bludgeoned to death.

The landfill where Kaytlynn was found

After discovering the body, investigators checked the route sheets from the sanitation department. The route sheets confirmed that the dumpsters at the Oak Creek Lane apartments were emptied and transported to the landfill on the date the body was found. Kaytlynn was last seen alive at the Oak Creek Lane apartments--where Jordin Roache lived. 

Oak Creek Lane apartments

Investigators then conducted searches at Jordin's apartment. While there, they found blood spatter in several different places throughout the apartment. The blood was swabbed and then sent in for forensic testing. Less than a month later, it was confirmed that the blood found in Jordin's apartment belong to Kaytlynn. Investigators spent the next month gathering evidence before finally arresting Jordin on August 24th, 2017. He has been charged as an adult with Kaytlynn's murder. It's believed that Jordin beat Kaytlynn to death with a hammer. 

Jordin Roache

In 2019, it was announced that Jordin was going to undergo a mental health evaluation before the case continued. It is unclear if that evaluation has been completed or if it is still ongoing. Jordin remains in custody as he awaits further proceedings. 
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UPDATE (4/22/22):

Jordin Roache has pleaded guilty to the murder of Kaytlynn Cargill. As part of his plea deal, Jordin was sentenced to 10 years and prison and will receive credit for time already served. At this time, there is not an explanation for what lead to the seemingly short sentence for first degree murder. 

A statement from the Bedford Police reads "This day has been a long time coming and we're grateful for the hard work and countless hours put in by Bedford Police officers, detectives, and forensic investigators along with the prosecutors from the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office. The Cargill family remains in our thoughts as we reach the conclusion of this tragic case."

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

The Disappearance of Suzanne Morphew

Suzanne Morphew search: Investigators find 'personal item' - CNN

Suzanne Morphew (49) has been missing since May 10th, 2020. The mother-of-two disappeared on Mother's Day, after she left her Maysville, Colorado home to go for a bike ride. Suzanne never returned home, and a neighbor reported her missing later that evening.

Searches for Suzanne have so far ended unsuccessfully. Reports state that search crews "of more than 100 investigators, eight tracking dogs and four drones, as well as members of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, South Ark Swiftwater Rescue and Reach Air Ambulance have been unable to find her." However, investigators stated that they found a "personal item" belonging to Suzanne during their search for her on May 14th. Investigators have not disclosed what exactly they found, but Suzanne's family members have reported that they found her bicycle on May 10th--the day she vanished. While authorities have not confirmed this, it suggests that whatever they found on the 14th was a different item. A search of the areas surrounding where the item was found did not yield any additional evidence.

Suzanne's husband, Barry Morphew, put a $100,000 reward in place for anyone with information about Suzanne's whereabouts. That reward was later increased to $200,000 after a friend donated money to the case. Suzanne's family members have confirmed that Barry was in Denver on the day she vanished--which is an approximate 3-hour drive away from their home in Maysville. 

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is now assisting with Suzanne's case. If you have any information that could lead to her whereabouts, please contact their tip line at (719) 312-7530.
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UPDATE (October 2020): 

New details have surfaced about Barry Morphew's alibi on the day of Suzanne's disappearance. 

It was originally reported that Barry was in the Denver area on the day Suzanne vanished. It is believed that he left the family's Maysville home during the early morning hours of May 10th, and then returned later that afternoon after learning of his wife's disappearance. Barry went to the Denver area to work on a landscaping job. He was hired by the president of the landscaping company, who also happens to be his close friend. However, Barry's name is reportedly not on any documentation related to this specific job. Additionally, the job was reportedly scheduled for Monday, May 11th--not Sunday, May 10th. In fact, the city did not issue a special permit for the work to be completed on a weekend, which would have been required for this particular job.

All of this information leads to many questions. Did Barry actually go to the Denver area that day? And if so, why did he go a whole a day earlier than necessary? Why did he lie about the date of the job? Suspicions have been cast on Barry since the beginning of the investigation. Many people, including Suzanne's family members, believe that he might be responsible for Suzanne's disappearance. So far, though, he has not been charged with anything related to her case, and Suzanne remains missing today. 
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UPDATE (May 2021): 

Barry Morphew has been arrested and charged with Suzanne's murder. 

The arrest comes nearly a year after Suzanne's disappearance. Authorities have yet to disclose any other details, but they have revealed that Barry is facing charges of first-degree murder, attempting to influence a public servant, and tampering with evidence. 

Suzanne's body has still not been found. 
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UPDATE (April 2022):

A judge has dismissed first-degree murder charges against Barry Morphew. This ruling comes after the prosecution filed a motion to dismiss the charges without prejudice--which means Barry can be charged again at a later date. 

The prosecution has implied that they hope to charge Barry again once Suzanne's body is found. Authorities said that they are close to finding her remains, but the snow is preventing them from doing so. Court documents state that authorities have "zeroed in on a remote and mountainous area near the Morphew's home." Said area is currently covered by five feet of snow.

As of today, Suzanne is still missing. 

The Bizarre Case of Sherri Papini


Sherri Papini vanished from her family's Redding, California home on November 2nd, 2016. The then-34-year-old last spoke to her husband, Keith Papini, earlier that day. When Keith returned from work, he noticed that Sherri was not home. He was also notified that Sherri had not picked up their two children from daycare, which was quite unusual. 

Keith then used the Find My iPhone app to track Sherri's phone. The app indicated that Sherri's phone was on Sunrise Drive, located less than a mile away from the Papini's home. Keith went to the location and found Sherri's phone on the ground on a trail. Her headphones were also found, and strands of Sherri's hair were tangled into the wires. Keith called police to report his wife missing shortly after this discovery.

The Shasta County Sheriff's Office sent search teams to Sunset Drive and Old Oregon Trail, but they were unable to find any trace of Sherri. Due to her phone being found on the ground, many began to speculate that Sherri had been abducted while jogging. On the other hand, there was also speculation that the scene might have been staged. The neighborhood that Sherri disappeared from is considered a quiet and safe area where crime is rarely reported. Additionally, it was reported that Sherri's phone appeared to be placed, rather than tossed or dropped, on the ground. 

Inevitably, people began to wonder if Keith had harmed Sherri and then staged her abduction. However, Keith cooperated with the investigation and police were able to confirm that he was at work during the time Sherri vanished. Still, the speculation about the abduction being staged remained. The rumors about what happened to Sherri seemed to be evenly divided--with some believing that Sherri truly was abducted, while others believed that disappearance was a hoax orchestrated by Sherri and possibly Keith as well. 

Three weeks after Sherri's disappearance, on November 24th, 2016, Sherri re-emerged. Around 4:30 that morning, the California Highway Patrol received several 911 reporting that a disheveled woman was seen running alongside Interstate 5 in Yolo County--located approximately 145 miles away from the Papini home in Redding. An officer located the woman with a truck driver who had stopped to help her. The woman identified herself as Sherri Papini. She had bindings around both her ankles and one of her arms. Additionally, Sherri was covered in cuts and bruises, a large amount of her hair had been cut, and had lost a considerable amount of weight. 

Sherri was transported to the nearby Woodland Hospital, where she was reunited with Keith. While at the hospital, Sherri explained that she was abducted by two Hispanic women and held captive in a bedroom in an unknown location. She said that the women physically abused her and at one point, they held her down to a coffee table and branded her. Police were able to confirm that Sherri did, in fact, have a brand on her body that was not there before she vanished. The brand had an indistinguishable symbol. 

Police then began to search for Sherri's kidnappers. Meanwhile, many continued to believe that her abduction was a hoax. There were many details of the story that seemed to not add up--and a motive for her kidnapping remained unclear. However, in the early stages of the investigation, police continued to maintain that they had "no reason" to not believe Sherri. Sherri later pursued compensation from California Victim’s Compensation Board and received around $30,000 from the state between the years of 2017 and 2021. 

Years passed without any updates in the case. Then, in March 2022, Sherri was arrested and charged with of making false statements to federal law enforcement officers and for mail fraud. Upon her arrest, it was revealed that Sherri had actually been with an ex-boyfriend in Costa Mesa during the time she claimed to be abducted. 

The news of Sherri's arrest also revealed many more bizarre details about her past and the events surrounding her disappearance.

--Continued from Tumblr:

As previously noted, many people speculated that Sherri's abduction was a hoax from the start. This speculation partially was fueled by statements from people who knew Sherri personally. Once Sherri's case garnered national attention, rumors began to spread that Sherri had a history of lying about being abused by family members and ex-boyfriends.  Sherri's arrest affidavit states that police actually interviewed one of her exes while she was missing, and he seemingly confirmed these rumors.

Papini Aff. ¶ 4.

Sherri was also accused of writing a blog post containing statements of white supremacy against Hispanic people. The post was published to MySpace in 2007 with an author listed as a 'Sherri Graeffe' from Shasta County, California. According to the arrest affidavit, the post read, in part, "I used to come home in tears, because I was getting suspended from school all the time for defending myself against the Latinos. The chief problem was that I was drug-fee [sic], white and proud of my blood and heritage. This really irked a group of Latino girls, which would constantly rag and attack me."


Papini Aff. ¶ 18 and 19

 The end of the post reads, "Being white is more than just being aware of my skin, but of standing behind Skinheads – who are always around, in spirit, as well – and having pride for my country."
Papini Aff. ¶ 19

Sherri denied that she was the author to this blog post, but it was noted that she had hired an attorney to have the post removed from the web before her disappearance. This blog post fueled the rumors about Sherri faking her abduction, since she told police that her abductors were Hispanic women.

The rumors about Sherri faking her abduction continued, but investigators maintained that they were still searching for her kidnappers. Investigators eventually had a break in the case when they discovered the presence of unknown male DNA on a pair of underwear that Sherri had worn while she was missing. In 2019, investigators requested a familial DNA search for the unknown contributor. Their request was approved, and in March 2020, 
investigators were notified of a potential relative of the unknown male. The relative turned out to be the father of one of Sherri Papini's ex-boyfriends. 

From this point forward, investigators began to unravel the truth about Sherri's disappearance. On August 10th, 2020, investigators interviewed the ex-boyfriend for the first time. He told investigators that he did not want to contact them, but had always planned to be forthcoming if they were to contact him. The ex-boyfriend then explained that he helped Sherri "run away." According to the arrest affidavit, the ex believed that Sherri was being abused, and he wanted to help her.


Papini Aff. ¶ 30

The ex-boyfriend continued to explain that he picked Sherri up on the day of her disappearance, then drove her back to his home in Costa Mesa. Sherri did not leave the home the entire time she was there. 

The ex also said that Sherri seemed to purposely try and lose weight by eating very little. She also cut her own hair and asked him to brand her. He complied with Sherri's request, and eventually placed the brand on her right shoulder using a wood burning tool from Hobby Lobby.

When asked if he and Sherri had been intimate, the ex-boyfriend explained that "nothing romantic" had happened between them while she stayed with him. He explained that they communicated through burner phones for almost a year before Sherri's disappearance. He initially thought that something romantic might happen when Sherri asked him to pick her up, but she did not seem interested. 

Papini Aff. ¶ 37

The arrest affidavits later state that Sherri told the ex-boyfriend that she was ready to go home shortly before Thanksgiving 2016. She told her ex that she missed her children and wanted to return to them. Her ex began to drive her back towards Redding on the evening of November 23rd, and he dropped her off on a rural road off Interstate 5.

Investigators were eventually able to corroborate the ex-boyfriend's recollection of events. Just days after speaking with him, investigators confronted Sherri with this evidence. Sherri continued to maintain that she was abducted by two Hispanic women. 

Over the year and a half, investigators continued to build their case before finally arresting Sherri in March of 2022. While many are not surprised by her arrest, there are also some people who are devastated by Sherri's arrest and feel betrayed by her. A private investigator hired by the Papini family to find Sherri's kidnappers told People that Sherri had been the first person to hoax him throughout his 30 year-old career. Many others are angry about all the resources and dollars that were wasted on the kidnapping investigation.

Keith Papini and her other family members continue to support Sherri after her arrest. A day after she was taken into custody, the family released the following statement: “We love Sherri and are appalled by the way in which law enforcement ambushed her this afternoon in a dramatic and unnecessary manner in front of her children. If requested, Sherri would have fully complied and come to the police station, as she has done multiple times before, where this could have been handled in a more appropriate way. Sherri and Keith have cooperated with law enforcement’s requests despite repeated attempts to unnecessarily pit them against each other, empty threats to publicly embarrass them and other conduct that was less than professional. We are confused by several aspects of the charges and hope to get clarification in the coming days.”

Sherri remains in jail as her case is pending. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.
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UPDATE (April 12, 2022): 

Sherri Papini has agreed to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of making false statements. The Sacramento Bee reports that Sherri has made a statement through her attorney, saying, "I am deeply ashamed of myself for my behavior and so sorry for the pain I’ve caused my family, my friends, all the good people who needlessly suffered because of my story and those who worked so hard to try to help me. I will work the rest of my life to make amends for what I have done.”

Sherri is expected to appear before a magistrate judge at some point this week. According to Crime Online, Sherri will first plead not guilty, but then she will later appear before a district court judge to change her plea to guilty. The judge will then determine her sentence. 

Updates will be provided when available.
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UPDATE (April 19, 2022):

Sherri Papini has official pleaded guilty to her charges and has admitted that her kidnapping was a hoax. She is due to be sentenced in July 2022.


Sunday, April 17, 2022

The Disappearance and Death of Olivia Lone Bear


Olivia Lone Bear vanished at the age of 32 on October 24th, 2017. The mother of four disappeared after leaving a local bar near her home on the Fort Berthold Reservation in New Town, North Dakota. Olivia was seen leaving the bar in a pickup truck that she had borrowed from a friend. After that, she was never seen or heard from again. Olivia's father reported her missing two days later.

Olivia's loved ones were immediately worried when she fell out-of-touch. It was very uncharacteristic for her to not check in with her family or answer her phone calls. After Olivia was reported missing, her family members learned that her wallet, cell phone, and the clothes she was wearing that night were inside her home. Due to this, it is believed that Olivia made it home after leaving the bar on the evening of her disappearance. What happened after she arrived home remains a mystery.

Nine months passed without any significant news in Olivia's case. Then, on July 27th, 2018, a group of volunteers spotted the vehicle Olivia was driving underwater in Lake Sakakawea. Authorities were notified, and a few days later, professional search teams entered the water. It was then that the pickup truck was removed from the water. Inside the vehicle was Olivia's body. She had been buckled into the front passenger seat. 

An autopsy was unable to determine the cause of Olivia's death. There were reportedly no signs of significant trauma on her body. Reports state that the medical personnel were "unable to determine a definitive traumatic, natural, or toxicological cause for her death."
 

Since Olivia was found in the passenger side of the car, it seems probable that somebody else drove the car into the lake. Still, authorities have not labeled Olivia's death as a homicide at this time. However, investigators maintain that foul play has not been ruled out. 

The lake where Olivia was found is located just a short distance away from her home. Many have questioned why it took so long for her to be found, and the investigation into her case has been criticized by locals. The case was being investigated by Tribal PD, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and by state officials. Olivia's brother said there were plans to search the lake months before Olivia was found, but the investigative agencies were unable to decide who was going to conduct the search. It was not until the volunteers spotted the vehicle that the professionals finally decided to enter the water.

Olivia's case remains unsolved today. The FBI is now involved in the case, but they have revealed very little information about the investigation. If you have any information that could help solve Olivia's case, please go here to submit a tip. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

List Series: Suspects on the Run

 A list of cases in which the prime suspect or person of interest is on the run and hiding from authorities. 


The Murder of Joana Peca

Joana Peca was murdered in front of her young children on July 31st, 2021. The 27-year-old woman was shot multiple times as she sat in her vehicle near the Woodlawn Memorial Gardens in St. Petersburg, Florida. St. Petersburg police believe that Joana was shot by 38-year-old Benjamin 'Bambi' Williams. There is currently a warrant out for Williams' arrest.

Williams is the father of Joana's youngest son, who was only four-months old at the time of his mother's death. On the day of Joana's murder, Williams asked Joana to meet him at the Woodlawn Memorial Gardens. Joana brought both her baby and her four-year-old son with her. At some point after arriving, Joana was sitting in the front seat of her car, holding her baby when Williams reportedly shot her multiple times. Williams then fled the scene.

Police have been unable to locate Williams. Sources say that Williams is connected to "several" open homicide cases. He also has a criminal background that spans over 20 years. There is currently a $20,000 reward available for anyone with information on Williams' whereabouts. [read more]


The Murder of Tiara Lott

Tiara Lott (22) vanished in Buffalo, New York in January 2021. Two weeks later, Tiara's body was found alongside train tracks on Wex Avenue. Investigators have not released her exact cause of death, but they are investigating it as a homicide.

Tiara's boyfriend Andre Whigham is a person of interest in the case. Tiara's loved ones were concerned that Whigham was abusive towards Tiara. One of Tiara's friends reported seeing several bruises on her face during a video call that took place shortly before her disappearance. 

Suspicions have inevitably fallen upon Whigham, but police have been unable to question him. His whereabouts are currently unknown. Whigham is described as a Black male with several neck tattoos. He is approximately 5'9" and 210 lbs. It is believed that he is armed and dangerous. U.S. Marshals are pleading for anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts to come forward. [read more]


The Disappearance of Kassandra Ramirez
(image source: Facebook)

Kassandra Ramirez has been missing since September 19th, 2018. The then-25-year-old lived with her cousin in Bronx, New York at the time of her disappearance. On the evening Kassandra vanished, she left home to meet up with her ex-boyfriend John 'Kilo' O'Brien. She never returned home and has never been seen or heard from again.

O'Brien has told conflicting stories about the last time he saw Kassandra. He first said that Kassandra never showed up to meet him, and then later said he dropped her off at Hunter's Point train station in Queens. There is no evidence to confirm either story. Kassandra was not captured on any surveillance footage at the Hunter's Point train station, and there is no other evidence to suggest she was there.  

O'Brien is the only named person of interest in Kassandra's case. He has since dropped out of sight. Police are reportedly unaware of his current whereabouts. There are other suspicious circumstances surrounding Kassandra's disappearance as well, and the FBI is involved in the search. [read more]



The Murder of Courtney Phillips

Courtney Phillips (23) was found murdered inside a San Antonio, Texas residence on April 5th, 2015. She had planned to meet up with 19-year-old Isaac Estrada for a date at the Edge Avenue residence where she was killed. A friend dropped her off there that afternoon, and then returned to the residence a few hours later and found Courtney's body. She had been stabbed several times in the neck. 

Investigators were quickly able to determine that Isaac had invited Courtney to the residence, but he did not actually live there, and the homeowners were out of town when the incident occurred. It is believed that Courtney was lured to the residence by Isaac, who intended to rob her. Three months before the murder, Isaac was charged with aggravated robbery in a similar case in which he met up with the victim under the pretext of a date and then robbed her. 

Isaac has been on the run since Courtney's murder. Authorities believe he is in Mexico, but they have been unable to pinpoint his exact whereabouts. [read more]


The Disappearance of Meta Valentine

Meta Valentine has been missing since October 28th, 2014. The then-42-year-old was last seen in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Meta's ex-boyfriend Reginald McDowell was almost immediately identified as a person-of-interest in her disappearance. Reginald is the father of one of Meta's three children, and the couple had a tumultuous relationship that spanned back many years.

Reginald has a history of violence. In 1999, while Meta was dating a different man, Reginald reportedly kidnapped, robbed, and shot at the couple. He was eventually arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree kidnapping and one count each of first-degree burglary and shooting into an occupied vehicle. In 2001, Reginald was sentenced to 15 years for those charges. He only ended up serving about 10 years and was released in 2011.

Meta and Reginald got back together upon his release, but by October 2014, Meta had enough. She broke up with him just two weeks before her disappearance. These circumstances, along with their rocky past, made Reginald an obvious suspect. Eventually, investigators found surveillance footage that showed Reginald chasing Meta at her apartment complex on the night of her disappearance.

In 2018, police charged Reginald with first-degree kidnapping and murder in Meta's case. However, despite these charges, Reginald has still not been arrested. Police have not been unable to locate or contact Reginald since the charges were filed. It is believed that he is in hiding. [read more]


The Disappearance of Sage Smith

Sage Smith has been missing since November 20th, 2012. The young woman had recently come out as transgender shortly before her disappearance. On the day she was last seen, Sage left her Charlottesville, Virginia apartment after telling her roommate that she was meeting up with a man named Erik McFadden. Sage and Erik reportedly met online and it's believed that they were meeting up for a date. Sage never returned home and has never been seen or heard from again. 

By the time authorities determined that Sage had met up with a man named Erik McFadden, they were unable to locate him. In fact, Erik’s girlfriend ended up reporting him missing on November 24th—just four days after Sage was last seen. However, Erik ended up contacting Charlottesville authorities three days later. He told them that he did plan to meet up with Sage on the evening of November 20th, but Sage never showed up. Still, investigators asked Erik to meet with them in person, but he told them that he couldn’t because he was in New York. When investigators asked him when he would be back, he hung up.

Erik's girlfriend later told police that Erik planned to take a bus back to Charlottesville on November 29th. The next day, though, Erik changed his mind. He sent his girlfriend an e-mail saying that Sage was blackmailing him by threatening to tell people that the two of them had sex. Erik also stated that he did meet up with Sage on the night of November 20th, but he did not know what happened to her. This version of events clearly differed from the story that Erik told authorities, and he was officially classified as a person of interest after that. Unfortunately, investigators have never been able to question Erik in person. He reportedly has never returned to Charlottesville, and the last sign of him was an e-mail he sent to his girlfriend in May 2013, from an untraceable e-mail address.

In 2016, the investigation into Sage's disappearance was reclassified as a homicide. Three years later, on June 26th, 2019, police announced that they officially filed a missing persons report for Erik McFadden. To date, he remains the only person of interest in Sage's case. It is believed that Erik is in hiding. Both he and Sage remain missing today. [read more]


The Disappearance of Desiree Thompson

Desiree Thompson vanished under suspicious circumstances on January 7th, 2012. The then-30-year-old was last seen that evening after a frightening incident with her estranged ex-husband, Edward ‘Face’ Gibson III. There were reportedly several instances of domestic violence and encounters with the police throughout Desiree’s relationship with Gibson. On the night of her disappearance, Gibson showed up unannounced at Desiree’s home in California City, California. When Desiree answered the door, Gibson pointed a shotgun at her face. It appears that no shots were actually fired at that time, as Desiree was seen alive just a few hours after that incident. After that last sighting, she was never seen or heard from again.

Gibson is the only known person of interest in Desiree's disappearance. He is also wanted on numerous other charges including burglary, domestic violence, violating a court order, brandishing a firearm, and possessing a firearm as a felon. Investigators have been unable to locate him, and it appears he has been on the run since Desiree's disappearance. Both remain missing today. [read more]

Saturday, April 9, 2022

The Disappearance of Morgan Martin


Morgan Keyanna Martin was four months pregnant when she vanished on July 25th, 2012. Although she was only 17 years old at the time, Morgan was excited about motherhood and was enjoying the preparation for her baby. Shortly after midnight on July 25th, Morgan stepped onto the front porch of her family’s St. Petersburg, Florida home to talk to Jacobee Flowers—a 24 year-old man she claimed to be the father of her unborn child. Morgan told her mother that she wanted to show Jacobee a sonogram picture, and that she would come back inside after a few minutes. Unfortunately, Morgan never went back inside and has never been seen or heard from again. Her purse and sonogram picture were both left behind. Her cell phone disappeared with her, but has not been used since before she vanished.

When questioned by authorities, Jacobee denied any involvement in Morgan’s disappearance. In fact, he claimed that he and Morgan were merely acquaintances. He denied fathering her child and even sleeping with her at all. Investigators initially did not have enough evidence to charge Jacobee with anything, and Morgan’s case quickly grew cold. Despite this, those closest to Morgan still firmly believed that Jacobee was responsible for her disappearance.

Jacobee Flowers
In March 2015, St. Petersburg PD put together a cold case unit, which was able to revive Morgan’s case. Throughout the following year, investigators re-interviewed witnesses and re-examined the evidence they had collected. It is unclear what exactly was discovered this time around that wasn’t discovered in the beginning, but it was enough for a major break in the case. On June 23rd, 2016, Jacobee Flowers was indicted on first degree murder charges in Morgan’s case.


According to the indictment, Jacobee had lied to investigators about Morgan being just an acquaintance. Evidence from Jacobee’s text messages revealed that he acknowledged having sexual relations with Morgan on numerous occasions. He allegedly begged Morgan not to go through the pregnancy, as he was already supporting three children and did not want to support another one. Facebook messages between between the two reveal that Morgan told Jacobee that if he did not pay child support, she would report him for having sex with a minor. This evidence provided investigators with a motive for Jacobee to kill Morgan: not only did he not want to support another child, he also did not want to get charged with statutory rape.

Jacobee remains in custody while he awaits trial for Morgan’s murder. Morgan’s body has not been located.
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UPDATE (April 2022): After years of delays, Jacobee Flowers has pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Morgan Martin. 

Jacobee, now 34, was originally charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to second-degree murder as part of a plea agreement. Despite this admission of guilt, Morgan's body has still not been found.

Jacobee is scheduled to be sentenced at the end of April.
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UPDATE (April 2022 cont.): Authorities are searching an area in Pike County, Alabama for Morgan's remains. 

Reports state that investigators were lead to that area based on information they received from Jacobee Flowers. As part of Jacobee's plea deal, he will spent 25 years in prison if they find Morgan's remains. If they do not find the remains, Jacobee will spend 40 years in prison. 

As of right now, Morgan has still not been found. The search is ongoing and updates are expected.

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