Monday, May 30, 2022

The Disappearance and Murder of Phylicia Barnes

 

Phylicia Barnes disappeared at the age of 16 on December 28th, 2010. The young girl vanished while visiting her half-sister in Baltimore, Maryland. Phylicia is originally from Monroe, North Carolina. Prior to her disappearance, Phylicia was a straight-A student on track to graduate early. She had dreams of getting a degree and becoming a teacher. Unfortunately, Phylicia's life was cut short before her dreams could come to fruition. 

During the months leading up to her disappearance, Phylicia had grown closer to her half-sister, Deena Barnes. Phylicia and Deena were fathered by the same man but were raised separately by their respective mothers. The two sisters eventually connected on Facebook and began to get to know each other. Although Deena was 12 years older, the two began to form a strong bond. 

Phylicia also began to get to know Deena's boyfriend, Michael Johnson. Deena and Michael had been together for almost ten years by the time Phylicia entered the picture. Michael would refer to Phylicia as his "lil sis", but Phylicia reportedly had feelings for him. According to report from True Crime Daily, Phylicia had a "passing schoolgirl crush on Michael". Over a period of a few months, Phylicia and Michael exchanged around 1200 text messages. The contents of the messages were reportedly not inappropriate, but the number of messages between the two seemed odd given the circumstances. 

During December 2010, Phylicia traveled from North Carolina to Baltimore to visit Deena. While there, Deena provided Phylicia with alcohol and taught her how to play drinking gamesincluding games that involved nudity. Around the same time period, Deena's relationship with Michael had fallen apart and the two had broken up. On the day Phylicia vanished, Michael stopped by Deena's apartment to pick up some of his items. Deena was at work when Michael arrived at the apartment. Phylicia, who originally planned to go work with Deena that day, had decided to stay home and sleep in. She told Deena that she would walk to a store at Reistertown Road Plaza at some point during the day. Phylicia was reportedly last seen walking towards the shopping center. She never returned and was never seen or heard from again. 

Michael was last known person to see Phylicia alive. Police inevitably questioned both him and Deena, but neither were immediately named as suspects. Then, on April 20th, 2011, human remains were found floating in the Susquehanna River. Dental records confirmed that the remains belonged to Phylicia Barnes. It is believed that she died from asphyxiation. 

Over a year later, on April 25th, 2012, Michael Johnson was arrested in connection with Phylicia's murder. Two days later, investigators stated that they believed Michael killed Phylicia inside Deena's apartment and then transported her body in a 35-gallon tub. Neighbors reportedly had seen Michael carrying a tub matching that description on the day of Phylicia's disappearance. In fact, one witness even claimed to have helped Michael carry said tub. 

After Michael's arrest, it appeared that Phylicia's case was one step closer to being solved and closed. Unfortunately, this would end up being untrue. 

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Michael maintained his innocence while awaiting trial. The prosecution's case was mostly circumstantial at this point, and Michael's defense attorneys argued that there was not enough physical evidence to prove guilt. Michael's attorneys backed Michael's claim that he was only at the apartment on the day Phylicia disappeared because he wanted to gather his personal belongings. The attorneys also claimed that Michael was in a new relationship following his breakup with Deena and had moved on. 

An overturned verdict.

When Michael finally went to trial, both Deena and her sister testified that Michael provided Phylicia with alcohol and then made sexual advances on her. A neighbor testified that he had seen Michael carrying the tub out of the apartment on the day of Phylicia's disappearance. There was no physical evidence to support Deena's or her sister's testimony. There was also room for reasonable doubt as it was possible that the tub simply carried Michael's personal belongings. There was no physical evidence linking Phylicia to the tub.

However, there was one witness who caught the juror's attention: James McCray. McCray testified that he saw the body of Phylicia Barnes inside Deena's apartment on the day she went missing. He said that Michael confessed that he had suffocated Phylicia with a pillow, and he needed help disposing of her body. Following this testimony, the jury found Michael guilty of second-degree murder. 

In an unusual turn of events, the verdict did not end up sticking. Prior to Michael's sentencing, prosecutors from a neighboring county informed the Baltimore prosecutors that James McCray was an unreliable witness. McCray reportedly had a habit of making false statements about various criminal cases. Upon this discovery, the judge overturned Michael's conviction and ordered a retrial. 

Video evidence.

Prosecutors planned to introduce other evidence to establish Michael's motive in the new trial. While gathering evidence, it was discovered that there was a video tape that involved sexual content between Phylicia and several adults. The video reportedly portrayed Phylicia, Michael, Deena, and Michael's brother. In the footage, the four of them are visibly intoxicated and engaged in sexual activity. 

Prosecutors were hopeful that this video was the evidence they needed to help convict Michael. Unfortunately, the jury never got to weigh in. On January 20th, 2015, the judge declared a mistrial and then ultimately dropped all the charges against Michael. Due to the unusual circumstances, the prosecution was granted a third trial. 

A third acquittal.

Michael's third trial began in January 2018. This time, yet another judge declared a mistrial. After listening to the prosecution's case, the judge felt that they failed to provide enough evidence or establish a strong enough motive. Michael Johnson was yet again acquitted of all charges. 

After his third acquittal, filed a lawsuit against one of the homicide detectives working Phylicia's case. He reportedly sued for $750,000.

Phylicia's impact.


Phylicia's case inspired increased advocacy for missing children in Maryland. In 2012, a bill called Phylicia's Law was passed by Maryland's General Assembly. The bill requires the state of Maryland "to publish a list of missing children along with statistics, and a list of volunteers who can aid law enforcement in the search for missing children."


An unsolved murder.

As of present day, the murder of Phylicia Barnes is considered unsolved. There is still a widespread belief that Michael Johnson is responsible for Phylicia's death, but this has never been proven. Her case remains open, but it is unclear if any other persons of interest have been identified. 
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The Murder of Lanchya Zimmer




Lanchya Zimmer was only 27 years-old when she was found murdered on December 5th, 2019. The young woman was found deceased inside a vehicle in Anchorage, Alaska. On the morning Lanchya was found, Anchorage police received a call about an abandoned Mazda 6 in the 500 block of Sitka Street. The sedan in question was registered in police's database as stolen. When police arrived on the scene, they found Lanchya deceased inside the car. Her death was later declared a homicide.

Lanchya's exact cause of death has not been released, but police stated that Lanchya's body sustained traumatic injuries. It is also unclear how Lanchya is connected to the stolen Mazda her body was found inside. The car was reported as missing from the 2000 block of East Third Avenue on November 4th, 2019—over a month before Lanchya's body was found. 


On December 15th, 2019, Anchorage Daily News reported that Anchorage police were looking for a person of interest connected to the stolen vehicle. The article states, "police are looking for a person in the area [on Nov. 4] who was wearing a gray/dark green hooded jacket with black shoulders, white shoes, dark faded pants, and a full backpack." It is unclear if this person is also considered a person of interest in Lanchya's murder.

Surveillance footage of the P.O.I.

Since that December 2019 article, there has seemingly been little-to-no coverage on the investigation into Lanchya's murder. There are also very few details available about Lanchya's life or the events leading up to her death. It is unclear if the person of interest was ever identified. No suspects have ever been publicly named in Lanchya's case.

Lanchya's case remains open. If you have any information that could lead to the person(s) responsible for her death, please submit an online tip using this form.
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The Disappearance and Death of Juanita Diane Roxy Coleman

 

Juanita Diane Roxy Coleman vanished at the age of 19 on April 1st, 2016. She was last seen at her mother's home in Jackson, Mississippi. Two years later, on March 13th, 2018, Juanita's partially burned remains were found by workers from a tree-cutting company in Bolton. Her remains were not identified until May 2022.

It took many years for Juanita to be identified because she was not reported missing until March 2020--four years after she was last seen. Reports state that Juanita's mother filed a missing person's report on March 11th, 2020. It is unclear why it took four years for Juanita to finally be reported missing, and there are very few details available about the circumstances of her disappearance.

Once Juanita was reported missing, very few news outlets shared information about her disappearance. Some of the very few sources that posted about her disappearance stated that Juanita's family heard she had been shot in the face, but there was no further elaboration on that detail. If the family had, in fact, heard this about Juanita, it's unclear if they heard about it back in 2016 or not. If so, it seems even more questionable that she was not reported missing until 2020. 

Unbeknownst to investigators, Juanita had already been found deceased a whole two years before she was reported missing. In April 2022, Juanita's mother provided investigators with a DNA sample. That DNA sample was positively linked to the partially burned remains that had been found in Bolton during 2018. In May 2022, it was announced that the remains had been positively identified as that of Juanita Coleman. 

Forensic investigators have been unable to determine the cause or manner of Juanita's death. However, they have stated that her death is suspicious. Very few other details have been released.

There are many more questions than there are answers in Juanita's case. Very little information is available. If you have any information that could help solve Juanita's case, please contact the Jackson Police Department at 601-960-1234.
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Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Shooting Death of Danielle Nemetz

(source:cbsnews.com)
 
Danielle Nemetz was only 19 years-old when she was shot to death by her husband, Skylar Nemetz, on October 16th, 2014. Skylar shot Danielle with her own AR-15 rifle inside an apartment they shared in Lakewood, Washington. The couple was living in Lakewood while Skylar was stationed by the Army at Fort Lewis. 

Skylar and Danielle (cbsnews.com)

Skylar has always maintained that he shot Danielle on accident while checking to see if the rifle was loaded. He told police that the gun went off as he lifted it. Danielle, who was facing a computer just five feet away, was struck by the bullet and killed instantly. 

The computer monitor Danielle was using at the time of the shooting. (cbsnews.com)

Police found Skylar's recollection of events to be questionable from the start. As a member of the U.S. Army, Skylar was well-trained in how to properly use firearms. Both Skylar and Danielle enjoyed going to shooting ranges together, and neither of them were unfamiliar with how to safely handle guns. Police also found it odd that Skylar was not the one who called 911 to report the shooting. Instead, he put all the firearms inside the apartment away and hid two empty bottles of alcohol. Police showed up to the home after a neighbor called to report hearing gunfire. 

Additionally, many of Danielle's loved ones had concerns about her relationship with Skylar. The couple was married within months of meeting each other, while they were just teenagers. Those closest to Danielle felt that Skylar was controlling, jealous, and had a temper. As details about their relationship and the events leading up to Danielle's death began to unravel, detectives found more and more information that made them suspicious of Skylar.

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A rushed romance.

Danielle and Skylar met in October 2012 while Danielle was just a junior in high school. At the time, she lived in McKinleyville, California. Skylar lived in a neighboring town and had recently graduated from a nearby high school. The pair initially connected on Facebook, and then met in person at a high school football game while Danielle was cheerleading. The two quickly got into a serious relationship.

After just a month of dating, Danielle moved in with Skylar at his mother's house. Danielle's loved ones thought the relationship was moving quickly, but Danielle was happy--so they tried to be happy for her. Danielle was always described as a bubbly, friendly young girl, but her friends noticed that Skylar seemed to be the opposite. One of Danielle's closest friends noted that whenever she brought Skylar around, he did not engage in conversation or make any effort to get to know any of the people in Danielle's life. 

Three months into their relationship, Skylar proposed to Danielle. She accepted, and then dropped out of high school very shortly thereafter. Danielle and Skylar got married the day Skylar graduated from bootcamp--just five months after they met. 

Danielle's loved ones continued to have concerns about the speed of their relationship, but they tried to remain optimistic. Danielle had a rough upbringing. Her mother passed when she was just a toddler. She and her siblings then moved in with their grandmother. When Danielle was 14, her grandmother passed away as well. She then moved in her with stepfather. Danielle's loved ones believe that Danielle was always seeking out the close family relationship that she lacked while growing up--which is perhaps why she rushed so quickly into a marriage with Skylar. 

Life as an Army wife.

Danielle and Skylar moved to Washington after Skylar was stationed at Fort Lewis. Skylar's Army job forced him to be away from home often. During the times he was in town, Skylar and Danielle would often spend time together at shooting ranges. Skylar had been familiar with guns his whole life and he had a collection of firearms at the home he shared with Danielle. Danielle herself also became interested in firearms, and Skylar gifted her with a blue AR-15 rifle for her 19th birthday.


Eventually, Danielle began to come into her own in Washington. She enrolled in a local school so she could finally finish her high school degree. She enjoyed spending her free time at home taking care of her new puppy and making makeup tutorial videos. Danielle also got a job at a granite counter company.

Anger and jealousy issues.

Danielle regularly kept in touch with her friends and loved ones back home. It was during these conversations when her loved ones began to notice even more red flags about Skylar. At one point, Danielle told James Peltier that Skylar had smashed her iPhone in an angry rage and then immediately went out to buy her a new one.

James, a former neighbor and father figure to Danielle, was very concerned after that conversation. He asked her if she was afraid of Skylar, to which she said no--and that she forgave him for the incident. Still, there were numerous other examples of Skylar's behavior towards Danielle that raised suspicions. While investigating Danielle's death, investigators found texts that Skylar sent to her that seemed both controlling and verbally abusive. The messages included name-calling ("you're an idiot") and criticisms about how Danielle spent money ("Danielle what the fuck we have amazon you don't need that prime shit").

Skylar also sent text messages to Danielle that indicated he had issues with jealousy. At one point, he sent her a text accusing her of going on a date with a male friend from high school. Danielle denied having any romantic feelings for said friend. Prosecutors eventually came to believe that jealousy may have been the catalyst that led to Danielle's death. 

The alcohol bottles. 

In late September 2014, Skylar was sent to Yakima for battlefield training. Days before he was due to return, he texted Danielle and asked her to get him a bottle of Fireball and Sailor Jerry's so he could drink them when he returned home. Both Danielle and Skylar were under 21 years-old at this point, so Danielle knew she'd have to rely on someone older to purchase the alcohol. 

Anthony Faas--a friend of Skylar's from the Army--seemed like the perfect person to help obtain the liquor. Anthony returned home from the battlefield training a few days before Skylar, so they arranged for him to buy the bottles and bring them to Danielle and Skylar's apartment, so they'd be there by time Skylar got home. 


The arrangement did not go as planned. Anthony ended up being too busy to pick up the alcohol. Danielle, who wanted to make sure her husband got what he wanted, asked two other guys to purchase the alcohol instead. One of the guys was the high school friend that Skylar had accused Danielle of dating behind his back. 

Danielle never ended up telling Skylar how he got the alcohol. According to Anthony Faas, Skylar later reached out to thank him for the purchase. At that point, Anthony reportedly told him that he was not the one who bought the bottles. Anthony said that Skylar got visibly angry after that admission. 

The shooting.

Skylar returned from Yakima on October 16th, 2014. By his account, he and Danielle were very excited to see each other. He told police that they ordered pizza to celebrate, and that he also drank some Fireball and Red Bull. Skylar maintained that he was not intoxicated, but slightly buzzed.

Shortly after Skylar returned home, Danielle FaceTimed with her best friend Michayla Yingling. Michayla would later tell investigators that Danielle seemed happy that Skylar was home. Skylar was also seen during their FaceTime call, and Michayla said that he seemed to be in a good mood as well. Michayla had no idea that Danielle would be dead just minutes after they hung up.

Danielle and Michayla on FaceTime

By Skylar's account, Danielle asked him to clean and put away her AR-15 rifle while she sat down at her computer to get some work done. Danielle was facing away from Skylar went he lifted the gun and it fired. Instead of calling police, Skylar then hid all of their firearms in a closet and dumped out of the bottles of Fireball and Sailor Jerry's before throwing them off a balcony. Skylar also seemingly did not make any effort to revive Danielle.

As previously stated, it was a neighbor who ended up calling police-not Skylar. When police arrived on the scene, they put Skylar in the patrol car. He continuously cried and called out for Danielle while in police custody.


Once at the police station, Skylar was questioned about why he did not attempt to help Danielle or call police. He said that he was absolutely certain that Danielle was dead, which is why he did not render aid. The police were skeptical of Skylar's story. After hours of questioning, Skylar was booked on murder charges and held on a $1 million bail. 

The trial.

The prosecution argued that Skylar was a jealous and controlling husband. They showed the jury the abusive text messages that Skylar sent to Danielle. They also noted that it seemed unlikely that Skylar would accidentally set off a firearm, especially since he continuously described himself as well-versed in gun safety. 

Anthony Faas was called to testify for the prosecution. While on the stand, Anthony described Skylar's anger when he learned that Danielle had asked other guys to purchase the alcohol. It was Anthony's testimony that helped drive the prosecution's case. The prosecution believed that Skylar shot Danielle in a rage after learning that Danielle had not been honest about how she obtained the bottles. While Michayla said that Skylar seemed to be in a good mood when she saw him during her FaceTime with Danielle, the prosecution stated that it was an act. They believe he waited for Danielle to hang up the phone before he acted.

Skylar's defense team continued to maintain that Danielle's death was an accident. They called upon witnesses who ended up contradicting Anthony's testimony. A mutual Army friend of both Skylar and Anthony stated that he did not see Anthony on the base at the time Anthony claimed to have the conversation about the alcohol with Skylar. Skylar himself also took the stand and denied speaking to Anthony at all that day.

The jury.

The jury deliberated for days before they reached a verdict. Members of the jury would later tell reporters that they did not see Skylar as a reliable witness--they felt his testimony was very rehearsed and over-exaggerated. However, Anthony Faas did not appear to be a reliable witness either. In addition to other witnesses contradicting his testimony, Anthony was the prosecution's only witness that claimed to see Skylar in an angry rage that day. Other witnesses-including Danielle's friend Michayla-all stated that Skylar seemed fine that day.

Due to the fact that Anthony was the only person to testify to Skylar's anger, the jury ultimately felt that the State did not prove that Skylar had intent to kill Danielle. They ended up finding Skylar guilty of first-degree manslaughter. However, certain jurors have stated that if the prosecution had an additional piece of evidence to prove intent, the verdict might have been different.

Sentencing.

The judge gave Skylar the maximum sentence: 13 and a half years in prison. During the sentencing, Skylar addressed the court room, saying "I'm sorry to everybody here. Most of all I'm sorry to Danielle. I'm sorry that she was ripped out from this world and ... I'm sorry to her friends and family and I accept any punishment that you give me."

Despite saying he would accept his punishment, Skylar is currently appealing his sentence.

Monday, May 23, 2022

The Murder of Elizabeth Barraza

 


Elizabeth 'Liz' Barraza was murdered in the driveway of her Tomball, Texas home on January 25th, 2019. The 29-year-old woman was preparing for a garage sale on the morning of her murder. Elizabeth was holding this garage sale in hopes of making some money to help fund a five-year anniversary trip to Florida with her husband, Sergio. She put together the sale on short notice, so very few people were aware it was happening. 

Sergio left for work just minutes before Elizabeth was killed. He reportedly left the home around 6:48 AM, as Elizabeth was setting up for the garage sale. Shortly after Sergio left, a black Nissan Frontier Pro-4X pulled up near the Barraza's driveway. The driver of the car then exited the vehicle and approached Elizabeth. Neighbors reportedly heard Elizabeth say "good morning" to this person before the person pulled out a gun and shot Elizabeth four times at point-blank range. The suspect then ran back to the Nissan, which was still running, and drove off.

Elizabeth was rushed to the Memorial Hermann Hospital, where she died a few hours later. Police then immediately began to investigate her murder. Elizabeth loved ones have struggled to find a motive for her killing. She is described as a kind young woman who loved Star Wars and Harry Potter. Elizabeth reportedly had no known enemies or any known issues with others. 

Throughout the investigation, detectives learned that Elizabeth's murder was caught on surveillance footage from a resident's security camera. The footage shows a person driving a Nissan Frontier Pro-4X around the street more than once before finally pulling up near the Barraza's driveway after Sergio left the house. This suggests that the assailant was waiting for Sergio to leave before approaching Elizabeth. The footage then shows the suspect walking up to Elizabeth. The two briefly spoke before the suspect lifted the gun and shot Elizabeth four times--three times in the chest and once in the head. The suspect then ran back to the car and drove away. However, the surveillance footage shows the vehicle returning to the scene just a few minutes later--seemingly to confirm that Elizabeth was, in fact, dead. 

Source:dailymail

Despite having footage of the suspect, police have yet to make an arrest in Elizabeth's case. While there have reportedly been several leads, police still have not publicly named a suspect or person-of-interest. Additionally, there is unfortunately a lack of additional physical evidence that might lead to a suspect. Police were unable to find any shell casings on the scene, making it very difficult for them to identify the gun that was used to kill Elizabeth. 

The low quality of the surveillance footage has made it difficult for investigators to get a clear picture of the suspect. Some believe the stature and gait of the suspect resembles a woman, but this has not been confirmed. Some believe that the suspect was wearing a wig as a disguise. 

Elizabeth's parents are currently offering $50,000 for anyone with information that leads to the arrest of Elizabeth's killer. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please call 713-222-TIPS (8477).

The Disappearance of Tyreek Pettigrew

 



Tyreek Pettigrew has been missing since February 21st, 2018. The then-20-year-old was last seen at a Fuel Express gas station in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. Tyreek was at the gas station around 3:00 PM on the day of his disappearance. He was driving his mother's Nissan Infiniti G35. Tyreek left the gas station after a few minutes. He never returned home and has never been seen or heard from again.

After Tyreek was reported missing, investigators learned that the vehicle he was driving was spotted by surveillance cameras at 3:38 PM--just 38 minutes after his last known sighting. The car was seen at the Janki Mart on State Road-but Tyreek was not in the vehicle at the time. A different person was behind the wheel. At this time, it is unclear who was in possession of the car. 

During the early morning hours of February 22nd, the car Tyreek was driving was found on fire on Cainhoy Road in Charleston, South Carolina. There was no sign of Tyreek on the scene. It is unknown how the car got to said location. 

Tyreek's mother believes that her son was killed, and that people know what happened but are unwilling to speak up. It's uncharacteristic for Tyreek to stay out-of-touch with his family members. His loved ones have never believed that he is missing on his own accord.

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office is investigating Tyreek's disappearance. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please call 843-719-4465.
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Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Murder of Milana Li

 

Milana Li was only 13 years-old when she was found deceased near her family's Beaverton, Oregon home on May 10th, 2022. The young girl was last seen alive on May 8th. Milana left her home around 4:00 PM that afternoon to take a walk along the Westside Regional Trail to Barrows Park. Milana regularly walked this route and was typically only gone for half an hour to an hour. When she did not return for her 8:00 PM curfew, her family members began to worry. Milana was reported missing the following day.

Milana and her family are originally from Kazakhstan. The family moved to Beaverton a few years before Milana's untimely death. Milana's mother lives full time in Beaverton with their children, while Milana's father travels back and forth between Beaverton and Kazakhstan, where he runs a business. Members of the community in Beaverton described Milana and a quiet and sweet young girl. When she was first reported missing, police classified her as a runaway-despite the fact that she has no history of such behavior. 

Shortly after 2:00 PM on May 10th, police received a call about "suspicious circumstances" in a small stream at Westside Linear Park. When officers responded the scene, they found the body of a young girl in the water. A short time later, the young girl was identified as Milana Li. 

An autopsy determined that Milana died by homicide. At this time, investigators have declined to comment on her exact cause of death. Very little other information about the investigation has been revealed. Police are now searching for Milana's killer. Though an arrest has not yet been made, police maintain that they do not believe there is a threat to the community at this time.

If you have any information that could lead to an arrest of Milana's killer, please contact Beaverton authorities at 503-629-0111.
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UPDATE (May 21, 2022): An arrest has been made in Milana's case.

Daniel Ryan Gore has been arrested and charged with Milana's murder. Gore is only 16 years-old, but prosecutors plan to try him as an adult. Gore has a criminal history dating back to 2020. He is currently facing second-degree theft, second-degree arson, and criminal mischief charges in an unrelated case.

In February 2022, Gore violated his probation. Prosecutors recommended that he be held in a juvenile detention center since he had already run away from two different shelters for minors with pending criminal charges. However, the judge ultimately decided to allow Gore to live with his father and stepmother in Salem. He ran away two weeks after this ruling.

In April 2022, Gore's father told Salem authorities that he believed his son was in Beaverton. For unclear reasons, those authorities failed to notify the Beaverton police. Gore's whereabouts remained unknown until his arrest for Milana's murder.

At this time, police have not released information on how they tied Gore to Milana's case. The prosecution has requested that the judge seal the probable cause affidavit. More details will likely be provided at a later date.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Murder of Blake Chappell

 

Blake Chappell's life was headed in a positive direction during the fall of 2011. The then-17-year-old was adjusting to life in a new town after his family moved to Senoia, Georgia earlier that year. Previously, Blake and his mother Melissa lived in Clayton County. Melissa decided to move Senoia after Blake got into a physical altercation with the stepfather of his ex-girlfriend. The incident was tough on Blake, but he was doing seemingly well in Senoia. He quickly made new friends and started dating a new girlfriend. Unfortunately, before Blake's life could continue to flourish, he was brutally murdered. His murder remains unsolved today.

Blake was last seen alive during the early morning hours of October 16th, 2011. On the evening of October 15th, Blake attended his high school homecoming dance with his girlfriend, Rion. Blake reportedly had a great time at the dance--he called his mother afterwards to tell her that he had "the best night of his life." Blake and Rion were picked up from the dance by Rion's mother. The pair then went back to Rion's house where they watched a movie. Around 11:30 PM, Rion's mother drove Blake to his friend Austin's house, where he planned to spend the night. 

At some point between 2:00 and 3:00 AM, Blake snuck out of Austin's house and walked 3 miles back to Rion's house. He arrived there around 4:30 AM and snuck in through Rion's bedroom window. About half an hour later, one of Rion's relatives caught Blake and Rion together. Knowing he was not supposed to be there, Blake quickly left the residence and began walking back toward Austin's house. 

During his walk, Blake texted with Rion several times. Around 5:30 AM, he sent her a message saying he was stopped by a police officer who asked where he was going. He sent one final text a few minutes later before ceasing all communication. Blake never arrived back at Austin's house and was never heard from again.

Blake's mother Melissa was alerted about her son's disappearance around 11:00 AM, after Austin contacted her and said that Blake had left his house and never returned. Melissa reported Blake missing very shortly thereafter.

Extensive searches for Blake ended unsuccessfully. Then, over two months later, passersby in Summer Grove spotted human remains in a local creek near East Newnan. Police were called, and the human remains were later identified as that of Blake Chappell. He died from a gunshot wound to the head. 

After the discovery of Blake's remains, the case shifted to a homicide investigation. 
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Blake's body was found wearing only underpants and an undershirt. However, when he left Rion's house on the morning of his disappearance, he was wearing black sweatpants, a white t-shirt and a jacket. Additionally, Blake had his cell phone on him when he vanished, but investigators have never found said phone. This initially left detectives with very little to work with while investigating Blake's murder.

As previously mentioned, Blake and his mother moved to Senoia just months before his disappearance. The move was prompted by a physical altercation that occurred between Blake and his ex-girlfriend's stepfather. The ex-girlfriend had reportedly run away to Blake's house, and before Blake could bring her back home, her stepfather showed up. Blake sent a text to his friend about the incident, saying "her dad showed up wit two other guys nd guns tellin all my friends he was gunna kill me". 

Blake would later tell police that the man "punched him in the face, knocked him to the ground, and kicked him in the head." Despite this, Blake was the one who ended up arrested. He was charged with custodial interference, as his ex-girlfriend had run away with the intention of being with Blake. However, the charges were later dropped.

Blake's mother Melissa stated that she wanted to move Blake out of Clayton County after this incident because she was afraid for her son's life. Inevitably, police looked into this man after Blake was found murdered--but various reports say that the man has been cleared as a suspect.

According to uncovered.com, police have cleared three other persons of interest in the case as well. Police have continued to keep details about the investigation under wraps, and at this time, no suspects or persons of interest have been publicly named.

There is currently a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for Blake's death. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact the Newnan Police Department's Tip Line at (770) 254-2350, or send your tip in an email to unsolvedhomicide@cityofnewnan.org. 
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Monday, May 16, 2022

The Disappearance and Murder of Brittanee Drexel

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Brittanee Drexel vanished at the age of 17 on April 25th, 2009. Brittanee is originally from Rochester, NY and was taking a trip with some new friends to Myrtle Beach for spring break in April of 2009. Brittanee’s mother had not granted her permission to go on this trip—she was concerned because these friends were a few years older than Brittanee and Brittanee did not know them very well yet. Still, Brittanee was determined to go and told her mother that she was spending a few nights at a friend's house in Rochester. Instead, she went to Myrtle Beach.

The trip did not go as planned for Brittanee. According to her boyfriend, John Grieco, Brittanee wasn’t getting along very well with the girls on the trip. On April 25th, Brittanee decided to walk to her friend Peter Brozowitz’s hotel room at Blue Water Resort. Peter was an acquaintance of Brittanee’s from NY, and she was getting along much better with him than she was with the girls with whom she was staying. 

Brittanee entering the Blue Water Resort

Brittanee walked about a mile from her hotel to the Blue Water Resort—however, shortly after arriving, one of the girls texted Brittanee and demanded that she come back to their hotel to return a pair of shorts she had borrowed. Surveillance footage shows Brittanee leaving the Blue Water Resort at 8:48pm. She texted John as she traveled, expressing how she was annoyed about having to walk back to the hotel. At one point, Brittanee stopped replying. John grew concerned, as they had been constantly texting throughout the trip and it was unusual for Brittanee to stop replying without ending the conversation. John continued to try to get ahold of her, warning that he was going to call her mom if she did not reply. Hours passed without hearing from Brittanee, and John finally broke down and called Brittanee’s mother, Dawn. Dawn was able to contact the girls Brittanee had traveled with and they were unable to locate her as well. Dawn then contacted Myrtle Beach authorities to report Brittanee missing.

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Investigators had some strong leads to follow at first. Cell phone records revealed that Brittanee’s final phone ping was off of a tower 50 miles from Myrtle Beach, in Georgetown County. A massive search in that area turned up nothing. Sex offenders in the Myrtle Beach and Georgetown areas were looked into as well, yet they were unable to link any of them to Brittanee. After that, years passed with no sign of Brittanee.

Finally, on June 8th, 2016, the FBI held a press conference, stating that they had finally determined what happened to Brittanee. They announced that Brittanee was taken from Myrtle Beach to the McClellanville area,where she was held for a few days against her will and then was killed. When asked how the FBI came to this conclusion, the lead investigator said: “there has been an exhaustive amount of evidence in this case. The investigators are certain that this is what happened and I can’t give you the exact details on that, but we are certain.” The FBI then appealed to anyone in the McClellanville area to come forward with information on Brittanee’s whereabouts.

Years have passed since the FBI made this announcement in Brittanee’s case but Brittanee still remains missing. McClellanville local Timothy Da’Shaun Taylor has been named as a suspect in the case, but he denies all involvement and there have still been no arrests in the case. 

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UPDATE (May 2022):  Brittanee’s remains have been found AND an arrest has finally been made.

The Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office announced on May 16th that they have arrested a man named Raymond Moody (62). He is charged with kidnapping, rape, and murder in relation to Brittanee’s case.


Moody is a registered sex offender, and he was named a person of interest in Brittanee’s case back in 2012. Back then, investigators searched a hotel room he stayed in at the time of Brittanee’s disappearance. It was never disclosed if they found any evidence at that time, but investigators did say that they did not have enough evidence to formally label him as a suspect.

Investigators turned their attention away from Moody in 2016, after the FBI announced that they believed Brittanee had been kidnapped and held hostage in McClellanville by a group of people associated with Timothy Taylor. However, Taylor was only 16 years-old at the time Brittanee went missing. Jailhouse informants told investigators that they saw Brittanee at Taylor’s residence back in April 2009. Taylor has adamantly denied any involvement in Brittanee’s disappearance and at this time, it appears that he is no longer a suspect.

It is unclear what led investigators back to Moody, but they were able to search property that belongs to him during early May. During their search, they found human remains. Dental records have confirmed that those remains belong to Brittanee Drexel.

Moody’s arrest warrant states that Moody strangled Brittanee to death on the night she was kidnapped. It is believed she was buried the next day.

News about Brittanee’s case is currently unfolding. Updates will be provided as they come.

Friday, May 13, 2022

The Disappearance of Courtney Holden

 


Courtney Holden was only 26 years-old when she vanished from her adoptive family's home in Spokane, Washington. At the time of her disappearance, Courtney and her young son lived in the Heroy Avenue residence with Judy Holden, her adoptive mother, and Joshua Holden, her adoptive brother. Police were alerted about her disappearance on October 8th, 2019, after a woman named Autumn Schatz requested for a welfare check on Courtney. Autumn was dating the father of Courtney's son, and she told police that they had not seen or heard from Courtney in two years. She stated that she and her boyfriend had visited the Holden residence several times over the past two years to visit the young son. The child was reportedly present each time they visited, but Courtney was not. 

When police went to perform the welfare check, Judy and Joshua were reportedly uncooperative. They both said that Courtney and her son had left on foot a few days earlier, but they would not offer any further information. Judy reluctantly allowed police to see Courtney’s room—and it appeared that nobody had been in there for quite some time. 

After the police were unable to locate Courtney themselves, they filed a missing persons’ report. That same day, police received a phone call from a woman claiming to be Courtney—who said she was alive and well. They would later learn that the caller was actually Courtney’s adoptive sister. Additionally, shortly before this phone call was made, Judy and Joshua withdrew $600 from Courtney's bank account.

There have inevitably been suspicions about Judy and Joshua ever since Courtney was reported missing. According to neighbors and friends, Judy and Joshua both mistreated Courtney. The two reportedly referred to Courtney as "Cindy"-short for Cinderella-because of all the chores they made her do. Courtney confided to neighbors that Joshua was physically abusive, and she was afraid of him. Neighbors noticed several bruises on Courtney's body on different occasions, which she stated were a result of Joshua's abuse. The neighbors described Joshua as violent and unpredictable. He reportedly has a criminal record that includes sexual assault charges. In 2005, he was charged with rape, but the charges were dropped after the victim stopped cooperating with the investigation. 

While investigating Courtney's disappearance, police were eventually able to determine that Courtney has not been seen since July 2018over a year before she was actually reported missing. This was determined after investigators learned that Courtney was taking a prescription medicine that was required daily, but she had not picked up the prescription since July 2018. Neighbors also corroborated that they had not seen Courtney since July 2018 as well. The last known sighting of her occurred at some point during that month. A neighbor reportedly saw Courtney exiting the house carrying a large duffel bag. Judy called after her for her to come back to which Courtney replied, "I'm not staying here anymore." Moments later, Joshua forcibly picked Courtney up and carried her back into the house. Courtney has never been seen or heard from again. 

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When Courtney was finally reported missing in October 2019, Judy and Joshua Holden became suspects almost immediately. In addition to being dodgy towards investigators, Judy and Joshua had also continued to use Courtney's food stamps and bank accounts from July 2018-October 2019--after Courtney had gone missing. Both continued to maintain that they were not involved in her disappearance. After initially saying that Courtney and her son had left their home on foot, they later would claim that Courtney had run off with a boyfriend. 

Investigators executed a search warrant for the Holden's house on October 24th, 2019. However, when detectives arrived, they found that Judy and Joshua had moved. They took the DVR storing their home surveillance footage with them. Investigators were still able to collect some evidence from the house, including some of Courtney's personal belongings. Cadaver dogs were also sent through the house, but nothing of significance was found.

The Holden home on Heroy Avenue. (source:spokesman.com)

About a month later, police were called after a neighbor noticed activity at the Holden house. When police went to the house, they were met by Judy's daughter and her husband. The couple told police that they had flown in from Texas to check on the house. They also told police that they had not seen Courtney in two years. When asked about Judy's whereabouts, the couple said she was on a retirement road trip. They reportedly gave conflicting stories about the whereabouts of Courtney's son. Judy's daughter said that the child was with Courtney, while her husband said he was living with Judy and Joshua. It is believed that Judy and Joshua were raising the child to believe that Judy was his mother and Joshua was his father. Neighbors in Spokane seemingly confirmed this, as they told police that they noticed the child had referred to Judy as "mommy" and Joshua as "daddy". 

In December 2019, police tracked Judy and Joshua down in Plano, Texas. They were living with Judy's daughter, and they had Courtney's son with them. Judy and Joshua were arrested and charged with identity theft and custodial interference. Courtney's son was placed in custody of his father, where he remains today. 



Despite their aforementioned charges, Judy and Joshua have still not been charged with anything related to Courtney's disappearance. Many still believe they know exactly what happened to Courtney. In addition to Joshua's known violent behavior, he also has been overheard saying that he could kill someone and successfully hide the body from police. Investigators believe that Courtney is deceased, but they have yet to make any arrests in her case. 

Courtney remains missing today. If you have any information that could help the investigation, please contact the Spokane Police Department at 509-755-2489 or Crime Check at 509-456-2233.
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Sources:
[KHQ]

The Disappearance and Death of Danielle Griffith

image source The morning of May 17th, 2019 began as a fairly typical day in the town Tumwater, Washington. It was a partly cloudy day, and ...