The Unsolved Disappearance of Andrew Gosden

When people disappear without a trace of their own accord, the aftermath causes friends and family to question everything, and even blame themselves for the circumstances. They replay old memories and conversations in their head wondering if something they said or did was the reason why their loved one decided to vanish. Those questions begin to seep into every facet of their lives as the answers may forever be lingering over them as a dark cloud without any sunlight in sight. The story of Andrew Gosden’s unsolved disappearance is an example of such pain and heartache.

Andrew Gosden 1

Andrew Gosden was born on July 10, 1993, to his parents, Kevin and Glenys Gosden, who both worked as speech therapists in Balby — a suburb of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England. He grew up with his older sister by two years, Charlotte Gosden, and the two were both very intelligent. As a teenager, Andrew attended McAuley Catholic High School with a 100% attendance record and had a knack for mathematics. He was in the top 5% in the government’s Young, Gifted, and Talented Programme for high-achieving students and was predicted to score straight A’s on the GSCE’s.

The future was bright for Andrew, but he was still an ordinary teenager who didn’t mind isolating himself in his bedroom to play video games and read science fiction and fantasy books such as Lord of the Rings and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He also enjoyed collecting rocks and gems and listening to heavy metal music. If you walked into his bedroom you would immediately be met with posters of his favorite bands plastered all over the walls, such as Slipknot, Marylin Manson, Muse, and Funeral for a Friend. As for hobbies away from home, he loved visiting museums and exhibitions to enrich his knowledge and gain a better understanding of the history of a time that once was.

On Friday, September 14, 2007, the normal lives of the Gosden family changed drastically in ways that were never even fathomable beforehand. Initially, the day began as typical as could be. It was only eight days into the new school term when 14-year-old Andrew woke up for school, put on his McAuley Catholic High uniform, and told his family bye as he walked out the door of his Littlemoor Lane home and to the school bus, as he so often did.

However, he seemingly made an unexpected detour with unclear motives. Rather than attending school, he chose to stay behind and wait for his sister and parents to leave home. After their departure, he returned home, changed his clothes into a black Slipknot t-shirt and black jeans, grabbed his wallet, keys, PSP without the charger, and shoulder bag and walked out the door to the nearest ATM and withdrew €200.00 from his bank account. Thereafter, he made his way to Doncaster train station and purchased a one-way ticket at 9:30 a.m. to Kings Cross, London, roughly two hours away. The ticket seller advised him he could purchase a return ticket for 50p but he declined the offer for unbeknownst reasons. At 11:20 a.m. CCTV footage captured Andrew arriving at his destination without a problem, but his whereabouts afterward is unknown and he has never been seen since.

Andrew Gosden CCTV 1

Andrew’s family hadn’t any inkling that he had skipped school for the day until later that evening. When Andrew got home from school he would typically go to his bedroom or the converted cellar to play video games, so it wasn’t a surprise when Kevin and Glenys didn’t see their son after they arrived home from work. It wasn’t until 7:00 p.m. when Glenys called out for Andrew and Charlotte to eat dinner when the discovery was made. When Andrew never emerged from the bedroom or cellar, Glenys went looking for him, but could only find his school blazer and tie draped neatly over the back of his chair and his shirt and trousers in the washing machine.

The family immediately knew something was wrong because Andrew was considered a “home bird” and always mentioned where he was going when he decided to leave home. Phone calls were made to friends in the area but nobody had seen him. They proceeded to call his school and was alarmed by the news that he never attended any classes for the day. It was learned that the school tried making contact with his parents when he didn’t arrive at his morning class, but they dialed the wrong phone number so nobody was alerted to the situation.

Unaware if Andrew left on his own free will or was abducted on his way to school, they believed if he did go anywhere on his own accord it would be in London, particularly in Chislehurst and Sidcup where he often visited his distant relatives during the holidays. Praying for a miracle, they contacted his aunts and grandparents in the area but it turned out to be fruitless, so their last option was to notify the South Yorkshire Police, where an immediate search began.

Over the course of several days, hardly any answers were unraveled. The Gosden family made sure to keep their son’s disappearance in the public eye by distributing missing person flyers throughout town and the Doncaster train station. As a result, eyewitnesses started coming forward sharing alleged sightings.

One credible testimony came from an adult woman who claimed to see Andrew at a Pizza Hut on Oxford Street in Convent Garden on the day he vanished. She reported the information to the police but it was later discovered they waited until six weeks to follow up on the report. Another witness was the individual who sold Andrew his ticket to Kings Cross. He told the family he was by himself and purchased a one-way ticket, but refused to buy a return ticket at a cheap price.

Now that a solid lead was uncovered, the family began feeling much more hopeful, but the police neglected to browse the CCTV footage until 27-days later, where the video captured Andrew getting off the train station. The amount of time that passed by before looking through the footage angered the family because most of the film had been deleted by the time it was viewed. Kevin Gosden went on to criticize the South Yorkshire Police’s ineptitude by saying, “The handling of the investigation was too slow, too chaotic, and disorganized.”

Andrew Gosden Mom and Dad

As days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, and months into a year, the impact of Andrew’s disappearance began to be unbearable for Kevin as a lack of answers were churning in. He quit his job as a speech therapist because he couldn’t keep his thoughts straight. Depression started to overwhelm him to the point he attempted to commit suicide, and he subsequently spent fifteen weeks in a psychiatric hospital. Glenys, on the other hand, found working and keeping busy helped her maintain a level of normalcy as she continued to pursue answers to Andrew’s whereabouts.

In October 2008, the charity “Missing People” helped the Gosden family in many facets — even going as far as having Andrew’s photograph printed on milk cartons that were sold by the Iceland supermarket, hoping the 100,000 cartons sold a day would generate more awareness and leads.

One month later in November 2008, an unidentified male visited the Leominster Police Station located in Herefordshire in the late evening hours using the outside intercom claiming to have information on Andrew Gosden. By the time an officer came to the front of the station the man had disappeared and never resurfaced.

Andrew Gosden Agre Progression 18-19 Years OldThe following year on Andrew’s 16th birthday, Kevin and Glenys released a statement to the press urging the public to keep searching. On the anniversary of his disappearance that September, computer-generated age-progression sketches created by experts for a television program centered on missing people were released.

In October 2009, one of Andrew’s favorite bands, Muse, was hosting a concert at the Sheffield Arena. Kevin had taken Andrew and Charlotte to see them play on their last tour in 2006 and it was a fond memory for them all. Hoping to bring out positive memories, family and friends stood outside passing out over 10,000 leaflets about Andrew, hoping to continue spreading public awareness; and Muse themselves got involved by offering free tickets to Andrew if he decided to come forward. Despite an admirable effort by combined resources, nothing pivotal came from the new push for information and the case turned cold.

By May 2011, hope began to dwindle due to a lack of progress. Kevin started believing Andrew passed away and hired a private company to perform a sonar scan of the River Thames — hoping answers would be unearthed even if they weren’t the ones he desired. After a thorough sweep had been conducted a body was discovered but it did not belong to Andrew. The latest results provided mixed emotions; it was a sigh of relief knowing that Andrew hadn’t been in the river, but on the other hand, it was painful because a resolution wasn’t able to be provided. Kevin described life during the four-years of Andrew being gone as a “never-ending limbo of just thinking, ‘Why did you go?’.”

On what would have been Andrew’s 18th birthday, Barry Ford, a businessman from Kent, offered up his sports car to anyone that would provide information that would lead to answers to Andrew’s whereabouts. Though nothing was able to be gleaned from this opportunity, the rallying and support from a friend gave Kevin gratitude and strength to keep carrying on the good fight.

In 2014, the television program “Panorama” on BBC One, an investigative journalism television show that focuses on current affairs, featured Andrew’s parents, hoping new leads would be phoned in after the broadcast. They made it aware that Andrew would be 23-years-old by then and prayed he would watch the program and reach out, but they also told the media, “I think it’s unlikely he will make contact but we still have hope.”

Two years later, Andrew’s case was still remaining strong in the public. A charity event for families of missing children was held on May 25, 2016, and many celebrity musicians collaborated together to unveil a new [single] song to further help fund researching for those who are missing. The song was titled “I Hope,” which was inspired by a poem Kevin had written about his son in 2013.

The following year in 2017 the South Yorkshire Police launched a fresh appeal urging anyone to come forward even if they believe the information they have may seem insignificant. On the anniversary of Andrew’s disappearance, Kevin held a vigil at the Doncaster train station to honor his son’s memory by remaining silent for ten hours — one hour for each year his son has been missing.

It’s now 2018 and Andrew’s disappearance is still as relevant as it was in 2007. Online web sleuths have made it their mission to seek answers and to keep the hope alive, and forums and blogs can be found to show such dedication.

Andrew Gosden

As for the Gosden family, they remain diligent. The journey has been rough, however, especially for Kevin. He recalls memories of being energetic and enthusiastic to take his children on adventures — taking them out on the speedboat; swimming under the summer night stars; teaching them how to snorkel, and even going paragliding. Now, his energy has since depleted and is plagued by post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and still battling suicidal thoughts. He presses onward though, with the support of his wife Glenys and daughter Charlotte, who is trying to be the best family they can while keeping Andrew a part of it in order to keep his spirit alive. They continue to deposit money into his bank account, and they haven’t remodeled his bedroom or changed the locks on the doors, hoping one day he will open the door to come back home.

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The Unsolved Disappearance of Morgan Nick

You hear it all the time; “Back then, people didn’t lock their doors at night.” That phrase often gets mentioned when devastating crimes occur in unexpected places that are deemed safe by the community. When those tragedies happen everything changes, but sometimes positives can blossom through the aftermath of the rubble. In the unsolved disappearance of Morgan Nick, her story has remained a beacon of hope that transcended across the nation. This is her story.

Morgan NickOn September 12, 1988, John and Colleen Nick gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby daughter they named Morgan Chauntel Nick. She was raised in the small populated town of Ozark, Arkansas, a community of fewer than 4,000 residents. By 1994, Morgan became the oldest of two other siblings, Logan Nick, who was almost four-years-old, and a younger sister, Taryn Nick, who was a vibrant 22-month-old baby.

As a young kid with a wild imagination, Morgan’s aspirations ranged from being a medical doctor to a circus performer. In school, she had signed up for the track team but quickly regretted that decision because she didn’t enjoy sweating. In turn, she decided to start participating in Girls Scouts where they often did indoor activities.

Even at such a young age, Morgan possessed character traits that would undoubtedly lead to a successful future, no matter which avenue she pursued. Not only did she have the uncanny ability to make others laugh, she also never limited herself to experiencing new things. When she was five-years-old, she adopted a kitten she named Emily, and a motherly bond was immediately formed. From then on, the two were thick as thieves and Emily would always be found sleeping next to her at night.

Morgan Nick Cat

The potential Morgan had was very bright. She enjoyed being around others and people loved being around her, but on a summer day in 1995, everything that should have been for Morgan’s future was snuffed out, and the young girl with a heartwarming smile that could make anyone laugh suddenly had an entire community in shambles.

On the warm summer day of Friday, June 9, 1995, Colleen Nick wanted to share an afternoon with her oldest daughter, Morgan, because they hadn’t had a day for themselves in a long while. They planned to visit Alma, Arkansas — a quaint town thirty minutes west where everyone knew each other — to attend a Little League Baseball game with some friends living in the area while Morgan’s grandmother happily babysits her grandchildren.

Later that afternoon, Colleen and Morgan dined on grilled cheese sandwiches they made together before leaving town in their Nissan Stanza a little early, as this was their first time visiting Alma. They arrived at the local park where the baseball game was being held without a hitch and met up with their friends. By the time the game had started, there was a total of 300 people in attendance.

Throughout the entire evening, everyone was having a wonderful time — people could be heard roaring with cheers and laughter on the bleachers, and Morgan would sneakily untie her mother’s tennis shoes when she wasn’t looking for a funny joke. As time carried on, Morgan became restless. At 10:30 p.m. two of Morgan’s friends, 8-year-old Jessica and 10-year-old Tye [last names are omitted] invited her to play in the nearby field 75-yards away to catch lightning bugs. Morgan asked her mother for permission but Colleen was hesitant due to the late hour and being unfamiliar with the area, but her friends assured her everything would be okay because kids often played in the field next to the parking lot without any hiccups.

Colleen ultimately gave her consent but told her to stay in view. Morgan was hard to miss, as her green Girl Scouts t-shirt and white tennis shoes could easily be seen from a distance. Colleen would periodically glance over to check on Morgan and nothing seemed amiss as she and her two friends pranced across the field, where the parking lot light poles loomed over illuminating the area.

Fifteen minutes had quickly passed by and at 10:45 p.m. the baseball game concluded and people were beginning to gather their belongings and walk to their vehicles. Morgan’s two friends, Jessica and Tye, ran back to the bleachers to meet up with their families but Morgan wasn’t present.

Colleen, confused by the situation, asked where Morgan was, but they said she was in the parking lot near her car emptying out sand that filled her shoes from running amok in the field. She frantically ran to her car expecting her daughter to be there, but she wasn’t in sight. Growing more concerned by the second, she alerted one of the baseball coaches and they began asking Jessica and Tye more questions, and alarming new information came to light.

The two said that while they had been playing, a man they characterized as “creepy” approached and spoke to them as they were dumping sand from their shoes. He had been standing beside a faded red colored Ford pickup truck that had a white camper shell. Not too long after, the baseball game had ended and that’s when they ran back to their parents. An immediate search began but Morgan and the eerie man next to the red truck was gone.

The police were called to the scene and they arrived within six minutes. They performed an additional search thoroughly of the parking lot and fields, but the 4-foot-tall, 55-pound girl with blonde hair and blue eyes was nowhere to be found. Interviews were soon conducted with those still at the park. Several eyewitnesses corroborated the children’s testimony and provided additional details on the suspicious male. He was described as a Caucasian male between the ages of 23-38-years-old and spoke with a “hillbilly” accent. He had a medium build at approximately 180 pounds and was estimated to be 6’0 tall, and he had salt and pepper colored hair that was slicked back, with a mustache and a one-inch thick beard. The truck he was driving was a low wheelbase, red Ford pickup with dulled paint and a white camper shell that had curtains on the inside covering the windows. Witnesses noted the camper shell was too short for the bed and there was rear damage on the passenger side.

The unidentified male was the prime suspect in Morgan’s disappearance and was immediately classified as an abduction. It was soon discovered that her vanishing wasn’t the only terrifying event that transpired that day. Earlier that evening in the same town, an unknown male driving a red truck attempted to lure a 4-year-old girl to his vehicle. The abduction was thwarted when the child’s mother intervened and alerted those around her. It’s unclear whether or not the same man presumably responsible for Morgan’s disappearance was behind this attempted abduction, but the coincidences were notable.

Interestingly, the following day after Morgan vanished, another report came through to the police when an unnamed man matching Morgan’s alleged abductor’s description unsuccessfully tried enticing a 9-year-old girl into a men’s restroom inside of a convenience store fifteen miles away from Alma in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

As for Colleen, she refused to return back home to Ozark, Arkansas without her daughter in hand. For the next six weeks, she remained steadfast and took up residence at a volunteer fire station located next door to the police building — doing anything she could fathom to help spread awareness to bring Morgan home. Flyers were made and distributed to locals, placed on the windows of stationary vehicles, and stapled across light poles all throughout the town. Colleen even faxed over urgent letters to President Clinton hoping to get the federal government to react quicker with nationwide bulletins when children go missing.

During this interval of time, a composite sketch was created of Morgan’s possible Morgan Nick Composite 1kidnapper and media coverage quickly swept the state. This resulted in over 4,000 tips and leads, and the police had to purchase a storage shed to file the uncanny amount of information in extra filing cabinets, but none of the leads panned out.

When Colleen returned home she had to break the devastating news to her children. None of them couldn’t fully comprehend the extent of the situation. Logan, the oldest sibling, only knew that Morgan wasn’t home and would frequently ask, “Why did you lose my sister?” as he broke down into tears repeatedly telling his mother to “Go get her,” because he missed playing with her around the house.

One year later in 1996, Colleen commenced the Morgan Nick Foundation in Alma, Arkansas; a non-profit organization that tries to help prevent children from going missing and offers a support system to families who are facing the hardships of a child disappearing. Likewise, the state of Arkansas honored Morgan by renaming their Amber Alert system after her — The Morgan Nick Amber Alert — that connected the police and over 250 radio stations in a statewide emergency broadcast.

In the subsequent years, Colleen relocated to Alma to make things easier for handling the Morgan Nick Foundation. Meanwhile, the police were still acquiring innumerable tips stemming from reported sightings and false confessions to the abduction, but all of them were ruled out or considered unreliable.

Morgan Nick CompositeIn 2001, Morgan’s case garnished a lot of traction. A new composite sketch was unveiled of her believed kidnapper, as well as an age-progression sketch showing what Morgan may look like at her current age of twelve-years-old. On August 28, 2001, the television program Unsolved Mysteries broadcasted her case which created a massive resurgence that resulted in an ample amount of new tips.

One particular tip suggested that Morgan’s body could be located on a private property in Booneville, Arkansas. The information was deemed so specific and credible that the police initiated an immediate examination on January 15, 2002. After a full day of digging with a backhoe, nothing was unearthed and the investigation was concluded at 9:30 p.m.

Morgan Nick Newspaper Wednesday Jan 16 2002.png

In the following years, the police were still receiving regular tips but they were either dead ends or exhausted to their fullest without any positive results, but on the bitterly cold morning of November 16, 2010, a narcotics officer thirty-five miles away in Spiro, Oklahoma, alerted investigators in Crawford County to an abandoned trailer home belonging to a convicted child molester who was serving time in prison. The information supplied wasn’t directly focused on Morgan’s case specifically, but the individual had been considered a viable person of interest since the very beginning of Morgan’s case and hadn’t been ruled out. Detectives in Crawford County assisted with the investigation at the property hoping to locate any DNA evidence pertaining to Morgan but none was uncovered.

Morgan Nick Tonya Smith

Two years later on June 23, 2012 — a little more than 17-years after Morgan disappeared — a brief glimmer of hope emerged and then diminished just as quickly in a despicable turn of events. Tonya Renee Smith, a 24-year-old Hollister, Missouri native who had served time in Louisiana State Prison, tried assuming Morgan Nick’s identity by purchasing vital documents and a birth certificate via the website VitalCheck. Due to the extreme nature of Morgan’s case the police were alerted and on August 2, 2012, Tonya was apprehended in Branson, Missouri. She was soon extradited to Arkansas and spent 120 days in Pulaski County Jail. On February 28, 2013, she was charged with computer fraud and sentenced to six years of probation and ordered to pay a $2,500.00 fine.

Once again, Morgan’s case turned into a standstill, but five years later on December 18, 2017, another seemingly crucial tip regarding a water-well led investigators back to the abandoned trailer home in Spiro, Oklahoma they had searched seven years prior. The LeFlore County Sheriff, Rob Seale, along with the FBI and numerous Cadaver dogs, spent the entire afternoon combing for evidence, but regrettably, their efforts proved fruitless.

It’s now 2018 and Morgan Nick has been missing for nearly 22-years. For the town of Alma, Arkansas, many things have changed since the unfateful day of Morgan’s disappearance, including the baseball field she vanished from, which has since been remodeled into a parking lot, but her spirit still lives on in the community.

Colleen Nick.jpg

At the public library, a bulletin board can be found that features flyers for missing children. There’s also a 5K/1 Mile Walk fundraiser hosted annually that helps provide extra resources for The Morgan Nick Foundation to further help prevent children going missing — an organization that has successfully solved over 40 missing person’s cases –many of whom had gone missing for over twenty years — and returned home safely.

As for Colleen Nick, she remains undaunted that her daughter will be found alive, saying “No one else has to believe it because I believe it enough for everyone. I think there will be people who will be amazed when Morgan comes home.” Though a considerable amount of time has gone by, she continues to fight and pursue closure. While others may not share the same sentiment, Colleen does, and her relentless faith is a testament for anyone struggling with something in their life. Never give up hope.

The Unsolved Murder of Janett Christman

Urban legends have been around for centuries. Typically, there’s always partial truth to the stories, but they tend to become hyperbole as the tales get passed on to other people. In this narrative, the tragic elements became an anecdote that managed to seep into Hollywood and inspire countless of horror films that have since formed into cult classics such as “Halloween” by John Carpenter and “When a Stranger Calls” by Fred Walton. As you will soon see, the reality is much scarier than fiction.

Janett Christmann

Janett Christman was born on March 21, 1936. She was the oldest daughter of Charles and Lula Christman, with a younger sister by 18-months, Reta Christman Smith and a newborn baby, Cheryl Christman Bottorff. The young family of five had been living in Boonville, Missouri before relocating to the small, college-oriented town of Columbia, Missouri, known for its football team, Missouri (Mizzou) Tigers, and were living on the upper floor of the business they owned, Ernie’s Cafe and Steakhouse, where they made an honest and reputable living.

Janett was 13-years-old and an 8th-grade student at Jefferson Junior High School. She was described as a loving churchgoing teenager who had a knack for playing the piano in the choir, intelligent, and independent for her age — working fervently for the things she desired.

On the brisk Saturday of March 18, 1950, there was a dance party being held that evening for students. Janett had been invited to go by several of her friends but declined because he had plans to babysit. She would often babysit for two families that were well acquainted with one another; the Romacks and the Muellers. On this evening, she was going to be tending to Ed and Anne Romack’s 3-year-old son, Gregory, hoping the job would provide enough money for a burgundy colored suit she had been saving up for the upcoming Easter holiday.

Dusk began to settle in and around 7:30 p.m. Janett arrived at the Romacks’ residence. The couple had recently moved to a rural and isolated home on 1015 Stewart Road directly on the outskirts of Columbia. At the time, Anne was pregnant, and due to the recent and exhausting relocation they hadn’t been able to have a night out just for themselves in a long while, so when the chance arose to spend time with friends and play cards, they capitalized on the opportunity.

When Janett arrived, Anne assured her that Gregory enjoyed sleeping with the radio on and he shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Prior to leaving, Ed quickly taught Janett how to load, unload, and fire the shotgun in case anything transpired. As they were leaving, Ed placed the gun near the front door and said they would be back soon and advised her to lock the door and turn the front porch light on if anyone came knocking. With that, they departed in good spirits and went about their night.

Throughout the evening the weather began to worsen. The temperature dwindled down to the mid-twenties with a storm bringing in the rain and sleet. The robust winds swayed the nearby trees and echoed against the home. Despite the unexpected weather, there was no apparent cause for concern until 10:35 p.m. when Boone County Sheriff’s Department received a frantic phone call.

With the treacherous weather pouring in, the night for local police had been going relatively slow. When the phone suddenly began ringing, officer Ray McCowan picked up the receiver and asked what the emergency was. He was immediately met with the howls of a woman screaming in sheer panic, uttering the words “Come quick!” He tried intervening but the phone line was cut short and a dial tone was all that could be heard.

McCowan knew straightaway the horror emanating from the female caller’s voice was genuine and not a prank by doltish teenagers, but all he could do was anticipate the phone ringing again because the call was too short to provide a trace and the woman didn’t mention any additional information as to what was unfolding or her whereabouts.

Shortly thereafter, Anne Romack called home from the Moon Valley Villa — where she, her husband, the Muellers, and other friends were — to check on Janett and see how the night with Gregory was going, but nobody answered the phone. Considering it was quite late, Anne wasn’t too concerned, presuming Janett had fallen asleep. The Romacks continued to spend a few extra hours away before heading home at approximately 1:15 a.m.

It was 1:35 a.m. when the Romacks pulled into their driveway that was filled with rain and seeping mud. They noticed the porch light was on and the front window blinds were open wide. As Ed began to fiddle with his keys to unlock the front door, he realized it had already been unlocked. He was perplexed because of his instructions to Janett before leaving and as he and Anne walked through the front door they were met with a ghastly discovery.

Three days shy of her 14th birthday, Janett Christman was found sprawled out on the living room floor in a pool of blood soaking through the shagged carpet. She had been violently raped and murdered. Her legs were spread out with her right slipper barely hanging off her foot. There was a head wound from a blunt instrument, multiple puncture wounds from a mechanical pencil, and a cord from an electric iron that had been snipped with a pair of scissors was bound tightly around her neck.

Janett Christman Murder 1

A few feet away was the landline phone dangling off the hook — the reason why Anne was unable to get a response when she called earlier that evening. The sight of this horrifying scene sent Anne into a hectic state as she darted up the stairs to check on her 3-year-old son, Greg, who had been unharmed and shockingly still asleep, oblivious to the horror awaiting downstairs.

Ed Romack hastily dialed the police and they he were dispatched immediately. Sheriff Glen Powell from Boone County’s Sheriff’s Department arrived with numerous detectives and bloodhounds. Unfortunate complications soon arose, however, when Lt. Joe Douglas from the city police — a different jurisdiction that hadn’t any authority since the Romacks lived 100-yards out of city limits — arrived at the scene and attempted to take reign of the investigation. The battle of leadership had the separate agencies being uncooperative with one another, and though answers unraveled quickly, there were many disagreements amongst the two groups.

Inside of the home were clear indications Janett had resisted her attacker. Blood smears and fingerprints were found in the living room and kitchen, where the back door had been unlocked and left ajar. As the police followed the trail outside, the search dogs managed to track the assailant’s scent one mile up from Stewart Rd. to West Boulevard and across West Ash St. before losing the trail. Back at the crime scene, an adult male’s footprints were found near a side window of the residence that had been shattered with a garden hoe, where several authorities believed the perpetrator had gained entry, primarily due to muddy papers found on the piano that was situated nearby.

The method of entry is where the two jurisdictions collided. Due to Ed’s instructions he gave Janett, many detectives suspected the perpetrator knew Janett and tried appearing friendly to get inside. This theory was substantiated by the front porch light being turned on, as he told Janett to do if someone came to the door, the loaded shotgun nearby untouched, and the apparent knowledge as to where to locate the electric iron to use the cord for a murder weapon.

With this prevailing theory, law enforcement worked twelve-hour shifts tirelessly performing stakeouts and canvassing surrounding areas under the suspicion the killer may return to the scene to relish in what he had accomplished. Likewise, the police sought assistance from the public, asking for locals to call in if they see anything peculiar or anyone they know acting differently than normal.

Meanwhile, local officers had gone around questioning Janett’s friends, family, and students from her school. During this process, along with local residents phoning in possible leads, potential suspects were formed. However, it quickly became evident that a racial bias was present because the majority of the men brought in for questioning were black men in the community who were unwarrantedly deemed suspicious. Nevertheless, this tactic was fruitless and the police were no closer to resolving Janett’s murder.

This wasn’t the first rape and murder to befall Columbia, Missouri. Four years earlier on Marylou Jenkinsthe bitterly cold night of February 5, 1946, 20-year-old Marylou Jenkins had been brutally murdered in a similar manner to Janett.

Marylou was at home alone — coincidentally less than a mile away two blocks over from the Romack Residence — while her mother spent the evening a few houses away tending to an elderly couple, while her father was out of town conducting business. When Marylou’s mother had to spend the night away down the street, they conjured up a plan to alert one another if something was amiss. Their scheme was to turn on a light, lift up the shades, and place a phone call.

Late into the night, Marylou’s mother noticed a light on in her house with the shades up, but since she never received a phone call she didn’t believe anything was wrong. The following morning when she returned home, she stumbled upon the gut-wrenching scene of her daughter deceased on the living room floor. She had been raped and strangled with an extension cord.

Marylou Jenkins Newspaper

Two weeks later, Floyd Cochran, a 35-year-old disabled trash hauler, was arrested for savagely murdering his wife. Afterward, he attempted to commit suicide but was unsuccessful. Once the police were aware of what transpired, they took him into custody. Floyd willingly admitted without any remorse that he murdered his wife.

Considering the timeline of events and the desperate need to solve Marylou’s murder, Boone County investigators interrogated Floyd for ten hours, where he supposedly made incriminating statements that led to his guilt, and he later confessed to the crime, despite no evidence connecting him to the murder.

Floyd was subsequently sentenced to die on September 26, 1947, via the gas chamber. A few hours before being executed, he recanted his alleged confession. It was later discovered he was coerced to give a false confession, but the deed had already been done and Marylou’s death is considered solved.

A series of prowlers and peeping Toms would emerge in the following years, and in the late months of 1949, the activity increased with a string of sexual assaults.

The first rape occurred several days before Halloween. A 16-year-old teenager was babysitting on East Sunset Lane, when an unidentified male wearing a white homemade mask with holes cut out for eyes, broke into the residence and violated the young woman in the living room.

The following month on November 29, 1949, 18-year-old Stephens College student, Sally Johnson, became the next target. She lived one block away from where the prior victim was attacked and was home alone falling asleep on the sofa while watching television when an unknown male gained entry and attempted to violate her. Thankfully, she resisted her attacker and was left unharmed, as the perpetrator panicked and fled from the home.

On the very next day, another more brazen incident occurred. A college student enrolled at the University of Missouri was on a date with her boyfriend. They were at Hinkson Creek — a lover’s lane — and in their vehicle when a man draped in a white hood and brandishing a firearm appeared and ordered them out of the car. They did as he instructed and he forced the couple several yards away. He proceeded to rob and bind the male, then ordered the female to walk. When they were a considerable distance away, he sexually assaulted the female and sprinted away from the crime scene.

Days later on December 4, 1949, a 26-year-old black male named Jake Bradford had been arrested after the police caught him in the act of peeping inside a young woman’s window. Bradford spent a week in jail and after intense questioning, he confessed to assaulting the 16-year-old in October and the attempted rape of 18-year-old Sally Johnson, even though she was brought in to ask if he was the perpetrator and was unable to provide an adequate answer.

Nevertheless, the reports of peculiar prowlers and rapes in the area diminished. The police believed they apprehended the right man, and locals began to feel a sense of relief, then all of a sudden the nightmare resurfaced when the tragedy fell upon Janett Christman, with shocking parallels to Marylou Jenkins, causing many people to cast doubt on law enforcement’s original affirmation.

As the police continued on with their investigation into Janett Christman’s murder, one prime suspect named Robert Mueller materialized, and the circumstantial evidence against him began piling up heavily.

Mueller was 27-years-old and friends with Ed Romack since high school. After graduation, Mueller served in World War II as an Army Air Corps Captain and had a distinguishable record. He later returned to Columbia, Missouri, overlooking his father’s restaurant, Mueller’s Virginia Cafe, and working as a tailor. Many people remember him for dressing well and always carrying around a mechanical pencil in his front shirt or jacket pocket.

When Mueller and Ed Romack reacquainted, they shared mutual friends and would frequently spend time together. According to Ed, he had a lustful eye for virgin women and spoke about having a desire to defile someone young. Moreover, he knew Janett since she babysat for him on numerous occasions, and Ed recalled him making lecherous comments about her well-developed hips and breasts.

Additionally, Mueller’s lewd behavior stemmed over to Ed’s wife, Anne, who felt uncomfortable around him because of his uninvited sexual advancements. Much to her dismay, one day before Janett’s murder Mueller had been visiting the home helping Anne hemp a dress and reportedly tried groping her breasts. In a formal statement given to police, Anne described Mueller as a man who “doesn’t use words, he uses his hands.”

The oddities didn’t end there, however. The morning of Janett’s death, Robert contacted Janett to ask if she would babysit his children for the night, but she declined because she already had prearrangements to look after the Romacks’ son. Furthermore, Mueller attended the gathering with the Romacks and their mutual friends but hours into the party he excused himself claiming he had to meet a doctor who was meant to tend to his son. Mueller disappeared for two hours before returning to the party. The police questioned Mueller’s doctor and discovered he never went to the Mueller residence that evening.

To implicate Robert even further, Ed Romack got a phone call from Mueller at his father’s home on the morning after the murder. Supposedly, he had asked if he needed any assistance with cleaning up the blood throughout the house. However, he shouldn’t have known about the tragedy that took place because the crime hadn’t been printed in the local newspaper yet.

Additionally, Ed claimed Mueller would later speak to him regarding the crime and began expounding on how he believed the crime unfolded, claiming that breaking a window to climb into the home would be too loud and noticeable. Instead, it would be much easier to knock on the door and say, “Ed sent me here to get poker chips.”

The circumstantial evidence against Mueller was staggering and overwhelming. In May 1950, law enforcement compiled all the evidence against him and went to his residence to speak with him. Rather than following the basic guidelines of an arrest warrant and interview procedure, the officers didn’t take him into custody — rather, they transported him to a farmhouse outside of city limits and interrogated him at length throughout the course of the night. Mueller was subsequently taken to the state capital, Jefferson City, where he was given a polygraph test and passed.

With the unfortunate results of the lie detector test, the detectives had to let Mueller go free. However, all of the evidence pointed in his direction and the court judge, W.M. Dinwiddle, felt compelled to arrange a grand jury to investigate Mueller’s case further.

Over time and legal issues, Robert Mueller was never charged because of the profound level of incompetence police conducted during their investigation into him. These intertwined factors led Mueller to not be apprehended and he later sued the police department but lost the lawsuit. Afterward, he relocated with his family to Tuscon, Arizona, and in 2006 he passed away at 83-years-old.

After everything that had transpired in the small town of Columbia, it seemed as if all families involved in some form or another needed to uproot their lives from the haunting memories and start anew. The Romacks moved to Idaho Falls, Idaho, and lived with sincere regret that conclusive answers were never given. In the 1980s, Anne passed away. Ed eventually remarried and in 2016 he passed away at 93-years-old. As for his son, Gregory, he grew up successful and settled down in Alaska.

The Christman family remained in Columbia and continued running their business until Janett’s father, Charles Christman, passed away on September 24, 1974, at 60-years-old. After his death, his wife Lula Christman moved to Kansas City, where she would remain until her passing in 2009. Her oldest daughter, Reta, would settle down with a wonderful man and start a family of her own, while the youngest daughter Cheryl — who was only a baby at the time of Janet’s murder — moved to Florida.

It’s now been 68 years, and the once loving, hard-working, and independent 13-year-old who was saving up for a burgundy dress for Easter, would have been 82-years-old on March 21, 2018. While the Romacks and the Christman family believed Robert Mueller is responsible for Janett’s murder, they were painfully stricken with the unsatisfaction for receiving legal justice and closure, and the case officially remains unsolved.

 

The Mysterious Disappearance of the Fort Worth Three

How can someone vanish without a trace? That’s a question that’s difficult to fathom. On the week of Christmas in Fort Worth, Texas, three young women disappeared while shopping at the local mall. What should have been a joyous time to relax and spend the winter break with friends and family, three families spent their holiday desperately searching for their loved ones and praying for a miracle, yet with every passing day, their hope diminished. The whereabouts of the three women are still unknown. This is the enthralling unsolved disappearance of Rachel Trlica, Lisa Wilson, and Julie Moseley.

FortWorthTrio

Mary Rachel Trlica was a 17-year-old senior in high school. She was a middle child and had an 11-year-old brother, Rusty Arnold and an older sister, 19-year-old, Debra Arnold. Though she was young, Rachel was married to 21-year-old Thomas Trlica and was living with him and his two-year-old son from a prior relationship.

Bizarrely, Thomas had been previously engaged to Rachel’s older sister, of whom was living with the couple due to a strained relationship with her then current boyfriend she had been residing with. Though the oddity of the personal relationships between them seemed uncomfortable from an outsider’s perspective, there was reportedly no awkward tension amongst them and they all got along well.

On the cold Monday morning on December 23, 1974, Rachel was planning on finishing up some last minute Christmas shopping. Not wanting to spend the afternoon alone, she asked Debra if she would like to come with her, but she declined. Rachel decided to contact her friend, 14-year-old Lisa Wilson and asked if she would like to join her. Lisa happily accepted the offer but inclined that she needed to be home by 4:00 p.m. because she had plans to attend a dinner party with her new boyfriend, Terry Moseley.

Terry Moseley was 15-years-old and had a younger sister, 9-year-old Julie Moseley. He lived adjacent to Lisa’s grandmother’s home, where she often visited when her mother was working at the dry cleaner’s. Moments before Rachel’s phone call to Lisa, Terry gained the courage to ask Lisa to be his girlfriend — whom she had a crush on for a long time — and was ecstatic when he offered a promise ring to promote his commitment.

Lisa asked if he would like to accompany them for the afternoon. He declined because he had prearranged plans, but he was excited to spend time with her at the party later that evening. Terry’s sister, Julie Moseley, asked if she could go with Rachel and Lisa because she didn’t want to spend all day alone at home. At the time, Rachel and Julie hadn’t known one another and due to this, Rayanne Moseley — Julie’s mother — was hesitant but since she trusted Lisa, she gave her consent after persistent nagging.

Rachel set out in her Oldsmobile 95 to pick Lisa and Julie up and the trio left the neighborhood at midday. Their first stop was to the local Army/Navy Surplus store so Rachel could pay off a few layaway items. Afterward, they visited Seminary South Shopping Center, where Rachel parked her vehicle on the upper-level near the Sears department. Unknowingly to them, this would be their final stop and their whereabouts are unknown.

When the three girls didn’t arrive home at the designated time, family members grew worried. Two hours later panic seeped in further and they decided to go to the mall themselves to search for them. They managed to find Rachel’s vehicle, but the girls were nowhere in sight despite extensive scouring throughout the mall’s interior and exterior layout.

The evidence suggested they had done quite a bit of shopping and made it back to the vehicle safe because Rachel’s car was locked numerous Christmas presents in shopping bags with receipts inside. Several family members continued searching for their loved ones at other varying locations while others remained at the shopping center with the hope of the girls returning, but they never arrived.

At approximately 11:00 p.m. they contacted Fort Worth Police Department to file a missing person(s) report. Law enforcement originally presumed two scenarios — either the girls had met up with acquaintances and would soon turn up or their disappearance was a purposeful runaway case despite no viable motive and the unfamiliarity between Rachel and Julie. With this determination, the investigation wasn’t properly handled, and they released Rachel’s car to her husband–neglecting to examine it for evidence and made no attempts to dust for fingerprints.

The following morning Rachel’s husband discovered a peculiar envelope with a letter in his mailbox that provided a glimmer of hope and sheer confusion. The return address couldn’t be determined because the zip code was smeared. From what was evident, the numbers seemed to spell out “76083,” but the number “3” was written backward. Family members assumed the “3” was actually an “8” which would lead to Weatherford, Texas, thirty-five minutes away. The other possibility was the zip code “76483” that would pinpoint Throckmorton, Texas — a small town two-hours away with a population of less than a thousand people.

Thomas Trlica letter
Image Source: Websleuths

As for the contents of the letter, the message was written in childish handwriting and stated, “I know I’m going to catch it, but we just had to get away. We’re going to Houston. See you in about a week. The car is in Sear’s upper lot. Love Rachel.” Rachel’s family members adamantly believe[d] the author was not Rachel for numerous reasons. First of all, her name had been misspelled and the writer seemingly tried fixing the error. Secondly, the family suggested the letter was too formal. It had been addressed to “Thomas A. Trlica,” but anyone acquainted with him always referred to him as “Tommy.” Lastly, handwriting experts inspected the letter and other writings produced by Rachel and the results were inconclusive. Years later when forensic science became more advanced, DNA was uncovered from the letter that did not belong to Rachel, Lisa, or Julie, and it’s unknown who’s it belongs to.

Once the disappearances were made known from local media outlets, eyewitnesses spoke with law enforcement claiming to have seen the girls in the mall throughout the afternoon. Multiple store clerks stated they appeared to be in a joyous mood. Other testimonies provided conflicting reports, however. In one particular account, a woman mentioned seeing several adult men luring the girls into a pickup truck on the upper-level parking lot. An additional witness asserted spotting the girls in a security patrol car that was making the rounds on the exterior of the shopping center near the Sears department. Other reports began trickling in from all over Texas; with people phoning in tips saying they witnessed the girls at various convenient and grocery shopping stores.

All of the latest testimonies presented contrary deductions law enforcement initially thought and valuable time evaporated. In turn, all of these potential leads were fully investigated but nothing tangible was able to be obtained.

Family members were progressively becoming infuriated with what they felt was inadequate police work, so in 1975 they hired a private investigator named Jon Swaim. With Swaim’s tenacity, he received many anonymous tips — one of which was in March of 1976 that took him five hours away to a bayou in Port Lavaca, Texas, where he was told he would locate the girls’ remains. An extensive search was conducted for multiple days but the effort proved fruitless and nothing of substantial worth was gleaned.

A few months later, Fort Worth Police Department received a phone call from a female psychic living in Hawaii. She told them they could find the girls’ remains at an oil well. Sadly, she didn’t specify where and for five years authorities were chasing their own tails until 1981 when an employee working at an oil company in Houston, Texas, unearthed three sets of skeletal remains. Hoping for a big break in the case, medical examiners performed rigorous testing and they concluded the remains did not belong to the missing women.

In 1979, hired investigator Jon Swaim passed away. The cause of death was ruled a suicide by a drug overdose, believed to be initiated by an awful divorce he was dealing with. Upon request via Swaim’s will, all of his research, discoveries, sources, and contacts were discarded. It’s unknown what kind of information he was able to procure during his three-year investigation.

Seven years after the girls disappeared, a new male witness came forward. He told law enforcement he observed an adult male pushing a [lone] girl into a van on the upper-level parking lot of the shopping center. Out of concern, he confronted the unidentified male and was promptly told to mind his own business because it was merely a family dispute. Law enforcement was unable to corroborate the validity of the story, but they did note the similarities from initial eyewitnesses.

Time continued to flow on, as well as the years, and throughout this time the Fort Worth Police Department received a fluctuation of tips and leads from locals, anonymous callers, and even psychics, but they were either unreliable or investigated exhaustively with no pivotal outcome. As a result, the case began to turn cold and remained stagnant for a long time.

Twenty years later in 1995, Rachel’s younger brother, Rusty Arnold — who was only 11-years-old at the time of his sister’s disappearance — communicated with private investigator Dan James to hire him for his service. This would be a decision that created turmoil amongst family members because it separated an already broken family further.

Interestingly, Dan had known about the case for a long time beforehand and had been conducting independent research prior to being contacted. James declined to accept any payment for any additional work because he was investigating purely out of kindheartedness; even offering a $25,000.00 reward of his own money to anyone who could provide pertinent information that would bring resolution to the case.

Throughout the years Rusty and James worked together they managed to unearth shocking information from sources they deemed credible. According to what they were told, Rachel was astonishingly alive and well; and has been purposefully kept away from Fort Worth, but manages to visit every Christmas since her mysterious disappearance, with the latest visit occurring in 1998. Additionally, the source(s) also shared the sentiment that Lisa Wilson and Julie Moseley had been murdered, though they didn’t how and who was involved.

Rusty and James pursued this appalling lead but they were unable to substantiate the claims, but this avenue led to family issues unraveling. According to Rusty, he believes his older sister Debra wrote the strange letter Thomas received the following morning when the girls disappeared and have more answers than she seems to suggest because she was uncooperative throughout the investigation and refused to take a polygraph test. This allegation was shared by some law enforcement officials and private investigator Dan James, of whom Rusty’s mother, Fran Langston, believes is tampering with Rusty’s mind.

Nevertheless, Debra maintained her innocence and in January of 2000, she spoke with Fort Worth’s newspaper, the Star-Telegram, and proclaimed she had nothing to hide. Debra’s public statement caused Rusty, Rayanne Moseley — Julie’s mother — and Lisa’s parents, Judy and Richard Wilson, to respond with a formal letter saying:

Dear Debra,

We read your statement in the Fort Worth’s Star Telegram on January 9, 2000. You indicated that you ‘had nothing to hide.’ If your statement is true, we beg and plead with you to fully cooperate with the Fort Worth Police Department and the FBI. Please complete the polygraph testing and answer all questions.

Debra, please keep in mind you also have a sister missing.

Respectfully,

Rayanne Moseley
Rusty Arnold
Judy Wilson
Richard Wilson

A resurgence in the case occurred in 2001 when detective Tom Boetcher took over the case. After holding a press conference, another witness named Bill Hutchins came forward detailing an interesting encounter he had with a security guard in a pickup truck as he was leaving the mall at 11:30 p.m. He and the guard conversed briefly, and while doing so he noticed three girls occupying the front seat of his vehicle. From his perspective, they were in good spirits — laughing and joking around with one another.

Law enforcement was skeptical of his testimony and asked why he didn’t report this sooner. Bill told the authorities he did notify them about the incident days after they disappeared but they didn’t follow up with him. Likewise, officers managed to locate the security guard, who denied all allegations pertaining to Bill’s story, though it was consistent with other witnesses at the time.

Subsequently, not an entire lot of substantial information has been released publically. It’s now been over forty years and though the case has seen its gloomy days, new progress is being made that allows hope for optimism. The main consensus amongst law enforcement is that whoever abducted Rachel Trlica, Lisa Wilson, and Julie Moseley — if that indeed is the case — were more than likely acquainted with one of them.

Over time, Rusty has mended the broken relationship he had with Debra, concluding she hadn’t any involvement in her sister’s disappearance. He continues to reside in the town he grew up in and works as a local roofing contractor, all the while admirably seeking answers, closure, and ultimately justice on a daily basis. Only time can tell, but Rusty believes the case will be solved.

 

The Unsolved Abduction and Murder of Dorothy Jane Scott

When horrific unsolved crimes are committed — whether it be murder, robbery, abuse, drugs — people are left searching for a motive. Sometimes, the victim(s) are at the wrong place at the wrong time and it was merely opportunistic for the perpetrator. Other times, they may have had an altercation that transformed into an awful situation. There are other situations where a victim hasn’t done anything wrong, yet the assailant believes they have and become fixated on repairing the wrongdoing in their own irrational mind. The latter example is a heartbreaking story that remains unsolved to this day. This is the story of Dorothy Jane Scott.

Dorothy Jane ScottDorothy Jane Scott was living in Stanton, California with her aunt, Shonti Jacob Scott. She was a 32-year-old single mother of a 4-year-old son, Shawn Scott, and working as a back-office secretary for Swinger’s Psych Shop, a store her father previously owned, and Custom John’s Head Shop — a conjoined business located on 517 South Brookhurst St. in Anaheim, California. Dorothy’s parents, Vera and Jacob Scott often babysat their grandson as she tirelessly worked to provide for her son, considering Shawn’s father was absent from his life and residing in Missouri.

According to friends, family, and colleagues, Dorothy was a very religious and compassionate woman who hadn’t any animosity toward anyone and preferred to stay indoors and attend church rather than dabble in outside influences or attend social gatherings. She would date men on occasion but most of her focus was directed toward her son. However, despite treating other people with generosity and seemingly not giving anyone a reason to dislike her, a man — a monster hiding in plain sight — took a fondness for her that altered her life in such a drastic fashion that remains unexplained to this day.

It all began in the early months of 1980 when Dorothy started receiving anonymous phone calls on a regular basis for months at her place of employment and her residence she shared with her aunt. The unidentified male would often proclaim his love for her; other times he would unleash his malice by threatening to murder her. He openly admitted he was stalking her and substantiated those claims by providing various details regarding the clothing she had on and day-to-day activities at certain times throughout the day.

One phone call in particular haunted Dorothy. In deep animus, the caller told her he would get her alone all to himself and dismember her into bits and pieces. She alerted her parents and even mentioned she recognized the voice but couldn’t recall a name. The alarming telephone calls and violent innuendos continued; so in May 1980, Dorothy signed up for karate classes and was considering purchasing a firearm.

One week later on Wednesday, May 28, 1980, Dorothy, though feeling relatively safer after taking self-defense courses, still felt unnerved as she headed to work early to attend an employee meeting. During the conference, she noticed her co-worker, Conrad Bostron, was looking unwell with a concerning red rash on his forearm. Out of concern for his wellbeing, Dorothy and another colleague, Pam Head, took him to UC Irvine Medical Center, but on the way, Dorothy made a quick stop at her parents’ to change her apparel and let her family know what was happening.

Unknowingly to Dorothy and Pam, the emergency room visit would encapsulate the entire day and night as they remained in the waiting room for their coworker’s discharge. At approximately 11:00 p.m. Conrad was released from the hospital with his prescription script, concluding he was suffering from a black widow spider bite.

Prior to leaving the hospital, Dorothy went to the restroom while Pam waited with Conrad — the only time the two women were separated from one another. Shortly thereafter, Dorothy insisted that they should go to the pharmacy store mere feet away to get his prescription filled while she retrieved her car — a white 1973 Toyota Station Wagon — from the parking lot to pick them up because she didn’t want Conrad walking in his condition.

Pam and Conrad’s business in the pharmacy took only five minutes. They assumed Dorothy would be waiting directly outside for them but she wasn’t there. They proceeded to walk to where Dorothy had originally parked her vehicle, and suddenly they were confronted by her vehicle driving in an unprecedented speed in their direction with the headlights on full-beam, partially blinding them as they waved their arms in the air to get her attention. The driver never stopped, as the vehicle swerved past them erratically and made a sharp right turn out of the parking lot.

Perplexed by the situation, Pam and Conrad thought an emergency came up regarding Dorothy’s four-year-old son and decided to remain at the hospital for two hours, believing she would return, but she never did. Pam decided to call Dorothy’s parents and ask if they had any contact with their daughter but they hadn’t. That’s when they promptly notified the police and reported Dorothy missing.

By 5:00 a.m. Dorothy’s station wagon was discovered up in flames in a back alleyway ten miles away from the hospital, but Dorothy was nowhere in sight. Several search parties were conducted in the following days but their efforts were fruitless. Vera and Jacob Scott feared the worst and those feelings only grew more harrowing when Vera received a phone call from a male remaining incognito saying he had murdered her daughter.

Dorothy Jane Scott newspaper

The police were immediately called regarding the disturbing phone call. They told the Scott family to not release any details about their daughter’s disappearance or the phone call to the media in order to have an upper hand with pivotal information and to steer clear of false confessions. After a week had gone by without any positive results, Jacob and Vera’s optimism diminished. They decided to report the story to the local newspaper, Santa Ana Register and offered $2,500.00 to anyone who would provide information leading to her whereabouts, dead or alive.

With Dorothy’s disappearance now in the eyes of the public, Pat Riley — the editorial manager for Santa Ana Register — received a nameless phone call on June 12, 1980. The caller said to him, “I killed her. I killed Dorothy Scott. She was my love. I caught her cheating with another man. She denied having someone else. I killed her.” 

He went on to relay intimate details specifically about the night of her vanishing that wasn’t released publically; acknowledging Conrad’s spider bite and the red scarf Dorothy had worn. Even more chilling, he stated Dorothy had called him from the hospital hours before she disappeared. Though the anonymous caller had pertinent details about what transpired, the police were under the impression Dorothy never placed a phone call to the individual; primarily due to Pam being by her side the entire day other than going to the restroom and parking lot to get her vehicle.

djsnewspaper

After the horrific phone call Dorothy’s mother received one week after her daughter disappeared, she would go on to get anonymous phone calls by the same man every single Wednesday. As weeks turned into months and months into years, Dorothy would remain unfound and the harassing phone calls never stopped. On some days the caller would ask if she was related to Dorothy and when she replied yes, he would respond by saying, “I’ve got her,” and hang-up the phone. Other days he would profess he had killed her. The phone calls lasted four years and despite the police installing a voice recorder in Vera’s home hoping to trace the calls, they were unable to pinpoint a location because the conversations were very brief.

djsnewspaper4In August 1984 — four years after Dorothy disappeared — a construction worker discovered dog remains at Santa Ana Canyon Road approximately thirteen miles away from UC Irvine Medical Hospital. When he continued digging he unearthed another set of remains that sadly belonged to Dorothy Jane Scott, along with a turquoise ring and a wristwatch that had stopped at 12:30 a.m. on May 29, 1980, one hour after her initial disappearance. An autopsy was conducted but the medical examiner was unable to provide a cause of death due to the state of the remains, though foul play is undoubtedly involved.

Over the years, no conclusive breakthroughs have been made, but there is circumstantial evidence that points to Mike Butler — the brother of a female associate working alongside Dorothy. According to acquaintances, Butler had an unhealthy obsession with Dorothy. Unfortunately, there is hardly any evidence to consider him a suspect and the family, in general, has tried separating themselves from the entire ordeal.

On April 23, 1994 — Dorothy’s birthday — Jacob passed away at 69-years-old. Eight years later in 2002, her mother would also depart. They never received any answers as to who, why, and how their daughter died. Dorothy’s son, Shawn, has gone on to live a meaningful life, but still pursues justice for his mother. It’s now been close to thirty-eight years and Dorothy Jane Scott’s abduction and murder remain unsolved.

 

The Visalia Ransacker – List of Stolen Items

The Visalia Ransacker is an interesting criminal, and if he is the elusive East Area Rapist, that makes him all the more intriguing. However, there’s an unfortunate lack of information surrounding him aside from how he operated and his target locations. Other than that, it’s hard to find any detailed intel unlike the crimes committed by the East Area Rapist.

As a result, this post is going to be dedicated to the stolen items — discarded or not — that he took in his home invasions. I’d like to thank the 12-26-75 Podcast for providing an excellent series on the perpetrator via original police reports and research. They were able to see what items were taken from certain homes, so I thought I would present those findings in a clear, concise format that is easy to read, understand, and follow.

The Visalia Ransacker – Stolen Items

Attack #1 – March 19, 1974 – West Walnut Avenue – Piggybank.

Attack #2 – April 6, 1974 – Linda Vista – Money, piggybank, ransacked all of the rooms and threw clothing around.

Attack #3 – April 6, 1974 – South Whitney Drive – Money, piggybank, ransacked all of the rooms, and used household items to place against the front and back doors to alert him if someone came inside.

Attack #4 – May 4, 1974 – South Dollner – Money, ransacked bedrooms and threw clothing around.

Attack #5 – May 5, 1974 – West Feemster – Money, piggybank, ransacked jewelry and bedrooms, threw clothing, and left a window screen on a bed.

Attack #6 – May 11, 1974 – South Whitney Drive – Money, ransacked bedrooms, tossed women’s clothing around, and left a window screen on a bed.

Attack #7 – May 11, 1974 – West Tulare Avenue – Money, piggybank, .380 Auto Pistol, placed items against doors for an alarm, tossed clothing around the home, and left a window screen in the bedroom where he escaped.

Attack #8 – May 17, 1974 – South Emerald Court – Money, one ring, threw women’s clothing — two daughters in cheerleading — around their rooms, left a window screen on a bed where he made his escape.

Attack #9 – May 17, 1974 – West Dartmouth Avenue – Money, piggybank, blue chip stamps, ransacked bedrooms and littered clothing throughout the room.

Attack #10 – May 18, 1974 – West Cambridge Avenue – Ransacked all rooms but nothing was stolen.

Attack #11 – May 18, 1974 – West Feemster Avenue – Small inexpensive items and $52.00

Attack #12 – May 18, 1974 – West Feemster Avenue – Several piggybanks, pantyhose, cologne, placed a bottle of woman’s perfume on the doorknob for a warning, threw women’s clothing around in the bedrooms, unsuccessfully attempted to pry the family’s sliding glass doors open.

Attack #13 – May 18, 1974 – UNCLEAR – Ransacked the home but nothing was taken. Women’s clothing was littered throughout the home.

Attack #14 – May 25, 1974 – Sue Lane – Money, ransacked all rooms and tossed women’s clothing on the floor, and pried open a sliding glass door from the inside of the residence.

Attack #15 – May 25, 1974 – West Cambridge – Money, piggybank, ransacked all rooms and scattered the mother and daughter’s clothing all over the floor; the daughter was a high school student at Mt. Whitney.

Attack #16 – May 25, 1974 – South Redwood St – Money, piggybank, earrings, ransacked all bedrooms, tossed women’s clothing on the floor, left a window screen on a bed where he made his escape.

Attack #17 – May 26, 1974 – South Sowell St – Ransacked all bedrooms but nothing was stolen.

Attack #18 – May 26, 1974 – West Howard – Money from a piggybank, ransacked all bedrooms, attempted to pry open a door and window unsuccessfully, but left a window screen on one of the beds.

Attack #19 – May 26, 1974 – West Cambridge – Money, ransacked all bedrooms, opened a Playboy magazine on a bed, pried open various doors and windows, and there was evidence suggesting he put lotion on his hands due to smear stains on the glass windows and magazine.

Attack #20 – June 23, 1974 – South Conyer St – Ransacked all bedrooms and jewelry, threw women’s clothing on the floor, but nothing was stolen.

Attack #21 – September 14, 1974 – West Princeton Avenue – One earring from a pair of two, ransacked bedrooms and tossed women’s clothing on the floor.

Attack #22 – October 4, 1974 – South Grant – .22 revolver, 3 boxes of .22 ammo, 1 1/2 boxes of 12 gauge shotgun ammo, money, and ransacked all rooms.

Attack #23 – October 19, 1974 – West Cambridge –  Money, but left some cash behind that was out in the open, a piggybank and shattered another one, removed a window screen and tossed clothing all over the flooring.

Attack #24 – October 19, 1974 – West Cambridge – Ransacked all bedrooms and threw clothing everywhere, removed a window screen where he made his escape, but nothing was stolen.

Attack #25 – October 19, 1974 – South Oak Park St – Money, ransacked all rooms and tossed clothing on the floor.

Attack #26 – October 23, 1974 – South Oak Park St – Money and piggybank, ransacked all bedrooms and removed a window screen.

Attack #27 – October 23, 1974 – South Giddings St – .32 Caliber Revolver, two cheap cameras, ransacked bedrooms and littered clothing on the flooring.

Attack #28 – November 1, 1974 – West Vassar Avenue – Money from piggybank, ransacked all rooms, scattered clothing on the floor, and left open his escape route.

Attack #29 – November 1, 1974 – South Giddings – Money from a piggybank.

Attack #30 – November 1, 1974 – West Cambridge – Money, ransacked bedrooms and tossed only female clothing on the floor, and removed a window screen.

Attack #31 – November 1, 1974 – West Vassar Avenue – Money, ransacked bedrooms and threw women’s clothing on the floor, and placed an item at the front door for an alert system.

Attack #32 – November 1, 1974 – West Paradise Avenue – Money, piggybank, 1 earring from a pair, ransacked all bedrooms, threw female clothing on the floor, and removed a window screen.

Attack #33 – November 2, 1974 – South Mountain St – Money, blue chip stamps, and ransacked the kitchen, bedrooms, and jewelry.

Attack #34 – November 2, 1974 – South Mountain St – Ransacked the residence but nothing was stolen.

Attack #35 – November 2, 1974 – West Laurel Avenue – Money, four tubes of glue, 1 earring from a pair, ransacked the bedrooms and kitchen, tossed pictures of children on the floor, as well as female clothing, and placed an item at the front door for a warning.

Attack #36 – November 2, 1974 – South Whitney – Money, piggybank, blue chip stamps, six brand new t-shirts, and ransacked all bedrooms.

Attack #37 – November 2, 1974 – West Campus Avenue – All rooms were ransacked, four windows were left sprawled open, and female clothing was littered everywhere, but nothing had been stolen.

Attack #38 – November 29, 1974 – West Princeton – $6.92 in cash, piggybank, two boxes of .22 ammo, ransacked all rooms and threw clothing onto the floor.

Attack #39 – November 29, 1974 – West Tulare Avenue – Money, piggybank, one earring, a bra, two pictures of children, ransacked the bedrooms, tossed women’s clothing on the floor, and removed a window screen.

Attack #40 – November 29, 1974 – West Laurel Avenue – Unknown.

Attack #41 – November 29, 1974 – South Whitney St – $72.00

Attack #42 – November 29, 1974 – West Walnut Avenue – $7.50. in cash.

Attack #43 – November 30, 1974 – West Meadow Lane – $10.50 in cash, ransacked the bedrooms, used an item for an alert system at the front door, and removed a window screen.

Attack #44 – November 30, 1974 – West Meadow Lane – $30.00 in cash, tore a photo up of the family’s son, ransacked all the rooms, tossed the daughter’s clothing on the floor; she was in band practice and attended Mt. Whitney High School.

Attack #45 – November 30, 1974 – South Encina St – Money, piggybank, ransacked all bedrooms and jewelry, removed a window screen, and placed an item at the back door for an alert system.

Attack #46 – November 30, 1974 – West Paradise – Ransacked all rooms, threw women’s clothing on the floor, removed a window screen, but nothing was stolen.

Attack #47 – November 30, 1974 – West Paradise – .30 cents, two rings, one earring from a pair, ransacked all rooms and littered women’s clothing on the floor.

Attack #48 – November 30, 1974 – West Paradise – Money, and ransacked the kitchen and bedrooms.

Attack #49 – November 30, 1974 – West Myrtle Avenue – Ransacked the bedrooms and den, removed a window screen and left it on the bed, but nothing was stolen.

Attack #50 – November 30, 1974 – West Myrtle Avenue – Money (no details available on the ransacking).

Attack #51 – November 30, 1974 – South Sowell St – Money, ransacked all bedrooms and tossed women’s clothing on the floor.

Attack #52 – November 30, 1974 – West Cambridge – $5.00 in cash, ransacked all rooms, threw clothing on the floor, and unsuccessfully attempted to pry open a door.

Attack #53 – November 30, 1974 – West Kaweah – 20 gauge shotgun shells, a box of .22 ammo, ransacked all rooms and threw female clothing onto the floor.

Attack #54 – November 30, 1974 – West Kaweah – Money, ransacked all bedrooms, removed a window screen and left open his escape route.

Attack #55 – November 30, 1974 – South Oak Park St – $260.00 in cash.

Attack #56 – December 14, 1974 – 3013 West Vassar Avenue – The residence belonged to Alf Huzman and he worked at Kaweah Delta Hospital. Money and a piggy-bank were stolen. The bedrooms were ransacked with clothing all over the flooring, and a window screen was removed and left in a bedroom.

Attack #57 – December 14, 1974 – 1840 South University St – The residence belonged to Kenneth Hochnadel. Money had been stolen, and the bedrooms were ransacked. Female clothing was scattered on the floor and a window screen was removed.

Attack #58 – December 14, 1974 – 3340 West Cambridge – The residence belonged to Rodney B. Swanson Jr. Money was stolen, and all bedrooms were ransacked. The family’s daughter had clothing littered all over her bedroom floor.

Attack #59 – December 14, 1974 – 2943 West Cambridge – The residence belonged to Frank Vigario. Nothing was stolen but all bedrooms and jewelry were ransacked, piggy-banks were emptied, clothing was scattered on the floor, and a window screen was removed.

Attack #60 – December 16, 1974 – West Seeger Avenue – Money, all bedrooms were ransacked, female clothing was thrown on the floor, and a window screen was removed and left in a bedroom.

Attack #61 – December 21, 1974 – West Myrtle Avenue – Liquor and coins, a screening to a (door or window?) were cut to gain entry to the home. In total, $42.00 worth of belongings were stolen.

Attack #62 – December 21, 1974 – West Meadow Avenue – Money, piggy-bank, blue chip stamps, one each of four pair earrings, all bedrooms were ransacked, and female clothing was tossed to the ground.

Attack #63 – December 21, 1974 – West Iris Avenue – Money and a piggy-bank were stolen. All bedrooms were ransacked, and female clothing, along with photographs of children, were thrown to the floor, and a window had been pried open from the inside and left ajar for a point of escape,

Attack #64 – December 21, 1974 – South Fairway – Blue chip stamps, and bedrooms were ransacked with female clothing and photographs of the family thrown to the floor, and a window screen was removed.

Attack #65 – December 21, 1974 – West College Avenue – Money and an unknown item had been placed at the front door for an alert system.

Attack #66 – December 22, 1974 – West Laurel Avenue – Money, brand new t-shirts, pajamas, rings, and all bedrooms were ransacked.

Attack #67 – December 22, 1974 – South Terri St – Money, although some cash was left behind, piggy-bank and bedrooms and jewelry were ransacked.

Attack #68 – December 22, 1974 – South Divisadero St – Money, rings, one each of two different pairs of earrings, ransacked all rooms, threw female clothing to the floor, placed an item against the front door for a warning, and pushed out a window screen from the inside.

Attack #69 – December 22, 1974 – West Fairview Court – Money, piggy-bank, ransacked all rooms and dumped clothing on the floor.

Attack #70 – January 25, 1975 – South Verde Vista St – Money, blue chip stamps, ransacked all bedrooms and tossed female clothing to the floor.

Attack #71 – January 25, 1975 – West Pecan Court – Money.

Attack #72 – February 2, 1975 – South Whitney Drive – Purse, twenty books of blue-chip stamps, a box of .22 ammo, all rooms had been ransacked, female clothing was littered everywhere on the flooring, a door was unsuccessfully attempted to be pried open, a window screen was removed and placed outside by the family’s backyard gate, and a bottle of Jergen’s lotion that did not belong to the family was found, along with hand smears/prints on a sliding glass door. Three days later on February 5, 1975, the family was returning home from a night out and saw a man crouched near the back window. He was chased but ultimately escaped.

Attack #73 – February 16, 1975 – South Sowell St – Money, one earring, a door was attempted to be pried open unsuccessfully, all bedrooms were ransacked, and the daughter who attended Mt. Whitney High School had her clothing littered on her bedroom floor.

Attack #74 – February 16, 1975 – West Kaweah Avenue – Money, all bedrooms were ransacked, numerous windows had tried being pried open unsuccessfully, and female clothing and framed pictures of the family’s son and daughter at weddings were thrown and broken. The daughter attended the College of Sequoias.

Attack #75 – March 1, 1975 – West Howard Avenue – Money, rings, a broken H & R revolver, left behind valuable jewelry that was in plain sight, ransacked all bedrooms and tossed female clothing to the floor.

Attack #76 – May 24, 1975 – South Mountain St – Taurus .38 revolver, ransacked all rooms in the home, and two doors were unsuccessfully pried open.

Attack #77 – May 24, 1975 – South Mountain St – Money, ransacked all bedrooms, and threw female clothing to the floor.

Attack #78 – May 24, 1975 –  South Redwood St – Blue chip stamps, ransacked all rooms, threw female clothing to the floor, opened several windows and removed the screening from the inside.

Attack #79 – May 31, 1975 – South Sowell St – Money from a piggy-bank, 16 rings, ransacked all bedrooms and the kitchen, tossed clothing to the ground and poured or accidentally spilled orange juice on the clothes.

Attack #80 – July 24, 1975 – West Kaweah Avenue – Ransacked the residence and unlocked a door, but nothing was stolen.

Attack #81 – July 25, 1975 – West Campus Avenue – Money, stamps (not sure if regular stamps or blue chip stamps), credit card, ransacked all bedrooms and removed a window screen.

Attack #82 – July 25, 1975 – West Fairview Court – Money, 20 gauge shotgun shells, one ring, ransacked all bedrooms and threw female underclothing to the floor. The perpetrator gained entry through the side door. The homeowner had an extensive coin collection. There’s no mention as to whether or not the collection was stolen, or it’s not clarified very well.

Attack #83 – August 1, 1975 – West Campus Avenue – Money, stamps (unclear on what type of stamps), one each of two pairs of earrings, emptied out the piggy-banks, ransacked all rooms in the home, tossed female clothing to the ground and made a trail of the lingerie down the hallway, and removed a window screen from a bedroom.

Attack #84 – August 23, 1975 – West Howard St – Money from a piggy-bank, ransacked all rooms and jewelry in the home, littered women’s clothing on the floor, removed a window screen, and failed to pry open a door.

Attack #85 – August 23, 1975 – West Feemster Avenue – $91.00, blue chip stamps, one ring, left behind some money in plain view, ransacked all rooms in the home and the jewelry, readjusted a box of .22 ammo and placed it on the homeowner’s bed, scattered women’s clothing on the floor, and failed to pry open several doors to the residence.

Attack #86 – August 24, 1975 – West Cambridge – Money from a piggy-bank, ransacked all the rooms in the home and littered clothing everywhere.

Attack #87 – August 24, 1975 – West Princeton Avenue – Money from a piggy-bank, ransacked every room in the home, and pried open a door from the inside.

Attack #88 – August 29, 1975 – Dartmouth – Money, rings, one each of nine pairs of earrings, ransacked all bedrooms and jewelry, tossed women’s clothing to the floor, and failed to pry open several windows.

Attack #89 – August 30, 1975 – South Redwood St – Two cell flashlights that were later recovered at another address on the victim’s street, ransacked all rooms and jewelry, littered only the daughter’s clothing to the ground, took one picture out of twelve, and the family had recent events of prowling and knocking sounds to their home. The daughter attended Mt. Whitney and was a song leader at First Baptist Church.

Attack #90 – August 31, 1975 – West Royal Oaks Avenue – A necklace, one silver dollar, two boxes of 12 gauge ammo, three boxes of .38 ammo with a 100 count each, a .38 Miroku Revolver that was used to murder Claude Snelling on September 11, 1975, threw women’s clothing to the ground and made a line with men’s shorts in the hallway, along with four 1/2 shotgun barrels loaded with three steel jacket hollow point bullets.

Attack #91 – September 11, 1975 – Whitney Lane – The Visalia Ransacker attempted to abduct sixteen-year-old Beth Snelling. Her father, Claude Snelling woke up to the commotion and went to her rescue. The perpetrator proceeded to shoot Claude that proved fatal and subsequently ran away from the crime scene. The stolen .38 Miroku Revolver stolen from August 31, 1975, was used to murder him and the gun was found discarded in a ditch on September 19, 1975.

The Visalia Ransacker would continue to hit ten more homes between September 11, 1975 – December 10, 1975. The details of those ransackings aren’t available online; or if they are, I’m unaware of them. The locations of these home invasions included Royal Oaks, Campus, Redwood, County Center, Country Lane, West Tulare, West Laurel, and West Kaweah.

Since the Ransacker often hit on the weekends and in the same area, the police performed several stakeouts. On December 10, 1975, on West Kaweah, detective William McGowen witnessed a suspicious male walking in the neighborhood. He confronted the man and the stranger pulled out a firearm and shot at him. The bullet pierced McGowen’s flashlight — causing him to fall down to the ground. The shooter managed to elude the detective and escape a large manhunt that occurred following the event. Afterward, the Visalia Ransacker disappeared altogether and his whereabouts are unknown.

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McGowen

 

The Unsolved Case of the Long Island Serial Killer

Life has a peculiar way of impacting people in unforeseen circumstances. Sometimes, blessings can occur in unexpected ways that transcend the course of one’s life. Other times, tragedies happen in ways that can go unexplained and the turmoil can seemingly never overturn into a positive. In this case, the disappearance of Shannan Gilbert was the catalyst that featured both of these scenarios; a yin and yang event that has left many people affected in different forms. This is the story.

Shannan GilbertShannan Gilbert was born on Friday, October 24, 1986, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Her family lived in New Jersey, where Shannan grew up with her mother, Mari Gilbert and her siblings, Sarra Elizabeth Gilbert, Sherre Gilbert, and Steve Smith. Her intelligence was exceptional and she graduated high school at sixteen-years-old. Afterward, she was taking online college courses at Phoenix University and held several jobs ranging from being a hostess at Applebee’s, a hotel receptionist, and cooking for the elderly in a senior center. Her goal was to save money to relocate to New York to pursue her ambitions of being an actress, singer, and writer. The jobs she undertook wasn’t enough to fund her transition and she decided to temporarily turn her attention to online escorting via Craigslist.

The profession was going as well as expected until Saturday, May 1, 2010, when 24-year-old Shannan Gilbert was accompanied by her escort driver, Michael Pak, to meet up with Joseph Brewer — a new client living in a gated community in Oak Beach, Long Island. They arrived at his residence at approximately 2:00 a.m. Three hours later everything turned into a hectic frenzy that remains unclear to this very day, but the events changed Long Island forever.

Shortly before 5:00 a.m. Shannan called 911. She was repeatedly telling the dispatcher, “They are trying to kill me!” as she fled from Brewer’s home and sprinted toward the closest neighbor, Gustav Coletti. He was in the process of shaving when he was startled by erratic screaming and knocking on his front door. As he frantically went to open the door, Shannan darted inside with utter terror brimming from her face. Out of concern for her wellbeing, Gustav said he was going to notify the police. Those words caused more distraught which prompted her to run away from his home.

Gustav watched her flee and subsequently noticed a black SUV driving slowly down the road. He proceeded to confront the driver, who was Shannan’s escort driver, Michael Pak. He asked what his intentions were and Pak responded, “I’m looking for Shannan.” Gustav — who was oblivious to her occupation — told Pak that he called the police, causing him to drive away from the residential community.

In the midst of the exchange between Gustav and Michael, Shannan had run to the home of Barbara Brennan and hellaciously pounded on the front door for assistance. Fearing for her own safety, Brennan refused to acknowledge the knocking and called her next-door door neighbor, Tom Canning, to alert him to the situation. He quickly looked went outside to check on the commotion, but Shannan had already fled across the street to the home of Dr. Peter Hackett. From this point onward, Shannan was never seen alive again.

Two days after Shannan’s disappearance, her mother Mari Gilbert received anDr Peter Hackett unexpected telephone call from Dr. Peter Hackett. He asked if Shannan was safe and feeling better but Mari hadn’t any knowledge that anything was amiss. She went on to ask how he acquired her phone number and he mentioned that it was policy to have a patient’s contact information. Perplexed by the response, Mari asked why he was distributing medicine in the first place. As the conversation continued, he allegedly stated he ran a halfway-home for women in dire need and explained the events that transpired–providing medication for Shannan to help calm her nerves (the type of medicine is unclear but it’s presumed to be a benzodiazepine).

With Mari and the rest of Shannan’s family learning of her distress and unaware of her whereabouts, they filed a missing person’s report. Mari relayed the information she received from Hackett’s phone call to the investigators and once media coverage began swarming in, Dr. Peter Hackett was bombarded by several reports about the conversation with Mari. He proceeded to deny all allegations of a phone call ever happening on live television. Shortly thereafter, phone records were obtained and released publically, proving Hackett’s deception. He went on to recant his prior statements but remained adamant about never mentioning anything relating to halfway-homes or treating Shannan Gilbert with an unknown substance drug(s).

A massive search for Shannan went underway but the pursuit was fruitless. Seven months later in December 2010, a police officer conducting a routine training exercise with his cadaver dog stumbled upon the skeletal remains of a woman wrapped in a burlap sack. Two days later, three more bodies in burlap sacks were unearthed in the proximity, none of whom were Shannan. They were all online escorts and determined to be murdered by strangulation.

LISKVICTIMS

Megan Waterman was the first woman to be properly identified by name. She was a 22-year-old mother from South Portland, Maine. She had been staying in a hotel in Hauppauge, New York when she disappeared on June 6, 2010, after leaving behind her phone and wallet to meet an unknown client that accepted her escorting ad on Craigslist.

Maureen Brainard-Barnes was a 25-year-old single mother from Norwich, Connecticut. She was visiting New York when she disappeared in July 2007.

Amber Lynn Costello was 27-years-old living in North Babylon, New York. She vanished under mysterious circumstances on September 2, 2010, after meeting an unknown client who called and emailed her numerous times offering upwards of $1,500.00 for her company.

Melissa Barthelemy was 24-years-old from Erie County, New York. She disappeared on July 12, 2009, and when her family reported her missing the local authorities refused to initiate a search until several days later when Melissa’s younger sister, Amanda, began receiving nearly a dozen phone calls from Melissa’s cell-phone.

The caller was not Melissa, unfortunately. Instead, it was an unidentified male who taunted and harassed Amanda by saying crude things. In one exchange, the caller professed, “Do you know what your sister is? She’s a whore. I killed her. I know where you live and I can kill you too.” 

Throughout the handful of phone calls made to Amanda, the police attempted to triangulate the caller’s location. They managed to pin him to Times Square in Manhattan but the populated area made it impossible to adequately locate the origin.

According to law officials, the subject is a Caucasian male between 20-40 years old. His demeanor is calm, and his manner of speech is elegant. He also seemed to be acute on police tactics — keeping his phone calls under three minutes. This had the police theorizing he could be an active or retired member of law enforcement. Other officials speculated these type of behaviors aren’t unique and could be gleaned from watching television shows such as CSI or NCIS.

Thereafter, the unidentified male never made any subsequent communications with Amanda. However, the police managed to obtain call records that indicated Melissa was in contact with somebody residing in Manorville, New York, but this lead wasn’t considered entirely beneficial at the time.

Richard Dormer LISKRichard Dormer — the former police commissioner at Suffolk County — told ABC News that he believes a serial killer is behind the killings due to the location of the bodies and their cause of death. The news made headlines and sent the media and local residents into hysteria.

The search for Shannan Gilbert continued but the task proved difficult because of the harsh, winter weather. The police orchestrated another search for Shannan the following year in March and April that extended to Nassau County. To their horror, six more sets of remains were discovered.

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Unlike the first four victims found the previous year, the remains of these victims were partial, indicating dismemberment. Shockingly, one particular set of remains unearthed was linked to a pair of severed legs wrapped in plastic that washed up on the shore of Fire Island in 1996 — a case that baffled original detectives ever since the discovery was made.

Interestingly, one victim was an Asian male that was wearing women’s clothing. Law Asian Male LISKenforcement searched their database for missing Asian males from Long Island but none were a definitive match. They hypothesized that he was also a sex-worker and could have been mistaken for a woman.

Another set of partial remains uncovered a captivating tale. The body parts were confirmed via DNA to belong to 20-year-old Jessica Taylor, who was last seen in Manhattan near the Port Authority Bus Terminal in July 2003. Three weeks after she disappeared, a woman walking her dog came across a woman’s torso with a tattoo mutilated from the hip, and a pair of legs. Missing from the crime scene were a skull, arms, and hands — of which were found amidst the multitude of other victims.

Approximately 200 yards away from the partial remains of Jessica Taylor was a female child between 18-24 months old wrapped in a blanket. A name was unable to be provided to the authorities so they referred to her as Baby Doe. She was later linked to being the daughter of an unidentified woman dubbed “Peaches” because of a tattoo found on a torso that was located in 1997 at Hempstead Lake State Park.

Two equally horrifying theories arose from these uncoverings; either two killers were disposing of their victims coincidentally in the same proximity or a lone serial killer was responsible and has been active for at least twenty years.

In the span of six months, ten bodies had been located, none of which belonged to Shannan Gilbert LISKShannan Gilbert — the missing 24-year-old who unintentionally brought forth the chilling discovery. In December 2011, the skeletal remains of Shannan were finally located, less than a half mile away from Dr. Peter Hackett’s backyard — the last place she was reported to be seen.

After a positive identification was confirmed, the Suffolk County Medical Examiner spent four days performing an autopsy. In the meantime, Richard Dormer preemptively announced Shannan’s death was accidental — drowning in the dense marsh she was found in — even though the results weren’t confirmed. What is known is that Shannan suffered from Bipolar disorder and was off her medication at the time of her disappearance. Nevertheless, the premature answer given by Dormer angered surviving family members, and soon after an official ruling on her death was determined to be inconclusive.

The Gilbert family wholeheartedly believed Shannan was met with foul play and hired an attorney, John Ray, who proceeded to employ an independent coroner to get a second opinion on Shannan’s death. The autopsy indicated Shannan could have met with foul play because of the larynx of her hyoid bone being detached; meaning she could have potentially been strangled, yet a definitive conclusion couldn’t be determined.

John Ray LISK

Due to inconsistent reports and the oddities surrounding Dr. Peter Hackett’s behavior and false statements, Mari Gilbert forthrightly accused Hackett being responsible for her death and alleged murder. In 2012, Mari and Ray filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Hackett, but he wasn’t charged with any wrongdoings. Soon after, he relocated with his family to Florida and is not considered a suspect.

Three years later in 2015 — with a lack of headway in the Long Island Serial Killer case — an escort going by the name of “Leanne,” came forward alongside the Gilbert family’s attorney and told the media a fascinating story.

According to Leanne, she had an unsavory encounter with James Burke — the Chief of Police in Suffolk County’s Police Department — at a house party in Oak Beach one year after Shannan disappeared. During the party, Burke partook in cocaine and alcohol that was freely passed around. He made numerous attempts to seduce her, but after all of her declines, she became very aggressive. He reportedly choked her and forced her to provide oral pleasure, all the while proclaiming she was a “No good whore.” She would go on to attest that more law enforcement members were present and some were actually clientele.

James Burke LISKLeanne’s testimony came after the events that unfolded in November 2015, when Burke resigned from the position of Suffolk County’s Police Chief after being served a 46-month federal prison sentence for severely beating Christopher Loeb because he stole a duffel bag full of sex toys and pornography from his SUV. Afterward, he coerced other law enforcement members in his jurisdiction and neighboring counties to cover up his indecencies; a series of misdoings that occurred in a three-year time span.

Additionally, Burke refused the FBI’s assistance when they were brought in to take over the Long Island Serial Killer case. The motive behind his intentions are unknown, but the sheer fact of this decision led many people to presume he had a possible tie-in personally in the serial killing(s) and wanted the evidence to remain buried. Others speculated he wasn’t involved at all and wanted to cover his involvement in solicitation and drugs.

In a macabre turn of events that nobody could have predicted, Shannan’s mother was savagely murdered by her youngest daughter, Sarra, in July 2016, who suffers from schizophrenia. She had stabbed Mari over two-hundred times and used a fire extinguisher to bludgeon her. On August 4, 2017, Sarra was sentenced to 25-years-to-life in prison.

Throughout all of these tragic tangents involved in some form or another in the Long Island Serial Killer case, a suspect named John Bittrolff emerged from all of the rubble.

Bittrolff was making a living as a carpenter and was an avid hunter living in Manorville, New York. In 1993 and 1994, he murdered two women and is suspected of more. His first victim was Rita Tangredi, a sex worker who was found strangled and bludgeoned to death on November 2, 1993, in Suffolk County. Eighteen days later on November 20, 1993, the body of Sandra Costilla was discovered in North Sea, New York, of whom lived a high-risk lifestyle similar to Rita. Two months later on January 30, 1994, Colleen McNamee, another sex worker, was unearthed in Shirley, New York, and disposed of in the same manner as the previous two women.

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The medical examiners were able to obtain male DNA and semen samples but the evidence didn’t point to any one person. It wasn’t until 2013 when Bittrolff’s brother, Timothy, was sent to prison for criminal contempt. As a result, his DNA was taken and placed into CODIS (Combined DNA Index System). His DNA shockingly came back as a partial match from one of the murders twenty-years prior and ultimately led back to John, who was subsequently charged in July 2014 for the murder of Rita Tangredi and Colleen McNamee.

Throughout the examination into Bittrolff, investigators were considering him to be a prime suspect in the Gilgo Beach murders — particularly the first four victims who were found strangled and discarded in burlap sacks. It was learned that Rita Tangredi’s daughter was best friends with Melissa Barthelemy — one of the sex workers who was murdered and had call records from an unknown source in Manorville, New York. Likewise, the torso of Jessica Taylor found in 2003 was approximately three miles away from his residence.

As of right now, the inspection is still ongoing, but John Bitrolff was convicted of the second-degree murders of Rita Tangredi and Colleen McNamee by a Suffolk County Jury on July 5, 2017, and on September 12, 2017, he was sentenced to 50-years to life in prison at the age of fifty-one-years old.

John Bittrolf LISK 1

It remains to be seen if Bitrolff is the Long Island Serial Killer. The investigation is still culminating all of the evidence. As for Shannan Gilbert, she has never been conclusively tied to being a victim of the notorious serial killer, and the Gilbert family attorney, John Ray, is still striving for answers.

On March 6, 2018, Sanford Berland — a Long Island judge — ordered Suffolk County to release the full 23-minute phone call Shannan placed to 911 shortly before vanishing to Ray. They have until March 19, 2018, to produce the recorded phone call and transcript, where it will be reviewed by the judge, where he will ultimately rule whether or not it should be made available.

Shannan Gilbert’s unsolved case is a fascinating one. It paints a portrait of misconception. It’s important to remember that Shannan, along with her mother, Mari, and the rest of the victims, is human. They are more than escorts. Their lives had value, and they had dreams of wanting to become more. Yet if it wasn’t for Shannan’s tragic disappearance, perhaps none of the victims would have been found and more would pile on. Shannan put into motion a tale of horror and corruptness, but also a story of a caterpillar that’s in its growing stages and ready to become beautiful; a butterfly who flaps its wings and creates justice in a case that was buried in the dust without anyone’s knowledge.