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Monday, August 22, 2011

missing persons investigation is now being treated as a homicide

Bill and Kay wood have been missing for nearly 3 weeks. Their home was burned to the ground and there wasn't much for investigators to go on, until the autopsy report was released Friday morning.

After weeks of searching and countless unanswered questions, family members finally have some answers.

“We are, I believe making progress on the case,” said Agent Mike Motsinger with the Division of Criminal Investigation.

But it’s not the progress the Wood family had hoped for. The body found in the remains of Bill and Kay’s home has been identified as 79-year old Bill Wood. The cause of death is multiple gun shot wounds.

The shooting death changes the investigation for police, from a missing person to a homicide.

"Whenever u have a case like this more than likely the person had some type of association with the woods they knew this person. Is there a person running around shooting people and setting fires to houses? No,” said Motsinger.

But other than a few tangible leads, investigators still have more questions than answers.

“What theory do we have? There could be several theories. There could be one person responsible, there could be two, we just don't now, At this point we are keeping any option open and following up on the leads as they come in,” said Motsinger.

What they do know: 72 years old Kay Wood is still missing. Investigators say they are keeping all of their options open, all except the possibility she was also in the fire.

“My understanding is it has to burn very hot for a very long time to totally consume a body,” said Motsinger.

So now the search continues. And family members say as difficult as this news has been, they won't give up.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Police search for missing schizophrenic patients

Police search for missing schizophrenic patients
Chicago police this evening were searching for two missing schizophrenic adults who are without their medication in separate missing persons cases.

Efrem Lewis, 49, was last seen Saturday in the 11600 block of South Yale Avenue, according to a community alert.

He is described as an African-American man, is about 6-foot-2-inches tall and weighing about 235 pounds, police said. Lewis has brown eyes and graying black hair.

Police are also looking for Colleen Donahue, 51. Friends of the missing woman told police that she may have been traveling to Minnesota to visit her parents, but her parents said they hadn't seen her, according to the alert.

She is described as a white woman, about 5-foot-3-inches tall and weighing about 188 pounds. She has brown eyes and blond hair and was last seen in the 2000 block of North Clark Street.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

US Tourist Disappears in Aruba

Authorities Question Man After Maryland Woman Disappears in Aruba

A Maryland woman vacationing in Aruba has disappeared from the same resort town where Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway was last seen six years ago.

Robyn Gardner, 35, of Frederick, Md., disappeared Aug. 2 from the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino in Oranjestad, reports.

Gardner was visiting the island with a man named Gary Giordano, whom authorities have since detained for questioning, according to the station.

Giordano told investigators that Gardner never made it back to shore after the pair went snorkeling, and has allegedly changed his story several times, the station reports.

Gardner's boyfriend, Richard Forester, said he doesn't believe Giordano's account and pleaded for the public to help find her.

"I want to let people know this is going on," Forester told the station. "She's been missing six days, and every day she's gone raises fear that she won't be coming back."

Gardner's case comes six years after 18-year-old Natalee Holloway disappeared in May 2005 during a high school senior trip to the island. Her body has never been found.

Gardner is described as 5-foot-5, weighing 120 pounds, with blond hair and brown eyes. She has tattoos on her left arm, rib cage, and right bicep.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts is being urged to contact Fred Panneflek with the Aruban authorities at 011-297-597-5201.

Click here for more on the disappearance of Robyn Gardner from
Robyn Gardner

After 27 Years, a Break in Murder Case

UPDATE: Former Foothill High Student Arrested in Slaying of Tina Faelz
A former Pleasanton resident has been arrested in the killing of Tina Faelz, a 14-year-old who was stabbed to death while she was walking home from Foothill High School in 1984.
By Tanya Rose and David Mills

PLEASANTON, CALIF. — The Pleasanton Police Department announced Monday morning that a former classmate of Foothill High student Tina Faelz has been arrested in her killing — 27 years later.
Police said at a press conference that a 43-year-old former Pleasanton resident with an "extensive criminal history" was arrested Sunday in Santa Cruz.
The man, whom police didn't want to name until the case is cleared through the juvenile court system, is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon.
According to the Alameda County Inmate Locator, a man named Steven J. Carlson, 43, was arrested in Santa Cruz on Sunday on a murder charge. A Santa Cruz sheriff's spokesman told Patch on Monday that Pleasanton police picked up Carlson from their jail on Sunday.
Several former classmates of Faelz report going to Foothill High School with a youth named Steve Carlson.
Faelz, 14, was stabbed to death in a culvert that once crossed beneath Interstate 680 on April 5, 1984, while she was walking home from school about 2:30 p.m. Fellow students discovered her body shortly afterward.
Pleasanton police said the suspect was in custody on unrelated drug charges and was about to be released when he was arrested. New biological evidence discovered in October 2010, coupled with fresh police interviews, led to the arrest.
Police said the suspect, who at one point had been a person of interest in the investigation, did not seem surprised by the arrest.
According to Santa Cruz authorities, Carlson has been arrested multiple times in Santa Cruz County on nonviolent offenses and most recently had been in jail for six months on charges including possession of methamphetamines and being under the influence of alcohol and opiates. He is registered as a sex offender in the Megan's Law database for lewd acts with a child under the age of 14.
Pleasanton police detective Keith Batt told Patch a motive has been identified, but he wouldn't say what it was.
He said the killing was not random and Faelz was the killer's intended victim. He said the suspect and Faelz had contact before the murder, but he would not elaborate.
Batt said the suspect lived close to the path on which Faelz was killed, a popular shortcut that passed east of the school underneath the freeway to the Valley Trails neighborhood. He said it would have been easy for the suspect to know which students used that route to walk home. (For a map showing the school area, click here.)
"He had a clear opportunity to commit a crime," said Batt.
Monday's news that the suspect walked the halls of Foothill High has shaken former students.
"That absolutely shocks me. It really shocks me" said Tony Trifiletti, 42, who was a sophomore at Foothill at the time of the slaying. "That means we went to school with him for the rest of the year. I'd know him for sure."
Faelz was one of four young girls killed in Alameda County during a one-year period from December 1983 to November 1984, according to online news reports, raising fears that a serial killer was on the loose.
"This made the people of Pleasanton look at the world very differently," Pleasanton Police Chief David Spiller said Monday at a news conference. 
Trifiletti, now a Livermore resident, vividly recalls the creek and the concrete tunnel near Lemonwood Way that throngs of teens used daily to cut under the freeway on their route to and from school.
"I used to walk through that same tunnel. It was a huge shortcut for everybody. Back then, kids walked everywhere. And all the kids would walk through that to save time," he said.
After the slaying, a new uneasiness enveloped the culvert area, which has since been developed into a housing community. The culvert is no longer there.
"Everybody kind of walked through it as a group after that," Trifiletti said. "The murder was shocking to everybody. And everybody wondered who did it," he said.
A Longtime Mystery
Throughout the years police investigated lead after lead in the Faelz case, looking at everyone from two imprisoned murderers convicted in the killings of two other East Bay girls, a San Leandro resident and a San Lorenzo resident, to fellow Foothill students, as Faelz apparently had experienced some bullying.
In late 2007 they again reviewed the physical evidence that was
collected in 1984, taking into consideration strides in DNA technology that might not have been available at the time of the murder. Items were submitted to two different laboratories for evaluation.
Last October, the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Va., provided information to Pleasanton police that led to the suspect's identification, and police began re-interviewing witnesses.
Pleasanton Police Capt. Craig Eicher was a senior at Foothill High at the time of the killing.
He said he didn't know the suspect or victim, but that the slaying certainly sent a chill through the campus and the town.
"The case created a void in the community," said Eicher.
He said he's relieved it has been solved.
"Today is a very good day for the community," said Eicher.
Lt. Jim Knox was a 20-year-old Explorer for Pleasanton Police when Faelz was killed. He went to the crime scene, described in various newspaper reports as extremely bloody, that day.
"It means a lot to me personally, not only because the case has been solved but because I was at the scene that day," said Knox. "To have the opportunity to solve the case and then being able to deliver the news to (the victim's) mother creates a lot of joy for me."
Patch will continue updating this story today and throughout the week.
Click here to read Tuesday's follow-up story.
Sign up for our free daily newsletter by clicking the link at the bottom of the home page or "like" ourFacebook page for the latest news.
Patch freelance writers Susan Schena and Corrine Speckert contributed to this report.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Maryland Murder-Suicide

Maryland Murder-Suicide: Police Say Kelly Brian Thompson Killed Family, Self

BROOKLYN PARK, Md. — The mother of a man police say shot his wife, her twin teenage children and himself to death called police after receiving a disturbing text message from him and feared for their safety, authorities said on Sunday.
As officers arrived at the home in a neighborhood south of Baltimore to check on the family, they heard a single gunshot. Anne Arundel County Police investigators said 33-year-old Kelly Brian Thompson killed Nina Thompson, 34, and her 15-year-old children, Taishawn Pugh and Treshawn Pugh at the home.
The single shot officers heard was Kelly Thompson killing himself, said Lt. J.D. Batten.
The despondent tone of the text message made the man's mother concerned for her son's well-being and his family's safety, Batten said.
Residents of Brooklyn Park, a neighborhood of brick townhouses, gathered on their porches and yards to discuss the morning shooting, noting that times might be tough, but they couldn't believe that the man they had met would harm his family. Kelly Thompson was not the biological father of the twin boy and girl.
Jody Eckmeyer says that Kelly Thompson was a truck driver, had a good sense of humor and often visited with neighbors. Nina Thompson was a nurse and the twins often spent time hanging out with friends on the porch and stayed out of trouble, she said.
"They were very well-respected," Eckmeyer said.
Another neighbor, Thomas Slade, said Kelly Thompson rode a Suzuki motorcycle. He would often come over to Slade's garage to have a couple of beers and work on his motorcycle while Slade worked on his Harley-Davidson.
"We were good friends, but we didn't ride together," he said. Slade never heard him talk about problems at home but he had recently mentioned that he had landed a new job with a trucking firm.

Friday, August 5, 2011

What the 'Voices' Told Him to Do

Levi Aron, Suspect In Death Of 8-Year-Old Leiby Kletzky, Deemed Competent To Stand Trial

NEW YORK — The man accused in the kidnapping and dismemberment killing of an 8-year-old New York City boy told detectives his victim put up a struggle and that afterward he was hearing voices telling him "to take his own life for what he did," according to court papers made public Thursday.
Police say Levi Aron made the remarks last month around the time he directed them to a trash bin where he dumped a red suitcase containing body parts. As the interrogation wore on, Aron told them, "I'm famous," the papers say.
The 35-year-old defendant also was asked if he knew anything about past sex crimes against children. The papers say he recounted how a man groped him on a subway train when he was a teenager.
"But I never did that to a child because I don't swing that way," he said.
The alleged statements, including a written confession, were turned over to the defense on Thursday at an arraignment where Aron pleaded not guilty. His lawyers also learned that a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation had found him competent to stand trial.
The lawyers – who claim Aron has complained of hearing voices – said they still plan to conduct their own exams to determine whether to pursue an insanity defense.
Outraged members of the victim's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community "should allow the judicial process to take its course," one of the attorneys, Pierre Bazile, said outside court.
Bazile entered the not guilty plea for his Jewish client, who did not speak at a brief arraignment in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn. The defendant appeared in an orange jail jumpsuit with his hands cuffed in front of him.
"Now that Mr. Aron has been found fit to proceed we will move forward expeditiously to bring his case to trial," District Attorney Charles Hynes said in a statement. "I want to reaffirm that this case will go to trial and that there are absolutely no circumstances which would lead me to accept a plea bargain."
Leiby Kletzky got lost on his walk home from a religious day camp on July 11 and asked Aron, whom he met on the street, for help, prosecutors said. It was the first time the little boy was allowed to walk alone, and he was supposed to travel about seven blocks to meet his mother but missed a turn.
The boy first asked for a ride to a book store. But "on the way, he changed his mind and wasn't sure he wanted to go," Aron wrote in his confession, according to the court papers.
The defendant, a hardware supply store clerk, described his decision to take the boy to a wedding upstate. He said when they returned, they watched television before the boy fell asleep. He remained there the next day while Aron went to work.
By that time, the disappearance had sparked a major search effort in his insular community in Borough Park. The boy's picture was plastered on light posts around the area.
"When I saw the fliers, I was panicky and afraid," police say Aron wrote. Once home, he added: "I went for a towel to smother him. He fought back a little until he eventually stopped breathing."
The detectives' notes also outline alleged statement by Aron about how he carved up the body with knives and disposed of body parts, including the severed feet found wrapped in plastic his freezer. A cutting board and three bloody carving knives were found in the refrigerator.
The rest of the boy's body was discovered in bags inside a red suitcase in a trash bin. His legs had been cut from his torso.
Despite the alleged confession, police and prosecutors say they are continuing to work on verifying Aron's horrific and bizarre explanation for the boy's death. It remains unclear why Aron would have taken the child in the first place.
The medical examiner's office said the boy was given a cocktail of prescription drugs. But Aron's confession didn't mention that, and he denied ever tying up the boy.
The suspect was asked if he wanted a kosher meal. "No, I'll eat anything," he replied, according to the documents. They considered McDonald's before settling on Chinese food.
Before the arraignment, State Assemblyman Dov Hikind told reporters that the victim's family and community were still coming to grips with the gruesome slaying.
"The idea of an insanity defense is just not acceptable," Hikind said. "He planned and plotted this entire horror that he committed."
A pretrial hearing was set for Oct. 14.

Jail Deputy Accused Of Creating 'Orgy'-Like Atmosphere At Women's Prison

Mason Chibnick, Jail Deputy, Accused Of Creating 'Orgy'-Like Atmosphere At Fla. Women's Prison

A Florida corrections officer didn't just lust for power, he used his power for lust, according to former co-workers and inmates under his watch.
A Pompano detention center took on an "orgy"-like atmosphere with female inmates dancing topless and performing sex acts on one another as deputy Mason Chibnick looked on, The Orlando Sentinelreported. Games of "Truth or Dare" were common when Chibnick was on duty. Accusers said he had sex with one inmate.
Chibnick, who's been transferred to work in a men's jail, also allegedly sent a picture of his penis to a former inmate's sister and was seen with an inmate entering a closet, the paper reported.
The allegations sparked an investigation that concluded he broke the code of ethics. He was given a counseling slip that outlined department policies, but has faced no other discipline.
Five colleagues testified against him, along with four inmates, although two other prisoners defended him, The Sentinel reported.
Chibnick asked for a transfer in April, because he didn't feel "comfortable" working with female inmates, according to the Orlando paper. He closed his Facebook account, which he'd allegedly used to track down ex-inmates, but didn't share his cellphone records with investigators who were exploring charges he'd sent an explicit picture to an inmate's sister.
Officials from the Broward County Sheriff's Office didn't respond to repeated inquiries from The Huffington Post.

Earlier in the year, AOL Weird New reported on another Florida prison guard who was also found in violation of ethics guidelines (as well as the law). Master corrections officer Joseph Jones, 31, was accused of trying to smuggle drugs into a Marion County jail inside of a hoagie.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Three arrested after man found dead in trunk of vehicle

Three arrested after man found dead in trunk of vehicle
SUMTER, SC (WIS) - Sumter police have arrested 3 people, including a brother and sister, in connection with the murder of a Sumter man whose body was found in the trunk of his own car Wednesday night. 

Family members reported the victim, 34-year-old William Eric Robinson, missing on Wednesday afternoon after not seeing him since Tuesday night.
Robinson's family told police that while driving around looking for the victim, they discovered his 2011 Nissan Altima in the parking lot of Gionwood Apartments in the Mallwood community. Upon investigation, police found Robinson's body in the trunk of his vehicle.
Police said 26-year-old Jacob Lee Terry and his sister, 28-year-old Jacolyn Jacobus were arrested Wednesday night. Terry is charged with Murder and Jacobus is charged with Accessory after the fact of Murder. Police also arrested 28-year-old Travis Bracey and charged him with Obstruction of Justice.
The police department is not releasing a motive for the murder, but said Terry was the last person to be seen with the victim Tuesday night.
Both Terry and Jacobus made statements implicating themselves in their involvement in the crime, according to police. Investigators said Travis Bracey lied to police about what he knew about the death of Robinson.
The coroner was expected to conduct an autopsy Thursday to determine a cause of death.
All three suspects are being held at the Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center awaiting bond hearings.
The investigation is ongoing. The Sumter Police Department urges anyone with additional information surrounding this incident or others to please come forward. You can contact the authorities by calling Crimestoppers at 803-436-2718 or the Sumter City Police Department's Detective Division at 803-436-2717 or 436-2790. Callers may remain anonymous.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Glendale, Peoria top missing person cases

Glendale, Peoria top missing person cases
by Lisa Halverstadt

A single tip could help Glendale and Peoria police find a person who has been missing for years. Here are details about some of the West Valley's most puzzling disappearances

Susan Cassell

Glendale resident, 35 years old at time of disappearance.

Disappeared: Jan. 4, 1991.

Details: The day before she was reported missing, Cassell went to work at what was then Boswell Memorial Hospital in Sun City. Her mother called that day and Cassell said she was too tired to chat after a 16-hour nursing shift. Her husband and 4-year-old son were reportedly on a camping trip at the time. On Jan. 4, Cassell's husband reported that she had not returned home. Other relatives reported her missing a month later. Family members told police there had been problems in Cassell's marriage but that she would not have abandoned her child. Police suspect foul play.

Who to call: Glendale police at 623-930-3000.

Kevin James Dycus

Glendale resident, 37-year-old at time of disappearance.

Disappeared: Jan. 11, 1998.

Details: Dycus left a family member's home near 52nd Avenue and Ironwood Drive with no belongings or money.

Police say Dycus has a scar in the middle of one of his eyebrows and pierced ears. The bottom of his feet may be scarred from frostbite.

Who to call: Glendale police at 623-930-3000.

Cynthia Lupe Morales

Glendale resident, 36 years old at time of disappearance.

Disappeared: Jan. 8, 2001.

Details: Morales, who goes by the nickname "Negra," was last seen when she went to visit her two children in the 6600 block of 52nd Drive in Glendale. She left after making a phone call.
Police say Morales has scars on her left hand and lower left shin. She also has a burn scar on her chest from a childhood injury. There is also a hole in the top of the cartilage of her ear.

Who to call: Glendale police at 623-930-3000.

Timothy James McKye

Glendale resident, 50 years old at time of disappearance.

Disappeared: Oct. 13, 2006.

Details: McKye was last seen in Beaumont, Texas, during a move to Florida. An apartment security guard assisted McKye when a U-Haul trailer he was using got stuck in a ditch. McKye left the U-Haul behind. His van also vanished. Police said it was a 1999 Plymouth Voyager with AZ license 161TTM.

Police said he may have been accompanied by a German shepherd dog.

Who to call: Glendale police at 623-930-3000.

Pam Page

Peoria resident, 32 years old at time of disappearance.

Disappeared: July 21, 1989.

Details: Page went missing the day after she returned from visiting family in Arkansas. One of her two dogs also vanished. Police suspected foul play.

Who to call: Peoria police at 623-773-7045.

Drexel case prompts search

Drexel case prompts search

GEORGETOWN -- More than two years after 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel's disappearance, investigators in her case converged on a roadside apartment complex where a man convicted of raping a child once lived.

Officials declined to say anything about what they found inside Monday. But Myrtle Beach Police Lt. Chuck Capp said he didn't expect an impending arrest of the man who had stayed in unit 22 at the Sunset Lodge just outside of Georgetown.

"We've continued to follow numerous leads, and they're doing a search warrant of a person of interest," Capp said. "We think it's getting blown out of proportion."

Drexel, a Rochester, N.Y., teen who snuck away to the Grand Strand on spring break, was last seen April 25, 2009, on a Myrtle Beach hotel security camera. She told her mother she was spending the weekend at a friend's house after her parents told her she couldn't go to Myrtle Beach because of poor grades.

They learned that she had disobeyed their wishes at the same time they learned she was missing.

Drexel's cell phone gave off its last signal near the South Santee River in Georgetown County the day after her disappearance. Searchers on horseback and with teams of dogs have concentrated on the woods near there.

A manager at Sunset Lodge said the man in unit 22 moved in the day before Drexel disappeared. He left six months ago.

The man, as identified by the manager, was convicted of kidnapping and raping a child younger than 14 in 1983 in California. He was released from prison in 2004, according to federal records. He is a registered sex offender.

When approached by a reporter at his job site, he said, "I don't know anything about it, and I don't have anything to say."

Capp said police have several such "persons of interest" in the Drexel case. A task force composed of investigators from his department, the State Law Enforcement Division and the Georgetown and Charleston county sheriff's offices are working the case.

"It is certainly not a cold case," Capp said. "It has been an active case from Day One."

Monica Caison, founder and director of the North Carolina-based CUE Center for Missing Persons, said the task force continues to work new tips in the case. She said the ongoing effort means the public might see some of the work unfolding, as with Monday's search, but that much of it stays off the radar.

Although she didn't give any extra weight to the Sunset Lodge lead, Caison said, "I think anything that happens in Brittanee's investigation gets one more step closer to the truth.
"I'm grateful that there's information still circulating," she added. "A lot of cases can fall cold, but you have to remain hopeful."

SLED investigators searched a room Monday at the Sunset Lodge near Georgetown. They were looking for clues in the disappearance of Brittanee Drexel.


Search Warrant Conducted in Drexel Case

Authorities execute a new search warrant Monday in the case of missing teen Brittanee Drexel.
Authorities execute a new search warrant Monday in the case of missing teen Brittanee Drexel.

Events following Brittanee Drexel's disappearance:
April 25, 2009: Drexel last seen on Myrtle Beach hotel security camera.
April 26, 2009: Drexel's cell phone gives off last signal near South Santee River.
May 5, 2009: Crime Stoppers of the Lowcountry offers a reward of as much as $1,000 for information about Drexel's disappearance.
April 16, 2010: Drexel's mother, Dawn, appears on the "Today" show.
Sept. 13, 2010: An Albany, N.Y., church offers a $5,000 reward for information leading to Drexel's whereabouts.
Jan. 29-30, 2011: At least 150 people search 3 miles of wooded road in Georgetown County looking for clues.
Aug. 1, 2011: Investigators execute search warrant at Sunset Lodge near Georgetown.

To offer tips
Brittanee Drexel was 17 when she disappeared in 2009. She is about 5 feet tall and 103 pounds with blue eyes and blond highlights in her hair.
If you have information that may lead to her whereabouts or to the arrest of those responsible for her disappearance, contact the Myrtle Beach Police Department at (843) 918-1382.
Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594.