Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ensley, AL: Birmingham police investigate possible homicide

Published: Saturday, September 25, 2010, 3:50 PM Updated: Saturday, September 25, 2010, 3:54 PM
Carol Robinson -- The Birmingham News

Birmingham police are on the scene of a possible homicide in Ensley.

Police received a call about 3:15 p.m. from a man claiming to have shot and killed the mother of his child, authorities said. They have not confirmed the validity of that report, said Birmingham homicide Sgt. Scott Thurmond.

The fatal shooting happened at a home in the 1700 block of 49th Street Ensley.

Homicide detectives and evidence technicians are inside the home.

No other information was immediately available.

Pinson, AL: Three people shot and killed in Pinson

Posted: Sep 25, 2010 10:08 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 25, 2010 10:08 PM EDT

PINSON,AL (WBRC) - The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department is on the scene of a triple homicide at Hidden Valley Trailer Park on Potts Hollow Road in Pinson. Deputies tell Fox 6 a man came to the trailer park and found his ex girlfriend with her new boyfriend. The man shot them and then turned the gun on himself. All three victims were dead on the scene. The incident is still under investigation.

Palmetto, GA: Man arrested in wife's death

By George Mathis
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

4:18 p.m. Saturday, September 25, 2010
A Palmetto man was arrested early Saturday morning in the death of his wife, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Fredrick Gathoga, 41, was arrested after his wife, Naomi Mwangi, was found dead on the kitchen floor of their Carlton Point Drive home.

Palmetto police charged Gathoga with murder, said GBI spokesman John Bankhead.

Police believe Gathoga killed his wife during a domestic dispute, said Bankhead, whose office was called to assist in the investigation at about 1:15 a.m.

The cause of death is known, but the medical examiner's report has not been made public.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

West Palm Beach, FL: Victim, suspect in suburban West Palm Beach murder identified

Palm Beach County sheriff's deputies arrived at a home on Florida Street in suburban West Palm Beach this afternoon to find one woman dead and another woman injured following an apparent domestic dispute.

The victim was identified as Arisley Rojas, 26, of West Palm Beach.

Deputies are searching for Aniel Escobar, 33. He is described as 5-foot-9-inches, weighing 200 pounds, with black hair, long sideburns and a goatee. He is considered to be very dangerous, said sheriff's office spokesman Eric Davis.

Both Escobar and Rojas are Hispanic, Davis said.

The second female victim's injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, said Det. Rick McAfee of the sheriff's office.

County property records show that Escobar is the owner of the home where the murder occurred at 2509 Florida Street. He bought the home in 2007 for $269,000.

A sheriff's office helicopter buzzed the neighborhoods just west of the Palm Beach Zoo searching for Escobar Saturday afternoon. Two mounted patrols and K-9 units joined the search.

A bystander at the scene overheard a distraught woman saying she believed her brother-in-law stabbed her sister.

Anyone with information about Escobar's whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff's office at 561-688-3400 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS (8477).

Salt Lake City, UT: Fiance of murdered preschool teacher to hold benefit concert

SALT LAKE CITY - Rod Hernandez was talking to his fiancee on the phone at the time she was shot and killed outside of the preschool where she worked. Tetyana Nikitina, 34, was leaving work last January when her ex-husband's mother walked up to her car and shot Nikitina numerous times. Mary Hansen, 70, admitted to shooting Nikitina and later asked for the death penalty. She was denied. Now, Hernandez is on a mission to help others who have lost loved ones to violent crimes.

After the murder, Hernandez says he didn't know where to turn; he lost his soon-to-be wife.

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"For three months I was like a walking zombie," said Hernandez. "I didn't pay bills I didn't care about anything, I crawled inside a bottle, I did, I really didn't want to live to tell you the truth."

Thanks to a number of support groups, Hernandez is slowly healing. Hernandez is holding a benefit concert, hoping to raise money so others who are victims of violent crime can get help too.

"There was a lot of people who helped me and I know there has to be a positive to whatever happens and even as bad as it was I had to find a positive."

Hernandez says he has not spoken to Hanson since she was jailed for the murder. But he plans to speak at her sentencing.

"She hurt those children in the worst way, she is not their grandmother and she did not help them at all."

Fllagstaff, AZ: Cameron woman slain in motel

LARRY HENDRICKS Assistant City Editor | Posted: Friday, September 24, 2010 5:05 am
A Cameron woman found dead in an eastside Flagstaff motel room Saturday was the victim of a homicide, according to the Coconino County Medical Examiner.
Her boyfriend has been arrested on a domestic violence second-degree murder charge, marking the city's third domestic violence-related murder in 2010.
Laurice V. Villavicencio (also Blackhair), 40, was found dead in a room at the Route 66 Motel, 2100 E. Route 66, at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, said Sgt. James Jackson of the Flagstaff Police Department.
Villavicencio's boyfriend phoned a member of his church and reported that she was unresponsive, Jackson said.
"A member of the church eventually gets in contact with us," Jackson said, adding that the officer who responded confirmed that Villavicencio was dead and requested detectives.
Her death was initially listed as "undetermined," Jackson said. But evidence at the scene made the death appear suspicious, he added. She had injuries on her body.
On Wednesday, the medical examiner ruled that the death was the result of "blunt-force trauma," Jackson said. He also said that investigators went back out and reinterviewed leads in the case.
Villavicencio's boyfriend, Charles E. Brown, 46, 2100 E. Route 66, was booked into the county jail on three domestic violence charges: second-degree murder, aggravated assault and assault.
Brown is being held in jail in lieu of $1 million bond.
Villavicencio is well-known to police. According to information from the Arizona Supreme Court website, Villavicencio has numerous arrests in Flagstaff. Among them are consuming liquor in public, disorderly conduct, assault and criminal trespassing.
And according to the Florida Department of Corrections, Brown was released from prison in July after serving seven months for a cocaine possession conviction.
Villavicencio's death marks the third domestic violence-related death in Flagstaff in 2010. A man also was shot and killed by a Flagstaff police officer last month during a domestic violence call.
The deaths have come as the city experienced a marked increase in reports of domestic violence. Police officials cite a number of reasons for the increase -- including elevated community awareness, a broader classification standard for the crime, and the financial pressures on families from the recession.
After a reduction in DV incidents reported citywide in 2008, DV incidents in 2009 exceeded 2007 levels, according to police department statistics.
So far in 2010, four murders have been reported in Flagstaff, the most in more than 15 years.
Larry Hendricks can be reached at 556-2262 or
Domestic violence
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005
Total incidents 1,716 1,536 1,672 1,625 1,467
Misdemeanors 1,475 1,265 1,388 1,388 1,328
Felonies 241 271 284 237 139
Arrests 768 806 695 675 546
-- Sourceand-courts on Friday, September 24, 2010 5:05 am Updated: 10:23 pm.

Holmdel, NJ: Wrongful-death lawsuit filed against ex-model who killed boyfriend in Holmdel

Woman also killed herself and set house on fire


The father of a Middletown man killed by his girlfriend, who afterword shot herself and blew up her house, has filed a wrongful-death suit against the woman's estate and the man who loaned her the gun, according to his attorney.

Carina Schlesinger, 36, fatally shot Daniel Cresci, 29, on March 1 and, two days later, set fire to her rented cottage in Holmdel and shot herself, according to court documents and authorities. Cresci's body was found in the burnt remains of the Red Hill Road home.

Daniel Cresci's father, Victor Cresci of Union Beach, filed a suit last week against Schlesinger's estate and Richard Juarbe, the 23-year-old Middletown man who lent her the .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun used in the murder-suicide, documents show. He alleges Juarbe was negligent when he provided Schlesinger a gun.

"It was irresponsible of (Juarbe) to lend Carina a gun, with her background," said Jonathan D. Singer, Victor Cresci's attorney.

Singer said Schlesinger had attempted to obtain a gun permit a few times but was denied because of her history.

In the months before her death, Schlesinger was going through a divorce; a bank foreclosed on a Long Island home she owned with her husband, Daniel Schlesinger, and she and her dog were accused of assaulting Holmdel police officers.

Schlesinger was also involved in lawsuits filed by and against her, and Daniel Cresci was her attorney.

For instance, after she opened a dog-training business out of her home in 2008, her mentor sued her in March 2009 for violating a contract that stated she wasn't allowed to open a dog-training business within 30 miles of his Freehold business.

In another case, Schlesinger sued a Middletown company in 2009 for failing to complete a website for her business. Daniel Cresci cited Schlesinger's negative monthly cash flow in court documents pertaining to that case.

Victor Cresci's suit seeks damages, interest, attorneys' fees and the cost of the suit against both defendants, under the state's wrongful-death statute.

"The family sees this as the only way to get some sort of justice," Singer said. "They just want to move on and get closure."

Juarbe was charged in April with the unlawful transfer of a handgun and unlawful transfer of ammunition to a person who did not possess the appropriate permits, both fourth-degree offenses. Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter E. Warshaw Jr. said Juarbe has been accepted into the pretrial intervention program, a program that allows some first-time offenders to erase their criminal records if they complete probation-like conditions.

Victor Cresci said he feels the case shows how lenient the law can be on gun owners.

"Carina Schlesinger could not legally own a gun, but borrowed — not stole — a gun from someone else to kill my son," Victor Cresci said. "I am not against good, law-abiding responsible citizens owning a gun, but the law needs to carry much more responsibility for gun owners."

Victor Cresci argues in the suit that his son Jonathan suffered tremendous anguish, pain, guilt and suffering because he witnessed the fire and knew his brother was inside the house.

"It came out later that Daniel was already dead, but at the time of the fire Jonathan had no way of knowing that," Singer said.

On March 3, Daniel Cresci's family and friends, who spoke with him daily, became concerned when they were unable to reach him for a few days.

Jonathan Cresci and longtime friend Scott Broschart knocked on doors and windows at Schlesinger's home after they noticed both Cresci and Schlesinger's cars in her driveway.

There was a strong smell of gasoline, and Broschart noticed a flicker of light in the otherwise dark home.

About 10 minutes later, they heard what sounded like a gun shot or gas explosion.

Later, it was discovered by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office that Schlesinger shot herself right before the house went up in flames.

Daniel Schlesinger, Carina's husband, is in the process of being served, as her next of kin, Singer said.

"The family is seeking punishment through financial detriment," Singer said. "They are seeking justice where the criminal justice system has failed."

The family plans to use any money won in the suits to create a scholarship fund in Daniel Cresci's name, according to Singer.

Daniel Cresci had just established a law firm with Singer and another man called Riviere Cresci & Singer LLC in Freehold, Singer said.

He also was planning to open a restaurant in Eatontown with Broschart two weeks after his death, Singer said.

Manchester, TN: Family got messages after Manchester woman's death

Associated Press - September 25, 2010 12:05 PM ET

MANCHESTER, Tenn. (AP) - The family of a Manchester woman who was found dead along with her two sons said they got text messages from her phone after police believe she was killed.

Police believe 26-year-old Stephanie Hershman and her sons, 3-year-old Jathan and 1-year-old Jaylon, were killed on Sunday. Her boyfriend, Matthew Perkins, a 30-year-old U.S. Army recruiter, was charged after their bodies were found on Wednesday in garbage bags and stuffed in a closet at her home.

Terry Hershman, Stephanie's father-in-law, told WSMV-TV in Nashville that the family last got text messages from her phone on Monday, but they now think the messages were sent to keep the family from looking for her.

Perkins is being held in the Franklin County jail on a $6 million bond.

Austin, TX: Man shoots self after leading police on citywide chase

by KVUE News
Posted on September 25, 2010 at 7:59 AM
Updated today at 9:38 AM
APD Chief Art Acevedo on overnight shooting incident
One man is dead after leading Austin Police on a citywide chase. It ended with shots fired and what police are calling suicide.
Police say it started when the 26-year-old man stole his ex-girlfriend's car. He led authorities around the city of Austin in the early morning hours Saturday, stopping several times during the chase, waving guns and firing them in the air.
At around 12:25 a.m. Saturday, the man started going the wrong way on US-71, between Riverside Dr. and US-183. He got out and pointed his guns at the occupants of an SUV headed in the other direction.
Police fired one shot at the man, but Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo says the man was killed by a bullet from his own gun.
The officer who fired his gun has been placed on paid administrative leave while APD investigates the incident. That is protocol for this type of incident.
Investigators say the suspect broke up with his girlfriend about four weeks ago, and had since become suicidal.
Due to the complicated nature and immense amount of details surrounding the incident Saturday morning, we have posted the raw interview Chief Art Acevedo gave to the media Saturday morning. You can find it by clicking the link to right.

Atascosa, TX: Atascosa man apparently kills himself after shooting wife

By Guillermo X. Garcia - Express-News
Web Posted: 09/24/2010 12:13 CDT

An Atascosa County man is dead and his wife hospitalized with gunshot wounds after a heated dispute Thursday morning, authorities said.
Evaristo Salinas, 59 apparently killed himself after shooting and wounding his wife, Juanita Salinas, in the bedroom of their home at , close to the Atascosa-Bexar County line, authorities said. The woman was expected to survive.

Details were sketchy, but deputies were told that the couple had a violent argument immediately before Salinas pulled out a handgun and began firing. A neighbor said the couple had moved into the rural home about a year ago.

Late Thursday, officials were attempting to establish a motive.

Goldtown, WV: UPDATE: Jackson Man Charged with Murder After Fatal Fire

A man from Jackson County, W.Va., has been charged with murder after a fatal fire near Goldtown.
Posted: 9:10 PM Sep 24, 2010
Reporter: Brooks Jarosz, John Griffith, Anna Baxter, WV MetroNews
Email Address:
Murder Charges Follow Fatal Fire

JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) --A man from Jackson County, W.Va., was seen laughing after allegedly setting his house on fire with his longtime girlfriend inside, according to the victim's family.

Ronald Carl Davis, 44, of Kenna, has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree arson.

"To me he was a real good guy," Alan "Mike" Harper said. "But when he got alcohol in his system he had split personalities and he was just crazy."

Harper's mother-in-law died in the trailer fire and was later found barricaded inside.

"I walked down to the end of the driveway and I asked him, 'Ronny, where's Cathy?' " Harper said. "He started laughing at me and he told me he burnt her alive, and I just beat the hell out of him in the middle of the driveway."

Harper and his wife say they did all they could to try and save their mother, Cathy Lynn Parsons, 52, late Thursday night, but the smoke and fire was just overwhelming.

This is not Davis' first time he's been in trouble with the law.

Davis was just released on parole Aug. 29 after serving 9 years in prison for killing his brother.

"He's just someone who will probably always be capable of committing this type of crime," Jackson County Sheriff Michael Bright said. "There should be some way to protect society from those kind of people."

Harper says gallons of gasoline were stolen from under his trailer, and investigators believe it was used as an accelerate to start the blaze.

The family does say the Davis and Parsons were arguing but a motive for the arson is still being investigated.

UPDATE: 9/24/10 @ 11:15 a.m.
GOLDTOWN, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A man from Jackson County, West Virginia has been charged with murder after a fatal fire near Goldtown.
Ronald Carl Davis, 44, of Kenna, has been charged with first degree murder and first degree arson.

Investigators say Davis is accused of setting a trailer on fire that killed Cathy Lynn Parsons, 52, late Thursday night. The two lived together.

This is not Davis' first time he's been in trouble with the law.

Davis was just released on parole August 29 after serving 9 years in prison for killing his brother.

A spokesperson at the South Central Regional Jail confirms Davis was charged with murder and arson. Davis will be arraigned on the charges Friday.

Investigators have not released a motive in this latest murder.

Keep clicking on for the very latest information.

UPDATE 9/24/10 @ 3:15 a.m.
GOLDTOWN, W.Va (WSAZ) -- Firefighters have confirmed that a woman died in a fire at a mobile home in Jackson County, West Virginia.
The fire started just after 9:30 p.m. Thursday on First Creek Road near Goldtown.

The West Virginia Fire Marshal is on the scene trying to find the cause of the fire.

Keep clicking on for the very latest information.

GOLDTOWN, W.Va (WSAZ) - Jackson County, West Virginia dispatchers have confirmed a fire at a mobile home on First Creek Road near Goldtown.
The fire started just after 9:30 Thursday evening.

There are reports that a person inside died in the fire, but that has not been confirmed.

An arson investigator has been called to the scene.

Keep clicking on for more information.

Trussville, AL: Double Murder, Suicide

Reported by: Kimberly Rankin
Last Update: 9/24 10:16 pm

Trussville Police are investigating a double murder suicide. Police Chief Don Sivley says, he is 99.9 percent sure Larry Pierce, shot and killed his family. They believe he first went to his guest house and shot his autistic brother William Pierce Jr., better known as “Billy” before returning to the main house and shooting his wife Sharon Pierce. Police then believe he went to his car, got inside and turned the gun on himself. Police still do not have a motive for the crime, but Tom Foster who has lived next door to the family for the past 18 years is shocked by the shooting.

“They are a wonderful family. They have always been wonderful neighbor’s dog lovers and friendly people. They were always there when you needed them and not there if you didn’t need them. W are all just heart broken over what has happened,” says Foster.

For more on this crime, click on the video link.


By Carolyn Cerda

Posted: Sep 24, 2010 6:36 PM
Updated: Sep 24, 2010 6:36 PM

A Jennings man is dead and a woman is in critical condition, after a domestic dispute leads to gunfire. Police are calling it an attempted murder, suicide. They say 44 year old Rocky Domingue was arguing with his girlfriend Thursday night when he shot her and then pulled the trigger on himself.

"Obviously we're still continuing to piece together what transpired and what happened... But, it appears it was attempted murder suicide," said Todd D'Albor, Jennings Police Chief.

But, relatives of Domingue believe he was the victim. Friday morning, nearly 20 of Domingue's family and friends gathered at the scene of the crime, in the 400 block of Craig St. in Jennings.

"It ain't no homicide... My kid didn't do that," said Ella Domingue, Rocky's mother. Rocky died on her birthday. "I know they killed him, I'm for sure. I ain't gonna lie to nobody."

Family members say they were shocked to hear how Domingue died. They believe Domingue's girlfriend, who they referred to as "Amanda", is to blame. They believe she murdered Domingue and then shot herself. Police are still investigating as they wait for autopsy results, but say they current evidence shows otherwise.

Meantime, neighbors on Craig St. say they saw this incident coming. Residents we talked with say they have had to call the police to Domingue's house numerous times over several years. One neighbor, Dawn Adams, says Amanda ran into her house Thursday night after being shot.

"She starting shaking really bad. I said, 'stay with me please, tell me what happened.' All she told me was, 'he shot me, he shot me, and he's dead, he's dead, he's dead.'"

Adams says she and other neighbors felt an incident like this was bound to happen, after witnessing several disputes at Domingue's house.

"A week before, he (Domingue) had a gun and pulled a gun out on her. If I would have known what I know last night, I might have been able to do something... Now he's dead."

Santa Cruz, CA: Prominent Westside couple identified in murder-suicide off Soquel Drive

Prominent Westside couple identified in murder-suicide off Soquel Drive

By Jennifer Squires - Santa Cruz Sentinel
Posted: 09/24/2010 11:55:10 AM PDT
Updated: 09/24/2010 06:54:02 PM PDT

MID-COUNTY - Two well-known Westside Santa Cruz residents were killed in a murder-suicide in a residential neighborhood off Soquel Drive late Thursday, authorities reported.
Gayle Mozee-Baum, 54, shot and killed her estranged husband, James "Jimmy" Baum, 61, around 11:15 p.m. then turned the gun on herself, the Sheriff's Office reported.
Sheriff's Sgt. Ian Patrick called the deaths "a tragic event."
Friends were taken aback at the news.
"Jimmy was just kind-hearted. He was a gentleman," Steve Robertson, a drummer from Aptos who knew Baum for 25 years, said. "Gayle was a very nice person. Everybody is just shocked by the whole thing. The sadness of it is just overwhelming."
Baum was a respected jazz drummer who worked at Ace Hardware on the Westside for several years but recently quit to drive a cab for Santa Cruz Taxi. He had separated from his wife a few months ago and moved to a home on Lucca Lane, a small street off of Soquel Drive that parallels Dover Drive, about a half-mile east of Dominican Hospital.
Mozee-Baum, who oversaw a legal team of 200 for the international law firm Townsend & Townsend, won the Democrat of the Year award from the Santa Cruz County Democratic Party in 2009.
Thursday night, she went to Baum's home to confront him. The couple was arguing outside when Mozee-Baum shot her husband before using the handgun on herself, according to Patrick.
He died at the scene. She suffered mortal injuries and was pronounced dead at the hospital, Patrick reported.
The neighborhood includes single-family homes and, across the street, a large apartment complex. There also is a senior living community in the area and a smattering of businesses along Soquel Drive. The old drive-in and the hospital are to the west of the scene; 41st Avenue is to the east.
Detectives believe Mozee-Baum acted alone. The gun was found at the scene, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The fatal shooting is the 12th homicide in the county this year. Three other violent deaths have been related to domestic violence.
"The details of their conversation and Gayle's motive for murdering James are still under investigation," Patrick said in a prepared statement.
County records show the federal Internal Revenue Service filed a lien on the couple's assets in June but those documents were not available Friday because county employees were furloughed. Friends said they knew the couple had separated but didn't know the extent of the problems.
"I guess she was having a harder time accepting it than any of us knew," Robertson said. "He would make short asides to the fact that things weren't great with Gayle but never got too deep into it."
News of the double-shooting trickled through the Santa Cruz music community Friday.
"It's kind of unbelievable," said David O'Connor, a local guitarist who met Baum 35 years ago.
O'Connor and Baum played together in a band named "Wave" at Shadowbrook for three years and had gigs at the old Cooper House with Don McCaslin before Baum set his drumsticks aside to raise his children with Mozee-Baum. The couple is survived by three adult sons, Cameron, Tjader and Parker.
Baum was a dedicated father and husband, friends said. He had recently started to play again.
"He was doing well, it seemed like," Robertson said.
Friends recalled Baum as happy and always laughing. He was "just a ray of sunshine, always kind and thoughtful with a dry sense of humor that was great," Robertson said.
They also applauded his musical talent and humble nature that led him to mentor and befriend other musicians, rather than compete with them.
"He never carried himself like a star but he played with so many of them," said Glen Rose, a local musician who knew Baum since the 1970s.
Charles Levin, former jazz writer for the Sentinel who moved to Santa Cruz, said Baum "was the most inspiring jazz drummer in town. He was oozing with talent, could swing as well as any New York drummer and, for other local drummers, generous with his wisdom and talent."

Richfield, UT: Police investigating murder-suicide in Richfield

By Nate Carlisle
The Salt Lake Tribune

Published Sep 24, 2010 10:49PM
Updated Sep 24, 2010 11:07PM
A teenager found his parents dead Friday in what Richfield police are calling a murder-suicide.

Scott G. Rickenbach, 45, and Lori Rickenbach, 41, died early Friday, apparently of gunshot wounds, said Richfield Police Chief John Evans.

“They just were having some marital problems,” said Scott Rickenbach’s sister, Susan Barney. “We didn’t know to what extent.”

The Rickenbachs had four children, ages 10 to 17. It was the 17-year-old son who discovered his parents dead about 11:30 a.m. at home, Evans said.

There had not been any previous domestic violence calls at the home, 747 N. 400 East, Evans said.

The state medical examiner will determine the cause of death, a police news release states.

“There’s been a lot of concern in the community because they were well-known, well-liked people,” Evans said.

Barney declined to discuss what marital problems the couple had. Barney said her brother oversaw the family’s cattle operation in Sevier County. Lori Rickenbach worked at the Richfield office of the Utah State Tax Commission.

Barney said the family hasn’t determined what will happen to the children, but the 17-year-old son wants the children to stay together.

“So we’ll keep them together somehow,” Barney said.

Copyright 2010 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Elk Grove, IL: Elk Grove Police: Apparent double-murder, suicide a family tragedy

By Russell Lissau and Madhu Krishnamurthy | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 9/24/2010 10:34 AM | Updated: 9/24/2010 5:10 PM

The apparent double-murder and suicide in Elk Grove Village this morning was a family tragedy, Elk Grove police are now saying.

Dead are a man and woman in their late 40s and her 24-year-old son, who attended Elk Grove High School. The mother and son were found shot to death in a garden-level condominium in the Boardwalk Condominium complex on the 100 block of Boardwalk, police said.

The stepfather shot himself and died inside a burning van, parked on a soccer field across the street from the condo complex where he lived, police said.

Elk Grove Deputy Police Chief Michael Kirkpatrick said police believe the mother and son were shot around 7:30 a.m. by her husband, who then got into his van and drove it onto the soccer and baseball field.

Kirkpatrick said police were called by neighbors inside the complex who heard the shots. He said officers were walking toward the van when they heard a rifle shot from inside it, and then heard several pops as the van caught fire.

Later, the rifle was found inside the van, he confirmed.

Police have not released their identities, other than to say they believe the family had lived in the Boardwalk complex for at least 15 years.

Friends, however, have confirmed the mother and stepfather are Nancy and Kenny Johnson, who they say were married for many years. Her son, Ken or "Kenny" Sova, was also the father of a 2-year-old son, Nicholas. The toddler was not in the condominium when his father died, police said.

As of 1:30 p.m. the bodies had not been removed from either the condo or the van, as police wait for the Cook County Medical Examiner to arrive, Kirkpatrick added. He said a forensics team is examining the bodies and autopsies would likely be conducted Saturday.

Police continue to block off the street near the crime scene, which is in the neighborhood northwest of Arlington Heights and Biesterfield roads.

A resident of the three-story condo building called police after hearing gunshots from a basement level condo around 7:30 a.m., said Kirkpatrick. Officers arrived, forced their way into the unit, and discovered the two bodies, he added.

Much of the north side of the condo complex remains roped off by yellow police tape and multiple squad cars surround the area. One of the windows in the basement condo has been removed by police, and the smell of the burned sulphur from the van lingered in the air. The reddish-brown van also remained parked in the field, scorched from the fire with some smoke rising from the driver's side.

A young woman outside the condo said she was a friend of Ken Sova.

"He's just a fantastic dad, he's a fabulous dad, a wonderful dad," said Danielle Bonner, who now lives in Rockford. "He spends a lot of time with his son, he has him ever weekend."

Bonner's mother still lives in the area and called her daughter whe she heard the news. Bonner and Sova both graduated from Elk Grove High School in 2004. Sova spent his high school years with Bonner teaching swimming lessons at the Pavilion in Elk Grove Village.

Bonner said she believed Sova was now a mattress salesman. She said his mother and stepfather had been married a long time and she thinks his birth father lives in Arizona.

She had no idea what would have caused Ken Johnson to kill his family.

"I would have never have thought of that from anyone in the household just going crazy and doing that," Bonner said.

The Major Case Assistance Team unit arrived around 11:30 a.m.

"We have a group of investigators who are helping us with a canvass of the neighborhood," Kirkpatrick added. "The forensic team is also here to help us with the crime scene work that needs to be done."

Children were already at the nearby Elk Grove Township Community Day Care Center, 711 Chelmsford Lane, this morning when the van was set on fire in the middle of the center's soccer field, said Township Supervisor Nanci Vanderweel.

"Until we knew for sure what was going on, we went into lockdown and moved the kids away from the side of the building near the field," she said. "Once the police told us there wasn't an immediate threat, we decided not to cancel school."

Elk Grove Village police called Vanderweel at about 8:20 a.m. on Friday and told her the man inside the van shot and killed his wife and son before lighting his van on fire and committing suicide, she said.

"As horrible as the crime is, the man had enough sense to set his car on fire in a place where there were no other cars or children," said Vanderweel, pointing out that no children witnessed his death.

• Staff Writers Ashok Selvam, Sheila Ahern and Kimberly Pohl contributed to this report.

Binghampton, NY: Guilty of Manslaughter

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) More than a year after Katie Chappell's death, a jury finds Frank Rogers guilty of killing her.

Action News Reporter Leigh Dana spoke to the mother of the 25-year-old victim.

31 year old Frank Rogers is found guilty of manslaughter in the 1st and 2nd degree.

He was not convicted of murder, the most severe charge.

A jury did also find him guilty of aggravated criminal contempt, 11 counts of criminal contempt, assault, and 2 counts of attempted assault.

As the word guilty is read aloud 17 times inside the courtroom, Rogers shows no emotion.

Outside the courtroom, tears of victory from the victim's family.
Hugs of joy from Katie Chappell's family and friends, as they finally get closure.

Chappell's mom, Kathy Dilello, trembles in relief, "Today's Katie's day of Justice."

Just moments earlier, a jury finds 31 year old Frank Rogers guilty of beating Chappell in his East Catherine Street Apartment, slamming her head into his bedroom wall and then bringing her back to her Kneeland Avenue apartment-- leaving her to die August 12, 2009.

An autopsy concludes she died from blunt force trauma to the head and had she gotten immediate medical attention -- she could have survived.

Her body was found more than a day later by her ex-boyfriend, Fintan Fleming.

There was no doubt from Chappell's family that Rogers killed her... Knowing the history of their abusive relationship.

Chappell had an order of protection against Rogers after he broke her hand in April of 2009.

"We tried to tell her, but she didn't listen to us. We did the best we could," said Dilello.

Broome County's District Attorney, Gerald Mollen emphasizes the importance of convictions in these types of cases.

"There's another illustration, you see someone in this situation who needs help and try to help them get out because this is what can happen," said Mollen.

Rogers' parents and Defense Attorney Michael Korchak declined comment until his sentencing.

That sentencing will be on December 20th.

Fayette County, TN: TBI Investigating Fayette Co. Shooting, Police Say Suicide, Witness Says Otherwise Dispute Leads to Woman Hit by Car, Man Shot Dead

Updated: Friday, 24 Sep 2010, 5:22 PM CDT
Published : Friday, 24 Sep 2010, 12:58 PM CDT

Fayette County authorities say what began with a domestic squabble led to abduction, high speed chase and ended with a shooting death. This all took place in about 20 minutes.

Unfortunately for the families involved it may take a lifetime to erase the pain and suffering of a tragic day.

We know where the argument began; we know where one victim and one suspect abruptly parted ways. We know where a high speed chase with law enforcement ended behind this Fayette County house with gunfire.

But, it's how 22-year old Actavia Worles died that's appears to produce two drastically different accounts between the Fayette County Sheriff's office and Worles' distraught family and friends.

"When I got here everything was taped off and they was on the back porch and they wouldn't let nobody go back there and see him. So, I don't know if the officer shot him or not," said Actavia's brother, Anthony Worles.

All parties agree on the initial facts of the incident. Worles and his girlfriend, the mother of their one year old son, began to argue at their house in Somerville about 9:00 Friday morning. Neighbors confirm they saw the still arguing couple climb into Worles car along with their child and another child belonging to her.

At the wheel Worles headed northbound on Highway 59. Just as they cross the Loosahatchie Bridge, his girlfriend attempted to jump out of the car but, in the process, she becomes caught in the seat belt and is drug under the car.

By this time Somerville Police have been alerted and along with Fayette County deputies chase Worles. They alleged Worles tried to run one of the cars driven by an officer off the road. The high speed pursuit continued for about 8 miles when Worles veers off on Brewer road and cuts across a couple of backyards in an attempt to reach his mother's home. Apparently, all of this in full view of her neighbors who can see the front and the back of the house.

"My mother said he got out of the car. He was knocking at the backdoor trying to get in and she was fixing to go to the door and let him in. Then all of a sudden all the police ran around...shouting "get out of the house" By the time they got out of the house they heard a gunshot," said Anthony.

Although the investigation has now been taken over by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, we were told by a deputy, the officers did not fire a shot and that by the time they came around the house Worles had shot himself.

Yet, for a time the gun he used couldn't be found. Worles family and an alleged eyewitness, who did not want to appear on camera, assert that's because he didn't have one by the time he arrived at the Brewer address.

"When he ran up there you could clearly see it. He didn't have a gun in his hand?
At all!" said Anthony. "My sister actually seen him. He drove the car across the front yard and she said he jumped out of the car. She didn't see him with no gun in his hand."

Worles girlfriend was taken to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis where she is in critical condition. Their one year old and the other child are both safe.

Farmington Hills, MI: Wife in Farmington Hills slaying had history of mental problems

Court filing details murder suspect's disorders, addictions


By her own account, Laura Johnson has had a tortured life.

In court papers filed after her 2005 divorce, Johnson said she had "schizo-affective disorder, chronic depression ... pain medication addictions, skin lesions and obsessive compulsion disorder." Records said she had been in and out of psychiatric hospitals and had attempted suicide.

The records provide the first portrait of Johnson, who now sits in jail, charged with murdering her current husband, attorney Lloyd G. Johnson, and of practicing medicine without a license. Lloyd Johnson, 47, died Wednesday of yet-to-be-determined causes. Police took items, including possible human tissue and needles, from their Farmington Hills home.

Farmington Hills 47th District Judge Marla Parker entered a plea of not guilty for Johnson on Friday.

JoAnn Robinson, a legal assistant who had worked with Lloyd Johnson at his home-based law practice for the last year, said that items were in the home because Laura Johnson assisted with in-home wound care for her husband. She said his diabetes explains the medical equipment. And his wife did help him care for related sores. But it doesn't explain why he died, she said.

"I think she went a little too far on her wound care," Robinson said sarcastically Friday.

Laura Johnson faces up to life in prison if convicted of killing her husband. His funeral is 10 a.m. Monday at A.H. Peters Funeral Home in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Trouble brewed in lawyer's marriage

Discord speckled the Johnsons’ marriage long before Laura Johnson was charged Friday with second-degree murder in his death.

Police in Livonia had charged Lloyd Johnson — an appellate specialist who had worked with nationally recognized lawyer Geoffrey Fieger — with domestic violence after an April 2009 call from the Livonia Marriott by his wife, according to records in Livonia’s 16th District Court.

She said her husband, after throwing papers in her face, pushed her into a hotel dresser during an argument about legal work and financial problems.

"Laura also stated that this was the third time that Lloyd had assaulted her and she was 'sick of it,' " the Livonia police officer wrote in his report.

A few days later, she asked Judge Kathleen McCann to dismiss the charge in an affidavit filed in 16th District Court on April 13, 2009.

"While my husband has a history of being loud and throwing papers and objects, he has no prior history of picking me up or otherwise throwing me or others," she wrote.

McCann dismissed the case on May 21, 2009.

A lawyer for Lloyd Johnson's five adult children said that Johnson told his wife, 46, he wanted a divorce last weekend. She called EMS to the home Monday, claiming he had a heart attack.

Police found bloody bedding in the home and the dog dead outside. Lloyd Johnson died at Botsford Hospital in Farmington Hills early Wednesday.

Scott Hills, 50, of Livonia said he has been trying to use the 2009 case to get custody of his 8- and 10-year-old sons with Laura Johnson, his wife from 1984 to 2006.

"They were both just nuts," he said Friday. He has custody of his boys after picking them up this week from his ex-wife's Elm Grove home. "I didn't want my boys in that. But it's hard to get them away from the biological mother."

According to medical records in Oakland County Circuit Court, Laura Johnson suffered from self-inflicted skin wounds, the result of her obsessive compulsive disorder. The wounds were made worse with fungal and bacterial infections that sometimes required hospitalizations. She has also been in and out of psychiatric hospitals and has attempted suicide.

In 2008, Laura Johnson applied for Social Security disability benefits, saying she had "schizo-affective disorder, chronic depression, bilateral cervical radiculopathy, bilateral carpal tunnel, lumber stenosis, pain medication addictions, skin lesions and obsessive compulsion disorder," according to court records.

The Social Security Administration turned her down for benefits, saying that her conditions "are not severe enough to keep you from working."

Farmington Hills police investigators still were not releasing Friday exactly what led to Laura Johnson being charged with second-degree murder and unauthorized practice of medicine.

The lack of information left neighbors wondering what went on in the brown colonial. One said police visits and yelling were regular occurrences during the year the Johnsons lived there with Laura Johnson's sons.

"It still doesn't answer a lot of questions," neighbor Marie Paul, 44, said Friday. "It's still strange."

Related content
Funeral arrangements

The funeral for Lloyd G. Johnson will be at 10 a.m. Monday at A.H. Peters Funeral Home, 20705 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Woods. Visitation is scheduled 3-9 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 313-884-5500 or go to

Friday, September 24, 2010

Vinton, VA: Vinton couple found dead in likely murder-suicide

Kimberly Drew had been seeking a divorce from her estranged husband, Timothy, and told friends she was becoming increasingly scared.

By Amanda Codispoti

Neighbors comfort one another Thursday as they watch Vinton police investigate an apparent murder-suicide. Court papers show Kimberly and Timothy Drew were getting a divorce.

One of Kimberly Drew's friends said she went to the house to check on Drew and found a window cut open.

Neighbors and friends console one another Thursday after learning that Vinton police had discovered the bodies of Kimberly Drew and her estranged husband Timothy Drew inside a house on Halliahurst Avenue. Police say they suspect a murder-suicide.

Police seal off the scene of a shooting Thursday on Halliahurst Avenue in Vinton. Police found two bodies after responding to a 911 call about 8 a.m.

Kimberly Drew was scared.

Her husband, estranged for the past four months, attacked her new boyfriend over the weekend. Drew "didn't know what to do" Wednesday night when a friend invited her to sleep over rather than stay alone in the two-story Tudor house in Vinton that Drew once shared with her husband and their two children.

The invitation never got an answer.

Kimberly Drew, 44, an executive assistant at First Citizens Bank in Roanoke, was found shot to death Thursday morning on a bed. Her husband, Timothy Drew, 42, a former Roanoke firefighter who supervised locomotive maintenance for Norfolk Southern, lay dead atop her in what police said appeared to be a murder and suicide.

"Kimberly was afraid and didn't know what to do," a police search warrant quoted the friend, Celia Gerig, saying to a detective after she drove to the house on Halliahurst Avenue and discovered the bodies.

The Drews attended William Byrd High School together and had been married for nearly 20 years. They were scheduled for a divorce court hearing Tuesday on a complaint Kimberly Drew filed in June, describing the marriage as "intolerable and impossible to endure."

Timothy Drew was so verbally abusive that Kimberly Drew turned to the tranquilizer Xanax, she said in the divorce filing. He held her down, yanked her hair and told her, "You know what I could do to you," according to court papers. He had been having affairs with three women, another filing said.

The couple's children, ages 17 and 11, arrived on Halliahurst Avenue on Thursday to police cars, yellow crime-scene tape and horrified neighbors. They spent Wednesday night at their father's home on Norbourne Avenue in Vinton. They told officers Timothy Drew "seemed depressed about everything that was going on with their separation" the police search warrant said. They last saw him at 11 p.m. on his couch.

Vinton police Capt. Ben Cook said both victims were shot. The search warrant said police are investigating the slaying of Kimberly Drew.

As the couple's relationship sped toward its violent end in recent days, Timothy Drew drove to Franklin County and fought with Kimberly Drew's new boyfriend, according to the warrant. Drew, 6-foot-4, 250 pounds and licensed to carry a concealed pistol, was charged with assaulting Michael "Andy" Stegall on Sunday, according to a criminal complaint.

Stegall said Drew called him a name, threatened to kill him, threw him to the ground, hit him in the eye and bit him on the arm before a neighbor called the police, according to the complaint.

Drew swore out warrants in the same fight against Stegall, who also has a permit to carry a concealed handgun, for brandishing a firearm and assault. Stegall couldn't be reached Thursday.

Rhonda Stegall, the estranged wife of Michael Stegall and principal of Hidden Valley High School, said she and Timothy Drew were friends and spoke regularly.

"This was extremely out of character for him," she said. "I know him as a caring father. I never saw any anger issues. I never saw any of that."

Rhonda Stegall graduated from William Byrd High School with Timothy Drew in 1986, she said. Kimberly Drew graduated in 1984.

Kimberly Drew first filed for divorce in December 2009. The case was dismissed in May because court papers weren't properly served. Kimberly Drew filed for divorce again in June.

Facebook photos
Kimberly Drew said in court papers that her husband was physically and verbally abusive and that the marriage had become unendurable. Timothy Drew had recently fought with his estranged wife's boyfriend, but people who knew him said they had never seen a violent side to him.

Timothy Drew "vexed, chided, humiliated and embarrassed the plaintiff such that the marriage was intolerable and impossible to endure," the lawsuit said.

Timothy Drew had been "cold and indifferent" toward his wife for several years, the divorce papers said. He "has also become physically abusive," his wife said. The suit suggested the couple had been separated off and on for years.

Kimberly Drew left the house on Halliahurst Avenue in January. She later moved back into the house, appraised at $165,900, and Timothy Drew moved to a relative's house on Norbourne Avenue.

For Gerig, Kimberly Drew's friend, the horror unspooled Thursday when she couldn't reach Drew by phone. She drove to the house, she later told police, and found a first-floor bedroom window open. The screen had been cut and a box cutter lay on the ground.

Video: Neighbor's reaction

Video by Ryan Loew | The Roanoke Times
When Gerig peered into the window, she saw a man's body atop a woman on a bed, the search warrant said. Gerig called 911 just before 8 a.m.

Police blocked off Halliahurst Avenue, and neighbors, friends and relatives gathered nearby, weeping and hugging.

News researcher Belinda Harris and staff writers Jorge Valencia and Janelle Rucker contributed to this report.


”My mom has gone crazy”
September 24, 2010

(SEATTLE, WA) -- No one yet knows what set the West Seattle woman off to the point where she would take a gun and try to massacre her immediate family, but at the end of the carnage Thursday afternoon four people were dead from gunshot wounds including the suspected shooter and a fifth was in the hospital with gunshot wounds.

An as yet unidentified woman, believed to be in her 50’s and of Cambodian heritage, reportedly shot four members of her own family Thursday afternoon before dying herself from a self inflicted gunshot wound.

The only survivor of the rampage, a 42-year-old daughter of the suspected killer told police " My mom's gone crazy," according to Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel who talked with reporters at the scene, a house located in the 9400 block of 14th Ave. SW.

Killed in the shooting were the 42-year old survivor’s husband and two daughters who were described as in their teens.

The incident unfolded about 1:30 p.m. after 911 calls came in describing gunshots fired in the neighborhood.

As police arrived more shots were heard. Police SWAT team members who happened to be nearby on another call were sent to the scene and the entire area was cordoned off.

As police were still arriving a man described as in 50s ran past police and into the house then two more shots were heard. Then the man ran out of the house, telling police his wife had shot herself.

The surviving woman was reported to be in satisfactory condition last night at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Police found 2 handguns in the house. A motive for the killings is not yet known.

Guysville, OH: Man, 83, Charged In Wife's Shooting Death

Thursday, September 23, 2010 11:22 AM

GUYSVILLE, Ohio — An 83-year-old Athens County man faces murder charges stemming from the shooting death of his wife early Thursday morning.
According to the Athens County Sheriff's Office, David C. Tilley was arrested at his home on Mill School Road in Guysville after calling 911 and saying that his wife had been shot.

Responding deputies found Hope Tilley, 46, dead in a bedroom, 10TV's Ashleigh Barry reported.

"My wife had been shot, she's dead," Tilley told a 911 dispatcher.

He spent nearly 30 minutes on the phone with the dispatcher and waited for sheriff's deputies to arrive, Barry reported.

Tilley, who is wheelchair bound and an amputee, told the dispatcher that he dropped the gun and would meet officers at the front door.

Neighbors said they were surprised by the shooting.

"I knew something was up when I saw those vehicles there this morning and that yellow tape," said neighbor Danielle Marlow. "I thought it was David, something happened to David."

The Athens County Sheriff said they believe Tilley's wife was ill, but they have no motive for the slaying.

Moments before deputies arrived, Tilley was recorded whispering to his wife, "I did it for you."

Tilley was charged with murder, and was being held on a $50,000 bond.

Watch 10TV News and refresh for additional information.

Virginia Beach, VA: Va. Beach man charged in wife's shooting death

By Kathy Adams
The Virginian-Pilot
© September 24, 2010

Police have charged a husband in the fatal shooting of his wife earlier this month.

Eugene Edmund Lockney III, 32, is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Gillian Rosanne Lockney, police said in a news release.

He turned himself in at police at headquarters Wednesday and has been released on unsecured bond, according to the release.

Officers found Gillian Lockney, 32, suffering from a gunshot wound at her residence in the 2200 block of Royal Haven Crescent the evening of Sept. 4, police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to an obituary, Gillian Lockney was a native of Oakland, Calif., and a graduate of Tidewater Community College. She worked for Bon Secours Home Care and had a daughter, the obituary said.

The Commonwealth's Attorney's Office reviewed the evidence in the case, and a grand jury indicted Eugene Lockney on Monday, said Macie Pridgen, a spokeswoman for the office. He's scheduled to appear in court on Monday, she said.

No further charges are anticipated, Pridgen said. The case remains under investigation.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Terra Linda, CA: Terra Linda worker confirmed as murder victim

Staff Report
Posted: 09/22/2010 07:18:48 PM PDT

A Terra Linda retirement home worker was confirmed Wednesday as the victim of a homicide in Vallejo this week, police said.

Ritchie Lei Lusung Campued, an employee at AlmaVia of San Rafael, was found dead Monday inside her boyfriend's car. An autopsy Wednesday confirmed her identity.

Her boyfriend, William Espinosa Ubando, was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and murder, Vallejo police said. His arraignment in Solano County Superior Court was delayed Wednesday for lack of a Tagalog interpreter.

Family members of victim Campued, a 33-year-old Vallejo resident, were visibly upset at the hearing's delay, with one family member removed from the courtroom after shouting out.

Judge Peter Foor maintained Ubando's no-bail status at the hearing.

According to Vallejo police reports, Ubando called his estranged wife Monday afternoon to inform her he had killed Campued. Ubando was later arrested at an American Canyon coworker's residence, and police found Campued's body on the front passenger-side floor of Ubando's car, police officials said.

Police said Campued might have been bludgeoned with a metal baseball bat.

Campued had worked for AlmaVia of San Rafael for about a year, an employee said. The retirement community is on Northgate Drive.

Ubando, a 39-year-old Vallejo resident, has no criminal record, police said.

Luling, LA: Man In Critical Condition After Hours-Long Standoff

Police: Man Called Officials To Report Killing Girlfriend

POSTED: 6:59 pm CDT September 22, 2010
UPDATED: 10:31 pm CDT September 22, 2010

LULING, La. -- A Luling man was in critical condition Wednesday night after a six-hour standoff ended in gunfire.
Investigators said 52-year-old Gary Farrell barricaded himself inside his house after confessing that he killed his girlfriend.
It all started with a call to the St. Charles Sheriff's Office at about 2 p.m., deputies said. They said the caller told them that he had killed his girlfriend and left her body in the trunk of a car at St. Charles Parish Hospital.
It wasn't long before sheriff's deputies identified and tracked Farrell down at his home on Luling Avenue.
For the next six hours, Farrell was holed up inside his home, threatening suicide, deputies said.
"It really hits home, because you usually just read about these things," said neighbor Laura Martinko.
The neighborhood was cordoned off while authorities tried to talk Farrell out over the phone. After a while, the SWAT team moved in.
"Our SWAT team shot two canisters of tear gas in there," said Sheriff Greg Champagne. "They heard a 'pop' from inside. We were still on the phone with him. It looks like a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head."
At last check, Farrell was in critical condition at University Hospital.
Police said they have no motive yet in the case. They said they're not releasing the name of the victim until all family is notified.

Buffalo, NY: Cops: 2 dead in apparent murder-suicide in Buffalo

Associated Press - September 23, 2010 6:55 AM ET

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Authorities say a woman and a man, Joy Rizzo, 49, and Andrew Soos, 51 are dead in an apparent murder-suicide in a Buffalo apartment.

Police spokesman Mike DeGeorge says officers found the bodies Wednesday afternoon after being called to the apartment by someone concerned about the woman's welfare. DeGeorge says the case appears to be a murder-suicide stemming from a domestic dispute.

Police haven't released the names of the 49-year-old woman or the 51-year-old man.

Neighbors tell Buffalo media outlets that the woman had packed her belongings and was preparing to move to Florida with a man she had recently reconnected with.

McAllen, TX: Still hospitalized, man charged in wife's fatal stabbing

September 22, 2010 3:08 PM
Jared Taylor
The Monitor

Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office homicides

2008 24 homicides, 4 domestic violence-related

2009 21 homicides, 5 domestic violence

2010* 14 homicides, 4 domestic violence

*As of Sept. 22

23 percent of HCSO homicides in past three years domestic violence-related

McALLEN — A man who allegedly stabbed his wife to death before turning the knife on himself faced a murder charge from his hospital bed Tuesday evening.

Jose Francisco Javier Vasquez, 53, was formally charged with murder after he allegedly stabbed his wife, Maria de Jesus Garcia, 35, at least 10 times in her upper chest with a hunting knife early Sunday morning.

Hidalgo County Justice of the Peace Charlie Espinoza arraigned Vasquez on the murder charge Tuesday at McAllen Medical Center. Bond was set at $500,000.

Hidalgo County sheriff's deputies discovered the alleged murder upon responding to the couple's house at 4406 Avery Street, near Palmview, about 2 a.m. Sunday.

Vasquez was rushed to McAllen Medical Center, where he remains in stable condition. He is expected to remain hospitalized for the next week before his transfer to the Hidalgo County Jail.

Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño said those who knew the couple that Vasquez had recently attempted to stab his wife with a fork, but the incident went unreported.

Neither Vasquez nor his wife had a previous criminal history, the sheriff said. Both are illegal immigrants.

In the past three years, 23 percent of the homicides investigated by sheriff's deputies have been domestic violence-related, Treviño said. During the same time, 56 percent of aggravated assaults have been domestic-related, as well.

"Prevention is possible through awareness programs," Treviño said in a statement. "Victims should report any domestic violent act immediately. They should not wait for the incident to worsen."

Jackson, TN: State High Court Upholds Death Sentence For Triple Homicide At TDOT Facility

posted September 22, 2010

The Tennessee Supreme Court has upheld the three death sentences of David Lynn Jordan for the first degree murders of his estranged wife, Donna Renee Jordan, Jerry Hopper and David Gordon at a Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) facility in Jackson, Tn.

On Jan. 11, 2005, Jordan shot his wife to death at her office in a TDOT facility in Jackson. Jordan also shot and killed Hopper, who was in the office with Ms. Jordan at the time of the shooting. After leaving the office, Jordan shot and killed David Gordon, a motorist who followed Jordan to the TDOT facility after Jordan ran Gordon off the road. When Gordon accosted Jordan about the incident, Jordan removed a high-powered assault rifle from his truck and shot Gordon 13 times. Jordan then returned to the TDOT office and riddled his wife’s body with shots from the assault rifle.

During the incident, Jordan shot and wounded two other TDOT employees. He was convicted of two counts of attempted first-degree murder for the additional shootings.

In a unanimous opinion authored by Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark, the Court addressed for the first time whether Tennessee’s rule of witness sequestration applies to capital sentencing trials. Under the rule of witness sequestration, which is part of the Rules of Evidence, persons who are expected to testify in the trial are not allowed in the courtroom to avoid being improperly influenced by the testimony of other witnesses. In capital cases, however, the Rules of Evidence are relaxed during the sentencing hearing.

Prior to trial, Jordan’s defense counsel sought a ruling to exempt Jordan’s family members from the rule of witness sequestration so they could attend Jordan’s trial and subsequently testify at his sentencing hearing. The trial court denied Jordan’s request, forcing his family members to choose between attending the trial and testifying at the sentencing hearing. Jordan’s parents chose to attend his trial, which prevented them from testifying at the sentencing hearing.

The Supreme Court ruled that the trial court had erred in applying the rule of witness sequestration in a strict manner, depriving Jordan from presenting mitigation evidence at his capital sentencing hearing. The Court emphasized that, “in a capital sentencing proceeding, trial courts must carefully evaluate any and all proffered mitigation evidence, utilizing any applicable Rules of Evidence only as guidelines rather than as mandatory strictures.”

The Court determined, however, that the trial court’s error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt because the jury heard from other witnesses that provided the “essence” of the testimony Jordan’s parents would have given. Accordingly, the Court held that Jordan was not entitled to a new sentencing hearing because his parents were not allowed to testify.

The Court also found error in the prosecution’s argument during the sentencing hearing that the “angel of death” had accompanied Jordan during his murderous spree and that the “death angel” had written down the aggravating circumstances upon which the jury was to impose the death penalty. Although the Court held that the prosecutor’s “repeated references to an angel acting as a messenger [for the death penalty] were inappropriate,” the Court found this error did not affect the outcome of the trial, and therefore, did not entitle Jordan to a new sentencing hearing.

The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Criminal Appeals’ decision to uphold Jordan’s convictions and death sentences. The Court held that the three death sentences were not imposed arbitrarily, nor were the three death sentences excessive or disproportionate. The Court set Jordan’s execution date for Sept. 27, 2011.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Seattle, WA: Woman left to die as police ignored attacker's confession, suit claims

by KING 5 News
Posted on September 22, 2010 at 1:35 PM
SEATTLE – A Covington woman has filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle and Seattle Police Department for allegedly turning away the man who shot her after he confessed to the crime.
According to the lawsuit, on Sept. 16, 2007, Tri Minh Vo shot and killed Tina Nguyen's boyfriend, Duc Van Nguyen, and then shot Tina at their home on SE 286th Street.
According to the lawsuit, Vo shot her in the body and head, then tried to strangle her with electrical cord.
The complaint alleges that Vo walked into the South Police Precinct at 3001 South Myrtle Street in an attempt to turn himself in, confessing that he had just shot one or two people.
According to the lawsuit, when officers asked Vo where the shooting took place, he said he did not know the specific address. Officers allegedly sent Vo home and did not pay any attention to him.
Nguyen lay on the floor for two days, with a skull fracture and bullet wound in her shoulder. Her attorney says she managed to crawl out of the house and to a neighbor's home for help.
On Sept. 18, the same day Nguyen managed to reach help, Vo returned to the South Precinct and at that time, police took him into custody.
He was later sentenced to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree murder and first degree assault charge.

East Liverpool, WV: Two Dead in East Liverpool

By MICHAEL D. McELWAIN For the News-Register
POSTED: September 22, 2010 Save | Print | Email | Read comments | Post a comment
EAST LIVERPOOL - A woman and man were killed and a second woman was wounded in a shooting early today in East Liverpool.

The East Liverpool Police Department responded to 1126 Avondale St. at 2:38 a.m.

Upon arrival, officers discovered a 25-year-old man dead on the sidewalk, a 22-year-old woman dead on the front porch and another 22-year-old woman was found inside the residence suffering from gunshot wounds.

Early indications are that it was a murder/suicide, and police officers are not actively seeking a suspect.

The male found on the sidewalk a block away from the home died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to preliminary information. There was an argument before the shootings happened, and the male reportedly was the ex-boyfriend of the injured female.

The injured female was airlifted to a Pittsburgh hospital due to the extent of her injuries.

Officers cleared the scene at approximately 6 a.m.

Names of those injured or killed were not immediately released.

Today's shooting was the third murder/suicide to occur in the Ohio Valley in recent weeks. Police said a man in Wellsburg murdered his wife and stepson and then took his own life while in Martins Ferry, a man killed his wife and then committed suicide.

Chicago, IL: Witness: Girlfriend's body was blocking door

September 22, 2010
BY DAN ROZEK Staff Reporter
He was bringing a pizza for dinner over to girlfriend Pamela Howat's Hanover Park home, but even though Antwoine Mitchelle had a key, he still couldn't open her door.

"I couldn't really get in. Something was blocking the door," Mitchelle said Wednesday, adding he finally shoved the door open only to see it was the body of his 51-year-old girlfriend that had prevented him from getting inside.

"I saw Pam laying there," Mitchelle said softly, his voice quavering. "I called her name and I tried to shake her." Mitchelle was among the first witnesses to testify Wednesday as the murder trial opened for Howat's alleged killer, 47-year-old Ronald O'Rourke, a former co-worker whom Howat had dated previously.

O'Rourke used a hidden key to sneak into Howat's house on June 6, 2009 to steal money to buy crack cocaine, but was caught inside by Howat when she returned home, DuPage County prosecutors told jurors.

During the confrontation that followed, O'Rourke stabbed Howat at least 10 times in the neck and face as she tried to defend herself, then left her dead on the floor of her home, prosecutor Ann Celine O'Hallaren said.

"She struggled and fought for her life," O'Hallaren said. "Pam Howat lost her life in a burst of unspeakable violence." O'Rourke after his arrest gave a videotaped statement to police implicating himself in her death, though he allegedly insisted that she first attacked him with garden clippers and was cut as they struggled over the tool.

On Wednesday, defense attorney Michael Mara offered a different version of events, saying O'Rourke went to her house to borrow money and discovered her already slain.

"Ron freaked out," said Mara. "He left. He didn't do anything to help Pam." Instead, O'Rourke returned home, obtained more crack cocaine and got high, Mara said.

El Cajon, CA: Ex-San Diegan Arrested In Death Of Girlfriend

Pete Dominguez Accused In Slaying Of Christina Pierce

POSTED: 3:58 pm PDT September 21, 2010
UPDATED: 4:08 pm PDT September 21, 2010

SAN DIEGO -- A one-time San Diego resident was taken into custody Tuesday on suspicion of murdering his girlfriend while they were living at a campground in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Detectives from the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office and officers with the El Cajon Police Department arrested 39-year-old Pete Frank Dominguez in Santee on Monday afternoon, ECPD Lt. Steve Shakowski said.
Dominguez was being sought in the slaying of former El Cajon resident Christina Pierce, who went missing last spring. Her body was found Aug. 26 alongside a road at River Ranch Campground in Stanislaus National Forest.

An autopsy determined that the 42-year-old woman had been asphyxiated.
Dominguez, also known as Petri Lister and Petri Von Frank, previously lived in eastern San Diego County and Ocean Beach, the lieutenant said.

Oviedo, FL: Oviedo woman who says estranged husband was raping her is charged with murder

Anita Smithey is free on $100,000 bond

By Rene Stutzman, Orlando Sentinel
5:19 p.m. EDT, September 22, 2010

SANFORD — Prosecutors have filed second-degree murder charges against a 42-year-old Oviedo woman who says she grabbed a gun and fought back while her estranged husband was raping her.

Anita Smithey is free on $100,000 bond.

She shot and killed her estranged husband, Robert Cline III, 41, on May 4 in the bed they were sharing.

Smithey told Oviedo police that although they were separated, she and Cline got together for sex every Monday evening, according to her arrest report.

The night of the killing, she told them, Cline had come to her house, they'd had a drink and sex but then he wouldn't leave.

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He grabbed her, she told police, pulled her back into bed, held something – she thought it was a knife – to her throat and began raping her, she said. He put away the weapon but would not stop raping her, she said.

She pulled a 38-caliber handgun and pointed it at his chest, according to her arrest report.

He leaned forward and the gun went off, she told police. He still didn't get off her, she said, so she pulled the trigger a second time.

Before she went for help, she stabbed herself in the belly so she could claim self-defense, she eventually told police.

On Tuesday, the state attorney's office charged her with second-degree murder and tampering with evidence. That second charge presumably was for stabbing herself and saying Cline did it.

Assistant State Attorney James Carter would not say what evidence prompted the state to file charges. Earlier, Oviedo Police Lt. Mike Beavers said Smithey was arrested because of her inconsistent stories and evidence at the scene.

Smithey and Cline had been married three years. They had been separated about three months.

Six months before the shooting, police went to their home after she called for help, saying she had tried several times to call 911 following an argument, but he kept snatching the phone from her hands.

Prosecutors opted not to charge Cline with domestic violence.

Rene Stutzman can be reached at or 407-650-6394.

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Salt Lake City, UT: Family of volunteer firefighter shot in 2008 standoff suing police

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010 3:37 p.m. MDT
By Emiley Morgan, Deseret News
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SALT LAKE CITY — The family of a volunteer firefighter who was shot and killed during a police standoff at the driveway of his Farmington home is now suing numerous state agencies on the grounds that the man couldn't have posed a threat at the time he was shot.

In the lawsuit, filed by the wife and parents of Brian Wood in federal court Tuesday, the family states that the fatal shot — which entered Wood's left cheek and continued down to his spine — must have been fired by Davis County sheriff's deputy Joshua Boucher after Wood was already down.

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"Deputy Boucher alleged that Brian Wood was pointing a handgun at Boucher before he shot," the lawsuit states. "But, the trajectory of Deputy Boucher's shot, coupled with the other force used and injuries exacted, demonstrate that Brian was down, posing no threat, when he was killed."

Wood, a 36-year-old volunteer Farmington firefighter, was shot and killed Sept. 22, 2008, after a 12-hour standoff with police. Wood had called 911 and told an emergency dispatcher he had just "beat and raped my wife. Come get me."

Officers responded to Wood's Farmington home, where they found the volunteer firefighter in his truck, inside the garage.

The lawsuit states that law enforcement officers then used tear gas and pepper spray to get Wood out of the truck. Once out, Wood was allegedly assaulted with numerous rubber bullets, pepper balls and was shot with a Taser multiple times.

Wood fired one round from a .38-caliber handgun, prompting the officers to open fire. Deputy Boucher's actions were later determined to be justified under the circumstances.

"The deputy's decision to use deadly force against Wood was based on his knowledge that Wood was alleged to have committed violent felonies, was resisting arrest, had fired a round during the arrest attempt, and posed an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the officers and to himself," a statement issued by the Attorney General's Office said.

Wood's wife, Elizabeth Wood, was later adamant that she was not beaten or raped by her husband.

Wood's family is now suing Farmington City, Davis County and Salt Lake City, asking that the family receives damages to cover, among other things, funeral costs and attorney's fees.

Nashville, TN: Bowling Green native shot, killed in Tennessee

by Amulya Raghuveer
Posted: 09.22.2010 at 12:41 PMsavesendprint

NASHVILLE, TENN. -- A Bowling Green native has been shot and killed at his Nashville-area home.

Authorities say Bryan Bell, 32, was shot by his ex-girlfriend around 4:00 a.m. at the condominium he shares with two others in an upscale neighborhood. Bell's ex-girlfriend, Tanya Slimick, 32, called police early Tuesday to report that she had shot Bell.

Slimick, who is believed to have been in town visiting Bell, is now being held without bond at a county jail.

Police say the couple had no history of domestic violence. Investigators plan to interview Bell's family and roommates to determine motive in the shooting.

Bell worked as a kitchen manager at a Nashville-area T.G.I.Friday's.

Phoenix, AZ: Man reports killing girlfriend, leads police to Phoenix home

by Jennifer Thomas
PHOENIX -- Phoenix police are investigating a homicide after a man reportedly confessed to killing his girlfriend.
Shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday, Hermenegildo Esequiel Cardenes Morffah, 44, contacted police officers who were dealing with an unrelated matter near Third Street and Indian School Road.
According to Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson, the man said he had killed his girlfriend and led the officers to their home near Bethany Home Road and 12th Street.
Thompson said the officers entered the home and found Jacqueline Rae Dodge's body.
Detectives learned that Cardenes Morffah got into a physical altercation with Dodge, 38, and killed her.
Cardenes Morffah has been booked into the Maricopa County Jail, charged with one count of second-degree murder.
The investigation is ongoing.

Fairfield County, SC: Deputies: Murder Suspect Shoots at Officers, is Taken Into Custody

Tony Santaella James Gilbert Created: 9/22/2010 3:01:01 PM Updated: 9/22/2010 3:47:39 PM

Fairfield County, SC (WLTX) - Fairfield County deputies have arrested a man wanted in Richland County on charges he shot and killed his estranged wife.

Officers took 37-year-old Charlie Cason into custody after a violent exchange.

Richland County deputies say Cason killed his estranged wife, 38-year-old Letitia Cason, at an apartment on Smallwood Road in Northeast Richland County. That's located in an area near Interstate 20 and Percival Road.

Officers say they tracked Charlie Cason to Weeping Mary Baptist Church just off Highway 321 in Fairfield County. According to deputies, Cason has a personal connection to the church. When officers arrived, they say Charlie Cason fired shots at them, then ran into the woods.

He eventually was taken into custody. Richland County deputies say he had on him the gun they believe was used in the killing.

Deputies say he was dropped off at the church by someone else.

Richland County deputies say Charlie Cason burglarized Letitia Cason's apartment because they believe he was trying to harm her. The woman left her apartment and headed to an adjacent one for safety.

Officers say Charlie Cason forced entry into the home and fired several shots into the building, hitting his wife in the upper body.

The victim was taken to the hospital where she later died.

Investigators say Cason left the scene in the car of the victim's son.

Del Valle, TX: Man stabbed to death in Del Valle identified

Wednesday, September 22, 2010, 03:43 PM

Police on Wednesday identified the man who they say was killed by his wife Tuesday as 31-year-old Harry Harper Jr.
Officials say they responded at 1:54 p.m. Tuesday to a call of a stabbing at 5809 War Admiral Drive in Del Valle. Harper was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge, where he died from his injuries, police said. They said he was stabbed during a dispute with his wife, 28-year-old Kia Carter.

Carter, at right, was taken into custody Tuesday without incident and arrested on an unrelated theft warrant. No charges have been filed in Harper’s death, officials said.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the homicide tip line at 477-3588, or Crime Stoppers at 472-8477.
Get the latest crime reports in your neighborhood with the Statesman's Crime Tracker.

Nashville, TN: Death sentences upheld for David Lynn Jordan; killed wife, 2 others at TDOT facility

By Associated Press
3:40 PM CDT, September 22, 2010
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state Supreme Court has upheld the death sentences of a man who fatally shot three people at a state highway garage.

Tennessee's highest court on Wednesday affirmed a Court of Criminal Appeals' decision to uphold David Lynn Jordan's convictions and three death sentences.

The Court set David Jordan's execution date for Sept. 27, 2011.

Jordan killed his estranged wife Donna Jordan, state Agriculture Department worker Jerry Hopper and David Gordon on Jan. 11, 2005. Two other people in the Department of Transportation garage were wounded during the shooting spree.

In an unanimous opinion, the Court did address for the first time whether Tennessee's rule of witness sequestration applies to capital sentencing trials.

American Valley, CA: Police: Man kills girlfriend, drives corpse to American Canyon

KERANA TODOROV | Posted: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 10:15 pm

A man is suspected of killing his girlfriend and then driving off with the corpse to an apartment complex in American Canyon, according to police.
Vallejo police received a report Monday from a woman who said her estranged husband had told her he had just killed his girlfriend of 10 months, Vallejo police said. They identified the woman as Ritchie Lei Lusung Campued.
Police could not find the woman at home, but received information later that her silver Toyota Tacoma truck was parked near the tennis courts of Glen Cove Park east of Interstate 80, according to police. Officers found the truck covered with “a large amount of blood,” Vallejo police said.
American Canyon police said Vallejo police sent an electronic flier with information on the suspect.
Just before 5 p.m. Monday, a man called from The Lodge to report a fight, American Canyon Police Sgt. Chris Perry said. The Lodge on Eucalyptus Drive is next to the Walmart Supercenter.
Police arrived to the apartment complex to find the suspect, William Espinosa Ubando, 39, of Vallejo, and a friend of Ubando’s, police said.
Inside Ubando’s silver Scion parked in the parking lot, police officers found the body of a woman on the floorboard of the front passenger seat, according to information from Vallejo and American Canyon police.
“The victim appeared to have sustained multiple blunt force trauma to the body,” Perry said. “She was pronounced dead at the scene,” he said.
Vallejo police then took custody of Ubando. Vallejo police is the lead agency because the killing occured there, Perry said.
Vallejo police said the woman is believed to be Ritchie Campued. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.
Ubando does not have a criminal record, according to Vallejo police. He was arrested and booked in the Solano County jail on suspicion of kidnapping and murder.
The slaying is the 13th homicide in Vallejo this year, according to police records.

San Tan Valley, AZ: 3 members of San Tan Valley family dead in murder-suicide

by Alicia E. Barrón

Posted on September 21, 2010 at 8:19 PM
Updated today at 1:49 AM
SAN TAN VALLEY, Ariz. – A mom, dad, and two kids were all shot in the head inside their East Valley home.
Investigators are on the scene of what they are calling a murder suicide in San Tan Valley and they are trying to figure out who is responsible.
The mother is in the hospital but her husband is dead and two kids are also dead.
Extended family members had reportedly been calling the family all day and had not spoken to any of them. They got worried and went over to the house.
Inside the home Investigators found a 45-year old man, his 37-year-old wife, their 10-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter had all been shot in the head.
The mother and father were found in the front of the house while their two children were in another area.
Tim Gaffney says, "When our deputies went in, they have kids, and to see the children in that condition was traumatic to our deputies."
The scene was traumatic for the whole neighborhood that was stunned by the news of the multiple murder-suicide.
Jason Phillips, a neighbor, says, “I'm hoping the 8-year-old is not in my son's class…don’t know how to explain it to him."
Investigators say they cannot explain it either. They will not say or do not know which member of the family shot the others before shooting him or herself.

Fort Bliss, TX: Friend of victim: Fort Bliss shooter sought girlfriend before attack

By Chris Roberts and Adriana M. Chávez / El Paso Times
Posted: 09/21/2010 12:23:06 PM MDT

FORT BLISS - The man who shot two women, killing one, at a post convenience store Monday afternoon apparently called the store looking for his girlfriend before the shooting.
Retired Army Sgt. Steven Kropf, 63, of El Paso, was shot and killed by law enforcement officials shortly after he attacked two women who worked at shoppettes on the post.
Bettina Maria Goins, 44, of El Paso, was pronounced dead at Beaumont Army Medical Center. The other woman, who

Bettina Maria Goins, 44, with her son Kendrik Goins. (Courtesy photo)
has not been identified, remains hospitalized at the medical center with serious injuries.
Both were shot in the head. The type of weapon used is not known.
Goins worked at another convenience store on post and was at the shoppette on Cassidy and Marshall to pick up additional Halloween candy, the woman's daughter, Maria-Laura Nasti, said today.
"He took her away from us. It was senseless," said Nasti.
Today, post commander Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard said the post is safe.
"Fort Bliss is still, and remains still, one of the safest installations in the country," he said at a news conference.
In addition, he said, "We are going to take a good look at our private weapons policy on post."
He also said the shoppettes will open

Kropf had been fired from his job at another convenience store for chasing a suspect who stole beer, which was against the store's policy, said Kim Rodriguez, who described herself as Goins' best friend.
Rodriguez and Nasti said they were informed of the incident by Fort Bliss officials.
When Kropf called the store, the other victim told him she could not give him any information on his girlfriend who apparently worked at one of the post shoppettes, Rodriguez said.
A short while later, at about 3 p.m., he appeared in the store and began shooting. Goins was an innocent bystander, Nasti said.
Military police in or near the store called for backup and Kropf was shot walking toward law enforcement vehicles in the store's parking lot, Rodriguez said.
FBI officials, who are investigating the incident, have not verified any information about the relationships of the shooter and victims. The motive is still under investigation, they said.
Monitor for updates.

Rochester, NY: Rochester, NY man guilty of killing ex-girlfriend

Associated Press - September 22, 2010 7:45 AM ET

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) - A Rochester man has been convicted of shooting his ex-girlfriend to death after she taunted him with cell phone text messages over a $2,000 debt she owned him.

A state Supreme Court jury deliberated four hours Tuesday before finding 35-year-old Jason Clark guilty of second-degree murder in the Jan. 10 slaying of Nina Smith.

Authorities say Clark used a rifle to fire 13 shots at the 29-year-old Smith as she drove past his house. Police say 1 of the bullets struck her in the head.

During the trial, prosecutors say Clark texted Smith shortly before the shooting, demanding that she repay the $2,000 she owed him. Prosecutors say Smith responded with taunts about the money and Clark's wife.

Smith worked as a teacher's aide in the Rochester public school system.

Fort Bend, TX: Man gets 48 years in wife's slaying

Fort Bend defendant said spouse shot herself
Sept. 21, 2010, 11:40PM

A Katy man who reported his wife's death as a suicide in 2008 has been sentenced to 48 years in prison after prosecutors convinced a jury he left a bruise on the dead woman's forehead by pressing a gun barrel against it and then firing the fatal shot inside their Cinco Ranch home.
Michael Wayne Cantu, 45, will have to serve at least half of that sentence handed down Monday night and will be 69 before he becomes eligible for parole, said his defense attorney, Wendell Odom.
Cantu reported his wife of 15 years, Jackie Ramirez Cantu, shot herself at their home in the 26300 block of Eden Point on April 24, 2008.
He said during the initial police investigation that he and his 37-year-old wife got into an argument while looking at family photos and reported that his wife then went into the master bathroom and shot herself in the forehead with a .38-caliber revolver.
The couple's two children, now 11 and 9, were in the house at the time but were asleep, Odom said.
Evidence conclusive
The Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Jackie Cantu's death a homicide. Fort Bend County prosecutor Chad Bridges said Cantu gave conflicting statements throughout the investigation and changed his story each time he explained himself. Cantu's statements were rebutted each time by expert testimony and scientific evidence, Bridges said.
The evidence indicated that Jackie Cantu tried to defend herself before she was shot, Bridges said. Experts testified the gun was pressed tightly against her skull.
Michael Cantu, a petrochemical company engineer, was "devastated" by his conviction and sentence, Odom said.
"He's always maintained that it was an accident," Odom said of the shooting, "that he was trying to take the gun away from her."
But the evidence indicated otherwise, Bridges said. "There was a tight contact wound, which is inconsistent with trying to pull the firearm away," he said Tuesday.
Odom said Cantu first told investigators he was in the kitchen and not the bathroom where the shooting occurred because he was "scared" of being charged with wrongdoing.
"That's what convicted him, was his statements that he wasn't there," Odom said.
Cantu later told detectives that he moved the gun, which was found on the bathroom floor, pointed toward his dead wife's neck, Bridges said.
No fingerprints were found on the gun, but gunshot residue was found on at least one of Michael Cantu's hands, Bridges said.
Bridges said authorities still don't know what led to the shooting.
"As for what exactly happened that night and what they were arguing about, we don't know," Bridges said. "We don't know what the exact nature of the conversation was."
Despite the sentence, Cantu insists he did not kill his wife, Odom said.
Maintains innocence
"He's realizing that his life will never be the same — that he'll probably spend the rest of his adult life in the penitentiary. He vows that someday he'll be exonerated," Odom said.
Jackie Cantu was a stay-at-home mother. The children's maternal and paternal grandparents now share joint custody of them, Odom said.
The Cantus met while both of them were attending Texas A&M University. Jackie Cantu was originally from Bryan, while Michael Cantu was from Houston. They married in 1992. Both graduated from Texas A&M with Jackie Cantu earning a degree in microbiology, said her father, Guillermo Ramirez of Bryan.
Ramirez said he does not feel any vengeance toward his daughter's husband but is sad for the couple's children.
"I wish this thing would have never happened to my daughter, to the family," Ramirez said Tuesday. "There's a lot of sadness. The only justice that would satisfy me is if my daughter came back and if I could turn back time and prevent this from happening. But I can't."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hamilton, OH: Killer scheduled to be executed Oct. 6

By Lauren Pack, Staff Writer
Updated 8:07 AM Tuesday, September 21, 2010
HAMILTON — The last thing Judy Gabbard said to her sister on Jan. 29, 1993, is “Kat, I promise I will be OK.”
Kathy Johnson, known as Kat to her eight siblings, received the call as a wish on her 36th birthday. Two days later, her sister was found dead in the Great Miami River after she was beaten with a tire iron by estranged boyfriend Michael Benge.
“I am grateful he didn’t kill her on my birthday, it is hard enough to live with. I don’t think I could bear every year if the anniversary of her death was also my birthday,” said the 53-year-old Johnson, while sitting on the couch of her Milford Twp. home. The living room is decorated with framed family photos. Included is a smiling portrait of Gabbard, just a month before she was killed.
“We found that photo in her camera — after. It was the last one taken of her on Dec. 31. It is the most precious picture in the world to me,” Johnson said.
After 17 years behind bars, 49-year-old Benge is scheduled to be executed Oct. 6. His death sentence was handed down in June 1993 by a jury in Butler County Common Pleas Judge Michael Sage’s courtroom.
Presenting the state’s case was county Prosecutor Robin Piper, then an assistant. Earlier this month, Piper, Gabbard and others, along with members of Benge’s family, traveled to Columbus to speak before the Ohio Parole Board, which would make a clemency recommendation to Gov. Ted Strickland. On Sept. 15, that board recommended Strickland not spare Benge’s life.
During the birthday phone call in the winter of 1993, Johnson said she begged her sister not to let Benge back into her C Street home.
Gabbard, a divorced mother of two children, met Benge at a bar where she had accompanied a younger sister. Johnson said she believed Benge was abusive to her sister, more than she let on.
“It think she kept it a secret,” Johnson said.
Benge, who had a drug addiction, threatened to kill Gabbard and her children. He also stole from her, according to Gabbard. Eventually, Gabbard had enough and kicked Benge out of her house.
“But he told her he had no place to go until he got his tax check,” said Johnson, noting her sister, who aspired to be a nurse and worked at Mercy North Hospital, believed in the good in people.
“She was always happy,” Johnson said. “And so kindhearted.”
Contact this reporter at (513) 820-2168 or

Spring, TX: Illness may have had role in Spring couple's deaths

Neighbor says husband had terminal leukemia
Sept. 20, 2010, 11:48PM

A 75-year-old man who killed himself and his Alzheimer's disease-stricken wife was suffering from terminal leukemia, a neighbor said Monday.
William and Dawn Kruse, 73, were found dead in Spring after an apparent murder-suicide, authorities said.
Neighbor Robin Lent said both suffered from life-threatening illnesses.
"They were in and out of the hospital," Lent said. "When I heard he had leukemia, I knew it wasn't good at his age."
Officers discovered the couple at 11 a.m. Sunday in bed in their home on the 18300 block of Theiss Mail Route. William Kruse had a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the torso and his wife was killed by the same gunshot, authorities said.
Another neighbor, Suzzette Kirchner, remembered them as affectionate and loving.
"They were always busy outside," Kirchner said. "Always sitting together and holding hands."
Lent said she was shocked when she heard about the deaths. "They were lovely people and it's just too sad," Lent said.

Edinburg, TX: Woman gets 55 years in husband's murder in Edinburg

Guilty verdict Monday follows mistrial in May
September 20, 2010 1:09 PM
Jared Taylor
The Monitor
EDINBURG — It took jurors less than two hours Monday morning to convict an Edinburg welding shop owner’s widow of his 2008 murder.

Mirna Matiana Garcia received a 55-year prison sentence for the murder of her husband, Antonio.

The relatively rapid verdict was a shift from the first time prosecutors tried to send Garcia, 43, to prison in the case. In May, 23 hours of deliberation ended in a mistrial.

“They were able to decipher all the facts and all the evidence presented in front of them,” said Monica Barron-Auger, who helped prosecute the case in the 275th state District Court.

Edinburg police found Antonio Garcia, 47, dead in a pool of blood Nov. 21, 2008, in his office at The Cactus Iron Works.

His wife pointed to the Zetas drug cartel as the party responsible for Antonio’s murder, but investigators found her behavior suspicious.

When Garcia first arrived at the crime scene, she didn’t seem appropriately shocked at her husband’s slaying, and made sure to tell investigators that she was not at the business when her husband was shot, officers said at her initial trial.

She later admitted under questioning that she had asked a man with whom she had an affair to find someone to kill her husband.

Police arrested Garcia and the business’s foreman — Jose Manuel Gomez, 42 — three weeks after the fatal shooting, accusing them of killing Antonio Garcia so they could be together.

“It was a perfect scenario for the defendant,” Barron-Auger said. “She was able to have her lover run her husband’s business and it was just the perfect scenario that she had set up.”

Garcia stuck with her story about the organized crime hit. For years, Antonio Garcia had been involved in a side business that illegally bought oil from the Zetas from the pipelines of Mexico’s state-run oil monopoly before selling it to U.S. companies.

Ultimately, jurors were not convinced.

“The possibility that the Zetas could have been involved in this murder — it was just a story that the defendant and the codefendant just came up with to cover up their actions,” Barron-Auger said.

Prosecutor Ted Lopez worked with Barron-Auger on the Garcia case.

Mirna Garcia will become eligible for parole in 2037, just shy of her 70th birthday. Her defense lawyer, Michael J. Garza, could not be reached on his cell phone Monday evening.

A murder charge against Gomez remains pending. A pretrial hearing in his case is set for Oct. 4.


Jared Taylor covers courts, law enforcement and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4439.

Junction City, OR: Double Murder/Suicide Near Junction City

September 20, 2010
By Heather Hintze

JUNCTION CITY, Ore.-- The Lane County Sheriff's Office confirms three people were shot and killed at a house on Harper Drive just outside Junction City.

Investigators say it appears a man, Richard Rauscher, shot and killed his two girls, ages 7 and 9, before turning the gun on himself.

Deputies say the shooting happened some time Sunday night or Monday morning.

They say the girls' mother went to pick them up from school and found out they hadn't been in class all day. She drove to the Harper Drive home and found it dark and locked. She alerted deputies, who forced entry into the house and found the three bodies.

The sheriff's office is working with Oregon State Police and the District Attorney's Office to investigate.

Massillon, OH: Double Murder-Suicide May 'Run In' Massillon Man's Family

MASSILLON, Ohio - Neighbors said they appeared to be the ideal family. But police are calling the deaths of a mother, father and their eight-year-old daughter in Massillon a double murder-suicide.

Kyle Blankenship, 42, his wife Ann Urbas-Blankenship, 42, and their 8-year-old daughter Grayce were found shot to death inside their home on Oxford Avenue around 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Investigators said it appears Kyle shot his wife and daughter before turning the gun on himself.

Police told Fox 8 News all three family members were shot with a semi-automatic handgun, which was found underneath the man's body.

In a 911 call to police, Ann's mother, Jean Urbas, said, "My daughter called, there was a fight between her and her husband, she hung up... my husband went up, knocked on the door, both cars are there, nobody will answer the door. He has threatened her before."

Massillon police officers responded and discovered the bodies inside the ranch-style home.

"We never, never would have thought that anything like this possibly could've happened because we grew to love that family, they were such a nice couple and Grayce was such a lovely little girl," said neighbor Barb Kanney.

"Every time we would see them they seemed very happy, they were just really a unique little family," said neighbor Sharla Harwig.

A young girl, who said she was good friends with Grayce, told Fox 8, "Before I left yesterday, she told me that she would miss me and she said that she was gonna play with me today, but I didn't get a chance to because she's not here anymore."

"We did know that Kyle had a family tragedy last winter and he was having some problems dealing with that," said Kanney.

Police said in January, Kyle's older sister shot to death two of her grandchildren, then killed herself in South Carolina. Neighbors are struggling to figure out why his family met a similar fate.

"Usually Kyle was very upbeat, very nice guy, pleasant to talk to, always upbeat and Ann was always very nice and they were just a wonderful family," said Kanney.

Massillon police say they have never been called to the couple's home for any trouble.