Episode 6: The Trinity Murders

Scott Christopher Nelson -Richard Stephenson

Scott Christopher Nelson and Richard David Stephenson (Source: cncpunishment.com)

Episode 6 of Crime Historian: the Podcast is a full length episode that tells the story of the Trinity Murders, named for the school the victims attended. Scott Christopher Nelson and Richard David Stephenson, two high school juniors, were kidnapped, raped, and murdered on their way to a high school football game in 1984. This happened in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky and has haunted me ever since I first heard the story.

Little did the boys know, they would not reach their destination. When they got lost and stopped to ask for directions, they were taken advantage of by Victor Taylor and George Wade who forced them to drive to an abandoned parking lot. They would not make it out of that situation alive, and now one perpetrator is serving life in prison while the other awaits a death sentence.

Head on over and listen to episode 6 here: https://soundcloud.com/user-293072616/episode-6-trinity-murders or on your favorite podcast app.

Sources:

Serial murder: more common than you think?

how much more common is serial murder than believed_What true crime buffs already know

Let’s review, class. According to a 2014 article, serial killings account for no more than 1 percent of US murders. Since there are approximately 15,000 murders annually, that leaves the amount of serial murders at about 150 per year. It also mentions the FBI believes there are between 25-50 serial killers operating in the US at any given time. Not exactly news, right?

With articles floating around with titles like “Are American serial killers a dying breed?” and “The Decline in Serial Killers“, it’s clear that the consensus is that serial murder is not as common as it used to be.

Author Peter Vronsky, an investigative historian, is quoted in a Guardian article as saying that “it appears that we’re arresting and apprehending less serial killers, and when we do apprehend them they have a much smaller victim list, per killer. So yes, there seems to be a decline in American serial killing. Either there are less serial killers or we have gotten better at catching them earlier.”

Ok, great. I would love for this to be true.

But could the FBI be wrong?

I was listening to episode 9 of Jensen & Holes’ “The Murder Squad” podcast (which has become a new favorite of mine), and they were discussing the possibility of an active serial killer in Chicago, Illinois. Their guest from The Murder Accountability Project, founder Thomas Hargrove, challenges the commonly held belief that only 1% of all murders are committed by serial killers.

Hargrove’s major argument is that serial rape accounts for more than 1% of all rapes, so serial murder must account for more than 1% of all murders. He cites a study conducted in Cleveland, Ohio in which authorities tested all the recent rape kits from sexual assault victims. The shocking thing they found? More than 13% of all those rapes was committed by serial offenders. That definitely begs the question: how much more common is serial murder than believed?

The Murder Accountability Project published an article in March of 2019 noting that half of all Native American homicides are not reported to the FBI. Now this is not to say they are not reported to local or state authorities, but for whatever reason, they are not being reported to federal authorities. If the FBI is missing a total of 2,406 murders in their total of 15,000 homicides being committed each year, what else are they missing?

Your chances of being a serial killer victim, according to the FBI, are pretty slim. I’m not saying you should be scared. What I am saying is that there are educated people and organizations who believe we are vastly underestimating the currently held belief that serial murder accounts for only 1% of all homicides.

As someone who loves facts and has done a whole lot of reading on serial killers, I found it interesting.

Episode 5: Sleepwalking & Criminal Behavior

Episode 5 of Crime Historian: the Podcast is a short episode detailing three stories about people who committed bizarre crimes/actions and then successfully used the sleepwalking defense. In 1987, a Canadian man drove to his mother-in-law’s house and killed her while he slept. In 1859, a British woman threw her baby out the window while she dreamed her apartment building was on fire. In 2005, a man was acquitted of rape after claiming he had been sleepwalking while committing the act.  Tune in to episode 5 here or on your favorite podcast app to learn more about these stories: https://soundcloud.com/user-293072616/episode-5-sleepwalking-and-criminality .

Note: It’s been over a year and a half since we released an episode. Life has settled down a bit since then, so be expecting new episodes more regularly!

Sources:

 

Episode 4: Have a Big One, Like Billy Did

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Mary Rice and William “Billy” Boyette, Source: TheProvince.com

Episode 4 of Crime Historian: the Podcast details the recent crimes of William Eugene “Billy” Boyette, Jr., the spree killer that tormented Pensacola, Florida last week. Since I live in the area, it seemed only fitting that we talk about the crimes being committed nearby.

On this episode, I invited a special guest to join me. Nathan Daniel, part-time ranchero taco taster and former editor of the Pensacola News Journal (lol jk) is a longtime good friend of mine and provides comedic relief in all the right (wrong?) places.

Come listen to us at https://soundcloud.com/user-293072616/episode-4-have-a-big-one-like or on your favorite podcast app (iTunes, etc.).

Episode 3: The Most Hated Man in Louisville

ignatow_schaefer

Mel Ignatow & Brenda Sue Schaefer, Source: YouTube.com

Welcome to Episode 3 of Crime Historian: the Podcast. I worked really hard to put together a detailed episode for you that chronicles the story of then 36-year-old Brenda Sue Schaefer and her unfortunate demise in Louisville, Kentucky in 1988. Brenda was killed by ex-boyfriend, Mel Ignatow, but not before being kidnapped, raped, sodomized, and tortured by him first. Much to Louisville’s dismay, Mel was acquitted of the murder. However, after an incredible discovery six months later in October of 1992, he was proven to be the killer…only nothing could be done about it: double jeopardy saved him, and the town was infuriated.

 

Listen to Episode 3 to learn about Brenda, how she became entangled with Mel Ignatow, how the trial proceeded, and Ignatow’s own coincidental but karmaic ending by going here: https://soundcloud.com/user-293072616/episode-3-the-most-hated-man or listening on iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/crime-historian/id1152728489?mt=2) or your favorite podcast app. Thanks!

Sources:

Episode 2: John Francis Wille, convicted child murderer

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Nichole Lopatta, Source: NOLA.com

Episode 2 of Crime Historian: the Podcast features John Francis Wille, born in 1964, who allegedly began committing murders when he was as young as sixteen years old. His most notorious crime, and the one was he was convicted of, was the kidnap, rape, and murder of 8-year-old Nichole Lopatta in June of 1985. Wille was 21 at the time.

He was partly convicted for this grizzly crime due to his own confession which explicitly described every act he and one his acquaintances, Billy Phillips, subjected Nichole to. His conviction also rested heavily on the confession of his girlfriend, Judith Walters, and her daughter, Sheila Walters. In total, at the time of the murder, four people other than Nichole were along for the car ride that began in Milton, Florida and ultimately stopped in LaPlace, Louisiana where Nichole’s body was dumped in the woods.

Reports differ on Sheila’s age at the time, but it is agreed that she was thirteen or fourteen years old when the crime occurred.  This is significant because, according to the confessions, Sheila actually helped the men kidnap Nichole, though it is not proven that she actually knew what she was doing. She reportedly also consoled Nichole as she cried on the car ride that eventually ended in her death. Listen to episode 2 for the entire story. And please, heed the disclaimer at the beginning.

Notes:

  • There was no possible way for me to cover everything in this case. Check out the sources below for further details.
  • At one point, I mistakenly refer to John Francis Wille as Willie. That’s because his name is spelled two different ways across the Internet. My bad!

Special thanks to these sources:

  1. http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2014/05/nichole_lopattas_convicted_kil_2.html
  2. http://www.leagle.com/decision/1987771514So2d257_1629/STATE%20v.%20WALTERS
  3. http://law.justia.com/cases/louisiana/supreme-court/1990/87-ka-1309-1-1.html
  4. http://www.leagle.com/decision/19901880559So2d1321_11643/STATE%20v.%20WILLE
  5. The Psychology of Interrogations and Confessions: A Handbook by Gisli H. Gudjonsson

Episode 1: Daniel Lee Siebert, the serial killer that terrorized Talladega

originalEpisode 1 of Crime Historian: the podcast features a serial killer named Daniel Siebert. During his run, he murdered between 12-13 people (he personally couldn’t remember) including two victims that were formerly attributed to Los Angeles’ South Side Slayer.

The reason this story (quite literally) hits home for me is because several of his murders occurred in a rural town, Talladega, Alabama, where I once lived and still maintain strong family ties.

Furthermore, Siebert is not a serial killer whose name is often uttered. When most of us think about serial killers, we think about Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, or John Wayne Gacy. When I began researching Siebert a couple years ago, I was surprised to learn there was in fact a serial killer I hadn’t heard of and that he had actually rented an apartment from my husband’s grandfather. It was too eerie not to look into.

When most people think about Talladega, they think about NASCAR. Unfortunately, there is a much darker past lurking in the shadows (both in regards to criminality–and, unfortunately—history). Listen to episode one if you want to hear about Daniel Siebert’s trek from L.A. to Talladega and his unfortunate victims, including 24 year old Sherri Weathers and her two young sons, Chad and Joey.

Please, listen to the first episode and then rate it on iTunes! 🙂

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/crime-historian/id1152728489

Sources:

  1. http://www.cjlf.org/files/Siebert/SiebertStTrialCtOpn.pdf
  2. http://www.documentingreality.com/forum/f10/daniel-lee-siebert-serial-killer-90840/
  3. http://www.murderpedia.org/male.S/s/siebert-daniel.htm

Crime Historian Podcast

It is coming to a podcast app near you! 😉

Hi, folks. It’s been a while since I’ve written. In fact, since the last time I wrote, I moved to a new city, started a new career, and have dabbled in podcasting with a friend of mine. I plan to continue to write about crime, but I also discovered I equally enjoy talking about it.

I hope you will listen when I start airing.

The Unremarkable Murder in Fox Chase

I’d like to introduce you to a murder. There’s nothing particularly heinous about it, and apparently, it doesn’t even stand out to officials enough to update the public on the status of the case.

I’d like to take you back to my hometown of Shepherdsville, Kentucky again. Within this suburb of Louisville, there are nice areas and there are working class areas. There are farms and there are subdivisions. I grew up in a subdivision. Fox Chase is considered a 6th class city because it has 999 residents or less; (447 as of 2010, and nearly all of them are white). In the pre-antebellum era, the land belonged to the Rogers who ran a plantation. Lillian Chase, the great granddaughter of the original plantation owner, sold it to developers in the 70s. Fox Chase was born a couple years later and flourished in the 80s with cape cods and ranches and split levels. No one there lives below the poverty line. My own family moved out of the neighborhood and across town in 2001.

Fox Chase, KY

Entrance to Fox Chase, KY where I grew up.

I’ve set the scene for you. You already know that murders in Bullitt County are few and far between. Residents of Fox Chase know each other, and they wave when they see you. People don’t just get shot in Fox Chase. But that’s exactly what happened to 55-year old Donald Ash in January of 2009. And the weirdest part? His 2005 Lexus was missing from the scene.

1) Why hasn’t the police department updated the public on the status of this case? If they have, I can find no record of it online.

2) Cars don’t just disappear. Yes, they get stolen, hidden, and scrapped, but has this Lexus really not shown up in six years? Was anyone ever even looking for it?

3) Motive, anyone?

It is interesting to note that the police chief of Pioneer Village was the rookie cop I told you about in the Jessica Dishon case. The last communication I have from him to the public on the case simply says they are “making progress”. That was reported on January 16, 2009.

All I can glean about Mr. Ash from the news coverage is that he was apparently the kind of guy who didn’t wave back when his neighbors passed. Also, he had been a technician at AT&T for 30 years and was also running a small business out of his home when he was killed.

Just for creep factor’s sake, I want to show you the house I grew up in. And then I want to show you Mr. Ash’s. My childhood home is marked by the yellow dot in the bottom right hand side of the picture, just a 3 minute leisurely walk to the murder scene. I can’t remember if even numbers were on the left or the right on his street, but Mr. Ash’s house is either the one marked by the red dot or the one across from it.

Map measuring the distance from my childhood home to the crime scene where Donald Ash, 55, was found shot and killed in his home in January of 2009.

Map measuring the distance from my childhood home to the crime scene where Donald Ash, 55, was found shot and killed in his home in January of 2009.

The murder itself is unremarkable, at least insofar as it comes to murders. He was shot and found a day or so later. The police haven’t said much of anything, and the only thing of value they reported missing was Mr. Ash’s Lexus. But when you grow up down the street from a house that later becomes the scene of a murder, it’s a little unnerving.

Shit like that doesn’t go down in Bullitt County often. The fact that it happened in Fox Chase is unnerving to say the least.

Sources:

  1. http://www.bullittcountyhistory.com/cem/unnamed_cem_fox_chase.html
  2. http://www.cityoffoxchase.org/demographics/
  3. http://www.wlky.com/Police-Investigate-Potential-Link-Between-Slayings/9816524
  4. http://www.wdrb.com/story/9649515/55-year-old-man-found-dead-in-bullitt-county-home

Jessica Dishon Case Update: A Confession and a Plea

I wasn’t sure whether or not Stanley Dishon would go to trial for murdering his niece, Jessica, back in 1999. As you recall me previously mentioning, this all occurred in my hometown of Shepherdsville, Kentucky. A couple days ago, the prosecution and defense reached an agreement; in return for Stanley Dishon submitting an Alford plea to manslaughter, the trial will be altogether forfeited. What is an Alford plea, you ask? (Hey, look, my college classes are coming in handy.)

Basically, an Alford plea is an alternative to pleading guilty, not guilty, or no contest. An Alford plea is the acknowledgement that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict you beyond a reasonable doubt. You can maintain your innocence, but for all intents and purposes, it is essentially a guilty plea without the actual admittance of guilt. It is the same plea the West Memphis Three wore forced to take. By submitting an Alford plea, you may be able to avoid the harshest punishment. Alford pleas work in favor of the prosecution sometimes because it saves the state money, and in this case, it puts an old case to rest; the media doesn’t get to keep dragging the public and the family through the emotional ringer of a trial.

Stanley will be eligible for parole in 16 years.

As for his motive? Word is that he was molesting Jessica and had been doing it for years. Considering his previous convictions, this wouldn’t be too surprising. The story goes that Jessica was threatening to tell, and Stanley attacked her in her yard.

Fifteen years in the making, y’all. Time to close the book on this one and pray the family can find some peace. I can’t imagine what her parents have been through, but to find the murderer is a member of your own family? It’s sickening.

Sources:

  1. http://www.wdrb.com/story/27916344/stanley-dishon-expected-to-plead-guilty-in-1999-murder-of-jessica-dishon