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

nichole-lopattajpeg-e66849be6d85e6d6

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! ūüôā

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! ūüėČ

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

Crime Historian: The Debate Coach & His Student

Crime Historian

Samford University, 2014

It is¬†considered one of Alabama’s¬†most brutal and notorious crimes of the 80’s. When I accidentally stumbled upon the story while chasing one rabbit trail or another, I was surprised to learn my university was connected¬†to it. The timing of my discovery was really bizarre. I’ll explain.

I spent this past summer taking 4-week classes so I could stay on track to graduate with my Master’s in May of 2015. One of the¬†classes I had to take was Debate and Argumentation. It was a full four weeks of debate: introduction to debate, the styles of debate, how to coach a debate team, debate tactics, and basically a crash course for us soon-to-be English teachers. The guy who taught the class is the current debate coach at Samford University. He’s a great teacher, and I can’t say enough good things about him. But right after I finished the class in July, I came across this old news story…

Apparently, Samford’s debate coach in 1989 went apeshit on a student and brutally stabbed him death.

The first thing you need to know is that Samford is in a decent part of town.

The second thing you need to know is that it is a Baptist-affiliated college, and therefore, generally attracts likeminded students and faculty.

The third thing you need to know is that Samford takes its debate pretty seriously. They win awards all the time. The members of the debate squad are deeply committed.

Though the crime did not occur on campus, the fact that it even occurred¬†is out of the norm. In my experience, Samford is a safe place to attend school, and everyone is generally pretty friendly. It’s located in Homewood, Alabama, one of the more pleasant Birmingham suburbs. Though I was only 2 years old in 1989 and lived several hundred miles away, I think it’s safe to¬†say the Samford and Homewood communities were shocked when the news broke.

William Slagle, 42 at the time, was displeased with his star debater. Rex Bartley Copeland’s performance was not up to par at debate practice. Rex, 20 years old, was getting tired of the demands placed on him by the debate team. Rex wanted to enjoy college and fraternity life, and he wanted to focus on his law school aspirations. Slagle, his coach, wasn’t having it.

At 2:00 AM on September 21, 1989, Slagle¬†drove to Rex’s apartment in Inverness (a neighboring community) where the two proceeded to argue. Slagle stabbed Rex to death, leaving blood all over the apartment. He then went back to his office, and in a botched attempt to cover up his involvement, left a voicemail for Rex asking him to return later for more practice.

It’s a sad story. A star debate student’s life is cut short by a professor¬†who takes debate too seriously. But that’s not even the weirdest part.

Slagle went¬†to the funeral and offered condolences. He did¬†all the things you are supposed to do when you have just found out your favorite student has been murdered. Several days later, he sent a letter to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office confessing his deed and then went on the run.

He ran for six months.

What does a middle-class professor do to support himself while on the run for six months in 1989??

Anyway. William Slagle¬†wrote¬†a few more letters, one claiming self defense. He was even featured on America’s Most Wanted.

Slagle was finally captured and found guilty. He is currently serving a life sentence. He was denied parole twice: once in 2001 and once in 2007.

It is worth noting Slagle’s side of the story. During the trial, he claimed he went to visit Rex after a bad practice to try to console him. They got into an argument and Slagle claimed he acted in self defense, even visiting a hospital for a slash wound 4 1/2 hours later. While no one can be sure what Slagle’s intentions were when he showed up at Rex’s apartment in the¬†early morning hours of September 21, 1989, we do know that Slagle left Rex to die.

Rex’s parents later attempted to sue Samford for negligent hiring and supervision regarding Slagle.

This whole story is just weird. A professor takes himself too seriously, murders a student, then goes on the run. I’d like to interview this dude because none of it makes sense.

UPDATED 6/18/2016: A commenter recently noted that Slagle actually died in prison in 2010 of unknown causes.

Sources:

  1. http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19910309&slug=1270598
  2. http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2007/04/coach_who_killed_debater_will.html
  3. http://www.bhamwiki.com/w/William_Slagle
  4. http://www.leagle.com/decision/1996876686So2d190_1876.xml/COPELAND%20v.%20SAMFORD%20UNIVERSITY