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.

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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 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

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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!

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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