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Posts tagged ‘True Crime’

What happened to Brandon Jividen, Rebecca Adams, their kids and their dog? (The Alaska missing family case.)

Super weird, with primary details here: a U.S. Air Force veteran and his girlfriend went missing (i.e. completely vanished) from Kenai, Alaska (150 miles from Anchorage) — along with two kids and a dog (Sparks). Brandon Jividen is the veteran — he’s 37. The girlfriend, Rebecca Adams, is 22. The biological father of the two children died in a motorcycle accident and, within about a month, Jividen was living with them. The family has been missing since May 31 — basically the entire summer — and the last contact anyone had with them doesn’t seem promising: Read more

Can we solve the Elizabeth Collins / Lyric Cook abduction-murder case?

You may know a little bit about this case, but if you don’t, here’s some basic info: the two girls (Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook) were cousins. They disappeared on July 13, 2012. Their bodies were (sadly) discovered on December 5, 2012. Here’s the distance between disappearance (Meyers Lake) and where they were found (Seven Bridges Wildlife Area):

Just recently, there’s been a dedicated website launched for this case, which remains unsolved. Here’s a direct link to the website. Read more

Beth-Ellen Vinson, Rick Heath, lie detectors and cold cases

The Beth-Ellen Vinson case has been getting some renewed attention lately, 20 years after the disappearance and murder. Here’s what happened:

Vinson left her apartment near North Carolina State University around 2:30 a.m. the morning of Aug. 16, 1994, and three hours later, police found her white 1990 Mazda 626 in front of a car dealership at 2501 Capital Blvd.

The driver’s door was open. The motor was still running, and the radio was still on. Police found her shoe on the floor on the driver’s side.

Seven days later, a factory manager found Vinson’s body a half-mile from the car lot between two warehouses near Atlantic Avenue.

She had been stabbed multiple times.

For a long time, one of the primary suspects seemed to be Rick Heath, her live-in boyfriend at the time. Heath even failed a polygraph test, which is a seeming red flag. Not so fast, though:

In the legal system, polygraph results are not admissible in court, and they are often not enough to convince prosecutors to file charges against a suspect. That was the case in the 1994 unsolved murder of Beth Ellen Vinson in Raleigh. Her live-in boyfriend, Rick Heath, failed a polygraph test. The lead investigator wanted Heath arrested, but he couldn’t convince the district attorney.

Other investigators on the case said Heath’s emotions got in the way of the test.

“Yes, he failed a polygraph,” said retired Raleigh police investigator John Lynch. “The emotions he was going through didn’t make him a good subject for a polygraph.”

But Rozzi said stress is factored in.

The real, likely, situation here is tied to the fact that Vinson worked for an escort service off and on; on the night she disappeared, she was headed to meet a client at Innkeeper Motel off Capital Boulevard in Raleigh. It took the police a couple of months, but they finally determined she never met the client — the reason it took a couple of months is because said client had been in a 24-hour cycle of drinking, drugs and ordering prostitutes, and he was unclear (couldn’t recall) if he had ever met Beth-Ellen Vinson. Finally it was determined she never made it to Innkeeper, which means she met with harm somewhere between her and Heath’s house (Avent Ferry Road) and Capital Boulevard (her car was found by a service road there, and her right shoe was on the floorboard — potentially indicating some type of struggle).

Her body was eventually found less than one mile from where the car was found.

This case seems a little bit similar to the Paige Birgfeld case in Colorado, which also has an abandoned car (in Birgfeld’s case, it was on fire), a body discovered (although in Birgfeld’s case it was years later), and — well, the central difference is that Birgfeld’s case has a major suspect, that being Lester Ralph Jones. This case doesn’t appear to have a leading suspect.

If you look at the relatively short distances between some of the places Beth-Ellen Vinson traveled that night, it seems most likely that she either (a) made another appointment to “dance/escort,” perhaps off-book, and that appointment was the wrong person for her to run into, or (b) she ran into someone and this was a random act of violence. She had only been in the general Raleigh area for about six months at the time that all this happened, so it’s doubtful it was someone she knew — unless, of course, Rick Heath is somehow involved (I honestly don’t think he is; I think lie detectors as a concept are kind of a total mess because of how human stress levels work).

Cold cases do get solved 20-30 years on, albeit rarely, so let’s hope something happens with this one.

Generalized area in which she traveled:

Kristy Kelly and Joelle Lockwood must be somewhat linked, right?

You’ve probably heard a little bit about this case, but two Indiana-based mothers disappeared within about five weeks of each other this summer. Joelle Lockwood was first — that was back on July 9th, and she was last seen walking in Evansville. (There appears to be “some drama” in her life.) Kristy Kelly was next — she disappeared after hanging out with friends at a local VFW until 1:30am last Friday night. The VFW was in Boonville, which is about 18 miles from Evansville. This article has most of the details, including this spooky line:

What happened to Kelley after she left the VFW is a mystery. Somewhere between the lounge and her parents’ house — a distance of less than 2 miles, according to her dad – both Kelley and her 2003 Nissan Xterra vanished without a trace.

Two miles in a car should be about two minutes, so that’s a very narrow window for any type of abduction, etc. There are a couple of facts around it of interest, though:

  • She stayed about 15 minutes later than her friends did.
  • Apparently it was just her, the owner and a new bartender.
  • The video footage they have of the car driving in the direction of her home is grainy enough that you can’t tell who is driving.
  • She left her cell phone at the bar, hence there’s no “pinging” detection to be had.

Here’s her dad on that last point:

“It’s really odd that she would had forgotten her cellphone at the VFW,” Scales said. “She’s 27, so she and her cellphone are pretty much inseparable. As soon as she realized that, she would have gone back for it, but she didn’t.”

The two women are similar-looking, as well:

Kristy Kelley is described as a 135-pound, 5-foot-5-inch white woman with long brown hair and blue eyes.

Joelle Ann Lockwood is a 125-pound, 5-foot-3-inch white woman with brown eyes, brown hair and two tattoos, a Playboy bunny on her right shoulder and a design on the back of her neck.

And then there’s this:

Both were wearing tank tops and blue jean shorts when they disappeared about 18 miles apart.

As always, WebSleuths has a couple of nuggets here — for example, Kristy’s father is apparently a corrections officer. There’s also this, rightfully mentioned as some central questions:

Finding the car is the key to the whole case. If she was abducted, there limited means by which an abductor can make a car “disappear”. While a vehicle traveling a cruising speed can travel quite a ways and be propelled into deep water, it is much harder to get a driverless car into water where it won’t be found. There are limited places where this might work (reservoirs with steep slops, piers with road access ect.) These sort of places need to be checked. Most of these places are fairly remote and the abductor would then have to deal with the problem of getting back to his own car or home. Two people could do the abduction but that is most unusual. If the car turns up 100 miles or more from Boonville, a whole lot of different possibilities open up.

There’s no direct evidence linking these two cases, and we shouldn’t jump to any conclusions — but there needs to be some deep investigation into the possible connection. 20 miles apart, similar builds, similar clothes, etc. It’s possible someone in southwestern Indiana has “a type.” Terrifying, but possible.

The Claudine Jaquier Gifford disappearance does seem tied to James “Todd” Kessler

Here are the basics of this one: 43 year-old woman moves from Orlando to Virginia on a hiatus in her 16-year marriage. She goes drinking one night at Pelican’s On The Point in Lancaster City, VA. That appears to be here:

She leaves the bar and disappears. That was mid-July and there’s still no trace.

She seems to have potentially been a bit depressed at the time of the disappearance, so that is worth noting:

Claudine Gifford, whose 44th birthday was two weeks ago, stands at 5 feet, 4 inches and weighs 112 pounds. According to friends, she has a quiet demeanor and likes her privacy so much she has been teased about it.

She stayed with Chris Rockson and his family for about six months. Both grew up in New York and met when they were living there in their 20s.

Rockson said Gifford was depressed about having to leave her daughter behind. Soon after she arrived, her dog died, which was another emotional setback, he said.

Rockson said Gifford talked to him about bringing her daughter to the Northern Neck, but he tried to persuade her to move back to Orlando instead.

“We all tried to get her to go down to Florida and work something out,” Rockson said, adding that he and other friends told Gifford: “Just get back to your daughter, because she needs you. Get some money saved up and go to Florida and get an apartment.”

Now here’s where it gets weird — there are varying degrees of stories about the night of the disappearance. She was with a guy named James “Todd” Kessler; if you click that top link (the first one in this post), he is a person of interest in this case. According to a bunch of observers, he had to carry her out of the bar — despite other observers saying she had 2-3 drinks. It’s possible to be fall-down drunk off of 2-3 drinks if you didn’t eat / have a bad tolerance, but it’s not likely. There’s certainly the possibility that something was slipped in the drink; that’s made more potentially plausible if you go to the second article (the one that the pull quote above is from) and consider this:

Gifford went back to Orlando for Father’s Day and stayed for about two weeks. Rich Gifford and Gabrielle said she was making plans to return to Orlando permanently.

Kessler, meanwhile, is in Lancaster County jail without bond after being charged with felony malicious wounding in an unrelated incident in which a man was injured at the same White Stone bar July 22. Kessler has a preliminary hearing scheduled in September.

Read between the lines on that and it goes like this — Gifford moves up to VA for a break in her marriage. She gets involved with Kessler for a bit, but then decides she wants to go back to Orlando. Kessler is capable of “felony malicious wounding” in other contexts, so … he’s a lead suspect.

WebSleuths is all over this (click through for the entire thread), and then there’s this:

Gifford’s cell phone transmitted activity, also called a “ping,” from the cell tower on Black Stump Road on Monday afternoon, the day after she was last seen.

If that’s all true, that ping is 14 miles away from the bar:

Kessler’s home has been reported as “Cox Farm Road” area — if that’s accurate, that’s only 3.2 miles from Black Stump:

Then there’s this whole “four guys” argument — that’s information apparently provided by Kessler to the police. He said “four white males” (or perhaps just “four males”) helped her into a vehicle after they (Kessler and Gifford) had a fight and he drove off. (Why would you leave an intoxicated woman solo in a mostly remote area? No idea.)

It’s all a sad story — let’s hope it’s resolved soon, and she’s either found or, if something befell her, someone is sent away for it (be that Kessler or someone else).


Jenise Wright’s dad, James Wright, does look like a potential suspect in her disappearance. It doesn’t mean he is.

Here’s the basics of the case — she’s six years old and missing in Washington state — and here’s some info about how the search was widened, and now they’re going backwards to a more methodical approach. As all this is happening and she’s missing, it comes out that her father, James Wright (goes by Jim), had a molestation charge in 2000 for touching two girls inappropriately after a night of drinking. That doesn’t mean he had anything to do with the disappearance of his daughter; it just means he’s a potential suspect that needs to be cleared, which I’m sure the police are doing. (And now the FBI is involved.)

According to this report in The Seattle Times, the parents are being “very cooperative.” As for the previous indiscretions, here’s the official word from the authorities:

Deputy Scott Wilson said detectives are aware that the father of Jenise Wright was once accused of molesting an 8-year-old relative and assaulting a 15-year-old babysitter in 2000 in WhatcomCounty. James Wright entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and the molestation charge was dropped. He pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor assault.

Wilson said investigators do not believe James Wright’s previous record has any connection with the girl’s disappearance.

“That was in the past and has nothing to do with this,” Wilson said during a media briefing. “I can’t emphasize that enough.”

Wilson said investigators have not identified any persons of interest.

There is something awkward about this case — Jenise Wright is six years old. She went to bed Saturday and she wasn’t reported missing until she missed dinner on Sunday. What the heck was the entire family doing all of Sunday that they didn’t once check on the whereabouts of a six-year old? Seems a bit odd.

Here’s where Jenise Wright lived, at the Steele Creek Mobile Home Park:

There are 103 units in the park; it is fenced in. If you look at that map, though, it’s not very far from a port. Just generically speaking, those can be sketchier areas.

This seems like it could be a much younger version of the Maggie Daniels case or the April Millsap case – the former was solved (RIP), and it ended up being someone that lived 100 yards away (Sharman Odom). The latter case isn’t solved, although there are some new details in it. In both examples, it appears like a lead suspect (or the person ultimately caught) was someone that had observed the victim from afar. In this Jenise Wright case, it feels the same way if you look at the facts as have been presented to the public thus far.

Here’s a little bit more context on Jenise’s life at home — if you check that Seattle Times link above, you’ll also see an explanation for the time gap in the eyes of the family. They apparently had noticed that she was missing on Sunday morning, but … she had a rep (at six years old) of going out to find playmates, so they thought nothing of it. Still, not checking on her in the afternoon is a bit weird in my opinion — but all that said, I don’t necessarily think the family is involved. It seems like a neighbor / someone from the area / etc. more than anything.

Jennifer Huston case: suicide, robbery attempt, or Kallen Huston involved?

I wrote about this case a little bit last week, and now we have some sad updates. As you can see in the video above, the body of Jennifer Huston was found on a remote part of a retired couple’s 40-acre property. There are a couple of different aspects to this case as people begin to search for answers. First, there’s this:

OK, so foul play is not suspected.

Then, however, there’s this:

It was apparent to the Clemmers that the SUV had been parked for at least a few days. Pine needles lay on its top and the grass that would have been matted by being run over recently was standing straight.

Neighbors told the Clemmers they heard gunshots about a week ago, but Vern Clemmer said he doesn’t pay attention to those since they could come from neighbors who target shoot or illegal hunters.

OK, so there were gunshots possibly around the time the body could have ended up there — but it could be nothing, since it’s a hunting area.

That leads you to potentially think along these lines, as depressing as it is:

OK. I know nothing about this family — and of course, every family is different and imperfect in their own way. I would doubt this is a suicide, although of course, it could be (I wasn’t at the crime scene). I just don’t see a mother of two young children, even if she’s at the absolute end of her rope, going that way. Also, it appears from various reports that the body was found outside of the car. If you’re going to commit suicide, why wouldn’t you just do it in the car? I mean, the end outcome is essentially the same, right?

Obviously “no evidence of foul play” from the police should lead to an open and shut — maybe she poisoned herself with the sleeping pills involved in the final purchase or something — but you do need to come back to the husband for a second. He’s been very emotional and I still doubt he’s involved, but … the court of public opinion is thinking differently:

Now, to the best of my knowledge Kallen Huston has been doing everything you’re supposed to do — but as of about a week ago, he was “cooperative” (good) and “passed a polygraph” (good), but he also wasn’t cleared.

I feel like if he was totally clear, they would just use the word “cleared.” There were two small children in this family — if the mother wasn’t with them while out buying sleeping pills / disappearing, it should be fairly easy to conclusively track where the father is, no? Even if he didn’t have the kids, whoever did would probably know where he was (generally) and his phone would be on in case of emergency, so it would be pinging somewhere, right?

I might just be spitting into the wind here, but I feel like Kallen hasn’t been totally cleared, and that obviously needs to happen first.

A sad story for a Pacific Northwest family — thoughts and prayers, and hopefully we’ll have answers soon.


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