Category: True Crime News

Justin Tapp death inquest

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Here is an update I have written to this August 25 blog post on the Tapp murders about the tragic effect the crimes have had on the surviving family, namely Justin Tapp, who died earlier this year at age 44. Mr Tapp was traumatised by his mother and sister’s death and struggled for the rest of his life with depression and alcohol abuse.

AN INQUEST in England into the death of an Australian man whose mother and sister were murdered 30 years ago in Melbourne has delivered an open verdict.

Justin Tapp, who was 14 when his mother Margaret Tapp and nine-year-old sister Seana Tapp were killed on August 7, 1984, died earlier this year.

Mr Tapp was not at his family’s Kelvin Drive, Ferntree Gully home on the night of the still unsolved murders and moved to England in 2001 where he lived until his death.

He was found dead in his Wycombe bedsit on June 3 by ex-girlfriend Wendy O’Donovan, with whom he had remained friends in the years since their separation.

Ms O’Donovan told the Buckinghamshire Coroners’ Court on September 23 that Mr Tapp had problems with alcohol and had tried several times to commit suicide.

He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and had depression.

The body of Mr Tapp, aged 44, was in such a state of decomposition that the cause of his death could not be found by a post-mortem.

Police found a book and other literature about suicide near his body.

Accounts from neighbours on Mr Tapp’s last known movements indicate he may have died around a week before he was found.

The Bucks Free Press newspaper reported that Mr Tapp had no family living in Britain and it was after a concerned aunt in Australia contacted Ms O’Donovan that she went to his flat.

The coroner’s court heard that Ms O’Donovan looked through the window and saw Mr Tapp collapsed on the floor.

A former neighbour of Mr Tapp, Charlotte Kirby, contacted True Crime Reader via a comment on the blog post “Margaret and Seana Tapp murders – more tragedy”  and said she knew nothing of his traumatic history until she read about it last week on the front page of her local newspaper Bucks free Press.

Ms Kirby told True Crime Reader that Mr Tapp was a ‘very quiet and private man’ and she wished they had talked more.

“I felt really bad about his death and cried when I read the newspaper,” Ms Kirby said.

She said they both lived in an old house in Wycombe that had been split into three flats and Mr Tapp lived in the basement one.

They both moved away in 2011.

“Justin did not wish to be bothered really by the world,” Ms Kirby said.

“It is just a shame that he lived in isolation, but with that kind of trauma in his past, no wonder.”

Ms Kirby said she had often wondered about Mr Tapp’s past.

“I suspected there were reasons for his departure from Australia and even asked him why he left,” Ms Kirby said.

“All he told me was that he had grown tired of Australia.

“I just pray he rests in peace and that he has a decent funeral and resting place.”

BACKGROUND

The cold case murder of Margaret and Seana Tapp is one of Victoria’s biggest mysteries. On August 7, 1984 Margaret Tapp, 35 was strangled in her bed. Seana, 9 was sexually assaulted and also strangled.There was no sign or forced entry, which suggested that the killer was familiar with the house. The backdoor had a broken latch and could not be locked. A neighbour heard a muffled scream at around 11pm and other neighbours heard the Tapp’s dog barking frantically, which was not usual. The murders of the mother and daughter were not discovered until 6pm the next day when a friend of Mrs Tapp arrived to take her on a pre-arranged date.

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000

AUTHOR EVENT – The Tainted Trial of Farah Jama by Julie Szego

 

Tainted_Trial_front_cover

Australian journalist and author Julie Szego will speak in Perth on Tuesday october 14 about her true crime book The Tainted Trial of Farah Jama.

In 2008, 21-year-old Farah Jama, who had arrived in Australia as a refugee from Somalia, was sentenced to six years behind bars for the rape of a middle-aged woman as she lay unconscious in a Doncaster (ED NOTE: an eastern suburb of Melbourne) nightclub. Throughout the trial Jama had maintained his innocence against the accusations he committed such a heinous crime. But the Prosecution had one ‘rock solid’ piece of evidence that nailed the accused – his DNA.

In 2010 his conviction was overturned and Szego tells the whole story of how a young man came to be convicted of rape and the failings of the justice system. Szego’s book has had praise from people including Julian Burnside, AO QC, barrister, human rights and refugee advocate.

ED NOTE: I wish I was in Perth so I could attend!

DETAILS: ‘The Tainted trial of Farah Jama’ by Julie Szego, Tue 14 Oct, 7-8pm cost $19

To book go to http://www.extension.uwa.edu.au/course/CCVW004

The book is published by Wild Dingo Press

 

Been a bit quiet here

Hi everyone. I felt the need to explain why posts have been a little sporadic at True Crime Reader.

I am head down into writing my second book, which will have more of an international crime flavour.

My first book Murder in Suburbia is going well and I’m getting lots of feedback from readers. Thanks to everyone for the support.

Writing books is HARD. I’m finding is harder to write my second now that i know how much work and research goes into it. I had absolutely NO idea (which was probably a good thing) when I embarked on writing Murder in Suburbia.

I’ll get back into regular posts asap. In the meantime, please keep in touch and let me know what books you are reading at the moment!

 

 

Crime news roundup

Some crime news and links from around the web:

Missing in America – There are over 87,000 adults and children listed as missing in the United States and most of these cases receive no media coverage. Read more.  (HuffPost Live, November 9, 2013)

Karen Williams cold case - In Australia, South Australian detectives have mad an arrest in the 23-year-old mystery of 16-year-old Karen Michelle Williams’s disappearance and presumed murder. On  November u, 2013, police charged 42-year-old Nikola Novakovich with murder. He was the last person to see Karen alive and had been interviewed numerous times over the years. Police are currently searching for Karen’s remains in Coober Pedy, where she was last seen. Read more. (News.com.au, November 8, 2012)

Siberian serial killer Mikhail Popkov - A former policeman known as a ‘perfect husband and father’ led a secret life as serial killer who murdered at least two dozen women in Siberia. Read more. (Dailymail.co.uk, November 7, 2013)

Hunt for French Riviera Serial Killer – A hunt for a serial killer is underway after the skeletal remains of four people, including a skull with ‘Death to paedophiles’ written across it, were found off the French coast. Read more. (Dailymail.co.uk, November 8, 2013)

Young detective turns mass killer - English writer and journalist David Thomas writes the true story of a talented German detective who catches a serial killer in Wartime Berlin, but then goes on to become a Nazi war criminal. The book is called OstlandRead more. (chichester.co.uk, November 8, 2013)

There are 1000 unidentified bodies on UK police files

 

uk Missing Persons Bureau
Artist impression of the a man whose decomposed body recovered from the shore at Poole Harbour on January 6 2000. Picture: UK MISSING PERSONS BUREAU

 

There was a BBC article this week that shocked me.

There are currently around 1000 unidentified bodies on police files. Some of these bodies date back 50 years.

This is so sad and baffling. How is it that people can go missing and NO ONE tries to find out what happened? I understand that many of these bodies will be people from Europe or other countries but still, how does this happen?

 

This woman aged between 17-25 was struck by vehicles on the A1 near Baldock, Hertfordshire at 0615. Her body was found on February 18, 1975. Last seen by witness at 0530 hours, she stated she was heading for London. Had a foreign accent. picture: UK MISSING PERSONS BUREAU
This woman aged between 17-25 was struck by vehicles on the A1 near Baldock, Hertfordshire at 0615. Her body was found on February 18, 1975. Last seen by witness at 0530 hours, she stated she was heading for London. Had a foreign accent. picture: UK MISSING PERSONS BUREAU

 

The website UK Missing Persons Bureau gives details of these bodies but despite it being “live” for seven months, there have been no new leads on any of the cases.

News roundup

True crime news from around the world:

– The widow of an Atlanta police officer, who was killed on duty, died this week. The 1980 murder of officer Alfred Johnson remains unsolved. Sadly, his widow Mildred did not live to see his killer be brought to justice. (Source: myfoxatlanta.com)

– Police believe a serial killer is responsible for the deaths of at least four gay men in Gauteng, South Africa. (Source: ewn.co.za)

– Chicago newspaperman and true crime author Edward W. Baumann died on November 6. (Source: chicagotribune.com)

– The family of a British girl, who went missing in Germany in 1981, will march on Downing Street to raise awareness of the family’s plight to find Katrice Lee, who was two years old when she disappeared. (Source: portsmouth.co.uk)

 

 

 

LAPD turns to Facebook to find other victims of “Grim Sleeper”

Los Angeles Police have turned to social media juggernaut Facebook to identify more potential victims of the city’s serial killer dubbed the   “Grim Sleeper”.

The LAPD posted its first appeal on the dedicated Facebook page on October 18 with photographs of yet-unidentified women whose photos were found among thousands in the possession of serial murder suspect Lonnie David Franklin Jr. Franklin (pictured below) was arrested in July 2010 and is accused of killing women ranging from ages 14 to 36 between August 1985 and January 2007.

 

The Grim Sleeper

The photographs were taken between 1976 and 2010.

Police dubbed the killer the “Grim Sleeper” because of the long gaps – often years – in between murders.

Facebook: facebook.com/pages/LAPD-Grim-Sleeper

Twitter: @LAPDGrimSleeper

 

Other articles on the “Grim Sleeper” case:

The Case of the Grim Sleeper (TIME)

A fascinating map of serial killers who operated in South LA (Los Angeles Times)

160 pictures of women may be serial killer’s victims, say police (The Guardian)

True Crime News Roundup

- American newspaper the Reading Eagle is documenting all the unsolved murders in Berks County – almost 100 – before January 1. A really interesting and important resource.

– The story of the real-life “Dog Day Afternoon” robbery. (MercuryNews.com)

– A New Jersey teen who is accused of attempted murder in setting fire to her family home, awaits court date. (Washingtonpost.com)

Young history detectives on Summer Camp in Kansas discover a serial killer. ( cjonline.com)

True Crime News Roundup

True crime news from online sources:

– Californian serial killer faces court in New York on charges of murdering two women in the 1970s. (Source: New York Daily News)

– This case is high profile in New Zealand. Ewan Macdonald on trial for the murder of his brother-in-law, farmer Scott Guy. (Source: Stuff.co.nz)

– The very real dangers of online dating. 26-year-old woman stabbed to death by man she met through online dating service. (Source: phillyburbs.com)

– Propublica looks at the for-profit detention industry in United States (with some links to excellent investigative pieces from other news sources). (Source: Propublica.org)

Music for the Missing event in Canada. Photos of 39 men and women were on display at the event.

True Crime News Roundup

Some news links from around the web:

– West Australian jury visits the perth hotel where a New Zealand man, Andy Marshall, died as part of a trial to decide whether he was murdered.

– Queensland man Gerard Baden-Clay appears in court charged with the murder of his wife, Allison. This case is certain to be one of the most watched in Australia.

– Scottish police bosses will spend £400,000 hiring ex-police to investigate cold cases.

– French police reopen case of 1990 murder of British student Joanna Parrish. Ms Parrish’s parents believe Michel Fourniret, a 69-year-old former forest ranger convicted of the murder and rape of seven girls and young women in France and Belgium in 2008, was responsible for their daughter’s death.

“Lipstick Killer” William Heirens dead

Picture: nydailynews.com

 

One of Chicago’s most infamous killers has died in prison, aged 83 on March 5.

William Heirens was arrested in 1946 and confessed to the murders of three females, including a six-year-old.

Heirens, then-17, was dubbed the “Lipstick Killer” after investigators found a message  on a mirror with lipstick at one of the women’s homes that read: “For heaven’s sake, catch me before I kill more. I cannot control myself.”

FBI profiler Rober K Ressler writes about Heirens and delves into a criminal profile of the teen killer in his book Whoever Fights Monsters.
Read more about Heirens at the Charlotte Observer.

Crime News Roundup

Crime news links that I’ve found interesting this past week:

– A 42-year-old man, Lesley Camilleri has been charged with murder of Melbourne teen Prudence Bird, who went missing in 1992.  The disappearance of Prue Bird has been one of Victoria’s most baffling unsolved crimes. (Source: News.com.au)

– An appeal for the truth about what happened to her little brother has been published in a London, Canada newspaper. Frankie Jensen, 9 disappeared on his way to school in 1968. His body was found two months later. Frankie’s big sister Bente Jensen is now 60 and wants to know what happened. Bente believes Frankie was the victim of a serial killer. (Source: London Free Press)

Irish families cling to hope missing loved ones will turn up. There is criticism in this article that the Garda (Irish Police) have not done enough to investigate missing persons cases.

 

Crime News Roundup

A selection of Crime news articles and blog posts that I have found interesting this past week:

Van Der Sloot sentenced to 28 years

– The prime suspect in the death of Alabama student Natalee Holloway, Joran Van der Sloot,  sentenced to 28 years in Peru for murder of 21-year-old student. Natalee Holloway was officially declared dead this week too.

Montana teacher found dead

A popular Montana teacher, whose disappearance sparked a search with more that 1200 volunteers, was found dead on January 13. Two men have been charged over the death of Sherry Arnold.  Police are investigating a number of theories on Arnold’s disappearance and death, including that she was the victim of a hit-and-run accident.

Missing persons list contains murder victims whose bodies have still to be found

New South Wales Police homicide squad say they are investigating many  missing persons cases. This article also includes a gallery of crimes that haunt the state of NSW.

 

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/charged-death-sherry-arnold-beloved-montana-teacher-article-1.1006153#ixzz1jUqrzV1K

 

Dean Corll and the lost boys of Houston

I thought  I knew about most serial killers and multiple murderers but this week I discovered mass murders from the 1970s, which haunt a city and countless families to this day.

In 1973, Dean Corll was found shot to death in Houston – information from the young men who shot the former candy salesman to death led police to the mutilated bodies of 27 boys. This was, at the time, the largest multiple murder in United States history.  These young teens simply vanished. They were from loving homes and going about normal daily life when they disappeared.

Corll (also known as The Candy Man) had young accomplices – David Brooks and Wayne Henley – who killed Corll, led police to the horrific discovery of the victims and are both serving life sentences for their part in the crimes. (Henley and Brooks helped lure victims to Corll and were both abused by him too.)

Author Skip Hollandsworth wrote an amazing longform article  in April 2011 on the crimes for Texas Monthly called The Lost Boys. (To acess the full article sign up for the Texas Monthly site) It is truly one of the best pieces of journalism I have read. the anchor of Hollandsworth’s article is the elderly mother of one of the boys murdered by Corll. I say much more except that the heartbreak and halted lives of the families of the victims is sensitively conveyed.

Sharon Derrick, a forensic anthropologist at the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences was working to identify bodies from the murders. (Here’s a good article that explains her work and dedication.)

There’s also the dedicated work by author Barbara Gibson, managing editor of Texascrimenews.com, who has researched and reported on the Houston mass murders for a number of years and discovered two misidentified victims of Corll.

Corll was a serial killer but back when he was killing, the term “serial killer” was not well known, nor was criminal profiling. Police wrote the boys off as runaways, despite the information from their families.

 

 

Crime Bites

Some interesting crime and justice  news from the around the world:

No leads in Rotorua missing persons cases – New Zealand Police launched the Missing Persons website last August which featured profiles of current and historic missing people.  (The Daily Post, September 24, 2011)

Chronicle of Crime in Kentucky – A new book details some of the most notorious crimes in Lexington KY. (Kentucky.com, September 23, 2011)

British crime drama Prime Suspect gets American treatment – Maria Bello, Aidan Quinn and Brían F. O’Byrne star in NBC’s Prime Suspect and the show has a decidedly Irish feel with the two male leads of Irish extraction and Maria Bello’s Jane Tennsion-inspired character Jane Timoney being Irish-American.

 

Human bones found at Morcombe search site

There’s been a major development today in the search for the remains of missing Sunshine Coast boy Daniel Morcombe.

Queenland newspaper The Courier Mail has reported that police have confirmed the bones found at the search site are human. Two sneakers (sports shoes) were also found at the site.

It was also reported this weekend that undercover police lived alongside the man accused of Daniel’s murder – Brett Peter Cowan – in a Perth caravan park during the covert operation.

On August 15 Cowan pleaded not guilty to five charges: murder, deprivation of liberty, child stealing, indecent treatment of a child under 16, and interfering with a corpse.

Man arrested for Daniel Morcombe’s Murder

Queensland Police have charged a man with the murder of missing Sunshine Coast teenager Daniel Morcombe.

The accused, 41, has also been charged with deprivation of liberty, child stealing, indecent treatment of child under 16 and interference with a corpse.

In a press conference held this evening, Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett praised the dedication of the officers who have investigated the case since the schoolboy went missing in 2003.

Deputy Commissioner Barnett said police would now search an area of bushland in the hope of locating the teenager’s body.

Daniel was abducted on December 7, 2003 while waiting for a bus in Woombye, Queensland.

Since Daniel’s abduction, his parents Bruce and Denise have worked tirelessly to find their son and raise awareness through the Daniel Morcombe Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to teaching personal safety to the young and vulnerable as well as assisting victims of crime.

 

 

True Crime News

Crime news links that I’ve found interesting this past week:

Man arrested in Cornwall double-murder investigation (Belfast Telegraph, July 14, 2011)

Two men on holiday in Cornwall are missing and believed to have been murdered. I find this story intriguing, more so because I know the area very well where they are believed to have gone missing.

Television appeal leads to fresh lines on inquiry in 25-year-old unsolved murder (BBC News Glasgow & West Scotland, July 13, 2011)

Elaine Doyle, 16, was killed  on 1 June 1986. She had been strangled and sexually assaulted. A reconstruction of the teen’s last movements was shown on BBC’s Crimewatch and police said it generated more than 50 calls.

Killer’s impending release painful for slain girl’s family (Daily News Los Angeles, (July 7, 2011)

This a shocking case – three girls enter the Angeles National Park in 1985 and only two returned. Karen Severson (due for release) and Laura Doyle, friends of Missy, were convicted in 1990 of murder.

 

 

Crime news

Interesting news stories this week:

– If someone’s missing they’ll look – an article about search and rescue volunteers in Winnipeg. (Winnipeg Free Press)

America’s Most Wanted has been changed from a weekly format to quarterly specials, prompting its host John Walsh to ponder its future. John Walsh, whose son Adam was abducted and murdered in 1981, has become a high profile and tireless campaigner for tougher crime laws. He helped to form the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and in 1988 he started producing and hosting “Most Wanted.”

– Northern Irish detectives close to a breakthrough in the 1988 murder of a German backpacker.  Police are also examining whether more than one person was involved in the killing of 18-year-old Inga Maria Hauser and that fresh leads received from the public at the end of last year have given life to the investigation.

– A review of Federal Bureau of Prisons’ policies for library collections has begun in Connecticut after concerns that prisoners are able to access graphic horror novels and true crime books.