Category: Unsolved Crimes

Margaret and Seana Tapp murders – more tragedy

 

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For those of you who regularly read this blog you will know that I do have an interest in unsolved crimes, especially ones in Melbourne, Australia.

Earlier this month was the 30th anniversary of the murders of mother and daughter Margaret and Seana Tapp, 9, in Ferntree Gully, Melbourne.

On August 9, Herald Sun journalist Andrew Rule, who covered the case from the start and later unearthed information about deficiencies in the original police investigation, relayed another tragic element to the case.

MURDER MYSTERY: COULD A PAIR OF DUNLOP VOLLEYS LEAD TO A KILLER OF COLD CASE VICTIMS MARGARET AND SEANA TAPP?

Justin Tapp, who was 14 when his mother and baby sister were murdered, was found dead on June 3. Justin had moved London in 2001 but the tragedy followed him and he slowly drank away relationships, jobs and was found dead in a tiny bedsit.

“…He was slowly poisoned by the horror of what happened to them. He rarely spoke about it but was haunted by the thought that if he’d been at home at the time, maybe it wouldn’t have happened. He was only 14 then — just old enough to blame himself over the evil act that took two lives and destroyed his…” – Andrew Rule.

The last lines of Rule’s article are quite chilling: “…Whoever goes to see potential suspects might check their shoe size … and whether any of them ever had a link with the Girl Guides or Brownies. It could paint a whole new picture.”

(The strongest piece of evidence was the imprints of Dunlop Volley sneaker shoe in Margaret’s bedroom and the bathroom. Seana was also in a Brownies troupe, hence the reference to police investigating who may have been involved with the Girl Guides troupe.)

 

 

Hawaii Unsolved Murders

 

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Hawaii has always intrigued me.

I have been fortunate to have visited Oahu twice – when I was 9 and 15 and it was beautiful. I especially loved the night markets and the friendliness of people. I’d like to return to Hawaii for a holiday now that I am an adult.

Of course, there are the television shows that have been set in Hawaii – Magnum PI and one I loved (but didn’t last long) The Byrds of Paradise.

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But for all the beauty and seeming casualness of Hawaiian life, there is a dark side to the island life and that’s most evident in the unsolved murders that police are still actively trying to solve.

I was intrigued by a more than decade-old article by the Honlolulu Advertiser about unsolved murders from the 1970s and 1980s.

It appears that a serial killer was active in 1985-1986 as there are five cases of women murdered in Honolulu. The killer has been dubbed The Honolulu Strangler and has not been caught. The victims were aged from 17 to 36.

There is also the horror case of eight-year-old Roiti Dias (below) who was kidnapped while walking to school on May 27, 1980, and later found dead with her throat slashed. No one has ever been arrested for her murder.

Another girl, Jiezhao Li, 12, was last seen on Feb. 11, 1988, selling fundraiser tickets near a 7-Eleven store in a Honolulu suburb called Nuuanu. She is still missing.

These unsolved crimes haunt detectives.

And a recent report on the Kauai cold case unit to say that they have not forgotten victims and investigators are actively working with the island’s prosecution office to crack these cases.

– The 1981 gunshot slayings of Californians John Klein, 28 and his wife Michelle, 25 who were vacationing on Kauai. Their bodies were found on a tourist trail and had been shot seven times.

Their murders unsettled tourists and was a set back to state officials and locals, who were trying to reassure people that Hawaii was safe to visit after some other high-profile instances of attacks visitors. There had been a gang rape of a Finnish woman, 23, by a gang of local teenagers in 1979, which attracted national coverage and condemnation over the shoddy handling of rape cases by the State.

One theory for the murders of the Kleins is that the couple – he a lawyer and she a publicist – stumbled across a marijuana crop. An Associated Press article from January 3, 1982 called “Marijuana Blight: Hawaii Paradise Threatened by Hidden Cultivation” reported that six months after the couple’s death, police harvested almost a tonne of weed within a mile of where their bodies were discovered.

Information on these cases and more can be found on the website of the Kaua’i Office of the Prosecuting Attorney.

Anyone reading this blog who has information that could solve any of these homicides should contact Honolulu Crime Stoppers or the Kauai County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney at 808-241-1888 or via email: coldcase@kauai.gov

A mother’s torment – the disappearance of Suzie Lawrance

Today is International Missing Children’s Day and I wanted to share with you all the story of Liz Westwood, an Australian mother whose daughter Suzie, 16, went missing in 1987.

On February 7, Suzie went to a party at Healesville Memorial Hall. She was last seen the next day, before disappearing without a trace. Healesville is a rural town and tourist attraction in Melbourne’s outer east and in 1987, it was very much a place where everyone knew one another.

As part of a multimedia project I did in 2012 called Unsolved East, photojournalist Eugene Hyland and I travelled to Liz Westwood’s home to speak with her about Suzie’s disappearance. The video interview can be found here on YouTube.

It is a baffling case. Liz has never heard from her daughter since, nor has any of Suzie’s brothers. As Liz told us, Suzie was very close in particular to one brother and she said it made no sense that she wouldn’t have at least contacted him over the years.

An aspect of the case that i found really strange was that the party dress that Suzie wore to the 21st birthday party – a white taffeta dress – has never been found (see story below. The picture is from a television recreation of her case). Suzie would have had to change from her party clothes as she was seen the next day at a music festival in nearby Yarra Glen.

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Someone must know what happened to Suzie?

Mothers whose murders are still unsolved

It’s Mother’s Day in Australia and North America. A time to celebrate mothers. Children give their mums/moms homemade cards and gifts. It’s a day for mum to be spoilt with a sleep-in and breakfast in bed.

But there are many families who are still waiting for justice. Their mothers have been murdered and the killer/s have not been brought to account…yet.

Here are some cases where families are desperate for answers:

>>The children of murdered Melbourne woman Nanette Ellis hope a $500,000 reward, announced in February, will bring the vital clues needed to solve their mum’s murder 30 years ago. Nanette’s murder was brutal and baffling. Who would want to kill her? Read the detailed account of the crime here, written by Melbourne journalist and crime writer Keith Moor. (Australia)

Nanette Ellis.
Nanette Ellis.

 

>>The naked, bashed and strangled body of 29-year-old factory worker and single mother of two Annette Steward was found in the bedroom of her Geelong West, Victoria home on March 18, 1992. Police believe this now 22-year-old cold case is solvable and they have a “strong suspect”. A 2007 coroner’s inquest named a suspect. (Australia)

Annette Steward
Annette Steward

 

>>The murder of Pennsylvania mom Joy Hibbs in 1991 is still unsolved. her 12-year-old son David came home from school on April 19, excited to tell her he’d made the school honor roll, only to see his home enveloped by thick smoke. Joy had been strangled and stabbed to death before the house fire. The killer, no doubt, trying to cover the crime by setting the house alight. (United States)

Joy Hibbs
Joy Hibbs

 

>>The brutal bashing of 53-year-old mother Julie Paskall as she was waiting to pick up her teen son from a hockey game shocked Canadians. Julie was beaten to death outside a Surrey, B.C., hockey arena on December 29, 2013 and when son Cailean came out to the parking lot, he found his mother surrounded by paramedics trying to save her life. Julie’s husband of 35 years said he wants to find the person responsible, but not for revenge. He simply wants to know why anyone would attack his 4-10″, 125-pound wife. Canadian detectives said in March that they were confident they would find her killer. (Canada)

 

Julie Paskall

 

 

 

There are 1000 unidentified bodies on UK police files

 

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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.

Untying the Knot: John Mark Byers & the West Memphis Three

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Review by Rachel EC
Untying the knot is a well written, well researched conclusion to the West Memphis Three case by Greg Day. It is overly detailed in regards to the victims, their families and the three accused. It outlines confidently the unsubstantiated (although not completely out of scope) suspicion of John Mark Byers as well as providing details of the evidence against Terry Hobbs and possibly David Jacoby.
The West Memphis Three case is now 20 years old and still remains a detailed mystery. There is plenty of ongoing speculation surrounding this case and it will probably puzzle people for a long time to come. Untangling the knot really highlights the bittersweet victory of the West Memphis Three and their eventual Alford Plea which brought none of the families on either side any closure but did allow the West Memphis Three their eventual freedom after an epic and difficult 18 year legal battle.
Untying The Knot was definitely readable but at times a bit dry. I would not recommend this book to readers who aren’t well informed in the case of the West Memphis Three as it is quite detailed and doesn’t take the usual time to set up a story like a regular true crime book would. Having read hours of internet material on the West Memphis Three and seeing large amounts of the Paradise Lost documentaries I found it easy to follow the stories and the family situations (of which there are many). It’s not a book to begin your reading on West Memphis Three, but a great follow up from Devil’s Knot and the Paradise Lost documentaries.
Untying The Knot really highlighted the issue of justice for the accused overshadowing justice for the victims and their family, especially as the crime and the crime scene grew stale. Apart from the lingering accusations of Byers, Hobbs and perhaps Jacoby there is very little opportunity so long after the crime that anybody else would be investigated or prosecuted for these crimes for a second time.
For more information go to facebook.com/untyingtheknot
Follow Rachel on twitter @crimenerd

Unsolved East

Here is a project I have worked on for most of this year – UNSOLVED EAST.  It’s a multimedia special on some cold cases from the eastern suburbs of Melbourne.

– There’s the case of mother and daughter Margaret and Seana Tapp who were murdered in their beds in 1984.

– Who is Mr Cruel? The sexual offender known as Mr Cruel abducted young girls from their homes in the late 1980s and early 1980s. He was also implicated in the murder of schoolgirl Karmein Chan.

– Best-selling true crime author (Underbelly) and journalist Andrew Rule gives his insights into the Tapp murders and Mr Cruel.

– I interview Liz Westwood, the mother of 16-year-old Suzie Lawrance who disappeared without a trace in 1987.

 

 

How did Clare Morrison die?

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The cause of 13-year-old Clare Morrison’s death is still a mystery.

The Geelong girl’s naked body washed up on the famous surfer haunt Bell’s Beach, Torquay on December 19, 1992.

Clare’s body had been attacked by a shark and whether she has been sexually assaulted, or how and why she died, has never been determined.

Clare had been known to hang out at Geelong Mall. Geelong is a large regional centre in Victoria. Despite her middle-class upbringing and good education, Clare was known to youth services in the town.

Police assume that Clare must have been given a lift to Bell’s Beach. Investigators were given false information in the days after Clare’s death, which diverted their efforts for six months. Police had believed that a blue Holden Commodore sedan was the vital clue in discovering Clare’s final movements.

Clare’s death remains one of Geelong’s highest profile cold cases and there is a $50,000 reward for information that helps police find out who killed her.

Young Blood: The Story of the Family Murders

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During the 1970s and early 1980s young men were going missing in Adelaide. All fit and healthy, these men – five that are known of – disappeared from the streets of the city and then their bodies were found dumped in rivers, paddocks and reservoirs. The young men were used and abused and died from their injuries.

The highest-profile of the victims was the 15-year-old son of popular newsreader Rob Kelvin. Richard Kevin was last seen on a Sunday early evening. He was kidnapped and kept for five weeks, used and tortured before his body was found.

Bevan Spencer von Einem was charged with Richard’s murder and believed to be responsible for the deaths of the other four men. He is serving a life sentence.

The author of Young Blodd, Bob O’Brien, gives his weight of experience of the case to his book. O’Brien was a detective in the South Australia Police and was on the investigation team into Richard’s disappearance.

“The Family” reference in the title is about the speculation that von Einem and a network of pedophiles were responsible for the abuse of the missing men.

Young Blood was published by Harper Collins in 2002.

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.

Unsolved: The murders of Kirsty Bentley and Jennifer Beard

NEW Zealand, though a country with a small population of around 4.3million, has had its share of brutal crimes and unsolved murders.

The Press details nine unsolved murders that police in the Canterbury region of New Zealand. The renewed look at the unsolved murders comes after an arrest in the high profile case of Christchurch woman Mellory Manning, who was murdered in 2008. A 24-year-old man appeared in court on March 29.

One of the highest profile unsolved murders in the Canterbury region (main city is Christchurch) is that of Ashburton teen Kirsty Bentley who was 15 when she disappeared while walking her dog in 1998. He body was found 18 days later. In 2010 police released details of Kirsty’s death, which had never been revealed to the public, in the hope of a breakthrough in the case.  Police enlisted the  help of British  expert on child murder Chuck Burton to help them crack the case. Burton, a retired Detective Inspector, has built a datatbase of every murder and serious sexual assault of a child in Britain, which goes back over 50 years.

Kirsty’s father and brother have been considered in the pool of suspects in her murder. Her brother John was the only person home when Kirsty took her dog for a walk, the last time she was seen alive.

Another murder that has remained unsolved is that of backpacker Jennifer Beard. Jennifer was travelling solo around the South Island en route to meet her boyfriend when she was found under Haast River Bridge, on the West Coast of the island. It is believed she was killed on New Year’s Eve, 1969, though her body was not discovered for 19 days. The book about the case Getting Away With Murder: The Jennifer Beard Investigation is well worth a read. The prime suspect in the case, Timaru man Gordon Bray, always maintained he was innocent of the crime and died in 2003. In 2010 the detective who was in charge of the investigation into Jennifer’s death, Emmett Mitten, gave an interview to The Southland Times and he says a crucial piece of evidence, which implicated Bray, was misplaced and discovered too late.

 

 

 

Remains of unidentified female found in Belanglo State Forest

NEW South Wales homicide squad detectives are appealing for information to identify a woman whose remains were found at Belanglo State Forest last year.

Police have released an image depicting the deceased female, believed to be a teenage girl or young woman and the image is the result of a ‘facial approximation’ that was completed based on an extensive examination of the female’s skull.

 

A group of trail bike riders alerted police to the remains in dense bushland near Daly’s Waterhole in theBelangloStateForest, south of Sydney, on Sunday 29 August 2010.

Forensic analysis revealed the remains belonged to a female, who has been nicknamed “Angel” by detectives investigating her case. They believe she was aged between 13 and 25 years at the time of her death. The bones could have been in the area between six months and 10 years.

Belanglo State Forest is notorious for being the killing grounds for serial killer “the backpacker murderer” Ivan Milat.

Strike Force Hixson was formed to investigate the discovery but, despite extensive inquiries in NSW and across the country, detectives have not been able to identify her.

“Through extensive checks with missing persons records, it appears no-one has ever reported this teenage girl or young woman missing, but someone must know who she is,” said Homicide Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Michael Willing.

“The female’s teeth show signs of dental work typical of Western dentistry and commonly carried out inAustralia, but so far we’ve been unable to match them with dental records,” he said.

Police are again releasing an artistic impression of a T-shirt which was located by officers near the skeletal remains.  The T-shirt is short sleeved with a distinct motif featuring the word ‘Angelic’ in pink text, a rose and a heart with angel wings.  This type of T-shirt is no longer available for sale however was available for sale inNew South Walesand other parts ofAustraliafrom the early to mid 2000s.

Anyone with information that could help them identify the teenage girl or young woman to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Unsolved murder of teens Fiona Burns and John Lee

 

It has been 21 years since teenagers Fiona Burns, 15 and John Lee, 14 were found dead at a truck parking bay, near the South Australian border.

Victoria Police homicide detectives have launched a fresh appeal for information to solve the case.

The teens’ bodies were discovered on October  18, 1990 at the truck parking bay between Kaniva and Bordertown. Both had been stabbed to death.

Fiona, then 15, and John, then 14, were last seen hitch hiking between Adelaide and Melbourne along the Western Highway between 9 and 11 October, 1990.

The communities up near the SA border are small and Homicide Squad Detective Inspector John Potter said police were appealing for information from those in the community who know what happened.

“There is someone out there who knows exactly what happened to Fiona and John and it is to those people and their closest confidants that we are appealing to,” Detective Insp Potter said.

Insp Potter said a $100,000 reward remained on offer.

“When a child is killed, society loses some of its innocence, when two children are callously murdered and the killer or killers are not brought to justice, the whole community carries the burden,” Insp Potter said.

“The families of Fiona and John need and indeed deserve closure, for 21 years they have suffered not knowing what happened to their loved ones and have waited to see someone brought to justice.

“We are appealing for information Australia wide, the fact that their bodies were found at a truck stop on an interstate highway gives rise to the possibility that the person or persons responsible may well have resided in any state or territory in Australia.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au.

Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann by Pat Brown

The disappearance of British child Madeleine McCann in 2007 is probably the highest profile missing child case in the world at the moment.

Criminal profiler Pat Brown has written a profile of the disappearance of the then-three -year-old while she was on a family holiday in Portugal. This 76-page e-book hit the headlines recently when the McCann family’s lawyers allegedly had the book banned from sale on Amazon.

I read this profile with great interest as to me it seemed unfathomable that you would leave your infant children alone in a holiday apartment (in a foreign country no less) and check on them every 15 minutes (these checks form a large segment analysis in Brown’s profile into the alleged abduction of Madeleine).

This is a controversial profile. While Brown points out continually that the “profile is one theory and does not prove guilt or innocence of anyone…”, the overall tone is one of disbelief in he McCann’s story, as well as those of their friends who were also on holiday in Portugal. Brown dissects the the party’s times and seeming conflicting accounts of what they saw on the night.

Ultimately, Brown puts forward a theory that Madeleine had an accident while alone in the apartment and was found dead by her father Gerry, who then took her body to an unknown location. She even proposes that the friends (or at least some of them) knew Madeleine had died in the apartment and helped the McCanns cover it up. Brown says in the profile that in her opinion it was unlikely that Madeleine was abducted but if she was, she was not alive.

It’s pretty confronting reading. I felt slightly ghoulish reading it though it was very interesting to see the structure of a criminal profile.

For me, the theory that Madeleine was abducted is entirely believable, as is the one that Brown suggests in this profile.

I purchased the Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann  by Pat Brown from iTunes for AUD $2.99.

But I Trusted You by Ann Rule

As I’ve mentioned before on True Crime Reader, I love me a bit of Ann Rule. She’s like the high priestess of true crime writing.

But I Trusted You is Vol 14 of Rule’s crime files. The main case in the collection is about the murder of high school counselor Chuck Leonard by his wife Teresa but I found that I wasn’t as interested in this as the shorter case files in this collection.

In particular the chapter Dark Forest: Deep Danger is horrifying. The Cowden family – Richard and Belinda and their children David, 5 and Melissa, five months – disappeared from their Oregon campsite in 1974. Their bodies were found seven months later and the case is still unsolved, though police had a suspect. It’d be amazing if, after 37 years if this awful crime was solved.

 

 

Unsolved murders: Nanette Ellis and Margaret and Seana Tapp

Nanette Ellis was murdered in 1984 at her Boronia home.

This week I reported on the 1984 unsolved murder of Boronia mother and newspaper manager Nanette Ellis.

I first read about this case at least two years ago when I stumbled upon a 1990 Herald Sun article called “Who murdered them?”, which detailed many unsolved murders that Victoria Police still hoped to solve.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that Mrs Ellis worked for the same company I do – Leader Community Newspapers (the Melbourne community newspaper arm of News Limited) and was manger of Free Press Leader at the time of her death.

I contacted Victoria Police late last year and came into contact with Sen-Constable Kyle Simpson, who is on the team that is re-investigating several cold cases, including that of Mrs Ellis.

Mrs Ellis’s murder on February 10, 1984 at her Manuka Drive home was brutal (she was stabbed) and disturbingly, it was thought that Mrs Ellis was the victim of a terror campaign by an unknown person in the weeks leading up to her death.

Constable Simpson told me that Victorian serial killer Peter Dupas had definitely been ruled out as a suspect in Mrs Ellis’s murder. Dupas is serving a life sentence for the frenzied stabbing murders of three women – Margaret Maher and Mersina Halvagis in 1997 and Nicole Patterson in 1999 and is a suspect in at least three other unsolved stabbing murders of women in Victoria.

1984 also saw the murders of a mother and daughter, just up the road from Boronia, in their Ferntree Gully Home. (For readers outside of Victoria, Boronia and Ferntree Gully are suburbs at the foothills of Mount Dandenong in Melbourne’s outer east.) Margaret Tapp, 35 and her nine-year-old daughter Seana were strangled in their beds late on the night of August 7, 1984 (Seana was sexually assaulted).

Melbourne crimes journalists Andrew Rule and John Silvester wrote this excellent article in 2010 about the fact that the Tapp murders had seemingly been forgotten by the public and been the victim of a lack of urgency on the part of reporters and police –

“When a woman and her little girl were strangled in their beds on a winter night in 1984, your correspondents both worked the police beat at Russell Street headquarters. It should have become one of Victoria’s biggest unsolved murder stories, but never did. Somehow, a vile crime fell through the cracks…” – Andrew Rule and John Silvester fr0m “A mother, her daughter and a murder case that got away from all” (The Age, June 19, 2010)

Interestingly, my aunt told me that Margaret and Seana Tapp had lived next door to her in Wantirna (another suburb in Melbourne’s outer east) for a while before they moved to the Kelvin Grove, Ferntree Gully home where they were murdered. My aunt said she remembered seeing Margaret Tapp zipping out and about in her little car and they would wave to each other.

The Tapp murders resurfaced in the news in 2008 when a man was charged  with their murders, however the charges were withdrawn soon after it was discovered that evidence that linked the man with the crime had been contaminated. It is thought that the contamination took place in 1999 when clothing from an unrelated offence was examined and found to contain DNA matching the man who was charged incorrectly. Some of the clothing from the Tapp murder case had been examined on the same day.

These are two unsolved crimes that I am following with particular interest as I grew up in and live in Melbourne’s outer east.

In August 1984 I was eight, almost nine.

The same age that Seana Tapp was when she was murdered…

True Crime Reader interview: Defrosting Cold Cases

The team at the website Defrosting Cold Cases (DCC) take a truly collaborative approach to looking at (and trying to solve) unsolved murders.Created in 2009 by the enigmatic “Vidocq”, also known as Vidster ( a lawyer with a long history in the fields of criminology and human rights defence) the DCC blog came about because “there were too many cold cases that do not get enough media attention”.

Vidster said his work with police over the years led him to see how “incredibly thin” some of the cold case files were from the 1950s and 1960s.

“The information gathering was often not systematically documented; documents were referred to but not included,” Vidster said.

“When you start to read those stories and cases, you feel the urge to re-organize them and then you are hooked!”

Vidster kindly took the time out from cold case files to answer some questions for True Crime Reader:

True Crime Reader: What has been your greatest result so far in terms of helping/facilitating the solving of a cold case?

Vidster: I have contributed to many cases that are all in various stages of being re-investigated, presented to the district attorneys or, are on trial. Everything I find out is given to the authorities in charge. Whether they use it or not, I cannot always tell. Some give me feedback, some don’t. In a few cases, the district attorneys involved have supported re-opening cases and in other cases, pieces of evidence have been submitted to the labs. They will be tested with modern technology to see whether it can confirm that a certain person made contact with those items. Only when I get the green light, can I post about it.

TCR: What’s the cold case that “gets to you” the most? That is like an obsession for you to solve?

Vidster: They all have a special place but if I must pick one – the murder of Bernice Martin. I sincerely believe that we have the wrong man incarcerated for that crime. Someone who has not been caught yet or, who is incarcerated elsewhere for a different crime. Police is not following up on leads indicated in the posts. The fact that the man they have incarcerated is a mentally handicapped man makes this even worse since he has no concept of what is really happening to him. See here.

TCR: You have some great contributors to the site (including NYPD Det-Sgt and Commanding Officer of the Bronx Cold Case Homicide Squad Joe Giacalone and British forensic scientist Sue Carney) How have you linked in with them?

Vidster: I always scan people’s bios for interesting details and watch the manner of speech they use on the Internet. You know that some will say anything in any form just because they can hide online behind a chosen identity. All these people reached out to me and I started reading about their work, how they use Twitter (they all have Twitter accounts except for Hal Brown), and how they respond to people. The way they interact with others sparked my interest for them personally and that’s how we got together. It is an interesting bunch and I am very grateful for their cooperation.

TCR: What do you encourage readers of your blog to do? Are there any particular cases that you are working on at the moment that’s you’d like me to mention?

Vidster: Please read the cases especially those from areas where you lived. You just might have a memory that in itself does not mean much but put together with the other information, might make the picture clearer.

I also encourage readers to comment and brainstorm with me on cases. Comment below the post or, ping me on Twitter. And, if you have a Twitter account, join us on Fridays from noon-1pm EST for #cclivechat. Every cold case live chat, we are joined by a variety of people from different backgrounds and professions. Brainstorming together opens up the way to new turns the case could take. Moreover, it is an ideal way to see whether you make sense. Let others listen to your solutions or ideas and see what they think. It is a very valuable tool. I post recaps of all chats on DCC so you can read up later on if you miss it. The verbatim thread is always included.

Vidster said he could use some help in the following cases: Tracy Allen, Richard Burchfield, Karen Caughlin, Laura Henderson-Ibach, Brenda Martinez, Stephen Miera, David Neily, Sharron Prior, Linda Sohus, Kimberly Thompson and Patty Vaughan. (Check on DCC under the cases tab http://www.defrostingcoldcases.com/cases).

Details: defrostingcoldcases.com Follow Vidster on Twitter @Vidocq_CC

Note: Vidocq (1775 t0 1857) was a French criminal who reformed and is considered the father of modern criminology and the first private detective. Vidster of DCC, wishes to remain anonymous with his work on the blog and uses Vidocq as his identity inspiration!

Australian Missing Persons

It’s Australian Missing Persons Week (August 1-7) and the Federal Police estimate that around 35,000 people go missing in this country each year.

The campaign focus for 2011 is “when someone goes missing, more that one person is lost”.

Statistics indicate that for every person reported missing, 12 people – including family members, friends and work colleagues – are directly affected and feel the emotional and physical impacts of a missing person each year.

 

While more than 95 per cent of people reported missing in Australia are located within a short period of time, some 1,600 people still remain missing.

 

These are some of the children still missing whose families and loved ones are desperate to find.

Quanne Diec

 
 Quanne was 12 when she went missing on her way to school on 27 July 1998 at Granville, New South Wales. Police believe Quanne was murderered.

 

Rahma El-Dennaoui 

 

 

Baby Rahma  lived with her parents and seven other siblings. The 19-month-old was last seen by her parents when she was put in her bed at 2am on Thursday 10 November, 2005. About six and half hours later  at 8.30am it was discovered that she was not in her bed. Lat year police revealed that Rahma could be alive and living overseas, taken out of the country on a false passport. An inquest is expected later in 2011.

Daniel Morcombe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The highest profile missing person case in Australia is that of Queensland Boy Daniel Morcombe. Daniel was abducted on December 7, 2003 while waiting for a bus in Woombye, Queensland. Police believe Daniel was murdered.

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.

 

Siriyakorn “Bung” Siriboon

The 13-year-old schoolgirl vanished on June 2, 2011 on her way to school – a 10-minute walk from her Boronia, Victoria home. The case is now with Victoria Police’s homicide squad.

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.

 

 

Walsh Street by Tom Noble

Mention the words “Walsh Street” and most Melburnians, if not Australians, will know what it means.

Journalist Tom Noble gives an exhaustive account of the cold-blooded 1988 executions of young Victoria Police Constables Steven Tynan  and Damian Eyre in Walsh Street, South Yarra, an exclusive Melbourne suburb. The book also details the life and crimes of one of Australia’s most notorious criminal families headed by Kath Pettingill  (the film Animal Kingdom is based on the events of Walsh Street and the crime clan).

The events leading up to the murders of Constables Tynan and Eyre are as important as what came after. The death by police shooting of armed robbery suspect Graeme Jensen is believed to have been the reason for the “payback” death of the young police officers who were lured to Walsh Street and gunned down.

Police worked for over two years to bring the men they thought were responsible to justice – Victor Peirce and Trevor Pettingill (sons of  Kath) and their friends Peter McEvoy and Anthony Farrell.  Integral to the police case was Jason Ryan, Kath Pettingill’s grandson and Peirce’s de facto Wendy, who gave evidence to police that implicated him in the murders but she retracted it before trial. Ryan, 16 at the time of the murders, was the key witness in the trial and under witness protection.

Noble gives a gripping account of how the police case against the accused fell apart and the men were acquitted.

Walsh Street is one of Victoria Police’s darkest days and this book gives a the reader a thorough view of Melbourne’s crime world and one of the country’s most notorious, and unsolved, crimes.

For background into the crimes detailed in Walsh Street by Tom Noble check out:

Why I lied to protect the Walsh Street killers (The Age, October 1, 2005)

The bloody trail of violence that led to Walsh Street (The Age, May 3, 2002)

Victor Peirce dies the way his mother predicted (The Age , May 3, 2002)