|Cold Case File:
Season 3; Episode 25
Innocent Prey/The Punishment
In January of 2004, a man went on trial for
the murder of his stepdaughter. David Walton and Bonnie Van Dam
both went on trial for the murder of Sally
Ann Chesebro, though Bonnie was found not guilty. Part of the sadness
of this story is that the murder took place
in 1978 and it took almost 25 years for the trials to take place.
Sally Ann Chesebro
was only six years old when she died. In March of 1978, Bonnie called
911 to report that her
daughter had drowned in the bathtub. When
paramedics arrived, they tried to perform CPR on Sally and were not
successful. An investigation and questions
were to follow after her mother and stepfather claim she had simply
drowned in the tub on accident. An autopsy
was performed and with no foul play being indicated, the cause of
Sally's death was ruled indeterminable and
closed as a tragic accident.
It would take 14
years before Nancy Spaulding, Sally's sister, would come forward to
reveal the truth about the
death of her sister. Nancy would finally say
that Sally was murdered and that the tub incident was no accident.
Nancy recalled how on the day her sister
died, she and her sister had been using nail polish to paint their
being permission, though being told to wait for Bonnie to wake up.
According to Nancy, it was a long time for
children to wait and
Bonnie had no concept of how long it was, so she thought since they had
persmission, they could
just go ahead and use the polish before
Bonnie woke up. Their parents found out and were angry, Sally took all
and then began her punishment.
In the household, a
common form of punishment was to put the children in ice cold bath water
and make them
stay there for long periods of time. Nancy was made to fill the tub with
ice cold water and then to get in. Nancy later
found Sally lying
face down in the tub. Even with the testimony and eyewitness account of
her sister all those years later
and the reopening of the case, years would go
by without any progress.Bonnie and David each blame the other and there
evidence other than what Nancy was claiming. Also giving testimony about
the case was a former sister-in-law of David who had
lived with the
family for about six months prior to Sally's death.
In 2002, Calhoun
County formed a cold case unit and Sally Ann Chesebro was to be their
first case. Due to the
reopening and investigation of the case, the
charges were file against Bonnie and David. The information that
I have found says that Bonnie got off on a
technicality and did no prison time. Bonnie testified against David, who
was by then her ex-husband, in the trial.
David Walton was
convicted of second degree murder in January of 2004 and was sentenced
to life in prison.
Dec. 27, 1971
Mar. 9, 1978
Headstone was Picked out By Sally's
Step-Sister Robin (McNees) Ellis and
Robin's Husband David L Ellis.
Headstone was Picked out
By Sally's (Blood) Sister