"The world is dangerous to live in
not because of the people who do
but because of the people who know
about it but do nothing to stop
first names are links that will
take you to websites with more
I would like to give credit to the
Children Who Never Made It Home and
Stolen Innocence webpages for most of the names
--4/2003 DNA allegedly links
a repeat sex offender to the 1986
killing of a 14-year-old Chula
Vista girl, 10News reported.
George Williams Jr., 47, could face the death penalty
if convicted in connection with the
death of Rickie Blake.
Prosecutors also charged Williams
with a special-circumstance
allegation of rape during the
commission of a murder.
Williams pleaded not guilty Friday
to rape and murder charges,
according to 10News.
The decision on whether to ask for
the death penalty will be made
after a preliminary hearing, Deputy
District Attorney Jeff Dusek said.
The child disappeared the night of
April 10, 1986. The teen's body was
found near a Barrio Logan freeway
offramp the next morning. She had
been raped and strangled, Dusek
The prosecutor told Superior Court
Judge David Szumowski that Williams
molested his 6-year-old daughter in
Two years later -- a week after
Blake's murder -- Williams raped a
woman in San Diego at knifepoint,
sexually molested her 6-year-old
daughter, then raped the woman
again, Dusek said.
After spending time in prison,
Williams moved to Indiana and
sexually assaulted a 13-year-old in
February 1998, the prosecutor said.
"I'm so thankful that they got
him," said the victim's mother,
Alicia, outside court. "He's hurt
too many people."
PORTLAND -- A Portland father is suing
Multnomah County over his daughter's rape and murder.
Melissa Bittler, 14, was sexually
assaulted and killed Dec. 13, 2001, as she walked to school. Her body was found
in a neighbor's back yard.
The suspect, LaDon Stephens, was on parole for a previous conviction when he
allegedly raped three girls in 1997 and raped and killed Bittler in 2001. He was
arrested in April 2002 on another rape accusation, and DNA evidence linked him
to the Bittler case.
Stephens maintains his innocence.
The lawsuit accuses the county of lax and sloppy parole supervision. It also
claims that officials did a poor job on his polygraph tests and falsified
Stephens' signature on records to make it look as though he was keeping parole
Tom Bittler is seeking $500,000 and apologies from Multnomah County and the
Oregon Corrections Department.
At the New Brunswick launch of Amber Alert, the
tortured mother of murdered eight-year-old Jackie Clark said it's a useful tool
"Even if it saves one child, it has been totally worth it," Tammy Grant said in
Fredericton, recalling the 1995 death of her daughter, who was sexually
assaulted before her body was found under brush along a trail. Murray Lyons, who
was convicted in Jackie's death, was murdered by another inmate at the Atlantic
Institution in Renous.
Potential jurors were still being questioned
Tuesday for the two-year-old capital murder trial of Thomas Raul Gallo,
28, of South Houston, scheduled to begin this week.
"I'm not looking forward to doing this again. I've already tried this
case once," said Lance Long, the assistant district attorney who secured
a guilty verdict for the same case in 2002.
Two years ago Monday, jurors took less than two hours to convict Gallo
of the 2001 rape and murder of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter,
Destiny Flores. Flores would have been 5 years old this year, but died
from blunt force head trauma at her South Houston home days before her
South Houston police responded to a 911 call at 1016 Avenue M after
Flores went into convulsions and stopped breathing. Flores' mother,
Christine Aredondo, 26, administered CPR, but the toddler died later
that night at Bayshore Medical Center. South Houston Police Chief
Herbert Gilbert was a patrol officer in 2001 and was one of the first
officers on the scene after Aredondo's frantic 911 call.
"I do remember it, and it will always stand out in my mind," Gilbert
said. "Seeing that child in the back of the ambulance ... it was
something a child should never go through."
Police said they found Flores with multiple bruises and bite marks on
her body. Her skin was white and it was apparent the child had been
sexually assaulted, police reported in 2001.
A pair of children's bloody underwear was found, and detectives at the
scene then remarked it was "the worst type of crime a law enforcement
officer could encounter."
Gallo showed no emotion when he was found guilty of capital murder, and
Flores' father said he felt like justice was served. A problem with the
case arose when a terminally ill juror could not continue with the trial
and participate in sentencing. Without the one juror, Harris County
Judge Jeannine Barr declared a mistrial Jan. 2, 2003.
One year later, the trial begins again, and Gallo still maintains his
innocence. Sgt. John Laird, a detective with the South Houston police,
said in 2002 that Gallo claimed "to not know the child was injured. He
said he woke up and found her. He denied killing her, but did consent to
a DNA test."
Officials at the Harris County Medical Examiner's office testified that
the bite marks on Flores belonged to three different people, Gallo being
one of them.
Gallo's defense revolved heavily on his care for Destiny and her two
brothers, then ages 3 and 5. Gallo would often baby-sit the three
children three to fours hours a day while Aredondo was at work.
Other potential suspects were presented in the case, pinpointing several
relatives who would have had access to the house that morning, an uncle,
Gilbert Postel, in particular.
Postel was presented by the defense as a prime suspect who was "lazy and
dangerous" with a history of criminal activity. The defense also alleged
he liked to bite women during sex. Aredondo was also considered by
defense attorney Gerald Bourque who believes she was with the child
during her time of death.
Neither Aredondo nor Postel were ever charged with the rape and murder.
Harris County Children's Protective Services investigated claims that
Flores was abused three months before her death.
An anonymous caller said the toddler had a suspicious rash that possibly
resulted from insufficient care in 2001. Judy Hay, CPS spokeswoman said
a social worker interviewed Flores and observed no signs of abuse.
However, several family friends testified in the initial trial that it
was common to find the toddler with bruises all over her face.
Jury selection is expected to be completed today, and opening statements
will begin this week.
Neither prosecution nor defense have revealed if they will focus on a
new angle in the case, but Gilbert said he doesn't see the verdict
"I would think if (Gallo) got that verdict, he should get the same
verdict this time around," he said. "I don't see anything changing."
OLYMPIA -- 01-09-2004-A former high school teacher
charged with killing a teenage girl he met on the Internet could face a
jury next week, depending on the outcome of a hearing today in Thurston
County Superior Court.
Stephan D. Kaufman's trial is scheduled to begin Monday but prosecutors
plan to ask the court for a delay to allow more time to complete
forensic tests that could offer better estimates of when the girl died.
Prosecutors also are awaiting results from tests of DNA samples taken
from the victim, Ashley Parks, 16, and other pieces of evidence
collected from the crime scene.
Parks' body was so badly decomposed when she was found last summer that
forensic scientists have had difficulty finding adequate DNA samples to
" 'CSI' wants everybody to think that the detectives can bring portable
DNA tests out to the scene and have DNA tests for you in an hour. In
reality, that's not true," Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jon Tunheim
said, referring to the television crime drama about forensic scientists.
Parks, who lived in Bellingham, was found Aug. 28 in a wooded area along
the Chehalis Western Trail, north of Olympia and less than a mile from
Kaufman's apartment. Investigators suspect her body had been placed
there weeks before.
An e-mail Parks sent to a friend in Bellingham from Kaufman's computer
led investigators to his Olympia apartment.
Police said that he at first denied knowing the girl but later told
detectives he'd met her in a chat room and brought her to Thurston
County, letting her stay with him because she was "down on her luck."
He denies causing her death, court documents say.
Kaufman, 44, is charged with second-degree murder and two counts of
The rape charges involve statements he made to investigators admitting
he'd had sex with her twice, according to court documents. Authorities
allege the girl was 15, or younger than the
legal age for sexual consent, when she had sex with him, according to
During a hearing Thursday, Kaufman's attorney, Michael Hanbey, said his
case is unfairly disadvantaged because he won't have time to review the
remaining forensic reports if they're completed after the trial begins.
That also would prevent him from hiring an outside expert to review the
information and provide an independent opinion, which could violate his
client's right to a fair trial, he said.
Hearing today -
A hearing is scheduled this afternoon in Judge Thomas McPhee's
After today's hearing, the judge could grant prosecutors' request for a
delay or he could decide to begin the trial as scheduled.
He also could grant a motion filed by Hanbey, which asks the court to
suppress any evidence that wasn't presented to the defense as part of
discovery before testimony.
McPhee expressed some frustration in court that the tests were not
complete. The State Patrol Crime Lab, which handles cases statewide, is
performing the DNA tests. The
other analysis is being conducted by a forensic entomologist in Indiana.
Forensic entomologists assess the development of insect eggs deposited
in decomposing remains to estimate the time of death.
Tunheim said he'll file a motion to reschedule the trial for within the
next two months, which is the amount of time he thinks remains before
Kaufman's right to a speedy trial would be violated.
Neither side could predict how much the pending forensics reports will
affect the case.
Parks' body might have been placed along the trail in late July or
August, Tunheim said.
Hanbey said his client might have been in California when authorities
say she was killed.
"My client has stated that he was out of the area for a significant
amount of time."
Hanbey also said he wants to get his client to trial as soon as
Kaufman, once a part-time teacher at North Thurston High School, was
fired in May for inappropriate and unprofessional communication with a
The allegation involved an e-mail he sent to the student inviting her to
a party at his house and asking her to "keep this quiet," according to
documents from the school district's investigation.
loved ones have notified me that there are many inaccuracies in the
above article. Thank you Veronica. This is to set the record straight:
Ashley Marie Parks was only 15 years old, not
16, when she disappeared. Forensics have since proven that she was
murdered at the end of July, days before
her "Sweet 16" birthday. This is a sad fact for all of us who loved her,
as she was so looking forward to reaching this mark in her life.
As to where she was living, much of the media has
gotten it wrong. At the time she disappeared, she was visiting her dad
in Blaine, WA. for the summer. Some of the
media has also said that she was being tossed around and living from
friends home to friends home. I want it to be known that these are
incorrect statements that came from the defense to set off the jury, and
are completely not true. Like any other teenager, she did hang out with
her friends and sometimes even stay with them for 2-3 days at a time
during her summer break.
Ashley lived with me in Custer, WA., and attended Ferndale High School.
Custer is located 6 miles north of Ferndale,WA., 6 miles south of
Blaine, WA. (located on the Canadian border), 5-6 miles east of Birch
Bay, WA., and 5-6 miles west of Lynden, WA. Bellingham is about 25-28
miles south from us. She was supposed to be back home the first part of
August...in time for her birthday party and school shopping, but the
combination of her trusting nature and one error in judgment that stole
her life, she never made it home. My house is now quiet and empty with
only her and belongings and the memories left behind to remind me of the
sweet girl who never stopped smiling.
Here is the update on
this monster's "wrist slapping". Ashley is permanently gone and
this freak will be free to walk the streets in a few years.
Please stand up for this child and protect others
by rallying against the lax penalty given to predators!!!
The jury came back with a verdict April 13, 2004.
Stephan Kaufman has been found guilty of second degree murder and 2
counts of third degree rape of a child.
Sentencing will be in a week or two. He is facing ONLY
12-20 years for murder, and will be sentenced for each count of rape
However, it looks like he is still be investigated for other charges and
may be back in court again. Ashley was not his first victim, but she was
the one who helped expose him and hopefully the last one he will ever
even get close to again!
Update: On July 17, 2004, Stephan D. Kaufman was sentenced to a 29 1/2
year prison sentence for 2nd degree murder and 2 counts of 3rd degree
child rape. He will not be eligible for parole untill he has served at
least 22 years of his sentence.
He will be in his 70's before he will be able to even use, or own, a
computer. Nor will he be allowed to walk into a mall, park, library, or
any other place a child might be, without legal supervision at his side.
Ashley's life was short, but she died a hero! Because of her, this man
is off the streets and other innocent lives have been saved!
LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — Jason Reeves –
Sentenced to death in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana By: A jury
Date of crime: 11/12/2001
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Reeves kidnapped, raped and stabbed
4-year old Mary Jean Thigpen 16 times and left her in the woods. Reeves
confessed to molesting the girl but did not remember killing her. In
mitigation, Reeves was essentially raised by his sister until he was ten
and saw an 18-wheeler crush and kill her.
As a child, Reeves also was raped by a neighbor and never received any
counseling. In aggravation, Reeves has a child molestation case pending.
Reeves was tried previously, but the trial ended in a mistrial after a
juror would not vote to convict Reeves of murder.
Sources: Baton Rouge Advocate 10/13/04 (2004 WL 58417570), 11/8/04 (2004
WL 58420418), 11/9/04 (2004 WL 58420482); Associated Press Newswires
1974- AUSTRALIA-A serial pedophile has been
named as the most likely suspect in the disappearance of a Sunshine
teenager more than 30 years ago from Lorne.
The family of John Landos held fears that the 13-year-old had been
brainwashed by hippies or abducted by people smugglers. For the first
decade, they chased every rumour in towns too numerous to mention.
His parents, Ken and Nicki Landos, even bought a house in Lorne with
extensive views, to keep a lookout for their eldest son. John's brother
Andrew said the family had been "eclipsed by this tragic event".
"What happened to John casts a long, far-reaching shadow on our lives,"
An inquest was told yesterday that a known sex offender, Reginald Edward
Isaacs, was paroled not long before before John's disappearance from
Lorne's Erskine River caravan park on January 8, 1973.
Isaacs frequented the Lorne area before being jailed in 1974 for 25
years for drugging, raping and murdering nine-year-old Gregory Cowie who
was from Haddon, near Ballarat. He was interviewed over John's
disappearance and made no admissions, but did say he was in Lorne in
1973 cutting tea-trees and often drove from Lorne to Geelong via Dean's
The last confirmed sighting of John, a bright student who was about to
start year 8 at Sunshine High School, was on Dean's Marsh Road, walking
alone. He was wearing a red short-sleeved shirt, brown corduroy pants
and white sandshoes. None of his clothing or
personal items have been found.
Senior Detective Brent Fisher told the Coroners Court yesterday that
Isaacs had settled in Geelong in 1950 after migrating from England and
began to torment young boys across Victoria.
Failing to control what one prison psychiatrist described as his
"homosexual pedophilia drives", Isaacs was jailed in 1952 and 1957 for
child sex offences.
In 1964, after having served a six-year term, he was jailed again for 10
years for buggery and indecent acts, and was paroled in February 1972.
Senior Detective Fisher said that as of a result of reopening the
inquiry into John's disappearance this year, investigators believed
Isaacs was the most likely suspect after ruling out initial police
investigations that dismissed John's disappearance as a routine runaway.
He said Isaacs committed suicide six months into his long jail term.
Gregory Cowie was hitching a ride and was picked up by Isaacs in his
1966 Ford ute.
Isaacs was driving to St Albans when intercepted by police for a routine
check. He told them that Gregory, who was lying across the front seat,
was a relative. He later drove to Wombat Forest in Trentham where he
murdered the boy. Police appealed in March this year to anyone who saw
the Ford ute in the Lorne area at the weekend of John's disappearance.
Coroner Heather Spooner will deliver her finding on November 26, but the
family said they had "no closure". Said brother Andrew: "Our family
hoped that it was John, every time the phone rang... every time there
was a knock on the door... every time there was a sighting."
February 5, 2004-Memphis, TN – The Shelby
County Grand Jury has indicted Tobias Johnson, 24, for aggravated rape.
This indictment is unrelated to the murder of 7-year-old Tyra Knox last
summer and to the additional aggravated rape and rape of a child charges
The latest indictment against Johnson comes after an investigation by
the Memphis Police Department’s Sex Crimes Unit. The alleged incident
happened on August 20, 2003. Because of the nature of the alleged crime,
the victim’s name cannot be released.
Johnson was indicted on January 13 on two counts of first degree murder
during the perpetration of a felony, especially aggravated kidnapping
and aggravated child abuse in the Tyra Knox case. He was indicted on the
separate, unrelated aggravated rape and rape of a child charges in
October 2003. Johnson is being held without bond in the Shelby County
Johnson’s next scheduled court appearance is set for February 20, 2003
in Criminal Court Division 4. The different rape and murder charges will
be handled in separate trials.
Aggravated rape is a Class A felony, which carries a standard sentence
of 15 to 25 years in prison. If convicted of aggravated rape, Johnson
would not be eligible for parole.
Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons has stated that his
office intends to seek the death penalty in the murder case against
The charge of aggravated rape is covered by the District Attorney’s “No
Deals” policy on violent crime.
This case will be prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Scot Bearup,
who is assigned to the Child Protection Investigative Team.
(AP) - An auto mechanic accused of killing a
girl whose abduction was captured on a car wash surveillance camera was
indicted on a first-degree murder charge
Friday as prosecutors indicated for the first time they believe he raped
The state attorney's office separately filed charges of kidnapping and
capital sexual battery against Joseph P. Smith, 37, assistant state
attorney Dennis Nales said. Prosecutors declined to release details of
Smith is accused of killing Carlie Brucia, whose body was found near a
church five days after she was abducted Feb. 1. Investigators have
refused to say exactly how the girl was killed, except by "homicidal
Nales declined comment on whether prosecutors will seek the death
penalty for Smith, who's being held without bond in the Sarasota County
Smith's public defender, Adam Tebrugge, said his client will plead not
guilty at his arraignment scheduled for March 12. "We will thoroughly
investigate the case and vigorously defend Mr. Joseph Smith," Tebrugge
Carlie was abducted around dusk as she took a shortcut behind the car
wash while heading home from a friend's house. The digital video
security system showed a man in a blue mechanic's uniform grabbing the
sixth-grader's arm and walking her off.
The video images were broadcast on television news, and at least two
acquaintances called police to say they recognized the man as Smith. He
was arrested Feb. 3.
Carlie's body was found Feb. 6 about three miles from the car wash.
Investigators say Smith told a jail visitor where they could find the
Smith is a drug felon and had avoided jail at least twice despite
violating probation and has been arrested at least 13 times in Florida
since 1993. Two cases involved attacks on women, but he was acquitted in
one of the cases.
The girl's death has prompted Florida's Attorney General Charlie Crist
to consider whether to stiffen penalties for offenders who violate the
terms of their release. The Florida Legislature also is expected to take
up the issue.
PHILADELPHIA - To supporters, Louis Mickens-Thomas
is an aging inmate who has endured four decades of wrongful imprisonment
for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl. The victim's family says
he is a monster who remains a threat to society.
Guilty or not, the Philadelphia cobbler is to be released from prison
this week, the culmination of a tortuous case marked by blunders,
reverses and charges of chicanery.
Mickens-Thomas, 75, claims fraud by a police crime lab led to his
conviction for the rape and murder of Edith Connor, whose battered body
was found in an alley behind his shop. Supporters convinced the late
Gov. Robert Casey to commute his life sentence in 1995 but he has been
kept behind bars.
His impending freedom has infuriated the family of the dead child.
"I think of this. I look at this. And I can't sleep at night over it,"
said Prince Connor, a retired police officer who was 14 when his sister
was killed in 1964. "There is no closure, no justice. This has been a
fiasco from day one. My family felt that this guy should have gotten the
A federal appeals court ruled that state parole officials showed
"vindictiveness" in their refusal to honor a clemency order, the reason
for Mickens-Thomas's release.
In his first trial, a crime lab technician testified that paint chips
from the shop and bristles from a shoe brush had been found on the
girl's clothing. Mickens-Thomas was convicted, but later granted a new
trial when the technician was unmasked as a fraud who had never
graduated high school.
He was convicted again after the lab's director testified that he, not
the discredited technician, analyzed the particles.
Mickens-Thomas spent the next three decades as a model prisoner,
becoming a Christian Scientist and earning a bachelor's degree from
Villanova University through correspondence classes.
DNA analysis was not available in the 1960s, and it is too late for a
test now. All physical evidence in the case was discarded in the early
Centurion Ministries, a New Jersey-based group that fights for the
release of prisoners it believes are innocent, ultimately persuaded
Casey, a Democrat, to commute Mickens-Thomas'
The decision made him eligible for parole in 1996, but two Republican
successors, Gov. Tom Ridge and Gov. Mark Schweiker, refused to release
him. As recently as last spring, parole
officials argued that Mickens-Thomas remained an "unrepentant dangerous
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 14 that the board had
acted in "bad faith" in refusing to consider parole, and ordered him
Mickens-Thomas is scheduled to be freed by Thursday at the latest,
according to Parole Board spokeswoman Lauren Taylor.
Connor's family notes that the murder conviction was not Mickens-Thomas'
first brush with the law. Before his incarceration, police investigated
allegations that he attempted to sexually assault a 14-year-old baby
sitter. A second woman told police Mickens-Thomas once choked her with a
scarf until she fainted. He was not prosecuted in either case.
During their evaluation of Mickens-Thomas last year, parole board
members said he continued to display "anger and resentment toward
Centurion Ministries founder Jim McCloskey describes Mickens-Thomas as a
gentleman who has developed friendships with guards, worked nearly every
day that he's spent behind bars and
been cited for prison violations only four times in 40 years.
"This is a very nice, honest man who will walk out of prison," McCloskey
said. "He will be a
model citizen on the outside, just as he has been a model citizen on the
Two men accused of killing a 14-year-old
Bartlett High School freshman will face the death penalty if convicted,
prosecutors said Friday.
Skyler M. Chambers and Turner Reeves III have pleaded innocent to the
May 31, 2002, crime. No trial date has been set.
They are charged with abducting, raping and murdering Nassim Davoodi
after offering the Carol Stream girl and a male classmate a ride home
from school. The classmate is Reeves' cousin.
Police found Nassim's body five days later, buried in a shallow grave in
Lake County. Prosecutors said they have DNA evidence linking both
Reeves, 23, of Hanover Park, and 22-year-old Chambers, of Hayward, Cal.,
to the murder.
The slain girl's father, Jamal Davoodi, said the family supports
prosecutors' decision. He said they had hoped the defendants would
accept a plea deal that would spare the family an emotional trial filled
with morbid details of Nassim's death.
The defendants, though, turned down an 80-year offer in exchange for no
death sentence, he said.
"They deserve it," Jamal Davoodi said of the death penalty. "They took
the life of a child which they didn't care about. Why should their lives
be worth more than hers?
"Hopefully, justice will come."
Prosecutors look at the defendants' past, rehabilitative potential,
brutality of the crime, the victim's age, her family's wishes, among
other factors, in seeking a capital sentence.
Fewer people are being condemned to death row since the state began
retooling its flawed capital punishment system. Just two men received
death sentences last year, prison statistics show, compared to 15 or
more in previous years.
Earlier this week, DeWitt County officials indicated last year's
emptying of death row played a role in their decision against seeking
the death penalty for a Clinton mother who with her boyfriend is accused
of drowning the woman's three children.
Prosecutors in both DuPage and Cook counties conferred on the death
decision in the Davoodi case since the defendants were granted a venue
change to Cook some 16 months after their
"You seek it (the death penalty) only if you are convinced that
ultimately it is the right decision," DuPage State's Attorney Joseph
Birkett said, "and that, ultimately, the verdict
will be upheld."
In a 20-count indictment, Chambers and Reeves are charged with murder,
aggravated criminal sexual assault, child abduction, kidnapping and
concealment of a homicide.
The men, who are being held without bond, do not have extensive criminal
histories. They are expected in court again Feb. 10.
Case: Both counties agreed to seek death penalty
CRIPPLE CREEK, Colo. 01.07.04-- Prosecutors
have decided against seeking a death sentence against a man accused of
abducting a girl from Colorado Springs and raping and killing her at a
Jury selection is scheduled to begin Friday in the retrial of Anthony
Jimenez, 26, who is charged with first-degree murder and other crimes in
the 2000 death of 16-year-old Jennifer Baker.
Prosecutors filed notice Dec. 29 they no longer will seek the death
penalty. District Attorney Jeanne Smith said prosecutors reached their
decision after talking to jurors in Jimenez's first trial.
"We took into consideration their view of the evidence and their
perception of how a death penalty decision might have gone," Smith said
A judge declared a mistrial last summer after a juror shared outside
information about the crime scene with other jurors.
Even before that, the trial was wrought with conflict: The jury
forewoman walked out, saying she was being intimidated, and the judge
rejected defense motions to recuse himself for failing to protect
Baker's mother, Kathy Hicks, originally favored Jimenez's execution, but
said she understands the prosecution's decision.
"If he is convicted, he will still see life in prison without parole,
and to me that's a death sentence in itself," she said. "I just want it
Jimenez's attorneys say a former friend, Michael Easton, raped and
killed the girl and then blamed Jimenez, who was sleeping in a tent when
the crimes occurred.
Easton was sentenced to 73 years in prison after pleading guilty to
second-degree murder in exchange for his testimony against Jimenez.
This young girl's tragic end was
hidden until an article relating to Carlie Brucias
kidnapping and murder was posted. There are many unlisted children that
I come across regularly that are sadly updated when a more recent
murder is publicized.
SARASOTA, FL --02.08.04-- Images of the girl in blue jeans and a red
top, abducted near a car wash last week (Carlie
Brucias) bring back
haunting memories for Sandra Degg.
Immediately her mind zips back nine years, to her oldest daughter.
Kristy Degg was only 14 when she vanished from her Deer Hollow Lane home
one evening in May 1995. The badly decomposed body of the Booker Middle
honor roll student was found three weeks later, five miles from her home
in a shallow grave east of Interstate 75.
Watching newscasts that replayed a surveillance tape of Carlie's
abduction behind a local car wash "was pretty devastating," Degg said
"So close to home, so close to home."
The mothers of the two girls met for the first time Friday at Carlie's
mother's home, hours after Carlie's body was found. They shared what
Degg described as "a moment of loss together." She offered the family
"I said, 'I know exactly what you're going through,' " Degg recalled
from her home Saturday afternoon.
Carlie's abrupt, tragic death is similar to Kristy's. The girls, pretty
with long, blond hair, were middle school students who excelled in
studies. Both were reported missing on a Sunday, their bodies later
The suspects, too, were both local men who had been in and out of the
Joseph P. Smith, who is charged in Carlie's death, is a felon with more
than a dozen arrests.
The prime suspect in Kristy's kidnapping and murder is Richard Lee
Walker, who has a history of crimes involving children. Kristy was last
seen alive at home with her two younger siblings and Walker, at the time
the live-in boyfriend of her mother.
Sandra Degg, who said she didn't know of Walker's criminal record when
he moved in, was at work.
"He took advantage of the situation," she said. "And she was gone."
Lack of evidence has prevented authorities from charging him in Kristy's
death. The case remains open, her mother said, adding that she believes
the criminal justice system failed in the case.
Though Kristy has been gone for years, she remains an integral part of
the lives of her family and friends. Photographs of Kristy cover the
walls of her family's home. Her mother, a nurse, constantly carries a
key chain with Kristy's smiling face. Her 8-month-old niece shares the
same piercing blue eyes and smile.
Still, Degg said, she refuses to watch old home videos of Kristy alone,
saying it's too painful to watch her oldest daughter alive, smiling and
"You can't replace a child. The pain never goes away."
Carlie's death also brought back painful memories to Roy Brown, whose
daughter, Amanda, has been missing since 1998. There is evidence that
Amanda was murdered, but her body was never
Brown drove to Sarasota from his home in Tampa on Friday when he learned
Carlie had been found, murdered. He and Amanda's stepmother, Sylvia
Brown, wanted to reach out to Carlie's family.
"I'm here if you need anybody to talk to," he said. "I've been there, I
know how the courts work, how long it takes."
A drug and alcohol abuser has been sentenced to death for Amanda's
murder. But Brown said he still felt cheated by the court system,
because as a witness he was never allowed to attend
most of the trial or show any emotion.
He said he has wanted to go to the scenes of other kidnappings, but
Carlie's was the first one close enough to home. He said that when she
disappeared, he immediately feared the worse.
"That's the sad part, when you've been through this you automatically
think that," he said.
Brown said his daughter was taken from her bed by a man her mother, who
was separated from Brown, had met in a bar.
"Time doesn't heal (the pain)," he said, "it just slows it down."
For Carlie's family, the pain is still fresh. But in an TV interview
Friday night, Susan Schorpen, Carlie's mother, said: "Life is so short.
Cherish your child."