A young couple reportedly partied at a bar after allegedly murdering a 19-year-old girl, then argued about how to dispose of her corpse in text and Facebook messages!
Police are returning to Long Beach in Rockport Friday to conduct a new search in connection with missing 2-year-old Caleigh Harrison. Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio said the search is focused on a specific area where a private citizen’s dog had a “strong reaction to some type of stimuli.”
Procopio said authorities responded to the area late Thursday, but the incoming tide prevented them from searching more extensively. They plan to resume the search around 3 pm. Although Caleigh’s father told HLN’s Nancy Grace that the girl’s 4-year-old sister claimed she saw a man take Caleigh from the beach on April 19, police say they have found no evidence suggesting an abduction.
HLNtv.com has the latest on the trial of Tammi Smith in connection with the December 2009 disappearance of baby Gabriel Johnson. Smith is facing charges of forgery and custodial interference for allegedly helping Gabriel’s mother, Elizabeth Johnson, falsify documents to set up an illegal adoption of the then-7-month-old boy.
Johnson’s trial is set for later this year, but prosecutors played a police interview in court Wednesday where she claimed Smith helped her arrange to give Gabriel away to an unidentified couple in a San Antonio park. The boy has never been found, and Johnson told his father at one point that she had killed him and thrown his body away in a diaper bag.
Bloomington, Indiana police say a detective is looking into any possible links between the disappearance of an Indiana University student last year and a suspect in the murders of three other women over the last decade. Lauren Spierer, 20, was reportedly last seen walking away from a friend’s apartment building around 4:30 am on June 3, 2011, drunk and barefoot. The male friends who were with her that night have told police they do not know what happened to her from there, but she never made it to her building just a few blocks away.
William Clyde Gibson of New Albany was arrested and charged with two murders last week, and police found the body of a third woman buried in his backyard, according to the Indianapolis Star. Capt. Joe Qualters of the Bloomington Police Dept. said in a news release that authorities are not aware of any connection to Spierer’s disappearance, but “we are certainly interested in anyone who comes to the attention of law enforcement for targeting women as victims.”
In a recent interview with the Journal News, Spierer’s parents begged for anyone with information about her to come forward. “We don’t know how else to say it. But we need your help and, whatever you need, whatever you want, we’ll do to get our daughter back,” father Robert Spierer said.
On May 3, 2002, 7-year-old Alexis Patterson disappeared. Her stepfather told police he dropped her off across the street from her school, but that was the last time anyone saw her. 10 years later, her mother told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel she remains hopeful that the missing girl is still alive somewhere. “I never stop hurting,” Ayanna Patterson said. Police questioned Alexis’ mother and stepfather extensively, but neither of them was ever implicated in her disappearance.
Milwaukee Police Dept. Lt. Keith Balash told reporters Wednesday that 5,000 interviews have been conducted in connection with the case and thousands of criminal records have been reviewed. The cold case unit has interviewed and re-interviewed 65 people since taking over the investigation in 2009. “This case is still actively being investigated,” Balash said. Anyone with information is asked to call the Milwaukee Police Cold Case hotline at 414-935-1212.
The mother of a Wisconsin woman missing for over a year is holding a rummage sale Saturday to call attention to the case and raise money for the reward fund. 22-year-old Stephanie Low was reported missing on October 10, 2010 after a phone call with a friend ended abruptly. When friends went to her Wausau apartment to check on her, she was gone, and police said they had reason to believe she was taken against her will.
Low’s mother has organized “Rummage-O-Rama For Stephanie” in Kennedy Park in Weston, Wisconsin Saturday. Police told the Wausau Daily Herald that they still consider the case active and the reward fund, currently around $10,000, has helped bring in tips.
“BABY KATE” PHILLIPS
Sean Phillips has been convicted of unlawful imprisonment in the disappearance of his 4-month-old daughter Katherine, a charge that could carry a maximum 15-year prison sentence, according to the Muskegon Chronicle. Baby Kate’s mother, Ariel Courtland, reported her missing on June 29, 2011, telling police that Phillips drove off with the girl in his car after the two argued over a paternity test that was scheduled for that day. Phillips reportedly wanted to put Kate up for adoption, a plan that Courtland had considered going along with but ultimately decided against.
The jury foreman told the Ludington Daily News that they focused on several pieces of evidence during deliberations, including the fact that Kate’s clothes were in Phillips’ pocket when he was arrested and a timeline that showed police could account for Courtland’s whereabouts all afternoon on June 29 but not for Phillips. Jurors were also influenced by a note found in Phillips’ shirt pocket in jail where he had apparently written “I gave her to a guy” that they considered “a confession.”
Prosecutor Paul Spaniola told the Muskegon Chronicle that the case will remain an open investigation until Kate is found.
For all the latest news, go to www.HLNtv.com.
JORAN VAN DER SLOOT
Joran van der Sloot could be extradited from Peru to the United States to face extortion charges within months, his attorney told CNN Monday. According to Maximo Altez, the US has taken the first step in the process and he expects a formal request for extradition soon. Altez said that if van der Sloot is convicted in federal court, he would likely return to Peru to serve the rest of his 28-year prison sentence for murder there and then come back to the US to serve whatever sentence is ordered here. See CNN’s full report here for more details.
Authorities confirmed Tuesday that remains found by a man walking his dog in a wooded area in Falmouth, Massachusetts last week are those of Trudie Hall, a 23-year-old pregnant woman who disappeared nearly two years ago. Hall was reported missing by her mother on July 28, 2010. According to the Boston Globe, prosecutor Michael O’Keefe said at a press conference that investigators believe Hall traveled from Nantucket to Cape Cod on July 27. Her rental car was found on July 29 with blood inside, the Cape Cod Times reported.
O’Keefe told reporters Tuesday that investigators know from examining the body that Hall was shot multiple times, though he would not reveal how many. He said a decision had not been made yet on whether they can pursue a second murder charge for the death of her unborn child once a suspect is identified. According to O’Keefe, it is possible that someone out there “knowingly or unknowingly” aided Hall’s killer after the fact and police would like to speak to that person.
Two weeks after a young Virginia mother vanished, her family is appealing to the public for help finding her. WSET reported that 22-year-old Heather Hodges has not been seen since April 9, when her boyfriend called police to report that he left her home alone for about 10 minutes while he went to Dairy Queen and she was gone when he got back.
According to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, no evidence of foul play has emerged, but several details about her disappearance concern them, including the fact that she left her 2-year-old daughter behind and has not called to check in on her. Relatives told reporters Monday that Hodges has gone missing voluntarily before, but never for this long and never without contacting anyone. Authorities say Hodges’ 39-year-old boyfriend has been cooperating with the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office at (540) 483-3000.
A Washington judge has denied a defense request to throw out evidence against missing woman Susan Powell’s father-in-law in a voyeurism and child pornography case unrelated to her 2009 disappearance. Attorneys for Steven Powell argued that a search warrant executed on his home in August 2011 as part of the Susan Powell case was overly broad and illegal.
The recently-unsealed warrant was intended to recover physical and digital copies of Susan’s journals that Powell and his son Josh claimed to have, but investigators also found discs containing images of undressed young girls who were later identified as Steven Powell’s former neighbors. Prosecutors alleged that the images may have been recorded from Powell’s bedroom window. As a result, he was charged with 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of possession of child pornography. He has pleaded not guilty.
According to KOMO, the judge agreed with prosecutors that Powell’s own public comments about having the journals provided probable cause to obtain the search warrant. Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said in a statement that he was “pleased” with the ruling. Powell’s trial is scheduled for May 7.
For all of the latest news, go to www.HLNtv.com.
TRAYVON MARTIN / GEORGE ZIMMERMAN
George Zimmerman’s bond has been set at $150,000 on a charge of second-degree murder in the shooting of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin. An attorney for Martin’s family, Daryl Parks, told HLN’s Nancy Grace that his parents were devastated by the events at Friday’s bond hearing.
Zimmerman took the stand himself and offered an apology to Martin’s parents in court, saying, "I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son." Parks called the apology “unwelcomed” and “self-serving.” For more on today’s hearing, head over to HLNtv.com and watch “Nancy Grace” tonight at 8 pm and 10 pm ET on HLN.
Work continued Friday at a Manhattanbuilding where authorities are reportedly tearing up a basement floor in search of evidence connected to missing 6-year-old Etan Patz. According to CNN, a cadaver dog recently picked up a human scent in the basement where a carpenter who had met Etan before the boy’s 1979 disappearance once had a workshop.
When interviewed by investigators, sources tell CNN the carpenter said, “What if the body was moved?” For lots more information about the search and the investigation that prompted it, check out CNN’s full report here.
A new search for missing teen Sierra LaMar is planned for Saturday. The San Jose Mercury News reports that about 90 law enforcement officers will participate in a search effort that will focus on rough rural terrain in Santa Clara County. It has now been more than a month since LaMar was last seen at her mother’s Morgan Hill home on the morning of March 16. She is believed to have left to walk to her school bus stop, but she never made it there. Earlier this week, authorities announced that crime lab tests on evidence have provided some new leads in the search, but they would not release additional details. LaMar’s family recently set up an official website to provide updates on the case and collect donations: www.findsierralamar.com. The site is currently calling for volunteers to participate in searches on Saturday and Sunday.
MOM CHARGED W/1ST DEG. MURDER OF HER SON, 15 MONTHS
25-year-old Ashley Cameron has been charged with first-degree murder for the February 11 drowning death of her 15-month-old son. According to a criminal complaint, the Iowa mother allegedly used “unreasonable force” to hold the head of Markis Dahms under a bathtub faucet with water running into his nose and mouth until he died. KPTM reported that it was the first murder case in the city ofOnawa in nearly 40 years. Cameron’s public defenders could not be reached for comment immediately Friday afternoon. She is being held at Monona County Jail on $1 million bond.
The reward for information in the case of a missing Coloradoteenager tripled to $1,500 Thursday as friends and family gathered in Fort Morgan for a vigil to mark three weeks since Kayla Chadwick’s disappearance. Chadwick was reportedly last seen after a fight with her boyfriend around 11 pm on March 27. Police say she is classified as a “missing endangered person” and they have not ruled out the possibility of foul play. “We’re keeping all the options open at this point,” Detective Todd Zwetzig of the Fort Morgan Police Dept. told HLN Friday.
Investigators have been conducting follow-up interviews this week but they have not turned up any significant new leads. Kayla’s boyfriend and his family are cooperating with authorities, according to Zwetzig. Anyone with information on Kayla Chadwick’s whereabouts is asked to call police dispatch at 970-867-5678 or Crime Stoppers at 970-542-3411.
For all of the latest news go to: www.HLNtv.com