Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Armed Bandit Dies in Attempted Holdup

Pharmacist outguns robber…
by Robert A. Waters

Working behind the counter at Good Family Pharmacy in Pinch, West Virginia, pharmacist Don Radcliff noticed a strange man walk in.  The man’s head was covered with a hoodie, and his face masked by a white bandana.  Since the weather was freezing outside, Radcliff didn’t feel comfortable with the man’s unusual attire.

Attempting to crack a joke, Radcliff asked the man if he was there to rob the store.  The man didn’t respond, and that suddenly struck Radcliff as strange.  “He didn’t say anything,” Radcliff said.  “He didn’t reply.  He didn’t laugh or joke with me.  He didn’t pull his hood or mask down and that gave me an uneasy feeling.”

Surveillance videos inside the store recorded what happened next.


The masked man, later identified as Terry Gillenwater, reached into his pocket and pulled out a handgun.   Radcliff later said:  “As soon as I saw [Gillenwater’s] gun, I went for mine.  You can’t hesitate and I didn’t.  I tried to close the distance between us because there was another student and an employee there and I definitely didn’t want them between us in a gunfight.  If there was going to be a gunfight, it was going to be between me and him.”

The pharmacist fired three rounds from his .45-caliber pistol.  Each bullet struck home.  The first round hit Gillenwater in the chest while the second hit the robber’s gun, disabling it.  Radcliff’s final round struck the robber in the abdomen.  Gillenwater fell to the floor, mortally wounded.

While Radcliff attempted to treat the robber’s wounds, pharmacy staff dialed 911.  Gillenwater, however, died on his way to the hospital.

Investigators concluded that Gillenwater’s intent was to steal prescription drugs.  He had a history of drug abuse, and had recently entered a treatment center after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute Oxycontin.  Kanawha County Prosecutor Chuck Miller stated that “Mr. Gillenwater had done some preliminary efforts to case the pharmacy.  He had done some search[es] on his iPhone with respect to drugs in the pharmacy.”

Miller later told reporters that “it took a great deal of courage for Mr. Radcliff to pull his weapon and fire in the face of a weapon being pointed at him that was fully loaded with a round in the chamber.  That takes a lot of nerve, but he was completely justified in doing so.”

The pharmacist, who had a concealed carry permit, will not be charged with any crime.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Notes about my blog…

A few days ago, my blog, “Kidnapping, Murder and Mayhem,” surpassed 1 million page views.

Influenced by Laura James’ outstanding blog, “CLEWS,” I wanted an online outlet to publish short true crime stories, as well as narratives about any other subject that struck me.  I decided to stay away from political discussion since there are thousands of websites that cater to every nuance of the political spectrum.  Two exceptions were the gun issue (I’m obviously pro-gun) and the death penalty (in certain narrow instances, I’m obviously pro-death penalty).

Here are a few facts about my blog.

I refuse to allow any advertisements since I loathe pop-ups and side-ads that distract from the content.  In fact, I refuse to read the content of websites that have distracting ads.

I get many comments from readers, and I generally publish them whether the reader agrees with me or not.  But I personally do not use profanity either in speech or prose and will not publish comments that contain foul language.  I am exceedingly grateful to readers of my blog and always feel blessed when hearing from them.

I enjoy writing reviews about good books that I’ve read.  For the last two decades, I’ve read almost no novels.  To me, real life trumps fiction every time.

In my blog, I publish only material that appeals to me.

I’m interested in American history, particularly the history of my native Florida; the War Between the States; World War I; and World War II.  I also enjoy learning more about unsolved cases.  Some of these include the kidnapping of Dorothy “Dee” Scofield from my hometown of Ocala, Florida; the abduction of Amber Hagerman from Texas; and the kidnapping of Jennifer Kesse from Orlando.  The brazen, senseless murder of Linda Raulerson, a convenience store clerk in Lake City, Florida, is another case I’d like to see solved.  I’ve written two blogs about the Canadian kidnapping and murder of Sharin’ Morningstar Keenan, and her killer Dennis Melvyn Howe.  How a career criminal who had never been out of jail for more than a few weeks at a time could escape police and remain undetected for more than 30 years leads me to believe that Howe died shortly after his escape, but I have no proof of that.

So a huge THANKS to those who have clicked into my blog, and particularly those who read it on a regular basis.  I hope to continue writing it for many more years.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Family Needs Solution to Sharon Marie Gill’s Unsolved Murder

25 years and counting…
by Robert A. Waters

Unknown to forty-two-year-old Sharon Marie Gill, a two-man crime-wave lived just yards away from her new home in Deep Creek, Florida.  She and her husband, Percy, were missionaries who planned to retire in the Sunshine State.  Sharon and daughter Krista, 17, had moved south a few months ahead of Percy (who was still working in Detroit) to get their new house ready.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, March 21, 1990, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call from Krista.  The distraught teen sobbed into the phone that she’d returned home from school and found her mother dead.  A report from the sheriff’s office stated that “[Sharon Gill] was found partially nude, stabbed multiple times, lying in a pool of blood on the master bathroom floor of her residence.”  In addition to having sustained 38 stab wounds, Sharon had been brutally raped.

Investigators learned that she had been speaking on the phone with her travel agent when she heard a knock at the door.  Before hanging up, Sharon informed the agent that she thought landscapers had arrived.

A few yards behind the Gill home, another family of transplants resided.  Shawn Edward Malsky and his brother Scott hailed from Massachusetts—each had been in and out of trouble since their early teens.  In Florida alone, Shawn had been arrested 30 times.  In one case, he was convicted of injecting heroin into his girlfriend’s 4-year-old daughter.  According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, “Malsky landed behind bars again Oct. 31 after he allegedly shot heroin into preschooler Rylee Nantell and put a lighted crack pipe in her mouth.  He reportedly told Rylee that smoking crack would give her energy, a sheriff’s report states.”  Shawn is currently serving out a 16 year sentence for that crime.  He had previously served prison time for crimes such as forgery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, grand theft, and burglary.

Shawn Malsky is the older brother of Scott Christopher Malsky, who is currently serving a life sentence for raping and killing Pauline Farrington, an elderly Port Charlotte widow.  Scott was also convicted of abducting, raping, stabbing, and setting on fire a 14-year-old girl.  He is currently serving a life sentence for murder.

Immediately after Gill’s murder, investigators took a close look at the Malsky brothers, particularly Shawn.  He was arrested and charged with her murder.  However, after spending two years in jail awaiting trial, he was released.  Investigators cited a lack of evidence, although to this day they continue to view him as a suspect.

In November, 2014, WBBH TV reported that “Sharon [Gill], 42, was stabbed multiple times in her home on Rampart Blvd. in Deep Creek on March 21, 1990.

“One very strong suspect, Shawn Edward Malsky, was eventually arrested for this murder.

“Malsky was living in the same neighborhood with his grandparents at the time.  The charges were eventually dropped against Malsky because of an alibi.

“Cold Case detectives have recently discredited the alibi.  Detectives are currently re-examining all evidence and witness testimony.”

Although it’s been 25 years since Sharon Gill’s murder, the family still grieves her loss.  Family members have stated that DNA is available, but that no match has been made to any suspect.

If you have information about this case, please call the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit at 941-575-5361 or after hours call 941-639-2101, or email them at coldcase@ccso.org.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

When Will Pamela Butler’s Killer be Executed?

Justice overdue…
by Robert A. Waters

The federal government has a poor record of carrying out executions.  Only three men have been put to death since 1988: Timothy McVeigh, terrorist mass murderer; Juan Raul Garza, mass killer; and Louis Jones, rapist, kidnapper, and killer.

Hell impatiently awaits another 59, including Keith Duane Nelson.

The U. S. Court of Appeals published a summary of his crimes: “On October 12, 1999… ten-year-old Pamela Butler was rollerblading in the street near her residence in the same area.  Nelson parked his vehicle at the side of the street and lay in wait.  As Pamela skated near the slightly ajar door of the truck, Nelson quickly jumped out of the truck, grabbed her around the waist, and threw her into the truck.  Pamela’s sister, Penny, observed the kidnapping and saw her sister struggling with Nelson in the cab of the truck.  Several witnesses also observed the kidnapping, one of whom gave chase in his own vehicle.  Although Nelson eluded him, the witness was able to write down the license plate number of the truck—Missouri plate number 177-CE2.  Several other eyewitnesses verified the truck license plate number.

“Later that evening, the custodian of the Grain Valley Christian Church in Kansas City, Missouri, and his wife saw a suspicious white truck with Missouri license plate number 177-CE2 parked in the church lot.  The custodian’s wife wrote down the plate number and noticed an afghan in the front seat of the truck.  They contacted the police after seeing the kidnapping story on the ten o’clock news and informed them of the location of the truck.  When the police arrived at the church, the truck was gone.

“The truck was found abandoned the next day in Kansas City, Missouri.  A police dog that had been provided with some of Pamela’s clothing was dispatched to Nelson’s mother’s house and alerted to an afghan found inside the residence.  That same day a large manhunt for Nelson commenced.  On October 14, a civilian employee of a police department spotted Nelson hiding under a bridge.  After he was spotted, Nelson went into the river and attempted to get away.  When he made it back to shore, he was surrounded by railroad workers who detained him until the authorities arrived.  After the authorities arrived, an onlooker shouted, “Where is the little girl?”  Nelson turned to an officer and stated, “I know where she’s at, but I’m not saying right now.”  His capture was broadcast live on television.  The next day the police found Butler’s body in a wooded area behind the Grain Valley Christian Church.  That discovery was broadcast on local television, and the United States Attorney held a live press conference from the discovery site.  Subsequent investigation revealed that Pamela had been raped and then strangled to death with wire.  The DNA in seminal fluid obtained from Pamela’s underpants matched Nelson’s DNA.”

A few days before snatching Pamela, Nelson had attempted to abduct Michanne Mattson, 20.  The pretty medical student fought for her life, refusing to enter his truck even though she had been handcuffed.  After hand-to-hand combat that seemed to go on forever, Mattson escaped.

Nelson, a career criminal who had recently been released from prison, was tried in federal court because of the Lindbergh Law—the kidnapping took place in Kansas but the murder was committed in Missouri.

KMBC.com reported that Nelson’s execution has been delayed because the government claims it has a “lack of funds to pay for the [appeals] of poor people charged with federal crimes.”

(Imagine that—the U.S. government can spend $175,000 “to determine if cocaine makes Japanese quail engage in sexually risky behavior,” but they summarily delay executions because, as KMBC.com reports, “federally funded lawyers don’t have the money to pay for travel and witness fees.”)

Pamela’s mother, Cherri West, figures it’s time for the Feds to quit playing around and execute this monster.  “This has gone on long enough,” she said.

I agree.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Tim Tebow

Still making news…
by Robert A. Waters

Larry Flynt has a bounty on Tim Tebow.  If you can catch the former quarterback and practicing Christian in a flagrant sex act, you’ll win a cool million dollars.  Flynt, owner of Hustler magazine, seems to think everyone is as twisted as he is.  So he’s prepared to pay big bucks to prove that Tebow is a hypocrite.

In another round of recent news, Patrick Schmidt, a writer for SI.com, took issue because someone wore a Tim Tebow New York Rangers jersey to a Pittsburgh Penguins game.  In fact, Schmidt wrote an entire column describing his outrage, including this gem: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cross-sport jersey in my lifetime, but I suppose there is a first (and last) time for everything.  It is hard to disagree…about it being the worst jersey on the planet.”

I mean, really!  Who cares?  On a scale of one to a million (with one million being the least obnoxious thing going on in sports), I’d rank a Tebow “cross-sport jersey” at one million.  Schmidt needs to get a life.

In case you missed it, there’s other news about Tebow.

The Tim Tebow Foundation, in partnership with CURE, has opened an orthopedic hospital in Davao City, Phillipines.  His foundation reports that “the Tebow CURE Hospital in the Philippines will provide life-changing surgeries for hundreds of children with curable disabilities each year.”  All medical treatments are free to patients.

In 2012, Tebow opened his first Timmy’s Playroom, which is for children battling life-threatening illnesses.  The brochure advertising this innovative approach to medical rehabilitation reads: “Through allowing children to take their minds off of their medical treatments, a Timmy's Playroom provides them with a place to smile, draw, create, play video games, and enjoy a positive atmosphere.”  Nearly a dozen more Timmy’s Playrooms have opened since 2012.

In addition to Tebow’s CURE Hospital and Timmy’s Playrooms, the former football star has launched the W15H (WISH) program and an Orphan Care program.

Tebow spends much of his time making a difference in the lives of children.  His latest project is to fund 45 prom nights in the United States, Uganda, and Kenya for special needs teenagers.

And yet some reporter has nothing better to do than criticize a “cross-sport jersey” with Tebow’s name on it.

How about an article on all the good works Tim Tebow is doing?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The 10 Most Bizarre Fatalities Ever

Franz Reichelt
Death comes like a thief in the night...
by Robert A. Waters

(10) Rudolph Tyner.  Bill and Myrtie Moon owned a small store near Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.  On March 18, 1978, Rudolph Tyner and a cohort shot-gunned the couple in a daylight robbery.  In court, he laughed about how the couple had begged for their lives.  Tyner was quickly convicted of the murders and received the death penalty.  Tony Cimo, the adopted son of the Moons, figured the eighteen-year-old killer would never be executed.  He hired serial killer Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins, also on death row, to murder Tyner.  Cimo smuggled a radio containing bomb components to Gaskins.  The killer rigged the radio with explosives and gave it to Tyner.  When Tyner turned it on, a tremendous explosion shook the prison.  Tyner died, having been blown to bits.  Gaskins was convicted of the murder and once again was sentenced to death.  Cimo was arrested for his part in the murder, convicted, and sentenced to eight years in prison.  He served only three, then was released.  He returned home, unrepentant.  He said: “I think constantly of Tyner laughing while Mama and Daddy begged for their lives.  I did what I did, and that was it.”  Gaskins was executed for the murder of Tyner.

(9) Delvonte Tisdale.  On November 15, 2010, in Milton, Massachusetts, a motorist noticed a body lying on the road.  The remains turned out to be what was left of sixteen-year-old Delvonte Tisdale.  Investigators discovered that the teen had stowed away in the wheel well of a Boeing 737 commercial jet airliner and fallen to his death.  The plane had flown from Charlotte, North Carolina to Logan Airport in Boston.  Somehow, Tisdale breached security and climbed into the wheel well for a free flight up north.  His purported reason was to return to Baltimore where he had family.  Cops told the media that he likely froze to death in the wheel well and fell when the plane lowered its landing wheels.  It was so cold at the altitude flown by the jet that a plastic card Tisdale carried had frozen and broken into tiny pieces.  A good student and member of the ROTC, the teenager’s death seemed senseless to those who knew him.

(8) Christine Chubbuck.  In the middle of her daily newscast, Sarasota, Florida reporter Christine Chubbuck stunned her audience by saying: “In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts, and in living color, you are going to see another first—attempted suicide.”  With that, she pulled a .38-caliber handgun from her purse, stuck it behind her ear, and fired.  As she fell, her body began to twitch.  Before the cameras could stop rolling, thousands of viewers witnessed the entire event.  Ten hours later, Chubbuck was pronounced dead at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.  It turned out that she had even written her suicide into her news script.  According to her wishes, family members scattered Chubbuck’s ashes into the Gulf of Mexico.

(7) Franz Reichelt.  An Austrian who became a French citizen, Reichelt earned his living as a tailor.  His hobby, however, was inventing and designing parachutes.  On February 4, 1912, Reichelt climbed the Eiffel Tower to test one of his inventions.  (Reichelt had permission from the Parisian Prefecture of Police to use a dummy, but all along he intended to act as his own guinea pig.)  Like a giant bird, with his wings flapping, Reichelt leaped.  The parachute did not deploy, and Reichelt dropped like a stone.  He was dead before rescuers could arrive.

(6) General John Sedgwick.  On May 9, 1864, at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, Union General John Sedgwick watched his troops ducking as Confederate snipers fired at them from 1,000 yards away.  Sedgwick berated the soldiers, and reportedly asked, “Why are you dodging like this?  They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”  Within seconds, a sniper’s ball smashed into the general’s face, killing him.  Just before dying, Sedgwick agreed that the soldiers should duck.

(5) Clarabelle Lansing.  On April 28, 1988, the fuselage of an Aloha Airlines flight from Hilo to Honolulu, Hawaii was damaged due to an explosive decompression.  Several feet of the top flew off, suctioning out seats and debris.  Flight attendant Clarabelle Lansing was blown out of the airplane at 30,000 feet.  She likely fell into the Pacific Ocean, though her remains were never found.  Of the 95 passengers and crew, 68 were injured.  Was Lansing alive when she exited the fuselage?   If so, would she have been flash-frozen?  If she happened to exit the plane alive, it must have been a terrifying fall.  Investigators blamed metal fatigue for the accident.

(4) Sherwood Anderson.  The celebrated author of Winesburg, Ohio loved martinis.  Before taking a cruise to South America in 1941, Anderson and his wife celebrated their departure at several parties hosted by well-wishers.  As always, the author imbibed until he could barely move.  Once he boarded the cruise liner Santa Lucia, he began to complain of abdominal pain.  The discomfort grew worse, and Anderson disembarked at Colon, Panama where he was taken to the hospital.  After lingering for several days, he died.  An autopsy revealed that a toothpick had pierced the lower part of his colon, causing an infection that eventually developed into peritonitis.  Biographers claimed that Anderson likely swallowed the toothpick while drinking martinis.  Buried at his home in Virginia, the author’s epitaph reads: “Life, Not Death, is the Great Adventure.”

(3) David Carradine.  The actor is best known for his television show, “Kung Fu.”  Carradine, scion of a famous Hollywood family, made numerous movies in several genres, including martial arts flicks, westerns, and science fiction films.  In 2009, ABC News reported that Carradine “was found by a chamber maid at Bangkok’s Park Nai Lert Hotel naked and dead, slumped in a closet with cords bound and connecting his neck and his genitals.”  Reports stated that he died wearing women’s stockings and a wig.  Police ruled the death an accident, the result of “auto-erotic asphyxiation, the practice of cutting off one’s air supply to heighten sexual pleasure.”  Two of Carradine’s former wives told reporters that he was addicted to “deviant sexual behavior.”  Carradine’s acting legacy likely will be overshadowed by the weird circumstances of his death.

(2) Sidney Reso.  The CEO of Exxon, Reso was kidnapped from the driveway of his home in Morris Township, New Jersey.  He put up a struggle and his captors, Arthur and Irene Seale, shot him in the arm.  Two wannabe Yuppies, the couple hoped to collect 18.5 million dollars from Exxon.  Arthur and Irene forced Reso into a wooden box and nailed down the lid.  The box had only a few holes for air, some candy, and water.  Reso, still in the wooden box, was placed inside a storage unit as his kidnappers attempted to collect the ransom.  A diabetic who needed daily shots of insulin, Reso could not last long.  In addition to his medical issues, the summer’s heat made the box unbearable.  By the end of his third day in his tomb, he died from heat and exhaustion.  The Seales then moved his body, dumping it into Bass River State Park.  A few days later, the FBI captured the duo.  They were both convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

(1) Jeffrey Bush.  Central Florida is the sinkhole capital of the world.  These cavernous chasms have been known to swallow cattle and horses, cars and trucks, streets and homes.  It’s rare that they take a human life, but Jeff Bush not only fell into a one hundred foot sinkhole, his body was never recovered.  Bush was asleep in his Seffner, Florida home when the floor beneath him suddenly collapsed.  He screamed, and his brother, Jeremy, ran into the room and watched as Jeff disappeared into the abyss.  Jeremy clambered into the hole in an attempt to save his brother, but Jeff was gone.  Rescuers soon arrived, but could do little.  A few days later, officials demolished the home and covered the place where Jeff Bush vanished.  Several neighboring homes were also demolished, and a fence placed around the site.  How did Jeff Bush die?  Did falling debris kill him?  Did he fall all the way to the aquifer 100 feet below and drown?  No one knows. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Maine’s Unsolved Homicides

Pamela J. Webb
From the Maine State Police files…

Baby Jane Doe – “A woman drove into a gravel pit in Frenchville, Maine in 1985, got out of her vehicle and proceeded to give birth to a baby girl. She then carried the living baby into the woods and left her there. It was extremely cold, and bootprints were observed frozen into the blood left on the ground. A Siberian Husky later found the infant and carried it home to it’s owner. The infant died of exposure, and was not harmed by the Husky. The mother has never been located, and it is suspected she is from Canada.”

Pamela J. Webb – “On July 2, 1989, Pamela Webb’s 1981 Chevrolet pickup truck was found abandoned on the Maine Turnpike at mile 30.4 southbound in Biddeford. The passenger side rear tire was flat and a spare tire was leaning against the tailgate. There were blood stains on the pavement on the passenger side of the truck and earrings near one of the blood stains. Webb’s dog was in the front of the truck. A turnpike ticket was found inside the truck indicating Webb entered the turnpike in Augusta at 2152 hours on 07/01/89. Webb was headed to Mason, NH, to visit her boyfriend. The boyfriend reported Webb missing on 07/02/89 at 1009 hours. 75 to 100 people called the State Police to report seeing Webb’s truck broken down, but no one was able to provide descriptions of vehicles or persons near the truck.

“On July 18, 1989, human remains were found in Franconia, New Hampshire, which were subsequently identified as Webb’s. The body was severely decomposed with only a small patch of soft tissue left on the skull. Webb was identified through dental records. No bones below the pelvis were found with the remains. A skirt, blouse and bra were recovered with the remains.”

Joyce McLain – “McLain was 16 years old when she left her home and went jogging in East Millinocket on the evening of August 8, 1980. Her body was found two days later, partially naked, on a powerline behind the Schenck High School soccer field, with blunt trauma to her head and neck. At the time of her death, there were several hundred construction workers at the local mill and the town was hosting a softball tournament.”

Raynald Levesque – “Levesque was found dead in his residence on 04-06-94 [in Madison, Maine] at 1220 hours by a soft drink delivery man. Levesque owned and operated a bottle redemption center in a building behind his residence. Levesque’s wife last saw her husband alive at 0815 hours, prior to leaving for work in Madison that same day. Levesque’s business office was located inside his residence. His residence was on the same grounds as the redemption center. It is theorized that the murderer entered Levesque’s residence to steal money. Levesque surprised the suspect, the suspect then killed Levesque.”