Sunday, February 27, 2011

“Disorganized Wartime Living” Syndrome

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Baby snatched from Ohio hospital
by Robert A. Waters

On July 8, 1945, it had been two months since Germany surrendered, ending the European phase of World War II. In the Pacific, American bombers were preparing to attack Tokyo for the first time. Two months later, after a rain of allied destruction that included the use of two atomic bombs, Japan would finally surrender.

But on the home front, an unspeakable crime turned attention away from the war for a few days.

On that Sunday, six-day-old Jean Eileen Creviston was stolen from her crib in the maternity ward of Marion City Hospital in Marion, Ohio. No one saw the kidnapper steal into the area reserved for nurses only. No one saw her take the baby and vanish without a trace.

Jean Eileen, as newspapers referred to the victim, was the daughter of Tech. Sgt. John L. Creviston and Helen Elizabeth Creviston, referred to as a “Marion Society matron.” Sergeant Creviston was stationed at Lockbourne Army Air Base near Columbus.

As soon as he learned of the abduction, Marion Police Chief William E. Marks launched a massive search for the child. Helicopters flew over a wooded area near the hospital while local police, aided by the state highway patrol, began questioning all hospital workers and residents in nearby neighborhoods.

Mrs. Creviston addressed the kidnapper directly. “Whoever took my baby,” she said, “be kind to her.”

A flurry of excitement was caused when someone discovered a baby diaper in a 400 acre field on the west side of town. Chief Marks recruited 42 boys on bicycles to search the field but they found nothing.

Sergeant Creviston quickly became the focus of the investigation. He was an Air Force gunner whose plane had been shot down over Germany. He was captured and remained in a prisoner-of-war camp until being liberated and returned to the United States.

After enduring hours of interrogation, he was eliminated from suspicion.

Then, on July 12, Chief Marks announced an arrest. Phyllis Ann Webster, 30, was taken into custody when someone reported that she was showing off a child who may not have been her own. After the baby’s footprints were compared with those of Jean Eileen Creviston and found to match, Webster broke down and admitted that she had feigned pregnancy for three months before snatching Jean. She told investigators that for a three-month period she "stuffed her clothing with cotton batting and bought baby clothes and a bassinet." Then she went to the hospital with the specific intention of taking a baby.

Her husband was also in the military. Stationed overseas at the time of the abduction, Sgt. Ernest Webster was quickly given an emergency furlough and flown back to Ohio.

It seemed to be an open-and-shut case. Then her attorney, Paul Michael, came up with an ingenious strategy. As the trial began in September, the lawyer argued that Mrs. Webster was not guilty by reason of insanity as the result of “disorganized wartime living.” With soldiers being stationed in bases away from home and sent to fight all over the world, he argued, many women on the home front lost control of their senses and did strange things--like abduct babies from hospitals.

Attorney Michael knew that juries have always been reluctant to convict pretty women of serious crimes. And Mrs. Webster was beautiful. Her husband, being a serviceman fighting for freedom overseas, was also viewed in a sympathetic light by the jury.

Sgt. Webster testified that he was partially to blame for the abduction because he’d made it clear to his wife that he didn’t want children. Even so, she’d gotten pregnant twice and had two miscarriages. The trauma caused by the miscarriages as well as his wife's knowledge that a baby was unwanted by the father, he said, may have contributed to her stealing the Creviston baby.

Sgt. Webster told the jury that now, after seeng how much his wife wanted kids, he'd changed his mind. While overseas, he testified, he’d seen other soldiers receive letters from their wives with photographs of their babies. This, along with Mrs. Webter's burning desire to have children, made him reconsider the matter. If his wife was acquitted, he implied, he would welcome children.

It also helped Mrs. Webster’s case when it became known that the victim’s mother stated that she didn’t want the defendant to be “punished any more than she had been.”

Much to the chagrin of the prosecutor, Mrs. Webster was acquitted. According to the jury, she was not guilty by reason of insanity.

A few days after the trial, Phyllis Ann Webster was released from custody.

Within two months, World War II was over. In the euphoria of victory, the case faded from the headlines and the abduction of little Jean Eileen Creviston became just a footnote in history.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


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When will Linda Raulerson’s killer be brought to justice?
by Robert A. Waters

It’s been exactly two-and-a-half years since Linda Raulerson, 56, was gunned down as a video camera recorded the execution. The Lake City, Florida convenience store clerk was closing for the night when she was murdered.

If there was any justice in this world, her killer would already have been caught, tried, convicted, and executed. But 912 days later, there have been no arrests, no trials, no convictions, and no executions--only that lingering vision of a different type of execution.

Within hours of Raulerson’s death, the few dollars snatched by her executioner were likely already up his nose. He may have already been bragging to other crack-heads about the clerk he offed. Within a short time, he would almost certainly have been preying on other innocents.

Meanwhile, a hard-working lady, well-loved by family and friends, lay in a cold morgue. She’d done absolutely nothing to deserve her execution--in fact, the video shows her complying with her killer. By all accounts, Linda Raulerson led an exemplary life as a wife, mother, and citizen of her community.

Her killer has walked free long enough. If you have any information about this case, you can call America’s Most Wanted at 1-800-274-6388 and remain anonymous.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Who Murdered Innocence?

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Six months later, the killer of Norma Lopez still walks free
by Robert A. Waters

It’s been six months now since Norma Lopez vanished. The seventeen-year-old was walking home from Valley View High school in Moreno Valley, California when she was kidnapped. Some of her belongings were located in an open field just blocks from her home. Investigators told reporters that it looked as if a struggle had occurred.

Five days later, the decomposing body of Norma was found in a remote area about two miles from where she was abducted. She still wore her jeans but her top was missing.

Who killed the pretty teen?

While investigators continue to search for the murderer, it’s disturbing to note that fourteen registered sex offenders lived within a two-mile radius of Valley View High School. Within hours of the abduction, police were checking the alibis of these individuals. None have been charged.

Norma’s older sister, Elizabeth, spoke to the killer. “Just get the touch of heart and turn yourself in,” she said. “‘Cause you killed her when we want her here home. Just turn yourself in. That's all we want.”

While that’s unlikely, it is possible that someone knows who committed this heinous crime. If so, maybe he or she will grow a conscience and call police.

In the meantime, a family and community grieves while a killer is still at large to stalk other children.

If you have any information on this case, call the Moreno Valley Police Hotline at 877-242-4345.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Last Flight of the "Port of Brunswick"

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Whatever happened to Paul Redfern?
by Robert A. Waters

Several websites chronicle the life and disappearance of aviator Paul Redfern. By 1927, the young pilot had already made a name for himself as the first person to fly solo across the Caribbean Sea.

According to, “Redfern...weighed about 110 pounds, had barnstormed in 40 states and once busted 80 stills in a week as an airborne revenue agent. He had been jailed in Texas for buzzing a railroad car and in South Carolina for dropping a football dummy from 2,000 feet, which caused widespread fainting at an air show. Once he took the ‘world's smallest flying machine’ on a national advertising tour.”

So when the Brunswick Chamber of Commerce raised $25,000 so that Redfern could attempt to be the first to fly non-stop from Brunswick to Brazil, he named his plane "Port of Brunswick."

At the time, aviators all across the globe were setting records. The most famous was Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic. Other pilots were looking for the next record. A successful flight from Georgia to South America would almost certainly have put Redfern in the super-star category of pilots.

The trip from Brusnwick to Rio covered 4,600 miles. According to CapnBilly's website, Clara M. McCall, writing for The Masonic News, stated: [Redfern] “apparently planned to steer southeast, at just about 135 degrees on the compass, pass Puerto Rico and Trinidad, and pick up the coast line of Brazil at its northeast corner. He was to drop a flare over the town of Macapa in Brazil, north of the Amazon, as he passed it the second night, and follow the coast line to Rio if all went well.”

At least one experienced pilot had warned him that the 48 hours he would spend making the flight was too much for one person. But Redfern was determined.

On August 25, the South Carolina native roared into the sky. He flew a six-seat Stinson Detroiter. The plane had been specially designed to hold extra fuel. Painted green and yellow, “Brunswick to Brazil” was stenciled in white across its sides. The plane flew over a shrimp boat near the Georgia coast, then veered toward the Carribean.

The last confirmed sighting of Redfern was at around 3:00 p.m. near the island of Trinidad. The Norwegian ship Christian Krohg was about 160 miles from Venezuela when a green and yellow plane suddenly appeared. It circled above the ship, then dropped a note in a carton. The note fell onto the surface of the ocean and was picked up by a crew member of the Christian Krohg. The note asked for directions to land and was signed by Paul Redfern.

The captain turned the bow of his ship toward Venezuela and used hand signals to direct the pilot. (The note was later sent to Redfern’s father who identified the handwriting as that of his son.)

An article from CapnBilly’s website stated that “Redfern lined his plane up with the direction of the ship, wagged the wings of the airplane in appreciation and began flying away toward Venezuela.”

After that sighting, Paul Redfern disappeared into the fog of history.

The following day, when he failed to arrive in Rio, a massive search was launched. There were the usual rumors of him having been sighted in various places, but none were confirmed. In one tale, it was said that a pilot had "fallen from the sky" and was being held captive by natives in the jungles of Guyana. The Smithsonian Institute sent a search party to investigate, but found no evidence of Redfern or his plane.

Although no one knows for sure what happened to the adventurer, the most likely scenario was that he crashed into the jungle north of Rio De Janeiro. At least one pilot, Jimmy Angel (discoverer of Angel Falls), stated that he'd flown over the wreckage of Redfern's plane many times. Each time, the plane had sunk deeper into the swamp until the only thing visible was "the sun's light on the cabin's glass," as Angel's widow described it.

An American engineer in Venezuela's Ciudad Bolivar plaza confirmed that he had seen a green and yellow plane flying low over the city. According to the engineer, the plane was trailing black smoke.

The evidence is that Paul Redfern nearly made it to Rio. Then his plane crashed into the jungle where it was eventually sucked into the quicksand. Paul Redfern likely died in the crash.

His body was never found.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cold Case Playing Cards - Laurie L. Partridge

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“She fell off the face of the earth”
by Robert A. Waters

Washington’s new cold case playing cards feature Laurie Partridge on the Ace of Diamonds. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed seventeen-year-old disappeared as she walked home from school on December 4, 1974.

At first, police thought she had run away. Had they aggressively pursued the case as an abduction, investigators may have quickly solved it. Laurie’s father had given her tickets to a Beach Boys concert. After she disappeared, several officers went to the concert to look for the missing girl. They didn’t see her, but later discovered that her ticket had been used. Did her kidnapper use the ticket? Someone did, and that person would have known what happened to Laurie.

At the time, Laurie wore a long navy blue coat, a tan sweater, and tan plaid pants. She carried a brown leather purse that had a blue flower design and a braided leather strap.

Detectives who once thought Laurie was a runaway now agree that she was kidnapped. A few suspects were questioned, including Ted Bundy, but no one has ever been charged.

It’s been 35 years since Laurie vanished. One investigator told a reporter that “it’s like she fell off the face of the earth.”

The mystery of what happened to Laurie Partridge is still solvable. If you have any information about this case, call the Spokane Sheriff’s Office at 509-477-4760.