Friday, July 29, 2011

Florida Jane Doe

Florida Jane Doe
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The Anonymity of Death
by Robert A. Waters

The Overseas Highway runs 113 miles from Key Largo to Key West. The mostly two-lane road crosses dozens of small islands with exotic names such as Hawks Key, Duck Key, Big Pine Key, Sugarloaf Key, and Lower Matecumbe Key. Almost all the islands have stops for tourists complete with tacky trinket shops, cafes and bars, museums, boat ramps, etc. Anything to squeeze a buck from visitors.

While many tourists bring a certain naïve awe to the beauty of the Keys, a dark undercurrent of drugs, theft, and even murder runs through the local culture.

On February 14, 1991, a young girl stepped out onto the Overseas Highway. Heading north from Key West, she held her thumb out. Whether she was island-hopping or headed home to some northern state, no one knows. In fact, she’s never been identified. Florida Jane Doe is the unofficial name given to her by police.

She was seen by many people as she attempted to catch a ride. She stood out from other hitchers because of her clothing. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported that she wore a “knitted, long-sleeved sweater with wide red, black and purple horizontal stripes; long knee length denim shorts; and black ankle-high Indian-moccasin booties with red stitching.” The colorful sweater caught the eye of many witnesses—it was unusual attire for this part of Florida.

The next-to-last sighting of the girl was at Mile Marker 17, near Big Coppitt Key, at about 6:30 in the evening. The last sighting was the next day. By that time, Florida Jane Doe was dead.

She was nude, in a wooded area near an illegal dump site. The FDLE website reads: “Windsurfers camping in the area near Bahia Honda State Recreation area, located near mile marker 35 on US 1 in the Florida Keys, made the gruesome discovery of a young dead girl. Her body was laying on a dirt trail in a heavily wooded area.”

This indicates that she was likely picked up and transported eighteen miles. It’s logical to assume that someone who knew the area gave her a ride, took her to the secluded spot, and murdered her.

An autopsy revealed that Florida Jane Doe had been beaten, strangled to death with her own bikini top, and likely raped. Her clothing was found nearby, and included “a blue and red-striped Forenza sweater; Big Yank blue denim shorts; and black Clicks' moccasin-style booties with red stitching, Click brand, size 6 1/2B, sold by Baker Shoes in 1989.” She also wore a watch with a silver band and cheap earrings.

Investigators were unable to identify the dead girl, so in 1993, they created a computer model of what she may have looked like. Initially, the coroner guessed the girl’s age to have been between 15 and 20. Now the age range has been expanded to between 16 and 25.

Florida Jane Doe was five feet, four inches tall and weighed about 145 pounds. Her hair was dark, and worn just above her collar. She had brown eyes. She was neat, and had good dental care. According to law enforcement, “the victim may have carried a baby to full-term. She was suffering from ovarian and fallopian tube cysts, which may have been causing her abdominal pain.”

Two tattoos could help relatives identify the girl. One was the word “Love” encircled with a heart on her upper left arm. The other was located between the thumb and forefinger of her left hand: it was a tiny cross with sun rays emanating from the center.

A lonely girl on a wind-swept highway with miles and miles of road ahead. Her colorful and unusual clothing drew attention from travelers as she trudged along with her thumb out. Someone noticed and stopped. She hopped into a car or truck and became one more anonymous victim.

If you remember a girl who looked similar to the photo above, please call Monroe County Sheriff's Department at 305-289-2410.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Abducted in 1923, Child Was Never Found

 
Ella McKenzie

“Mother Mania”
by Robert A. Waters

On August 18, 1923, three-month-old Lillian McKenzie was abducted from a baby carriage on the streets of New York City. Lillian lay asleep in her “perambulator,” or carriage, as her mother, Ella McKenzie, left the child outside a department store in Manhattan. She shopped for ten minutes before returning to find Lillian gone. (While today we would find this unconscionable, in that era it was common practice.)

Mrs. McKenzie's screams quickly brought police and soon more than a hundred officers began a systematic search of nearby businesses and alleys and homes. They found no sign of the infant. For the next two days, police enlisted the aid of hundreds of Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, and even the Salvation Army in their unsuccessful attempts to locate Baby Lillian.

The case quickly became national news. An article in the Masillon (OH) Evening Independent explained that after two days, investigators began to fear the child was dead. “She was a delicate infant in whom the spark of life had been kept only by careful administration of a complicated food formula,” the article read. Police published the unique formula in the newspapers hoping that the kidnapper would learn how to correctly feed her. In fact, newspapers began calling Lillian the “crying baby” because she “is sickly and cries incessantly.”

A week later, a baby was found floating in the North River in New York City. At first, police thought the body was Lillian, but Peter McKenzie, her father, went to the morgue and told investigators it wasn’t his daughter. The child was never identified.

Shortly after the first infant was discovered, another baby, a girl estimated to be three months old, was found in the marshes of the Schuylkill River near Philadelphia. It had a note pinned to its clothing that read: “Give Baby A Home.” It had been there for two days and had died of exposure. New York police quickly determined that this was not Lillian.

In yet another tragic case, a baby left in a hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia died of malnutrition. She'd been abandoned by a man and woman traveling in an “automobile home” bearing New York license plates. NYPD also checked this lead and found the baby was not Lillian.

As the case wore on, investigators developed several theories or profiles as to what kind of person might have snatched the child. Some thought it might be a “female mendicant,” or beggar, who could get more alms if she had a child with her. Another theory was that a childless wife, whose husband refused to live with her unless a child was in the home, had kidnapped Lillian.

But the most prevalent theory was that the person who snatched the baby was “a demented woman who stole Lillian to satisfy the mother-craving of her diseased mind.” Psychologists of the day named the so-called craving “mother mania” and looked to the Bible for an example. A story published by Newspaper Feature Articles read: “You may never have heard of it by that name, but it is an abnormality as old as the Bible story of Moses found in the bulrushes and adopted by Pharoah’s daughter. She, from the viewpoint of the psychoanalyst, was smitten with the same ‘mother mania’ that, in an intense degree, probably inspired the kidnapper of Lillian McKenzie.” The psychologist also stated that “a demon of longing seems to possess some women” who abduct babies.

After the initial flurry of leads, the case stalled. Then, nearly two years later, out of the blue, a child thought to be Lillian was found.

In Englewood, New Jersey, Dr. Bernard Gottlieb remembered a strange woman who had visited his office nine days after the abduction of Lillian. On April 9, 1925, he contacted local police and told them his story. (It was never revealed why he waited nearly two years.) The woman who'd visited his office, he said, carried a frail, malnourished infant whom she called Mildred Grofe. The woman said she was the wife of F. V. Grofe. The child’s face was covered by a veil and when he lifted it, Dr. Gottlieb saw that the child’s head was shaven bald and she was dehydrated and puny. When asked why the child hadn’t been properly cared for, Mrs. Grofe informed the doctor that she and her husband had been visiting Europe for several weeks and that her hired babysitter knew little about babies.

Dr. Gottlieb told police that he had to take “extreme measures” to save the baby.

Detectives who interrogated Mr. and Mrs. Grofe were informed that the couple had adopted Mildred from a doctor and mid-wife. The doctor, whose name was H. L. Green, had told the couple that Mildred was the child of a teenage girl who got pregnant and didn’t want to keep the baby.

Peter and Ella McKenzie were called to the station where they tentatively identified the child as being their daughter. The child’s “mannerisms” and “facial characteristics” were the determining factors in the identification, they said.

On the same day, investigators went to the offices of chiropractor Henry Lee Mottard, alias Dr. Harry L. Green. He was questioned about “the crying baby” and a 44-year-old woman, Annie Allison, who had died in his care. Mottard stated that the baby the Grofes adopted had been born in his office by a teenage girl from Connecticut named Mary Sullivan.

Allison's death was suspicious. According to Mottard, she'd fallen down the steps in his office and died. New York State Police had the body exhumed and it was determined that Allison had died from a botched abortion. A second woman in his care also died of suspicious circumstances and it was suspected that she also had succumbed while having an abortion. In yet another case, an infant born in Mottard's office was unaccounted for. Even though police dug up the doctor's back yard, that baby was never found.

By this time, Mr. and Mrs. McKenzie had backed off their claim that the girl found in the Grofe home was their daughter. It was later determined that the child was older than Lillian would have been and definitely was not the kidnapped girl.

What happened to Lillian McKenzie? Was she snatched by a woman who was afflicted with "Mother Mania" or by someone who wished to sell her? Or was there some other reason the child was kidnapped?

Whatever happened to the shady chiropractor, Dr. Henry Lee Mottard? In all my research, I never found out if he was tried for any of his alleged crimes. If anyone has additional infomation on this case, please email me.

[NOTE: I'm currently working on a book about kidnapping in the 1920s and 1930s and would enjoy corresponding with anyone who has information about child abductions in that era.]

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Self-Defense Files 2

Kelvin Bagley
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Intruders in the Dust
by Robert A. Waters

The latest news is that the Obama administration is looking for additional ways to restrict our gun rights. Using the “death by a thousand cuts” scenario, those who wish to ban all guns from Americans attempt to implement their scheme by trying to pass seemingly small insignificant laws. In this case, President Obama knows that he can’t get any anti-gun laws through Congress so he plans to try to take away our more of our gun freedoms by executive order. With an up-coming election, one of the worst things he can do is to get the nation’s 80 million gun owners (Republicans and Democrats) riled up. Listed below are a few cases which show why most gun owners are determined to keep their weapons.

At 4:30 a.m., an intruder armed with a machete broke into a home in Wilkes County, North Carolina. Philip Jonathan Ange, 35, was shot in the head and upper body by the homeowner, James Brian Haynes. The intruder, who was a stranger to Haynes, died as he was being transported to the hospital. Earlier in the evening, Ange had attempted to break into the same home but left when the resident informed him that police had been called. The motive for the home invasion was unclear, but investigators said that Ange had been “unstable” lately. According to the North Carolina Department of Corrections, “Ange was sentenced to probation in 2005 after being convicted in Jones County on a misdemeanor charge of assault inflicting serious injury.” Haynes, who used a .22 rifle to protect himself, will not be charged.

In Glen Arm, Maryland, a wild gun-battle erupted when a burglar wearing camouflage clothing broke into the home of Aubrey Alvano, 64. Although Robert Buss, 36, wasn’t hit by the gunshots, he suffered cuts from flying glass, causing him to flee. Police spokesman Lt. Rob McCullough said that Alvano was alerted by a noise. “She went back to her bedroom and retrieved two handguns,” he said. “One was a .357 handgun and the other was a .38 caliber handgun." Buss had an AK-47 rifle. After the gunfight, Buss got in his pickup truck and drove two miles where he turned his gun on himself. While police are at a loss for a motive, McCullough said, "He intended to kill the victim in this case." There will be no charges brought against the homeowner.

Kelvin Lorenzo Bagley never worked for a living. Instead, he burglarized homes and stole “sellable goods” to support his drug habit. He had a 14-page criminal history and had been convicted of numerous crimes, including “performing a lewd and lascivious act on a child.” His partner, Jason Maurice Ward, also was a career criminal. One night in Lake Wales, Florida, Keith Taylor went to check on the home of his mother-in-law. It had been burglarized the week before, so he took his licensed handgun. As Taylor walked around the outside of the house, two men suddenly jumped out a five-foot-high window and landed almost on top of him. Startled, Taylor turned to face the burglars. When Kelvin Bagley began walking toward Taylor, the son-in-law fired several rounds. Bagley’s long career in crime ended that night. Cops found him dead in the back yard of the home. Taylor won’t be charged. W. J. Martin of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said: "[Bagley and Taylor] were going to confront this guy and he didn't have an obligation to wait and see what they wanted, and to see if they were going to shoot him first.”

This case occurred in 2007, but shows the viciousness of some home invaders. Willie Lee Hill, 93, of El Dorado, Arkansas, was in his bedroom when Douglas B. Williams broke into his home and attacked him. Hill later said that Williams' first punch "hit me with all his might in the left side of my face. My teeth don't fit right now." After hitting Hill, Williams picked up a soda can and smashed him 50 times, knocking the homeowner unconscious. After waking up in pool of blood, Hill reached under his bed and retrieved a .38-caliber handgun. Williams charged the injured victim but Hill pulled the trigger, hitting his assailant in the neck. Williams went down, unable to move his legs. Both men were taken to the hospital. Hill was later transferred to a nursing home to recuperate. With miltiple bruises all over his body and large gashes on his face, Hill said: "You can't imagine what an experience it is with somebody on top of you trying to kill you."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Book Review: Portrait of a Monster

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Portrait of a Monster: Joran Van der Sloot, A Murder in Peru, and the Natalee Holloway Mystery
Lisa Pulitzer and Cole Thompson
St. Martin’s Press, 2011

Review by Robert A. Waters

For those like me who developed a strong case of Natalee fatigue, a new book will cure you. After years of wall-to-wall press coverage of a case obviously going nowhere, I became immune to the story. Anytime a “new lead” came up, I turned off the TV, knowing the clue was phony. While I sympathized with the Twittys and Holloways, I just got to the point that I no longer wanted to hear about the case.

But I recently read Portrait of a Monster and it changed my mind. The authors, both long-time true crime authors, are masterful in their portrayal of the two crimes attributed to Joran Van der Sloot: the disappearance of Natalee Holloway and the murder of Stephany Flores. Armed with court documents, police reports, interviews with many of those involved in the case, and photographs of the crime scenes, the authors vividly recreate the two crimes.

Holloway vanished in Aruba in 2005 while on a trip with her high school senior class. The last person known to have seen her alive was Van der Sloot. While he was never charged with kidnapping or murdering her, he changed his story dozens of times. Finally, he fled Aruba for the Netherlands, Thailand, and finally, Peru.

It was there at the casinos that he met Flores, the daughter of a wealthy businessman. When Van der Sloot realized that Flores had several thousand dollars on her, he lured her to his hotel room. Three days after he checked out, she was found dead--beaten, strangled, and smothered. Her money and credit cards were missing.

Portrait of a Monster is the definitive account of these cases. While Joran Van der Sloot awaits trial in Peru, the families of Natalee Holloway and Stephany Flores still grieve.

I recommend this book to all true crime fanatics.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Where is Mikelle Biggs?

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Vanished in 90 seconds
by Robert A. Waters

Twelve years ago, a young girl vanished into thin air. On January 2, 1999, shortly before 6 p.m., Mikelle Biggs, 11, pedaled her bicycle to the corner of Toltec Street and El Moro Avenue. This was only four houses down from her suburban home in Mesa, Arizona. She and Kimber, her sister, thought they heard the calliope-style music from an ice cream truck so they hit their mother up for money and raced down to the corner to wait. After a few minutes, Kimber got cold and walked back home while Mikelle stayed behind. Tracy Biggs, the girls’ mother, told Kimber to go back and tell Mikelle to come home.

All Kimber found was Mikelle’s bicycle lying on the side of the road. It wasn’t on the corner but looked as if it were headed in the direction of her home. The front wheel was still spinning. Police later discovered two quarters, the exact amount given to Mikelle by her mother, in a nearby yard.

Kimber had been inside her house for all of ninety seconds before going back out to deliver her mother’s orders.

No one has seen Mikelle since.

Unlike many cases, police immediately recognized that this was likely an abduction. They quickly mobilized and began what would become the largest search in Arizona history. Cops methodically searched all the homes in the neighborhood except one (a nearby resident refused to let cops search his house, but he was later ruled out as a suspect). Investigators set up roadblocks to stop and question people who regularly drove through the neighborhood. Cops and volunteers scoured miles of nearby fields and dug through dozens of old mine shafts. Numerous suspects, including dozens of sex offenders who lived in the area, were questioned.

Hundreds of thousands of flyers were mailed out by Mikelle’s parents and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The case was profiled on “America’s Most Wanted.” Mother Tracy and father Darien Biggs appeared on several national television shows to plead for their daughter’s return.

Investigators followed up on 10,000 leads, but never came up with a viable suspect. They learned that there was no ice cream truck in the area that day. Although the children had thought they heard the distinctive music from the good humor man, they were mistaken.

Mikelle was an honor student who loved art and playing the clarinet. An article in the Arizona Republic described her as “outgoing and creative. A bright little girl who wants to be a Disney animator, Mikelle was wearing a short-sleeved red ‘Lindbergh’ T-shirt. She also wore bell-bottom blue jeans. Mikelle was an honor-roll student at nearby Lindbergh Elementary School.”

What happened to Mikelle?

The kidnapping was obviously a crime of opportunity, and one in which the abductor got lucky. On the street of a suburban neighborhood, it would have been almost impossible to commit such an act without being seen. Yet it did happen.

Either Mikelle was taken by a neighbor or someone driving by. Knowing this, police spent hours searching nearby residences. No clues were found.

One suspect was Dee Blalock. A sex offender in three states, he lived two blocks from where Mikelle was kidnapped. But his wife gave him an alibi, telling investigators that Blalock had been in their garage all night. His name came up again two years later when he broke into a neighbor’s home and beat her nearly to death as he raped her. He was convicted of that offense and given 187 years in prison.

Tracy and Darien still consider Blalock the best suspect so far. They even visited him in prison and asked him if he abducted Mikelle. Blalock denied it, but it didn’t convince the couple.

Blalock (or someone else) could have been driving through the neighborhood and seen Mikelle standing alone or riding her bicycle. Impulsively, he could have stopped and snatched her, then driven home and hid the girl until heat died down.

Whatever happened, the disappearance of Mikelle Biggs has stumped investigators for more than a decade.

Friday, July 1, 2011

George Anthony's Suicide Letter

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Of all the living characters in the Caylee Anthony case, George Anthony seems to me to be the most sympathetic. His suicide letter shows his love for his family and the devastation he felt once he learned Caylee was dead. Whatever the verdict, George will never be the same. Here’s a transcript of his suicide letter.

"Cynthia Marie,

As you get this letter, this should be no surprise that I have decided to leave the earth, because I need to be with Caylee Marie.

I cannot keep going because it should be me that is gone from this earth, not her. I have lived many years, I am satisfied with my decision because I have never been the man you, Lee, Casey & especially Caylee Marie deserved.

I have never been the man any of you could count on. I have always let each of you down in more ways than I can remember. I do not feel sorry for myself, I am just sorry I burden all of you the way I have.

My loss of life is meaningless.

Cynthia Marie, you have always worked the hardest, given the most to me, and I have never "Thanked you." 28+ years ago, you corrected me, a man who has now found his identity in life. What I mean is, you always challenged me the right way and I always could never live up to your expectations. You have always been smarter, more knowledgeable & thought things through & I love you for that.

Page

I cannot be strong anymore. Caylee Marie, our grand-daughter, I miss her. I miss her so much. I know you do too.

You were always the one that provided for her. What did I provide?

I blame myself for her being gone! You know for months, as a matter of fact for a year or so I brought stuff up, only to be told not to be negative.

Caylee Marie, I miss her. I miss her. I want my family back.

I sit here, falling apart, because I should have done more.

She was so close to home, why was she there? Who placed here there? Why is she gone? Why?

For months, you & I, especially you always questioned, why?

I want this to go away for Casey. What happened? Why could she not come to us? Especially you, why not Lee?

Who is involved with this stuff Caylee?

I am going Krazy because I want to

Page

Go after these people Casey hung with prior to Caylee being gone.

That is why I got that gun. I wanted to scare these people. You know, they know more than they have stated, you cannot sugar coat, kid glove these people. They need hard knocks to get info from.

Sure that will not bring Caylee Marie back, but was Casey threatened? You know, Casey does not deserve to be where she is.

I miss her, I miss her so much. I am worried for her. Her personal safety is always on my mind.

I try to deal with so-so much, as I do you also.

I have never wanted to my family for sorrow in any way. I realize families have ups & downs but we have suffered our share & then some.

Cynthia Marie, you have always deserved more, and with me being gone, you will. I have always brought you down. You know that. You are better off. Lee will be there for you. Mallory is such a great woman. I see how you are with her. She is a keeper. Future

Page

daughter-in-law. I smile when I say her name. Mallory, please take care of yourself, Lee & Cindy. Someday you will be a great wife to Lee, and a fantastic mom. Cindy is a great "Grammy" and will love you forever.

Getting back to why I cannot live anymore: I cannot function knowing our granddaughter is gone. Caylee Marie never had a chance to grow. I wanted to walk her to school (the 1st day). I wanted to help her in so many ways….I could go on & on.

I sit here empty inside for her. For you, for us. Jose keeps calling.

Yes, you deserve more & you will have freedom to enjoy what you deserve.

I have taken what meds was given to me with alcohol & I am ready to give up. As I can tell by my writing and thinking, I am getting very stupid. Wow, what a word STUPID. Yes, I am. Again, I do not feel sorry for myself [unintelligible] I am STUPID. I cannot deal with stuff anymore.

Page

The loss of Caylee Marie. The loss of Casey. The loss of us, Cynthia Marie, the meds, I am ready.

Saying good bye, please understand it is for the best. I do not deserve life anymore. Anymore us.

You are the best, you always have been. I am sorry for all that I have done to us.

You know I never got to say goodbye. I am at this place and all is getting foggy & my writing is all over the place.

I love you, I love you, I hope you get to see Casey soon. All the people we met, wow, the writing is getting weird, I love you, I am sorry – I will take care of Caylee – once I get to God "hopefully"

Page

I want to hold her again, I miss her, I will always love us, I am sorry Cynthia Marie, I called my mom today, ….(unintelligible) I am so tired, at least I shaved today, wow – I'm tripping out, I am sorry,

I love you – Cynthia Marie

Caylee Here I come

Lee, I am sorry

Casey –"