Thursday, July 18, 2024

Sex Offender Shot by Woman Home Alone

 Jayson Magrum
The Equalizer

By Robert A. Waters

On the afternoon of August 11, 2023, Pima County Sheriff's Department deputies arrived with sirens blazing to a neat residence in Tucson, Arizona. Cops quickly spied a body lying in the middle of the driveway. Blood pooled the concrete around him, and trailed back to the front of the house.

Deputies applied chest compressions to the man, but he was already dead.

Sandra Stacy, 54, the homeowner, was shaken...but alive!

FOX 10 News reported that "a convicted sex offender was shot and killed by an Arizona woman as he tried to break into her home last Friday...

"The fatal encounter occurred about 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11, at a residence near Garvey and Pyle Roads in Tucson when a woman defended herself by fatally shooting the man attempting to break into her house.

"The 54-year-old woman was home alone when the suspect, identified as Jayson Magrum, 42, tried to break into her residence, the Pima County Sherriff's Department said.

"The woman saw Magrum...and began yelling at him to leave, yet he reportedly continued in his efforts to gain access to the house.

"As a result, the woman obtained a firearm and defended herself.

"The female armed herself with a handgun and fired a shot out of a window to attempt to scare the male away.

"Following the warning shot, Magrum reportedly reached into the home and tried to disarm the woman, but she opened fire and struck the intruder..."

After being shot, Magrum tried to flee. He made it as far as the driveway where he collapsed and died.

News reports stated that the dead man was a registered sex offender in Utah.

The Arizona Republic reported "Magrum had a lengthy criminal record with Pima County, including at least eight charges dating back to 2006. Among them: multiple charges of threatening or intimidating, disorderly conduct as well as assault. Most recently, a case filed in Pima County Justice Court in January says Magrum was accused of threatening to cause damage to the property of another."

NOTE: I could only find four news articles describing this case. The stories were brief, without much detail, and poorly written. I'd like to know more. For instance, what kind of gun was used? Had Magrum been stalking Tracy? (Although she didn't know her attacker, he lived nearby.) Why didn't this case receive more publicity?

I did find one brief article about why he was labeled a Registered Sex Offender. On March 21, 2001, the Gunnison Valley News reported: "MAGRUM, Jayson Keith, 20, Elsinore, Utah, committed to jail for 6 months on a commitment out of District Court for attempted forcible sexual abuse."

It's likely Sandra Tracy would have been yet another victim of violent sexual attack had she not used an "equalizer" to protect herself.

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Murdered for Four Bucks and a Nickel

The Sad Death of Morris "Rick" Fleming
By Robert A. Waters

It was March 5, 1986. Standing in the shadows of a patch of woods, Jerry Wickham (pictured) waited. Stone-broke, his battered old car was running on fumes. But he had a plan. On the grass beside a rural road, his vehicle sat with its hood up. Two bedraggled-looking women stood in front of the car.

One day earlier, this "odyssey" had started in Gaylesville, Alabama. Ten family members and friends, with Jerry Wickham the leader, had packed into two cars and headed out for Tampa, Florida. The trip was poorly planned, and they had no real prospects in Tampa, but they drove toward that city, ending up on U. S. Highway 319 near the Georgia-Florida line. Court documents reported that, along the way, the group members "consumed large quantities of alcohol and drugs."

Sylvia, Wickham's wife, held a baby so passing motorists would notice. Tammy Jordan, Wickham's daughter-in-law, stood close to the road to flag down a driver. (The second car had been stowed out of sight a mile away.)

Morris F. "Rick" Fleming drove a baby-blue 1977 Grand Prix. He noticed the women and braked to a stop. The twenty-seven-year-old, a loan officer for Blazer Finance Company, had a wife and young daughter at home. A regular church-goer, Fleming was known for helping those in need. Sylvia told him her car had broken down. As Rick leaned over to check out the engine, he never saw Jerry Wickham step out of the woods. 

Rick fiddled with the motor and concluded there was nothing amiss. It was then he noticed Wickham coming toward him holding a .22-caliber revolver. Rick, recognizing the threat, turned and began to walk back to his own car.

Wickham fired. The first bullet hit Rick in the back, near his shoulder. It spun him around and he fell to the ground. As he lay dazed, Wickham fired again, placing a bullet into Rick's chest. A Florida appeals court later wrote that "while Fleming pled for his life, Wickham shot the victim twice in the head. He then dragged the body away from the roadside and rummaged through Fleming's pockets. He found only four dollars and five cents." (NOTE: my italics.)

Turning to Sylvia, Wickham screamed, "Why didn't you stop someone with more money?" In shock, Sylvia burst into tears. She had been against the robbery all along, telling Wickham they could go to a church and get money. But he had decided on the robbery.

According to court documents, "the group drove to a gas station and put two dollars' worth of gas in one of the cars, and two dollars' worth in a gas can [which they put in the second car]. Wickham then changed his clothes and threw his bloodstained pants and shoes into a dumpster. Wickham directed one of the others to throw the empty bullet casings and live rounds out the window."

They later stopped at a church and obtained enough gas money to take them to Tampa.

Soon after the robbers left, a passerby spotted Rick's body and contacted police.
 
For nearly two years, cops had little luck in determining the identity of Rick's murderers. Then, in Ocala, Florida, a man charged with burglary decided to make a deal with investigators. For a reduced charge, the thief said he would tell cops about an unsolved murder that occurred near Tallahassee. He said he'd been with the group that murdered Rick Fleming.

Leon County Sheriff's Office investigators arrested Jerry Wickham. On December 8, 1988, a Florida court gave him an early Christmas present. Jurors found him guilty of First Degree Murder and Armed Robbery with a firearm and sentenced him to death.

Sylvia Wickham was convicted of Second Degree Murder and sentenced to 17 years in prison. Several other members of the group were convicted of lesser crimes. 

For 36 years, Jerry Wickham has cheated justice. He has filed appeal after appeal, all of which have been denied. Due to the broken criminal justice system in Florida, he'll likely die in prison before he comes up close and personal with a poison needle.