Monday, August 4, 2008

Maritime Missy


Welcome to 2008…

The blog has been rather quiet lately and I must admit that I have been a tad negligent in blogging duties. I got wrapped up in holiday festivities and put the blog on the back burner.

Since 2008 will be the 30-year anniversary of Theresa’s death, I say that we step up our efforts this year and see if we can’t get some more answers. Even if we can’t bring the case for prosecution, maybe we can at least identify a list of suspects and wrap up some loose ends.

Here are some of my outstanding questions. I’m sure John has a few for the politicians. Let me know what yours are.

Questions for the Gagnon family...

-Did they have dogs?

-Did they ever go down to the bog between November and April? If they didn’t, why not?

Questions for investigators…

-Who were the suspects in the Louise Camirand and Manon Dube murders? Were they ever considered for Theresa’s murder?

-Could robbery have been considered a motive for Theresa’s murder? Her wallet was empty. Did the police ever check her bank accounts to see if she withdrew any money that week?

-Were the Pouliots ever considered as suspects? (Champlain College’s Director General, Gerry Cutting, mentioned them in a conversation with John Allore on March 15, 2002)

-Can we get a team to search the Lake Memphremagog area where the two hunters report seeing Theresa’s clothes two days after her disappearance? Maybe there are still some remnants.

Questions for the Champlain student population…

-Could Theresa have witnessed something that caused someone to panic and kill her? (Did she see a drug deal go down?) Her brother, John Allore, says she had “a smart mouth”. Maybe she answered back to the wrong person.

-Did anyone return books to Theresa’s locker after she went missing?

-Other than her boyfriend at the time, did someone else have a romantic interest in Theresa?

Questions for the Champlain faculty…

-Was there a member of the faculty who seemed a little “too interested” in the affairs of students?

-Why was Stewart Peacock never interviewed? Why did he leave and where did he go?

-Who was the teacher that Roch Gaudreault named as a suspect? Why was he/she a person of interest?

Questions for John...

-Anon has offered to look for the missing evidence at the SQ’s headquarters on Parthenais Street in Montreal. How does she go about getting the permission she needs to search the evidence storage rooms?

Of course, if you have answers to any of these questions or some information you'd like to share, please email or

As always, we promise to treat everything you tell us with the utmost of discretion.


Maritime Missy

Posted - 1/03/2008 01:29:00 PM 


**Bill Widman said...
Hey Missy! - I've really missed everyone since Christmas, and I'm so glad to see a new post in here.

Knowing how important an anniversary date is, I'm glad to see attention brought to that. I'd say you are right on with the list of questions you've presented. I've been curious about Stewart Peacock since I've first read the story.

Wishing good luck to Anon!

**Anonymous said...
Thanks Bill. As most people would agree, finding Theresa's lost/misplaced evidence is a long shot, but getting the go-ahead to do it seems an even longer one, but I'm ready when they are.

Great list, MM. Can't think of anything to add at the moment, but will let you know if I do. My brain is still on vacation.


**Maritime Missy said...
Hi Bill and Anon! Hope you and your families enjoyed a wonderful holiday. 

As for Theresa's case, I'd REALLY like to get some answers to the questions I've posed. I am convinced somebody reading this blog has some information but due to fear or embarrassment, may not be willing to divulge it. I hope they change their mind and realize that coming forward may be the best thing they'll do for themselves and the Allore family all year. 

I'm keeping my fingers crossed. In the meantime, I guess we'll just continue to dig.



Who Killed Theresa website

I've received a few inquiries as to why I "killed" the Who Killed Theresa? Website.

The main reason was because the website was "static" and the blog is much more interactive. Overtime I was spending all my time blogging information, and the website became more-and-more an artifact of 2002-2003. Also, the blog's html platform is much easier to work with (I am no computer guru; the website requires dream quest (?) or some such software. It's expensive and I can't afford it. Also, the blog is free. The website cost about $35 / year; not a lot, but at least the kids allowance for a month.

If you scroll down this page and click on "who killed theresa website" under "dinky links" you will be taken to something that looks a little like the old website. I don't know how or who or why this information is being maintained (you can see its much more "commercial"; perhaps the owner is hoping someone will want to buy it (it sure isn't me)).

Anyway... If anyone can give me compelling reasons why the website should be restored, I'm all ears.


Missy's Missives ( smiley face )

1. I too would love to comb the archives of the SQ's Don Bosco offices: How does anyone propose I get permission to do so? I am persona-non-grata with the SQ. They won't return my phone calls. The Ministre of Securite Publique has cut me off. Theresa's file is in limbo.

All offers and flashes of ingenuity are welcome.

I will add here that I was in Montreal over Christmas, but decided (wisely) to keep a low profile. No police contact. No media. No lobbying the government. I played hockey, watched hockey, spent time with my family. There will be time to take up the banner later in the new year.

2. I have a further question for the Gagnons: Who was employed on the farm between the winter 1978 and the spring of 1979?

More and more I have difficulty accepting anyone would pull off the side of the road of chemin de la station and drag a body to a dump site. That is one, big wide open valley. Have you seen the dump sites of Camirand and Dube? Completely secluded. Pulling off the road is risky behavior beyond my comprehension. But if you worked on the farm? Aggressed the girl in the barn at the back without the family knowing? Then dumped the body in the adjacent water? This is plausible.

This is on my mind as I am completing a second edit of my chapter for Kim Rossmo's book on investigative failures. It has to be to the editors by the end of January. The chapter is called, What Happened to Theresa Allore? It includes some stuff you've already read (Pearson). Also, extensive pages on the disappearances and discoveries of Dube and Camirand (other than the French, historical press, I don't think there has been this much written about them in English). There was a paragraph written about Sue, but I cut it (so it goes). The best part of it all is the absolute ream-job it delivers to the SQ. It is written without vitriol, but you definitely get the message that after 30-years, these guys still don't know what they're doing. And it's backed by the editing abilities of Kim Rossmo; one of the most respected and influential voices in criminal investigative practices. Frankly, I was surprised he let me keep some of the writing, but pleased that he did.

Posted by John Allore - 1/05/2008 10:21:00 AM 


**Maritime Missy said...
Hey John! Great post.

Your comments about the Gagnon farm just made me think of something else. An unknown car would have set the dogs off or possibly raised a few eyebrows from the farm's residents. But a car (or people) that the dogs and residents know... would not have raised any alarm bells. (My dog knows the difference between our cars, our neighbours cars and vehicles they've never heard before. Regardless of the time of day, if my dog doesn't recognize the vehicle, he will sound the alarm. If it's one he knows, not a peep comes out of him.)

That being said...I do know some farm dogs that bark regardless of what vehicle pulls on to the property. It's their job to alert the property owners and they don't stop until someone comes out to investigate.

Still...I do agree that there is a strong possibility that whoever placed Theresa at the edge of the bog was known to the Gagnons.

RE: SQ Headquarters
If you're persona non grata, what about Andre? Could he approach them for permission? What about a lawyer?

RE: Rossmo's book
I can't wait to read that chapter!!

**Anonymous said...
Can't wait to read the book!!


**Anonymous said...
About the farm...John, I think another question could also be: Who worked on the farm prior to November 1978? It may be that a farm worker spotted this little hidden place while employed there and then later on found himself looking for a place to dump a body and remembered this area...whatever the scenario, it was not chosen at random. The area is out in the open, like you say, and not that easy to access while carrying or dragging a body. It might also have been a place where Theresa's killer made out with his girlfriend but, then again, it's not a place that you just happen upon, he had to have known that it was there and hidden from the road, the bridge and the farmhouse. It makes sense that it was someone who had worked there or was familiar with the land because he was a friend of, or acquainted with, one of the Gagnons.


**Anonymous said...
John, I've got a problem with your 'aggressing the girl in the barn theory'...that still leaves his car parked out on the road, in the drive way, or somewhere on the property, highly risky situation there too, and we all know that Theresa did not walk there all the way from King's Hall. And once the crime in the barn is over with, why not leave her there? It's still quite a distance from the barn to the bog to drag or carry her body...and does not work with the path of the torn scarf in the field. I don't think this person would have stuck around to work there in the winter of 1978, too close to the scene of his crime.


**Bill Widman said...
Well it sure sounds to me like someone is on to something.
I've been to quite a few farms in my life, and have never seen one yet that didn't have dogs. Keep looking this direction. You're bound to find something interesting.

**Anonymous said...
Re: Website. If the blog is free and the website has a cost to maintain, then it makes sense to just keep the blog running. However, I think that it's important to have access to all the newpaper articles on this main blog page, as well as the information about the clothing that Theresa was wearing the night of November 3rd, 1978, and the wallet. This information is important and should be easily accessible, especially to any newcomers to the blog.

**Anonymous said...
MM and Bill, about the dogs...not every farm has one. I don't know if this land is still owned by the Gagnon family but it is still a farm, and the on the few occasions that I have been to the site where Theresa was found, and in the company of several people, not one single dog, or person for that matter, came to investigate, and no dog(s) barked from the farmhouse either.


**Anonymous said...
Just thought of this...most probably the killer(s) knew that there was no dog on this farm, therefore it was safe for him/them to be on that land late at night and not alert the Gagnon family...


**Sharron Prior website said...
I have just read the article from

Pearson , Macleans Magazine 
November 17, 2007

Interesting paragraph

On the final day of the conference, some of the victims' family members fell into conversation. There was talk of burnout, of the stress of doing things on their own, from scratch, with personal savings, of losing their jobs or their partners. There was talk of the hopelessly ad hoc approach to victims' issues across Canada. And, finally, there was hopeful talk of founding a national organization. They don't have the money, so it won't be next year. But one year soon, perhaps, they can hold a national victims conference, and invite one another to speak, while officials from the Department of Justice sit in the audience and take notes. 

(((while officials from the Department of Justice sit in the audience and take notes. ))

Doreen Prior

**Anonymous said...
I've been thinking about the barn theory again, John, and it just doesn't really make sense that someone would have brought Theresa there at any point because with the barn being relatively close to the farmhouse, there would have been a chance that someone would have heard her scream. Too risky. She was most probably assaulted/killed in his car, away from any homes (and that is certainly possible in that area) and then because of the path of the torn scarf in the field, brought to the edge of the bog from the road. Of the women you reported that were assaulted in the late 70s and early 80s, many of them were in cars.


**Anonymous said...
Doreen, the Pat Pearson article that you are referring to is actually from November 2003, but good to read nonetheless. Whoever has re-opened the 'Who KIlled Theresa Website' link (it's not John or MM), has not posted the dates correctly. These articles and letters were from 2002 and 2003. The most recent article, Allison Hanes's 3-parter with the National Post, from June 2006, is not listed. I can't find it linked here but this should work:
Perhaps MM, when you get a second, you can link it on the page.




What was the motive?

One more outstanding question has been rattling in my brain for quite some time. Why was Theresa murdered?

A number of possible motives have been suggested—the most common ones being sexual assault and drugs. But are we limiting the investigation by not considering other possible motives?

If we can narrow down the motive, it might help us eliminate possible suspects or add new ones to the list.

So what are the usual motives for murder? (And which of them might apply in Theresa’s case?) The following book excerpts provide these insights:

"Motive for murder can be divided into seven specific groups: 1) Profit; 2) Elimination; 3) Revenge; 4) Jealousy; 5) Conviction; 6) Sadism; 7) Sex....Removal of the person who happens to be 'in the way' is the determining factor in a great number of murders. In the true elimination murder the continued existence of the victim is inconvenient or dangerous to the killer."
- The Detection of Murder - A Handbook for Police Officers, Detectives, Coroners, Judges and Attorneys, by Paul B. Weston and William F. Kessler

“For example, an investigation of the homicide of a known narcotics trafficker that results from a drug deal gone awry will take a completely different dynamic from that resulting from a domestic dispute between a husband and wife.”
- Evidence Collection by Joseph J. Vince and William E. Sherlock

“There are certain types of homicide where the motive for the act is not always apparent or is truly unknown. This is more characteristic of homicide incidents that have occurred simply because of some altercation over a trivial matter, or some homicides that involve children…”
- The Cambridge Handbook of Australian Criminology, by Adam Graycar and Peter N. Grabosky

In my opinion, any of the following could be realistic motives for murder in Theresa’s case:

Sexual assault (Theresa was found semi-nude but the coroner found no apparent signs of trauma. There was some bruising seen under her armpits prior to the autopsy. Could that have been due to the force applied when dragging her to final resting place? Can bruising happen after death?)

Profit/robbery (Theresa’s wallet was found without any money in it. As I mentioned before, I wonder if anyone checked her banking activity leading up to the day she was murdered. Can that be done now?)

Drugs/concealment of another crime (Maybe she saw something…)

Relationship (Was there someone who was romantically interested in Theresa and felt “rebuffed” by her…resulting in a “if I can’t have her, then nobody will” attitude?)

Another question to ask is: What kind of person would benefit from Theresa’s death?


Maritime Missy

Posted - 1/07/2008 07:39:00 PM 


**Anonymous said...
I think that Theresa's killer probably did not set out to kill her but that, as the situation escalated out of his control, he found himself reacting to a very uncooperative captive. He probably underestimated Theresa's strength and a sexual assault turned deadly. I do believe it was a sex crime because of the way that Theresa's body was found but also because of my personal experience.


**Bill Widman said...
I think you're right on this one, Anon. There have been many cases of when an attacker (such as a mugger or a rapist) thought he had chosen an easy target, then found out he was wrong. It seems to fit Theresa's personality (from what I've read) that she would put up a hell of a fight.
I guess he wasn't into necrophilia, so he never finished what he started out to do.

By the way, Anon, I never told you yet that I have taken your advice and contacted Missing Pieces, and have been exchanging messages with Todd Matthews. Thank you for pointing me in that direction.

**Anonymous said...
Bill, you are VERY welcome, and it will be an honour to type up Debbie's story for Missing Pieces.

Actually, I was about to write to you again on this subject. It's a wonderful service that Todd is providing and it's a great place to have Debbie's story told.


**Anonymous said...
MM, I doubt that the motive was robbery. When Theresa was found she still had her watch, her ring and her earrings.

Of course, anyone who could abduct, assault and kill, would also take money from the victim's wallet before he tossed it in the ditch.


**Bill Widman said...
Now that I'm done with the projects of NC Wanted and the vigil, I'm ready to take on this project.
Everything that I've read by or about Todd Matthews has impressed me so much! I'm really looking forward to working with this guy.
Thanks again.
The honor is mine.

**Todd Matthews said...
My ears were burning.

Thanks for the vote of confidence...I hope I can live up to the generous banter going on here! 

By the way Anon transcribes the bulk of our episodes. I have never seen anyone turn over a transcription so fast~! All on a volunteer basis. 

Bill -- we will talk soon! 


**Anonymous said...
It all started with Theresa's show, Episode 28, on March 20, 2007 -

I transcribed that one, then discovered another Canadian unsolved cold case (Episode 5) that needed to be done; Kathryn Mary Herbert, from Abbotsford, BC was abducted and murdered in September 1975. Then I did another, and another...and I was hooked.

MM, is it possible to link Theresa's show on the blog links, or actually the Missing Pieces Website?


**Anonymous said...
Whoops - the link doesn't appear complete in that last comment, but it actually works when you copy and paste.


**Bill Widman said...
I now have the link on my blogspot, thanks to Judith, my Web Goddess. It shows Anon's transcription of Missing Pieces episode 28, Theresa's story.



Let’s see how “caring” Jacksonville is…

Jacksonville, North Carolina, is home to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and is about 160 kms southeast of Chapel Hill—John Allore’s current place of residence. 

You’ve probably been reading a lot about this place in connection with a pregnant female Marine whose remains were found burned in the backyard fire pit of a fellow Marine who was also alleged to be her rapist, murderer and the father of her unborn child.

Jacksonville’s slogan is “A Caring Community”. Well I, for one, would like to see just how caring this community really is. Will the Marines work hard for justice—or work hard on a cover-up? Will the court system punish those who have provided assistance in hiding Laurean? And will the rest of us stand up and say, “Enough! Let’s prove that we value the lives of our daughters, sisters and mothers enough to provide them with basic human rights protection.”?

How many more Stacy Petersons, Laci Petersons, Sharron Priors, Debbie Keys and Theresa Allores must lose their lives before society demands more of our governments, law enforcement, courts, and employers?

We care enough to be outraged by these crimes. But do we care enough to join the fight to hold the killers accountable?

The murderers of Theresa Allore, Sharron Prior and Debbie Key are still enjoying their freedom while their victims have been silenced. If you have information about their deaths, then show you care by coming forward with information.

Remains of Adult Found; Marine Charged
By Dan Bowens
Jan. 12, 2008

Jacksonville, N.C.--A Marine corporal was charged Saturday with first-degree murder in the disappearance of a pregnant Marine.

Marine Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean, 21, of 103 Meadow Trail in Jacksonville, remains at large. He had used the victim's bank card at an ATM in a city in North Carolina since disappearing early Friday, but officials would not specify which one.

Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said the remains of Lance Cpl. Maria Frances Lauterbach and her unborn child were discovered Saturday in a fire pit in Laurean's backyard. Brown said they believe Laurean – whom she had accused of rape – burned and buried her body after a horrific attack.

"The fetus was developed enough that the little hand was about the size of my thumb," Brown said. "The little fingers were rolled up, and this is consistent with what we were looking for, a pregnant lady who is the victim, Maria Lauterbach, and her unborn child.

"As well as I could see, the body was much charred," Brown added. "The fetus was in the abdominal area of that adult. ... That is tragic, and it's disgusting."

North Carolina law does not allow for murder charges to be filed in the death of an unborn child. Lauterbach, 20, a member of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group at Camp Lejeune, was reported missing on Dec. 19. She was 8½ months pregnant at the time of her disappearance.

The remains found Laurean's backyard have not been positively identified as Lauterbach's, but Brown said he felt law enforcement had collected enough evidence to proceed with murder charges. The remains will be sent to the state medical examiner's office in Chapel Hill for a positive identification using dental records.

The charred remains were found buried roughly 6 inches to 1 foot underground, said Dr. Charles Garrett, the Onslow County medical examiner.

Investigators found blood spatters on the ceiling and a massive amount of blood on the wall of Laurean's home, Brown said.

"The blood patterns were even up into the ceiling," he said. "The blood splatters indicate a violent, violent attack."

Someone had tried to clean up the scene and even painted over some of the blood, Brown said. Laurean had refused to meet with investigators and left the area without telling his lawyers where he was going, the sheriff said.

The State Bureau of Investigation and the Marine Corps were assisting in the search for Laurean. He was described as a white man, 5 feet, 9 inches tall and 160 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He was believed to be driving a black 2004 Quad Cab Dodge pickup with North Carolina license plate TRR-1522, Brown said.

Before he fled, Laurean left a note claiming that he had buried Lauterbach in his yard after she committed suicide, Brown said. The note said Lauterbach had "come to his residence and cut her (own) throat," Brown said, adding that he doubted those claims.

Authorities said they received the note from Laurean's wife, Christina, around 8 a.m. Friday, four hours after the suspect fled. Christina Laurean continued to cooperate with the investigation. Brown said he could not comment on the military proceedings for rape that Lauterbach had initiated against Laurean in April.

Lauterbach met again with military prosecutors in December to discuss pursuing rape charges against Laurean, said Kevin Marks, the supervisory special agent for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service at Camp Lejeune. Prosecutors believed they had enough evidence to argue that the case should go to a court martial, he said.

In a search warrant filed this week, prosecutors said the anticipated birth of the baby "might provide evidentially credence to charges she lodged with military authorities that she was sexually assaulted by a senior military person."

As a corporal, Laurean was one enlisted grade higher than Lauterbach.

Military investigators said they started looking into the rape allegation last April. Lauterbach's uncle, Pete Steiner, said she was frightened by the possible consequences if she reported the rape and pregnancy.

"Shortly after she became pregnant, she told us that she had been raped," Steiner said. "She did not report this to the Marines for approximately a month. She was scared and didn't know what was going to happen to her."

Laurean joined the Marine Corps in September 2004 and was promoted to corporal in September 2006. He was a decorated Marine whose honors included a good conduct medal.

Authorities said they did not consider Laurean a flight risk until Friday because they had information the pair carried on a "friendly relationship" after she reported the assault to military authorities.

Steiner denied that his niece had any kind of relationship with her attacker. Lauterbach had been forced to rent a room off base because of harassment at Camp Lejeune, he said.

"She was raped," Steiner said. "The Marines, unfortunately, did not protect her, and now she's dead."

Lauterbach's attacker was the baby's father, Steiner said.

Melinda Artzur, a former Marine who was a close friend of Lauterbach, said the missing Marine was a free spirit who loved sports.

"She almost pretty much always had a smile on her face, very positive. She was a light," Artzur said.

After Lauterbach was reported missing, her cell phone was found on Dec. 20 along N.C. Highway 24, and her car was found Monday night at a bus station near Camp Lejeune.

Lauterbach had purchased a one-way bus ticket to El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 15, but she never used it, Brown said, and investigators and family members said they were unsure if she had run away.


Maritime Missy

Posted -1/15/2008 12:41:00 AM 


**John Allore said...
Agreed Missy:

The Criminal Justice System treated this woman like trash until the media turned its eye to the case. Now they are scrambling to make good. Institutions held in high regard (military, state police), are now left struggling to explain their initial inertia (sound familiar?)

I have the utmost respect for the military, but they are only human... and since the Iraq war responsible for an abnormally high percentage of homeland homicides.

Can someone PLEASE get these vets some help!

Side note: what's with the spike in interest to this site? Our visit numbers are waaaaayyyy up.


**Bill Widman said...
Hi Missy - is also having an increase in visitors at this time, much to my surprise.

I have already read this news story, but it's your commentary on it that I really appreciate.

**Maritime Missy said...
John...Bill...every time I read a story like this, my blood starts to boil. At what point do people lose their sense of right and wrong? The military said that there was no reason for them to believe Cpl. Laurean was involved in Cpl. Lauterbach's decision to leave the Marines (according to a note she allegedly wrote). Then...when she was AWOL...people still didn't search for her. Call me an armchair detective but I KNOW my FIRST thought would be, "Cpl. Laurean needs to be questioned". After all, Maria Lauterbach was 8 months pregnant, had recently lodged a rape complaint and had been physically harrassed on base. I would like to know how much Cpl. Laurean's wife knew. I would also like to know if there were any NCIS women on the case. If so, would they have made different decisions than their predominantly male supervisors? I hope so. (Hmm...I sense a new topic for a blog entry for me...)

Anyway, thanks Bill for saying you enjoy my commentaries. I try not to go on too much of a rant but sometimes I can't help myself. :-)

**Bill Widman said...
Missy - My friends pick on me all the time about talking too much. It makes me wonder why they let me be in charge of the website.

Anyway, my "Web Goddess" tells me the increase in visitors we've been getting this week have been mostly from this website about missing persons which now has a link to us. It has been proposed that we should link them back.

I see you use Site Meter while we use Stat Counter. I don't know which is better but this one is free. Do you really think the government is spying on us?

Don't feel bad about ranting. You're doing a good job. 



Investigators: The last voice for murder victims

Witnesses: The power to bring a killer to justice

Here’s an interesting story about a cold case in south Texas that caught my eye. It touches on a number of things common to Theresa’s case:

- No real evidence
- Strangled woman found near water
- The importance of witnesses coming forward
- The fear preventing witnesses from coming forward
- The lack of resources assigned to cold case investigators

Ann Marie Garcia’s case was revived when a witness, serving time for other crimes, came forward with new information.

I truly believe that in order for Theresa’s case to get some attention from law enforcement, it needs a witness and/or a confession. Somebody killed Theresa. And that somebody most surely has talked or raised the suspicion of friends, family or co-workers who know him/them. If you’re one of those people, find your voice.



Woman’s murder case reopened after years of questions
The Monitor
McAllen, Texas

…Strangled, abused and dumped on the banks of a Delta-area canal, (Ann Marie Garcia’s) body was found on Oct. 23, 2003, by fishermen searching a field of tall weeds for bait.

…Investigators combed the scene for hours that fall morning but uncovered few clues as to who killed her or why. …For years her murder went unsolved. And it likely would have remained that way were it not for the efforts of one detective determined to follow the truth. 

… the Hidalgo County sheriff’s deputy persisted, determined not to let her memory — like those of so many other victims of unsolved murders — fade away in a haze of mystery. …“These aren’t just names in a report — they’re people,” Garza said. “And as an investigator, you’re their last voice.” 

…With limited time and resources, local authorities can rarely dedicate the manpower to sprawling, time-intensive investigations that have already ended in dead ends one time around. 

… the answers modern tools delivered were often limited by the evidence originally collected at the crime scene, Garza said. 

… deciding to reopen an unsolved murder like Ann Marie’s involves a complex rubric of criteria. Detectives must consider whether witnesses and suspects are still available for interviews and whether prosecutors feel they can successfully try the case. …Before expending long hours and department resources on a pursuit that could end as nothing more than a wild goose chase, investigators must determine the likelihood that the case will be closed, said Rudy Jaramillo, a former cold case detective with the Texas Rangers who spent years investigating the 1960 murder of McAllen beauty queen Irene Garza. That case remains open to this day.

…If there are no witnesses, no suspects and no crime scene left, these cases will still be almost impossible to wrap up,” he said. 

…In many cold cases, witnesses become more cooperative as time passes, said Rudy Jaramillo, a former member of the Texas Rangers’ cold case squad. …“One thing you have on your side is time,” he said. “You can go back and talk to associates, and people are not as afraid as they were before.”

…But in Garcia’s case, the power the Mexican Mafia held over its current and former members far outweighed time.

You can read the rest of the story here:

Part One:

[Woman’s murder case reopened after years of questions
January 12, 2008 - 9:56 PM
Jeremy Roebuck
Day one of a two-day series. 

EDCOUCH — Ann Marie Garcia was certainly no saint. But she never deserved to die the way she did.

Strangled, abused and dumped on the banks of a Delta-area canal, her body was found on Oct. 23, 2003, by fishermen searching a field of tall weeds for bait.

Investigators combed the scene for hours that fall morning but uncovered few clues as to who killed her or why.

For years her murder went unsolved. And it likely would have remained that way were it not for the efforts of one detective determined to follow the truth.

Tracking Ann Marie’s killers led Sgt. Rafael Garza through a dark world of spurned lovers, drug smuggling and international organized crime — grown no less grim by the passing of several years.

But still, the Hidalgo County sheriff’s deputy persisted, determined not to let her memory — like those of so many other victims of unsolved murders — fade away in a haze of mystery.

“These aren’t just names in a report — they’re people,” Garza said. “And as an investigator, you’re their last voice.”


The conviction of two men in 2006 for their involvement in Ann Marie’s murder cleared her case from the sheriff’s office unsolved files.

But dozens of thick case files on the county’s unsolved deaths remain. There are enough to fill a room from wall to wall, Garza said.

Each folder is stuffed with false starts. Each victim’s life and grisly murder has been reduced to a sheaf of bound paperwork.

Last year, only two detectives were permanently assigned to investigate these cases, Sheriff Lupe Treviño said.

“To be very honest, our emphasis is on current murder cases,” he said. “We do work (cold cases), but we do them slowly.”

Unlike larger cities like Dallas, Houston and San Antonio — each of which have squads of investigators devoted solely to cold cases, the smaller law enforcement agencies of the Rio Grande Valley take up old investigations only when they can.

With limited time and resources, local authorities can rarely dedicate the manpower to sprawling, time-intensive investigations that have already ended in dead ends one time around.

Still, in 2005 the sheriff dedicated Sgt. Garza and another deputy to clearing out the backlog.

“I was afforded time that the original investigators never were,” Garza said. “These murders were one of many things on their plates at the time.”

Aided by the development of new forensic technologies and advanced criminal databases, the investigators approached these old cases in new ways.

But the answers modern tools delivered were often limited by the evidence originally collected at the crime scene, Garza said.

The first 48 hours of any homicide investigation often yield the most crucial clues. After that, leads dry up, suspects cover their tracks and witnesses remember less clearly.

In Ann Marie’s case, those critical first hours delivered some promising momentum and then a shuddering halt.

“Time is your enemy in a homicide investigation,” Garza said. “The suspect has a lead on you. In some of these cold cases, that lead is measured in years.”


Authorities uncovered several potential clues in the hours after finding Ann Marie’s body along the canal banks two miles south of Edcouch.

Dressed in denim capri pants and a pink shirt, the 21-year-old’s long, straight, black hair lay tangled in the weeds around her.

Early on, investigators suspected a shoelace discarded feet from her body was the weapon her killer had used to garrote her.

Preliminary autopsy results uncovered traces of heroin and crack cocaine in her system — a revelation that came as no surprise to her friends and family.

Ann Marie, they said, was a girl born into unfortunate circumstances. Raised by parents with ties to the Mexican Mafia, she spent the last years of her life cycling through a string of drug-dealing, gang-affiliated boyfriends.

They told investigators she spent the night of her death with the latest — Reynaldo Saenz, a then 43-year-old drug dealer with ambitions of moving up in criminal circles.

When investigators arrived at Saenz’s La Casita home two days later, they hoped they might catch the break that would solve Ann Marie’s murder. Instead, they found a man who could have stopped it.

Saenz told deputies he had been smoking crack with Ann Marie two nights earlier when a group of masked men burst through his door. They knocked him out, tied him up with duct tape and threatened him with high-powered weapons.

The men pulled Ann Marie into the laundry room, Saenz told investigators, while several others loaded his substantial drug stash into their van.

But before they took off, they took Ann Marie with them.

At the time, Saenz figured his girlfriend was in on the plot to steal the drugs. He didn’t report her kidnapping or the home invasion to police.

And because the gunmen wore masks, he said he couldn’t identify any of her captors.

With no idea who abducted Ann Marie, where they took her or why, investigators from Starr and Hidalgo counties had reached a dead end.

They actively investigated the case for a few weeks more. But with each passing hour, her killer slipped farther and farther away.

Eventually, her file found a spot on a shelf back in the sheriff’s office — tucked away among the dozens of others. Months after her death, Ann Marie’s case was nearly forgotten.


The case ended up on Sgt. Garza’s desk two years later when an inmate at the Starr County jail claimed he had participated in the Oct. 22, 2003, drug raid at Reynaldo Saenz’s home.

Garza, a newly named cold case detective, was eager to push the investigation forward. And with the prospect of fresh testimony, Ann Marie’s file floated to the top of his workload.

But deciding to reopen an unsolved murder like Ann Marie’s involves a complex rubric of criteria. Detectives must consider whether witnesses and suspects are still available for interviews and whether prosecutors feel they can successfully try the case.

Before expending long hours and department resources on a pursuit that could end as nothing more than a wild goose chase, investigators must determine the likelihood that the case will be closed, said Rudy Jaramillo, a former cold case detective with the Texas Rangers who spent years investigating the 1960 murder of McAllen beauty queen Irene Garza. That case remains open to this day.

“If there are no witnesses, no suspects and no crime scene left, these cases will still be almost impossible to wrap up,” he said.

So when Sgt. Garza arrived in Rio Grande City to meet with the self-professed suspect, he hoped Luis Carlos Mares could offer the answers he needed to justify reopening the case.

The 33-year-old Mexican Mafia sergeant delivered. But what he had to say posed many more questions.


Mares told Garza that Reynaldo Saenz was half right when he shared his story of the drug raid at the La Casita home.

The gunmen had come to steal the marijuana, but Ann Marie had no part in the planning, he said. She just happened to be in the wrong place with the wrong man.

Mares and several of his gang cohorts had planned the attack after learning about a 2-ton load of marijuana Saenz was holding for a Mexican drug smuggler known only as “El Piojo,” the Louse.

The house should have been an easy target, they thought. Saenz was a drunk and would likely be alone on a Wednesday night, Mares told Garza.

But on Oct. 22, 2003, he wasn’t. He was with Ann Marie.

The sight of another person ruffled the men as they stormed the house just after 11 p.m. But Mares, who had forgotten to wear a ski mask that night, found a bigger surprise waiting inside.

He immediately recognized the dark-skinned 21-year-old woman reclined on Saenz’s couch, her thin frame relaxed by the effects of crack cocaine.

But more importantly, she recognized him. It was an identification that would eventually get her killed.

Ann Marie Garcia was Mares’ ex-girlfriend.

COMING TOMORROW: Building a case against Ann Marie’s killers

Part Two:

[Conflicting stories, hesitant witnesses cloud cold case

January 13, 2008 - 3:11 PM
Jeremy Roebuck
Part two of two.

EDINBURG — Sgt. Rafael Garza knew the Mexican Mafia was a tight-knit and dangerous group.

But in solving the murder of 21-year-old Ann Marie Garcia, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s deputy was about to learn how insular and vicious they could actually be.

Formed in the California prison system during the late 1950s, the gang of Mexican-Americans quickly spread outside jail cell walls to every state in the nation.

Today, the organization is more than 2,500 members strong and involved in drug-trafficking, murder-for-hire and extortion schemes, according to the FBI.

“These aren’t your run-of-the-mill criminals,” Garza said. “There’s a certain way of talking to them and a lot of ceremony to be observed.”

Members of the gang killed Garcia after a 2003 home invasion and dumped her body on the banks of a rural Edcouch canal.

More than two years later, Garza was determined to put them behind bars.

A new witness had come forward claiming to be Garcia’s ex-boyfriend and a witness to her murder.

Luis Carlos Mares, a then 31-year-old sergeant of the Mexican Mafia, told Garza of a raid he and other members had planned on Oct. 22, 2003.

They had hoped to storm a Starr County drug dealer’s home in La Casita, steal a ton of marijuana hidden inside and escape with no blood on their hands.

Instead, they found Ann Marie Garcia.


Despite a haze induced by smoking crack-cocaine hours before, Garcia recognized her former boyfriend as he and his accomplices burst through the front door, Mares later told Garza.

That was a problem.

Should she rat Mares out to police, investigators could track him down, endangering other gang members. She had to be killed, his collaborators argued.

Mares, however, urged a different course. He knew of his ex’s drug habit and suggested they try to buy her silence by offering her a cocaine rock.

As they stood arguing over what to do with the thin, dark-skinned girl, others loaded a waiting SUV with more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana.

In the end, they decided to put Garcia in the car like another piece of cargo, Mares said.

The men then drove to a home outside Edinburg to seek the guidance of a gang lieutenant, who quickly overruled Mares.

The man ordered another member — Juan Adames, then 52 — to inject the girl with enough heroin to kill her and then bury her deep underground.

Adames injected her twice, Mares said, yet Garcia still clung to consciousness. Eventually, he pulled a shoelace from her shoes, wrapped it around her neck and choked the life out of her.

Her body was found the next morning.


After more than two years of unanswered questions, Garza had finally found a plausible explanation for the murder.

Finding someone to corroborate it, however, would prove more difficult.

“Everything was like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Garza said. “We had to interview (Mares) a couple of times.”

In many cold cases, witnesses become more cooperative as time passes, said Rudy Jaramillo, a former member of the Texas Rangers’ cold case squad.

“One thing you have on your side is time,” he said. “You can go back and talk to associates, and people are not as afraid as they were before.”

But in Garcia’s case, the power the Mexican Mafia held over its current and former members far outweighed time.

Even tracking them down proved challenging. Although Mares identified 12 accomplices who participated in the 2003 home invasion and kidnapping, he only referred to them by gang nicknames.

Garza, one of only two cold case investigators in the sheriff’s office at the time, spent months compiling photo lineups and checking criminal databases in search of men known only by names like “Cricket,” “Rocky” and “Boo.”

He eventually found eight of Mares’ accomplices. Most were behind bars for various unrelated crimes. Almost all refused to meet with him.

Even those who admitted to knowing something about the murder were so afraid for their lives that they dared not speak.

One man, who was incarcerated in state prison in San Antonio, broke down in tears afraid he would be killed by other gang members inside.

“Within the Mexican Mafia, it’s a death sentence if they talk,” Garza said.

All the while, Garza’s every attempt to track down Adames — the man Mares had accused of killing Garcia — failed.

McAllen police and the Texas Department of Corrections offered no solid leads based on Adames’ prior criminal history.

And although he was registered in the Hidalgo County Adult Probation system, the address and phone numbers Adames had provided came up empty.

So when Garza finally received a call from the 54-year-old’s probation officer on Nov. 18, 2005, saying Adames had been arrested on drug possession charges, he hesitated before believing he’d finally found his man.

And as much as Garza wanted to find Garcia’s killer, a high-ranking member of the Mexican

Mafia wanted Adames more.


A 45-year-old gang inductee years before, Juan Adames joined the Mexican Mafia relatively late in life. He never seemed to capitalize on his age, though.

Nine years later, he was still a gang foot soldier and taking orders like the one to kill Ann Marie Garcia.

Since her death, Adames had been inside more than a few jail cells. His almost constant state of incarceration may have saved his life.

The day after Garcia’s body was found in 2003, news of the discovery quickly made its way up the Mexican Mafia hierarchy. The way her body was disposed of upset leaders in the higher echelons.

After years of killings and countless bodies, the group had learned to cover their tracks. Bodies were to be disposed of subtly, and Adames had ignored orders to induce a drug overdose and bury the girl deep underground.

As witnesses would later tell Garza, Mafia Capt. Wilford Padilla was so upset by Adames’ mistake he ordered a hit on the man’s life.

Armed with information about the death threats, Garza hoped to convince Adames to talk more than two years later. On Nov. 18, the two finally met in a Hidalgo County jail cell.

The detective danced around the topic initially, asking Adames about his family and condition in jail.

“He knew I had been looking for him,” Garza said. “Word had already spread among his friends.”

It took news of the gang-ordered hit to finally get him to talk.


After receiving the order to induce a heroin overdose and bury Garcia’s body, Adames got greedy, he told Garza.

Although he’d been given enough drugs for two injections, he gave the girl just enough to pass out and kept the rest for himself.

Just after 3 a.m., Adames, Mares and another gang member loaded her into a Yukon and drove east toward Edcouch while discussing what to do with her.

Adames, meanwhile, claims he snuck furtive glances through the rearview mirror of Mares raping and choking the girl.

Eventually, they pulled over about two miles south of Edcouch, shoved Garcia out of the car and left her there to die.

Hours later, deputies made their gruesome discovery.


The facts of what exactly transpired during the early morning hours of Oct. 22, 2003 may forever remain a mystery.

Adames’ version of events significantly differs from Mares’. Both point the finger at one other in the case of Garcia’s murder.

However, two years, numerous interviews and countless dead ends later, Garza finally found two men who confessed to witnessing Garcia’s death and playing a role in the events that led up to it.

Between March and April 2006, sheriff’s deputies arrested Adames, Mares and a third associate — Jesus “Cricket” Gonzalez Jr., 26 — and charged them all with capital murder.

Mares pleaded guilty and received a 60-year prison sentence.

Adames took his case to trail in 2006. Despite reports that his fellow gang members tried to intimidate jurors, he was convicted later that year. He is currently serving a life sentence in a state penitentiary.

“I have to hand it to that jury,” Garza said. “They were really brave and stuck to their guns.”

Gonzalez’s case still awaits trial.

Before closing the case file that covered more than a year of his career, he called Garcia’s mother to tell her that her daughter had finally received justice.

“She was just overwhelmed,” Garza said. “She never thought this case would be solved.”

For every case like Garcia’s, though, there are dozens of others that remain unsolved.

And some other investigator will have to solve them.

After putting the Mexican Mafia case to rest, Garza moved off of cold cases to investigate public corruption. He is currently a patrol sergeant for the sheriff’s office.

“It’s not that I’ve forgotten those people,” he said. “Their cases are always open.”


Jeremy Roebuck covers courts and general assignments for The Monitor. He can be reached at (956) 683-4437.


Maritime Missy

Posted - 1/19/2008 01:24:00 AM



Hero or Foolhardy?

When I first read this story about a 53-year-old woman confronting and chasing down a burglar, I was inspired. I like it when women refuse to be victimized. But the cops reminded readers that it could easily have had a different outcome.

I would like to think that I would fight back in similar situation...but truth be known, my first instinct would be to head straight back out the door and call 9-1-1.

Of course, the woman in this story also happened to be a marathon runner and holds a black belt in karate so she was probably a little more prepared than most.

I guess, in the final analysis, women need to know their limits, be able to assess the seriousness of the situation and do whatever it takes to survive--whether that's kicking and screaming or cooperating if the threat is too precarious.,0,5476516.story


Maritime Missy

Posted - 1/25/2008 07:51:00 AM 


**Bill Widman said...
What an awesome story! A 53 year old woman beats a 24 year old man. It's always nice to read a true story where good triumphs over evil. Pity the poor fool who messes with this woman!
Thanks Missy! Good one!

**Anonymous said...
Another woman defends herself:

“I don’t take any joy in having to take a life,” 64-year-old Judith Kuntz said. “But that’s the kind of world we live in. You have to be prepared, and I’m glad we have a right to protect ourselves.”

Judith, who worked part-time as a nurse, lived in a three-bedroom home in Indialantic, Florida. Her husband had died several years before, and since his death, she'd kept a Rossi .38 Special Model 88 pistol under her pillow for protection.

On Sunday night, May 29, 2005, Judith was sound asleep when she heard a crash. She later said it sounded like a loud “bang,” and seemed to come from her back door. She awoke, not knowing that the banging was so loud that it was also heard by her stepson who lived in a house behind her.

Before she’d gone to bed, Judith had checked to make sure all the doors of the house were locked.

She pulled the revolver from beneath the pillow. Judith moved to the head of the bed and crouched down on the floor between the bed and the wall, facing the bedroom door where she could have an unobstructed view of the hall.

A police report of the incident stated, “Mrs. Kuntz could see the kitchen light come on and she could see the light from a flashlight coming towards her bedroom.”

An intruder walked down the hall as if he owned the place. He stopped at her bedroom door. Silhouetted by the flashlight, Judith saw him clearly. She didn’t know the man.

She raised the revolver to eye-level, aimed, and squeezed the trigger. As the shot rang through the room, the intruder yelled, then turned and raced back down the hall. He was still holding the flashlight—Judith watched it flashing off her walls as he fled.

As soon as he ran out the back door, Judith called 911.

“[Someone] broke into my house,” she told the dispatcher. “I think I shot him.”

“Where did you shoot him?”

“I don’t know,” Judith responded. “I shot at someone who was at my bedroom door. I don’t know. I’m not going to come out of my bedroom.”

In addition to the call made by Judith, her stepson also called 911 and came over to help. Within minutes, deputies arrived and found the body of a man lying face-down in the back yard. He was dressed in shorts, a t-shirt, and athletic shoes, but carried no identification. He had a sock on his left hand and the flashlight, still on, was clutched in his right hand.

A deputy turned him over and noticed a gunshot wound to the chest. Cops observed the tattoo of a cross on his right hand between his index finger and thumb. He also had a tattoo of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle on his left arm and the tattoos of four women on his right arm.

Backtracking, the deputy found the back door open and the door window lying on a cement patio leading into the house. Blood was found on the concrete. Entering the house, deputies found blood in the kitchen and the hall.

In an interview with detectives, Judith stated that after shooting, she placed the gun in a cabinet beside her bed.

Investigators from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office took fingerprints from the intruder. A day later, the FBI identified him as Jason Lewis Preston of Eagle Rapids, Michigan. He had a long criminal history, including convictions for burglary, drug offenses, and numerous assaults. He was currently on probation for assaulting his wife. “He had a violent history,” an Eaton Rapids police spokesperson said. “In fact, we were in the process of seeking another warrant for domestic violence against him.”

In an interview with relatives, investigators learned that a few days before, Preston had taken a bus to Indialantic to visit a cousin. During that time, he’d committed at least three burglaries in the neighborhood. (His loot was found hidden in the backyard of his cousin’s home.) For entertainment, Preston hung out at the nearby Hustler Bar.

Investigators determined that Preston had entered Judith’s home by pulling the window off the frame. Then he reached inside and unlocked the door.

Brevard County Homicide Agent Louis Heyn concluded that the shooting was justifiable. “The bottom line,” he said, “is that when somebody enters your home like that [and you shoot him], it’s self-defense. Breaking into the house obviously shows some intent.”

Judith continues to live in the home that she and her husband shared from more than twenty years. “I’m doing fine under the circumstances,” she said. “I don’t take any joy in somebody being dead. My self-preservation instinct took over. This has been a horrifying experience.”

Detective Heyn praised Judith for her defense of her home. “Occupied burglaries are rare,” he said. “This underscores that it is dangerous for the burglar and the homeowner. Crime can be a tough career.”


**Anonymous said...
And yes, it is a 2-year-old story, but still a good one.


**Maritime Missy said...
Fabulous story ANON. I hope I have the presence of mind to do that if somebody breaks into my house. Mind you, I've been told that you need to fire