Thursday, February 26, 2009

Billy Wayne Hall Charged With Murder And Kidnapping Freda heyn:

Christian County Prosecutor Ron Cleek has refiled second-degree murder and added kidnapping charges against Billy Wayne Hall, 50, for the 2003 murder and dismemberment of Freda Heyn.

Cleek dropped the original murder charge filed against Billy Hall in 2006 because of an evidentiary matter.

He also needed more time to obtain additional evidence against Hall that he believes will secure a conviction against the Sparta man.

Freda Heyn was last seen alive at the post office in Oldfield on November 3, 2003.

Hikers found the skull of Mrs. Heyn in the spring of 2004 in the Mark Twain National Forest near Chadwick.

Hall was charged in October 2006 with second-degree murder along with his former sister-in-law, Paula D. Hall, and David D. Epperson after Heyn’s skull was found by hikers.

The break in the case came when blood found in Heyn’s home matched Epperson’s. Epperson cut his hand while he helped the Hall's clean Freda's trailer after she had been murdered.

Epperson made a deal with prosecutors and testified against Paula Hall at her first-degree murder trial last month and he is expected to testify against Billy Hall too.

In exchange for his testimony, prosecutors dropped the murder charges against Epperson and replaced it with a charge of tampering with evidence.

The probable cause statement in the refiled case says that Tommy Petit told investigators that Billy Hall called he and Clint Ward to, “cut up the (Heyn's)body and dispose of the body parts.”

Hall allegedly supplied them with a hacksaw, a box knife and regular knife for the job.

Cleek says that they went to the scene and Pettit explained that he and Clint Ward cut Freda Heyn up when she was in a bathtub.

Petit goes on to tell investigators that Billy Hall ordered he and Ward to take their clothes off and burn them.

Another witness, identified in the statement as “D. Dowdy” said “that in 2003, Billy Hall and Dowdy were living together and that Billy Hall came home covered in blood, continually yelling at Paula Hall and telling her that he would never help her again.”

Cleek says that without Tommy Pettit's statement, he would not have refiled the murder charge against Hall.

Billy Hall has other problems with the law as well....Cleek filed felony drug charges against the Sparta man on January 16th for manufacturing methamphetamine within 2,000 feet of a school.

A warrant has been issued for Hall's arrest on the newly refiled murder and kidnapping charges, as well as the drug charges and he is on the run from the law.

If you have any information that can help cops nab Billy Hall you're asked to call Crime Stoppers at (417) 869-TIPS (8477) or the Christian County Sheriff's Office at (417) 581-2332. You can remain anonymous

You can also submit information securely online at http://www.tipsubmit.com/.

A jury convicted Paula Hall of second-degree murder last month (February.)

She is scheduled to be sentenced on April 3rd in Christian County.

******Note Paula Hall's sentencing has been moved to May. 26th.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

UPDATED: Nixa Public Works Supervisor And Another Former City Employee Charged With Allegdly Stealing Half A Million Dollors From City:



UPDATES-Including Federal Charges And Indictment At Bottom:



It appears that there is money missing from the coffers at the city of Nixa.....A LOT of money.

Apparently at least $350,000, with the amount expected to increase, is missing from the Nixa streets department and two men — a city employee and former employee — sit in jail accused of the theft.

A supervisor in the Public Works Department, Larry Covington (above), was busted on charges of felony stealing on Monday. He is being held in the Christian County jail on a bond of $100,000, according to Christian County Prosecutor Ron Cleek.

According to the probable cause statement, an employee of the city contacted City Administrator Brian Bingle to, "report suspicious spending practices by Street Directory Larry Covington during the prior three months."

The employee reported that purchase orders were issued to a company named Ward & Spooner in Spokane, however, no products were ever delivered in exchange for payment of the purchase orders.

Covington allegedly wrote over 50 checks to the same company in Spokane between January of 2007 and February of this year totalling.

Investigators say there really wasn't a business named, Ward & Spooner....however, Covington owned the name for the bogus business.
After an internal audit officials with the city told police that checks written to Ward & Spooner totaled $277,446.78.

Investigators said some of the checks were mailed to 71 W. English Village Park in Nixa.

Detectives determined that from 2000 - 2006 Covington resided at the trailer park.

On February 23, 2009, investigators served a subpoena at the United States Postal Service in Spokane to determine the ownership of P.O. Box 311.

That P. O. Box is registered to Larry Covington; it also lists Dennis Gray as an authorized user.

Covington, who has entered a plea of not guilty, is due back in court on March 31st.

Cleek asked Associate Circuit Court Judge John Waters to seal the court documents related to this case....that motion was denied.

Detectives believe that a former employee of the City of Nixa, David Griggs (b.), was involved in the alleged scheme to bilk the city out of taxpayer money, and a warrant was issued for his arrest on 02-25-09.

Investigators believe that Covington and Griggs conspired to set up another fake business with the name Tri-State Supply.

Court documents indicate that checks from the City of Nixa were issued to Tri-State Supply after Covington initiated purchase orders for payment to the fake business.

Tri-State Supply received checks that totalled $80,301.00 at a P.O. Box in Republic.

A subpoena was served at the United States Postal Service in Republic and the investigation determined that P.O. Box 898 was registered to David Griggs, Tina Griggs and Tri-State Supply.

Nixa Police Office Jeff Romero writes in the probable cause statement that accompanies the charges filed against Griggs, that when he interviewed Covington on February 23rd he admitted that, "he and Griggs came up with the idea and plan together."

Griggs, who was fired by the City of Nixa in 2006, pleaded guilty to forgery in Christian County that same year and was placed on five years probation.

He has entered a plea of not guilty and is due back in court on March 3, 2009.

Cleek says that more arrests and charges are possible, "in the on-going investigation."

UPDATE (03-09-09):

The wife of Larry Covington, Paula Covington, has been charged as an accessory to stealing. She was arraigned and posted bond.

Investigators now believe as much as $750,000 is missing from the city.

Larry Covington posted $100,000 bond---as part of the requirements of the bond Covington must wear a GPS monitoring ankle bracelet, surrender his passport, and not sell any property without notifying the court.

The Christian County Headliner has uncovered a document of a transcribed phone call that an anonymous caller placed to authorities in 2006 in an effort to tip them off about schemes that they believed Covington and Griggs were involved in regarding city property.

Then then police chief at the time, Bruce Belin, says that he was not told that the concerns were over property, not missing money.

Larry Covington was also charged with another count of stealing after detectives found rolls of plate metal and tools belonging to The City of Nixa on his property.

In a separate lawsuit not related to the stealing charges a neighbor of the Covingtons, Bobbie Johns says that the couple built a garage/workshop on part of her property.

Johns attorney has notified the city of pending litigation regarding the encroachment on her clients property.

The City of Nixa has also filed a civil lawsuit against the suspects to try and recoup some of the missing money.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009:

Prelim Dates Set For Former Nixa Employees And Wife Of One Charged With Stealing From City:

Three people accused of creating bogus businesses to steal close to a million dollars from the city of Nixa have had preliminary hearing dates set.

Two former city employees Larry Covington and David Griggs are scheduled to appear in court in Christian County on April 24th.

Covington's wife, Paula, is due in court on May 13th.

Christian County Prosecutor Ron Cleek says that the investigation is ongoing and won't rule out that additional charges could being filed in the case.

Larry Covington is free on $100,000 bond and has to wear a court ordered GPS tracking device while free.....Paula Covington is free on $10,000 bond.

Griggs, has not been able to post his $100,000 bond and he remains in lockup in Christian County.

UPDATE (04-15-09):

Charges have been dropped against a former City of Nixa employee that was accused in a scheme that cost the city $750,000.

Christian County prosecutor Ron Cleek dismissed stealing charges against David Griggs today (04-15-09).

Court records say that Griggs allegedly set up bogus companies with Nixa Street Department supervisor Larry Covington to steal the money for goods that were not delivered to the city.

Covington's wife, Paula, is charged with stealing in the scheme as well.

Christian County Prosecutor Ron Cleek won't say why he dismissed the charges, however, Griggs remains in jail on a probation violation.

There are a couple of scenarios that could have led to the dismissal of the charges.

  • It's possible that the state charge could be replaced with a federal charge.
  • Another possibility is that prosecutors agreed to drop the charge against Griggs in return for his testimony against the Covingtons.

According to online court records no federal charges against Griggs or the Covingtons have been filed.

UPDATE (04-16-09):


We now know the reason that Christian County Prosecutor Ron Cleek dropped stealing charges against a former City of Nixa employee.

David Griggs, who worked in the street department in Nixa was charged in federal court yesterday in a sealed indictment alleging that he embezzled close to $10,000 from the city.

That indictment was unsealed today.

The federal criminal complaint alleges that Griggs created a fictitious business named Airborne Specialist with the Missouri Secretary of States office to steal $9,858 from the city of Nixa on Nov. 10, 2005.Griggs, who was employed in the city street department from Nov. 6, 2003, to Feb. 8, 2006, allegedly obtained funds by invoicing the city for goods that were never provided.

On Oct. 15, 2005, the city of Nixa approved a $9,858 purchase order from Airborne Specialists (a name that Griggs used interchangeably with his registered business name) for 6,200 pounds of Davies Ultra Melt snow and ice remover.The feds say that product was never delivered to the city.

Former Nixa Street Supervisor Larry Covington and his wife Paula are still facing state charges related to the scheme that cost the city more than $750,000.

No word yet if the state charges against the Covington's will be dropped so that the feds can step in and charge the couple.

Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Matt Whitworth said, “Today’s federal criminal complaint is part of an ongoing investigation,” adding, “We anticipate this case will be presented to a grand jury, therefore, we are not able to provide any further details about the investigation. Grand jury deliberations are confidential, which prevents our office from making any additional comments at this time.”

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html

04-22-09:

Griggs Released On Own Recognizance Following Detention Hearing:

The last person remaining in jail for allegedly bilking the City of Nixa out of a million dollars has been released on his own recognizance.

David Griggs was charged in a federal criminal complaint last week by U. S. Attorney For The Western District of Missouri, Matt J. Whitworth.

Griggs was released following his detention hearing in federal court in Springfield on Monday, according to Don Ledford, public affairs officer for Whitworth's office.

Ledford said the next step in the federal process is that a grand jury, "will hear evidence in the case and could return with an indictment with the same or similar charges filed in the criminal complaint. He added, "that could include the same or additional co-defendants."

Griggs was originally charged with felony stealing charges in Christian County in late February that alleged he and former Nixa street superintendent Larry Covington, along with Covington's wife, Paula, stole more than one million dollars in a purchase order scheme that included bogus companies the trio fraudulently began in 2004.

Christian County Prosecutor Ron Cleek dropped the state charges against Griggs on April 15 when the feds decided to take the case.

Griggs and his wife filed for bankruptcy protection in December stating that they were about $200,000 in debt from medical bills, student and home loans as well as credit card debt. The Griggses' said they only had about $450.00 in liquid assets available to them; that included some vehicles and personal property.

In March, the trustee in charge of the Griggses' bankruptcy said that Griggs did not list assets from either of his bogus companies, Tri-State Supply or Airborne Specialists....therefore he withdrew a report filed in federal court that stated the couple didn't have the money to pay their creditors.

Criminal charges of stealing are still pending in Christian County against the Covingtons; who are also facing a couple of civil suits (both related and non-related to the money scam.) as well.

The Covington's are currently out of jail on bond....Paula Covington was released after posting $10,000 bond--Larry Covington on $100,000 bond with special conditions set forth in the bond that include him wearing court-ordered GPS monitoring device.

As of noon today (04-22-09) Ledford said no federal complaints against the Covington's have been filed.

05-15-09:

Covington's And Griggs Facing Federal Charges Related To Nixa Money Scam:

Matt J. Whitworth, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced Friday that the former street department superintendent for the city of Nixa, Mo., along with his wife and another former city worker, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for a series of mail fraud and money laundering schemes totaling more than $756,000.

Larry W. Covington, 49, and his wife, Paula K. Covington, 52, both of Ash Grove, Mo., and David W. Griggs, 44, of Willard, Mo., were charged in a
51-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield on yesterday (05-14-09). That indictment was unsealed and made public Friday upon the arrest and initial court appearance of Griggs.

The federal indictment replaces a criminal complaint that was filed against Griggs on April 15, 2009.

Covington was employed by the city of Nixa from March 6, 2000, to Feb. 23, 2009. He was appointed to be the superintendent of the street department on May 6, 2004.

Griggs was employed as a utility worker in the city street department from Nov. 6, 2003, to Feb. 8, 2006. He was promoted to be the lead utility worker on Aug. 4, 2004.

The federal indictment alleges that Larry Covington and Griggs participated in a conspiracy to defraud the city of Nixa. They allegedly used two businesses established by Griggs - Airborne Specialist (sometimes referred to as Airborne Specialists) and Tri-State Supply - to invoice the city of Nixa for approximately $273,645 in goods and services that were never provided.

The federal indictment also alleges that Larry Covington used a business that he established - Ward & Spooner - to invoice the city of Nixa for approximately $482,365 in goods and services that were never provided.

Mail Fraud Conspiracy:

According to the indictment, Larry Covington and Griggs participated in a mail fraud conspiracy from Oct. 18, 2004, to Feb. 25, 2009. Larry Covington allegedly initiated fraudulent purchase orders for goods and services to be supplied to the city of Nixa by Airborne Specialist/s (Grigg's fake business.)

Larry Covington allegedly submitted 83 fraudulent invoices to the city, totaling $183,435, for goods and services that were never provided by Airborne Specialist(s). In each case, the indictment says, Larry Covington acknowledged receipt of these goods, which were never received.

As part of the conspiracy, the indictment says, Larry Covington also submitted 39 fraudulent invoices from Tri-State Supply to the city of Nixa, totaling $90,209, for goods and services that were never provided by Tri-State Supply. In each case, the indictment says, Larry Covington acknowledged receipt of these goods, which were never received.

Griggs established separate post office boxes for the two businesses. When the city mailed checks payable to the businesses, the indictment says, they were deposited into business bank accounts. Larry Covington and Griggs then split the proceeds of the fraudulent invoices.

In addition to the conspiracy, Larry Covington and Griggs are charged with 11 related counts of mail fraud.

Ward & Spooner Scheme (Covington's bogus company):

According to the indictment, Larry Covington repeatedly used Ward & Spooner to invoice the city of Nixa for goods and services that were never provided. Between Dec. 7, 2004, and Feb. 25, 2009, Larry Covington allegedly submitted 150 fraudulent invoices totaling $482,365 to the city of Nixa for goods and services that were never provided. Larry Covington repeatedly made false representations to the city that Ward & Spooner would supply goods and services, the indictment says, and falsely represented to the city that goods had been delivered and that services had been performed by Ward & Spooner by signing or initialing fraudulent invoices.

Larry Covington established a post office for Ward & Spooner. When the city mailed checks payable to Ward & Spooner, the indictment says, they were deposited into a business bank account.

Larry Covington is charged with 11 counts of mail fraud related to this scheme.

Money Laundering:

All three defendants are charged with participating in a money laundering conspiracy. According to the federal indictment, between Oct. 18, 2004, and Feb. 25, 2009, Larry and Paula Covington and Griggs conspired to conduct financial transactions involving the proceeds of the alleged mail fraud.

In addition to the conspiracy, Larry Covington is charged with 13 counts of money laundering, Paula Covington is charged with two counts of money laundering and Griggs is charged with two counts of money laundering.

Additional Charges:

Additionally, Larry Covington is charged with 10 counts of embezzling from an organization receiving federal funds, and Griggs is charged with him in six of those counts.

The indictment also contains forfeiture allegations, which would require the Covingtons and Griggs to forfeit to the government $756,010 as well as their residential property in Ash Grove, a 2004 Bombadier Outlander, three trailers, a 2007 Mahindra tractor, a 2007 Mahindra loader, a 2007 Agri cutter, a 2008 Ford F350 truck, a 2008 Ford Explorer, a Smith & Wesson .22-caliber automatic pistol, a Colt .45-caliber revolver and a Benelli M1.


Read Indictment Here



https://www.courts.mo.gov/casenet/cases/searchCases.do
09N8-CR00381 - ST VS LARRY W COVINGTON

09N8-CR00421 - ST VS DAVID W GRIGGS

09N8-CR00476 - ST V PAULA K COVINGTON

UPDATED: Shooting On Springfield's Northwest Side Appear To Be Murder-Suicide:

UPDATE AT BOTTOM:

Investigators with the Springfield Police Department believe that the shooting deaths of Clifford Moad and Christy Willmon yesterday were the result of a murder-suicide during a heated domestic disturbance.

In a news release the SPD said, "Preliminary investigation has determined that Mr. Moad and Ms. Willmon (below) became involved in a domestic disturbance on the morning of February 24, 2009, when they both entered the bedroom and were arguing when multiple gunshots were fired."

It appears that Willmon sustained two wounds to the head to the head and Mr. Moad suffered one wound to the head. No other persons were present in the room when the shooting occurred.

A police spokesman said that investigators recovered a single firearm at the crime scene; and he would not speculate on whom fired the shots until forensics and autopsies were completed on both Moad and Willmon.

Police had responded to Moad's rented home at 3226 W. Kearney Street at least six times in the past year and a half for domestic disturbance, assault and burglary.

Moad had applied for orders of protection against Willmon a couple of different times. In an application on one of the orders of protection Moad said his ex-girlfriend (Willmon) had run over him with a car, breaking his leg.

In another, Moad said that Willmon and threatened him with a knife.

Online court documents indicate that Moad didn't show up in court to follow through with the ex-parte's....so the orders of protection were dismissed.

Willmon's two children who were present in the home when the shooting occurred have been placed in the care of relatives.

UPDATE (02-26-09):

Investigators have concluded that the manner of death in which Moad and Willmon died was murder-suicide with Mr. Moad firing two bullets into Ms. Willmon's head before he turned the gun on himself.



https://www.courts.mo.gov/casenet/cases/searchCases.do
0831-CV08386 - PROTECTION ORDER

31107DR2648 - PROTECTION ORDER


FULL PRESS RELEASE:

The Springfield Police Department Criminal Investigations Division is continuing to investigate the circumstances of the death of Clifford W. Moad – 59 years of age and Christy D. Willmon – 26 year of age.

Preliminary investigation has determined that Mr. Moad and Mrs. Willmon became involved in a domestic disturbance on the morning of February 24, 2009. Both entered the bedroom and were arguing when multiple gunshots were fired. It appears Mrs. Willmon sustained two wounds to the head to the head and Mr. Moad suffered one wound to the head. No other persons were present in the room when the shooting occurred.

There were two children present in the home when the shooting occurred who are the children of Mrs. Willmon. The children have been placed in the care of relatives. They were uninjured during the altercation.

Autopsies are scheduled to occur later today.

Criminal Investigators continue to conduct follow-up interviews with persons who are familiar with Mr. Moad and Mrs. Willmon. Evidence collected at the scene has been sent to the Missouri State Laboratory for testing.

The investigation is ongoing at this time.

UPDATED: Babysitter Of Lucas Payton Theede-Bennett Charged With Murder:

UPDATES AT BOTTOM OF STORY:


A Willard woman has been charged with the shaking death of an infant she was babysitting last month.

Willard Police Chief Tom McClain and Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore announced at a news conference today that charges of second degree murder and child abuse resulting in death have been filed against Brenda J. Caringer, 53, (above) in the death of nine-month-old Lucas Payton-Theede Bennett.

First responders were called to Caringer's home in northern Greene County at about 2:45 p.m., on January 6th, because she said she had a child in her care who had hit his head and that she could not keep him awake.

In the probable cause statement filed with the charges, Caringer told Willard Police Sgt. Shannon Shipley that when the little boy arrived at her home at 12:45 p.m., he was fussy and that she had laid him down in a portable crib because she could not console him.

Caringer goes on to say that she laid little Lucas on the floor in the living room and went into the kitchen to fix him a bottle.

She says when she returned she found the little boy standing next to the coffee table and that he fell, bumped his head, and "fell straight backwards."

Caringer told investigators that she attempted to give the little boy a bottle but, "he would not sit up straight." She goes on to say that Lucas stopped screaming and, "went limp."

In a verbal statement with cops, Caringer stated that she took the baby to a chair to change his diaper and that his cry, "changed to a whimper, his back arched, and his hands curled up."

It was at that point that Caringer said she picked the little boy up, "shook him and blew in his face to get him to breathe."

When paramedics arrived on the scene they found little Lucas Payton Theede-Bennett lying on the floor with only the blue striped hoodie he arrived in on his body......his diaper and socks lay nearby.

Officer Fly states in the probable cause statement that when he arrived at the scene there were no diaper wipes in the area where Caringer claims she was changing little Lucas' diaper.

Lucas' bottle was found lying on the floor next to the chair where his little body was found. The bottle appeared to have a "red substance, consistent with blood on the nipple and nipple ring."

Later forensic analysis determined that it was indeed blood on the little boys bottle.

An autopsy determined that the cause of Lucas' death were, "abusive head injuries," that are consistent with a crushed skull, and signs of bleeding on the brain.

The doctor that performed the autopsy said that the injuries were predominately to the right side of Lucas' head, and that the infliction of the injuries were not more than two hours old.

In his estimation, he believes that the fatal injuries probably occurred about thirty minutes before Caringer called for help for the baby, and that he would have "been symptomatic immediately."

Prosecutors filed both second degree murder and abuse of a child resulting in death to cover all aspects of this case.

The charges were filed alternatively, meaning jurors---or a judge, could find Caringer guilty of either crime .....or neither — if the case goes to trial.

For the murder charge they will have to prove that Caringer set out to cause Lucas' death; on the charges of child abuse resulting in death they will have to prove that the fatal injuries that killed little Lucas occurred while he was in Caringer's care.

Moore says that in child abuse cases that result in death, he gives the jury two different charges and lets them decide which one fits the crime.

The range of punishment on either charge is 10-30 years in prison.

When authorities went to arrest Caringer this morning she was not at her home, however, she has since turned herself in to authorities.

She is being held in the Greene County jail and held on $250,000 bond.

Lucas is survived by his mother Amanda Theede, and father Sean Bennett, grandparents and a host of other family and friends.
UPDATE (03-09-09):
A preliminary hearing date has been set for a Willard babysitter charged with second degree murder and child abuse resulting in death.
Brenda Caringer is scheduled to be in court on March 31st.
Caringer is accused of allegedly causing the death of 9 month-old Lucas Payton Theede-Bennett in January.
Public Defender Kristin Jones has filed a motion with the court to lower Caringer's $250,000 bond.
That motion will be heard on Friday March 13, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. in Associate Circuit Court Judge Mark Powell's courtroom in the Greene County courthouse.
UPDATE (03-13-09):
A bond reduction hearing was held on Friday (03-13-09) for the babysitter that has been charged with the death of 9-month-old Lucas Payton-Theede Bennett.

The motion was denied and Brenda Caringer remains in the Greene County Jail on $250,000 bond.
03-31-09:
Lawyers for a Willard babysitter charged with killing 9-month old Lucas Payton Theede-Bennett have waived her preliminary hearing.
53 year-old Brenda J. Caringer was babysitting the little boy in January when he fell unconscious.

Caringer was charged with second degree murder and child abuse resulting in death last month for little Lucas' death.Prosecutors say that the little boy died of, "abusive head injuries," that are consistent with a crushed skull, and signs of bleeding on the brain.
Earlier this month (03-13-09,) and again today, Caringer lawyers filed a motion with the court asking that Caringer's $250,000 bond be reduced Friday.
That motion was denied and Caringer remains in the Greene County Jail.
She is scheduled to be arraigned in circuit court on April 10th.

*************

Update 01-21-11:

Cainger was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison for baby Lucas' death.
****Lucas' mother, Amanda Theede, has a website dedicated to her baby boy here.
0931-CR01097 - ST V BRENDA JEAN CARINGER



***image of Chief Tom McClain and Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore----Springfield News Leader.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More Details Are Expected To Be Released Tomorrow In Infants "Suspicious" Death:

The Willard Police Department and the Greene County Prosecutors office are expected to be releasing more details tomorrow about the suspicious death of nine month-old Lucas Payton Theede-Bennett.

It's been about seven weeks since first responders were called to the home of the infants babysitter in northern Greene County because the little boy had stopped breathing.

Little Lucas died about an hour later at a Springfield hospital from what insiders tell me are injuries consistent with a crushed skull.

The State Technical Assistance Team, part of the Department of Social Services that investigates suspicious child fatalities, was called in had has been helping with the investigation along with, medical examiners and prosecutors.

Lucas is survived by his mother Amanda Theede, and father Sean Bennett, grandparents and a host of other family and friends.

UPDATED: Spc. Jermaine Johnson To Be Arraigned In Myria Silva's Murder On March 5th:

The soldier from Fort Leonard Wood accused of killing another soldiers wife last year has been referred for court martial, the military equivalent of a criminal trial.

Specialist Jermaine Johnson is accused of killing Myria Silva last October after he became irate when another man texted the woman while they were having sex.

Prosecutors say that Johnson beat Myria up and told her he would take her to the hospital..... instead he took Silva on a rambling car ride, and slit the young mother's throat then dumped her body in an abandoned farmhouse near Niangua.

Johnson is scheduled to be arraigned next Thursday, March 5th, at 8 a.m. at Fort Wood where he will enter a plea.

Inside sources close to the case have indicated that Johnson is expected to plead guilty to Silva's brutal murder at a separate sentencing hearing in exchange for a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

*****UPDATE: Johnson's arraignment was rescheduled for Friday March 6th at 1 p.m.

The formal araignment of a soldier stationed at Fort Leonard accused of killing a fellow soldiers wife was over in a matter of minutes.

Tiffany Wood spokeswoman for the post says the hearing for Spc. Jermaine Johnson lasted about 10 minutes.

On the advice of his attorney's Spc. Johnson deferred entering a plea.

What that means is that it gives Johnson and his attorney's a little longer to decide how they want to proceed to trial, and preserves any and all motions available to him under the military court.

If they decide they want a judge to hear the case, Colonel Charles Hayes will be the sitting judge. If they decide they want a group of Johnson's peers to hear the case then a jury of his peers will be assembled.

Johnson's trial is scheduled to begin on May 18th at the post.

Springfield Police Investigating Suspicious Death Scene In Northwest Springield:

Police were called to a residence at 3226 West Kearney shortly before 9:30 this morning to begin an investigation into what they are calling "a suspicious death scene."

Authorities were called to the house that sits between West Bypass and Kansas Expressway by the daughter of a man in his late fifties that was found dead inside the house.

A woman who was found dead inside the home is believed to be in her late twenties.

The have been identified as 59 year-old Clifford W. Moad, and 26 year-old Christy D. Willmon.

Moad was the father of three children and grandfather of eight.

The initial call that came into dispatchers said that the man and the woman were found shot to death.

Two young children of Christy Willmon who were found in the house and have been taken into protective custody by The Missouri Division of Social Services who are attempting to find relatives of the children.

The little boy is six years-old and the little girl is four years-old.

Police have been called to the house at least six times in the past year and a half for a variety of incidents including assault and domestic disturbances.

The most recent calls for help to the house were in May and June of last year.

Moad had filed requests with the courts for orders of protection against Willmon.

On June 24, 2008, Moad called police to say that he had been the victim of an alleged domestic assault that involved a knife.

The same day he filed for an order of protection against Willmon. In the application he wrote that his ex-girlfriend (Willmon) came to his house and threatened him with a knife.

Moad had also filed for an order of protection in July of 2007 because he said Willmon ran over him with a vehicle, breaking his leg. He also accused Willmon of being on drugs and grabbing him by his hair in the document.

In at least one of the cases regarding orders of protection, no one showed up in the case, and it was dismissed.

Authorities will not comment at this time whether the crime scene is a murder-suicide or a double-homicide.

A neighbor says that Moad sold used cars from his home.

UPDATED @ 3:28 p.m.

LOJ has the NEWS RELEASE FROM SPD:

The Springfield Police Department is investigating the suspicious deaths of a man and woman found inside 3226 W. Kearney this morning at 9:30 a.m.

At 9:20 a.m., police received a call from a woman who arrived to visit her father who resides at the address. She advised dispatch she believed the man and woman who reside at the home may be injured.

She also found two children in the home, a six year old boy and four year old girl, who were uninjured.

Upon arrival police confirmed the deaths of a woman in her late 20s and a man in his late 50s who possibly resided in the home.

Springfield Police are currently processing the scene for any evidence and are interviewing associates and family members. The children have been taken to the Division of Social Services in an effort to locate family members.

No further information is available at this time.

UPDATED (02-26-09):

Investigators have concluded that the manner of death in which Moad and Willmon died was murder-suicide with Mr. Moad firing two bullets into Ms. Willmon's head before he turned the gun on himself.

State Fire Marshal Investigating Suspcious Fire At The Home Of Ozark County Prosecutor Tom Cline:

The state fire marshal has been called in to investigate a suspicious fire at the home of Ozark County Prosecutor Tom Cline about 9:30 p.m. last Friday night.

No one was home at the time of the fire. Cline's home, which is near Pontiac, is a total loss. The Cline's dog was killed in the fire.

Ozark County Sheriff Raymond Pace says that investigators followed a trail of flammable liquid in the backyard that led to the back porch of the prosecutors home.

The Missouri Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone connected to the fire.

Anyone with information on this case may call the Ozark County Sheriff’s Office at (417) 679-4633 or the Missouri arson hotline at (800) 39-Arson (392-7766).

Judge Dismisses Charges Agains Fair Grove Woman Charged With Spiking Husband's Tea With Visine:

A Fair Grove woman who was accused of putting Visine in her husbands iced-tea in an attempt to kill him will not be going to trial on the charge.

Tonia Peterson's defense attorney, Stacy Bilyeu, told Associate Circuit Court Judge Dan Imhof that the state did not produce any evidence, other than hearsay, that her client intended to harm her husband.

While on the stand during his wife's preliminary hearing yesterday Cecil Peterson said that he did not suspect that his wife was trying to poison him, and that he had never seen Visine in the couples home.

Bileyu told the judge that that the state did not even have an expert on hand to testify that Visine could cause the diarrhea or swelling in Cecil Peterson's leg and arm that they contend came from Tonia Peterson spiking her husbands tea with the over the counter eye remedy in mid-2008.

Bileyu told Juge Imhof that stress from the marriage, or the possibility that Tonia Peterson could have been a really bad cook should be considered to have given her husband the same symptoms.

A co-worker of Tonia Peterson contacted the Greene County Sheriffs Office and told them that the woman told her about the plot to kill her husband in January of this year.

Imhof did allow prosecutors to show an interrogation video of Peterson, then called for a recess to review case law.

In the video Peterson told Weatherford that Cecil Peterson was going to divorce her and had threatened to take the couple's eight year-old son with him.

After reviewing case law, Imhof said that he believed that the state was missing a witness and dismissed the case.

Myers has given the sheriff's office the green light to continue the investigation, but says that it is too soon to determine whether he will re-file charges against Tonia Peterson.

Tonia Peterson filed for divorce from her husband shortly after being charged with first degree assault in January of this year.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Amelia Bird And Chad Brantley Sentenced To Consecutive Life Sentences For The Death Of Bird's Mother:


A Texas County man charged with conspiring with his girlfriend to kill her parents in 2006 will spend the rest of his life behind bars for the death of his girlfriends mother.

Chad Brantley, 22, of Eminence, was charged with capital murder for the January 2006 shotgun slaying of Christine Bird, and first-degree assault for shooting and wounding Buddy Bird in their home near Summersville.

Public defenders for Brantley ended up making a deal with prosecutors last September to have their client plead guilty to second-degree murder, assault, and armed criminal action in exchange for the four consecutive life sentences (one after the other) that he was sentenced to last week.


According to the probable cause statement filed with the charges, Amelia Bird told a Highway Patrol detective that she told Brantley that she "wished her parents would die."
She told detectives that said she called her boyfriend to tell him she had unlocked the back door and that her parents were in bed sleeping.

The detective said Bird gave them this statements about what happened at the house she shared with her parents: Brantley entered the back door and went to the front of the home and into her parents bedroom and shot them.
She said that Brantley ran through her bedroom in an attempt to get to the back door but was pursued by wounded William Bird...it was at that point that Brantley shot the father again.
Her father mad it back to the front of the house where he collapsed on the living room floor. Amelia Bird said she called 911 while Brantley was still in the house.

Amelia Bird was 16 years-old at the time of her mother's death and the wounding of her father.

She entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors and pled guilty last October to participating in the death of her mother and the wounding of her father.

She is now 19, and serving two consecutive life sentences at the women's prison in Vandalia.

She won’t be eligible for parole until she’s at least 60.


https://www.courts.mo.gov/casenet/cases/searchCases.do
25R05061574F - ST V CHAD R BRANTLEY

25R03061748F - ST V AMELIA C BIRD

Saturday, February 21, 2009

UPDATED: Nixa Mother Charged With Child Molestation:

***UPDATE AT BOTTOM

A 34-year-old mother of two from Nixa has been charged with molesting her 9-year-old son while another woman watched over a web cam.

According to court records, Amy Kay Vogt, admitted to both the FBI and police that she allegedly removed the boy's pants and underwear and touched his penis for about a minute before the little boy started to awaken.

In the probable cause statement a Nixa police officer says that they were contacted by the the FBI on February 19th about a child pornography investigation.

Vogt told a Nixa police officer that she was chatting with a woman on the internet and, "the female wanted Amy to show her son on the web camera. Amy said (the boy) was asleep and she took his pants and underwear off.

She told me she showed the other female on the Internet (the boy's) penis. Amy said the person on the Internet wanted to see her touch it. Amy told me she touched (the boy's) penis for, like, a minute and he started to wake up so she stopped."

After being charged Friday, Vogt was quickly arrested on a $15,000 bond.

Christian County Prosecutor Ron Cleek said, "there is a possibility that federal child porn charges could be filed against Voght as well."

Voght also maintains a profile found here on myYearbook and here is a link to her MySpace page.

***UPDATE (02-24-09): Amy Vogt is in the Christian County jail. She is scheduled to appear in court on March 3rd.

Christian County Prosecutor Ron Cleek says, 'I don't plan to rescind my charge even if she is charged in federal court. The only way I will drop it is if she will get more time in prison if they take the case."

She is facing anywhere between five and fifteen years if she is convicted on the child molestation charge.

*****Update (03-10-09):

A preliminary hearing date has been set for a Nixa mother accused of allegedly molesting one of her children.

Amy Kay Vogt is due in court for the hearing on March 30th at 1:30 p.m. in Christian County.

03-30-09:

Lawyers for a Nixa mother accused of allegedly molesting one of her children have waived her preliminary hearing.

Investigators say that Amy Kay Vogt admitted to both the FBI and a detective with the Nixa Police Department that she was chatting with another woman on the Internet who wanted to see her touch her son's genitals via a web cam.

A detective writes in the probable cause statement say that, "Vogt allegedly removed the boy's pants and underwear and touched his penis for about a minute before the little boy started to wake up. Amy said the person on the internet wanted to see her touch it. She told me she showed the other female on the internet (the boy's) penis."

Christian County chief assistant prosecutor Donavan Dobbs says, "Vogt is still the focus of a federal investigation, and remains in the Christian County jail."

Vogt is scheduled to be arraigned before Circuit Court judge Mark Orr on April 17, 2009.
https://www.courts.mo.gov/casenet/cases/searchCases.do

09N8-CR00326 - ST V AMY K VOGT

UPDATE 12-17-09:

Matt J. Whitworth, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Nixa, Mo., woman has been sentenced to federal prison for receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet.

Amy Vogt, 35, of Nixa, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr this morning (12-17-09) to 17 years and six months in federal prison without parole. The court also sentenced Vogt to serve a lifetime of supervised released following her term of imprisonment.

On Sept. 15, 2009, Vogt pleaded guilty to receiving and distributing child pornography and to possessing child pornography in state court.In February 2009, FBI agents contacted Vogt after receiving an investigative lead that indicated she had e-mailed 15 images of child pornography to an Illinois man.

Vogt admitted to FBI agents that she had sent the images after the Illinois man requesting images of little girls from ages three to 14. Vogt also described several instances where she broadcast herself via webcam molesting her son as he slept.

Federal investigators discovered 139 images of child pornography on a computer seized by FBI agents. Numerous instant message sessions were also recovered, which refer to sexual acts perpetrated against children. In those messages, Vogt described numerous acts of sexual assault that she had perpetrated against the boy.

Willard Man Bound Over In Murder For Hire Case:

A man from Willard who employed a homeless man in October to clean dog kennels at his business allegedly had another job that he wanted the man to carry out....kill his ex-wife.

At the preliminary hearing of Eric Holloway (above) yesterday (02-20-09) Larry Moore testified that Holloway was enraged about the thousands of dollars he had to pay his ex-wife every month in child support for their three children.

Moore said that Holloway told him he would pay him $5,000 to make his ex-wife's death look like an accident.

Moore testified that Holloway had a murder kit assembled in a duffel bag with vodka, plastic tubing, chloroform, and special shoes that would leave minimal prints, gloves, and a candle .

Holloway allegedly gave Moore three scenarios to kill Kimberly Holloway.
  • The chloroform was to be used to knock Kimberly Holloway out and shove the tubing down her throat to pour a lethal amount of vodka down her throat to cause her death.

  • Another scenario was to make it look like she was severely depressed and place her in a bathtub and slit her wrists.

  • The last was to light a candle and turn on the gas in the house to make it explode.

Moore told Holloway that he didn't think he could do it, but knew someone who could. That is when he made contact with a deputy with The Greene County Sheriff's Office.

Several weeks later a meeting was set up with the undercover cop, who was posing as a hit man, Holloway and Moore at the Commercial Street footbridge to set the plan in motion.

The next day day, deputies executed a search warrant of Moore's home and found the alleged "murder kit."

Inside the duffel bag cops found vodka, plastic tubing, chloroform, the shoes, gloves, and a candle along with the $5,000 Moore said he was offered to kill Kimberly Holloway


Under cross-examination by Moore's top-notch criminal defense attorney, Dee Wampler (a.), testimony took a complete different tone.

Wampler began asking Moore about his laundry list of prior convictions that include assault, stealing, and numerous traffic crimes.

"You're trying to make me look like I'm a bad guy," Moore told Wampler. "If I wouldn't have done what I did, they would have needed a funeral. You wanna defend him (Eric Holloway), you're a high- dollar lawyer, you're getting paid the money, and big deal."


Greene County Associate Circuit Judge Mark Fitzsimmons found that the state has enough evidence against Eric Holloway for him to stand trial for conspiracy to commit murder.

If convicted of the charge, Holloway could face a prison sentence between 5 and 15 years.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Fordland Woman On Life Support After Brutal Attack:

A Webster County woman is on life support after being assaulted outside her apartment building on Thursday (02-12-09).

A neighbor who found the 34 year-old woman thought she was dead lying next to her car at the Chalet Manor Apartments in Fordland a little after 7 a.m. and called 911.

Keys and shattered glass were found near where the woman's body was found.

Family members say the woman has extensive head injuries after being bludgeoned with a whisky bottle.

Friends say that the woman, who was struggling after a difficult divorce, was turning her life around before she was attacked.

Webster County Sheriff Roye Cole says the woman's injuries are more severe because she suffered from hypothermia as a result of laying beside her car for an undermined amount of time before being discovered.

Investigators are searching for two women who are considered persons of interest in the case.

Still No Leads In Robert And Ellen Sheldon Murder

It's been four months since Robert and Ellen Sheldon were murdered in their home near Carthage and the case remains unsolved.

It's been an agonizing ordeal for the family and friends of the Sheldon's to live with the thought that their loved ones were so brutally murdered in the home they shared for over thirty years.

Now the family, with help from anonymous donors, is offering a $20,000 reward for the tip that helps solve the heinous crime.

The Jasper County sheriff's department follows up on every lead they receive, but none have panned out as of yet.

Larry Ogden, Ellen Sheldon's brother lives in the couples home now. He and other family members are keeping the business that Robert loved so much, the Old Cabin Shop, that sits adjacent to their home open.

The Tri-State Major Case Squad was brought in at the beginning of the investigation of the Sheldon's murder, however, when early leads ran out they turned it over solely to the Jasper County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Archie Dunn believes the case will be solved, he just doesn't know when.

Some forensic evidence that was sent to the Missouri State Crime Lab in Jefferson City has not come back yet.

Robert Sheldon Jr. and Daniel Sheldon say that a fund-raiser
is planned to increase the reward fund on March 12th at Fairview Christian Church in Carthage.

There will be a dinner and fellowship at 5 p.m., followed by a live auction at 7 p.m. Food for the dinner is being provided by Cloud’s Meats and Savannah’s Restaurant in Carthage