Monday, August 31, 2009
Sheriff Danny Hickman says that the alleged incident rape happened last Thursday (08-27-09) and was reported by a relative. Hickman says his department arrested the boy the same day and transported him to a juvenile detention center in Danville, AR.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Army Health Care Specialist Jermaine Johnson has entered a guilty plea to murder for killing Myria Nicole Dunniphan-Silva last October.
Johnson entered into a plea agreement shortly before his court martial was set to begin today at Fort Leonard Wood. As part of the plea agreement, Johnson had to write out in his own hand exactly what happened the night that Myria Silva died.
Military judge Col. Charles Hayes heard the case as a bench trial because Johnson and his defense team opted not to have a jury hear the case.
Johnson said he met Myria Silva at the Rockin’ R Saloon, where she worked as a waitress. Johnson said that one night Silva came to him and told him she had something to tell him....that she was married.
Johnson told Judge Hayes that he was "destroyed" by Silva's revelation, but that he didn't want to let her got.
Johnson testified he was drunk at the time of the Myria Silva's murder, but knew what he was doing. He described to Col. Hayes how he beat Silva into unconsciousness on or about October 10, 2008, then drove her to a secluded area an hour west of the post.
Johnson says he stopped on the side of the highway and was contemplating killing himself when Myria began to wake up. Wanting her to "stay asleep," Johnson said he knelt over her and punched her as hard as he could with his left and and swung with his right.
It was what was in his right had that ultimately led to Silva's death. Johnson said he held a kitchen knife and that when he swung his right hand the knife sliced her throat. Johnson testified that he watched his lover die and had no legal justification for killing her. "It was not self defense," he said.
Silva's body was found stuffed inside a sleeping bag with her throat slit in an outbuilding of an abandoned farmhouse in Webster County on October 14, 2008. That farmhouse burned to the ground a month later.Johnson apologized to Silva’s family and friends, including her mother and husband.
Prosecutors reduced the charge from premeditated murder and agreed to drop all the other charges in exchange for the guilty plea.
Johnson, an Army reservist who was called activated to duty out of Mobile, Alabama, but he was raised in Iowa.
Myria Silva, 23, was the wife of Pfc. Benjamin Silva who was deployed to Iraq at the time of his wife's murder. Myria would have turned 24, four days ago was also the mother of two little girls.
At about 10:00 p.m. last night, Johnson was sentenced to thirty years in prison for Myria's death, according to her mother Katie Duniphan. Besides 30 years in prison, Johnson will be dishonorably discharged, forfeit all pay and benefits, and be dropped three ranks to the lowest rank of private E-1.
Duniphan doesn't understand why the military whittled down the charges for her daughters murder. Duniphan said, "he has totally changed my life. I only had one child...now I don't even get to see my grandbabbies. He took away everything I ever believed in."
Myria's stepmother, Nikki Middleton, isn't happy with the sentence either. Her father, Dave Middleton, tried to get on base at the post this week to leave a victim impact statement to be read at Johnson's sentencing. However, his wife says, "he was turned away at the entrance to the base."
Dave Middleton is on his way to Minnesota for work and his wife isn't sure how she is going to tell him what happened at the court martial. "I just can't believe it, Nikki Middleton said....I don't know how I'm going to tell her dad."
Myria's family has set up a website for her friends and family to leave messages and memories of her. You can link to it here.
A soldier from Fort Leonard Wood accused of killing the wife of a fellow soldier is due in a military courtroom tomorrow for court martial proceedings.
Army health care specialist Jermaine Johnson is charged with premeditated murder, assault and kidnapping in last October's beating and slashing death of Myria Silva.
Silva's body was found stuffed inside a sleeping bag with her throat slit in an abandoned farmhouse in Webster County on October 14th, 2008.
According to Myria's mother, Katie Duniphan, some of the original charges against Johnson were dropped because he wasn't read his rights when he was taken into custody for questioning the first time.
It appears that Johnson has agreed to a plea deal in the case.
Duniphan says the military has advised her that the court martial will get underway at 1 p.m. and could take a couple of days to complete.
If convicted of all charges, the maximum punishment for Johnson is life in prison without the possibility of parole.
After about four hours of deliberations the all woman jury found White guilty of voluntary manslaughter for the shotgun slaying of his wife, Candice, on November 26, 2006.
During the week-long trial in Christian County Circuit Court Prosecutor Ron Cleek painted a picture of a violent man for the jury. And a home where there was more than one instance of domestic violence in the White household.
Cleek and his Chief Assistant Donovan Dobbs told the jury that White choked his wife, Candi, while they were in Talladega, then pulled a gun on her there too.
The couple's son, BW, who is now 7-years-old, said in a deposition that he remembered the night when he was 4. He said his mom and dad were arguing and that she had a knife....but that she put it down and was attempting to leave with him, but that his father kept yelling at them as they tried to leave.
If there is one thing to be thankful for, it is that the little boy was in a truck when the shooting took place.
Highway Patrol Investigator Mike Rogers told jurors that cops discovered White kneeling next to his wife's body ---a 12-gauge shotgun lay nearby. He said that White changed his story a couple of times as to how Candi ended up with a gunshot wound in the forehead.
Defense Attorney Robin Aiken said fingerprints that belonged to both James and Candi White were on the gun because their was a tussle over the gun, and that it discharged accidentally as they fought over it.
Cleek says that, "DNA, blood splatter patterns and gunshot residue test results told the story." "She was shot as the gun was pointed upward, he told jurors....there were even pellets removed from the ceiling, he said."
The defense only called two witnesses to the stand today...both of them were at a card game earlier in the evening with James White.
Candi White was 25-years-old and about four and a half months pregnant when she was killed inside the family's home at 304 South Eighth Street in Ozark.
Christian County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Donovan Dobbs says, "we would have liked to have had a second-degree murder conviction. The jury worked hard and we respect their decision."
Sentencing for James White is scheduled for November 6th in Christian County.
******Greg Brock contributed to this story.
Robert and Ellen Sheldon (above,) and the family dog were found stabbed to death in their home on October 12, 2008, by their son when they didn't show up for church.
Prosecutors allege that Darren Winans, 22, Jasper, and 20 year-old Matthew Laurin, Springfield (he grew up in Nixa) killed the Sheldon's when they got back home from a church function on the evening of October 11, 2008.
Matthew Laurin (above)
The Public Information Officer for the Jasper County Sheriff's Department, Sharon Rhine, says that an attorney representing Matthew Laurin waived his preliminary hearing, and that Darren Winans attorney put three witnesses on the stand today.
One of those witnesses was Teresa Adkins, the mother of Winans 16 year-old girlfriend, Amanda Adkins. She testified that in December of 2008, around Christmas time Winans told her and her daughter that he and Laurin went to Carthage to kill Robert and Ellen Sheldon and their dog because their drug dealer wanted guns in exchange for drugs.
Adkins says that Winans told them, “him and Matt had gone to Joplin to kill two people and a dog for drug money . . . to rob the place.”
According to Adkins, Winans and Laurin took gloves and masks with them and that Winans told them that he waited outside the Sheldon's house while Laurin butchered the elderly couple .
However, in the probable cause statement filed with the charges in July, Laurin told investigators that Winans was responsible for the Sheldon's (who were both in their 70's) grisly murders.
Online court records don't show much of a criminal background for Laurin. The same cannot be said about his alleged co-conspirator, Winans.
On the stand today it was revealed that Winans former girlfriend, Amanda Adkins, had died from a lethal overdose of morphine (as well as other drugs) that was allegedly provided to her by her boyfriend Bret Turner in Christian County in April of this year.
Turner pleaded guilty in June to possession of a controlled substance (Vicodin) that he was found with on his person when Amanda died. He pled guilty without a plea agreement with prosecutors shortly before Adkins toxicology reports came back from the crime lab. He's serving a seven-year stretch in prison on that charge.
Because he pleaded guilty without a plea agreement, prosecutors were able to charge Turner with second-degree murder for Adkins' death when they got the final toxicology records. He is also facing charges of providing a minor with a controlled substance in connection with her death as well.
Darren Winans (above)
Another witness was Jasper County investigator Tim Williams who testified that Winans mother, Tina Bass, who lives in Springfield, met him at the door of her home and before he identified himself as a law enforcer she allegedly told him, “I know why you are here, you’re here for the murder weapon.”
Williams testified that Bass escorted him to a back bedroom and pointed to a small cooler on a closet shelf. Inside the cooler was a blue plastic bag...inside it she said he would find the murder weapon.
Investigator Kevin Mitchell testified about the amount of blood that was in the Sheldon home and how brutal the crime against the Sheldon's was. He also testified that the home and been ransacked.
Mitchell testified that Ellen Sheldon was found just inside the door of the house (near the west side door) and that the dog was found dead in the laundry room. Bob Sheldon, who was a Reserve Deputy for the Jasper County Sheriff's Department suffered from multiple stab wounds and was found dead in his recliner with his throat slit.
During one of my first interviews with Jasper County Sheriff Archie Dunn he told me that, "whoever did it hated those people."
Mike Barbieri, Director of National and International Investigations for PDI, a private investigation agenecy out of St. Louis, was contacted by some relatives of the Sheldon's earilier this year that requested his help with their relatives murder.
Barbieri says that the working relationship between his agency and the Jasper County Sheriff's Department was very professional and says he, "takes his hat off to investigators that were working the case." Within about three months of the two agencies teaming up came the arrests of Winans and Laurin.
Winans attorney has filed a motion with the court to have his client moved out of the Jasper County jail because he is being "abused" by jailers who blame him for their fellow reserve officer's and his wife's murder. Winans attorney has also filed a motion with the court to have any audio or videotaped evidence of his client being "abused" to be preserved.
Sheriff Archie Dunn said at the time of Winans and Laurin's arrest that he believes that Winans returned in October with Laurin to the Sheldon home because, "they were easy targets."
Winans has a pretty extensive criminal history. Online court records show he was given 120 days shock time for stealing a car in March of 2006. In March of 2008, while still on probation for the stealing conviction, Winans was arrested on a felony drug charge. Winans pleaded guilty in the drug charge and was placed was on one year of unsupervised probation.
He should have been behind bars at the time of the Sheldon's murder, but was out on the street after repeatedly violating the terms of probation.
In January of 2009 Winans was charged with driving without a license (he was revoked) and having no insurance---he was supposed to appear in Greene County on those charges the day he was formally arraigned for killing the Sheldon's.
In May of this year a judge granted Winans exwife a full order of protection for herself and their child against Winans.
Prosecutor Dean Dankleson has not made public a decision on whether he will seek the death penalty in the case.
In an almost Shakespearen twist of irony, the very first courthouse in Jasper County sat on the property where the Sheldon's were killed.
Both Winans and Laurin are scheduled to be arraigned in Jasper County Circuit Court on Sept. 11th.
UPDATE--October 5, 2009:
Two men accused of murdering Bob and Ellen Sheldon last October appeared in a Jasper County courtroom with their lawyers this morning.
Attorneys for Darren Winans, 20, Jasper, and Matthew Laurin, 19, Springfield, want their clients trials to be held separately and in another county. Prosecutors have filed motions asking that a change of venue be denied.
Investigators say the two men stabbed the Sheldons to death when they broke in their home looking for weapons to trade for drugs.
Judge Gayle Crane took the motions under advisement and will continue hearing the motion for the change of venue on October 26th at 8:30 a.m. in Jasper County.
UPDATE--October 11, 2009:
The children of Bob and Ellen Sheldon will celebrate their parents life today at the Old Cabin Shop that sits on the property were they were found murdered last October 11th.
The memorial will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday October 11, 2009, at the gun and archery store the Sheldons operated at 155 N. Black Powder Lane, just west of Carthage.
One of the Sheldons sons says that they have been keeping the store open in honor of his folks because that is what they would have wanted.
Prosecutors allege that Matthew Laurin, 20, Springfield and Darren Winans, 22, Jasper, stabbed the Sheldons and their dog to death when they broke in their home looking for weapons to trade for drugs.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Robert and Ellen Sheldon (above,) and the family dog were found stabbed to on October 12, 2008, by their son when they didn't show up for church. Prosecutors allege that the Sheldon's were killed when they returned home from a church function the evening of October 11th when they walked in on Darren Winans, 21 , Jasper, and Matthew Laurin, 19, Springfield, burglarizing their home/and or business The Old Cabin Shop.
Darren Winans (above)
Winans public defender has filed a motion with the court to have his client moved to another jail because he has been beaten up by jailers because of his alleged involvement in the former reserve deputy and his wife's murder.
State charges were dropped against David Griggs, 44, Willard, when he was federally indicted on May 14, 2009.
Griggs was a utility worker in Nixa's street department from 2003 to 2006 when he set up two bogus companies, Airbone Express and Tri-State Supply, in an invoicing scheme to steal from the city.
Griggs could receive a sentence of up to 50 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1 million dollars.
He also agreed to forfeit to the government any property obtained from the proceeds of the offenses, including $756,010 and a 1999 Dutchman travel trailer.
Prosecutors will now focus their investgation on Griggs' imediate supervisor,Larry Covington, who they say was the mastermind behind the scam. He and his wife Paula also face state charges related to the scam.
Complete News Release:
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Matt J. Whitworth, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a former employee for the city of Nixa, Mo., pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a series of mail fraud and money laundering schemes totaling more than $756,000.David W. Griggs, 44, of Willard, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr this afternoon to the charges contained in a May 14, 2009, federal indictment. Griggs pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, theft from an organization receiving federal funds, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.Griggs was employed by the city of Nixa as a utility worker in the city’s street department from Nov. 6, 2003, to Feb. 8, 2006. He was promoted to be the lead utility worker on Aug. 4, 2004.Griggs participated in a conspiracy to defraud the city of Nixa between Oct. 18, 2004, and Feb. 25, 2009. Conspirators used two fictitious 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 for the street department that were never provided. During that time frame, 122 fraudulent invoices were submitted to the city.Griggs established separate post office boxes for the two businesses. When the city mailed checks payable to the businesses, they were deposited into business bank accounts and conspirators split the proceeds of the fraudulent invoices. Griggs admitted that he conspired with others to conduct financial transactions involving the proceeds of the mail fraud.By pleading guilty today, Griggs also agreed to forfeit to the government any property obtained from the proceeds of the offenses, including $756,010 and a 1999 Dutchman travel trailer.Under federal statutes, Griggs is subject to a sentence of up to 50 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1 million and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver. It was investigated by the Nixa, Mo., Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS-Criminal Investigation.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Rhonda Bateman of Rogersville was sentenced to 10-years in prison term after pleading guilty to one count of stealing in July 2007.
Bateman complained of a headache while she was conducting a Bible study class last night (0824-09) and collapsed. The Missouri Department of Corrections says an autopsy will be performed in Kansas City to determine the cause of her death.
Bateman was a longtime employee in the Springfield Municipal Court until she was fired in June 2006 after city police started investigating missing funds. A grand jury indicted Bateman in September 2006 on three counts of stealing more than $25,000.
Investigators say Bateman started siphoning money from the court system in 1999 and took lavish vacations, had box season tickets for the Cardinals in addition to concerts and gifts for her family and friends.
Prosecutors didn't charge Bateman with the million dollar theft because the statute of limitations had run out, however, Bateman admitted stealing around $200,000.
Greene County prosecutors dismissed two of the charges in a plea deal with Bateman, and because Greene County Circuit Judge Calvin Holden followed prosecutors recommendation and sentenced her to ten years, he could not order her to make restitution.
The city of Springfield sued Bateman and her husband, Dennis, last November, seeking restitution of $1.2 million. That lawsuit was served to Rhonda Bateman in prison.
Surveillance footage shows 81-year-old Louise Bishop and her 40-year-old daughter, Christina Bishop -- who also goes by the last name of Johansen -- shopping at the Sam's Club in Bentonville on June 18th. That is the last time they were seen.
A relative of the women, George Skupien, who is a retired Chicago area police detective told investigators he spoke to Christina Bishop on the phone after the women had returned from shopping.
After not hearing from Christina Bishop for two days, Skupien went to their home and found the women's house unlocked with groceries on the counter, and the burglar alarm turned off.
There has been no activity on the women's bank accounts since they went missing...and
personal items and medication left behind lead police to believe the women were abducted.
That same day (June 18th) their black 1997 Tacoma extended cab pickup turned up in the parking lot of a Jane, Missouri strip club where it sat until August 20th when the owner of Club Hots had it towed to Avoca, AR. Avoca is about 19 miles from the women's home. The pickup is now at the state crime lab in Little Rock.
Skupien, said he worried about some of Christina Bishop's friends."She had friends that were not the best of people, and it really concerns me," he said. Authorities in Bentonville say that Christina Bishop had some run-ins with police, mostly for alcohol-related offenses.
In another odd twist in the case, someone wrote a message in lipstick on the pickups windshield... it read, "Free car, just tow me."
The family of the missing women is offering a $5,000 reward for any information on their whereabouts; if you have any information on the Bishop's disappearance call the Bentonville police at 479-271-3173.
Maps of where house is and where truck was found:
****Greg Brock contributed to this story
Monday, August 24, 2009
White is accused of shooting his pregnant wife, Candice White, in the face during a fight at their Ozark home in November of 2006.
White told a 9-1-1 operator that he was getting a gun out of his vehicle when it dislodged and hit his wife. Detective David Southard says White changed his story and said that Candice White grabbed the gun during the fight and was shot.
The couple's 4 year-old son was in the truck when authorities arrived at the crime scene and told investigators that his parents were fighting because he and his mother were going to leave.
At the time of Candice White's death, James White was on parole for cocaine trafficking in Kentucky. Since his wife's death, White has been convicted on federal charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Christian County Prosecutor Ron Cleek wanted to seek a second murder charge for the baby that Candice White was carrying, but the coroner could not prove that the 16 week old fetus would have survived outside of the womb.
If convicted of second-degree murder, White could face an additional 10 to 30 years in prison in addition to his federal sentence.
Dina Eslick is charged with distribution a controlled substance near a school, and possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.
The charges stem from a 17-year-old Nixa boy's overdose with pills he allegedly got from Eslick.
Christian County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Donovan Dobbs says that Eslick's public defender has indicated that she will plead guilty to the charges in September.
Max Ellison, of Nixa, was arrested last April for the 1979 murder of Deborah Martin of Cape Girardeau.
Cape Giradeau County Coroner John Clifton says the 61 year-old man died of natural causes at Bootheel hospital.
Ellison, who was scheduled to stand trial in March of 20-10, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and armed robbery in Martin's murder and the case was moved toNew Madrid County on a change of venue.
Prosecutors say evidence against Ellison included a taped confession and an alleged money trail.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Christopher E. Revak was arrested on July 25 after cops got a phone tip telling them that they needed to take a closer look at the man for the March 2007 disappearance of Rene Marie Williams. That phone tip led authorities to an undisclosed farm where the search for Williams body continues.
Rene Williams (above)
What police glean in interviews with suspects usually sheds some light on where or what authorities should look for, but in this case, that won't happen.
After Revak was arrested that Saturday he invoked his fifth amendment right and refused to talk with investigators. By Sunday afternoon the chief suspect in Williams's homicide was found dead in his jail cell.....hanging from his jail issued jumpsuit.
Cops say that DNA evidence found at the crime scene and on a piece of Williams's clothing found in Revak's home belong to Williams and Revak.
DeGase says that he started delving into Revak's past to find out if there were any cases with similarities to the Williams case in places that Revak had previously lived or had family members. According to DeGase authorities from two states "to the north" are interested in Revak for at least four murders....one dating back to 1995.
One of those states in Wisconsin. Christopher Eric Revak was born on August 12, 1972 (his cousin, Christopher J. Revak, was born on February 7, 1972.) He grew up near Wisconsin Rapids, WI, and graduated with 470 other students from Lincoln High School in 1990.
According to online court records, Revak was convicted in Wood County, WI, seven times between 1990 and 1995. Five of those convictions were for disorderly conduct, one for driving while revoked, and the most serious charge, a felony, for resisting an officer was dismissed in a plea deal with prosecutors.
Christopher Revak @ 18 Mug Shot
Revak followed his girlfriend and the mother of his daughter, Jennifer Beamish, to Iowa. The family moved to Missouri in 2000. The two eventually married but divorced in 2002. At the time of his death Revak was married to Johanna Revak who is employed by the TCAD.
Revak was a volunteer firefighter in Strafford, MO, from 2001-2003. For the last six years Revak was employed as an EMT by the Taney County Ambulance District. Friends and colleagues say that it's hard to believe that the man they knew could be an alleged serial killer.
According to authorities, Chris Revak still had family and friends in Wisconsin and would make periodic trips back for visits.
Diedre Harm (above)
On June 10, 2006, 21 year-old Diedre Harm was seen talking with a man with a distinctive "tribal tattoo" at The Finish Line Bar in Wisconsin Rapids. She was the mother of an infant and was reported missing on June 11th after she didn't make it home. Harm's remains were found by hunters almost six months after her disappearance and her murder remains unsolved.
A Wood County Sheriff's Lieutenant says Revak has ties to Wisconsin Rapids and resembles a composite sketch of the person who was seen with Harm at The Finish Line on June 10th.
There are a couple of other women that have been killed that fit the Harm MO. Kelly Nolan went missing after visiting a bar on July 9, 2007, and Amber Creek was found dead in July of 1999.
There have been rumblings that the second state that authorities should direct their focus is Iowa. On June 27, 1995, Mason City news anchor, Jodi Huisentruit, vanished from the parking lot of her apartment complex.
The night before her disappearance Jodi had gone to 510 6th St #2 in Mason City to view a videotape of her birthday celebration. The home that belongs to that address is a duplex, and was the home of Huisentruit's friend John VanSice. Jennifer Beamish-Revak resided in the lower part of the duplex however when she lived there is the question.
Jodi Huisentruit (above)
Ronald J. Coticchio, an attorney represeting Jennifer Beamish-Revak, states that she did NOT reside in Iowa at the time of Huisentruit's disappearance, however, online records show that she resided at the 6th street address.
Some friends of Beamish-Revak say that Christopher Revak didn't even know that his girlfriend and mother of his child was living in Mason City.
Simple coincidence or is this the second state that Sheriff DeGase alluded to in his news conference last week? Or is it Ohio or Illinois as some tipsters have emailed me. We won't know until authorities start filling in the blanks.