Author Topic: 40 YEARS LATER... AN ARREST  (Read 5025 times)

Offline Battle

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« Reply #45 on: October 23, 2019, 09:28:16 am »
Wednesday, 23rd October 2019
A 1980 murder in an Idaho mining town shuttered its only school. Now the suspect has been found on a Texas ranch.
by Meagan Flynn

There were two bars in Clayton, Idaho, a tiny mining town tucked into a bend in the Salmon River, and on the night of Sept. 22, 1980, Walter James Mason would go to them both.

The central Idaho town at the foot of a mountain was home to 43 people, and that night, plenty of them were parked at the Sports Club bar when Mason walked inside.

He was 47 then.

A burly retired bareback rider who toured the pro rodeo in the ’60s before settling down in Clayton.

Mason had worked in the area for years as a rancher and hunting guide, but nobody really knew him, as locals would recall to the Post Register.

That was about to change.

Mason stormed inside the first bar around 10 p.m. that September night to accuse his wife of cheating on him with another man at the bar named Daniel Mason Woolley, witnesses told the Post Register at the time.

The bartender threatened to throw Mason out “if he couldn’t clean up his mouth” ― and before long, three men dragged him outside.

A brawl erupted.

Woolley, a 52-year-old father of three, went outside to break it up, the Post Register reported.

But at that point, Mason had crossed the street to grab two pistols from his truck, witnesses said.

He allegedly returned to fatally shoot Woolley in the head.

He went back inside the Sports Club bar to fire multiple shots in a fit of rage, striking the jukebox, the pool table and a man in the shoulder, the Post Register reported.

Then, escaping the grasp of the bar patrons who disarmed him, he fled for the Silver Bar at the Clayton Hotel across the highway.

He sat down and ordered one last drink, and then he allegedly said, to no one in particular,

“I have just killed a man.”

By the time Custer County deputies arrived, he was gone.

He left his pickup truck parked at Sports Club, and disappeared into the Idaho backcountry never to be seen or heard from again — that is, until this month.

On Monday, the Custer County Sheriff’s Office revealed that after nearly 40 years, Mason was discovered living under the alias Walter James Allison on a Central Texas ranch nearly 1,500 miles away, located on the outskirts of the sleepy rural town of Rising Star, Tex., population 835.

Now 86 years old, Mason was arrested by Texas authorities and extradited back to Idaho this month to face murder charges in Woolley’s death, said Custer County Sheriff Stu Lumpkin.

His identity was confirmed through fingerprinting, the sheriff said, and he has since pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Mason’s court-appointed attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

Back in the 1980s, as Mason vanished from Clayton and authorities launched a fruitless search, the town spent years recovering from the damage of the frightening rampage.

“It was a shock, I’ll tell you,” Dan Strand, a nearby resident who knew both Mason and Woolley, told the Post Register in 1986, when the paper ran a postmortem on the stagnant investigation.

“Nobody could believe it.”
The fatal shooting affected nearly the entire community in more ways than one.

Mason’s wife was the town’s only teacher in its two-room schoolhouse, the Post Register reported at the time.

The Idaho State Journal also reported that a woman believed to be Mason’s wife was battered on the face on the night of the man’s alleged rampage.

Shaken up by what happened, and the lingering publicity, his wife reportedly left town for Challis, Idaho.

With no schoolteacher left in Clayton, all the children had to be bused to Challis to attend school more than two dozen miles northeast of the town — a treacherous journey in icy conditions along a two-lane highway, the Post Register reported.

The school apparently reopened in later years when a new teacher arrived.

But the challenges for the small town kept snowballing.

An earthquake in 1983 would leave the school unstable, causing it to close again, and causing the community to fear for the end of Clayton itself.

“In Clayton,” the school’s superintendent told the Associated Press in 1984,

“there’s little left of the community without the school.”

By the time the Post Register published its reflection on the Mason case just a few short years later, Clayton was “no longer the boomtown of the early ’80s.”

The Silver Bar and Clayton Hotel were closed.

The Clayton Silver Mine closed after a half-century.

And most of the witnesses and even original investigators had left town.

By 1990, the population of Clayton had been sliced in half, and today it is home to just seven people.

The FBI attempted to assist the Custer County Sheriff’s Office in the case until 1985, when it apparently gave up.

“All logical investigation had been considered,” Kent Madsen, FBI special agent, told the Post Register in 1986.

“There were no other leads to pursue.”

Authorities stressed that Mason had defining characteristics that would make him hard to miss.

In a wanted poster for Mason, the sheriff’s office noted that his arms, back and chest were covered in scars.

He had also lost control of the muscles on the entire left side of his face, paralyzed by a kick from a horse during his rodeo days.

But Mason still managed to live quietly and unnoticed in a farmhouse in Eastland County, Tex., police now say.

It’s unclear how he was discovered there.

Eastland County Today reported that the sheriff’s office received a tip that a man by the name of Walter James Mason was living on a farm on a county road just north of town ― and was wanted for murder in Idaho.

Eastland County Chief Deputy Don Braly confirmed with Custer County that it was true, and then made the short drive to his home.

When he arrived, the newspaper reported, Braly asked the elderly suspect if his name was really Mason, rather than Allison, to which the man allegedly replied,

“If you did not know the answer to the question, you would not even be here.”

Mason denied shooting Woolley in cold blood, Eastland County Today reported, but claimed it was in self-defense.

He said he had been to both bars in Clayton that night in September 1980.

He left the first after finding his “live-in” drinking with Woolley, the newspaper reported, only to leave the second to find Woolley outside.

He allegedly claimed that he feared Woolley would beat him to death, and so he pulled out his pistol and shot him.

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« Reply #46 on: November 12, 2019, 06:18:04 pm »
Tuesday, 12th November 2019
Nurse took in disabled teen, then tortured and killed her in 1999
by Minyvonne Burke

A mentally disabled Illinois woman who was found dead along a Wisconsin road 20 years ago had been living with an Illinois nurse, who subjected her to years of "horrific" abuse and killed her, authorities say.

The nurse, Linda LaRoche, was arrested on November 5th in Cape Coral, Florida, where she was living, on charges of first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse in connection to the 1999 death of 23-year-old Peggy Lynn Johnson.

Johnson's body was found on July 21, 1999, in a cornfield in Racine County, Wisconsin.

According to a criminal complaint by the Racine County sheriff's office, she had burns covering 25 percent of her body, possibly from a chemical, broken ribs, bruising on her face and upper torso, and a "noticeably deformed" ear that had been cut.

She also had a broken nose, a discolored cheek and her lower lip was "slit open on both ends," the document states.

An autopsy revealed that she was "slightly malnourished" and had an untreated infection that left her knees and feet swollen.

The complaint states that there was a bruise on Johnson's head from a blow that "did fully penetrate the scalp, but not the skull."

It was determined that the cause of death was homicide by sepsis pneumonia as a result of infection from injuries sustained from abuse. No drugs were found in Johnson's system.

For two decades, Johnson was referred to as "Jane Doe" as investigators worked to identify her.

Then in September authorities received information that helped them uncover her identity.

According to the criminal complaint, a concerned citizen in Florida told police that LaRoche was telling people that she had killed a woman when she lived in Illinois.

It was later determined that Johnson lived with LaRoche, her then-husband and three of her children from 1994 to 1999 before the young woman vanished.

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling said at a news conference Friday that the case's finally coming to close has brought mixed emotions.

"We are angered by the senseless and brutal murder of this young woman, and we want justice served," he said.

"Yet we're also very proud today by the fact that we can finally offer some closure and some peace."

Johnson, who was raised in Illinois, was 18 when she became homeless after her mother died.

The teen's father and brother were already dead, and she had never met her sister.

Schmaling told reporters that the teenager, who was "cognitively impaired," went to a medical clinic for help which is where she met LaRoche, a registered nurse.

LaRoche "recognized Peggy's disability" and offered to take her in and let the teen live with her and her family, Schmaling said.

According to the criminal complaint, Johnson was allowed to stay with LaRoche's family if "she acted as a nanny and housekeeper."

LaRoche's children, who are now adults, told investigators that their mother was "very abusive" toward Johnson and forced her to sleep in a crawl space underneath the home.

"LaRoche was verbally and emotionally cruel to Peggy, at times screaming at her like an animal," the complaint states.

One of her children recalled a time when LaRoche allegedly stabbed at Johnson's head with a pitchfork.

They all said Johnson had visible injuries.

LaRoche's now ex-husband told investigators that one night he came home from work and found Johnson "lying on the ground lifeless," the complaint states.

He said LaRoche told him that Johnson had overdosed and she was going to get rid of the body "so they would not be involved."

According to the criminal complaint, he said LaRoche was gone for more than two hours and returned home without the girl.

Schmaling told reporters at the news conference that the abuse Johnson endured during the last five years of her life "is something that none of us will ever forget."

LaRoche, 64, will be extradited from Florida to Wisconsin.

Online court records do not list an attorney for her.

LaRoche told detectives that on the day Johnson went missing, she had fainted after she was caught with pills, the criminal complaint states.

LaRoche alleges that she put Johnson in her car, drove to Wisconsin and let her out of the car.

According to the complaint, LaRoche claims that Johnson "was not injured at all when she dropped her off and that something must have happened to her after she dropped her off."

Schmaling said Johnson's remains are buried under the name "Jane Doe" and in the coming weeks she will be laid to rest next to her mother's grave.

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« Reply #47 on: November 17, 2019, 10:36:19 am »
Sunday, 17th November 2019
Arizona white man is arrested in the 1979 murder of a woman in Nevada
by Theresa Waldrop

A suspect has been arrested in the murder of a woman four decades after the body of the 21-year-old was found in Nevada, officials said.

Charles Gary Sullivan was extradited Friday to Nevada from Arizona, where he was arrested and charged in the 1979 murder of Julia Woodward, the Washoe County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

It's one of the latest arrests made possible by advances in DNA technology decades after crimes were committed.

In this case, a detective in the sheriff's office's new cold case unit asked for evidence from the scene to be tested.

Woodward's body was found on March 25, 1979, in Hungry Valley, about 15 miles north of Reno, according to the sheriff's office.

The cause of death was blunt force trauma.

Her parents told investigators at the time she'd lived with them in San Rafael, California, before leaving to look for a job in the Lake Tahoe/Reno area, authorities said.

She was last seen alive in California on February 1st, 1979.

Biological evidence identified Sullivan as a possible suspect in the case.

In August, the Nevada attorney general got an indictment against him.

Technological advances are leading to more and more cold case arrests.

The most famous is probably the arrest in the Golden State Killer case in April 2018, where investigators used DNA and a free genealogy database to arrest Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, for allegedly killing 12 people and raping more than 50 women in the 1970s and 1980s.

In Philadelphia, investigators used photo-enhancing technology to link an old sock to the then-boyfriend of a woman murdered in 1991.

The 52-year-old man was arrested in September.

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