Triple Homicide Cases

33 Cases

Mobile County, AL

Michael Pardue

May 22, 1973

After days of police interrogation at the Saraland Police Department, Michael Pardue, 17, confessed to brutally murdering Ronald Rider, 20, and Harvey Hodges, 68, attendants at two gas stations 16 miles apart in Mobile and Baldwin counties. He also confessed to the murder of a skeleton, which happened to be found in a Mobile County ditch during the interrogation. The skeleton was later identified as Theodore White, 43, and his cause of death is officially listed as unknown. Using similar tactics the police coerced Pardue's associates John Brown, 21, and Theresa Lanier, 15, to sign confessions, although Brown could not read and the three confessions contradicted each other as well as the forensic and physical facts of the cases.
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Pima County, AZ

El Grande Innocents

June 24, 1992 (Tucson)

Chris McCrimmon, Andre Minnitt and Martin Soto-Fong were sentenced to death for the shooting murders of three people at the El Grande Market in Tucson. The victims were Fred Gee, 45, the store manager; his uncle, Zewan Huang, 75, who also worked there; and Raymond Arriola, 31, a store clerk. After being arrested for a parole violation, an informant, Keith Woods, fingered the three. At the trials of the three, police detective Joseph Godoy testified that he first learned of the three from Woods, testimony which was later proven to be perjured. It seemed likely that the names were supplied to Woods by the police. DA Kenneth Peasley was later disbarred for intentionally presenting this false evidence. Peasley had twice been selected as state prosecutor of the year. McCrimmon and Minnitt have since been exonerated, but Soto-Fong is reportedly still on death row.  (New Yorker)  [3/07]

Crittenden County, AR

West Memphis Three

May 5, 1993 (W. Memphis)

Jesse Misskelley Jr., Damien Echols, and Jason Baldwin were accused as teenagers of killing three eight-year-old boys. Misskelley, who is mentally handicapped, gave an error filled confession after 12 hours of police questioning, which he soon recanted. Misskelley confessed that he witnessed the murders taking place around noon when, in fact, the victims were all in school. The victims did not disappear until after approximately 5:30 p.m. Numerous alibi witnesses testified that at the time the three victims disappeared and for the next five hours (during which the murders probably occurred), Misskelley was at a wrestling competition in a town forty miles away from the crime scene. With no physical evidence, murder weapon, motive, or connection to the victims, the prosecution resorted to presenting black hair and clothing, heavy metal T-shirts, and Stephen King novels as proof that the victims were sacrificed in a satanic cult ritual. The defendants were convicted and sentenced to life plus 40, death, and life without parole, respectively. A book about the case was written entitled Devil's Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three by Mara Leveritt.  (  [9/05]

Los Angeles County, CA

David Allen Jones


On second day of interrogation, David Allen Jones who has IQ of 60 to 73, was apparently ready to confess to the murders of three prostitutes about which he was questioned. However, investigators apparently did not want the mentally challenged suspect to confess as such a confession would look coerced. Instead, they had him make incriminating statements about the deaths while permitting him to deny murdering anyone. On the interview tape, detectives correct Jones when he wrongly remembers what he is supposed to say. On the strength of such incriminating statements, a jury convicted him of the murders of Tammie Christmas, Debra Williams, and Mary Edwards.

Other detectives investigating serial killer, Chester Dewayne Turner, thought Turner might be responsible for Jones's alleged murders and had DNA tests performed which implicated Turner in two of the murders. The evidence in the third murder had been destroyed, but detectives felt that Jones was innocent and that Turner was the likely suspect. Detectives helped to obtain Jones's release.  (IP) (Justice: Denied)  [6/05]

Monterey County, CA

Lorenzo Nuñez

Nov 16, 1994 (Salinas)

“A jury convicted Lorenzo Nuñez of murder for supplying rifles used in a gruesome slaying, even though scant evidence showed Nuñez knew of the assailants’ intent. The 6th District Court of Appeal upheld the conviction, but a federal judge overturned it because the jury was shown a videotape in which police lied to Nuñez about the strength of the evidence.”
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Siskiyou County, CA

Coke & John Brite

Aug 30, 1936 (Horse Creek)

Coke and John Brite, brothers, were convicted of the murders of deputy sheriffs Martin Lange and Joseph Clarke, as well as the murder of Captain Fred Seaborn, a U.S. Navy officer. The Brites, who were gold prospectors, returned to a cabin on their rented land, where their parents stayed, and then headed out again. At nightfall they set up camp on the land of a neighbor, B. F. Decker, and went to bed. Two intruders then entered their camp, another neighbor, Charley Baker, and his friend, Fred Seaborn. At trial, Baker alleged they were looking for a strayed horse that Baker owned. It was later learned that Baker had been using the cabin on the Brites' property for rent-free storage and had motive to drive the Brites from their land. Baker and Seaborn picked a fight with the Brites, which proved to be a mistake as the Brites made quick work of them. Baker then went to a judge and talked him into issuing warrants charging the Brites with assault.
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Stanislaus County, CA

George Souliotes

Jan 15, 1997 (Modesto)

George Souliotes was convicted of arson and triple homicide stemming from a 3 a.m. fire at 1319 Ronald Ave. in Modesto that killed his tenant, Michelle Jones, 30, and her two children, Daniel Jr., 6, and Amanda, 3. At the time of the fire, Souliotes was trying to evict the Jones family from the house. Investigators claimed that Souliotes set the fire to collect insurance money. Investigators also claimed that medium petroleum distillates, a class of sometimes-flammable substances, were found on both Souliotes's shoes and a carpet in the home. At trial many defenses witnesses testified that Souliotes had no financial motive to set the fire. The defense also presented its own arson expert who testified that the fire could have been an accident, possibly caused by a faulty stove. The trial ended in a hung jury.

At the second trial, in 1999, Souliotes was represented by the same trial attorney. The prosecution presented the same witnesses, but this time the defense counsel presented no witnesses at all.  Souliotes was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Since his second trial, arson investigators have reanalyzed the evidence, and found that the medium petroleum distillate found on Souliotes's shoes is not the same substance that was found at the scene.  (IP Arson)  [12/07]

 New Castle County, DE

Mark Kirk

Dec 5, 1996 (New Castle)

Mark Anthony Kirk was convicted of triple homicide for allegedly starting an apartment house fire that killed three people. The fire began on a stove in Kirk's apartment in Building 8 of the Beaver Brook Apartments. Police interrogated Kirk for hours, and engaged in psychological manipulations including threatening him with a death sentence. Kirk eventually confessed to accidentally starting the fire. He said he was using an electric burner on the stove to light a cigarette when he spilled a bottle of Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum on the burner, causing the fire.
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 Washington, DC

Ziang Sung Wan

Jan 29, 1919

Ziang Sung Wan, a Chinese NYU student, was convicted of the murder of Ben Sen Wu, an undersecretary of the Chinese Educational Mission. Wu was murdered along with two other members of the Mission, Dr. Theodore T. Wong and C. H. Hsie. Wan was sentenced to death. In 1926, Wan's conviction was vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court because the government failed to show that his confession to the crime was voluntary and the testimony of its own witnesses indicated the contrary. Jurors in two later trials refused to reconvict Wan and the indictment against him was dropped.  (Archives) (MOJ) (Wan v. U.S.) (NY Times)  [7/05]

 Cook County, IL

Bill Heirens

June 1945 - Jan 1946

Bill Heirens, a 17-year-old University of Chicago student, pleaded guilty to three separate murders in exchange for three life sentences when it became apparent that he would not get a fair trial and could be executed within weeks. The victims were two adult women, and 6-year-old Suzanne Degnan, who was found dismembered. Heirens was a thief who was caught burglarizing a home in the neighborhood of the murders months after they occurred. No Miranda rights or appeals process then existed. Heirens withstood being tortured by police and said he could have withstood more, but he succumbed after the Chicago Tribune published a false story that gave a purported confession by Heirens. Heirens and his lawyers felt that that story, which was picked up by other newspapers, would hopelessly taint any jury pool. Heirens is still imprisoned after 63 years at age 80 in 2009.  Two books were written about the case, the pro-prosecution, Before I Kill More..., and the pro-defense, William Heirens: His Day in Court.  (Life) (American Justice) (Crime Library) (JD) (CNN)  [10/07]

 Cook County, IL

Kenneth Hansen

Oct 17, 1955

Kenneth Hansen was charged in 1994 with the famous unsolved murders of three 11 to 13 year old boys that occurred in 1955. The victims were John and Tony Schuessler and their friend Robert Peterson. They had traveled downtown to attend a matinee at a Loop theater and were found dead two days later in Robinson's Woods, outside of Chicago.

Hansen was on his honeymoon in Texas at the time of the murders, but he found his 40-year-old alibi impossible to confirm. Four witnesses claimed he confessed to them separately and alone in 1955, 1964, 1968, and 1976. There was no other evidence. Three witnesses were paid informants. Hansen was convicted and sentenced to 200 to 300 years of imprisonment.

After the trial, the fourth witness admitted his testimony was fabricated. None of the witnesses mentioned the confessions to anyone before 1993. In addition, after the trial, a woman came forward and claimed her dead husband, Silas Jayne, confessed to her to performing the murders in 1956. She left her husband the next day. Other witnesses and some physical evidence corroborated her story. Despite there being no evidence that the boys were molested, the trial judge allowed evidence of Hansen's homosexuality and deviate lifestyle to be presented. The 2002 retrial with new evidence and the widow witness also resulted in conviction. Hansen died in prison in 2007.  (TruthInJustice)

Allen County, IN 

Ralph Lobaugh


Ralph Woodrow Lobaugh was sentenced to death for the murders of three women. Within an 18-month period of time, four women were abducted and killed in the Fort Wayne area: Wilhelmina Haaga, 38, on Feb. 2, 1944, Anna Kuzeff, 20, on May 22, 1944, Phyllis Conine, 17, on Aug. 6, 1944, and Dorothea Howard, 36, on Mar. 6, 1945. The murders of these women were all committed during inclement weather. They were possibly the work of a single serial killer dubbed “The Killer in the Rain.” There were some differences between the first three murders and Howard's murder, suggesting a different killer had murdered Howard.
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Floyd County, IN 

David Camm

Sept 28, 2000 (Georgetown)

David Camm, a former Indiana state trooper, was convicted in 2002 of the murders of his wife Kimberly, daughter Jill, 5, and son Bradley, 7. Inside the garage of the Camm residence, the children had been shot to death while sitting in the back seat of the family's Ford Bronco. Kim was shot to death next to the Bronco. The residence was on Lockhart Road in Georgetown, IN.
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Rapides Parish, LA 

Amanda Hypes

Jan 2001 (Tioga)

Amanda Hypes, aka Amanda Gutweiler, was indicted in April 2002 for the arson murder of her three children, Sadie Plum, 10, Luke Hayden, 6, and Jessica Gutweiler, 3. A fire “expert,” John DeHaan, ruled that the Jan. 2001 fire that destroyed her home on Friar Tuck Road in Tioga was arson. Prosecutors said they would demand the death penalty. After being held in jail awaiting trial for more than four years, a judge dismissed the indictment and released Hypes. He ruled that the original arson finding was based “merely on an old wives tale,” of discredited fire investigation techniques.  (Chicago Tribune)  [3/07]

Piscataquis County, ME 

Henry Lambert

May 12, 1901 (Shirley)

Henry J. Lambert, a French Canadian, was indicted for the murders of J. Wesley Allen, his wife, Mary, and his 15-year-old daughter, Carrie Louise. Allen's farmhouse and barn were burned to the ground and all that remained of the family were charred bones. Authorities did not believe the fire was an accident because it appeared unlikely that the fire could have spread between the house and the barn. Also witnesses reportedly had seen the fire from a distance prior to 10 p.m., before the family was likely to be sleeping. However, no one visited the scene until the next day. Allen's remains were allegedly found in the barn, although it was never completely clear that these remains were human.

Lambert was tried for the murder of Allen only, presumably to allow the prosecution a chance to convict him of the other alleged murders should he be acquitted of Allen's murder. The prosecution alleged as motive for the crime that Lambert was in love with Allen's daughter who it asserted was raped. Lambert had cut a square piece of cloth from an area of one of his shirts that was normally tucked in his trousers. He said he used the cloth to bandage his foot. The prosecution alleged a charred piece of cloth found at the murder scene came from this cut in Lambert's shirt. It is not clear how good the match was or why such a piece of cloth would be used or left behind at a murder scene. All other presented evidence against Lambert consisted of attempts to cast suspicion on him, but these attempts were largely refuted. Nevertheless, Lambert was convicted of Allen's murder.

In 1923, after serving more than 20 years in prison, Lambert was granted a pardon based on innocence. It was felt that Lambert was convicted on insufficient evidence and that other evidence showed Allen had had a dispute with a tramp who may have committed the alleged murders.  (News Articles 1900s) (News Articles 1920s)  [1/10]

 Suffolk County, MA

Thomas Bram

July 14, 1896

(Federal Case)  Thomas M. Bram was sentenced to death for murdering three people aboard a ship on the high seas. The crime occurred about 2 a.m. aboard the Herbert E. Fuller, a cargo ship that was 750 miles into a voyage from Boston to Argentina. The victims were the captain, Charles I. Nash, his wife, Laura A. Nash, and the second mate, August W. Blomberg. All were hacked to death with an ax in the after house of the ship.
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Passaic County, NJ 

Rubin Carter

June 17, 1966 (Paterson)

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a contender for middleweight boxing title of the world, was convicted of a triple homicide. His acquaintance, John Artis, was also convicted. In 1974, while in jail, Carter published a book entitled The Sixteenth Round, From No. 1 Contender to #45472. The book was discovered by Bob Dylan, who made Carter a folk hero with the release of the song “Hurricane” and led to a public outcry that was largely responsible for his retrial in 1976. Carter was also supported by Coretta Scott King, Muhammad Ali, Joan Baez, and Bobby Seale as well as by some journalists and lawyers.

In a climate of racial tension, Carter was alleged to have killed white people to avenge the death of a black man who had been killed by a white man that same night in Paterson, NJ. The triple homicide occurred at Bob's Lafayette Grill at 18th and Lafayette Sts. Against evidence, Carter was reconvicted in 1976, in part because a first trial witness, who recanted his testimony, recanted his recantation and testified again. Later Carter's conviction was overturned because Judge H. Lee Sarokin declared that both of Carter's two previous convictions had been based on “racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure.” Carter was freed in 1985, but it took another three years for charges to be completely dismissed. His co-defendant, John Artis, was paroled in 1981. Carter later headed a Toronto-based lobbying group, AIDWYC, the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted.  (JD) (Carter v. Rafferty)  [6/05]

Cumberland County, NC 

Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald

Feb 17, 1970

(Federal Case)  Army Captain Jeffrey MacDonald was convicted of the murder of his wife Collette, 26, and the murders of two daughters, Kimberly, 5, and Kristen, 2. According to MacDonald, he and his family were attacked by intruders to their home at 544 Castle Drive in Fort Bragg, a U.S. military base. MacDonald survived with wounds including a collapsed lung. MacDonald was acquitted of the murders at a Ft. Bragg Army hearing and probably would not have been tried again had he not angered the prosecution by criticizing them during interviews on national TV. MacDonald's Army acquittal meant that he could not be court-martialed, but he could still be tried in federal court and he was. Before his federal trial MacDonald invited author Joe McGinniss on his defense team to write a book and hopefully help to establish his factual innocence. At that trial MacDonald was unfortunately convicted.
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 Cumberland County, NC

Timothy Hennis

May 9, 1985

Timothy B. Hennis was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Kathryn Eastburn and the murder of her daughters, Kara, 5, and Erin, 3. Hennis was an Army sergeant stationed at Fort Bragg. He had been given the Eastburn Family dog two days before the murder because the Eastburns were being transferred to England. The authorities tested blood, semen and hair samples, but none of the tests matched Hennis. The prosecution's case rested on two eyewitnesses who came forward well after the crime, one of whom dramatically altered a description of the perpetrator over time. The prosecution also introduced nearly 100 photographs of the victims' bodies – an inflammatory tactic that led to reversal of the conviction. Upon retrial in 1989, the flaws in the witnesses' testimony were exposed and the jury acquitted Hennis of all charges.  (PC) (ISI)  [7/05]

Oklahoma County, OK

Clifford Bowen

July 6, 1980

Clifford Henry Bowen was convicted of murdering Ray Peters, Marvin Nowlin and Lawrence Evans. The victims were killed as they sat around a poolside table at a Guest House Inn motel in Oklahoma City. Bowen was given three death sentences. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit Court overturned his conviction in 1986. The Court held that prosecutors in the case failed to disclose information about another suspect, Lee Crowe, a South Carolina police officer. The Court ruled that had the defense known of the Crowe materials, the result of the trial would probably have been different. Crowe resembled Bowen, had greater motive, no alibi, and habitually carried the same gun and unusual ammunition consistent with that used in the murders. Bowen, on the other hand, maintained his innocence, provided twelve alibi witnesses to confirm that he was 300 miles from the crime scene just one hour before the crime, and could not be linked by any physical evidence to the crime. Charges against Bowen were dropped in 1987.  (Bowen v. State) (Bowen v. Maynard)

Dauphin County, PA

Jay Smith

June 24, 1979

Dr. Jay Charles Smith was sentenced to death in 1985 for the 1979 murders of Susan Gallagher Reinert and her two children. Smith was the principal of Upper Merion Senior High School (in Montgomery County) from 1966 until 1978 and Reinert was a teacher there. He had a PhD and was also an Army Reserve colonel. In 1978, he was promoted from his principal's position to work directly for the Upper Merion Area School District.
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Lehigh County, PA

Dennis Counterman

July 25, 1988 (Allentown)

Dennis Counterman was sentenced to death for the arson murder of his three children. The children perished in a fire at their row house home located at 436 Chestnut St. in Allentown. On the morning of the fire, neighbors reported seeing Dennis in his back yard in his underwear screaming for help because his kids were inside. The fire department believed that the fire was set and accelerants must have been used because of the speed with which the fire spread through the house. Expert testimony has since shown that the type of sofa that was in the Counterman's house acts as its own accelerant, and that the fire theories relied upon by the local fire department were outdated and have long since been repudiated.

At trial, the prosecution suppressed exculpatory evidence, although it released some evidence in the middle of the trial when the defense team was too overwhelmed to review it. Counterman's six-year-old son, Christopher, had a history of fire starting and in fact had burn scars from a prior fire that he had started. Christopher had set fire to the curtains in the house one month before. The prosecution's lead witness, Counterman's mentally retarded wife, told investigators at the time of the fire that Dennis was asleep when the fire started (he had worked the night shift the evening before) and that she had awakened him to alert him that the house was on fire. Under the joint influence of police interrogation and heavy medication for severe burns, she subsequently gave a statement that Dennis had set the fire. Counterman's conviction was overturned in 2001 because the state withheld evidence of Christopher's fire starting. Rather than face the uncertainty of a new trial, Counterman agreed to a time served plea in which he did not have to admit guilt. He was released in Oct. 2006.  (TruthInJustice) (CounterPunch)  [1/07]

Philadelphia County, PA

Harold Wilson

Apr 10, 1988

Harold C. Wilson was convicted of the ax murders of Dorothy Sewell, 64, her nephew, Tyrone Mason, 33, and Mason's girlfriend, Cynthia Goines, 40. The murders occurred in the 1500 block of South Stillman St. in South Philadelphia. Wilson received three death sentences. Wilson was retried in 2003, but the trial resulted in a mistrial. At his third trial in 2005, DNA evidence was presented for the first time. Tests revealed that blood found at the crime scene came from a person other than Wilson or the three victims. The jury deadlocked three times, but then came back with a unanimous verdict. According to Wilson, one could discern from their faces the three jurors who held out. “It was some students on the jury that was studying, was going to a college for DNA.” The jury's verdict was “not guilty” on all charges.

One of the reasons Wilson got a new trial is because a court found that the prosecutor at his first trial, Jack Mahon, had used racial bias to eliminate black jurors. Mahon had made a training video on jury selection in which he advised prosecutors to keep poor blacks off juries. He also said, “You don't want smart people, because smart people will analyze the hell out of your case. They have a higher standard. They hold you up to a higher standard. They hold the courts up to a higher standard, because they are intelligent people. They take those words ‘reasonable doubt,’ and they actually try to think about them. And you don't want those people. Bad luck with teachers, bad luck with social workers, bad luck with – intelligent doctors are bad. I always feel doctors are bad, too.”  (DemocracyNow) (Mahon Video)

Gray County, TX 

Hank Skinner

Dec 31, 1993 (Pampa)

Henry Watkins Skinner, also known as Hank, was convicted of bludgeoning to death his live-in girlfriend, Twila Busby, and stabbing to death her two sons, Randy Busby and Scooter Caler. Hank was sentenced to death. The murders occurred at 801 East Campbell Ave. in Pampa. Hank, then 31, had been drinking earlier in the evening and passed out after taking codeine to which he was severely allergic. A friend, Howard Mitchell, arrived to take Hank and Twila to a New Year's Eve Party at 9:30 p.m., but he could not rouse Hank.
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Harris County, TX 

Max Soffar

July 13, 1980 (Houston)

Max Soffar was convicted of murdering Arden Alane Felsher, 17, Tommy Lee Temple, 17, and Stephen Allen Sims, 25, during a robbery of the Fair Lanes Windfern Bowling Center. He was sentenced to death. Soffar, 24, a mentally impaired individual, confessed to the murders after hours of police interrogation. No physical evidence connected him to the crime. A fourth victim, Gregory Garner, survived a gunshot wound to the head but failed to identify Soffar as a participant in the robbery.
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Harris County, TX 

Frances Newton

Apr 7, 1987

Frances Elaine Newton was sentenced to death for the of murders of her husband and two children. The husband, Adrian Newton, was found shot to death in the family's apartment along with the couple's two children, Alton, 7, and Farrah, 1. The apartment was located at 6126 West Mount Houston Road, Houston, Texas. Less than a month before the murders, Frances purchased a $50,000 life insurance policy on Adrian and forged his name to complete the deal. She also purchased a separate $50,000 policy on Farrah. At the time of the murders both Frances and Adrian were seeing other people.
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Lubbock County, TX 

Butch Martin

Feb 25, 1998

Garland Leon Martin, also known as Butch, was convicted of the arson murders of his common law wife, Marcia Pool, her son, Michael Brady Stevens, age 3, and their joint daughter, Kristen Rhea Martin, age 1. The three died in a fire at the home they shared with Martin. The conviction was based in large part on a hypothesis that accelerants were used to start the fire. Some samples from fire remnants in the master bedroom reportedly tested positive for Norpar and deparaffinated kerosene.

Norpar can be used as lamp oil and deparaffinated kerosene can be found in lighter fluid, but they are also common chemicals found in numerous household products. Experts dispute the supposition that these chemicals indicate the presence of accelerants and are petitioning to check the state's evidence that the alleged chemicals were even found. A defense investigator thought the fire started on the back porch rather than in the master bedroom near the back door. He criticized original investigators for discounting and then disposing of an electrical cord that was used to connect a refrigerator on the back porch to an outlet inside the house. He thought the fire marshal was looking for arson from the outset.  (IP Arson)  [7/07]

McLennan County, TX 

Johnson & Young

Feb 11, 1922

L. C. “Cooper” Johnson and Bennie Young were convicted of the murders of W. H. Barker, his wife, Loula Barker, and a boy named Homer Turk, aged about 13. The murders occurred at the Barker home on Corsicana Rd., seven miles southeast of Waco. Turk had gone over to the Barkers to play dominoes. Dominoes were found on the table drawn and separated into hands, as though the parties had been engaged in playing the game. The body of Mr. Barker was found in the back yard near a woodpile, shot through the head. The body of Mrs. Barker was found in the house, and her head was cut to pieces by blows from an axe; Turk was also killed by blows inflicted with an axe.

Johnson and Young, who were described as “boys,” were arrested for these murders and confessed to them while in police custody. In Mar. 1923, another man, Roy Mitchell, was convicted of murdering five people in five different proceedings, all in the same month. In a sixth proceeding, Mitchell was convicted of murdering Loula Barker. The convictions were due, at least in part, to coerced confessions. The authorities expressed pride that they helped prevent a lynching.

Johnson died in prison a few days before Mitchell's hanging. In 1934 the Texas governor pardoned Young after being informed by the trial judge and the prosecuting attorney that they did not believe Young was guilty.  (ISI) (FWH)  [5/08]

McLennan County, TX 

David Spence

July 14, 1982 (Waco)

David Wayne Spence was convicted of the murder of Jill Montgomery and sentenced to death. Montgomery, 17, along with Raylene Rice, 17, and Montgomery's boyfriend, Kenneth Franks, 18, were found murdered in Speegleville Park at Lake Waco. Three other individuals, Gilbert Melendez, Tony Melendez, and Muneer Deeb were also convicted in connection to the murders. Truman Simons, a night jailer who had unsupervised contact with inmates, largely developed the cases against all four.

Spence was executed on April 3, 1997. Marvin Horton, the police lieutenant who supervised the case, said, “I do not think David Spence committed this crime.” Ramon Salinas, the homicide detective on the case, added, “My opinion is that David Spence was innocent. Nothing from the investigation ever led us to any evidence that he was involved.” One of the inmates who testified at Spence's trial, Robert Snelson, said, “We all fabricated our accounts of Spence confessing in order to try to get a break from the state on our cases.” A pro-prosecution book, Careless Whispers by Dallas journalist Carlton Stowers was written about the murders.  (TJDP) (DP News) (JD)  [1/07]

McLennan County, TX 

Muneer Deeb

July 14, 1982 (Waco)

Muneer Deeb, a convenience store owner, had allegedly hired three men to kill a female employee on whom he had a $20,000 accident policy. However, Deeb had such policies on all his employees as a hedge against worker compensation claims. The prosecution alleged that the three men then mistakenly killed a woman who was not an employee. The murdered woman did not seem to be the victim of a contractual killing as she was raped and tortured, as were two of her friends. None of his three alleged co-conspirators testified against Deeb even though they were charged with capital murder like Deeb and were in a position to negotiate for a reduced sentence. One trial witness testified that Deeb had acknowledged he would receive insurance money if one of his employees ever was murdered. Deeb was convicted and sentenced to death.

Deeb's conviction was overturned because the judge allowed a jailhouse informant to give hearsay testimony about statements allegedly made by one of Deeb's alleged co-conspirators. This informant described a murder for hire scheme in detail. Deeb was acquitted at retrial in 1993.  (CWC)

Navarro County, TX 

Todd Willingham

Dec 23, 1991 (Corsicana)

Cameron Todd Willingham was convicted of murdering his three daughters by setting his house on fire. Under police interrogation, Willingham said that his wife, Stacy, had left the house around 9 a.m. After she got out of the driveway, he heard his one-year-old twin daughters cry, so he got up and gave them a bottle. The children’s room had a safety gate across the doorway which his two-year-old daughter, Amber, could climb over but not the twins. He and Stacy often let the twins nap on the floor after they drank their bottles. Since Amber was still in bed, he went back into his room to sleep. Willingham's house was warmed by three space heaters, one of which was in the children's bedroom. This heater had an internal flame. Amber had been taught not to play with the heater though she reportedly got “whuppings every once in a while for messing with it.”
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King County, WA 

Rafay & Burns

July 12, 1994 (Bellevue)

Atif Rafay and Glen Sebastian Burns were convicted of the murders of Rafay's father, Dr. Tariq Rafay, his mother, Sultana, and his sister, Basma. The victims were bludgeoned in their home in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, WA. The walls, floor, and ceiling of Dr. Tariq's bedroom were covered in blood, bone, teeth, and tissue. In addition, tremendous amounts of blood were tracked throughout the property. Rafray and Burns, then both 18, reported the murders when they returned to Rafray's home at 2 a.m. following an evening out.
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 Australia (NSW)

Ananda Marga Trio

Feb, June 1978

At 12:40 a.m. on February 13, 1978, a bomb exploded outside the Hilton Hotel on George St. in Sydney, Australia. The explosion occurred during a prime ministers' conference attended by 12 prime ministers of Asian and Pacific British Commonwealth countries. All were staying at the hotel. The bomb had been placed in a trash bin in front of the hotel and exploded after it was emptied into a trash truck. It killed two trash collectors and a policeman who was standing in front of the hotel. It also injured eleven others.
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