Date of Alleged Crime
Courtney Fred Rogers was sentenced to death for the murders of his parents.
In Oct. 1941 his 50-year-old father was rescued from a burning house, but
later died of smoke inhalation. Investigators found burning candles in
the house and determined that fires had been set in several rooms. The
death of Rogers Sr. was ruled a suicide. Eight months earlier, Rogers'
mother had died from the inhalation of chloroform. Her death had also
been ruled a suicide.
Four months after the death of his father, Rogers
was arrested for making a false $400 insurance claim. Police found
that the 24-year-old was heavily in debt and began to wonder if he had
killed his parents in order to collect on life insurance. Rogers,
however, received no insurance proceeds for the death of his mother,
although he did receive full ownership of the home he had jointly owned with
her. He received only $1000 for the death of his father plus $2300 for
damage to the house. Such proceeds were small compared to Rogers'
After 16 days of more-or-less continuous questioning by police, Rogers
confessed to the murders of his parents, a confession that he soon
retracted. Nevertheless, he was convicted of these alleged murders.
In 1943, the California Supreme Court unanimously threw out Rogers'
convictions. Evidence that his mother had committed suicide was clear
and convincing. The same was true in regard to the death of his
father. Neighbors had testified at how despondent Rogers Sr. was over
the death of his wife and how he often had spoken of taking his own life.
Neighbors also said he had spoken of his dread of being left alone, after
Rogers Jr., his only son, answered a draft call into the army. Rogers
Jr. was scheduled to report the day after the fatal fire. At retrial,
in the face of no evidence against Rogers, the retrial court dismissed
charges. (ISI) (Time)
Mar 10, 1983 (Sherman Oaks)
convicted of murdering his mother, Dorka, allegedly when she caught him
rifling her purse. Lisker's former roommate, Mike Ryan, is a much more
likely suspect. Ryan gave a false birth date to an investigator to prevent
the investigator from learning about his criminal past. Ryan strangely
volunteered that he had stabbed a robber on the same day as the murder.
Ryan arrived in California from Mississippi on March 6 and returned the day
after the murder. Lisker's trial judge did not permit him to mention Ryan
in his defense. Case investigator Monsue presented fraudulent facts.
Additional evidence has surfaced that exonerates Lisker and implicates the
now deceased Ryan. In 2009 Lisker's conviction was overturned and
charges against him were dropped. (LA
|Litchfield County, CT
28, 1973 (Falls Village)
convicted of killing and mutilating his mother, Barbara Gibbons, after being
coerced by the state police into confessing. Playwright Arthur Miller,
author William Styron, and the NY Times came to his defense. The prosecutor
handling Reilly's second trial discovered that the former prosecutor's files
contained documents showing that Reilly arrived at the scene of the murder
only minutes before the police and thus could not have committed the crime.
Reilly was cleared in 1976. (InjusticeBusters)
Apr 8, 1993
Gary Gauger was convicted and
sentenced to death for the murder of his parents, Morris and Ruth Gauger.
Gauger's parents ran a farm, operated a motorcycle shop, and sold imported
rugs. At trial, detectives claimed that during interrogation when they told
Gauger that he killed his parents, Gauger said he must have killed them
during a blackout because he knew nothing about it. They then claimed that
Gauger told them he really did commit the crime. However, the only details
ascribed to Gauger ended up being flatly inconsistent with the facts of the
crime. Gauger said they had him speculate about the crime after falsely
telling him that he failed a polygraph exam and that blood drenched clothes
were found in his room. The prosecution also presented testimony from a
jailhouse informant, Raymond Wagner.
court overturned the conviction because it found that Gauger was arrested
without probable cause and this fact made the entire interrogation
unconstitutional. Without the confession, Gauger was not retried, but
prosecutor Gary Pack continued to affirm his guilt. Pack's affirmations
stopped after the ATF had uncovered wiretap evidence that two members of the
Outlaws motorcycle gang had committed the murders. (They were later
indicted for them.) Wagner reportedly is willing to admit his testimony was
fabricated if he is paid for an interview. Gauger was freed in 1996. He
later co-wrote a book about his ordeal entitled In Spite of the System. (CWC) (JP) (garygauger.com)
Mar 8, 1886
Willie Sell was convicted of
murdering his parents, brother, and sister. In the early morning hours
of March 8, 1886, 16-year-old Willie banged on the door of a neighbor,
Robert Mendell, talking hysterically and incoherently. Mendell did not
understand Willie's story, but had caught the words, “blood, murder and
hatchet.” Mendell accompanied Willie back to his family's two-room
house. On the floor lay the bodies of Willie's father, James W. Sell,
a schoolteacher and farmer, and Willie's mother, Susan. In the corner,
still in her bed, was Willie's teenage sister, Ina. Their skulls had
been beaten with a hatchet and their throats had been cut. The floor
was slick with blood. In an adjoining room, where Willie had been
sleeping, was the body of Willie's brother, Watta Sell, 19, who was killed
in the same manner as the other members of his family.
Read More by
Jan 10, 1950
was convicted of murdering his father, 75, and mother, 80, with a hammer in
the couple's Brooklyn apartment. Leyra and sentenced to death. Following
the murders, Leyra was interrogated for several days without much sleep,
during which time he suffered from a painful sinus. Police brought him a
doctor allegedly to treat his sinus, but the doctor was a psychiatrist with
considerable knowledge of hypnosis. By skillful and suggestive questioning,
threats and promises, the psychiatrist obtained a confession. An appeals
court found that the confession was coerced and overturned the conviction.
Since little outside evidence implicated him in the murders, Leyra was
released in 1956. (FindLaw) (NY
v. Denno) (People
v. Leyra) (Post-Gazette) [1/07]
Sept 7, 1988 (Belle Terre)
After being interrogated for five
and a half hours, Martin H. Tankleff, 17, confessed to beating and stabbing
his wealthy parents, Seymour and Arlene Tankleff. Arlene died and Seymour
would die weeks later. Police falsely told Marty that his father had come
out of a coma and identified him as his and Arlene's assailant. Police
convinced Marty (for a short while) that he must have assaulted his parents
in a blackout. No evidence linked Marty to the crime, and while his
confession matched the crime theory police held at the time, it did not
match the facts of the case. Marty soon recanted and none of his surviving
relatives believed he committed the crime. In a highly publicized trial
covered by Court TV, a jury convicted Marty of the murders and he was
sentenced to fifty years to life in prison.
Since the trial,
a man has come forward, stating he drove two accomplices to and from the
house on the night of the crime, for what he thought was a burglary. One of
the accomplices was connected to Seymour Tankleff's estranged business
partner, Jerard Steuerman. Steuerman admitted he was under pressure from
Seymour to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars in business loans.
Steuerman had partnered with Seymour in bagel stores and horse racing. He
was also the last person to leave a high-stakes card game at the Tankleff
house early on the morning of the murders. Several days after the crime, as
Seymour lingered in a hospital before dying, Steuerman staged his own death
and fled to California, shaving his beard and assuming an alias.
2003, several new witnesses came forward, implicating Joseph Creedon and
Peter Kent as the killers. Creedon was an associate of Steuerman and
Tankleff believed that Creedon and Kent had acted on Steuerman's behalf.
Evidence also emerged that the lead detective in the case, K. James
McCready, had worked for Steuerman, and may have been bribed by him. In Dec.
2007, Tankleff's conviction was overturned. The DA announced that he would
not retry him. A book was written on the case entitled A Criminal
Injustice by Richard Firstman and Jay Salpeter. (www.martytankleff.org)
p8) (JD12) [9/06]
|Josephine County, OR
Sept 7, 1905
Jasper Jennings was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of his father, Newton
M. Jennings. In 1906 the state supreme court overturned the conviction because
of improper testimony by trial witnesses. Charges against Jasper were
dropped following a motion at retrial. According to some witnesses, Jasper's sister, Dora, had
told them she had committed the crime.
v. Jennings) (MJ)
|Jefferson County, PA
Mar 22, 1916 (Sprankle Mills)
Ernest Haines, 18, was
convicted with Henry Ward Mottern, 17, of the murder of Haines' father,
William Haines. Both boys were sentenced to die in the electric chair. In
1918, Ernest Haines was retried acquitted and released from imprisonment. (ISI) [7/05]
|Montgomery County, PA
Sept 30, 1996 (Upper Moreland)
charged in 1999 for the 1996 arson murder of his parents after they died
from a fire in the home he shared with them. He faced the death
penalty. Authorities also charged
Camiolo with insurance fraud. They said he set the fire to collect on a
$400,000 inheritance. Camiolo's chain smoking mother had presumably
started the fire by dropping a cigarette or match on a sofa. Camiolo
tried to put out the fire by throwing a pitcher of water on it, but such an
action only made the fire worse. He said he told his semi-invalid
parents to go out the back door and he called 911. His mother made it
out to the back porch, but later died from injuries sustained during the
fire. His father was found in an indoor bathroom and was pronounced
dead soon afterwards. Camiolo
went out the front door and was retrieving clothes from a gym bag in his car
when police arrived. It was shortly before dawn and he was still
in his underwear. On arrival, the police witnessed the living room
windows blow out as the fire reached flashover status.
Floor samples from the first floor where the fire
originated tested positive for the presence of gasoline. However, neither
the carpet nor the padding above the floor tested positive for gasoline.
A volunteer firefighter, Steven Avato, who helped fight the fire, happened
to have experience as an ATF arson investigator. He was dumbfounded
that Camiolo was charged and rocked the boat by
publicly criticizing the arson charges. The state thought Camiolo's
exit through the front door was suspicious, but Avato thought it was common
for people caught in fires to exit through the door they most commonly use,
even if it is not the closest one.
private investigator tracked down the contractor who built the house. The
contractor said the sealer used on the hardwood floors had been thinned with
gasoline. Lab tests were performed that revealed the presence of lead in
the detected gasoline. Since leaded gas had not been sold for 15 years prior
to the fire,
investigators concluded that it could not have been used to start this
fire. The charges against Camiolo were dropped and he was released after 10
months of imprisonment. For taking a stand in the case for which he
was later proven right, Investigator Avato
won an Investigator of the Year Award from the International
Association of Arson Investigators. (Forensic Files) (TruthInJustice)
Jan 1, 1991
Gregory Parsons was convicted in 1994 of murdering his mother, Catherine Carroll.
Carroll had been stabbed 53 times. Parsons was sentenced to life
imprisonment. His mother's psychiatrist and friends recalled her
saying that her son, 19, had threatened her life. Two years earlier
Parsons been part of a band that sang a song called “Kill, kill, kill,”
about children killing their parents. In addition Carroll had
allegedly once sought a restraining order against her son.
In 1998 the
Newfoundland Supreme Court acquitted Parsons after DNA tests proved he could
not have been the killer. Years later, following an undercover sting
operation, police got Brian Doyle, a childhood friend of Parsons, to confess
to the crime. Doyle pleaded guilty to the crime in 2002 and was
sentenced to life imprisonment. Parsons was awarded $650,000 in 2002
and another $650,000 in 2005 for his wrongful conviction and imprisonment.
June 20, 1994 (Dunedin)
David Cullen Bain was convicted of murdering his mother Margaret, 50,
his father Robin, 58, sisters Arawa, 19, and Laniet, 18, and brother
Stephen, 14. All had died from .22 gunshot wounds to their heads.
The murders occurred at 65 Every Street, Anderson's Bay, Dunedin.
Twenty-two-year-old David was arrested four days after making a frantic 111 call from the family
home. Police responding to the emergency found him huddled in the house
babbling incoherently. At trial, David's defense argued that his
father Robin killed the family then himself while David was out doing his
early morning paper run. David has consistently maintained his
against Robin appears to be greater than that against David, but since none
of it is especially strong, one can assume that the evidence against both is
evenly divided. Depending on the
weight one puts on various pieces of evidence, it is possible to believe
either one of them is the likely perpetrator. However, reasonable doubt
attaches to David because a plausible case can always be made that Robin is the
perpetrator. The motive evidence is stronger against Robin.
evidence shows the perpetrator had fought with Stephen, and Robin had six
recent abrasions on his hands. These abrasions were alleged to be due
to Robin's replacement of spouting at the family home.
After exhausting his appeals in New
Zealand, David appealed to England's Privy Counsel, and in 2007 it
quashed his conviction as a miscarriage of justice, based on new evidence
that the Crown reportedly disputes. David was subsequently released on bail
by the Christchurch High Court. Two 1997 books were published on the
Bain case, the pro-defense David and Goliath by Joe Karam, and the
pro-prosecution The Mask of Sanity by James McNeish. (NZCity)