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View Full Version : AZ AZ - Mary Ann Holmes, 29 - A small town murder in Thatcher, 9 July 1995



brokenold48
07-02-2011, 01:32 PM
On the night of July 12, 1995 in a small mostly Mormon community in eastern Arizona named Thatcher, a single mother, age 29, named Mary Ann Holmes was tortured, raped and murdered. The most brutal thing of all is that it was done in front of her two small girls, ages 5 and 3. The killer had tied the oldest girl, naked, with rope that she eventually untied and ran across the street to alert a friend of the family.

The little girl said that her mother had been hurt by a "lion man". When the neighbor went to the house, she discovered the slain woman with her youngest child crawling in her blood.

Police Chief Ned Rhodes was quoted as saying that the victim died of head injuries caused by a large knife or hatchet. I later learned that it was actually thought to be a blunt object. Mary Ann had been handcuffed, sexually torn apart, raped and then bludegened to death. She was found with the handcuffs still on. A single fingerprint was found on the underside of the cheap cuffs. Possible DNA was collected at the scene but it was later reported that the DNA had been stored in a non-climate controlled room and had been lost. A footprint size 11 1/2 was found and tracked to the nearby college campus parking area.

Mary Ann had a yardsale earlier that day and it was reported that an unknown man had been at the sale and then later returned at the end of the sale to talk to Mary Ann. The money from the sale was missing after the murder.

I have talked to almost all of the principals in this case in preparation for my book on murders and developed a new person of interest that I followed up on and reported to the authorities as well as looking into the prime suspect in this case. Of course the police details are kept close to the cuff in this cold case although I feel that allowing amatuer sleuths like myself to see the evidence would only help to solve this 16 year old murder.

Any photo evidence on this case would be appreciated.

norest4thewicked
07-02-2011, 11:13 PM
Best of luck to you on finding info on this case. I know firsthand how small town murders can go virtually unknown and forgotten. I hope that the murderer of this lovely lady will be found.

brokenold48
07-03-2011, 12:16 AM
Does anyone out there know of similar murders in New Mexico or California shortly before or after this murder? I am 50/50 on whether this was a stranger or a local. I think now that it was the yard sale stranger as her money was gone from that sale. Any suggestions or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

dolphindoll
04-09-2012, 05:20 PM
It's been nearly a year since her case was reopened as a cold case, I hope that there has been some progress and that apprehension of the criminal will be coming soon.
I hate to see such a horredous crime go unsolved and our family, especially her daughters, left with no real closure after all these years.

KarlK
04-10-2012, 08:55 PM
In my experience small town murders are relatively easy to solve when both victim and perp are local, usually because either they know each other or have overlapping circles of friends and relatives. But on the other hand such crimes can be almost impossible to properly investigate when a transient is involved. A "transient" can be defined as any outsider ranging from a student temporarily living in town to attend college to a railroad bum just passing through.

I'm not too sure what the little girl meant by "lion man", could have been a man with mangy hair and a scruffy beard, or maybe someone wearing a t-shirt with lion imprint, or someone making roaring noises, it's hard to tell.

Shoe size could be an indication that it was a relatively young man. For some reason that I have yet to comprehend it seems to me that almost any male born after 1975 has enormous feet regardless of their height, while those born before that all wear size 9. I do.

dolphindoll
05-05-2012, 04:14 PM
On the night of July 12, 1995 in a small mostly Mormon community in eastern Arizona named Thatcher, a single mother, age 29, named Mary Ann Holmes was tortured, raped and murdered. The most brutal thing of all is that it was done in front of her two small girls, ages 5 and 3. The killer had tied the oldest girl, naked, with rope that she eventually untied and ran across the street to alert a friend of the family.

The little girl said that her mother had been hurt by a "lion man". When the neighbor went to the house, she discovered the slain woman with her youngest child crawling in her blood.

Police Chief Ned Rhodes was quoted as saying that the victim died of head injuries caused by a large knife or hatchet. I later learned that it was actually thought to be a blunt object. Mary Ann had been handcuffed, sexually torn apart, raped and then bludegened to death. She was found with the handcuffs still on. A single fingerprint was found on the underside of the cheap cuffs. Possible DNA was collected at the scene but it was later reported that the DNA had been stored in a non-climate controlled room and had been lost. A footprint size 11 1/2 was found and tracked to the nearby college campus parking area.

Mary Ann had a yardsale earlier that day and it was reported that an unknown man had been at the sale and then later returned at the end of the sale to talk to Mary Ann. The money from the sale was missing after the murder.

I have talked to almost all of the principals in this case in preparation for my book on murders and developed a new person of interest that I followed up on and reported to the authorities as well as looking into the prime suspect in this case. Of course the police details are kept close to the cuff in this cold case although I feel that allowing amatuer sleuths like myself to see the evidence would only help to solve this 16 year old murder.

Any photo evidence on this case would be appreciated.

According to the newspaper article the date was stated as July 9th not the 12th as you have it here.. This may seem trivial but accuracy is important particularly in an unsolved murder case.

scriptgirl
05-15-2012, 07:04 PM
what do they mean sexually torn apart?

wfgodot
05-15-2012, 07:27 PM
what do they mean sexually torn apart?Must be an attempt at polite code for "genitals mutilated," although "sexually torn apart" sounds even worse.

brokenold48
05-15-2012, 07:35 PM
You are correct in saying "genitals mutilated".

scriptgirl
05-16-2012, 08:31 AM
The hell?!

justthinkin
05-17-2012, 03:59 AM
Horrible murder, and in front of her two little ones. So, so sad. I wonder if LE has ever thought to get the older daughter hypnotized to try to clarify what she meant by "lion man?" Perhaps they were able to clarify it back then, but without that fingerprint.....

Don't suppose there's any chance they did a rape kit????

scriptgirl
05-17-2012, 08:19 AM
Even if they did a rape kit, I'm wondering if the DNA has been lost.

brokenold48
05-17-2012, 12:05 PM
I have never been told directly that a rape kit was used but I always considered that to be yes since they found DNA. Unfortunately, the DNA was stored at a local police department outside metal unit in Arizona and DNA was destroyed by heat.

In the past few months the investigation has reported that they were going to re-interview the oldest daughter possibly under hypnosis and see if she had any repressed memories of the event.

I can't believe that this was a one time crime for this individual. He must have repeated or done before elsewhere.

brokenold48
07-10-2012, 02:29 PM
I tried to interview Mr. Black on more than one instance and found him to be one of the strangest men I have ever met. He did say that he was a suspect in the murder and had been interviewed by police and that once women find out who he is and where he lives, they will have nothing further to do with him. I think it has more to do with his strange behavior and personality. I do agree that that Stephanie, the oldest daughter, would most likely have recognized him had he been the murderer since he collected the rent from Mary Ann each month. Although I am no longer a member of the LDS church, I do not believe that Mr. Black or his family connections would protect him from the outraged members of this community if he was indeed the killer. My ancestors were also the Johnsons and I would be the first to turn him in if I knew he was guilty.

21merc7
07-10-2012, 02:51 PM
This was posted last year, there is/was a $15,000 reward if info leads to conviction.
http://somethingsaintfunny.blogspot.com/2011/05/murdered-mary-ann-holmes-gets-928-424.html

A bit more info:

http://somethingsaintfunny.blogspot.com/2009/09/is-this-killing-style-match-up-modus.html

and this:

http://beyond90seconds.com/2009/02/02/breaking-news-body-found-near-1995-arizona-murder/#.T_x5ZpLQg6M

Guess you guys have already found all this stuff though. Good luck in your search!

sreym
09-09-2012, 07:39 PM
i just became aware of this case today by my sister who used to live in Pima AZ near Thatcher. Someone she knows told her that the night of the murder of Mary Ann Holmes, he was in the bar in which she worked. Do you know if anybody from the bar was interviewed? I heard some very interesting info and am wondering if there might be a key here......

believe09
09-09-2012, 08:54 PM
i just became aware of this case today by my sister who used to live in Pima AZ near Thatcher. Someone she knows told her that the night of the murder of Mary Ann Holmes, he was in the bar in which she worked. Do you know if anybody from the bar was interviewed? I heard some very interesting info and am wondering if there might be a key here......

Welcome to Websleuths!!

Please contact law enforcement directly with anything you have heard that might be related to this crime, no matter how small...no matter if it is gossip. The case has been reopened which means that LE is looking for that tiny piece which will make everthing hang together. I am certain that any leads given to them will be actively investigated. :)

sreym
09-10-2012, 12:12 AM
i did encourage my sister today to call silent witness, which she did. they asked her why this "person" that she spoke with never spoke up and she told them it was because this person did not want to get involved. But i told my sister, by this person telling her the things he said, it put her, and now me, in a position of having to turn this info over to the police. I told her it may be nothing, but it might mean everything and all we can do is tell someone. Anyway, silent witness told her they really had to talk with this person, which is not gonna happen voluntarily on his part, so they told her to call SW back again tomorrow and ask to speak to a detective. I will keep updated here, but don't want to share too much until we hear what the detectives are gonna do with what she tells them......there is actually quite a bit of info that i believe could really be helpful......again, wondering if anyone heard of any interviews of people in the bar where mary ann worked....i tried looking for archives today but couldn't find anything regarding who police talked to......

sreym
09-10-2012, 02:15 PM
having five of my own children, it is possible that the little girl knew this David Black as the lion man. He did pick up monthly rents and maybe that is what her mom called him or maybe he even called himself that to the little girl.....

believe09
09-10-2012, 02:53 PM
i did encourage my sister today to call silent witness, which she did. they asked her why this "person" that she spoke with never spoke up and she told them it was because this person did not want to get involved. But i told my sister, by this person telling her the things he said, it put her, and now me, in a position of having to turn this info over to the police. I told her it may be nothing, but it might mean everything and all we can do is tell someone. Anyway, silent witness told her they really had to talk with this person, which is not gonna happen voluntarily on his part, so they told her to call SW back again tomorrow and ask to speak to a detective. I will keep updated here, but don't want to share too much until we hear what the detectives are gonna do with what she tells them......there is actually quite a bit of info that i believe could really be helpful......again, wondering if anyone heard of any interviews of people in the bar where mary ann worked....i tried looking for archives today but couldn't find anything regarding who police talked to......

Good for you-sometimes it can be hard to come forward and put yourself out there. I genuinely believe you and your sister are doing the right thing. We are here to support your efforts. Fingers Crossed that this is the turning point in this investigation.

2012Reader
12-04-2012, 02:45 AM
I'm new to this whole thing, but I do have a question that I am hoping that someone can answer. I've read all of this thread. I was amazed that someone can actually give a name to someone as a murderer, without any real proof. I have great faith in the police departments across our country. I am sure that they have done their work. So my question is this....Is it really fair to actually put a name...ONLINE FOR EVERYONE TO READ... to a person that you "think" might have done it? That person has to deal with that the rest of their lives. Google their name and BAM there it is. It just doesn't seem real fair. I think we should let the police do their jobs, which they do well. AND IF we have information to help them, go to them directly, instead of trying to destroy someone who quite possibly could be innocent. What do you all think?? I am open to comments, because I might be totally wrong. It's just that when I read this it seemed very very unfair. Am I wrong???

scriptgirl
12-04-2012, 04:39 PM
It's also unfair that a woman is lying dead and cold in the ground.

2012Reader
12-04-2012, 09:17 PM
It's also unfair that a woman is lying dead and cold in the ground.

I absolutely agree!!!!

Ausgirl
12-06-2012, 07:14 PM
Black was hauled in as a suspect by LE, so I think sleuthing him is kosher, yes?

I am glad people don't let cases like this fade away. Those poor children...

Boo to LE for ruining vital evidence. Having sleuthed several cases now where blood and other evidence has been destroyed by careless storage, I am of the opinion that the head of the department responsible ought to face some serious consequences -- what's the bet that if the boss was held accountable, a ton less evidence would be lost, and thus evidence tampering would be so much more obvious...

If wishes were fishes, I guess.

zzyzx
09-22-2013, 12:35 PM
TNT does a show called Cold Justice that helps small town agencies with limited resources on cases like this one. Looks like they did an episode on the Holmes case which is due to air later on in the season.

More info at http://www.tntdrama.com/series/cold-justice/case-six/

December
09-22-2013, 11:56 PM
Are they sure she said 'lion man' and not 'lying man'? Just a thought that if it is not a stranger, it is someone her mother didn't trust (but didn't realize was a murderer).

Paulette
10-09-2013, 01:45 AM
Mary Ann's case is on Cold Justice right now.

I'd say Lion Man means a long mane of hair like a lion - reddish or brown & a beard.

The show isn't over yet but it doesn't look like they're making any headway. I've only seen 3 episodes and no one has been caught yet. At least they gave it a try.

lyric0109
10-09-2013, 04:51 AM
I was 9 years old when this happened and I remember being so traumatized by this because it happened just down the street from where I lived with my mom who like Mary Anne was single with kids. I remember being so scared that he would come after us too. To this day, that evil act still gets to me. I heard a rumor that the college was doing a play with a lion costume in it and that maybe the costume was stolen. I hope they catch this evil evil person and give him what he deserves!

rosario
10-09-2013, 05:59 AM
Wow ! I hope they solve this awful

R@bbit
10-14-2013, 11:13 AM
Hi all, newbie here but had to get this off my chest. Something has been bugging me about this show. Does the DNA rule out a woman? That woman Danae could be guilty, or at least in my opinion. She could have been jealous and they did say some "object" was used on Mary Ann to anally raped her. That big, Ashley may have thought it was a man. Am I making sense or way off base?

LR1
10-14-2013, 05:34 PM
Hi all, newbie here but had to get this off my chest. Something has been bugging me about this show. Does the DNA rule out a woman? That woman Danae could be guilty, or at least in my opinion. She could have been jealous and they did say some "object" was used on Mary Ann to anally raped her. That big, Ashley may have thought it was a man. Am I making sense or way off base?

I don't think the DNA itself would necessarily rule out a woman because it might not have anything to do with the crime. The characteristics of this murder however points very strongly to it being a male. The nature of this act Is what the experts would classify as Anger-Excitation and its the worst of the worst so to speak.

klech
11-02-2013, 09:02 PM
I have heard that Phillip Turley, the suspect in the case that could not be excluded by the DNA in "Cold Justice", took off for Mexico shortly before the show was to air. Not a good move for an innocent person. Also, I stopped and talked to David Black this afternoon and told him I was happy for him being excluded by DNA evidence. I think his life has been pretty well screwed up from being a suspect all these years. Had a good conversation with him. Not near as strange as I first thought. He has some good theories on the case. Just to let you know, there is a lot more evidence pointing to Phil Turley than was presented in the show. In talking to a local retired police investigator, he said he had never seen as much circumstantial evidence on anyone without having charges filed. They need to find Turley and charge him.

December
11-03-2013, 05:21 AM
I was 9 years old when this happened and I remember being so traumatized by this because it happened just down the street from where I lived with my mom who like Mary Anne was single with kids. I remember being so scared that he would come after us too. To this day, that evil act still gets to me. I heard a rumor that the college was doing a play with a lion costume in it and that maybe the costume was stolen. I hope they catch this evil evil person and give him what he deserves!

Hi! I see it's your first post!

If no one else has told you welcome, then WELCOME!:greetings:

I am so sorry to hear about how awful it was being afraid as a child. This crime is terrible.

Wow. That is crazy about the lion costume.. it would explain a lot. IDK why a murderer would do such a thing, but murderers do plenty of weird stufff.

December
11-03-2013, 05:24 AM
Hi all, newbie here but had to get this off my chest. Something has been bugging me about this show. Does the DNA rule out a woman? That woman Danae could be guilty, or at least in my opinion. She could have been jealous and they did say some "object" was used on Mary Ann to anally raped her. That big, Ashley may have thought it was a man. Am I making sense or way off base?

:greetings:
Hi, welcome!

IDK ...

A knife being used that way honestly makes me think of someone who has been in prison.. but I'm just taking a guess...

December
11-03-2013, 05:31 AM
I have heard that Phillip Turley, the suspect in the case that could not be excluded by the DNA in "Cold Justice", took off for Mexico shortly before the show was to air. Not a good move for an innocent person. Also, I stopped and talked to David Black this afternoon and told him I was happy for him being excluded by DNA evidence. I think his life has been pretty well screwed up from being a suspect all these years. Had a good conversation with him. Not near as strange as I first thought. He has some good theories on the case. Just to let you know, there is a lot more evidence pointing to Phil Turley than was presented in the show. In talking to a local retired police investigator, he said he had never seen as much circumstantial evidence on anyone without having charges filed. They need to find Turley and charge him.


:greetings: hi! hi! welcome!

Interesting that you talked to David Black... if he talked about the case without a lot of blaming the victim, then that is another sign in his favor. Murderers will always be quick to tell you how it is the victim's fault. They will say they are being unjustly accused as well, but they still manage to blame the victim.

If this Turley fellow took off to Mexico right after DNA testing.. yeah, that is not good. However, I don't know what is keeping prosecutors from having him arrested in Mexico and dragged back to the U.S in chains (when they have the case ready to go if he turns out to be looking as guilty as it sounds like he looks). (speculation, moo, etc.)

If there is a ton of evidence, then they are looking for one particular piece to the puzzle. With the case having gotten shown to the public again, someone may be able to provide them with that piece they need.

Ausgirl
11-03-2013, 11:16 PM
Just watched the Cold Justice episode on this crime -- first, I have to say WOW, these people are pretty awesome. Great job investigating.. I feel like writing in to say how much I appreciate their work on cold cases that might never get another proper look-at otherwise.

And WOW. Well, glad there were exclusions via DNA. VERY interesting, wasn't it, all the info on Turley. If nothing else, his name and face are out there as warning to any other women who might come into his path..

The one thing - aside from the details of the crime itself - that chilled me to the bone was this quote from Turley, taken from the wire trace audio as he and another man discuss murder, specifically the question of why a killer would leave anyone alive at the scene:

Turley: Sure, you know I want, I want that power of people knowing me it's me that's there.

Johnson: That makes sense.

Turley: Same with leaving the children untouched. I want that power. The children know who was there and I, that's power forever.

(bbm)

Okay, so they were talking hypothetically. But jeez.. get a statement analysis guy onto some of this stuff and see what happens. I bet there's a ton of indications of guilt in those transcripts.

Wow, I actually have a lot to say after watching that video, but maybe I'll wait a bit and take some notes to think about before I post.

I have to wonder if hes committed other crimes.. This one was so planned, down to bringing all the 'tools' and avoiding leaving evidence behind.. A little too practised for a first time? Or was this a one-off that he's been getting off on for years...?

Lots to think about here!

Ausgirl
11-04-2013, 01:31 AM
Some areas it might be useful to look at for any similar crimes (scouting a timeline for these, when I get to it..)..

CASA GRANDE, AZ
ESCALON, CA
SAFFORD, AZ
SACRAMENTO, CA
MARICOPA, AZ
ORANGE, CA
SAN BERNARDINO, CA

interesting obit: http://newspaperarchive.com/casa-grande-dispatch/2005-09-01/page-2

scriptgirl
03-24-2014, 04:12 PM
Is there a link to Cold Justice so I can see it?

shaneirish
04-25-2014, 02:57 PM
On the strength of all the circumstancial evidence I'm really surprised Turley wasn't presented to the Grand Jury - and it really worries me because this crime doesn't sound like the work of a novice or someone who wouldn't kill again!

It's just far too coincidental that the perp's footprints were followed to the college where he worked. But I'm very certain that there's one person, or one tiny piece of evidence that is out there waiting to be found to crack this case right open. Was anything else stolen from Mary Ann's house? Turley's infatuation with the victim suggests to me that he'd take a souvenir as well as the money.

karmagage
08-01-2014, 05:09 PM
I watched this case on Cold Justice and I was devastated when no one could be linked to this murder. That poor child living her whole life in fear of this person. When she said the "Lion Man", I thought possibly they had been to the zoo. We have a couple of little zoos around here that have big cats so I wondered if Mary had taken her kids recently to a zoo around there. I saw a picture at the end of the show with her sitting in front of some parrots and was curious as to where she was when that picture was taken.