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

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    Question AZ - Mary Ann Holmes, 29 - A small town murder in Thatcher, 9 July 1995

    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.
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    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.
    Please consider my comments as my opinion. I don't ask that you agree with me and you are free to scroll past my post. Thanks for respecting my opinion as much as I respect yours.

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    Please help identify the unidentified photos found in the storage locker of serial killer, Rodney Alcala.

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    Thanks for encouragement

    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.

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    Mary Ann Holmes

    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.

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by brokenold48 View Post
    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.

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    what do they mean sexually torn apart?

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    Quote Originally Posted by scriptgirl View Post
    what do they mean sexually torn apart?
    Must be an attempt at polite code for "genitals mutilated," although "sexually torn apart" sounds even worse.

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    Correct

    You are correct in saying "genitals mutilated".

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    The hell?!

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    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????

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    Even if they did a rape kit, I'm wondering if the DNA has been lost.

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    Yes, indeed

    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.

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    Followup

    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.

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    This was posted last year, there is/was a $15,000 reward if info leads to conviction.
    http://somethingsaintfunny.blogspot....s-928-424.html

    A bit more info:

    http://somethingsaintfunny.blogspot....-up-modus.html

    and this:

    http://beyond90seconds.com/2009/02/0.../#.T_x5ZpLQg6M

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

    Unless I have included a link, it is my opinion and only my opinion that I am expressing.

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    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......

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    Quote Originally Posted by sreym View Post
    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.
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    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......

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    Quote Originally Posted by sreym View Post
    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.
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    lion man

    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.....

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    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???

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    It's also unfair that a woman is lying dead and cold in the ground.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scriptgirl View Post
    It's also unfair that a woman is lying dead and cold in the ground.
    I absolutely agree!!!!

  45. #24
    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.

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    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/

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