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Mystery couple murdered South Carolina 1976 Help ID Them!


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  #301  
Old 09-11-2008, 08:00 PM
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All those are excellent points and could very well apply to either one of the Sumter Does. Especially Jock..I have been searching in an age range of 23-27 years old for him, but he really could be older, possibly up to around 32-33 years old. You really need to think outside the box and not hold too close to what the investigators guess as far as their ages go. That's a very important point regarding the ages.
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  #302  
Old 09-12-2008, 08:39 AM
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That was an excellent post phenolred. And I completely agree with MaryBeth. Sometimes you just have to clear your mind of what has been said about our Does, and go strictly by what you KNOW to be true. What the people at the campground said should not be taken as a fact. We don't know if the Jock was our Doe. We don't know if the initials on the ring are even his initials. Perfect example of this is Maricopa Jane Doe. Tawny's jewelry had her mother's initials on it.
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  #303  
Old 09-13-2008, 04:15 AM
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About the fingerprinting issue: the fingerprints are in the FBI's system (IAFIS) and any time new prints are uploaded that system automatically compares them to all the others in the database, including the Doe's prints. This is according the Sumter Sheriff's office.

I also agree Shadetree-- and as I've said before, a lot of sleuthing is about ruling things out.
  #304  
Old 09-13-2008, 01:01 PM
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I stumbled on the following information today about a missing couple from the April/May 1976 time frame. I have never seen their names anywhere else, and it is infact, hard to find information on them. I can't find a description anywhere. Apparently, they were a young couple from Portland, Oregon with ties to Vancouver, Canada. They must have been fairly affluent because they sailed from Hawaii to Oregon for several years. They went missing on a sailing trip in May of 1976. There was one article from a September 1976 Newspaper that "the family" had launched an investigation. No mention of LE being involved. And the other thing I found was a posting on a Cruisingworld.com webiste by the brother of the missing man from August of this year (2008). How timely, huh? No where is there a description of the couple. So....I registered at the cruisingworld.com site and responded to his query with directions to our thread here. Can't hurt. The missing couple's name was Michael and Coredlia McMinn, both around 26 years old.
Speaking of ruling possible leads out - I made contact with the brother of Micahel McMinn and he has viewed this thread, and the pictures of Jock and Jane Doe do not look anything like his missing brother and sister-in-law. At some point, we will probably open a thread here on WS's for his brother and sister-in-law. Back to the drawing board.
  #305  
Old 09-13-2008, 05:52 PM
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Speaking of ruling possible leads out - I made contact with the brother of Micahel McMinn and he has viewed this thread, and the pictures of Jock and Jane Doe do not look anything like his missing brother and sister-in-law. At some point, we will probably open a thread here on WS's for his brother and sister-in-law. Back to the drawing board.
Thanks for checking that out, Reannan. I still think it's odd Michael McMinn's brother had just registered at cruisingworld.com in August! I'm glad he could rule them out though because they had been in the back of my mind ever since I found that one article about their disappearance. I hope his brother can still find some answers as to what happened to Michael and Cordelia.
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  #306  
Old 09-18-2008, 04:18 PM
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I thought this article was worth reposting here it was buried over on the 1st thread

a couple of things to point out

from this article it says the Canadian tip was followed up on

and there are some marks in the girls rings that could lead us to where she got them

also maybe the killer was a brother or father etc maybe thats why they havent came forward

Parnell and his deputies seem to have made some effort to follow the Canadian trail. They wrote to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which in turn published fingerprints and sketches in its trade magazine. Nothing ever turned up.

The girl was also wearing expensive rings that look Mexican in style.
Stihl says the rings were probably handmade, and he hopes to use symbols on the inside of the bands to identify the artist and perhaps identify places where the girl bought the jewelry.

the killer may have been a traveling companion. That would explain why the jewelry wasn't stolen. The killer cared only about erasing their identities.

ead end?
By Brian Ray
Staff Writer

Photo by Jim Shine


SUMTER ' It will be 28 years Monday since a young man and woman were found shot to death beside a dirt road in Sumter County.
The couple lie side by side now in plain graves at a country church in Oswego.
Their headstones read simply, 'Female Unknown' and 'Male Unknown.'
No parents have come to pay their respects. No killer has been convicted ' though authorities once had a prime suspect. Their murder remains a mystery that piques minds and touches hearts.
'They were somebody's kids,' says Patricia Riddle of Oswego. 'You just don't want to believe their parents don't care.'
Like others in the community, Riddle is drawn to the graves when she comes into the churchyard at Bethel United Methodist Church. The graves are well kept, and visitors ' she is not sure who or when ' sometimes bring flowers.
The two young people were buried Aug. 14, 1977, but their story begins a year earlier.
The crime
On Aug. 9, 1976, a man living in the sticks between Sumter and Florence heard a car scuttling down a narrow frontage road connecting Interstate 95 to S.C. 341. Someone climbed out. Gunshots echoed in the early morning, then the car raced back onto the highway.
As the sun rose, a truck driver pulled off to rest and found the bodies.
They were riddled with bullet holes, the girl's green eyes still wide with shock, her mouth open as if giving a final cry for help. She was in her late teens; her companion was in his mid-20s.
Sumter County Sheriff I. Byrd Parnell and his deputies arrived minutes later. Crouching over the corpses, they noticed a pair of tire tracks. There was nothing else.
The investigation
After making a plaster cast of the tire tracks and scouring for evidence, Parnell shipped the bodies to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston for an autopsy, which turned up little more than the obvious.
As weeks passed, the sheriff made phone calls and wrote letters to law enforcement agencies from Florida to New Mexico in an effort to identify the bodies. Nothing turned up.
A forensic dentist in Spartanburg charted the young man's mouth and the American Dental Association published his findings, hoping a dentist somewhere would recognize the work. The dead man had undergone extensive dental work, including fillings, root canals and crowns. No dentist ever came forward.
A funeral home displayed the bodies for a year in airtight, see-through caskets.
Relatives of missing persons traveled from as far away as New Jersey, but all left with unanswered prayers.
After a year, the bodies had decayed and hardly seemed human any longer. So the young man and woman were laid to rest at the Methodist Church in Oswego.
More than 100 people attended the ceremony.
Sole suspect
About four months after the murders, police in the Darlington County town of Latta arrested Lonnie George Henry for drunk driving. Under the seat of his car they found a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson with the serial number filed off.
Police sent the gun to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division's forensic lab for tests and later concluded that Henry's revolver had killed the mystery couple. Bullets taken from the bodies matched with the weapon.
When officers asked Henry point blank if he was the killer, his polygraph said he was telling the truth. No, he hadn't pulled the trigger. But several other lie detector tests implied he was lying about something, at least, maybe covering up for somebody. Investigators wondered if someone had stolen his gun and whether a relative or friend of Henry's had killed the couple in Sumter.
But case files say Henry did lie about how he'd obtained the gun, first telling officers that he'd bought it from a truck driver. Days after the purchase, Henry told investigators, he discovered the serial number had been filed off. By then, it was too late to return the item for a refund.
SLED recovered the serial number and investigators tracked the gun from its manufacturer to Henry's brother, who said he gave it to Henry as a Christmas present four or five years earlier.
The gun had been bought, stolen and resold several times before falling into the hands of Henry's brother. But he said the serial number was still there on Christmas Eve.
When confronted with the new information, Henry confessed to filing the serial numbers off himself.
It remains unclear why Henry lied if he was innocent. And it also remains unclear if he really was. Case files say Henry was a recovering alcoholic and had also gotten in trouble with the law for a slew of minor offenses.
At the time, his son had recently drowned in the Pee Dee River. He'd also accidentally killed one of his co-workers, by backing a dump truck over him.
Investigative psychologists even wondered if he'd killed the Sumter couple and simply couldn't remember doing it.

But despite his incriminating profile, Henry had an alibi. 'I can prove where I was at on the dates that you said this happened,' Henry told investigators. He said he was at a hospital in Monroe, N.C., where his wife was staying. 'I suppose you will take my word.'
'Mr. Henry,' replied one of the officers, according to the files. 'Right now I don't believe I would take your word for anything.'
In an effort to corroborate his alibi, cops timed the drive from the hospital to the crime scene and concluded there was no way Henry could have raced back in time to see his wife. Even with knowledge of his mental health and lying twice about the gun, they set him free.
Now dead, Henry will never have the chance to erase the suspicion or to confess.
  #307  
Old 09-18-2008, 04:18 PM
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Passing through
Evidence says the young couple weren't from South Carolina.
'If they were from around here we would have found them by now,' says Sumter County Coroner Verna Moore. In 1976, she was deputy coroner and also worked for the local paper, The Sumter Daily Item.
Moore persuaded 'Unsolved Mysteries' and Court TV to run specials on the case, but still no one came forward. For the past year she's been working with a cold case investigator in Virginia to sift through evidence for new leads.
She hasn't given up yet. 'Somewhere out there they've got family still looking for them,' she says, 'and hitting all the wrong places.'
But with their olive skin and ethnically ambiguous faces, the couple could have come from anywhere. 'We've made contact with agencies in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, even in the Mediterranean,' Moore says.
Sgt. Ray Mackassey, a forensics officer in charge of the evidence in the case, says that while the case came many years before his time, he has heard the couple may have been Canadian.
Meet Jacque
Months after the homicide, an employee of KOA campgrounds near Santee, S.C., called authorities, believing he had earlier made friends with the dead man, who went by the name 'Jock,' according to documents in the case file.
Jock, or more likely, Jacque, stayed a few days at the campgrounds with his young female companion, then left for Florida. He and his girlfriend stopped at the campgrounds again on their way back.
The two men became friends. While shooting pool, Jacque told the KOA worker he was the son of a prominent doctor in Canada who had disowned him for giving up on his own career in medicine. He was taking a vacation of sorts, traveling the country aimlessly.
Before leaving, he tried to pawn an expensive ring to the employee, who later told authorities that the ring had looked a lot like the one found on the mystery man.
Inside his pocket was a book of Grants Truck Stop matches, which could only be found in Idaho, New Mexico and Nebraska. Authorities think Jacque passed through these places on his travels.
Parnell and his deputies seem to have made some effort to follow the Canadian trail. They wrote to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which in turn published fingerprints and sketches in its trade magazine. Nothing ever turned up.
Priceless items
The dead man's ring, made of 14k gold, had the letters 'JPF' engraved on the inside.
Wolfgang Stihl, the Virginia cold case investigator who's been working with the county coroner, speculates family members gave him the ring, along with the Bulova Accutron watch he was also wearing.
Stihl has determined by markings on the watch that Bulova made the piece in 1968. But the company trashed its records when downsizing shortly thereafter, so no one knows where the watches were distributed.
But Stihl is sure about one thing. 'That watch was bought the year it was made.'
It could have been a high school graduation present, based on the victim's estimated age, 26 or 27. 'It was a popular item back in those days,' Stihl said.
The dead man was also wearing a Coors Light of America T-shirt, the same one sold at a car race held in Florida. More evidence to support the KOA lead.
The girl was also wearing expensive rings that look Mexican in style.
Stihl says the rings were probably handmade, and he hopes to use symbols on the inside of the bands to identify the artist and perhaps identify places where the girl bought the jewelry.
Latest leads
There are a few more unexplored avenues.
One involves a plaster cast or photographs of the tire tracks found at the murder scene, which Stihl says he can use to identify the getaway car.
'Every car has a different wheel-base area,' he says. That and tire tread marks could help him determine the year and make of the vehicle.
Stihl says there are many things about the case that bother him. He doesn't understand why the killer would have stolen cars, wallets or purses, but left watches and jewelry. The girl wasn't raped ' her autopsy didn't turn up a trace of sexual assault.
According to an examination of entry wounds, the murderer shot both victims in the back of the head to finish them off. 'These were executions,' he says, adding the killer may have been a traveling companion. That would explain why the jewelry wasn't stolen. The killer cared only about erasing their identities.
There's one last thing Stihl finds startling. 'They were completely clean. No dirt under their fingernails, none in their hair.'
They weren't smokers and they weren't drinkers. The man in particular was tall and athletic looking, possibly an aficionado of contact sports, judging by the suggestive scars on the back of his shoulder. Overall, the couple likely came from the upper crust of society.
Forever unsolved?
Stihl says he's confident he can identify the couple, though their killer may never be revealed. 'I wish I'd been there,' he says, adding that it would have been easier to work the case before most of the evidence dried up.
The ugly truth is most local law enforcement agencies have never possessed the resources or manpower to crack bizarre cases, though the small town of Sumter has seen its fair share of those, being home to serial killer Donald 'Pee Wee' Gaskins Jr. There are more than 20 unsolved cases in Sumter County.
These two killings are among the oldest.
Sumter Sheriff Tommy Mims wants to see this particular case solved as much as anyone, but he knows the odds of identifying the victims are evaporating.
'This case has been hashed up one way and down the other,' he says.
The mystery couple's parents, aunts and uncles may lie in their own graves by now.
But others refuse to let go. 'I've worked on this for almost 20 years,' Moore says. She's vowed not to give up until her career is over. But if she's re-elected this year, it will be her last term as coroner.
That's unimportant, she says.
'Whoever takes my place will keep working on it.'
  #308  
Old 09-18-2008, 06:03 PM
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Did they not check the tire plasters against Lonnie Henry's car, just to rule him out definitively? He seems like the best suspect. Maybe he picked the kids up as they were hitchhiking, then killed them for whatever reason. He had the gun, he didn't pass the polygraph...seems like the tire casts would have at least added to the evidence against him (or helped to rule him out).
  #309  
Old 09-19-2008, 01:35 AM
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Jane Doe's rings were not expensive rings. You could buy them at just about any truck stop back then.
  #310  
Old 09-19-2008, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Teresa Larson View Post
Jane Doe's rings were not expensive rings. You could buy them at just about any truck stop back then.
I agree..they look like they came from the West or Southwest, but back then, they were selling turquoise and other Native American type of jewelry all over the United States.
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  #311  
Old 09-19-2008, 08:27 AM
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You all have a forum for this case now.

The purpose of this is to be able to organize better and get more specific threads going.

Pictures
Maps
Jewelry
Possible Matches
Elliminated Matches
ME/LE Reports

ect ect
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Old 09-19-2008, 08:50 AM
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Thanks for making this into a subform at the top!
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  #313  
Old 09-19-2008, 04:39 PM
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Thank you Christine! We LOVE you!!! This case HAS to be solved!!! Regarding the jewelry, I had jewelry like that and I would have been about the same age as Jane Doe in 1976. You could get it at flea markets also, and it was VERY common up in Cherokee, NC - where they may have also stayed in campgrounds. It would have been a logical place for them to have travelled to if they were just sightseeing thru the Southeast.
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Old 09-19-2008, 07:48 PM
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I think it is possible they were in New Mexico at some point in time. Southwestern jewelry was common back then but hers looks Zuni to me. Plus the Grants Truck Stop matches. I cant find a Grants Truck Stop now but it may have changed names. I will ask around and see if there was one. I'm in Albuquerque and know some people from that area to see if they remember. The drug smuggling scenario may be a possibility as Grants New Mexico is right on the I40 corridor, known for that kind of activity.
  #315  
Old 09-20-2008, 12:54 AM
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I agree that the whole drug smuggler concept needs to be explored, but to me, these two just don't look like drug smugglers. I can't explain why I don't get that vibe, but I don't. As stated earlier, I grew up in that era - graduated high school in 1976....so "I know a little" (do you hear Lynyrd Skynyrd???) about the drug culture of that year. I honestly wish I could explain why I don't feel like they were smugglers, besides the fact that "I just don't feel they were smugglers". Anyone else feel that way, or have I just romanticized them to the point that they could have done nothing wrong? That is always a danger in a case like this....
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Old 09-20-2008, 02:52 AM
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I don't think they were into any kind of drug dealings because if they were then they would of had plenty of money and Jock wouldn't have tried to sell his ring. They would have also had drugs in their systems and they didn't. Most drug dealers use them also. I can also believe that they possibly were at the camp grounds since he had matches in his pocket and didn't smoke. He could have used them for a bonfire.
  #317  
Old 09-20-2008, 01:30 PM
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Most drug dealers use them also.
Not the good drug dealers. The ones who are absolutely professional about it don't want to get messed up on drugs because they don't want their judgement affected. However, at the same time, most dealers will try what they buy.
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Old 09-20-2008, 07:16 PM
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I agree that the whole drug smuggler concept needs to be explored, but to me, these two just don't look like drug smugglers. I can't explain why I don't get that vibe, but I don't. As stated earlier, I grew up in that era - graduated high school in 1976....so "I know a little" (do you hear Lynyrd Skynyrd???) about the drug culture of that year. I honestly wish I could explain why I don't feel like they were smugglers, besides the fact that "I just don't feel they were smugglers". Anyone else feel that way, or have I just romanticized them to the point that they could have done nothing wrong? That is always a danger in a case like this....
I am very curious why no one appears to have reported them missing. That could be explained by them having been from another country. It also could mean that they were troubled young people involved in god knows what and written off by their families. I graduated in '75 and know Lynyrd Skynyrd well. Hitchhiking was an acceptable way to get around those days so I also wonder if maybe they were picked up or stopped for someone and got ambushed. A very tragic story whatever the case may be.
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Old 09-21-2008, 12:03 AM
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Not the good drug dealers. The ones who are absolutely professional about it don't want to get messed up on drugs because they don't want their judgement affected. However, at the same time, most dealers will try what they buy.

Yes they use it - try it. The big time drug dealers I have known use drugs also.
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Old 09-21-2008, 02:27 AM
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These are my theories, (which I've written about here before in bits and pieces) for what it's worth:

- They were NOT from the area. Very much outsiders, passing through, traveling, whatever. Whoever killed them knew this and WAS a local, or had been at one time, and was very familiar with the area where he met them and where they were dumped.

- It was a crime of opportunity. Perhaps they met a friendly local at a restaurant or other public place, and that person asked them for a ride. The person who killed them was perceptive enough to see that maybe they had a little money and decided to kill them for it. People have been killed for small amounts of money so them not having a lot of money isn't really relevent IMO.

- This happened in 1976 and it is important to remember that many men had come back from Vietnam just a short time prior to that. Whoever killed them knew how to handle a weapon and knew how to execute other human beings quickly and effectively. I think it quite likely that killer had a military background.

- I also believe the killer will never be found. I don't believe Mr. Henry killed them, but I believe he knew who did and that it was possibly someone close to him. It is possible that person is still alive and thus no one that knows him can come forward out of fear.

- As I wrote before, I don't believe they were local. I think that made them easier targets.

- It is entirely possible they were involved in the drug trade or were acting as mules for coke going up the I-95 corridor. I've also theorized they may have been of cuban descent. Many cubans came to South Florida on rafts in the years prior to this crime. It is possible they were of cuban origin and therefore have no family here to look for them OR the families were too afraid to come forward hence they be targeted as well.

- According to the Sumter Sheriff's office, the possible Canadian connection was never fully vetted.

- The truck stop matches may or may not be a clue. It's possible they picked them up in a campground or bar while traveling.

- It's possible the couple that the campground manager met at Santee was not this couple at all, and the "J" name was merely a coincidence.

- I agree that the girl's jewelry could have been bought anywhere. Many native american jewelry items were sold in those days (I am old enough to remember them) and many were made in Mexico.

- It's also possible they are from not very far away at all, and for some reason the family doesn't know about this case. Stranger things have happened. (eg: Maricopa Jane Doe)

- It would be interesting to surveille the burial site and the crime scene around the anniversary of the killings to see who shows up.

- It is also possible the family members already know they are dead, and therefore are not looking for them.

One thing I've learned is that investigative work is sometimes more about ruling things out-- and also, about NEVER ruling anything out.
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Old 09-21-2008, 03:19 AM
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I thought the police said they were not dumped there?? That They were killed where they found them.
  #322  
Old 09-21-2008, 11:00 AM
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From what I found the Grants truckstop in New Mexico was in Lupton NM, which in 1976 would have been on the famous route 66. I can see people that were travelling the country wanting to take a ride along rt 66. Maybe he picked them up as a souvenier. Some people collect match books. Maybe they started their travels on the west coast and were making their way back home. I-95 goes all the way from Florida, up through Maine and into New Brunswick Canada. There are many route 66 webites out their. I found one that is a Canadian Route 66 website, and interestinly there is also one from France, I couldnt read it though it was all in French, i need to go find it through google and get it translated.
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Old 09-21-2008, 11:05 AM
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I also found information on the KOA campgrounds from old newspaper articles from 75 and 76 where they were promoting something called the rent a tent program. w here people could just come and camp and really didnt need to bring much with them. They were also saying how cheap it was to stay there and listing all the cool things they had, like billiards, etc. I looked on koa website and there are 2 really close to Lupton NM and both are right along the old route 66 I dont know if they were there in 76.
  #324  
Old 09-21-2008, 11:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teresa Larson View Post
I thought the police said they were not dumped there?? That They were killed where they found them.
I think they were finished off where they were found. The final blow under the chin.
The first 2 shots may have been in the van they were in then the killer drove them to the secluded spot drug them out and shot each one once more just to make sure they were dead.

Im not sure if they were dead when they were shot under the chin, because it appears there is a trail of blood from the wounds. I didnt think blood would flow like that unless your heart was still beating.

I wish the DNA would come back at least then at the very least they could determine if they were brother and sister.
  #325  
Old 09-21-2008, 06:05 PM
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Would any of you that is good at comparing pictures and info please check out missing person from the Doe Network case file # 1654DFNJ, Jan Andre Cotta, age, hair, eyes and moles seem to match up with the South Carolina Jane Doe. Thanks!
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