CA - Melvin Just, POI in Humboldt Homicide

Discussion in 'Serial Killers in the Emerald Triangle' started by EastHumboldt, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. EastHumboldt

    EastHumboldt New Member

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    Profiled in the documentary Just Melvin, Just Evil

    'JUST MELVIN': Just,the family next door

    Subject Melvin Just is alleged to have raped and murdered Josephine Spegel, a social worker, around March 11, 1969 while his family lived in Carlotta, California (In Southern Humboldt). While sensational, it is unfounded and no charges were brought against Just. Miss Spegel's case remains unsolved and long forgotten.

    I've created the following timeline for Just;

    Born in Bremerton, Washington 1929, Died in Seabeck, Washington 1999. Just enlisted in 1946 serving in the Korean War. He married in 1957 back home in Washington. Records from 1960 - 1970 place Just and his wife living in San Jose, where he worked as a mechanic, with the exception of years 1962 and 1969.

    In 1972 he was granted a divorce in Humboldt County, there is a large gap of information until he is convicted in 1978 of 12 counts of molestation against various family members through the Humboldt County Court. He then served 8 years in San Luis Obispo.

    I estimate that he would have been active in the Humboldt County area, with ties to San Jose via Highway 101, between the years 1969 - 1978. Based on the Spegel evidence his preferred method of operation (MO) is to strangle and rape his victim. In the documentary his daughter alleges he coerced her in a wooded area, Spegel was found partially buried off a forest road.

    From 1975 - 1976 there were a number of women found in the Humboldt area fitting the described MO.

    Janet Lee Bowman Sept 30, 1975
    Karen Frances Fisher Jan 18, 1976
    Sherry Lynn Smith May 2, 1976 (Likely John Annibel)
    Vicki Lynn Schneider Jul 2 1976 (Attributed to Henry Lee Lucas)

    In a news article regarding one of the women the Sheriff stated that his office had received 35 reports of rape in the year of 1976.

    It may be that multiple suspects were active during this time period but, as far as, Annibel he should be credited for the women known to him, in these cases Sherry Smith stands out. It's been speculated that Henry Lee Lucas gave evidence provided to him in an attempt to form a plea bargain.

    On the subject of John Annibel, if he were as prolific a rapist and murderer, why were there no victims attributed to him for over 19 years (post LaDeRoute?) It is reasonable that he was publicly linked to Smith and LaDeRoute and wanted no further attention. But is it possible that 3 out of 4 victims mentioned weren't tied to him to begin with?

    I suspect Melvin Just because post 1976 (sans LaDeRoute) the killing spree sharply declined. In 1977 Just would be locked in a custody dispute that would end in his incarceration. With no family to return to he would leave the State altogether and return to Washington to live out the remainder of his life.

    It seems that Josephine Spegel will remain a cold case but the question I would pose is if those rape reports for the 31 others still exist, are there suspect descriptions? The Spegel investigation mentions a vehicle. Maybe that's a start.
     
    Mountain Mama and Lilibet like this.


  2. Mountain Mama

    Mountain Mama Active Member

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    Thanks for bringing our attention to Melvin. I wonder if his DNA was collected. So many women disappeared from Humboldt (and Sonoma County) in the later part of the last century. It is time that some of POIs rise to the surface.
     
  3. burblestein

    burblestein Well-Known Member

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    Interesting post, EastHumboldt. Some of the victims you mentioned are being considered as a series of homicides called The Humboldt Five:

    I have never before seen a claim that Lucas operated up here in the ET. I would like to see evidence of that.
     
  4. burblestein

    burblestein Well-Known Member

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    Just realized upon re-reading that the above last sentence may seem insulting. Such is not the intent.
     
  5. burblestein

    burblestein Well-Known Member

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    EastHumboldt's construction of a timeline deserves applause. A timeline can be one of the most useful tools in case solution.
     
  6. burblestein

    burblestein Well-Known Member

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    And I share EastHumboldt's doubts about Annibel's non-offending years. I think it's more a case of his uncaught years.
     
  7. burblestein

    burblestein Well-Known Member

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    Poor Josephine Spegel. I couldn't find enough on her to begin her thread. How pitiful, to have faded so far from memory.
     

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