Entries in Murder (486)


Missing Menifee, Calif. Boy's Half-Brother Charged With Murder

Riverside County Sheriff's Department(MENIFEE, Calif.) -- The 16-year-old half-brother of a Menifee, Calif., boy whose body was found in a shallow grave behind his house has been charged with the boy's murder, officials said.

The Riverside County District Attorney's Office charged the 16-year-old with the murder of his 11-year-old half-brother, Terry Smith Jr., on Friday, according to a news release. is not releasing the name of the teenager because he is a juvenile.

Investigators originally said Terry was last seen from his family's Menifee home around 9 p.m. on July 6 and was gone the next morning, according to ABC News' Los Angeles station KABC-TV.

But the story changed on Wednesday when the brother allegedly told officials that Terry had followed him on the way to a friend's house the night he disappeared, and when he realized Terry was following him, he told him to go home, KABC-TV reported.

At around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, someone from the Smith home called police to report possible remains in the backyard, according to KABC. Police found a shallow grave about 75 feet from the house when they arrived.

While Shawna Smith, the mother of both Terry and his half-brother declined to comment to KABC-TV, Terry's aunt, Tracy Armato, called the boy's death "a double tragedy for our family."

"While we are in the process of putting Juju to rest, we are also trying to have an understanding of what occurred," Armato told KABC-TV.

Meanwhile, Terry's father, Terry Smith Sr., characterized the relationship between the teenager and his younger siblings as troubled.

"Shawna knew [the half-brother's] disposition, she knew that he did get violent with his brothers and sisters, and I begged her to get him the right kind of help," he told KABC-TV.

The 16-year-old is due in juvenile court at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta, Calif., Monday afternoon. The Riverside County District Attorney's Office has also filed a request for a hearing to decide whether he should be tried as an adult, a news release said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Marine Killed by Police Linked to Two Deaths

KLST/ABC News(EDEN, Texas) -- Police on Sunday identified a U.S. Marine accused of a drive-by shooting rampage that left one woman dead and five others injured in Texas, and said they believe he is also be responsible for the death of another woman in North Carolina the day before.

Esteban J. Smith, 23, was killed in a shootout with police early Sunday morning after randomly firing on five vehicles from his pickup truck as he drove around Concho County, Texas, according to Tom Vinger, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Smith is an active duty Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. His rank and service record have not been made public.

He allegedly began the spree around 4:30 a.m. Sunday, opening fire on a vehicle in Eden, Concho County, where a woman was wounded.

He then allegedly fired at a car at a convenience store, injuring two people.

The next shooting occurred at approximately 5:30 a.m. back in Eden, where another woman was injured.

None of the four were seriously hurt.

Just after 6 a.m., the Concho County Sheriff's Office received a call about shots fired, and when they investigated found a woman shot to death in her car in Eola.

The deceased woman has been identified as Alicia Torres, 42.

When Concho County Sheriff Richard Doane caught up with the suspect about 15 minutes later, Smith allegedly opened fire on his vehicle, wounding him.

Highway Patrol troopers and a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden arrived on the scene, and Smith engaged them in a firefight. He was killed in the shootout.

Police discovered "an assault rifle, a handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition" at the scene, according to Vinger.

Smith has also been linked to the death of another woman, whose body was found on Sunday at the Sunset Inn motel in Jacksonville, N.C., police said.

There are more than 1,500 miles separating the two incidents.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Kentucky Cop Shot Dead in Roadside Ambush

Comstock/Thinkstock(BARDSTOWN, Ky.) -- Authorities are searching for clues in the shooting death of a Bardstown, Ky., police officer who was ambushed along a highway exit ramp after leaving his car to remove debris from the road.

State police believe the debris was intentionally placed to draw someone out of their vehicle, but they're not sure whether a law enforcement officer was the target or someone else.

"I've been a trooper for 19 years and I've never seen anything like this, the level of planning," Trooper Norman Chaffins with the Kentucky State Police told The State Police are the lead agency on the investigation.

K-9 Officer Jason Ellis, 33, was on his way home at 2:53 a.m. Saturday morning when he stopped at an exit ramp along the Blue Grass Parkway in Nelson County, 10 miles from Bardstown. When Ellis began removing debris from the roadway, he was shot multiple times. Kentucky State Police won't say what the debris was, calling it a crucial part of the investigation.

Shortly after the attack, a passing motorist found Ellis, whose vehicle lights were still flashing, and called police using the radio in the officer's cruiser. The motorist described the scene as if it was an apparent traffic accident, but when a trooper arrived, it became clear that this was no accidental death.

"We have no suspects at this time, but we don't believe kids were responsible because of how calculated the crime was. The location was obviously not picked randomly," said Trooper Chaffins.

"Officer Ellis didn't even have time to remove his gun," said the trooper.

The shooting occurred in a rural area and no witnesses have yet come forward. Ellis had a dash-cam installed in his car, but it was not on at the time of the shooting.

Kentucky State Police are asking for the public's help in identifying anything that seemed unusal or out of place on the exit 34 ramp prior to the shooting.

"The smallest detail that may not seem important to a lay person may be the one detail we need to bring someone to justice," said investigators in a statement. Citizens are asked to "Text a Tip" or visit the Kentucky State Police online or email a public affairs officer.

Ellis was a seven-year veteran of the Bardstown Police Department and is the first officer killed in the line of the duty for this small agency, located about 40 miles south of Louisville. Ellis leaves behind his wife and two sons.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Police Investigate Reddit Murder 'Confession'

Comstock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- California police are investigating an alleged murder, confessed anonymously on the internet and brought to the authorities' attention by citizen sleuths who believe they may have uncovered the poster's identity.

The San Diego Police Department is picking up where users of the popular website Reddit left off, working to confirm if indeed a murder actually took place and if so, who is responsible, said police spokesman Lt. Kevin Mayer.

"This may be a hoax and it may be real," said Mayer. "We received a tip and our Cold Case Unit is investigating it like any other tip. It may be a hoax, but it's always a good idea to report this kind of information. Sometimes it's the one thing that breaks open a case."

The confession came in an unlikely place, a caption on a photograph of a bear. Reddit users typically admit to innocuous mistakes or misdeeds by adding text to the bear picture to create a meme called Confession Bear.

But this bear had a startling confession.

"My sister had an abusive meth addict boyfriend. I killed him with his own drugs while he was unconscious and they ruled it as an overdose," a user identified only as Naratto wrote.

Within minutes, the post went viral, with thousands of Reddit users wondering if it was true. Hundreds of others began searching for information about Naratto, looking for clues to his identity – his age, location, occupation – mentioned in other comments he had left previously.

"If I had a dollar for every time someone took me… seriously on the internet, I would be able to retire from today alone," Naratto, wrote in response to the comments and questions. "If you want to catch a murderer, get out of your house, put on some f***ing tights and go fight crime."

Users believe the clues point to a 24-year-old San Diego man, and have posted his name and photograph online.

Police said there are currently no suspects because they do not even know if a crime has taken place and therefore won't name anyone as the subject of an investigation.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Newest Man on FBI's 10 Most Wanted List Captured

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo.) -- The most recent addition to the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list has been taken into custody, according to authorities.

A press release from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department states that Denver FBI officials returned the fugitive, Edwin Ernesto Rivera-Gracias, to Colorado after he had fled to El Salvador.

Rivera-Gracias will face charges in the August 2011 murder of Richard Limon. Limon's body was found stabbed multiple times with duct tape covering his mouth and nose. Investigators believe Limon was already dead when his body was thrown from the side of a mountain road. A broken-off blade from a steak knife was found lodged in his chest.

According to an affidavit written by FBI Special Agent Russel Humphrey, Rivera-Gracias may have been upset because his girlfriend had told him that Limon molested her and sexually assaulted her mother.

Three other suspects were arrested in connection with the murder in August 2011: Raul Nunez-Soto, Tina Louise Moya and a 17-year-old juvenile female. Nunez-Soto and Moya each plead guilty, receiving sentences of 48 years in prison and 36 years in prison, respectively.

The FBI later launched an international manhunt to find Rivera-Gracias.  A federal judge issued a warrant for his arrest in 2011 for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Washington Man Suspected of Murdering Grandparents in Custody

KOMO News(LINCOLN CITY, Ore.) -- A Washington state man suspected of murdering his grandparents last week is in custody after a daylong standoff Tuesday at a motel in Oregon.

Michael Boysen, 26, surrendered after state police tactical teams used breaching explosives to knock down the door of the motel room.

"The encounter went really well.  The subject was already down on the floor.  So there was no further resistance from him," said Keith Killian, the police chief in Lincoln City, Ore.

Killian said Boysen was treated for some self-inflicted injuries.

"They were not gun shot injuries, they were some sort of cuts," the police chief explained.

Boysen was wanted for allegedly killing his grandparents last Friday after they threw him a party to welcome him home from prison.  He was released on March 8 after serving time since 2006 for three robbery convictions, according to ABC News' Seattle affiliate KOMO.

"At the grandparents' house on Friday night, there was kind of a welcome home party with other family members," King County Sheriff John Urquhart said at a news conference on Monday.  "Everybody left the party at about 9 o'clock at night."

Authorities believe that Boysen killed his grandparents shortly after that and then took off in their car, a red 2001 Chrysler 300 with a Washington license plate 046-XXU.

"We are at a loss as to why he killed them," Urquhart said.  "We don't know what the motive is."

The sheriff said the grandparents were not shot, but did not elaborate on how they were killed.

On Saturday, the victims' daughter, Boysen's mother, discovered her parents' bodies after going to their house when she was unable to reach them, KOMO reported.

Family members have identified the slain couple as Robert and Norma Taylor, according to KOMO.  They were 82 and 80 years old, respectively.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Confirmed: $1 Million Lottery Winner Was Poisoned with Cyanide

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock

(CHICAGO) -- The Cook County Coroner's office in Illinois confirmed at a press conference Friday that the lottery winner who mysteriously died in July was in fact the victim of cyanide poisoning.

Urooj Khan, 46, died on July 20 at his home in Chicago, one month after he was announced the winner of a million-dollar jackpot. Khan, who emigrated from India and owned a dry cleaning business, had opted for the $425,000 lump sum cash payment.

The medical examiner's office initially believed he had died of natural causes. It wasn't until after he was buried that his brother asked the office to conduct further tests. After examining fluid samples, the office found a lethal level of cyanide and Khan's death was declared a homicide.

Khan's body was exhumed on Jan. 18 and the autopsy exam was conducted that day.

Adding intrigue to the story is a legal battle among Khan's siblings and his widow over his assets. Custody over his teenage daughter from a previous marriage was given to his sister.

Last month, his widow, Shabana Ansari, and her attorney said they have documents that indicate a portion of his dry cleaning business should go to Ansari in the event of his death, which would give her two-thirds of his estimated $2 million estate.

On Friday, Dr. Stephen Cina, the Cook County medical examiner said the autopsy did not produce any new clues, but confirmed the initial test results after Khan's brother called with his concerns, ABC's WLS in Chicago reported.

His family members said he was healthy. Before he died, he enjoyed a celebratory meal with family members at home.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Jodi Arias Finishes Testimony Describing Killing

ABC News(PHOENIX) -- Jodi Arias stepped down from the witness stand Wednesday after mounting an emotional effort to save herself from death row, insisting to the Arizona jury that an explosive fight with ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander led to his death, and that her lies about killing him masked deep regret and plans to commit suicide.

Arias, 32, will now face what is expected to be a withering cross-examination beginning Thursday from prosecutor Juan Martinez, who has been aggressive to many witnesses throughout the trial and who is expected to go after Arias' claim that she was forced to kill Alexander or be killed herself.

She has been charged with her ex-boyfriend's murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Wednesday's dramatic testimony started with Arias describing the beginning of the fight on June 4, 2008 when she and Alexander were taking nude photos in his shower and, she claims, she accidentally dropped his new camera, causing Alexander to lose his temper. Enraged, he picked her up and body-slammed her onto the tile floor, screaming at her, she told the jury.

Arias said she ran to his closet to get away from him, but could hear Alexander's footsteps coming after her down the hall. She grabbed a gun from his shelf and tried to keep running, but Alexander came after her, she said.

"I pointed it at him with both of my hands. I thought that would stop him, but he just kept running. He got like a linebacker. He got low and grabbed my waist, and as he was lunging at me the gun went off. I didn't mean to shoot. I didn't even think I was holding the trigger," she said.

"But he lunged at me and we fell really hard toward the tile wall, so at this point I didn't even know if he had been shot. I didn't see anything different. We were struggling, wrestling, he's a wrestler."

"So he's grabbing at my clothes and I got up, and he's screaming angry, and after I broke away from him. He said, 'F***ing kill you b****,'" she testified.

Asked by her lawyer whether she was convinced Alexander intended to kill her, Arias answered, "For sure. He'd almost killed me once before and now he's saying he was going to." Arias had earlier testified that Alexander had once choked her.

But Arias' story of the death struggle ended there as she told the court that she has no memory of stabbing or slashing Alexander, whose body was later found with 27 stab wounds, a slit throat and two bullets in his head. She said she only remembered standing in the bathroom, dropping the knife on the tile floor, realizing the "horror" of what had happened, and screaming.

"I have no memory of stabbing him," she said. "There's a huge gap. I don't know if I blacked out or what, but there's a huge gap. The most clear memory I have after that point is driving in the desert."

Arias said that she decided in the desert not to admit to killing Alexander, a decision that would last for two years as Arias lied to friends, family, investigators and reporters about what really happened in Alexander's bathroom.

She eventually confessed to killing her ex-boyfriend, but insisted it was self-defense.

"The main reason [for lying] is because I was very ashamed of what happened. It's not something I ever imagined doing. It's not the kind of person I was. It was just shameful," she said. "I was also very scared of what might happen. I didn't want my family to know that I had done that, and I just couldn't bring myself to say that I did that."

"From day one there was a part of me that always wanted to (tell the truth) but didn't dare do that. I would rather have gone to my grave than admit I had done something like that," she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Former Ms. Washington Sentenced in Murder Case

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Peggy Sue Thomas, a former Ms. Washington and ex-wife of a millionaire, was sentenced to four years in prison for her role in the murder of a former colleague’s husband.

The ex-beauty queen accepted a plea bargain in January, one week before she was due to stand trial on a first-degree murder charge. Thomas pleaded guilty to rendering criminal assistance in the first degree, and in exchange for a guilty plea, prosecutors recommended a four-year sentence.

The punishment disappointed the family of Russell Thomas, who was found shot to death in his car two days after Christmas 2003.

“It seems like a travesty of the basic sense of justice that she would be sentenced to less than four years in prison for the cold and premeditated act that could not have happened without her involvement,” the victim’s father, Jim Douglas, said in court on Friday, ABC News' Seattle affiliate KOMO reported.

Prosecutors said Thomas and her then-boyfriend, James Huden, lured Douglas into a remote area so Huden could shoot him.

Douglas was found dead in a car in Freeland, Whidbey Island, two days after Christmas 2003.

Prosecutors said it could have been a revenge murder, with Huden and Thomas suspecting that Douglas was abusing his wife and kids.

At his trial last year, Huden declined to reveal why he targeted Douglas and rebuffed a deal to testify against his former girlfriend.

Huden was convicted of first degree murder and was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

The former beauty queen was given an opportunity by the judge on Friday to come clean about the murder, but she declined.

Thomas did, however, address her tarnished image in January when she accepted the plea bargain.

“I’m not the woman that’s been portrayed in the papers over the last few years,” she said. “I would want to tell Russell Douglas and his family that I am so sorry for their loss.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Jodi Arias Sidesteps Talk of Killing Ex-Boyfriend on Stand

ABC News(PHOENIX) -- Jurors have spent five days listening to Jodi Arias detail the ups and downs, erotic sex, religious secrets and alleged violence in her relationship with ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander.

But they have yet to hear her version of the crime she's accused of committing: murdering Alexander.

Experts say that Arias' drawn-out testimony about the events leading up to the June 4, 2008 death of Alexander, 27, could backfire on Arias and her defense team, who are hoping to paint a sympathetic portrayal of the self-admitted killer by keeping her on the stand.

"When she goes on the stand, her attorneys are saying to her, 'Don't be afraid to serve up the emotion.'  People look at her right now as a monster.  We have got to put a human face on the monster," said Mel McDonald, a high profile defense attorney from Phoenix, where the trial is taking place.

"I would probably try the same thing, to win sympathy, have her viewed as this poor little girl, detail her abuse, the guys that dumped on her, that sort of thing," he said.  "But my read is the jury has to be getting frustrated because they're going day after day and they're not addressing the death.  They've discussed everything but."

Her lengthy testimony also leaves her vulnerable to cross examination, said Steven Pitt, a forensic psychiatrist who often testifies as an expert witness in court.

"When you talk as long as she has, for as many days as she did, she is leaving a trail of crumbs for the prosecutor to just pounce on.  He is going to turn her into puree, and it is not going to be pretty," Pitt said.

Arias has spent the past week of testimony describing her abusive childhood and failed relationships with men who cheated on her and treated her poorly, and eventually her long romance with Alexander.  She has said she lacked the confidence to stand up to Alexander when he became abusive and showed signs of being a "sexual deviant" with her.

"If there's not some eye-rolling at this point I'd be surprised," said Pitt.  "They're putting all of this on, and she is presenting herself as the victim.  In the cases I've been involved in when the defendant portrays herself as a victim, most jurors see right through that."

Arias claims she killed Alexander in self-defense because he was an aggressive "sexual deviant" who was controlling and violent toward her.  Prosecutors say she murdered him in cold blood out of jealousy.

Arias, 32, could face the death penalty if convicted.

She will likely have to begin discussing the confrontation with Alexander that led to her killing him when court resumes on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio