Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members

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Objective: Provide support to families who have lost loved ones to non combat death, homicide, and suicide. Prevent non combat death, homicide and suicide by providing an expedited transfer option to whistleblowers and those who feel like their lives may be in danger.

This is a small sample of the many soldiers that have died of non combat deaths, homicide, and suicide. It was hard for me to choose which ones to feature. Given the amount of families who have questioned a ruling of suicide while their loved one was serving in the US military, it’s fair to say that some suicide rulings should have a second look to determine if a homicide was ruled out. It’s important to note that if the cause of death is determined to be suicide, then the military never has to investigate again.

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Fear Thy Neighbor Premiered ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ on Investigation Discovery: Mark Tatum Ambushed Neighbor David Allen in Louisville, Kentucky Home (July 28, 2018)

ID Go: A man who is meticulous about his lawn runs into conflict with a new neighbor who doesn’t have the same priorities. The feud between the two men viciously escalates, ultimately ending in an episode of shocking violence. -Dead Men Tell No Tales, Fear Thy Neighbor (S5, E9)

Mark Tatum fatally shot his neighbor and Army veteran David Allen, 67, on June 1, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky after a long, protracted neighborhood battle. Tatum shot through the windows of Allen’s home and then shot him fatally while he was fleeing to safety in his backyard. Tatum used a silencer so the shots went unnoticed until David’s wife Sue returned home and found her husband lying dead in the backyard. Considering the pair’s long standing feud, Mark Tatum was immediately a suspect. Police found weapons and ammunition in his home and located Mark at a friend’s house, arrested him, and charged him with murder. Prosecutors believed that Mark acted with the intent to kill. Four years after shooting and killing David Allen, Mark went to trial and was found guilty of his murder in 2016. Mark Tatum was sentenced to 35 years in prison and has to serve at least 20 years in prison before he is eligible for parole. David’s wife Sue moved to California to be with family after her husband was murdered. David Allen met his wife Sue while serving in Korea with the U.S. Army.

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. Download the ID Go app and binge away. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.

Related Links:
Obituary: David Thomas Allen, Louisville, Kentucky (June 1, 2012)
Man charged with murder, victim identified
New details released in connection with Gagel Avenue slaying
Man indicted after allegedly killing neighbor
Mark Tatum trial expected to begin
Man accused of killing neighbor to appear in court
Testimony to resume for man accused of killing neighbor after feud
Sentencing for man who fatally shot Gagel Avenue neighbor delayed
Louisville man headed to prison 4 years after shooting neighbor
Louisville man headed to prison 4 years after shooting neighbor
Mark Tatum v. Commonwealth of Kentucky (2016)
Watch! Fear Thy Neighbor “Dead Men Tell No Tales” Season 5 Episode 9 Full Episode
Sneek Peak: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Fear Thy Neighbor (Facebook)
Fear Thy Neighbor | 28 Jul 2018 | Season 5 Ep.09 “Dead Men Tell No Tales” Full HD
Dead Men Tell No Tales | Fear Thy Neighbor | Investigation Discovery (S5, E9)
Dead Men Tell No Tales | Fear Thy Neighbor | Investigation Discovery (website)
Watch Fear Thy Neighbor | Season 5 Episode 9 | SheKnows

American Monster Premiered ‘Stages of Grief’ on Investigation Discovery: Dennis Dawley & Brandita Taliano Murdered Joan Dawley for Cash (July 8, 2018)


In suburban California, an intruder brutally attacks and kills Joan Dawley. As the Dawley family grieves, it’s up to LAPD detectives to crack the case. Secret home movies uncover a shocking tale of deceit, and a monster lurking behind the scenes. -Stages of Grief, American Monster (Investigation Discovery)

Air Force retiree Dennis Dawley, 61, with the help of prostitute and mistress, Brandita Taliano, bludgeoned to death his wife Joan Dawley of 35 years for financial gain in Van Nuys, California. Joan wanted a divorce and Dennis and Brandita wanted her inheritance money. The 1991 case went cold for years until DNA technology under Joan’s fingernails yielded a match to Brandita Taliano. Both Dennis and Brandita were charged with murder, conspiracy & solicitation and faced the death penalty. On April 15, 1997, a California jury sentenced Dawley and Taliano to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The pair were spared the death penalty because they didn’t have any prior violent felony records and the jury heard the emotional pleas from Dawley’s daughters.

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. Download the ID Go app and binge away. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.


There’s an old saying that a burden shared is a burden halved. But when people team up to commit murder, the weight of their guilt remains just as heavy. Investigators must rely on forensic science to capture partners in crime. -Partners in Crime, New Detectives (Season 5, Episode 2)


Preview: Brandita Taliano of Los Angeles, California wanted to live the high life. -Deadly Women, Investigation Discovery


Seeking freedom from his controlling wife, Joan, Dennis Hawley begins seeing drug-addicted prostitute Brandita Taliano and supporting her financially. -Female Killers (Deadly Women)


Being the ‘other woman’ is a lonely life. Some turn rejection into rage. A call girl craved the high life, a teen mom eradicated her rival, and a lesbian love affair ripped a family apart. These Deadly Women refused to play ‘Second Best’. -Deadly Women, Investigation Discovery

Related Links:
Murder Suspects’ Trip Tipped Off Police : Slaying: Widower visited Las Vegas with mistress two days after his wife’s death. The pair are now charged in the killing. (1997)
American Monster: Meet Dennis Dawley – Air Force Vet, Golf Pro & Brutal Wife Killer
Man, 61, Testifies in Wife’s 1991 Slaying (1997)
Husband, Former Mistress Get Life in Wife’s Slaying (1997)
BRANDITA TALIANO, Plaintiff, v. D. L. JOHNSON, et al., Defendant. | United States District Court, E.D. California. | May 14, 2014
The New Detectives: Season 5 – Ep 2 “Partners in Crime”
Mistress Kills Her Lover’s Wife to Escape | Deadly Women (S8, E10, ID)
They Killed His Wife Then Decided To Go On A Las Vegas Holiday | Deadly Women
Second Best | Deadly Women | Investigation Discovery (Season 8, Episode 10)
Brandita Taliano Documentary | Female Killers (Deadly Women)
Stages of Grief | American Monster | Investigation Discovery (Season 3, Episode 1)
Psycho For Love: Dennis Dawley and his mistress, Brandita Taliano, killed his wife, Joan Dawley for the money
Monstresses: Katie Belflower & Brandita Taliano (Season 1: Ep. 2) (2013)
Killer Call Girl: The True Story of Brandita Taliano by Greta Harris (book)

Fear Thy Neighbor Premiered ‘Mistress of Death’ on Investigation Discovery: Linda Cowan & Vinson Thomas-Ward Cowan (July 7, 2018)


Two women living next to each other since childhood descend into bitter conflict when the ex husband of one starts seeing the other. Add property issues to this toxic mix and the result is an act of shocking violence that engulfs all. -Mistress of Death, Fear Thy Neighbor (Investigation Discovery: S5, E6)

On December 18, 2009, Army veteran Vinson Thomas-Ward Cowan shot at and injured his neighbor Christie Jackson in Burnet, Texas. Christie Jackson and Vinson’s mother, Linda Cowan, were engaged in a bitter three month feud between neighbors after Christie’s estranged husband Rudy started dating Linda. What started out as a disagreement between neighbors ended in someone getting shot. It is believed that Linda Cowan enlisted the help of her son Vinson to shoot and kill Christie Jackson and he obliged because he was protective of his mother. Vinson followed through and indeed shot Christie in the head through the window of her own home. Miraculously, despite the severe head wound, Christie lived, but will forever be affected by the ordeal. On the night in question, Christie was sleeping with both her daughters who also are forever changed by the experience.

One of Vinson’s friends, Thomas Pierson, who was aware of the plan to shoot Christie and be a look-out that night, informed the police of Linda and Vinson’s plans to shoot Christie in retaliation for all the trouble she caused her. The bottom line was Linda wanted Christie out of the picture. Linda Cowan was jealous that Rudy continued to see Christie and their children and angry because she assumed Christie called the City of Burnet to complain about her septic issues. Linda wanted revenge and she wanted to date Rudy despite his intentions to continue seeing Christie. In 2013, Linda Cowan was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for second-degree felony of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. And Vinson Thomas-Ward plead guilty to ten years in prison for second-degree felony of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Christie’s mother sold the family home in Burnet.

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. Download the ID Go app and binge away. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.

Related Links:
Burnet woman gets 15 years for her role in 2009 shooting (2013)
Burnet County man gets 10 years for 2009 shooting of woman (2013)
Linda Sue Cowan, Appellant v. The State of Texas, Appellee (2015)
Mistress of Death | Fear Thy Neighbor | Investigation Discovery (S5, E6)

A Month in Review: In the News on Military Justice for All (June 2018)

June 2018

Missing:
Disappeared: Stacy McCall, Suzie Streeter, and Sherrill Levitt are ‘The Springfield Three’ who Vanished from Levitt’s Missouri Home on June 7, 1992
Friends, family of missing UMass nursing student Maura Murray hope funds will lead to answers

Cold Cases:
Family wants justice for Army vet found shot to death in driveway
Authorities Have Cracked a Bizarre Cold Case That Could Have Ties to the Zodiac Killer
48 Hours Premiered ’48 Hours Cold Case: Who Killed Amy Gellert?’ on CBS (June 17, 2017)

Fugitives:
Reward Offered for Armed & Dangerous Fugitive: Army Recruiter John Blauvelt Wanted for Allegedly Murdering Estranged Wife in South Carolina (2017)

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48 Hours NCIS Premiered ‘Trail of Fire’ on CBS: Holley Wimunc, Domestic Violence, and the Holley Lynn James Act (June 26, 2018)


Friends searching for a missing Army nurse find her apartment smoldering and no sign of their friend. Can NCIS agents find her? -Trail of Fire, 48 Hours NCIS


The apartment of a missing Army nurse was found smoldering. This was the season finale of “48 Hours: NCIS” and producer Jonathan Leach joined CBS News to discuss the episode. -Trail of Fire, 48 Hours NCIS

Holley Lynn James Wimunc 2

Lt. Holley Lynn James, US Army

Fort Bragg Army nurse, Lt Holley (Lynn James) Wimunc, 24, was murdered by her Marine husband John Wimunc on July 9, 2008 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. After Holley didn’t show up to work, her friends went looking for her. They found her apartment had been set on fire but Holley was nowhere to be found. Three days later authorities discovered Holley’s mutilated remains in a shallow grave outside of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Her body had been chopped up with an axe and burned repeatedly in an effort to try and destroy evidence. John Wimunc also started her apartment on fire in an effort to hide evidence with no regard for any of the nineteen other families in the apartment building. Holley’s father Jesse James shared that she planned on divorcing John Wimunc after putting up with the domestic abuse for over seven months. It would be the day after she told John that she was leaving him that she would go missing. Marine Cpl. John Wimunc, 23, was charged with first-degree murder, second-degree arson and conspiracy to commit arson. An accomplice, Lance Cpl. Kyle Alden, 22, was charged with being an accessory after the fact of a felony, second-degree arson and conspiracy to commit arson. John Wimunc plead guilty to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison. Kyle Alden plead guilty and was sentenced to 44 to 62 months in prison. Jesse James worked with Representative Bruce Braley on legislation that would improve conditions for both domestic violence and sexual assault victims in the military. The Holley Lynn James Act (H.R. 1517) was introduced to the 112th Congress in 2011 but did not pass.

“I didn’t know much about domestic violence. But the thought that he would murder Holley is a thought that never occurred to me. I wish it had occurred to me. I wish for one moment I would have thought maybe he’ll kill Holley or murder Holley. My reaction would have been so different. I didn’t know about domestic violence.” -Jesse James (Holley’s father)

MJFA Link:
Army Nurse Lt. Holley Lynn James Murdered by Marine Husband the Day After She Announced Divorce; John Wimunc Plead Guilty, Sentenced to Life in Prison (July 9, 2008)
History: The Military And Domestic Abuse (January 28, 2009)
30 Domestic Abuse Cases in the Military That Ended in the Murder of Female Partners (2017)

Editor’s Note: If you would like to watch the full episode of ‘Trail of Fire,’ please visit the CBS All Access website, visit the 48 Hours website, or download the 48 Hours app for iPad. The most recent episodes are unlocked on the 48 Hours website and app. If you would like to watch past episodes on the 48 Hours app, it cost’s $4.99 a year. There’s programming dating back to 2005 on the 48 Hours app, including some classics, to feed your true crime addiction.  


Authorities in North Carolina have charged the husband of a Fort Bragg Army nurse with murder after the woman’s remains were found in a brush fire three days after she went missing. -AP (July 14, 2008)


The husband of an Army nurse who worked in the maternity ward at Fort Bragg’s hospital was charged Monday with murder in her death, a day after her body was discovered by authorities. -AP (July 14, 2008)


Rep. Bruce Braley introduces the Holley Lynn James Act — a bill to help victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in the military get justice. The bill is named after Holley Lynn James, a constituent of Rep. Braley who was killed by her husband while both were in the service.


Domestic Violence: Holley Wimunc

Related Links:
Obituary: Lt Holley Lynn James
Second Missing Ft. Bragg Soldier Is Divorcing Husband
Evidence to be preserved in case of slain Army nurse
Authorities suspect charred remains could be Fort Bragg nurse
Fort Bragg nurse sought protection from Marine husband after gun incident
Apartment complex denies access to slain soldier’s family
Slain soldier’s brother retrieves belongings from apartment
Autopsy: Army nurse was shot, buried
Funeral set for Army nurse Holley Wimunc
Vigil planned for slain Army nurse
Fort Bragg hosts memorial service for slain nurse
Wimunc’s father: Daughter ‘never met a stranger’
Family, attorney: Marine charged in wife’s death is innocent
Marine’s parents: Claims of violence against wife ‘unfounded’
Husband, 2nd man arrested in slaying of Bragg-based soldier
2 Marines charged in nurse’s death due in NC court
Marine charged in wife’s death
Marine charged in death of Army nurse wife
Husband charged with murdering soldier wife
Missing Nurse’s Marine Husband Charged With Murder
Dead Army nurse’s husband charged with murder
Camp Lejeune husband charged with the murder of his Fort Bragg wife
Soldier’s Husband Charged With Murder
Marines appear in court in Army nurse’s death
Marines charged in slaying appear in court
Marines indicted in Army nurse’s slaying
Death penalty sought in Army nurse’s slaying
NC to seek death penalty in killing of Army wife from Dubuque
Wimunc Faces Death Penalty
Plea deal reached in Marine murder case
Camp Lejeune Marine pleads guilty to killing wife
Second Marine pleads guilty in Army nurse’s death
Marine Pleads Guilty in Army Wife’s Murder
Slain Army nurse’s dad in war against domestic violence
Death on the Home Front
The Fort Bragg Murders
U.S. Military Is Keeping Secrets About Female Soldiers’ ‘Suicides’
When a Military Nurse Fails to Show Up for Work, Worried Friends Rush to Her Apartment Only to Find her Home Burned & Their Friend Missing
Did a Missing Army Nurse Fall Prey to a Serial Killer Targeting Military Women?
Fort Bragg soldier Holley Wimunc’s 2008 murder featured on CBS’ ’48 Hours: NCIS’
Fort Bragg soldier Holley Wimunc’s 2008 murder featured on CBS’ ’48 Hours: NCIS’
History: The Military And Domestic Abuse (January 28, 2009)
30 Domestic Abuse Cases in the Military That Ended in the Murder of Female Partners (2017)

Video Links:
AP Top Stories: Holley Wimunc
Dead Army Nurse’s Husband Charged With Murder
Marine Charged in Army Wife’s Death
Holley James we miss you
Domestic Violence in the Military Part 1 | CBS News
Domestic Violence in the Military Part 2 | CBS News
Rep. Braley introduces Holley Lynn James Act
Domestic Violence: Holley Wimunc
Did a missing Army nurse fall prey to a serial killer targeting military women?
“48 Hours: NCIS” sneak peek: Trail of Fire
“48 Hours: NCIS: Trail of Fire” preview

Extraordinary Claims Should Require Extraordinary Evidence (June 26, 2018)

National GuardGuest Post by Liz Ullman:

Enrique Costas comes from four generations of dignified and recognized military service. His grandfather’s name is in the history books as one of the first soldiers to join the Puerto Rico National Guard to serve the United States. His father defended this country for 32 years, earning an Air Medal for heroism in Vietnam; his nephew will be commissioned as an officer in the next week and will be going on active duty.

Costas enlisted in the Puerto Rico National Guard in 1988. In 1999 he volunteered to be assigned as a Recruiter, earning top awards and commendations throughout his almost 14 years as the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of the Puerto Rico Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention (RR) Command office in San Juan. He was also selected and participated for seven years in the Puerto Rico National Guard Honor Guard, the team responsible for carrying our Nation’s and Army Colors in the highest of the Government’s activities and celebrations.

He was responsible for achieving monthly production for the three main tenets of the Guard recruiting office: Recruiting, Retention and Attrition Management • Staff resourcing for two Army battalions covering 13 cities • Supervising and mentoring up to 10 recruiting and retention non-commissioned officers.

Costas was a champion in mission accomplishment with the highest integrity and ethics. His walls are filled awards and photos with the Guard’s top-ranking officers, including General Clyde A. Vaughn, who personally commended Costas for his service and integrity. Costas retired in 2014 after Honorably serving our Nation for over 26 years.

The biggest mistake Costas made in his career was simply being on duty during the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program also known as G-RAP, a cash incentive opportunity for civilian soldiers to bring in new recruits. With no direction from Washington D.C.’s Strength Maintenance Division, General Vaughn’s recruiters were supposed to intuit the 60 changes in the G-RAP rules over a seven-year period, while also working to fill the dwindling ranks of Guard troops.

Just before dawn, on an early October morning in 2015, Costas’s home was stormed by six Federal agents and two State police officers, in full tactical gear. Costas thought his family was under attack, and it was – by the Government he had served. Costas was arrested and taken to a Federal Courthouse where he was charged with “crimes” dating back almost ten years, during the days of G-RAP.

Costas is one of hundreds of General Vaughn’s recruiters who have been held responsible for not knowing the G-RAP rules that were never sent to them. And not just held responsible — charged with criminal intent to commit fraud against the Government. General Vaughn, who created and administered G-RAP, and who was administratively sanctioned for poor management, is enjoying full retirement in Virginia and Arizona.

Costas is going to prison.

The government’s “evidence” against Costas and other recruiters does not even meet the standard of circumstantial. In his case, the government admitted during trial to having no actual evidence, but only a “reasonable inference” that a crime could have been committed.

As a recruiter, Costas could not and did not participate in G-RAP. There were no Army regulations that governed G-RAP because the program was run by a private Alabama-based contractor called Docupak. Docupak was essentially incentivized to run a sloppy program, earning a 17% markup on every new enlistment, on top of their contract fees and administrative expenses. This lack of training stands in sharp contrast to how the Army usually operates, with manuals and rules on almost every action and procedure.

The one rule that the prosecution seized on to brand soldiers and veterans as felons regarded the relationship between the Recruiting Officer and the Docupak civilian contractors known as Recruiting Assistants (RAs). When G-RAP began, those contractors were regarded as assistants to the Recruiting Officers. The Recruiting Officers might use the RAs to give that extra push to a potential applicant considering enlisting. The Recruiting Officers were encouraged to ask the RAs to attend recruiting events and help with the finding of potential candidates. The original program outline stated that the Recruiting Officer would provide specifics for each possible enlistment to the RA, including legal name, birth date and social security number. That information was used by Docupak to verify enlistments and process payments to their RA contractors. In later descriptions of G-RAP, the social security number would go from the new recruit to the RA contractor, bypassing the Recruiting Officer, which not a single RA contractor reports ever seeing or any evidence has ever been produced by Docupak that verifies it.

This procedural change has resulted in hundred of indictments and scores of convictions for identity theft and wire fraud. Soldiers and veterans are in prison. Costas, sadly, is on his way.

After the government filed more than 50 felonies against Costas, his defense team could not overcome the wrath of the United States and he was convicted by a jury who felt that with so many felonies filed, Costas certainly had to have done something wrong.

He did not. G-RAP was a tangle of mismanagement; the soldiers who were on duty during its tenure are paying the price of administrative failures by their command. In an internal investigation done by the Puerto Rico National Guard pertaining to G-RAP in 2012, the Investigating Officer admitted that “Recruiters had no formal training on how G-RAP operated.”

Costas and his family had their hearts broken when the prosecution opened with statements calling him a “cheater, stealer and a liar.” He said these words, “pierced the core of his soul.”

Presumption of Innocence or even the “benefit of the doubt” was never given. In the end the Government spent an estimated $100,000 prosecuting Costas and the jury found Costas guilty on three charges amounting to $3,000. Although never having a criminal record and an impeccable military career, the judge sentenced Costas to prison. In the end “reasonable inference” and circumstantial evidence weighed more than 26 years of honorable service willing to sacrifice life and limb.

Recently the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th District reversed and vacated a conviction of an accused soldier involving G-RAP and determined, that the “Government did not retain a revisionary interest in the funds and that it did not exercise supervision or control over the funds”. This decision cannot be applied to Costas unless the United States Court of Appeals for the 1st District, the Supreme Court, or Congress rules on it.

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
― Carl Sagan

The claims were extraordinary. The evidence was missing. And yet, a United States military hero and veteran has been sacrificed.

We respectfully request that Congress or the White House appoint a commission to review the G-RAP investigation, to identify Soldiers that have been unjustly stigmatized by it, and to recommend suitable cases for clemency and pardon.

Related Links:
Stop G-RAP Injustice | Facebook
The Conspiracy Behind the G-RAP War on American Soldiers (March 30, 2016)
If You Look at the Dollars, Guard Recruiting Assistance Program Investigations Make No Sense (July 12, 2016)
Top Ten Problems with the National Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP) Investigations (December 15, 2016)
An Open Letter to Congress Regarding the Investigations of the National Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (June 5, 2017)

Murder Comes to Town Premiered ‘Hellfire in the Hollow’ on Investigation Discovery: Rose Goggins and Sylvia & Steven Beersdorf Sr. (June 19, 2018)


When a 21-year-old mother doesn’t return from night classes and her car is found burned, investigators immediately suspect foul play. However no one is prepare for the web of lies that ultimately unfold due to her disappearance. -Murder Comes to Town, Investigation Discovery

Victim:
Rose Mary Marie Goggins, 21, was killed by her future in-laws on January 14, 2010 in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. Steven and Sylvia Beersdorf Sr. pleaded guilty to homicide, disposing of her body, and setting her car on fire. Rose’s fiancé, Steven Beersdorf Jr., was at Camp Shelby in Mississippi with the Tennessee Army National Guard preparing to ship off to Iraq. Authorities stated that although Beersdorf’s parents were guilty, Goggins’ fiance was not involved in her murder.

Defendants:
Sylvia Beersdorf, 43 – pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy to commit first-degree murder; sentenced to 15 years in prison
Steven Beersdorf Sr., 46 – pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges; sentenced to life in prison

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. Download the ID Go app and binge away. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.

Related Links:
From Missing Person to Murder Victim
Rose Goggins murder case: Remains found at future in-laws house are of female; DNA testing under way
More details released in killing of young Tennessee mom; 2 charged
Tennessee: Couple charged in death of son’s girlfriend
Tennessee couple plead not guilty to murder of son’s fiance
Couple Pleads Not Guilty In Woman’s Death
Couple plead not guilty to murder of son’s fiance
Couple plead not guilty to murder of son’s fiance
Couple plead not guilty to murder of son’s fiance
Couple Waives Rights To Preliminary Hearing
Rose Goggins murder: Grandparent suspects waive preliminary hearings
Couple face trial in slaying of daughter-in-law
Plea Deals Accepted In Future Relative’s Death
Couple plead guilty in death
Wayne Couple Pleads Guilty To Killing Grandson’s Mom
Rose Goggins Murder To Be Re-Lived When “True Crime” Pgrm. Airs In Fall
Homicide in the Heartland | True Crime with Aphrodite Jones | ID (YouTube)
A Rose Amongst Thorns | Wicked Attraction | Investigation Discovery (website)
A Rose Amongst Thorns | Wicked Attraction | Investigation Discovery (Dailymotion)
Hellfire in the Hollow | Murder Comes to Town | Investigation Discovery (website)
Hellfire in the Hollow | Murder Comes to Town | Investigation Discovery (YouTube)
In Loving Memory of Rose Mary Marie Goggins (Facebook)

48 Hours NCIS Premiered ‘Deadly Lies’ on CBS: Justin Huff, The Catfisher & Cooper Jackson (June 19, 2018)


“48 Hours: NCIS” takes you inside the real-life investigation of a marine, Justin Huff, who mysteriously disappeared. “48 Hours” Senior Executive Producer Susan Zirinsky joined CBSN to discuss the episode. -CBS News


Preview: Did a duplicitous online love affair between two people who never met lead to an innocent Marine being murdered? -Deadly Lies, 48 Hours

Marine Corporal Justin Lee Huff, 23, of Camp Pendleton, California passed away January 2, 2006 in Currituck County, North Carolina. Justin was attending the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Initially, fellow Marines at Dam Neck Annex of Oceana Naval Air Station and his family considered his absence a disappearance because this wasn’t like Justin. But the US Marine Corps considered it an unauthorized absence and NCIS was tasked with investigating the suspicious circumstances. And during the course of their investigation, they would learn that Navy sailor Cooper Jackson was involved and that this wasn’t a disappearance, it was a murder. Jackson was also attending the Intelligence Training Center and he admitted to impersonating a NCIS officer in an attempt to lure Justin Huff and ultimately kill him. The reason: Jackson’s internet girlfriend (who he had never met in person) told him she had sex with a Marine and Jackson insisted it was rape because she was too intoxicated to consent. Jackson wanted revenge for a rape that turned out to be a rape hoax. As it turns out, Cooper Jackson’s girlfriend “Samantha” went along with the fake rape simply to agree with him, not realizing he had sinister plans.

Cooper Jackson admitted he impersonated a NCIS officer so he could handcuff Justin and trick him into going for a ride with him. Jackson told NCIS agents he confronted Justin about the rape and after Justin denied it, he slit his throat. Jackson basically picked a Marine, any Marine, to exact his vengeance. He told NCIS agents where Justin’s body was and where he disposed of the murder weapon and handcuffs used to subdue Justin. NCIS found Justin and recovered the instruments of murder from the river where Cooper said he tossed them. Jackson was charged with kidnapping and murder in a death penalty trial. Jackson froze when he finally laid eyes on “Samantha” in the courtroom. Cooper Jackson couldn’t even look at her and apologized to the court for his actions. Jackson was found guilty and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Samantha on the other hand wouldn’t spend a single day in jail. The investigators discovered she did not ask Cooper Jackson to kill Justin Huff but Justin’s fellow Marines feel differently. They say she may not have done anything criminally wrong but her actions lead to Justin’s death. Huff’s Marine brothers, who served two tours overseas with him, said if everybody was like Huff, this world would be a better place.

Editor’s Note: If you would like to watch the full episode of ‘Deadly Lies,’ please visit the CBS All Access website, visit the 48 Hours website, or download the 48 Hours app for iPad. The most recent episodes are unlocked on the 48 Hours website and app. If you would like to watch past episodes on the 48 Hours app, it cost’s $4.99 a year. There’s programming dating back to 2005 on the 48 Hours app, including some classics, to feed your true crime addiction.  

Related Links:
Fallen Heroes Project: Justin Huff
Marine from Indiana killed in N.C.
Marine remembered by peers from all walks of life
Sailor, 22, Charged In Death Of Marine
Boones Mill sailor charged in slaying of Marine
Woman’s fake rape story led to Marine’s killing, prosecutors say
Sailor Fell for a Lie and Killed a Marine
Sailor Kills Marine After Lie About Rape
Sailor kills Marine after lie about rape
Sailor admits killing Camp Pendleton Marine
Virginia: Sailor Pleads Guilty to Killing Marine
Sailor pleads guilty to killing Marine, is spared death penalty
Sailor Pleads Guilty to Killing Marine He Mistakenly Thought Was Rapist
Murdered Marine’s family, friends testify in sailor’s sentencing
Virginia sailor to face capital charges in Marine’s death
Sailor who was duped gets life for Marine’s slaying
Woman says she ”feels bad” that her deceit led to Marine’s killing
Brought together by grief
The Search for a Marine who Failed to Show up for Roll Call Launches NCIS Agents into a World of Calls and Texts, A Relationship Built on Lies, and an Ill-Fated Case of Mistaken Identity in “48 Hours: NCIS: Deadly Lies”
Cases they can’t forget: Local attorney details case of murdered Marine in exclusive interview
Catfishing Relationship Between Strangers Leads to the Murder of an Innocent Marine
“48 Hours: NCIS”: How a catfishing relationship between strangers led to the homicide of an harmless Marine
“48 Hours: NCIS”: Investigating the mysterious disappearance of a marine (msn.com)
“48 Hours: NCIS”: Investigating the mysterious disappearance of a marine (YouTube)
“48 Hours: NCIS” sneak peek: Deadly Lies

Investigation Discovery Published ‘The Missing Pieces: The Staircase’ on YouTube: The True Crime Story of Michael & Kathleen Peterson (June 18, 2018)


In 2001, Kathleen Peterson’s body was found at the foot of a staircase in her home. The Missing Pieces looks at the nagging questions surrounding her death, dissecting a frantic 911 call, a potentially killer owl, and a blood-soaked stairwell. -The Staircase, Investigation Discovery

Related Links:
The Missing Pieces: The Staircase | Investigation Discovery (YouTube)
Military Widow Elizabeth Ratliff Found Deceased at the Bottom of Stairs in Germany; Michael Peterson Last Person to See Alive, Adopted Ratliff’s 2 Daughters (Nov. 25, 1985)
Kathleen Hunt Found Deceased at Bottom of Stairs in NC Home; Spouse Michael Peterson Pleaded Guilty to Manslaughter to Avoid Second Trial (Dec. 9, 2001)
Marine Corps Veteran Michael Peterson Convicted of the Murder of Wife Kathleen; Sentenced to Life in Prison, No Parole (October 10, 2003)
Marine Vet Michael Peterson Pleaded Guilty to Manslaughter of Wife Kathleen to Avoid 2nd Trial; Agreed to Alford Plea, Released with Time Served (Feb. 24, 2017)
Investigation Discovery Premiered ‘An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase’ (April 8, 2018)
Netflix Premiered ‘The Staircase’: A Docuseries Examining Marine Veteran Michael Peterson’s Durham, North Carolina Murder Trial (2018)