Top 10 Posts on Military Justice for All in 2017


  1. Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside
  2. Navy Veteran Richard Uffelman & Two Children Opened Fire and Killed Neighbors Michael and Florence Phillips in Maine, Richard Sentenced to Life in Prison (1989)
  3. Navy Spouse Susan Russo Hired Drug Addicted Hitmen for $100 to Murder Husband David for the Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance (1994)
  4. Navy Wife Dina Kichler Raped & Murdered in Mayport, Florida by John Brewer Shortly After her Husband Deployed for Six Months on USS Forestall (1990)
  5. Joseph Snodgrass, US Air Force, Hired Hitmen to Murder Wife Julie at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines for the $400,000 Life Insurance Payout (1991)
  6. Fort Bliss Army Commander Captain Lynn Reister Murdered by Enlisted Husband Roger and His Brother Rodney for the Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance (2001)
  7. A Complete List of the 35 Basic Military Training Instructors Court Martialed in the Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal
  8. Air Force Retiree Philip Inhofer Murdered by Nevada Escort for Money and 1975 Mercedes Convertible; Michelle Cummiskey Sentenced to 25 Years to Life (1991)
  9. Navy Petty Officer Elise Makdessi Double Crossed & Murdered by Husband Eddie who Came Up with a Better Plan Yielding him $700,000 in Life Insurance (1996)
  10. Air Force SSgt Michael Severance Poisoned with Animal Medications by Veterinarian Wife, Wendi Davidson Plead ‘No Contest’ to First Degree Murder, Sentenced to 25 Years (2005)

US Marine Lindell Mitchell Murdered in Home on Christmas Day; Kimberly Andrews Sentenced to 26 Years to Life in Prison (1991)


Corporal Lindell Mitchell Jr., 21, US Marine Corps, was shot to death in the early morning hours of Christmas in his home in Vista, California on December 25, 1991. Durwin Hammond, 22, also a Marine, suffering from a blow to the head. Hammond told deputies they were having a party at their apartment when the unknown assailants entered their home and began beating him. He managed to escape and as he was fleeing the scene to get help, he heard gunshots. The case went cold for over twenty years but the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) continued to follow leads in an extensive investigation. Kimberly Andrews, 40, was found guilty of first degree murder in May 2015 for her role in Lindell Mitchell’s shooting death. She was sentenced to 26 years to life in state prison. The investigation also led to the arrest of a second suspect, James Wesley Noble, 59, who was taken into custody in 2015. Noble was scheduled to go to trial October 17, 2016 for first degree murder but there was no information as to the outcome available on-line.

Related Links:
1 Marine Shot to Death, 1 Hurt After Party at Vista Apartment
Arrest Made in Vista Cold Case Homicide
Man Charged In 20 Year-Old Cold Case Murder Of Active Duty Marine
2nd arrest in 1991 fatal shooting of Marine in Vista
Second Person Charged in Cold Case Murder of Marine
Long sentence for 1991 Christmas Eve murder
Woman Sentenced in Cold Case Killing of U.S. Marine
Woman Sentenced for Cold Case Killing of U.S. Marine on Christmas Eve
Woman Gets 26 Years for 1991 Christmas Murder of Marine
Lindell Mitchell Jr, Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps | U.S. Military Casualties

Army Spouse Melinda Stewart, Army Sgt. Daniel Stewart, Jill Yousaf & Army Soldier James Catlin Conspired and Murdered Homeless Colorado Teen Maggie Fetty (1991)


Margaret ‘Maggie’ Fetty (photo credit:

When the time came to handle funeral arrangements for Maggie Fetty, no one was there to do it so Lt. Joe Kenda and his fellow officers did it themselves. They chipped in and bought her a head stone to assist with the evidence of her passing. The headstone is a reminder for Joe Kenda of why he chose a life in law enforcement. Joe said he can’t stop a murderer or undue the murder once it’s been done but he can certainly find the person responsible and make sure they don’t do it again. Society has a way of forgetting about the most vulnerable but when it comes to Joe Kenda, nobody slips through the cracks, not a culprit, not a co-conspirator, and certainly not Maggie Fetty. -Homicide Hunter

Patrol officers received a call that a body was found on Gold Camp Road near Point Sublime in Colorado Springs, Colorado on December 3, 1991. It was a fully clothed female who appeared to be a teenager. Homicide detective Lt. Joe Kenda of the Colorado Springs Police Department ordered the officers to turn the body over. They observed a ligature mark on her throat. A ligature is used to apply pressure to the neck and it’s a torturous way to die. This wasn’t just a who done it, but a who was it? Detectives went through her pockets and didn’t find anything. Although they did find an identifying marker, a tattoo on her hand with the initials JM. An anonymous tipster called and said the victim’s name was Maggie and they should talk to Jill Yousaf. Jill had an arrest just recently; she was arrested for shoplifting. According to the police report, Margaret Fetty, 16, was also arrested. This tied the two together.

Investigators dug into Maggie’s records but there were none. She was a ward of the state; her mother disavowed her and her father’s whereabout were unknown. Maggie was part of the children’s program Chins Up but ran away from the center a year ago. She was living on the streets all alone and she had nobody looking out for her. She was an adolescent girl who was murdered and thrown away like trash. The only people looking out for her were Kenda and his guys. Kenda met up with 28 year old Jill Yousaf to try to obtain some information from her. Jill agreed to go to the station for questioning. She described Maggie as her best friend. She said she met her a year ago and had become somewhat of a big sister to her. According to Jill, they clicked well and even had matching ‘JM’ tattoos. Kenda informed Jill that Maggie was dead and she broke down in tears. Kenda observed that Jill’s demeanor and body language had guilt all over it.

Kenda informed Jill that he thinks she had something to do with the Maggie’s death. Jill claimed she knew the killer’s identity and that the person who murdered Maggie was Melinda Stewart. Kenda ran a background check on Melinda Stewart and learned that she was married to an Army soldier at Fort Carson. According to Jill, on November 30, 1991, she was hanging out at her home with her friends while her husband was playing cards with his Army buddies. The girls decided they were going to go out. Jill claimed she was driving and Maggie was in the passenger seat. They were all talking, laughing and passing around a bottle of tequila. Then for no apparent reason Melinda began to strangle Maggie from behind. Jill said she tried to stop Melinda but she threatened her and said she would be next. Once Maggie was dead, Melinda asked Jill to help her discard the body. Detectives needed to find out why Melinda wanted Maggie dead. Jill said it was because Melinda was ‘crazy’ and told them she was placed in a psychiatric institution the day before.

Joe went to Cedar Springs psychiatric hospital to find Melinda. She was there and her husband brought her in the day before. She appeared to be deeply disturbed and the interview was anything but routine. Melinda was saying very bizarre things, she wasn’t very helpful, and she appeared to be speaking in a child-like voice. Her bizarre behavior did not let up so Kenda played along and addressed Melinda like a little girl. Melinda started talking about Maggie being cold and needing a coat. She then said she went to Point Sublime with Jill and Maggie to look at the city lights and drink. Melinda claimed she was driving and Jill was in the backseat. She was telling a story opposite that of Jill because she claimed Jill was in the backseat of the car and strangled Maggie. Kenda couldn’t help but wonder if Melinda’s story might be true. Kenda didn’t have enough to hold Jill or Melinda on murder charges but he did have enough to hold them on charges of obstruction of justice. By believing them both, he could keep them in jail until he got to the bottom of things.

With Jill and Melinda in custody, Kenda needed to find a witness who could shed some light on the situation. They started with Melinda’s husband Army Sergeant Daniel J. Stewart. He had been in the Army for quite some time and worked in the Engineer Battalion; he built bridges and seemed to be reasonably intelligent. Sgt. Stewart seemed astounded to learn his wife was being charged with murder. Kenda took Sgt. Stewart down to the station. Lt. Kenda wanted to learn more about his wife’s mental illness. According to Sgt. Stewart, his wife had multiple personalities but she didn’t have a dangerous bone in her body. He denied that his wife had anything to do with Maggie’s murder. He claimed there was no unusual behavior with his wife on the night of the murder after they returned. He also said he was playing some cards with some Army buddies when the girls decided to go out. A few hours later, Jill and Melinda returned. They were fine.

But the next day, Melinda had a psychiatric melt down. Her multiple personalities surfaced and Sgt. Stewart was afraid his wife was having a nervous breakdown. Detectives believed the meltdown was connected to the murder but weren’t sure if she was having a meltdown because she strangled Maggie or if she witnessed Maggie get strangled by Jill. Sgt. Stewart finally admitted that he believed Jill Yousaf was the one who killed Maggie. Sgt. Stewart told detectives they needed to speak with James Catlin who was a boat specialist in the Engineer Battalion; they worked together. Sgt. Stewart shared that Catlin dates Jill Yousaf. When James Catlin was questioned, he provided a story that was consistent with that of Dan Stewart. Kenda needed a hook, another piece of information that could help them put the case together. Then he got a phone call that changed everything. On December 17th, two weeks after Maggie’s body was found on Gold Camp Road, detectives received a phone call from Melinda’s sister Penny Rhoads. Penny said she spoke to Dan Stewart who admitted to her that he burned all the evidence.

Detectives learned Sgt. Stewart burned the clothing worn by Melinda and Jill on the night of the murder. It was burned in an effort to protect both of them. As a result, Sgt. Stewart was booked for conspiracy after the fact. Detectives confronted him with the new information they learned from the conversation with Penny Rhoads. Dan Stewart realized he needed to start talking. He claimed once Melinda and Jill arrived home, they talked about the murder and each woman was blaming the other. He didn’t want Jill accusing his wife Melinda of murder so he burned all the evidence to protect her. In the course of the interview, Sgt. Stewart also mentioned Silas Nelson. At first he said he was there, then he backtracked and said he wasn’t. For Stewart it was a slip of the tongue, for Kenda it was one more clue to look into. Stewart was booked. Then Kenda set out in search of Silas Nelson. Detectives tracked down Nelson at Fort Carson and questioned him. Nelson told Kenda he was at Sgt. Stewart’s house the night of the murder and also spent the night.

Silas Nelson claimed he was in bed when Jill and Melinda returned home. But he said he was present before they went out and the two of them were talking about killing Maggie. Kenda thought if this information was true, the two of them conspired to kill Maggie Fetty. According to Nelson, Stewart and Catlin joined the conversation and they were all talking about how they could kill Maggie. Now Kenda has learned Catlin and Stewart assisted with the cover up and were active participants in the planning of the event. But Kenda still wanted to know who strangled Maggie and why? As a result of the information gleaned from Nelson, Sgt. Catlin was arrested and grilled by detectives for answers. Catlin finally broke down and admitted they didn’t like Maggie and decided to kill her. According to Catlin, Maggie was heavy into drugs and the two had no toleration for that because they didn’t want Jill and Melinda doing drugs. But Maggie was feeding the pair drugs so it was a hard bond to break. They were tired of her being around.

Nelson helped confirm when Melinda and Jill discussed killing Maggie and Dan Stewart and James Catlin jumped at the chance to show the girls how to do it. This proved that all of them conspired together to kill Maggie. Catlin claimed Melinda was the one who strangled Maggie. He said she attacked Maggie from behind and Jill did not stop her but she did help dispose of the body. When Melinda and Jill returned home, Sgt. Stewart disposed of and burned the evidence. All four co-conspirators were prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In exchange for her testimony, Melinda pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 48 years in prison. James Catlin striked a similar deal and received a 30 year sentence for second degree murder. Jill Yousaf maintained her innocence all the way to trial. The jury found her not guilty of murdering Maggie but did find her guilty of accessory to murder. Jill was sentenced to six years in prison. Sgt. Dan Stewart was convicted of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder.

After she was dead, nobody ever came knocking on my door, what about my daughter, what are we doing, how do we know what happened, nothing. No inquiries from concerned relatives because there aren’t any. We can say to ourselves we did the right thing here, for a girl who desperately needed someone to do something right for her. We were just too late to save her life but we took punishment against those who took her life. -Lt. Joe Kenda, Homicide Hunter

Related Links:
Obituary: Margaret Ann “Maggie” Fetty
Woman, 29, Pleads Guilty to Killing Teen
Lt. Joe Kenda: A Gathering of Evil
Inside the Kenda Files: Fetty
Homicide Hunter: Joe Kenda ‘A Gathering of Evil’

Teen runaway Maggie Fetty is found strangled to death on a mountain road. An anonymous tipster blames Maggie’s best friend, but she accuses a mental patient with multiple personalities. Kenda must turn the suspects against each other to learn the truth. -Investigation Discovery

Fort Carson Army Soldier Christopher Walton Shot Outside Night Club in Colorado Springs; Leroy Davis Sentenced to 20 Years in Leavenworth by Military Courts (1991)

A massive brawl erupts at a local bar ends with the shooting death of a young army soldier. To unravel the murder, Lt. Joe Kenda must infiltrate a revered military institution, and expose a dangerous vendetta. -Investigation Discovery

Lt. Joe Kenda of the Homicide Hunter series on Investigation Discovery discussed the murder of Fort Carson Army soldier Christopher Walton, 21, outside a night club in Colorado Springs, Colorado on November 21, 1991. What started out as a good night out on the town turned deadly after two rival units started a brawl at a local bar in Colorado Springs. The fight spilled outside of the bar and that’s when Christopher Walton was shot with a gun in the neck. Christopher Walton was getting ready to get out of the Army and move back to North Carolina. He was a described by his friends as a really good guy who took care of people.

As Kenda investigates the case, which is in his jurisdiction, he learns that a few months earlier a couple of soldiers got in a fight over a girl and that’s when everyone chose sides and the rival began. The rival was between the artillery unit and the maintenance unit at Fort Carson. An informant told Kenda that she thought Chris Smith may have committed the murder. Kenda pays Chris Smith a visit and in deed finds a gun similar to the gun they were looking for in his possession. It was later determined by ballistics that this gun matched the bullet recovered from Christopher Walton’s body.

Chris Smith was arrested for the murder of Christopher Walton. He never admitted to the murder and told Kenda that he had given the gun to someone else that night but would not give up the name. While Smith was in custody, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID) called Lt Joe Kenda to tell them they had a witness to the event and they thought he might have the wrong guy. The witness, Eric Walker, identified Leroy Davis as the actual shooter. Leroy was a member of the artillery unit at Fort Carson which was the rival unit to Christopher Walton’s maintenance unit.

As it turns out, Chris Smith was telling the truth. He did give the gun to someone that night outside the bar after shooting it in the air because he didn’t want it on his person. Eric Walker told Kenda that Chris Smith gave the gun to Leroy Davis who eventually returned the gun back to Smith. Chris Smith refused to implicate his Army brother, even after he was arrested and jailed. According to Walker, Christopher Walton pushed one of the artillery unit members and Leroy Davis acted on emotional impulse, pulled the gun out of his jacket, and shot Walton in the neck causing his fatal injuries.

For some unknown reason, Leroy Davis faced a court martial as opposed to a being tried by the civilian courts in Colorado Springs. Lt Joe Kenda described military discipline as a whole different game, sharing that they are “draconian and ruthless.” The military has its own internal justice system and has been at the center of a controversial debate in Congress for the past few years over the way it handles violent crimes. In this case, Davis was sentenced to twenty years at Fort Leavenworth where he will be expected to do hard, physical labor the entire time. We learned from one of the soldiers present at the scene that fifteen military members from Fort Carson got discharged as a result of their involvement in this incident.

Related Links:
Homicide Hunter ‘Victim Zero’
Lt Joe Kenda of Homicide Hunter Outlines Murder of Army Soldier Christopher Walton
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, Colorado (US Army)

Army Spc. Layne Schmidtke murder 9/21/1991 Colorado Springs, CO *Six teens convicted of his murder*

#Army #FtCarson #Colorado #1991

Bonnie's Blog of Crime

Incident as described in the 1996 appeal of Kevin J. Moore:

On Saturday night, September 21, 1991, Moore and several of his companions gathered near a popular street corner, the intersection of Pikes Peak and Nevada Avenues in downtown Colorado Springs. Moore and his friends left a party they considered too crowded, for a location Moore liked to frequent. The group encircled a group of soldiers and began to shove and yell at them, with Moore ordering them, “Get off our block.” A fight ensued. Several soldiers got into their cars and fled. A soldier who was being beaten in the street escaped by leaping into a passerby’s car. Three soldiers got into another car. Through an open win­dow Moore attempted to punch a person seated on the passenger side of the car. Moore kicked the side of the car, denting it before the car was driven away. Enraged, Moore…

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Spc Anthony Riggs, US Army, 1991

US Army

Bonnies Blog of Crime: Toni Cato Riggs had her husband, Army Spc. Anthony Riggs, killed by her brother, Michael Cato; sentenced to LWOP

Jennifer S Norris: Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance is a Common Motive for Murder

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Returned soldier killed in Detroit
Wife, insurance plot, lined to gulf soldier’s death
Widow Held in Murder of Gulf Veteran
Gulf veteran was killed by relative, police say
Money plot seen in soldier’s slaying
Slaying of a soldier
Charge Dropped Against Soldier’s Wife 
Murder trial begins in slaying of Gulf soldier
Brother-in-law sentenced to life for soldier’s death
Soldier killer sentenced
Slain soldier’s wife expected to be recharged
Gulf War Veteran’s Widow Is Charged in Murder
Woman Links Herself To Slaying
Wife convicted in war vet’s murder
Wife Convicted Of Killing Gulf Veteran
Detroit wife sentenced for killing soldier husband 
Life sentence for husband’s murder
People of the State of Michigan v Toni Cato Riggs 1997

Air Force Retiree Philip Inhofer Murdered by Nevada Escort for Money and 1975 Mercedes Convertible; Michelle Cummiskey Sentenced to 25 Years to Life (1991)


Philip Inhofer, US Air Force Retired

Philip Inhofer was an Air Force retiree hired as a civil servant at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, California after retirement from the military. He was recently divorced from his second wife and enjoying retirement as a single man. Philip moved back to North Natomas in Sacramento to be closer to his family. He adored his grandkids and enjoyed being a grandfather. On March 7, 1991, Philip’s boss at McClellan AFB called Philip’s son Henry because he hadn’t shown up to work which was not like him and they were worried. Henry went to Philip’s home and found that his car was gone and his lights were off. He went inside the house, saw blood, and thought maybe he was hurt. Henry was frantic and as a result, he checked the entire house; he eventually found his dad in a closet. Philip was face down and naked with a plastic bag over his head. Henry called his wife who came right over and initially they thought maybe Philip killed himself; they called the police together. Henry took his father’s death hard. He admitted to feeling bummed and having no passion about anything after this tragedy. Henry was in the process of rebuilding his relationship with his dad because when he was young, he was a rebellious teen and Philip was gone a lot while he was in the military.

Henry shared that Philip had been to Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand in his military travels. Henry was using this chance as an opportunity to get to know his father and was looking forward to many more years with him. In retirement, Philip Inhofer loved square dancing and enjoyed his social life but he was getting bored so he bought a two-door 1975 Mercedes convertible. Henry found a list of escort services in his dad’s home and was shocked. He didn’t know anything about his father’s lifestyle. Henry assumed since Philip was recently divorced, he was looking for love in all the wrong places. Henry was embarrassed that his father was purchasing escorts. Apparently Philip did not like being alone so one night he called an escort service and asked for two women. One of those women was an escort by the name of Jade. Jade did not look like a prostitute and was very pretty although she was a prostitute at a Nevada brothel. After meeting Jade that first time, Philip was struck by her and asked for her by name after that because he only had eyes for Jade. In addition to paying Jade for her services, Philip helped her financially; he gave her money to pay her debts, bought her designer clothes, took her shopping, and paid all her expenses. He began spending more and more time with Jade and spending more and more money.

Meanwhile, Henry noticed that Philip would stop by briefly to visit with them but would not sit down and would not stay. He appeared fidgety. Philip was not depressed but looking back in retrospect, he was in love. Philip got rid of his dog for Jade after she complained about it. Then out of the blue he talked about selling his beloved car. We would later learn that Jade wanted his car and he needed another one to replace it. Investigators determined that Jade wanting Philip’s Mercedes became a problem in the relationship because Philip wanted to keep his beloved car. Jade also wanted to continue to shop endlessly but Philip had to put his foot down because he didn’t have the money. Despite Jade’s persistence about the car, Philip could not part with it. Regardless, Philip and Jade started making serious plans together. Philip wanted Jade to move in with him and on March 6, 1991, Jade left the Mustang Ranch in Nevada to move in with her new man in California. Jade and a friend drove through a snow storm to get to California and Philip was very happy to see her. One day later, Philip Inhofer was found dead in his home. First responders at the scene knew right away that Philip Inhofer’s death was no suicide.

A homicide detective was called to the scene to investigate what appeared to be a brutal murder. Detectives discovered a large blood stain on the carpet and found Philip lying on his stomach with a plastic bag on his head. They observed that Philip had suffered from numerous stab wounds and his throat had been slashed. Whoever killed Philip did so in a rage. Philip’s skull was fractured and his teeth were smashed in which was evidence tremendous amounts of blunt force were used. Philip’s shower curtain was shredded and there was blood everywhere including in the tub, on the walls, and on the shower curtains. Detectives found two pieces of paper in the home with Jade’s name on it, one of them was located on the bed stand. They learned Jade was an escort but Philip never told his family that piece of information. Using Philip’s phone records, detectives were able to track down persons of interest in an effort to find Jade. Detectives learned from a friend that Jade was going to Sacramento, California to pick up a Mercedes. The friend who gave Jade a ride to Sacramento informed police that Jade asked her to stop at a store so she could pick up some rat poisoning. She claimed she was going to use it to kill someone but her friend thought she was just kidding.

Investigators also learned that Jade or Michelle Cummisky was accused of electrocuting a previous husband; she threw a radio in his tub. But there was not enough evidence to charge her. Some of her friends said she worshipped Satan and Black Magic, and had tried to kill every man she was ever involved with. A previous husband thought she used rat poison on him because he got very ill when he was with her. Police were concerned that a beautiful, lethal woman was on the run so they called in the Federal Bureau of Investigation to assist. And the media was contacted; they called Michelle Cummisky ‘Batgirl’ in reports. In Biloxi, Mississippi, a police officer pulled over two girls in a Ryder rental truck with a freshly painted Mercedes in the back. The police ran the vehicle identification number and it came back as a hit to the murder victim, Philip Inhofer. Sacramento detectives went to Mississippi. Michelle’s friend Crystal Woodruff was clueless about Michelle’s crimes so she was released but Michelle on the other hand admitted to the crime. She told investigators that she hurt the man she loved because she was high on a lot of LSD and didn’t know what she was doing. Michelle loved her LSD. She claimed she went to get in the shower with Philip but instead saw monsters and beasts. She described Philip as a dark force that she needed to get rid of.

As Michelle committed the murder, she was reminded that Satan would protect her. She started stabbing Philip through the shower curtain as he was taking a shower. He was completely vulnerable, defenseless, and taken off guard. He attempted to fight off the attack as evidenced by the numerous defense wounds on his body but would succumb to the multiple stab wounds. An autopsy revealed that Philip had been stabbed thirty-two times. After he collapsed, Michelle hit him in the head with a bat a few times to make sure he was dead then dragged his body to a closet. Michelle ate dinner and went to bed. She described to investigators that Satan guided her through everything. The next day, Michelle left North Natomas with the bloody rugs and stole Philip’s Mercedes. Michelle Cummisky was charged with murder. At her trial a couple years later, she used the fact that she had a horrible upbringing and difficult childhood as her defense. The prosecutors reminded the jury that the murder was a cold calculated crime and Michelle would go to any lengths to get what she wanted. On April 14, 1994, Michelle Cummisky was sentenced to twenty-five years to life in prison. In April 2011, Michelle Cummisky was denied her first chance at parole. Michelle Cummisky is a greedy, sociopath and her selfish actions altered the destiny of several people forever.

Related Links:
Michelle Cummiskey v. California Superior Court (1992)
‘Batgirl’ killer of Sacramento man denied parole
Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: What happened to woman investigators dubbed ‘Batgirl’?
Philip Inhofer, Michelle Cummiskey: ‘Bat Girl’ Killer Known as Jade was Sexy Escort, Story on ID’s ‘A Stranger in My Home’
A Stranger in my Home: “Shades of Jade” (ID on YouTube)

A lonely ex-military man meets up with a much younger beautiful woman, and together they fall in love. Or so they think. Until a deadly combination of greed, worry, and secrets leaves one dead and the other on the run… wanted for murder. -Investigation Discovery

Air Force Sgt. Joseph Snodgrass Hired Hitmen to Kill Wife at Clark AFB in Philippines for $400,000 Life Insurance Payout; Sentenced to Life in Prison (1991)


Sgt. Joseph Snodgrass, US Air Force

Air Force spouse Julie Snodgrass was found stabbed to death outside Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines on February 26, 1991. Julie was discovered in the cab of her pickup truck on an isolated road off base and an autopsy revealed that she was stabbed more than 42 times. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) had jurisdiction of the case and upon investigation found evidence on Sgt. Joseph Snodgrass’ work computer that linked him to the crime. AFOSI found a letter to his mistress asking for help with the murder of his wife and a current life insurance policy on his wife. The letter disclosed that Snodgrass elicited the help of his housekeeper (and lover), a Philippine native, to hire three hitmen to carry out the crime so they could be together and live off the $400,000 life insurance pay out. In the course of an interview with AFOSI, Snodgrass grabbed the floppy disks with the evidence against him and cut them to pieces with some shears. But luckily computer forensic scientists were able to find a way to put the disks back together so the data was readable again. This was the evidence the Air Force needed to make their murder-for-hire case. In the meantime in June 1991, Mount Pinatubo erupted resulting in layers of volcanic ash on Clark AFB and Naval Base Subic Bay. Amidst the chaos, Snodgrass attempted a jail break in August 1991 while awaiting trial but lost his bearings in the ashy mess and eventually surrendered. The eruption’s aftermath triggered the decision to withdraw all American forces from the Philippines. The last troops and ship pulled out of the naval base more than 25 years ago. Joseph Snodgrass was eventually convicted of first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. As a result of the forensic history made by piecing the floppy disk back together making it usable again, the military changed the policies pertaining to the destruction of classified data on floppy disks.

Related Links:
American woman found dead in Philippines
The Cataclysmic 1991 Eruption of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines
In the Matter of the Guardianship of Jaime Mary-Jean Snodgrass, a Minor (1997)
AF Computer Forensics Lab nabs criminals, byte by byte
Computer Forensics Investigations: Body of Evidence
Recounting US military’s last days in the Philippines
Information Risk & Security: Preventing & Investigating Workplace Computer Crime
Forensic Files: Shear Luck (YouTube)

When the wife of a serviceman was brutally murdered in the Philippines, the Air Force Office of Special Investigators swung into action. Clues led to the victim’s husband, but he insisted he was innocent. Investigators would have to do something unprecedented: Reassemble a 5 1/4 inch computer disk which had been cut to pieces with pinking shears. -Forensic Files