People Magazine Investigates Premiered ‘Terror in Philadelphia’ on Investigation Discovery: Air Force SrA Troy Graves Serving Life Sentence for Rape & Homicide (November 12, 2018)

ID Go: In 1998, a gifted Philadelphia graduate student is found murdered in her bed. The hunt for her killer forces police to reevaluate a series of unsolved crimes, turning the city upside down. Will her killer be caught or will he strike again? -Terror in Philadelphia, People Magazine Investigates (S3, E2)

Date of Arrest: April 23, 2002
Offender: Troy Graves, 29, US Air Force service member
Victims: Shannon Schieber, 23, University of Pennsylvania student (rape/homicide), multiple rape victims in Pennsylvania & Colorado
Circumstances: Shannon Schieber was enrolled as a Phd. student at the Wharton School of Business, on May 7, 1998, Shannon was studying for exams when a neighbor heard what sounded like cries for help, he called 911 to report that his neighbor was asking for help, the police arrived but no one answered the door and the neighbor backed off his statement, they searched the property and the neighbor said it could have been outside so they left, Shannon’s brother showed up the next day and Shannon didn’t answer the door, the neighbor told her brother what he heard the night before, they broke into the apartment and found Shannon naked on her bed, Shannon was strangled to death and it appeared she tried to fight off her attacker, police found DNA at the scene, DNA ruled out those close to Shannon, Shannon’s parents were outraged that the man who killed their daughter was in the apartment when the police knocked on her door, but the police did their job right and by the book, a few days before the murder, Shannon reported being followed home one night, she was scared, so police started investigating the stranger angle, perhaps this is a serial rapist, they look into sex crimes in the area, they want to match the DNA to other sex crimes in the area, in February 1999, they got a DNA match, 2 other sexual assaults had occurred but they were coded as misdemeanors, the assaults occurred just a few blocks from Shannon’s apartment, in June and July 1997, two more sexual assaults were connected to the offender bringing the total to 5, the PPD coded these sexual assaults as misdemeanors as well, they downgraded the offenses because it lessoned the load for the police, and made the arrest rate look better than it was, Shannon’s case helped enact change in Philadelphia, if they had investigated these cases, everyone would have known there was a serial rapist, Shannon would not be dead if she knew what was going on, the DNA still didn’t have a match to the offender, in 1997, a sketch was drawn from the recollections of the first victim, they got a new composite, this offender would enter the home, hold the victim down on the bed, rape them or make them perform oral sex, it was about control and domination for this guy and he was also somewhat of a romantic, once they acquiesced, he would treat them like a date, he would get comfortable with the victims, they determined he was a light skinned black male based on information he shared with one victim about his life growing up with bi-racial parents, he was dubbed the Center City rapist, in August 1999, no other cases were reported since Shannon’s murder, the case went cold, the police got a bulletin in 2001 from Fort Collins, Colorado, the offenders modus operandi sounded familiar to the Philadelphia PD, on June 13, 2001, one victim was home when she was attacked from behind and raped, after she acquiesced, the rapist became gentle as if he was a boyfriend, after he left, she called 911, she was his third victim in Fort Collins, they were all blitz attacked, FC police were investigating a serial rapist, a fourth & fifth rapes were reported, he made a mistake and left behind a ball cap at the fifth victims home, Fort Collins DNA was matched to the rapes in Philadelphia, PPD gave FCPD the composite drawing, police received a letter in the mail from the suspect, he was taunting them, in the fall of 2001, the attacks in Fort Collins stopped, meanwhile the PPD started focusing on cross referencing names of suspects with the two geographic locations, they got a match for Air Force service member Troy Graves, he was in Philadelphia, Fort Collins, and now at Warren AFB in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 2002, the police had the new suspect in their sites, the police learned that Troy was also investigated by the Office of Special Investigations, it was over charges of harassing a female colleague, the charges were dropped but there was still something suspicious there, Graves has a clean criminal record and no finger prints on file, the case was circumstantial, they reached out to Graves to come to the police department and do an interview, Troy Graves and his wife showed up to the Fort Collins PD, the police immediately separated the couple, his wife admitted that he had insomnia and went for walks and drives at night and that honestly she thought he was having an affair, meanwhile Troy denied knowing anything about the crimes, the police confronted him about the rapes in Fort Collins, he denied being arrested for any sex crimes, he denied being investigated by the Air Force, he did not want to provide his fingerprints but a warrant was issued to compel him, the fingerprints were a match, Troy Graves was arrested and booked into custody, this case changed the PPD policies on sexual assault to include how evidence is handled and how the victims are treated and interviewed
Disposition: Troy Graves feared a trial would not go in his favor in Fort Collins, Colorado, he pleaded guilty in exchange for a life sentence without the possibility of parole; Pennsylvania wanted to seek the death penalty but Shannon’s family did not want that because Shannon wouldn’t have wanted that, Graves entered into a plea agreement and got life in prison plus sixty years

Notable Quotes: “We have to change the system but not put people to death.” -Vicki Schieber (Shannon’s mom)

Source: ‘Terror in Philadelphia’ People Magazine Investigates

Shannon Schiebercredit: Courtesy Schieber Family

Shannon Schieber (Photo: People Magazine Investigates)

Related Links:
U. student killed in Center City
Family, friend mourn Schieber’s death
Grief, Questions After Student is Slain
DNA tests clear ex-boyfriend in Schieber murder
Airman arrested in sexual assaults
Center City rapist suspect arrested
Suspected Serial Rapist Arrested
Colo. airman arrested on sex charges suspected as Center City Rapist
Colorado Suspect Is Believed Tied to Other Attacks
Airman trained at VAFB arrested in Colorado sex assaults
Airman’s DNA Linked to Slain Md. Woman
Officials: DNA Evidence Links Colorado Man to Philly Rapes, Murder
Airman Awaits Hearing in Rape Case
Troy Graves: I did it… and ‘I’m sorry’
Serial rapist says he’s sorry
Remorseful airman admits murder, rapes
Admitted serial rapist now will face a charge of murder
USAF content with civilian prosecution of Graves
Serial rapist pleads guilty in Colorado
Graves Pleads Guilty In Philadelphia Rapes, Murder
Victims speak out; Graves gets life
Colorado: Life Sentence For Airman
Airman gets life sentence in string of sexual assaults
A baffling case: The women who loved Troy Graves
The story of Shannon Schieber
Why two mothers back death penalty repeal
A Place of Peace | Bethesda Magazine
Death Penalty Vs. Life: An Issue Of Closure Vs. Peace
Victim’s family moves “from pain to peace”
Investigating rape in Philadelphia: how one city’s crisis stands to help others
Woman advocates repeal of death penalty as part of unconditional pro-life policy
What are Fort Collins’ most infamous moments?
Rape is Rape, Isn’t It? | ProPublica
Rape is Rape, Isn’t It? | The Marshall Project
The Annual Ritual Shaping How the Philadelphia Police Department Handles Rape, Abuse Cases
How one woman changed the way Philly police handle rape
Why is the death penalty discussed in religious terms?
How do you fix a broken system? One U.S. city offers a model for handling sex-assault cases
How a Business Student’s Dying Cries of ‘Help Me’ Eventually Led to a Serial Rapist
Death penalty: Parents of murder victim oppose killer’s execution
Mom of Wharton Student Found Raped, Murdered in 1998 Still Wonders: ‘How Could Somebody Do That?’
Troy Graves | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers
Terror in Philadelphia | People Magazine Investigates | Investigation Discovery (S3, E2)
All Charged Up | Forensic Files | FilmRise

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 ‘Ruthless’ on CBS: The True Crime Story of Serial Rapist & Camp Lejeune Janitor Willie Abner Brown (May 26, 2018)


When a serial rapist targets military spouses, NCIS agents race against time before he strikes again. -48 Hours 

It is believed that Willie Abner Brown committed 12 sexual assaults in the Jacksonville, North Carolina area, five of them were Marine spouses. After the similarities in reports were observed, the Jacksonville Police Department created a Task Force with Camp Lejeune and Naval Criminal Investigation Services (NCIS) because they felt the cases were connected. The Marine Corps leadership at Camp Lejeune were very concerned that there was a serial rapist on the loose because five different military spouses reported being attacked, four were attacked while their husband’s were deployed. The attacker also stole money and debit and credit cards from his victims. Investigators were able to identify Willie Brown via video surveillance while he was using one of the victim’s credit cards at a local convenience store. They learned Brown was a janitor at Camp Lejeune.

The police picked Brown up for a traffic violation and brought him to the station for fraudulent use of one of the victim’s credit cards. The Jacksonville Police Department knew exactly who Willie Brown was because of his long rap sheet. They could prove the theft but they wanted to prove the multiple rapes so they set up a war room to gather and collect information that would help them substantiate that Willie Brown was involved in the sexual assaults as well. They interviewed every victim they could to get a better understanding of the modus operandi of the serial attacker. Investigators also searched Brown’s house and his girlfriend’s house and found items that connected Willie to the victims and the weapon they believe was used in one of the attacks. The victim’s were relieved Willie was finally caught and couldn’t harm anyone else.

Willie Abner Brown

Willie Abner Brown

The prosecutor was only able to prove that Willie was connected to four of the twelve sexual assaults. DNA evidence specifically connected Willie Brown to some of the victims. During trial, Willie Brown took the stand to defend himself and he maintained his innocence. He admitted to the robbery but not the sexual assaults. And he told the jury he was sexually assaulted as a child and couldn’t physically carry out the attacks. After a day of deliberation, the jury found Willie Brown guilty on March 13, 2014 of multiple felony charges including rape. He was also convicted of assaulting one of the victims with a deadly weapon. Willie Brown was sentenced to prison for 410 years. “You have to fight for your story, you have to fight for your word.” One of the victims said even if they can’t do anything with your case, you should still report it because someday someone else will report and the cases will be connected.

Editor’s Note: If you would like to watch the full episode of ‘Ruthless,’ please visit the CBS All Access website, visit the 48 Hours website, or download the 48 Hours app on your 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:
Man accused of multiple rapes
Serial rapist sentenced to 410 years in NC prisons
Serial rapist sentenced to 410 years in NC prisons
Juror Speaks Out After Serial Rape Trial
Convicted serial rapist accused of assaulting fellow inmate
Jacksonville serial rapist now accused of assaulting inmate
Crime highlights from 2014 | Wilmington Star News
State of North Carolina v. Willie Abner Brown (2014)
Convicted serial rapist re-sentenced
“48 Hours: NCIS:” Can brokers cease a ruthless attacker preying on Marine wives?
Local JPD detective, NCIS agent to appear on CBS 48 Hours
JPD Task Force case to be featured on 48 Hours: NCIS show
“48 Hours” Saturday Double Feature: Ruthless & Sophia’s Secret
“48 Hours: NCIS:” Can Agents Stop a Ruthless Attacker Preying on Marine Wives?
“48 Hours: NCIS” sneak peek: Ruthless (msn.com)
“48 Hours: NCIS” sneak peek: Ruthless (website)
“48 Hours: NCIS” sneak peek: Ruthless (YouTube)
“48 Hours: NCIS”: Ruthless | CBS News
“48 Hours: NCIS”: Ruthless | CBS All Access
48 Hours: NCIS: Ruthless | 48 Hours (podcast)
North Carolina Prison (DOC) Arrest Records for Inmate WILLIE A BROWN

Who Killed Jane Doe? Premiered ‘A Girl Has No Name’ on Investigation Discovery: Jovita Collazo & Michael Eugene Richardson (January 30, 2018)


Apple Valley in California’s Mojave Desert is the perfect place to hide a secret. When the body of an unidentified Jane Doe is discovered there in 1994, it takes almost two decades to bring a twisted tale of love, jealousy, and a horrible crime to light. -Who Killed Jane Doe, Investigation Discovery

MJFA Link:
Navy Spouse Jovita Collazo Disappeared from San Diego, California; 23 Years Later Found Murdered; Michael Richardson Convicted, Life Sentence (April 30, 1992)

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.


A startling development in the case of Jovita Collazo, the Southern California Filipina who went missing in 1992. -TFCBalitangAmerica

Related Links:
DNA hit solves 1992 murder-mystery
Remains of Jovita Collazo Found After 23 Years
Remains Identified as National City Woman Missing Since 1992
Human remains identified as missing woman last seen in 1992
Remains found in California in 1994 ID’d as missing Filipina
Bones found over 2 decades ago identified as missing Pinay
Bones found over 2 decades ago identified as missing Pinay 2
Skeletal remains of missing Pinay found after 23 years
Body of Calif. woman identified two decades later
Body of woman who vanished in 1992 found in desert
Body of woman who vanished in 1992 found in desert
Body of missing Filipina in Calif. identified over two decades later
Slain Body of Jovita Collazo Found Decades Ago in a Desert Grave IDd in CA
Man accused of killing wife and mother-in-law charged with murdering girlfriend
New charges against husband accused of double slaying
Cab Driver Attacked by Murder Suspect Michael Eugene Richardson Tells His Story
Man stands trial for three murders
Richardson to Stand Trial for 3 Murders and Statutory Rape of Niece, Judge Rules
Preliminary hearing begins for man accused in three murders
Testimony Begins for Poway Businessman Accused of Killing Wife
Niece Testifies In Hearing For Man Charged With 3 Murders
Man admits killing wife, her mother
Chula Vista Man Admits to Killing 3 Women
Admitting 3 murders means life sentence
Former Poway Business Owner Pleads Guilty to 3 Murders
Man pleads guilty to three murders, including wife and mother-in-law
San Diego man gets 6 life terms for triple murders
Bones found over 2 decades ago identified as missing Pinay
“A Girl Has No Name” | Who Killed Jane Doe? | Investigation Discovery

Investigation Discovery Premiered ‘Final Vision’: The True Crime Story of Former Army Captain Jeffrey MacDonald (December 10, 2017)


A writer is enlisted by a former Green Beret who stands accused of murdering his family to cover his trial and proclaim his innocence, but the tables turn when the writer has doubts. -Final Vision, Investigation Discovery 

MJFA Links:
Colette, Kimberley & Kristen MacDonald Murdered in NC Home; Former Army Captain Jeffrey MacDonald Convicted of Homicide, Life Sentence (1970)
Former Army Doctor Capt. Jeffrey MacDonald Convicted of Homicide of Wife Colette & Two Daughters; Sentenced to Life in Prison, North Carolina (1979)
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death and Suicide at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (US 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.


This episode includes: Gallup Abduction, Fatal Revision (Pts. 1, 2 & 3) and Wrong Grave. -Unsolved Mysteries, FilmRise True Crime


40 years after the murders, filmmaker says DNA evidence could clear convicted murderer. -ABC News


In this 2003 interview with Larry King, convicted murderer Jeffrey MacDonald describes the night his family was killed. -Larry King Live, CNN


Jim Blackburn, the prosecuting attorney in the 1979 Jeffrey MacDonald trial, talks about the continued interest in the case. -The News & Observer


See video of Allen Rogers of Raleigh, NC as he describes his long friendship with Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald. -The News & Observer


Scott Foley and Dave Annable open up about telling the chilling story of Jeffrey MacDonald in Investigation Discovery’s “Final Vision.” -Celebrity Page TV Network


Final Vision Movie Trailer | Investigation Discovery

Related Links:
After 35 years, ‘Fatal Vision’ author, killer meet again
Final Vision: The Last Word on Jeffrey MacDonald by Joe McGinness
Remembering author Joe McGinniss, whose ‘Fatal Vision’ chronicled the Jeffrey MacDonald murder case
Investigation Discovery Greenlights Scripted True-Crime Movie ‘Final Vision’ Starring Scott Foley and Dave Annable
Scott Foley, Dave Annable to Star in Jeffrey MacDonald True Crime Murder Movie on Investigation Discovery
Ex-Army surgeon pursues appeal, insists he’s innocent in “Fatal Vision” killings
Watch Investigation Discovery’s New Crime Dramas with 1 Click on ID GO!
NC’s infamous Jeffrey MacDonald case has inspired another TV movie, airing Sunday
ID’s Final Vision: The Drama of True Crime
See Scandal’s Scott Foley as Convicted Killer Jeffrey MacDonald, Who Maintains His Innocence
Scott Foley and Dave Annable Share Their Thoughts on the Psychological Thriller Final Vision
Scott Foley isn’t totally convinced convicted killer Jeffrey MacDonald is guilty
‘Final Vision’ Movie: Playing a Real Person Was a ‘Challenge’ Says Scott Foley
‘Final Vision’ stars debate Jeffrey MacDonald’s guilt or innocence
TV: Actors took honest approaches to ‘Final Vision’
Final Vision Offers One More Look at the Jeffrey MacDonald Case
Final Vision Fails to Shed New Light on a Famous Family Murder Case
Unsolved Mysteries with Dennis Farina, Season 8 Episode 1
‘Fatal Vision’ Convict Seeks New Trial
Larry King Live – Jeffrey MacDonald: In his own words
DNA and the Jeffrey MacDonald investigation
Former prosecutor Jim Blackburn on the Jeffrey MacDonald case
Allen Rogers talks about his friend Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald
“Final Vision” movie 2017 / trailer | Investigation Discovery
Sneak Peek: Investigation Discovery’s Final Vision
Jeffrey MacDonald: The Accused | People Magazine Investigates | ID (YouTube)
Jeffrey MacDonald: People Magazine Investigates | Investigation Discovery (YouTube)
Final Vision Trailer | Investigation Discovery (YouTube)
Final Vision Behind the Scenes | Investigation Discovery (YouTube)
‘Final Vision’ | Investigation Discovery (website)
‘Final Vision’ | Investigation Discovery (YouTube)

48 Hours Premiered ‘Hunted’ on CBS (2017)


“48 Hours” goes inside the mind of a serial rapist hunting his victims while two detectives were hunting him. Correspondent Maureen Maher investigates Saturday, Sept. 16 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

On August 11, 2008, Marc Patrick O’Leary raped an eighteen year old at knife point in Lynnwood, Washington. The 18 year old woman reported the rape to her local police department but they accused her of lying and she was charged with false reporting. In 2011, Marc O’Leary was arrested in Colorado for rape and consequently admitted to raping several women in Washington and Colorado. DNA, digital evidence, and O’Leary’s vehicle linked him physically to several rapes. Read more here.

Related Links:
An Unbelievable Story of Rape
“48 Hours” preview: Hunted
Sneak peek: Hunted | 48 Hours
Covering the unbearable | 48 Hours
“48 Hours” investigates the hunt for a serial rapist
Netflix series to tell story of rapist Marc O’Leary
Netflix series to tell story of rapist Marc O’Leary (2)
Army Soldier Marc O’Leary Raped an 18 Year Old Woman in Washington; Three Years Later Arrested in Colorado for Rape & Sentenced to 300 Plus Years (2008)

Reasonable Doubt Premiered ‘Failure to Remember’ on Investigation Discovery: Penny Brummer (June 21, 2017)


Penny Brummer, a military vet, is accused of murdering her ex-girlfriend’s best friend in a jealous rage. However, Penny was so drunk that night she was in a blackout state. Can Chris and Melissa help fill in the gaps of her memory to prove her innocence? -Reasonable Doubt, Investigation Discovery

Air Force veteran Penny Brummer was convicted on October 1, 1994 of murdering her ex-girlfriend’s best friend 21-year-old Sarah Gonstead in Madison, Wisconsin. On March 14, 1994, after a night of heavy drinking with Penny, Sarah was shot in the back of the head execution style and found three weeks later in a secluded field. Detectives theorized that Sarah most likely trusted her killer. On this episode of Investigation Discovery’s Reasonable Doubt, Penny’s mother, Nancy Brummer, turned to Detective Chris Anderson and criminal defense attorney Melissa Lewkowicz to help her prove Penny’s innocence. Nancy believes the prosecution had no concrete evidence except for circumstantial evidence and she also believes the the jury was biased and led to believe that lesbians are inherently violent. Detective Anderson and Melissa Lewkowicz worked with Nancy Brummer by taking a second look at Penny Brummer’s case featured in the ninth episode of Reasonable Doubt aptly titled ‘Failure to Remember’. It’s their job to investigate the cases that family members swear are wrongful homicide convictions and in the end the duo share their assessment of guilt or innocence based on meticulous investigative work.

Nancy Brummer has been fighting to free her daughter for twenty-two years. She told Detective Anderson and Melissa that they were her last hope. The two learned that Sarah Gonstead left her mother’s house to go out for a night of drinking to celebrate her 21st birthday with her friend Penny but Sarah never came home. Twenty-five days later, Sarah was found in a secluded field in Madison. Sarah had been shot execution style in the back of the head and Penny was the last known person to see her alive. Eight days later, Penny was arrested and charged with first degree murder. Penny claims she pulled over to clean up some beer that spilled in her vehicle and Sarah exited the vehicle to walk half a block to her best friend Glenda’s house. But prosecutors painted a darker picture. They theorized the two got drunk and Penny drove Sarah out to a empty soy field and murdered her. Prosecutors believed the motive was jealousy because Glenda had just broken up with Penny and Penny blamed Sarah for the break-up. They claimed Penny wanted revenge and the jury bought it. Penny Brummer is currently serving life in prison and her first opportunity for parole is in 2045.

Detective Anderson and Melissa met with the Nancy Brummer first to hear her plea for justice. Nancy stated that she wanted to find the person who committed the crime and free Penny so she can come home. Nancy confirmed that Glenda and Penny were dating and broke up about a month prior to Sarah’s disappearance. Sarah was Glenda’s best friend and the three of them would hang out and party together. Penny was in her early twenties at the time of the homicide so her behavior was typical of most young people at that stage in their life. Nancy Brummer described Penny as very social and happy-go-lucky. She said Penny was really into sports and she was on the softball team and volleyball team in high school. Nancy opined Penny was a typical teenager and started drinking around the age of seventeen. After high school, Penny joined the Air Force and shared with her mom that it was hard being in the military because of the secrecy she had to maintain regarding her sexual orientation. Nancy Brummer believes that the jury was biased and led to believe that a lesbian is more prone to violence. She referenced a questionnaire that Melissa agreed was inflammatory and would need a second look.

The prosecution painted a picture that Penny was jealous of the friendship between Glenda and Sarah. The two were strictly friends and Sarah was straight. Nancy observed that Penny was sad and disappointed about the break-up but not what one would consider obsessive. She reminded Detective Anderson and Melissa that the prosecution had nothing: no physical evidence, no DNA, no blood evidence, nothing that tied Penny to the murder. The prosecution said the gun that was used in the commission of the crime was a 22 handgun that belonged to Penny’s father. Nancy admits that her husband’s gun did go missing and was never recovered. When Sarah’s body was found, Nancy said a witness came forward to the police and said that he had driven by the scene of the crime a day or two after the murder and saw a suspicious vehicle along the side of the road. He saw a man standing behind the vehicle with what looked like a pink and purple duffle bag and as it turns out, Sarah’s jacket was the same pink and purple color. Nancy said this evidence was ignored. Nancy informed both Detective Anderson and Melissa that even if they don’t find Penny innocent, she will keep fighting for her release.

Detective Anderson and Melissa began their investigation. Detective Anderson started with the man who was the eyewitness. This man told Detective Anderson that he did in fact see a vehicle by the side of the road near the location of where Sarah’s body was found in the field. He claims he made eye contact with the man in question but that was about the extent of it. He said after the man made eye contact with him, he put his head down. The eyewitness was concerned that this man was trying to move the body, after all it was only a couple days after she had gone missing. He said the police informed him that they already had a suspect in the case and he felt that his testimony was largely discounted and ignored. Melissa investigated the prosecutors jealousy motive. One of Penny’s close friends described her as a great friend and a someone she went bar-hopping with. Penny’s friend believes that she was a binge drinker and most likely an alcoholic because she would drink until she blacked out. Penny’s friends said she hoped she would get back together with Glenda but certainly didn’t act like a jealous ex-girlfriend. Penny’s friend Mary believes she is innocent.

Detective Anderson met with a forensic expert to go over the physical evidence or lack there of. The two examined the crime scene photos and other evidence available. The forensic expert didn’t see any signs of struggle and it appeared Sarah’s body fell forward after she was shot in the head. There was no sexual assault and no beating. It was an execution style killing and Sarah most likely knew and trusted the person who shot her. Sarah was walking in front of the perpetrator when she was shot in the back of her head. Detective Anderson visited the last known location of both Penny and Sarah, a local bar in Madison. A witness said Sarah and Penny were celebrating Sarah’s birthday because she had just turned twenty-one. The two had been drinking prior to their arrival at the bar but the witness didn’t think either appeared to be drunk. She said they showed up at the bar around 10:30 p.m. and left a couple hours later; they had a couple drinks while they were there. The witness observed they were both in great spirits and having fun and they were both able to carry on a conversation. On the night in question, Sarah was kind of quiet while Penny appeared to be enjoying herself with others at the bar. Neither of them were agitated or upset; they both appeared to be in a really good mood.

Detective Anderson interviewed Penny via the telephone. Penny said she dated Glenda for 8 or 9 months and admits she fell in love with her. She also claimed to have a nice friendship with Sarah. She shared that Sarah never did anything bad to her and never meddled in her relationship with Glenda. Penny said Glenda just decided one day to end things and told her she was going back on birth control. Penny assumed Glenda wanted to go back to guys. After the break-up, Penny was heartbroken. She admitted she got physical with Glenda one time; they pushed each other during an argument. On March 14, 1994, Penny said she got out of work around 7:30 p.m., got some beer, and went to Sarah’s house. Penny said they stopped at a couple bars and drank more beer. Penny said she doesn’t remember being at Jakes (the bar where the eyewitness last saw both Penny and Sarah at around midnight). Penny admitted she was an alcoholic then and was very intoxicated. Penny and Sarah were on their way to pick up Glenda when Penny spilled some beer in her car and stopped to clean it up. Penny said Sarah wasn’t feeling well so she started walking to Glenda’s house which was about a half a block away. Penny told Detective Anderson she doesn’t know why she didn’t take Sarah to Glenda’s house but she went home after cleaning her car. Penny reminded Detective Anderson that she isn’t the type to kill anyone, she didn’t have a weapon, and she had absolutely no reason to hurt Sarah.

In the meantime, Melissa looked at the questionnaire that was given to the jury asking them about their thoughts about lesbians and violence. Melissa said, as a criminal defense attorney, she would insist that the jury not be subjected to or see the questionnaire because it is inflammatory. Melissa also spoke with Glenda who was the glue that held the case together. Glenda claimed she dated Penny for about a year but wasn’t necessarily in love with her. Glenda claimed Penny drank a lot but could still function; she just wouldn’t remember it. Glenda described Sarah as a shy, soft-hearted, and loyal friend. Glenda believed that Penny was jealous of her friendship with Sarah. Glenda admitted that Penny did in deed find her birth control pills and assumed that she was breaking up with her so she could date men again. Glenda admitted she broke up with Penny because she was way too controlling. Glenda also claimed Penny was pissed that she broke up with her. When Glenda ended it, Penny shoved her and she shoved her back and kicked her out of her house. Glenda said the look in her eyes scared the crap out of her and she began to cry. Glenda believes they have the right person and is still grieving the loss of her friend.

Detective Anderson and Melissa met with Nancy Brummer to share the results of their investigation. Nancy claimed the jury was bias because of Penny’s sexual orientation and Melissa believes she was absolutely right. Melissa said the questions asked of the jury were highly prejudicial. Penny’s close friend felt that the motive of jealousy was crap but Glenda was 100% convinced Penny was the killer. Glenda claimed the motive in this case was vengeance. Glenda declared that if Penny gets out of jail, she is moving to another state because she is scared of her; if Penny did this once, who is to say she won’t do this again? Nancy doesn’t believe Glenda and said she is a good actress. Detective Anderson told Nancy he followed up with the eye witness at the scene of the crime and said this was a problem because each and every lead needs to be taken seriously. He also shared that only one of the detectives was alive and he refused to meet with him. Melissa confirmed that there is no physical evidence tying Penny to the crime. Detective Anderson addressed the gun they believed was used in the commission of the crime and Nancy confirmed the 22 they owned had indeed gone missing. Detective Anderson addressed the autopsy photos and shared that the forensic expert did not observe any signs of struggle. It was a cold night and if someone ran towards Sarah, she definitely would have heard it. Detective Anderson deduced Sarah was shot by someone she knew or was led into the field at gunpoint.

“Circumstantial cases are a series of little things that add up until they point in one direction.” -Detective Chris Anderson, Reasonable Doubt

Nancy Brummer said there was no way her daughter would have shot Sarah in the back of the head. But Detective Anderson had some serious issues with the fact that the only person who claims Penny was in a black out that night is Penny. He spoke with a bartender who claimed that Penny appeared to be functional. Jake’s bar is significant because it is less than two miles from where Sarah’s body was found. Detective Anderson noted that Penny said she couldn’t remember being at Jake’s that night but she remembered very specific things earlier and later that night. Detective Anderson felt it was suspicious that Penny remembered everything really well that night except being at this bar. Is this a form of convenient amnesia? Melissa empathized with why Nancy felt a sense of injustice all these years. The biased questionnaire, the ignored witnesses, and the overall investigation had major problems; the evidence was highly circumstantial. Penny was the last known person to see Sarah alive that night; Penny was last seen at a bar with Sarah which is located less than two miles from where Sarah’s body was found; Penny said she can’t remember being there but does remember a lot of details earlier and after Sarah went missing; Sarah was killed with a 22 and Penny’s father owned a 22 that was now missing; Penny was a military vet who was trained to shoot guns; and Sarah wasn’t trying to run away, she didn’t struggle, and she most likely knew and trusted her killer.

Why would Penny do this? Melissa shared that she read through the police reports and noted that Penny admitted she was heartbroken when things ended with Glenda. Penny also admitted that after the break-up she wondered who Glenda was with, where she was, and what she was doing. Penny also said Glenda was in her head 24 hours a day (obsessed) and that she resented Sarah because she assumed Sarah was trying to drag her back into the straight world. On the night of March 14, 1994, Penny did what she always did. Melissa explained Penny got really drunk, the break-up was fresh, her feelings were raw, and she spent the entire night with the person she believed came between her and the woman she loved. Melissa asked, “did Penny plan to walk Sarah into the woods or was it just a horrific idea fueled by fifteen drinks? Did she remember shooting Sarah, does she remember her falling to the ground, or does she not remember anything at all?” Ironically, Penny admits that prison saved her life. Penny believes she would not have made it to thirty had it not been for prison. Penny said she turned her life around behind bars. Based on the leads Nancy provided and an independent investigation, Detective Anderson and Melissa revealed there was nothing new in the investigation that would bring Penny home. They both suggested Nancy ask her daughter the tough questions and then she will know, even 22 years later.

“The problem is that the things Penny remembers are the things that will help her and the things that she can’t remember are the things that would potentially hurt her.” -Melissa Lewkowicz, Reasonable Doubt

Source: Reasonable Doubt ‘Failure to Remember’


Twenty-one years ago a jury found Penny Brummer guilty in the murder of Sarah Gonstead. The family of Brummer has spent those 21 years working to prove her innocence. Dave Delozier reports. -Channel 3000 | News 3 (December 14, 2015)

MJFA Links:
Sarah Gonstead was Shot Execution Style in the Back of Head After a Night Out Celebrating 21st Birthday with Friend & Air Force Veteran Penny Brummer (March 14, 1994)

Related Links:
Who Killed Sarah?
Seeking justice for Penny Brummer
New Trial for Penny Brummer, Wrongfully Convicted | Petition
Penny Brummer Defense & Support Fund by Truth in Justice

1994
Sarah Gonstead Murder

1995
Reasonable Doubt by Ingrid Ricks | The Advocate

1997
State of Wisconsin v. Penny L Brummer

2003
A short history of exposing misconduct

2005
Chapter 1: A tale of three young women
Chapter 2: A hole in her story
Chapter 3: A surprise witness appears
Chapter 4: Defense sows seeds of doubt
Chapter 5: Emotional debate ends in guilty verdict
Chapter 6: Supporters of Brummer offer their theories; they say the evidence was too thin and question makeup of jury
Gift enables investigative journalism class to probe old murder case

2012
Dane Co. DA Approves DNA Testing in 1994 Killing
Wisconsin DA approves DNA testing in 1994 killing
Will DNA Save Penny Brummer?
Spring Green woman could be cleared

2013
Innocence project founder promotes cause of Madison woman convicted of murder
Did Homophobia Convict a Wisconsin Woman of Murder?

2014
A Look Back After 20 Years
A look back at a 20-year-old murder and if the right person was convicted

2015
Who killed Sarah? The trial of Penny Brummer
Group questioning conviction of Penny Brummer in 1994 death of Sarah Gonstead
Reward offered in 21-year-old homicide conviction
$10,000 Reward Offered in Wrongful Conviction Case
Person of Interest Hits Wrongfully Convicted for Serving in U.S. Military
On Wrongful Convictions and Penny Brummer

2016
Penny Brummer’s fight for justice
The Lynching of a Madison Lesbian: Wisconsin’s Wrongful Conviction of Penny Brummer
Wrongful Conviction: Penny Brummer Is Innocent and Still in Prison
Richmond Crime Author Sheila Berry Takes on Wrongful Convictions Nationwide

2017
Penny Brummer convicted of murdering Sarah Gonstead, but is there Reasonable Doubt?

Books:
Who Killed Sarah? by Sheila & Doug Berry (2005) | Amazon
Who Killed Sarah? by Sheila & Doug Berry (2005) | Walmart

Video Links:
Reward offered in 21-year-old homicide conviction
Reasonable Doubt | Investigation Discovery | Amazon
Failure to Remember | Reasonable Doubt – Investigation Discovery
Failure to Remember | Reasonable Doubt | Investigation Discovery | YouTube

Fort Carson Army Officer Aaron Lucas Sentenced to 20 Years to Life for Child Sex Crimes, Accused of Preying on Children in Military Uniform (2012)

soldier-sex-assault

Aaron Lucas, US Army

“Our daughter was taught to trust the uniform.” -Retired Chief Navy Petty Officer

DNA evidence linked Army officer 1st Lt. Aaron Lucas to a string of child sex crimes in three states: Colorado, Alabama, and Texas. Aaron Lucas was a 4th Infantry Division Army artillery officer stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado. He is married with two children. According to reports, Lucas had a glowing resume and received countless awards including the Bronze Star after a deployment to Afghanistan. On October 23, 2012 Aaron Lucas was arrested by Colorado civilian authorities and accused of indecent exposure, kidnapping, and rape of children during the 2009-2012 time frame. He was also accused of committing child sex crimes in Alabama in 2007 and Texas in 2009. 1st Lt. Lucas was charged with 20 counts of sexual abuse in Colorado. It appears that Lucas preyed on and targeted children in the nearby communities while stationed at Fort Carson. Some he kidnapped and raped. Investigators also noted that Lucas was linked to 11 attempted abductions in Colorado and all the crime appeared to cease when he was deployed to Afghanistan. Victim testimony revealed that Lucas attacked most of his victims while in military uniform. Aaron Lucas has an identical twin brother Brian whose DNA is a near identical match to his. Therefore Aaron attempted to use the ‘evil twin defense’ and blamed the crimes on his brother who was also accused of committing his own list of crimes. Although investigators concluded that there was no evidence uncovered to link Brian Lucas to the crimes as he wasn’t even in the same states where the crimes occurred. In November 2013, Aaron Lucas dropped the ‘evil twin defense’ and pleaded guilty to the crimes prior to the trial because he loved his family and didn’t want to put them through it. He also begged the judge to get him treatment. The defense noted that it is difficult to argue someone else committed the crimes when you can’t put the person at the scene of the crime. Prosecutors argued that treatment does not work for someone who repeatedly and deliberately makes the decision to prey on children. Aaron Lucas was sentenced to 20 years to life. In his defense, Aaron’s father claims his son is a hero and that combat stress prompted the crimes. According to his father, Lucas is also a victim of sexual assault. In other news, Brian Lucas was convicted of sodomy and sexual abuse charges in February 2015 in Alabama.

Related Links:
Fort Carson Investigates Possible Sexual Assaults
Prosecutor: DNA evidence links soldier to Colo., Ala. assaults
Soldier arrested on sex charges possibly connected to AL crime
Decorated Army Officer Faces Child Sex Charges
Fort Carson GI held on sex assault, child luring charges
Madison Co. sheriff’s investigators working with Colorado authorities in Army officer sexual abuse case
Army officer charged with more than 20 counts of sexual abuse in Colorado to be investigated in Madison County
Authorities: DNA connects suspect to Texarkana kidnapping cold case
DNA evidence links 2007 Madison sexual assualt case to soldier in Colorado
Warrant sought in local assault case
Fort Carson investigates ‘several’ soldiers in sexual assaults of girls
Sex assault suspect: My evil twin did it!
Sex-assault suspect blaming twin brother for attacks
Army Officer blames sex crimes on twin brother
Army officer is blaming DNA match in assaults on his twin brother
Suspect Blames Twin for Sexual Assaults: DNA Evidence Implicates Army Lt. and Brother
Bronze Star Army officer accused of ‘trying to abduct and sexually assault young girls’ will claim his TWIN was behind attacks
Aaron Lucas Accuses Twin Brother of Sexual Assaults He is Charged With
Sibling DNA Twist in Serial Rape Trial
Is a Decorated Soldier Being Tried for His Twin’s Sex Crimes?
Judge: Suspect Allowed To Blame Identical Twin In Sexual Assault Case
Judge: Sex assault suspect allowed to blame twin
Judge allows Colorado soldier’s defense of citing twin as potential suspect
Judge allows “Evil Twin” Defense In Rape Cases!
Judge allows Colorado soldier’s defense of citing twin as potential suspect
Accused rapist allowed to raise identical twin defense at trial
Army sex assault suspect is allowed to blame twin
Judge: Sex assault suspect allowed to blame twin
Army Officer To Use Identical Twin In Defense Of Sexual Assault Charges
Army Officer Uses Evil Twin Defense In Sexual Assault Case
Twin Brother Of Aaron Lucas Arrested On Sexual Abuse Charges
Twin Brother of Aaron Lucas, Brian Arrested on Sexual Abuse Charges
Twin Brother of Aaron Lucas, Brian, Arrested Again For Sexual Abuse
‘Evil twin’ defense dropped, Fort Carson officer to plead guilty to sex assault
Army officer drops ‘evil twin’ defense, pleads guilty to sex assaults
Army Officer Drops ‘Twin Defense’ for Sexual Assault
Man pleads guilty to assaults, won’t blame twin
Man pleads guilty to assaults, won’t blame twin
Army officer who blamed twin for sexual assaults pleads guilty
Aaron Gregory Lucas, Army Officer Who Blamed Twin For Sexual Assaults, Pleads Guilty
Army officer Aaron Lucas who blamed twin for sexual assaults pleads guilty
Colorado soldier who named twin as sex crimes suspect pleads guilty
Hero ex-Army officer who tried to blame his twin for string of sex attacks on children is jailed for 20 years – as twin is held for the SAME offenses
Former Army officer sentenced to 20 years in prison for child sex assaults after admitting his twin didn’t do it
Ex-Army officer gets 20 years in child-sex cases
Ex-Army officer gets 20 years in child-sex cases
Former Fort Carson soldier sentenced for sex crimes
How do you convict an identical twin of rape? A new DNA test hopes to clarify evidence
Lucas parents say sexual abuse turned their son into child rapist
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, Colorado (US Army)