Army veteran and former Ranger Fernando Duarte was shot and killed in a casino parking lot in Miami, Florida on Christmas day, December 25, 2016, after winning a prize. According to police, there was an argument ensued and escalated in the parking lot before Duarte was murdered by two suspects who were later identified and arrested. Kenin Bailey and Mikey Lenard were both charged with first degree murder. But the prosecutors dropped the charges against them because the evidenced revealed that Fernando was the aggressor and the two killed him in self-defense.
Navy seaman Elizabeth Shelton, 19, stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia survived a brutal assault in her home on August 22, 2015. Police got a call for a suspected home invasion and found Shelton unconscious, lying in a pool of blood. She suffered extensive facial injuries and was having difficulty breathing; she was rushed to the hospital. Shelton’s husband Anthony Johnson was also hurt during the home invasion. He reported that one of them tried to choke him to death while he lay in his bed. Johnson also reported that some of his friends stole his car. This led police to Tristan Reeder who told them that Johnson hired him and two others to kill his wife in exchange for the life insurance. Reeder said Johnson promised to give him $40,000 and Robert Burnette $70,000. Reeder also told police he pretended to choke Johnson unconscious while Burnette actually choked Shelton. Burnette then threw her off the bed and stomped on her head a half dozen times. They took off in Johnson’s car after they saw blood.
Three men were indicted on charges for trying to kill Anthony Johnson’s pregnant wife in a murder-for-hire plot: Robert Burnette, 19; Tristan Reeder, 21; and Joseph Apodaca, 21. They were charged with conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and conspiracy to maliciously wound Elizabeth Shelton. Anthony Johnson, 21, was charged with three felonies connected with hiring the men to kill his wife. Court documents revealed that Johnson promised Burnette and Reeder more than $100,000 after he cashed in Shelton’s $400,000 life insurance pay-out. Reed, Burnette, and Johnson were held in Norfolk City Jail while they awaited trial. Johnson claimed he was framed and Elizabeth initially believed that he was innocent. She thought the men broke into the apartment because they were mad after they kicked them out the day before.
“He [Anthony Johnson] called my mother from jail and told her it wasn’t true,” Elizabeth Johnson said. “She told me he’s innocent. I didn’t have to ask him, I believed him.” -WAVY
In May 2o16, Anthony Johnson was found guilty of plotting to kill his pregnant wife in exchange for money from her life insurance policy. Joseph Apodaca testified in court that Johnson had been pressuring all three of them to kill his wife and make it look like a break-in. Initially Apodaca agreed but then when it came time to execute the plan, he backed out. A civilian jury sentenced Johnson to 35 years: 25 years for attempted capital murder, 5 years for conspiracy to commit capital murder, and 5 years for malicious wounding. Robert Burnette was found guilty of attempted capital murder and sentenced to 27 years in prison with 15 years suspended. Tristan Reeder pleaded guilty to attempted capital murder for hire and was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Apodaca was charged with failure to report a felony and sentenced to 12 months in jail. Elizabeth Shelton recovered and gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
Navy Commander Alphonso Doss was found dead in his Astoria Hotel room in Orange Park, Florida on February 12, 2014. Both the local civilian authorities and Naval Criminal Investigation Services (NCIS) investigated the circumstances surrounding the homicide. Authorities learned that Alphonso’s estranged wife Yolinda was the mastermind behind the plot to murder her husband. The motive was the one million dollar life insurance policy. Yolinda was having an affair with Anthony Washington, 29, and she manipulate him by using domestic abuse claims as a way to motivate Washington to kill the man who was ‘harming’ her. Washington assaulted, strangled, and stole from Commander Doss claiming he didn’t like the way he treated Yolinda. Washington tried to claim self defense at trial but the jury found him guilty of first degree murder, burglary, and assault. In November 2016, Washington was sentenced to life in prison. Yolinda Doss, 44, and Ronnie Wilson II, 33, do not have trial dates set.
Army Vietnam veteran Samuel Wiggins, Jr., 63, was found dead in Diamond Bar, California on May 29, 2011 after police found his body parts in a trash can. Carmen Montelongo (Montenegro) was caught red-handed by the police wheeling around a trash can with Samuel’s remains. Samuel met Carmen a couple years earlier. The family shared that Samuel waited 60 years for the right woman and Carmen would be the biggest mistake of his life. He was good to her from the beginning even offering to pay for her daughter’s college and a vehicle. Carmen started stealing from him immediately, taking little things. Samuel noticed but Carmen became angry when Samuel accused her. This was their first fight so Samuel forgave her and they continued the affair. And eventually Samuel asked Carmen to marry him. But Carmen continued to steal from him. Samuel caught her again and this time he finally had enough; he ended the relationship. Samuel was last seen by relatives on May 1, 2011. The family became concerned and his nephew went looking for him at his house. Samuel’s nephew witnessed fine blood spray on the walls and doors of his home. Carmen had to think fast because she knew the police were going to be notified. Carmen panicked and started digging up Samuel’s remains in the backyard so she could move the body.
Carmen was putting Samuel’s body parts in a trash can when some of her family members showed up to the house unannounced. She began offering to pay them to help her move the garbage bags. In the course of moving the garbage bags from the garden to the trash can, one of the bags came open and her family saw a body part. They refused to help, left, and called the police. When the police showed up, they found Carmen wheeling a trash can down the road and the stink of death was following her. Court testimony revealed that Carmen snapped after Samuel decided to end the relationship and stabbed him to death. An autopsy revealed that Samuel was fatally stabbed twice in the chest and then Carmen stabbed him 22 more times in the back post mortem. Carmen had to get rid of the body so she dismembered Samuel with a chainsaw. She cut off his head, arms, and legs. She buried his head and arms in potted plants and buried the rest of his body (torso and legs) in the garden in the backyard. She gave the potted plants as a gift to her cousin. Then she immediately drained Samuel’s bank accounts and made it look like he was alive for over a month. The District Attorney declared that the motive for murder was financial gain. Carmen Montelongo was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to 26 years to life in prison.
Fort Bragg Army nurse, Lt Holley 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 abuse for over seven months. It would be the day after she told John that she was leaving him that she would go missing. 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)
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.
A shotgun wedding leaves naval officers John Marmo and Rebecca Braswell in a troubled marriage with a baby. As the relationship crumbles, allegations of infidelity and abuse run rampant. A fierce custody battle pushes both sides in a deadly battle. -Discovery ID
Paul Berkley, US Navy Reserve, was murdered by his wife, Monique Wallace Berkley, her teenage lover, and his friend on December 18, 2005. Paul was home for Christmas on leave from a deployment in the Middle East. Monique, Andrew Deshawn Canty, and Latwon Darrell Johnson were all charged with first degree murder. The motive was the $400,000 Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance payout. Monique pleaded guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. The state announced it was going to seek the death penalty if Berkley had gone to trial. Andrew Canty pleaded guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Latwon Darrell Johnson pleaded guilty to second degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison. Johnson appealed his sentence claiming that it was too harsh given his role in the slaying and his cooperation with police and prosecutors.
The young and wild Monique Wallace is married to 40-year-old Paul Berkley, a navy reservist and father of two in suburban North Carolina. But with Paul leaving on a mission overseas, temptation and lust will lead them all down a dark path to murder. -Discovery ID
Andrew Witt, US Air Force, murdered Airman Andy Schliepsiek and his wife Jamie at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. According to reports, Andrew Witt made a ‘pass’ at Andy’s wife Jamie at a July 4th cookout. When Andy confronted Witt about the inappropriate sexual advance, he informed him that he would not only report the assault to their Commander but also that he was sleeping with an officer on base. This was motive enough for Andrew Witt to drive back on base and stab them to death in the early morning hours of July 5th. Another airman Jason King was also stabbed in the back as he was attempting to flee the scene. In 2005, Andrew Witt was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to the death penalty by a military court. After an appeal, the death sentence was overturned in 2013. In early 2016, the death sentence for Andrew Witt was reinstated. On July 19, 2016, the highest military appeals court ruled in favor of a new sentencing hearing for Andrew Witt. Prior to this decision, Witt was the only Air Force service member on death row at Leavenworth. He had joined five other Army soldiers: Timothy Hennis, Ronald Gray, Hasan Akbar, Nidal Hasan, and Dwight Loving (whose death sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama in 2017).
Sergeant Hasan Akbar, US Army, was sentenced to death by the military courts in 2005 for the March 23, 2003 grenade and rifle attacks on his fellow soldiers at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait. Akbar was accused of rolling hand grenades inside tents at a military command center and then opening fire. Army Captain Christopher Scott Seifert and Air Force Major Gregory L. Stone died in the attacks and fourteen others were wounded in the chaotic grenade and rifle attack. According to testimony, Akbar had been repeatedly disciplined by Army leadership for insubordination and it was also learned from his own diary entries that he carefully planned the attacks to result in maximum carnage. It appeared that Akbar targeted senior command staff and his motive was to stop US soldiers from harming his fellow Muslims. He was convicted of premeditated first degree murder. Akbar continues to appeal his death sentence and as of 2016 he has requested that the US Supreme Court hear his case in an attempt to reverse the death sentence imposed by the UCMJ. Hasan Akbar currently sits on death row at Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas with five other service members: Timothy Hennis, Ronald Gray, Dwight Loving, Andrew Witt, and Nidal Hasan.
Deadly Women on Investigation Discovery featured yet another military spouse who murdered because they were motivated by greed, selfishness, and sociopathic tendencies. While Navy sailor David Russo was at work at the Lemoore Naval Air Station in California, his wife was getting high on meth with her secret lover. Susan didn’t like that David controlled the purse strings because he might find out that she was blowing their cash on drugs. Then one day a military advisor stopped by the house to advise them of their financial affairs and Susan learned that her husband David was worth more dead then he was alive. He had a grand total of 1 million dollars worth of Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance and other insurance policies on himself. Susan saw her way out of domestic boredom and hatched up a plan with two of her drug addicted buddies, Jason Andrews and Bobby Morris. She offered them $100 to kill her husband and promised them more later after she got her hands on the life insurance payout. On July 14, 1994, the trio striked. While David lay sleeping in his bed, the two men entered the marital home with Susan’s assistance, walked into David’s bedroom, and shot him one time in the back of the head. They then drove the body to a remote location so they could torch David and the car in an effort to destroy evidence. This plan would never come to fruition because they ran out of gas and then didn’t have enough gas to torch the car. When military personnel stopped by David’s home to see why he hadn’t showed up to work, Susan told them she didn’t know where he was and asked if she would still get his paycheck that week. Eventually David’s car and body was discovered by a local farmer. Of course investigators looked to the spouse first to determine what may have happened to David. Susan told investigators during the interview that they would find no evidence of wrong doing which of course intrigued them to probe further. Susan Russo was a self proclaimed clean freak and cleaner by trade and was confident she had covered her tracks. But she did not account for the microscopic blood spatter on the headboard of the bed or the spent bullet casing located in the bedroom. Police charged Susan Russo and her two friends with the murder of her husband David Russo. Jason Andrews and Bobby Morris were both convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to 25 years to life. In 1996, Susan Russo was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Investigators described Susan as an evil, psychopathic person who manipulated her two drug addicted friends with the promises of money for more drugs. She didn’t care about David whatsoever, she only saw David as a way to cash in.