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

June 2018

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

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

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

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


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

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

Netflix Premiered ‘The Staircase’: A Docuseries Examining Marine Veteran Michael Peterson’s Durham, North Carolina Murder Trial (2018)


On December 9th, 2001, Kathleen Peterson was found dead at the bottom of a staircase. Did he do it? -The Staircase | Netflix

Season 1:

1. Crime or Accident? Following his wife’s suspicious death, Michael Peterson speaks about his version of the events while lawyers and expert witnesses prepare for trial.
2. Secrets and Lies: As Michael’s hidden life comes out into the open, defense experts debate if it will have a significant impact on the coming trial.
3. A Striking Coincidence: The defense team is shaken when a suspicious event from the past comes to light. Later, the team visits Michael’s first wife in Germany.
4. A Proseuction Trickery: As the trial looms and media attention heats up, an autopsy report’s wording ruffles the feathers of the defense team.
5. A Weak Case: The prosecution presents its case while the defense strives to cast a reasonable doubt within the minds of the jury.
6. The Prosecution’s Revenge: A witness brings surprising levity to the stand, the judge rules on an important matter, and Michael’s alleged temper comes under scrutiny.
7. The Blow Poke Returns: Kathleen’s sisters pore over Michael’s writings. Jurors visit the staircase at Michael’s home. A vital piece of evidence reappears.
8. The Verdict: Is Michael Peterson guilty or not guilty? The jury delivers its verdict regarding the mysterious death of his wife, Kathleen.
9. Reopening the Case: Eight years later, the possibility that a key witness for the prosecution may have misled the jury could prompt the need for a new trial.
10. The Last Chance: After more experts testify about the questionable conclusions and claims of Duane Deaver, the judge rules on whether a new trial is necessary.
11. Looking for Closure: Following two and a half years of house arrest, Michael must decide whether to push for a plea or risk his freedom with a new trial.
12. Between Anger and Despair: Their faith in the justice system forever shaken, Michael and his family discuss what they can hope to achieve by continuing the fight.
13. Flawed Justice: Michael speaks to a reporter about the reasons behind his plea. Later, Kathleen’s sister delivers a statement of defiance in court.

Source: The Staircase, Netflix

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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)

ProPublica & The Marshall Project Published ‘An Unbelievable Story of Rape’ (2015)

screen-shot-2017-08-20-at-7-08-41-pm

Marc O’Leary, US Army

An 18-year-old said she was attacked at knifepoint. Then she said she made it up. That’s where our story begins. ‘An Unbelievable Story of Rape’ by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica and Ken Armstrong, The Marshall Project

“She had reported being raped in her apartment by a man who had bound and gagged her. Then, confronted by police with inconsistencies in her story, she had conceded it might have been a dream. Then she admitted making the story up. One TV newscast announced, “A Western Washington woman has confessed that she cried wolf when it came to her rape she reported earlier this week.” She had been charged with filing a false report, which is why she was here today, to accept or turn down a plea deal. Her lawyer was surprised she had been charged. Her story hadn’t hurt anyone — no suspects arrested, or even questioned. His guess was, the police felt used. They don’t appreciate having their time wasted.” Read more from ProPublica & The Marshall Project here.

Cops can be protective about their cases, fearing that information could be leaked that would jeopardize their investigations. They often don’t know about, or fail to use, an FBI database created years ago to help catch repeat offenders. Between one-fourth to two-thirds of rapists are serial attackers, studies show. -ProPublica & The Marshall Project

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)
48 Hours Premiered ‘Hunted’ on CBS (2017)
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)

In 3rd Trial, Retired Army MSG Timothy Hennis Sentenced to Death by Military Court Martial for the Murders of Kathryn, Cara & Erin Eastburn in Fayetteville, NC (April 15, 2010)

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MSG Timothy Hennis, US Army Retired

In 1985, a young military officer’s wife and two of her three little girls were viciously murdered in their Fayetteville, North Carolina home. Kathryn Eastburn was also raped. The crime occurred six miles from the location of where Jeffrey MacDonald was accused of killing his wife and two children on the base at Fort Bragg. Army sergeant Timothy Hennis became a suspect from the beginning because a day or so earlier, he bought the Eastburn’s family dog. In a background check, they found that he had 3 convictions for writing bad checks and a witness identified him as the same person leaving the Eastburn home during the time in question. Eventually he was charged and found guilty of the murders of Kathryn, Cara, and Erin Eastburn; he was sentenced to death by the civilian authorities in North Carolina. But he appealed, was granted a new trial and at his second death penalty trial, he was found not guilty.

After his acquittal, he joined the Army again for two more tours, worked his way up to E-8, and retired as a MSG from Fort Lewis, Washington. Twenty years later, DNA evidence from a vaginal swab taken from Kathryn Eastburn linked Hennis to the crimes. Civilian prosecutors could not charge Hennis due to double jeopardy; but the US military did claiming they have federal jurisdiction because Hennis is a retiree. As a result, he was ordered back into service due to his retirement status. Hennis tried to claim consensual sex which contradicted original testimony. In 2010, a military jury found him guilty of three counts of murder and he was sentenced to death again. Hennis sits on death row at Fort Leavenworth with three other service members: Ronald Gray, Hasan Akbar, and Nidal Hasan.

Source: Death Row Stories ‘Timothy Hennis Double Jeopardy’

Video Links:


In 1985, a young military wife and two of her three little girls are viciously murdered in their home. In a twisted case filled with unusual suspects, the man who gets convicted goes free. But nothing is what it seems. -Discovery ID


3 People on Death Row Who May Be Innocent | Criminally Listed


A man tried three times for his life but is he a killer? Find out! Death Row Stories.


While on death row, Tim Hennis received an anonymous letter confessing to the murders. The note didn’t produce any leads. -Death Row Stories


The star witness in Tim Hennis’ trial had doubts about whether Hennis committed the murders. -Death Row Stories


Timothy Hennis Double Jeopardy | Death Row Stories | CNN

MJFA Links:
Air Force Spouse Kathryn Eastburn & Daughters Cara & Erin Found Murdered in Fayetteville, NC Home; Youngest Toddler Jana Discovered Unharmed (May 9, 1985)
A Military Jury Delivered a Guilty Verdict in a Death Penalty Trial to Retired Army MSG Timothy Hennis for the Triple Murders of Kathryn, Cara & Erin Eastburn (April 8, 2010)
In 3rd Trial, Retired Army MSG Timothy Hennis Sentenced to Death by Military Court Martial for the Murders of Kathryn, Cara & Erin Eastburn in Fayetteville, NC (April 15, 2010)
Four Service Members on Military Death Row at Fort Leavenworth, Army Private John Bennett was Last Military Execution by Hanging in 1961
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death and Suicide at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (US Army)

Related Links:

1986
Death sentence sought
Jury in Hennis trial visits area where murder victims lived
Hennis Receives Death Sentence

1988
STATE of North Carolina v. Timothy Baily HENNIS

1989
Triple murder retrial to start
Witness firm on identification of murder suspect
Witness shaky on identifying Hennis

1996
Reversal of ‘Victims’: Made-for-TV Justice
ABC explores ex-city man’s prison plight MUG: Hennis BOX: On TV “Innocent Victims” airs at 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday on ABC, Rochester cable channels 5 and 6

2007
GI cleared in 1989 faces murder court-martial
Accusations follow ex-soldier
Expert links soldier to 1985 killings
DNA hearing wraps up
Acquitted of murder, he now faces Army justice
Ex-soldier faces trial in decades-old deaths
Army to try soldier who was acquitted of 1985 slayings

2008
3 capital murder trials to put Army in spotlight

2009
Army holds hearing for soldier charged in 1985 murders

2010
Judge Delays Murder Trial For Recalled Soldier
Rochester native accused in N.C. triple murder
Why ‘exonerated’ needs to be used sparingly
Federal judge: Hennis court-martial can proceed
Soldier acquitted in 3 deaths faces military trial
Soldier acquitted in 3 deaths faces military trial
Hennis court-martial begins at Fort Bragg
Twenty-five years later, third trial begins in triple slaying
Hennis Trial Underway
Army presents its case in trial over 1985 killings
Hennis jury shown clothes of victims
Army expert: DNA from scene matches NC soldier
Friends, family testify for convicted NC soldier
Family testifies in Hennis sentencing
Military jury finds Hennis guilty of murder
Jury considers death for Hennis
Soldier Gets Death Sentence in Military Court after Civil Acquittal
Ex-Lakewood resident gets death in 1985 slayings
Soldier gets death sentence in 1985 Fayetteville triple slaying
Soldier sentenced to die for 1985 triple murder
For 2nd Time, Man Sentenced to Death for Murders
Prosecutor Emphasizes DNA in Hennis Closing
At 3rd Trial, Sergeant Guilty of 1985 Triple Murder
In 3rd Trial, Conviction in Murders From 1985
Military Jury Finds Hennis Guilty of Murder
Hennis found guilty of decades-old murders
Military Jury Convicts Soldier of Murder 20 Years After his Civilian Acquittal
Soldier’s family pleads for jury to spare his life
25 years later, widower recalls slain family
Father, daughter tell of pain 1985 triple murder caused
A murder conviction, but pain still felt
Tim Hennis case to be featured on 20/20

2011
NC soldier: SBI lab problems should mean new trial
Court-martial murder conviction appealed
Ex-Soldier Convicted Twice of Eastburn Triple Murder Appeals Again
Three Trials for Murder: In the name of justice, did the military sidestep double jeopardy?

2012
‘Unusual Suspects’: Military Man Convicted & Sentenced To Death Twice, Acquitted Once 
Court Rules Against Ex-Soldier in NC Triple Murder
Fort Bragg commander approves Timothy Hennis conviction, death sentence
An Execution Draws Closer
Timothy HENNIS, Petitioner–Appellant, v. Frank HEMLICK; Patrick Parrish, Colonel; Lloyd J. Austin, III, General; John McHugh, Honorable, Respondents–Appellees
Timothy Hennis v. Frank Hemlick et al. (US Court of Appeals)

2013
Nidal Hasan, and the 5 other men on the military’s death row

2014
Master sergeant on death row files new petition
Former Fort Bragg soldier again appeals conviction
Master sergeant on death row files new petition
What to Watch on Sunday: CNN’s ‘Death Row Stories’ looks at Hennis case in NC
Triple murder suspect goes from guilty to innocent and back to guilty
NC triple murder suspect goes from guilty to innocent and back to guilty

2015
10 Mysteries Resolved By Unbelievable Surprise Twists
CNN special with local attorney set for tonight
Timothy Hennis seeks relief in federal court; former Fort Bragg soldier questions Army’s jurisdiction in court-martial
Timothy Hennis case: Federal judge dismisses latest appeal
On military death row, execution is anything but guaranteed
Fair and Impartial? Military Jurisdiction and the Decision to Seek the Death Penalty
TIMOTHY B. HENNIS, Petitioner, v. ERICA NELSON, Commandant, USDB-Ft. Leavenworth, Respondent
Setting the Right Example: Removing the Military Death Penalty

2016
Eastburn Murders Expose a Loophole in the Law
Army court upholds death sentence of former Bragg soldier
Appeal by former Fort Bragg soldier who murdered mother and 2 daughters was rejected in military court
Timothy Hennis’ death sentence fits his gruesome crimes, court rules
Army CCA affirms death for Hennis
Army court upholds death sentence of former Bragg soldier
A look at the 6 inmates on US military death row

2017
Court-martialing retirees? ‘Fat Leonard’ cloud still looms for many current and former sailors
Hennis lawyers argue for more resources in murder appeal
Innocent Victims: The Horrific Eastburn Family Murders
The Eastburn Family Murders and The Three Trials of Staff Sergeant Tim Hennis
Army moves closer to first execution in 50 years; Ronald Gray on death row since 1988
Tim Hennis and the Eastburn Murders
Episode 3: The Case of Timothy Hennis | Death’s Door
The Many Trials of Tim Hennis
Episode 28: The Eastburn Family Murders | In Sight Pod
028 The Eastburn Family Murders | In Sight: A True Crime Podcast
United States v. Timothy Hennis | US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
US Appellee v. Timothy B. HENNIS, Master Sergeant, United States Army, Appellant | US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

Death Penalty Information Center:
Description of Cases for those Sentenced to Death in U.S. Military
Former Death Row Inmate Acquitted in One Court, Now Convicted in Another

Video Links:
3 People on Death Row Who May Be Innocent Part 2
Unusual Suspects: Mother’s Day Murders (Investigation Discovery)
20/20 on ID: Witness | Investigation Discovery
Death Row Stories: Hennis Trailer | CNN
I did the crime…you’re doin’ the time | Death Row Stories | CNN
Death penalty case’s ‘Perry Mason moment’ | Death Row Stories | CNN
Timothy Hennis Double Jeopardy | Death Row Stories | CNN
Timothy Hennis | Death Row Stories | Netflix
Innocent Victims | ABC Television Movie

Book:
Innocent Victims: The True Story of the Eastburn Family Murders (Google)
Innocent Victims: The True Story of the Eastburn Family Murders (Amazon)

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A Military Jury Delivered a Guilty Verdict in a Death Penalty Trial to Retired Army MSG Timothy Hennis for the Triple Murders of Kathryn, Cara & Erin Eastburn (April 8, 2010)

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Air Force spouse Kathryn Eastburn was found brutally raped and murdered on May 9, 1985 in her Fayetteville, North Carolina home. Two of her three children, Cara and Erin, were also murdered in the same vicious way. All three were stabbed and their throats were slashed. Kathryn and her three children were home alone while Gary Eastburn was on temporary duty at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. The youngest daughter Jana was found dehydrated but otherwise unharmed. The crime occurred six miles from the location of where Jeffrey MacDonald was accused of killing his wife and two children at Fort Bragg. Army Sergeant Timothy Hennis was a suspect from the beginning because he had visited the Eastburn home a couple days earlier to buy the family dog.

Kathryn placed a dog for sale ad in the local post paper. Investigators sent out a press release looking for the person who bought the dog. In the meantime, a neighbor reported seeing someone leaving the Eastburn residence at the time in question. The neighbor provided details for a composite drawing; the suspect drove a white Chevy Chevette. At the urging of his wife, Hennis contacted the police station and investigators were stunned at how much he looked like the composite drawing. He also drove a white Chevy Chevette. In a background check, they found that Hennis had three convictions for writing bad checks. This was significant because the perpetrator stole Kathryn’s ATM card and used it on one occasion. Another witness identified Hennis as the person who used the ATM at the time in question.

In 1986, the State of North Carolina tried Hennis for the triple murders. Hennis was found guilty and sentenced to death. But he appealed and was found not guilty in the second death penalty trial. After his ‘exoneration’ Hennis was the subject of a book and an ABC made for television movie “Innocent Victims”. Meanwhile, against lawyers advice, Hennis enlisted in the Army again for two more tours, worked his way up to E-8, and retired as a MSG outside of Fort Lewis, Washington. Cold case investigators took a second look at the cold case and because of the advances in DNA technology, they retrieved a vaginal swab from the rape kit test and submitted it to the lab. DNA evidence linked Timothy Hennis to Kathryn Eastburn.The State of North Carolina prosecutors could not charge Hennis a third time because he was found ‘not guilty’ of the triple homicides in the second death penalty trial.

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: “[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…” [wikipedia]. The civilians couldn’t try him in State court but the Army could because of federal jurisdiction; Hennis was an Army retiree therefore still under their jurisdiction. As a result, Hennis was activated and order to report to Fort Bragg for his third death penalty trial. The defense attempted to justify the DNA match to consensual sex but it contradicted his original testimony. The defense also called into question the ethics of the lab who made the DNA match. A military jury found Timothy Hennis guilty of three counts of murder and sentenced him to death. He awaits his execution date at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

Source: Unusual Suspects ‘Mother’s Day Murders’


In 1985, a young military wife and two of her three little girls are viciously murdered in their home. In a twisted case filled with unusual suspects, the man who gets convicted goes free. But nothing is what it seems. -Discovery ID

MJFA Links:
Air Force Spouse Kathryn Eastburn & Daughters Cara & Erin Found Murdered in Fayetteville, NC Home; Youngest Toddler Jana Discovered Unharmed (May 9, 1985)
A Military Jury Delivered a Guilty Verdict in a Death Penalty Trial to Retired Army MSG Timothy Hennis for the Triple Murders of Kathryn, Cara & Erin Eastburn (April 8, 2010)
In 3rd Trial, Retired Army MSG Timothy Hennis Sentenced to Death by Military Court Martial for the Murders of Kathryn, Cara & Erin Eastburn in Fayetteville, NC (April 15, 2010)
Four Service Members on Military Death Row at Fort Leavenworth, Army Private John Bennett was Last Military Execution by Hanging in 1961
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death and Suicide at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (US Army)

Related Links:

1986
Death sentence sought
Jury in Hennis trial visits area where murder victims lived
Hennis Receives Death Sentence

1988
STATE of North Carolina v. Timothy Baily HENNIS

1989
Triple murder retrial to start
Witness firm on identification of murder suspect
Witness shaky on identifying Hennis

1996
Reversal of ‘Victims’: Made-for-TV Justice
ABC explores ex-city man’s prison plight MUG: Hennis BOX: On TV “Innocent Victims” airs at 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday on ABC, Rochester cable channels 5 and 6

2007
GI cleared in 1989 faces murder court-martial
Accusations follow ex-soldier
Expert links soldier to 1985 killings
DNA hearing wraps up
Acquitted of murder, he now faces Army justice
Ex-soldier faces trial in decades-old deaths
Army to try soldier who was acquitted of 1985 slayings

2008
3 capital murder trials to put Army in spotlight

2009
Army holds hearing for soldier charged in 1985 murders

2010
Judge Delays Murder Trial For Recalled Soldier
Rochester native accused in N.C. triple murder
Why ‘exonerated’ needs to be used sparingly
Federal judge: Hennis court-martial can proceed
Soldier acquitted in 3 deaths faces military trial
Soldier acquitted in 3 deaths faces military trial
Hennis court-martial begins at Fort Bragg
Twenty-five years later, third trial begins in triple slaying
Hennis Trial Underway
Army presents its case in trial over 1985 killings
Hennis jury shown clothes of victims
Army expert: DNA from scene matches NC soldier
Friends, family testify for convicted NC soldier
Family testifies in Hennis sentencing
Military jury finds Hennis guilty of murder
Jury considers death for Hennis
Soldier Gets Death Sentence in Military Court after Civil Acquittal
Ex-Lakewood resident gets death in 1985 slayings
Soldier gets death sentence in 1985 Fayetteville triple slaying
Soldier sentenced to die for 1985 triple murder
For 2nd Time, Man Sentenced to Death for Murders
Prosecutor Emphasizes DNA in Hennis Closing
At 3rd Trial, Sergeant Guilty of 1985 Triple Murder
In 3rd Trial, Conviction in Murders From 1985
Military Jury Finds Hennis Guilty of Murder
Hennis found guilty of decades-old murders
Military Jury Convicts Soldier of Murder 20 Years After his Civilian Acquittal
Soldier’s family pleads for jury to spare his life
25 years later, widower recalls slain family
Father, daughter tell of pain 1985 triple murder caused
A murder conviction, but pain still felt
Tim Hennis case to be featured on 20/20

2011
NC soldier: SBI lab problems should mean new trial
Court-martial murder conviction appealed
Ex-Soldier Convicted Twice of Eastburn Triple Murder Appeals Again
Three Trials for Murder: In the name of justice, did the military sidestep double jeopardy?

2012
‘Unusual Suspects’: Military Man Convicted & Sentenced To Death Twice, Acquitted Once 
Court Rules Against Ex-Soldier in NC Triple Murder
Fort Bragg commander approves Timothy Hennis conviction, death sentence
An Execution Draws Closer
Timothy HENNIS, Petitioner–Appellant, v. Frank HEMLICK; Patrick Parrish, Colonel; Lloyd J. Austin, III, General; John McHugh, Honorable, Respondents–Appellees
Timothy Hennis v. Frank Hemlick et al. (US Court of Appeals)

2013
Nidal Hasan, and the 5 other men on the military’s death row

2014
Master sergeant on death row files new petition
Former Fort Bragg soldier again appeals conviction
Master sergeant on death row files new petition
What to Watch on Sunday: CNN’s ‘Death Row Stories’ looks at Hennis case in NC
Triple murder suspect goes from guilty to innocent and back to guilty
NC triple murder suspect goes from guilty to innocent and back to guilty

2015
10 Mysteries Resolved By Unbelievable Surprise Twists
CNN special with local attorney set for tonight
Timothy Hennis seeks relief in federal court; former Fort Bragg soldier questions Army’s jurisdiction in court-martial
Timothy Hennis case: Federal judge dismisses latest appeal
On military death row, execution is anything but guaranteed
Fair and Impartial? Military Jurisdiction and the Decision to Seek the Death Penalty
TIMOTHY B. HENNIS, Petitioner, v. ERICA NELSON, Commandant, USDB-Ft. Leavenworth, Respondent
Setting the Right Example: Removing the Military Death Penalty

2016
Eastburn Murders Expose a Loophole in the Law
Army court upholds death sentence of former Bragg soldier
Appeal by former Fort Bragg soldier who murdered mother and 2 daughters was rejected in military court
Timothy Hennis’ death sentence fits his gruesome crimes, court rules
Army CCA affirms death for Hennis
Army court upholds death sentence of former Bragg soldier
A look at the 6 inmates on US military death row

2017
Court-martialing retirees? ‘Fat Leonard’ cloud still looms for many current and former sailors
Hennis lawyers argue for more resources in murder appeal
Innocent Victims: The Horrific Eastburn Family Murders
The Eastburn Family Murders and The Three Trials of Staff Sergeant Tim Hennis
Army moves closer to first execution in 50 years; Ronald Gray on death row since 1988
Tim Hennis and the Eastburn Murders
Episode 3: The Case of Timothy Hennis | Death’s Door
The Many Trials of Tim Hennis
Episode 28: The Eastburn Family Murders | In Sight Pod
028 The Eastburn Family Murders | In Sight: A True Crime Podcast
United States v. Timothy Hennis | US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
US Appellee v. Timothy B. HENNIS, Master Sergeant, United States Army, Appellant | US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

Death Penalty Information Center:
Description of Cases for those Sentenced to Death in U.S. Military
Former Death Row Inmate Acquitted in One Court, Now Convicted in Another

Video Links:
3 People on Death Row Who May Be Innocent Part 2
Unusual Suspects: Mother’s Day Murders (Investigation Discovery)
20/20 on ID: Witness | Investigation Discovery
Death Row Stories: Hennis Trailer | CNN
I did the crime…you’re doin’ the time | Death Row Stories | CNN
Death penalty case’s ‘Perry Mason moment’ | Death Row Stories | CNN
Timothy Hennis Double Jeopardy | Death Row Stories | CNN
Timothy Hennis | Death Row Stories | Netflix
Innocent Victims | ABC Television Movie

Book:
Innocent Victims: The True Story of the Eastburn Family Murders (Google)
Innocent Victims: The True Story of the Eastburn Family Murders (Amazon)

Kathleen Hunt Found Deceased at Bottom of Stairs in NC Home; Spouse Michael Peterson Pleaded Guilty to Manslaughter to Avoid Second Trial (Dec. 9, 2001)

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Kathleen Hunt Peterson (December 9, 2001)

Kathleen Hunt Peterson was found deceased by her husband Michael Peterson at the bottom of the stairs in her Durham, North Carolina home. When investigators arrived at the home, they were suspicious because the scene did not appear to match Michael’s theory of what had occurred. Kathleen’s head had been bludgeoned with a blunt instrument. Once the prosecutors learned that Michael also found military widow Elizabeth Ratliff deceased at the bottom of her stairs in Germany, they felt this was not a coincidence. Michael Peterson and his wife at the time adopted Ratliff’s two daughters. Years later Peterson divorced his wife and eventually married Kathleen Hunt (Peterson). Sixteen years after Ratliff died, Kathleen was dead and it was in the same manner as Elizabeth Ratliff. Investigators decided that they needed to take a look at the Ratliff case again and exhumed her body. Peterson was never charged with the death of Elizabeth Ratliff and her two daughters stand behind their adopted father.

After an extensive investigation, Michael Peterson was charged with the first degree murder of his wife Kathleen Peterson. In 2003, Peterson was convicted of the first degree murder of Kathleen and sentenced to life in prison with no parole. Although a few years later in 2011 Michael Peterson was able to get a retrial on appeal. In the second trial, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2017, using an Alford Plea, and was freed from prison with time served after 8 years. Investigation Discovery (ID) featured a series called “An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase” that showcased the case details of both Elizabeth Ratliff and Kathleen Peterson. Michael Peterson maintains his innocence and his attorney’s theorized that an owl most likely caused the injuries on Kathleen’s head. Netflix is also featuring a series titled “The Staircase” and it is premiering on June 8, 2018. The ID docu-series left the viewer seriously questioning the actions of the courts after Peterson was released.


With the knowledge of the criminal evidence against him, Aphrodite Jones speaks with convicted murderer, Michael Peterson, about the murder of his wife and his bisexual affair. -True Crime with Aphrodite Jones

Related Links:
Novelist Accused In Wife’s Death
Finances continue to dominate novelist’s murder trial
Plea in wife’s staircase death lets man maintain innocence
Michael Peterson: Author charged in wife’s murder
Mike Peterson Found Guilty Of First-Degree Murder, Taken To Central Prison
Peterson Trial: Verdict: Guilty – Durham novelist sentenced to life term in wife’s death
N.C. appeals court grants new trial for Michael Peterson
A New Trial for Michael Peterson
Novelist Michael Peterson gets new trial
Wait continues for Peterson retrial; assistant DA would prosecute and Hudson again would preside
Mike Peterson seeks dismissal of murder charge in wife’s killing
Durham novelist Michael Peterson back in court for motions hearing
Michael Peterson asks gay porn evidence be kept out of retrial
Author in case covered by ‘Dateline’ wants gay porn kept out of new trial
Michael Peterson Will Plead Guilty to Manslaughter, But He Still Claims He Didn’t Do It
Attorney: NC novelist reaches plea deal in 2001 murder case
Writer accepts plea deal that allows him to maintain innocence in wife’s death
Mike Peterson walks free as 15-year murder case ends with plea deal
Plea in wife’s staircase death lets man maintain innocence
Wealthy novelist walks FREE despite being convicted of his wife’s manslaughter at a retrial because he has already spent eight years behind bars
After Fifteen Years, the Michael Peterson Case Concludes But Provides Little Closure
How Did Kathleen Peterson Die? Watch an Exclusive Clip from An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase
Closure in the death of Kathleen Peterson 16 years too late – Tom Gasparoli
The Final Answer to a 16-Year Murder Mystery: Did Noted Novelist Kill His Wife in Their Mansion?
Some People Blame Kathleen Peterson’s Death on Husband Mike Peterson, Others Blame It on an Owl
An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase Steps Up Kathleen Peterson Coverage
‘An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase’ Sneak Peek: Neighbor Says an Owl Killed Kathleen Peterson
Investigation Discovery Explores Death of Kathleen Peterson in An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase
Who was Kathleen Peterson, did her husband Michael Peterson kill her and what is the Staircase doc about?
Murder Most Fowl: Did An Owl Commit the Michael Peterson “Staircase Murder”?
‘Gallons’ Of Blood & Unsolved Murder: Inside Kathleen Hunt’s Grisly Crime Scene
Investigation Discovery’s ‘Staircase’ looks at the Michael Peterson case
‘An American Murder Mystery:’ Neighbor Says an Owl Killed Kathleen Peterson
The Staircase: A True Crime Documentary That Surprises Even After It Ends
Beyond Reasonable Doubt?: The story of Michael and Kathleen Peterson
The Staircase/Michael Peterson Owl Theory, Alford Pleas & A Stranglers Podcast Review
Novelist, whose conviction in wife’s death was overturned, says he’s innocent despite manslaughter plea
Bizarre Murder Theory: Was Kathleen Hunt Peterson Killed by Owls?
Did famous novelist Michael Peterson batter his ‘beloved’ wife to death with a poker in their luxury mansion?
‘The Staircase’ Revisits a Man Convicted of Murder
The Michael Peterson “Staircase Murder”: 5 Facts You Need to Know Now
Orlando Hudson, Jim Hardin open up on BBC’s Peterson case podcast
Where Is Michael Peterson In 2018? His Wife’s Death Has Fascinated True Crime Fans For Years
Where Are Michael Peterson’s Kids In 2018? ‘The Staircase’ Trial Caused A Rift In The Family
Coincidental Deaths? | CBS
Reversal of Fortune’, Part 1 | Dateline NBC
‘The Staircase’: Money, Sex and Secrets | ABC
Reversal of Fortune | An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase | ID
Lightning Strikes Twice | An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase | ID
I Whispered Her Name | An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase | ID
An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase | Investigation Discovery

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


Investigators are stunned to discover that sixteen years ago, Michael Peterson’s good friend Liz Ratliff also died at the bottom of a staircase, lying in a pool of blood. The trial begins and experts battle over the interpretation of blood spatter. -An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase

Military Widow Elizabeth Ratliff Found Deceased at the Bottom of Stairs in Germany; Michael Peterson Last Person to See Alive, Adopted Ratliff’s 2 Daughters (Nov. 25, 1985)

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Elizabeth Ratliff (November 25, 1985)

Elizabeth Ratliff was found deceased at the bottom of the stairs in her home in Germany on November 25, 1985 in an apparent accident. Elizabeth was a military widow who was raising two daughters on her own after her husband, an Army soldier, died in a training accident. Elizabeth was a teacher at an Air Force base in Germany where she met Marine veteran Michael Peterson‘s wife, also a teacher. They all quickly formed a friendship and Elizabeth and her two daughters spent a lot of time with the Petersons. It is believed that Peterson was the last person to see Elizabeth alive and after Elizabeth died, Michael Peterson and his wife adopted her two daughters. Initially Elizabeth’s death was deemed an accidental death but when Michael Peterson’s new wife Kathleen Hunt Peterson was found dead at the bottom of her stairs in their home in Durham, North Carolina, investigators gave Elizabeth’s death a second look. The district attorney ordered the exhumation of Elizabeth Ratliff in Texas in an effort to re-examine her body to determine cause of death. The medical examiner conducted an investigation in North Carolina and ruled that the cause of death was a homicidal assault despite the initial finding of cerebral hemorrhage due to an accident. Michael Peterson was never charged with the homicide of Elizabeth Ratliff. As a side note, the two deceased women not only died in a similar fashion but they looked eerily alike.


With the knowledge of the criminal evidence against him, Aphrodite Jones speaks with convicted murderer, Michael Peterson, about the murder of his wife and his bisexual affair. -True Crime with Aphrodite Jones

Related Links:

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


Investigators are stunned to discover that sixteen years ago, Michael Peterson’s good friend Liz Ratliff also died at the bottom of a staircase, lying in a pool of blood. The trial begins and experts battle over the interpretation of blood spatter. -An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase