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

May 2018

Missing:
Family pleads for missing soldier battling PTSD to come home
Vets group calls for ‘CAMO Alert’
What really happened to Middlebrook’s Sgt. Gene Shultz?
Missing: Michael VanZandt (Hermosa Beach Police Department – 310-318-0308)
Missing in Hermosa Beach: What happened to Mike VanZandt?
He Left to Go to the Bathroom and Never Came Back: Where is Michael Vanzandt?
Missing: Trevor Nichols (US Army), New York
Soldier receives orders to Fort Riley, goes AWOL
Disappeared: Air Force Veteran Michael Vanzandt Vanishes During a Night Out with Friends in Hermosa Beach, California (March 5, 2016)
Jean-Marc Faubert has been missing since the early morning of Friday, May 25th

Cold Cases:
Georgia Marine’s murder in Belize remains unsolved one year later
No arrests made 3 years after soldier’s murder
New Hampshire unsolved case file: David and Deborah Carreau
Warwick murder case still unsolved, reward offered 5 years later
Cold Case: Army Spc. Darlene Krashoc Sexually Assaulted, Murdered, and Dumped in Parking Lot in Colorado Springs; CID Offers $10,000 Reward (1987)

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

Petitions:
Presidential Pardon Petition | Free Lt. Clint Lorance
Fire Iron River, Michigan City Manager David Thayer For Firing Police Chief Laura Frizzo!

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Oxygen Premiered ‘Notorious: Kristen Gilbert’ on Snapped (May 13, 2018)


Notorious: Kristen Gilbert (Snapped)

Related Links:

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Kristen Gilbert

Oxygen Premiered ‘Snapped: Joanna McElrath’ (2018)


Rob McElrath was in his pajamas, left his badge, and his gun was missing. This was not normal for Rob. -Snapped, Oxygen

Related Links:
Snapped: Joanna McElrath | Oxygen
Snapped: Preview – Joanna McElrath (Season 23, Episode 7) | Oxygen
Snapped: Preview – Is Alan Working Today? (Season 23, Episode 7) | Oxygen
Snapped: Bonus Clip – Joanna was Evil (Season 23, Episode 7) | Oxygen
Snapped: Bonus Clip – Remembering Rob (Season 23, Episode 7) | Oxygen
Snapped: Bonus Clip – A Loving Community (Season 23, Episode 7) | Oxygen
Joanna McElrath Sentenced to Prison Term of 25 to Life
Lassen woman sentenced to 25 years to life for murder of police-officer husband
James Pleads Guilty to McElrath Slaying: Facing 25 Years to Life in Prison

Snapped Published ‘Stalking is Serious’ on Oxygen Media: Navy Veterans Vegas Bray & Victor Saucedo (May 14, 2017)


Vegas Bray is convicted of murder and sentenced 50 years to life in prison. A friend of Vegas’s, Kevin Oseguera says “the monster inside of her” shot Victor, not his friend. -Snapped on Oxygen

Related Links:
Navy Veteran Victor Saucedo Shot and Killed in Home by Ex-Girlfriend; Navy Veteran Vegas Bray Sentenced to 50 Years to Life in Prison (2012)
Sgt. Bill Coffin Murdered Ex-Fiancee After Civilian Courts Issued Protective Order, Judge Alleges Army Routinely Ignores Court Orders (1997)
National Stalking Resource Center

Fort Carson Army Soldier Branden Harms Pleaded Guilty to Child Abuse Resulting in Death; Faced 40-48 Years in Prison at Sentencing (2016)

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Branden Harms, US Army

Fort Carson soldier Branden Harms, 28, admitted to raising his hand against 4-month-old Ava Bermudez inflicting injuries severe enough to kill her on April 18, 2016. Harms was entrusted to care for his girlfriend’s newborn daughter. Investigators say the injuries were inflicted while the child’s mother, also his live-in girlfriend, Jessica Bermudez, went out with a friend. Harms was arrested by the Fountain Police on April 19, 2016. Branden Harms pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and also admitted to withholding medical care. He faced 40-48 years in prison at sentencing on May 16, 2017.

Taking a deep breath in court, Harms described how he “almost saw black” and then began to “excessively spank her. Sometime after that, I began to choke her,” he said. “Further after that, when I was putting her in her crib, I wasn’t gentle.” The former soldier suggested that he threw the girl into her crib with enough force to split its wooden bottom, sending the infant to the floor beneath. “After that,” he added, “I kind of snapped to, and it was too late.” –Colorado Gazette

Related Links:
Fountain man accused of murdering 4-month-old baby
Arrest made following death of 4-month-old
Fort Carson soldier arrested for death of 4-month-old
Fort Carson soldier charged in death of 4-month-old girl
Fort Carson soldier charged in death of 4-month-old girl
Fort Carson infantry scout jailed in connection with child’s death
New Information About Man Arrested For 4-Month-Old’s Death
Soldier to face trial in beating death of 4-month-old girl in Fountain
Fort Carson soldier acknowledges killing infant girl
Fort Carson soldier acknowledges killing infant girl
Ex-Fort Carson soldier admits to baby’s fatal injuries
Former Fort Carson soldier, Branden Harms, acknowledges killing infant girl
Man accused of killing infant pleads guilty
Violent Crime, Suicide and Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, Colorado (US Army)

Deadly Women Premiered ‘Murder for Me’ on Investigation Discovery: Monique & Paul Berkley (October 23, 2015)


Some women like others to do their dirty work. A drama queen brings her love triangle to a permanent end; an intimate betrayal turns friends into deadly foes; and a loose woman will do anything to protect her freedom. -Murder for Me, Deadly Women

Navy Reservist Paul Berkley was murdered by his wife, Monique Wallace Berkley, her teenage lover, and his friend in Raleigh, North Carolina 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.

“Paul Berkley survived his deployment in the Middle East without any injury, but he couldn’t survive one week with his wife Monique.” -Profiler Candice DeLong, Deadly Women

MJFA Link: Navy Reservist Paul Berkley Murdered by Wife Monique in North Carolina while Home on Leave from Middle East, SGLI was the Motive (December 18, 2005)

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 military wife is caught in deadly love triangle. -Monique Berkley, Snapped (Oxygen)


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. -Rules of Engagement, Deadly Women

Related Links:
Rapist on the Loose; Police Investigate Murder of Navy Reservist
Slain sailor’s knowledge, skills lauded at Bahrain memorial service
Wife, Teen Lover Held in Slaying of Sailor
Tampa Native Accused in Husband’s Slaying
Wife Charged In Reservist’s Murder
Wife, her teen lover charged with killing husband in park
Reservist Slain Allegedly by Wife and Teen Lover
Berkley frantic on 911 tape
Bizarre Murder Case Raises New Blogging Issues
Wife Of Murdered Navy Reservist Gets Life
Wife of murdered reservist gets life
Wife in Fatal Love Triangle Admits Guilt, Gets Life Sentence
Man Appeals Sentence in Naval Reservist’s Slaying
Murder of SP native takes new turn with appeal filed by one defendant
Home From Iraq and Dead Within Days
Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance is a Common Motive for Murder
Navy Reservist Murdered by Cheating Wife’s Teen-age Lover
Scorned: Love Kills “Rules of Engagement” (Investigation Discovery)
Snapped “Monique Berkley” (Oxygen Media)
Deadly Women “Murder for Me” (Investigation Discovery)

Army Spouse Dana Mackay Found Murdered in Virginia Home; SSG John Mackay, Nicole Houchin, Nace Houchin, & Greg Crawford Confessed to Crime (2013)

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Dana Mackay, Army Spouse, Virginia

Army spouse Dana Mackay, 42, was found murdered in her Williamsburg home in Virginia on July 27, 2013. The intruders entered Dana’s home and snuck into her bedroom in the middle of the night; she was bludgeoned to death by a blunt instrument in the midst of sleeping. She died from multiple blunt force trauma. A concerned neighbor found Dana nude on the floor next to her bed; there was blood everywhere. Initially investigators thought the homicide occurred after a sexual assault. But after further investigation, authorities would learn that Dana’s husband, John Mackay, 45, and his lover, Nicole Houchin, 37, planned the murder because Dana didn’t want a divorce. John admitted to investigators that he wanted a divorce from Dana but she refused and threatened to report his affair to his commanding officer if he didn’t stop. John was a Staff Sergeant (SSG) stationed at Fort Eustis in Virginia and adultery was a crime punishable by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). John did not want to risk his long standing career and apparently wanted to be with Nicole Houchin, not Dana.

John and Nicole elicited the help of Nicole’s Army husband, Nace Houchin, 35, who was also stationed at Fort Eustis, and Gregory Crawford who worked with John and Nicole at an Auto-Zone store in Williamsburg, Virginia. John Mackay promised both Nace Houchin and Gregory Crawford twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) if they would kill Dana. Did John expect a hefty pay-out from a life insurance plan on his wife? Did John promise to pay the deadly duo as soon as the money hit his bank account? John wanted the easy way out so he could be with Nicole. Dana Mackay didn’t want a divorce from John; she wanted to save the four year marriage. And although Dana innocently threatened to report John’s adulterous affair to his commander, how was she to know that it would be a motive for murder? John Mackay wanted to save his career and be with his new girlfriend. John Mackay, Nicole Houchin, and Nace Houchin confessed to the crime and pleaded guilty to first degree murder. All three were sentenced to life in prison. Gregory Crawford confessed to the crime and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit capital murder; he was sentenced to 20 years in prison with three years suspended (17).

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John Mackay, Nicole Houchin (Top); Nace Houchin, Gregory Crawford (Bottom) Photo Courtesy of WAVY.com

Related Links:
Justice for Dana
Woman, 42, found dead inside Williamsburg home
Va. sergeant confesses to Army wife’s murder plot
Staff sergeant didn’t think military mistress would murder wife
Fort Eustis soldier confesses to plotting with mistress to murder wife
Williamsburg man, girlfriend arrested in wife’s death
New details released in deadly love triangle case
Full jailhouse interview with husband charged in wife’s murder
Third person charged in Williamsburg woman’s death
Fourth suspect arrested in murder-for-hire case
Cheating Wife Hires Own Husband To Kill Her Lover’s Spouse
Dates set for Patterson murder trial in Virginia
Fort Eustis soldier, mistress plead guilty to wife’s 2013 murder
Ex-soldier Nace Houchin pleads guilty to 2013 slaying of Dana Mackay
Three plead guilty in JCC murder-for-hire plot
Third Man Pleads Guilty in Seasons Trace Murder-For-Hire Scheme
Fourth Man Pleads Guilty in Seasons Trace Murder-for-Hire Scheme
Four sentenced in murder for hire plot
4 sentenced in James City County murder-for-hire case
Four sentenced in JCC murder-for-hire of Dana Mackay
Analysis of a murder suspect
Trial Tracker with Pat LaLama: Seven Deadly Sins Edition
Nicole Houchin and John Mackay | Snapped: Killer Couples (Oxygen)
Nicole Houchin and John Mackay | Snapped: Killer Couples, Season 6 (Amazon)
Sick and Twisted | Married with Secrets (ID on web)
Sick and Twisted | Married with Secrets (ID on YouTube)


Dana MacKay is found viciously beaten to death while her husband is out of town. One suspect comes to mind: a woman who’s been stalking Dana for the last month. But it will take a cellphone with X-rated text messages to unravel this mystery. -Married with Secrets

Army Veteran Samuel Wiggins Jr. Stabbed to Death by Live-In Girlfriend; Carmen Montelongo Found Guilty & Sentenced to 26 Years to Life in Prison (May 29, 2011)

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Samuel Wiggins, Jr., US Army Veteran

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.

Oxygen Media:

Oxygen App: A mysterious disappearance leads police to a woman pushing a trash can full of body parts down the street. -Carmen Montelongo, Snapped (S16, E4)

Investigation Discovery:

ID Go: With hearts of stone, these Deadly Women give their men special send-offs when “Love Leaves Town.” -Love Leaves Town, Deadly Women (S10, E12)

Related Links:
Man Found in Trash Can Likely Died of Multiple Stab Wounds
Authorities say woman stabbed Diamond Bar man to death before dismembering him
Nephew: Victim in dismemberment killing a `very loving man’
Human Remains Found In Trash Can Belong to Diamond Bar Man
Diamond Bar Home Suspected Scene of Trash Can Remains Murder
Kids of Woman Arrested with Body Parts Also Held
California trash can body suspect’s 2 kids arrested
Son and daughter of woman who wheeled around body parts in Ontario are arrested
Murder suspect is due in court
Woman in Trash-Can Murder Appears in Court
Murder victim’s remains found in trash can and flower pots
Carmen Montelongo, Grandmother Accused of Carting Body Parts in Trash Can, Allegedly Buried Other Remains in L.A. County
DA: Money possible motive in trash can body case
Woman: Dismemberment killing was revenge for rape
Hearing for grandmother accused of murder, dismemberment postponed
Carmen Montelongo to face jury in dismemberment in Ontario case
Ontario dismemberment suspect’s pretrial hearing pushed back
Judge grants mistrial in Ontario killing, dismembering case
Girlfriend sentenced for Calif. man’s ‘heinous’ stabbing death
Woman found with ex-boyfriend’s body parts convicted of murder
ONTARIO: Riverside woman sentenced in dismemberment murder
Carmen Montelongo, Woman Who Hid Boyfriend’s Body Parts In Flower Pots, Sentenced
Riverside Woman Who Stabbed Boyfriend 24 Times Then Dismembered Him Is Sentenced: DA
Woman sentenced to 26 years to life for stabbing boyfriend to death, dismembering his body and burying remains in potted plants
Prison for woman who dismembered boyfriend, hiding parts in potted plants
Carmen Montelongo, Samuel Wiggins: ‘Snapped’ Details Case of Boyfriend’s Dismembered Body Parts Found in Flower Pots, Trash
Police Confront Carmen Montenegro Toting Body in Trashcan
Love Leaves Town | Deadly Women | Investigation Discovery (S10, E12)
Watch Carmen Montelongo | Snapped | Oxygen (S16, E4)
Carmen Montelongo | Snapped | Oxygen (S16, E4)