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)

Evil Lives Here Premiered ‘She Made Me Do It’ on Investigation Discovery: Teenager Eric Witte Kills Abusive Father Paul Witte for Mother Hilma Marie Witte (January 9, 2017)

Preview: Growing up, Eric Witte’s father taught him to protect his family. But when his father became increasingly violent, Eric realised that his father was the evil his family needed protection from. -She Made Me Do It, Evil Lives Here (S2, E2)

Eric Witte was 15 years old when he shot and killed his father Paul Witte while he lay sleeping on the couch. His mother Hilma had been poisoning him for years but her plan was not working so she elicited the help of her oldest son Eric to kill him. Although Eric has good memories of his father, he also has scars from the regular physical abuse he received if he made the slightest mistake. It wasn’t hard to convince Eric to kill his father so he could make the physical abuse stop. Eric and his mother Hilma were able to convince the police that it was an accident and they all went about their lives. Then Eric noticed that Hilma was poisoning his grandmother Elaine Witt as well.

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Eric Witte, US Navy

Eric wanted no part in her murderous plans so he joined the US Navy to escape his mother’s relentless pressure to kill. Eric thought that if he left, she would have no one to kill Elaine. But Hilma pressured her youngest son John to kill Elaine instead. John shot her with a crossbow and then they dismembered her body and put it in a refrigerator. Elaine and John then asked Eric to come home from the Navy to help them deal with the body. Eric wanted no part in his mother’s plan and left to go back to San Diego, California where he was stationed. Unbeknownst to him, his mother put his grandmother’s dismembered body in his vehicle and he didn’t notice until it was too late. He panicked and brought the body to California and put it in a storage locker.

It wasn’t long before other’s demanded to know where Elaine was. Hilma panicked and drove from Indiana to California to seek out Eric’s help. Eric left with his family and went Absent Without Leave (AWOL) so they could figure it out together. Eric was taught as a child to always protect his family and it was natural for him to do it again. In a bizarre twist, Hilma was arrested for forging Elaine’s signature on a social security check she stole from her. It was this arrest and investigation that led to the stories behind both murders. John and Eric admitted to investigators that their mother manipulated and pressured them to kill their father and grandmother. Hilma Witte was convicted and sentenced to 90 years in prison for murder. John and Eric Witte were given 20 and five year sentences for their roles and were released in 1996.

Source: She Made Me Do It, Evil Lives Here

Full Episode: Hilma Marie Witte Documentary – Female Killers | Mommy’s Little Helpers | Deadly Women (S6, E15)

The mother-son relationship is a dynamic one. Mothers are role models, teaching self-worth, respect, and the value of healthy relationships. But these Deadly Women teach their sons to hate and kill when they enlist the support of ‘Mommy’s Little Helpers’. -Mommy’s Little Helpers, Deadly Women (S6, E15)

“As a boy, Eric Witte’s father taught him to protect his family. But as his father grows increasingly violent, Eric realizes that he is the evil his family needs protection from.” -She Made Me Do It, Evil Lives Here (S2, E2)

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:
Double Murder: A Family Affair?
Woman Charged in Crossbow Death Appears in Shooting Case
Family Plot Police Say Wife Had Sons Kill Husband, Mom-in-law
Mother Told Me To Murder Grandmother, Boy Tells Jury
Hilma Witte v State of Indiana (1987)
Hilma Witte v State of Indiana (1990)
Woman convicted for role in murders seeks early release
Murder conspirator to remain in prison
Witte Denied Modified Sentence
A teenage boy murders his father
This Day in History: Paul Witte murder 9/1/1981 Michigan City, IN
‘Deadly Woman’: Mother Manipulated Sons Into Killing Their Family Members
Hilma Marie Witte Documentary | Female Killers (YouTube)
‘Mommy’s Little Helpers’ | Deadly Women | Investigation Discovery (S6, E15)
Eric Witte | Evil Lives Here | Investigation Discovery UK
She Made Me Do It | Evil Lives Here | Investigation Discovery (S2, E2)
Eric Witte Manipulated by Mother Hilma Marie Witte to Murder Abusive Father at Age Fifteen; Joined Navy to Prevent Grandmother Elaine Witte from Dying (September 1, 1981)

Fear Thy Neighbor Premiered ‘Lies, Lawns & Murder’ on Investigation Discovery: Roland Younce was Fatally Shot by Cops After Wounding Four People (April 14, 2014)

Preview: In the rolling hills of Lenoir, North Carolina, retired Vietnam veteran Roland Younce sells off a patch of his land to Tony Moore and his young family to build their forever home on. Unfortunately, things turn ugly. -Lies, Lawns & Murder, Fear Thy Neighbor (S1, E1)

“Roland Younce, 63, of Caldwell County, North Carolina, allowed his pit bull to roam free in the small rural neighborhood. This decision would prove to have deadly consequences. In January 2008, Younce’s pit bull bit the two young daughters of his 44-year-old neighbor, Tony Moore. As a result, Moore sued Younce for the cost of the medical bills. The judge ruled in Younce’s favor and dismissed the lawsuit. This caused an 18-month feud between the two men. They called the police on each other over frivolous actions and filed several lawsuits against each other.”

Read more at Listverse: 10 Disturbing Cases of Neighbors from Hell

Tony and Amy Moore and their two daughters moved into a new home in Lenoir, North Carolina in 2007. Tony and Amy bought their home from Roland Younce, a Vietnam veteran in his 60s, and also their neighbor. Roland was a single man with a dog he considered family and his daughter and her husband lived with him. Tony survived a tragedy and lost one of his legs in a vehicle accident. As a result, Tony stayed home with the girls and Amy worked full-time to support the family. Tony depended on his 4-wheeler to get around the property. Tony and Amy loved their new home and appreciated all their kind neighbors. They all depended on one another to make it work. At first the Moores were friendly with Roland Younce. The neighbors would occasionally BBQ together but they noticed Roland didn’t leave his home very much. Roland’s daughter Alicia on the other hand was a breath of fresh air. She played with the girls and they had a lot of fun. One day, Alicia invited the two girls over to her home to check out her movie collection. The girls stayed on the porch while Alicia went inside Roland’s home to retrieve the movies. One of the girls admitted to opening the door and Roland’s dog Harley lunged towards them and began biting both of them. They were seriously hurt with puncture wounds and had to be taken to the hospital. Roland agreed to pay the hospital bills.

As the hospital bills started rolling in, Tony brought them over to Roland and Roland paid for the first bill he received. Meanwhile, the kids got back to playing and having fun in their backyard. According to Alicia, Tony brought Roland another hospital bill that was for the exact amount as the first one. Roland thought Tony was trying to get him to pay the same bill twice so he refused to pay it. Tony and Amy didn’t feel they should have to pay for any of the bills so Tony filed a judgement against Roland in civil court. Things only got worse when the court sided with Roland on the matter. Nevertheless, Roland asked his son-in-law to tell Tony he would pay $20 a month until it was paid off. Apparently, Tony said no to the offer and demanded all of it. This was when everything went to hell and the tension continued to simmer between the once friendly neighbors. At this point, the friendship was dead so Tony built a property border using some trees to help create more privacy. Roland didn’t like it because he felt they were getting too close to his property line. One day, Tony discovered his disability checks stopped showing up in the mail. He immediately suspected Roland of taking them from the mailbox but he couldn’t prove it. So in retaliation, he would get on his ATV, drive around the property, and make a bunch of noise.

The ATV noise annoyed Roland because he wanted peace and quiet at his home. Tony was on his ATV almost everyday and the blaring engine was getting on Roland’s last nerves. Alicia said Roland was triggered by the noise and he would have flashbacks from his time in the Vietnam war. His dog Harley helped comfort him but both sides were gearing up for combat and no one was backing down. Tony’s disability checks still hadn’t shown up so he asked Roland about it. Of course, Roland denied having any information about the missing checks. Then Roland started bringing his dog outside in what felt like an intimidation tactic to scare the Moore family. And not only was the Moore’s mail disappearing but some trees they planted on their property were missing too. The Moores put up a surveillance camera to see if they could catch the person who was removing the trees from their property. The video captured what looked like Roland Younce’s figure so they took it to the police. But the video wasn’t clear enough for the police to take action. They needed concrete evidence before they could do anything about it. Then one day, Roland went to his mailbox to get the mail only to discover it had been glued shut. He was not able to get the key in the keyhole to open the mailbox. Roland called the police department but they told him the same thing. If he didn’t see Tony do it then their hands were tied.

The police were frustrated by now because they were unable to get these two neighbors to settle down. It appeared both of them wanted to keep things going. Then in another act of intimidation, Roland would take his dog out when Tony’s two daughters came home from school. They were scared to get off the bus knowing the dog had hurt them in the past. Roland would allow the dog to lunge at them and then pull him back. They literally felt terrorized by Roland and the dog. In response, Tony threatened to kill the dog if the intimidation continued. Roland loved his dog and was deeply attached. Roland’s daughter Alicia felt like Tony was the one pushing buttons. Roland expressed concerned to Alicia and her husband that he was going to explode one day. Just months after Tony and Amy Moore bought their new home, they were locked in a war with their neighbor Roland Younce. In another act of aggression, Tony was out on his ATV one day with his daughters and ran over a board with nails in it. It flew up and hit the back of the ATV. Tony was furious because the nails could have seriously injured one of the girls. Tony reported the incident and once again because Tony didn’t see Roland put it there, there was nothing they could do. The Moore family felt isolated and alone in their battle with Roland because no one could help them. They thought Roland could do whatever he liked with no consequences.

Most thought Tony would back down for the sake of his kids but that’s not how things went down. Tony didn’t like feeling like a prisoner in his own home. The police tried to give them advice but neither side would budge. Then one day, the kids went outside and noticed someone had thrown logs in their yard. They alerted their father and all three of them threw the logs back on Roland’s property. Tony and the girls were caught red handed so Roland and his family started throwing the logs back on Tony’s property. Then Roland’s son-in-law Ricky threw a log that almost hit one of the girls. As a result, Tony pulled out a gun and threatened Ricky. He said if he hurt his daughters, he would shoot him. Ricky didn’t back down and told Tony to shoot him because he wasn’t scared. Tony indeed shot near them so Ricky threw a log at him and it hit and injured Tony. The police were called and Roland and Ricky got arrested for assault on a handicap person and a child. Ricky understood why the police arrested him but he didn’t understand why they arrested Roland. Roland didn’t have anything to do with this incident. It also seemed strange that Roland went to jail but Tony didn’t. Apparently, Tony didn’t get arrested because he was in a wheelchair. The two were jailed with no bond and couldn’t get anyone to help them. It took two weeks for Roland and Ricky to get out of jail and both came home with a new level of anger.

Ricky admitted he wanted to hurt people and eliminate the threat. And each time Roland was arrested, it just made him madder and madder. One day Roland threatened to kill Tony so Tony called 911 and the police suggested he leave the home. Roland blocked him in his driveway with his truck and Tony felt trapped. So he made the decision to back up anyways in an attempt to get out of the driveway and wrecked Roland’s truck. After this, Alicia and Ricky moved out of Roland’s home because the whole thing got to be too much and the situation was escalating. Alicia said Roland felt abandoned and the neighborhood feud with Tony continued. Both men were armed and dangerous. Tony felt like Roland was waiting for a confrontation and as a result Tony was always armed. Roland was pushing Tony’s limits too. The two just didn’t like one another. One day Amy left for an overnight trip with work. She said she hated leaving her family because she couldn’t make sure everything was okay at home. On May 27, 2009, Tony heard something on the back porch and when he looked to see what was going on, he was facing Roland’s angry dog at his door. In response, Tony shot the dog. Roland heard the shot and immediately went looking for his dog. Roland threatened Tony and told him if he shot his dog, he was going to kill him. Amy was in Springfield, Missouri (over 1000+ miles away) when she received a phone call from Tony who told her he shot the dog.

Amy knew right away this was not good because Tony took Roland’s best friend away from him. She knew things were fixing to get really bad. Roland called the police to report that Tony shot his dog and he begged the police to get to the scene as quickly as possible because he was going to kill Tony. Tony had called the police as well. When the police arrived at the scene, they didn’t observe anything unusual initially. When the Moores realized the police were there, they started coming out of the home and immediately they all heard gunfire. Roland was shooting at them with a rifle and Tony and one of the girls had been shot. They ran back into their home. Unbeknownst to them, one of the police officers had been shot as well. Roland continued shooting through the windows of Tony’s home. More police were dispatched to the scene. The unharmed daughter contacted her mom and told her what happened. Amy Moore told her to call the police because Roland was still at large. Once the additional officers arrived at the scene, they immediately started treating the officer who had been shot. Dispatch informed the police that Tony and one of the girls had been shot as well and needed their help. The police decided to chance it so they could get to Tony and Ashley. They did not know where Roland was but time was ticking because Tony and his daughter were losing blood. The police decided to use the car as a shield so they could get to them.

The police went towards the home and Tony’s daughter summoned them from the garage. Roland started shooting at them again and this time he hit another police officer. The police shot back in the dark until all of a sudden the shooting stopped. The Police rescued Tony and his girls and took them to the hospital. Amy Moore got emergency flights back to North Carolina so she could get home to her family. Alicia headed to her father’s place after she heard about the chaos only to learn that her dad had been killed in an officer involved shooting. The police didn’t want to kill Roland but had no choice. The next day, Alicia and Ricky went to Roland’s home to see if they could figure out what happened. They found the dog certificate torn up and could see where he cried on those pieces of paper. Roland was devastated by the loss of his dog and he decided to take justice into his own hands. All those injured on the scene lived but they were seriously harmed with lasting impacts. One of the police officers lost his career because of the injuries. And after about a year on the job, the other injured police officer realized he just couldn’t do the work anymore. This one night of violence impacted all involved. It was traumatizing, preventable, and tragic that anyone had to lose their life because they couldn’t work out their differences.

Source: ‘Lies, Lawns & Murder’ Fear Thy Neighbor

ID Go: In North Carolina, a retired Vietnam veteran sells off a piece of his land to a young family. No one can predict the modern day Hatfield McCoy neighbor feud that will ensue and the midnight shootout that will end it. -Lies, Lawns & Murder, Fear Thy Neighbor (S1, E1)

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:
5 shot in Caldwell County
Shooting Over Dog Ended With Four Injured, One Dead
Deadly feud: Gunman dead, 4 others shot in dispute over dog in Caldwell County
10 Disturbing Cases Of Neighbors From Hell
Fear Thy Neighbor’: A Grown Man Putting Children in Harm’s Way?
A Grown Man Putting Children in Harm’s Way? | Fear Thy Neighbor (website)
A Grown Man Putting Children in Harm’s Way? | Fear Thy Neighbor (YouTube)
Lies, Lawns & Murder | Fear Thy Neighbor | Investigation Discovery (YouTube)

Phonthip Ott Discovered Dead in California River; Spouse Dennis Ott, US Coast Guard, Convicted of Murder and Sentenced to Life in Prison (1992)

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Petty Office Dennis Ott, US Coast Guard, and Phonthip Boonack Ott (photo: 48 Hours)

Phonthip (Boonack) Ott, 33, disappeared from her home in California on May 17, 1992. A couple months later, Phonthip Ott’s dead body was discovered in the Sacramento River near Sacramento. Phonthips body was stuffed in a large nylon duffle bag about 5 feet tall. It was held down with H-shaped cement anchors. The day their mother disappeared, Phonthip’s daughters, Tippy Dhaliwal, 14, and Jeanette Marine, 10, spent the day with their grandparents. Upon their return home, the two girls sensed something was wrong when their mother wasn’t home and immediately suspected their stepfather of killing her. Dennis Ott was an active duty petty officer in the U.S. Coast Guard and his relationship with Phonthip was tumultuous. There was interpersonal violence and adultery on both sides but it appears the domestic violence escalated with Dennis; he was jealous and possessive of Phonthip and didn’t like that she was having affairs. At one point in the relationship, Dennis threatened her life and this is when Phonthip decided to file for a restraining order and a divorce. It would be this same day, May 17th, that Phonthip would disappear.

At first, it appeared Dennis Ott was not going to be held accountable as he continued to go to work at the Coast Guard station day after day. Then one day, a 16 year old Tippy, wrote a letter to the district attorney and the Coast Guard about her mother’s case. It would be this letter that reinvigorated interest in the homicide case and after further investigation, Ott was arrested in November 1994. The duffel bag found at the crime scene was issued to Coast Guard personnel only. The H-shaped cement anchors at the crime scene matched those found in Ott’s backyard. And there appeared to be a history of escalating domestic violence that ended in murder because Phonthip wanted to leave him (rejection). In 1995, Dennis Ott was convicted and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The two sisters hope Dennis Ott remains in prison for the rest of his life and plan to attend all the parole hearings in the future. After 20 years in prison, Dennis was eligible for parole in California. His first parole hearing was denied because the parole board felt he was too evasive and wouldn’t admit culpability.

Dennis Ott has always maintained his innocence and continues to say he did not kill his wife. Dennis Ott is up for a parole hearing again in October 2017, only two years after his last parole hearing. Both sisters share that every parole hearing re-victimizes them because they have to re-live the traumatic events of the day they lost their mother.

“I don’t believe I will be a danger to society.” -Dennis Ott

Related Links:
48 Hours Premiered ‘Crime & Punishment on CBS (2017)
Calif. sisters fight to keep mother’s killer behind bars
“48 Hours” preview: Crime and punishment
48 Hours: Remembering Phonthip Ott
48 Hours: Sheriff zeroes in on a murder suspect
48 Hours: The possibility of parole
48 Hours: Murder victim’s daughters share their emotional journey
The possibility of parole: “48 Hours” examines life after a murder verdict
Phonthip Ott Murder: Crime and Punishment
Scoop: 48 HOURS on CBS – Saturday, January 7, 2017
California Sisters: Keep our mom’s killer behind bars!
Phonthip Boonack, Dennis Ott: ’48 Hours’ Reels In Case Of Missing Mother Found Dead in California River
‘He deserves to rot in prison’: Sisters fight to keep their mother’s killer behind bars as he comes up for parole 25 years after the victim’s body was pulled from a river in a weighted duffel bag
Sisters receive award for courage after mom’s death


A stepfather sits in prison for killing his wife. Her daughters vow to keep him there. Does he deserve parole? -48 Hours