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: Tony Moore and Roland Younce (April 14, 2014)


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. -Fear Thy Neighbor, Investigation Discovery

“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

Roland Younce was shot and killed by police officers on May 27, 2009 in Lenoir, North Carolina. Tony Moore, his daughter, and two Caldwell County Sheriffs deputies were also shot during the deadly neighborhood dispute, but they lived.

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)


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. -Fear Thy Neighbor, Investigation Discovery

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