Kidnapping and murder in Texas

Richard Ford mugshot
Richard Ford – Hidalgo County S.O. mugshot

Another story of senseless murder, this time from the Lone Star State.

A Texas mother of three was reportedly found dead over the weekend after her ex-husband allegedly shoved her into an SUV.

Melissa Banda, 37, was allegedly kidnapped Thursday by Richard Ford, 40, and her body was found in a rural area of Hidalgo County one day later, KRGV reported.

Ford was arrested late Thursday after witnesses reported seeing him force his wife into the vehicle. On Saturday, he was charged with aggravated kidnapping.

The victim had an order of protection against her ex-husband. Sadly, an order of protection only work if the subject of the order is willing to obey it.

Ford has had previous run-ins with the law. He has arrests for prior assaults and a 2002 conviction for attempted murder. The attempted murder conviction put him in prison for eight years.

Melissa Banda left behind three children, who are 6, 10 and 12 years old.

Richard Ford is being held in the Hidalgo County jail. Bond is set at $2.5 million.

Aqueduct Heist

Cash Robbery

Two robbers wearing surgical masks robbed the Aqueduct race track in Queens, NY on Saturday night. The heist netted the thieves over a quarter million dollars. In a totally predictable twist, police are looking at the possibility of it being an inside job.

An employee at Aqueduct says a weekend heist was an inside job, telling The Post that the robbers knew exactly where to be to pull off their $250k racetrack robbery.

The money was stolen Saturday night while being transported — by unarmed guards — from an office on the third floor where the cash is counted to a vault in the basement, the employee, who preferred to remain anonymous, told The Post.

After leaving the counting room, the guards cross a catwalk, then walk to an elevator that leads to the vault, the employee said, and that’s exactly where the crooks made their move.

The robbers knew the guards would be unarmed. They knew where to strike, and they knew when. Definitely has that inside job smell to it. I’m sure the  police are already digging into the backgrounds of the track’s employees. And former employees.

Using the surgical masks was pretty clever. The coronavirus panic has made those a pretty common sight.  Of course the real test of how smart these guys are is whether they get away with it. I’m inclined to believe they won’t. Only time will tell.

Murder in Idaho

Lori Isenberg mugshot
Lori Isenberg – Kootenai County S.O. mugshot

Larry Isenberg, of Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, died on February 13, 2018. According to his wife, Lori, they were on an early morning boat ride on Lake Coeur D’Alene when their boat stalled. Larry was attempting to solve the problem when he fell into the water and drown. Larry’s body was recovered in March 2018.

As it turns out, Lori Isenberg’s story may not have been entirely true.

Two years after the death of her husband on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Lori Isenberg has been charged with his murder.

Search crews recovered the body of Larry Isenberg, 68, in March 2018, a month after he fell into the water during a morning boat ride.

Lori Isenberg, 66, is accused of planning to kill her husband by intentionally creating the situation in which he was submerged in the lake and died, according to court documents.

She was booked into the Kootenai County Jail on Monday night on suspicion of first-degree murder with a $2 million bond.

Isenberg’s charges also cite poison, lying in wait or torture as potential factors in the killing. Larry Isenberg’s body contained lethal levels of Benadryl, according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Just coincidentally, at the time of Larry’s death, Lori was under investigation for embezzling half a million dollars from the nonprofit where she formerly worked.

In another coincidence, recent handwritten changes were found to Larry’s will. The new version gave 20% of his estate to his daughters. The rest went to Lori’s daughters from a previous relationship.

Lori is currently in custody in the Kootenai County Jail. Her bail is set at $2 million.

Hide and don’t seek – Murder in Florida

Sarah Boone mugshot
Sarah Boone – Orange County S.O. mugshot

A woman in central Florida has been arrested for murder, and her explanation about what happened is way off the wall. Even for Florida.

WINTER PARK, Fla. — A woman is facing second-degree murder charges after she zipped her boyfriend inside a suitcase and left him in there for several hours, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Sarah Boone, 42, is being held without bond in connection to the death of Jorge Torres, Jr.

Around 1 p.m. Monday afternoon, deputies responded to the 4700 block of Frantz Lane in Winter Park after Boone reported that Torres was deceased.

Boone told deputies the two thought it would be funny if Torres got inside a suitcase in the living room during a game of hide and seek, the arrest affidavit states. She then zipped him inside it.

All this supposedly happened after the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol. Big surprise. After zipping the victim into the suitcase, Boone says she went up to her bedroom and passed out. When she woke up hours later, Torres was still in the suitcase and was unresponsive.

The police were skeptical, as police are inclined to be. It didn’t take them long to poke holes in the “hide-and-seek” defense.

 But after receiving permission to search Boone’s phone, investigators found two videos that gave them reason to doubt Boone’s account.

On one, Torres can be heard yelling Boone’s name.

Boone, responds, “For everything you’ve done to me.”

Torres pleads with Boone. “I can’t f–kin’ breathe,” he says. “Seriously.”

Boone replies, “Yeah, that’s what you do when you choke me.”

Torres continues to tell Boone he cannot breathe.

“That’s on you,” she says. “Oh, that’s what I feel like when you cheat on me.”

In the video, the suitcase is facing downward and Torres can be seen pushing on it in an attempt to get out.

Boone is being held without bond in the Orange County Jail. I guess that will give her time to come up with a better story.

Quadruple homicide in Florida

Anthony Todt
Anthony Todt – Osceola County S.O. mugshot

A grand jury in Florida has indicted Anthony Todt, 44, for four counts of murder and one count of animal cruelty.

Prosecutors had previously charged Todt with second-degree murder to keep him in custody until a grand jury could be convened. Florida law requires a grand jury indictment for capital crimes.

Todt was arrested last month after his 42-year-old wife Megan and their children — Alek, Tyler and Zoe, ages, 13, 11 and 4, respectively — were found dead at the Celebration home about 20 miles southwest of Orlando. An autopsy found that the wife and sons had been stabbed. The family’s dog was also killed.

The bodies were discovered by federal and local law enforcement personnel who went to the Todt home to serve Anthony Todt with a warrant in a health care fraud case. Todt had allegedly submitted phony bills for physical therapy on patients when no therapy services were rendered.

Todt is being held without bail. Prosecutors will be seeking the death penalty.

This whole case has a murder-suicide feel to it, minus the suicide. It makes me wonder if that was his original plan and he lost his nerve when it came time to kill himself.

Cold case – Guilty plea in 1980 murder

James Curtis Clanton
James Curtis Clanton – Douglas County Sheriff’s Office mugshot

Genetic genealogy has brought another killer to justice.

Colorado prosecutors have obtained a guilty plea in a young woman’s 1980 rape and murder — a cold case they cracked just two months ago through DNA and genetic genealogy.

Truck driver James Curtis Clanton, 62, was in court Friday for a hearing when he agreed to plead guilty to killing 21-year-old Helene Pruszynski in Englewood on Jan. 16, 1980.

The victim was a Massachusetts college student who was in Colorado for an internship at a radio station. Clanton abducted her after she got off a bus. He sexually assaulted her, then stabbed her. He dumped her body in a vacant lot.

At the time of the murder, Clanton was on parole for a previous rape conviction. He was identified as a suspect in Pruszynski’s murder through DNA.

Investigators preserved male DNA recovered from the scene but no analysis was done immediately after the slaying, according to the arrest affidavit. In 1998, a DNA profile was developed and uploaded to criminal database but no potential suspects were identified then or over the years as more people were added to it.

After a renewed effort to solve the case started in 2017, investigators turned to forensic genealogy to try to find relatives who had uploaded their DNA profiles to online public databases like Ancestry.com and GEDmatch.com, to trace their way back to a possible suspect.

After partial matches were found, distant relatives of Clanton allowed police access to their genealogy database. From there, it was good old-fashioned police work that led them to their suspect.

Clanton is facing a life sentence. He will be eligible for parole in 20 years. At his age, it’s likely he’ll die behind bars.

Swipe left for safety – Dating app robberies in Maryland

Dating App
File photo (Source: Pixabay)

Police in Greenblet, MD are warning residents of armed robbers who are apparently using a dating app to set up their victims. The victims have been men who went to meet with a woman they had contacted on a dating app. The “woman” turned out to be multiple masked, armed robbers.

Here’s a report from the Greenbelt Police. The incident took place at 1/27/2020 at 11:20 PM:

6200 block Springhill Court. Robbery. The victim advised that he met someone through a
dating app and agreed to meet her in an apartment building in the 6200 block of
Springhill Court. While waiting in the hallway four suspects entered the building, all
dressed in all black and wearing masks. One of the suspects displayed a handgun and
announced a robbery. One of the suspects then punched him and took his cell phone and
car keys and fled the area. The suspects are described as between 5’ and 5’2”, no further.

Here’s another from 2/01/2020 at 11:09 PM:

6200 block Springhill Court. Robbery. The victim advised that he met someone through a
dating app and agreed to meet her in an apartment building in the 6200 block of
Springhill Court. While waiting in the hallway three suspects entered the building, all
dressed in all black and wearing masks. The suspects then punched the victim, took his
cell phone and car keys. One of the suspects then displayed a handgun, threatened the
suspect then fled the area with the other suspects. The suspects are described as an
unknown male, 5’4”, an unknown male, 5”2” and an unknown female, 5’4”, no further.

Based on the heights of the male suspects, I have a suspicion they might be teenagers. Also, the location of both incidents might mean that one or all of the suspects lives nearby. There’s nothing like home field advantage.

If these robberies go one much longer, this crew might need a nickname. I’m leaning toward “the Swipe Left Bandits.” But hopefully they’ll be in custody and out of business soon.

Los Angeles – Two women sought in robbery

Two guys were out on the town when they met two women who showed an interest in them. Sounds like the start of a great story, right? Sadly, the ending wasn’t quite as good. The story’s climax included one of the men unconscious and the two women gone. Along with two expensive wristwatches.

There’s an old saying, “If it seems to good to be true, it is.” Lesson learned, guys.

I hope the police nab them soon. If they get away with this once, they’re bound to try it again. And next time, someone might get hurt.

Kidnapping and rape in Memphis

Tommy Brown Rape Kidnapping Suspect
Tommy Brown (SCSO mugshot)

This is a horrifying story from Tennessee:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A man was arrested after police said he forced a woman into his car, took her to a house, and raped her several times.

According to arrest records, a woman was walking on Looney near Dunlap Street when a man drove up next to her and asked her for a date for $25.

She told him she doesn’t do that and then he got out, grabbed her by the shirt, and put her in the car, court records said.

When they got to the home, he made her take off her clothes and forced her to have sex with him. The details of the rape are too graphic to share.

But, arrest records said she was raped three different times.

After forcing the victim to spend the night with him, the suspect told her she would have to stay with him willingly or he would tie her up in the basement. She agreed, not that she really had a choice.

When her abductor drove her to work the next morning, the victim went inside and reported the rape to her supervisor before leaving for a rape crisis center.

After a police report was filed, investigators reviewed the surveillance video from the victim’s employer’s parking lot. They used the video to identify the suspect, Tommy Brown, 29, of Memphis.

Brown was arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape. He is currently in custody with bail set at $250,000.

Attempted murder – 9 year old arrested in Florida

stabbing
File photo

This is a disturbing story out of the Sunshine State.

A 9-year-old Florida boy has been charged with attempted murder in the first degree after he allegedly stabbed his 5-year-old sister, police said.

Police responded to a report of a stabbing at the Berkeley Pointe Apartments complex in Ocala on Monday. Upon arrival, they found a 5-year-old girl with multiple stab wounds, Ocala police said.

The children’s mother had called police to report her son had stabbed her daughter and fled on foot, according to an arrest affidavit. The mother said she had left her children in their apartment for about 10 minutes while she went to buy candy for them and to check the mail. When she returned, she told police she observed her son stabbing her daughter in his bedroom. She said she asked him what he was doing, grabbed the knife from him, and she picked up her daughter and took her into the bathroom as her son ran out of the apartment.

A short time after, the 9-year-old was found hiding in a maintenance shed on the property, according to police.

Thankfully, the little girl survived the atack. She was flown to a hospital in Gainesville. She was conscious and responsive and is in stable conditions.

Police interviewed the boy after they arrested him. His explanation was almost as disturbing as his crime.

An arrest report obtained by FOX 35 says the boy told police the thought of killing his sister “had entered his head two days earlier” and wouldn’t go away.

According to the report, he grabbed a knife from the kitchen, grabbed his sister by the neck, and began stabbing her, shouting, “Die, die.”

He allegedly told investigators he stabbed his sister because “he wanted to be able to go outside.”

The court has assigned a public defender to handle the boy’s case. He is due to appear in court in early February. In the meantime, he is being held I a secure facility and will be examined by a court-appointed psychiatrist. His name is being withheld due to his age.