In April 2007, 39-year-old Christine Blackburn-Wiles disappeared from Belleview, Florida. Her former boyfriend, Billy Ashton, has just been charged with murder, less than 24 hours after he was sentenced to thirty years in prison for illegal weapons possession.
There’s some DNA evidence — Christine’s blood in the trunk of Ashton’s car — but it looks like most of the case will rest on the testimony of informants who say they heard Ashton confess. He does have a history of violence to women and once served six years for kidnapping and assaulting another girlfriend.
Back in Vermont in 1978, a woman named Grace Canto Reapp and her five-year-old daughter, Grace Noel “Gracie” Reapp, vanished off the face of the earth. The husband/father, Michael, was a suspect in their cases for a long time. He remarried and moved to Florida. Then in 1996 he walked out of his life. He left after the police began searching his former property in Vermont for Grace and Gracie’s bodies, and a Vermont reporter called his home in Florida to interview him about it. The last known trace of him was an ATM withdrawal in New Orleans.
In 2006, Michael was finally charged with the murders of Grace and Gracie. The theory was that he killed Grace cause she found out he was having an affair, and Gracie witnessed her mother’s murder so he killed her too. (Reminds me very much of the murder of Jennifer Blagg and the disappearance of her daughter Abby, but there was a conviction in that case.) Unfortunately the authorities were no closer to finding Michael than before, so the case stagnated again.
Well, they finally got a break, and it’s not an altogether happy one: Michael has been identified as a John Doe out of Yuma, Arizona. Thus he is beyond the reach of earthly justice.
The circumstances of his death are unusual. On January 10, 1997, he kidnapped a man at gunpoint and stole his money and car. His victim escaped and Michael, driving the man’s car, was in a high-speed chase down the highway. The police caught up to him and forced him to pull over, and they were trying to get him to get out of the car so he could be arrested, but instead he shot himself in the head. And he had no ID or anything and remained unidentified for thirteen and a half years.
Grace and Gracie’s loved ones may be relieved that Michael has been located and is no longer a danger to society, but now he will never be held accountable for what he did and will never get a chance to tell whatever it was that he knew (assuming he would have done so). This was not the only tragedy in the family; one of the couple’s sons died young in 1996. Natural causes, the flu I think.
I saw here that Louis Francis, the brother of Eddie Francis, sued the city of Los Angeles over Eddie’s disappearance. Eddie has been missing from LA since 1992. Before now I knew zilch about his disappearance.
This is what I can decipher from the legalese here:
Louis filed a claim against the government in June 2007, saying the city deliberately neglected to look for Eddie. He sought $2.3 million for emotional distress, but his claim got dismissed in September. Louis attempted to file a summons and complaint in December 2007, but his paperwork wasn’t adequate and his complaint was returned. The same thing happened when he tried against in January 2008, and in February. Fourth time’s the charm: Louis’s complaint was finally filed in March. Then he amended it in June. But his complaint was dismissed for the time lapse — he should have filed it sooner, apparently. So Louis appealed, citing his prior attempts to file, but it’s a no-go. The appeals court upheld the dismissal because Louis took too long to file his initial claim.
I wish this document would reveal more about Eddie’s disappearance. All that I can tell from this is that he has some kind of mental impairment.
This just in: skeletal remains found in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2000 have been identified as Goldie Thornsberry, a 65-year-old woman missing from Fayetteville, Arkansas since January 1996. Two suspects have been arrested for her murder: her own daughter, Rita Flowers, and Rita’s former husband, Raymond Douglas. They lived with Goldie and have been suspects in her disappearance since March 1996, when investigators discovered they’d forged her name to get access to her bank accounts. They pleaded guilty to the forgeries, but the missing persons case didn’t go anywhere until now.
To hinder identification, Rita and Raymond apparently pulled her teeth and cut off her hands and one leg. No wonder Goldie’s body took so long to identify!
Shame…her own daughter…her own son-in-law… and for nothing but greed.