Select It Sunday: Diana Leone

A friend of Diana L. Leone‘s sister asked me to run her case for Select It Sunday. Diana was 35 years old when she disappeared from Las Vegas in February 2000.  Her longtime boyfriend, David Morgan, said she’d run off with another man, leaving all her stuff behind. She wasn’t reported missing until October.

Morgan had a history of brutal domestic violence against Diana — he’d once been charged with attempted murder in connection with his abuse of her — and police believe he’s a serial killer. His second wife, Marie Morgan, and her lover, Gabriel Vincent, disappeared under suspicious circumstances in 1979 and were never found. A business associate of Morgan’s, David Cowan, disappeared in 1982 and was also never found. (Cowan and Morgan aren’t on Charley cause I have no photos or physical information for them.)

Morgan was actually charged with Vincent’s murder in 2007, but five years later, before he was tried, the charges were dropped for lack of evidence because one of the key witnesses had died. Police are pretty sure Morgan killed Diana as well, but he has never been charged. I’m not sure he’s even still alive.

The latest MWAB news

I thought I’d do a run-down in the latest news in murder-without-a-body cases:

  • Per everybody, Antolin Garcia-Torres has been found guilty of the murder of Sierra Mae Lamar, a fifteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Morgan Hill, California five years ago. Her abduction and killing is of the most terrifying kind: she was just snatched off the street in a random act of violence.
  • In Iowa, Tait Purk has been found guilty of murdering his girlfriend, Cora Ann Okonski, who disappeared from the town of Tama on April 16, 2000. Unlike in Sierra Lamar’s murder, there wasn’t anything in the way of physical evidence here. However, Purk supposedly confessed to at least two other people that he had killed Cora and buried her body.
  • No charges have been filed as of yet, but Dale LaFleur‘s grand-nephew, Philip, has confessed to murdering him and the police are looking for the body. Philip is currently in jail for the 2015 murder of another man. He’s only 23 now, and Dale disappeared in 2011, so chances are Philip was a minor when he (allegedly) killed his great-uncle. (Not that it’ll matter.) He says he put Dale’s body inside his (Dale’s) car and dumped it in the Atchafalaya River. Police have said they’ve found an “object” in the river that might be the car. Fingers crossed.
  • And as for Peter Kema, alas, I don’t know anything more than I did three weeks ago: namely that Peter Sr. has led police to the alleged disposal spot. I seem to recall some article that claimed the remains were cremated and dumped at sea. If that is so, they’re almost certainly unrecoverable. But I don’t know if that information is correct. There’s a big difference between outright cremating a body and merely setting it on fire. I think if the cops had found something, they would have said so by now, but who knows?

Peter Kema’s dad leads police to alleged disposal spot

This just in: Peter Kema‘s father, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this month, has lead police to where he says he put his son’s body. This location is, of course, as yet undisclosed, but it’s somewhere in the district of Puna.

Here’s to hoping there’s actually something recoverable there, and this 20-year saga can finally be over.

Peter Kema denouement

Sorry everyone, the internet was kaput for much of this week. I could access it on my cell phone using data, but the house connection didn’t work. Michael and I have been having issues with our provider since November.

It goes like this: we had to cut down on our expenses so decided to switch our cable and internet package to just internet. The service provider said okay, and yet EVERY SINGLE MONTH SINCE THEN, they’ve billed us for cable, phone and internet, and the result is either our account gets overdrawn and we have to pay fees to the bank, or our service provider stops providing service — ALL service, not just the services we no longer want — because we can’t pay the bill. Then Michael will call them and remind them that we’re only supposed to be getting internet now, and they will apologize, reduce our bill accordingly and promise it won’t happen again. Then it happens again.

Anyway. Now we’ve got our internet back and Michael plans to switch providers because he’s understandably fed up.

So. It looks like the Peter Kema case may be finally reaching its conclusion. Peter’s mother reached a deal with the prosecution last year, pleading guilty to manslaughter and agreeing to testify against her husband. Earlier this week, Peter’s father also pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He was sentenced to twenty years and must serve a minimum of six, and he has agreed to lead police to the body. If he doesn’t follow through with that part, his sentence could be increased to 25 years.

At least they are going to jail, and this way Peter’s siblings will be spared the ordeal of having to testify. And I highly doubt Peter Sr., anyway, is going to get out after just six years. I expect he’ll have to serve the whole term, because the case is so notorious in Hawaii, and for the same reason I doubt he’ll be terribly popular in prison. Jaylin, unfortunately, is getting almost no time, even though she’s just as responsible for her son’s death as Peter Sr.

Peter’s parents did nothing but torture, neglect and abuse him his entire brief life. If there was any justice they ought to be getting a manslaughter conviction AND enough child abuse convictions stacked on top of one another to amount to life sentences for both of them.

I mean, read Peter’s Charley Project page to get an idea. Or take what it says in one of the articles I found about the case:

In Peter’s case the abuse started being documented when he was just three months old. After being brought into the hospital, x-rays showed old and new fractures in his shoulder, elbow, ribs and knees. He and his older siblings were removed from the home and they lived with their grandparents for the next three years.

Once he was back with his mother and father, his siblings reported Peter was again physically abused: suffering broken bones and black eyes, as well as enduring mental abuse like being forced to eat dog feces. But those reports came too late to save the six year old boy.

Why weren’t either of his parents charged with child abuse when he was an infant? Why were his parents allowed to regain custody of him? Jaylin’s parents loved Peter and they loved his siblings; it wasn’t like there was no one else willing to take care of the kids. According to the articles, since Peter’s death there have been “reforms” in Hawaii’s child protection system, in order to prevent more such tragedies. I certainly hope so.

We’ll see if Peter’s body can be found. It’s been 20 years so it may be unrecoverable. Here’s some articles:

Kristina Sandoval’s remains found

Kristina Sandoval disappeared from Greeley, Colorado on October 19, 1995. Her husband, John Sandoval, was later convicted of murder, but his conviction got overturned on appeal (something I hadn’t known).

Well, on the eve of his second trial, John took a plea deal and lead the police to her remains. I must say his method of disposal was very clever. Per the article:

The remains of Kristina “Tina” Tournai Sandoval have been exhumed from where he buried her beneath the concrete vault in a grave in Sunset Memorial Park where a World War II veteran was later interred.

I’ve actually said that if I had a choice, that’s how I would dispose of a body.

John is going to have to serve 25 years in prison, and he’s 52 now, so he’ll be an old man when he gets out, if he lives that long. Prison health care being what it is.

I’m just glad Kristina’s family has her back and at least the bastard admitted to what he did, at last. I’ll remove her casefile later.

A murder-without-a-body case out of Britain/India

Last night I read a book called Shamed: The Honour Killing That Shocked Britain – by the Sister Who Fought for Justice, by Sarbjit Athwal, describing the “honor killing” of her sister-in-law, Surjit, and the subsequent missing persons investigation and eventual prosecution of two of the people involved: Surjit and Sarbit’s mother-in-law, Bachan Kaur Athwal, and Surjit’s husband, Sukhdave Singh Athwal.

What it amounted to, basically, is that the Athwal family were very conservative Sikhs living in Britain, and Bachan Kaur had a high reputation in the community as a very devout woman. In fact, within the family she was an absolute tyrant and her sons were terrified of her, to say nothing of her daughters-in-law. When Surjit wanted a divorce from her abusive husband, Bachan Kaur decided she couldn’t have her daughter-in-law shaming the family like that.

So she convinced Surjit to go on a trip to India with her to attend a family wedding. When they were in India, some goons Bachan Kaur had hired drugged Surjit, kidnapped her, strangled her, removed her gold jewelry and dumped her body in the river. It was never found — at least as far as anyone knows. That particular river runs into Pakistan, which doesn’t have the greatest relationship with India, and corpses dumped in from India tend to wash up in Pakistan and never get identified.

Sarbjit Athwal had been at the family meeting where Bachan Kaur announced what she was going to do, and she called the police with an anonymous tip hoping they would stop Surjit leaving for India, or rescue her once she arrived, but the police did…nothing. After Surjit “disappeared”, Sarbjit wrote the police an anonymous letter describing exactly what had happened, in great detail, and the police did…nothing. Then she confided in her sister, who went to the police and gave a statement, and they did…nothing. And so on.

Sarbjit was too afraid to actually go to the police openly, because the Athwals made it clear they would kill her too. Something like a decade passed before the case broke open, and Sarbjit started cooperating with the cops. They went to her house and arrested everyone, including her (in order to trick the Athwals into thinking it wasn’t her who spilled the beans), but instead of taking her to the station they took her to her parents’ house. She was in witness protection for ages before the trial, staying in grimy hostels with her baby whom she was nursing.

I wouldn’t say justice has been entirely achieved in this case. The identities of the people who actually killed Surjit in India are known, but they have never been prosecuted and for legal reasons they weren’t even named in the book. (Media reports I found said one of them was Bachan Kaur’s brother.) Sarbjit’s husband, Hardave, was at that original family meeting and passively let the whole conspiracy unfold, repeatedly lied to the police, and threatened Sarbjit when he found out she was going to testify, but he wasn’t prosecuted either.

Surjit’s daughter, Pawanpreet “Pav” Athwal, had been told her mother abandoned her. She was a teenager when she found out the truth. Pav has been active in Britain speaking out against honor killings and set up a hotline for women who are afraid of being the victim of an honor killing or being forced into marriage.

I would recommend the book if you’re interested in this kind of thing. I’m glad the US isn’t the only country that prosecutes no-body homicides.

And of course it’s always worth saying there is no honor in murder.