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Howard Witkin murder 3/22/1980 Santa Clara, CA *Ex-wife’s husband, Robert Howard Singer, convicted of his murder; Sentenced to LWOP*

remembering the victimsWitkin was shot to death on the evening of March 21, 1980, at his home in San Jose. Evidence from the crime scene showed that he was struck nine times in a hail of gunfire from a .22-caliber Marlin brand rifle at his front door. Bullet holes through the door suggested that he was first shot outside and then retreated behind the door, where he was hit by more rounds. An alert neighbor had earlier noticed two people in a faded gold, 1970’s model car with an out-of-state license plate (VNM 530) in the neighborhood.

Witkin, an executive at a Santa Clara glass and mirror factory, had been married to Judith Singer (defendant’s wife at the time of the killing), but the union, which produced three children, ended in divorce. At the time of the killing, Judith was married to defendant and had moved with him and the children to Flint, Michigan, where defendant that past December opened a soup-and-sandwich place called the Onion Crock Restaurant, in the Genessee Valley Mall.

Richard Powell, a security guard at the mall who had gotten to know defendant, testified that in late January or early February (all dates are in 1980 unless noted otherwise), defendant asked him if he knew someone who did “contracts,” explaining that his ex-wife was “soaking” him for money and that he would like to kill her. He seemed serious, asking again a couple weeks later, and apparently wanted the contract executed in California. Powell said he was not looking for anyone.

Kevin McCarthy, general manager at the Onion Crock, helped defendant open the restaurant and did all of the hiring and firing. He testified that in late February to early March defendant asked him where he could find a “hit man,” someone who could “waste another person.” McCarthy did not know what to say but did not turn him down. A couple days later, defendant had McCarthy accompany him to a local night club, the Aladden, where McCarthy knew the manager. Defendant told McCarthy to ask the manager where they could get a hit man. McCarthy obliged. Upon returning with apparently disappointing news, defendant said, “Let’s go,” and [226 Cal. App. 3d 29] they left. Then, a day or two later, defendant began pressuring him to help get a hit man. He mentioned money-as much as $10,000 to $25,000. McCarthy told him he would “take a wild chance and make a phone call.” He tried to call a friend in Detroit (who was not a hit man) but could not reach him. McCarthy was concerned for his job and so was trying to “humor” defendant, who appeared serious. He told him on a later occasion that he had gone back to the Aladden “to check again,” but in fact he had not gone for that reason.

One of the people hired by McCarthy was Gary Oliver, who started as a busboy and quickly worked his way up to cook. Defendant kept telling McCarthy “from day to day that he had to get that problem solved” and seemed obsessed with the idea. Eventually, though, he quit bringing it up. Then, on returning to work after taking St. Patrick’s Day (the 17th) off, McCarthy was surprised to learn from defendant that he had personally fired Oliver. (This was odd because McCarthy did all the hiring and firing.) That same month, sometime before defendant and his wife were to leave on a planned trip to California, McCarthy overheard defendant talking on the phone to someone about buying a low-priced car. Defendant and his wife left for California on learning that Witkin had died. While they were gone, McCarthy saw Oliver at the restaurant. Oliver was tanned, had money and nice clothes, and said he had been to California, where his car had blown up and had to be deserted. Defendant telephoned from California and, in the course of a conversation, said “that his problem had been taken care of.” McCarthy went to Michigan state police with his suspicions on April 1st.

Oliver, who had not testified at the first trial, testified at the second. Midway through the People’s case, he entered a plea to solicitation of murder (§ 653f), with a maximum sentence of six years expected, and agreed to testify. He recounted that defendant asked him in March if he would be interested in making $10,000 for killing someone for him. He kept “pestering” Oliver, who refused at first, and eventually gave him a slip of paper with Howard Witkin’s name and address on it.

Oliver in turn solicited Andrew Granger, saying he was getting $5,000 and would give him half. Furnished with money by defendant, they bought a shotgun for $300 and a 1970 or 1971 gold Chevrolet Malibu (license plate VNM 530) for $450. They registered the car in the name of Dennis Liquia, a friend who accompanied them there, and promised to give him the car when they were through with it. (Liquia testified to the sale and arrangement, and a Michigan sales clerk testified to Granger’s purchase of a 12-gauge shotgun.) The car ultimately had to be abandoned in San Jose, but Granger and Oliver brought back the license plates and gave them to Liquia. [226 Cal. App. 3d 30]

Oliver and Granger drove to California with the newly bought shotgun and a .22-caliber gun which Granger had. They reached San Jose on Thursday, March 20 and drove around Witkin’s home to stake it out that night. The car broke down the next day, and Oliver had Granger place a long-distance call to ask defendant for more money. Defendant spoke with Oliver and told him they would get no money until the job was done. While stranded there, they met Tom Maciolek and Maciolek’s girlfriend Heather. They stayed with them that night (Friday the 21st), explaining their plans.

Maciolek gave them a ride to Witkin’s house that night. They dropped Granger off near the house and parked. Granger returned saying he thought he had done it. He related ringing the doorbell, shooting Witkin when he emerged and then, when Witkin went back in and slammed the door shut, shooting through the door, trying the door and finding it locked.

The next morning, Oliver and Granger called defendant from a phone booth. Defendant asked Oliver if he did it, and Oliver said he thought so. Granger asked for money to get home, and defendant sent a Western Union Moneygram the next day. They left the shotgun with Maciolek and returned to Michigan by bus. After they got back, defendant called Oliver from California to congratulate him and said he would “take care of” (meaning pay) him when he got back. Defendant thereafter sent Oliver $500 a week, part of which Oliver gave to Granger. (Western Union employees and records verified that a “Stewart Granger” in Flint, Michigan wired $600 to Andrew Granger in San Jose on March 22. Public records did not show a Stewart Granger living at the address given by the sender.)

Granger did not testify live. When called to the stand, he invoked his privilege against self-incrimination, apparently because his appeal was pending in this court, and was ruled unavailable. His testimony from the first trial was read into evidence.

Granger’s account closely tracked Oliver’s except that Granger was kept in the dark about the target of the enterprise until he and Oliver reached California. Until then, Oliver had said that they were after a dope dealer who sold to kids. Once across the California border, Oliver showed Granger pictures of Witkin and a piece of paper with Witkin’s name and address on it. Also, Granger had no direct contact with defendant until he spoke with him on the phone just before the murder, after the car broke down in San Jose. Granger came to know that the one hiring them (referred to as “Bob” or “Mr. Big”) was Oliver’s boss in Michigan and that the victim was the boss’s wife’s ex-husband. “Bob” told him on the phone, after the murder, that he would send the money in Granger’s name so that there would be no record of his employee Oliver being in San Jose. Granger used a .22-caliber [226 Cal. App. 3d 31] Marlin-Glenfield rifle which he brought along as a backup to the shotgun they bought.

Killer Says Lawyer Had Sex With Wife, Asks New Trial
Attorney says his impotency made alleged affair impossible
People of California v Robert Howard Singer 1990
Lawyer’s Affair Wins Man a New Trial

Movies/Documentaries
Unusual Suspects: Kill Now Pay Later

Defendants
Robert Howard Singer – convicted, sentenced to 25 years to life; released in 2004
Judi Singer – convicted, sentenced to LWOP
Andrew Lee Granger – convicted,

INMATE INFORMATION

Name: GRANGER, ANDREW LEE
CDCR#: C36469
Age: 56
Admission Date: 10/01/1981
Current Location: Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility
Main Phone: (619) 661-6500
Physical Address:
480 Alta Road, San Diego, CA 92179

Murder In The Family: Jimmy Crumm and his friend, Paul Sorrentino, killed his younger brother, Chris, at the request of his mother, Sueanne Hobson

dv awareness

Family disasters haunt Kansas man
Two youths ordered held in Paola slaying
Sorrentino murder trial moved to Fort Scott
Teen Gets Life Term for murder of youth
Appeals court affirms conviction of Miami County youth in slaying
Stepmother faces trial for murder
Prosecution winds up case at Olathe murder trial
Convict Mother
DA went too far, defendant claims in high court appeal
Convicted murderer’s grandmother testifies in Hobson conspiracy trial
Daughter testifies in murder, conspiracy trial
Daughter in Olathe murder trial
Woman Found Guilty in Death of Stepson, 13
Mrs. Hobbs draws life term
Judge denies retrial in murder case
Kansas high court upholds separate murder convictions
State of Kansas v Sueann Sallee 1983
Sueanne Hobson Up for Parole (9th Time) in Kansas Killing; Would-Be Neighbor Issues Warning
Love Never Dies
Convicted murder conspirator Hobson out on parole, living in Prairie Village

Books
Family Affairs
Crazymaker: The Shocking True Story of Murder and Betrayal in an American Family

Movies/Documentaries
Evil Stepmothers: Hitmom

Susanne Hobson
Sueann Hobson

Defendants
Jimmy Crumm – convicted, sentenced to life in prison; paroled 1/4/1999
Paul Sorrentino – convicted, sentenced to life in prison; paroled 4/21/2000
Sueann Hobson – convicted, sentenced to life in prison; paroled 2/25/2011

Cold Case: Philip ‘Scott’ Fournier charged with killing 16-year-old Joyce McLain in 1980

Joyce McLain
Joyce McLain

Man arrested on murder charge in 1980 Joyce McLain homicide
Arrest Made in 1980 Murder of Teen Joyce McLain
Man arrested in 1980 murder of Maine high school student
Joyce McLain’s mother reacts to cold case arrest
Police release details of arrest in Joyce McLain cold case killing
Man Accused of Murdering Joyce McLain Being Held Without Bail
Judge orders man charged in Joyce McLain slaying held without bail

Phillip Scott Fournier
Phillip Scott Fournier

Monsters Among Us: Ming Sen Shiue beat to death 8-year-old Jason Wilkman after he witnessed the abduction of Mary Stauffer and her daughter Beth

Shiue victims

Victims
Jason Wilkman, 6 [5/16/1980]
Mary Stauffer, [5/16/1980]
Beth Stauffer, 8 [5/16/1980]

Stalking Mary
Search for young boy
Kidnapping laid to bad grade 15 years ago
Murder defendant stabs witness in court (part 1)
How defendant smuggled knife in court leaves officials baffled (part 2)
Defendant cuts witness as she testified at trial
Man accused of holding teacher for 7 weeks
Judge: No freedom for Shiue
Court denies appeal by Anoka County killer, rapist
Murderpedia: Ming Sen Shiue
Wikipedia: Ming Sen Shiue

Books
Stalking Mary

Movies/Documentaries
Your Worst Nightmare: High School Revenge
20/20: Mind Games

INMATE INFORMATION

Ming Sen Shiue

MING SEN SHIUE
Register Number: 00499-041
Age: 65
Race: Asian
Sex: Male
Located at: Marion USP
Release Date: LIFE

Jack Croasdale murder 8/15/1980 Salt Lake City, UT *Daniel Edward Shaffer convicted, sentenced to life in prison*

East CanyonOn August 23, 1980, the naked, partially decomposed body of Jack Croasdale was found in a brushy area 20-30 feet off the road in East Canyon in Salt Lake County. The medical examiner performed an autopsy on the body and concluded that the cause of death was a single bullet wound to the forehead. Approximately four months later, on December 12, 1980, the defendant was arrested in Portland, Oregon. At the time of arrest, the defendant was driving Mr. Croasdale’s van and was using the name and identification of the victim.

The defendant testified at trial that he met Mr. Croasdale in Reno, Nevada. Mr. Croasdale had stopped in Reno on his way from San Francisco to his home in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The defendant had hitchhiked to Reno several days earlier from Omaha, Nebraska. The defendant, who had only eighty cents, arranged to drive with the victim back to Omaha in search of better work and to collect several minor debts. At the time they met, the defendant was using the identification of Joseph Lucero, a former roommate at St. Andrews Abbey in Denver, Colorado. The defendant took Lucero’s identification when the defendant left the abbey because he feared the police would stop him and discover a probation violation related to an Arizona conviction. On August 5, 1980, the defendant had used Lucero’s identification to obtain a gun permit, a.38 caliber handgun, and ammunition in Omaha, Nebraska.

The defendant testified that on August 15, 1980, he and Mr. Croasdale drove east on I-80 in Croasdale’s van and arrived in Salt Lake City that evening. After drinking several beers in a local bar, they went to sleep in the back of Croasdale’s van. The defendant testified that early the next morning he was awakened by a homosexual attack by Croasdale. The defendant claims he stated that he wished to leave and then picked up his backpack, clothing, and sleeping bag. In the course of events, the backpack fell over, and the defendant’s loaded gun slipped out of the pack and partially out of the holster. According to the defendant, Croasdale then picked up the gun and threatened the defendant. In the ensuing struggle, the gun fired and the bullet struck Croasdale just above the right eyebrow. Although the defendant was unsure of the exact distance between the gun and the victim’s forehead, a courtroom demonstration suggested that the defendant’s version of the events required the distance to be about twelve inches.

The defendant admitted that he dumped Croasdale’s body in East Canyon that night; took Croasdale’s van and identification; spent Croasdale’s money in Salt Lake City; drove the van to Las Vegas, where the defendant used Croasdale’s name, identity, credit card, and checks; and later drove to Portland, where the defendant assumed Croasdale’s identity. Throughout the trial, the defendant insisted that Croasdale died of an accident and that the defendant made the decision to take Croasdale’s van after his death.

The State presented testimony from several witnesses to substantiate a theory of murder. The state medical examiner performed an autopsy and carefully examined and photographed the body to determine the cause of death. Based on the perpendicular entry and downward trajectory of the bullet, the clean entry wound, and the absence of stippling or other sooty deposits around the wound, the medical examiner concluded the death of Jack Croasdale was a homicide as the fatal bullet was fired from a distance at least eighteen inches from the head and from a point outside the *1304 reach of the victim. That opinion was corroborated at trial by officers from the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s office, who compared standard test fire patterns from a .38 caliber police special with the wound of the victim. The officers concluded that since there was no powder stippling or scorching, the wound was not caused by a gun fired at close range.

Because of decomposition and the fact that the body remained unclaimed for one and one-half months, it was released to the University of Utah Medical Center for disposal on October 1, 1980, and was subsequently cremated. Prior to releasing the body, the state medical examiner did not perform tests on the hands of the victim to determine the presence of chemical compounds commonly found on the hands of a person who has fired a pistol. According to the medical examiner, the presence of gunpowder residue would not have affected his opinion that the death was caused by homicide in light of all the circumstances in this case. The testimony of Mr. Donald Havekost, an FBI employee, supported the medical examiner’s opinion. He noted that after exposure and decomposition as in this case, it is “highly unlikely” that powder residue would have been found on the victim’s hands. Mr. Havekost further testified that a positive finding would not be significant in rendering an opinion as to whether the victim’s hands were on the gun when it was fired.

Hitchiker convicted of murder
1st degree murder conviction upheld by Utah Supreme Court
State of Utah v Daniel Edward Shaffer 1986

Deadly Women: Jean Harris killed her lover, Dr. Herman Tarnower; Sentenced to 15 years to life in prison

dv awareness

Dr. Herman Tarnower
Dr. Herman Tarnower

Diet Doctor Fatally Shot
Diet doctor buried
Jean Harris fails to ban letters in Tarnower case
Housekeeper says Tarnower juggled dates with women
Witness Says Tarnower Asked Harris To ‘Quit Bothering Him’
Defendant in Tarnower Slaying Tells of Relationship
Mrs. Harris, telling of struggle, denies she meant to kill Tarnower
Jean Harris Testifies She Wanted To Kill Herself At Tarnower Home
Prosecution sums up: Jealousy drove Harris to kill Tarnower
Lawyers sum up Harris case: jealousy, suicide try
Final Arguments Are Heard In Tarnower Murder Trial
Jean Harris found guilty
Jury: Jean Harris guilty of murder
Jean Harris sentenced to 15 years to life
Jean Harris Sentenced To Minimum f 15 Years
Thought-provoking ‘Stranger’ shuns lurid details
Court rejects Harris appeal
Slain diet doctor tyrant, sadistic bully, book says
Biography: Jean Harris
Jean Harris, ‘Scarsdale Diet’ doctor killer, dies
Headmistress, Jilted Lover, Killer, Then a Force for Good in Jail
Jean Harris, killer of Scarsdale Diet doctor Herman Tarnower, dies at 89
Murderpedia: Jean S. Harris
Wikipedia: Jean Harris

Books
The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet
Love Gone Wrong
Very Much a Lady: The Untold Story of Jean Harris and Dr. Herman Tarnower
They Always Call Us Ladies: Stories From Prison
Mrs. Harris: Death of the Scarsdale Diet Doctor
Stranger in Two Worlds

Movies/Documentaries
Barbara Walters Presents American Scandals: Jean Harris” The Headmistress Murderer
Mrs. Harris

INMATE INFORMATION

Jean Harris

Identifying and Location Information
As of 11/16/15
DIN (Department Identification Number) 81G0098
Inmate Name HARRIS, JEAN
Sex FEMALE
Date of Birth 04/27/1923
Race / Ethnicity WHITE
Custody Status RELEASED
Housing / Releasing Facility BEDFORD HILLS
Date Received (Original) 03/20/1981
Date Received (Current) 03/20/1981
Admission Type
County of Commitment WESTCHESTER
Latest Release Date / Type (Released Inmates Only) 01/22/93 PAROLE DIV OF PAROLE

Crimes of Conviction
Crime: MURDER 2ND
Class: A1

Crime: CRIM POSS WEAP 2ND
Class: C

Crime: CRIM POSS WEAP 3RD SUB 1,2,3
Class: D

Sentence Terms and Release Dates
Under certain circumstances, an inmate may be released prior to serving his or her minimum term and before the earliest release date shown for the inmate.
As of 11/16/15
Aggregate Minimum Sentence 0011 Years, 10 Months, 06 Days
Aggregate Maximum Sentence LIFE Years, 99 Months, 99 Days
Earliest Release Date
Earliest Release Type
Parole Hearing Date 07/1993
Parole Hearing Type APPROVED OPEN DATE/6 MO AFT INIT APPEAR
Parole Eligibility Date 12/29/1992
Conditional Release Date NONE
Maximum Expiration Date LIFE
Maximum Expiration Date for Parole Supervision
Post Release Supervision Maximum Expiration Date
Parole Board Discharge Date 03/10/2004

Cold Case: Candace Rough Surface murder 8/2/1980 Mobridge, SD *Nicholas Scherr and James Stroh pled guilty, sentenced to prison*


Candace Rough Surface

A tale too late to satisfy
Confession ends 16-year murder mystery, but revives racist claims
Brutal 1980 Murder Raises Racial Tensions — Indians Say Bail, Long Delay Before Arrest Are Evidence Of Prejudice
Non-Indian Men Arrested for Murder, Racial Tensions Rise
Confession ends 16-year murder mystery, but revives racist claims
Suspect finally pleads guilty after 16 years
16-year Murder Mystery Ends In Tears
Websleuths: Citizens Against Pedophiles Early Release (CAPER)

Movies/Documentaries
Swamp Murders: Murder in the Badlands

Defendants
James E. Stroh II – pled guilty, sentenced to 15 years in prison
Nicholas Scherr – pled guilty, sentenced to 100 years in prison

INMATE INFORMATION
SCHERR, NICHOLAS A.
Age: 50
Race: White
Gender: Male
Hair Color: Blonde
Eye Color: Blue
Height: 5′ 11″
Weight: 191 lbs.

Transaction #31569

Sentence Date: 05/22/1996
County: Walworth
Crime: Manslaughter 1st
Sentence Length: 100 years

INMATE INFORMATION

STROH, JAMES E.
Age: 50
Race: White
Gender: Male
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Blue
Height: 5′ 7″
Weight: 182 lbs.
Alias(es) Stroh, James E
DOC Number #2491
Current Facility Outside
Parole Office NA
Correctional Status Completed Sentence
Additional Info NA

Discharged 10/13/2004

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