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  • This Day in Crime History

    October 12: 1999: 10-year-old Pamela Butler was raped and killed by Keith Dwayne Nelson, who is now on federal death row. She was kidnapped in Kansas and murdered in Missouri. Nelson was tried under the Lindbergh Law.

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    Please remember when leaving a comment on my blog that all comments are subject to the blog owners discretion. I do believe in freedom of speech, however, that right is not absolute. Here are the rules: 1 - Please remember the victim(s) first and foremost. Do not come here to comment only on the offender(s). My blog focuses on the victim(s). Do not glorify the killer(s). No negative comments about the victim. NO VICTIM BLAMING. 2 - I will not tolerate hate filled speech, vulgar or derogatory remarks about a victim. I will remove comments that go against this. I will not remove comments just because they do not match my beliefs, in fact, I welcome them! However, that being said, I will remove those that I find offensive, argumentative just for the sake of starting an argument that does not add to the post, hate-filled speech, etc. 3-No comments in ALL CAPS, or CoMeNtS. They are rude and difficult to read. I have had many complaints about it so no more. 4-Comments must be in English only and easy to read (meaning no text language, shortening words, etc.). Have respect for those who don't do text messaging or other lingo. 5 - ALL COMMENTS LEFT BY COMMENTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND THEIR OPINIONS. THEY DO NOT CONSTITUTE FACTS. NOR IS THE BLOG OWNER RESPONSIBLE FOR ANYONE'S OPINIONS OR FEELINGS. STATEMENTS MADE AS COMMENTS ARE OPINIONS, GIVEN FREELY BY THE COMMENTORS. If you have a question or problem with this, please feel free to email me (there is a link to my email above).

Murder In The Family: Dawson Andrew McGehee stabbed his mother, Kathleen Karen “Katy” McGehee, to death; Sentenced to 16 years to life in prison

From McGehee’s appeal: In October 2011, defendant lived with his mother and father, Kathleen and Thomas McGehee, in Manteca.2  He was 26 years old.  While defendant previously worked as a music instructor and server at a local restaurant, his employment “ground to a halt” earlier in the year.  Defendant’s younger sister, Katelyn, also lived at the house, having moved back home the previous month after completing a master’s degree program.  Thomas frequently traveled for business and was out of town during the latter part of October.

On Friday, October 28, Katelyn went to a weekend church retreat with her friend, Samantha.  Defendant was home when Samantha came to pick Katelyn up.  Despite the fact defendant and Samantha “had been good friends and he had previously been a groomsman in her ․ wedding,” defendant “seemed like he wasn’t very comfortable” talking to her and “ended up leaving pretty quickly.”  Before Katelyn left for the retreat, her mother agreed to pick her up at the University of the Pacific (UOP) in Stockton the following Sunday, October 30.  The plan was for Katelyn to call her mother about an hour before she arrived at the school.

The morning of October 30, Kathleen went to church with one of defendant’s older brothers, Justin, and his family.  Sometime during the day, she called another of defendant’s older brothers, Colin, and left him a voicemail.  Colin returned her call around 4:00 p.m. She was making jambalaya for a potluck the following day and needed instructions on how to use the rice cooker Colin left at his parents’ house when he moved out.  The potluck was part of a victims advocacy training program;  Kathleen signed up to become a volunteer advocate in the program through her church.  Colin provided his mother with the requested instructions.  Kathleen mentioned during the phone call that she planned to pick Katelyn up that evening.  Colin described his mother’s mood as “very good.”

Around 5:00 p.m., Katelyn called her mother to let her know she was about an hour away from UOP. There was no answer so Katelyn left a message on the home answering machine.  A few minutes later, she received a call from defendant’s cell phone, but the call ended “almost immediately.”  Katelyn thought the call was a mistake because defendant “almost never” called her, so she did not try to call him back.  Instead, she called her mother’s cell phone, which also went unanswered.  Katelyn left a voicemail.  About a minute later, she received another call from defendant, who claimed he was “just calling to see how [she was].”  Katelyn told him she had been trying to reach their mother to pick her up.  Defendant responded:  “Oh, yeah, I think the home phone hasn’t really been working.”  Katelyn said she also tried their mother’s cell phone.  Defendant responded:  “Oh, yeah, I don’t think that’s been working, either.  I think she’s having trouble with those two.”  Assuming defendant was home, Katelyn asked him to find out whether their mother was still coming to pick her up.  Defendant replied sternly:  “I’m not at home, Katelyn.  I’m not at home.”  Katelyn then asked defendant whether their mother asked him to pick her up.  Defendant denied having been asked to do so before ending the call.  Katelyn found the conversation to be “bizarre” because defendant rarely called her, and especially not “to just chat.”  A couple minutes later, Katelyn tried the home phone again and left another message.

Closer to 6:00 p.m., as Katelyn was approaching UOP, she called the home phone three more times, leaving a final message, and also tried her mother’s cell phone once more.  Two minutes after Katelyn’s last message on the answering machine, defendant again called her.  This time, defendant said:  “Oh, you know what?  We actually sort of talked about that, like maybe we had talked about maybe I could come pick you up.”  Defendant also “made a few remarks about how [their mother] had just been seeming kind of tired that day.”  Katelyn agreed to have defendant pick her up and hung up the phone.

Kathleen was murdered in her bedroom sometime between her conversation with Colin and Katelyn’s missed calls.  She was stabbed ten times in the neck, chest, and abdomen.  There was also evidence of neck compression.  Strong circumstantial evidence pointed to defendant as the murderer, including the fact the jacket defendant was wearing when he was arrested two days later had his mother’s blood on it, there was no sign of a break-in at the house, Kathleen’s bedroom was “neat, orderly, nothing appeared to have been taken or broken,” defendant was the only other family member at the house that weekend, the strange phone calls between defendant and Katelyn described above, and his equally strange and incriminating behavior after he picked her up at UOP, which we recount immediately below.

Defendant’s Attempts to Prevent Discovery of the Body

Katelyn’s friend Samantha and Samantha’s husband, Ben, waited with Katelyn until defendant arrived at about 6:30 p.m. Katelyn and Samantha were walking another girl to her apartment near the UOP campus when defendant pulled into the parking lot.  Defendant engaged in “small talk” with Ben while he waited for Katelyn to get back, but Ben “got the impression he didn’t want to really talk.”  When Katelyn and Samantha returned and joined the conversation, defendant “started looking elsewhere” and “seemed uncomfortable.”  Samantha and Ben then helped Katelyn get her bags loaded into defendant’s car.

As defendant and Katelyn drove away, defendant said he had “some errands” to run, including picking up his “medicine,” which Katelyn understood to be marijuana.  Katelyn assumed these would be local errands.  Instead, defendant got on the freeway and headed north to Sacramento.  During the drive, defendant seemed “more social” than he had been in recent years.  Katelyn described:  “He actually seemed like he was in a good mood.  He seemed cheerful.  He was talkative and chatty and just seeming like very casual.”  Defendant talked “positively” about their mother, saying:  “Oh, yeah, she’s been doing great on her diet.  She’s lost 21 pounds in the last four weeks, but this diet she’s doing it’s only like 500 calories a day.  She’s been acting really tired lately.  I think it’s not enough calories for her.  She’s been seeming really tired.”

At some point, Katelyn mentioned her lips were chapped.  Defendant offered to stop at a drugstore so she could pick up some Blistex, which surprised Katelyn because defendant rarely offered to do things for people, at least during the previous few months.  When defendant stopped at a Walgreens in Sacramento, Katelyn went inside, bought the Blistex, and used the restroom at the store.  She then returned to the car, but defendant was not there.  Katelyn found defendant inside the store, “sort of pacing the aisles.”

After Walgreens, defendant and Katelyn drove to a fast food restaurant to get some food.  They ate in the car on the way to pick up the marijuana, but defendant appeared to be lost.  He apologized and said:  “I usually come out here in the daylight, but it’s dark this time, so I’m—it’s throwing me off a little bit.”  After about an hour of “driving up and down ․ the same few streets,” Katelyn asked defendant:  “Is there a specific street that you’re looking for?”  They arrived at the apparent destination soon thereafter, which was “maybe a minute or two away” from where they started at the Walgreens.  Defendant parked at a Mexican restaurant and said:  “I know this might seem a little strange, but Mom understands.  We’ve done this before.  I need to park here and walk to where I’m going to go.”  Katelyn stayed in the car and locked the doors.  Defendant returned from wherever he went about 20 minutes later and said he vomited during the walk back to the car.

Defendant then drove Katelyn back to their home in Manteca, arriving just before 11:00 p.m., about four hours after they left UOP. Katelyn unloaded her bags in her room and then walked to the bathroom.  Defendant stopped her in the hallway and said:  “Katelyn, Mom’s asleep.”  Katelyn described his tone as “abrupt and urgent.”  She found the warning to be strange since she assumed their mother was asleep and did not normally bother her in the middle of the night.  Katelyn used the bathroom and then returned to her room.  At various points later in the night, she left her room and found defendant “sort of pacing in the hallways.”

The next morning, defendant was already up when Katelyn emerged from her room.  He asked whether she got his text message.  Katelyn’s cell phone died the night before, so she had not.  Defendant explained he texted her earlier in the morning to say their mother got up at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. and told him she had not slept well so she would be staying in bed for the day.  When defendant went outside for a few minutes, Katelyn knocked lightly on their mother’s door and called for her, but did not receive a response.  She tried to open the door, but it was locked.  Concerned, but also conflicted because of what defendant told her about their mother not sleeping well the night before, Katelyn knocked a little louder and again called for her mother, but again received no response.  Katelyn then went outside to try to look into her mother’s window, but the shutters were closed.  Feeling like she was being “paranoid” because she did not have any reason to disbelieve defendant, Katelyn returned to her room.  She then went about her day.

At defendant’s suggestion, which he claimed was a request their mother made earlier that morning, defendant drove Katelyn to the bank so she could take care of an errand there.  Katelyn described his demeanor as “much like the previous night,” explaining:  “He was being unusually, you know, cheerful, seeming—being chatty and just, you know, eager to have conversations, and just being very casual.”  After Katelyn was done at the bank, defendant asked if she needed to go anywhere else, suggesting Target.  Katelyn said she did not need to go to Target and asked if he did.  Defendant answered:  “Not really.  Just for fun.  Just to go walk around Target.”  Katelyn then asked to go to the AT & T store located on the way back to the house to buy a phone charger.  Defendant suggested they go to a different AT & T store farther away from the house.  After picking up the charger, they returned home.  Katelyn then went out to lunch with a friend.  When she returned later in the afternoon, defendant was not home.

Around 5:30 p.m., still seeing no sign of her mother, Katelyn decided to check on her again.  Knocking on her door and calling for her, progressively louder with each attempt, Katelyn again received no response.  She then called her brother Justin, who told her to call 911, which she did.  Emergency responders arrived a short time later, broke the lock off the bedroom door, and found Kathleen’s body in the condition previously described.  Police were then dispatched to the scene.  Defendant was arrested early the next morning.  As mentioned, his mother’s blood was on his jacket when he was taken into custody.

Manteca Woman Stabbed To Death; Son Accused
Family grieves for slain mom, struggles to understand the son who killed her
Police recover bloody mask
Jury finds man sane in mother’s stabbing death
Man gets life for killing his mom
16 years to life for man who killed his mom
The People of the State of California v Dawson Andrew McGehee 2016 (conviction and sentence affirmed)

Movies/Documentaries
Snapped: Dawson McGehee

INMATE INFORMATION

Inmate Name MCGEHEE, DAWSON ANDREW
CDCR Number AN4127
Age 32
Admission Date 02/05/2013
Current Location Mule Creek State Prison
Parole Eligible Date (Month/Year) 09/2024

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Lawrence County, OH Rampage: Arron Lee Lawson charged with killing 4 people in Pedro, including an 8-year-old child (whose body was hidden); There was one survivor as well

Victims
Donald McGuire, 50
Tammie L. McGuire, 43
Staci M. Jackson, 28 (no picture)
Devin Holston, 8

Ohio killings: Boy, 7, found shot to death after 3 adults killed, manhunt for ‘person of interest’
Ex-Babysitter of 8-Year-Old Boy Whose Body was Found ‘Hidden’ in Home Is Arrested in Quadruple Homicide
Search for answers continues in Lawrence County after quadruple murder
Suspect in custody in slayings of boy, 8, and three relatives in Ohio home
Suspect in Ohio quadruple murder arrested; victims identified
Suspect wanted in Ohio slayings captured
Sheriff: Ohio quadruple murder suspect didn’t put up fight during arrest
Suspect in 4 Ohio slayings arrested while walking along road
Arron Lawson: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
3 Dead Adults and Victim Stabbed in the Head Are ‘Related’, Police Say
Quadruple homicide suspect arraigned
Death penalty sought for quadruple homicide suspect


Arron Lawson

Execution Alert: Keith Leroy Tharpe for the murder of his sister-in-law, Jaquelyn Freeman

From Tharpe’s appeal: Tharpe’s wife left him on August 28, 1990 and moved in with her mother. Following various threats of violence made by the defendant to and about his wife and her family, a peace warrant was taken out against him, and the defendant was ordered not to have any contact with his wife or her family. Notwithstanding this order, Tharpe called his wife on September 24, 1990 and argued with her, saying if she wanted to “play dirty,” he would show her “what dirty was.”

On the morning of the 25th, his wife and her sister-in-law met Tharpe as they drove to work. He used his vehicle to block theirs and force them to stop. He got out of his vehicle, armed with a shotgun and apparently under the influence of drugs, and ordered them out of their vehicle. After telling the sister-in-law he was going to “f––– you up,” he took her to the rear of his vehicle, where he shot her. He rolled her into a ditch, reloaded, and shot her again, killing her.

9/27/2017 – He was granted a temporary stay of execution.

Tharpe then drove away with his wife. After unsuccessfully trying to rent a motel room, Tharpe parked by the side of the road and raped his wife. Afterward, he drove to Macon, where his wife was to obtain money from her credit union. Instead she called the police.

Tharpe v Head 2000 (habeas corpus remanded for a decision)
Keith Tharpe v Warden 2016 (habeas corpus denied)
Execution Date Set for Keith Leroy Tharpe, Convicted of Murder
Execution date set for man convicted in decades-old grisly murder
Tharpe Execution Media Advisory – Last Meal
With his execution date set, Jones County killer requests final meal
Georgia plans to execute man who killed sister-in-law
Lawyers: Death sentence tainted by juror’s racial bias
The Latest: Board Denies Clemency for Condemned Prisoner
Parole board declines to spare life of inmate set to die
Condemned Georgia man loses clemency bid after lawyers cite juror’s racial bias
Georgia plans to execute man who killed sister-in-law
GA Supreme Court rejects stay of execution; killer set to die tonight
Keith Leroy Tharpe – Georgia Execution – September 26, 2017
Murderpedia: Keith Leroy Tharpe
The Latest: Supreme Court grants temporary stay of execution
U.S. Supreme Court grants stay of execution to Georgia killer

INMATE INFORMATION

NAME: THARPE, KEITH LEROY
GDC ID: 0000173325

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

YOB: 1958
RACE: BLACK
GENDER: MALE
HEIGHT: 5’09”
WEIGHT: 195
EYE COLOR: BROWN
HAIR COLOR: BLACK
SCARS, MARKS, TATTOOS

INCARCERATION DETAILS

MAJOR OFFENSE: MURDER
MOST RECENT INSTITUTION: GA DIAG CLASS PRISON
MAX POSSIBLE RELEASE DATE: DEATH

ACTUAL RELEASE DATE: CURRENTLY SERVING
CURRENT STATUS: ACTIVE

KNOWN ALIASES
A.K.A. THARPE,KEITH L
A.K.A. THARPE,KEITH LEROY
A.K.A. THORPE,KEITH L

STATE OF GEORGIA – CURRENT SENTENCES

CASE NO: 271622
OFFENSE: MURDER
CONVICTION COUNTY: JONES COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 09/25/1990
SENTENCE LENGTH: NOT AVAILABLE

CASE NO: 271622
OFFENSE: KIDNAPPING
CONVICTION COUNTY: JONES COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 09/25/1990
SENTENCE LENGTH: NOT AVAILABLE

CASE NO: 271622
OFFENSE: KIDNAPPING
CONVICTION COUNTY: JONES COUNTY
CRIME COMMIT DATE: 09/25/1990
SENTENCE LENGTH: NOT AVAILABLE
STATE OF GEORGIA – PRIOR SENTENCES

STATE OF GEORGIA – INCARCERATION HISTORY

INCARCERATION BEGIN: 01/18/1991
INCARCERATION END: ACTIVE
INCARCERATION BEGIN: 04/04/1988
INCARCERATION END: 06/23/1988

Murder In The Family: Sarah Vercauteren beat her mother, Dawn Marie Wagner to death with a hammer; Sentenced to her LWOP


Dawn Marie Wagner

Dawn Marie Wagner obituary
Woman’s homicide investigated in Salem Township
Cops: Pa. woman killed mother, robbed bank with kid in car
Police: Argument over car led to murder of Salem Twp. mother
Woman accused of killing mother, robbing bank faces judge
Daughter charged with criminal homicide in mother’s death in Salem Township
Woman In Court After Allegedly Robbing Bank, Murdering Her Mother
Salem Twp. woman’s confession played in court: ‘I kept hitting her with a hammer’
‘I kept hitting her in the head with the hammer,’ woman confesses to police
‘I deserve it:’ Daughter pleads guilty in mother’s brutal murder in Salem Township
Woman Pleads Guilty In Mother’s Murder, Sentenced To Life Without Parole
Woman gets life sentence in mother’s murder in Salem Township

Movies/Documentaries
Deadly Women: Broken Ties

INMATE INFORMATION

Inmate Number: OX7309
Name Name Type
SARAH D VERCAUTEREN Also Known As
SARAH DAWN VERCAUTEREN Commit Name
SARAH DAWN VERCAUTEREN True Name
Age: 28
Date of Birth: 10/02/1988
Race: WHITE
Height (in): 5′ 02″
Gender: FEMALE
Citizenship: USA
Complexion: MEDIUM
Current Location: CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS
Permanent Location: CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS
Committing County: ALLEGHENY
Last Updated Time: 9/15/2017 4:00:14 AM

Murder In The Family: Marcus Mario Razario and Ruth Ruffalo charged with the murder of Michael Samuel Ruffalo; Trial has started


Michael Ruffalo

Michael Ruffalo obituary
Son arrested for beating 90-year-old father
Man arrested in beating of his dad, 90
Son charged with murder after beaten dad dies
2011 death, torture case headed to trial
Barstow woman fit to answer to husband’s torture, death
Barstow murder case drags on
Murder trial begins after six years
Murder trial begins after six years
Facebook: Marcus M. Razario

Defendants
Ruth Ruffalo (wife)
Mark Michael Ruffalo (aka Marcus Mario Razario) (son)

INMATE INFORMATION

INMATE INFORMATION

Murder In The Family: David Marmolejo killed his mother, Gloria Huerta; Sentenced to 54 years in prison


Gloria Huerta Marmolejo

Gloria Marmolejo obituary
Body ID’d as missing El Paso woman
Autopsy reveals slaying was brutal: Gloria Marmolejo was strangled
Autopsy reveals details in El Paso woman’s killing
Judge declares mistrial in David Marmolejo murder case
David Marmolejo convicted of murdering mother
Marmolejo Guilty: Family Torn Apart As Sentencing Phase Begins
Marmolejo sentenced to 54 years for murder
David Marmolejo Sentenced To 54 Years In Prison For Mom’s Murder
David Marmolejo v State of Texas 2011 (conviction and sentence affirmed)
Man convicted of killing mom in Texas faces rape charges in Phoenix
El Paso man convicted in mom’s death faces multiple charges in Phoenix
El Paso man convicted of killing mother set to go to trial in Arizona
Man convicted in mom’s death faces sexual assault charges in Arizona
El Paso man convicted of murdering his mother faces rape charges in Arizona
El Paso man convicted of killing mother set to go to trial in Arizona
David Marmolejo pleads guilty to charges in AZ
Man convicted of murdering his mother pleads guilty to raping women in Phoenix

Movies/Documentaries
Bad Blood: Forbidden Love

INMATE INFORMATION

TEXAS
SID Number: 06047255
TDCJ Number: 01712899
Name: MARMOLEJO, DAVID
Race: H
Gender: M
DOB: 1979-11-01
Maximum Sentence Date: 2063-09-05
Current Facility: FEDERAL BENCH WARRANT
Projected Release Date: 2063-09-05
Parole Eligibility Date: 2036-09-04

Offense History:
Offense Date: 2009-07-25
Offense: MURDER
Sentence Date: 2011-03-16
County: EL PASO
Case No.: 20090D04868
Sentence: 54 years

MARICOPA COUNTY

Murder In The Family: Sandra Barajas and her daughter, Dawn Richburg, hired Tommy Wright to kill her husband, Miguel “Mike” Barajas for the insurance money; All received lengthy prison sentences


Miguel “Mike” Barajas

Miguel J. Barajas obituary
Facebook: Mike Barajas Jr.
Arress made in the homicide of Miguel Barajas
Three arrested in Colorado Springs murder including wife of victim
Wife, Daughter Arrested In Connection To Murder
Prosecutors say Security-Widefield man victim of murder plot by family, not strangers
Woman pleads guilty to plotting to kill stepfather
Colorado Springs Woman Found Guilty Of Murdering Husband
Woman convicted of plotting to kill husband
Woman sentenced to 45 years for plotting stepfather’s murder
Man Gets 40 Years In Prison For Murder For Hire
Hit man in Colorado Springs murder case gets 40 years in prison

Movies/Documentaries
Snapped: Sandra Barajas

Defendants
Sandra Barajas – convicted, sentenced to LWOP
Dawn Michelle Richburg – pled guilty, sentenced to 45 years in prison
Tommy Wright – pled guilty, sentenced to 40 years in prison

INMATE INFORMATION

Name: BARAJAS, SANDRA M
Age: 57
Ethnicity: WHITE
Gender: FEMALE
Hair Color: BLONDE
Eye Color: BLUE
Height: 5′ 04″
Weight: 154
DOC Number: 164997
Est. Parole Eligibility Date:
Next Parole Hearing Date:
Est. Mandatory Release Date:
Est. Sentence Discharge Date: 12/31/9998
Current Facility Assignment: DENVER WOMENS CORRECTIONAL FACILITY

INMATE INFORMATION

Name: RICHBURG, DAWN M
Age: 37
Ethnicity: WHITE
Gender: FEMALE
Hair Color: BLONDE
Eye Color: BLUE
Height: 4′ 11″
Weight: 150
DOC Number: 166872
Est. Parole Eligibility Date: 12/04/2045
Next Parole Hearing Date: Sep 2045
This offender is scheduled on the Parole Board agenda for the month and year above. Please contact the facility case manager for the exact date.
Est. Mandatory Release Date: 03/05/2057
Est. Sentence Discharge Date:
Current Facility Assignment: LA VISTA CORRECTIONAL FACILITY

INMATE INFORMATION

Name: WRIGHT, TOMMY A
Age: 38
Ethnicity: WHITE
Gender: MALE
Hair Color: BROWN
Eye Color: BLUE
Height: 6′ 02″
Weight: 220
DOC Number: 123189
Est. Parole
Eligibility Date: 09/20/2034
Next Parole
Hearing Date: Jun 2034
This offender is scheduled on the Parole Board agenda for the month and year above. Please contact the facility case manager for the exact date.
Est. Mandatory
Release Date: 09/05/2057
Est. Sentence
Discharge Date:
Current Facility
Assignment: COLORADO STATE PENITENTIARY

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