Before I get into the meat of this post I want to preface it by saying two things. The first is, I realize a victim in this story died and I am not trying to lessen the impact of or make light of their death. The second thing is, I also realize how much life and limb has been lost due to school violence this year, more than any other year I can remember. I’m also not trying to downplay the severity of the number of tragedies that have happened this year. However, I do have to take the media to task for calling everything a school shooting.
For example, here is how I received a news article from Google News Alerts about a shooting that took place in Overland Park, Kansas, on Tuesday.
Only one of those four headlines doesn’t call the incident a school shooting. When I clicked on the link from WIBW here in Topeka the headline at the time still referred to the incident as a school shooting although the headline has since been corrected. But the first paragraph of the story betrays the original headline.
Authorities have arrested a suspect in a shooting that killed one and critically wounded another outside an Overland Park elementary school.
What happened is that 32-year-old Anthony David Grable was working with two other people installing playground equipment at the school when an argument ensued and Grable allegedly shot his two co-workers, killing one of them.
No students or faculty were at the school. No students or faculty were involved in the shooting. Schools in the district have been out of session since late May. However, I can almost guarantee you that some gun control group like Everytown for Gun Safety will consider this as a school shooting in order to overinflate their stats used to further push their agenda. Then it becomes a vicious cycle with media as they take whatever number Everytown puts forth as gospel and the cycle continues. While I think that the country is obviously in desperate need of gun reform, no one benefits from lies and hyperbole. Because once they’re accepted as fact and then the truth is revealed, it will give the opposition just as much ammunition, so to speak, to reverse any benefit and once again we’re back at square one where nothing has changed and kids are still dying for no reason.
Back in 2016, 42-year old Martha Teran was shot and killed in the parking lot of Medieval Times in Dallas, Texas. Back in April, 24-year-old Lonzell Hunter was convicted and sentenced to life for her murder. Hunter used a fake OfferUp profile in order to set up the robbery. When someone in the car Lonzell was sitting in snatched the phone, a struggle ensued and Lonzell shot Martha Teran. Lonzell had also messaged friends telling them to be ready to “bleed this block” for “street money.” He has also been charged with a charge of capital murder for the murder of another victim at a convenience store.
No matter how glitzy and slick a classifieds app appears to be, none of them are 100% safe and just meeting in a public place isn’t a guarantee of safety anymore. If you still insist on using classifieds apps or websites, meet the other person nowhere except a police station. If they don’t want to meet you there, then the odds are they’re up to no good.
Previously, I’ve discussed the murder of Desiree Robinson before. She was the 16-year-old girl who was being prostituted on Backpage in the Chicago area. On Christmas Eve of 2016, when 32-year-old Antonio Rosales couldn’t pay her, he allegedly brutally murdered her instead. Her alleged pimp tried to get other women to work for him and reportedly said: “Now that she’s gone, I got no money coming in.” Now, the man who recruited Desiree for her pimp testified in court to how little Desiree’s life was worth to those who were trafficking her.
Back in April, 26-year-old Charles McFee pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of sex trafficking conspiracy for recruiting Desiree into prostitution. McFee expected to get a $250 ‘finder’s fee’ after ‘giving’ Desiree to her alleged pimp, Joseph Hazley. Hazley is still awaiting trial on human trafficking charges for prostituting Desiree on Backpage. In exchange for a lighter sentence, McFee is expected to testify against Hazley.
When people ask why we need legislation like FOSTA and SESTA, Desiree’s story should be the answer why, and her story is only one among multitudes of women and children who have been bought and sold like so much merchandise on Backpage. Not only do websites that facilitate human trafficking need to be held responsible for deaths like Desiree’s, but a message also needs to be sent to every would-be pimp and trafficker who thinks they can make some quick money by selling people into sexual slavery.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the story of Erica Parsons, you can read all about it here. However, to sum up, Erica was 13 in 2011 when she went missing from her home in Salisbury, North Carolina. She wasn’t reported missing until 2013. Her adoptive parents, Casey and Sandy Parsons, continued to collect Erica’s government benefits while she was missing. Casey Parsons claimed Erica went to live with her biological grandmother ‘Nan’ who didn’t actually exist. The couple was eventually sent to prison for fraud but in 2016, Sandy Parsons led authorities to Erica’s remains. Both Parsonses have been charged with Erica’s murder.
In my last post about Erica, I lamented that since North Carolina hasn’t executed anyone in 12 years, it’s doubtful either of the Parsonses would receive the death penalty. However, back in the beginning of April, Rowan County prosecutors stated they will seek the death penalty against Erica’s adoptive father, Sandy Parsons.
While he certainly deserves it for the amount of abuse and violence he allegedly inflicted on Erica, I would imagine that prosecutors are hoping for a guilty plea from Sandy Parsons in exchange for a life sentence. So far, even a month later, no deal has been made. I still think a death sentence would be hard to obtain since Erica’s autopsy couldn’t discern an exact cause of death outside of “homicidal violence of undetermined means.”
I initially posted about the murders of Alize Smith and Jarron Moreland here. Back in April, the two 21-year-olds from Moore, Oklahoma, were shot and killed during a craigslist gun sale gone wrong. Their bodies were found days later, weighted down in a pond. 22-year-old Kevin Garcia-Boettler and 43-year-old Johnny Barker were charged with their murders. Also charged was Garcia-Boettler’s 16-year-old brother who has now been identified as Brett Boettler who has been charged as an adult. 40-year-old Crystal Rachelle Boettler, the mother of the two brothers, has been charged as an accessory after the fact.
After allegedly shooting the two victims in their van, the Boettler brothers took their victims to their mom’s home where Barker, Mrs. Boettler’s boyfriend, is said to have helped the brothers dispose of the bodies. Reports are also now saying that Smith’s and Moreland’s bodies were dismembered before being thrown into the pond.
According to court documents, detectives found the White Chrysler Town and Country van which was seen during the shooting, at the Boettler home.
After looking inside, they found “cleaning products and a power washer around the vehicle,” “dried blood spatter on the ceiling of the van” and “a bucket of water with a chainsaw bar inside and soaking in the water along with several jigsaw blades.”
Again, all this senseless violence could have been prevented if craigslist had only moderated their own site for illegal gun sales. Selling firearms is against their terms of service, but they refuse to enforce it.
Just because craigslist removed its personals section doesn’t mean it’s any safer. Last weekend, two men, 21-year-olds Alize Smith and Jarron Moreland, went missing in Moore, Oklahoma, after witnesses saw them being taken into a van. Moreland’s family claimed that he was meeting someone to sell something through craigslist. Sadly, the bodies of Moreland and Smith were found weighted in a pond earlier this week. Three suspects have been arrested and charged in their murders, and they are 22-year-old Kevin Garcia-Boettler, 43-year-old Johnny Barker, and the 16-year-old brother of Garcia-Boettler.
According to police, Moreland and Smith were said to be selling a gun on craigslist and the trio of suspects were meeting with the two men to purchase the gun. Once Moreland and Smith approached the suspects’ van, one of the suspects claims they heard a gun being cocked by one of the victims. This resulted in one of the suspects firing on the two men, killing them both. Tragically, this could have all been prevented.
Craigslist’s terms of service forbids firearms from being sold or traded on their site, yet it happens all the time. The problem with craigslist is the usual one as they hardly ever do any kind of moderation on their site for any kind of illegal items or sales. Instead, they rely on their users to flag any kind of inappropriate ad, the same users who are posting the illegal ads to begin with. This is akin to the inmates running the asylum. Craigslist has the ability to screen for ads like this as they have done so in the past with unlocked iPhones when that was still illegal. Yet they allow guns to change hands without even batting an eye.
What shouldn’t be forgotten about this story is the letter Sparre wrote to his ex-girlfriend after his conviction where he stated he enjoyed killing Tiara, admitted planning the murder for weeks and thought he was smarter than police. Egomania and psychopathy aside, does that sound like someone with a diminished mental capacity to you?
Meanwhile, Tiara’s family, who by all accounts are loving and close-knit, can’t appeal the death sentence David Sparre inflicted unfairly on Tiara just because she answered his craigslist ad.
Seven years after her disappearance, two years after her remains had been found, and on almost what would have been her 20th birthday, Erica Parsons‘ adoptive parents have finally been charged with first-degree murder in her death.
Erica went missing in 2011 from her home in Salisbury, North Carolina, but wasn’t reported missing for two more years. Her adoptive parents, Casey and Sandy Parsons, have claimed that Erica went to live with her biological grandmother in Asheville, North Carolina. While Erica was missing her adoptive parents continued to collect benefits in Erica’s name. Both Sandy and Casey Parsons are currently serving time in federal prison for fraud.
This past Monday, a grand jury in Rowan County, North Carolina, handed down an indictment charging the Parsonses with first-degree murder, felony child abuse inflicting serious injury, felony concealment of death and felony obstruction of justice.
According to the indictment, the Parsonses “did knowingly and willfully dismember and destroy human remains of Erica Lynn Parsons, by any means, including removing body parts and otherwise obliterating any portion thereof.”
Thankfully, they’re already in prison so no one has to look far for them. North Carolina does have the death penalty and first-degree murder is a capital offense. However, due to the fact that the autopsy couldn’t discern an exact cause of death, and that North Carolina hasn’t executed anyone in 12 years, I doubt either of the Parsonses will receive the punishment they deserve.
UPDATE 2/18/2018: Early last week two suspects were arrested and charged with Gerard Cage’s murder. They are 28-year-old Timothy Gordon Johnson and 29-year-old Nichelle Angeleane Scott-Dennis, both of Lancaster.
Over the weekend, 18-year-old Gerard Cage was shot and killed in Lancaster, Texas, after trying to buy a cell phone through the marketplace app 5miles. Gerard was said to have been shot by a man in a white Dodge pickup. At last report Gerard’s killer was still at large. The meeting place was said to be very public, but as we’ve seen in the past few years, that doesn’t stop people from robbing or killing their victims through apps like this.
The investigation is ongoing and Lancaster police are asking anyone with information to call Lancaster police at 972-218-2711.
Tragically, this isn’t the first murder committed through 5miles in the Dallas area. Back in late 2016, 33-year-old April Vancleave of Arlington, Texas, was shot and killed after trying to sell jewelry through 5miles. She was followed home by two men who intended on robbing her.
The difference between these murders and murders that have taken place through other apps is that 5miles has not only offered their condolences but publicly stated that they’d be helping local police.
“5miles” app told WFAA on Sunday night they are working to assist Lancaster PD in solving Cage’s killing.
“We’re saddened to hear about this young man and have been cooperating with the Lancaster P.D., providing the detective assigned to this case with requested information and support,” the company said in a statement.
When has craigslist ever reached out to the public positively when one of the 100+ victims have been killed through their platform?
5miles also offers a safety feature that many similar apps do not. The app has an option that recommends a safe meeting place which includes police stations. The only other platform I know of that offers a similar service is, friend of the site, Geebo.com who provides a link to SafeTrade Stations in every ad.
My prayers and condolences go out to Gerard’s friends and family. Hopefully his killer will be brought to justice swiftly.
If the suspect’s story is to be believed, this may be the most bizarre craigslist killing I’ve heard of in the past 12 years.
Back in late December, 19-year-old Natalie Bollinger of Adams County, Colorado, went missing. The day after she was reported missing her body was found. Nicole had been shot in the head and a lethal amount of heroin had been found in her system.
Originally, the public turned their suspicious eye toward a scary looking man who Natalie claimed was stalking her. She even took out a restraining order on the man. Since he has not been charged in Natalie’s death, I won’t post his name. However, I get the feeling that some people will still point to him as a suspect. He was a person of interest until another person was arrested for Natalie’s murder.
22-year-old Joseph Michael Lopez was arrested this past week and was charged with first-degree murder in Natalie’s death. Lopez claims that Natalie took an ad out on craigslist entitled “I want to put a hit on myself.” Lopez claims he responded to the ad posing as a hitman. The two exchanged over 100 text messages. Lopez claimed that he didn’t shoot Natalie but was with her the night she died. However, police say when Lopez was confronted with the GPS data from his phone he allegedly admitted shooting her in the back of the head.
Do I believe Lopez’s grandiose tale of the craigslist ad? Surprisingly, I think there may be a grain of truth to his story. It’s not unheard of for people to look for a hitman on craigslist. Usually, those people are also arrested. Some of Natalie’s friends have said she had suicidal thoughts and a drug problem so it is a possibility that for whatever reason she didn’t want to end her life by her own hand. I’m not 100% convinced this is why he killed her, but it’s not the strangest reason why someone kills.
Having said that, that does not excuse Lopez’s actions in any way shape or form, nor does that make Natalie Bollinger any less of a victim. Just because someone asks you to kill them DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD. Lopez reminds me of one of those guys who thinks he’s an actual ninja because he collects swords and watches anime. If his story is true, then due to his obvious disregard for Natalie’s life, I would have no objection if Lopez was given the death penalty. That seems unlikely since Colorado has only executed one person since the death penalty was reinstated in 1974.
I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this one and as usual, I’ll post updates as they become available and as time allows.