Your Home is your Castle…Or is it?


Having recently ventured into real estate for the second time in my life, it reminded me of a long ago crime seen on Nancy Grace years ago- It concerned the murder of a real estate agent during a showing in a posh neighborhood. Unlikely to happen?  Not any more!

Real estate is a very service- oriented profession They are supposed to be quick studies of your likes, dislikes, preferences , personal habits, your pocket-book, your expectations (often unrealistic) and be at your beck and call with a myriad of requests and have the ability to  negotiate all problems. And let us not forget the “Greek languages” spoken by financial counselors, lending institutions and insurance companies!  Surely we are talking about a miracle worker!  No, they are just average people looking to make a living and earn a well deserved commission “at the end of the road.”

However with the influx of our fast paced society, social media and ever creative criminals, real estate agents have never been so vulnerable. However, with common sensibilities for 2014 and some advanced preparation, the odds of trouble can be lowered.

According to a January 2014 article from HousingWire, the Most 10 Dangerous Cities for real estate agents include locations in Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Arkansas and Missouri. The data is based on location, and city population in relation to their crime rate per resident.

The Top Five Most Dangerous Locations:

#1 East St. Louis, Illinois

Reigning as the most dangerous city in America, East St. Louis also places the other half to number eight on the list. “St. Louis proper” has a population of over 318,000. East St. Louis has only 27,000 residents but struggles with a crime rate of over 117 offenses per 1,000 people;

#2 Camden, New Jersey

Camden is tucked next to Philadelphia, Pa. It has a population of almost 78,000, with 6,080 documented crimes in 2013;

#3 Flint, Michigan

Flint is located about halfway between Detroit and Saginaw. Flint ranks in at third with crime rate of 85 per 1,000 residents;

 #4 West Memphis, Arkansas

West Memphis is the furthest south city on the list and holds a crime rate of 117 per 1,000 residents;

#5. Saginaw, Michigan

North of Detroit, Saginaw has a much smaller population but still records a total of 2,976 violent and property crimes in 2013, with a population slightly over 51,000;

(Six-Detroit; Seven- Atlantic City, Eight-St. Louis; None- Newburg, New York; Ten – Inkster, Michigan)

What are some of the “New Issues” Encountered?

According to Tracey Hawkins, a former real Estate Agent and owner of a company called Safety and Security Source, she creates a variety of safety programs for agents and workers of other service related businesses.

With a distressed economy brings abandoned properties, squatters, aggressive pets, angry homeowners of foreclosed properties, meth labs and pot houses etc. Social media can also provide access and a tool for criminals with announcements of open houses.

General Considerations –

Meet clients at the office when others are present, obtain a copy of the prospective client’s driver’s license and always inform others of your whereabouts. In resorts and high tourist areas, such as cities in Florida, South Carolina, California, agents and law enforcement must be even more vigilant as criminals can easily hide “in plain sight.”  My personal experience was that it was like pulling teeth to find and capture a real estate agent’s attention in South Carolina.  Many of them… don’t call back, they miss appointments, they don’t take you seriously “as a Yankee” etc.  Yes, many people are “just lookers.” However, those from other geographic areas, perhaps with a little better paycheck than some  locals deserve respect and attention regardless.  FORTUNATELY, I finally located a gem of a person!


Killed “On the Job” 

Can you imagine a lovely young realtor murdered in a model Home?   In April 2011, 27 year old Ashley Oakland was shot in the head and chest in a Des Moines Iowa at an open house. Initially, a male colleague was suspected.  Four and a half years have passed. Reward money has increased from an initial $10,000 to $150,000.  How does this happen to “a person with no enemies”?  Police reported as of 2013, nearly 800 leads were investigated with 380 people interviewed. A co-worker stated: “She could handle herself professionally and still bring a lot of fun and positive energy into any room she was in, and I always appreciated that,” the organization’s president, Jason Wells. Well’s had purchased his Stone Creek Village home with Oakland’s help.

Summary Timeline of the Case

On July 15, 2014, the Ashley Oakland Star Playground, designed especially for children with special needs was “open for business.”

2014 Case Update:  A Related Case?  An Oct. 1, 2014 KCRG-TV9 story said authorities in West Des Moines were planning to check with investigators in Arkansas to see if there was any connection between Okland’s murder and that of 49-year-old Beverly Carter, a Little Rock, Arkansas realtor who was killed after setting up an appointment to show an empty home.

Carter was reported missing Sept. 25, 2014, and the Pulaski (Ark.) County Sheriff’s Office said her body was found Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014 in a shallow grave.

A Des Moines Register article by Christopher Pratt republished at on Oct. 1, 2014, said of Carter’s murder:

Authorities in Arkansas have arrested parolee Arron Michael Lewis, 33, of Jacksonville, Ark., and charged him with capital murder in connection with the case. Police accuse Lewis of setting up an appointment with Carter to view a vacant house in a rural area near Little Rock then killing her a burying her body on the grounds of a concrete company where he once worked.

Officials had not yet stated how Carter died or what they had linking Lewis to the crime.

West Des Moines police spokesman Sgt. Ken O’Brien said police want to know where Lewis was in April 2011 when Ashley Okland was killed.

Police are asking anyone with information about Okland’s murder to contact the West Des Moines Police Department at 515-222-3344 or Polk County Crime Stoppers at 515-223-1400. You may also text “PCCS plus your message” to CRIMES (274637) or provide a tip online.

Ladyjustice  Comments/Questions:

Was this killing committed by “an admirer” who may have been rejected? Did Ashley know her assailant”? It seems that it was a personal crime or someone absolutely wanted no possibility of survival with shots to the head and chest.  By appearances, Ashley had the perfect life but was there another love interest? Was there a real estate transaction that  went terribly wrong?  Did she see something or become aware of a business deal that was shady and she was “silenced forever?”

Cold Case- Former Real Estate Agent- Donna Kuzmaak- Portland Oregon

On March 27, 1979, a husband finds his wife dead when he arrives home. “I remember her dragging me around to people’s homes she was selling. Cleaning places up to sell,” said Steve Mitchell, Kuzmaak’s husband.

Donna Kuzmaak was an outgoing 26 year old white female, athletic and played soccer and softball.  She had attended the University of Oregon, studying biology and liberal arts.  She worked in real estate for E.G. Stassens and Company, located at 49th and SE Powell.  On the day of the murder,

On the day Donna was killed, her husband, Mitchell arrived home from work at 4:30 p.m. Donna left work 90 minutes earlier. She was located in the basement.

Mitchell noticed the couple’s dogs were acting strangely and a dish of leftover manicotti sat out.” Whoever was there may have got it out to distract the dogs. That’s the only thing I could think of,” he said. She was beaten, strangled, stabbed and sexually assaulted. Mitchell later noticed one of the dogs was stabbed as well, likely trying to protect her.

“She fought very hard,” said Mike Stahlman, a retired detective now volunteering the Portland Police Bureau’s Cold Case unit. “There was evidence that she did fight but was just overcome at some point.”

Witnesses may contact Cold Case Homicide Unit investigators directly at (503) 823-0400. To remain anonymous, witnesses may provide information through Crime Stoppers of Oregon.

Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Tipsters can remain anonymous. Leave a Crime Stoppers tip online or text CRIMES (274637) and in the subject line put 823HELP, followed by the tip, or call (503) 823-HELP (4357) and leave the tip information.

 Ladyjustice Comments/Questions

Donna arrived home and was beaten, strangled, stabbed and sexually assaulted.  This appears to be “overkill.’ She was married just two years… Who else was in her past?  As a realtor, did she make it a habit to lock the doors when home alone?  It appears that the dogs were distracted by the killer and it was done prior to the husband’s arrival, such that one could assume her routines were monitored by her attacker.  As she made it a practice to “clean places up” in order to flip houses, this could mean depressed neighborhoods with shady characters. Were her comings and goings of older homes tracked and the neighbors interviewed and investigated?  Did Donna perhaps get into a dispute with any contactors or “would be helpers” looking for extra money?


We do not have the answers for Ashley or Donna. However, here’s some valuable advice from realtors concerning methods to stay safe. 

Although the Oakland and Kuzmaak families this far have been denied the opportunity to present a victim impact statement, if you have an impending judicial proceeding, perhaps a trial sentencing or a board of pardons and parole hearing, I may be able to assist through my unique Victim Impact Statement Assistance service.

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Homicide or Suicide- Which is it? 

The Tallahatchie Bridge

The Tallahatchie Bridge

Real Life  and then there was Billie Joe MacAllister

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of cases of homicides that initially are “tagged by the toe” and otherwise categorized as suicides.  Why does this occur?  Among the many reasons could be lack of proper experience in crime scene investigation, “politics at the highest levels,” perhaps, a law enforcement officer is the accused and therefore the true manner of death is “buried”, a crime scene is contaminated, lack of resources, expediency to “get things wrapped up” or plain old indifference about the victim for she was “that kind of girl.”

It is difficult to put a number on this, for research data never catches up with real time, so many cases go unreported and are misclassified. In addition, the homicide-suicide can be both when the perpetrator chooses to end it all AND turn the gun on himself!

As a few examples we need only to look at a few Susan Murphy-Milano Journal reports:

Homicide and suicide can be inextricably intertwined in the minds of the law enforcement and the general public at first glance until it gets sorted out with solid proof by experienced professionals.  Often a picture of depression, anxiety, lack of ability to cope is painted,” taking an abuser’s word, without really delving into the behaviors of the deceased prior to the murder.  However, what was our introduction of suicide in the year’s prior to social media and instantaneous news?

Suicide “Ode to Billie Joe” Fact or Folklore

It was a single debut song that “caused a ruckus” in the workplace and record stores everywhere in August 1967. “Ode to Billie Joe” was set against the backdrop of Lyndon Johnson sending 45,000 more troops to Vietnam, “Black Power Advocate” Stokely Carmichael calling for violent revolution in the streets and the Beatles manager, Brian Epstein dying from an overdose of sleeping pill. But, what did Billie Joe McAllister and his girlfriend throw off the Tallahatchie Bridge and what did it say about suicide?

Bobby Gentry crossing the Tallahatchie Bridge

Bobby Gentry crossing the Tallahatchie Bridge

According to writer Bill DE Main, “The finished version of “Ode” was over seven minutes long. Capitol edited it down to a more manageable four minutes and stuck it on the flip side of “Mississippi Delta.” But those were the days when DJs still had minds of their own, and as in the stories of so many classic hits, the B-side became the A-side.

Bobbie Gentry stated, “The song is sort of a study in unconscious cruelty. But everybody seems more concerned with what was thrown off the bridge than they are with the thoughtlessness of the people expressed in the song. What was thrown off the bridge really isn’t that important.

Everybody has a different guess about what was thrown off the bridge—flowers, a ring, even a baby. Anyone who hears the song can think what they want, but the real message of the song, if there must be a message, revolves around the nonchalant way the family talks about the suicide. They sit there eating their peas and apple pie and talking, without even realizing that Billie Joe’s girlfriend is sitting at the table, a member of the family.

In its first week of release, “Ode” sold 750,000 copies, knocking “All You Need Is Love” out of the top spot on the Billboard chart. Indeed, all you need is love in this society! As a performer, Bobbie Gentry has seemingly stayed out of the spotlight for over 35 years.

A Fictionalized “Presentation to the Jury”

Your Honor, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we are about to present the facts of what happened in and around the vicinity of Choctaw Ridge, Mississippi, on the day of April 22nd, 1960. These are the facts of the case, and they are undisputed.

We’re just kidding, of course. To this day, there is not a shred of evidence to back up the events of the story told by Bobbie Gentry’s 1967 smash hit “Ode to Billie Joe.” To the amateur sleuths and wanna-be Agatha Christies out there: we’re sincerely sorry to bust your bubble. But that’s the point of Southern Gothic, to make you wonder.

Oh, sure, even though Bobbie Gentry is not her real name (Roberta Lee Streeter holds that honor), really did grow up in Mississippi, and Choctaw Ridge, Carroll County, Tupelo, and the Tallahatchie River are all real places in Mississippi. There are, in fact, seven bridges spanning the Tallahatchie River, at least two of which are within reasonable distance of Choctaw Ridge. It would seem that all you have to do is go dredge the river for the body.

But, see, there isn’t any real body. And, if you insist on taking every word of the song for the Gospel truth, then you also have to allow for the fact that the whole town is talking about the suicide of Billie Joe MacAllister, including the whole family buzzing about it around the dinner table. Presumably, nearly-identical conversations are going on all over town at every family’s dinner table. The preacher, Brother Taylor, knows about it. This is not a cover-up. Everybody was seen in public, and the river would have already been dredged for the body, the body buried, and anything else that was thrown in the river would have been found, too.

People seem to have a hard time accepting the fiction of this song. In a world where novelists routinely fabricate hundreds of pages of made-up characters and events, why is it so hard to accept that a five-verse song is fiction? But then, Southern Gothic is like that sometimes. It’s meant to be compelling and intriguing.

Ode to Billie Joe

“It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty, delta day
I was out choppin’ cotton and my brother was balin’ hay
And at dinner time we stopped and walked back to the house to eat
And Mama hollered out the back door, “Y’all remember to wipe your feet”
Then she said, “I got some news this mornin’ from Choctaw Ridge
Today Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge”

Papa said to Mama as he passed around the black-eyed peas
“Well, Billie Joe never had a lick o’ sense, pass the biscuits, please
There’s five more acres in the lower forty I’ve got to plow”
And Mama said it was a shame about Billie Joe anyhow
Seems like nothin’ ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge
And now Billie Joe McAllister’s jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

Brother said he recollected when he and Tom and Billie Joe
Put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show
And wasn’t I talkin’ to him after church last Sunday night
I’ll have another piece of apple pie, you know, it don’t seem right
I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge
And now you tell me Billie Joe’s jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

Mama said to me, “Child what’s happened to your appetite?
I been cookin’ all mornin’ and you haven’t touched single bite
That nice young preacher Brother Taylor dropped by today
Said he’d be pleased to have dinner on Sunday, oh by the way
He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge
And she and Billie Joe was throwin’ somethin’ off the Tallahatchie Bridge”

A year has come and gone since I heard the news ’bout Billie Joe
Brother married Becky Thompson, they bought a store in Tupelo
There was a virus goin’ round, papa caught it and he died last spring
And now Mama doesn’t seem to want to do much of anything
And me I spend a lot of time picking flowers up on Choctaw Ridge
And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge

Ladyjustice Commentary:

If this song was our “first brush with the realization of suicide” was it a precursor to what we have today in so many crimes?   What was the pattern of conduct of Billie Joe and his girlfriend?  What was the significance of throwing something off the bridge?   Had this been a real case I know we would have gotten to the bottom of it.

Fictionalized or real- In 2014, we can NEVER afford to be complacent about homicide or suicide. Never say, “Pass the biscuits please”


The Song:

Additional Resources:;

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Confessions: Cleansing the Heart


There are so many circumstances under which so many people confess….

This blog is not an attempt to chronicle all serial killers, or even one killer’s confessions, or a discussion of false accusations or wrongful convictions. To try to compile such information in one shot, this writer would just faint away in exhaustion. However, my point is to present a smattering of different kinds of confessions, as such emotions are intriguing to me and hopefully to other readers.

Homicide confessions

Tommy Lynn Sells, convicted serial killer . Says he does not want to “Come out here and say a bag of hoo-hoo” to quote his own words from a transcript of a 2004 “20/20 interview.” (He has claimed responsibility for over 70 murders across the United States!)   However, that’s what prolific serial killers do. They are so convoluted in their descriptions and mix up events that you never know what’s really going on.  Are they trying to be coy? Are they trying to fool interviewers? Or, do they really, just don’t remember the accumulated impact of their crimes?

Diane Fanning uncovered the truth and brought justice for  accused mother Julie Rea Harper and her son Joel. In the early morning hours of Oct. 13, 1997, Julie Rea was sleeping in her home when she was awakened by a scream. Concerned about her son, Joel, she went to investigate and yelled his name, but his bed was empty. Julie said she then struggled with a masked intruder, chasing him through the house, bursting through two glass doors and into the backyard.  Then, she said, the intruder walked away, removing the mask under a street light before vanishing into the night.

Within minutes, police arrived. Julie had a bruise over her eye and a gash on her arm. Police immediately searched her home and found Joel dead, his T-shirt bloody from multiple stab wounds to his chest.

Why didn’t they believe her? Well, they were sloppy in their initial investigation and trial and there was a messy divorce, and perhaps “the intruder in the middle of the night” just seemed so unbelievable.

Then there was another victim in the ring of terror by Sells who survived. On December 31, 1999, 10-year-old Krystal Surles was staying at the house of a friend, 13-year-old Kaylene ‘Katy’ Harris, when she was attacked by a man in the bedroom where the two girls were sleeping. She had just witnessed Kaylene having her throat slashed, when the man grabbed her and cut her throat. Pretending to be dead, she stayed still until she could escape and get help from the next door neighbor.

She survived and was able to assist in the conviction of Sells.

The actual retrial began in summer 2006. The court ruled that serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells’ confession would be permitted as evidence in her new trial, despite questions about its credibility. Meanwhile, the court ruled that some of the damaging testimony from Rea Harper’s ex-husband would not be allowed.

The Defense attorney, Ron Safer, maintained that Rea Harper’s first lawyer had been in over his head and that despite evidence to the contrary, police had unjustly focused on her as their prime suspect from the very beginning.

“All you have to do is examine the physical evidence and the circumstantial evidence for a concentrated couple of days,” he said, “and you can reach no other conclusion but Julie was 100 percent innocent.-    115_TTWnewcover

Enter true crime writer and researcher Diane Fanning, who saw Rea Harper’s story on “20/20″ and found herself moved by her proclamation of innocence.

Diane was finishing a book on the brutal history of Tommy Lynn Sells, who was a death row serial killer with a history of drug addiction. She corresponded with Sells, and mentioned her doubts about Rea Harper’s conviction. (Through the Window)

Diane said, “I didn’t tell him who she was, I didn’t tell him where it happened, I didn’t tell him when it happened, nothing,” And he popped back with a letter and said, ‘Was that murder you were talking about one that happened two days before the one I did in Springfield, Mo.? Say maybe on the 13th?'”

What was it about a timeline that didn’t make sense? Joel was killed Oct. 13th- two days before police say Sells had raped and murdered 13-year-old Stephanie Mahaney in nearby Springfield, Missouri.

A Second Look and a Second Chance at Justice 

The Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University and the Chicago law firm Schiff Hardin decided to represent her in her appeal pro bono and would spend in time and money- The equivalent of $1 million on her defense.

“A taste” of what one of Tommy Lynn’s Sells Confession was like:

For the entire transcript with 20/20 See link-


Did you commit the murder of the boy in Lawrenceville?


I committed a murder two days before, the Springfield murder. I know this. Is it this murder you’re talking about? I’m assuming, got a good shot at it. You know. But, but to be-


Can you tell me, Tommy, what you remember about that murder?


Next to nothing. And, and I tried talking to Bob [NAME UNCLEAR] about this, and uh, y’all, y’all come here in forty-five minutes and you want me to disclose a murder investigation that, I’ve sat through many, and it takes hours. And, and y’all just want me to try to say that I’ve done something that I’m not a hundred percent sure; I’m not even forty percent sure. I know I committed a murder two days before Springfield…


Can you tell me what you do remember about that?


I remember getting in a fight with a woman. Well, not a fight, but a struggle.


Where was that? At a diner? At a restaurant-


No, no, during the murder.


During the murder?


Right. OK. And I thought it was her that I killed. But apparently it wasn’t. Now, y’all saying it’s a boy, and, and you know, it wasn’t like I asked for a name and, and, you know, I just went in to a dark room and started cutting. Or stabbing.


Do you remember why you went to that particular house?


Well, see, I wouldn’t say I had the right house, but I’m not even sure if I went to the right house. Uh.


Were you looking for someone or something?




What were you looking for?


I was looking for a woman, uh, that, that I had got into an argument with at a little convenience store earlier that day. And I had followed her, and thinking this is where she lives. No, go figure that. You know, it’s, it sounds awful coincidental, and the finger sure points to that one. You know. But, but before I say, yeah, I did something; I want to know I did it. I just don’t want to come out here and say, uh, a bag of hoo-hoo, and say this is what you want to hear, this is what I want to tell you. I’m, I’m, and you understand what I’m saying?

And…on and on….

Through Diane’s unrelenting pursuits and meticulous research, in 2011 Diane Fanning received the prestigious Defenders of the Innocents Award.

Status of Tommy Lynn Sells:  Sells was executed in Texas on April 3, 2014, at 6:27 p.m. CST by lethal injection. He declined to make a final statement.

Intimate Partner Violence

In 1991, after years of domestic violence, Geraldine Kelly shot and killed her husband and stored his body in a freezer at their home in Ventura, California. She told her young children that their father died in a car accident. Seven years later moving back to Somerville Massachusetts, she had the body driven across country stored in a local storage facility in Somerville. In 2004, 13 years after the murder Kelly was gravely ill with breast cancer and confessed to her daughter that she had killed her father claiming he abused her for years and told her where to find his body. The body was mummified but identified as John Kelly based on distinctive tattoos he was known to have including a panther, a Kewpie doll and a skull. The cause of death was a gunshot to the back of the head.

Lock Ness Monster Photo

In 1934 a doctor named Robert Kenneth Wilson offered a picture to the Daily Mail newspaper. Wilson told the newspaper he noticed something moving in Loch Ness, stopped his car to take the photo. Wilson refused to have his name associated with it so the photo became known simply as “The Surgeon’s Photo.” For decades this photo was considered to be the best evidence of the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. In 1994 at the age of 93 and near death Christian Spurling confessed that the surgeon’s photo taken 60 years ago was a hoax and the mastermind behind it was his Stepfather Marmaduke Wetherell.

Confessed to: the Murder of William Desmond Taylor

William Desmond Taylor was an actor and a top US film director of silent films in the early days of Hollywood. He was to death in 1922 it became one of Hollywood’s most famous mysteries

In 1964, 42 years after the murder a reclusive old woman living in the Hollywood Hills was suffering from a heart attack and summoned her neighbor. she asked for a priest to confess but when no Priest was available she began to make her confession to her neighbor. As she was dying on her kitchen floor she said she was a silent film actress by the name of Margaret Gibson and that she shot and killed a man named William Desmond Taylor. She is alleged to have been involved romantically with Taylor but a motive as to why she killed him was never mentioned.

The Violin Story: In 1936 Polish virtuoso Hall Huberman was performing at Carnegie Hall and decided to switch the Stradivarius he was playing in the first half of his performance to his newly acquired Guarnerius violin. After the intermission the Stradivarius was stolen out of his dressing room by 20-year-old Julian Altman who was a New York nightclub musician.

Altman went on to become a violinist with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. and performed for Presidents and politicians with the stolen Stradivarius for many years. In 1985, 49 years after the theft, Julian Altman who was in prison for child molestation and gravely ill confessed to his wife that he had stolen the violin. He then instructed his wife where to find the Stradivarius at the couple’s home. Along with the Stradivarius, she found newspaper clippings recounting the theft. In 1987 his wife returned the Stradivarius to Lloyds of London in exchange for a $263,000 finder’s fee.

Romantic Confessions of Love…  Okay- Proposals: “That One Thing”

This says it all! 8 minutes of bliss!






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Spontaneous Combustion at Its Best: The Cold Case Investigative Research Institute


“If law enforcement hasn’t thought of it, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea.”

(Sheryl McCollum)

When you pair Sheryl “Mac” McCollum with inquisitive, interested students of every academic discipline and personal background, combined with excellent colleagues and a state of the art facility, it’s spontaneous combustion of the best kind, the learning kind!

It all takes place at the Cold Case Investigative Research Institute  based in Atlanta.   As CCIRI Founder Sheryl McCollum says, “We’re in the business of tryin’ and we put fresh eyes on every case.”  After a long career in criminal justice, McCollum started the institute in 2005. Students receive no class credit and no grades for their work with the institute. Participation is strictly volunteer, yet there has never been a shortage of students eager to be a part.

Sheryl McCollum, Cold Case Investigative Research Institute,Shattered Lives Radio

Sheryl McCollum

The Cold Case Investigative Research Institute is a one of a kind non-profit born out of “an accidental teaching method” giving the opportunity for students to sink their teeth into a real case, and the rest is history with an impressive lineup of 30 colleges with professionals from which to draw ten years later!

Over their 10 year history students have worked on several high-profile cases, such as Chandra Levy, Tupac Shakur, and the Boston Strangler, as well as many  cases the public may not be as familiar. They are affiliated with colleges all over the country where each case is assigned to that college’s area of expertise, working independently, and combining information from each to add to the solvability of the case.


                         click to listen button1


 Highlights from the podcast:

  • “Civilians solve crime all the time”- Expertise you can’t pay for from the school of hard knocks;
  • “The Institute is Like a Church” All are welcome, no requirements needed.  Students come with many things to offer such as real life expertise , common sense
  • The Timeline for new cases, action plans, experts and expected outcomes. 1 year minimum time spent on each case, but many go on much longer.
  • The Miracle of Argocy College: A new home and unlimited potential. Example: videoconference with over 200 students for the benefit of one family’s case  equaling 400 man hours;
  • Duane Thompson, PhD –  “an all around top cop”
  • Donations: Send to-  The Cold Case Investigative Research Institute, 235 10th Street, Atlanta, Georgia  30318
  • Cases Discussions- Whodunit Versus Unproven:   Natalee Holloway; Amber Hagerman
  • The Comic Book about the Amber Hagerman case, one of a kind story
  •  Coldest Case ever worked,  “bullets don’t disintegrate!”
  • Update on the Mary Shotwell Little Case;
  • The Bizarre Case of Vi Ripken (mother of in the Baseball Star Cal Ripken, Jr.)
  • FUGITIVE APPREHENSION PLAN- for the future- endorsed by the Army, Secret Service, Marshall, Service, FBI etc… Stay tuned for more!
  • The “nuts and bolts” of figuring out a case – Example: Chandra Levy Case
  • Ladyjustice   describes the Institute as a “Think out of the Box” Institute
  • No sadness… and “a little pool of money.”
  • Traditional academics versus the fulfillment that is received from this “non-traditional learning experience”
  • Advantages for the students – National training from experts on all aspects of criminal justice and working real high-profile cases!
  • Parting Messages for the Audience – the benefits of DNA and encouraging you to help others wherever it’s needed.


“The comments expressed on this website or on the broadcasts of Shattered Lives do not necessary reflect the opinions or beliefs of the hosts, producers, or other guests.”

Spontaneous Combustion at Its Best: The Cold Case Investigative Research Unit

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