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Tag: Cold Case

Justice Department Reopens Murder Case of Emmett Till

Emmett Till

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has reopened the 1955 murder case of Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old who was brutally beaten, shot and left for dead in a river in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman.

Not long after the all-white jury acquitted two white men of Till’s murder, they confessed they were guilty, protected against double jeopardy. They are now dead.

But a central witness in the case, Carolyn Bryant Donham, changed her account of what happened.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the case, and it’s unclear what federal authorities plan to do. Cold cases from the Civil Rights Era rarely lead to convictions.

The Washington Post reports:

Federal prosecutors previously concluded that the statute of limitations for federal charges had run out, and a Mississippi grand jury in 2007 refused to bring charges, including a manslaughter charge that local authorities had sought against Ms. Donham.

Relatives of Emmett welcomed the new probe. But some — including the author of the book that triggered the new inquiry — have questioned what the government is up to. A “completely hypocritical political show” to distract from the ongoing controversies of the Trump administration, said Mr. Tyson. Such skepticism is understandable given the clear disdain Mr. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have shown for issues of civil rights and equal justice. Sad that they never seem to see the need to address the inequalities that exist today in the justice system and that victimize black people.

But Emmett’s mother, who died in 2003 without ever getting justice for her son, was right to insist that we not look away from what was done in the name of white supremacy. Let’s hope this new look at the case brings some measure of justice for a crime that must never be forgotten.

FBI: Evidence Points to Hired Gunman Who Killed Seattle Federal Prosecutor

Murder weapon in the unsolved homicide of Seattle federal prosecutor Thomas Wales.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The FBI has found strong evidence that a Seattle federal prosecutor was killed in 2001 by a hired gunman, indicating a possible break in a case that has long frustrated law enforcement.

The FBI and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein plan to hold a news conference to discuss the unsolved murder of Thomas Wales, who worked as a white-collar criminal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.

For more than a decade, agents suspected the involvement of a former Bellevue area airline pilot, the Seattle Times reports

Federal prosecutor Thomas Wales was killed by a gunman in his home.

Now the FBI is investigating a possible connection between the pilot and a “very small group” of people who may have been involved.

The 57-year-old pilot has maintained his innocence.

The news conference will be the first time the FBI has disclosed that multiple people may have involved in the murder.

Wales, 49, was shot several times in the basement of his Queen Anne Home late on the night of Oct. 11, 2001.

FBI Accepts New Evidence in Cold Case of Hijacker D.B. Cooper

FBI sketch of D.B. Cooper

FBI sketch of D.B. Cooper

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A day before Thanksgiving in 1971, a man only known to authorities as D.B. Cooper jumped out of a hijacked airplane with $200,000 and parachuted into the night.

After spending 45 years searching for the suspect, the FBI last year announced it had stopped actively pursuing the case.

That may change after a team of private investigators coordinated by a filmmaker found “an odd piece of buried foam” that they believe may be material from Cooper’s parachute backpack, the New York Daily News reports. Just weeks earlier, the team found what they think are remnants of Cooper’s parachute strap. 

The FBI said it received three other “unknown” fabric samples.

The discoveries were made by a team assembled by Thomas Colbert, a former media executive and police trainer. Former FBI supervisor Hadley McCann is overseeing the cold case team.

Colbert runs a website, DBCooper.com, that is dedicated to the cold case.

Austin Murder Suspect Arrested on Charges of 1983 Murder

Robert Francis Van Wisse

Robert Francis Van Wisse

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

More than 20 years after he was charged with murdering University of Texas student Laurie Stout in 1983, Robert Francis Van Wisse surrendered to officials at the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday.

Wise was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted list in December.

“If he committed a brutal murder like this in 1983, he is very, very able to commit a murder again,” FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs said when the agency put him on the list last month, with a $100,000 reward, UPI reports

Stout was a 22-year-old mother and late-night janitor who was sexually assaulted and then killed in a men’s restroom at an office building in Austin.

Van Wisse wasn’t charged until 1996 because of “outdated methods of DNA analysis and mismanaged records.”

Van Wisse is in custody at the Travis County Jail in Texas.

Man Charged with 1983 Murder at U. of Texas Added to FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Texas man who fled after being charged with the 1983 murder of a 22-year-old woman has been added to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, with the offer of a $100,000 reward for information that leads to his capture.

Robert Francis Van Wisse was a 19-year-old college student when authorities say he sexually assaulted and strangled a janitor at the University of Texas at Austin.

The victim was married and had a 1-year-old daughter.

“No matter how much time has passed,” said Special Agent Justin Noble, a member of the FBI’s Central Texas Violent Crimes Task Force in Austin who is investigating the case, “it’s important that we finally get justice for the victim and her family.”

Van Wisse was initially a suspect, but the case went cold “because DNA and other tests were not as sophisticated then as they are today,” Noble said.

In the early 1990s, the Austin Police Department submitted crime scene evidence for DNA tests, and “the results pointed directly to Van Wisse,”Noble said.

Van Wisse fled when he learned he was a suspect. He was charged with capital murder in 1996.

“He was a college student whose parents were both professionals,” Noble said. “He grew up going to the best schools and living in the nicest neighborhood. He had the future in front of him,” Noble added, “and yet it appears he murdered a young woman making minimum wage trying to support her family and young child.”

FBI Asks for Public’s Help in Decade-Old Murder of 13-Year-Old Girl

Alexandra AnayaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Alexandra Anaya was 13 years old when she was found dismembered in the Little Calumet River in Indiana in 2005.

Now the FBI is urging the public to help solve the decade-old homicide as part of a taste force to investigate unsolved crimes, the Chicago Tribune reports. 

Alexandra went missing from her Northwest Indiana home and wa found dead three days later.

“We’re asking for the public’s assistance in bringing the individual responsible for this crime to justice, giving Alex and her family peace of mind and closure,” lead FBI Special Agent Courtney Corbett told reporters at the agency’s Near West Side headquarters.

FBI Arrests Man Wanted Since 1977 for Fatally shooting Immigration Official

William Claybourne Taylor, via FBI

William Claybourne Taylor, via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

William Claybourne Taylor had been on the run since 1977, when he was accused of fatally shooting a former immigration official in Florida.

Taylor, 67, who was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, was arrested Thursday in Reidsville, North Carolina, the Associated Press reports.

Taylor also is accused of trying to shoot the former mayor of a small Florida town. That’s when he also fatally shot a former official with the Immigration and Nationalization Service.

In May 1980, Taylor was indicted on charges of murder and aggravated battery. He disappeared soon after.

FBI Returns Charles Darwin Letter to Museum After Theft in 1970s

Stolen Charles Darwin letter is returned to the Smithsonian.

Stolen Charles Darwin letter is returned to the Smithsonian.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A handwritten letter by Charles Darwin was stolen from the Smithsonian Institution Archives about four decades ago, frustrating investigators and historians.

Then earlier this year, the FBI received a tip about the whereabouts of the letter written by the British naturalist and geologist known of his theory of evolution.

The artifact was return ed to the Smithsonian on May 26,

“Thanks to a tip from a member of the public, we were able to return this artifact to the care of the Smithsonian Archives,” Paul Abbate, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said in a statement. “It’s a privilege to return a piece of the history of science and exploration in the United States to the American people.”

Anne Van Camp, director of the Smithsonian Archives, said she’s relieved.

“This is an important event, as this type of crime is not easily detected, and it demonstrates how seriously the FBI regards our cultural heritage,” Van Camp said.

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