Friday, December 28, 2018

Halifax John Doe - Halifax, Nova Scotia 2004

By Dark Sleuth

Halifax John Doe
(Source: CBC)
In early October 2004, the body of a man was found in the woods near a Petro-Canada station, close to the Halifax Stanfield International Airport.  Authorities estimated that he had been dead for 10 days.  

He was described as a black man, weighing approximately 160 pounds and 5'11" tall.  He wore his hair in dreadlocks.  He also had a beard.  Authorities estimated he was in his late 20s or early 30s.  Both of his ears were pierced, but no jewelry was found. 

Halifax John Doe wore "a multi-colored dress shirt, Emilio-brand grey sweater, Lee blue jeans, and a new beige Timberland hiking boots."   A pair of Dolce and Gabbana prescription glasses, a flashlight and a McKinley brand backpack were located near his body.  There were several articles of clothing folded neatly inside the backpack.  Unfortunately no identifying documents were found. 

Items found near Halifax John Doe's body
(Source: CBC)
A forensic anthropologist noted that Halifax John Doe "had characteristics of both black African populations as well as white European populations"
According to authorities, he had broken his leg before he died and it didn't properly heal.  Dr. Tanya Peckmann stated that he "either didn't get modern medical treatment or removed the cast before his leg healed."    

Authorities ruled out foul play as the cause of death.   His DNA profile is on file.

Important Note:  Sources list Halifax John Doe's discovery date differently.  Some articles state he was found October 8 or 9.  The National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains states he was found on October 12, 2004. 

Physical Characteristics:
Gender: Male
Race: Black, possibly mixed race (White)
Age: estimated late 20s - early 30s
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 160 pounds
Hair: black, dreadlocks
Build: Medium 
Additional:  Pierced ears. Improperly healed leg fracture- may not have received modern medical treatment or cast was prematurely removed.  

If you have any information on this case please contact: 

Halifax Regional Police:
Tel: 902-490-5333 
Reference Case # 2011-55984 

Crime Stoppers:  (You can remain anonymous)
Tel:  1-800-222-TIPS(8477)

National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains
Case # 2014031015:

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Alice Mae Sullivan- Missing from Nashville, Tennessee since 1986

By Dark Sleuth

Alice Mae Sullivan 
(Source: The Charley Project

On August 28, 1986 Alice May Sullivan, a bright 20 year-old sophomore attending Tennessee State University in Nashville disappeared.  Sullivan was an ambitious business major who "earned excellent grades" and worked part-time at Burger King.  She was also a devoted mother to her 3 year-old toddler son.  

Sullivan lived with her boyfriend and her son in the Town Terrace Apartments near the TSU campus.  She moved there with her boyfriend only 3 weeks before she went missing.  Sullivan was from Gallatin, Tennessee, where her parents still lived.  She was very close to them. They spoke every night on the phone. 

She was reportedly last seen "by a friend from Gallatin walking near TSU's Gentry Center" on the afternoon she disappeared.  

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Book Review- I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

By Dark Sleuth

A single prolific criminal terrorized communities in Northern and Southern California.  He was a peeper, a burglar, a rapist and a killer.

For decades he remained nameless except for several monickers that, like his crimes, traversed the state.  
It started in the early 1970s in Visalia, California, where a man peeped, stalked and burglarized homes.  He earned the name the "Visalia Ransacker."  After moving north and making Sacramento County and the surrounding areas his hunting ground, he became the "East Area Rapist."  Later he targeted southern California, seemingly ending his crime spree in the mid 1980s in Orange County.  By then he was known as the "Original Night Stalker."    

What followed was silence.  Some believed that he had died.

But not Michelle McNamara, the writer and blogger behind True Crime Diary.  She predicted that he was still alive and would be found living a quiet, nondescript life.  

 In 2013, McNamara consolidated the previous monickers into one.  She rebranded the unknown perpetrator as the "Golden State Killer" in her Los Angeles Magazine article titled, "In the Footsteps of a Killer." 
Nearly 5 years later authorities announced the arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo on April 24, 2018. He was a Navy veteran and former police officer.  DeAngelo was living in the suburbs near Sacramento.  The suspected Golden State Killer was caught when his DNA profile was uploaded to a genealogical database and it revealed a familial link.  

Sadly, despite all of her hard work on the case, McNamara passed away before her book was published and before police made an arrest. She died in 2016.

*   *   *

 I'll Be Gone in the Dark is a book meticulously researched.  True to its title, the book describes the author's growing obsession with the case.  In the beginning, McNamara tells of taking over her daughter's playroom at night as her family slept.  Surrounded by toys in a still house, she poured over details in online forums run by amateur sleuths.

Over time, McNamara gained the trust of investigators and was given extraordinary access to case files. 

It is strange to read the book after the news of the arrest.  As Rolling Stone reports, "The timeline for all these crimes significantly overlaps with DeAngelo's own history."  Even during the crime spree, authorities suspected that the perpetrator may have had military training and/or been a police officer.  

This is evident in a chilling eyewitness account McNamara describes of the "Visalia Ransacker" studying a target. 

One night, a young man was waiting for his girlfriend outside her home.  They were going out.  Inside his girlfriend was talking to her mom.  As he waited, he spotted a figure in the distance.  A dark-clothed man stared at the young man's girlfriend through the house's front windows.  The dark-clothed man seemed entranced.

The boyfriend stayed in his position, not visible to the voyeur. He watched as the man dropped to the ground and began a military crawl, quickly approaching the house.  When the man stood up, the boyfriend made his presence known.  It spooked the voyeur and there was a chase.  It ended with the Visalia Ransacker getting away- he seemed to be armed.

Even in his earliest cases, long before he escalated to rape and murder, the Visalia Ransacker/Golden State Killer, was using his military training to reconnoiter.  Practicing his approach, gathering information until he could strike.  Gaming the advantage. 

As McNamara had predicted, the perpetrator would eventually be found among the same communities he targeted: middle-class suburbs.  

The title I'll Be Gone in the Dark refers to something the Golden State Killer said to threaten a victim.  He was right, of course.  After each attack he was gone, protected both by the darkness and his knowledge of military and police procedures.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Unidentifed John Doe Victim in Suspected Serial Killer Case- Brooklyn, NY

By Dark Sleuth 

11/29/2018:  UPDATE: Kwauhuru Govan was convicted in September 2018 of the 2004 murder of 17 year-old Sharabia Thomas.  He was sentenced to the maximum, 25 years to life.  He is awaiting trial for the murder of Rashawn Brazell

This post is an update of the recent developments in the Rashawn Brazell case, previously covered here:

DNA Snapshot composite of an unidentified John Doe, a possible victim of a serial killer.
(Source: NCMEC)

The gruesome 2005 murder of  Rashwan Brazell went unsolved for 12 years before police made an arrest in February 2017. Authorities believe that the suspect, Kwauhuru Govan, could possibly be a serial killer.

At the time, Kwauhuru Govan was already in custody.  He was indicted in November 2016 for the 2004 murder of 17 year-old Sharabia ThomasDNA found under the victim's fingernails matched Govan.    

Both victims lived within blocks of Govan's residence in Brooklyn, New York.  Brazell and Govan were neighbors.

Now police are investigating whether Govan may be responsible for a third victim, an unidentified John Doe, whose remains were found five months after Rashawn Brazell was killed.   

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Alisha Smiley - Missing from Atlanta, Georgia since 1985

by Dark Sleuth
Left: Alisha Smiley, circa 1985.
Right: Age-progressed composite by NCMEC (circa 2010)
(Source: NCMEC)

On Thursday, June 6, 1985, 3-year-old Alisha Smiley disappeared from the Omni Hotel Complex in Atlanta, Georgia.  

Alisha Smiley was at the Omni that day with her aunt and 4-year-old cousin.  Her aunt left the two children sitting unattended on a bench inside the Omni, while she went outside to a ticket booth to purchase tickets for a wrestling event.  When the aunt returned only Smiley's cousin was still there.  Alisha Smiley was last seen at approximately 1:45 p.m.

According to a June 16, 1985 article from the Atlanta Daily World, Smiley's aunt explained why she chose to leave children alone inside the Omni Complex while she purchased tickets outside:

"She said that she left the two there in an attempt to let the children cool off.  The temperature that day was in the high 90s." 

Alisha Smiley was seen wandering around the Omni Complex shops by herself.   According to The Doe Network, "Alisha was last seen by Omni employees asking for a cookie and asking about a bathroom."

Several reports also state that Alisha Smiley may have wandered off to the nearby McDonald's because she loved hamburgers.   

Smiley's aunt described the child as an "extremely friendly, trusting toddler."   Smiley was originally from Birmingham, Alabama.  She  had been living with her aunt and her aunt's husband for approximately 8 months prior to her disappearance.   Her parents were struggling financially as they went to college

According to a June 9, 1985 article from the Atlanta Daily World, published a few days after Alisha disappeared, "if asked, [Alisha] will state that she lives in Birmingham, Alabama." 

In the days after she disappeared, the Atlanta Daily World reported on several searches to find the missing toddler.  Nearly 150 people searched the Omni Complex and the nearby Georgia World Congress Center.  A wooded area behind a school in northwest Atlanta was also searched, all to no avail. 

Alisha Smiley was born on October 7, 1981.  She would be 36 years-old today. 

Physical Characteristics:
Sex: Female
Race: Black
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown
Height: 3' 0" 
Weight: 30 lbs
Dental: Gap in lower teeth 
- Smiley had pierced ears and may have been wearing gold earrings at time of her disappearance.

Smiley was last seen wearing: 
- a red and white checkered sundress
- white sandals
- braids tied with lilac-colored ribbons 

If you have any information regarding this case, please contact:
Atlanta Police Department:
Tel: (404) 577-8477

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC):
Tel: 1 (800) THE-LOST or 1 (800) 843-5678