Sunday, January 31, 2016

Jessica Ridgeway

Jessica Christine Ridgeway
January 23, 2002 - October 5, 2012
Jessica was a happy, beautiful little girl who loved making up dances. She was often heard humming, and she would laugh at silly words she would make up. Her elementary school teachers described her as being kind and caring. She was adored by both her teachers and her peers. 
Jessica Ridgeway was kidnapped by a teenage male named Austin Sigg when she was walking to school. Austin confessed to how he had waited until Jessica neared his car before grabbing her. Her bound her arms and her legs and then threw her in the back of the car. She asked him who he was and if he knew her mother. Austin lied to her in response to her questions. When they arrived at his home, he carried her upstairs. Jessica, loving animals, saw cat litter boxes. She asked about the cats, and then asked what Austin was going to do to her.
For nearly two hours, Austin kept Jessica in a bedroom. During these hours, he had her watch a movie while he cut her hair and laid out clothes he wanted her to wear. He tried to strangle her with zip ties, but it didn't work. Eventually, Austin strangled her with his hands. He then filled the bathtub up with hot water and put Jessica's body in it.
 He dismembered her body after she passed away, and it is thought that when he was doing this, he was carrying out a sexual fantasy of his. Austin had been troubled for some time, and it is reported that he had even been viewing child pornography since he was twelve years old. His parents sent him to therapy, but Austin himself says that therapy did little to change his desires and behaviors.
After Austin dismembered Jessica's body, he hid her in a pool shed behind his house. Jessica had passed away before her mother even realized that something was wrong and called 911, reporting her missing. People searched for Jessica for seventeen days. Slowly, things belonging to Jessica, such as her backpack containing her purple glasses, were found. Then, her body. A case was beginning to build, but it was still uncertain who had killed Jessica.
One of Austin's mother's friends expressed to investigators that she was concerned about Austin Sigg possibly having something to do with what happened to Jessica. When Austin was investigated, he willingly gave DNA samples and said he had been sleeping when Jessica was kidnapped. He had answered every question very calmly and police were not suspicious, but his DNA was sent off along with the DNA of other persons of interest.
When media reports claimed that there had been a DNA link, Austin told his classmates that he felt sick. He slept in his mother's bed that night, and the next day he told his mother that he had something horrible to tell her. She immediately asked him if what he was planning on telling her had something to do with Jessica. 
Austin told his mother what he had done to Jessica. She called the police who were shocked to hear the sudden confession from somebody so young. The whole time, they had been searching for somebody older. They believed that it might have been a false confession until Austin provided them with too many precise details to have been a story he made up.
Investigators found the rest of Jessica's remains in Austin's home. Austin described himself as a monster and admitted that there had been a sexual drive behind what he had done, but that he had not sexually abused Jessica. Later he changed his story and admitted the truth, that he had sexually abused Jessica. Austin was just a bit younger than eighteen at the time, so he was not eligible for the death penalty. Instead, Austin was sentenced to life in prison for what he did to Jessica.



Saturday, January 30, 2016

Emma Barker

Emma Leigh Barker
September 2, 2007 - March 18, 2009
On the day Emma passed away, her mother, Stacey Barker, called the police and told them that Emma had been kidnapped from her car while she was in the parking lot. Stacey claimed that she had been knocked out and that when she finally woke up, she was miles away from where she had been before. A search for Emma went on for twelve hours before Stacey admitted that she had lied. She admitted that Emma was dead due to an accident. Stacey also revealed that she had panicked when Emma died and dumped her body along a highway.
Emma's body was found soon after. An autopsy showed that Emma had died due to suffocation. Stacey was arrested for Emma's murder. It was believed that little Emma had been dead for about five hours before her mother decided to contact the police. Stacey and Emma had lived with Stacey's father, Gary, so that he, his wife, and his son could help Stacey raise Emma.
Stacey Barker was convicted for committing Emma's murder. She was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. Emma was only eighteen months old.

Ashlynn Conner

Ashlynn Renee Conner
December 2, 2000 - November 11, 2011
Ashlynn was a beautiful and fun little girl who was on the honor roll at her elementary school. She was a fan of playing the trumpet in band and she enjoyed helping everyone with whatever they may have needed help with. She was also a cheerleader and really enjoyed cheerleading.
The day before Ashlynn passed away, she had asked her mother if she could be homeschooled. Her mother told her no. She was aware that the children at Ashlynn's school had been bullying her and calling her mean words such as "fat", "ugly", and "slut",  but she had believed that Ashlynn was strong and that her own words of advice to her daughter would overshadow the cruel tormenting of the bullies. When Ashlynn went to her teachers about this, they told her to stop tattling.
The morning after Ashlynn had asked to be homeschooled she was found by one of her siblings in a closet. She had hung herself with a scarf. Ashlynn's parents believe that Ashlynn killed herself because she was being bullied. Investigators say that Ashlynn came from a troubled home, and she had threatened to commit suicide before. In fact, it can be seen on the Facebook profile Ashlynn had that she had said she would kill herself if another child she considered to be her boyfriend ever broke up with her. No matter what caused her suicide, it is definitely certain that Ashlynn, at only ten years old, was the one who ended her life.

Victoria Stafford

Victoria Elizabeth Marie Stafford
July 15, 2000 - April 8, 2009
Victoria, often called "Tori" by her family and friends, was a happy and excitable little girl. She had just redecorated her bedroom and was excited to show it off to her friends. Unfortunately, that would never happen, as Victoria was abducted when she was eight years old. She had been seen last on April 8, 2009 at about 3:32 p.m. She had been walking past a high school on her way home from her elementary school. It was the first time she had been allowed to walk home from school by herself. A security video from the high school shows that Victoria was walking with an unknown white female. 
On July 21, 2009, Victoria's body was found. She was unclothed from the waist down. She was wearing only the Hannah Montana shirt she was wearing when she went missing and butterfly earrings that she had borrowed from her mother, which she was also wearing the day she went missing. An autopsy confirmed that Victoria had been beaten badly enough to cause lacerations in her liver. She also had multiple broken ribs. What actually caused Victoria's death was multiple blows to her head with a hammer.
In May of 2009, police charged a man named Michael Rafferty with first degree murder. They also charged a woman named Terri-Lynne McClintic with being an accessory to murder. She had been the woman Victoria was seen with on the high school surveillance video. Later in May, Terri-Lynne's charges were upgraded to first-degree murder, as it was found she was the one who delivered the fatal blows to Victoria. Then Michael was charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, and first degree murder. He was found guilty on all charges and was sentenced to life in prison. Terri-Lynne was sentenced to life in prison as well.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Haylee Mazzella

Haylee Danyelle Mazzella
July 13, 2001 - June 3, 2006
Haylee Mazzella was a very happy little girl. She loved dinosaurs, so it makes sense that one of her favorite movies was The Land Before Time. She had dinosaur toys that she would sometimes use to recreate the scenes from the movie. She had a little brother named Thomas. Haylee adored him and called him "Bubba". Her best friend was her cousin, Shelby, who was just five months younger than her. They saw each other nearly every day, and whenever Haylee would get something, she would often ask, "Can we get one for Shelby too?"
Haylee also liked sour pickles, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken nuggets, watermelon, plums, and watching Dragon Tales. She loved cheerleading and wanted to be a cheerleader when she grew up. She liked books, going to school, going to the mall, and dancing. She loved her dog Saydee. She also loved playing, especially outside. She also liked playing with her mother's makeup box.
On the day Haylee passed away, she had been at a barbeque at the home of some of her family members. A little after 4:00 p.m., Haylee's mother told Haylee that it was time to get out of the pool because Thomas, Haylee's little brother, needed a diaper change and they wanted the children to have dry clothes on the way home.
Haylee loved swimming, and she begged for just ten more minutes in the pool. Haylee's step-grandmother said that she would be willing to watch Haylee in the pool while Haylee's mother got Thomas and all their things ready to go home. Knowing that Haylee was being supervised, her mother agreed to this and left Haylee in her step-grandmother's care.
At some point during the ten minutes that Haylee was supposed to be being watched by her step-grandmother, her step-grandmother stepped away from the pool and into her house. This left Haylee, just four years old, alone in the pool with nobody watching her. Haylee's mother heard people yelling, "Call 911!" Haylee's mother came back outside, believing that someone had gotten a minor injury. Instead, she saw that Haylee was laying on the ground.
Haylee was being given CPR, but she was unconscious and not responding to anybody. Paramedics arrived and did their best to help Haylee, but it was not possible. Haylee had been under the water too long and nothing could be done. She passed away at the age of four years.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Nubia Barahona

Nubia Barahona
May 26, 2000 - February 11, 2011
Nubia and her twin brother, Victor, were born on May 26, 2000 to Sandra Docter. Sarah had drug and alcohol problems. Her first four children were taken away from her. Nubia was born intersexed which was said to have required several medications and several medical procedures. Both Nubia and Victor lived with their mother for about three years. After this, they were removed from her care and placed with their father, Victor Bustillo. In 2004, their father was charged with sexually assaulting another child, so Nubia and her brother, Victor, were taken out of his care. They were placed in foster care, their foster parents being Jorge and Carmen Barahona.
Jorge and Carmen had previously adopted a son. He was autistic. Since Jorge and Carmen had previously adopted and had experience with special needs children, one might assume they'd be great parents for Nubia and Victor. Things seemed to be working out well until 2005 when Nubia reported that her father had sexually abused her. Child Services did an investigation and determined that Nubia was referring to her biological father, so they closed the case against Jorge.
A year later, in 2006, staff at Nubia's school noticed that she had a suspicious bruise. They reported it and Jorge and Carmen were told to bring Nubia to the Child Services office so they could investigate. Somehow, they managed to postpone this for a week. By the time they finally saw Nubia, the bruise was nearly gone and doctors had determined that it was from a fall. In 2007, Nubia's school reported yet another suspicious instance. They noticed that Nubia seemed to always be hungry. She was also thin, and once came to school with a bad odor.
Again, Jorge and Carmen were able to avoid being caught responsible for this. They were able to convince investigators that the smell as well as Nubia's being thin was due to her medical condition. In 2009, Carmen and Jorge decided they wanted to officially adopt Nubia and Victor. Their guardian ad litem, Paul Newman, was hesitant to let this happen, as he suspected they were being abused in the care of Jorge and Carmen. Jorge and Carmen wrote many letters to many people about how they felt they were being treated unfairly. Paul was removed as their guardian and Jorge and Carmen officially adopted the twins.
Complaints continued to be called in to child services and Nubia's school filed complaints that Nubia's hair was falling out. Jorge and Carmen, again, was able to convince everyone that this was due to Nubia's medical condition. Nobody ever asked Nubia or Victor about what was happening.

On February 10, 2011, Carmen and Jorge's granddaughter reported that when she was visiting her grandparents, she saw that both Victor and Nubia had their hands and feet tied up and that they were being forced to stand in the bathtub for long periods of time. Their granddaughter was told that she could not speak to Victor and Nubia. She was also told not to tell anybody about what was happening. Their other child that they had adopted, eleven years old at the time, tried to tell DCF that something was wrong during a home visit. Carmen and Jorge convinced the social worker that he was "low functioning", and then they sent him into another room to watch television.

The next day, Jorge showed up at his sister, Laura's house. This wasn't usual, as he hadn't talked to her in a long time. Laura noticed he had marks on his wrists and a split lip. She asked what happened and Jorge told her that his children had tried to poison him so he was forced to tie them up. Then he said he lost one of his children. He claimed that Nubia had jumped out of the truck, but then said that she was home with Carmen.

Laura told Jorge that he needed to call the police and turn himself in. She even offered to help him do this. Jorge left the house. Laura and her other brother both called DCF and the police in an attempt to get someone to go and help the children. Unfortunately, even their help could no longer save Nubia. Nubia was already dead at this point. Victor had watched as Jorge took Nubia into the bathroom earlier in the day. He heard her screaming and heart Jorge beating her. Eventually, this beating ended her life.

Laura went to multiple different places to try and get help for the children. She was worried about how, when she questioned Jorge about Nubia, she didn't get a straight answer. She told people that she was afraid that something had happened to Nubia. For a while, nobody seemed to want to immediately help Laura.

On February 14, 2011, Jorge was seen by the side of a highway. He smelled like chemicals and he was passed out. Victor was in the vehicle. He had been doused in chemicals and set on fire. Nubia's body was inside a garbage bag, already decomposing. Her body was also doused in chemicals. It seemed as if Jorge had been planning a murder-suicide.

Later in February, Carmen filed for divorce from Jorge. Then both of them were charged with eighteen counts including first degree murder, eight counts of child abuse resulting in great bodily harm, one count of child neglect resulting in great harm, one count of neglect without bodily harm, and one count of mutilating a body. They plead not guilty, but they were facing the death penalty.

Jorge was placed in the mental health area of prison after trying to hurt himself more than once. Victor had survived his abuse, Jorge and Carmen have yet to be sentenced.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Danielle Van Dam

Danielle Nicole Van Dam
September 22, 1994 - February 2002
On February 2, 2002, Danielle was reported missing. She was just seven years old. The evening before, Danielle's mother, Brenda, and two friends had went out to the bar. Danielle's father, Damon, had stayed at home to care for Danielle and her two brothers. Damon put Danielle to bed around 10:30 p.m. She fell asleep, and Damon slept until his wife returned around two in the morning with four of her friends. Brenda and her friends chatted for about thirty minutes before the friends went home and Brenda went to sleep, knowing that her children had been put to sleep by her husband.
About an hour later, Damon woke up again and noticed the light on the house's security system was flashing. He also found the sliding glass door open, so he closed it. He went back to sleep. The next morning, it was discovered that Danielle was not in her bed, nor in the house at all. After frantically searching their home and still not finding their daughter, they reported her missing at 9:39 a.m.
Many, many people began searching for Danielle. After twenty-five days of searching, Danielle's body was found. She was nude, and along a trail. Because of the condition of the body after twenty-five days, it's unsure what exactly killed Danielle, or whether or not she was sexually assaulted. One of Danielle's neighbors, David Westerfield, was the only one that wasn't home when police tried to interview them. They were suspicious of him.
David lived just two houses away from Danielle. About three days before Danielle disappeared, Danielle and Brenda had went around their neighborhood selling Girl Scout cookies. David had purchased some and invited Brenda and Danielle into his home. It was discovered that David had left his home just minutes after Danielle's parents reported her missing. He left in his motor home and stayed on a beach campground. He also dropped off clothing and pillow cases to be dry cleaned. His jacket later was found to have Danielle's blood on it.
Law enforcement put David on 24-hour surveillance. They noticed that when he returned from his trip, he cleaned out his motor home. After Danielle's blood was found on his clothing and in his motor home, he was arrested. David plead not guilty. David was found guilty, however, and was given the death penalty.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Aliahna Lemmon

Aliahna Marie Maroney Lemmon
April 3, 2002 - December 22, 2011
Aliahna was nine years old when she passed away. Aliahna's mother, Tarah Souders, moved her family in November of 2011 so that she could help take care of Aliahna's grandfather, who was very, very ill. His name was James Lemmon. James was expected to not have much time left to live. The trailer park Tarah moved into was filled with registered sex offenders, and James was one of them with a case back in 2006.
Even so, James assured Tarah that nobody in the trailer park would be a problem for her or her children. One of the men who was around Aliahna was a man named Michael Plumadore who helped take care of James. Michael did have a criminal background, but nothing about sexual offenses against children came up. On December 3, 2011, James passed away. The same week, Tarah became ill and turned to Michael for help in caring for Aliahna and Aliahna's two siblings.
Tarah felt the need to get help at this moment because her husband worked at night, it was Christmas break, and she wasn't getting the rest she needed with her husband gone at nights and her three children running around the trailer. She felt that Michael would help her and that he was her only option. She also knew that James had trusted Michael, as he had even left him his trailer in his will.
Aliahna had been staying with Michael for the week before her death. On the night of December 23, 2011, Aliahna was reported missing. Investigators got a search warrant for Michael's home and found what they believed to be human body parts in his freezer. Michael was arrested and later admitted that he had hit Aliahna in the head several times with a brick while she stood on his property. He said that carried her body into his home, put her in several trash bags, and then put her body in his freezer. He said that a few days later, he cut her body up into pieces before throwing away most of them in dumpsters, but keeping her head, hands, and feet in his freezer.
Michael was sentenced to life in prison for what he did to Aliahna. Since he was also caring for Aliahna's two sisters, there was concern that he may have harmed them too in some way, although it seems that Aliahna was the only one he hurt in any way.