Court Junkie Blog

On December 9, 2001, Michael Peterson frantically called 9-1-1 at 2:40 a.m. to report that his wife Kathleen had fallen down a flight of stairs in their Durham, North Carolina home. Peterson indicated that she was still breathing when he made the emergency call, but she was dead by the time the paramedics arrived. According to Peterson, his wife fell while he relaxed by the backyard pool, but the autopsy and crime scene painted a different picture.

Michael Peterson was a novelist and former mayoral candidate. Kathleen worked as an executive at Nortel Networks. The couple exuded confidence and wealth. They lived in a massive 9,200 square-foot mansion. However, the reality of their situation was quite different. The couple carried significant debt, possessed minimal savings, and Michael Peterson was allegedly engaging in homosexual affairs.

During the autopsy, the medical examiner found seven lacerations on the top and back of Kathleen’s head. According to the toxicology reports, she had a blood alcohol level of .07. The medical examiner also concluded that Kathleen died from blood loss 90 minutes to two hours after sustaining her injuries. Though the preliminary autopsy report indicated an accidental death, the medical examiner ultimately concluded that her death was a result of homicidal assault.

Peterson claimed that no one else was in the house on the night of Kathleen’s death. Therefore, only two reasonable options existed: either he killed her or she died from an accidental fall. The police felt the evidence suggested Peterson killed his wife, and they charged him with murder.

At trial, chief medical examiner Dr. John Butts testified, “The multitude of injuries are not consistent with a fall down the steps,” and he flatly stated, “You don’t just get lots and lots of lacerations across the back top of the head [from a fall].” According to the paramedics, Kathleen’s blood was already dry when they arrived, and they believed she had been dead for some time, further pointing toward a potential homicide.

The prosecution utilized Agent Duane Deaver of North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation as their primary blood spatter expert. Agent Deaver testified that blood spatter found on the inside leg of Peterson’s shorts suggested he was standing over Kathleen when he struck her. Also, Peterson’s shoe left a bloody print on the back of Kathleen’s sweatpants; however, both Petersons’ were supposedly barefoot at the time of the incident.

The defense utilized renowned forensic scientist, Henry Lee, to analyze the crime scene. He estimated the fatal event took as long as 30 minutes. He described the scene as so bloody, it was beyond what he would expect to find — even from a brutal beating. Lee ultimately concluded Kathleen’s death was consistent with a fall, but his testimony conveyed more ambiguity than a definitive conclusion.

Peterson’s attorney, David Rudolf, conceded that if Kathleen fell, she fell backwards, hit her head, got up, and fell back down again several times, where each fall produced one or two lacerations. It was a rather implausible theory, but he only had to convey reasonable doubt.

In 1985, Peterson lived in Germany with his first wife. Elizabeth Ratcliff, a family friend of the Peterson’s, died from a fall down a staircase. A house-keeper found her, but Peterson was the last person to see her alive when he drove her and her children home after a dinner party the previous evening. At the time of the incident, authorities ruled it an accidental death. However, after Kathleen Peterson’s death, a second investigation concluded Elizabeth’s death was a homicide via blunt force trauma to the head. Was this previous death a red herring or directly related? Interestingly, one of the first decisions the jury made in Peterson’s murder trial was to disregard the death in Germany.

According to the State’s theory, Peterson killed Kathleen for two reasons. First, he would receive her life insurance money. Second, Kathleen discovered he was bi-sexual and a fight ensued. However, when it comes to intimate relationships, a motive can always be contrived. Motive is not a necessary predicate to proving murder, and it is almost always requires conjecture by the prosecution. The issues brought forth may well have given Peterson reason to kill his wife, but there is no reliable way to distinguish between cause and effect and merely correlation.

Though the blood and autopsy evidence created a strong case for murder, many factors could have placed doubt in the jurors’ minds. Police never found, nor could they conclusively determine, what Peterson utilized as the murder weapon. The stairwell where Kathleen died was narrow and it would have been difficult for Peterson to have swung a club or fire poker in the area without damaging the nearby walls. Yet, investigators did not find any corresponding damage to the walls. It is also difficult to conclusively distinguish fall injuries from blunt trauma.

Though not associated with the case, a neighbor and attorney, Lawrence Pollard, created what became known as the “owl theory.” Pollard postulated that Kathleen Peterson died as a result of an owl attack, coupled with a fall in the stairwell. Investigators found owl feathers and tree particles in Kathleen’s hair. Detectives also discovered clumps of Kathleen’s hair in her hand, as if she was grabbing and pulling at her own hair. The owl’s talons could explain the lacerations on her skull. It was a fairly far-fetched theory, but neither a fall nor an attack seemed to fully explain Kathleen’s injuries and the circumstances of the scene.

According to one juror, Richard Sarratt, the case boiled down to a few key facts. The deep lacerations on the back of Kathleen’s head pointed more toward an attack than a fall. Based on forensic analysis, blood in the stairwell dried and then was apparently splattered with a second layer, which was more consistent with a two-pronged attack rather than multiple falls. Finally, according to the State’s experts, Kathleen remained alive long after she sustained her injuries. The culmination of these factors led jurors to find Michael Peterson guilty of first degree murder in October of 2003. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The prosecution’s star blood spatter expert, Agent Duane Deaver was later found to have misled the jury in Peterson’s case and was subsequently terminated. His testimony on blood spatter was considered “materially misleading” and “deliberately false.” The entire basis for the State’s case was thrown in to question due to Agent Deaver’s malfeasance. As a result, in December of 2011, Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson granted Michael Peterson a new trial.

After frequent and lengthy delays, Peterson returned to court in early 2017. During his court appearance, Peterson’s attorney indicated that he intended to plead guilty to manslaughter. With time served, if the judge accepts the plea, Peterson will be released immediately and serve no further jail time. If Michael Peterson did not kill Kathleen, then Agent Deaver’s deceptive and misleading testimony helped convict an innocent man. However, if he is guilty, Agent Deaver’s poor decision-making allowed a murderer to leave prison decades prematurely. Neither scenario exudes justice. When those put into a position of trust, violate that trust, everyone suffers the consequences.

*This post was written by John W. Taylor, Author of Isolated Incident: Investigating the Death of Nancy Cooper and Umbrella of Suspicion: Investigating the Death of JonBenet Ramsey. To read more about John, visit his website at TrueCrimeWriting.com. You can also listen to his podcast at www.twistedpodcast.com.

Works Cited

Browder, Cullen, “State panel awards discredited SBI analyst back pay,” WRAL.com, http://www.wral.com/state-panel-awards-discredited-sbi-analyst-back-pay/14160120/, November 7, 2014.

Gasparoli, Tom, “Closure in the death of Kathleen Peterson 16 years too late,” The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/community/durham-news/article131441184.html, February 8, 2017.

Holmes, Vance, “Novelist Michael Peterson’s Deadly Staircase,” Stranger Than Fiction, http://vanceholmes.com/court/trial_m_peterson.html, accessed Jan-Feb, 2017.

Saunders, Barry, “Will justice be served in the Michael Peterson case?” The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/barry-saunders/article131552309.html, February 8, 2017.

Sims, Julia, “Mike Peterson to take manslaughter plea in wife’s death,” WRAL.com,
http://www.wral.com/sources-mike-peterson-to-take-manslaughter-plea-in-wife-s-death/16511861/, February 8, 2017.

Springer, John, “Fingerprints offer hint of prosecution theory in novelist’s trial,” CNN.com, http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/07/25/ctv.novelist.trial/, July 30, 2003.

“Behind The Staircase,” http://www.peterson-staircase.com/, accessed Jan-Feb, 2017.

Image courtesy of News OK

Image courtesy of News OK

As of Tuesday night, October 25, 38-year-old Michael Dale Vance Jr. was on the run from Oklahoma police after allegedly shooting two police officers, committing a carjacking, and murdering and attempting to behead his aunt and uncle, Ronald Everett Wilkson, 55, and Valerie Kay Wilkson, 54. He is also suspected of posting two videos to Facebook, live streaming his getaway.

It all started Sunday night when police officers Shawn Stewart and Jimmy Hampton of Wellston, Oklahoma responded to a shots fired call. Upon arrival they asked for I.D.’s from a group of men, Vance being a member of the group. He decided to ambushed them.

Both officers were shot but Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said the injuries are not life-threatening.

Vance fled in a police car and continued to wreak havoc.

In a mobile home park near Wellston, a woman was shot and her vehicle was stolen by someone police believe to be Vance. It is then suspected that Vance drove to the home of his aunt and uncle and murdered them.

Officers found the bodies of Ronald Everett Wilkson and Valerie Kay Wilkson at their mobile home on Sunday night. Ronald was shot and both Ronald and Valerie had knife wounds to the neck that were consistent with attempted beheadings. Vance then stole their car and has been on the run ever since.

Vance also live streamed two videos on Facebook after murdering his aunt and uncle. “This is more intense than what I thought it was going to be, to say the least,” he says into a shaky camera while driving. He then states the car he is in right now is dying and he is “about to steal another car, like right now.”

In the second part of the video where Vance appears in a different, newly-stolen car, he claims the situation he is in is “all a set up.” Below is the video.

Vance is believed to be driving a silver 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse with an Oklahoma license plate of 943LQQ. Vance is 5 feet 11 inches, weighs 212 pounds, and is of Native American descent.

He is also wanted on child sexual abuse charges in Lincoln County. The court hearing was set for November 7, which could be the fuel for this spree of terror.

Read more:

Oklahoma murder suspect on the run apparently tried to behead 2 relatives

Suspect in killings, carjackings, cop shootings on the run

UPDATE: Blue alert issued, hunt for man who killed two relatives, shot Wellston officers continues

rita-and-rochelle

Rita Maze and her daughter Rochelle

Rita Maze had been visiting family in Helena, Montana, and was preparing to drive home to Great Falls the morning of September 6th. She spoke with her husband around 11:25 am, and mentioned that she might visit her mother before heading home. Great Falls is located about 110 miles north and slightly east of Helena, about a one and a half hour drive.

When Rita had still not arrived home by 3:40 pm., her husband Bob began to worry. He tried calling her several times, but she wasn’t answering her phone. By 5:30, Bob contacted their daughter Rochelle, and the two began calling family members. At 8:20 pm, the family reported Rita missing to police.

Just forty minutes later, a license plate reader in Post Falls, Idaho, snapped a photograph of the license plate on Rita’s car, nearly 300 miles west of Helena.

About 10:20 pm, the family received a chilling call from Rita. According to Rochelle, Rita was frantic. She told them she was attacked by a man in a hoodie at a rest stop near Wolf Creek. She said he hit her on the head, and that she was now trapped in the trunk of a car. She said they had been driving a long time. The family was able to tell Rita that they loved her before losing the call. Police also made contact with Rita on her cell phone at about this same time. There are reports that she spoke with police for 10 minutes, but could not tell them where she was. One report states that gunshots were heard during this call.

Police were later able to determine that Rita’s credit card was used at a convenience store in Kingston, Idaho at 4:15 pm, and again at 9:55 pm in Ritzville, WA, about an hour southeast of Spokane.

Helena police used Rita’s cell phone to track her to West Spokane and reached out to Spokane law enforcement around 11:00 pm, telling them that Rita was missing and may be in Spokane County.

It was here, at 1:30 am, that the police discovered Rita’s car, a black Grand Prix. Rita was found dead in the trunk, along with a 9mm pistol and two shell casings.

Her vehicle had traveled about 60 miles northeast from Ritzville back towards Spokane since 9:55 pm, when her credit card was used in Ritzville. Her car was found about 3.5 miles from the airport.

Though the cause of Rita’s death has been identified as a gunshot wound to the abdomen and chest, the Medical Examiner has not yet ruled on the manner of her death, and the police investigation is ongoing.

rita-maze-map

Map of the area near Helena and Spokane

  1. 11:25 am – Rita tells her husband she is heading home to Great Falls from Helena.
  2. 3:40 pm – Rita has not arrived home and is not answering her phone. Her husband calls their daughter at 5:30 pm, and the two begin calling relatives. By 8:20 pm, Rita is reported missing to the police.
  3. 4:15 pm – Rita’s credit card is used at a convenience store in Kingston, ID.
  4. 9:00 pm – The license plate on Rita’s car is photographed in Post Falls, ID.
  5. 9:55 pm – Rita’s credit card is used in Ritzville, WA.
  6. 10:20 pm – Rita’s family receives a frantic call from Rita. She tells them she was abducted from a rest stop near Wolf Creek by a man in a hoodie. She is in the trunk of a car and they have been driving a long time. Her family is able to tell her that they love her before the call drops.
  7. 11:00 pm – Helena police contact Spokane law enforcement and tell them that Rita’s phone is pinging from a location in Spokane County. Rita’s car is discovered at 1:30 am, about 3.5 miles from the airport. Rita is deceased. Her body is recovered from the trunk of her car along with a 9mm gun and two shell casings.

References

http://www.khq.com/story/33077348/questions-remain-in-rita-maze-death-investigation

http://www.ktvh.com/2016/09/spokane-county-releases-cause-death-rita-maze

http://heavy.com/news/2016/09/rita-maze-montana-go-fund-me-facebook-rest-stop-murdered-husband-bob-daughter-rochelle-family-suspect-spokane-washington-great-falls/

http://www.krtv.com/story/33059609/rita-maze-questions-over-kidnap-claims-of-woman-later-found-dead-in-car-trunk

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/local/2016/09/16/manner-death-rita-maze-case-still-clear/90502436/

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/2016/09/12/rita-maze-timeline/90257174/

https://www.gofundme.com/wu3fw5rg

Photo courtesy of DanielWozniakIsMyFriend.com

Photo courtesy of DanielWozniakIsMyFriend.com

32-year-old Daniel Wozniak, a struggling actor from California, was sentenced to death on Friday after being found guilty of murdering two people in order to pay for his wedding and honeymoon.

Samuel Herr, 26, was an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. He also happened to lived next door to Wozniak in the Camden Martinique Apartments complex in Costa Mesa, California. Herr had saved $62,000 from the time he spent serving his country and Wozniak knew about it. Wozniak, who was involved with the local theater, asked Herr to come to the theater to move furniture. This was just a front.

Wozniak made an excuse for them to go into the attic of the theater. This is where he shot, killed, decapitated, and dismembered Herr. He disposed of Herr’s remains in a Long Beach park.

After this, Wozniak decided to contact a friend of Herr’s, 23-year-old Juri Kibiushi. He lured her to Herr’s apartment, shot her, and made the crime scene look as though Herr had sexually assaulted her in some backwards attempt to cover up his own crimes.

Wozniak was caught after a teenager made withdrawals from Herr’s bank account. The teenager told police Wozniak had put him up to it. Wozniak was arrested at his own bachelor party, two days before he was set to marry Rachel Buffett, his co-star in a play at the local community theatre.

In December, Wozniak was convicted of first-degree murder.

The jury deliberated for a little more than an hour before sentencing him to death. According to Independent.com, Judge John Conley upheld the jury’s sentencing recommendations, saying Wozniak “chose not to get married inexpensively or to defer his honeymoon…He wanted to do it in style, and he was willing to kill two people he knew to accomplish this.”

Read more:

Ex-actor Daniel Wozniak sentenced to death in double murder and grisly cover-up
Ex-actor sentenced in double murder over wedding money
Struggling actor sentenced to death over California double-murder

Image courtesy of Syracuse.com

Image courtesy of Syracuse.com

When 22-month-old Maddox Lawrence overcame eye cancer, it seemed like a blessing, but in a repulsive twist of fate, beating the disease actually led to her death. According to investigators, 25-year-old New York resident Ryan Lawrence became jealous of the attention his daughter, Maddox, was receiving after beating cancer and decided to take her life.

In February 2016, Ryan took Maddox from the family home. He left a note stating he may harm himself or Maddox. An Amber Alert was issued shortly after Maddox’s mother came home from work and discovered the note.

Ryan took Maddox to a “remote and secluded area.” He beat her with a wooden baseball bat, burned her body, and tossed her remains in Onondaga Creek with a cider block attached.

He was detained, questioned by police, and admitted to the murder three days after Maddox’s disappearance. Ryan then led police to the creek where he left her body.

On Thursday, Ryan pleaded guilty to murder in the first and second degree.

Ryan’s attorneys said they could not corroborate investigators’ theory on the motive for the murder, but they did say Ryan was going through an extreme emotional disturbance.

But both prosecutors and attorneys can agree on one thing– this is the most difficult case they have encountered throughout their careers.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 7, 2016.

Read more:

Missing CNY baby suffered from eye cancer before first birthday
NY dad, jealous of the attention his cancer-survivor daughter received, pleads guilty to killing her
Ryan Lawrence Pleads Guilty to Murdering Daughter, Baby Maddox
Upstate New York man pleads guilty to killing 1-year-old daughter with baseball bat, burning and disposing body
Watch: Ryan Lawrence admits killing Baby Maddox in emotional court appearance

Jacob Wetterling

After 27 years, one of the most perplexing child abduction cases has finally been solved.

Last week, in front of a packed courtroom, 53-year-old Danny Heinrich confessed to abducting and killing 11-year-old Minnesota boy, Jacob Wetterling. Heinrich pleaded guilty to the heinous crime after the state promised to drop multiple counts of child pornography. In addition to his confession, he led authorities to the remains which were buried at a farm field in a shallow grave near Paynesville, Minnesota.

Heinrich shared the disturbing details of that horrific night with the courtroom which included Jacob’s parents, Patty and Jerry Wetterling.

October 22, 1989 will forever be a painful reminder for Minnesota residents and people all over the world. It is the crime that changed the way parents feel about letting their children roam their own neighborhoods.

On a dark October night, Jacob, his best friend and older brother came face-to-face with a madman who would later be known as Daniel James Heinrich. Biking home after renting a movie at the local convenience store, only about a quarter of a mile from the Wetterling home, the boys were approached by an unidentified man wearing a mask, dark clothing and carrying a gun. He ordered the three boys to lie face down in a ditch and proceeded to ask the boys their age. He told Jacob’s brother and friend to run away and don’t look back or they would be killed. Sadly, he did not allow Jacob to go with them. Heinrich then threw Jacob in the car and handcuffed him, drove to a secluded country road and assaulted him. Terrified, Jacob asked if he could go home but Henrich told him he could not take him all the way home. Jacob started to cry and allegedly asked “What did I do wrong?”

Just then a police car passed by and Heinrich was terrified that he would be spotted. He then loaded his .38 revolver and fired two shots into the back of Jacob’s head, killing him. Fox News reported that after going back home for several hours, Heinrich returned to bury the body. A year later, he noticed that the remains had become partially visible, so he picked up what he could and buried them at another site. 27 years later, this would be the spot Heinrich would lead authorities to.

Although the Wetterlings and those who loved Jacob will never have “closure,” there is some good that has come out of this tragedy. The Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act (The Wetterling Act) is a law that requires all states to have a sex offender and crimes against children registry in place.
Patty Wetterling, Jacob’s mother, is now a U.S. advocate of children’s safety and chair of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. She is a strong advocate for the protection of children from abduction and abuse.

Read More:

Minnesota Man Confesses To Killing of Jacob Wetterling

Photo courtesy of Seth Pickering's Facebook

Photo courtesy of Seth Pickering’s Facebook

***Scroll down for updates***

While police were in the process of issuing an Amber Alert Friday night for 6-year-old Lila Pickering, who had been abducted by her father an hour earlier, it was already too late.

Two rangers patrolling the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville, North Carolina, saw the car belonging to Lila’s father, 36-year-old Seth Pickering, parked along the side of the road.

They found Seth with Lila, who was already deceased.

Ashley Pickering, Lila’s mother, told the press she split from Seth because he was abusive and then a custody battle ensued. Lila had been living with Seth until a violent fight occurred between Seth and another person. Afterwards, Lila was placed in child protective services and was currently living in what the case worker called “a great home.”

The circumstances behind how Seth was able to kidnap Lila from her protective home have not been released. Seth was charged with first-degree murder.

UPDATE  9/17/16  9:00 PM EST

According to newer reports, Seth took Lila from the home where she was staying. The current custodians of Lila begged him not to take her, citing that he will be thrown in jail. Seth shook his head and drove off.

Later the rangers spotted the car and approached. One ranger recalled seeing Seth leap at Lila without warning, hearing a thud, and a high-pitched scream. Lila fell back and had a knife sticking out of her chest.

When the ranger asked if he just stabbed the girl, Seth’s reply was eerie. “Now they will never be able to take her away from me. She’s happier now… it’s what she wanted.”

Read more:

Family identifies 6-year-old girl as victim in North Carolina murder

Man charged with killing 6-year-old daughter on Blue Ridge Parkway

NC dad stabbed and killed daughter in front of Park Ranger, FBI says

New video has just been released in the Dan Markel case, showing the moment when Wendi Adelson, Markel’s ex-wife, was told about his murder. If you’re not familiar with this case, you might want to check out my prior posts about it HERE.

In the video, Wendi is at the police station in Tallahassee. She seems to be hanging on every word as the officer tells her that her ex-husband was shot and was taken to the hospital and that he’s not expected to survive.

She bursts into tears and starts sobbing into her hands.

She tells the officer that Markel “didn’t treat her very well” and that she’s “so scared” that someone did this thinking that it would be “good somehow.” She then says how her brother, Charlie Adelson, had been joking with her that he had looked into hiring a hitman but that a TV was cheaper and so he had gotten her a TV as a divorce present. She said that just that morning, a TV repair guy had come to her house and that she had repeated her brother’s joke about the TV being cheaper than a hitman.

When the officer asks her if she would ever ask anyone to kill Markel, she replies with, “not in a million years.”

She maintains that her family would “never do something like this.”

Given the fact that Markel was killed by hitmen (allegedly, of course, until it’s proven in court), this interview is eerie, to say the least. If Wendi didn’t have any knowledge of the murder beforehand, it’s interesting to watch her reaction because she immediately brings up her family, as though they are the first suspects that come to her mind.

And if she did have knowledge about the murder beforehand, I have to say that her acting is pretty darn good.

As of this moment, I think I might believe that she didn’t know. I mean, why in the world would she bring up her family to law enforcement if she did? You would think she would just tell police that she doesn’t know who would do this, instead of giving them a lead that would make them focus on her family.

Wendi also reportedly handed over her phone and gave them permission to search her computer.

Another interesting tidbit that came out in this latest release is that Wendi says she was on Dan’s street the very morning he was killed. From The Tallahassee Democrat:

Wendi Adelson drove on Trescott Drive around noon the day Markel was shot. She said she thought the road, which by that time was cordoned off by crime scene tape, was closed because of a downed tree.

She went around and bought a bottle of Bulleit Rye Whiskey from the ABC on Thomasville Road to take to a party later that evening.

Before that, she said she had been working at home after fielding the TV repair man that morning.

I have to admit that it’s a little coincidental that she was in the area after Markel had been shot – was she checking to see if the job had been done?

The Adelson family has maintained their innocence, and only time will tell if there will be additional arrests.

Read More:

Wendi Adelson: Brother joked about hiring hitman

Image courtesy of Herald Net

Image courtesy of Herald Net

46-year-old Rodney Earl Sanders has reportedly confessed to the murders of Sister Margaret Held, 68, and Sister Paula Merrill, 68, after being arrested late Friday night. Held and Merrill were found Thursday in their home in Durant, Mississippi, stabbed to death in what the coroner called “one of the worst” crime scenes he had ever seen.

Sanders’ motive for the murders has not been released, although investigators did find the nuns’ car missing from their driveway about a mile from the house, pointing to a possible robbery.

Held and Merrill were nurse practitioners working at a local clinic in the impoverished community of Holmes County.

Read More:

Man, 46, charged with murder for fatally stabbing two Mississippi nuns at their home
Mississippi Man Charged With Murder Of Two Nuns
Mississippi nun slayings suspect confessed, sheriff says

Brittanee Drexel

A shocking new theory about what happened to Brittanee Drexel, the 17-year-old teenager who went missing from Myrtle Beach while on Spring Break in 2009, has emerged and the details are horrifying. If you aren’t familiar with Brittanee’s case, you can read my prior posts about her disappearance HERE.

According to newly released federal court transcripts from last week, FBI agent Gerrick Munoz said he believes Brittanee was abducted, gang-raped, shot to death and thrown into an alligator-infested swamp in the dense forests near McClellanville, South Carolina. His theory is based on a “jailhouse confession” from a prison inmate who says he was there when Brittanee was killed.

From The Post and Courier:

In the transcript, Munoz testifies that the inmate, Taquan Brown of Walterboro, told investigators he went to a “stash house” in the McClellanville area in the days after Drexel was abducted. As he entered the house with a couple of other men, he saw Timothy Da’Shaun Taylor, then 16, “sexually abusing Brittanee Drexel,” the agent said.

He spotted others also in the room with the girl and Da’Shaun Taylor, and he kept walking through the house to the backyard to give some money to Da’Shaun Taylor’s father, Shaun Taylor.

As the two talked, Drexel ran from the house. She was “pistol-whipped” and taken back inside.

Two shots rang out and the inmate assumed Shaun Taylor shot the girl. Then the girl’s body was wrapped up and taken away.

As for what happened next, Munoz said that “several witnesses” have come forward and said that Brittanee’s body was disposed of in an alligator pit.

Munoz said the “stash house” as well as several alligator ponds have been searched, but they have not yet found Brittanee’s body.

Munoz also testified that since authorities held a press conference in June, when they pleaded with the people of McClellanville to speak up about what they know about Brittanee’s case, they’ve received some tips corroborating the jailhouse confession.

An additional inmate in the Georgetown County jail told investigators that he had secondhand information about what happened.

The Georgetown prisoner told authorities that Da’Shaun Taylor picked Drexel up in Myrtle Beach and took her to McClellanville. There he “showed her off, introduced her to some other friends that were there … they ended up tricking her out with some of their friends, offering her to them and getting a human trafficking situation,” the FBI agent testified.

By that point, the prisoner said, searches for the missing teen had generated massive media publicity. That created a problem for her abductors and she was “murdered and disposed of,” the agent told the court.

This new information from Munoz came out during a bond hearing for the now 25-year-old Da’Shaun Taylor, who is being charged with interference of interstate commerce by threat or violence for his involvement in a 2011 robbery of a Mount Pleasant McDonald’s restaurant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday told the judge during the hearing that Taylor is a suspect in Brittanee’s case.

Taylor has since been released on $10,000 bail, and his mother has spoken with reporters, maintaining her son’s innocence with regards to Brittanee.

No arrests have yet been made in Brittanee’s case. Read the below link for additional info.

Read More:

FBI agent: Missing teen Brittanee Drexel was kidnapped, shot and dumped in alligator pit