Category Archives: Cold Case Quest

Cold Case Quest: Cynthia K. Smith

Cynthia K. Smith

20- year -old Cynthia K. Smith was shot while making a phone call at a record store in Columbus, Ohio. The incident occurred on January 24, 1993.

The record store, Negus, Negast, was close to Reggae nightclub. If I understand the story correctly, the nightclub was next door to the record story. The shots came from across the street.

The police suspected that the shooter was upset that they could not enter the nightclub. So in retaliation they opened fire. Smith happened to be shot by a stray bullet.

There were about 20 people at the nightclub. No one will tell police who was shooting. It seems unlikely that no one saw what happened.

The witnesses were probably afraid to name the shooter. This person opened fire because they were angry about something that was more than likely trivial. So can you imagine how much destruction they would cause for something like being accused of the murder of Cynthia K. Smith?

The area of the homicide location.

If any of the witnesses had come forward, the suspect could have been arrested and hopefully sent to prison.

The hope in writing this post is that someone that witnessed the crime would finally tell the police what they know about the night of January 24, 1993.

If you have any information or questions about Cynthia K. Smith’s case, please contact the Columbus Police Department. If you happen to have a photograph of Smith, please contact me at Chasing Destino on Facebook.

Cold Case Quest: Gladys Taylor

Columbus resident Gladys Taylor, 54, was shot in the bedroom of her home on July 26, 1987. She was home with a 10 year old relative. On that Sunday evening, her husband had been at a church service. He found his wife when he returned at 10 p.m.

The area of the Taylor home

There weren’t any suspects that the police have mentioned. They did question the relative that was home at the time. The child was the only one that heard the gunshot. I hate to even think that a 10 year old could kill someone. However, It is also not totally out of the realm of possibility. Maybe it was an accidental shooting.

If I had to say, I suspect that it may have been a burglary. Maybe the killer didn’t think that anyone would be at home and was surprised by Taylor.

Lack of suspects and evidence didn’t help this case at all. I cannot say that the crime scene was contaminated but it’s possible.

If anyone happens to know anything about Gladys Taylor or if you have a photo of her, you can send a message to my Facebook page, Chasing Destino. More importantly, if you have any information about the homicide itself, please contact the Columbus Police Department.

Cold Case Quest: Donna Jean Hudson

Donna Jean Hudson
The Columbus Dispatch

On September 5, 1972, an unknown intruder killed 20 year- old Donna Jean Hudson in front of her three young children. The situation is beyond horrible.

 Hudson lived in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and three children. She was pregnant with a fourth child. Her husband found her when he came home from work at 8:30 p.m.

Sometimes the killer is the husband but I don’t think it was in this instance. The oldest child was able to give a description of the man. She did not identify her father as the killer. The description was that the man was an African-American, possibly early to mid-20s.

The child was five years old at the time and had been through a traumatic event. Children can be credible witnesses. Let’s hope that Hudson’s child was not influenced by anyone to give the wrong description.

There’s a news article from 1975 about unsolved cases in Columbus. The police were trying to link some cases together including the Donna Jean Hudson file.

Most of the cases were not similar at all to Hudson’s. However, there was one case that could have been connected. Unfortunately, I cannot find any more information about the other investigation beyond 1975. It may have been solved but so far I haven’t found evidence to convince me that anyone has worked on it since 1975. I hope that I’m wrong and the other case has been solved.

Like many older investigations, the homicide happened in 1972 – way before DNA testing. I hope that there was some evidence that could be retested.

If you have any information or questions about this case, please contact the Columbus Police Department. 

I found the photo in the Columbus Dispatch newspaper archives. It hasn’t been posted on the Ohio Attorney General’s website yet.

Cold Case Quest: Sue Ann Miller

Twenty-four-year-old Sue Ann Miller was a secretary at Ohio Dominican College. On the evening of March 22, 1976, her neighbor found Miller fully clothed in the bathtub of her home. Miller’s husband has called the neighbor because he was concerned that Miller was not answering the phone.

The coroner had a difficult time determining the cause of death. Although she was wearing a scarf, it was not used to strangle her. Miller also did not drown in the bathtub. The official cause of her death was eventually ruled asphyxiation. Miller may have been smothered with a pillow before being placed in the bathtub.

The police also had a difficult time figuring out who could have had a motive? Was it a robber? There wasn’t anything of value stolen. Miller may have surprised the robber and they left without actually stealing anything. It is doubtful. A thief would not have left without taking something.

The police wanted her husband, Paul David Miller, to take a lie detector test but he refused. It’s not clear whether he ever took the lie detector test. When Sue Ann Miller was found, her husband was working on a faulty alarm at 140 East Town Street.

If Mr. Miller did commit the crime, what was his motive? Did he plan the murder and the cover up of the crime? Is he a genius and figured out how to be in a building with a faulty alarm in time to provide an alibi? If you go with this theory, did he call the neighbor to check on his wife to throw people off of his trail?

This is the route from where Paul Miller was to where their home was. Possible but is it likely? It sounds more like a movie script. However, we’ve all watched enough Dateline to know people can be motivated to cover their tracks in order to stay out of jail.

Honestly, I think the police just ran out of leads. They did not have enough evidence to convict Mr. Miller or anyone else.

This case happened in 1976 – before a lot of technology was available. They had fingerprints but not much else that they could test. I wonder if they’ve done anything with the fingerprints or other evidence lately.

If you have any information or questions about this case, please contact the Columbus Police Department. 

I found the photo in the newspaper archives. It hasn’t been posted on the Ohio Attorney General’s website yet.

Cold Case Quest: Brenda West & Robert Valentine

On February 3, 1987, Columbus residents Brenda West and Robert Valentine were found deceased in their living room. Both had been shot while sitting on the couch. Robbery and murder/suicide were ruled out as possible motives.

West and Valentine had lived at the apartment for a little over a year. West was separated from her husband and in the process of getting a divorce. She was a library aide at a local school.

Police wanted to question the husband but could not find him. As far as I know, they did not find the estranged husband. Did West’s husband commit the murders and steal the car? I wonder if there was a development in the divorce proceedings that sent the husband over the edge.

Was the killer’s motivation due to the fact that West and Valentine were an interracial couple? People weren’t tolerant or accepting of interracial couples in 1987 or even in the present day. Was it a mixture of jealousy and racism?

In 1987, the police did not release a photo or name of the husband. I’m not sure why they would keep the information about the husband a secret. They already stated publicly that they were looking for him so it’s not confidential anymore. It seems like they put the case on the back burner and then forgot about it.

If you have any information or questions about this case, please contact the Columbus Police Department. If you happen to have a photograph of West and Valentine, please contact me at Chasing Destino on Facebook.

 Details about Valentine’s missing car: 1973 Chevrolet Impala with Ohio license plates 576 LQQ. Maroon with a black top. I’ve added a photo to show what Valentine’s car looks like.

Image result for 1973 chevy impala maroon with black top
http://tenwheel.com/view/8163-1973_chevy_impala_custom_____burgundy_with_black_vinyl_roof_.html

The area of the apartment

Cold Case Quest: Janet Amar

 On January 23, 1992, 35 year- old Janet Amar was found in a vacant building by the owner of the building. An aunt had filed a missing persons report on January 6. The last time that her family saw her was January 4. The coroner determined that Amar had been strangled. It has not been reported whether she actually died on January 4 or January 23.

She left the house at 2:30 a.m on January 4. Where did she go? Most bars are closing at that time. She could have been going to an after hours party or to meet someone specific. Honestly, Amar could have been walking to the drive-thru to get cigarettes. It doesn’t seem like she meant to be gone for longer than an hour or two. I think that whoever she met that night took her to the vacant building. It’s about a ten minute walk from her home to the place where she was found.

The house was empty for about 3 weeks. Amar was missing for the same amount of time. It’s just a theory, could the suspect be the previous tenant or the home owner? Someone knew that the house was empty and possibly had access. The suspect could have also been squatting in the house until just before the owner came to the house on January 23. What do the police know about the tenant or owner?

The route between her house and the Berkeley Road house. Some businesses might not have been there in 1992.

It’s possible that someone saw Amar on January 4. She might have been walking with someone or getting in a car with someone.

If you have any information or questions about Janet Amar’s case, please contact the Columbus Police Department. If you happen to have a photograph of Amar, please contact me at Chasing Destino on Facebook.

Cold Case Quest: Danita Obanion

Who: Danita Obanion, 30, had just moved to a new apartment about a week before her murder occurred on January 23, 1989. Neighbors and police suspected that the homicide was drug-related.

The only thing anyone said about the reason for suspecting was that there was a lot of traffic at the apartment. She was known to narcotics officers as “Star” because she wore a star nose ring.

She was found in the kitchen with a gunshot wound in her chest. The police would not identify the man who found her. Is it possible that he was a source of information about drugs in the area?

Obanion had been arrested for prostitution so did she switch to making or selling drugs? It’s possible that she thought a career in drugs was a step up from prostitution.

 This is a map of the area of Obanion’s apartment in the central area of Columbus. I hope that if anyone has any information about the case that they come forward. It’s been 31 years which seems too long to hold on to information that could solve a homicide.

If you have any information or questions about Danita Obanion’s case, please contact the Columbus Police Department. If you happen to have a photograph of Obanion, please contact me at Chasing Destino on Facebook.