Tag Archives: true crime

Cold case Quest: Tina Johnson, Maria Gruden, and Nadine Frank

The cases of Tina Johnson, Maria Gruden and Nadine Frank are not necessarily connected. We don’t know enough about their personal lives to say that they lived in a similar way.

However, the homicides occurred on the east side of Columbus. All three ladies were stabbed. They were between the ages of 19 and 32.

Tina Johnson

Tina Johnson was 19 years old when an unknown assailant stabbed her and left to die behind a garbage truck. The incident occurred on September 11, 1979.

Maria Gruden

Maria Gruden was stabbed while in her home on December 6, 1980. Gruden was 32 years old at the time of her death.

Nadine Frank

On April 7, 1987, Nadine Frank survived an initial attack in which she was stabbed several times. She was taken to the hospital but refused treatment. Frank died from her wounds a few days later. She never named the person who stabbed her.

As far as I know, no one has been arrested for the cases of Johnson, Gruden and Frank. If there were witnesses, either no one has come forward or didn’t identify a suspect.

If you have any information about any cold case in Columbus, contact the Columbus Police Cold Case Division or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers.

The locations of all three homicides

Columbus Police

Central Ohio Crime Stoppers

Cold Case Quest: Alice Laskey, Helen Banner and Carrie Walker

Unfortunately, the elderly are victims of crime more often than anyone would think. It’s almost unthinkable. Who would want to hurt Nana or Pop-pop?

The elderly are generally victims of elder abuse (emotional and physical abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, etc.), which I have seen first-hand. Violent crimes against the elderly are slightly less common but the instances of violence are increasing.

There are the cold cases of Columbus residents Alice Laskey, Helen Banner and Carrie Walker. All three ladies were over 70 years old. They had all been stabbed in or in front of their homes. Robbery was possibly the motive in at least two of the homicides.

If anyone has any information about these cases, please contact the cold case division of the Columbus Police Department or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers. The phone numbers are listed below.

The families of Laskey, Banner and Walker need your help to solve their loved ones homicide.

Alice Laskey

Alice Laskey. 1980

On November 12, 1980, Alice Laskey was found outside of her residence after being stabbed. She died from her wounds soon afterwards. Laskey was in her 70s. The motive was most likely robbery since her purse was found several blocks away.

Helen Banner. 2004

Robbery could have also been the motive for Helen Banner’s death on February 12, 2004. Banner, 82, was also stabbed at her residence. Her purse had been stolen in January. Her son had confronted the people responsible. Is it possible that the person who stole her purse had killed her for revenge? At the time, the police said that they didn’t think it was connected. I hope that they take a second and third look at the thieves.

Carrie Walker. 1987

Eighty-five year old Carrie Walker was found by her granddaughter on October 15, 1987. Walker had been stabbed in her residence. It’s unclear if robbery was the motive. There was at least one witness but no suspects were ever found.

Central Ohio Crime Stoppers.  614.461.8477 or 614.645.8477

Cold Case Quest: Denise Collins and Thax Winston, Jr.

 Who would want to end the lives of Denise Collins and Thax Winston, Jr. ?

The pair were romantically involved. Unfortunately, their relationship came to an abrupt end in 2005. Collins and Winston were shot while at Winston’s apartment on 4th Avenue in Columbus, Ohio. The incident happened prior to 6 p.m. on January 14, 2005.

It is possible that at least one of the victims knew the killer. Collins and Winston were each shot once in the head, which is more like an execution-style killing. The motive for the homicides is unclear. So far this case has not been connected to other cases.

Apparently, Winston ran a speakeasy out of his home. It was not a big secret. Most of the neighbors were aware. Was the killer a customer that wanted revenge for whatever reason?

Was it a business deal that went wrong? If I had to guess, I would say that the homicides of Collins and Winston had something to do with money and greed. I think that the killer is someone that would benefit in some way – most likely a financial gain -from the deaths of Collins and Winston. So who benefits financially from their deaths?

Even after many years, people are afraid to come forward with information in murder investigations. No witnesses have come forward yet. Hopefully, someone will call the Columbus Police or Crime Stoppers with useful information. If anyone witnessed anything at anytime on January 14, 2005, please call one of the numbers listed below.

Who to contact: 

Central Ohio Crime Stoppers  614.461.8477 

Cold Case Quest: Anita Lias

Anita Lias

16 year- old Anita Lias was a track star at Eastmoor High School, now Eastmoor Academy. Unfortunately, Lias did not get to realize her full potential.

Her body was found on Monday, Sept. 1, 1975 in front of the garage of 862 S. Champion St. She was last seen alive on the afternoon of Saturday, Aug. 30, 1975. Lias died from stab wounds but she was also strangled.

On Aug. 30, she had walked down Avalon Place to a store at Nelson and Broad St. Anita and a man in an 1969 or 1970 blue Chevelle had waved at each other. People in the neighborhood had seen the man before in the area. The neighbors said that he was a black man, 25-30 years old and wearing curlers in his hair.

1969 Chevrolet Chevelle Yenko
1969 Chevelle

As far as I can tell, the man was not found or identified. How did the police not find this man? As you can see, the blue Chevelle is a flashy car. A man with curlers in his hair is also not trying to hide. Did this mystery man kill Lias or could he have information? Currently this man would be about 70-75 years old.

Lias was found about 3.5 miles away from the store, which was close to her home. I doubt that she got there on foot. It’s more likely that she got into a car, willingly or not.

Lias was found in the same area as Karen Moore but it’s unlikely that they are connected. Possible but unlikely.

It has been almost 45 years since Lias was killed. She would be about 61 years old now if she had survived. Hopefully, someone remembers something about the mystery man or new information about Lias. If you have any information, please report it to the Columbus Police or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers.

Central Ohio Crime Stoppers

Cold Case Quest: Felicia Dungey

Picture of Felicia Dungey
Felicia Dungey

You could say that Felicia Dungey’s story is a cautionary tale for people who want to fix their significant others. Sometimes it’s better to just walk away from a bad situation.

On February 18, 2001, Felicia Dungey and her boyfriend, Calvin Daniely, were both fatally shot in their apartment. The police, family members and friends of Dungey and Daniely believe that the homicides were because Daniely was a small-time drug dealer.

Daniely did not have any drug-related arrests so the police could not say anything with 100% certainty. The police are fairly sure that it was not a murder-suicide.

However, the suspect wrote “You Hit” on the walls in red lipstick, which is kind of creepy. Who are they really sending a message to with the writing? Other drug dealers? Other people that could do the suspect wrong?

The area of the Dungey/Danielly homicides

The couple was struggling to make ends meet and were about to get evicted. There are rumors that Dungey was going to leave Daniely because she was tired of the cycle of poverty. She thought she could get back on track if she wasn’t with him.

If she had left a little bit sooner, she would still be alive. Sometimes a person doesn’t realize what they should do until it is too late. I’m sure that her family and friends wish that she had made a clean break from her boyfriend. She was a good person that just felt stuck. Unfortunately, Dungey got caught in the middle of the violence.

No one wants to name a suspect or come forward as a witness, especially since the homicides are possibly related to drugs. Hopefully, someone will come forward with information about who killed Felicia Dungey and Calvin Daniely.

Central Ohio Crime Stoppers

Columbus Police Department

Cold Case Quest: Nanette Miller

Nanette Miller

Although Nanette Miller was found deceased on December 3, 1993, it is very likely that she died a few days earlier. Her sister had not heard from her for several days. So the sister went to Miller’s apartment where she found her body.

What was she doing in the days just before her death? I have not been able to find any more information about Miller. Was she out shopping or for a walk? Did she know her killer?

At first, the police thought the cause of death was related to being beaten. However, the coroner ruled that the cause of death was strangulation.

Miller’s apartment was within a five mile radius of the locations of where Frances Smith, Janet Amar and Darlene Gervins were found. I’m not 100% sure that the cases are connected but it’s totally possible. Amar and Gervins were killed about a year before Miller.

There were no suspects at the time. No witnesses have come forward with information.

It’s not too late to report any information to Crime Stoppers or the police. There are some links below for reporting information. If it was your sister, wouldn’t you want someone to say something?

If anyone knows anything about the cases of Nanette Miller, Darlene Gervins, Frances Smith or Janet Amar, contact the Columbus Police or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers.

Contact information: Rewards may be available for information on a case that leads to a conviction by contacting Central Ohio’s Crime Stoppers at (614) 461-8477 or visiting their website.

Cold Case: Darlene Gervins

Darlene Gervins
https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Files/Law-Enforcement/Investigator/Cold-Case/Homicides/Gervins

On February 15,1992, Columbus resident Darlene Gervins, 29, was found deceased in her home by a friend. The friend was bringing her children home.

Apparently, the cause of death was strangulation just like Janet Amar and Frances Smith.

Gervins left Scatters Bar at midnight on February 15 with a black male, between 30-40 years old. Currently, the man would be at least in his 60s.

Some of the bar patrons saw Gervins leave the bar with the man who could have killed her. They gave a description but it is unclear if there was a composite sketch of the man.

Scatters Bar, at Lilley Avenue and E. Main Street, was a few blocks from Gervins’s home on Lilley Ave. Her home was also in the same neighborhood as the locations of where Amar and Smith were found. Amar’s homicide occurred on January 23, 1992 – a little less than a month before Gervins’s homicide.

It is entirely possible that it was the same man from Scatters Bar that killed Gervins, Amar and Smith. Did they know him from the neighborhood? I totally believe that the killer was familiar with the east side of Columbus. He probably lived or worked in the area.

The top purple tag is where Frances Smith was found. The middle purple tag is the home of Darlene Gervins. The bottom purple tag is where Janet Amar was found.

I’m not the first person to notice that in the 1980s and 1990s there were several cases in which the victims were strangled. Many of the victims were African-American women. Some of the women had links to prostitution. However, I think that the women in these cases were easy targets – not necessarily because of prostitution.

Of course, not every strangulation case is connected but I believe that many of the cases could involve the same killer. There could even be two serial killers, who happen to have similar MO’s (modus operandi).

The possibility of a serial killer in Columbus was reported but no one seemed to pay attention to the news. Unfortunately, the list of victims increased instead of anyone finding the killer. In 1992, there were eight similar deaths. In 2002, there were 24.

It is not to late to come forward with information to give these ladies and their families justice.

Contact information: Rewards may be available for information on a case that leads to a conviction by contacting Central Ohio’s Crime Stoppers at (614) 461-8477 or visiting their website.

Links:

Cold Case Quest: Janice and Brandon Beidleman

Janice and Brandon Beidleman
https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Files/Law-Enforcement/Investigator/Cold-Case/Homicides/Beidleman

 On September 13, 1981 Beidleman and her son left a relatives house on Myrtle Drive. She was going to stop at the grocery store before returning to her home on Beechwold Drive. Unfortunately, the Beidlemans did not make it home.

On September 14, 1981, Janice Beidleman and her 18-month old son, Brandon, were found in the water near the Agler Road. Janice Beidleman had been beaten and strangled. The police believe that Brandon had been suffocated, possibly with a pillow.

The police also know that before being placed in the water, the Beidlemans were attacked near Putter Ave. The people in the Putter Avenue neighborhood heard the screams. It must have been terrible.

The car that Beidleman was driving was found near the bridge at Agler and Sunbury Roads.

So I have a theory about what happened to the mother and son. It is possible that Beidleman was confronted by the attacker while in the store parking lot. I think that the suspect was waiting for someone that he could kidnap. For whatever reason, Janice Beidleman fit the bill. Who knows if the suspect knew that there was a toddler or not?

The cause of death was also strangulation in the case of Sheronda Norris. It seems like they both were either out for a walk or shopping. They could have each been an easy target for their killer.

The Beidlemans were found extremely close to where Sheronda Norris was found. Norris went missing on September 15, 1991, almost exactly 10 years later.

Sheronda Norris.

The people of Columbus really wanted to see this case get solved. They wanted the mother and especially the young son receive some justice. Every few years, the police and the media revisit this case in order to solve the case. I hope that after almost 39 years that someone can put all the pieces to this cold case together.

Who to contact: 

If anyone knows anything about any of the cases of Janice and Brandon Beidleman or Sheronda Norris,contact the Columbus Police or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers.

Contact information: Rewards may be available for information on a case that leads to a conviction by contacting Central Ohio’s Crime Stoppers at (614) 461-8477 or visiting their website.

If you have any information or questions about any Columbus area cold case, please contact the Columbus Police Department. The Homicide Cold Case Unit number is available (614) 645-4036 during the hours of 6 a.m. – 4 p.m. You can also call the Investigative Subdivision Duty Desk at (614) 645-4624, after hours.

Links:

https://www.10tv.com/article/janice-and-brandon-beidleman

https://www.10tv.com/article/cold-case-detectives-hope-solve-28-year-old-murder

Cold case Quest: Darchelle Stone

Darcelle Stone
Ohio Attorney General website

Darchelle Stone was only 19 years old when someone took her life on September 2, 2008 in Columbus, Ohio. She died due to injuries from stab wounds.

Although Stone’s photograph is not listed on the Ohio Attorney General’s website, it was published with her obituary. She was a young mother who was involved in community service. Stone and her mother helped to clothe and feed the homeless and other people in need.

From the little bit of information that I found, it doesn’t seem like she had enemies. Who would do such a horrible thing to such a good person?

I’m sure that the police ran into the same problem of not finding any viable suspects.

If there were any witnesses, no one has said anything. Hopefully, someone will come forward with information. It would be a travesty if they kept silent. Please honor Darchelle Stone’s memory by helping to solve her case.

The area where Darcelle Stone was found.

Who to contact:

If you would like to submit information, contact the Columbus Police or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers. Rewards may be available for information on a case that leads to a conviction by contacting Central Ohio’s Crime Stoppers at (614) 461-8477 or visiting their website.

If you have any information or questions about any Columbus area cold case, please contact the Columbus Police Department. The Homicide Cold Case Unit number is available (614) 645-4036 during the hours of 6 a.m. – 4 p.m. You can also call the Investigative Subdivision Duty Desk at (614) 645-4624, after hours.

Cold Case Quest: Sheronda Norris

Sheronda Norris

21 year-old Sheronda Norris of Columbus, Ohio was last seen alive by her family on September 15, 1991. She was on her way to her aunt’s house but never arrived.

A bus driver found her body on the afternoon of September 16, 1991. the coroner determined that she had been strangled and left in the area of Agler and Sunbury Roads.

The police are not sure what happened after she left her house. They did say that the case could be connected to several other cases. No one has said which cases but I think that Norris’s case could be connected to Frances Smith, Janet Amar and Rene Combs.

Norris left Richmond Ave. She was on her way to E. 23rd Ave. Her body was found at Sunbury and Agler Roads.

There have not been any suspects or arrests. No one knows or has said if she was seen with anyone before her death.

Norris was about to be served a warrant for aggravated burglary. The warrant was vacated shortly after her death. She was a former go-go dancer who was trying to get her life back on track. Norris wanted to provide a better life for herself and her young son, who was two at the time.

Do you think her death was related to the burglary? Was she going to testify against someone else? Was Norris chosen at random? Was the person who killed Norris the same killer as the other cases? If I had to bet money, I would say that they are connected and there are probably more homicides committed by the same person.

Who to contact: 

If anyone knows anything about any of the cases of Sheronda Norris, Rene Combs, Frances Smith or Janet Amar, contact the Columbus Police or Central Ohio Crime Stoppers.

Contact information: Rewards may be available for information on a case that leads to a conviction by contacting Central Ohio’s Crime Stoppers at (614) 461-8477 or visiting their website.

If you have any information or questions about any Columbus area cold case, please contact the Columbus Police Department. The Homicide Cold Case Unit number is available (614) 645-4036 during the hours of 6 a.m. – 4 p.m. You can also call the Investigative Subdivision Duty Desk at (614) 645-4624, after hours.