Category Archives: Cold Cases

2012 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 42,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 10 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Gail Palmgren: Accident or Murder?


Gail Palmgren

Gail Palmgren is dead. That much isn’t disputed. How she died is not a mystery to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee. Her Jeep Rubicon careened off a cliff on April 30, 2011. At the time, investigators say she was going about 24 miles per hour. She wasn’t found until December 1, 2011.  But not everyone believes this was an accident. Just hours before she died, Gail’s sister Diane Nichols called the Signal Mountain Police Department. At the time of her death, Gail was living in the Tennessee town and was driving back from the family’s lake house in Alabama with her 2 children. Shortly after Diane called, 911 was able to talk to Gail. Here are the transcripts from Diane and Gail’s calls. The date was April 30, 2011, just hours before Gail was killed. We’ll pick up with much more information in the coming days.

911: Signal Mountain Police Department. Hillary.

Diane Nichols: Yes, Julie?

911: Hillary.

Diane Nichols: Oh, Hillary, I’m sorry. I’m calling on behalf of my sister (Gail Palmgren). She’s down in Alabama. She lives on Signal Mountain. She asked me to give you a phone call. I just got off the phone with her. And for some reason, I really don’t understand what’s going on. All I know is there’s some kind of domestic dispute between her and her husband. She asked me to let the police department at Signal Mountain know that she is on her way home and that’s why I’m calling.

911: She’s on her way home where?

Diane Nichols: From Alabama, at, you know, her lake house, back to Signal Mountain. She lives on, I think it’s 40 Ridge Rock Road.

911: 40 Ridge wreck?

Diane Nichols: Rock. Ridge Rock.

911: Ridge Rock.

Diane Nichols: Road. That’s where she lives. She was coming from Wetumpka, Alabama. She’s leaving at 6:30 a.m.

911: OK Ridge Rock is that on Signal Mountain?

Diane Nichols: Yes.

911: The address we show here, the ranges go from 28 to 99. She lives on…

Diane Nichols: 40 is the address

911: 40. OK did she say how long it would take her?

Diane Nichols: She’s coming from Wetumpka, Alabama. I would guess about 3 hours. But I’m not sure. I’d have to put that into a Google Map to see how long of a distance that is. I don’t know if you have access to that.

911: Did she say why she wanted us to know that?

Diane Nichols: Um, apparently, she said that um…she’s not giving me much information. She’s, like I said there’s a domestic thing going on and all I know…I’m trying to stay out of it because, you know what I’m saying? I live off of New York and I don’t really know what’s going on down there. But I don’t know if she’s calling for protection. I don’t know if it’s something the police told her that she needed to bring her and the kids home. I don’t know. But she told me that, you know, that she wanted me to call the police department and let them know that she’s on her way.

911: OK, um

Diane Nichols: I doesn’t make sense to me. Nothing makes sense to me. I don’t know if you got a statement from yesterday that you can reference to. They were involved at their house yesterday.

911: Does your sister have a cell phone or anything?

Diane Nichols: She does. I can give you her number. She says her battery is getting low. It’s, let me see if I can look up the number.

911: What’s her name?

Diane Nichols: Gail Palmgren.

911: Can you spell the last name please?

Diane Nichols: P-A-L-M-G-R-E-N. I have to see if I can get her phone number because I don’t know it off the top of my head.

911: OK. Was she told to leave her home?

Diane Nichols: I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m really, you know, this thing is just really bizarre for me. It’s like since I’m not there and I’m not witnessing it’s a he said, she said thing. I’m not going to take sides. I mean I love my sister and I love my brother-in-law, but because I’m not there, you know, and I’m not witnessing anything other than a couple of things that I’ve encountered myself. I don’t really know the truth. So…The reason she’s not telling me a lot is she thinks that everything she says is being recorded. You know. (She thinks) he has some kind of system on everything. That he’s taping things, and that he’s, you know, because he’s locker her out of all her bank accounts and he locked her out of her AOL account and stuff like that. So she has no access to anything. That’s what I’ve heard, but see, I don’t even know…she’s just paranoid that everything she says is, that you know, he’s listening to.  OK let me see if I can get her cell phone number. I’ve got my address book here. OK, I’ve got a cellphone number for her. 205-987…wait that’s not right. I’m sorry. That was their old phone number. It’s (redacted).

911: That’s her phone number?

Diane Nichols: Yeah, her name is Gail. OK, yeah so I just don’t know what to do. I’m at a loss. She has no family down there other than her children. I live in New York, my brother lives in Florida. And my parents are deceased. So I don’t know what to do.

911: OK what is your name?

Diane Nichols: My name is Diane Nichols. N-I-C-H-O-L-S.

911: I have this in the computer and I’ll give your sister a call and see what’s going on and see if she needs some assistance.

Diane Nichols: OK, thank you so much.

911: Alright, you’re welcome. Bye bye.

Diane Nichols: Bye

Seconds later, Joanne from 911 calls Gail

Gail: Hello?

911: Is this Gail?

Gail: Yes it is.

911: OK this is Joanne from the Signal Mountain Police Department. Your sister called and said you needed some help.

Gail: My husband said, when I went by yesterday, because basically I needed basically a timeout from my husband and I was going to take the kids down to the lake house, and I didn’t want anybody to think I was kidnapping them I just needed to get away. He said that they wanted me back in like 12 or 14 hours, and I don’t remember them saying that, but..

911: Who said that?

Gail: My husband said the police told me that, but I don’t remember them telling me that. But, we’re headed back up to Signal Mountain. I just wanted the police to be aware where I am, where the kids are, and where we’re headed.”

911: OK, if you want to just give us a call when you get closer to your home if you need some help.

Gail: Ok. Thank you.

911: OK. Thank you.

On 30th anniversary of missing Alexander “Edwin” Shaw IV, sister promotes unclaimed 1983 North Carolina Governor’s reward money


North Carolina ( March 7, 2012)-  On March 16, thirty years will have passed since Alexander Edwin Shaw IV’s wrecked car was found slammed into  a pine tree near his home in Wagram , NC.   His disappearance generated an extensive land and Lumber River search by sixteen rescue units, and a National Guard and Ft. Brag army helicopter.  Search efforts continued for several days but no trace was found that week and none has been found in the thirty years that have passed.

His sister, Grace Shaw Abrams of Greenville, SC and mother Jane Blake Shaw of Chadbourn, NC are giving notice of unclaimed 1983 reward money.  The state of North Carolina still has $5000.00 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the disappearance of Alexander Edwin Shaw IV, of Wagram, NC formerly of Chadbourn, NC.  According to Janie Pinkston Sutton, Special Agent in Charge, N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, Southeastern District, this reward will remain in effect until such time as information is received that leads to an arrest and conviction.

Mrs. Abrams said, “Our family is offering an additional $5000.00 making a total of $10,000.00 in reward money.”  Anyone having information concerning the case should contact Investigator Jonathan Edwards of Scotland County Sheriff’s Department or the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, Southeastern District. Edwin Shaw’s missing person profile is located at www.namus.gov  or https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/2420/1/­­­­­­­­­. NamUs provides a national centralized publicly accessible database for missing persons and the unidentified.  The database is available to law enforcement, medical examiners, coroners and the public.

Namus staff and advocates were recently in Elizabethtown, North Carolina conducting NamUs training for sixty law enforcement agencies from several North Carolina counties : Robeson, Cumberland, Moore , and Bladen to name a few on how to utilize the database to assist with missing persons cases.  In addition they gave missing person’s families an opportunity to establish a profile and provide family DNA samples to be compared against the unidentified bodies’ database.

“We hope the reminder of the unclaimed reward money on this anniversary will lead someone to contact the authorities.  Thanks to NamUs forgotten missing persons cases can be remembered.  Cold missing persons cases like my brother’s do matter to families- after all we are the ones left behind without resolution and every missing person has family somewhere.” says Mrs. Abrams.

In an effort to bring awareness to the NamUs web tool and her brother’s mystery missing story, Grace began a blog on his 53rd birthday January 23.     http://hopeforedwin.wordpress.com/

I Am Back!


It’s been a while…I know. I’d like to blame it on jet lag but, I’ve been back for a few weeks now.  Anyway, there’s more to come on Joe Helt and next up, let’s take a look at what happened to Gail Palmgren shall we?

Tignes, France


20120315-164653.jpg

Complete with a mini avalanche at the hotel. Here in the French Alps it’s been in the upper 50′s during the day causing tons of snow rumbling down into streets and buildings.

Statutes of Limitations: New York, Mississippi, Illinois


Just for the heck of it, here are some statute of limitations in a few states.

“Statutes of limitations” are laws that set time limits on how long you have to file a “civil” lawsuit, like a personal injury lawsuit, or how long the state has to prosecute someone for committing a crime. These time limits usually depend on the legal claim or crime involved in the case, and they’re different from state to state. For example, in some states you may have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit after you were hurt in a car accident, but in other states you may have two years. As a general rule: Read the rest of this entry

Paging Dr. McGarry: More Evidence of Nikki LaDue January’s Botched Death Investigation


Dr. Paul McGarry is getting more attention than he probably wants right now. You remember him. He is the one Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove and lead investigator Thomas Pustay said examined Nikki LaDue January’s body after she was found with a gunshot wound to the head.  Well, it appears the good doctor isn’t that good at all. Last year, in a story NOLA.com did on the investigation into police brutality and the death of an inmate, McGarry’s work ethic was hung out for all to see. And it’s ugly.

In his testimony, the medical examiner harshly criticized the work of the Orleans Parish coroner’s office, especially former pathologist Dr. Paul McGarry.

McGarry never examined Robair’s ruptured spleen. Nor did McGarry examine or dissect Robair from the waist down. If he had, he would have found massive hemorrhaging and bruising, consistent with baton strikes or kicks, Sperry said. Though these injuries may not be seen with the naked eye, it’s imperative that pathologists look beyond the skin for clues, especially in a death that might have stemmed from a police encounter, Sperry said.

“It should be classified a homicide,” Sperry said of Robair’s death.

Coroner Frank Minyard, relying on McGarry’s autopsy, ruled Robair’s death accidental. In announcing his ruling in August 2005, Minyard said Robair had suffered his fatal injuries before  his encounter with police. Minyard also said the autopsy did not find any wounds indicative of a police beating.

As if that weren’t enough, PBS Frontline did a documentary called “Post Mortem”. The description of the program? WARNING! Don’t die in the wrong state. And who do they spend a good deal of time talking about? That’s right, Dr. Paul McGarry. It’s an interesting program. It lasts an hour but if you’ve got the time, here you go.

Post Mortem

 

Support the Help Find the Missing Act (Billy’s Law)


From the Surviving Parents Coalition Facebook Page

As parents & families of children who were abducted, sexually assaulted, murdered, recovered or are still missing, the Surviving Parent Coalition is calling upon the United States Congress to pass H.R. 1300 S. 702 The Help Find The Missing Act (Billy’s Law).

We are passionate about funding for the National Missing and Unidentified Person System (NamUS). Many of the members of the Surviving Parent Coalition still have a missing child. NamUS gives hope to a searching family to bring their missing loved one home. We know that we represent thousands of families suffering for the loss of their child, brother, sister, mother or father and every single one of our loved ones matters. Read the rest of this entry

What’s Coming Up…Cold Cases and/or Botched Cases


First let me put this out there. If there’s anyone out there with writing skills and a desire to help give exposure to cases that have gone cold, contact me (Norm.Holliston@gmail.com). Every day I get letters from people asking to look into their loved ones’ cases. I only wish I had the time to do them all. But I’d be happy to take on new writers who are willing to do this unpaid but very fulfilling job. Send me a writing sample about why you want to do this and I’ll get back to you. Now on to the current cases to be covered in the coming days and weeks.

Read the rest of this entry

Piecing the Puzzle Together: Why Was Nikki LaDue January Murdered?


Nikki and son Zack

For the past couple of months, we’ve all been taken on a journey of Nikki LaDue January’s life and her murder on July 29, 2002. A very unscientific poll here says many of you believe Phil January, her husband was involved. A distant second is someone who was supposed to be her closest friend Nancy Burge.

I don’t think there is any evidence that can put the gun in Phil’s hands. After talking to him and reading all the reports, it is my opinion, and my opinion only that law enforcement needs to open this case and look long and hard at Phil January. An equally hard look needs to be taken at Nancy Burge whose statements after Nikki’s death are not one of a friend at all but of someone who is either covering her tracks or the tracks of an accomplice. There’s no doubt in my mind Nikki was murdered and these two need to step up and tell the truth. Read the rest of this entry

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