10 Disturbing Crimes Solved By Amateurs –


When Hayley Faith Wilson slipped out her window and ran away from home, her father, Ray, uploaded a heart-breaking video on YouTube. In it, he used white cards to tell the world about how his missing 17-year-old daughter had left behind her mobile phone, along with a yellow sticky note telling him to let her go.

Although there were a bunch of cynics who denounced the father’s plea for help as crocodile tears and a ploy to promote his band Texas Heat, over 620,000 people watched the video, and many shared it on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #FindHayley and #LoveHayley.

After several days of Twitter users sending claims they saw her at a party in Oceanside, the trending search party culminated with Carlsbad police finding the runaway Texan and detaining her. Ray then flew to San-Diego where he was reunited with his daughter.

This is only one example of ordinary people using the internet to help the police and shattered families. Since its exponential growth, a bevy of Sherlock Holmes wannabes have used the world at their fingertips to not only find runaway girls dreaming of the California life, but to identify Jane and John Does, and to solve other disturbing cold and current crimes of rape, murder, and paedophilia.

And sometimes these amateur sleuths go beyond using the internet…

10. Injured Parties: The Murder Of A Popular Physician

Copper Knob Connection

A day after taking her fox terrier for a walk through the woods, Dr Helen Davidson’s body was found by a search party of 100 soldiers on 10 November 1966. Dr Davidson, 49, had been battered with a 2ft 6in chunk of charred wood, and her eyes had been caved into the back of her skull.

Detective Chief Superintendent Jack ‘Razor’ Williams of Scotland Yard headed the Thames Valley Police murder hunt and interrogated half a dozen sex offenders. With them all having solid alibis, Williams ended the investigation by ruling that Davidson had been the victim of a motiveless murder after spying illicit lovers with her binoculars.

Although the notorious News Of The World newspaper offered a £100,000 reward in 1971, and anniversaries saw several appeals for the investigation to be continued, it wasn’t until sparkling vampire Robert Pattinson’s aunt stumbled upon the cold case that the killer was identified.

Through old files given to her by forensic photographer John Bailey and the pathologist who carried out the post-mortem, Professor David Bowen, true crime author Monica Weller uncovered George Garbett as Davidson’s Grim Reaper.

With homosexuality being illegal in ’66 and Davidson’s corpse being found in a renowned part of the woods where male lovers embraced under the cover of darkness, Weller figured that the bisexual Garbett fretted that Davidson would dob him into the police and thus eliminated her.

But, with the case being solved 50 years too late, Garbett was unable to serve jail time as back in 1979 he had set himself ablaze with a gallon of petrol.

9. Greed: The Killing Of A $32 Million Lottery Winner

CBS News

In a horrifying example of good luck turning into bad, Abraham Shakespeare was reported missing in November 2009 after winning $32 million in the Florida lottery. His corpse was found under cement in January 2010, and authorities began the hunt for his murderer in conjunction with the internet.

When the police suspected that Shakespeare’s financial advisor, Dee Dee Moore, had murdered the friendly father in an act of greed and jealously, Websleuths joined the speculation, prompting Moore to anonymously register to the site to defend her actions. Not only that, but Moore later e-mailed Tricia Griffith, the site’s co-owner since 2004, saying she had no idea who was making the defensive posts.

Griffith quickly matched the IP address in the e-mail to Moore’s computer, culminating in a detective thanking her and later arresting the Tampa phony. A 2012 court trial found Moore guilty of shooting Shakespeare twice in the chest with a 38-caliber pistol in April 2009, and she was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

8. Caledonia Doe: Identifying A Homicide Victim After 35 Years

Wikimedia Commons

Wesley Clements and his father, Harry, were strolling through the Caledonia Cornfield when they found a teenage girl lying face down. Snuffed out by a bullet to the forehead and another to the back, Dansville police were unable to uncover any evidence thanks to mother nature having soaked the body and cornfield for hours prior to the Clements’ walk.

A sergeant York was frequently frustrated by the investigation’s dead end leads becoming a headache inducing roadmap from the Avon area, to the state of New York, to the entire nation. Magazines, newspapers, and America’s Most Wanted all featured the unclaimed for Cali Doe’s likeness, but no one could identify the corpse found 10 November 1979.

Years later, through the exponential growth of the internet, authorities sent Cali Doe’s likeness to millions of people. With a bevy of amateur sleuths slugging it out online to identify the deceased first, Carl Koppleman, a public accountant and moderator of the Websleuths domain, connected the police’s sketch to another missing person photograph.

After 35 years of residents adorning the unknown girl’s burial site, she was finally identified as Hernando County’s Tammy Jo Alexander, who had turned only 16 shortly before her death.

7. Corrupt Justice: A Paedophile Superior Court Judge Uncovered

Orange County Register

Canadian computer whiz Bradley Willman was developing a programme when in a chat room he was unexpectedly offered the sexual services of a 6-year-old girl. Repulsed by this encounter, he decided to use his talents to catch and rid the internet of online predators.

Through posting a Trojan horse file onto child-porn newsgroups for users to download, Willman gained access to computers and sent 70 people to jail by contacting child porn watchdog ensembles who then sent the disturbing information to Irvine police detectives. The most revolting and shocking child molester Willman uncovered was Superior Court Judge Ronald C. Kline.

Kline eventually confessed to having stored more than 100 pornographic photos of underage boys on his computer and several discs, but a thorough search of his home revealed that he additionally had a personal diary of fantasies with youngsters.

The former Superior Court Judge tried to weasel his way out of jail time by pleading that the evidence stacked against him had been obtained illegally. However, in 2007, the 66-year-old fainted when he was branded a public sex offender for life and sentenced to 27 months in federal prison, followed by not being allowed to own a computer or have access to the internet during three years of probation.

6. Murder And Rape: Ghost Makes Friend Solve Her Cold Case

Wikimedia Commons

All the way back in 1984, Angela Samota’s boyfriend became worried after a disconnected call and alerted the police. The Sophomore at Southern Methodist University was then found dead and stark naked on her bed, having been raped and incessantly stabbed at the heart.

Unhappy with her murderer having escaped justice for two decades, Samota’s ‘ghost’ supposedly stood at the edge of Shelia Wysocki’s bed and terrified her once college roommate into cracking the cold case.

Wysocki relentlessly pestered the Dallas police about the forgotten crime, but it wasn’t until four years and ‘over 750 phone calls’ later that detective Linda Crum went through the department’s evidence and learned that they had the culprit’s DNA. Serial rapist Donald Bess, who was on parole while serving a 125-year sentence in the ‘80s, was eventually convicted and sentenced to death in 2010.

Having solved the mystery through her refusal to let everybody forget about Samota’s misfortune, Wysocki was rewarded with a private investigator license. She now enquires into cold cases of murder and rape on her own, doing it for clients who no longer believe in the justice system.

5. Murder In Mayfield: A Housewife And British Journalist Team Up


Susan Galbreath, a 40-year-old housewife, was so disturbed by the images of 18-year-old Jessica Currin’s dumped and burned body that she decided to bring the perpetrator to justice herself.

With no experience in criminal investigations, she sought the aid of celebrities Julia Roberts and Oprah Winfrey, as well as British journalist Tom Magnold. Goaded into accepting the fiery housewife’s challenge, Magnold teamed up with Galbreath in Mayfield to interrogate local drug users after hearing rumours that Currin had been kidnapped by a brute named Quincy Cross.

Magnold eventually returned to England, but Galbreath was convinced that Cross had picked up the young girl and later strangled her with his belt. Despite being worried that she was being stalked by the suspected killer for having asked too many questions, the housewife valiantly continued her investigation and started a MySpace tribute page to Currin.

Victoria Caldwell posted a comment on Galbreath’s MySpace page saying she had information about the promising youth’s death, and confided that she and four others had witnessed Cross’s murder and helped him dump the body. Through a long and heartfelt exchange, Galbreath managed to persuade Caldwell to confess to Kentucky state investigators, resulting in Cross being sentenced to life without parole.

Retired Schoolteacher Stops Suicide Provocateur

Earl Andrew [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Seeking aid with her depression online after suffering a miscarriage of an unwanted pregnancy, Nadia Kajouji entered a forum, created a speculative post about suicide, and encountered a self-professed female nurse living in Minneapolis. The nurse’s username was ‘Cami D’, and she prompted the vulnerable Kajouji to enter a suicide pact by assuring that the feeling of death was ‘nice’.

Alone, depressed, and encouraged to record her final act, 18-year-old Kajouji leaped off a bridge and was found on the banks of Ottawa’s Rideau River in April 2008.

Retired British schoolteacher, Celia Blay, was counselling online when she learned about Cami D and uncovered that she was indeed a professional trained to help people, but one housed in Faribault, Minnesota with a scrotum. The nurse of death’s real identity was William Melchert-Dinkel, a married father of two who had found joy in using online aliases to persuade unhappy people to off themselves since 2005.

Blay’s involvement resulted in the authorities confronting and taking down the online miscreant. Although the former nurse unjustly had his initial sentence of 360 days reversed by the Minnesota Supreme Court on First Amendment Grounds and the feeble defence that his acts were immoral but not illegal, Kajouji’s brother, Marc, was grateful for the media’s reporting of the case and vowed to help people suffering with severe depression. He was later convicted on one count of assisted suicide, serving a paltry 178 days in jail.

3. The Mississippi Cold Case: Capturing Ku Klux Klansman On Camera


During the civil rights era, one of the most macabre murders happened on 2 May 1964, when 19-year-olds Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah were abducted by sheeted members of the Ku Klux Klan. For planning on participating in the ‘freedom summer’ activities to gain the right for Southern blacks to vote, the young adults were assaulted with sticks in the woods, tossed into the boot of a car, and then dumped into the Mississippi River with the Jeep’s engine blocks tied around their feet.

Moore and Hezekiah’s deaths were overshadowed by the Mississippi burning murders of three civil right workers a month later, and it wasn’t until 2000 that James Ford Seale was found guilty for the drownings by the Clarion-Ledger newspaper. However, the same news outlet, along with several other sources in 2002, announced that Seale had passed away, a contention corroborated by neighbours in the small town of Roxie.

In July 2004, Moore’s brother, Thomas, teamed up with Canadian filmmaker David Ridgen to produce a documentary about the ill-famed killings. Only things took an unexpected turn when an interviewed local told the duo that Seale was still walking God’s green earth, and led them to his house.

When confronted, the Ku Klux Klansman disappeared back into his home, but Ridgen caught his image on camera and used the footage to persuade local police to reopen the case. 43 years after committing the murders, Seale was given life sentences for kidnapping and conspiracy, and died – for real – in August 2011.

2. Leiby Kltezky: Property Manager Uses CCTV Footage To Hunt Down Killer

Wikimedia Commons

When New York City’s ‘finest’ decided to give up and announce that 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky had simply vanished, property manager Yaakov German secretly kept the investigation alive on his own.

Turned into Batman, the father of 12 went to Kletzky’s school and asked to check the security camera footage to see, not which way the youngster ventured, but what he was wearing. After gathering the information, the amateur sleuth checked the security footage of other stores and homes, and eventually managed to piece the jigsaw together.

Having traced the missing boy’s route, the determined German was led to a car leasing company where a mysterious man had taken Kletzky to his vehicle. Although the car’s license plate wasn’t visible, the CCTV footage showed that the culprit had entered a dentist’s office across the street minutes earlier.

Deciding to finally make themselves fit to wear the badge, the cops talked to the dentist and discovered that the kidnapper was Levi Aron. Soon after the police found Kletzky’s dismembered remains and stopped Aron from abducting any more younglings by arresting him.

1. The Head In The Bucket: Online Sleuth Identifies Bust


In April 2001, retired trucker Ronald Tefler spied a five-gallon bucket of cement in the northeast of Kansas City. With his interest strangely piqued, he whacked it repeatedly against the pavement until a rank odour travelled up his hairy nostrils.

Having seen something that resembled skin and meat, Tefler took the bucket of ‘animal remains’ home for his pigs to feast on. A few months later construction worker Franklin Ray Dean spotted and immediately alerted the authorities to a cylinder of concreate that had hair and the top of a human skull poking out.

After forensic sculptor Frank Bender slapped clay onto the skull and recreated the face of the scalp’s former owner, Lieutenant Tom O’Leary uploaded photos of the bust onto the Doe Network. Online sleuth Ellen Reach discovered the images, and initially thought that the reconstructed head belonged to once famous Labor leader Jimmy Hoffa.

But, after doing more digging online, Reach put that crazy theory aside when she recognised the uncanny resemblance to Greg May. In March 2005, four months after she suggested the head was May’s, dental records proved she was right and Tom O’Leary could finally convict the father’s long suspected killers.

Although they disagreed in court about who stabbed their ‘friend’ May in the back, ex-convicts Julie Miller and Douglas DeBruin both confessed to hoisting the tattoo artist onto a washing machine, slicing his head off with a chainsaw, and neatly tucking the rest of his limbs into black bin bags.


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