Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mother and Son Vanish

Update: I am very sad to report the discovery of the body of Shantina's beautiful son. Three weeks ago his small body was found washed a shore 18 miles from where their car was found. Shantina remains missing, but it is believed she may have washed out into the Pacific Ocean. Is she still out there?

Shantina Smiley 29 years old and her 8 year old son are missing from Thurston County, Washington. The details of their disappearance are chilling, bizarre, confusing and frustrating.

How could so many things go wrong so quickly?

On Saturday evening Shantina left her home with her son in her fiances' minivan to head on a 200 mile drive to visit with her stepfather, who she had not seen since her mother's death a few years ago. Her fiance was to meet them later after a Cub Scout leader meeting he had to attend. He was going to be an hour behind her riding his motorcycle.

The first thing that began the downward spiral of bad luck for Shantina was that she began her car drive and then realized she left her cell phone at home. It has been reported that her fiance Robb says, he called Shantina and asked her to take his cellphone charger with her because his phone battery was dying, she did, but then later called him to ask him to bring her cellphone with him. He informed Shantina that he was already in route and could not go back to get her phone.

It is unfortunate that Shantina was missing her cellphone and that her fiance was about to lose all of his battery power.

Shantina left her home at about 5:00pm, by 6:50pm, she realized her cellphone was gone and stopped to use a pay phone to call her fiance, she indicated to him that she left her cellphone home and that she was lost somewhere in the town of Olympia, but that she will find her way. She also complained of traffic and her son being hungry.

By 7:54pm she had not yet reached her destination and is captured on video surveillance entering a store by the name of Handy Pantry, she is smiling in the video and does not seem upset. Shantina is seen asking for directions and going over a map with the cashier, and yet when offered the map, Shantina does not take it.

She purchases some items and leaves the store.

9:08 pm - Shantina and her son enter a diner miles away from the Handy Pantry, it seems she is still lost. She orders some food for her son and pays for the food. While they are waiting, the little boy tells a waitress that his mother hit her head. Then in a bizarre move, Shantina leaves the diner without the food she paid for. Video surveillance shows Shantina tripping and falling outside of the diner, then getting up and driving away with her son.

9:54 pm - Shantina is again captured by a video surveillance camera at another location, this time a gas station in Gull Harbor. It is believed she stopped to use the pay phone there, but discovered it was out of service.

10:00 pm - Shantina heads south of Gull Harbor and pulls into the private driveway of a home, she asks to please use their phone. She tells them she is lost and needs to make a call. They allow her entry and say they feed her son a slice of pizza because he told them he was hungry. Shantina calls her grandparents, tells them she was in an accident but is okay, she tells them she is lost and will be late. It is believed the accident she is speaking of is the fall she took outside of the diner, but authorities can't be sure. Her son tells the people at the home that his mother hurt her knee.

Shantina is again given simple instructions by the family who owned the home on how to get back on the highway. She drives away from the home and turns in the opposite direction of where she was told to go.

Shantina and her son never make it to their destination. By 10:00 am the next morning her car is found abandoned on a beach miles North from her last location. The rear of the car seems to have been backed up into the water and jammed. The back hatch of the van was open as was the side door. There was no sign of the mother and son, no sign of a struggle. Shantina's wallet was in the van with her cash and credit cards. Her purse is gone, but nothing else out of the ordinary. The troubling thing about this area is the path leading to the open beach. Authorities say the dirt path it is extremely narrow, difficult to find and is not a road you can easily turn onto in an error while looking for an interstate. How could Shantina have mistakenly gone down this road and into the water by mistake?

The water has been searched and continues to be searched. It is important to note that the tide was low that evening at about 1.7 feet, but by morning the tide had risen to about 14 feet! Which means if Shantina and her son were asleep in the car, the water would have risen to about the top of the seats in the minivan and then receded again.

Was this an accident?

There is a lot of speculation on the web about Shantina being a recovering alcoholic who recently fell of the wagon due to stress. Was the fall outside of the diner due to her being drunk?

Why did her son tell the waitress his mother hurt her head? Had they been in an accident before the diner stop? It has been reported that the van did have a dent in the bumper, did Shantina get into a minor accident, hurt her head and become disoriented?

The family who let her into their home seem to think she was scared and upset because she was lost, but they did not believe she was in any danger.

Can someone who is drunk really find a narrow dirt road to drive on and honestly mistakenly drive their car backwards into the water?

Authorities say there were many homes along the water with porch lights on that would have been visible to Shantina should she have wandered onto the beach.

They say the road that leads to the beach was difficult to maneuver and find in the daylight and therefore cannot imagine she could have found herself lost there in the pitch darkness of the night before.

What happened to Shantina and her son?

Could she have stopped and asked the wrong person for directions? Could this be merely a case of bad choices, bad luck and a crime of opportunity? Could she have walked herself and her son into the hands of a waiting predator?

Or was Shantina intoxicated and driving in circles in her confusion, just to end up in the water with her son unable to find her way out of the water in the cold and darkness?

Or is Shantina purposely missing, did she stage this entire thing due to stress and an emotional break? Is she safely out there? Or did she hurt herself and her son?

Do we know everything? Is there more to this story? Something does not fit for me.

I really hope Shantina and her precious boy are found alive. I am spooked by this story because I am very bad with directions and I imagine myself in Shantina's shoes, afraid, alone, driving in circles, no cellphone and in a place I have never been.

If you have any information on this case, please call 360 493 2222.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Invisible Man - Col. Russell Williams

My husband at times becomes amused at my suspicion of people. This morning I told him I keep the curtains closed when I am home alone because I noticed some construction workers walking by our first floor apartment, about 5 feet from my sliding door terrace. He laughed and said I was being ridiculous. I told him I did not want to become the victim of a crime of opportunity.

I don’t live in fear because I read and write about crime stories, I just know that evil is present all around me and I try to take steps to keep myself safe.

A murderer can be invisible. He or she could be a normal everyday blue collar worker, or white collar businessman, a doctor, a husband, a police officer or Colonel in the Canadian forces, highly recognized and respected.

For instance someone like Col. Russell Williams a 46 years old husband, neighbor and a commander in charge of logistic relief efforts in Haiti and Afghanistan for Canada. A man who met the queen and prime minister and maybe was on his way to meet our President Obama, this man is accused of leaving his sleeping wife at night and preying on women in his own neighborhood and neighboring towns, two of which he is accused of sexually assaulting and another two he is accused of murdering. All of these women lived alone and it seems the Col. new for a fact they were home alone when he entered their dark bedrooms.

Were these his only crimes? Is he a serial killer or is he one that began with petty peeping tom crimes and graduated to murder?

On the night of September 17th allegedly Col. Russell Williams broke into a young woman’s house, bound her with duct tape, covering her head with a pillow case and took pictures of her, then sexually assaulted her, however he did not kill her, instead he went home to his wife and reported for work the next morning. Soon after this sexual assault, a string of home invasions and women's underwear burglaries began to occur in the small town of Tweed, 48 of these were eventually linked back to Col. Williams. It is very difficult to believe that a man who was responsible for managing 3500 people on a military base was secretly breaking into the homes of women and stealing their underwear since 2006.

On September 30th another woman in a neighboring town was sexually assaulted. Still police had no clue to the Colonel’s involvement or the connections between the petty underwear thefts and the two assaults. This is because although the Colonel held a powerful position at the military base, he was invisible to his neighbors and the town. No one gave him much thought; he had no friends and spent most of his time alone or with his wife. He left his home before dawn and arrived home at night after most people were already asleep, at times not returning home at all.

In November of 2009 Corporal Marie-France Comeau, a 37-year-old military flight attendant based at CFB Trenton was found dead inside her home. She was once stationed at Camp Mirage in the Middle East where Colonel Williams was also stationed and was her commanding officer. Marie then moved on to be a flight attendant for the Prime Minister for the last 6 months of her life. Many describe Marie as friendly and caring with many friends and highly respected. It is alleged that Col. Russell Williams broke into Marie’s home in the middle of the night and sexually assaulted her and then ultimately killed her. It is believed by investigators that Russell did not mean to kill Marie, but somehow asphyxiated her while assaulting her, resulting in her death and a new found thrill of killing.

The theory being thrown around is that the Colonel’s crime of favor was breaking into homes and stealing women’s underwear and that this crime escalated into the assaults and then finally to murder.

Jessica Lloyd 27 years old disappeared on January 29th from her home in the town of Belleville. Jessica had just sent a text message to a friend letting them know she had arrived safely and was inside of her home. It is believed that Colonel Williams was watching Jessica and invaded her home, assaulting her and removing her from the home.

The Tire Track

The crack in the case and the path that brought investigators to the Colonel’s door step was a simple decision to canvass residents who lived along Highway 37, which connects Tweed and Belleville. The murderer had left distinctive tire tracks in the snow outside of Jessica’s home. Investigators set up a road block along Highway 37 and the Colonel drove right into their net, the officer with a keen eye immediately noticed the tires on the car driven by the Colonel and began asking him questions. Col. Russell Williams became evasive and gave vague answers to simple questions. The investigator followed his gut and requested Col Williams come in for further questioning.

After some serious interrogations, it is believed that Col. Russell Williams guided authorities to Jessica’s body on a secluded road near his home.

The Evidence:

Reading Col. Russell Williams' biography, he lists one of his hobbies as taking pictures. In the two earlier assaults the women were bound with duct tape, their heads covered with a pillow case, stripped of their clothing and tied to a chair and their picture was taken.

Seems Russell was a sentimental predator and kept keepsakes of his victims cataloged at home in a secret place. I am pretty sure this includes some items associated with his favorite hobby, photography. Investigators have also managed to match a footprint from a crime scene back to the Colonel.

I have counted at least 10 different living locations for Col. Williams during the 90’s and up until now. He could have victims in all of these locations including a stint in the Middle East. I am hoping investigators do not allow him to convince them that this was merely a bizarre escalation to murder. He could very well be a serial killer with victims dating back to the 90’s.

Rest in Peace Jessica Llyod and Corporal Marie- France Comeau.

Let this be a lesson that evil can be invisible.