Friday, June 19, 2009

"Motive Equals Murder"

It is not difficult to see how many girlfriends, wives and mothers who have vanished or are murdered with the only possible suspect; the person with whom they were romantically attached. It does not take Dick Tracy or a rocket scientist to figure out where the trail of blood goes, cold or not, it is almost always points to person in their life. Or if it does not, it should.

Women living vibrant productive lives suddenly labeled in a crime file cabinet or drawer opened when a lead is followed up or a family member is calling into police headquarters for updates and possible answers.

There are few experts in the field of domestic violence perpetrated crimes. The reclutance to look at a husband or boyfriend as a suspect can depend on the size of the town, available manpower, the prosecutors office and investigative skills among other issues. There are so many unsolved murders I listed a few where the cartoon character of Dick Tracy lives as solving these cases are not a language the police headquarters in these towns appear to speak.

November 29, 1991 was the last time that Mary Jane Zich was seen alive. She and her daughter, Desiree, had just returned to their Toledo, Ohio home after visiting her parents for Thanksgiving. While on her visit, Mary Jane discussed the violence in her marriage to Tom Zich and told her parents that she was planning on divorcing him. According to reports to police given by Tom at the time, she received a phone call, left the house and didn't return, leaving 3 year- old Desiree behind.

Sandra Travis was living in a violent marriage when she disappeared July 31, 2005 from Mayfield, Kentucky, a rural area near the borders of Illinois and Tennessee. Sandra took a lot of punches over the years from her husband, Bobby Travis, probably another man who treated his wife as a piece of property, there to do his bidding, no caring for the way she felt. Someone needs to look under the trailer where she disappeared from that evening. Maybe the Illinois State police can over ride the prosecutor who does not have much experience in obtaining a search warrant.

Renee Pagel was killed on August 5, 2006. She was a grade school teacher and a registered nurse. According to friends, Renee feared for her safety from her estranged husband. As many women say when they are married to an abusive spouse "if something happens to me, make sure people know it was not an accident." And yet in Mayberry police have yet to arrest Michael Pagel. This is shear ignorance on the part of the investigators.

On August 19, 2007, it's reported that Liza Murphy just up and walked out of her home after an argument with her husband, Joe Murphy, leaving behind her cell phone, cigarettes, all forms of identification, and most importantly, her three children, now 15, 13, and 10.
Liza Murphy and her husband were having marital problems, her family said. Stellatos described Joe Murphy as possessive of his wife, never allowing her to go out with her friends. She said he was even jealous if she spent time with her parents.

In October of 2008, Kellisue's Ackernecht’s case isn't very different from several other missing mother's cases, filled with frustration and brick walls. Other similarities include investigating the husband, but in this case local Johnstown law enforcement has stated that Jayson Ackernecht is not a person of interest nor a suspect in Kellisue's disappearance. In fact, Jayson has told reporters the same thing Drew Peterson claims, that she ran off with another man, and like Drew Peterson, it seems Jayson is taking steps to move on with his life. Again, after reviewing documents and speaking to family members this is a cookie cutter case that needs to be solved.

Sometime's it can take years, but a family even without locating the remains of their loved one finds partial closure when an arrest is finally made in a case. Yesterday, for the family of Tracey Tetso they were given a great gift when the missing woman's husband Dennis Testo was indicted and arrested for her murder. On March 6, 2005, married 5 short months,Tracey disappeared from her Rosedale home in Baltimore.

Once case out of thousand's where a family is themselves alive to participate in justice. Let us hope everyone else who is waiting for that unexpected phone call on that an arrest will be made or the reamins of their loved ones's happens within their lifetime.

Afterall, while these women's lives did not mean anything to the person they were with, they did have great importance to many others whose faces you do not see or voices you do not hear because they are too busy searching and doing what they can to bring their daughter's home.


A Voice For Renee said...

As a friend of Renee Pagel's, I knew IMMEDIATELY what had happened to her....but held out the tiniest bit of hope that her death occurred because of complications from the surgery. No, it was homicide. She donated a kidney to the father of one of her students and was recuperating from the surgery when she was killed. Her divorce should have been final, but was delayed by her husband....what a perfect OPPORTUNITY to get the job done while she lie there in a weakened state. She was found stabbed to death--multiple times--in what used to be their marital bed. She was viciously attacked, and yet nothing else in the residence was disturbed....common sense alone tells us that it could only be one person.

Yes, one person. Her husband, Michael Pagel. The father of her 3 children. The only person she had a Personal Protection Order against. The man who threw their youngest daughter at Renee when she picked the children up after being released from the hospital. Yes, remember....she donated a a STRANGER. Such an unselfish gesture on Renee‘s part. Her husband, Michael…who taped her telephone conversations...and tried to put a GPS on her car to track her. Who videotaped her each time she dropped off the children. Who broke into her residence after moving out...and stole her precious pictures, and divorce documents, and professional continuing education papers....and left the water running...just to let her know that he was there. Unfortunately, charges for the break-in were never brought against him before her death. Her husband, who documented his hatred of her years before, but was careful to never let it be seen in public. God only knows what went on behind closed doors.

He positioned himself in the kids’ school as a dad who DOTED on his volunteering in the classroom and calling his girls "princess". Always with a smile on his face and a helpful attitude. Those same children he doted on were used as pawns in his game of control...and still are even in their mother's death. Beneath that smiley exterior is EVIL…a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Michael Pagel....the husband....who emotionally ABUSED Renee…so much more “subtle“ than physically beating her…all the time making her feel like she was the crazy one. He would not answer her phone calls when she tried numerous times to make arrangements for picking up the children…and then when she arrived, said so cunningly, “Gee, you should have called”. Michael, who pulled away with Renee hanging out of his car as she tried to hug her kids one last time before he took them for the weekend. The husband…whom Renee predicted would kill her….how many of us did she share that with in those last weeks of her life?

Mike, who moved her to a desolate country location and worked feverishly to get a male “tenant” to live above the barn…oh, he needed a fall guy. Michael wanted a divorce…and worked so hard to get the house, custody of the kids, and have HER support HIM. He worked part-time for a few years…and told her it was because of his desire to go back to school….which he never got around to doing.

He worked so hard and so long…meticulously….moving one piece in his wicked game of chess at a time. Plotting… Planning… Then, the judge ruined his plans that he had worked so long and hard for…by awarding HER the house, custody of the kids, and told him that he had to get a better paying job because HE was going to have to pay her….EVERYTHING CHANGED. He couldn’t control her…his plan didn’t work…he could think of only one option….

Anonymous said...

liza murphys story is not the same.... i knew her and know her kids.
this was a woman with problems.. she had depression and drug problems and hadnt wanted to be a mother or wife for a few years before she went missing and she was having an affair. She knew dyfs was going to court order her for long term rehab and she was confronted with her affair.
Her husband stopped dealing with the local police when they decided he was guilty w/o proof.... now thekids and father are constantly harassed and terrorized by their neightbor/lizas estranged brother and stefanie who lives behind them....the stellato family , except the one who recently died, have treated the kids horribly throughout this ordeal.

Anonymous said...

Susan thank you for taking the time to pint out what should be OBVIOUS from the BLARING headlines we are seeing everyday.


ASK and TELL don't help the criminal cover his tracks and quit blaming victims!

Your book Moving On, Moving Out has helped my daughter navigate her way through the maze of the criminal justice system.

The information has helped to keep her and her children safe.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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