It started as a day like any other

She was 8 years old. During the day she attended school, a new school where she had met new teachers and was likely making new friends. Who knows what thoughts were in her mind that day? Perhaps looking forward to playing with her one year old sister, getting a snack, watching cartoons, thinking about the homework she had to do, or perhaps even thinking of the gifts she would ask for, for Christmas. Just a day like any other.

She and her parents had moved to the area just 6 months before. But she had made it through that scary first day when she didn’t know anyone, and probably was settling in to the new routines by now.

If asked she probably would tell you that she trusted her parents. And could probably tell you that she was proud of both of them, they were both in the profession of helping people- her mother Dianne Crouse, 36, was a nurse now working in an ICU and her father Dennis G. Crouse, 50, a former fire chief and reserve deputy, now working as a paramedic manager for the emergency room at the same hospital her mother worked at.

So when she walked into the house after school on Tuesday and saw the blood on the walls, the chair and the stairs- that would have been one of the most frightening things a child would have to face. But when she found her mother stabbed and non-responsive…. so much worse.

She did what her mother would have told her to do. With no adult to do it, she called 911. “This never, ever happens,” she reportedly told dispatchers. Police responded and her 1 year old sister was found upstairs, unharmed.

It must have been a relief to her when her father pulled up to the home. He could hold her, and talk to the police and tell her what happened. He could make it better.

Dennis Crouse did talk to police. And he allegedly confessed to the murder of his wife, the mother of his children. He reportedly told them it was the result of a physical fight between the two of them.

Her father spent a brief amount of time with her and her sister. They were taken away to a safe house, to stay with strangers until the rest of their family could come. Her father was arrested for suspicion of first degree murder. The murder of her mother.                                                      

Not only was her mother dead. But she was left with the shock of finding her mother. She was left with the job of contacting authorities and answering their questions. She was left with the fear of waiting until they arrived. Then when help arrived, it became so much worse.


True Crime Blog Carnival LII


52 weeks. Exactly one year ago, Lost in Lima Ohio hosted the very first carnival of the True Crime Blog Carnivals. 52 weeks and countless man/woman hours later and now it is the first anniversary of the Carnivals.

I am proud to announce the 1 st anniversary Carnival of the True Crime Blogroll which is being hosted at The Trenchcoat Chronicles  this week. It is especially fitting that this Carnival should be held there, as he is the one who started it all!

And as always, credit for the graphic goes to Harding at  T.O Crime.

Please Commit a Random Act of Kindness Today

Long Distance Marriage

They met on a cruise. She was taking the cruise and Franklyn Cumberbatch, 37, was working as a bartender on that cruise. She lived in the U.S., he lived in St. Vincent in the Carribean. The two married 4 years ago and lived apart, he in his country and she in hers until January of this year when he came to the U.S.

Reportedly they had a ‘stormy’ relationship. Reportedly there was a lot of friction and Cumberbatch was jealous. Thanksgiving weekend it allegedly got worse and may have gotten physical at times. Cumberbatch decided to return to St. Vincent. His wife bought him an airline ticket and he was to leave on Monday.

On Monday, reportedly there was another argument. Allegedly he began beating her. Allegedly he knocked her onto the bed and tied her there with pieces of clothing and twine, and he also gagged her.

He left the room, and the wife was able to untie her feet. However he returned to the room and tied her back again. Allegedly he then began using a razor to slash her face, telling her that he was doing it so “so no one else would look at her.”

About an hour later Cumberbatch then left the home taking his wife’s Jeep, some cash, and her cellphone. The Jeep was later found at a BART station, where Cumberbatch reportedly boarded a train to the airport. His wife was left bound and gagged to the bed.

About 8:30 pm she was able to dislodge the gag and she began screaming. Neighbors heard and contacted police. When they responded the wife was able to tell them about her husband and the airline ticket.

The wife was taken to the hospital where she was treated for the cuts and bruises, and it was discovered that she also had broken bones in her wrists and arms, possibly from being bound so tightly. After treatment she was released.

Police caught up with Cumberbatch at the airport. Instead of catching his flight, he was arrested for suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, mayhem, false imprisonment, inflicting corporal punishment on a spouse, and auto theft.                


Romance is great in a relationship. But often when the couple begins staying in close proximity to each other, the romance can wear thin. A lucky couple can still have moments of romance, but it often isn’t a sustainable feeling when things like who is going to take out the garbage and who is going to do the dishes get in the way. That is when faults- major or minor then stand out.

Jealousy, while it can appear romantic in the relationship is actually a destructive emotion. It implys a lack of trust in the other person. And in any sustainable relationship there has to be some trust.

There are all kinds of jealousy. Jealousy of rivals, jealousy of careers, even jealousy of non-romantic love of others. When jealousy rears it’s ugly head for more than a momentary twinge, there will be problems. Because jealousy is not a part of romance, it is a sign of a failure to trust.

The Intruder

Albert Jackson Sterling II, 38, and his 3 year old child took a late afternoon flight to New Mexico to visit with family on Nov. 21. He left his 8 month pregnant wife behind.

Neighbors talked about what a normal couple the two were. How much they both loved their son, they participated in neighborhood events, they were nice and “a great little family”.

When Mrs. Sterling arrived at her home about 4 pm on Tuesday, she got a shock. There was an intruder hiding in her bedroom. But this intruder was different. He told her he wasn’t going to hurt her. But he wanted to warn her. “Your husband wants you murdered,” is what he told her.

He told her that her husband had hired him to kill her. And he told her to go call police. She went to a neighbors to make the call.

The unnamed person told police that he was an aquaintance of Sterling. And that Sterling helped him gain entrance to the home before he left to visit his family. He also reportedly said that Sterling had offered to pay him thousands of dollars for killing his wife. 

Police say the man is not a hit man. They also say the man is not under arrest, as he had no intent to harm the woman, instead he went there to warn her. He is considered to be an important witness however. Police say they had never been called to the Sterling home before this time. Police have not given a motive for the crime.

Albert Jackson Sterling II was arrested in New Mexico and charged with 2 counts of criminal solicitation. One for his wife and one for their unborn child.                      

After the breakup

Dawn Katzman, 43, and her boyfriend Andrzej Bartman had been together at least since 2002, when they purchased a home together. However, the relationship had recently ended and Dawn Katzman was living in the home alone. The home was up for sale.

Allegedly on Sat. morning at 10:30 am police responded to the address as a result of a 911 call reporting a homicide. Police had to force their way in, and once they entered they found Dawn Katzman in the basement of the home, dead from multiple stab wounds.

Police then received another 911 call, and as a result they found Andrzej Bartman in the neighborhood. Police believe that Bartman stabbed Katzman then fled the home to another home in the neighborhood. Police arrested him as he stepped outside of the home.

Investigators believe that Dawn Katzman was killed sometime between 10:30 am and the 10:52 am phone call to 911.

 Andrzej Bartman has been  charged with murder and possession of a weapon.

Police say there were no restraining orders between the couple and none had been sought.                                                                      


Family has said that Andrzej Bartman went to his sister’s and told her what he had done, then went out to turn himself in to police.

Dawn Katzman had reportedly gone to the home on Saturday to pack up her things.


Andrejz Bartman has been indicted in the murder. He has also been charged with weapons offenses and hindering prosecution. He has pleaded not guilty.

Tragedy compounded by tragedy

Two little boys were killed in a car accident on Nov. 10, their memorial service was held on Fri. Among the attendee’s was Quartus Lee Hinton, 28, who was related to them in some way.

Also in attendence was Kaliah Harper, she had dated Hinton for about 6 months, but had reportedly broken it off with him weeks earlier.

Allegedly an argument developed between the two while inside. So they took it to the parking lot. While standing by Kaliah Harper’s car, Hinton allegedly pulled a gun and shot Kaliah Harper multiple times in the head and torso.  Hinton then fled the scene, at some point dumping the weapon in a storm drain.

Kaliah Harper was a police officer. She began her training in 2002, and was well known and liked in the department where she was currently working in the Narcotics Intervention Team. Retired and off duty officers as well as FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency officers volunteered to join in the search for Hinton. An Amber Alert was issued for his car.  

Police located his car on Saturday morning, less than a mile away from the crime scene. 

Hinton’s father contacted police to try to negotiate his son’s surrender. Through him police were able to locate Hinton and he surrendered to the police on Saturday about 8 pm.                               

Many times police officers in very active divisions of police departments have a very fatalistic view of their lives. And according to Kaliah Harper’s mother, Harper may have been one: “She used to always tell me, ‘Mama, I’m not gonna live a long life,’ ” ” I thought it would be in the line of duty, not just a senseless act from a jilted lover.”

A Beloved Teacher

According to what Jeffrey Scott, 30, told police, his wife Ashley Scott received a text message on her phone about 2 am Thanksgiving morning, and an argument developed.

Allegedly he told police he hit her. Then he made her sleep in the garage. Between 8 and 9 am, he moved her into the home in front of the fireplace. About noon he allegedly tried to move her to the bed, but was unable to do so. At some point later he called a friend and the friend came to the home and advised him to call paramedics.

Police say they received a call about an unresponsive female. Neighbors say that when Ashley Scott was wheeled from the home on a gurney, she appeared visibly beaten and paramedics were using a device to breathe for her. She was transported to the hospital and was pronounced dead at 7:52 pm.  Cause of death was reported to be blunt force trauma to the head.

Jeffrey Scott has been charged with first degree murder.

At least one report says that friends have said the couple has had problems in the past.                                                     

Ashley Scott was a beautiful woman, a caring person and a beloved high school teacher. Her students describe her as a caring person and a friend with a sincere interest in the well being of her students. I read some forums where the kids talk about her (because they are minors, I am not going to link them). She was a teacher that everyone liked and no one had a bad word to say. High school kids going through the same shock, disbelief, pain and anger that is so often felt after a death, kids trying to cope with the way domestic violence has reached out and touched them.

Commonly called a ‘couple’s problem’ too many times it reaches out and affects the community leaving ripples of shock and pain in it’s wake.  

“He’s coming at me”

Very early Thanksgiving Day, 911 dispatchers received a call. A female was on the line and she told dispatchers that her boyfriend Trevor New, had thrown her to the ground. She then said “He’s coming at me” and the phone went dead. Witnesses later told police that New had pulled the telephone from the wall.

When police arrived at the address, they could hear the sounds of a fight and yelling from the upstairs of the home.

They found New wrestling with a man, they later determined to be his brother, over the control of a shotgun. New did reportedly gain control of the shotgun. Allegedly as officers got to the room, New aimed the weapon at them. Allegedly the officers used a Taser to try to stun him, but it didn’t stop him, he reportedly kept advancing to them without lowering the weapon. Officers then fired.

 New was treated at the scene by paramedics, then transferred to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Per agency policy the the scene was secured, officers have been placed on administrative leave, and the case has been turned over to the sheriff’s office to do the investigation of the shooting. 

According to police New was on parole and was a registered violent offender, with a history of assault with weapons.

“If I can’t have you, nobody can have you”

According to recent reports Miguel Gonzalez and his wife Jeanette Claudio were having marital difficulties. And allegedly on Nov. 16, Jeanette Claudio told friends that her husband had assaulted her and had told her, “If I can’t have you, nobody can have you.” According to police Gonzalez had been stalking his wife and recording her phone calls, and police did seize a digital voice recorder from their home.

Nov. 18, police were called at 10:32 am after a neighbor heard a child screaming in the home. When the neighbor went to investigate they found a 4 year old child and an 8 year old child in the home. They also found Miguel Gonzalez who had been shot once in the head, conscious and breathing. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Police do believe his wound was self-inflicted. Jeanette Claudio was dead from multiple gunshot wounds.

Reportedly in the hospital Gonzalez woke up and pulled out his breating tube. He asked personnel there “Where’s my gun?”

An arraignment was held at the hospital on Thanksgiving Day on charges of criminal homicide, being a person not allowed to own, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms, endangering the welfare of children, stalking, recklessly endangering another, simple assault, and wiretapping.

According to police Gonzalez had a criminal record. In 1995 he was arrested for simple assault and resisting arrest. Police say it was domestic related but with a different victim.

Police are not releasing the relationship of the children, but they were placed in protective custody.   


Do not mistake when those words are uttered, whether accompanied by an assault or a romantic gesture- they are a threat.

They are not a sign of undying affection or of faithfulness. They are not an avowal that the two of you will always be together. They mean exactly what they say- that no matter what happens,  no matter what they do, no matter how many others there may be for the one who spoke the words- for the person spoken to, it is a warning and a threat. Please take them seriously. And I don’t mean that in the same way.

Make contact with a domestic violence shelter, make a plan for safety, and as needed utilize a shelter and the legal system to keep yourself safe.


Thanksgiving, one of the most family oriented holidays in the U.S. Preparation begins days, weeks, even months in advance. Plans are made, food purchased, the home made ready for visitors, then the cooking starts. And that is all before the holiday begins.

One family was doing just that. Manuel Vargas was working and Maria Vargas went to her sister’s to help with the cooking and preparation for the holiday, leaving her 16 year old son and her 15 year old daughter Crystal, at home with Crystal’s 8 month old baby, who was ill.

It had been a couple of rough years for the family. Crystal Vargus had found a boyfriend in Sergio Maya Hernandez, when she was 14 years old. He was 21 or 22, or for all they knew maybe even older.  He was from Mexico. He sometimes went by the name of “Sorizo” sometimes by other aliases. He didn’t have a steady job. The family say they had tried to keep him from their daughter.

Then Crystal got pregnant and the baby was born. The family say that Hernandez came by often. Sometimes he even brought money, though they say that wasn’t steady. But there were still problems, and Maria Vargas allegedly even took out a restraining order against him at some point.

The day before Thanksgiving, while Crystal Vargas was home with her brother and her son, reportedly Hernandez called. The brother overheard part of the conversation, heard Crystal talk about eloping. The brother tried to tell her it was a bad idea, and she agreed. She told Hernandez they needed money for the baby.

About 11 pm, Hernandez showed up at the home. According to family members, Crystal didn’t want to go with him and the brother tried to say don’t go, but Hernandez allegedly had a gun and threatened the brother, so Crystal and the baby got into the vehicle and they drove away. Reportedly when they left they did not take any baby formula, diapers, blankets or warm clothing.

Police say they were driving a red Pontiac, possibly with dealer tags. Hernandez is considered armed and dangerous. He is described as 5’9″, 170 lbs. Black hair, brown eyes, a mustache and several tattoos.

Crystal was wearing a brown blouse and jeans and the baby was in pajamas with a blue sweater. Police say they could be headed for North Carolina, but they could actually be headed anywhere. A Levi’s call has been issued.                                                                               

Thanksgiving is supposed to be about putting problems aside for a bit while you enjoy food, family, and a time of thanks for what you have. Not for worrying about your child, and her child, and the trip they were not prepared for…. and may not have even been willing to make.


Crystal Vargas and the baby were found safe in a mobile home park in NC. Hernandez-Maya was taken into custody.                                                     

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