Carnival of the True Crime Blogs LXXVIII

This week’s Carnival of the True Crime Blogs is posted at Lost In Lima Ohio.

“He doesn’t seem to be that type of guy”

Two weeks ago fire department officials were called to a mobile home for a report of a fire. Inside the home, the fire department found 3 bodies.

The home was occupied by Jennifer Ison, 31. One of the bodies found was identified as Mrs. Ison. Jennifer Ison had two daughters Shannah, 10, and Marissa, 3. The other two bodies were identified as the children.

Autopsies showed that only one of the bodies had died from the fire. Jennifer Ison had died from strangulation. Shannah had died from blunt force trauma to the head. Marissa is reported as having died from smoke inhalation. Autopsies also showed that one of the children had been raped (some reports say it was the 10 year old child.)

Police say that Jennifer Ison had been dating a man named Robert L. Drown Jr., 27, for a short term, limited time. And they say they have a DNA match to Drown.

Drown reportedly does have a criminal history. And he is on sex offender lists in West Virginia and Ohio for sex offenses against adult females. He was reportedly living in West Virginia.

Drown was arrested in West Virginia at some point for failure to register as a sex offender. And he was still in jail when he was charged with 3 counts of murder, 1 count of rape, and 1 count of first degree burglary and arson.   

Dating can be scary. But usually most people think of dating as taking a chance of being emotionally hurt. Unfortunately, even casual dating can be more serious.

Most people are aware that the sex offender registary’s keep track of person’s who have committed some type of sexual abuse of children. But they also keep track of offenders who have committed some type of sexual offense against adults. As far as I can tell, that is what Drown’s offenses were for.

I always encourage parents to check out people who come in close contact with their children for the children’s protection. But women should also check for their own protection.

You meet a guy and he is charming, sweet, and nice. He asks you out and you decide to go. But some sex offenders are charming, sweet and nice much of the time. Take a minute and check, it never hurts. Do it to be on the safe side.

But in this day and age people move around. You might check the area they live in and miss the fact that they are registered in another county or state. There is a way around that. Use the sites like the  Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Registry  (national search) or

I do not know of any way to check for any previous domestic violence history, but some areas do have some of their court records online. To do a check there, you often have to check each county they have lived in. You can also run names on Google to see if their are any newspaper articles online.

Many times when a discussion turns to an old girlfriend of a new boyfriend, your first thought might be on whether they still have feelings for the old girlfriend. And it might be easy to think that any problems they may have had, just had to have been all the other parties fault. Sometimes it isn’t, though it may be presented that way. But be alert and sensitive to any indications of controlling or abusive behavior in that relationship. Because controlling and abusive behaviors are often a pattern that will carry over into any new relationships.  

“No Body, No Crime?”

When Jonathan Grice’s mother was unable to make contact with him since earlier this week, she became concerned enough to contact police and make a missing person’s report.

When deputies went to his home as a part of the investigation, one of the things they noted was was what appeared to be drag marks from the home to a burn pile behind the house.

In the burn pile they found the remains of burned furniture and clothing. And they also found the remains of Jonathan Grice, 27 wrapped in a sheet and a tarp. An autopsy showed that he died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Grice reportedly had a live-in girlfriend. And the sheriff’s dept. have arrested Jessica White, 24, on charges of murder, felony robbery and felony conspiracy to commit robbery.

Deputies have said they believe that White killed Jonathan Grice, wrapped his body in a sheet and dragged him to the burn pile.

“No Body, No Crime”

Though the words were allegedly used in the infamous Natalee Holloway case and in the Sante Kimes case, those were not the first time the sentiment has been used. For many years it may have been known or believed that someone was murdered, but without a body was impossible to prove.

Thankfully that is changing. With the improvements in forensics and investigative techniques more and more murders are being taken to court, prosecuted and convictions obtained without a body.

In this case though an attempt to get rid of the remains  may have been made, they were able to find at least some of them.

I haven’t seen any explanation for the charges of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.

I’m Out- Now What

I talk a lot about leaving a controlling or abusive relationship, there are a lot of sites out there on leaving the situation. But what happens after you leave? Leaving is not a magic answer and leaving does not wipe the slate clean of all problems. In some cases, leaving can result in new problems. Just like life, escaping an abusive relationship is an ongoing process.

A controlling person may continue to try to exert control. If you have a restraining order- use it, report every contact. If you don’t have an order, keep in mind that if the attempts to contact become excessive or threatening you may need to get one.

Don’t answer your phone. We are conditioned to pick up the phone if it rings. You don’t have to. Caller id is helpful, or you may need to make arrangements with friends or relatives that you will only be answering the phone at certain times of the day. Do not unplug it as you may need it quickly in an emergency (put it in a drawer or cover it with a pillow.) If you must speak with the ex (sometimes it is necessary for children) try to handle the conversations on the phone,  keep the discussion on topic, refuse to talk about any other issues  and hang up if the discussion strays. I know, it sounds rude and hateful. But keep in mind- whatever works they will do over and over. If it doesn’t work for them, it should ease in time.

Establish a home. Even if you are on a friends couch or in a shelter, you can make small moves to establish a home (use your own pillow, maybe a special pillowcase or slip a sachet in the pillowcase, keeping a picture near where you sleep or a small vase of flowers.)

If you are in a new place of your own or in the family home, it may seem strange for a bit. You will have to take steps to make it “your own.” Only you can decide what will make it “your own.” Whether it is a decorating change (within your budget- you would be suprised what a difference even a small change might make) or simply rearranging the furniture. Maybe it is establishing new traditions- if there are children, establishing a family night or a friend’s night, if single a friend’s evening can go a long way toward making it feel more like a home (one night a week that you invite friend’s over- some old friend’s, some new friend’s.)

Fill the void. When living with an abusive or controlling person most of your focus was on their wants or needs. Suddenly, there is a void. Filling the void doesn’t have to mean a new man. Filling the void may mean making contact with friends or family you had not seen, take a class, join a church, develop a hobby or consider volunteer work. New experiences can do a lot in filling the void. But attempting to fill the void with drugs or alcohol is a mistake and doesn’t work.

Do not be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Domestic violence agencies remain a great resource. There is also local community action agencies. Both may be able to help with employment issues, volunteer work and general assistance as well as referrals to other agencies for needed assistance.

Decision making- suddenly you have to make the decisions. Some decisions are small, some are large and it is something that you probably haven’t had to do alone for sometime. You do it and remember it if it works. If it doesn’t, you consider it a lesson learned. You do the best you can, and keep in mind no one makes perfect decisions all the time and you won’t either. Mistakes are allowed and you will get better. Avoid making unnessary decisions for a bit until you feel more stable and less fragile.

Counseling. After living in an abusive or controlling environment, it is not unusual to have problems with self-esteem. To have trust issues, to have difficulty with decision making or to have problems making the mind shift from victim (guilt, submissive, “acting out”, anger, depression, confusion and other issues.) to “survivor” (self-confidence, decision making skills, freedom from fear and other skills.) It may not only be difficult for you, but also for your children. There are a variety of places that counseling can be obtained and many are free or low cost. DV agencies often have counseling available, community agencies and mental health agencies are other examples. If there was a criminal case, the crime victims fund may be able to help. There is no shame in needing a little counseling after coming out of a traumatic situation- the only shame is if the need is there and not met.

Financial needs. Many DV agencies often include the model that violent partners don’t allow their victims to work. And that does happen a lot. But there are others. Many women do work. And their income may be what the family survived on. So separating will not change that. In some cases, financial situations have improved because they were no longer supporting a person  who wasn’t working or was holding back on using their income to support the home.

At times social service agencies or human resource agenies may be needed until you are on your feet. If there was a criminal case, some funds may be available from the crime victims funds.

Employment- community action agencies, employment agencies,  county human service or social service agencies and domestic violence agencies may be able to assist in getting a job or getting a better job. Consider taking classes to learn a new skill or to sharpen old skills.

Legal needs. You do not need an attorney to get a restraining order, but the domestic violence agency is a great resource for assistance and advocacy. They also may be able to assist in helping obtain an attorney for divorces where abuse was a problem.

Isolation. Often after escaping DV the first impulse is to withdraw into ourselves, isolate from further hurt. You may feel different from others or feel as though you are somehow “at fault” for your situation and unconsciously be trying to punish yourself or may resist trusting getting involved with others. Resist doing that. Use caution, but new friend’s and new experiences can be a big help in the recovery. Use those new experiences to step out of your situation physically and emotionally.

The scars. Domestic violence does leave scars. You have memories- both good and bad. The good memories can become painful, because that is what you wanted and thought you were getting. The bad memories may cause continuing fear.

You may still feel love. And that is okay. The fact that you still love says more about you as a person than it does about the relationship you left. You are not “crazy” for remembering the good times, for feeling love and for leaving. But sometimes people who love should not be together.

You are also not “crazy” or bad if you no longer feel that love. In some cases leaving can feel very liberating. Sometimes the bad memories will override any feelings of love that you once experienced. And you are not “crazy” because you stayed so long. You loved, you were in a bad situation and you tried to make it work. It didn’t work, so you left. That doesn’t mean you are “crazy”, unloving, uncaring,  stupid or bad. It only means you tried.

It is tempting to try to say that leaving will solve every problem. But it won’t. There will still be problems, the difference is that you will be able to work on solving those problems without fear of violence. That is a major positive change.

Every person who leaves has their own feelings about the abuse, about leaving and about coping afterward. I welcome anyone to contribute to this with their own observations or experiences.

Carnival of the True Crime Blogs LXXVII

Sorry this is so late. This week’s Carnival of the True Crime Blogs can be found at Slabtown Chronicle.

“I didn’t think he would do this”

Valentin Luna, 37, and his wife Mirna Luna, 32, came to the U.S. from the Honduras undoubtably seeking a better life. But they did not come to the U.S. together. Instead they met in Texas and were married in 2000.

Mrs. Luna had been previously married and had two children. Together the Luna’s had one child 7 years ago and they named him Christian.

There had been problems in the marriage recently and the two had split up about 5 months ago. According to a family friend, the couple had few friends in the U.S.

Mrs. Luna worked as a housekeeper and babysitter and spent as much time with her children as she could. Valentin Luna reportedly was a hard worker and liked being with his family. He reportedly did not have a criminal history. He was however getting angry about being estranged from his wife.

On Monday the children were reportedly at the family friend’s home playing with their children when Valentin Luna called and asked about picking up his son. He was told he could pick Christian up at the friend’s home.

The friend’s have said when he arrived the couple began arguing. Some reports say the argument was over the fact that Ms. Luna had begun dating.

Reportedly the family friend gathered up her children and Ms. Luna’s daughter and took them into the home. But she allegedly did see Luna grab Mirna Luna by the arm and shoot her multiple times.

After he shot her, he allegedly walked over to his truck to join his son- and shot him.

Allegedly he next went to the friend’s home and broke down their locked door. He reportedly began threatening the neighbor, but one of the children said

Please don’t kill my mom! Please don’t kill my mom!”

Valentin Luna stopped. He turned into the dining room and the mother and children fled the home. Luna apparently shot himself.

When police arrived they found the mother dead in front of the home and the child dead in the truck. They set up a perimeter and obtained a robot to send into the home. Luna was found dead in the home.

Mrs. Luna’s other children are now with their father.                   

If you have been in an abusive or controlling relationship, how/when do you begin dating again? That is really something that can only be determined by the situation.

But use caution. Even if the spouse or partner says they don’t care or even if they themselves are dating others- use caution. And never, ever- no matter how provoked- use the information to anger, retaliate, or in any way provoke the other. You could get more of a response than you anticipated. Never break the news in the midst of an argument.

Some have tried to date secretly. But that is a secret that is hard to keep. An accidental meeting, an acquaintance who- innocently or not so innocently- mentions seeing you, being watched and not aware of it, a mention from one of the children, or sometimes just mentioning a name once too often may be enough to provoke jealousy.


Owen G. Eliot reportedly moved out of his marital residence and was living in New York. Two weeks ago he moved into a hostel. A resident there described the hostel as a type of “literary house.” The resident has said Eliot could converse on many subjects, he talked about being an elementary school teacher and a high school teacher in Hawaii. He also reportedly said he had written a non-fiction book and was working on another one as well as looking for a job. But allegedly he didn’t talk about his 25 year old wife.

Reports are coming out that his unnamed wife had gone to court late last year and gotten a restraining order. The order was reportedly in effect until Dec. 2007.

Early in the AM on Sat. morning police were called to come to a scene on a report of a shooting. While they were there, tending to and attempting to interview the woman who had been shot they heard a shot near the scene.

Owen Eliot was found at a nearby school ballfield with a shotgun wound to his head. Police say that it was apparently self-inflicted. The woman who had been shot was his estranged wife.

Police are focusing on the shotgun used in the shootings. With the restraining order in effect, Eliot should not have had possession of a weapon. Police are trying to determine how he obtained it.

The unnamed woman was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the hip. She is now reported to be in stable condition. Police say the residence where the shooting occurred was not the Eliot residence, but they are not disclosing the address.                        

I was curious as to the type of book that Eliot had written, but after doing a search did not find any results.

I cannot stress enough that if you have had enough problems with a spouse or partner that you must take precautions for your  own safety. If they break the order, by showing up or by calling, it is up to you to notify authorities. Being in touch with a domestic violence agency also helps, in they can provide advocacy when you have to make a report and help monitor any followup. There is no indication in the reports as to whether there had been any previous violations by Eliot, but in other cases there are often frequent attempts at making contact.

Where did he get the shotgun? Legally he wasn’t supposed to be able to buy one because of the restraining order against him. But unfortunately there are often other ways of obtaining a weapon.  I am only going to address one. This is not a discussion as to the rights to gun ownership. But as a gun owner, each owner is responsible for any weapons they own.

If a friend asks to borrow a weapon, you may need to stop and think. What is the story he/she is giving about the need for a weapon? Do you know of any marital or relationship problems? Have there been complaints or arguing in the relationship recently? Do you know of any reason they could not purchase their own weapon (eg. a restraining order or other disability?) And always keep in mind- no matter how good or close the friendship, you never know exactly what is in someone else’s mind.

As the gun owner, you do have a responsibility to make sure that a weapon you own is not used for any unintended purposes. And besides the moral difficulties, in some cases it could cause you legal problems.

A Shocking Request

Larry McCoy and his girlfriend Magdalene Brown had reportedly been dating about 7 months when Larry McCoy has allegedly told police that he made a request of  Magdalene Brown on Sept. 14, 2006. A request that apparently shocked or angered her so badly that she slapped him.

He reportedly did not respond by leaving or calling police. From what he allegedly told police, he struck her back. He did not leave after that. Nor did he call police.

Instead police say that he put his hands around her throat and strangled her until she no longer moved. Reports indicate that Magdalene Brown had defensive wounds on her hands. According to the pathologist it would have taken a large amount of force to fracture her trachea bone. And it would have taken at least three minutes to cause death. If you have ever used a microwave, you know how long three minutes can be.

McCoy was arrested and charged with 1 st degree murder, against the objections of his defense attorney who believes that the charge should have been manslaughter as the death happened during the course of an argument. But the prosecutor is holding firm.

 Testing has been done that determined McCoy was competent to stand trial.

This is not McCoy’s first brush with the justice system. In 1989 he was reportedly convicted of 2 nd degree murder in the death of a live in girlfriend and was released from prison in 2001. Reportedly serving less than 15 yrs of a 40 year sentence.

McCoy is scheduled for arraignment on May 29.                                                    

Slapping is considered abusive behavior. But in no way should it have resulted in this.

After being slapped McCoy had the options of trying to work it out, of walking out and cooling off, of calling police, or of leaving permanently. He chose not to do so. Instead he chose to escalate with lethal force.

Incidents of female to male violence happen. But unless the female catches the male unawares or uses a weapon generally there may be pschological trauma but there will be less physical injury. But with the male usually being stronger any retaliation can be fatal if the retaliation escalates.

If you are female and have engaged in what is called “common couples violence” with both the male and female being involved in minor violent incidents it is something to think about. It only takes oncee to take it beyond ‘minor.’

If you are a male and in such a relationship, do you really want to take the chance of the legal problems that may result. Or the problems associated with ‘if you go to far?’

If you are a couple and in a relationship engaged in “common couples violence” you need to consider- either of you can be charged with domestic violence, either of you can go to jail, and what happens to you if it goes too far? “He/She slapped me first” won’t get you out of a murder charge.

Both males and females can recognize in themselves behaviors that may be involved in violent episodes. And if you do recognize that tendency, it is best to request help before it becomes a legal problem or before someone is injured or killed. Not after.

What was the request that was so shocking? I admit, I have downplayed it. He asked to introduce a third party into the relationship. What consenting adults agree to do in their lives is up to them. As long as all parties consent. But no one should be forced, tricked or coerced to participate in any sexual act, practice or behavior they are not ok with. And no violent act should result with any refusal.

A Success Story

Back in April I wrote about Rebecca Griego and her efforts to leave her boyfriend. About how she did everything she was supposed to do, and how she died anyway. And to be honest, you will hear that a lot here.

Because it is the ones who don’t manage to get out that we hear about. The ones who died while still in the relationship or who died or were maimed trying to leave. We don’t usually hear about the ones who succeeded. In many cases, it could bring harm to them to use their names and say where they are.

In my post about Rebecca Griego I said that Seattle gets it. They understood what will help people in domestic violence relationships the most is more information. Showing many of the commonalities and myths of domestic violence. There were more articles about domestic violence in that time period than I have ever seen after a domestic violence murder.

They have done it again.

One thing that is needed is success stories. If you read here regularly you will see some of those stories. People who read then leave messages saying this used to be them, but they got out. I am always appreciative of those success stories, because they provide the example that it can be done. People can be successful in leaving and they can do so and survive.

In the media however, you seldom see those stories. A Seattle columnist Robert L. Jamison has written one of those stories.

He wrote about a mother who left an abusive husband and moved all the way across the country to escape. How she chose to live, even if it meant sacrifice. And she did live. That was important and not just for her.

Because she lived, she was able to assist her daughter when she her marriage became abusive. She helped her daughter to make a safety plan and to escape.

It is an inspiring story about survival. But more than that it is one more reason to choose survival. Because the mother set the example by escaping and living. And with her experience she was able to help her daughter. One more reason to choose to escape.

A big thank you to D.P. for posting this at the Room where I found it.

And a thank you to Mr. Jamison for recognizing the need for success stories and finding one to write.

Carnival of the True Crime Blogs LXXVI


The 76th Edition of the Carnival of the True Crime Blogs is up. You will find it at T.O. Crime this week and Harding has also imparted some exciting news. So click on over and check it out.

Graphic by Harding of T. O. Crime

Remember to Commit a Random Act of Kindness each and every day.

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