Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Justin Rye


Multiple Arrests Made in Murder of Former Prattville Football Player

AUTAUGA COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - The Autauga County Sheriff's office says it has made multiple arrests in the murder of Justin Rye. Rye, a former football player at Prattville High School, was shot to death at a bonfire over the weekend, apparently over an argument about the venue's music selection.

Officials have arrested 21-year-old Joshue Duane Jones and 19-year-old John Calvin Jones, both of Millbrook.

Joshua Jones is charged with Murder and is currently being held in the Autauga Metro Jail under a $300,000 bond.



AUTAUGA COUNTY, Alabama -- Justice was served for the Rye family this week as the man who shot their 21-year-old son in August 2008 was sentenced to 24 years behind bars, according to the Montgomery Advertiser today.  

Circuit Judge John Bush sentenced 24-year-old Joshua Jones of Millbrook with the jail time after the jury found him guilty of shooting former Prattville High football star Justin Rye, 21, at a party in 2008, according to the report.

"I believe 24 years in prison is an appropriate sentence and cannot help but to be reminded of the fact that Justin would have been 24 years of age if not for the extremely poor choices made by Joshua Jones," District Attorney Randall Houston said in a statement.

John Jones is charged with Felony Hindering Prosectution and Reckless Endangerment and is also being held at the Autauga Metro Jail. His bond is set at $11,000.

Authorities tell WSFA 12 News a third suspect was also arrested on Reckless Endangerment charges, though that person's name is not being released because of their minor status.

The Autauga County Sheriff's Office has dropped the murder charges against a 19-year-old Millbrook man and arrested the suspect's older brother and charged him with the shooting death of a Prattville man, said Sheriff Herbie Johnson. 


Kyleigh Crane



Death penalty out in double slaying

Prosecutor will seek life without parole in Cumberland killings

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry will seek a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for two Indianapolis men charged with murder in the deaths of a 7-year-old girl and her uncle.

Prosecutors allege Michael Bell and Jeremy Priel fatally shot Kyleigh Crane and Jeremy Crane, 21, during a Dec. 12 robbery at a Cumberland home.

Bell, 22, and Priel, 25, have pleaded not guilty and are being held without bail in the Marion County Jail.

Curry had considered seeking the death penalty for Bell and Priel but opted not to after studying the case.

"This office followed our established deliberative and thoughtful process," Curry said Monday in a prepared statement, "in making our decision to request life without parole against Michael Bell and Jeremy Priel."

The process included discussions with homicide detectives and consultation with family members of the victims, according to the prosecutor's office. Aggravating factors in the case, Curry said in the release, were that the murders occurred during a robbery and that Kyleigh was younger than 12.

Josh Crane, father of Kyleigh and brother of Jeremy, said family members agree with the prosecutor's decision.

"I just wanted to make sure they weren't going to see freedom," he said.

Investigators said Bell and Priel entered the home where Jeremy Crane lived to steal PlayStation and Xbox game systems. Bell's arrest came as a shock to the Crane family because he had been a close friend of Jeremy Crane's and had once lived with him.

Jeremy's mother found his and Kyleigh's bodies when she returned to her home from work. Jeremy lived in the home and was baby-sitting a visiting Kyleigh, who had stayed home from school on the day of their deaths because of illness.

The next court appearance for Bell and Priel is scheduled for Wednesday, and their trial is set for Feb. 27.

Tracy Biletnikoff

Retrial in murder of former Raider’s daughter begins

Jurors in the retrial of the man previously convicted of twice strangling a former Oakland Raider’s daughter at a San Mateo rehabilitation program more than a decade ago were told yesterday to prepare for a “dark journey” in which they will learn how his temper and her nature to help others fatally collided after she ended the relationship.

Mohammad Haroon Ali, 36, killed Tracy Biletnikoff just shy of her 20th birthday after he told her of a drug and alcohol relapse because she wouldn’t give him her car keys and he worried about problems of his own creation — mainly testing dirty the next day, risking deportation and starting from scratch in the Project 90 rehab program, said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, who is prosecuting the case.

Ali murdered Biletnikoff “viciously, no excuse, no explanation other than she got in the way,” Wagstaffe said during opening statements before a packed courtroom including family of both the defendant and victim.

But defense attorney Peter Goldscheider gave jurors another portrait of Ali in asking them to find his client guilty of manslaughter rather than premeditated murder. Ali was motivated by two things that weren’t known during his first trial, namely the rejection of another woman who had aborted his child and a bipolar disorder that went undiagnosed until he was imprisoned, Goldscheider said.

Ali’s killing of Biletnikoff came during a “particularly tense and provocative” exchange “between these two lovers that day” and the hands he put on her shoulder after she blocked his exit at the rehab center somehow made it up around her neck, Goldscheider said.

The crux of the case before the jury is not whether Ali strangled Biletnikoff first with his hands and then with a knotted T-shirt before dumping her partially nude body down a ravine at Cañada College in Redwood City. Instead, the attorneys are debating the details they say either prove Ali deliberately killed his girlfriend because she was leaving him or that the death was a crime of passion after which he failed to take responsibility. The defense argues Biletnikoff was dead before the second strangulation but Wagstaffe said his forensic expert will prove otherwise, therefore illustrating Ali’s intent to kill. The answers reached by jurors will determine the degree of homicide and therefore how much time, if any, Ali must still serve in prison.

Wagstaffe successfully prosecuted Ali in 2001 and he was sentenced to 60 years to life in prison for first-degree murder and a previous kidnapping. In 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction, ruling that Wagstaffe had improperly removed at least one black individual from the jury pool for racial discrimination reasons. Wagstaffe, now the elected district attorney, maintains the ruling was incorrect.

If jurors convict Ali of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder this time, he faces 11 years

During his opening remarks, Wagstaffe projected photos of the rehab center, Friendship Hall, and the community college that were taken back in 1999. Much of the trial will also revisit the same evidence and witnesses although Goldscheider’s revelations of another woman and mental illness is completely new.

Both sides agree Ali and Biletnikoff met in 1997 while in their respective drug treatment programs and began a romantic relationship the following summer. Ali became a counselor at Project 90, the treatment program he entered while on probation for forcibly kidnapping a former girlfriend, and while “everything seemed fine” Biletnikoff had grown ambivalent about the relationship, Wagstaffe said.

The weekend prior to her Feb. 15, 1999 death, Biletnikoff spent time with a childhood friend while Ali went drinking in San Francisco with another friend and continued on a bender up and down the Peninsula involving alcohol, heroin and cocaine. On the Monday after that weekend, Ali confessed his relapse to Biletnikoff who drove him from her East Bay home back to Project 90’s meeting space at the Friendship Hall in San Mateo.

“That is the Florence Nightingale in her coming out,” Wagstaffe said.

What happened during the time described as roughly an hour they were alone inside an office is only known to Ali but Wagstaffe told jurors he was worried about what his relapse meant and was angry Biletnikoff refused to give him her car keys so he could evade his probation drug test the next day. Roughly 80 people attended a program meeting in the adjacent room but none reported hearing anything and a fellow participant who encountered Ali leaving the center after the killing said he did not seem unusual.

Ali gave his family and authorities six different stories after the death, ranging from accidentally killing her with an elbow blow to his blacking out while strangling her and denials she was still alive when he switched from manual strangulation to the ligature. Ali, who Goldscheider said plans to testify, now contends Biletnikoff grew angry over the other woman during that final confrontation.

“This is a man that lying is part of his nature,” Wagstaffe said.

What is known, Wagstaffe said, is that Ali moved Biletnikoff’s body using a Project 90 van — the same vehicle he used during his weekend relapse — and threw her body “like a piece of trash” off the side of Parking Lot Three at Cañada College. Her jeans had been removed which Goldscheider said was his attempt to stage the crime scene to look like a sexual assault in his post-murder panic.

Wagstaffe said Ali drove the van and body first to his family’s home and asked his nephew if he wanted to see it before asking for money. Ali has denied doing so, instead saying after leaving the body he returned the van and grabbed Biletnikoff’s car which he drove to Mexico.

Ali tried re-entering the United States shortly after and authorities, now alerted to the crime by Ali’s uncle, arrested him near the border.

Aside from Biletnikoff’s death, jurors will also hear from and about two of Ali’s former girlfriends to show how he reacts to breakups, Wagstaffe said.

The first was kidnapped by force twice and held for several days, leading to his felony probation and ultimate path to Project 90. The second was a 15-year-old girl who Ali, then 22, impregnated in Parking Lot Three of Cañada College in 1998 and later rekindled a relationship with after seeing her at Carlmont High School while making an anti-drug and alcohol presentation. Her parents had sent her back to Fiji but she returned to San Mateo County for her junior year of high school. The relationship continued up until Biletnikoff’s death, marked by a Valentine’s Day gift from Ali just days before, Wagstaffe said.

 Goldscheider told jurors the prosecution presented a “one-sided, distorted and inaccurate version of facts.” While his client foolishly did not call 911 after Biletnikoff’s death and tried to avoid suspicion by leaving her body, Goldscheider said those facts have no bearing on the case. He also said Ali returned to the United States after his brief flight to Mexico “because it was the right thing to do” and he was weighed down by his actions.

“Everywhere he went he saw Tracy’s face,” Goldscheider said.

Ali remains in custody without bail. The prosecution continues its case today.

Jennifer Parks

4 years and a day after her murder James Zarate was sentenced to life in prison for the murder and dismemberment of 16-year-old Jennifer Parks. Zarate helped his older brother JOnathan, who was also convicted and sentenced to life, in killing Jennifer, dismembering her body and tryoing to dispose of it by throwing her into the Pasaic River.

Before sentencing Zarate tried giving a sob story of how rough he had it growing up but luckily the jury didn’t buy it.

Zarate has to serve at least 76 years before he’s eligible for parole. That would make him 94.
Let’s hear from Jennifer’s family…
David Parks referred to Zarate only as ”it” or ”a jackal,” in his statement, while Laurie Parks called him ”pure evil.” David Parks said he wished the death penalty was available as punishment for the brothers.
”We can never forgive or forget what you did to our Jen,” Laurie Parks said.
”Jennifer’s life was worth so little to him but, for me, she was worth the world,” David Parks said.
And the prosecutor…
“For the rest of his life he’s going to live in a 12′ x 12′ prison cell for the vicious cold-blooded murder of a sweet trusting girl who couldn’t have imagined the evil intentions James and Jonathan Zarate planned to unleash the night she was lured over to their house,” Morris County Prosecutor Robert A Bianchi said following the sentencing hearing.
I wish I could say this was the end. However if history has taught me anything there will be appeals. Not successful ones mind you but there will be appeals.

Hopefully the Park family can rest a little bit now knowing that both of her daughter’s killers are in prison forever.

Jennifer Parks

Police: Teen hid remains before trying to dump them

As police, family members and neighbors frantically searched for 16-year-old Jennifer Parks on Saturday, the Randolph teen's dismembered body lay stuffed in a 3-by-2 foot steamer trunk in an SUV parked in the driveway of the house next door, police said yesterday.

Police and local residents questioned Parks' neighbor, Jonathan Zarate, as to whether he had seen the girl. The 18-year-old told them he had not, investigators said.

Later Saturday, with Parks' body still inside the trunk in the SUV, Zarate headed to a birthday party, authorities said.

Zarate was arrested early Sunday along with his 14-year-old brother, who lives with his mother in Garfield, and a 16-year-old Clifton boy as they attempted to dump the trunk off a bridge in Rutherford and into the Passaic River, Morris County Prosecutor Michael M. Rubbinaccio said yesterday.

"Mr. Zarate provided the police with no information as to the where- abouts of the victim when questioned . . . and even went to a birthday party even though he had already killed the victim and had the trunk secreted in the back of the Jeep Cherokee," Rubbinaccio said. "It was after returning from the party that he then attempted to dispose of the body."

According to the arrest affidavit, Zarate told police he punched, beat and stabbed Parks before suffocating her in the family room of the Zarates' split-level home on Old Brookside Road. Zarate's father, stepmother and several of her children were upstairs at the time of the killing, authorities said.

After killing Parks, Zarate dismembered the body, stuffed it into the trunk, then carried it out to his father's Jeep Cherokee, authorities said.

The trunk remained in the SUV for nearly 24 hours as residents and police searched for the girl, Rubbinaccio said.

During questioning Sunday, Zarate told police he killed Parks during an argument, according to court documents.

Zarate has been charged with murder, employing juveniles to commit a crime, hindering apprehension and several weapons charges. He is being held in the Morris County Jail in lieu of $1 million cash bail.
The juveniles were charged in Bergen County with unlawful disposal of human remains and in Morris County with conspiracy to hinder the apprehension of another. They are being held in the Morris County Juvenile Detention Center.

Rubbinaccio said he has not yet decided whether to present the crime to a grand jury as a death penalty case or if his office will seek to have the juveniles tried as adults. He also said his staff is continuing to investigate whether Zarate planned the killing.

The Parks family did not attend yesterday's court hearing.

"I am just so upset I can't even talk about it," Jennifer's grandmother, Mildred Brown of Dover, said later in the day. "She was a dear girl and I love her dearly."

Zarate's parents, who are divorced, attended their son's hearing yesterday. They refused to comment afterward.

Investigators searched the Zarates' property yesterday for evidence, including the knife that the 18-year-old told police he used to dismember the girl. Police said late last night they had not found it.

Investigators searching for a motive are looking into an incident that occurred within the past two years involving Zarate's 14-year-old brother, who was accused of breaking the window of the Parks' car, Rubbinaccio said.

Neighbors also said the Zarate boys teased Parks, who grew up at 13 Old Brookside Road. Zarate's father, John, bought the house next door in September 1997, records show.

"They used to make fun of her: `Oh, you're fat, you're ugly,'" neighbor Edna Jack said.

In the spring of 2004, Randolph school officials rearranged class schedules for Parks and the younger Zarate so they would not be in the same classes, neighbor Russell Sieb said.

Parks was last seen alive by her father, David, about 2 a.m. Saturday. By 11:45 that morning, her parents reported her missing. Neighbors and police went door-to-door trying to get information.

Sieb said his wife went to the Zarates and asked Jonathan Zarate and his father if they had seen Parks.
"No, I haven't seen her in a couple days," the 18-year-old answered, police said.

Parks spent much of Friday night in her room. At some point, Rubbinaccio said, Zarate contacted her, possibly via a computer message and "asked her to come to his residence to watch television."

Almost immediately after she arrived at the Zarate home, an argument ensued, though authorities don't know what prompted it. Zarate told police that during the argument, he punched Parks in the face, beat her with a metal pole and stabbed her repeatedly with a knife, according to the arrest affidavit. Then he wrapped a bandanna around his fist and forced it down her throat, the arrest affidavit said.

"He stuffed the bandanna down her throat to keep her quiet," Rubbinaccio said.

Zarate emptied a trunk containing camping equipment and cut Parks' legs below the knee to fit her 5-foot-5 body inside, Rubbinaccio said. He got rid of the knife, he told police.

Zarate's brother told investigators he woke up about 3 a.m. Saturday to the smell of bleach and the sound of his brother tapping out instant messages from his computer, authorities said.

When detectives searched the home later, they found bleach stains and blood on the downstairs carpet, authorities said. Rubbinaccio said the carpet would be tested for DNA.

Police believe Zarate's brother helped get the trunk into the SUV, but defense attorney Anthony Fusco said the 14-year-old boy lives with his mother in Garfield and wasn't at the Randolph home.

But, Rubbinaccio said: "We believe he was there. Neighbors confirmed that."

Later Saturday, Zarate's stepmother had members of her church over to the house, and that night his father drove his sons to a birthday party for a 15-year-old family friend at a hotel in Florham Park, said Joseph Devine, chief of investigations for the Morris County Prosecutor's Office. The father did not drive the Jeep Cherokee, Devine said.

At 1 a.m. Sunday, Parks' father spotted Zarate driving the Cherokee down Old Brookside Road without headlights on, authorities said.

Authorities said Zarate and his brother drove about 30 miles to Garfield, where they picked up the 16-year-old. They then drove to the Union Avenue Bridge in Rutherford.

The teenagers were lifting the trunk out of the SUV at 3 a.m. when two Secaucus police officers returning from a call spotted them and drew their guns, Rutherford Police Chief Steven Nienstedt said.

The teens dropped the trunk and it cracked open, revealing the body, Nienstedt said. Bergen County homicide detectives were called and discovered Parks' remains, he said.

"It was by chance that these officers crossed paths with them on that bridge, and if these cops didn't do their job, the family might never have known what happened to her," Devine said.

Neighbors described Parks as wholesome and honest and shy.

For the Siebs, she was a trustworthy baby-sitter.

"This is a very horrendous and heinous thing that was done," Sieb said. "I honestly hope that there is no plea bargain here and he spends his life in jail."


Marlaina Reed

CHICAGO (STMW) – When Chicago Police detectives inspected the body of a 17-year-old woman found dead in a cardboard box in 2007, they noticed something strange.

Scrawled with a marker on the strangled woman’s left leg was a name.


On Friday, detectives obtained an arrest warrant and took William McIntosh, 46, into custody.

His mother’s name?


Even with that connection, Detectives Michael Landando and Jim Balodimas told the Sun-Times the key evidence in the case was a piece of denim cloth that bound the legs of the victim, Marlaina “Niki” Reed, a ward of the state and a runaway.

Earlier this year, detectives submitted the cloth to the Illinois State Police for testing. The test indicated McIntosh’s DNA was on the cloth, Landando said.

Police went to McIntosh’s apartment in the 5800 block of West Fullerton about 7 p.m. Friday. The television was on, but the man wasn’t home. Police found him nearby walking along the sidewalk. He was arrested without incident.

“I’m not a murderer,” he told detectives outside his home. “I would never kill anybody. I never hurt anybody.”

Prosecutors approved a murder charge against McIntosh about 9 p.m.Friday, after he asked for a lawyer and detectives were required to stop questioning him.

On Saturday, Cook County Criminal Court Judge Panarese ordered McIntosh held without bond, according to a court clerk. He is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Monday, according to the clerk.

“It’s been a long journey,” Landando said. “She really didn’t have anyone looking out for her. Her life was tragic, and she died tragically. The detectives were the only ones really concerned about finding out who killed her. I consider myself jaded in a lot of ways, but this one really bothered me.”

Police said Reed met McIntosh in October 2006. He opened a DirecTV account with her Social Security number in December 2006.

Her body was discovered on Jan. 21, 2007, in an alley in the 1600 block of North Francisco in Humboldt Park on the Northwest Side. The body was wrapped in a shower curtain and stuffed into a Casio keyboard box.

Eight days after Reed’s body was found, McIntosh, a musician, pawned a Casio electronic keyboard, Landando said.

At the time, the case was a real-life “CSI” whodunit. When Reed’s body was found, police could not identify her.

To reconstruct her decomposed face, police hired a forensic artist, Karen Taylor. Detectives placed a sketch of the reconstruction in Illinois Dental News, and a dentist said the woman was one of his patients — Reed.

The detectives learned Reed was a Danville native. She was a ward of the state and had run away from a group home in Chicago.

Police questioned McIntosh in 2009 after he was arrested for stabbing a female pit bull in a bathtub in his Northwest Side home. At the time, he denied involvement in Reed’s murder, police said.