Transcripts of newly released text messages between a crime boss and a deputy police chief have finally lifted the lid on the mystery of 43 students who went missing one night in southwestern Mexico.
The messages indicate that the cops and the cartel worked together to capture, torture, and murder at least 38 of the 43 student teachers who went missing in September of 2014.
The students had made the deadly mistake of commandeering several buses in order to drive to Mexico City for a protest. It now seems clear that those buses were part of a drug-running operation that would carry a huge cargo of heroin across the U.S. border—and the students had accidentally stolen the load.
Last Dec. 15, two real estate agents arrived at a sprawling modern house near the northern edge of Toronto. They were accompanied by a couple who were considering buying the 12,000-square-foot mansion at 50 Old Colony Rd., recently listed for just shy of C$7 million. With five bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a gym, a sauna, a tennis court, and underground parking for six cars, it was one of the more impressive properties on a street lined with grand homes. The sellers, pharmaceuticals billionaire Barry Sherman, 75, and his wife, Honey, 70, had lived there for more than two decades but were preparing to build a house closer to the center of the city.
The Shermans weren’t supposed to be home that day. It was midmorning, and a housekeeper was doing her semiweekly cleaning while another woman watered the plants. The tour took in the hexagonal entrance foyer, with its chandelier and black tile floors, and the spacious kitchen, soaked in natural light from a broad conservatory window over the sink. In the basement, the Shermans’ agent had something more unusual to show off: a lap pool and hot tub, handy in a city where winter weather can drag into April.
The pool was at the rear of the house, adjacent to a sunken garage and accessible from the rest of the basement by a long, narrow hallway. The agent, entering first, was the one who found them. Barry and Honey, spouses of more than 40 years, were side by side on the floor, their necks tied with men’s leather belts to a metal railing, about three and a half feet high, that ran around one end of the pool. Barry, heavyset with a crown of frizzy, thinning gray-and-brown hair, was seated, legs extended forward and crossed neatly at the ankles. Honey, who had a blond bob and an athletic frame, was slumped on her side and appeared to have been struck on her face. Their arms were drawn back, held in place by coats pulled down below their shoulders. Both were facing away from the water and fully clothed, although one of the belts seemed to have been taken from Barry’s trousers. It was impossible to tell how long they’d been dead.
Within hours, the deaths were the biggest story in Canada. Barry Sherman was the chairman of Apotex Inc., a privately held generic drug company that he founded in the mid-1970s. It’s now the country’s premier pharmaceutical manufacturer, accounting for as many as 1 in 5 Canadian prescriptions, and the rare large domestic drugmaker never to have been swallowed up by a foreign rival. With a fortune that the Bloomberg Billionaires Index placed at $3.6 billion at the time of his death, Sherman was Canada’s 18th-richest person, and he and Honey were among the country’s most generous philanthropists, supporting cultural and educational institutions, antipoverty organizations, and, despite Sherman’s avowed atheism, a panoply of Jewish causes.
A team of specialists who investigate cold cases says it has identified the Zodiac Killer, one of America’s most prolific serial murderers who terrorized communities in the San Francisco area in the late 1960s with a series of brutal slayings and unsolvable riddles.
The Case Breakers, a team of more than 40 former law enforcement investigators, journalists and military intelligence officers, has tackled other mysteries such as the D.B. Cooper hijacking heist, the disappearance of former labor union boss Jimmy Hoffa and other unsolved cases. The group believes the killer is responsible for a slaying hundreds of miles away that was never linked to him.
The Zodiac Killer has been connected to five murders that occurred in 1968 and 1969 in the San Francisco area. Unlike most serial killers, the Zodiac taunted authorities with complex ciphers in letters sent to newspapers and law enforcement. The slayings have spawned books, movies and documentaries in the years since, and amateur and professional sleuths have pored over the case in an effort to unmask the killer.
In the decades since the first murder, many potential suspects have been investigated.
According to CBP figures, 40,091 Hondurans were detained in 2020 while trying to enter the U.S. without legal permission. So far this year, the Border Patrol has recorded 98,554 migrant apprehensions, more than double the previous year.
David’s coyote was supposed to drop them off at the Texas border, where he was going to turn himself in, along with this daughter, to U.S. immigration authorities and seek asylum.
But when they reached Reynosa in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, the coyote handed them over to an armed group.
According to Denis, the coyote deceived them, because the fee he paid was supposed to include what was to be paid to criminals for going through their territory.
From crossing Mexico to becoming hostages
For a month on the road, David and his daughter slept in abandoned houses, on the edge of the train tracks and under trees. They ate what they were given in migrant shelters on their way to northern Mexico. Nothing resembled what the coyote had promised.
When they arrived in Monterrey, in Nuevo León, they were put in the back of a truck with eight other migrants on their way to Reynosa.
At the city gates, the vehicle stopped on the orders of a group of armed men. They made all the migrants come out and inspected them one by one.
“They searched me, they took away the backpack I was carrying, they threw me face down,” David said.
They were taken to a warehouse, asked for their cellphones and asked who was their U.S. relative who was paying for the trip. Then they were kidnapped and told that if they wanted to be released, their relatives had to pay for the right to transit through the area.
“They told me they were the ones who commanded the border of the river and Reynosa, that they were from the Gulf cartel,” David said.
They were in a cellar for two days, and from there they were transferred to the desert. There were green tents set up under some bushes to camouflage the hostage camp. David estimates that there were about 50 migrants, mostly Hondurans.
“They made us put up with hunger and thirst, they only fed us once a day. It was almost always rice, beans and a glass of water,” he said, adding he would end up giving his food to his daughter to keep her fed.
As the days passed, David’s health began to deteriorate. He had weakness, fatigue, headache and dehydration symptoms. Every time the kidnappers arrived with his cellphone, he knew it was time to call his brother to pressure him and ask him to pay.
Denis said he would explain to the kidnappers on the phone that he had no money. “But they did not accept anything, they told me that I had to wash cars, sell chewing gum, beg in the streets, but that the money had to be paid if I wanted to see them alive,” he said.
‘They dismembered them with a machete’
Every time Denis said he had no money, David earned himself a beating. His daughter cried when she saw him bleeding on the floor.
David said that when the deadline arrived for other migrants and their families had not been able to pay the ransom, the captives were murdered right there in the camp.
“With a machete they dismembered them, killed them,” David said, “and the only thing I could do was cover my daughter’s eyes and ears so that she would not know what was happening, nor would she have those memories for her whole life.”
When this happened, David said the corpses were cooked and the surviving migrants were served the human meat, “so that there would be no trace of anything — that’s what one had to eat.”
One of the things that most affected David was seeing the satanic rituals that the kidnappers performed at night.
It seems like the WSJ’s entire San Francisco bureau has been preoccupied lately with churning out a series of stories sourced from “leaked” internal Facebook documents exposing embarrassing internal reports on everything from Instagram’s deleterious impact on the mental health of its twentysomething and teenage users to political divisiveness to – today’s entry – how Facebook’s products are abused to facilitated human trafficking and terror recruitment in parts of the emerging world.
The gist of the piece is this: Facebook has a small staff dedicated to combating human trafficking around the world, particularly in countries where the rule of law isn’t as robust as it is in the US and Europe. In the Middle East, Facebook is used to lure women into sex slavery (or some other form of exploitative labor).
In Ethiopia, armed groups use the site to recruit and to incite violence against other ethnic minorities.
Facebook’s monitors have also sent reports to their bosses on everything from human organ trafficking, pornography and child pornography, and government’s cracking down on political dissent.
The documents leaked to WSJ show that while Facebook removes some pages, many continue to operate openly.
While some might sympathize with Facebook’s inability to whack every mole (after all, they’re fighting a never-ending torrent of misconduct). But the sad truth is that Facebook could do more to stop its platform from being abused by traffickers, criminals and abusers – particularly in the emerging world (we all remember what happened in Myanmar).
The reason it doesn’t is because that would be bad for business”, according to a former chief executive who resigned from the company last year. Facebook treats harm in developing countries as “simply the cost of doing business” in those places, said Brian Boland, a former Facebook vice president who oversaw partnerships with internet providers in Africa and Asia before resigning at the end of last year.
Facebook has focused its safety efforts on wealthier markets (like the US) where powerful government and media institutions can help keep it accountable. But in smaller countries, Facebook answers many problems with a shrug.
The heir to a powerful legal dynasty whose wife and son were found shot dead in June has been rushed to hospital after reportedly being shot in the head by an assailant in a passing truck.
Alex Murdaugh, 53, was changing the tire on his car along a rural road in Hampton County, South Carolina, Saturday, when a truck drove by and someone in the vehicle shot him, according to his attorney.
Murdaugh suffered at least one gunshot wound to the head and was airlifted to hospital in Savannah for treatment.
His attorney said the 53-year-old is conscious and was able to speak to his family by over the phone from his hospital bed.
The Murdaugh family released a statement Saturday evening, saying they have ‘suffered through more than any one family can ever imagine.’
The statement added: ‘We expect Alex to recover and ask for your privacy while he recovers.’
Authorities have released few details about the incident which comes three months after the still-unsolved double murder of Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son Paul.
A court filing in the case of a high-profile Neo-nazi group member has ousted Joshua Caleb Sutter as a longtime informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Sutter, the publisher of Martinet Press, is allegedly an Atomwaffen member and key figure in the satanic group known as the O9A Tempel ov Blood, according to investigative reporter Ali Winston.
Investigative reporter Ali Winston has been covering the case against Kaleb Cole, an alleged Atomwaffen member who was charged with leading a conspiracy to intimidate reporters across the United States with other group members. All of them have entered guilty pleas except Cole, according to Winston.
In what Winston described as a “remarkable filing” from Cole’s case, it was revealed that Joshua Caleb Sutter, an Atomwaffen member, Satanic 09A Tempel ov Blood leader, and Satanic book publisher, is “undoubtedly” an FBI informant, and had been since 2003, according to documents. “Sutter isn’t identified by name, but its undoubtedly him. Martinet Press publishes Order of Nine Angles texts that have radicalized countless youth in Neo-Fascist, Satanist practices. He has that aforementioned ’03 conviction for trying to [sic] sell a firearm w/an obliterated serial,” Winston explained. The promotion of the satanic Tempel ov Blood ideology, according to journalist Jake Hanrahan, has connections to a series of murders in Great Britain.
Watch almost any crime drama on TV today, and it might seem like cops always get the bad guy within the hour. But we all know that’s not true, and the scale on which it isn’t true is a little mind-blowing.
According to the US Department of Justice, the closure rate on 2017 murder cases was only at 62 percent. The rest went unsolved, and that’s all contributing to an ever-growing number of cold cases. They estimate that across the US, there’s somewhere around 250,000 unsolved murder cases that are still open. That’s going up all the time, and law enforcement estimates there’s going to be about another 6,000 added to that number every year. It’s a huge deal: according to Tom McAndrew, a former Pennsylvania State Trooper, “… all unsolved homicides potentially have offenders who have never been apprehended. History and research show that a violent offender will likely repeat.”
Advances in DNA technology mean that there is a chance that some of these offenders will be caught. Take the Golden State Killer, a serial killer linked to crimes that spanned decades. He started killing in 1976, and was only identified and arrested in 2018. The good news is that there is hope we’ll see justice for the victims and their families, so let’s talk about some of the most prolific serial killers still out there.
Army officials have increased the reward in the case of a Fort Bragg paratrooper whose partial remains were found along an Outer Banks seashore last year.
The Army Criminal Investigation Command increased the award in the homicide case of Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez to $50,000, according to a news release issued this week.
“We are increasing the reward in the hopes of developing new credible leads to determine exactly what happened to our soldier,” CID special agent Steve Chancellor said in the news release. “We do not want to leave any stone unturned.”
Roman-Martinez, 21, of Chino, California, was reported missing May 23, 2020, at Cape Lookout National Seashore in Carteret County. His severed head washed ashore six days later.
At the time of his death, Roman-Martinez was a human resource specialist assigned to Headquarters Company, 37th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
He joined the Army in September of 2016 and was assigned as a paratrooper to Fort Bragg in March 2017.
Roman-Martinez was last seen alive May 22, 2020, when he was camping with seven other soldiers, the Army CID’s news release states.
The release states that “agents have investigated suspected illegal drug use on the evening of May 22, 2020,” but does not indicate if any evidence was found to support that suspicion.
“Roman-Martinez’s friends reported him missing” the following evening, the news release states.
In an interview with The Fayetteville Observer in May, Roman-Martinez’s older sister, Griselda Martinez, said investigators have told the family there doesn’t seem to be a motive for the other soldiers her brother was camping with to harm him.