This is my third blog post on TNT's new reality show, "Cold Justice". Cold Justice pairs former Texas prosecutor Kelly Siegler with former Las Vegas CSI Yolanda McClary, who travel to small rural towns across America to look at unsolved murder cases. Their first episode which aired Tuesday has already delivered results - the arrest of Ronnie Hendricks (see yesterdays post for details) for the murder of Pam Shelley. TNT lists an episode guide online, and
I couldn't resist taking a peek and looking for details on those cases. I was astonished at what they have accomplished in their first season. This is more than just another crime drama, these ladies are committed and determined to bringing justice to those who may have escaped it previously in small towns that may lack the resources to bring a suspect to trial.
You can see the episode guide on their website. They give a brief description of the victims and circumstances of their deaths. Here is a list of this seasons cases:
Episode 2) Victim: 67 year old Mattie Williams was found stabbed and bludgeoned to death in the woods outside of an abandoned house approximately 4 miles from her home on 8/28/06. Williams lived in Morehouse Parish, LA and was said to be an active member of her church and a loving mother. Her daughter, LaShonda Williams told reporters how difficult life was without her mother during a 2008 interview with a local reporter. She also stressed how the family leaned on each other for strength after the killing. Williams was initially believed to be missing, after a friend went to her home and saw blood outside of her house and called the police. Her body was found just 6 hours later. This episode runs next Tuesday, and it appears Siegler and McClary may have breathed new life into this cold case.
On 7/2/13, know.com reported there were 3 people indicted for second degree murder in relation to this case. All three face mandatory life sentences if convicted. Sadly, one of the three is Mattie Williams' own son, John Williams. This episode airs next Tuesday on TNT.
Episode 3) Victim: 32 year old Eric Baxter, who was found shot to death in his home in Dickson, Tennessee on 8/20/98. This is said to be the only unsolved homicide in the small community where it occurred. I haven't been able to find any additional information on the circumstances around his death, possible suspects or the outcome of Siegler and McClary's investigation.
Episode 4) Victim: 17 year old Rachelle Escalante was believed to have been killed by a hit and run driver on 7/6/88 in Globe, Arizona. Escalante was said to have been walking home from a party when she was struck. Escalante had just completed her junior year in high school when she attended a party with friends where a fight broke out. Escalante left the party on foot, and patrol officers came across her crawling across the middle of the road - they initially believed it was an injured animal but as the got closer they realized it was a young girl. They stopped their patrol car and attempted to help her, but it was too late. I was unable to find any additional information on this investigation online. Guess I'll have to wait until the episode airs!
Episode 5) Victim: 48 year old Charlene Corporon was found shot to death in her home in Palacios, Texas on 6/6/82. Corporon owned the most successful agricultural business in town and worked with her son Gary. It was widely known that Gary had been physically and verbally abusive towards his mother in recent years, and when a friend of Charlene's knocked on the door looking for her, Gary answered reportedly said "Charlene doesn't look too good". She had been shot in the head with a .22 caliber gun. This is by far the most perplexing of the cases/episodes so far. The episode guide gives little information on this case, but what I found online makes this a mystery. In a May 4, 2012 article in the houstonchronicle.com it says that Charlene's son Gary was charged with murder but may never be tried. The issue at hand seems to be this: was he ever indicted for this murder, and if he was indicted and charged, why hasn't there been a trial? Gary Corporon is said to be working offshore near LA and remains free on $100,000 bail. OK, if he's free after posting bail, that would indicate that he WAS arrested wouldn't it? It's confusing. Some law enforcement officials say he had been arrested, some aren't so sure. District Clerk Becky Denn said there was no record of Corporon's indictment. What gives here? District Attorney Steven Reiss told the Houston Chronicle reporter that he planned to ask a new grand jury to "re-indict" Corporon, he further stated that "the delay does not appear to have been created by any law enforcement agency". He has requested additional investigation into the improprieties which appear to have caused a 31 year delay in prosecuting this case. South Texas College of Law professor Geoffrey Corn believes Corporon has a great case for a "speedy trial dismissal". There is no statute of limitation on murder, but what happens if Corporon was arrested 30 years ago, and never brought to trial - and the charges were never dropped? What if the ball was dropped entirely? If there is no record of the indictment, what could the bail bondsman tell us about this issue?
The circumstances around Gary Corporon's freedom were brought to light after Kelly Siegler began investigating the case for a Cold Justice episode. Nubbin Chambbe, a former Sheriff's Detective who worked this case back in 1982 said he was told that Corporon was not indicted, and that the grand jury "passed" on the case, wanting additional information. So is that where the ball was dropped? Matagorda County Sheriff Douglas "Skipper" Osborne declined to answer questions on the case because it is a pending case. Sam Hurta, who was Sheriff in the early 80's and former DA Jack Sayler were unavailable for comment on the case. This will be another episode I'll have to watch to see what they uncover. Was Gary Corporon ever arrested back in 1982? Has he been living free of consequences for 31 years, after being a strong suspect in his mother's murder?
Episode 6) Victim: 29 year old Mary Ann Holmes was a single mother living in the small mostly Mormon community of Thatcher, Arizona when she was found handcuffed, tortured, raped and sexually mutilated in her own home. Her two small girls witnessed the murder, and the 3 and 5 year old girls were also tied up and naked. The oldest girl managed to free herself and ran across the street to a neighbor/friend's house for help. It was too late, Mary Ann Holmes was dead, and it appeared her 3 year old was covered in her mother's blood. It was reported that one of the girls said "mommy was hurt by a lion-man". Holmes had a yard sale in the morning, and the money she made from the yard sale was missing. Police believe someone at the yard sale may have come back later that evening. Police initially interviewed more than 75 people about this case, but no suspect emerged. Holmes' ex boyfriend was an early suspect after police noticed Holmes had filed a report, believing he was en route to Arizona from Florida. Although Holmes feared him, the ex-boyfriend's alibi checked out according to investigators. Little evidence has been disclosed, but there was a bloody shoe print, said to be size 11 1/2 found at the scene. There may have also been a single finger print on the handcuffs used on Holmes. What an awful murder, and for some animal to do that in front of two innocent children is just unfathomable. I really hope they find this guy.
Episode 7) Victim: 49 year old Isabel Corale was found dead on the couch in her Fremont, Ohio home on 1/24/88. It appeared that the mother of six fell asleep on the couch and in the early morning hours, somebody hit her in the head with an object. She never woke up. She was discovered the following morning by her husband, who called police. When police arrived, Corale's husband and three of her children were upstairs, frightened and covered in blood. A hatchet was found propped against a wall in the home - was it the murder weapon? I was unable to find any additional information on this case, or the outcome of Siegler and McClary's investigation.
Episode 8) Victim: 54 year old Robert Bryant was found beaten to death on the floor of the Agriliance Fertilizer Warehouse in Seagrave, Texas where he worked for 26 years. His body was discovered by a fellow employee. Bryant was known as a reliable employee who always arrived early and started the coffee. He was well liked and the community was shocked at this crime. Bryant's wallet was found with money inside, still in his pocket. Little else is known about this case. Was he killed by another employee, or did he interrupt a robbery? I can't find anything else on this case online. I'll have to watch the episode!
Those are the episodes listed thus far. Very interesting to see what can happen when new eyes look over these cold cases. Even though there has only been one episode so far, I really like this show. This seems much different from "The First 48", "Dateline" and "48 Hours". I think the chemistry between Siegler and McClary is great - they are both well respected in their fields - and I like the detective they are using, named Johnny Bonds. He's known to be a master interrogator. Looks like at least 3 of the 8 cases now have arrests to go with them. Not bad!