Wednesday, May 15, 2019

28 years and counting

The 28th anniversary of my mother's death has come and gone again. This year the dates were the same as the year she died: Tuesday, May 14th.

28 years has been a long journey for me. As a child, I could not understand much more than my mother was gone. As I got older, I understood she was dead, never to come back. But I still struggle with understanding that she was murdered. It is difficult to come to terms with the violence it took to end her life and alter the lives of the ones who loved her forever.

For 28 years, my mother's murder has gone unanswered in the criminal justice system. But in this past year, that has changed. The Vidor Police Department finally put their case together. The Orange County District Attorney has now had my mom's case for about 8 months. It is time. It is time to give my mother her day in court. The case is NEVER going to be better than it is today. We are losing witnesses to time and death. We lost files due to hurricanes and floods. Time has taken its tole. Gossip and lies have taken their tole.

It is now or never. Now we will stand for my mother and speak for her. Or we will never let her voice be heard in the justice system. She deserves a shot. She deserves justice.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Monica's 8th Death Anniversary

8 years ago today, Monica passed away. Pi Day has a different meaning since.

Today I am thinking about Monica and what she would think about the recent developments in our mother's case. Monica treasured our father. I do not know how much she remembered about our mom since we rarely talked about her. I think the closest we got to speaking about her was a few times she recounted some things to me that she and Steve discussed.

Monica loved Steve. Steve was her hero. She wrote poems about him and loved him deeply. The Thanksgiving before Monica died, she and our grandmother made an entire dinner for her to drive down to Houston and eat with Steve.

In the Cold Justice episode, James Fulton makes some comments about losing Monica and that she couldn't stand her dad. I cannot express to you how enraged this makes me. That any of the Fulton's would discuss losing Monica as a tragedy for themselves is disgusting. These people absolutely abandoned us long ago. There was no Monica for them to lose, because they let her go when our mother died. Same for me. This is PART of why I cannot stand these people: They claim all of this love after death. Well... if you loved us all so much, then why haven't I heard from you? Probably because I am still alive. You only claim to care after a tragedy. It is gross.

I like to think that Monica was beginning to come around on Steve when she died. In fact, part of me thinks this is why she died. Of a broken heart. She had been having some experiences with her current boyfriend and his family that were illuminating and paralleling Steve's behavior. She and I discussed the similarities several times, and I think she was starting to understand that she deserved better from a father. But I don't actually know. When she died, she was as loyal to him as ever. Monica really struggled to have a relationship with me. I think she was seeing me for who I actually am, and not whoever Steve and his wife had told her I was to keep us apart. This was causing problems for her and our relationship.

Even if Monica had ever thought that Steve killed our mother, she would have still stayed by his side. That is the kind of loyalty and love she had for him. She would have loved him anyway. I see comments from people who say that they wish their daddy loved them the way my mom's daddy loves her. I do not understand that. I guess I see the actions my mom's dad had for her more as guilt for not being better to her when she was alive. I do not envy James Fulton's love. I envy Monica's love. She loved completely, and in real time. I felt loved by her. I saw the strength of her love. That is beauty that continues on.

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Left Handed Man Did It

Do you remember that movie with Harrison Ford... Fugitive? He was convicted of killing his wife, escapes prison, and is chased down by Tommy Lee while searching for the one-armed man that actually killed his wife...

In my mother's case, there has been an illusive "left-handed man". In the autopsy report, her injuries are listed and an opinion is given that the suspect is left-handed. I believe this was a popular practice at the time: the medical examiner putting an opinion in this document. However, we have realized that is bad practice since, and this is no longer how things are done. We need facts in these documents, FACTS.

Unfortunately, we cannot determine the handedness of the perpetrator from this autopsy. We do not know the configuration of my mother and her killer at the time she was attacked. I believe the medical examiner assumed that they were squared off with each other... standing shoulders square and facing one another. But we do not know if this is the case. We also do not know their configuration in the world... did the killer have equal access to both arms/hands? Were they say.. up against a wall on his right side?

This autopsy also does not indicate which injuries were sustained in the attack and which were sustained while her body was being transported to the ditch. I think that since her body was placed in the driver's seat, it is safe to assume she was elsewhere in the car at the time it went in the ditch. Some injuries to her face and skull could have occurred at that time.

Anyhow... that is how we ended up with a left-handed killer. In civil court, there was testimony given as to Steve's handedness. The Fulton's were, of course, able to produce a witness that said Steve was absolutely left-handed. Steve's brother testified that he is ambidextrous during physical activity.

I believe that the left-handed issue is part of what has led to my mother's case going cold. Steve is for the most part, right-handed. The Fulton's finding a witness that remembers Steve signing checks left-handed absolutely felt like lies. As someone who wanted to believe what Steve claimed, this was a big piece of evidence that he was innocent. However, at the same time, the same people are saying that Steve can be left-handed when "shooting baskets". To me.. this means Steve is left-handed during physical activity. And to me, strangling someone is physical activity.

Monday, December 10, 2018

We Never Locked the Doors

The town my mother died in, among other things, is a small town. I believe the population is around 12,000 today and at the time I lived there. We lived on a dead end street right off of the highway. As kids, we rode our bikes up and down that road without much interruption since there was no traffic.

That little green house on Green St. had 2 entrances: side door going from garage to kitchen, and front door going from living room to patio. I believe most of the time, we entered the house through the side door... well, especially when I was arriving to an empty house, like when coming home from school.

Did I have a key to that door? No. We never locked it. I cannot remember it ever being locked. I remember using the front door some, but that was mostly with parents. Like, leaving the house and getting in to the car and being driven to school. I lived in that small town with my mom and dad from the middle of 3rd grade through the end of 6th grade. This is when my mother was killed. Maybe I was too young to remember the door being locked? I'm not sure. But I do remember for 7th, 8th, and 9th grade, that door was not locked. I would ride the bus home from school and come home to an empty house. My sister stayed with friends down the street.

It suddenly struck me the other day... why didn't we lock that door? My mother had been murdered and dumped at the end of the street. My father claims to have received threatening phone calls from the "Beaumont mafia". Shouldn't we have been more cautious? Wouldn't my dad have been more protective of us? It seems obvious my mother's killer knew where she lived. Wasn't he worried this "mafia" was going to do something to us like they supposedly did to our mother?

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Contact the District Attorney

Orange County District Attorney's Office

John Kimbrough - District Attorney

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

It takes a movie...

My mother's 27-year-old murder case has been reopened. There have never been any arrests in her case, and it has set with the Texas Ranger's Cold Case division for some time. Murder cases do not necessarily close over time; my mother's case has been reactivated by local police.

Murder cases today are a lot different than 27 years ago. When my mother was strangled to death in 1991; it was 2 years before the OJ Simpson murders. Today the police have better investigative methods, and the media has more tools for sensationalizing a murder. Don't get me wrong. We had our share of media exposure locally as well as on Unsolved Mysteries, 20/20, and even the National Enquirer.

But now, there has been a movie. It looks like we are going to get some version of a Netflix-style true crime documentary as well. The interest is up and that is good. Unfortunately, now more than ever, rumors are flying around everywhere. Since this is an open murder investigation, there is plenty of information that cannot be confirmed by the police. And honestly, I do not have much information of my own. I was 11 years old at the time of my mother's murder, and no one spoke to me or my sister about her death. In fact, I believe information was purposefully kept from us because of our age.

So, what IS happening now?

The local police are actively investigating my mother's murder. That means working it as if it just happened, gathering evidence, and then presenting that evidence to a prosecutor. The next step would be presenting the evidence to a grand jury. This is what leads to an arrest warrant. My mother's case has never made it past the grand jury.

According to civil case testimony, my mother has a very short timeline between when she was last seen and when she was found. She was last seen alive at approximately 230am and found dead by approximately 430am. That is only 2 hours.

At some point in my life, I thought to myself, what is even possible to have happened to her in that amount of time? I decided to look at the information I could gather objectively as possible.

I have thought of 3 possibilities for her killer to intercept her:
1. leaving the hotel
2. stopped for gas/convenience store
3. at home

I think #2 is highly unlikely because ... it was like 3 am and she was headed home. Unless she was about to run out of gas, she wouldn't have had much motivation to make a stop between the hotel and home. Therefore, if she definitely left the hotel, I think she made it home.

My mom was most likely killed by someone who knew her. The way she was killed tells us this. The way her body was found points to more than a casual acquaintance.

For #1 to be possible, someone she knew would have had to stop her in the parking lot at the hotel. This person would then have to:
1. Go to another location (unless he kills her in his car in the parking lot),
2. Get her undressed,
3. Kill her,
4. Clean her up,
5. Redress her,
6. Phone a friend to help ditch the car,
7. Get the car to Vidor 100 yards from her house (google maps wasn't available then)

I think getting to another location, and getting a friend involved would eat up a lot of time.

For #3 to be possible, steps 2-5 still had to happen. But now we are minus time suck of getting a friend involved and another location. And it is possible she even undressed herself and prepared for a bath or bed. The biggest issues here are that the murder would have occurred in the house and cleaned up before people were absolutely in the house by 630am. And no one reported seeing any blood. That includes the Fultons. There would also be an issue of the sound the murder created and why neither my sister or I were awakened. Surely she screamed? I am a deep sleeper, by my sister was not.

I do not know why the man she was visiting in the hotel was cleared. I do not even know what his relationship to her was. This is the source of rumors that she was involved in prostitution. Why was she visiting a man in a hotel for a few hours in the middle of the night?

I have heard rumors for 2 possibilities for the scenario 1 man:
1. My mom was in a relationship with some local lawyer who was also married. She was taking the relationship too seriously by divorcing my dad. No name has ever been submitted with these rumors. The story here is that she was out with friends the week before she was murdered and told someone about the relationship.
2. Some guy (still no name) was obsessed with her and wanted to be with her, but she kept putting him off by saying she was married. This person was supposedly talked about by my mom's youngest sister, Sherry Valentine. This person might also be the "mafioso" Steve refers to.

My mother really did shave her legs in the living room. She used hand lotion and a cup of water. It is weird. She did do it.

There really was a grease spill in our home at least a few days after the murder. I actually witnessed the spill. My aunt from Tennessee was present, so it was at least 2 days after the murder. I feel like it may even have been after the funeral. People had been in and out of the house since 630am the day of the murder. 2 days later is a little late to clean up blood. And to think that more family members would get involved after the fact is wrong. Some people in that area actually believe my sister and I helped clean up our mother's blood. My sister was 7 years old. If there was some kind of Tell Tale Heart thing going on with Steve that caused him to spill the oil, I cannot tell you. From my perspective it looked like an accident. And in my logical brain, way too many people had been through and not seen blood there. Maybe they missed the evidence of the initial cleaning.

There is no evidence of forcible rape. Steve definitely had sex with my mom the night she was murdered. The rape claim comes from the Fulton's because they do not believe she would have consensually had sex with Steve that night.

The police cover up theory, I think, comes from the absolutely terrible job done by the police in the initial investigation. Also, Steve's grandfather had been a judge... but at the time of the murder, he had been retired and then dead for several years.  I do not think there was a cover up. I think there was just incompetence.

There are a lot of accusations, lies, and rumors in this case and not much actual evidence. As an outsider, it is seems so simple to look at this case and see who the obvious murderer is. People do not realize how difficult it is to believe someone you care about did something so terrible. I was probably 27 before I could even consider my father as a possible killer. Before then, the automatic response was 'NO WAY', even though I had had mostly bad experiences with my father. And who are you supposed to believe when you KNOW all the adults are lying about something. SOMETHING. I mean, my mother's sister Sherry sent a bomb threat to my bus in junior high. NOT TO STEVE.  TO ME. How was I supposed to ever know who to trust?

My sister saw our father as some sort of Greek Tragedy hero. Not only had the love of his life been slain, he had been framed for the murder. How can you judge a little girl who romanticizes her father this way?

I want this case to move forward. I want to know what happened to my mother. I want people to know that what happens after a murder is just as tragic as the murder. My sister and mother will never recover from this trauma. With the help of people that truly loved me, I did survive and even thrive. I believe I will come out of the other side of this investigation even stronger, and hopefully, with some answers.