By Michelle Simonsen, True Crime Writer and Victim's Rights Advocate
ENTER HERE, NO EXIT
In 2003, Annie Le was voted by her high school classmates as "most likely to be the next Einstein". She was currently in the doctorate phase of her education at Yale University in the Department of Pharmacology. She was planning her wedding to her fiancee, Jonathan Widawsky, a Columbia University graduate student.
At 24, Annie Le had her entire life in front of her.
But in September, 2009, it was taken away...five days before her wedding.
Le went missing after entering a Yale University school building. Surveillance cameras capture her walking into the building, but never exiting. Her body was found on her wedding day, five days later, inside a wall of the laboratory in the school basement. Connecticut's medical examiner who performed Le's autopsy found that she had died as a result of "traumatic asphyxia due to neck compression."
After a thorough investigation, lab technician Raymond Clark, was arrested and charged in Le's murder. Clark has yet to enter a plea and will not have another court hearing until January 26, 2010. The motive is currently unclear, as well as the significance of Clark and Le's relationship, if any.
In a sad irony, Le wrote an article for Yale Medical School's B Magazine in February 2009 entitled, "Crime and Safety in New Haven".
A LAST LOOK--PRETTY IN PINK
She was wearing a pink Hello Kitty t-shirt when she died. She was later stuffed inside a small cheap suitcase and dumped into an irrigation pond in Tracy, California, 70 miles south of Sacramento.
8-year old Sandra Cantu was last seen skipping along surveillance footage in her mobile park neighborhood with the intent of playing with a 5-year old girl who lived nearby.
She was never shown coming home.
Ten days later, farmers located the suitcase of horrors. It led them directly to the mother of Sandra's playmate. 28-year old Melissa Huckaby, mother and Sunday school teacher, has been indicted and charged with kidnapping, rape by instrument, and the murder of Sandra Cantu.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Her trial is set to begin on October 18, 2010.
A RARE OCCURRENCE
Only 5 percent of pedophiles in America who abuse girls are female, said David Finkelhor, director of the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center, and the victims are almost always older than Sandra was. "There are cases of a woman acting alone, but more frequently you get a situation where it's a woman working in cahoots with a guy," he said. "What's being described here is very rare." (source)
While most 15-year olds were unwrapping their Christmas gifts this year, Michael Brewer was having skin graft bandages unwrapped. In a cruel and deliberate assault against the Deerfield Beach, Florida teen, Brewer was burned alive by five of his fellow peers in October, 2009.
The reason? $40, a video game and a stolen bike.
It was determined by five Florida bullies that Michael Brewer should pay for "snitching" on defendant, Matthew Bent, 15, after he was fingered and arrested for stealing Michael's father's bicycle.
The day following the arrest of Bent, he and four others allegedly stalked and confronted Michael in order to assault him. Alcohol was poured over his body while another snapped a lighter setting him ablaze that left him with severe burns over 65% of his body.
Three of the boys have been charged as adults while the other two as juveniles. The three that will stand trial in the attempted murder of Michael Brewer, Denver Jarvis, 15, Matthew Bent, 15, and Jesus Mendez, 16, have pled not guilty and face up to 30 years in prison.
Listen to the 911 call HERE. (Warning: disturbing audio.)
HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN
Shaniya Nicole Davis
The most innate part of human nature is our natural urge to protect our children. What level of atrocity is it when a mother sells her own 5-year old daughter into prostitution?
Antoinette Nicole Davis, 25, stated that she put her daughter, Shaniya, on the couch at 5:30 a.m., and left the room. When she checked back an hour later Shaniya was gone.
According to Fayetteville, North Carolina authorities, Shaniya did not "go missing", as her mother charged.
Antoinette Davis, sold her daughter into sex slavery, where she was later murdered and dumped on the side of a dirty highway like a piece of trash. Shaniya was last seen with Mario Andrette McNeill, 29, as shown in this hotel surveillance footage. He has been charged with the rape and murder of Shaniya. Mommy Dearest has been charged with multiple felonies including human trafficking and child abuse involving prostitution.
Shaniya's father, Bradley Lockhart, has stated that Antoinette Davis sold their daughter into prostitution in order to pay off a drug debt. Preliminary autopsy results show that the 5-year old died from asphyxiation.
Mark Logan, executive and director of the Polaris Project and the former U.S. ambassador to combat human trafficking stated while there are no numbers on how many young children are trafficked by their own parents, there are about 100,000 minors trafficked in the United States each year.
Lois Lee, the founder and president of the non-profit Children of the Night, said drugs are often involved when mothers are found to have sold or traded their children. (Source)
The scariest thing about this case? Antoinette Davis is currently pregnant again!
LOST & FOUND
Jaycee Lee Dugard
In June, 1991, Jaycee Lee Dugard, then 11 years old, was forcibly abducted by two unknown adults at her South Lake Tahoe, California bus stop within eye shot of her stepfather and several classmates. After massive searches, tips and fruitless leads, Jaycee was thought to be gone forever.
18 years later...it is 2009. Investigators are following up on a parolee and while making a house visit, he meets his "daughter" Alyssa. Alyssa is 29 years old and claims the two girls with her, ages 11 and 15, are her little sisters. Something about "Alyssa's" story didn't jive with police.
After further investigation, it was revealed that her name was not Alyssa, but missing Jaycee Lee Dugard. Her two "sisters" are her daughters, Angel and Starlit, born as a result of the relentless rapes she endured over the past 18 years at the hands of Phillip Craig Garrido and assisted by his wife, Nancy.
After Jaycee was abducted in 1991, the Antioch, California couple had kept her captive in their home and in tents and make-shift sheds in their backyard.
Phillip Craig Garrido had already served a not-so-lengthy sentence for the vicious kidnap and rape of a woman back in 1976. The court's physicians had diagnosed him as "a sexual deviant and chronic drug abuser." During his trial in 1977 he testified that he would masturbate in his car by the side of schools while watching young girls.
Both have pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, rape, and false imprisonment and are awaiting trial. Jaycee has shown a great amount of what is called "The Stockholm Syndrome", where a victim has been mentally broken down by their captor, has formed a bond with them, or is sympathetic to them.
When Jaycee was originally asked by police about her relationship with Garrido, she stated "he was a changed man and a great person who was good to her kids. Alyssa subsequently stated that she didn't want to provide any additional information and that she might need a lawyer." (Source)
Jaycee and her daughters are back with her family and learning to remember who she really is and to cope with what happened to her. Carl Probyn, Jaycee's stepfather, confirmed that Jaycee and her daughters are in good health and intelligent, their reunion is going well, and they are proceeding slowly. Jaycee Dugard's aunt, Tina Dugard, about the two girls: "They are clever, articulate, curious girls who have a bright future ahead of them." (Source)
Michelle Simonsen is a victim's rights advocate, crime analyst and blogger for "Michelle Says So", founder of the grassroots consumer boycott, "Boycott Aruba--Justice for Natalee Holloway", an advisory board member of "Survivors in Action", and is a contributing writer for "Now Public", and "True Crime Talk".