|series of murder suicide articles
|Here is a series of articles on some JW murder/suicides across the country.
He suspects foul play in the death of Charles Boyd.
October 3, 2002
James Boyd, the oldest son of Bimla Boyd, a woman accused of Sunday's fatal shooting in Polk County, called Wednesday for reopening the investigation into the death of his stepfather earlier this year.
"Absolutely. There's no doubt in my mind. Even without what happened this past Sunday, there's still reason" for a new investigation, James Boyd said.
His mother, Bimla Boyd, was arrested Sunday in connection with the fatal shooting of Robert Daniel Spencer, a caretaker at the rural property.
Spencer was the fifth person to die there since 1998. Three people were gunned down at a trailer on the property on Nov. 23, 1998. And Charles Boyd, Bimla's former husband, died of an "undetermined" cause inside the five-bedroom, hillside home on Feb. 14, 2002.
James Boyd, 28, a computer software engineer who lives in Keizer, suspects "foul play" resulted in Charles Boyd's death. He declined to discuss possible motives or evidence but said he's willing to share his information with police investigators.
Lt. Richard Manning of the Polk County Sheriff's Office said the agency conducted a thorough investigation into Charles Boyd's death earlier this year, including interviews with James Boyd, and found insufficient evidence for criminal charges. He said county investigators would consider any new information.
"If he can give us information that we haven't already checked out and it warrants it, I have no objection to reopening any type of a case, no matter how old it is," Manning said. "But it depends on the information."
James Boyd said investigators failed to dig deep enough into the tips he provided.
"I don't want to say it fell on deaf ears, but they were just so overwhelmed with the details of the case that they just didn't really take into consideration everything," he said.
Charles Boyd was deeply depressed in the weeks leading up to his death because he and his former wife were thrown out of the Jehovah's Witnesses church in December 2001, according to reports compiled by Polk County investigators who looked into his death.
The reports indicated that elders of the church accused Charles and Bimla of "living in sin" because they continued to reside at the same house at 5909 Orchard Heights Road NW after they were divorced in October 2001.
Bimla Boyd, 46, told detectives that her husband killed himself by taking an overdose of prescription pills. She blamed the church for his death, saying that their banishment drove him to commit suicide.
But Charles and Bimla attended a church meeting the night before he died, part of a process they hoped would lead to a reconciliation with the church, investigators" reports show.
The next morning, Charles was found dead in his bed at the Orchard Heights home - discovered by Spencer, the caretaker who was found slain in the same home Sunday.
Officially, the cause of Charles Boyd's death was classified as "undetermined," according to a Polk County medical examiner report. Toxicology reports indicated that he had two prescribed drugs in his system but not a lethal dose.
However, he was a fairly large man - 6 foot 3 inches tall, 220 pounds - with heart problems, and the combination of factors may have resulted in his death, the report said.
"It was a combination of health condition and overdose on prescription medication," Manning said.
James Boyd questioned the notion that his 44-year-old father, a veteran Postal Service employee, was in poor physical health.
"He wasn't going to be doing any Ironman triathlons, but let's think about it: He had a walking postal route, carrying 40-, 50- to 80-pound mail bags. So I'd say he was in better shape than the average person - Dad had a few pounds on him but that didn't kill him."
For the son, lingering questions about his stepfather's death have taken on renewed urgency since Bimla Boyd's arrest Sunday.
Spencer, 54, had worked for Boyd for several years. He died of a single gunshot wound.
Spencer, who lived in a trailer near the main house, took care of Boyd's 30 acres and tended to her medical and family needs. He took her to doctor's appointments, helped her shower and transported her two children to a school bus stop, according to investigative records and interviews.
No motive for Sunday's shooting has been made public. The two teenage children are being cared for by James Boyd, who wants to be granted permanent custody.
The trailer where Spencer lived was the scene about four years ago of a triple homicide. A Salem man, Philip Scott Cannon, was convicted of shooting to death three young adults. He is serving a life sentence at the Oregon State Penitentiary.
Bimla Boyd was a key witness in the case against Cannon.
James Boyd said Wednesday he's confident that his mother had no involvement in the triple slaying.
"I really don't see any link," he said. "That was very much of a bad decision that they let those people on the land." Beyond that, he said, the three murders "had nothing to do with my parents."
Bimla Boyd has been involved in other legal problems, court records show.
As a civil lawsuit against them and their church gained momentum early this year, the Boyds became concerned about protecting their property and other assets from a possible future financial judgment against them, Polk County records show.
In late January, less than three weeks before Charles Boyd died, they signed their property over to Spencer.
Title to the land recently switched back to Bimla Boyd, records show.
James Boyd remembered better days, before five people turned up dead on the property. He helped his parents buy the land and secure a loan to build the house.
"They got a really good deal on the property. It was very inexpensive." he said. "They bought it. They wanted to build a house. I thought: How idyllic, that's awesome. I wanted to help them out as much as I could."
James Boyd said his mother did show "flashes of goodness" at times.
"She has helped people in the past. She means to do well but she's her own worst enemy."
Alan Gustafson can be reached at (503) 399-6709.
Suicide or cry for help"
An FDLE official says Yukio Allen's death looks like a case of ''suicide by cop.'' But his fiancee says he was reaching out for help.
By CARRIE JOHNSON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 16, 2002
INVERNESS -- Yukio Allen was not the first in his family to die by gunfire.
His older brother, Patrick, was walking to the store in his native Detroit to buy a book on pit bullterriers when a man he was feuding with shot and killed him, said the younger Allen's fiancee, Laura Bordner.
Patrick's death was in 1993, Bordner said, and it had a profound and lasting effect on his younger brother.
"He was just talking the other day about how much he missed his brother," said Bordner, cradling the 13-month-old baby she had with Allen. "The whole thing made him very bitter toward guns. He couldn't stand them."
But authorities said Allen flashed a gun Monday night at a clerk at the Shell gas station near his small rental house, telling her to "call the cops." He returned home to 2609 W Forest Drive, where law officers said he later wielded two guns, one in each hand, and confronted them.
When Allen refused to drop his weapons after repeated requests, he was shot by Citrus County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Smolensky, officials said. The incident is under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Smolensky was placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.
According to friends, Allen, 21, was a cheerful, hard-working man who was devoted to his family. He had no history of violent behavior. So the question remains: Who was Yukio Allen and what prompted the events that led to his brutal demise"
No one disputes that Allen was distraught that night. Bordner had left him the Thursday before the shooting, taking their baby, Jasmine, with her. Authorities said he was making copies of a suicide letter at the gas station and told police he had turned on the gas in his house and threatened to blow himself up.
In an interview at her mother's home in Gainesville on Friday, Bordner said she left Allen after receiving a telephone call from a friend who told her Allen was cheating on her.
"It was all a misunderstanding," said Bordner, 19. "I know now he never would have done that to me. . . . I wish that I had stayed and talked to him about it rather than leaving."
But it wasn't the first time the couple had quarreled. Bordner left Allen for three days in May. She said she didn't want to discuss the reason for her departure.
Allen became so upset, his father called the police and had him committed under the state's Baker Act.
Sheriff's Office records show authorities were called to the house May 15.
But Bordner said her three-year relationship with Allen was mostly sunny. They had recently purchased wedding bands and planned to be married within the year.
"He really loved his family," Bordner said. "He would do anything for us. He was very, very devoted."
* * *
Allen was born in Detroit, where he was raised as a member of Jehovah's Witnesses. According to Allen's father, Jerry, his son moved to Florida to live with his mother, Helen, in 1994.
But his son grew restless and returned to live with him in Mississippi before the family moved to Ocala in 1998.
Jerry Allen said his son was tutored privately at home and didn't attend high school.
Allen met Bordner about a year after moving to Ocala. Bordner, then 16, was accompanying her mother, Stacy Hall, as Hall sold prepaid photo packages door to door.
"He asked us if he could have a ride to work," Bordner said. "We gave him a ride and he asked me if I would go with him to a Christmas party."
The pair quickly became close. A few months later, Allen moved in with Bordner and her mother after they relocated to Winter Haven.
Allen worked as a laborer at Velda Farms, a milk processing plant, to help pay the bills. But the severe asthma that had plagued him all his life sometimes made working difficult. The attacks were occasionally so bad his bosses would send him home, Bordner said.
Despite long hours at work and poor health, Allen was a very affectionate and doting boyfriend. He would arrive home with a bouquet of flowers in his hand and wrote Bordner long love letters.
"You are perfect in my eyes," Allen wrote Bordner in May 2000. "My love, you and I will be together until death do us part. And after death, we will be together in paradise."
* * *
Jasmine was born in May 2001. A few months later, Allen and Bordner decided to strike out on their own and got an apartment in Ocala.
Allen continued to suffer from health problems. Bordner said he was hit by a car in Tampa a few weeks after Jasmine's birth and suffered a broken arm and collarbone.
Then, in November, Allen had an asthma attack so debilitating that he was taken to Munroe Regional Medical Center, where he was put on life support.
When he was healthy, Allen worked hard to support his fiancee and newborn daughter. Bordner stayed home with the baby to save on child care costs. She dreamed of someday becoming a singer.
During his free time, Allen liked to browse through magazines, staring at pictures of the souped-up sports cars, chunky gold jewelry and enormous mansions he dreamed of one day owning.
"He wanted to win the lottery," Bordner said. "He worked so hard and he was so incredibly tired of working."
Money became scarce, and the couple struggled to make ends meet. In January, they moved to the tiny house behind the Shell station in Citrus County. It was owned by Allen's mother, so they could live rent-free.
Allen continued to work as a day laborer and assisted his mother, who cared for several foster children, Bordner said.
Mrs. Allen, an Inverness resident, left for Michigan shortly before her son's death and has not returned, according to her former husband. Attempts to reach her have been unsuccessful.
* * *
The mention of his son's name brings tears to Mr. Allen's eyes.
"I know he was having problems, but this was something I didn't expect to happen," he said. "Did they have to shoot to kill" Why couldn't they have tried to wound him""
Mr. Allen and Bordner have hired Ocala attorney Dock Blanchard, who said he has three private investigators looking into the shooting. Blanchard said he had "a lot of suspicions and a lot of concerns" about the incident.
The FDLE's investigation is expected to take about a month, said Ray Velboom, special agent supervisor. But Velboom said his initial impression is Allen's death is "suicide by cop," where a person who wants to kill himself forces law enforcement officers to pull the trigger.
Bordner and her mother said they think Allen was reaching out for help, not asking to die.
"I'll believe that until my dying breath," Hall said. "I know that boy. He would not do something like this."
Bordner spent Friday arranging her memories of the man with whom she planned to spend the rest of her life. His thick silver medallion hung from her neck as she arranged his pictures in a photo album.
Jasmine, curious, crawled into her mother's lap. Bordner sighed and hugged her daughter closer.
"I know one day I'm going to have to tell her about this, about what happened to her father," she said. "I don't know what I'm going to say."
-- Crime reporter Carrie Johnson can be reached at 860-7309 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mother won't rest her case
Tuesday, March 5, 2002
By MIKE LEWIS
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
TOLEDO -- Barb Thompson scarcely notices anymore how easily she uses terms such as "fixed lividity" or "rigor mortis."
She knows the difference between a secure and unsecured crime scene and that a heart stops immediately when a .32-caliber bullet passes precisely through the right petrous ridge of the skull and severs the cebellar peduncle.
She never wanted this information.
As a horse breeder, she's familiar enough with the cycle of life. But Thompson has become something of an expert in death because she does not believe that four years ago, her distraught daughter climbed into a closet, wrapped herself in an electric blanket, put a revolver to her ear and squeezed the trigger, as the Lewis County Sheriff's Office originally asserted.
"How can anyone look at this information and call it a suicide"" Thompson asks, seated in front of stacks of neatly ordered and tabbed coroner's case files, analyses from national homicide consultants, and reports from the six detectives and patrol officers who investigated the Dec. 17, 1998, shooting.
Everyone who has looked at the death of Thompson's daughter, Rhonda Reynolds, has developed a strong sense of what happened.
The problem is that no one agrees on what that was.
Ruled inconclusive, then a suicide, then back to inconclusive, Reynolds' death has divided families and a small police department, pitting cop against cop. And because the circumstances have been disputed so vehemently, the state Attorney General's Office has launched its own investigation.
That Reynolds' former husband is the principal of the local middle school hasn't made the case any less noticeable in this small community.
"I think people want this to end," said the manager of a local convenience store who asked that his name not be used. "It doesn't seem like anyone knows, including the cops."
Ron Reynolds, who called police when he found his wife's body, won't speak to reporters.
His attorney, Ray Dudenbostel, says his client will never be charged with any crime in connection to Rhonda Reynolds' death.
"This was a suicide," he said from his office in Toledo. "Anyone who looks at the facts can see that."
This was the official line from the Lewis County Sheriff's office. Now it considers the case unresolved until the Attorney General's Office finishes its investigation.
Which wouldn't bother Thompson, if the department could offer some conclusive proof that her daughter -- a former state trooper who never mentioned suicide and who was to fly home to Spokane hours before her death -- would end her own life.
She says the department refuses to fully examine the other possibility: that her daughter was killed.
And so, she adds, she will.
Body was wrapped in blanket
"At the time I noticed the hair in what appeared to be an unusual position, that is, swept back and upward. It did not look to be in a natural position. The impression left by the gun barrel looked to be rather pronounced as if it had been there for a lengthy amount of time. ...
-- Supplemental report, Detective Jerry Berry, 12-17-98, 8:05 a.m.
It isn't easy, Jerry Berry says, to leave a department where you spent a career, had close friends and never entertained a notion of leaving. Not the department. Not the community.
But that was before Berry received a call four years ago from Detective Dave Neiser.
Neiser told Berry there was a body in a walk-in closet at 114 Twin Peaks Dr. in Toledo. It appeared to be a suicide, Neiser said, but he wanted Berry to take a look.
When Berry arrived at the three-bedroom, ranch-style home, Neiser met him near the door and led him into the master bedroom.
According to interviews and police reports, Berry walked through the bedroom and into the master bath. There, on the floor, he saw Rhonda Reynolds' body, half-sticking out of an adjacent walk-in closet.
Reynolds was wrapped in an electric blanket that was plugged in and still on. She was lying on her left side with a pillow under her head. Neiser had removed the revolver from where it had rested and had taken some photos.
He then put the gun back where he found it -- by the left hand.
Berry noticed that the blanket was wrapped around both hands and rigor mortis had set it. He had to pry her fingers away to take a closer look. He thought it was odd that the gun was by the left hand.
That, he said, meant Reynolds would have had to shoot herself in the right side of her head with her left hand -- while the hand was wrapped in a blanket.
He checked the trigger guard on the .32-caliber revolver.
It would be difficult to stuff a finger through the guard if that finger was wrapped in a blanket. Curious, he asked Neiser whether the detective had asked Ron Reynolds if his wife was right- or left-handed, according to the police records.
Reynolds said he didn't know.
"Who doesn't know that about their wife"" Berry said in a recent interview. "I've never heard of such a thing."
On the mirror was a note written in lipstick: "I love you please call me." It also had a phone number in the 509 area code. The phone book on the counter was opened to airlines.
Then David Bell arrived. A Des Moines police sergeant and close friend of Rhonda's, he showed up to give Rhonda a lift to SeaTac Airport for her flight to Eastern Washington.
He had just learned she was dead.
"I think she was disappointed that it didn't work out ... she's told me she put a lot of effort into seeing that it worked. ... Um, she told me last week that she thought she made a mistake marrying Ron."
-- Police interview with David Bell, the morning of Rhonda's death.
Rhonda and Ron first became friends in 1995 while attending the Jehovah's Witness Church in McCleary.
Rhonda and her husband at the time had joined the church because they thought it might help them work through some marriage problems.
But the couple's problems grew worse and they decided to divorce. Months earlier, she'd been forced to resign from the State Patrol for bilking the state of thousands in disability money.
When Rhonda needed someone to talk to, Ron always seemed to be there.
"They got close very quickly," Rhonda's mother recalled.
The two had been married for 11 months when Rhonda was found dead.
Ron Reynolds told officers that their marriage had fallen apart and was about to end, according to police interviews. Rhonda, he said, was distraught and had called him at work the day before she died. She was crying and had threatened to kill herself, Ron said, so he came home to prevent her from committing suicide.
He said they went to sleep together about 5 a.m.; he was convinced she had backed away from the precipice.
When Ron awoke an hour later, he noticed Rhonda was gone. He looked around but didn't see her. He searched the home. Then he went into the bathroom. He found her in the closet. After checking for a pulse, he called 911.
But Detective Berry immediately had questions in his own head.
Why didn't Ron see the body when he got up" It was plainly visible from the bathroom door.
Why was only one side of the bed disheveled if two people had been sleeping in it"
And why did the body seem far too stiff to have died during the period in which Ron Reynolds said his wife must have died"
But according to an examination of the initial interviews, these questions weren't asked.
It would turn out to be just a few of the profound mistakes made by Berry and other detectives at the scene.
Among them: The fibers on Rhonda's broken nail were never examined, nor were Ron's hands immediately tested for gunpowder residue.
The crime scene hadn't been secured, and Ron's three boys, who were living in the home at the time, were allowed to leave without being interviewed.
Berry himself admits these mistakes, and he has little say in the matter anymore.
In the summer of 2001, Berry quit the department over what he says were trumped-up reprimands after he proved unwilling to let go of the case.
According to records with the department, Berry received a letter or reprimand in his permanent file after he engaged in a shouting match at his local dry cleaner over uniforms. The dry cleaner had contacted the department to file a complaint, records show.
He now works as a private investigator in Seattle; he is continuing the investigation for Barb Thompson, free of charge.
"As it happens in any investigation, some mistakes were made, but none of them changed the facts we have to work with. It is also not unusual for experts to disagree -- and that, too, happened in this case. However, your daughter's case remains open and her death reclassified as 'unexplained.'
Unfortunately, the only suspect in the case has invoked his rights and has an attorney. We are precluded from speaking with him further. The case will remain open until we are satisfied we know what happened."
-- Letter from John McCroskey, Lewis County sheriff, to Barb Thompson, 7-26-01
On the day Rhonda Reynolds' body was found, officials contacted Barb Thompson with some disturbing news.
They told her that her mother had passed away.
"I told them my mother had died years ago," Thompson recalled. "I told them there was another Barbara Thompson in town, and they must be looking for her."
The notice chilled her nonetheless.
In an hour, she was supposed to pick up Rhonda Reynolds from the airport. They had talked the previous night, and Thompson said her daughter told her that she wanted to stay with family while she sorted out the failure of her second marriage.
At the Spokane airport, Thompson watched as the entire plane filed out.
She didn't see her daughter, and she knew.
"I'll never forget that feeling," Thompson said, "not for the rest of my life."
She called the people who had contacted her earlier. Eventually she was told Rhonda had killed herself.
"I didn't believe it. I had talked to her and she was doing fine."
Thompson arrived in Toledo later the same day, and Berry confided to her that he thought some things were odd about the case.
Over Berry's objections, Rhonda's death was ruled a suicide. But Berry continued investigating the case.
Over time, additional interviews revealed that Ron Reynolds was left-handed; Rhonda was right-handed.
Independent experts, who were retained by the sheriff's department when Berry was on the case, say that is no small point: A left-handed person trying to stage a crime scene might automatically place a weapon near the target's left hand.
"Even if she had killed herself," Thompson said, "she would have used her right hand."
Investigators found other inconsistencies.
Even though Reynolds told investigators he had raced home the day before Rhonda's death because she was suicidal, he later said that he first stopped for lunch and by the school to watch a play, according to police documents.
In an interview with police, David Bell said he was with Rhonda when she called her husband.
It was that call, Ron said, that prompted him to race home.
But Bell told police that Rhonda didn't appear upset during the conversation. In fact, he said, she was businesslike as the two discussed where she was going and where she would live, according to police reports on the investigation.
Eventually, the case was reclassified as undetermined, touching off an internal debate within the department.
Neiser wanted the case to remain a suicide; Berry thought it should be a homicide. Detectives and patrol officers quietly began choosing sides.
Enter the state Attorney General's Office.
Berry quit the force but not the case. He called people in the state Attorney General's Office. So did Thompson.
A few months ago, the office agreed to look at the case. Officials with the office declined to comment. Their report is due out next month.
Dudenbostel believes the Attorney General's Office will rule the case a suicide and close it once and for all.
Dudenbostel and Joe Doench, the sheriff's head of criminal investigations, said the case remains open largely because Berry has a vendetta against the Lewis County Sheriff's Department and that Berry's own investigative mistakes doomed the case to years of questions.
"Obviously, he has a beef with the sheriff's office. He is trying to use Rhonda as a vehicle to sully the reputation of the department," Dudenbostel said. "Clearly, (Rhonda) had the grounds for wanting to take her own life."
Berry believes the office will determine that Rhonda was murdered.
So Thompson waits.
If solid investigative work had been done when Rhonda's body was first found, Thompson believes this wouldn't be happening right now.
She wouldn't know more about death than any mother should have to learn. She would even be happy if the department could prove her daughter killed herself.
But they can't. And in her mind, they never will.
"I just want this to end," Thompson said, holding a picture of Rhonda. "But I feel like it never will."
P-I reporter Mike Lewis can be reached at 206-448-8140 or email@example.com
Violent Teens Documentary - by Dr. Helen Smith
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April 10, 2003
Six occult-inspired teenagers murder a family. The six teens are now behind bars. But the system that bred them is on the loose.
The documentary about Violent Teens is called SIX, and it's by Dr. Helen Smith, with sound engineering by Glenn Reynolds.
Excerpt from the SIX website:
"A young family left the crime-ridden city of Miami and settled in Tennessee to raise their two children free from violence. Or so they thought. On a sunny day on April 6, 1997, the Lillelid family met its death at the hands of a group of troubled teenagers from Kentucky. The Lillelids were Jehovah's Witnesses, fresh from a convention in Johnson City and anxious to win new converts for their faith. The teenagers were a group of outcasts from Pikeville, Kentucky, on the run after getting into trouble in their hometown
The Lillelids were kidnapped at a rest stop on Interstate 81 and taken to an isolated country road, where they were shot. The father, Vidar Lillelid, a recent immigrant from Sweden, was shot first. After him came his wife Delfina, and their six-year-old daughter Tabitha and two-year-old son Peter. Only Peter survived, though he was blinded by a gunshot wound..
The documentary will tell the story of the killers, led by 18-year-old Natasha Cornett (a self-described "daughter of Satan"), who stole the Lillelid's van and headed for Mexico, where they were caught at the border and returned to Tennessee. They were later convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole.
This film unravels the chain of events that led to this tragedy; a tragedy that turns out to have been so thoroughly preventable that it is astonishing that it was never prevented."
To purchase the documentary or for more information on Violent Teens, go to SIX.
The SIX movie trailer is available here.