1982 Lake Waco Murders

GarAndMo39

Not a Sheeple!
This case is technically "solved"; however, many questions remain (not the least of which is: was an innocent men executed?). I was living in Waco for several years; left a couple of months before this happened. I knew Vic Feazell casually- he was having trysts w/ my room mate. My impression of him was/is *smarmy*- not just because he was married & screwing around, but because he literally came across that way- just exuded ego, anything for attention, nasty personality in general. Also, the media makes this case sound like an aberration in Waco, and, honestly, it wasn't. I sobered up in 1980; in early 1981 an acquaintance from the program & her boyfriend went to Koehne Park to try to score some weed; the boyfriend was shot and killed. It wasn't at all unusual for people to be shot, stabbed, etc. in Waco- I worked in medicine, and not a weekend went by without shootings & stabbings coming into the E.R. Anyway, will comment more later; hope to hear others' opinions!
<snip>
The 1982 Lake Waco Murders refers to the deaths of three teenagers (two females, one male) near Lake Waco in Waco, Texas, in July 1982. The police investigation and criminal trials that followed the murders lasted for more than a decade and resulted in the execution of one man, David Wayne Spence, as well as life prison sentences for two other men allegedly involved in the crime, Anthony and Gilbert Melendez. A fourth suspect, Muneer Mohammad Deeb, was eventually let out after spending several years in prison.
<snip>
On July 13, 1982, two fishermen discovered the bodies of Jill Montgomery, 17, Raylene Rice, 17, and Kenneth Franks, 18, in Speegleville Park, near Lake Waco. Franks' body was found propped against a tree, with sunglasses over his eyes. All three victims had been repeatedly stabbed, and both of the women's throats had been slashed. There was also evidence that the women had been sexually assaulted.[1] <snip>
The investigation was initially headed by Lieutenant Marvin Horton of the Waco police department, with assistance from Detective Ramon Salinas and Patrolman Mike Nicoletti. Truman Simons, who was with the Waco police department at the time and had been one of the first respondents on the scene of the crime, also assisted the investigation in an informal capacity.

Initially, the investigation revealed a number of different possible suspects, including James Russell Bishop [2] and Terry Harper, local residents who had been tied to the area at the time of the crime. However, both men were found to have credible alibis (Harper's was later proven false when Spence's attorneys investigated it), and in September of that year, the investigation began to stall and was marked as "suspended." Simons, who had taken a significant personal interest in the case, requested that he be given permission to continue investigating the case, which he was subsequently granted.

<snip>The case languished for nearly a year, until the work of Simons and others had produced enough evidence to again arrest Deeb and three alleged accomplices in the plot.[4] Deeb had had a life insurance policy for one employee at his convenience store who bore a striking resemblance to Jill Montgomery. Simons hypothesized that Deeb had hired David Wayne Spence to murder her, and that Spence and two friends, Anthony and Gilbert Melendez, had seen the victims and mistaken Montgomery for the target. They speculated that the other two victims had been murdered because they were witnesses.[5]
<snip>
Deeb, Spence, and the Melendez brothers were all indicted late in 1983. District Attorney Vic Feazell, whose office had been instrumental in continuing to pursue new evidence in the case, would manage the prosecution against the accused.[6] Spence and both Melendez brothers were, at the time, already serving prison sentences for various crimes.[7]

The evidence against the men largely consisted of testimony provided by other inmates, who claimed that the defendants had admitted to their involvement in the killings in private discussions, as well as confessions made by Anthony and Gilbert Melendez. Also considered was the confession Deeb had made to the two young women about his involvement in the killings, as well as the life insurance policy he had taken out for his employee. Bite marks on the victims were also presented as evidence of Spence’s involvement.

The trials began in May, with testimony from dental specialists supplementing the evidence that had been provided by the prison witnesses. In June, Anthony Melendez pleaded guilty to the crimes and was sentenced to life imprisonment.[8] Spence’s case was badly damaged by Melendez’ confession, which played a key role in his eventual conviction in July 1984. Unlike Melendez, Spence was sentenced to death for his involvement in the killings.[8]

<snip>
In 1986, true-crime writer Carlton Stowers published his account of the murders and police investigation surrounding the Lake Waco murders, Careless Whispers. The book focused heavily on Truman Simons’ involvement in producing the evidence which led to the convictions.
<snip>
Controversy
Following the convictions of Spence and Deeb, some began to question the substance of the evidence on which the convictions had been based and the methods through which it had been obtained. Forensic odontologist Homer Campbell was proven to have made false assessments at around the same time, and when a blind panel examined the alleged bite marks and a mold of Spence's teeth, three said that the marks were not even bite marks, and the other two matched them to a Kansas housewife.[citation needed] Three of the seven people who said Spence confessed later stated that Simons had offered them privileges in order to secure their testimony and had fed them info on what to say.[citation needed] Spence's lawyers also discovered an alternate suspect in Terry Harper, a local thug with a history of knife-related offenses. Six witnesses testified to seeing Harper and his friends in the park on the night of the murder, and others claimed that he had boasted of committing the murders (some even said that he did this even before the crime was made public).[citation needed] Also, one of the victims, Kenneth Franks, was later found to have been an associate of Harper's in the drug trade.[citation needed] When Harper was interviewed by Spence's lawyers, he claimed that he was at home watching Dynasty; records showed that Dynasty did not air that night.[citation needed] Brian Pardo, a wealthy Texas businessman, met Spence a few months prior to his execution and, on becoming convinced of his innocence, launched a campaign to delay his death sentence so that a new trial could be commenced. His efforts were unsuccessful, but they brought attention to the case following Spence’s execution.

Bob Herbert wrote a series of articles for The New York Times in 1997, with headlines such as “The Wrong Man” and “The Impossible Crime,” in which he claimed that the case had been “cobbled […] together from the fabricated and often preposterous testimony of inmates who were granted all manner of favors in return.” [12]
 

GarAndMo39

Not a Sheeple!
<snip>
Every murder involves a vast web of people, from the witnesses and the detectives who first come to the scene, to the lawyers and the juries who examine the facts, to the families of the victims, who must make sense of the aftermath. The more traumatic the killing, the more intricate the web. In the summer of 1982 the city of Waco was confronted with the most vicious crime it had ever seen: three teenagers were savagely stabbed to death, for no apparent reason, at a park by a lake on the edge of town. Justice was eventually served when four men were found guilty of the crime, and two were sent to death row. In 1991, though, when one of the convicts got a new trial and was then found not guilty, some people wondered, Were these four actually the killers? Several years after that, one of the men was put to death, and the stakes were raised: Had Texas executed an innocent man?


This story examines the case through the viewpoint of five people: a patrol sergeant who investigated the crime; a police detective who became skeptical of the investigation; an appellate lawyer who tried to stop the execution; a journalist whose reporting has raised new doubts about the case; and a convict who pleaded guilty but now vehemently proclaims his innocence.


A word about the reporting. This article is the result of a full year of research—dozens of interviews were conducted with the principal and minor players, and thousands of pages of transcripts, depositions, and affidavits, from the case’s six capital murder trials and one aggravated sexual abuse trial, were carefully reviewed. Still, what follows is not a legal document; some of the people involved in the case are dead, others don’t remember much, and even others—including the patrol sergeant who investigated the case and the DA who prosecuted it—refused to be interviewed. What follows is a story, built around the question that has haunted so many people for so many years: What really happened at the lake that night?


I'm not going to try to pick out pieces of this article to copy and paste; it is a must read, though!
 

GarAndMo39

Not a Sheeple!
1581611057012.png
When the bodies of three teenagers were found on the shores of Lake Waco, Texas in July, 1982, even seasoned lawmen were taken aback by the savage mutilation and degradation they had been subjected to. Yet only 52 days after the gruesome triple-murder was discovered, frustrated authorities suspended the case indefinitely.

Patrol Sergeant Truman Simons, who had been called to the scene that night, saw the carnage first-hand -- and vowed to find the ferocious killer or killers. He soon became a man with a mission, risking his career and his family's safety in search of evidence. Plunging himself into a netherworld of violence and evil, Simons finally got close enough to a murderous ringleader to hear his careless whispers--and ultimately, put him and his three accomplices behind bars for the brutal slayings.

Now, in his Edgar Award-winning account of the Lake Waco killings, acclaimed true crime writer Carlton Stowers lays bare the facts behind the tragic crimes, the twisted predators, and the heroic man who broke the investigation--with important updated information based on new developments in the case. <snip>
 

GarAndMo39

Not a Sheeple!

The Case of the Lonely Loser



A Strange Story of a Strange and Lonely Loser
In 1982, David Spence was accused of the rape and murder of two 17-year-old girls and one 18-year-old boy in Waco, Texas. Spence was a loner, and a loser, even by the standards of loners and losers in Waco, Texas. That is saying something. If it was alright to kill innocent losers and loners, however, then Spence would be a story that had no importance, no significance.
But as we know, the death penalty is reserved for heinous crimes that need a certain strain of retribution for justice to be achieved. Because it is a high crime deserving a severe penalty, the murder of innocents is often reserved for the death penalty. Because of the exclusive nature of the death penalty, the conviction needs to be certain, beyond any doubt, now or ever; a penalty that can never be undone needs to never be doubted even for a moment.
Unfortunately, this story of a lonely loser does not meet that special standard, and it is entirely possible that this lonely loser was nothing more, yet executed anyway.<snip>
 

GarAndMo39

Not a Sheeple!
<snip>
Nearly 20 years after Spence was executed, Campbell’s credibility took yet another hit — this time due to a truly bizarre series of events. About a year after the Lake Waco murders, Spence’s mother was raped and murdered in her home. Hours after the crime, someone then broke into the home again and rifled through some boxes and papers in Spence’s old room. Spence’s mother had recently begun her own investigation into her son’s conviction. Some, including a local police officer named Jan Price, believed the crimes may have been connected. But Simons and the local DA quickly took over the case. And again they brought in Homer Campbell. He claimed to have found bite marks on Spence’s mother that were “consistent with” a man named Joe Sydney Williams. In 1987, thanks to Campbell’s testimony, Williams and his friend Calvin Washington were convicted of raping and murdering Spence’s mother. Neither had a direct connection to the Lake Waco murders.
There was no real DNA testing back in 1987. And the semen samples in the rape kit taken of Spence’s mother mysteriously disappeared. But a journalist later discovered that vaginal and anal swabs had been taken and preserved in a crime lab. In 2000, DNA tests on those swabs excluded both Williams and Washington as her rapist. Both men were released from prison. <snip>
 

GarAndMo39

Not a Sheeple!
The Impossible Crime
By Bob Herbert
  • July 28, 1997
    • Any intelligent person who takes a close and honest look at the David Wayne Spence case will see that it was a travesty.

      Discussing the case last week, Felipe Reyna, a respected Texas lawman, noted: ''It's real easy to get an inmate, somebody who's already in jail for committing a felony, to do just about anything you want him to do. They all sing like birds just to get some points, so to speak. To get some time off.

      ''I was never in favor of that. If I didn't have independent testimony, good solid evidence, I wouldn't go to the grand jury.''

      <snip>
    • During his tenure as District Attorney Mr. Reyna had his differences with the narcotics cop, Truman Simons, who initiated the effort to pin the crime on Mr. Spence.


      ''Simons would do whatever it took to get a conviction,'' Mr. Reyna said.

      By all accounts, Mr. Simons relied heavily on jailhouse stool pigeons to make his cases. If Mr. Reyna had remained as District Attorney, it is not likely that David Spence would ever have been prosecuted. But Mr. Reyna was defeated in an election and succeeded by a man named Vic Feazell. Mr. Feazell and Mr. Simons got along famously.

      <snip>
    • Raoul Schonemann, a lawyer who tried valiantly to help Mr. Spence on appeal, said: ''Underhanded deals with inmate witnesses and almost patently incredible inmate testimony provided the very foundation of this case.''

      What was most astonishing was that Mr. Simons and Mr. Feazell managed to parlay that shaky foundation into a combination of jury verdicts and guilty pleas that landed Muneer Deeb (who was re-arrested) and David Spence on death row and put two brothers, Tony and Gilbert Melendez, in prison for life.
 

GarAndMo39

Not a Sheeple!
A Closer Look at Five Cases That Resulted in Executions of Texas Inmates
<snip>
David Spence
1581629227586.png

Executed 4/3/97


David Spence was executed in connection with the rape and torture murders of two 17-year-old girls and the murder of an 18-year-old boy in Waco. He received death sentences in two trials for the murders.


Mr. Spence, a roofer with a history of substance abuse, was accused of a murder-for-hire killing that went awry, in which the three victims died. Muneer Deeb, a convenience store owner, was also charged and sentenced to death in the case. But he received a new trial and was acquitted in 1993. Mr. Deeb died last November of liver cancer. He had steadfastly maintained that neither he nor Mr. Spence had anything to do with the killings.


The original police homicide investigator, Ramon Salinas, acknowledged in the appeals process that he had serious doubts about Mr. Spence's guilt. In a sworn deposition given to Mr. Spence's lawyers in 1993, Marvin Horton, a former Waco police lieutenant who was involved in the case, said, "I do not think David Spence committed this offense."


The prosecution built its case against Mr. Spence around bite marks -- a state expert said that bite marks on the body of one of the girls matched Mr. Spence's teeth -- and jailhouse snitches, both of which can be highly unreliable forms of evidence. Mr. Spence was already in prison, serving a 90-year sentence for aggravated sexual abuse of an 18-year-old man, when he was indicted for the Waco killings.


Two of the six jailhouse witnesses who testified at trial subsequently recanted, saying they had been given cigarettes, television privileges and alcohol, and one of them had been allowed conjugal visits with a girlfriend, in exchange for their accusations against Mr. Spence.


Mr. Spence's post-conviction lawyers from the now-closed Texas Resource Center organized a blind panel study in which five experts -- odontologists -- said the bite marks could not be matched to Mr. Spence's teeth.


Mr. Sutton, the governor's criminal justice adviser, said the verdict was fair and the death penalty was justified.


With Governor Bush running for president, and the Texas death penalty system under heavier scrutiny, one of Mr. Spence's post-conviction lawyers, Raoul Schonemann, says ruefully that Mr. Spence is receiving more attention now than he did when his lawyers were fighting to save his life.


"David certainly wanted us to persist in trying to bring out the truth," Mr. Schonemann said. "I've always been willing to answer questions. But I feel very conflicted. It's competing with my time for our people who are living."

 

BKL67

Concerned Citizen 007
I have been researching this case since 1993 and a few years I started seeing newspapers stating, as you have here, that six witnesses saw Terry "Tab" Harper at Koehne Park the night of the murders. I have read the police reports and trial testimony countless times over the last 20 plus years and there aren't 6 eye witnesses in either of those crucial documents. But I see this continually reported over and over and whenever I see this pop up I have gotten into the habit of asking the people that keep publishing this if they can name the 6 witnesses, to date no one has ever replied, they usually just delete my comments, so much for looking for the truth. So now I will ask you the same question; can you name the 6 eye witnesses you have written about? Eagerly awaiting an answer! Thank you Brian Lewis.
 

GarAndMo39

Not a Sheeple!
I have been researching this case since 1993 and a few years I started seeing newspapers stating, as you have here, that six witnesses saw Terry "Tab" Harper at Koehne Park the night of the murders. I have read the police reports and trial testimony countless times over the last 20 plus years and there aren't 6 eye witnesses in either of those crucial documents. But I see this continually reported over and over and whenever I see this pop up I have gotten into the habit of asking the people that keep publishing this if they can name the 6 witnesses, to date no one has ever replied, they usually just delete my comments, so much for looking for the truth. So now I will ask you the same question; can you name the 6 eye witnesses you have written about? Eagerly awaiting an answer! Thank you Brian Lewis.
Hi @BKL67 ! Wow, thanks for responding to this thread, and for your interest- I can't wait to hear more about your research! I need to read over these posts again and check out the alleged 6 witnesses- don't recall hearing about them. I had a friend who knew Spence; I asked him whether he thought Spence was guilty, and I honestly don't remember his specific answer; I know he realized Spence was not the most upstanding guy, but I don't recall him expressing an opinion one way or another. (Wish I'd known to ask him about Terry Harper at the time, but when I talked to him most of this info hadn't come to light). I had a good friend who was the nurse at McLennan County jail; I just Googled her & found a phone number. I'm going to try to call her tonight to find out what she knows about the case. I'd love to hear your opinions and more about your research.
By the way-:welcome:! Can't wai to see more from you...
 

GarAndMo39

Not a Sheeple!
I have been researching this case since 1993 and a few years I started seeing newspapers stating, as you have here, that six witnesses saw Terry "Tab" Harper at Koehne Park the night of the murders. I have read the police reports and trial testimony countless times over the last 20 plus years and there aren't 6 eye witnesses in either of those crucial documents. But I see this continually reported over and over and whenever I see this pop up I have gotten into the habit of asking the people that keep publishing this if they can name the 6 witnesses, to date no one has ever replied, they usually just delete my comments, so much for looking for the truth. So now I will ask you the same question; can you name the 6 eye witnesses you have written about? Eagerly awaiting an answer! Thank you Brian Lewis.
Hi again @BKL67 ~
Are you referring to the alleged 6 jailhouse witnesses? Just trying to clarify. Thanks!
 

BKL67

Concerned Citizen 007
Hello @GarAndMo39, thank you for your response, you have been the first one to even reply to my inquiry over the last 20 years, as I stated in my original post my question usually just gets deleted. To answer your question regarding the 6 jailhouse witnesses, I am not referring to them, most if not all were in jail at the time of the murders and couldn't have been "eye witnesses" to anything that happened the night of the murders. Eye witnesses is the pivotal term here, there is a huge difference between eye witness and an individual that was told something which would be secondhand at best and be hearsay. During my research I have seen the multiple accounts from people that heard this story but they all came from one very questionable source and if one takes the time they can see how this story of 6 eye witnesses started and has been repeated continually ever since. When Brian Pardo first became involved in the case in 1996 he realized they needed to get publicity for the case, this is how author/journalist Fred Dannen and in turn Bob Herbert got involved in the case. It was through the articles and reports from these journalist that we start hearing about people reporting seeing Tab Harper in the park that night, which to some degree people did report that Harper was in the park that night. In time the narrative changed from people reporting that Harper was in the park into eye witnesses. A subtle little journalistic twist with huge consequences but that is what Fred Dannen wanted. remind you he already had a book deal in place and had taken an advance. The book was going to be on this case and he guaranteed he could prove Texas put an innocent man to death. It should go without saying his view on things was very slanted, actually anyone can look at just about any homicide case and raise questions and that's fair, what becomes the problem is when people start to bend the facts to fit their narrative which Dannen clearly did. If anyone would take the time to read the police reports all this is clearly hammered out, the investigators that were working the case at the time exhausted this lead, they spent more time on Harper than any other lead and in doing so failed to follow up other crucial leads. One which time would tell would have given the Waco Police the case on a silver platter per say if they would have just followed it up but they did absolutely nothing with it mainly because they were too busy tracking down the Tab Harper lead. This lead came from a girl that Lived on the same unit at the Methodist Home as victim Jill Montgomery and Gayle Kelly. On July 19th, 6 days after the murders, this girl came to the police station and told them Muneer Deeb killed Kenneth Franks because of Gayle Kelly and the police did nothing with this information, even when Gayle Kelly came to the police station the next day they did not ask her anything about this, they did ask her about Harper. GarAndMo39, all this is in the police reports, things you usually don't read in the articles that repeat the 6 eye witnesses story. I have a blog on the case lakewaco82.com and I get into this and many other aspects of the case in detail. I believe the 6 eye witnesses is a falsehood created by Fred Dannen but I try to keep an open mind it's just after about 25 years looking into this I haven't found any facts that support it, actually I have found the opposite to be true. I am always interested in hearing what others find and think and I hope to hear from you again. Thank you again Brian Lewis
 

GarAndMo39

Not a Sheeple!
Hello @GarAndMo39, thank you for your response, you have been the first one to even reply to my inquiry over the last 20 years, as I stated in my original post my question usually just gets deleted. To answer your question regarding the 6 jailhouse witnesses, I am not referring to them, most if not all were in jail at the time of the murders and couldn't have been "eye witnesses" to anything that happened the night of the murders. Eye witnesses is the pivotal term here, there is a huge difference between eye witness and an individual that was told something which would be secondhand at best and be hearsay. During my research I have seen the multiple accounts from people that heard this story but they all came from one very questionable source and if one takes the time they can see how this story of 6 eye witnesses started and has been repeated continually ever since. When Brian Pardo first became involved in the case in 1996 he realized they needed to get publicity for the case, this is how author/journalist Fred Dannen and in turn Bob Herbert got involved in the case. It was through the articles and reports from these journalist that we start hearing about people reporting seeing Tab Harper in the park that night, which to some degree people did report that Harper was in the park that night. In time the narrative changed from people reporting that Harper was in the park into eye witnesses. A subtle little journalistic twist with huge consequences but that is what Fred Dannen wanted. remind you he already had a book deal in place and had taken an advance. The book was going to be on this case and he guaranteed he could prove Texas put an innocent man to death. It should go without saying his view on things was very slanted, actually anyone can look at just about any homicide case and raise questions and that's fair, what becomes the problem is when people start to bend the facts to fit their narrative which Dannen clearly did. If anyone would take the time to read the police reports all this is clearly hammered out, the investigators that were working the case at the time exhausted this lead, they spent more time on Harper than any other lead and in doing so failed to follow up other crucial leads. One which time would tell would have given the Waco Police the case on a silver platter per say if they would have just followed it up but they did absolutely nothing with it mainly because they were too busy tracking down the Tab Harper lead. This lead came from a girl that Lived on the same unit at the Methodist Home as victim Jill Montgomery and Gayle Kelly. On July 19th, 6 days after the murders, this girl came to the police station and told them Muneer Deeb killed Kenneth Franks because of Gayle Kelly and the police did nothing with this information, even when Gayle Kelly came to the police station the next day they did not ask her anything about this, they did ask her about Harper. GarAndMo39, all this is in the police reports, things you usually don't read in the articles that repeat the 6 eye witnesses story. I have a blog on the case lakewaco82.com and I get into this and many other aspects of the case in detail. I believe the 6 eye witnesses is a falsehood created by Fred Dannen but I try to keep an open mind it's just after about 25 years looking into this I haven't found any facts that support it, actually I have found the opposite to be true. I am always interested in hearing what others find and think and I hope to hear from you again. Thank you again Brian Lewis
Hi again @BKL67 ! Sorry I haven't replied sooner-been having nasty stomach problems. I'm going to try to check out your blog tonight...I think I read through it when I was getting ready to start this thread, but I want to refresh my memory. I'll follow up as soon as possible. Thanks again for your insight and for helping with this thread! Hope to see you soon! 🙂
 

GarAndMo39

Not a Sheeple!
Hey @BKL67 ! Could you please link me to your blog? I keep getting that crazy person (IMO- I think you know who I'm talking about-VFs ex), and I don't want to waste my time, if you get my drift. Thanks!
 

GarAndMo39

Not a Sheeple!
Never mind, @BKL67 - I found it! I'm not even going to bother with those videos from BF unless you think I can benefit from them, so please let me know. Thanks!
 

BKL67

Concerned Citizen 007
@GarAndMo39, you are spot on about Bernadette Feazell/Harry Storm and this is the most aggravating thing about this case now and has been for about the last 25 years, it was Fred Dannen and Bernadette Feazell that put out the misinformation, falsehoods and lies that still persist today. As I stated earlier Fred Dannen was trying to cash in on what he hoped would be a best selling book deal and Bernadette Feazell as anyone that reads her page can clearly see was just trying to enact some sort of revenge on her Ex Vic Feazell, I would point out since the death of their son there has been some level of reconciliation between the two and you don't see Bernadette going after Vic or talking about the Lake Waco Murders. For Fred Dannen and Bernadette Feazell the facts and truth about the case were never part of their agenda. But look at the mess they have left in their wake, the people they have hurt, the lies they told, the promises they didn't keep, they don't care. @GarAndMo39, you mentioned videos from BF, there are a number of videos and podcast out there that keep repeating the same falsehoods and misinformation that started with Fred Dannen and Bernadette Feazell back in the mid to late 90's, there is nothing new, the podcasters or whatever put their own flare or personalities into it but it's the same story just being told over and over again. I find them difficult to listen to or watch and don't find them informative.
@GarAndMo39 taking from your first post you are from Waco and Knew/Know Vic Feazell to some degree, an attorney with an ego but it was that ego that has helped preserve the records for the public to see in a time when the records were disappearing and went missing. See when Fred Dannen first went to Waco in 1997 he and Vic Feazell got along well, Fred Dannen let Vic Feazell know he was writing a book on the case, probably under false pretenses as Dannen had done with the executives of CBS/Columbia Records when he wrote his best seller Hit Men, at one time there was a video on the internet of the CBS/Columbia Records president explaining Dannen's dishonesty and subterfuge, I don't know if it is still around but it would give you a glimpse into how Fred Dannen operates. Anyway Dannen told Vic he was writing a book, egotistical Vic thought this could be a chance to garner some of the praise Truman Simons received after Careless Whispers was published, praise Vic for most part had failed to get. So Dannen helped Vic set up vicfeazell.com, not in the current form that one sees now with the podcast, on the old site Dannen and Vic posted the police records and some of the trial testimony, Vic has since taken all that info down because if people would have read it while it was up they would have so many more questions than they probably have now. Hey a prosecutor has prosecutorial discretion but when a prosecutor makes deals for testimony he has to inform the court and if a prosecutor knowingly withholds facts they have ethically violated his oath of office. The question I have is did Vic Feazell cross that line in prosecuting this case and with it so many questions left to be answered. We are all aware of the questionable testimony of the jailbirds but I believe there were others that got deals either to go along with the States version of events or were able to keep their names out of it and remain silent, the records give us clues into this but up to now we haven't been able to find that so called "smoking gun" or the person that will provide it. There is so much more to this case that the public hasn't heard about because of people like Fred Dannen and Bernadette Feazell, it has been my purpose over the last few years to bring to light many of those aspects of the case that have remained in the dark for so long and hopefully can provide answers to some of the questions many people have had about this case. I'm happy when I find a new site like this that is keeping the story alive I just hope it will do more than just repeat the same false narrative that has dominated the public perception for way too long.
 

BKL67

Concerned Citizen 007
Since I have been posting on this site I have been talking in general terms, painting with a broad stroke per se and lacking in firm details. I thought I should share some of what I have found over the years and my thoughts on such finds. I believe anyone that has followed this case or read anything about this case is well aware of the "impossible" mistaken identity narrative first formulated in the mind of Truman Simons, acquiesced by Gayle Kelly, imo to deflect attention and further inquiry into her knowledge of and the part she played. This narrative was told to the jury by Vic Feazell during David Wayne Spence's first trial and lastly it was the spellbinding plot to the award winning best selling true crime novel Careless Whispers. Even when one reads the aforementioned book that promotes this mistaken identity narrative something doesn't seem right, as the book repeatedly points out both the intended target Gayle Kelly and the guy that agreed to end her days for a slice of an insurance claim David Spence spent a lot of time in the Rainbow Drive-In the few months that store was open prior to the murders. That they only ran into each other a couple times and never has much as said hello to each other as testified to by Gayle Kelly just doesn't ring true. Add to that anyone that knew both girls; Gayle Kelly and victim Jill Montgomery, didn't think they looked alike at all that includes family and friends. There is some question if Jill Montgomery and Gayle Kelly were close or good friends at all. Then we have testimony from a number of people that knew David Spence including Muneer Deeb's partner Karim Qasem that state Spence had the uncanny knack of remembering names and faces. Qasem would testify that a girl would come into the store once and not return until months later and David would remember her and strike up a conversation as if they just saw each other the day before. So does a mistaken identity scenario sound feasible? I would have to say of coarse not. Some might ask how did a jury go along with this, I would guess this part of the case presented to them didn't carry much weight when it came time for them to decide guilt or innocence. We need to look at the mistaken identity theory as a strategical legal maneuver. First and most obvious the only one that can definitely say David did didn't could or would mistake the two girls for each other would have been David Spence himself and to do that he would have had to take the stand and be open to cross examination which of coarse the State wanted and the defense didn't. Then there is the strategical value I think most people miss by claiming this was a case of mistaken identity the State didn't have to make any connections, hey the victims and killers didn't know each other there were no connections it was a case of mistaken identity. But that is the opening Vic Feazell, Ned Butler and Truman Simons left us, there are connections they come to us in little bits and pieces, we have to put the pieces together and that will provide the answers.

When I started my blog, actually a few months before and probably had something to do with why I started it, I came across an older article, probably late 90's, definitely after David Spence's execution. The article was an expose on the ordeal of David Wayne Spence's time on death row; the doldrums and monotony of life on death row. One of the things this was the few visitors David got while he was on death row and one name stood out to me, it was a name I had seen a couple times in the police reports. This person was Rhonda Evans, she was the girl that ran away with Jill Montgomery from the Methodist Home in January 1982, Rhonda would be placed in foster care afterwards. I thought that was strange why would the girl that ran away with Jill go visit Spence on death row. They ran away in January which would have been before the Rainbow Drive-In opened how would have Rhonda and David met. I decided I needed to track down this girl and ask her about this. In the meantime as I was trying to locate Rhonda I went back over the police reports that mention her and the run away episode and something occurred to me in those reports that I would have never thought about until I saw the list of people that had visited David on death row. In the reports it tells how the two girls stayed with a friend of Kenneth Franks, Bobby Brem, apparently Bobby had the hots for Jill, the girls only spent a couple nights at Bobby's for some reason and then had to find other places to stay, which becomes the million dollar question. Where did the girls stay after they left Bobby's? The answer remains a mystery but the police report tells us Jill Montgomery decided she wanted to go back home to Waxahachie so she calls her father, she makes the call to her father at the Rainbow Drive-In, at the moment I can't remember if the report states if the call was made from a pay phone outside the store or not, again if this was in January the store wasn't opened yet, I don't know how long the girls were runaways maybe their little adventure went into February. Jill's father agrees to come pick her up, he didn't know the exact address or whom occupied the house where he retrieved Jill, the directions Jill gave him was it was on 15th Street a few blocks away from the store. Mr Montgomery would describe the place he picked up Jill, she was standing outside, as a house that was either grey or dirty white that wasn't kept up well nor was the yard and it sat on the corner. Unfortunately Mr. Montgomery passed away some time ago and never really had the chance to clarify exactly where he picked up Jill, had no need to because there hadn't been any connection made between the two events separated by a few months but that perfectly describes David Spence's mother's house where David and Christine Juhl were living at the time. Christine Juhl would later describe the condition of the house when she took the stand stating Juanita White, David's mother, kept the inside of the house very clean but the outside was a different story the grass wasn't cut, the exterior of the house needed painting, any number of cars could have been parked anywhere in the yard depending on the company David had over. Jill would tell her family that she stayed with a lady that allowed people to stay at her house. Again we don't have the definite answer but the pieces are very intriguing to say the least.
 
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BKL67

Concerned Citizen 007
Continuing where I left off earlier. After a few months I was able to track down Rhonda Evans through social media and she was willing to talk to me. One thing we have to keep in mind is Rhonda still believes David Spence is innocent. So I asked Rhonda for details on what happened when she ran away and how and when she met David considering if she ran away in January and never returned to the Methodist Home after that and the Rainbow Drive-In hadn't opened by then I thought it highly unlikely they met David at the store. The narrative we have been told suggested the girls from the Home met David while he hung out at the store, I found that wasn't true. Rhonda confirmed she ran away with Jill in January and they stayed at Bobby Brims for two nights, she couldn't recall or would not tell me where they stayed afterwards nor could see tell me how long she and Jill were away from the Home. She was shocked that I knew where she stayed while she was in foster care, I informed her it was in the police reports, more on the importance of what and what is not in the police reports later. When I asked her about how and when she met David seeing how the timeline made it look impossible for her to have done so at the store, Rhonda replied that she had met David before the store opened, she had actually met him at a party out at the lake stating they had skipped school one day and went out to the lake to party. When I asked her whom she meant when she said "They", Rhonda answered "We All". I asked her if Jill Montgomery was present again Rhonda couldn't recall or would not tell me. I asked if she could recall a time when she would have seen Jill and David in the same place and she stated she wasn't sure if David or Jill ever met. W also talked about the relationship between Jill Montgomery and Gayle Kelly and both girls' relationship with Kenneth Franks and Gayle Kelly's testimony, the only thing Rhonda could really say about this was that Gayle Kelly was a liar and I shouldn't believe anything she says. Rhonda did make one very interesting statement; she stated the murders were over something silly. I asked what she went by this and tried to get details but she failed to give me any. I asked her if she knew what was the cause of the murders why didn't she say anything to anybody, she replied she tried to talk but no one would listen, no one was interested in the truth, again she wouldn't tell me whom she talked to or tried to talk to but she did mention Brian Pardo asking me if I had talked to him. When I pointed out to her in the police reports it shows when she talked to the police around July 21st she didn't say anything about any of this, Rhonda said at that time she was scared and the police didn't say anything about David Spence. That is true the police didn't mention David Spence they were more interested in Bobby Brem at that time. One other thing Rhonda and I discussed at a much later date that I need to mention, Fred Dannen had tracked down Rhonda some years prior to when I talked to her, when David was on death row Rhonda not only went to visit him there was frequent correspondence between the two. When Fred Dannen came around promising he could prove David was innocent Rhonda shared these personal items with him, then Dannen took these items never to return them, Rhonda Evans would like to have her personal possessions returned. I had to put that out there because I told Rhonda I would try to do what I could. So what can we make from all of this, well as would be with any one individuals' recollections and statements they can't stand alone they would need corroboration. In evaluating the validity of what Rhonda had to say I would have to lean toward her still trying to protect David because of their personal relationship, she won't admit any contact between Jill Montgomery and David Spence at all, she either won't give an answer or will use vague language as "we all", she realizes connecting David Wayne Spence to Jill Montgomery or any of the victims doesn't help his case but to be fair just like her statement that no one was interested in the truth I would hear it again as I talked to more people. The next person I was able to make contact with was Gayle Kelly.
 

BKL67

Concerned Citizen 007
A couple months after I first talked to Rhonda Evans I was able to track down Gayle Kelly in the same manner. In the beginning Gayle Kelly was willing to talk to me but she became very defensive about some things and she finally decided she no longer wished to talk to me. Some of my questions were the same I had posed to Rhonda Evans, i.e how and when she met David Spence, the relationships between herself, Jill Montgomery and Kenneth Franks but the major focus was the differences and/or discrepancies between what she told Officer Mike Nicoletti when he talked to her on July 20th, July 23rd and July 27th (I might be off a day either way on this last date) and what she told Truman Simons and Dennis Baier when they talked to her September 11th and 12th and then her testimony during David Spence's first trial. Now unlike Rhonda Evans Gayle Kelly believes David Spence, Muneer Deeb, Anthony Melendez and Gilbert Melendez are guilty, she told me the insurance policy is what got them but honestly even after talking with Gayle I'm not sure how she feels about the mistaken identity theory she helped sell to the jury. I was somewhat surprised when asking her about David Spence she told me pretty much the same story as Rhonda Evans but Gayle went even further. And apparently there exist bad blood between Gayle Kelly and Rhonda Evans, I guess it is over this case neither girl cared to elaborate. When Gayle just like Rhonda told me she met David Spence before the Rainbow Drive-In opened partying out at the lake and I told her that was the same thing Rhonda had told me Gayle informed me Rhonda Evans was a proven liar, I tried to get to the root of this animosity between the two but got nowhere. Gayle would further state "they" partied at the lake and saw David Spence and the Melendez brothers many times and that they were always trying to befriend "us". I reminded Gayle this is not what she said when she testified and again she would repeat what Rhonda Evans told me. Gayle claims she told Vic Feazell that she knew David Spence pretty well and about how they partied out at the lake and saw him a lot more than the couple times she stated on the witness stand but Vic wasn't interested in the truth. Gayle also claimed she didn't believe she and Jill Montgomery looked alike and she just went along with it once Truman Simons mentioned it. So Gayle freely admits she lied on the stand, her defense is she was told to do so. In regards to her testimony about only seeing David a couple times and never even exchanging salutations and how that played into the mistaken identity scenario I told Gayle all the defense had to do was provide witnesses that would say they saw you and David talk at anytime and having her lie Vic would be taking a huge risk the defense only needed to plant doubt in the mind of one juror and getting caught in a blatant lie is a good way to do so. Gayle responded she had misgivings but Vic told her if this plan didn't work out he had another way to get around it. So at least on one issue we have corroboration for what Rhonda Evans had told me; that the girls from the Methodist Home met David Spence partying out at the lake well before the store opened and we have at least partial conformation that some people were not interested in the truth although Rhonda Evans didn't provide names. But just as it was with Rhonda it was some of the other things Gayle said or questions she wouldn't answer that raise the eye brows.

When Gayle used the ambiguous pronouns "us" and "them" to describe the group that had partied at the lake with David Spence much in the same manner as Rhonda had done as I had done with Rhonda I asked Gayle whom this included, again I was shocked when she gave me the same exact answer as Rhonda Evans; "We All", and when I asked Gayle if Jill was present at any of these parties again the same as Rhonda Gayle could not recall if Jill was ever there. I find it hard to believe Jill Montgomery was not part of the "We All" but I haven't been able to confirm she was either. I didn't press too hard on this issue because there were so many others I wanted to discuss with Gayle Kelly. I think the first thing one would notice about Gayle Kelly from reading the police reports is how much her story changed over time, you expect some differences over time from anyone as time goes by they remember things they hadn't before and forget things that had stuck out in their mind prior but with Gayle Kelly to the degree her story changes it's just too hard to reconcile. When I first started communicating with Gayle she informed me that the police thought she was lying to them, I had to point out that when she went to the police station the first time on July 20th after the first break-in she did lie to the police claiming she was 18 when they already knew she was 16 and suppose to be staying in the Methodist Home, how they allowed her to just walk out of the police station after they finished interviewing her is a little mind boggling, Gayle would return to the Home a few days later after the second break-in, I guess she felt safer in the Home than staying at Patti Deis' apartment. This distrust led to some level of hostility between Gayle Kelly and the police, a hostility you still can sense in Gayle today. I guess the best example of this would be the first interview conducted my Mike Nicoletti when Gayle arrived at the police station on July 20th. Just the day before Nicoletti had been told by another girl from the Home that Muneer Deeb had killed Kenneth Franks because of Gayle Kelly, so he had some idea she knew something about the murders but strangely he doesn't mention any of this to Gayle, he doesn't ask her about Deeb never mentions his name in this interview. What Nicoletti does do is pull out the crime scene photos and details all the wounds on the victims for Gayle Kelly to see, something she didn't care much to see, much like when she was forced to attend the execution of David Wayne Spence again something she didn't want to do and I guess she caused some kind of scene, I still don't understand how you can force someone to attend or watch an execution. So to be fair Gayle Kelly wasn't treated with kid gloves so some of her hostility is understandable but she also brings a lot of it on herself.
 

BKL67

Concerned Citizen 007
Hey GarAndMo 39 I would like to hear your thoughts and feelings on this case, you were the one that had the foresight to post about this case in the first place and it is just what this case needs; new eyes, minds and voices. Obviously I have a lot to say about it but it doesn't do any good or get anywhere useful if one person dominates the discussion and material. Remember that is what I've been railing against for more than 20 years; the limited, narrow and misleading narrative forged by two people; Fred Dannen and Bernadette Feazell, I don't want to repeat the same mistake, I want to hear what other people think and have to say.
 
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BKL67

Concerned Citizen 007
I need to backtrack for a moment, earlier when I was revisiting my illuminating conversation with Rhonda Evans I wrote, "more on the importance of what and what is not in the police reports later", I failed to follow through with that at the time and now that I'm getting into my conversations with Gayle Kelly and the rift between what's in the reports and not is so much more striking it would be the perfect time to try to tie up that dangling loose end. But first I should go back and clarify how this relates to Rhonda Evans. As I stated when I first talked to Rhonda she confirmed that she had run away with Jill Montgomery in January 1982 and that they had stayed at Bobby Brem's for a couple nights but her recollections on other details didn't match what were in the reports. In her version she and Jill are arrested or picked up by the police and sent to a juvenile detention facility. I explain to her that is not what's in the police report or the files from the Methodist Home, they both clearly state Mr. Montgomery picked up Jill and brought her back to the Home, actually he and Jill went and ate, if I'm not mistaken the restaurant they ate at that day was the same Mexican restaurant Jill and Raylene Rice ate at the evening of the murders, while at the restaurant Jill's father calls the Home and asks if Jill can return, it's decided Jill, her father and some of the staff will have a meeting and then they will decide if Jill is allowed to return and I tell Rhonda I have talked to Jill's family and they also agree this is what occurred. But Rhonda is vehement her version is correct,she is getting angry and upset with me telling me she was there I wasn't, honestly I get a lot of that, she knows what happened but then she gives me another detail, there was another girl that ran away with her and Jill, Rhonda can't remember the girl's name, again I point out that a third girl is not mentioned in any of the reports. So were at an impasse, Rhonda steadfast with her recollections but the reports don't bear this out. Then comes along Gayle Kelly with her Rhonda Evans is a proven liar and you start thinking well maybe that explains everything, not so fast Speedy Gonzales.

It wasn't uncommon for the kids at the Methodist Home to run away multiple times and many of the girls connected to this case did so including Jill Montgomery, Gayle Kelly and Rhonda Evans. The Home tolerated it to a point but if a kid continued this behavior the Home would finally decide not to allow them to return, this happened to both Gayle Kelly and Rhonda Evans. The Home sent Gayle's father a letter informing him Gayle had run away again, for the last time and she was 17 and no longer the Home's concern. Rhonda was sent to foster care. Just for the record, after Jill returned from her January 82 excursion she didn't run away again and there was a noted positive change in both her attitude and behavior, simply put she was doing everything she could so she could return home which was her greatest desire, knowing that and that when she did return home it was on a probationary basis any slip up would have her packing her bags and sent to another institution the thought that she was willing to risk that to go drink beer with the undesirable likes of David Spence and the Melendez brothers is ludicrous but I digress.

In the Waco Police reports we only get substantial details about when Jill ran away in January. The source of that information was Mary Belheimer, she was the counselor for both Jill Montgomery and Kenneth Franks when they both stayed at the Home. On July 15th, the day after the bodies were discovered Detective Potterfield goes to the Home and interviews Ms. Belheimer and it is at this time she gives the details that appear in Potterfield's report. In that report he states Belheimer offered to give him the Home's files on the two victims, Potterfield declines stating if he needs them he will return and get them. This was probably a blunder, you want to obtain all the information you can get but by telling us this in his report we can infer that when Potterfield interviewed Mary Belheimer she was purely going by what she could recall in her mind at that moment without the aid of the information that would have been in the files. While the Waco Police conducted their investigation the Waxahachie Police Department were also conducting their own investigation mainly exploring the possibility that Jill and Raylene might have had problems with some one in Waxahachie and that person followed them to Waco and killed. During the course of their investigation they also talked to Mary Belheimer and either Ms. Belheimer had taken time to look through her files or the Waxahachie PD were wise enough to obtain those files because they acquired more information from Ms. Belheimer than Potterfield and Waco PD had done. And some of that information pertained to when Jill had run away prior to January 1982, she has also run away in November 1981. Now the Waxahachie PD passes this information onto the Waco PD, I can't say for sure exactly what Waxahachie told Waco for the only thing written in the Waco police reports is they have obtained this information from Waxahachie and the only detail they give is at that time Jill ran away with two other girls but don't give the two girls' names. So I'm talking to Rhonda Evans and she is adamant she and Jill ran away with another girl and they were arrested and sent to Juvey Jail, I'm talking to Jill's aunt asking her about this, I'm going back over the reports. I start thinking Rhonda must have been one of the two girls Jill ran away with in November and the girl whose name she can't remember was the other girl and this could have been when they were arrested, Rhonda must have the two events mixed up. So I ask her if this is possible, let's just say I didn't get very far on that one, so I don't know. I haven't been able to get any confirmation one way or the other if Jill ever did spend any time in a juvenile detention center after she had run away and I've asked. So we can see how omissions in the reports and the discrepancies in stories create confusion. In the case with Rhonda Evans it was just one issue that might be peripherally related to the case. With Gayle Kelly it occurs more often and on issues much more critical to the case.
 
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