CREEPIEST MURDER MYSTERIES/DISAPPEARANCES: PART 3

PART 1 // PART 2

4. Benjaman Kyle

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  • Born: ?
  • Disappeared: ?
  • Found: 31 August 2004 (age. approx 70)

At 5 am on August 31st, 2004, Benjaman Kyle was found laying naked and sunburned on the asphalt behind a Burger King dumpster in Richmond Hill, Georgia. The Burger King employee who came across Kyle called the police in a panic, stating that a beaten and unconscious man was laying on the grounds of her restaurant. She thought he was dead. Kyle was rushed to St. Joseph’s/Candler Hospital in Savannah and, upon waking up, discovered that he had no memory of who he was. Without any form of identification, the hospital recorded this mysterious man as “Burger King Doe” in their files. “Burger King” eventually evolved into “Benjaman Kyle,” a name that served as his only form of identification.

Kyle’s case is a baffling one. Although Kyle’s whereabouts are known, he is still legally considered a missing American citizen. From the violent circumstances under which he was found, to his diagnosis of Retrograde Amnesia, (or “Hollywood” amnesia) which many people contest the mere existence of, nothing about Kyle’s case makes sense.

Kyle was found with three deep depressions in his skull to which many attribute his memory loss. And over a decade later, Kyle still has no idea who he was before 2004. He has no clue why he was found laying sunburned and naked behind a dumpster, or why he had severe cataracts in his eyes at the approximate age of 59. Even more disturbing, when Kyle’s cataracts were finally removed and he saw himself for the first time, Kyle was twenty years older then he thought he was.

From the Dr. Phil show to AMAs on Reddit, Kyle continues searching for answers to no avail. In over a decade, nobody has come forward to claim him as a friend, family member, or even a casual acquaintance. It’s as if the man now known as Benjaman Kyle didn’t exist before August 31st, 2004. Who is this he? What caused him to become displaced in the world? And finally, do you recognize him?

Other things of note:

Recently, a film student made this mini-documentary about Kyle, and because of the awareness it raised Kyle has now been issued a temporary Florida identification card, given a job, and moved into a small shack provided by a good samaritan. Before, without any form of ID, Kyle couldn’t even temporarily stay at a homeless shelter. However, despite the publicity, no one has yet to come forward to claim him.

 Personal Thoughts:

Because Retrograde Amnesia is such a clichéd disorder, I have come across my fair share of “he’s faking it” arguments while reading about Kyle’s case. I will only say that, after watching the mini-documentary and seeing Kyle’s sadness firsthand, I cannot believe that he’s putting on an act. Kyle gains literally nothing from pretending to not know who he is. Up until very recently, he was homeless, couldn’t get a job, and was completely alone. Even now Kyle says that there are days when he wishes he “never woke up” behind that dumpster in 2004. He seems extremely depressed that no one has come forward to say they know him. I cannot believe that a man would put himself through over a decade of pain for a little publicity. I can’t guess what caused Kyle’s bizarre circumstance, but my heart breaks for him.

What do you think?

3. Sharon Marshall/Michael Hughes

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Sharon:

  • Born: ?
  • Last seen: Killed in a hit and run accident in April, 1990

Michael:

  • Born: 1988
  • Disappeared: 12 September 1994 (age. 5)
  • Last seen: Kidnapped from Indian Meridian Elementary School

The case of Sharon Marshall, Michael Hughes, and Franklin Floyd is complicated and so sad.

Sharon Marshall was a beautiful young mother raising her son, Michael Hughes, with her husband, Franklin Floyd, when she was killed in a suspicious hit-and-run accident in April, 1990. Marshall worked as an exotic dancer at the time of her death. Her coworker, Cheryl Ann Commesso, also met a foul fate when she mysteriously vanished a year earlier. It didn’t take long for police to start investigating Franklin in regard to both the disappearance of Cheryl and the murder of his wife, Sharon.

Franklin had a history riddled with crime. He was first arrested at 17 for armed robbery resulting in a gun fight with police. Two years later, he abducted and raped a young girl. Knowing Franklin’s penchant for devious behavior, police decided to investigate Sharon’s “accidental” hit-and-run a bit further, but their research raised more questions than it answered. Police discovered that Sharon was not only Franklin’s wife, but also his step-daughter. Franklin had raised Sharon since she was a toddler and married her at 18. On top of that, all of Sharon’s identification was forged. The name “Sharon Marshall” was discovered to be a pseudonym along with many other names all used interchangeably on her documentation. Even stranger, DNA evidence tested the paternity of Sharon’s son Michael against Franklin and discovered that he was not the boy’s biological father.

While police searched for and pieced together a solid case against Franklin, more disaster struck. On September 12, 1994, 5 year old Michael was in the first grade at Indian Meridian Elementary School. He was living with a foster family after Sharon’s death and Franklin’s failed paternity test. Suddenly, Franklin showed up at the school and demanded to take Michael with him. When he wasn’t allowed to see the child, Franklin forced the principal at gun point to take him to Michael’s classroom. From there, Franklin kidnapped both Michael and the principal, taking them to a heavily wooded are where he abandoned the principal before speeding away with Michael in his car. Franklin and Michael disappeared for two months.

Then, in early 1995, a Kansas mechanic found an envelope stuffed under the front seat of a used truck he had recently purchased. The contents of the envelope shook him to the core. Inside were dozens of photos of Cheryl Ann Commesso being tortured alongside sexually explicit photos of Sharon as a little girl. The truck was traced back to Franklin Floyd.

Police eventually found Franklin in Louisville, Kentucky and apprehended him, but Michael was nowhere to be seen. Now, Franklin is imprisoned at Union Correctional Institution, Florida, awaiting the death penalty. He still has not disclosed what he did with Michael Hughes.

Other things of note:

This case is extremely interesting because a huge reveal in the true identity of Sharon Marshall was just discovered in October of 2014. It turns out that Sharon’s birth name was Suzanne Sevakis, she was born sometime in the late 1960s, and was kidnapped by Franklin, her step-father, in 1975. Franklin was married to Sharon’s mother and had been instructed to care for Sharon and her siblings while she was in jail for a minor crime- Franklin took the opportunity to kidnap all of her children. While most of Sharon’s siblings were eventually returned, Franklin kept Sharon for himself to sexually abuse and eventually marry.

*Here* is a haunting portrait of a young Franklin Floyd with little Sharon Marshall sitting on his lap. 

Personal thoughts:

It’s truly horrifying to me that a man could kidnap a little girl, raise her while sexually abusing her, kidnap another woman and rape her, commit a string of violent crimes, and still be left to walk around free. This is the situation that led to Michael Hughes being kidnapped some 20-odd years after his mother was, by the same man. It is so sad to me that Sharon never saw justice and neither did her son.

What do you think?

2. Jesslyn Rich

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  • Born: ?
  • Disappeared: 11 November 1984 (age. 35)
  • Last seen: A country-western bar in Chino, San Bernardino County, California.

Jesslyn Rich, a single mother of two, worked as a security guard at Frontera Prison, a maximum security women’s prison in Chino, California. Jesslyn was a straight-A criminology student by night and a rule-abiding security guard by day. One evening, while out at a bar with some friends, Jesslyn excused herself to use the bathroom and was never seen again. 

Jesslyn’s family was dumbfounded. It was completely unlike her to be gone for days at a time. Police investigators weren’t delving deep enough into her disappearance, believing that Jesslyn probably decided to leave on her own, so family and friends did some sleuthing. While searching his sister’s apartment, Gary Rich found a disturbing, torn up letter in the trash. The letter was written by Jesslyn to another Frontera security guard, detailing the illegal drug dealing that was going on in the prison between the inmates and the guards. The letter also mentioned that anyone working in the prison system who tried to stop the dealings would be “taken care of.” Unfortunately, that was the only bit of evidence found suggesting foul play, and Jesslyn’s case went cold.

3 years later, in 1987, a break in the case finally occurred. An inmate at Frontera Prison named Terry Lucas claimed she knew what happened to Jesslyn. Terry disclosed to Betty Thompson, a former co-worker of Jesslyn’s, that Jesslyn had been threatened by other security guards to keep quiet about the prison drug peddling. Terry and Betty decided to speak again a few days later, but when Betty went to Terry’s cell later that week, she found Terry dead on the floor. Terry’s body had been beaten horribly and left unattended in the cell for three days. There were blades of grass matted into Terry’s hair, but her death was ruled as diabetes-related. Even more disturbing, Betty claims that her superiors at the prison forced her to sign a fake police report stating that Terry had only been left dead on the floor for two hours. As the investigation into Jesslyn Rich’s disappearance continued, Betty began receiving threatening phone calls telling her not to talk about the drug trafficking. Eventually, Terry was nearly killed after being shot at from a moving car. The assassination attempt was followed by another terrifying phone call during which a man growled out, “next time we won’t miss.”

As time wore on, the prison drug dealing became public and turned into a scandal. Betty Thompson, along with five other guards, testified against Frontera Prison before the California State Senate. The Rich family still strongly believes that Jesslyn was abducted for what she knew. Over 30 years later, there has been no sign of Jesslyn Rich, living or dead.

Other things of note:

Friends of Jesslyn who were with her at the bar the night she disappeared say that they remember seeing a man approach Jesslyn as she was heading for the bathroom. They also have said that, in retrospect, Jesslyn seemed frightened before she walked away.

Personal thoughts:

I think it’s pretty clear that Jesslyn was abducted and murdered for what she knew about the drug network in Frontera. My question is, did she know the people who abducted her? Why would she excuse herself to the bathroom if she was so frightened? I also find it despicable how this case was able to be covered up for so long and how many innocent people were harmed. When the bad guys are in charge of the law, who can you trust?

What do you think?

1. Lisanne Froon & Kris Kremers

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  • Born: 1991 & 1992
  • Disappeared: 1 April 2o14 (age. 21 & 22)
  • Last seen: Hiking on the Pianista Trail, Panama

This case is particularly haunting for two reasons. One, the disappearance of Lisanne and Kris took place only eight months ago. Two, there is photographic evidence documenting much of the time leading up to and during their disappearance.

Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers were two Dutch girls who set off on a trip to Panama together and never returned. The girls, both in their early twenties, made the trip to Central America to study Spanish in early 2014. On April 1st of that same year, they decided to take a hike along the Pianista Trail in the Panama Jungle. Kris and Lisanne vanished that day. Nothing was discovered of them until some of their possessions, a shoe with a decomposing foot still inside, a piece of a pelvis, and a series of haunting photographs, turned up 10 weeks later.

Speculation is still high in this case because it is so recent and only so much information has been disclosed to the public. It’s a harrowing case- these girls were young and there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding what exactly happened to them out in the wilderness. The only telling evidence released thus far are the cell phone records from each girl’s phone, and a series of photographs taken from one of the girl’s cameras. The camera itself surfaced 10 weeks after their initial disappearance in a soaking wet backpack some distance away from the hiking trail. The cell phone records (helpfully translated from Spanish to English *here*) show that both girls had attempted to call 911 and 112 (a European emergency number) starting on April 1st (the day they began their hike), until the 6th, then three full days of silence, until one girl’s cell phone was switched on and off on the morning of April 11th. Then nothing.

As for the photos taken from the camera, they can be seen in their entirety *here.* Be warned, some of them are VERY disturbing. The photos show Kris and Lisanne smiling and posing on their hike through the Pianista Trail, then suddenly, the photos are dark and depict rocks and a sticks. One is only a picture of Kris’ hair.

Enough bodily remains of the two young women have been found to deduce that they have died, but what exactly happened to them out in the Panama Jungle?

Other things of note:

The backpack that was found belonged to Kris and was still neatly packed when discovered. Both girl’s cell phones were found inside the bag along with two bras, a pair of sunglasses, the camera, and other miscellaneous objects. The backpack was first seen by a local near a river that most likely carried it away from the trail the girls had been following.

There were 133 sequential photos found on the camera in total. Seventy seven of those photos were completely black. The foot found still in its shoe was identified as belonging to Kris; the pelvic bone to Lisanne.

Please visit www.findlisannekris.com for more information about the girls. You can also donate to the girl’s families here if you wish.

Personal thoughts:

This incredibly sad mystery sounds to me like a case of two inexperienced hikers succumbing to the elements. I believe that the two girls decided to follow the Pianista Trail on their own, but were not prepared for the dangers of hiking unfamiliar terrain. The 911 calls started only a few hours into the girl’s expedition, leading me to believe that they got off the trail and quickly became lost. There is little to no cell service along the trail- it makes sense that by nightfall both girl’s phones would have been almost dead. Perhaps they kept turning them on during the following days to use as a light source- I don’t believe they would stay on long enough to make actual phone calls. That would explain the three days of cell phone activity without any actual calls being attempted. Finally, on the 11th day, I believe the dark/black photos found on the camera were taken by one of the girls trying to either use the flash to get the attention of potential rescuers, or to scare away an animal.  I am still unsure what that last picture of the stick with plastic tied to it is about (found at the bottom of this page *here*)…

What do you think?

PART 1 // PART 2