Out and About - My Recent Public Appearances at the Dark History Convention 2015

Getting Set Up
Wow has it been a really busy past few weeks. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Dark History Con in Illinois again this year. This amazing convention happens each year in Champagne, Illinois and serves as a source of information on history's most frightening happenings. I had a great time meeting other true crime writers, film makers, historians and so much more.

I was so excited to meet Judith Yates. She lives in Nashville, only about an hour from me, and wrote the book When Nashville Bled, a fantastic book about Paul Dennis Reid, a local murderer.

Judith Yates
I also met Linda Lee King who wrote Sticks and Stones and Broken Bones: What a Charmed Life I Lead. It tells the harrowing tale of her life growing up and the horrors se witnesses and lived through. 

Can I just say OMFG! I met John Borowski, filmmaker extraordinaire and went fan girl all over him. 

Meeting the incredible artist Jeff Gaither was such a pleasure. He and his wife are truly amazing people and I has such fun talking with them. 


What Type of Reader are You?

I always just assumed that the people that read this blog are of two types of people but I have learned there is an occasional third type thrown in on occasion.

One type are those who have an interest in prison reform. Perhaps they are ex-convicts, have family members who have walked that path or feel strongly about it for political or religious reasons.

The other type are those folks interested in true crime. These are the armchair criminologists and avid readers. They watch the Investigation Discovery channel religiously and you can find them by the truckload in Facebook groups discussing trials and cases and books about them. Most cite their reasoning as a simple curiosity. They, like me, want to know how and why normal people go rogue.

There is also that third type of person who sort of snuck up on me. Call me naive if you like, but it never occurred to me that these people existed. These types of people prefer to be cruel and nasty. Not just about the criminals but to me. I understand that people will always have their own opinions and that’s the really cool part of life and the Internet in general. I suppose it is the advent of the Internet and the ability to hide in anonymity that brings them out from under their rocks but I am always stymied as to why me? They hunt down personal info and attack me, my family and loved ones. They threaten me, my children and family.

It happens from time to time. Some troll stumbles upon my blog and shoots off an email full of venom. They are mad at people who want prison reform or who are against the death penalty or whatever. They are pissed off that I am doing something that they do not believe in. Sometimes it is through Twitter or Facebook and I can just report it and block. Done and done. Usually my assistant finds it and deletes it and I never even see it. No harm, no foul. I don’t think I could explain to a normal person how vile and sick these people are. You wouldn’t believe it.

What never, ever fails to draw the crazies out are posts about Jodi Arias and Darlie Routier. Both are their own special brand of crazy but they always want to attack ME for writing about them. That, ladies and gentleman, is a special kind of crazy. No one forces them to come here and read my opinions. Their comments, if I even see them, don’t stop me. I often wonder if these are the closet murderers. The things they say they are willing to do are just as bad and more often worse than the killers I write about.

So, I’d like to ask you, what type of reader are you? Do you come here to start shit and troll out of a boring or maybe sick mind? Or do you come to read about cases that interest you and fulfill some need for information you haven’t found elsewhere? Before you decide, let me warn you. My new assistant isn’t quite as lenient as the other one is.  She keeps records of threats and IP addresses. You just may end up being forced to answer for you keyboard ninja activities one day and this just might be the place.


Countess Bathory

The Woman behind the Legend

 Bram Stoker became famous for his legendary tale on Dracula. Many speculate that he based his idea on Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler; born 1431, and presumed to have died sometime in December of 1476, although how he exactly died, is still undetermined.
Vlad Tepes, the man that was imprisoned by the Turks, beaten and humiliated. Finally getting his revenge when he became king. His methods of killing his victims, especially the Turkish soldiers, spread throughout Europe.

He reviled in their pain, enjoyed the destruction he left. Yet, Count Dracula did indeed become well-known as being a Vampire. One that preyed on his victims at night, biting into their flesh, and rejuvenating himself by drinking their blood.

So, was the legend, Dracula, really based on Vlad Tepes? Or could there be someone around that time period that was far more sadistic? Someone that preyed on the innocent, someone obsessed with beauty and youthfulness. And someone that history tells us actually committed atrocious acts, only to drink and bathe in her victim’s blood.

Countess Elizabeth Bathory. A girl destroyed when she witnessed a brutal attack and murder of her two sisters, turning her into a woman bent on revenge and evil tendencies.
But who was Elizabeth Bathory? Is it really true that her victims reached the six hundred mark?

A Child Destined for Evil.

Elizabeth Bathory was born into a family of cardinals, princes and Prime Ministers on the 7th of August, 1560 by Gyorgy and Anna Bathory. A difficult birth for her mother, Elizabeth would experience violent seizures around the ages of four or five. The doctors in the day couldn’t quite explain it. Whether it was some form of epilepsy, or some other neurological disorder. Some may even surmise that she was indeed possessed.  
Although her family was one of the most prominent protestant families in Hungary, her extended family was known for their wild behaviour. Was she cursed from the beginning? Fated to become what she was.

One uncle dabbled with rituals and satanic worship, while her Aunt Klara was thought to be bi-sexual, bringing young women into her house, enjoying the game of torturing her servants. Klara rumoured to have had four husbands, each mysteriously dying. Ironically, the connection between Elizabeth and Vlad extended to her family. Her uncle, Prince Stephen participated in an expedition with Vlad Tepes in Wallachia, 1475.
Legend has it that her relatives dabbled in the black arts, diabolism and rampant promiscuity. But probably one of the most interesting things to note about her family, was the common practice of incest and rape.

The small catalyst that might have started ideas forming in Elizabeth’s head, was when she witnessed the rape and murder of her two sisters at the age of nine.
At the age of twelve, Elizabeth was engaged to Ferenc Nadasdy; known for his brutality towards servants, and his obsession with Italian sex toys. Being engaged didn’t stop her from rebelling against the expectations imposed on her; dressing as a boy, playing boy’s games. And although engaged at the time, Elizabeth gave birth by a peasant boy. Her child taken away, doomed to marry into a family for political reasons.
Even at a young age, Elizabeth was obsessed with beauty, spending hours in front of her mirror. Marrying the twenty-six year old Count Ferenc Nadasdy at the age of 15, and moving to live at the Castle Csejthe. Her husband spent much of his time away fighting in wars, and was nicknamed ‘The Black Hero of Hungary’. With a domineering mother-in-law, Elizabeth struggled to cope with her new life.

Rebelling against her duties, Elizabeth briefly eloped with a dark-haired, pale-skin stranger. But one day when she woke, he had disappeared, and she had no choice but to return to her life with the count.

The Persistent Vice

In the year 1578, Ferenc was appointed the chief commander of the Hungarian troops to fight against the Ottomans. Elizabeth took on her role to manage the business obligations of the estate, surrounded by villages and agricultural lands, bordered by the Little Carpathians.
A well-educated woman, Elizabeth could read and write in four languages. For a time, she looked after the peasants; making sure they were given adequate medical care. She even intervened on behalf of destitute women, or those that were victims of the Turks.

But evil still remained in Elizabeth. In those day, it was common for nobility to torture the servants, in which Elizabeth happily participated in. With guidance by her Aunt Klara, and the Count, she would experiment with ways to inflict maximum amount of pain.
However, it wasn’t until the death of her husband in 1604, did she finally begin her ultimate path of destruction.

The Liquid Elixir

Stories differ in accurate accounts, but it is a common belief that at the age of forty, she truly become obsessed with her beauty; terrified of losing her youthfulness. One day, a young servant girl accidently pulled her hair while combing it. Viciously slapping the petrified girl across the face, she instantly drew blood. Blood fell onto the Countess’s hand, and she was convinced that blood altered her skin, making it appear more youthful.

Determined to keep this youth, her plan began to formulate. Along with accomplices, Elizabeth decided to experiment with the servants and peasants. Bringing them to her castle, in which it was rumoured she tortured them, drained them of blood, and bathed in it.

The Obsession Leading to her Demise

The Countess’ downfall was when she decided to spread the word that she could teach the young girls of Aristocracy lessons in etiquette. Instead, she abused these girls just like the servants.
There are different accounts to what finally happened. Some say one of the girls escaped, others say the Protestant pastor who first buried some of the girls finally spoke forward, or whether too many girls from influential families disappeared. One way or the other, on the 30th of December, 1609, Elizabeth’s castle was finally raided, and her and her accomplices were arrested. The scene before those that raided the castle was horrific.

King Matthias, through his investigations determined that over 600 girls had been victims of Elizabeth and her servants. Her servants were put on trial in the year 1611. Some believe they were tortured to confess. Either way, three were executed in a brutal fashion.
Throughout those years, Elizabeth maintained her innocence. Only charged with 80 murders, Elizabeth was not executed because of her nobility, and influence from powerful family members. Instead, she was placed under house arrest, walled up so no one could get in, and she couldn’t get out.

On the 21st of August, 1614, Elizabeth Bathory took her last breath at the age of 54. One can only deduce what she might have died from. When the soldiers reluctantly went to retrieve her body, a document was found. She had written a letter to invoke a darker power to send ninety-nine cats to tear out the hearts of her accusers and judges.

Unravelling the Conspiracy

Records about her were sealed for a century, people were forbidden to talk of her. Several authors, including László Nagy and Dr. Irma Szádeczky-Kardoss claim that Elizabeth Bathory was a victim of conspiracy. That powerful men owed her a lot of money, and had set her up. Others dispute this claim.

Whether Elizabeth Bathory was a victim of a conspiracy, or whether she was indeed one, if not, the first female serial killer, her tale lives on.
She once quoted, “I grew up listening to stories about the miraculous restorative powers of blood… Given this liquid medium in which I spent my life, it would be surprising if I didn’t bathe in blood…”
Her inclinations were there, her childhood background providing a sadistic backdrop, coupled with her involvement with those that enjoyed inflicting pain. One could argue she was worse than the legend, Dracula.

Whether or not Bram Stoker was influenced by her, or by Vlad Tepes, one may never know. But Countess’ Elizabeth Bathory’s story still lives on, no one really knowing the true number of her victims.

About the author:

As an author of historical/21st century psychological, international thrillers, my books challenge readers to think beyond what they believe, as well as taking the reader on a journey throughout Europe and abroad. I have conducted a lot of research into the historical aspect, so that it is as close to what actually happened as much as possible.

Having studied in Criminology and Neuro Linguistic programming; in addition to doing a diploma course in body language, enables me to give an authentic feel to my characters, and the crimes committed. Because I’ve always been fascinated with human psychology, especially criminal psychology, I always include that element in every book I write.

My books don’t just cover the crimes committed, but what drove that person to commit those crimes? Examining their past, their weaknesses, and childhood; all building up to why some of the most infamous crimes were committed.

Elizabeth Bathory’s tale is my main focus in my second novel in the Annabella Cordova series, - The Legend Returns. In which I am currently contacting publishers to publish this book.
If you are interested to read the first book in the series – Initiated to Kill, you can find the details on my blog, and purchase link on my Facebook Fan page.



Jodi Arias Answers Readers Questions

*Jodi always draws the crazies out. I have disabled comments because the ugly people have started with vulgar comments. Before you read on please realize that I had no control over what she said or which questions she answered and her lawyer will not allow her to comment on the case. Jodi is serving LWOP.   

Jodi Arias heard of my inmate liaison services and contacted me earlier this year. Graciously, she explained she wanted nothing from me. She has many supporters but appreciates what I do for life and death inmates. She offered to help me in any way she could and I found that very inspiring. She is in the worst shape of her life. Innocent or guilty, she is in a world of shit and she's offering to help me and other inmates.

When I wrote about her earlier this year odd balls came out of the woodwork accusing me of all types of shit, assuming I'm a supporter of her crime. Insulting me and the blog and cyber stalking me all over Facebook and Twitter. I'm a sicko because I support prison reform, I'm a sociopath because I communicate with murderers, I'm just a big ol' bitch..... you get the picture.

The funny part is that when she wrote the first time she warned me about using her name in any form on the blog. She said her online haters are the most foul, supposedly because they are cowards who enjoy the anonymity of the Internet and take advantage of saying things without having to look someone in the eye and have others witness their behavior. So we had a good long laugh when I talked to her later about the haters. When I say "haters" I am talking about the people who put sexual and vulgar comments, threaten me because of my personal beliefs and advocate violence. It is possible to discuss these cases without acting like complete assholes.

When I told readers she was willing to answer questions I had literally hundreds of responses but many were illiterate jumbles of words that seemed to be anti-Jodi but it was hard to tell. SO I chose a few I thought we'd get answers to. A lot of people accused me of lying, saying prisons don't allow people to do that. I had to laugh at those. Google is your friend, folks.

So, all that being said, I sent her some of the coherent questions and here are her answers:

  • Matthew asks:

Hi Jodi, Just wondering how you keep such a positive attitude. You're awesome like that. You have many people thinking of you. Wishing you the best.

My attitude is not always positive. In fact, after developing PTSD, I experienced increased anger and irritability. Often, my positive exterior was a mask for pain, stress, shame and depression I felt. I think the biggest misconception among those who support me is that I am [insert favorite adjective]. Haters call me "evil" and supporter "angel". I am neither. I dont consider myself a sweet person (anymore) but I do try to be kind. I routinely fail and still catch myself being negative and cynical. I am human.

  • Alisa asks:

Your skin always looks flawless. What kind of foundation do you use? Do you have a go-to brand or some secret skin care secret you could share?

I don't presently wear foundation but I used to wear L'Oreal's Infallible... something. Its been so long. I don't remember the name. My skin is FAR from flawless. Many of the pictures you see from before my arrest are photo-shopped. As for skincare, I just follow the wisdom I've always read: drink water, sleep well, use sunscreen. I'm sure a good diet helps too. I don't wear makeup right now, but I also once read that no matter how tired you are don't fall asleep with makeup on.ik 

  • Patrick asks:
Do you get a lot of mail? Do people write you hate mail or is it all supportive? Do you answer all your mail?

Yes! I receive a ton of mail. Its almost always supportive. I rarely receive hate mail. I think haters must know it only flatters me. I try to answer as much as I can but I can never seem to get to it all.

Ririos asks:

IMO a fellow supporter has been changing the meaning of some of your testimony. I wanted to ask you directly for clarification. On this guys many websites and forums he claims you purchased a 4th gas can. He believed you returned the 3rd and bought a 4th. Can you clarify?

Also, how does it feel when supports feel they can interpret and know your actions and motives better than you do? I'm trying to be respectful and ask you directly and I wish more bloggers and supporters would go that extra mile too.

There are a lot of conspiracy theorists, Ill say that. I cannot comment on the facts of the case. I can only reiterate that I testified truthfully to the best of my memory.

I'm not online so the haters and different opinions have little to no effect on me at all.  I disagree with the analogy that its like an abuser controlling the abused. That feels way worse than people dissecting and interpreting my testimony.


Sheila LaBarre, New Hampshire Cougar Knockin' 'em Dead - Literally

 I told you about crazy Sheila last year. She was way off into her 40's but had no trouble catching a dick (homage to Amy Schumer) anytime she wanted to. Always young and a little dumb, sometimes her young cubs disappeared. Turned out she was taking these young guys home and sexing them into a stupor and thren throwing them a curve ball when she turned into a royal bitch. She tortured and terrorized these guys for months, years and then killed them. She was finally arrested and convicted in 2008.

She had an insatiable sexual appetite and went from man to man even before she turned deadly. The local police were already aware of her but not from wrongdoings. They knew her well because she constantly complained. She complained about her neighbors, stores, companies, dogs, policies, etc. They avoided her if possible which may be why she got away with her craziness for so long.

The mother of one of her victims is still pretty pissed off though. Carolynn Lodge, mother of Sheila LaBarre's victim, Kenneth Countie, hand-delivered a petition to the state Attorney General's Office in 2012 accusing Epping police of "gross negligence" in how they handled the case. In 2010 she tried and failed to bring charges against two police officers who saw her son and LaBarre in Wal-Mart when he was in a wheelchair, burned and beaten.

In 2012 some toes were found on LaBarres horse farm. They did not belong to either of her victims. As far as I could find in my research they haven't been identified so she hasn't been charged with any additional crimes.

I cant really believe she wasn't found insane. How can you NOT be insane and commit some of the torturous acts she did to these men? She has two life sentences with no chance for parole. There is a great book written about this case called Wicked Intentions: A Remote Farmhouse, A Beautiful Temptress, and the Lovers She Murdered


La Donna Curry and Audreianna McNeil Illinois Killers and the Drama Continues

Last year at this time we talked about La Donna Curry and Audreianna McNeil, Illinois girls who lured a man to his death to rob him. Since this case broke there have been some odd developments or maybe an odd lack of developments is a better term.

LaDonna was one of many girlfriends of Fuzzy, who is described as fun and outgoing, the perfect personality for a club promoter. He had worked with some big names in the hip hop industry and his mother received a condolence call from comedian, Katt Williams. These girls met and lured Chicago club promoter, John “Fuzzy” Atkins to an address where two male cohorts attacked, robbed and killed him. La Donna and Audreianna last saw John on his knees, hands tied behind his back, alive.

These two women admitted what they did and are in jail. Where are the two men who did the killing? The latest news report I can find just says the men were not charged. WTF? I also found a report saying Atkins mother is being terrorized by these two male suspects the police apparently know about but haven't arrested.

How can this be? If your a Chicagoian and know more about this case speak up. I'm curious.


Desiray Strickland - Florida

Desiray Strickland will most certainly get the death penalty. Unless by some grace of God, her age saves her. She and three male friends hacked a classmate to death at the Homestead Jobs Corps center in Homestead, Florida. A fifth suspect is said to be arrested soon.

In June of 2015 the teen terrors lured young Jose Amaya Guardado into the woods where they mortally wounded him by repeated whacks, slices and stabs with a machete. He was then forced into a shallow grave, still breathing, and buried alive. 

Prosecutors plan to ask the judge next week to indict Desoray and her co-murderers, 18-year-old Jonathan Lucas, 19-year-old Christian Colon and 20-year-old Kaheem Arbelo on charges of first degree murder along with a whole slew of dismemberment and kidnapping type charges. 

So far, investigators think it all stemmed from a debt the victim owed Kaheem Arbelo, the alleged ringleader. The group has been identified as campus bullies at the state funded academy. Desiray and Kaheem Arbelo were a couple. 

When Jose didn't own up to his debt the group decided to kill him and plotted for two weeks. They dug a grave and came up with their plan. At one point, according to one of the suspects, Desiray walks off to pee. When she came back and realized she'd missed some of the carnage she complained. Desiray and Kaheem stayed behind in the woods after the killing to have sex. They have entered not guilty pleas. 

Jose's body was found three days later by his own brother, as his family desperately searched for their missing loved one.

I cant really think about this case without thinking of Christa Pike, here in my home state of Tennessee. She and a group also killed a girl in Job Corp, luring her into the woods.


Mireya Alejandra Lopez - Arizona

Mireya Alejandra Lopez, 22, from Phoenix, drowned her 2-year-old twins in August of 2015. She then attempted to drown her 3 year old stepbrother before her mother found and stopped her.

It was early in the day when Mireya took her twins to a downstairs bathroom of her Phoenix home and held their heads under the bath water until they stopped breathing. She took them from the tub, wrapped each in a blanket and carried them upstairs where she laid them on a bed. That's when she took her stepbrother into the bathroom.

Mireya's mother went into the bedroom and saw the twins laying in the bed. At first glance she thought they were sleeping but upon further speculation found she could not wake them. She tried resuscitation maneuvers and called 911.

While attempting to revive the boys she heard commotion in the bathroom and rushed in to find her daughter attempting to drown her 3 year old stepbrother.She had to struggle and fight with her daughter to take the boy from her but she succeeded and he was unharmed.

When police arrived Mireya readily admitted what she did saying it was because no one loves them or her and she thought they would be better off if they were dead and at peace instead of dealing with the life that she had and assumed they would too.

News reports say Mireya is manic depressive, psychotic and schizophrenic and has been taking medications for those illnesses.