This show, “Michigan and other Mayhem”, is a sort of factual, slightly comical, always earnest podcast about interesting stuff in Michigan and around the world. It is done by two sisters-in-law (Ali and Jenn) that like to talk about random interesting stories. Expect cults, mysteries, murder, fast talking, and a couple of mental palate cleansers… and cuss words. Those happen on this show, a lot.
Episode 42: Wallace Souza, Michigan Jan Doe Cases Solved
- Pretend podcast music because Jenn likes it.
- Ali has a weird laugh. It is often loud.
Ali and Jenn had a heated discussion before recording about romantic relationships. It shows. Jenn got a haircut with bangs. It cut ten years off her look, but she feels like it was 10 years off her life.
Wallace Souza is a Brazilian TV host with his own show Canal Live. (It is similar to the show Cops in America.) It was about crime and social injustice. It ran from 1989 until 2008. Prior to working as a television presenter and politician, Wallace worked as police officer in the late 1970’s. He had been fired from his job as an officer when he was arrested for pension fraud and petrol theft.
Here we inserted jokes about people who commit fraud and theft naturally morph into politicians.
He began his career in politics in 1998 with the Liberal Party. He later became part of the Social Christian Party and then again moved to the Amazonian legislative party.
In 2009, he was accused of hiring a hitman to kill five people. Police grew suspicious when they noticed that he was always the first on location at crime scenes. A police officer accused him of carrying out one of the murders, himself. There were times that the police arrived on the scene only to find Wallace already there recording his show.
They found weapons, ammunition, and cash in his home when it was searched. He was charged with murder, drug trafficking, witness tampering, and creating a criminal gang. It was believed that he worked with his son for drug trafficking. Wallace died of a heart attack in 2010. Netflix has a documentary series called “Killer Ratings” that is focused on his life.
Michigan Jane Doe Cases Solved
An unidentified woman was found shot to death by a hiking trail on the Nevada side Lake Tahoe in 1982. The woman had been sexually assaulted and shot twice in the head. She was dressed as someone who was ready to spend time at the lake, wearing a bathing suit under her t-shirt and jeans. No identification was found near the body and she did not match any missing persons reports. She was named after the trail she was found by, being called Sheep’s Flat Jane Doe.
The murdered woman was believed to be of European descent based on an inoculation scar on her left arm and the type of dental work she had performed. (Europeans used to be inoculated for tuberculosis and smallpox, causing a scar on their arm. Ali’s dad has one.)
Detectives were able to retrieve DNA from her attacker on her bloody shirt and more came from a rape kit that was performed. She was buried and the case went cold after searches failed. The original detective from the case retired but it was opened again when the sheriff’s office created a cold case squad in 2014, 32 years after her body’s discovery.
In 2015, Detective Dave Jenkins, from the cold case squad, came forward with a new theory. He believed that the woman was possibly an American who had purposefully separated from her family. He believed that a missing report hadn’t been filed because no one knew to miss her. In 2018, Detective Jenkins’ theory started to get some traction. After attending a lecture on forensic genealogy given by Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick, who works with the DNA Doe Project, he solicited her help in identifying the suspect they believed murdered the Jane Doe.
At the same time, Detective Jenkins was combing through DNA databases trying to find her identity. It took a lot of work, several databases, reverse engineering, and good old-fashioned police work. Trying to determine whether or not the Jane Doe might be a woman named Mary Edith Silvani, they contacted Detroit police and people who used to live next to her in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The Detroit police were able to locate fingerprints from a 1974 loitering case against Mary Silvani. They considered the fact that the prints had survived all of these years in a massive warehouse pretty rare. They matched Sheep’s Flat Jane Doe.
Taking the information from the prints and DNA snippets, police were able to find two distant cousins and a nephew in the public genetic databases. They determined definitively that Sheep’s Flat Jane Doe was truly Mary Silvani who was born in Pontiac, MI on September 29, 1948. She grew up in Detroit with her two brothers, Robert and Charles, and with her father, who was her primary caretaker. Their father died in 1964 when Mary was 16 years old. Mary’s mother was estranged from her husband and children years before and she also died in 1980.
After Mary’s father’s death, Mary and her brothers moved to the Bronx for a short time, to be with their aunt. However, they moved back to Michigan so they could finish high school in Detroit. After that the three children split up. Mary and her brother Charles moved to California. Robert stayed in Detroit and had a son, Robert Silvani Jr., the nephew that would later be linked to Mary’s body, before abandoning his child and also leaving for California.
Robert Jr., who is now 53 years old, grew up without any family on his father’s side. His paternal grandmother was estranged from her children, his paternal grandfather had passed away. His Aunt Mary and Uncle Charles, and even his father had never contacted their family in Michigan again after moving to California.
Police were able to link Mary’s body to her brother Charles. Charles had been wanted by the police regarding a fatal shooting in Fresno, California of a bar owner in 1972. His accomplice in the murder of the bar owner was charged and convicted. Charles, himself, was briefly a John Doe, with his body being found three months after his sister’s death in 1982. He had committed suicide.
The detectives found more information in the genetic databases; they found the identity of Mary’s killer with the help of Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick. The man suspected of her rape and murder was an illegitimate child, matching as a grandson to a Texas couple. He had been raised by his mother away from his father’s family and was given a different last name as he was born out of wedlock. James Richard Curry had confessed early in 1983 to the murder of three women in California. James had attempted to commit suicide after being taken into custody and died from his injuries at age 33, on January 7, 1983. It was his children that provided their DNA so that the police were able to make a conclusive match to Mary’s killer.
Delores Griffin, who was 34 years old, disappeared from her home in Romeoville, Illinois, on October 24, 1975. Delores’ daughter, Sheila Henson, came home and found both her mom and her mom’s car were missing. Sheila, who is the oldest child of three, was only 13 years old when her mom disappeared. Immediately, Sheila and her two siblings believed something terrible had happened. They had an extremely abusive father and a mother who was always home when her children arrived.
Sheila claims that when her mother disappeared her dad came home covered in mud and then burnt the clothes he was wearing. His behavior, that day, was considered strange by his children and he grew increasingly erratic until he committed suicide six months later. Sheila is quoted as saying, “We knew he killed her. We just knew it. We all knew she would never come back.” Delores’ mom raised her three children after the death of their parents.
Shortly after Delores disappeared from her Illinois hometown, in 1975, the body of a woman was found in Sterling State Park in Michigan. The female body was floating in one of the park’s lagoons. She had been severely beaten. Both her cheek bone and jaw were broken, and she had stab wounds to the chest, penetrating her heart. Monroe County Sheriff’s office took fingerprints evidence, hair samples, and her silver wedding band. The fingerprints were sent to Detroit for a match, but nothing was found. She was buried as a Jane Doe in Roselawn Memorial Park.
In the late 2010’s Lori Bruski, who works in the missing persons bureau at North Texas University, contacted Detective Mike Preadmore from the Michigan State Police. She was working different cases and noticed the close timeframe from Delores being missing in nearby Illinois to the Jane Doe being found in Monroe County, Michigan. (I looked it up, it was about a four-and-a-half-hour drive between the two areas.) Detective Preadmore was able to obtain DNA from Jane Doe’s hair and then track down her family members for a comparison. It was a match.
It is unknown as to why Mr. Griffin might have chosen Michigan as the dump site. Sheila has a theory that her father might have had a girlfriend in the area. Delores’ mom, who is currently 99 years old, lived to hear that her daughter had been found. Sheila, who is now 56 years old, is relieved to have found her mother after spending over 40 years looking for her body. Delores’ children are working on having their mother exhumed and moved to Kentucky where they now live. Since Sheila’s father is dead and the case is decades old, it may never be officially closed, however, it is resolved in the minds of Delores’ children.
On January 28, 1981 a female body between the ages of 15 and 21 was found hidden in the trees in Bellevue, Louisiana. She was named the Bossier Doe (baa-see-ur) after the parish she was found in. She was fully clothed, including wearing a belt that said Buffalo Nickle that had a buffalo design. She had freshly painted fingernails. The victim also had also been stabbed nine times. A knife found near her remains was determined to be the murder weapon.
The young woman was thought to be white with possible Native American ancestry. She had been murdered four to seven weeks before her body was located. Her remains were unrecognizable due to their heightened state of decomposition. They could tell that she had worn braces and had the brackets removed by someone who was not affiliated with orthodontics. (Read that she or someone else just pulled them off of her teeth.) Most of the evidence recovered on scene was lost to a fire in 2005.
Henry Lee Lucas, a known serial killer, was convicted of murdering 11 people and condemned to death. He was known to falsely confess to murders. Henry confessed to the murder of this Jane Doe as well. His claim was not considered credible as he was known to be in Florida, not Louisiana at the time.
Carole Cole and her sister, Linda “Jeanie” Phelps, grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan primarily in the custody of their grandmother. Their parents had divorced and weren’t always able to take care of their children. Carole, born in 1964, decided to leave Kalamazoo to live with her mom in San Antonio, Texas in 1979. One year later, at age sixteen, Carole was living at a girl’s home. The home was in Austin, Texas and was run by the Palmer Drug Abuse Program. Carole lived there from May of 1980 to October of the same year.
While Carole and her sister Jeanie were separated, they regularly talked to each other on the phone and exchanged letters with each other. Unfortunately, all communications ceased in December of 1980. Their grandma was able to track Carole to a residence in Louisiana that said she had left for a party one night and never returned. For some unknown reason, the medical examiner at the time excluded Carole as being the Jane Doe.
Jeanie filed a missing person report for her sister, Carole. The missing person report was entered into NAMUS database. (National Missing and Unidentified Persons System) As time passed, Jeanie and a childhood friend of Carole, Patty Thorington, used Facebook and Craigslist to gather awareness for Carole’s case. Carole’s grandmother had passed away by this time, but Jeanie would not give up on finding her sister.
On February 6, 2015, the Bossier (baa-see-ur) Parish sheriff department started a Facebook page for the Bossier Doe. Within one week of the page’s creation, over 1,000 people friended the page. The same day the Facebook page was created, Linda Erickson, a 911 operator, saw the police rendition of what they thought the Jane Doe looked like. She then notified the detectives when she saw a Craigslist ad with a photo of Carole Cole. The Craigslist ad had been placed by Linda Thorington, Carole’s friend, and a week after the Facebook page was created, sheriffs were emailing Linda.
DNA tests were conducted, and it was confirmed that the Bossier (baa-see-ur) Doe was Carole Cole. Carol’s family was struggling to come up with the money to rebury her and provide her with a headstone. A GoFundMe page was created and on June 18, 2015 Carol was buried in Comstock Township, Michigan.
The person responsible for her murder is believed to possibly be John Chesson, who had a history of being abusive. It was John Chesson, his daughter, Frances, and his son, who found Carol’s body in the woods. Frances believes her father killed Carol and then brought his children hunting with him for the first time, so he could have an alibi when the body was found. He was considered a person of interest by the police for Carol’s murder and was convicted of killing his estranged wife’s former mother in law. John’s son, one of the witnesses to finding Carol’s body, committed suicide in 2008. John Chesson is incarcerated for life for the murder of his mother in law.
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