Stories posted are written by National news Journalists, not by this blog. The Journalist's name and "Source" link follow each story. We add "Tags" based on facts from the article, which are used for later retrieval, if someone wants to see all stories by a tag (Click tag of choice). Tags are at the top of story.
Our Commenting Policy

Friday, October 16, 2009

FL- Mom who shot man she thought abused her daughter is ready for prison

10-16-2009 Florida:

Sylvia Neeley believed her Land O'Lakes neighbor was molesting her 12-year-old mentally disabled daughter. She said he even bragged that he could do it again. She told the authorities, but they never charged him with anything — even though one investigator said he may have done it. So, on May 24, 1998, Neeley pumped Arthur Danner full of bullets. Swimming in a haze of beer and Valium, she fired into his chest, then reloaded and took aim at his groin.

Thursday morning, she stood before a judge in Dade City, her last stop on her way to state prison.

"I'm very sorry for the crime I committed," said Neeley, 48, who wore a black suit and heels. "I just felt like no one was helping my daughter."

The price of Neeley's crime is separation from the daughter who still needs her.

Jenny, who is now 23 but still has the mind of a child, will have to live in a group home until her mother gets out in about five years.

• • •

Neeley doesn't offer any excuses for what she did, but her life took a destructive course long before she confronted Danner.

She grew up in Tampa with three siblings and a single mom who struggled to provide. She dropped out of school after eighth grade. As a young teenager, she started using marijuana, then alcohol, then pills. By the time she was 15, Neeley had been everywhere from California to New York to New Orleans, hitching rides in the cars and truck beds of strangers.

"I always ran," she said recently. "It wasn't until years of being sober that I realized you take the same person with you."

Once, she said, a guy in a four-wheel-drive truck picked her up on Florida Avenue in Tampa, gave her beer, drove her to Morris Bridge Road and raped her. Then he dropped her at her boyfriend's house.

She worked as a stripper and a prostitute and has a history of minor arrests from disorderly conduct to DUI.

She had her first daughter at 17, and another 11 months later. The younger is married and raising three kids; the older is addicted to painkillers, her own four children scattered.

When Jenny was born, Neeley could tell she was different from her other girls. At 6 months old, the baby had several seizures and nearly died.

Jenny was diagnosed as high-functioning but developmentally delayed. She likes to fish and play cards and talks about having kids of her own, but she lacks the maturity of an adult and cannot care for herself.

• • •

Arthur Danner was a friend and Land O'Lakes neighbor to Sylvia Neeley, whose last name then was Maraman. Danner became a father figure to a woman who had never had one.

But Neeley gradually grew suspicious of Danner, 73, who she says was obsessed with Jenny, heaping gifts on her and chastising Neeley for disciplining her.

In early 1998, a family friend told Neeley he walked into a troubling scene in Danner's mobile home: Jenny was on the floor. Danner was on a couch naked from the waist up; the rest of his body under a blanket.

Neeley reported the incident to state child welfare authorities and the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. The agencies investigated, but two months passed and no charges were filed.

Marilyn Loper, a counselor with the Department of Children and Families, told Neeley there was some evidence Danner may have abused her daughter, but not enough to press criminal charges.

"I said, 'It's likely. It's not 100 percent, but it's quite likely that he will indeed get away (with) it,' " Loper later testified at Neeley's trial. "So it's your job to make sure that he doesn't bother your child anymore.' "

In the meantime, Neeley said, Danner was harassing her with constant phone calls. One night, she couldn't take it anymore. She confronted him in his trailer, and when he admitted his acts, she said, she walked home and grabbed a .357-caliber gun that belonged to her ex-husband. Danner sat on the couch as Neeley, who had never fired a gun before, squeezed the trigger again and again.

She was drunk and stoned and doesn't remember much else.

Neeley was convicted in 2000 of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years, but won a new trial on appeal. Two weeks ago she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter, and on Thursday she was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She will probably serve about half that because of time credited from her previous conviction.

• • •

Neeley moved Jenny into a group home in Riverview, near Neeley's mother's house, a few weeks ago. Jenny has her own bedroom with her name on the wall, stuffed animals from home and a metal replica of her Dalmatian, Perdita, who recently died. She can have visitors anytime.

Jenny says she hates her new home, but she understands why she's there and why her mother's going to prison. She remembers what happened.

"He used to touch me down there all the time," she said.

Neeley is as ready as she can be for prison. For the first time in years, she says she's clean. She had a new Bible with her when she went to prison Thursday.

The only part about going to prison that splinters Neeley's tough shell is the thought of her daughter, who can't keep track of days, going weeks without hearing from her mother.

As they visited earlier this week at the group home, Jenny was in a sullen mood. She rolled her eyes and gave her mother attitude as Neeley henpecked.

But when talk turned to prison, Jenny buried her face and clung tightly to Neeley's waist.

"You're a grown woman now, why you going to cry?" Neeley asked.

" 'Cause I know you're leaving," Jenny said.

Neeley stroked her hair and tried to stay composed.

"As long as I know you're okay, I'm okay," she told her daughter, and herself. ..source.. by Molly Moorhead, Times Staff Writer

Pasco mother heads to prison for shooting daughter's alleged abuser

10-15-2009 Florida:

DADE CITY — Sylvia Neeley, dressed in a black suit and high heels, turned herself in this morning to begin serving her prison sentence for killing a man a decade ago who she believed was molesting her mentally retarded daughter.

Neeley, 48, shot Arthur Danner on May 24, 1998, in his Land O'Lakes mobile home. She told authorities he had boasted about sexually abusing her daughter, then 12, and said he could do it again. Stoned on beer and painkillers, she went to her home next door, grabbed a gun, returned to Danner's trailer and unloaded into his chest.

Then she reloaded and fired at his groin.

Neeley had reported the suspected abuse three months earlier to authorities. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office and child welfare workers investigated, but they had not found enough evidence to charge Danner, 73, with anything.

She told Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa in court this morning that she wished Danner had been arrested.

"I'm very sorry for the crime I committed," she said through tears. "I just felt like no one was helping my daughter."

One Department of Children and Families counselor, Marilyn Loper, had testified at Neely's trial that their investigation found some evidence Danner may have abused her daughter, but there probably wasn't enough to press criminal charges.

"She said, 'You mean he is going to get away with this?' " Loper testified. "I said, 'It's likely. It's not 100 percent, but it's quite likely that he will indeed get away (with) it. So it's your job to make sure that he doesn't bother your child any more.' "

Neeley was convicted of the killing once at trial in 2000, but an appeals court found that the judge had made errors and granted her a new trial. She has been out on bail since December 2002.

With her new trial looming, Neeley instead pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but will be credited for the more than four years she has already spent behind bars.

Siracusa gave her two weeks before today's sentencing to get her affairs in order and move her daughter, now 23, into a group home.

Neeley said before the hearing that she visited her daughter at the home this morning.

As she was led away in handcuffs, she carried a Bible, glasses case and small book of photos. Her family sat a few rows away, crying.

"I'm heartbroken, absolutely heartbroken," said her mother, Frances Hayman. "She was my wild child, but she's still my child." ..Source.. by Molly Moorhead, Times Staff Writer

Friday, October 2, 2009

AZ- Officials discuss motives in slaying of 3 in Ariz.

10-1-2009 Arizona:

ST. JOHNS, Ariz. — An Arizona man who confessed to killing three people and pronounced himself a serial killer told authorities he committed the crimes because one man shot a dog, he didn't want the second to hurt anyone else and his attempts to get a 16-year-old off drugs failed.

William Inmon of Springerville faces prison sentences of 25 years to life on each of three counts of first-degree murder. Authorities said the 21-year-old's killing spree started in April 2007 with 72-year-old William "Stoney" McCarragher, continued with 60-year-old Daniel Achten nearly two years later and ended with the death of teenager Ricky Flores in August.

Inmon pleaded guilty to the murders on Wednesday.

Apache County Attorney Michael Whiting said Thursday that Inmon's overwhelming motive in the murders was that he wanted to rid society of less-than-desirable people. He told authorities he would have continued his vigilante killing spree had he not been caught.

Authorities said Thursday that money and guns also were motives.

Inmon's attorney, Albert Lassen said in a statement Thursday that his client agreed to cooperate with authorities only if the death penalty was taken off the table. Prosecutors agreed.

McCarragher was the first known of Inmon's victims, but authorities say they are investigating whether he might be involved in at least two other murders.

McCarragher lived on a small rural ranch outside of St. Johns and was known to carry large amounts of money, sometimes thousands of dollars. In court documents, those interviewed by investigators said McCarragher was a "potty mouth" and was rough on kids. He also had a criminal history of sex offenses under an alias, according to court documents.

Inmon, who was considered a potential suspect at the time, denied fatally shooting McCarragher and said, "the whole town is suspect because a lot of people did not care for Stoney."

Inmon recently confessed to the murder, saying he did not want McCarragher to violate anyone else.

Achten, who had been missing for five months before his remains were discovered in a shallow grave on his rural property outside of St. Johns last week, was a Vietnam veteran who locals said couldn't hear well. He was known to some as "Hummer Dan," because he was constantly humming, Apache County sheriff's Sgt. Richard Guinn said.

The gangly Inmon told authorities that Achten used drugs, shot his longtime dog and generally mistreated people, so he believed he had a duty to rid society of him.

Authorities said Inmon was proud of committing the murders of Achten and McCarragher, but was remorseful about the death of Flores, whom he killed with a single shotgun blast.

Springerville Police Chief Steve West said Inmon initially claimed that Flores' had threatened him with a firearm and he acted in self-defense. He eventually confessed and broke down in tears — one of only three moments when he showed real emotion, West said.

Inmon told authorities he wanted Flores to change his life, and authorities believe drugs were the issue.

The latest confessions are likely to further shake up the tiny town of St. Johns where violent killings had been rare. Last November, a then 8-year-old was charged with fatally shooting his father and his father's roommate. He pleaded guilty to the roommate's death and prosecutors dropped charges against him in his father's death. The boy, now 9, is awaiting sentencing. ..Source.. by FELICIA FONSECA