by: Uncovered Staff

Can you believe this year is already coming to a close? So much has happened these past 12 months, it’s insane to think some of these events took place only a few months ago.

This year was a landmark one in true crime history. Cases that have haunted communities for years are starting to see some movement, while others are finally seeing the dust brushed off. In more recent months, truly shocking developments are unfolding in new investigations. 

Here’s a recap of significant events that happened in each month of 2022. Buckle up for your ride down nostalgia lane!

January — Three Soldiers Charged in Enrique Roman Martinez’s Murder

The start of this year saw justice begin to unfold for Enrique Roman Martinez, a 21-year-old soldier who went missing while camping with other soldiers at North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Memorial day weekend 2020.

Nearly a week after Martinez was last seen, his decapitated head washed ashore on Shackleford Banks Island. His cause of death is officially listed as a “homicide by undetermined means.”

Following a lengthy investigation, all seven of the Fort Bragg troopers with Martinez were charged with illegally consuming LSD, a powerful hallucinogenic drug, that officers believe resulted in the delusional attack on Martinez. As recently as this July, two convictions mark the firsts for those involved in the case.

Enrique Roman Martinez’s case is still unsolved.

February — Long Island Serial Killer Task Force Created

The Suffolk County Police announced in February that they created a new Gilgo Beach Homicide Investigation Task Force specifically to investigate the Long Island Serial Killer case.

The detectives are made up of both federal, New York State, and local investigators, all aiming to find the killer responsible for the ten victims who were found along Ocean Parkway in 2010 and 2011. 

“The families of the victims discovered in areas around Gilgo Beach deserve answers and to see their loved ones’ killer, or killers, face justice,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s New York field office, told the Long Island Press. “We will support this task force with the tools it needs to hopefully bring the investigation of these murders to a successful conclusion.”

Many are hopeful the task force will be successful, particularly as their investigation has recently led them to Alabama. The group says they’re looking for family members of Elijah “Lige” Howell Howard, who died in 1967. They believe his relatives may be able to help identify a Jane Doe who has only been known as “Peaches,” due to the peach tattoo on her chest, as well as her toddler.

March — I-65 Killer Identified & Sherri Papini Arrested

Harry Edward Greenwell, who died in 2013, was identified as the killer behind the “I-65” or “Days Inn” cold case murders, Indiana State Police announced in March, noting in a news release he had a lengthy criminal history spanning from 1963 to 1998.

Greenwall was identified as the killer of three women through investigative genealogy using  DNA, clothing, and hairs he left at crime scenes. Possibly other cases have yet to be linked to him. Detectives are now looking at linking other unsolved assault and homicide cases from different states along the highway. 

Also in March of this year, Sherri Papini, now 39, was arrested for staging an apparent kidnapping in 2016. She was immediately charged with making false statements to a federal officer and engaging in mail fraud. In September 2022, she was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $300,000.

Many will remember her near-miraculous return to her California home three weeks after her husband discovered her cell phone and earbuds a mile away from home. When she reappeared, Papini was emaciated and branded on her right shoulder.

Investigators soon realized that her story didn’t add up, and that Papini staged the whole thing with her secret boyfriend.

April — Depp v. Heard

“Objection, Speculation! Objection, Argumentative! Objection, Hearsay!”

The country was captivated by the seven-week trial in a Virginia courtroom where actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard featured dozens of witnesses and experts weighing in on whether Depp was defamatory against Heard — or vice versa — during their 15-month marriage.

The televised and live-streamed trial attracted millions of viewers each day, and triggered a considerable social media response that was largely sympathetic to Depp, and critical of Heard. Debates were re-energized surrounding domestic violence and the #MeToo movement, shifting the narrative about coercive control and gaslighting. 

The jury ruled that Heard’s op-ed references to “sexual violence” and “domestic abuse” were false and defamed Depp, and awarded him $10 million in compensatory damages. This sum eventually got knocked down to $1 million following appeals and a statutory cap. As recently as December 19, Heard paid $1 million to Depp in settlement of the trial. Depp pledged the $1 million to charity.

May — Human Remains Found in Lake Mead, NV

After a diver found what appeared to be a human bone in Lake Mead, the park searched the area and uncovered human remains, the National Park Service confirmed in May. The organized efforts led to the discovery of at least five human remains. Some of the discoveries have only been partial sets, so it’s unclear how many people’s remains have been found.  

The findings have been possible because of the lake’s dropping water levels from prolonged drought.

The first discovery came on May 1st, when a set of remains was found in a corroded barrel with an obvious gunshot wound, Lt. Jason Johansson of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police homicide unit told CNN. They believe the victim died in the id-’70s to early ‘80s, and are working to identify all the victims through DNA analysis.

As recently as this past October, the sixth set of human remains was pulled from the shallow waters. Officials don’t suspect foul play with this recent discovery.

Additional Reading: Missing — Robert Heissenberer, last seen around Lake Mead, NV

June — Alive after Four Decades: Holly Marie Clouse

Holly Marie Clouse vanished from Texas as an infant after her parents, Harold Dean Clouse Jr. and Tina Gail Linn Clouse, were murdered in 1981. Her grandmother, Donna Casasanta, gave up hope that she would ever be reunited with her granddaughter.

Then, a miracle — in June 2022, Holly was found alive and well forty years later, living in Oklahoma. 

Casasanta told USA Today in a statement, “Finding Holly is a birthday present from heaven. I prayed for more than 40 years for answers and the Lord has revealed some of it… we have found Holly.”

Holly says she’s looking forward to meeting her biological family and hearing more about her story.

July — Anne Sang Thi Pham’s Killer Arrested

After more than four decades, authorities finally solved a 5-year-old girl’s disappearance and murder. The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office announced that Robert Lanoue, 70, abducted Anne Sang Thi Pham, 5, while she was on the way to school in Seaside, California, on Jan. 21, 1982.

As in many other similar cold cases, authorities credit advances in criminal technology with helping them figure out who killed the young girl.

Pham disappeared while walking to kindergarten at Highland Elementary School on Jan. 21, 1982. She was found strangled to death two days later.

August — Harmony Montgomery Case Declared a Homicide & Homicide Victims’ Families’ Rights Act (HVFRA) Passed

This past August, New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella announced that the search for Harmony Montgomery, a 5-year-old girl who was last seen in 2019, was now a homicide investigation. Montgomery was not reported missing until late 2021, and her father has been a prime suspect in her disappearance from the get-go.

After months of further investigating, Harmony’s father, Adam Montgomery, was arrested in October and charged with her murder. This is currently an ongoing no-body homicide investigation.

Also this past August, lawmakers met to iron out the final details of the Homicide Victims’ Families’ Rights Act. The bill was introduced to the House of Representatives in May of 2021, and after a long journey going through review, the bipartisan bill was signed by President Joe Biden.

This legislation will help ensure federal law enforcement reviews decades-old cold case files and applies the latest technologies and investigative standards. This process will help bring grieving families resolution in the midst of tragic circumstances.

Additional Reading: Let’s Talk about the HVFRA of 2021

September — Serial: Adnan Syed Exonerated

On September 20th, a Baltimore judge approved a motion by prosecutors to vacate the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, the subject of the first season of the popular “Serial” podcast. Syed has always maintained he is innocent of the 1999 slaying of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. The ruling was met with cheers and tears in the courtroom.

Then, in October, Baltimore prosecutors dropped all charges against Syed based on DNA test results that excluded him as a match to the biological evidence recovered at the crime scene. 

As recently as this month, Syed has been working at the Georgetown University Prisons and Justice Initiative (PJI), an organization that addresses the root causes and consequences of mass incarceration and offers educational programs and training for incarcerated individuals and returning citizens. 

In his new role, Syed supports PJI programming, including Georgetown’s Making an Exoneree class, in which students re-investigate decades-old wrongful convictions, create short documentaries about the cases, and work to help bring innocent people home from prison.

October — Suspect Arrested in 2017 Delphi Murders

“I am very proud to report to you… that today was the day,” Nicholas McLeland, the Carroll County Prosecutor, said during October’s Delphi, Indiana, press conference.

McLeland announced that October 31, 2022 was the day police confirmed that a Delphi local named Richard Allen, 50, had been in custody for the murders of Abby and Libby.

Law enforcement officers have been largely tight-lipped about nearly every aspect and angle of this investigation. The press conference was no different.

We later learned that Allen placed himself at the 2017 murder scene, admitted to owning a gun linked to the location due to an unspent round, and says no one else had access to the firearm. More information is still being released.

Additional Reading: Justice for Abby & Libby

November — Investigation of the Idaho University Killings & Elizabeth Barraza Case Update

In the early morning hours of November 13, four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death in their off-campus house. So far, no arrests have been made, and authorities have been busy debunking endless rumors and online chatter.

The college students found in their beds have been identified as Kaylee Goncalves, 21; Madison Mogen, 21; Xana Kernodle, 20; and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20. The three women lived there, along with two other female roommates, while Chapin was an overnight guest. 

A coroner determined the four victims were each stabbed multiple times and were likely asleep when the attacks began. Autopsies also revealed that some of the victims appeared to have defensive wounds.

As the investigation continues, the FBI has assigned 14 more federal agents to investigate the case, for a total of 60 federal agents. The Moscow police are also seeking information about a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra that was in the area of the crime scene during the fateful morning.

Additional Reading: Do the Idaho Killings Resemble Notorious College Massacres?

Also this past November, new evidence was released in the 2019 murder of Elizabeth Barraza, 29, who was shot and killed in her own driveway while setting up for a garage sale. Investigators revealed that the killer, who shot Barraza at point-blank range while they wore a disguise, was wielding a revolver. Police have not caught the suspect.

Additional Watching: Elizabeth “Liz” Barraza: LordanArts Uncovered Episode 3

December — Boy in the Box Identified as Joseph Augustus Zarelli

He has his name back. 

Only a few weeks ago, Philadelphia police identified “The Boy in the Box,” a 3- to 7-year-old boy who was found in February of 1957. Investigators found the child’s birth certificate and, with the help of DNA analysis, linked him to his third and fourth cousins. 

In 1957, Zarelli’s naked and beaten body was found on the side of Susquehanna Road. His case broke the hearts of all who investigated and researched. 

Misty Gillis, the investigative genealogist working on the case, says she cried for about three days straight when she discovered his identity. “I felt like I could finally grieve him,” she told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

 


 

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