Coffee Chat (Part 1)

Audio version now available:

I am back! After I published the last blog post titled “Public Opinion”, which had to be redone due to a saving error, I needed a small break. If you have not read that one yet here is the link:

For those new to the blog here is a link to all other blog posts:

In the time that has since passed I’ve been looking up other cases we may be able to discuss and analyze. I have yet to come across a case as complex, fascinating, and as attention grabbing as the Watts case. Quite honestly, I doubt we will ever see a similar story. I do have a few intriguing nationally headlined cases that I want to discuss as we continue through this blog post. Some of these stories made me think of the Watts case, but not because it was similar per se. I’ve titled this post, “Coffee Chat”, because I want readers & listeners to imagine sitting around like old friends chatting about these cases together. Grab coffee, tea, or whatever drink you desire and let’s get started. Add any input, or opinion in the comment section of our Facebook Page. You can find that here:

First up, let’s discuss a story that doesn’t fit under the True Crime genre, because it is classified as an accident. It is a story almost everyone has heard about this week, and if you haven’t you must live under a rock, please come out from under it. It’s the horrific, unthinkable ending of nine lives taken in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California last Sunday morning. Most everyone recognized the name of at least one passenger on that flight, which was the retired NBA player, Kobe Bryant. Everyone has an opinion about the accusation of transgression from Kobe’s past. If you don’t know what I am talking about you can google Kobe’s name followed by the year 2003. Don’t worry I am not gonna talk about that, and please refrain from discussing that in the comments on our Facebook page. I only mention it because I know his name can be upsetting for some as I’ve seen that all over social media this week. His life, three young teenage girls (one of which was his daughter), and five other adults losing their lives far too soon is all that should matter for this particular post. Four different families and countless friends whose lives are now forever changed. Kobe’s teammates, and those who viewed him as an inspiration are left in deep mourning. Several children are now left without parents, three of his daughters are left without their father, and sister. Husbands and wives climbing into an empty bed ever since, if they can even sleep at all.

In the midst of all this, and with people all over the world grieving the tremendous loss & heartbreak, several press conferences unfolded. As they began to recover the victims bodies, and dug through the wreckage the media brought us updates on what possibly went wrong in the final moments of that fatal flight. The NTSB [National Transportation Safety Board] broke down several safety recommendations from prior crashes that were never implemented by the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration], which could have helped them to gain more insight into what had transpired. The idea is that with more protocols, high tech gadgets, and safety measures in place, there are more ways to prevent any similar tragedies in the future. The recommendations certainly cannot change what happened, or bring these particular nine people back, but it can help save loss of life in the future. This tragedy caught my attention, and some may be wondering why it did, or where am I going with this. Well, if you follow this blog you may have figured it out, and if you are new then allow me to briefly explain! I have been saying that there are so many lessons to learn from the Watts case, lessons that can maybe prevent the loss of another family in the future. I’ve said many times that discussing the family members, what transpired within their family, what happened prior, and after, all of it matters and can bring awareness to so many relatable everyday issues. Discussing the entire story of the Watts family from beginning to end does not bring Shanann, Bella, Celeste, or Nico back. It does not get Chris out of prison, and definitely does not restore an entire family. It could however, help other couples, young families, and children. It seems perfectly fine to discuss and recommend safety measures when a tragic accident occurs, in fact it is expected. It does not seem to be an acceptable topic when the public wants to discuss the everyday issues that transpired in the Watts marriage. Issues that could have an impact on a great deal of other current & future marriages, which are more commonly known to happen on a daily basis than any of us possibly dying whilst flying in a helicopter.

During the crash coverage this week late night talk show host Stephen Colbert brought up his own story of loss while doing a remembrance show regarding Kobe Bryant. He discussed how when he was just a young boy he lost his father and two brothers in a tragic airplane crash. On the emotional level of grief in such a sudden accidental way, Colbert was able to relate to the families who lost their loved ones in the helicopter crash. Ordinarily, when a loved one dies we know the why, and what happened before they died. If it’s cancer we know it was cancer that took their life. If it was a car accident we usually know what part of the crash caused their loss of life. What’s worse than losing someone you love? Well, in Colbert’s words, the NOT knowing what happened! Not having the intel that pieces together all those final moments to produce some sort of sense, of closure. Which again, made me think of the Watts case. There’s nothing, except circumstantial evidence, and endless stories from the lone survivor of that August morning in 2018. No one knows what happened, and the families have to pick a version they want to believe, in order to try to even remotely move on with their lives. Many would have imagined a compelling effort pushing for a trial, for the sake of finding out what had happened because, the not knowing is so much worse. Had there been a trial there was no guarantee of the details having come out, however, a trial would have brought everyone closer than they are now to knowing what happened that fateful night. This is why several agencies inspected the crash site, examined the wreckage, and transported that wreckage to a special location to comb through it further. All are efforts to seek answers for these families. While I believe that plea deals can be a good thing in certain cases, there are many cases where a plea deal just doesn’t suffice. Maybe the families are okay with not knowing what happened, or maybe only one side is okay with it. I am not one to know their thoughts, but did find what Colbert said perceptive, that what makes it all worse is the unknown. I can speak on my own behalf in saying the not knowing in the Watts case, and the mystery of it all, is what captivated me to discuss it as long as I have. I am not quite certain of course, if it were my loved ones, if I would feel the same way.

Another thing that has caught my attention, is the people who were greatly annoyed that there was more coverage about Kobe and his daughter than the other lives lost. They kept reminding the public to not forget the others, and their lives mattered too. I think we can all agree, all their lives mattered, very much so. It is no surprise though, that the man whose life and career was documented in front of the cameras for over 20 years was the prime focus. He has been a household name for a majority of those years, and widely known, even if you are not a sports fan. Kobe was famous, iconic, a leader, a mentor, a champion, and a big part of NBA history. Sadly, most of us didn’t know the names of the others that sat beside Kobe. Many did not even know Kobe’s beautiful young talented daughter’s name, Gianna, until she lost her life too alongside him. Why does this part intrigue me? In the Watts case, Shanann has been idolized to the point of people practically making her like “a Kobe” in her own right. There is so much focus on her, and definitely much less focus on Bella & Celeste Watts. Some people have lumped the three individuals into one personage, which devalues the girls short lives. Shanann was not a Kobe Bryant. Kobe & Shanann as humans shared many things in common which was that both were fallible, had flaws and strengths, lost their lives far too soon, had people who loved them, and were parents, that’s it. Whether you feel good, bad, or indifferent about Kobe the fact remains he is considered a sports legend, was inspirational to millions, motivational, a leader amongst adults & children, and a champion, he was indeed an actual idol for thousands; just look at the news this week. The seven other passengers traveling with Kobe and his daughter Gianna were, I am sure, highly loved and appreciated by those closest to them. In this enormous sudden loss, I would bet they don’t resent for a second the attention Kobe has received, and possibly even agree with it, as he was their friend too. I have not heard of anyone lumping all nine lives in with Kobe’s despite all having died on the same day and in the same moment within seconds of each other.

At the end of the day all of their lives mattered, and I would like to see this thinking extended into the Watts case with more acknowledgment of Bella & Celeste, or any future case. Almost every show or book has been about the girls’ evil monster daddy, and saint like mother. The most current show that had a debut last weekend was the Reelz episode, it focused heavily on Shannan too! Which by the way, the entire show was like hearing about a fictional character. Shanann’s friends came across as wanting to make her someone that she was not while alive, and even trying to reshape her image in death to the image she strived to fulfill for so long, that of being and appearing perfect. There’s documented, endless proof, of Kobe being all the things I’ve listed. With Shanann the little evidence we have shows a much different picture. If you have not seen that Reelz show you can view that here:

Here is a link to an article about the show:

I am considering a blog post about all the shows, and the ridiculous Lifetime movie that aired.

Anyway, a prime example of the misguided focus, or lack of focus, on the girls in that show was when Shanann’s friend, Cristina spoke. Cristina said, “How could he do this to HER”, and didn’t say, “how could he do this to THEM”. Cristina flew out to the Watts’ family home to take care of the girls for six weeks a year prior to the girls’ deaths. She had a relationship with the girls too, but failed to acknowledge them in that statement. Before we move on, let me end this portion with acknowledging the deaths of nine lives. May their families find some sort of peace & comfort to guide them the rest of their days. I hope further investigation will reveal some answers.

The next story I want to discuss is the Heidi Broussard case. I know I keep saying I will do a blog post about her, and I will! It is a case that can also raise a lot of awareness and education to prevent it from happening again. We should not have to constantly be on guard, especially with those closest to us, but this is the unfortunate reality. I was gonna do that blog post next, but then saw Dateline was covering the story. I figured I would allow them to debut their show, and we can discuss it at a later time, maybe after Magen appears in court. If you want to get caught up with the story the Dateline show would be a good place:

One of the things that was said multiple times during the Dateline episode, was Heidi’s friends and family wondering: Why did Magen(the accused) do this? What caused her to do this? How could she do this to her “best friend”? Even Heidi’s mother expressed how they simply want to know why! There are many types of motives for murder, and some stem from jealousy, desperation, resentment, anger, loathing, and greed to name a few. In this case, I would say it’s safe to assume, at minimum, there was jealousy & desperation at play.

Magen started a lie that grew, and she never stopped it. The lie spun so out of control, and as it unfolded, the desperation took over Magen. She likely tried at some point to find a way to stop the spinning, and did not see any other way out of her lies. An unfathomable plan was set in motion to try to regain control. It’s unimaginable that she would turn her sights on someone who trusted her, and with whom she had a lengthy history with. If someone has never felt that level of desperation before, it would be very hard to understand it at all. It happens though, and often in many different crimes. Think about why so many rob banks, it is often because the person had a growing debt, were sinking, and needed a quick life raft. Think about murder-suicides that we discussed a few blog posts ago. The person is desperate, and suffering that desperation hid any light at the end of the tunnel. Think of someone stealing a car, they need a means of transportation for any variety of reasons, and set sights on the first car they see, out of desperation. Desperation is the state of despair, typically one which results in rash or extreme behavior.

As we will discuss in a future blog post about this case, is what makes the Broussard case different, is Magen’s desperation grew bigger than the friendship she had with Heidi. That desperation likely didn’t allow Magen to stop and consider how absurd the idea was, how she would never get away with it, that she was gonna take her friends life, and leave two children without a mother. I am definitely not excusing anything this woman did and she needs to be prosecuted to the highest extent of the law. I do have to wonder how deep the dark hole of desperation she must may have been in, and how I wish that someone had seen this coming from a mile away to prevent it. No one could have known though, and it provides learning opportunities for others to become aware now.

Have any of you heard about the nationally covered story of a woman named Paighton Houston out of Alabama? Just this week her autopsy came back as an accidental overdose. People were shocked! You see, when she went missing her friends said they received a text from her when she left a bar with someone she claimed to not know. The text implied that she didn’t know where she was and also thought she was in trouble. Naturally, this was perceived as she was in trouble, because of the person she left with. The autopsy showed the accidental overdose was caused by morphine and methamphetamine. Paighton was high when she sent this text and it could explain why she didn’t know where she was, and why she felt she was in trouble. A man was arrested in connection with hiding her body in a shallow grave, which was found at the beginning of January. We discussed in the, “Never Say Never” series how oftentimes people hide bodies out of fear. I shared several stories, and two were drug related. The person had been doing drugs too, and feared being arrested so hid the body. You can read that series here:

Here is an article about Paighton:

This story is another example of how what the public believed happened actually wasn’t the case at all. This is why so many were shocked at the autopsy results! It should be noted that she did have a history of prior drug use. People had already compared Paighton to Savannah Spurlock, a young mom of several children who went missing last year. Savannah was last seen leaving a bar as well, with three men, never to be seen again. Her body was located at one of the three men’s parents property six months later. Savannah had indeed been murdered, and the accused has been officially charged. At first, it was presumed all three men were involved in her disappearance after being seen on surveillance with her leaving the bar. As it turned out, as far as we know thus far, there is only one responsible for her murder, and children being left without their mother. The public was wrong assuming Payton had the same fate as Savannah. While both women lost their lives it was in different ways, despite the period of time before vanishing being so similar. Here is a link to Savannah’s story:

There’s two other current cases that have made the headlines that have something in common, a suicide note. One of the stories is about a young woman named was Stephanie Parze of New Jersey. She had been in an abusive relationship in the past, and went missing on October 30th,, after her parents dropped her off. The family tirelessly searched for her for months. Last week, she was found deceased by two teens walking on a busy road to work. Let me back up though, last month her ex-boyfriend who was abusive committed suicide in his parents home after being released from jail for other charges. At the time rumors were whirling that there was a suicide note, but it was not confirmed by law enforcement. Of course, since he killed himself and at the time was a person of interest, it was assumed he must have killed her. This was confirmed to be true a month later when her body was found. The Parze family, and law enforcement, confirmed he had indeed left a note stating he had killed Stephanie, unfortunately he did not disclose where her body was. Want to learn more about Stephanie Parze do so here:

In the meantime, another case was unfolding which was a mother of five who suddenly vanished. Her name is Jennifer Dulos, and she has yet to be found. Last week, her estranged husband Fotis Dulos, with whom she having a bitter divorce with attempted suicide by carbon monoxide in his garage when he was suppose to be appearing in court. He was transported to the hospital, and was in critical condition for a few days. Fotis later succumbed to his suicide attempt, and there was a suicide note left behind. He did not however, admit to killing his missing estranged wife, Jennifer in his note.

In their divorce proceedings Jennifer made a lot of claims about her estranged husband. Jennifer claimed that Fotis was verbally abusive toward her and said he had exhibited ‘irrational, unsafe, bullying, threatening and controlling behavior’, according to an affidavit from the divorce proceedings obtained. Dulos claimed that Fotis had threatened to ‘take all of the children’ and ‘disappear’.

Two stories that involve suicide notes left behind. What can we learn from these two stories? Just because they are similar does not mean much of anything. One admitted to his crime which explained why he took his life, but still wouldn’t give her family the location of her body. The other refused to admit any involvement at all, only thinking of how he did not want to spend another minute in jail. The evidence against Fotis involved DNA evidence, and from that alone makes it highly likely he was involved in some way. His attorneys have now asked for the case to go forth even though he is deceased. Five children were left without both their parents, and for what? Stephanie was a young woman, the age of 25, at the time of her murder. She had not lived her life yet, didn’t experience marriage, children, or anything that would have come thereafter, before her life was taken from her. Her family, friends, and loved ones all now knowing that all those months that had passed their loved one’s body laid on the side of a road. In this instance, do we say at least he admitted he did it before taking the cowards way out? I don’t know the answer to the that. I hope Jennifer Dulos is eventually found as her loved ones likely need that for some closure.

I am gonna stop there, and start on part two so this post does not become epically long. In the next part, we are gonna discuss a current missing eleven year old boy, another story I read about in Michigan that wasn’t headline news, and a few others. Join me in the next post to continue our True Crime coffee chat.

Link to Part 2: