True Crime Tuesday – “Just One Bite”

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I watch Forensic Files to fall asleep. Most people read or listen to soft music. I need the sound of Peter Thomas narrating to lull me into slumber. Although, he is no Keith Morrison. Anyway, a few days ago as I binged watched Forensic Files for the umpteenth time, I came across an episode that piqued my interest not for the dumb criminal… but to turn the tables… the senseless jury and several law enforcement members. This is Season 8, Episode 7, “Once Bitten”.

The crime is horrific. In Phoenix, AZ in 1991, a lovely vivacious bar tender, 35-year-old Kim Ancona, is stabbed and brutally murdered and left in the back storeroom of the bar she was employed at. The bar owner finds her the next morning and immediately calls 911. The cops are doing their detective work and asking the owner and fellow employees who could have committed this crime. A few of the employees suggest frequent bar patron, Ray Krone. Many of them found him odd. Kim found him attractive and according to her friends, wanted to start a romance with him. Because of this Ray climbs the suspect ladder.

What ultimately seals his fate is a bite mark found on Kim’s body. The bite mark clearly shows a snaggletooth on the top front teeth. They notice that Ray has a snaggletooth after obtaining his bite impression, His blood type (Type O) is found to be the same as the blood found on Kim’s jeans. They also find dark hairs on Kim’s body and assume they are Ray’s even though they are Mongoloid and Ray is Caucasian. Remember, 1991 is before we had more in depth DNA testing. He must be the guy, right?! I forgot to mention, the police found a footprint at the scene. Men’s size 9.5. Ray, poor Ray, wears a 10.5 shoe. But he did it. We know he did. Because the cops said so.

Ray is quickly arrested and brought to trial.

Although his shoe size is bigger than what is found at the scene, the hair is Mongoloid and he has a solid alibi (I forgot to mention that too), Ray is found guilty because the solitary Forensic Odontologist the prosecution puts on the stand, Dr. Raymond Rawson, says without doubt, 100%, the bite mark is Ray Krone’s.

As a side note, in the episode, they show the bite mark and show Ray Krone’s bite mark on top of it several times. Even I can tell they aren’t a perfect match ignoring the snaggletooth. The original bite mark was wider than Ray’s set of teeth.

Ray is sentenced to death in 1992. He is granted a 2nd trial in 1996. This time the defense puts 3 other Forensic Odontologists on the stand who all agree that this infamous bite more is NOT Ray Krone’s. The prosecution, once again, puts Dr. Rawson on the stand who is still sticking by his first testimony that it is totally Mr. Krone’s. So, you would think with 3 other Forensic Odontologists refuting Dr. Rawson that Ray would be cleared of the crime, that reasonable doubt about the stupid bite mark would be found…

Nope. Once again, this second jury finds him guilty and he returns to death row.

Ray educates himself in law while he is there trying to find some way of exonerating himself. The only evidence that has sentenced him to death is a bite mark that isn’t his. Ray’s luck turns around when Arizona, in 2001, created a new law that gave convicted felons access to the evidence in their cases as long as they continue to say they are innocent (frankly, doesn’t everyone claim innocence?!).

Ray has the evidence in his hands and time on his side because in the last 9 years, there have been tremendous advancements in DNA. He and his lawyers request DNA testing of the blood found on Kim’s jeans. The results come back…

… it is not Ray Krone’s! (I know, shocking, right?!)

There is a hit on the DNA to a man named Kenneth Phillips. Kenneth is of Native American descent (Mongoloid), wears a size 9.5 shoe and also has a snaggletooth. Oh, and at the time he lived 600 yards from the bar. Kenneth, a repeated violent sex offender & child molester (a real winner here), claimed he committed this crime while in a drunken black out. He said during interrogation, that he woke up with, literally, blood on his hands. Instead of going to the police, he just ignored it.

Ten years after Ray Krone was sentenced to death, he is released on April 8, 2002.

It is said that there was enough evidence back in 1991 to have put Kenneth Phillips on police’s radar for this crime, but they and prosecution members just ignored it and continued to pursue Ray Krone.

Ray Krone didn’t let his 10 years on death row after being innocent die down. In 2005, he sued the City of Phoenix and Maricopa County (and rightly so). He was awarded $3,000,000 and $1,400,000 respectively. He has become a huge activist in abolishing the death penalty and is the Director of Membership and Training for Witness to Innocence, a non-profit dedicated to ending the death penalty.

And Ray got his snaggletooth fixed.

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Moral of the story: Never judge a bite by its snaggletooth or sometimes it isn’t the criminal who is stupid.

True Crime Tuesdays – “What a Great Idea for a Novel!”

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Some criminals just stay with you. The first criminal I was introduced to was Jeffrey Dahmer. I don’t remember what I was watching but my father told me all about him. I think I was about 12 at the time. His acts were heinous. Killing young men, raping them and having them for dinner. I always wondered if Silence of the Lambs was based on him. Even at that tender age, instead of this disgusting me, Dahmer fascinated me. He has stuck with me since.

And so has Maryann Castorena.

No, she is not anything like Jeffrey Dahmer, but her stupidity is so remarkable I can’t stop thinking about her. I first saw her on Snapped, Season 17, Episode 3. I think my mind was a ball of confusion after the episode was over. I am not sure what she was thinking with her defense, but like I stated, her story (oh, what a story it is!) has adhered itself to some part of my brain, leeching on and not letting go.

Maryann met and started dating a man named Jose Hernandez back in 2005. Love was in the air that they moved in together. At the heart of this story is greed (isn’t it always?!). In 2012, Jose, so infatuated with Maryann, took out a $750,000 life insurance policy. He took this policy out at the insurance company Maryann worked at (convenient, right?!). At the time he put his niece as the beneficiary but question whether he could change that at a later date, say, once he had a wife and kids.

Well, of course Maryann was made aware of this policy and started to manufacture a plan to obtain Jose’s money. If only the policy were in her name already! Maryann was visiting her adult sons one day and met one of their friends, Anthony Delagarza, a member of the gang the Latin Kings. Not the best mother of the year knowing your sons are hanging out with gang members but hey, why not join in, right?! Delagarza claimed he wanted out of the Latin Kings and was working on it. He is truthful in this aspect. In December of 2012, he was officially “jumped” out or in other terms, beaten to a pulp.

But Anthony’s thug-life was not over. Maryann would make sure of that.

In early 2013, Jose had a change of heart and decided he wanted Maryann to have all his money, making her the only beneficiary of his employee stock options plan, his 401k plan, and his life insurance policy through his company. The other one stayed with his niece as the beneficiary.

Ah, it was go time for Maryann!

She started small, having Delagarza destroying the “beat up jalopy” for an insurance payout. This jalopy was a pretty new 2012 Nissan Maxima. Paying him $1,000, he blew up the car (add 1st degree arson to his list of offences). The cover story was that Maryann’s ex-husband did it for revenge. In return, Jose received $40,000 from the insurance company.

This event was so life altering to Jose, that he now changed his beneficiary on his other insurance policy leaving his niece with 60% and Maryann with 40%.

What Maryann never told Jose, was she was in love with someone else and married them July of 2013. She then returned and told Delagarza she needed a favor (seriously man, turn and run!). She wanted him to murder Jose. In return, he would get $50,000 of a 3rd life insurance policy Maryann was going to persuade Jose to take out. So in her charming nature, Maryann gets Jose to take out another $750,000 life insurance policy leaving her as the sole beneficiary.

Side note: Are you adding up the dollar signs in your head? Let’s see… $750,000+(40% of 750,000)+employee stock options, 401K and the other life insurance policy… Maryann stood to gain somewhere between $1.2 – $1.5 million!!!

Now, Jose had to die.

Late 2013, Maryann moved her husband (not Jose) to Michigan from Nevada. She then met with Delagarza several times to discuss the murder of Jose. Meanwhile, Jose now split that first insurance policy 50-50 with his niece and Maryann.

On January 5th, 2014, Delagarza went into action, borrowing a relative’s car and waiting for Jose to leave his apartment and accessing his car. At that time, Delagarza senselessly beat Jose with ball joint remover with a broken prong and left him to die in the snow. Maryann and Delagarzathen got rid of the weapon.

Okay, so why is Maryann Castorena’s murder of her ex-boyfriend so remarkable?! It isn’t necessarily the murder… it is the evidence and defense that is quite the story.

As police searched for Jose’s killer they subsequently interviewed Maryann several times especially since she stood to gain A LOT of money. In these interviews, Maryann was only so happy to give the police Delagarza’s name. Heck, if he was in prison and she wasn’t, she didn’t have to pay him the $50,000 hit fee, right?! (Because $1.2 million isn’t enough!) Well, Delagarza didn’t think twice about throwing Maryann under the bus telling them that she was the mastermind and that…

… she even wrote out the murder plan!

To coin a Yiddish term (yes, I’m Jewish)… Oy Vey!

Maryann had handwritten a note outlining the whole plan to kill Jose from hiding by his car, to beating him, every little aspect was written down. The police ate this up and started searching everywhere for this letter. Instead of burning said letter, the police found it crumpled up inside a book bag. Although I cannot seem to find an image of this letter searching on Google, Oxygen just show a glimpse of it in the Snapped episode.

So far Maryann has broken two of my rules seen in my prior post from March: “What Not To Do When Committing A Crime… The Stupidity of Criminals” . She has written out her murder plan (yes I know she is my example in this post) and she hired someone.

It is obvious that Delagarza was going away for a long time for first-degree murder. Now it was Maryann’s time for her trial. Maryann took that letter she wrote and created this whole defense on it. The defense: the letter wasn’t a murder plot, no, it was a story she heard two women discussing at a restaurant she was at and she thought it sounded like a great idea for a novel or movie!

Um… really Maryann?! Who the hell do you think is buying that defense?!

This “story” she heard and was writing was exactly the way things played out in real life with Jose’s murder.

Needless to say, the jury was not falling for this charade and Maryann is spending her days in prison sentenced to life with not possibility of parole. In the end, Maryann, was it really worth it?!


Maryann stays with me because of the letter. Her stupidity in not only writing the murder plot, but also not disposing it and then claiming it was a book idea is what boggles my mind. How do you get so absorbed in killing a human being for money that you totally miss the idea of being caught?! What goes through your mind as you plan the hit?! Do you really think you will get away with it?!

Maryann, my one advice for you… give up on your writing career.

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True Crime Tuesday – “I’m Gonna Be a YouTube Sensation!”

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A tale as old as time…

Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Boy marries girl. Girl hires hit man to kill boy… whoa, wait a minute!

This is the story of Dalia Dippolito, of Boynton Beach, FL who met her husband Michael Dippolito when she first appeared on his doorstep one day as a hired escort in 2008. Four months later (yes, I said four months) they were married. Hmmm… how much do you really know about a person in 4 months?! Their quick-to-the-altar marriage started out euphorically. All sunshine and roses, until it wasn’t, you know a few months after that. Why do I say a few months? Because Dalia started to plan Mike’s murder in 2009!

Maybe the sex wasn’t good, she didn’t like him anymore, who knows?! But he had to die! Why? Because the easiest most profitable way to get out of the marriage was to have him killed.

Detour here… I don’t understand what goes on in the criminal mind. You want out of a marriage and you want money. Ah, let me murder my spouse! Okay, I see that train of thought, BUT, and a big, BUT, criminals are stupid. They seem to get stuck on greed, that they don’t realize they will be caught and then instead of seeing all this insurance money & freedom, you’re seeing the inside of a prison. Just mind-boggling to me.

Back to the story. So Dalia wants her husband dead so she can collect his life insurance. Not original by any means. Greed is the #1 instigator of murder. Money talks. While she is planning his death, she starts stealing his money, $100,000 of it.

She begins with plans that only involve herself… poisoning his drink with antifreeze, attempting to steal a gun, trying to get him back behind bars on a probation violation (yes, Michael was not a saint by any means). All this backtracked her. She had to bring in reinforcements.

Enter her boyfriends.

She went first to Mike Stanley telling him that they could be together if they got Michael out of the picture. He helped put a townhouse Michael owned into Dalia’s name only. He aided in making phone calls to the U.S. Department of Treasury reporting Michael for fake money scams. This wasn’t enough.

She then enlisted Mohamed Fawzi Shihadeh. With this, Dalia makes the biggest mistake of her life… she tells Mohamed that she wants her husband dead. Oh Dalia, you broke one of my rules, disclosing your plan to someone else.

Well, at least the boyfriend isn’t as dumb as Miss Dalia. He takes his smart thinking directly to the local PD where he informs them of Dalia’s statement. The officers and Mohamed strike up a deal. Mohamed, now an informant, is to tell Dalia that he has found a hitman for her. Of course, this soon-to-be hired hitman is actually an undercover cop. This plan is the beginning of Dalia’s demise.

Dalia meets with the uncover cop, I mean hitman, in his car. Naturally, being an undercover cop there is not only sound recording devices in the car but video as well. Oh Dalia… She can be heard on the recording stating, “I’m positive, like 5,000 percent sure I want it done!Well, at least she is, like 5,000% sure and not only 100% sure. The video became an internet sensation.

But not as much as a sensation as her “grieving wife” video.

She goes back and forth texting the hired hitman. After the time and date is decided, the cops disclose to Michael Dippolito his wife’s plans for him. He was a bit shocked but not “Oh my God! No way!” shocked. He decides to play along to the cops plan… fake his death. Good thinking Michael! When no one was home, the cops went in and staged a murder scene and then waited for their prey to show up.

Soon enough, they get their wish. When Dalia arrives home, the cops tell her that Michael is dead. Without hinting to her involvement, she starts dramatically sobbing, falling into an officers arms. It is an absolutely fabulous performance. She is then taken back to the precinct for questioning. They bring in the ‘hitman’ and tell her he is an undercover cop. Then they bring in Mike, back from the dead. Dalia is utterly shocked, in tears and begs him to come to her. (Watch all this in the video below)

Well, if the story hasn’t brought you to tears of laughter yet, it is about to. Remember, criminals are stupid. Dalia’s defense at trial is that it was all fake. The murder plot was a sham. She wanted to become a YouTube sensation because, she thought, YouTube would lead her to her own reality show. (Insert head smack here). Her defense didn’t work and she was found guilty, sentenced to 20 years in 2011. (The texts and the video didn’t help your defense Dalia… not one bit)

But, in an unforeseen turn of events, her conviction is overturned. (Gasp!) A 2nd trial in 2016 wound up having a hung jury. Because of this, she was sent home on house arrest until the start of trial #3. In this short period of time, she gets pregnant and has a baby. Her 3rd trial happens in June of 2017 and she is found guilty once again and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Her ex-husband, Michael Dippolito, expresses his joy with a little play on words, “I am 5,000% happy with the result.

At this point the residents of Florida, and frankly anyone who has been following this case, is so exhausted about hearing about Dalia Dippolito. But, sadly, we are not done. A few days ago, her name appeared in the news once again. She filed for an appeal. In the smartest decision of the Florida Supreme Court, they rejected it.

She is due to be released in 2032 at the age of 50.

So much for living that carefree life with all that insurance money!

 

Seen on:

Snapped, Season 8, Episode 20, Dalia Dippolito,

Dateline “The Sting” Season 25, Episode 13

Cops, 20/20, American Greed & Crime Watch Daily