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The residents of Rolling Hills, a hamlet in southeastern Ohio, were horrified when the dismembered bodies of two missing teens were pulled from the local river. Multiply suspects surfaced, but only one was railroaded, Richard Allan Lloyd, a known nudist and hothead.
What began as an evening stroll turned into what found only in horror films, and dubbed ‘the crime of the century’. 18 year old Babette, a voluptuous beauty contestant and horsewoman, and her 19 year old boyfriend Shane Shoemaker, a jealous and possessive unemployed printer, were last seen crossing a trestle bridge. Within fourteen days, their mutilated torsos and severed heads and limbs were unearthed, suggesting satanic cult activity.
With an investigation smeared with contradicting statements, and a botched crime scene, investigators built a flimsy case against Richard Lloyd. The three-week trial was based on police corruption and ineptitude, fairytale theories, and forensic mishandling.
This heinous crime shattered the sense of security for Rolling Hills, destroyed two families, and forever scarred the town. This story is a detailed account of finding justice for Babette and Shane, and of one man’s perseverance to gain his freedom from death row.
Excerpt: The next morning, Sandra woke with the belief her son was dead. She was now in a great panic. After checking in with Sandra, and realizing the kids had not returned or contacted her, Lt. Mowery took her written statement.
Sandra told the officer she rose at 7 a.m., on October 4, and noticed Annette waking up from the bedroom she shared with her daughter. She said Annette was preparing for classes at Tri-County Vocational School. Todd, she recalled, woke from his room and stayed home for the remainder of the morning after Annette left.
Chief Barron stayed within the city limits, checking area “hang outs” that Don had suggested. The officer reported finding no signs of the teens.
Lt. Mowery, armed with a new lead, drove to the nearby village of Nelsonville. First settled in 1814 by the Daniel Nelson family, the town was born from the coal industry and known as the “Little City of Black Diamonds.”
Once Lt. Mowery arrived at Tri-County, he discovered Annette had not attended any of her classes, after being reported missing.
What Instructor Dorothy Connors told the officer turned the investigation upside down and shed a new light on a seemingly non-alarming incident?
A petite redhead with green eyes, Dorothy was divorced with one grown daughter. She volunteered her free time at the local Pet Orphanage, a non-profit organization that placed abandoned or neglected dogs and cats within new homes.
She described Annette “a good student,” who at times had difficulties concentrating on her studies. Annette was determined to receive high grades, said Dorothy. She knew her smarts and her natural ability at mastering computer programming was her ticket out of Logan.
Todd on the other hand, seemed content in staying the “small-town” boy. His choir-boy manners was a hit with the ladies and especially with Sarah Johnson…in the beginning. Sarah would come to dislike Todd, as much as she disliked every boy Annette dated.
“I felt sorry for Annette and befriended her,” Dorothy told the officer.
Dorothy described three letters Annette sent her depicting sexual and mental abuse instigated by Dale Johnston. The letters talked of Annette wanting to run away, but she was afraid her stepfather would find her and punish her. Dale Johnston threatened each boyfriend Annette had, and forced Annette to accompany him, alone, on camping trips, where he regularly seduced her, then “rewarded her with money or new clothes.”
Annette wrote of Sarah being aware of the attacks, but refused to acknowledge them, or stop them, claiming Sarah cared only about her marriage. The allegations of sexual abuse would be debated at length. Some found the rumors empty, since Dale and Sarah had the reputation of being “energizer bunnies,” when it came to sex. Some felt why would Dale want other women, when Sarah was “ready and willing”? Others felt the rumors were true, automatically believing the young voluptuous Annette, due to her age, and being raised by the likes of Sarah and Dale.
According to Dorothy, she advised Annette to move out of her stepfather’s trailer, or report the attacks, but unfortunately, “My advice came too late,” she said.
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I hail from the famous Hocking Hills region of southeastern Ohio. Besides having several novels under my belt, I also canvass paint.
Cat Haven is a non-profit organization that spays and neuters stray cats in Hocking County, Ohio, to lower the unwanted litter over-population. Please donate and share this link. Thank you.