Top 10 Major Crimes Solved By Normal People

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Top 10 Major Crimes Solved By Normal People

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Don Ekama
These citizen sleuths did what the police couldn't. For this list, we'll be looking at prolific crime cases that were resolved due to exceptional investigative work by ordinary citizens. Our countdown includes Margaret Davis Solves Her Son's Murder, A Klansman Gets His Comeuppance, The Murder of Abraham Shakespeare, and more!
Transcript

Top 10 Times Regular People Helped Solve Major Crimes


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Times Regular People Helped Solve Major Crimes.

For this list, we’ll be looking at prolific crime cases that were resolved due to exceptional investigative work by ordinary citizens.

Which of these average Joes left you thoroughly impressed with their sleuth skills? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Margaret Davis Solves Her Son’s Murder

A mother’s love can certainly be the greatest love of all. English software engineer Steven Davis was murdered by gunmen in his Makati, Philippines apartment in July 2002. His mother, Margaret, had a hunch that her son’s wife, Evelyn, was somehow involved in his death. While the police investigation stalled and eventually turned cold, Margaret spent thousands of dollars hiring a private investigator. With all the evidence gathered from Margaret’s investigation, the police gave the case a second look. It was ultimately discovered that Evelyn was having an affair with one of the gunmen and had masterminded the plot to have Steven killed. This resulted in the conviction of Evelyn and all three gunmen in 2004.

#9: Jessica Maple & the Burglars

After her late great-grandmother’s house was burgled and robbed of nearly all its furniture, 12-year-old Jessica Maple cracked the case by finding key clues the police completely missed. Although officers had concluded that the burglar must have had a key to enter the house, Jessica discovered broken garage windows covered in multiple fingerprints when she returned to the crime scene with her mom. Her investigation also turned up all of the missing furniture at a nearby pawn shop, whose owner identified the men who’d brought them in. Miss Maple didn’t just stop there. She tracked down one of the burglars and got him to confess to the robbery! Talk about giving the cops a run for their money.

#8: Car Enthusiasts Solve a Hit-and-Run

The community of readers on the automobile blogging site Jalopnik put their expansive car knowledge to the ultimate test in April 2012, when 57-year-old Betty Wheeler lost her life in a hit-and-run. Hoping to get some help from the online community, police uploaded a picture of a small piece of metal they believed had broken off the vehicle in the collision. And Jalopnik readers got right on it. They linked the metal to an early-2000s Ford F-150 pickup in a matter of hours. They gave the police a piece of information that was critical in identifying the driver and passenger of the catastrophic vehicle. Both men were later arrested and convicted of felony hit-and-run.

#7: Yaakov German Tracks Down a Kidnapper & Killer

The disappearance of the young Leiby Kletzky sent shockwaves through his Orthodox Jewish New York neighborhood. Those waves were certainly felt by Yaakov German, a property manager who took it upon himself to find the missing boy. Yaakov traced Leiby’s movements using surveillance footage from stores and houses on his school route. This ended with footage from a car-leasing company showing Leiby getting picked up by Levi Aron a man from the same neighborhood. Yaakov’s efforts led the police to the perpetrator. Sadly, police found only remains upon Aron’s arrest.

#6: A Klansman Gets His Comeuppance

In 1964, two 19-year-old African American students in Mississippi, Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee, were abducted and drowned by members of the KKK. The police investigation was allegedly clouded by their prejudice and the case was closed after a few months. Some forty years later, Moore’s brother, Thomas teamed up with a documentary filmmaker. They tracked down the man responsible for the killings, James Ford Seale, who was initially reported dead. Thomas’ and producer David Ridgen’s discovery allowed the case to be reopened, resulting in Seale’s arrest and conviction by a federal jury. He was sentenced to three consecutive life terms and died in prison in 2011.

#5: Celia Blay Catches an Internet Predator

William Melchert-Dinkel, a 47-year-old nurse from Minnesota, frequently posed as a twenty-something year old woman in online chatrooms. He encouraged young, depressed adults to take their own lives, sometimes for his viewing pleasure. William’s scheme was discovered by Celia Blay, a pensioner from England. Blay struck up a conversation with a teenager online and learned that she was being goaded by William. Celia devised a plan with the teenager and was able to collect evidence against William, with which she convinced US authorities to lay charges. He was stripped of his nursing license and sentenced to jail time for assisting and attempting to assist in the deaths of two people.

#4: Bradley Willman & the Predatory Judge

In the late 1990s, Canadian private investigator Bradley Willman developed a Trojan horse disguised as a picture-file, which he posted on several websites frequented by predators. Once downloaded, the file gave him unfettered access to the individual’s computer. This allowed him to pore over their emails and other documents, then turn over important information to watchdog groups. His work culminated in the arrest of Ronald Kline, a California Superior Court Judge who had an abundance of damning evidence on his computer. Kline was disbarred and sentenced to 27 months in prison.

#3: The Murder of Abraham Shakespeare

For Abraham Shakespeare, winning a $30 million lottery was unfortunately the beginning of his troubles. He started a private business with Dorice “Dee Dee” More, who took control of his finances. A few months later, Moore killed Shakespeare and buried him under a concrete slab behind her house. As the case garnered attention, users of the internet crime forum, Websleuths started digging. They found that Moore had opened a fake account on the website to divert suspicion away from herself. The amateur sleuths were able to trace the IP address of the fake account back to Moore’s personal computer, aiding investigators. Moore was found guilty of killing Shakespeare and received a life sentence.

#2: Michelle McNamara’s Hunt for the Golden State Killer

Joseph James DeAngelo, infamously known as the Golden State Killer, was responsible for the deaths of at least 13 people. However, the hunt for his identity would go on to claim one more life - that of Michelle McNamara. McNamara, a true crime writer, grew up fascinated with unsolved mysteries and later zeroed in on a string of cold cases that took place in California in the 70s and 80s. Her unyielding investigation turned up a library’s worth of evidence. To deal with the stress, she started taking a cocktail of prescription drugs, which led to her accidental death. However, her work revived interest in the case and ultimately led law enforcement to DeAngelo.

#1: The Murder of Jun Lin

Before this case became about the murder of Jun Lin, it revolved around a couple of Facebook videos that portrayed acts of animal cruelty carried out by an unidentified man. A group of online sleuths began investigating and were able to identify the man in the videos as Luka Magnotta. Magnotta later lured Lin, a university student in Canada, over to his apartment where he murdered him and uploaded a video online. The sleuth group was able to link that video to the ones involving animals and share their information with the authorities. A few weeks later, Magnotta was arrested.
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