True Crime On This Day February 23rd

True Crime On This Day February 23rd

February 23rd

On February 23rd in true crime, Spanish coup, double murder mystery, cold case in Ohio, missing person, and Hanover County John Doe.


In Wood County, Ohio, 27-year-old Joseph ‘Joe’ Milton Brandon was shot dead with a 12-gauge shotgun. Officers responded to reports of shots fired and found Brandon lying dead in a driveway that didn’t belong to him.

His vehicle was discovered at the bottom of the driveway leading to suspicions that the homeowner killed him but there was no evidence of it. As of 2022, the murder has never been solved and remains an active cold case in the State of Ohio.


In Iowa, the bodies of two young women, Cynthia Kay Walker and Carol Ann Willits, were found several miles apart from each other on the same day.

Walker had been shot three times and was found face down on a gravel road. Willits had been shot in the head and was found slumped behind the wheel of her car, with an apparent suicide note near her.

It was insinuated that Willits had killed Walker then herself because she had found her boyfriend with Walker.

That boyfriend was Bryan Kirby Barrett who had deliberately planted false evidence at both scenes. He got away with it for almost five years. In 1984, he was charged with the murders of both women.

Barrett had murdered Walker for an insurance scam and then murdered Willits to make it look like a murder/suicide. He was later convicted of two murders and sentenced to life in prison.


In Bowie County, Texas, Leon Calahan was shot dead outside of a nightclub by brothers William Kendrick Burns and Victor Burns. That same night, they kidnapped Bryan Keith Sanders during a robbery and threatened to kill him.

They stopped the car near a lake and threw Sanders out of the car. They were about to kill him when they were interrupted by law enforcement.

Believing it was just a fight, the officers let them go. On March 28th 1981, the brothers robbed and killed 18-year-old Johnny Lynn Hamlett. They were arrested in April of 1981 and charged with both murders.

Victor Burns was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. William Burns was sentenced to death and executed by lethal injection in Texas on April 11th 2002.


In Madrid, Spain, 200 members of the Guardia Civil took over the Spanish Congress of Deputies in an attempted coup.

The coup was led by Spanish Army officer Lieutenant Colonel Antonio Tejero Molina during the Spanish transition to democracy.

The armed civil guards held 374 minister’s hostage in the Cortes building for 18 hours. During the coup, which was partially filmed by reporters outside, King Juan Carlos I denounced the coup in a live television address.

Due to the denouncement, the coup was seen as a failure, and the hostage-takers surrendered the following morning. The coup attempt was made into a 2011 film called 23-F: la película.


Near Doswell, Hanover County, Virginia, the decomposed remains of a white male between the ages of 25 to 45-years old was discovered in thick bushes on the side of Interstate 95.

He had been shot dead at least three months earlier. Investigators suggested he had been killed elsewhere and dumped on the side of the highway.

Robbery was not the motive as the man still wore an 18 carat gold crucifix on a gold chain. He also wore a wedding ring which was inscribed with Lucy and the date of April 14th 1975.

Despite the distinguishing markers, his identity and that of his killer remain a mystery. He became known as the Hanover County John Doe.


In Syracuse, New York, 16-year-old Launa Renee Merritt disappeared under suspicious circumstances. She was last heard of when she called her grandmother from a payphone and told her that she was going out with some friends.

Merritt left all her personal belongings at her grandmother’s home, where she was staying after dropping out of school and leaving her mother’s residence.

Merritt had been arrested for prostitution just a couple of months before her disappearance. Investigators suspected she was also involved in drugs and her lifestyle might have led to the reasons behind her disappearance.

She wasn’t reported missing until one month later and the investigation into her disappearance went cold quickly. No trace of her has ever been found.

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