True Crime On This Day March 3rd

Last Updated on September 22, 2022 by Ben Oakley

True Crime On This Day March 3rd

March 3rd

On March 3rd in true crime, cold case murder, death sentence, serial killer David Villarreal, Tweed Heads rampage, Green River Killer.


In Plant City, Florida, the vehicle of missing 23-year-old Phoebe Winston was discovered off Cleveland Heights Blvd.

Winston had vanished from her home on October 28th 1977 and there had been no sign of her since. In the car were signs of a struggle but there was no solid evidence of what had taken place.

On March 27th 1979, Winston’s skeletal remains were found in an open field close to where the car had been found. She had been killed by a bullet to the head. As of 2022, Winston’s murder remains unsolved but is an active cold case in the State of Florida.


In Miami, Florida, the body of 27-year-old Steven Alvarez was discovered in his own home. He had last been seen by his sister the night before.

Alvarez had told his sister he was going to see a friend to settle a debt for a marijuana deal but was never seen alive again.

As of 2022, the death of Alvarez remains a mystery but investigators suspect he was a victim of foul play. It is now an active cold case in the State of Florida.


In Georgia, double murderer Fred Marion Gilreath was sentenced to death for the 1979 murders of his wife, Linda Gilreath, and her father, Gerrit Van Leeuwen.

Linda had recently separated from Fred and was returning to their home with her father to collect her belongings.

Fred shot Linda five times, including once to the face with a shotgun. Gerrit had been shot multiple times including two to the head. Police were notified of gunfire and went to the property where they found the two bodies doused in gasoline.

Fred had eloped when the police arrived but he was caught shortly after and charged with two murders. He was executed by lethal injection on November 15th 2001.


In Texas, serial killer David Villarreal, beat 18-year-old Joe Edward Duque to death, his fifth victim. His claimed his first victim in 1974 but there are very few details on who he is supposed to have killed.

In 1978, he beat a middle-aged man to death with a hammer. He was arrested in 1979 for the murder of Ernest Garcia, who had been stabbed to death with an ice pick and beaten with a concrete block.

Despite his connection to the murder, he was released on a lack of evidence. He killed once more in March 1981 before being captured a few days later.

Villarreal was a homosexual drifter who killed to achieve sexual gratification with the benefit of robbing his victims at the same time. He was charged with three mutilation murders and suspected of another four.


In Tweed Heads, Australia, 21-year-old mechanic Philip Eric Layton killed six people before turning the gun on himself. Layton was a gun enthusiast who owned several weapons and was having an affair with Margaret Ross, who had been separated from her husband Craig for seven months.

Layton became jealous as he assumed they would get back together, so he threatened to shoot them all. At 9pm on March 3rd, he carried through with his threat.

He purchased another weapon, a .223-caliber Ruger semi-automatic rifle, then went to Margaret’s home. He wounded her then killed Craig before going to their children’s bedrooms and killing all four as they lay sleeping in their beds.

14-month-old Vicki, five-year-old Clinton, six-year-old Natalie, and seven-year-old Petrina, were all shot in the head at point blank range.

Layton then returned to where he had wounded Margaret and shot her dead. He turned the gun on himself before police arrived.


In King County, Washington State, 18-year-old Alma Ann Smith was raped and brutally murdered. She was last seen hitchhiking along Pacific Highway South.

Her partial skeletal remains were found in the woods near Star Lake Road, on April 2nd 1984. She had been murdered by Gary Ridgway, AKA: The Green River Killer, one of the United States’ most prolific killers.

Ridgway was arrested in 2001, convicted of 48 murders, and sentenced to life in 2003. His true victim count is believed to be much higher.

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