South Carolina Serial Killer, Face-Eating Frat Boy, And Missing Mom: Five Crimes That Made Headlines In 2016

Austin Harrouff

The Mysterious Abduction of a California “Supermom” 

The story of Sherri Papini, a petite 34-year-old mother of two who vanished without a trace after going out for an early evening jog near her home in Redding, California, was shared on social-media sites around the world after she disappeared on November 2. On Thanksgiving Day, she was found off a highway in upstate California, 150 miles from where she disappeared. Sherri claimed that she had been abducted by two Hispanic women, and her husband told reporters that during her three-week captivity she had been branded, starved, and had her hair cut off. Many online commenters have questioned inconsistencies in Sherri’s story, including what happened to the money raised on GoFundMe and the role of “hostage negotiator” Cameron Gamble. But Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said he has “no reason to disbelieve” Papini’s account of her abduction. Authorities say they are in contact with the family and are continuing to search for two armed Hispanic women who were driving a dark-colored SUV. [US Weekly]

Related: Sherri Papini’s Husband Says She Was Found With Nose Broken, Head Shaved, Weighed Only 87 Pounds

American Woman Found Dead in Florence 

American artist Ashley Olsen, 35, was found dead in her apartment in Florence, Italy, on January 9, 2016. An autopsy found that Olsen, who was originally from Summer Haven, Florida, and described as “beautiful and creative,” had been strangled and suffered skill fractures. Police arrested Cheik Tidiane Diaw a few days later after street-surveillance cameras showed him walking with Olsen toward her home that night, and DNA traces were found on a cigarette butt and condom in her apartment. Prosecutors had sought the maximum sentence of life in prison, and in December, a Florence court sentenced him to 30 years in jail. [CBS News]

Related: American Fashionista, Murdered in Italy, Leaves Mystery (and Possible Instagram Clues) Behind

Man Sentenced to Life for Son’s Hot Car Death

At first, 22-month-old Cooper Harris’ death seemed to be a tragic accident, one of the grim cases that make headlines every year when a parent accidentally leaves a baby in a hot car. Cooper died on June 18, 2014, after spending around seven hours in a car seat in the back of a locked SUV belonging to his father, Justin Ross Harris. Prosecutor Chuck Boring said at the sentencing that Cooper died in the most “torturous, horrific, unimaginable way possible.” Prosecutors introduced evidence to support allegations that Justin Harris, the churchgoing 35-year-old, regularly sought sexual fulfillment outside his marriage and was sexting a young woman he met on a dating app shortly before his son’s death. The trial was moved to Brunswick, Georgia, due to the negative publicity. Harris was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of Cooper on December 5, and was also sentenced to an additional 32 years on other charges. [ABC News]

Related: Justin Ross Harris Found Guilty of Murder in Toddler Son’s Hot Car Death

Realtor Accused of Chaining Woman “Like a Dog” Could Be Serial Killer, Police Say

Police in South Carolina found that the man accused of kidnapping a woman who was found “chained like a dog” inside a metal storage container on his property may be responsible for the deaths of at least seven people. Investigators from the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Department have made shocking discoveries on a sprawling, wooded property owned by Todd Christopher Kohlhepp, 45, in rural Woodruff, South Carolina. Police found Kala Brown, 30, chained inside a metal storage container on Kohlhepp’s land — and she told authorities that she had been kept there for two months. Authorities found the body of Brown’s boyfriend Charles “David” Carver, 32, who had been missing since August 31, in a shallow grave on Kohlhepp’s 95-acre property. Kohlhepp later also confessed to killing four people at a motorcycle shop nearly 13 years ago. That crime, the county’s first quadruple homicide, had remained unsolved since 2003. [Washington Post]

Related: Serial Killer Suspect Todd Kohlhepp Confesses to Unsolved Mass Murder; Posted Chilling Amazon Reviews

The Florida “Frat Boy Cannibal” Murders

One of the most shocking and sensational cases of 2016 was the Florida college student who attacked a couple in their home, killing them — and was caught by police taking bites out of one of his victim’s faces. On August 15, deputies in Martin County found 19-year-old Austin Harrouff, a former high school football player and wrestler, in his underwear standing over his victims John Stevens, 59, and his wife Michelle Mishcon, 53, outside their Tequesta home. Police say Harrouff was making animal noises and biting Stevens’ face in an uncontrolled rage — and that he also stabbed a neighbor, 47-year-old Jeff Fisher, who tried to help the couple. Fisher was later released from a hospital. Harrouff reportedly told deputies he had eaten “humans,” and begged police to kill him after they dragged him off the body.  Harrouff has been charged with two murder counts, attempted murder, and burglary. []

Related: “Frat Boy Cannibal” Austin Harrouff May Have Taken Steroids, Claimed To Have “Superpowers” Before Murdering Florida Couple  

Main photo: Austin Harrouff [YouTube/screenshot]

  • weeblet

    Way to represent, Florida!