Ep. 6 – Victoria Martens, Erica Parsons, Scarlett Keeling


  1. I know I skipped a week. I’m sorry. I’m not happy about it either.
  2. Correction: Victoria Martens’ rapists and killers, who I’ll remind you included her mother, who had arranged several rapes of her own daughter previously and who enjoyed watching the rapes take place, pleaded NOT guilty to all charges; Source
  3. I’m covering two news stories instead of four or five this time and covering them in more depth. Let me know what you think.


Killers of Victoria Martens will go on trial in October 2017


Newscasters obtained police interview transcripts and 911 audio but I couldn’t find the audio itself or the transcripts, only stories quoting bits and pieces of them. If I find them I’ll let you know, and if you find them, hopefully you’ll do the same.

Here is an excerpt from the news article about the transcripts, and they’ll be a link to that article in the show notes:

She told detectives she watched Gonzales and Kelley sexually assault Victoria at least three times in the days before the murder. She also said she suspected Gonzales had been sexually assaulting her daughter for a month while she was at work.

One detective asks, “This time she died and you weren’t ready for the type of animals these people were?”

Martens replied “Yes, but I should have stopped it.”

She then told police she enjoyed watching men have sex with Victoria. She admitted to letting two other men have sex with her daughter over the past six months. She named both the men.

Albuquerque police will not say if those two men have been questioned.

Shawn Grate sends letters to news woman Megan Hickey


Shawn Grate was recently charged with 23 counts, including two counts of murder and one count of kidnapping. Listen to Episode 4.5 to hear the 911 calls from the woman who survived her abduction by Grate and got him arrested.

From his first letter:

Grate’s first letter responded to a request from Hickey asking for an on-camera interview. “That sounds scary in facing myself even more,” Grate wrote. “The mirror has been enough but having even more questions hitting me straight on could and would only help to understand me better.”

From his second letter:

“They were already dead, just their bodies were flopping wherever it can flop but their minds were already dead! The state took their minds. Once they started receiving their monthly checks.” Grate said “government assistance” took his victim’s “minds.” He said he applied for government assistance five years ago and received $197 on a food card that he used for a year and a half. He found work making handcrafted signs. “Never was able to receive any encouragement, though many bodies received 700,” he wrote. Grate uses the words “people,” “bodies” and “victims” interchangeably.

Reaction of authorities to Hickey’s offer of the letters as evidence:

“Do what you want with the letters,” a member of the support staff said over the phone. In a subsequent email, Special Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mark Weaver told News 5 that support staff is not authorized to speak to the press. “If you have evidence or letter from Shawn Grate that you want to provide to law enforcement, please submit copies to our office and we will review them for potential use in prosecution,” an email said.

Erica Parsons


Erica Lynn Parson was born on February 28, 1998 in North Carolina and was adopted at birth by Sandy and Casey Parsons, relatives of her biological mother. Her brother reported her missing on July 30, 2013, telling authorities he had not seen her since November 2011. He also told police his parents killed Erica and buried in her in their back yard, but later retracted that statement. Her parents told police Erica had gone to live with her paternal grandmother Irene Goodman but investigators could not corroborate that and relatives told them Erica’s grandmother is dead.

Her parents went to federal prison in 2014 for accepting benefits in her name long after her disappearance. Sandy Parsons, Erica’s adoptive father, led authorities to her remains in Chesterfield County, South Carolina in September 2016, near the home of Sandy’s mother between the towns of Pageland and Mount Croghan. Before the discovery, detectives recovered items in the search of a shed on property belonging to Sandy, including: a video tape, a hammer, teeth, and school records.

The Charlotte Observer reported in 2014 on the extensive abuse Erica allegedly suffered in the Parsons home:

James Parsons, now 21, said he and the other children in the family routinely abused the girl, who was 13 when she disappeared. He once broke her arm, he said.

“I would hit her, physically abuse her, fists, belts,” James Parsons said under oath Wednesday.

He said he abused the girl from the time he was age 5 and stopped when he was 16.

“I didn’t want to hit her no more – I couldn’t stand it,” he said.

He said his mother Casey Parsons encouraged the other children to abuse Erica, and he saw his mother often beat her.

“She would beat her with a belt if she didn’t listen,” James Parsons said. “Mama would bend her fingers back.”

Once, Casey Parsons put Erica’s hand in a cast because her fingers had broken, he said. The child was never taken to the hospital, he said.

“Dad would hit her with his fist on top of her head,” James Parsons said of his father, Sandy Parsons. At one point, the girl developed a bald spot because of scabbing, he said.

Food was often withheld from her as punishment, he said. If she’d steal a cookie or something else to eat, she’d be fed canned dog food by her adoptive mother. This happened up to once or twice a month, he said.

Erica was often locked in a closet in the various homes the family lived in, James Parsons said. Sometimes she would be beaten for relieving herself in the closet, he said.

Sheriff Kevin Auten said at a news conference on Monday, October 3, 2016 that he believes Erica Parsons was dead long before she was reported missing in 2013.

Auten said no one has been charged in Erica’s death and also said Sandy was not offered any kind of plea deal or promise to lead investigators to the body. [Source: MyFox8]

The Medical Examiner has not yet released its findings, but I will update you when they do. I suspect we will see charges against the Parsons for the murder of their daughter.


The Lost and the Found

The news publication Reveal, produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting , has developed what they call The Lost and the Found, which is a side-by-side comparison tool for the databases of missing persons and of uncertified decedents. Find the tool here and find an amazing article about it here.

You can also listen to the Reveal podcast. Find episodes here.

Cold Case: Scarlett Keeling

  1. I need more time on this for full coverage. The case is far more complex than I thought. There are two autopsies, allegations of government conspiracy, questions about the investigation and even a Bollywood movie about the case. To top it all off, there’s two entries of material at Wikileaks about this murder (here and here) (and I have done enough research so far to be certain it was a murder, although what kind of murder and whether it involved drug trafficking, sexual assault and other issues remain unclear). Here is a very compressed timeline of events and I’ll talk more about the case in the future.
  2. Brief timeline of the case:
    • November, 2007: 15-year-old Scarlett Keeling goes on holiday with her mother, her mother’s boyfriend and seven siblings and half-siblings, a 6-month trip that included India.
    • Feb. 18, 2008, 3 a.m.: Scarlett Keeling is seen by multiple eyewitnesses entering Luis’ Shack on Anjuna Beach in Goa, India
    • Later in the day on Feb. 18, 2008: Scarlett is found dead not far from where she was last seen on Anjuna Beach. Dr. Silvano Sapeco performs an autopsy which found 5 wounds and, while police inspect Nerlon Albuquerque tells press it was an accidental drowning, Dr. Sapeco says he raised the possibility of homicide to police but was ignored.
    • Feb. 21: Scarlett’s mom, Fiona MacKeown, began approaching the locals for information, and was bluntly told by one that it was widely assumed Scarlett had been raped and murdered. On her way to the police station she found her daughter’s bikini bottoms, torn sandals and shorts lying unnoticed on the beach, amplifying her doubts about the police investigation. She and her lawyer later find 52 wounds on Scarlett’s body.
    • Feb. 26: Fiona and her lawyer ask the Goa chief minister to make it a criminal investigation. Despite an initial refusal, two days later the state gives into media pressure and grants the request.
    • March 4: Two Indian national officials demand the investigation be done over agani from the start.
    • March 22: A second autopsy results in the recommendation of a homicide investigation, finding signs of sandy water in the lungs, suggesting drowning in shallow water, and sexually motivated violence or rape.
    • March 23: Samson D’Souza is arrested based on eyewitness reports that he was the last person seen with Scarlett.
    • End of March: Placido Carvalho, also seen with Scarlett the night before she was found dead, is arrested.
    • June 5, 2008: Case transferred from local police to India’s Central Bureau of Investigation.
    • Oct. 2009: CBI charges suspects with culpable homicide, similar to manslaughter, accuses them of “deliberately leaving her near the water line on the sea beach, knowing that she was fully intoxicated”, as well as sexual assault and attempting to conceal the crime. The failure to charge murder, blamed on the botched initial investigation, leaves Scarlett’s mom “floored.”
    • March 3, 2010: Trial began, delayed by limit of once-monthly hearings due to the court’s major backlog and changes in the presiding judges.
    • Sept. 23, 2016: The two suspects are found not guilty of the charges.

Timeline Source: Scarlett Keeling: how the tragic case of the 15-year-old’s death unfoldedThe Telegraph


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