Post by Graveyardbride on Jun 27, 2015 16:36:59 GMT -5
The Key West Ripper
Lisa Sanders (above left) was a tiny woman, just 4'10" tall, who had battled leukemia for years. The youngest of six children, she had grown up in Michigan, but had spent many vacations with her family in the Florida Keys, so when she decided she wanted to be a nurse, she enrolled in the Florida Keys Community College nursing program and relocated to Big Pine Key in October 1988. On the night of Friday, December 16, 1988, 20-year-old Lisa attended a party on No Name Key. There were a lot of people at the gathering and the last time anyone recalled seeing her was around 9:30 p.m. when she left on foot, intending to walk home. She never arrived and the following day, her parents reported her missing. Shortly thereafter, her body was discovered beside unpaved No Name Road near a gravel pit. She had been badly beaten, stabbed and dragged behind a vehicle by a rope tied around her neck. But that wasn’t all. Her heart, brain, eyes, neck muscles, colon, vagina, ovaries, left fallopian tube, bladder, thyroid gland and pieces of her lungs were missing or savaged. Although the general consensus was that vultures and other predator animals had fed on the body, Lisa’s anguished mother exclaimed, “I don’t believe for a minute it was the vultures that did it!”
Recently, Jay Glover, a retired Monroe Sheriff’s detective, recalled, “This one was really rough.” And in 2006, Lisa’s mother told a reporter: “I’m not going to really be comfortable until there’s some closure to it, until someone is convicted of it.”
“We are still pursuing it,” Manny Cuervo insisted. “We do have some good leads that we’re following up with possible witnesses. If people who were around back then have any information, we would like them to come forward.” He indicated there is a “person of interest” in the case, convicted of murder and imprisoned in Ohio. Cuervo declined to name the suspect, but admitted the man lived on Big Pine Key in 1988. Reportedly, the suspect was seen both at the No Name Key party and at a party held July 2, 1988, on Little Torch Key from which 4-year-old Patricia “Patty” Lanza (above right) went missing. The child’s body was found nearby the following day and it was apparent she had been raped and murdered. “He was present at both those parties,” Cuervo advised. “But a lot of other people also were present at both. It’s such a small community.” Though Cuervo failed to name his person of interest, the man in question is Guy Billy Lee Scott. On July 7, 1990, Scott attended a lakeside party in New Paris, Ohio, at which a friend of his, 20-year-old Lesa Buckley, was also present. The following day, Lesa’s battered body was discovered floating in the lake. She had been assaulted and anally raped. The Buckley family hired a private investigator and Scott was eventually charged and convicted of the woman’s rape and murder. However, many in Preble County believe Scott was framed and there’s even a “Free Billy Scott” website. Nevertheless, according to Glover, who attended Scott’s 1992 trial in Ohio, “There were a lot of similarities to the Lisa Sanders case. It happened after an outdoor party. The [Ohio] victim also was named Lesa.”
But Scott wasn’t the only killer lurking in the Keys at the time Lisa Sanders and Patty Lanza were killed. Seven months after Lisa’s death at the hands of an unknown killer, a man fishing off the Big Pine Key Bridge caught what he thought was a big fish, but to his horror, discovered he’d snagged a human elbow. The body turned out to be that of 39-year-old Sherry Perisho, a free-spirited woman who lived on a boat. Autopsy revealed Ms. Perisho’s throat had been sliced so deeply that her spine was severed and she was almost decapitated. She was sliced down the length of her torso and her heart removed. The cuts were so precise that one law enforcement officer declared, “It was surgical.”
In July 1989, Carl “Charlie” Brandt, a radar technician employed by Lockeed Martin, and his wife, Teresa, were living a little more than 300 yards from the location where Sherry Perisho was slaughtered and Mrs. Brant told her brother-in-law that her husband had come home wet and covered in blood around the time of the murder. He also resembled the sketch of a man seen crossing US 1 near the crime scene on the night of July 16. Teresa, aka “Teri,” was so convinced she was married to a killer that she began keeping a diary of his activities.
Apparently, Brandt had forgotten to tell his wife that at the age of 13, he walked into the bathroom of the family home in Fort Wayne, Indiana, – where his mother (who was eight months pregnant) was taking a bath while his father read to her – shot his father in the back and fired several rounds into his mother. Angela, Brandt’s 15-year-old sister, was in the house and when she confronted her brother, he fired at her point-blank, but the gun misfired and she was able to wrestle the firearm from his hands, calm him to some extent and run to a neighbor’s house. Charlie also left the house, walked next door to the Radcliffe home and when Sandi Radcliffe opened the door, he nonchalantly told her: “Sandi, I just shot my mom and dad.” Brandt’s father survived, but his mother was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other children in the house were sleeping. When authorities asked Brandt why he shot his family, he claimed he “just felt the urge and something must have snapped.”
Following the shooting, friends, family members and teachers were dumbfounded, insisting Brandt had no problems at home or school and had seemed devoted to his mother. A news report at the time indicated young Charlie was examined by three different psychiatrists, however, the doctors were unable to determine what motivated him to shoot family members, or if he was suffering from a form of mental illness. “Basically, I was looking for mental illness,” Ronald Pancner, M.D., said. “And he wasn’t showing the signs and symptoms of serious mental illness. ... We found no psychosis, no distorted thinking that would basically be a reason for this crime to be done.”
Because the state of Indiana presumes children under the age of 14 are incapable of understanding the consequences of their actions, prosecutors decided making a case against Brandt would be difficult. So, after spending one year in a state mental health facility, he was released.
In September 2004 – 15 years after Sherry Perisho’s mutilated body was pulled from the water – when Hurricane Ivan was bearing down on the Florida Keys, Michelle Lynn Jones (above left), an advertising executive with The Golf Channel, invited her uncle and aunt to stay at her home in Maitland, near Orlando, until the storm passed. Teresa Brandt (above center) was her mother’s sister. Charlie (right) jumped at the chance to spend time with his attractive 37-year-old niece, whom he habitually referred to as “Victoria’s Secret.” Michelle spoke with her mother, Mary Lou Jones, as well as several friends after the Brandts arrived. On Monday, September 13, Teri talked to her sister by phone and informed her they should be heading home to check on their house, but Brandt was insisting they stay another day. That same day, Michelle called her friend Lisa Emmons, who was planning to visit that evening, and asked her not to come because the Brandts were drinking and arguing. That was the last time anyone heard from Michelle and she was no longer answering her phone.
When Michelle failed to appear for dinner with Debbie Knight on the evening of Wednesday, September 15, Ms. Knight drove to the house at 390 Hickory Drive and while speaking on the phone to Michelle’s mother, attempted to enter the home. Before she went into the garage, she was struck by a nauseating smell. Then she looked through the windows and saw the silhouette of a man hanging from the rafters and called police. Even Rob Hemmert, a seasoned investigator, was shocked by the gruesome sight of the man in a white shirt and blue shorts dangling in the sweltering hot garage: “I could see Charlie Brandt hanging from the rafters in the garage. He was hanging from a bed sheet, which was around his neck, and there was a ladder close by to his body,” he explained. When officers entered the residence, they discovered the bloody body of Teri Brandt in a sitting position at one end of the sofa. She was wearing nothing but a yellow T-shirt. Autopsy would later reveal she had been stabbed seven times.
But the worst was yet to come. When investigators entered the master bedroom, they were greeted by a scene as bloody and gruesome as any left by Jack the Ripper. Michelle Jones, or what was left of her, was lying on her bed. She had been decapitated and disemboweled, her heart had been removed, her breasts sliced off and her left leg detached at the hip. The body parts, including the head, were also on the bed. Scattered on the floor were an assortment of bras and panties that had been ripped with a knife. Police determined Brandt had used knives from Michelle’s kitchen for his macabre handiwork. At some point during the assault, Brandt removed his bloody clothing and dropped the items on the bedroom floor.
Following the double murder and suicide, Brandt’s secret past came to light and friends were shocked to learn he had killed his mother at the age of 13 and attempted to kill his father and sister. Melanie Fecher, Teresa Brandt’s best friend, knew nothing of Brandt’s past and was of the opinion Teri knew nothing about it either. Hans Kemmler, one of Charlie’s co-workers at Lockheed Martin, said there was no hint of anything seriously wrong in Brandt’s past. “We didn’t ever notice anything that would suggest he was having problems,” Kemmler said. “No depression. No withdrawal.” Alice Francis, a neighbor on Big Pine Key, agreed. Her husband and Brandt had been fishing buddies. “I’ve never heard anything like that,” she insisted. “I really can’t believe that.” She told investigators that all she and her husband knew about Brandt’s mother was “that she had passed away when he was young.”
In the 1,000-square-foot house-on-stilts the Brandts owned on Big Pine Key, police found Teresa’s diaries, which recorded various marital problems, but no indications of physical violence. However, Bob Hemmert was shocked when he stepped into the bedroom and discovered a graphic poster of the female anatomy on the back of the door. According to Hemmert, the woman’s hair was “put up in a bun ... and it’s showing the skeletal system and the muscular system.” He said it was the sort of poster one would expect to see in a doctor’s office. Teresa would have had to look at this poster every day and Hemmert wondered if it bothered her. “Charlie and Teri were not in the medical profession,” he explained. “We saw no reason for that chart to be there. What is this doing in someone’s home?” He admitted he found the chart unsettling. “I’m looking at a chart that’s got these portions of the body exposed. And he’s virtually duplicated or exposed some of those areas of the body in what he did with Michelle,” he continued. Investigators also found medical books and journals and when Hemmert opened a book on human anatomy, there was a newspaper clipping of a human heart. “Knowing what he did to Michelle and then finding those things, it all started to make sense,” he added.
When Hemmert discovered the Victoria’s Secret catalogues, which were addressed to Charlie, not Teresa, he knew why Brandt had dubbed Michelle Victoria’s Secret. Brandt had obviously wanted to be much more than an uncle to his comely niece; he was infatuated with her. Bill Jones, Michelle’s father, said his daughter would have been livid had she known how her uncle felt about her. “He was fascinated by her and I think ultimately he intended on killing her,” Hemmert concluded. “I think that’s evident in the way he spoke about her and the things that he looked at on the Internet.” When Brandt’s computer was examined, there were what one investigator described as “ghastly” websites featuring death fantasies, necrophilia and violence against women. “You saw where he may have gotten some of his ideas and thoughts and fantasies from,” Hemmert related. “The thing that we noted immediately was that the things he did with her body did not appear to be someone who had done this for the fist time – there had to be more.” Hemmert was certain if he took the time and thoroughly investigated Brandt, he would find evidence the man was a serial killer.
The question was how many other women and girls had Brandt murdered in the 30 years he had been living in Florida? To this end, police first attempted to compare unsolved murders to Brandt’s travels, both in the United States and abroad. Based on Teri Brandt’s diaries, investigators from several states and countries met with Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators and behavioral profilers in March 2005. Even without the new information from the former brother-in-law, they were confident Brandt was responsible for Perisho’s death and strongly suspected he committed other murders, both within and outside the United States. One such murder was the 1995 killing of a Miami prostitute who was found decapitated and missing her heart. Another murder in which he remains a suspect is that of 12-year-old Carol Lynn Sullivan, who went missing September 20, 1978, in Volusia County, where Brandt lived at the time. The child’s head was found October 2 in a paint can.
Criminal profiler Leslie D‘Ambrosia was asked to analyze dozens of cold cases. “There’s no boilerplate profile for a – quote – serial killer,” he insisted. “It doesn’t exist. It’s all individual. It’s based on a person’s life experiences and everyone has a different life experience.” According to D‘Ambrosia, Brandt’s trademark was precision and methodical technique: “How a person normally behaves is translated into how they carry their crimes out. He’s quite organized and planned in what he does. He’s intelligent, very reliable, very responsible.”
Investigators have looked into at least 26 unsolved murders, but have been unable to tie them to Brandt. If you have any information concerning Lisa Sanders or any of the other victims, or the activities of Charlie Brandt, call the Crime Stoppers tip line at (800) 346-TIPS; or text a message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.
Murder/Suicide House for Sale: The house at 390 Hickory Drive, where Carl “Charlie” Brandt killed his wife, murdered and mutilated his niece, Michelle Jones, and hanged himself can be yours for $230,000. The 4-bedroom, 2-bath home, built in 1962, has hardwood floors, granite counter tops, maple cabinets, plenty of storage space and a large utility room. A screened porch leads to a well-maintained pool and manicured lawn.
Sources: Invisible Killer: The Monster Behind the Mask by Diana Montane and Sean Robbins; Kevin Wadlow, The Miami Herald, June 18, 2015; Monroe County Sheriff's Office; Florida Department of Law Enforcement; Murder in Preble County, Murderpedia; The Weekly World News; State of Ohio v. Guy Billy Lee Scott, Common Pleas Court of Butler County, Ohio, and Trulia.