Homicide for the Holidays 2016 series review | Book Addicts

Homicide for the Holidays (2016 series)

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Homicide for the Holidays is a 2016 true crime series on the Peacock network.  If you have Comcast then you have access to this channel for free on your flex box even if you are not paying for cable.

8/10 stars.  I came across this series by accident and binge-watched the entire first three seasons in one day.  I rarely do that.  Truth really is stranger than fiction.

Season 1

Episode 1

Jupiter, Florida.  The malignant narcissist son of a Florida couple seethes with jealousy over the affection his parents shower on his sisters.  Then Thanksgiving rolls around and he watches them fawn all over his cousin’s six year old daughter.  So he gets a gun from his car and kills them.  He then shoots most of the other guests.

He was dependent on his parents and resented them so he killed Mom and tried to kill the rest of his family.

Episode 2

Carnation, Washington.  The only daughter of an older couple is very jealous of her brother who is successful.  She lives with her parents and is an “artist” although she has no college degree in art.  She meets a guy online and he comes to live with her.  Her parents graciously allow them to live in their trailer rent-free so they can have some privacy.  (The trailer is behind the house on the same property.)  For some unknown reason, she and her boyfriend quit their jobs and plot to kill her parents for the inheritance.  That means they have to kill everyone who inherits first, including her brother, his wife, and their two little boys under age five.  At Christmas they execute this plan, killing her parents, her brother, his wife, and the two little boys.  When questioned by police afterward, she said her parents had asked her to start paying rent.  :0

Episode 3

Covina, California.  A couple’s divorce is finalized on December 18.  One week later, on Christmas Day, the ex-husband goes to his wife’s parents’ house dressed as Santa Claus in the middle of the family’s Christmas celebration.  He has two handguns and jet fuel.  He shoots everyone, sprays fuel everywhere, sets the house on fire, but gets badly burned in the process.  He goes home, thinking he’ll just take a short break before carrying out the rest of his plan–killing his ex-wife’s attorney and his family, but he’s in so much pain he kills himself.

Police discover he’d tried killing his illegitimate 18 month old child by drowning him then claimed him on his income taxes.  His ex-wife’s lawyer used that in court to get custody.  He’d also committed fraud at work and was fired.  So he exacted revenge on his ex-wife because she managed to do what the police never did.

Episode 4

Tyler, Texas (Chapel Hill).  Carla and Steve Barrons are Jehovah’s Witnesses married 18 years with one child Stephanie who is 17 years old.  At 4 am Christmas morning Stephanie runs to her grandmother’s house down the street and says her parents were shot.  The police find the gun in Stephanie’s room, but there is no gun residue on Stephanie’s hands.  Her mother had a brain tumor followed by surgery followed by a stroke and Stephanie, who was a senior in high school at the time, dropped out to take care of her mother.

Stephanie began seeing a black gang member named Denario Jones.  She’d spend entire weekends with him.  Years earlier, Denario had stolen a gun then set fire to the house with the intent of covering any evidence he may have left behind.  But the fire jumped from that house to another house and killed a young mother and her child.  The police never found the culprit, him.  That gun he stole was the gun used to murder Stephanie’s parents.

Police discover that on December 6 Stephanie was caught forging checks from her parents and cashing them with Denario.  She was arrested and her dad let her sit in jail overnight before bailing her out.  So she got the gun from Denario and killer her parents hoping to get their life insurance money.

Denario gets 70 years for arson and the murder of the young mother and her baby.  Stephanie gets 75 years for killing her parents.

Season 2

Episode 1

Rock Hill, South Carolina.  Earl and Terry Robertson have two sons Jimmy and Chip.  Two days before Thanksgiving Earl is found dead in the hallway of their home due to blunt force trauma.  Terry is found dead in the bedroom knifed to death, but also with blunt force trauma.  Earl’s wallet is found by Terry’s body.  An abandoned blue Honda is found down the street and the owner traced to Douglas Moon.  The car is normally driven by Moon’s daughter Meredith.  Meredith borrowed the car at 3 am to help her friend Erin Savage get to the hospital, but that story was fictional.  Meredith was meeting up with Jimmy Robertson.  Meredith is missing.

Police find Chip at college, completely apathetic about his parents’ murders.  Jimmy and Meredith are seen at 8 am on CCTV using Earl’s credit card at a gas station.  Jimmy was already on probation for burglary.  Stealing a credit card, even from  someone you killed, is steal theft.  When police question him, he says his dad insisted that he begin paying rent.

When they check his criminal history it looks clean, but the deeper they dive, the more they find irregularities.  So they turn to the phone and make some phone calls.  Jimmy had been charged with very violent crimes in other states.  One in Virginia.  One in Maryland.  At 3 am the day of the homicide, Jimmy called Chip.  Jimmy and Meredith are finally arrested outside Chip’s apartment.  Meredith tells them they snorted Ritalin then Jimmy killed his  parents.  He had planned it and had hammers ready, but he also stabbed his mother.  His dad was still alive after he beat him with the hammer so he finished him off with a baseball bat.  Then he staged a fake burglary scene.  Meredith tells the police that Jimmy said Chip would be proud of him.  She also tells them where to find a bag of evidence that Jimmy dumped on the New Jersey Turnpike.  The state police find it.

Meredith gets sentenced to 20 years as an accessory to murder.  Jimmy gets the death penalty.  Chip is never tried and inherits $2.2 million from his parents life insurance.  He visits his brother in prison and pays for his defense.  :0

Episode 2

Rye, Colorado.  This is a town of less than 200 people.  That in itself is shocking.  Reggie and Kim Tuttle have their adult daughter Dawn living with them and her three kids.  She’s in the process of divorcing her abusive husband.  One day before Thanksgiving there’s a house fire.  Fire workers find Reggie, Kim, and Dawn shot in bed.  No kids.  In the fire are exploding ammunition cartridges which forces the rescue team out of the house.  All evidence is destroyed.

Coroner determines that Reggie had three wounds, Kim had six wounds, and Dawn had two wounds.  The arson was used to cover the murders.  Dawn’s husband was outside the house talking to reporters in his pajamas the day of the fire.  He says the kids are at his parents.  He’s not distraught at all to find his wife murdered.  In fact, he’s tense.  His alibi is his parents and kids.

On the day of the fire, neighbors saw a blue van.  Later that same morning, someone in a blue van with Tuttle Trucking written on the side cashes a check written by the Tuttles only four hours after the murders and sixty miles away.  CCTV identifies that man as Harry Mapps who was living with the Tuttles.  He was a transient who the Tuttles had hired as dispatcher, but now that their daughter was home living with them, they laid him off and gave his job to their daughter.  Mapps decides to kill them and took their gun collection along with the empty checks and the Tuttles’ company van.

U.S. Marshals find Mapp and arrest him.  He’s given three life sentences.

Episode 3

Nampa, Idaho.  On Christmas night, Bob and Idella Young are murdered.  Four days later, their bodies are discovered.  Bob is stabbed in the face and back.  Idella is naked, stabbed in the back.  Their keys are in the door.

The Youngs were realtors who helped people in need.  They also had multiple renters, so the list of suspects is long.  The keys in the door belong to their neighbor Ralph Archer.  He said they were going to watch his place so he left his keys in the door.

Forensic evidence in the back wound leads to a particular type of glove used in butchering meat.  That leads the police to a slaughterhouse, but have no suspects.  DNA from the crime scene is most likely the murderer’s, so they being swabbing all the suspects.  It doesn’t match anyone.

Fast forward 15 months.  An inmate at a Washington state correctional facility brags about committing the crime, but his DNA doesn’t match.

Four years later, they start fresh with the case again, now as a cold case.  They have thousands of tips to go through.  One guy keeps calling and telling them it’s Pete Roberts.  Pete was a former renter.  The Youngs gave Pete’s wife money to leave him.  Pete thought Bob was sleeping with his wife too.  And Pete just lost his job at the slaughterhouse right after that.  So he killed them.  His DNA matches that found at the crime scene.

Pete confesses.  He tied them up, ripped off Idella’s clothes and raped her in front of Bob, then killed them both.

Pete gets life in prison without parole.

Episode 4

Guffy, Colorado.  On New Year’s Eve, Carl and Joanna Dutcher are murdered.  Their 15 year old grandson Tony was staying with them and is missing when the bodies are found on January 3.  Neighbors tell the police that Tony often played in the fort behind the house.  They find Tony’s dead body in the fort with his throat slit.  In the fort is another sleeping bag and a board game leading them to believe there was another teenager there.  They question his friend Isaac who is also 15 years old.

Meanwhile there is another shooting down the road.  An elderly man, William Weiner, is shot several times.  Aaron Mandall, who has been feuding with Weiner for years, claims it was in self defense.

Isaac’s alibi is his classmates and the police quickly discover they are all lying.  They also learn he was part of the Texas 7 gang which was spotted in Guffey.

On January 23 were several murders in an RV Park where the Texas 7 gang was spotted, including the murder of a police officer.  They are arrested but have alibis for the Dutchers’ murders.

On March 8 Isaac Grimes finally admits to killing the Dutchers and Tony.  Isaac, John Matheny, and Glen Urban murdered the three Dutchers as they slept.  Isaac says a fourth gang member, Simon Sue, talked them into doing it as an act of loyalty.  Sue had previously run a cult in Guyana.

Isaac is given 60 years.  Glen is given 2 years.  John is given 68 years.  Sue is given 53 years.

Episode 5

Russelville, Arkansas.  On December 27, Cathy Kendrick is shot while working at a law office.  Two doors down, Julie Cordano at Taylor Oil Company witnesses a man come in and shoot the delivery person JD then shoots at her, grazing her head.  She falls to the floor faking her death and sees his gold Toyota Corolla drive away.  He shot her boss too.  Further down the street at the Mini Mart two more people are shot and one is shot at Woodline Freight.  The car is registered to Ronald Gene Simmons.

Police track down Ronald Gene Simmons, the owner of the car, and he’s the shooter.  He had a wife Rebecca and 7 kids.  Police find a lot of dead people at the Simmons’ property.  They were having a Christmas party when they were killed.  Simmons’ daughter Sheila, her husband Dennis, and their six year old daughter Sylvia are found dead by gunshot as is Simmons’ wife Rebecca.  The baby Michael is missing.  They also find his son Billy and Billy’s wife Renata dead, but no sign of the baby Trae.  With all the cars out front and so many family members missing, the police begin a search.

Neighbors say Simmons’ was a recluse and refused to let his kids talk to neighbors.  They find a letter from his wife to their son about how Simmons was controlling them.  Six years earlier, Simmons had raped his daughter Sheila and she got pregnant.  The family moved from New Mexico to Arkansas for Simmons to escape prosecution in the rape which is why he was so secretive.  Sheila escaped and eventually got married.  But Simmons was still obsessed with her and planned to kill them all.

Police find a mass grave in the yard with 7 family members.  There’s a dead baby in one car trunk and a second dead baby in another car trunk.  After Simmons murdered the family he went on a shooting rampage to town.  He shot anyone he’d ever had an argument with.

Ronald Gene Simmons is given the death penalty.  He was executed on June 25, 1990.

Episode 6

St. Paul Park, Minnesota.  Christine Tilson is 19 years old and with her son Darian when she is attacked in her car on December 24.  Darian’s dad is Zachary Mathews and Christine had just picked up Darian from Zachary’s visitation.  Christine’s car is found on fire in an alley with her dead body in the back seat.  The coroner says Christine was strangled with a shoelace after being struck in the head.

Police question Zachary who claims Darian was with him.  She never picked him up.  His alibi checks out.  So they question her friend Brandy.  Brandy says she’s been dating a guy named Derek Brown.  Derek is missing, but eventually found and comes up with a fishy story.  Cell phone towers place him within blocks of Christine and the car at the time of the murder/fire.  He claims he saw her on her way to pick up her son.

Ironically enough they check Zachary’s cell phone and he also was within blocks of the murder/fire at the same time.  So they check his phone records.  While he’s being questioned, police search his apartment.  There’s blood on the wall and on the bed.  They also find a four page letter in the closet from Zachary to Christine in which he was enraged because she dumped him.  There’s also a shoelace missing from the shoes he was wearing that night.  They question him again after the search and he confesses claiming it was an accident.

Zachary gets life in prison no parole.

Episode 7

Middletown, Pennsylvania.  Population 10,000.  On Christmas Eve, police find the garage door of Victoria Wholaver’s home ajar and decide to go inside.  They find Victoria dead, her 15 year old sister Izzie dead, her mom Jean dead, and her baby Cassie still alive.  Police find that the garage door opener was disengaged and the phone lines were cut.  That summer the daughters had told their mom that their dad Ernie had been molesting them so Jean left him and they reported it to the police.

Ernie’s brother alibis him.  But they quickly discover that alibi is false.  The murders occurred in the middle of Ernie’s rape trial against his daughters.  He didn’t want them testifying, so he murdered them all.  Eventually his brother Scott Wholaver confesses the entire story.  He drove Ernie there and after Ernie killed them, he drove him home again.  He shows police where Ernie dumped the gun and shotgun.

Scott gets 25 years.  Ernie gets 3 life sentences.

While in prison, Ernie tried to hire someone to kill his brother Frank.  He was charged with that too.

Episode 8

All of these stories are sad, but this one was one of the saddest.

Edmonton, Canada. David Luu is upstairs in the master bedroom when the doorbell rings.  His wife Cindy goes downstairs to see who it is and he hears a gunshot.  When he runs downstairs his wife is dead.  His young son, who answered the door, said an elderly Asian man asked for his grandfather in Vietnamese.  When Cindy came to the door behind him, the man shot her.  He wore glasses and drove a dark sedan.

A few hours later the same evening, the police do a wellness check on a woman’s Asian dad who is acting suicidal.  His name is Phu Lam and there are red stained footprints in the snow to and from the house.

A third call comes in from a man trying to reach his wife who is staying at Phu Lam’s house.  She’s not answering the phone and she always answers the phone.

Police go to Phu Lam’s house and find seven bodies killed at different times.  Phu had married a young girl named Tien and brought her family over from Vietnam.  She was in the midst of leaving him.  He killed Tien, their son Elvis, her sister Ha, Ha’s daughter Valentina, Tien’s mom, Tien’s dad, and her new boyfriend Viet Nyun.  Phu Lam is not present and his dark sedan car is missing.  He fits the description of Cindy Luu’s shooter.

Phu owed $500,000.  His wife had filed a complaint alleging physical and sexual abuse.  When she began dating, Phu had a DNA test performed on their son Elvis.  He was not the father.

Police find Phu’s car outside a restaurant in Saskatchewan.  He killed himself.

Here’s the timeline of the murders.

  1. Phu kills his wife Tien, her sister, and their two kids.
  2. Phu lures Tien’s parents to their home with her cell phone then kills them too.
  3. Phu lures her boyfriend to their home with her cell phone then kills him too.
  4. Phu takes the two babies (he killed the older children) to his adult daughter who calls the police.
  5. Phu goes to kill the man who used to be his best friend, Cindy Luu’s father, but when he’s not there, he kills Cindy instead.

8/10 stars.  Each episode is self-contained.  They don’t cross over into another episode.  They’re between 45 and 60 minutes long so you can watch one and stop for the night.  What I liked most was the variety.  There’s a reason for the murders–greed, narcissism, jealousy.  And they are quite often shocking.

 

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