Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Crime blasts from the past...

In early June 1992, I was about to turn 20 years old.  I worked at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia and was a rising junior at college.  I remember being shocked like so many other people in my community when a suicidal fifteen year old girl, her boyfriend, and another boy decided that they were going to kill her family and take off for California.

Jennifer Kszepka was supposedly angry with her father, 42 year old Jerome Kszepka, because he didn't approve of her boyfriend, Dominic Hendrix.  So, on the evening of June 7, 1992, they murdered him and Jennifer's sister, 21 year old Ranae.  When Jennifer's mother, Sieglinde, came home to the murderous scene, they tried to kill her, too.  Their weapon jammed, so Michael Gaumer, a mutual friend of the teen couple's, clubbed Sieglinde Kszepka on the head with a metal pipe, fracturing her skull.  Sieglinde Kszepka ultimately survived the attack.  But her husband and older daughter had been murdered by her younger daughter…  what a horrible thing to have to live with.

Jennifer Kszepka could have faced the death penalty, but she ended up getting life plus 90 years in prison.  Parole in Virginia was abolished in 1995, but Kszepka and her male friends committed their crimes prior to then.  Consequently, all three are eligible to be considered for parole.  Kszepka just had a hearing and was denied parole.  The next time she will be considered will be in 2016.

I remember all too well when this happened.  I had only recently graduated from the high school where Kszepka and her partners in crime attended.  My boss at Busch Gardens had known Ranae Kszepka, because she had once worked at Busch Gardens.  I remember reading the newspaper every day as Kszepka and her friends drove her mother's car west.  They hoped to get to California and made it as far as Eureka, Nevada, where they were stopped for a routine traffic violation.  Their identities were discovered and they were shipped back to Virginia to face their crimes.

Jennifer Kszepka is incarcerated at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, which is the same place where Erin McCay George is imprisoned.  I note that both Jennifer Kszepka and Erin McCay George are involved with dog training… or at least they were ten years ago.  It appears that she has tried to straighten up and fly right.

Another case I remember from the 90s involved a guy named Frederick West Greene.  A friend of mine from college had grown up in tiny Franklin, Virginia.  She had a cute male friend named West who attended Virginia Military Institute.  My friend had the hots for this guy and was positively giddy when he visited her at our college.

Later, it came out that he and a friend had murdered a classmate over an insult.  They killed the young man and buried him, leaving his family and friends to wonder what happened to him for about two years.  I remember how distraught my friend was over finding out that this cute, popular, handsome friend of hers was actually a murderer.  She was very upset and kept asking, "How could he do that?"

I was reminded of West a few weeks ago and started looking for more information about his case.  I had to do some digging before I found an old article about him and his friend and the terrible crime they committed.  I imagine that they are now about to be eligible for parole.  Actually, Michael M. Jervey, who was the accomplice in this case, may already be out of prison.

I remember back in July 1993, a woman I knew when we were both little kids living on Mildenhall Air Force Base in England was murdered.  Her name was Lisa N. Bryant, and she had grown up to be a remarkable young woman with a bright future.  A graduate of Princeton University and a 2nd lieutenant in the Army, Bryant was about to go on her first assignment to Germany when fate put her in the path of her murderer, SGT 1st class Ervin Graves, a ROTC instructor who was staying in the same dormitory at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  Graves apparently meant to rape Bryant but, when she struggled, shot her.

Lisa Bryant is in a photo taken at my fifth birthday party in the base housing at Mildenhall where we lived at the time.  After England, we both moved to Fairfax County in Virginia and I saw her one last time at her birthday party in the Burke area of Fairfax.  Had we stayed in Fairfax, I would have gone to the same high school she attended and excelled at.

I remember when she was murdered.  My mom called me at school to tell me about an article she'd read about it in People Magazine several months after the murder.  I remembered what she'd looked like when we were kids and was shocked that at age 21, her life had been callously snuffed out.

It's always creepy and unnerving when you realize how close true crime is to you…  

4 comments:

  1. I think I am the friend from college you spoke of in your blog. I am guessing you went to Longwood. Mike is out of prison & married. I believe he is living in Franklin. I don't live there anymore so I only hear the gossip every now & then. West will not see a chance at parole for at least another 20 to 30 years. He was sentenced to Life + 45 years. He is serving his time in a federal prison because his father was a warden with the Virginia Bureau of Prisons. There is a far darker story that was never told in the press. There really should be a book written. Not sure who this is, but would love reconnect. I am happy to say my choice in men got exponentially better! You can email me at the3dooleys@gmail.com if you woildblijr.

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    1. Hi Mary Beth! Glad to "see" you on my blog!

      Thanks for the update about West and that case. Sometimes I remember things and go looking for information. I remember meeting West and being really shocked when it turned out he was a killer. I'm sure my shock was nothing compared to yours!

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  2. The Kszepkas are my family. To this day it still haunts all of us. By no means do we wish to have Jennifer or these guys that was involved the ability to see the outside world. I dont want that little bitch anywhere near my family. They can rot in there. My Aunt is doing well and has moved on as best as anyone could surviving this. Jennifer was a spoiled kid that threw a temper tantrums and has mental issues. She was supposed to be receiving help when this all occured. They all needed the death penalty. No reason to waste tax payers money on this, I dont even think the word "TRASH" fits it. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks for the comment. Given that the death penalty costs taxpayers much more money than life in prison does, I think it's probably better from a fiscal standpoint that she got a prison sentence. It really is sad when someone so young screws up so badly that they spend most of their lives in prison.

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