More than Three Decades Later, the name of a Dead Hitchhiker Baffles Authorities….

It’s a mystery that has consumed the Arkansas State Crime Lab for nearly four decades. Who is the man that drowned on October 18th, 1984 near the town of Malverne?

The Unidentified man died as a result of a car accident when the vehicle he was driving, crashed into a body of water. The other occupant of the car (the owner) managed to get out safely. The unidentified victim was not so lucky as he was trapped under water for as long as 30 minutes and sustained loss of oxygen to his brain which would kill him two days later.

The owner of the vehicle did not know the hitchhiker’s name but it is believed that he had been hitchhiking when he was picked up by the owner of the vehicle in Louisville, Kentucky. The owner of the car was on his way to Houston, Texas and allowed the hitchhiker to come along. During the drive, the owner of the vehicle allowed the victim to drive while he (the owner) went to sleep. Shortly after the victim took the wheel, the two got into a car accident.

The victim is a White male who is five foot eight inches tall, 167 pounds and maybe around the ages of 25 to 35 years. He had medium to dark brown hair which measured about 6 inches in length. The deceased also had a bushy, brown beard, brown eyes a small circular scar on his left ankle. Found on him were: Brown boot shoes; a pair of red, black and white sweat socks sized M8; a cut brown sweater; 28 x 32 Corduroy trousers; and multicolored long sleeved shirt ” John Henry ” (his neck size was 14 1/2 inches (32-33)).

IT is possible that he may have been from the New Haven, Connecticut area and that he may have also been trying to get to California as a destination point. If anyone has any information as to who he is, please contact the Hot Spring County Coroners Office at 501-732-0561 . You can email them at

To see photos of him post-mortem please visit here. CAUTION:

Was He Killed in an act of Hate? Or did someone think he saw something that he didn’t?

It was on  May 10th, 1996, when thirty year old Juan “Leon” Laureles of Bangs, (Texas)  was found shot to death near his burning 1988 Ford Thunderbird off FM 2126 in the town of Brownwood, Texas. Mr. Laureles left his home which he shared with his brother in Bangs at around 11:30 pm, and he was due at work at midnight that night in Brownwood at the Krogers where he worked the graveyard shift. At 12:30 am, a motorist made a call to 911 to report that they saw a burning vehicle off FM 2126. After firefighters and deputies responded, the fire had been extinguished when Leon Laureles body was found a few feet away from a gunshot in the back of the head.

At the time, investigators were on the lookout for an unknown model pickup, possibly a one-ton, possibly red and off-white or beige with no bed on the truck. The truck was seen in the area prior to the time where Leon’s body had been found. 

According to a 2008 article in the Brownwood Bulletin, Leon had told his sister a short time before he was killed that certain individuals were angry at him and he was unsure why.

There is also a theory that the murder could have been a “Hate Crime” due to Laureles being gay.  

Laureless did not live or engage in a high-risk lifestyle and was known to be a homebody.  .

A private investigator was hired by family members and during their investigation, the investigator revealed to family members that they received death threats.   Not much information was told to the family by the investigator after that.  .

If you have any information regarding Mr. Laureles’s homicide or events leading up to it, please reach out to the Brown County Sheriff’s Office at (325) 646-5510  or visit and submit a tip through them if you wish to remain anonymous.

Was it Murder? Overdose?

Amber Lazenby Mukegon Heights, MI Possible homicide Victim

It was on April 25th, 2019 when the body of 24 year old Amber Lazenby was found on private property in the city of Muskegon Heights, Michigan.   Her body was found in the rear of a disabled vehicle and drug paraphernalia was reported near the vehicle.  Lazenby had an addiction to drugs and would engage in prostitution.   In 24 years, Lazenby had a tough life. Her mother left her and her younger sister when they were just young children.  They were raised by their father and her aunt.  Family members also believe that she may have been sexually abused by someone related to her.  These factors may have vastly contributed to her drug addiction.   There are questions as to how she died.  An autopsy could not determine a cause of death.  There was trauma on her body but questions remain if they occurred after she had died.  It is possible that she could have died from a drug overdose and even though there was no presence of opioids in her system, cocaine and marijuana were present.  

Amber Lazenby Mukegon Heights, MI Possible homicide Victim

It looks more likely that it was a homicide.  The autopsy revealed a fractured cervical (neck) bone among other unusual findings including a major laceration on her head.   Law Enforcement is looking at the case but family members express concern about their calls not being returned.    Her Aunt and cousins want answers and if it’s a homicide…. They want justice.    To view Amber’s autopsy click here.  w19-0357_amber_lazenby_autopsy-signed

To view a copy of the Death Certificate.

Another lost to the Opioid Crisis….

Photo by Dih Andréa from Pexels

Once Again, I receive news of another death of a person from the scourge of drug/alcohol addiction. This time it is someone I have never met but yet I would talk to his mother for a newspaper article I wrote about COVID 19 and the effects it had on drug treatment and addiction months earlier. For two decades her child was in the battle of their life. She tried to help him but in the end they lost. And now another family mourns……

I’ve known several people to die from drug overdoses in recent years. One was a mother of a young son looking to find her way in life, another was a musician/artist who designed my music album cover who struggled with drugs/alcohol for years, a third was a former co-worker was a married father of 9 who was not an addict but accidentally took too much pain killers for a medical condition, and the last being a woman grieving the death of her sister only weeks earlier from cancer needing to numb her own emotional pain from that loss. Now, as I write this, I think about how decades earlier of a former classmate from the University of Rhode Island who was a talented jazz pianist was found dead of an overdose. He passed when I was around 20 years of age.

Drug/alcohol addiction may be done at the hands of the user but sadly there are people along the way that provide the drugs, alcohol and reasons too. Drug pushers and abusers are those that I’m talking about. In the end their supply and cause of mental/physical trauma pour the gasoline as the addict lights the match dangerously close every time……

Phishing Email Scams To Be on the Look Out For

Here are two recent ones. One supposedly from Discover Card (note the sender’s address in both the Discover and beneath it the Apple. Both emails senders do not use official email accounts from the companies, so they make up ones that sound similar. Also pay attention how they don’t address you by name and just by either email address or the generic hello. They both try to get you to click on links to either put a virus on your computer or get you to input your login and passwords for your respective accounts (if you have either an apple or discover account). Be cybersafe everyone…

Phishing Scam using Discover as the bait….

The Apple Scam has a different destination address then what the link states in the email. (hovering over the hyperlink demonstrates this) Here they are trying to get your billing information which will likely mean they want your checking account information)

Missing Person case hits close to home…..

I started Savagewatch twenty years ago as a website about solving cold cases in Connecticut.  I had no experience of having anyone I know go missing or be a victim of a serious unsolved crime at the time.  In the years since, I would learn of a missing nephew (Harmon Shea) of a family friend who went missing.  An unidentified man found in a river in Massachusetts (I looked at a photo of his tattoo when he was an unidentified deceased person) but did not realize that I had met the person in question several times prior to his drowning.  I had no idea that the man was missing until good police work revealed who he was.  

But now, there is an active missing person case in Oregon of a person who I have known since he was a young child.  His parents and my parents are friends.  His older brother I still talk to and he currently works in Law Enforcement  But since February of 2020, no one has seen 44 year old Dave Merkelson.  

Former Mixed Martial Arts Fighter David Merkelson missing from Beaverton, Oregon

Dave had struggled at times during his life with mental health issues .  He moved to Israel and wandered the desert there only to be taken in by members of a Bedouin Tribe.  Dave would soon find purpose out in Israel by joining the military.  After serving his time which did involve being in armed combat, he took up martial arts.  He competed professionally in a few matches as well as partaking in amateur tournaments in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Dave would get married and open up his own Mixed MArtial Arts school (his name is also spelled Markleson).  Years later, looking for other opportunities, he would move to the United States.  Things would not progress for him there as job opportunities didn’t pan out and he would also  get divorced.  

Life would eventually find him in a motel in Beaverton, Oregon.  Struggling with anxiety, he would leave his car behind with his wallet, phone and personal identification inside.  It is possible that Dave could be living off the grid.  He had done that before while in Israel and has the life skills to do that which he learned in the Israeli Military.  

Dave if you read this, please contact your parents or brother and let them know where you are.  You can also contact this website.   

If you have any information about the whereabouts of Dave Merkelson contact the Beaverton Police Department at (503) 526-2260.

Dave competing in an MMA Fight

Dave at his wedding with his wife dancing to “Time of My LIfe” hit song