CRIME HUNTER: The Terror Dumping Ground of Serial Killer Billy Mansfield

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The pattern of Billy Mansfield’s unhappy life was set before he took his first breath.

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For starters, her dad Billy Sr. was a convicted child molester who did jail jerks in his native Michigan and Nevada. Junior and his brothers were encouraged to fight.

Billy Jr. soon followed a similar path. He dropped out of school aged 14 in 1970 and later joined the army where he developed a serious drinking problem.

In 1975 he married Phyllis Spielmaker and the couple had two children. They divorced four years later when she decided to stay in their hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Serial killer Billy Mansfield.  AC DEPT.  CORRECTIONS
Serial killer Billy Mansfield. AC DEPT. CORRECTIONS

His ex-wife would later say that Billy was bisexual and often brought gay bar hustlers home and would have sex with them in front of her. Billy Jr. was generally even-tempered but a violent drunk.

While he committed a slew of sex offenses in Grand Rapids and Florida in the 1970s and was jailed multiple times, detectives believe he graduated murder on New Years Eve 1975.

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The victim’s name was Elaine Louise Zeigler, 15. The teenager disappeared from a KOA campground in Brooksville, Florida while vacationing with her parents.

Hunt for Elaine.  TAMPA GRANDSTAND
Hunt for Elaine. TAMPA GRANDSTAND

Cops said she was a runaway, but a witness saw the girl get into a light blue 1966 Ford Fairlane with Florida license plates driven by a man in his 20s.

Next to die was Rene Saling, a 29-year-old mother of three from California. Her naked body was later found in a drainage ditch near Watsonville. She had been strangled to death after meeting Mansfield at a local bar.

But the cops quickly understood and focused on Billy Jr. and his brother Gary. The duo was dubbed “The Bag Brothers”.

Murder victim René Saling, a 29-year-old mother of three from California.  WATSONVILLE POLICE
Murder victim René Saling, a 29-year-old mother of three from California. WATSONVILLE POLICE

Everything was closing.

In Hernando County, Florida, detectives focused on Junior’s heist. There they found four bodies.

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A Jane Doe buried under a concrete slab, a white teenager, Theresa Fillingim, 17, finally identified last week, and Sandra Jean Graham, 21, last seen at a low-rent watering hole in 1980 .

In April 1981, Brooksville neighbors called Mansfield a “house of horrors.”

It took weeks to find the bodies.

The Mansfield scrapyard.  GOOGLE
The Mansfield scrapyard. GOOGLE

It took years to develop a DNA profile for Fillingim.

“Using DNA evidence from this investigation, Snapshot produced trait predictions for the associated victim. Individual predictions were made last week for ancestry, eye color, hair color, face color, skin, freckles and the shape of the victim’s face,” the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

A DNA sample from Fillingim’s sister confirmed the identity of the long-lost girl.

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The unidentified.  SHERIFF OF HERNANDO COUNTY
The unidentified. SHERIFF OF HERNANDO COUNTY

After Mansfield’s arrest in California, an anonymous informant told cops there may be bodies in Mansfield’s Florida home.

Poor Elaine Zeigler was the second body found. The Jane Doe has never been identified.

Mansfield, 66, is now caged in California. He pleaded guilty to killing the four women to escape the death penalty.

“I plead guilty because I am guilty of the charges and I have no other reason,” he told the California court as he renounced his life.

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Mansfield’s son Bill told Fox News he couldn’t understand why his father and brother didn’t do the right thing decades ago when a new search for the property had started in 2021.

“I want to know if they found anything and how old he is,” he said. “Why didn’t he (Gary) return their family members to these people 40 years ago if he knew their bodies were there?”

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The notorious unidentified Australian homicide victim, the Somerton man, finally has a name.  SOUTH AUSTRALIA POLICE
The notorious unidentified Australian homicide victim, the Somerton man, finally has a name. SOUTH AUSTRALIA POLICE

AUSTRALIAN MURDER MYSTERY DISCOVERED?

One of the thorniest criminal cases in Australian history may have finally been solved.

Cops and the public called the dead man lying on the beach, with a burnt cigarette between his fingers, the Somerton Man. Now a college professor claims he’s disseminated the mystery.

Derek Abbott says the dead man was Carl “Charles” Webb, an electrical engineer and instrument maker born in Melbourne in 1905. He worked with famed American genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick to identify Webb.

When the man’s corpse was discovered on the beach, the cops made a death mask. Trapped in the plaster mask were strands of Webb’s hair that years later would prove his identity.

The coded writing was part of the mystery.  SOUTH AUSTRALIA POLICE
The coded writing was part of the mystery. SOUTH AUSTRALIA POLICE

The mystery began on December 1, 1948, when beachgoers discovered the body lying on Somerton Beach in Adelaide. He was a well-built man, 40 to 50 years old, about 5 feet 11 inches tall, with gray-blue eyes and reddish-brown hair graying at the sides.

He had no identification and the tags inside his clothes had all been cut off. A global search for his identification provided few answers, only more questions.

Was he a spy, victim of Cold War intrigue? And what about the piece of paper with some kind of code?

“The last known record we have of him is from April 1947, when he left his wife Dorothy,” Fitzpatrick said. “He disappeared and she appeared in court, saying he was missing and she wanted a divorce.”

One thing seems certain: Webb was poisoned.

The investigation is continuing.

[email protected]

@HunterTOSun

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