True Crime News Roundup: Woman Accused Of Killing Two State Troopers, Pedestrian In DUI Crash
Plus: N.C. man found dead on rural road; judge rules Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow to be tried together; Hillsong megachurch founder resigns; and Pamela Smart denied chance for reduced sentence.
A Pennsylvania woman is accused of killing two state troopers and a pedestrian while driving under the influence, authorities say.
A 21-year-old woman accused of fatally striking three people on a Pennsylvania interstate while under the influence allegedly boasted in a tweet posted weeks before the deadly incident that she was the “best drunk driver ever,” according to reports.
Shortly before 1 a.m. on March 21, Pennsylvania State Troopers Martin F. Mack III and Branden T. Sisca responded to a call about a man, later identified as 28-year-old Reyes Rivera Oliveras, trying to cross 1-95 in Philadelphia on foot.
Mack and Sisca exited their SUV in the southbound side of the interstate and were walking Oliveras to their vehicle when an SUV slammed into the two troopers and the pedestrian, killing all three.
“The impact was so great that it threw the troopers over into the northbound lanes of Interstate 95,” Capt. James Kemm said.
On March 22, Jayana Tanae Webb, the driver accused of hitting the men, was ordered held without bail after she was arraigned on 18 charges, including third-degree murder, homicide by vehicle while DUI, homicide by vehicle, manslaughter of a law enforcement officer in the second degree, and driving under the influence, KYW-TV reported.
Following the hearing, Webb’s defense attorney, Michael Walker, told the station that his client is “extremely saddened.”
“She’s not a violent criminal. She has no past, no prior contacts with police whatsoever,” Walker said. “She’s a great person and it would devastate most people and right now she’s devastated.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said the “tragedy is a reminder that our law enforcement officers risk their lives to keep us safe.”
A grieving family searches for answers after a North Carolina man is found dead in mysterious circumstances.
A North Carolina man’s body was discovered on a rural road eight miles from his home, and police said he was murdered.
Around 2:55 a.m. on March 19, emergency responders found Wayne Fields, a 64-year-old father of five from Goldsboro, lying face down next to his burning vehicle, according to the Johnston County Report.
Police have not released Fields’ cause of death or further details, and his family is now desperately searching for answers.
“I was so shocked,” Priscilla Fields, 63, told People about learning about the death of her brother, a grandfather and U.S. Marine veteran.
She noted she last spoke with her sibling early in the evening he died, and he said his wife, Jacqueline Fields, was staying the night at a granddaughter’s place for a gender-reveal party. Priscilla Fields recalled he said he was going to be at home.
“My brother would never go out on a dirt road,” Priscilla Fields said. “He would never leave the house with all his lights on and the TV on. He wouldn't leave his house unlocked, either.”
“I don't know why somebody would want to do that,” she said of his murder, adding, “He was such a good guy.”
The investigation is ongoing.
A judge denies Chad Daybell’s request to have a separate trial from his wife, Lori Vallow.
On March 21, a judge in Idaho ruled that accused killers Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow must stand trial together, noting it would be more efficient, economical and result in more consistent verdicts, East Idaho News reported.
The couple is accused of multiple counts of conspiracy to murder and first-degree murder in connection to the deaths of Vallow’s two children, Tylee Ryan Vallow, 16, and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, as well as Daybell’s former wife, Tammy Daybell.
“I am so relieved,” JJ Vallow’s grandmother, Kay Woodcock, told East Idaho News of the judge’s decision. “Having the cases joined will save us from more emotional torture. We have already been through enough anguish from this evil duo. They’ll be staring at each other in court feeling miserable they can’t touch.”
Vallow and Daybell’s trial is currently scheduled to begin in Ada County on January 9, 2023.
Seven-year-old JJ Vallow and his older step-sister, Tylee Ryan, mysteriously disappeared from Rexburg, Idaho in the fall of 2019. At the center of the mystery is Lori Vallow, the children's mother, and her new husband, Chad Daybell.
Hillsong megachurch founder resigns amid allegations of misconduct and an internal investigation.
The founder of the Australian-based megachurch Hillsong relinquished his job as global senior pastor amid allegations of misconduct that stretch back years, officials announced March 23.
“We would like to advise you that Pastor Brian Houston has resigned as Global Senior Pastor of Hillsong Church, and the board has accepted his resignation,” the church said in a statement, CNN reported.
“We acknowledge that change is needed,” the church continued. “We have committed to an independent review of our governance structure and processes.”
In a previous statement, Hillsong claimed Houston “breached” the church’s Pastor’s Code of Conduct in connection to two women’s harassment complaints against him nearly 10 years apart.
About a decade ago, the church said, an incident involving "inappropriate text messages from Pastor Brian to a member of staff” led to “the staff member resigning.”
According to Hillsong, Houston was "under the influence of sleeping tablets, upon which he had developed a dependence” and “immediately apologized to the person.”
He then allegedly “received professional help to eliminate his dependency on this medication, and this was achieved successfully," Hillsong said in the statement.
The second alleged incident occurred in 2019 when, Hillsong claimed, church officials “found that Pastor Brian became disoriented after a session at the Hillsong Conference, following the consumption of anti-anxiety medication beyond the prescribed dose, mixed with alcohol.”
“This resulted in him knocking on the door of a hotel room that was not his, entering this room and spending time with the female occupant,” the church said in the statement. “Although all parts of the complaint were unable to be sustained, important elements of the complaint were sustained and the conduct was of serious concern.”
Last August, authorities in Australia charged Houston with concealing child sex abuse, claiming he failed to report information he allegedly had concerning his late father, Frank Houston, and a juvenile boy in the 1970s, CNN reported.
Brian Houston adamantly has denied the allegations, and he stepped down from his duties at Hillsong this past January, saying he needed time to focus on preparing for the case.
“These allegations came as a shock to me, and it is my intention to vigorously defend them," Houston said in a statement at the time.
Pamela Smart is denied a chance to go free after spending decades behind bars.
The New Hampshire Executive Council unanimously voted 5-0 to deny Pamela Smart a sentence reduction — her third bid for a chance at freedom.
“I offer no excuses for my actions and behavior. I’m to blame,” Smart wrote in her most recent request filed in December, according to the New York Daily News.
“I regret that it took me so long to apologize to the Smart family, my own family, and everyone else,” she explained, in part, claiming, “I was young and selfish and I wasn’t thinking about the consequences of what I was doing.”
Associate Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin wrote Smart, 54, has failed to prove she’s “truly changed and fully acknowledged all the crimes she committed as an accomplice and conspirator in her husband’s murder, and the perpetrator of witness tampering.”
“Decades of lies cannot be undone in an instant by newfound claims of remorse and a vague acceptance of responsibility,” he noted.
In 1991, Smart was convicted of multiple charges, including accomplice to first-degree murder and witness tampering, in the death of her husband, Greggory, the prior year. She was sentenced to a mandatory term of life without the possibility of parole.
Then 22-year-old Smart’s 15-year-old lover, Billy Flynn, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, but he was paroled in 2015.
Three of Flynn’s teenage accomplices charged and convicted in connection to the crime have also all been released.