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Patricia Shipp Lieb; published by Twilight Times Books, Solstice Publishing, Xlibris Press and Amazon Kindle.

 I like lots of space; photography, writing, reading, diddling around on the computer, playing Poker, spending time with family and friends, walking on the beach, and hiking through the woods. Author of: The Adventures of a Squirrel Named Peanut, Twilight Times Books; My Eighteenth Birthday, 1960 suspense-adventure; Solstice; Danger In The Cliffs, Solstice; Saying I Love You, poetry on Amazon's Kindle; The original version of Murders In The Swampland is available in hard-back books from Xlibris.com; Murders in the Swampland (third edition, updated) true crime now on Amazon Kindle.   

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Murders in the Swampland by Patricia Shipp Lieb

New: 2012 http://www.amazon.com/MURDERS-THE-SWAMPLAND-3rd-ebook/dp/B009GB138Wupdate with additional stories:

This is a review from the
Citrus County Chronicle (Florida) written by
Chris Van Ormer
"Murders in the Swampland"

Many people move to the Nature Coast knowing little about the region.

Certainly, they've been enticed by the climate and the natural beauty of the countryside, the Gulf of Mexico and the lower cost of living. Yes, the Nature Coast is an attractive place.

What almost no newcomer to the region does is check the crime files. Perhaps the newcomer will look up the statistics and see fewer hard crimes here than in the place they are leaving and be reassured. However, a higher crime rate reflects a larger population than that of the Nature Coast. And statistics never put a face to crime.

Putting a face on big crimes in the Nature Coast is what Patty Shipp (Lieb) has
done in her book, "Murders in the Swampland." She chronicles 17 murder cases
from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. Some of these cases Shipp covered while
she was the crime reporter for the Sun_Journal in Brooksville, from 1987 until
the newspaper shut down in 1991.

Shipp mentions her editor, Ken Melton, who now works for a sister newspaper of the Citrus County Chronicle, and credits Melton with encouraging her to publish her book.

Each story could be fiction, if the facts and characters were not so real. The scenes of murders, the roads traveled by the murderers and the lawmen who caught them exist. Many of the lawmen are still at work and are well known the the communities. Most of the crimes are set in Heranado County, but adjacent counties figure in as well.

Each story has a horrible uniqueness, but all the murders are amateurs, even the serial killers detailed in the book. Many mistakes are made that lead the lawmen to the killers. It is refreshing to see the entire crime put into one document, rather than revealed in the installments of newspaper reports.

These stories read like accounts in detective magazines, for which many of them were written. Thuse the reader learns about the serial killer, Billy Mansfield, who in the late 1970s and early 1980s picked up young women hitchhikers on U.S. 19, took them back to his mother's trailer in Weeki Wachee for some hours of rape and torture before murdering them and burying them in the back yard. I have lived near Weeki Wachee for more than seven years, I had never heard about the Mansfield murders.

">What is unusual about those murders and several others in the book is that so
many people at the time knew about them and said nothing. Indeed, the sheriff
said he would have to build a wing on the jail to detain all the people who had
withheld evidence about Mansfield's crimes. But those folks knew about the
murders after the fact.

A more surprising crime happened Aug 3, 1990, in Floral City, when many people were aware of the plot to murder Joanne Sanders. The gang at a car repair business in melrose would get together and talk about how it should be done, priming the murder-to-be, John Barrett.

">This case was perhaps the most bungled of the 17 in the book, because Sanders
never got murdered at all. But four m,en who entered her house before she did
were killed, while Barrett was waiting for her.

Barrett was gone when Sanders came home and found the bodies. One thing this story does not tell the reader is why Barrett left before Sanders came home. Perhaps he lost his nerve, or perhaps he thought of something else to do.

A striking similarity in may of these cases is the randomness of the violence. Many of the victims were not safe in the security of their own homes, where the killer broke in through the screen door in the back or just knocked on the front door and asked to use the phone or bathroom.

In the case of the serial killer Mike Kaprat, the Granny Killer of Spring Hill, who murdered several elderly women between August and October in 1993, some of the victims had one thing in common--they had written checks to the same handyman who was Kaprat's relative whom Kaprat occasionally worked for as a helper.

Kaprat's motive was hard to determine. He would break in, rape and torture the elderly female victim, tied her to her bed, then set fire to it. When the law enforcers picked him up, Kaprat expressed loathing for the crime. Although Kaprat was an odious person, likely on one loathed him as much as he hated himself. Kaprat was tried, convicted and sentenced to the electric chair, but never made it to "Ol' Sparky." He was murdered by a fellow inmate. However these were not all acts by strangers. Murders killed friends, relatives and spouses. They killed for money, for a car, for a tire, for a rock of cocaine or for the thrill of it.

The reader gains a heightened sense of paranoia, that at any moment a knock at the door or a trip to the kitchen can mean death. All of these cases really happened, in a neighborhood near yours or even next door.

Shipp (Patricia Shipp Lieb) is now a freelance writer.
Chris Van Ormer is a desk editor at the Chronicle.


Writer visits McNairy County
By Micah Smith

From the Independent Appeal
Selmer, TN

Writer visits McNairy County

Patricia Shipp Lieb recently published her true crime book under her maiden name, Patty Shipp, after spending many years in the writing business as a journalist.

style="color:#990000;">"Murders in the Swampland" contains 17 true crime stories that took place in the
Brooksville, FL, area while Lieb was a reporter for the Daily
. The stories are sometimes gruesome and shocking, especially
since they are all based on fact.


Her stories of events that include serial killers, kidnapping, murders and murders for hire show a blend of styles.

They are written in a journalistic style, which brings the reality of the crimes home, but they also have the narrative approach of a work of fiction to add an emotional edge to the horror of many of the stories.

Lieb also mixes in her own notes on some of the cases and ends the book with a series of cop logs relating humorous briefs of events that happened into he area.

"I had a regular beat and at night I had time to go to the library and research the records for police stories at the courthouse," said Lieb. "All the information in her is from reading court depositions and talking to police officers, public attorneys and prosecutors. I had a lot of friends in the county so it was easy to just call them."

Lieb is an experienced writer, she freelances for several papers and magazines, has worked full-time at several papers in Illinois and Florida and has published several collections of poems including Captured and Catholics and Publics.

Lieb recently quit her job working for the Suncoast News in New Port Richey, FL, to come to Selmer and stay with her parents, Walter and Rachel Reeves.

"My parents were both sick," related Lieb. "Pop had prostate cancer. They did surgery on that and it appears he is clear. Mother has another biopsy so I am here indefinitely."

Lieb said her parents decided to move to Selmer in 1989 because they have numerous relatives wo already live in the area.

Lieb said she is planning to not take another full-time job to focus on other writing projects. "I'm gonna get back into it and now I don't plan to get another job," said Lieb. "I'm glad I'm going to free my mind up to do what I want to with my writing."

She also had freelanced for Vocational Biographies based in Sauk Centre, MN. The magazine is published seven times a year and is used in places such as vocational centers, high schools, libraries and online to help people decide what career path to follow. Lieb said that the magazine focuses on different individuals in every possible vocation imaginable. It describes a person's career path, what all the tasks of their job are, how they chose the career, other jobs they have had and advantages and disadvantages of the job.

In Selmer, Lieb has written a biography on Christina Hawkins, who works for home Health and one on Smiley's Towing. She is planning to do another on a car salesman and three doctors.

Another of life's former projects is an online magazine titled Write on Magazine, founded and published by Lieb and friend Evelyn Manak. It includes columns, contests, information and writings of many styles by all different levels of writers from novices to professionals.

Lieb shows her support for writers in general in describing her own writing style.

In creative writing, I let my mind do the writing and I think that's what other people do too," said Lieb. "So I guess everybody's style would be different. I jut write what comes in my head and everybody's head is unique."

"Murders in the Swampland" is available online at Xlibris.com.


Local slayings recounted in "Murders in the Swampland"

Former reporter to discuss book Saturday at Brooksville Golf and Country Club
Written by Lara Bradburn

Article appeared in Hernando Today

Brooksville--In the winter of 1976, a young girl disappeared from the KOA campground west of Brooksville. A friend had seen the girl the night before with a young man named Billy Mansfield--a man who would later become the most notorious criminal in county history.

Over the course of four years, three other women linked to Mansfield would disappear in the night. Witnesses would later recall hearing the screams of women emanating from the woods of Weeki Wachee.

Years later, police would dig up the bodies of four women who died at the hand of Mansfield.

It was the end of innocence for this sleepy, rural county of Hernando. Mansfield had stolen its small town security.

"Billy Mansfield didn't get caught in Florida. He got caught in California where he killed another girl," explained former crime reporter and author Patty Shipp Lieb. "It was during another man's trial where he mentioned Billy Mansfield burying bodies in his backyard. That's when they started looking for bodies. It was 1981."

"The scary thing is," Lieb added," he could get out soon. He's already been up for parole."

The years since have not dulled the gruesomeness of Mansfield's killing spree, which seemed to set off a barrage of bizarre killings in and around Hernando County. Nor has time dulled the public's fascination with them.

As a crime reporter, Lieb was able to follow many of these cases first hand, becoming intimately familiar with the cases and those involved. Her experiences led Lieb to record her impressions in the criminal anthology, "Murders in the Swampland."

Those who remember the crimes and newcomers interested in learning about the region's tainted history can hear Lieb recount the tales during Saturday's author luncheon at the Brooksville Gold and Country Club.

The noonday event is hosted by the Spring Hill Service League and the United Way of Hernando County. Tickets are $20, which includes lunch and a chance for door prizes.

Many local residences will remember Lieb as a reporter for the Daily Sun-Journal and the Suncoast News. When ot working the local crime beat, Lieb would put her experiences to work by publishing stories in national detective magazines. That, in turn, led to publishing the book.

There are 17 cases in all contained in this book. Some stories were uncovered first hand. Others had to be painstakingly knitted together by combing through court documents and police files.

But all of them are true. All of them terribly grizzly. All of them ripped from the front page headlines of area newspapers.

Besides Mansfield, there is a story of John Barrett who killed four people in a murder-for-hire scheme that went awry. Barrett was presumably hired by Dorsey Sanders Jr. To kill his former wife Joanne.

As he waited for her to arrive home, four other men haplessly wondered into the wrong place at the wrong time. He killed the all, never reaching his original target.

Lieb said it was the most interesting case she had covered as a reporter.

"Before Joanne came home, he got tired of waiting for her and left," Lieb said. "Her son, dowries III, was convicted of conspiracy. Sanders former husband was tried and acquitted. (Accomplice) Scott Burnside fled to the Christmas Islands. He was brought home and convicted.

"John Barrett was sentenced to death," Lieb said. "He's the one who killed the four meant, very brutally, I might add."

Other stories recount the killing of Father Jon, the Episcopal priest in Brooksville who was beaten to death in 1979 during a homosexual encounter, and the mother and her two daughters who were killed during a vacation to Tampa. Their bodies were found in 1989 tied to concrete blocks and floating in Tampa Bay.


Book's Introduction to "Murders in the Swampland"
By Patty Shipp Lieb
Covering crime was new to me when I moved to Florida's west coast and started working for the Daily Sun-Journal.

For a couple years prior to giving up the north for the Sunshine State, I wrote for The Daily Journal in Kankakee, Illinois. Before that, I was a co-editor/co-publisher of a literary magazine, wrote feature stories and a newspaper column about children, and had stories and poetry published here and there. That was it. Zip. A far cry from crime.

I had been living in Florida for three weeks when I returned to my apartment after a photography job interview and noticed the light blinking on my telephone answering machine. That is when I got the most rewarding call of my career as a journalist.

The recorded voice was that of Ken Melton, a man I didn't know but one who would become my boss and friend.

Ken was editor of the Daily Sun-Journal and needed to replace his crime reporter who was leaving for a bigger newspaper in another county. A copy of my resume had crossed Ken's desk. Needless to say, I returned the call immediately.

I reported to Ken the following morning, was hired and remained with the newspaper for the next three-and-a-half years, until the newspaper went to a weekly and along with more than half the staff, I got the ax. Ken's eyes were teary when he said, "We're family here." On that sad day in 1991, the Daily Sun-Journal had started to fold--a process that would take a year to complete.

Ken was editor of the Daily Sun-Journal and needed to replace his crime reporter who was leaving for a bigger newspaper in another county. A copy of my resume had crossed Ken's desk. Needless to say, I returned the call immediately.

I reported to Ken the following morning, was hired and remained with the newspaper for the next three-and-a-half years, until the newspaper went to a weekly and along with more than half the staff, I got the ax. Ken's eyes were teary when he said, "We're family here." On that sad day in 1991, the Daily Sun-Journal had started to fold--a process that would take a year to complete.

The memories of working at the Daily Sun-Journal are lasting. Daily briefings in Sergeant "B" Frank Bierwiler's office were nearly always fascinating. Sergeant B and some of the five reporters from local medias would usually come out with jokes or funny remarks that would bring humor to the morning. We sat in Sergeant B's office and read sheriff reports, sometimes with a chuckle, repeating aloud and commenting about off-the-wall incidents, like somebody picking mushrooms out of cow manure with the intentions of boiling them and drinking the juice to get high. But there were many reports far from the light side.

While a lot of incidents reported as criminal seemed somewhat ridiculous, the amount of hard crime in the small county was inconceivable. Recently, some of the former Daily Sun-Journal staff gathered on Ken's patio to talk about the old days. He said that when he first arrived at the Daily Sun-Journal from a newspaper in the north, he was told Brooksville was a "lousy news town," a place where nothing ever happened. In the early-to-mid 1980s the county's population stayed pretty much at 20,000. "You used to really have to concentrate to find this place," Ken said, jokingly, of the area some 55 or so miles north of Tampa.

"Then bodies were being dug up in Billy Mansfield's back yard. I thought, 'My God!' Come to find out, Billy would take these girls home, rape them, kill them, and bury them in his mother's back yard. They (family) talked about hearing people screaming back there. Of course, nobody ever did anything. They'd say, 'Oh, that's just Billy.' It's amazing to me how his family didn't turn him in. I don't think there was any question whether they knew what was going on. It was like they thought: 'He's just killing somebody in the back yard--don't worry about it.' Mansfield was kind-of scary, like Charles Manson."

In an unrelated incident a few years later, four men showed up at a house for various reasons at different times and were murdered. One man, later convicted of the crime, ran off to a far-away island in the South Pacific. A couple years later, detectives followed his mother when she went to visit her son. "Now why would a killer have his mother fly in for a visit, as if he weren't being hunted anymore?" Putting murder aside, some wild happenings in the county covered everything from a horse drinking too much wine to a man attempting to drown his wife in the waterbed because he didn't like her new hairdo. And there was the time, during one of the jailbreaks at the new jail, when a couple prisoners actually kicked a hole in the jail wall and escaped through it. Laughing, Ken said, "Didn't they consider when they were building the jail that there might be people locked in who want out?"

Ken recalled hilarious happenings occurred in the old days, too. Deputies in cruisers were chasing a car and the driver got away. When cops found him a little later, after he had smashed up his car, he was beside a garbage bin on the parking lot at a convenicence store having sex with a woman he had just met. "It is the funniest story I've ever heard and it happened here."

The man got away from officers again. "I think the cops must have been laughing so hard that night they couldn't even catch the guy. Now what are the odds a man would meet a woman who would do that," he said, laughing.

"They told me Brooksville was a lousy news town. Then they started digging up bodies in Billy Mansfield's yard and another guy got beat to death with a rock--then all hell broke loose. Brooksville was no longer a sleepy little town."

In this book, I am sharing with you some of the criminal acts that have occurred in Central Florida's once far-removed swampland adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico. The "swamp" collection also includes extensive accounts of lawmen and their search for clues in one of the most horrific cases in Tampa Bay history after the boater's sighting led to the discovery of the bodies of a mother and her two teenage daughters weighted with concrete blocks and floating in the bay.

As well as covering most of these murders for the Daily Sun Journal, I wrote accounts of the cases for the various true-crime magazines over a 10-year-period. In some stories, the names of witnesses and defendants' families have been changed; some have not. Several cases in this collection occurred before and after my tender with the newspaper. But they are of crimes that still haunt folks who remember. Be forewarned, some details herewith are gruesome.

I used literary license in writing these stories. Some quotes are assumed, as nobody really knows what was said during the crimes. Many quotes were taken directly from court records, including police reports, depositions, confessions, and trials. The happenings and moods are as close to truth as I could detect while studding the cases.

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