Teresa

*Warning – The information you are about to read may include discussions of true crimes, graphic details, and crime scenes, this may be too graphic for some people, please use discretion when reading*

We are looking at another true crime case that I was first introduced to many years ago. Today’s case involves Teresa Benigno Taylor. She was a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, and a victim. Teresa suffered indescribable savagery from someone she was incredibly close to, her husband, Dr. Kenneth Z. Taylor DDS. Her story is not one for the faint of heart and it’s something that many women face daily. If you or someone you know is in a violent situation, please share the National Domestic Violence hotline number  1-800-799-7233.

Teresa Benigno worked as a secretary for Dr. Kenneth Z Taylor, who was ten years older than she, in his dental practice. When she was first hired, he was in the process of getting a divorce from his first wife, they had a relationship before it was final. In July of 1983, Ken and Teresa married and took off for their honeymoon in Mexico. When the couple didn’t return as planned, Teresa’s parents contacted the hotel in Mexico and were informed there had been “trouble” and that Mrs. Taylor has been hospitalized. It took a few days before Teresa’s family learned she had been beaten and her husband was being held as her assailant.

Teresa was unrecognizable, Ken claimed that an intruder entered their hotel room while they were asleep, he was knocked unconscious as he tried to fight them off, and when he awoke, his battered wife lay on the floor. Ken had been arrested but claimed it was a shakedown from corrupt Mexican police. The next day they all flew back to New York and Teresa stayed in the hospital for the next two weeks and further recovered at her parents home for the next month. The entire time she told her sister Celeste, ”You’re wrong. Ken couldn’t have done it. He loves me.”

After she recovered, Teresa informed everyone that she was pregnant. She never shared that Ken wanted her to get an abortion. June 11, 1984, Philip Andrew Taylor was born.

On November 11, Teresa called her family to say that they would be visiting friends the next day and would be missing the family meal that they customary attended at her parents house. Late that night or early the next morning Ken Taylor murdered his wife, smashing her in the back of her head with a 20-pound barbell, at least 9 times.

Ken attempted to remove any traces of what had happened, but a 55 foot trail of blood was discovered by forensic experts from Ken dragging Teresa to the garage and putting her body in the trunk. The then put his 5 month old son in the car and drove to Indiana where his parents lived. Ken then drove to Pittsburgh to see his ex-wife and daughter. Afterwards, he dumped Teresa’s body in a wildlife bird sanctuary.

On Wednesday, lying to Teresa’s parents, Ken stated he dropped of Teresa at Newark Airport as she had a bad drug habit and was going to a rehabilitation center. Ken reported his wife missing that same day. Teresa’s sister Celeste and her husband went to the police with their suspicions.

Late Thursday a hiker found Teresa’s body and on Friday her father and brother went to identify her body. Ken voluntarily went to the police and allowed his house to be searched. During his interrogation, a bloody earring was found that belonged to his wife. Ken claimed he caught his wife performing fellatio on his infant son in the early hours of Sunday morning. She was crazed by cocaine and attacked him with a barbell, that he managed to take away from her before “giving it to her”. At this point Ken stopped talking and asked for a lawyer.

Ken went to trial on the murder charges and was convicted on October 4, 1985. He received 30 years to life, and would not be eligible for parole until 2014. He was not granted parole and remains in prison.

Philip Andrew Taylor, who was only 5 months old when his mother died, was the focal point for a custody battle between his paternal grandparents and his Aunt and Uncle. He eventually would live permanently with Celeste and Jeff White, his mother’s sister and her husband.

If you are interested in more of the story, check out the book by Peter Maas, In A Child’s Name; and also the movie based on the book, released in 1991. Both were great and I encourage you to check them out when you can.

Please be ever alert, make good choices, stay safe

What Happened To The Children?

A parents worst nightmare is losing their child. Doesn’t matter how, or why, it only matters is that they are gone. They could be grown and leaving the house, they could be ill and taken too soon from us, or as in the case of the The Sodder family, they may disappear completely and never be seen or heard from again.

George and Jennie Sodder, were both immigrants from Italy, but met in the United States where they married and started their family. In 1923 they had their first child and by 1943 their 10th and last child was born. Joe, John, Marion, George Jr, Maurice, Martha, Louis, Jennie, Betty and Sylvia.

Christmas Eve 1945

Due to the festivities of the season, Jennie, allowed the younger children to stay up later than their normal bedtime. At about 1 am. Jennie woke and immediately smelled smoke. She woke George, and they, along with 4 of the children escaped the house. The other five children who slept in the attic, were unable to escape the flames. Sadly due to phone lines, the war, and the limited fire fighters available; the fire department didn’t arrive to the home until later in the morning.

By 10 am, The Sodders were informed that they had not found any bones as would have been customary if the children were in the house when it burned. Death certificates were issued on December 30, 1945 for the five children, and a funeral was held on January 2, 1946.

Jennie, Martha, Maurice, Betty and Louis Sodder Missing since Christmas 1945

The Sodders began to rebuild their lives, but started to ask questions about the official findings about the fire. Some things that didn’t add up including:

  • If the fire was from an electrical problem, why were the Christmas lights still on during the early stages of the fire, when they should have gone out?
  • How had the ladder that had been missing from the side of the house on the night of the fire be found at the bottom of an embankment 75 feet away?
  • If it were to be believed that all five children perished in the fire, with no trace of bones as claimed by the fire chief, then why were the household appliances still recognizable? Another family of seven all perished in a house fire around the same time, and their skeletal remains were found as reported in the newspaper.

Evidence later emerged that the fire was deliberately set, and that the five children had survived. While the house was burning a woman who was watching the fire from the road, said she saw the children looking out of a car while the house burned. Another woman said she served them breakfast a rest stop the next morning, where a car with Florida license plates in the parking lot was seen.

In August 1949, there was a new search at the house site. There were a few bones discovered that were determined to be human vertebrae. However these bones sowed no sign of exposure to flame, and it was “very strange” that these were the only bones found, since the fire should have left full skeletons behind.

The billboard that the Sodders had at the site of the fire.

Sadly the case was closed at the state and federal level as there were no new leads. That didn’t stop the Sodders from hoping for answers. They had flyers printed up with pictures of the children, offering a $5000 reward for information that would have settled the case.

Louis 1945 (L), Picture received in 1967 (R) claiming to be Louis Sodder

George and Jennie never gave up hope, and George continued to follow up on leads as they came in. The most promising lead was a letter postmarked in Central City, Kentucky, and in it was a picture of a young man in his thirties, strongly resembling Louis, had he survived the fire. The family hired a private investigator, but nothing ever came of that, as he never followed up with the Sodders and was unable to be located afterwards.

George passed away in 1969, Jennie passed away in 1989. The remaining children and their families continued to publicize the case and investigate leads but nothing further has been learned or found.

Were the Sodder children, kidnapped, murdered, or did they burn in the fire on Christmas Eve 1945? Unfortunately we may never know. What are your thoughts on this mystery? Leave them in the comments section, I would love to hear what you have to say.

Be strong, be beautiful, be you

Skincare Battle – Part 6

*This post is not sponsored by any of the brands or products mentioned therein*

Hello my lovelies. I hope you are finding improvement in your skin. We are down to the last few battles for our skin care. If you haven’t been following the battle you can review the previous articles for the full series at the following links:

We have our next area to tackle and this is something that many of us do not think of, unless we are outside most of the day. Sunscreen. One of the biggest things to age your skin and cause blemishes, dryness, or even discoloration are those nasty rays from the sun.

So to help protect ourselves and the delicate skin we have on our face, we need to know a few things first:

  • Find a sunscreen that says “Broad Spectrum”. This will guard against both UVA which ages you, and UVB which will burn you.
  • Your SPF should be no lower than 30. If your moisturize has SPF in it, and it’s less than 30, please do yourself the favor and apply another layer with a higher SPF.
  • Know what type of product works with your skin type. If you have dry skin, use a sunscreen with hydrating properties. If you have oily skin, look for a matte finish sunscreen.
  • Be sure you use the right sunblock for your skin tone. For my dark skinned divas, look for chemical sunscreens that apply more clear. For you ladies who have lighter skin, you might use a mineral sunscreen that leaves a white cast.
  • Since you are applying this onto your skin before make up, it may not matter as much if it applies clear or white cast.

So which sunscreens are worth using? That depends on your skin, your funds, and how much time you will be outside. Here are a few options you can try:

The sunscreen voted best for all skin types and tones is EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen SPF 46. This product is lightweight, oil-free, and provides light moisture. Cost is $36 at dermstore.com

A product that has rave reviews from those who use it is La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50. This product is easily absorbed, great for sensitive skin, dries matte and doesn’t smell like SPF. $33.50 at dermstore.com

For you ladies that have dry skin, Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Face Sunscreen SPF 50 is an oil free, hypoallergenic, noncomedogenic sunscreen, containing collodial oatmeal for hydration. It absorbs quickly and feels good on sensitive skin. $8.97 at walmart.com

If you struggle with oily skin, but need to have a product to protect you, look for Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 55. This product is oil free, non-greasy and noncomedogenic so it won’t clog your pores or provide excess shine. $24.58 at walmart.com

There are probably hundreds of other sunscreens out there for your face that will work beautifully and allow you to be radiant. Find the one that works for you, but please use it to protect yourself and your skin. If you have a product that you love please share it with me! I’m always looking at skincare lines and products and would love to try something new as well.

Be strong, be beautiful, be you

The Exorcist

To most of us, The Exorcist is a book that was made into a movie with several sequels, and reimagining’s. But did you know that there was inspiration behind the book and movies? In the 1940’s a 14 year old boy, known only as Roland Doe, was believed to have suffered from demonic possession and exorcisms were performed to cure him. And this all happened in an unassuming house in St. Louis, Missouri USA.

The “Exorcist” House – St. Louis, Missouri USA

How did it all start? This all started in Maryland, USA. It’s believed that young Roland attempted to contact his deceased aunt using a Ouija board, and family members and medical staff believed he became possessed by a demon from the use of the board. The activity experienced that continued to escalate included; furniture moving on it’s own, levitating objects, and physical scratches on Roland’s body.

Could this board have caused a demon possession?

The family, and doctors they went to, could find no explanation for the behavior and physical marks on his body. Nine priests and thirty-nine witnesses, signed the ecclesiastical papers documenting Roland’s experience. The family turned to their Lutheran pastor for guidance. The Lutheran church performed an exorcism on Roland.

When the first exorcism failed to cure him, Roland was referred to the Catholic church, where another exorcism was started, but never completed. During the exorcism, Roland inflicted wounds on the priest that required stitches. Because of this the ritual was not completed and Roland was released to his family.

Desperate, the family took the train to St. Louis to be closer to family. While there, one of Roland’s cousins contacted the Catholic church to visit the boy and noticed his aversion to anything sacred. They then contacted the archbishop to perform the exorcism ritual which was granted with the requirement a detailed diary was kept.

The exorcism ritual was performed thirty times over several weeks. When the final exorcism was completed, it was reported that a loud noise went off. After this, the family was no longer troubled, Roland became a successful, happily married man, father, and grandfather.

The house remains standing and is currently a private residence located at 8435 Roanoke Drive in Bel Nor, a suburb of St. Louis. The house has been the subject for years about whether or not it is haunted. Not much has been said on the subject and no other hauntings have been reported, however the niece of one of the priests who performed the exorcism, will not go anywhere near the home.

You are your own best investment

In Memoriam

Typically on Friday’s I would normally discuss a fashion related topic. However I am veering off that path today to honor Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on his passing.

HRH Prince Philip, 1990

Prince Philip was born as Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in June of 1921. His family was exiled from Greece when he was 18 months old. Being educated in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, he joined the British Royal Navy in 1939. That same year he began corresponding with Princess Elizabeth, who was thirteen years old. After World War II, King George VI gave permission for the two to wed.

Their marriage was announced in July 1947, and Philip became a naturalized British citizen. Philip left active military service in 1952, when Elizabeth became queen. He was a commander in the navy and was made a British prince in 1957. Philip and Elizabeth wed in November of 1947.

Contrary to rumors over the years, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had a strong relationship throughout their marriage, despite the challenges of Elizabeth’s reign. The Queen has often said that Prince Philip was her “constant strength and guide”.

Prince Philip was a patron of over 800 organization, particularly focused on the environment, industry, sport, and education. He officially retired from his royal duties in 2017, aged 96, after having completed 22,219 solo engagements since 1952.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Queen Elizabeth, and the royal family on the passing of Prince Philip. I hope they find peace in the memories and life they shared with him.

On The Dinner Table – Chicken Spaghetti

My sister is a fabulous cook herself and she shared this recipe with me when I was at her house in July. I knew immediately that this was a recipe my family would love and I was right. We have made this several times since then and loved it each and every time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Rotisserie Chicken, meat removed and shredded or chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 lb. Spaghetti noodles
  • 1 lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 1 – 10.5 oz. can Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1 – 10.5 oz. can Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1 – 10 oz. can Rotel Tomatoes, undrained, you choose the heat level
  • 1 – 2 cups of chopped onion, bell pepper, and celery
  • 1/4 cup of butter, I use unsalted
  • Salt and Black pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Boil spaghetti noodles to package directions. Drain the pasta when it is cooked.
  • While spaghetti is cooking, add the butter to a large pot and melt over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until your level of tenderness.
  • Add both cans of soup, tomatoes, and cubed cheese to the pot. Stir with a whisk until cheese is melted. You can season with salt if needed and pepper at this time.
  • Once cheese is completely melted, add the spaghetti and chicken and stir well to cover all the noodles and meat.
  • You can either bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or serve it immediately.

This recipe is a great option to bring to a potluck or even prep and freeze for the future. Please give it a try and let me know if you enjoy it! If you make any changes I would love to hear about them as well.

Happy Eating!

The ABC’s of Feeling Sexy – U to Z

As we finish up the alphabet today for that sexy feeling we want to embrace, remember these are all suggestions and are meant to be used to inspire you. Do what you like and what feels good, and maybe find other ways to bring that sexy back. As always when participating with a partner, be sure to be safe, and all parties be consenting adults.

U is for Underwear – Not only does wearing sexy lingerie help us feel sexy, seeing our partner in something sexy is also a way to up that sexy feeling. It could be something as simple as a matching bra and panty set, or something more elaborate like a teddy. You decide on what you like.

V is for Visual Aids – I am a visual person. If you want me to learn something or understand it better, I will need to see it. Therefore, visual aids are nice. That can be photography, videos, or even using a mirror in the bedroom.

W is for Wet and Wild – Nobody, and I repeat, nobody wants to have any sort of dryness when being intimate. Whether that intimacy is by yourself or with others, you need to have some sort of lubrication. Some can be edible, some are not. Experiment with various options to see what you like.

X is for X Rated Movies – In this day and age, adult movies are much more accessible than they were before. You can get them at adult shops, online, or even from streaming sites. To feel more sexy and adventurous, why don’t you find a video you like, or even a clip of a video, and enjoy watching it with your partner or by yourself.

Y is for Yearning – We as humans like to have physical contact. That helps us feel loved and safe. But when we are not able to have that contact for a while, we start to yearn for it. This isn’t always a bad thing, it allows us to build up the need and desire and perhaps a well timed Quickie will help,. Build the yearning; flirt, sext, send racy photos to each other, and see what happens next.

Z is for Zipping/Unzipping – This may seem a bit odd, but consider wearing a fantastic dress out and building up that desire throughout your evening. The one last power move we may have to use, is unzipping the back of our dress and exposing lingerie or bare skin to our partners. How much of a power and sexy feeling is that? A lot in my opinion.

We’ve finished the alphabet! Yay!! Now you can enjoy practicing some of these (or all of them) on your own or with your partner. Remember to be safe and be consenting.

Be strong, be beautiful, be you

The Wendorf’s

*Warning – The information you are about to read may include discussions of true crimes, graphic details, and crime scenes, this may be too graphic for some people, please use discretion when reading*

Certain topics have interested me for as long as I can remember. Vampires being one of them. When I learned of this case over 20 years ago, I was immediately interested. Not only was it a true crime case, but it was committed by teenagers who claimed to be part of a vampire cult. Here is the tragic story of Richard and Ruth Wendorf, who were murdered by teenagers to free their daughter from a hellish home life that never existed.

Richard and Ruth Wendorf

Richard and Ruth (Born Naoma Ruth Adams) Wendorf were a couple living in Eustis, Florida with their two children, Jennifer and Heather. I was not able to find out much about Richard and Ruth, however from what has been relayed it was a happy marriage and a happy family. Unless you asked Heather.

Roderrick Ferrell, 1996

Heather Wendorf being the youngest in the family had fallen in with a group of friends who claimed to be part of a Vampire Cult, lead by another teenager, Roderrick Ferrell. Roderick claimed to be a 500 year old vampire named Vesago, a character he created from the role playing game, Vampire: The Masquerade. Heather had confided in her friends that her home life was “hell”, and Roderrick felt he had to correct that for his friend.

On November 25, 1996, Rod and another friend from the vampire cult, Howard Scott Anderson, entered the Wendorf home through the garage, Rod picked up a crowbar that he would use to murder Richard and Ruth.

Crime Scene Photo – Richard Wendorf

Richard Wendorf, was a sleep on the couch when Rod used the crowbar multiple times fracturing both his skull and ribs, instantly knocking him out, and killing him shortly thereafter. Ruth had been in the shower during Richard’s murder, when she emerged moments later, Rod bludgeoned her to death as well. Jennifer and Heather were not in the house when the murders occurred.

Rod, Howard, Charity Keesee, Dana Cooper, and Heather Wendorf, all part of the Vampire Cult, drove to Baton Rouge Louisiana and within the week they were arrested, pending extradition back to Florida. Rod confessed to the murders, stating that only Howard was his accomplice and that Charity, Dana, and Heather were innocent of the murders.

However in February of 1998, Roderrick Ferrell was sentenced to death, until in 2000 when his sentence was reduced to life in prison. Howard Anderson was also convicted, but sentenced to life in prison as well. Since Florida had abolished parole, both sentences were without the option.

Charity Keesee was sentenced to 10.5 years in state prison, she was released in 2006. Dana Cooper was sentenced to 17.5 years in state prison, she was released in 2011. Heather Wendorf was not charged in her parents murders, she has since moved out of state and has got a family of her own.

Heather Wendorf-Kelly at her home in North Carolina. 2015

Heather claims to have had no knowledge that Rod was intending to murder her parents, and she has been cleared by two grand juries in regards to this case. However seeing a picture of her now, her smirk comes off as she got away with murder and she knows it.

Please be ever alert, make good choices, stay safe

Friends

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to talk about with you all today, so I simply started typing. Even after a few words I knew what this was going to be about. Friends and Friendships. For those of you who have been blessed with numerous people in your lives, I am very happy that you can meet people who share similar interests. Sadly not everyone is able to meet people who they are comfortable with opening up to and allowing into their private lives.

I am one of those people.

Don’t get me wrong I have a few close friends that I cherish and communicate with often. However I also feel like I’m missing out on that special relationship of a best friend. I know that most people establish that best friend in their school years, but I never was able to, I wish I could post a help wanted ad to find that person.

I’m not necessarily looking for a friend for a specific activity, I’m really looking for a friend (or a small group) that I can talk to, be able to vent to and trust them as I would do for them. My ideal best friend will be the one that I can laugh with, drink wine with, and know she always has my back.

I’ve had many friends in the past and most of the time, we simply grew apart. I do recall one friendship that ended rather bluntly with zero communication on her side. Sadly that was a friendship I had for over 25 years. I discovered that she had unfriended me on Facebook and that was her way of ending our friendship. Not very mature for a woman in her 40’s.

So those friends I do have that seem to care about me, I cherish and only want to help them be the best they can be. I’m there to listen, empathize, and I’m not afraid to provide them a safe haven. When I “adopt” a friend, it’s usually not done spur of the moment, and I’m not going to give up on them. They are my friend for life.

I hope you know that you all are special to me, I’m sharing things with you that I may not have shared with anyone else. Leave a message in the comments about what you and your friends do together.

Be strong, be beautiful, be you

Beauty Face Masks

*This post is not sponsored by any products or brands mentioned therein*

I wanted to clarify as this post is not about the current accessory we all find ourselves wearing, a face mask. This posting is about that lovely addition to your beauty and skin care routine. The beauty face mask.

I have tried many face masks and have not seen much difference in my face in general. Are they nice to use? For sure. I enjoy using the masks that typically look like you are being mummified. I’m sure we have all see those face masks that have the pre-saturated paper sheet you open up and apply to your face for 20 minutes. Afterwards your have this layer of product on your face that feels like a snail has crawled across your skin. But has anyone actually seen improvement in their face from using these?

So while I was shopping I found a product, that according to YouTube videos has been out for a few years, but I haven’t yet heard of nor had I had the chance to use. The product I’m referring to is ELF Hydrating Bubble Mask.

The product is clear when dispensing it; you simply press on the sides of the container and it releases the product in the center. Very simply, you first dampen your skin and then apply this mask. It doesn’t have to be thick, it simply needs to be a thin layer. After applying it you can relax for 10 minutes while the mask does it’s magic.

Now in the name of the product it says Bubble Mask. And we aren’t talking like dish soap bubbles, but imagine when you use peroxide and it bubbles up, that is the sensation you will feel on your skin. Word of warning: This product can make your nose tickle while it bubbles, so if you are overly sensitive to that please refrain from using the product in that area.

After 10 minutes you will notice that not much if any of the mask/bubbles will remain on your skin. The product dissipates. If any remains on your skin, simply pat it in, then rinse your skin. Be careful to not get the product in your eyes, as it can irritate them.

After rinsing you will notice something. Your skin will feel amazingly soft, clean, and hydrated. I have not encountered any breakouts, irritation, nor dryness, after using the product and I LOVE how my skin feels after it.

This product, ELF Hydrating Bubble Mask, gets a gold star in my book. I will certainly continue to use this product and enjoy the hydration and the softness it provides. If you are looking for a product that actually does what it’s name implies, then give the ELF brand a look, it’s reasonable in price and available online and in beauty stores. If you do give it a try, please share in the comments what you thought of it.

Be strong, be beautiful, be you