The Zoo Man

Hello lovely readers! I apologize for the long pause in posts, I have been scrambling around and was also volunteering last week in Knoxville, TN all last week when the post should have been published! Since I was in Knoxville during the time the post should have been made, I researched a serial killer from the city! Please enjoy the story of the Zoo Man.

-M


The crimes focused on in this story took place over the course of many weeks in the late summer and early fall of 1992. The location is Knoxville, TN.

Thomas D. Huskey was a man commonly referred to as “Zoo Man” by sex-workers across the city. He earned this nickname through bragging about helping his father work with the elephants in, you guessed it, the Knoxville Zoo. Pretty hardcore stuff. He would even take women to a secluded area near the zoo to carry out his transactions sometimes. However, his favorite “secret” area was an oh-so romantic dead-end called Cahaba Lane, parallel to the I-40 highway.

He was reported to be far more aggressive- abusive even- toward the sex-workers than he should have been. So much so that it got to the point where many of these women would avoid doing business with him. His abusive actions went unreported until February 1992 when a brave woman came forward and reported him to the cops. She claimed that Huskey had roughed her up and robbed her. She took the police to where it happened, good ole Cahaba Lane, and the Zoo Man happened to be there, naked in his car with another sex-worker.

Huskey was arrested at the scene and investigators started finding other victims of his abuse, hoping their testimonies could put him behind bars. Unfortunately, the victims all decided not to cooperate and Huskey was a free man. This ordeal was the turning point for the Zoo Man. His desire for sex-workers was roaring more than ever, but this time he wasn’t going to leave witnesses.

And so it began. On the 2nd of October in 1992, Patricia Rose Anderson’s body was found in the woods off of Cahaba Lane by a hunter. She was found under a mattress bound, strangled, and pregnant. During the investigation into her murder, the bodies just kept becoming unearthed. Totalling in four victims, all of who they believed to be murdered by the Zoo Man. All of these women were found in the brush off of Cahaba Lane. All of them sex-workers.

Knowing that Cahaba Lane was Huskey’s go-to rendezvous spot, KPD detective Pressley gave a heads-up to the Sheriff about his past. This led investigators to the home of Huskey’s parents where he was living at the time. Police confronted him and his room was searched. In the bedroom, they found rope similar to the kind used to bind and strangle the victims as well as jewelry that belonged to some of the women ruthlessly murdered. Huskey was taken into custody and the team thought this was going to be an easy case. They were quite wrong, not knowing at the time that the search warrant had a minor, yet very crucial flaw.

While Huskey’s first interview was rather uneventful, he soon told his lawyers that he wanted to talk to the police more. Davenport, an agent working at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said that at the beginning of the interview, the Zoo Man was as normal as ever. Things changed after Davenport returned to the interview room after briefly being pulled out.

As Davenport returned to his seat, he was greeted with a demand. The man sitting across from him blatantly stated, “Give me a cigarette and I’ll tell you everything you want to know.” After a short pause, he continued, “I’m Kyle. I hate Tommy.” Davenport was taken aback at first by this extreme shift in Huskey’s demeanor, but soon adapted and played along.

“Kyle” spoke to Davenport about the torturing, raping, and killing of the four women, stating it was done to hurt Tom Huskey. The main differences between the two faces of the Zoo Man, Tom and Kyle, were his demeanor and dominant hand. While Tom was “mild-mannered” and left-handed, Kyle was a Rude Righty.

At first, Davenport believed this was simply an act, a ploy to get an insanity defense. He played along to get the confessions he needed to put Huskey behind bars for good. This belief changed when other personalities started to emerge from the sinister mind of the Zoo Man. One named Daxx, an englishman with a very convincing accent. The fourth being a rather effeminate man named Timothy. Huskey’s attorney knew he’d struck gold. A man with a mental illness as severe as a multiple personality disorder could easily avoid prosecution.

As for the other side, investigators saw this as an obvious act of a serial killer manipulating his way out of prison. They noticed that some of the street names around his home were the same as his alter egos and it is believed that Daxx was influenced by a character from a soap opera Huskey had watched while detained in prison.

Huskey’s trial for murder began in 1999 and DA Nichols was gunning for the death penalty. The prosecutor brought in testimonies about the victims from medical professionals and friends and family of the slain women. On the other side, the defense brought in professionals to testify that Huskey’s disorder had stemmed from multiple accounts of childhood trauma. The most prominent trauma is a rape by a woman he named “Connie”.

After countless days of back and forth from both sides, the prosecutor and defense made their closing arguments. The jury was left to deliberate. Many jurors agreed that the Zoo Man had murdered these four women, but a consensus could not be reached on his mental state. After five days, the jury was declared deadlocked.

On February 13th, 1999, Judge Baumgartner declared a mistrial for the case against the Zoo Man. All of the investigative work down the drain. No verdict. Tom Huskey is a free man and DA Nichols will never stop thinking about the one that got away.

The Matthew Macon Murders

A short blip of an update: Sorry that this is a bit late, work has gotten a bit wild for me and I lost track of the weeks and then lost the energy to post this. I hope everyone is doing well and living the My Favorite Murder motto of “Stay Sexy, Don’t Get Murdered.” Enjoy the story of Matthew “Chilly” Macon.

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Matthew Emmanuel Macon, nicknamed Chilly, was born September 8, 1979 in Lansing, MI. Since 2001, Macon had been in and out of jail for various crimes, including the admitted sexual assault of a young girl when he was 14- using a stick. His father was abusive toward him and his sister as children. As we all know, that’s usually a major contributor the future serial killers (his sister is NOT a serial killer, or any other killer of the sort).

As an extra bit of trauma to add to his life, he had to witness his father continuously abuse his sister sexually. In 1983, she was put into a foster home, having to leave her brother behind in the prison that was their childhood home. Later on, Macon himself had been placed into a foster home that he subsequently ran away from in 1989. It was during this moment of freedom from an abusive home and a (presumably) crummy foster home that he committed his first ever crime. Macon had broken into a bike shop and local comic book club in Lansing. During his incarceration for his sexual assault previously mentioned, there was a court hearing in 1996- Macon was 16 at this time. The referee in the trial stated that regardless of the progress he had made in jail, he would need “lifetime vigilance” to ensure he did not offend again.

The Murderpedia page on his background stated that his killings were committed over the course of three years, however it is shown that they happened over about two weeks. Matthew “Chilly” Macon committed 5 rapes and murders and 1 attempted rape and murder. His method of murder was beating his victims to death and all of the victims were between the ages of 36 and 76. These murders took place in the county next to my childhood county in Lansing, MI. I was 11 years old when they started and I must say, my parents did a great job of keeping the news of all of this away from me. I always thought I lived in a nice, safe, and pleasant town.

All of his victims lived alone which made it “easier” to commit these heinous crimes. A reason he was caught is due to a would-be-victim’s dog attacking Macon before he could cause anymore harm. This attack would force him to flee the scene, good boy you deserve all the treats! This victim’s survival led to her being able to describe him for a sketch artist that would lead to him becoming the prime suspect.

His killing spree started in late July of 2007.

  • On July 26, 2007 Ruth Hallman, 76, was beaten in her home and passed two days after while in the hospital. She had been an activist for safer streets and a key component in taking down many drug houses in her area.
  • Next was Deborah Kaye Cooke on August 7th. The 36 year-old’s body was found on the East Side of Lansing in Hunter Park. She had been beaten to death and found naked below the waist, the most obvious tell of rape.
  • August 9th brought the next victim in Macon’s spree. Debra Renfors was a 46 year-old who had just recently moved into her new home in the Old Town District, a gorgeous area just south of Downtown Lansing. All of her friends stated that this move was a fresh start for Renfors, erasing her past of sex-work. After her move, she ended up being a house cleaner to revert her desire toward going back to her old life. She was also found beaten to death.
  • The fourth victim is Sarah Eichon, date unknown but was during the same weeks as the others. She was found dead in her apartment on the West Side at the age of 64. The recent GM retiree was beaten to death just like the others.
  • His fifth attack was just a day after Eichon’s. However, this woman had survived. The aforementioned survivor with the heroic dog was the saving grace of this investigation. She was struck in the back of her head after Macon had broken in through the back door of her home. Her name has not been released for the safety of her future and she has very obviously moved out of her then-home as soon as possible after her release from the hospital.
  • The day after his failed attempt, Macon needed to fulfill his need to kill, really following the whole “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Seriously… if you’re a murderer, please don’t follow this motto. Karen Delgado-Yates was a 41 year-old found injured in a house that had been vacant for a bit. Folks that were walking through the home and interested in buying it found her during their visit. She did not make it to the hospital alive.

On August 28th of 2007, Macon was arrested for the murders and violent assaults of these women. The trial took almost an entire year with a final sentence set on June 18th, 2008. During his incarceration, Macon confessed to the rape and murder of a Lansing Community College professor. I believe he confessed to this because he knew there wasn’t a chance of him getting out- having been sentenced to two life sentences in prison without any possibility of parole. Michigan doin’ it RIGHT in sentencing. This confession of his set a man free.

Claude McCallum had been convicted of this rape and murder and his case is now being re-examined due to Macon’s confession. Although he still has to wear a tether, he is beyond thankful to be free, having always maintained his innocence. I personally believe that he is innocent due to the fact that the crime fits Macon’s MO and his timeline.

Macon was only charged with the murders of Delgado-Yates and Eichorn. This is due to a lack of eyewitnesses and credible evidence at the other scenes. The judge ruling over this case, Patrick Cherry, dismissed the other charges of criminal sexual conduct, failure to register his change of address (required of all sexual offenders), and home invasion. Why? Beats me.

From 2004 to 2007 in Lansing, the land-locked capital of Michigan, Matthew Macon committed heinous crimes. Luckily, his one slip-up and a heroic dog’s actions helped move this case forward and aided in stopping his killing spree in the late summer of 2007. No need to worry for the future, Macon is serving two life sentences with NO possibility of parole. Rest easy, Lansing, MI, one killer will be of the streets for good.

Donald Miller, Serial Killer

The East Lansing Serial Killer of the Late 70’s.

Donald Gene Miller was born December 28, 1954. Little could be found about the years of his childhood and upbringing. It can be assumed, due to the backstories of many other serial killers, that he was abused to some degree as a child. But we must never assume anything, that’s how people usually get murdered. Since we know little of his background, we will jump ahead to college for the promising man. It is stated that Miller graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Criminal Justice. I can’t be the only one who finds that ironic.

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Between 1977 and 1978, three women had gone missing. The police had a suspected Don Miller as the perpetrator, but they had too little evidence against him to move in. His arrest was hindered by the fact that they had not yet found the bodies in addition to the lack of physical evidence. However, Miller was not done with his crimes yet.

At age 23, Miller was convicted of his first known crime, raping a teenage girl and attempting to murder her and her brother. During the trial, psychologists diagnosed him as a religious fanatic with psychotic paranoia. These diagnoses did not help him with a plea for insanity and he was hit with a 30-50 year sentence in prison.

We flash forward to July of 1979. Miller, after spending about a year of his sentence so far, has confessed once more. This confession just as brutal- if not more- than the last. He shared the stories of his four other victims. Miller admitted to killing four East Lansing women, one of which was his fiancé. Due to the voluntary confession, he somehow managed to get a plea deal for these horrific crimes, adding only 15 more years to the sentence he was already serving as voluntary manslaughter. I don’t know about you, but it sure sounds a lot like murder to me.

On the 29th of August that same year, the deal was finalized. In court Miller stated “I’m deeply sorry for what has happened. I wish I could undo what was done.” Unfortunately Don, that simply cannot be. The lives of four innocent women were taken and two others have been so deeply traumatized that they may never be able to recover from it.

As part of the aforementioned plea bargain, Miller eventually led authorities to the bodies of the women he’d slain. The discoveries of the remains could finally allow the victims’ families to lay their lost loved ones to rest.

~

Because of the laws in place at the time of his conviction, Miller had been up for parole in the past a few times. To avoid the high chances of it being granted to him, the warden managed to find ways to revoke his good behavior credits. The strategy taken was to find any wrong-doings he had been a part of and by completing surprise bunk checks for Miller’s cell. This strategy made it so they were able to keep him in prison. Through a specific search, they found what CO’s described as a “cord-like device” that “could be used to strangle someone.” As a result of this, he was sentenced to another sentence of 20-40 years.

In February of 2017, having earned 10 years off of his sentence for good behavior, Miller stood a chance to be released. Luckily, the judge ruling on this decided that he was still a danger to society and should not be released. Therefore, he stayed behind bars for the foreseeable future. Since he has shown remorse for what he has done, parole could most likely lean toward his favor in the future. But we have to remember that he was diagnosed with psychotic paranoia during his initial trial.

Many victim’s rights activists have been pushing for his parole opportunities to be denied for life. A major player in this fight is Sue Young, the mother of Miller’s first victim Martha Sue. Because of the loss of her daughter, she has been fighting endlessly for the Violent Predator Bill. According to Mrs. Young, Martha Sue and Miller had dated prior to her murder. She has told reporters often that he had attended church with the family and became a close family friend. She does ask that he not be portrayed as a Christian or a “decent human being.”

In 2018, Donald Gene Miller has an opportunity to be granted parole once more, but the fight to keep him behind bars continues.