Kudos to CBS 5 and other media reporters who broke this story. Thanks, folks. God bless you.
The story continues to unfold in the state of Arizona.
Excerpt from AZ Family
The story begins in 1967 in the town of Sierra Vista. The population was 5,000 at that time, most of the residents there because of the adjacent Army post, Fort Huachuca.
“Sierra Vista at that time did not have a violent crime problem,” said David Santor, who was 22 years old back then, and has a vivid recollection of the events of that spring and summer, events that would change the community in ways that only fear and tragedy can.
“The element of universal trust was gone,” said Santor.
On Sunday, April 30, a 7-year-old blond haired girl named Cindy Clelland walked down the street, looking for bottles that she could turn in at the neighborhood store in exchange for candy. Three days later, a search team found her naked, lifeless, mutilated body in a desert area 120 feet into the boundary of Fort Huachuca.
“Throughout the three days she was missing, they would find, like, clothes and underpants, and they would bring it to my mom and say, ‘Is this Cindy’s?’” said Darlene Roi, who is Cindy’s older sister.
She remembers how her father was a sergeant in the Army at the time, and deployed overseas.
“The Red Cross had to track him down in Vietnam, brought him back while the military was looking for Cindy. And on the third day, when my dad happened to arrive was the same day they found Cindy,” said Roi.
Having discovered Cindy’s body, FBI agents, Army investigators, Cochise County Sheriff’s Deputies and Sierra Vista Police turned their attention toward finding the killer.
One week later, a handwritten letter arrived at Sierra Vista police headquarters. It contained a message that read, in part, “I am The Phantom. You have found my first victim. My next victim lives on Steffan Street. 9 yrs old. (Fools!!!)”
Police identified the 9-year-old girl mentioned in the letter and provided around-the-clock protection for her. The letter would become a key piece of evidence. Meantime, the residents of Sierra Vista were living in fear.
“People went out and bought guns. People did everything they could to make sure that they knew where their children were every minute of every day,” said Santor.
Investigators followed lead after lead into dead end after dead end. All the while, the Sierra Vista police chief, C. Reed Vance, suspected a neighborhood teenager had something to do with the crime.
On June 22, another little girl vanished. Jenelle Haines was 6 years old. Her family had just moved back to Sierra Vista and Fort Huachuca after being stationed in Germany. Her father was a Lt. Colonel.
At around 11 a.m., Jenelle was playing at the pond near the Lakeside Officer’s Club. Her brother said she had been talking to a tall, thin, black teenage boy when she disappeared.
At around 1 p.m., before he knew about the second abduction, Chief Vance was driving onto the Army post for a meeting. He said he noticed that neighborhood teenager he suspected of being involved in Cindy Clelland’s disappearance was walking off the post.
Search teams found Jenelle’s body later that day. She was naked, murdered in a similar fashion as Cindy Clelland. But now, investigators had a solid lead. The description Jenelle’s brother gave to investigators matched William Huff, the teenager Chief Vance had suspected all along. A subsequent handwriting sample from Huff matched the letter from The Phantom.
Huff, a 16-year-old high school student had a history of run-ins with law enforcement. He admitted to killing a ring-tailed cat on the Army post. He was suspected of killing cats, stealing bicycles and breaking into his neighbor’s home. She told police Huff fondled her young daughter.
Huff was charged in the deaths of Cindy Clelland and Jenelle Haines. On the day the first of his two trials was scheduled to begin, Huff pleaded guilty. He ended up being sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for one murder and 40 years to life for the other.
The clemancy board decided to release Huff. He now moves freely around Tucson. And there are little white girls playing within a stone’s throw of his residence. Watch the video, then pray for the young blonde white girls of Tucson.