In her 10 years, Zahra Baker had gone through a lot and overcome more than most adults. She was a cancer survivor who had to have an amputation, the removal of part of her lung, and she was left hearing impaired from cancer treatments. But she was still beautiful, inside and out. A resilient spirit with a child’s pure love of the simple things in life, Zahra was a person worthy of much more than she got.
Zahra deserved better from this world. Of all the cases we’ve covered on True Crime Brewery, unfortunately many of them involving the murders of children, this may very well be the most upsetting. Researching this case really brought home to me how much our children depend on us. Children are at the mercy of the adults who are designated as their caretakers. Usually, these are adults who love them and who do everything in their power to keep them safe. But for Zahra, she had no one looking out for her.
Zahra lived with an abusive step-mother, her father either too slow or too distracted to provide the protection she needed. Elisa Baker eventually killed 10-year old Zahra. And for nearly two weeks, no one noticed.
Elisa had a history of being abusive. And there were signs that Zahra was her victim. Zahra’s death at her hands was an atrocity and a tragedy. In today’s show, Step-Monster, we’re telling Zahra’s story.
Cherry Walker was a trusting, uncommonly innocent young woman with a developmental disability. When her neighbor Kim Cargill brought her son to Cherry to babysit, Cherry didn’t know enough to question her. Mentally still a child herself, Cherry played alongside the child, sharing her food and her small apartment with him. Kim took full advantage of Cherry, leaving her neglected son with Cherry for days without providing for any of his needs while she was away.
But when Cherry was asked to testify in court against his abusive mother, she was taken out of the picture. Kim knew that Cherry couldn't lie if her life depended on it—and as it turned out, her life did depend on it.
Cherry's body was found on the side of a Texas road, after being doused with lighter fluid and set aflame. Kim Cargill was soon revealed as the primary suspect in her murder.
Attractive, manipulative, and with a history of violence, mother of four Kim Cargill turned out to have plenty of dirty secrets she'd do anything to keep hidden. In The Babysitter’s Secret, our quiet end discussion takes us inside Kim Cargill's trial for the murder of Cherry Walker--and we glimpse into the mind of one of the most conniving female psychopaths in recent history.
High on the mountains of Southern California, an overgrown driveway leads to the burned-out piece of ground that once supported Jack Irwin’s Mt. Baldy cabin. Life has moved on, as it always does, and the forest has grown over much of this site where a horrific murder took place.
Back in 1999, Jack Irwin sold his cabin for $48,000 to two women—Marcia Johnson and Judy Gellert. He gave them very generous terms, holding the mortgage in exchange for monthly payments of $582 for ten years. He also threw in some appliances.
But by summer, Judy and Marcia moved in with Jack in his four-bedroom house down the mountain. They explained to others in town that they decided to move in to help him keep house, cook his meals, and make sure he ate well and took his medicine.
When Marcia Johnson reported Jack Irwin missing a few months later, she said that she had dropped him off at the train station so he could take a trip to Seattle to see the space needle. Marcia had only known Jack for 7 months, but she claimed that she was like a daughter to him.
When Marcia and Judy told neighbors that Jack had taken a trip, many were suspicious. Jack wasn’t a complete recluse, but he was definitely a homebody. He had never mentioned taking a trip to anyone else. Then, suddenly, the women were driving new cars and spending a lot of money. Further investigation would reveal that the women had drained Jack’s bank account.
In the summer of 2000, the cabin was robbed, then burned to the ground. Judy and Marcia collected large sums of money from State Farm Insurance. Then they left town. Jack Irwin’s missing person’s case became a murder investigation.
The murder of Jack Irwin, often referred to as A Beheading at Mt. Baldy, is our quiet end discussion today. Because Jack was a veteran and a kind-hearted man with a disability, this is one of the most heinous cases of elder abuse on record in California. The lack of remorse demonstrated by his admitted killer, along with the fact that her accomplice has gone essentially unpunished adds to the outrageous nature of the case.
Six-year old Sheree Beasley was a tough little cookie. She had been through a lot in her short life, but she had a love of life and an independent streak. Sheree loved her bicycle and was always happy for any excuse to take it out for a spin.
She had survived her baby brother who died of SIDs, followed by the fatal drug overdose of her step-father. Sheree’s Mom struggled in life and tried to give her the best life she could. Through it all, Sheree wore a wide, beautiful smile. She was a joyful little girl with some street smarts. But her independence and lack of supervision made her a target and she was abducted by a lurking predator.
When Sheree’s bike was found abandoned, her mother knew that Sheree had been taken. She was devastated to think she had lost a second child. It was unbearable and unfair for a mother to suffer this heartbreak twice.
Sheree’s abductor wasn’t known to her family, but he had been seen near the schools and public swimming pool, exposing himself and approaching children. His therapist was aware that he was a threat. How much his wife knew is debatable.
At the quiet end today, we’re talking about the vibrant life of Australian child Sheree Beasley, her joys and her difficulties. Her loss brings us to the topics of child safety, how we deal with child sexual predators, and the dynamics of the patient/therapist privilege. For instance, when is it appropriate for a therapist to alert police of a client who is a danger?
This episode, The Life and Loss of Sheree Beasley, is dedicated to every child who has been lost to a predator. We hope Sheree’s story will help us to share some constructive dialogue.