I am saddened but do understand when a law enforcement agency says that they have no more leads, no suspects and nowhere to turn. Dead ends can end an investigation. But money should not block the path to justice. And in the case in question, there is a suspect.
In 1965, Nelos Sills' death was ruled a suicide. This conclusion was based on the statement of his wife Betty Sills. According to her, she and her husband were alone in their mobile home on Big Coppitt Key. They argued and Nelos pulled out a gun and shot himself--once. An autopsy was not performed.
But Nelos was in the Navy and the Naval Criminal Investigation Service had a file on the case. According to their documents, Nelos was shot twice--definitely not a typical suicide. One bullet from the pistol went through his heart, the other sliced his liver.
The current investigators wanted to exhume his body but they were told since it might be voluntary manslaughter, the statute of limitations had run out. Of course, if that assumption is wrong and Betty commited first or even second degree murder, there is not time limit. How can they determine that it was the lesser crime without an autopsy?
Also, according to the Navy, the couple was not alone. Betty's two children were there. Gary Flynn, her son, is dead. Betty's daughter, Peggy Saunders, lives in Ocala, Florida, and remembers the argument and the shooting. (Betty, Gary, Peggy, on the right) Monroe County investigators did not question her. Why? The same Sheriff's Office spokesperson said that "they just didn't have the money to fly all over the state."
Betty received life insurance after the death of Nelos--she benefited from his death.
Where is Betty now at the age of 76? You've heard her name in the news recently. She's suspected black widow, Betty Neumar. This past summer, she was arrested in North Carolina for the 1986 homicide of the fourth of her five dead husbands, Harold Gentry. Nelos Sills was her third husband.
Betty is out on a $300,000 bail bond awaiting trial for soliciting three different people to commit first-degree murder in the six weeks before Harold was found shot dead in his home. In Ohio, Betty is being investigated in the 1970 shooting death of her first husband, Clarence Malone. They are also investigating what happened to her son, Gary, whose death in 1985 was ruled a suicide. Betty collected life insurance when he died, too.
Georgia has recently closed their investigation into the death of her fifth husband, John Neumar. His family feels the closure of that case, too, was premature. And no one is looking into the death of her second husband, James Flynn. Betty told North Carolina investigators that he "died on a pier" somewhere in New York in the mid-fifties.
I ran across a similar cases while researching the murders committed by serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells. One investigator told me that he didn't see any sense in wasting taxpayer money on an investigation when the perpetrator was already sitting on death row in Texas. "If anybody'll take care of him, Texas will."
Yes, he is right. But a victim cries out for justice and a family waits on the sidelines for answers. The victim's death and the family's questions do matter.
Murder investigation--particularly in a cold case--is an expensive proposition. And time-consuming as well. But don't our law enforcement agencies owe it to the victim and their families to pursue justice until all leads have been exhausted?
I understand if law enforcement has to limit the resources and make an older, expensive investigation a lower priority. But to give up because it would cost too much? It sounds too much like putting a price tag on someone's life.
That, I will never understand.Tweet