Thursday, January 10, 2013

Who Killed Melissa Trotter? Anthony Allen Shore

Texas plans to execute Larry Ray Swearingen on 27 February 2013. In my previous series, I explained why he is The Most Innocent Man on Death Row. Someone else must have killed Melissa Trotter.

Already in this current series (beginning here), I have described the acknowledged crimes of serial killer Anthony Allen Shore.

In this final post of this current series, I will explain why I believe Anthony Allen Shore may be the person who murdered Melissa Trotter.

It's a lengthy post, and it's going to be a long, disturbing, bumpy ride. So grab a beverage, drop a Dramamine, and buckle up.

Here we go.

Physical Characteristics
Melissa Trotter's murder was the result of a fatally unfortunate string of coincidences. Such is the case of almost all those who fall prey to predatory serial killers. The victim's physical characteristics match those sought by the serial killer. The victim's behavior, while perfectly innocent, makes her vulnerable. Finally, and most coincidentally, the victim just happens to be in a specific place at a specific time when the serial killer is also there, at that specific time, at that specific place, searching for prey.

I'll begin my discussion of how and why Melissa Trotter may have become one of Anthony Shore's victims by comparing her physical characteristics against Shore's preferences, and against those of Shore's other acknowledged victims.

Shore has acknowledged five victims. I am confident there are more, and I will discuss those in my next series of posts. For now, I offer a photo montage of the five acknowledged victims plus Melissa Trotter.


The cumulative cruelty, tragedy, and loss is unimaginable.

From top to bottom, left to right, the victims are:
 Selma Janske (pseudonym)
 Melissa Trotter (possible victim)

Anthony Shore underwent court-ordered sexual offender therapy as part of the plea bargain for molesting his two daughters. (Best I can tell, the molestation consisted of exposing and touching.) As part of the therapy, Shore was required to maintain a treatment notebook. In that notebook, he listed the characteristics he considered to be triggers that aroused him. They were:
  • Long clean brushed and flowing hair
  • Athletic / shapely long bare legs
  • Short skirts / shorts / braless tops / swimwear
  • Bare breasts
  • Beautiful dark eyes and nice smile
  • Form-fitting clothes like a tee or tank top
  • Crop tops with nicely shaped firm flat tummy showing
  • Flirting is a turn-on, complimenting me
  • When women would play with my hair (used to be long)
  • Kissing and touching me in an inviting way
  • Provocative or suggestive dancing
He added: "These are all triggers in both cases which I feel led to preoccupation with each of my daughters."

First, I caution you not to trust Anthony Shore, or any other serial killer for that matter. Serial killers are masters of manipulation. I don't know whether Shore was being honestly self-reflective, or merely writing what he believed he was supposed to say, or attempting to mislead.

Second, while I haven't polled other men on the subject, I'm guessing Shore's list is not particularly outrageous. After all, he listed some items that were intended to be arousing, such as touching in an inviting way and suggestive dancing. That assumes of course the woman was in fact attempting to invite or suggest. It assumes also that Shore was simply not imagining such intentions.

Furthermore, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with finding long, flowing hair attractive, or beautiful eyes, or a nice smile, or bare breasts.

Shore's list wasn't troubling because it was a list of characteristics he found attractive. Shore's list was troubling because it was a list of characteristics he found to be triggers.

It's certainly not clear that any of his victims presented most of the triggers on his list. Certainly none of them were in public with bare breasts; none were dancing in a provocative or suggestive fashion. None could have been kissing him, or touching him, or playing with his hair when he first saw them.

What would have been quickly obvious to him was their height, weight, hair color and style, their race and ethnicity. As he approached, he would have noticed their age. As he neared, he would have had an opportunity to take note of their eyes and smile. I suspect by that point, though, he had already made up his mind.

Melissa Trotter seemingly presented the type of characteristics that would have attracted Shore's attention. It was not her fault, however, that she was petite; that he had long, flowing hair; that she had a nice smile and dark eyes; that she was light skinned.

At 19 years old, she would have been neither the oldest nor the youngest of his victims.


At 5 feet 3 inches tall, she would have been neither the tallest nor the shortest of his victims.


At 108 pounds, she would have been neither the heaviest nor the lightest of his victims.


Melissa Trotter, tragically, seems to have been the very sort of person Anthony Shore preyed on.

Melissa's Behavioral Characteristics
Melissa Trotter was sexually liberated. I base this claim on a voluntary statement provided by a friend of Melissa after she had been missing for two days. The intent of the statement was to help identify people who might be questioned about Melissa's disappearance. According to the statement, Melissa had, over a period of years, sexual relationships with at least 18 people. She liked to party. She hid such behavior from her parents.

Shore's Superficial Charm
Anthony Shore was a charmer. Many, perhaps most, sexual predators are. They use their charm as a weapon to get close to the people they prey on.

You needn't take my word for it that Shore could be disarmingly charming. He had long-term relationships with 5 different women. I'll review how they described him to Corey Mitchell for his book Strangler.

Gina Lynn Worley was Shore's first wife. They met in 1982.
"I was checking the mail in my mailbox and he ran down the stairs all flustered and introduced himself, saying, 'Hi! I'm Tony Shore! I'm the nicest guy you'll ever meet. I thought he was charming. He is a charming guy. He was really a nice, open genuine person."
They married four months later.
"It was a small ceremony. I was young and naive, and he was really charming. He was very well-spoken, intelligent, and articulate."
They had two daughters. Shore worked for the phone company, installing phones and phone lines. He made a good living. They had a nice house in a nice middle-class neighborhood. Shore's charm, however, was only temporary.
"He always called me fat," she stated, "even though I barely weighed one hundred ten pounds."
While married to Gina, Shore murdered Laura Tremblay and Carmen Estrada.

On their tenth wedding anniversary .... well, you should read it yourself.:
"He comes home on our tenth anniversary. We'd gone out to a nice dinner; then we went to IMAX and then came home and Tony had some champagne, ice, an upright thing, and glasses sitting there. We popped and uncorked. the champagne. He goes down on one knee and tells me he's been having an affair for months and that he cannot continue to live a lie. And he left right there. I think I just sat there until he left. I was absolutely blown away. I had not a clue, and now he was gone."
Shore had been having an affair with Elizabeth "Lizz" Martin for as many as six months. Mitchell has no quotes from her in his book. Lizz Martin lived with Shore for less than two years. While living with Lizz, Shore raped Selma Janske and murdered little Diana Robellar. He broke up with Lizz less than one week after he murdered little Diana.

Shore was already seeing Amy Lynch when he gave Lizz the heave ho. Amy was fourteen years younger than Shore. She was still in high school.
Amy gushed about Shore to anyone who would listen. "He's creative. He's smart. he's talented. He's brilliant and he's charming."
As usual, the charm wore off. He referred to her as "larduous", his own word. He wanted her to lose weight and lose her curves. He wanted her to look even younger than she was.
Amy, who wanted to please her man, did as she was told. She eventually slimmed down to ninety-eight pounds. Shore was thrilled, as he could now go out and buy her the type of clothes he wanted to see her in. Mainly, children's clothes. At her smallest, the adult Amy could fit into size-14 children's clothes.
Shore and Amy married after they had been living together for three years. Before they were married, Shore murdered Dana Sanchez.

On or sometime before the date of Melissa Trotter's murder, Shore came home with blood all over his shirt.
Amy also talked about a dark side to her husband that others did not see. She recalled one time when he came home very late and his shirt was covered in blood. He told her that he had helped a little girl in a white dress who was bloodied in a car accident. Shore claimed he knew CPR and was ready to help if necessary. Amy doubted the sincerity of that explanation.
Two weeks after Melissa Trotter's body was discovered in Sam Houston National Forest, Shore choked Amy nearly to death, and had sex with her when he thought she was dead.
According to Amy, Tony Shore drugged her drink and she became woozy and passed out. She awoke to her husband's hands wrapped around her throat. Shore squeezed her throat as hard as he could, so hard that Amy could not physically defend herself. She started to fall unconscious as he kept choking her. 
Miraculously, Tony Shore stopped just short of killing her. Amy, however, believed he had every intention of killing her. She blamed his cessation of choking her on her acting skills as she played possum and faked falling unconscious. 
As Amy lay there in a semiconscious state, Shore decided to have his way with her. He rolled his wife over onto her stomach, pulled off her panties, and took her from behind. Amy continued to play possum during the rape. He started to pound away at her and make bizarre grunting noised. Suddenly he stopped, ejaculated inside her, and dismounted. He then grabbed Amy and tossed her on her back. He began to pound on her chest with his fists. He leaned over her face, grasped her nose and pinched the nostrils shut, and placed his mouth over hers. He began a rhythmic breathing pattern while alternately applying pressure to Amy's chest. He was trying to resuscitate her. 
The force of her husband's breath into Amy's mouth caused her more pain. She began to cough so violently that he pushed himself off of her. Amy sat up and kept hacking until her air passage seemed clear. She looked at Shore, but did not say a word.
Amy left Shore the next morning. She filed for divorce as soon as the courthouse opened. That same month, Shore met and began dating Pauline Cody.
Pauline was instantly enamored with Tony Shore. Even though he was nearly fourteen years older, she believed he understood her and she felt he was a great listener. She also found him very attractive and was especially enthralled with his creative side. "He swept me off my feet," she recalled. 
Pauline added that "he was very charming. There was a lot about him that seemed attractive. he was really smart. He was very articulate and musically inclined and just opened up my world to a lot of new things."
Pauline would leave Shore after he tried to choke her during sex.

Shore then met Lynda White through an internet dating service. She was a fifty-year-old mother of three.
One date turned into several. Lynda had no qualms about the fact Shore drove a tow truck for a living. She was used to men who had made more of themselves, but she just could not resist Shore's charms. She found him "funny, engaging, and charismatic." He was also romantic, cordial, and made her feel as if she were the only woman on the entire planet. ... She described him to her friends as "fun" and said that he had "no temper" and did not even use curse words.
Shore was living with Lynda White when he was arrested based on a DNA match against material from Carmen Estrada's fingernails.

In summary, Shore had already charmed his way into the life of women even younger than Melissa Trotter. A chance encounter between the two of them could have led to a dating relationship that turned deadly.

Geographic Profile
Melissa Trotter was last seen at the Montgomery Community College in The Woodlands, Texas. That is 30 miles north of where Anthony Shore was living at the time Melissa was murdered. That makes little difference with respect to the possibility that Shore murdered her. I'll explain.

Josh Kent, Michael Leitner, and Andrew Curtis provide a mathematical model of a serial killer's hunting ground in their scholarly, cleverly-entitled work Evaluating the Usefulness of Functional Distance Measures when Calibrating Journey-to-Crime Distance Delay Functions. I am such a unbounded geek that I found the paper fascinating. I intend to develop and apply their mathematics to Anthony Shore's case, and to report my results in my next series. For this series, I will simplify.

Serial killers such as Anthony Shore make their Points of First Encounter close to their home, work, or some other home base. The Point of First Encounter (PFE) is the location where the serial killer first takes note of a potential victim. The distance from the home base to the PFE is the most revealing distance. The distance from the home base to the point of abduction is of substantially lesser consequence. Considerable time may pass between the first encounter and the abduction.

Consider the PFE map of Shore's acknowledged victims. Click to enlarge.


During the killings of Laurie Tremblay and Carmen Estrada, Shore lived on Tallulah Lane in a suburb well west of downtown Houston. I withhold the specific address since it is not generally public. That house is shown as a yellow house icon near the left side of the PFE map.

Shore was living at 734th 18th Street when he raped Selma Janske, murdered Diana Robellar, and murdered Dana Sanchez. Shore was living in that house as well when he came home one night with blood on his shirt, when Melissa Trotter was murdered, and when he choked and raped and nearly killed Amy Lynch. I provide the specific address of the second house since it is readily available on the internet. That house is shown as a yellow house icon at the upper right corner of the PFE map.

Referring again to the map, I'll describe the significance of the five pins, working from left to right.

The green pin is the location where Anthony Shore first noticed Laura Tremblay. She was waiting for a bus. The PFE was 0.6 miles from Shore's home on Tallulah Lane.

The purple pin is the location where Anthony Shore first noticed Carmen Estrada. She was waiting for a bus. The PFE was 11 miles from Shore's home on Tallulah Lane.

The teal pin is Lamar High School, where Selma Janske attended. Shore was aware that she went to school there. He watched her play soccer there. I suspect Lamar High School was the PFE for Selma Janske. It was 6 miles from Shore's home on 18th Street.

The blue pin is where Shore encountered and abducted Diana Robellar, as she was returning from the local market with a bag of sugar. That PFE was 0.8 miles from Shore's home on 18th Street.

The red pin is where Shore encountered Dana Sanchez as she was hanging up the phone outside the Mr. Qwik convenience store at Airline and Cavalcade. That PFE was 0.6 miles from Shore's home on 18th Street.

Perhaps it is only coincidence that each attack took place further east than the previous attack.

The Dana Sanchez attack demonstrates clearly the value of the Point of First Encounter compared to the Point of Abduction. Dana Sanchez apparently got in Shore's car voluntarily. If so, she was arguably not abducted from the store. In fact, its not clear where the abduction began. One might argue she was never abducted, just killed while in his car. Alternatively, one might argue she was abducted wherever she was when Shore began to assault her. If so, that would have been somewhere well up I-45, far from Shore's home.

The Point of First Encounter is not only less ambiguous, it is more revealing of the killer's tendencies.

Also on the map is a blue balloon, just 1.2 miles from Shore's home on Tallulah. That balloon is there as a point of interest only. It shows where Shandra Charles and Marcell Taylor were murdered. I cannot yet make a reasonable case that Anthony Shore killed them.

The question now becomes where Anthony Shore might have first encountered Melissa Trotter.

Note that I-45 is the major north-south freeway running through Houston. It is the only one that runs through The Woodlands (where Melissa went to school) and Willis (where Melissa lived). If Melissa traveled to Houston to shop at the Galleria, or attended an Astros baseball game, or spend a day at the Gulf, or even head east to New Orleans, she would have passed within a mile or so of Anthony Shore's house.


In the map above, you can see that Shore's house was located disturbingly close to I-45, positioned in between Houston and Melissa's stomping grounds. Let's take a closer look at that area.


There's Shore's house only 1.2 miles from the I-45, assuming he drove east on Cavalcade. It's only 1.4 miles away if he drove southeast along Main. We know that Shore looked for prey along those roads. He first encountered Diana Robellar on Main just north of his house. (That would be the blue pin.) He first encountered Dana Sanchez on Cavalcade, halfway between his house and I-45. (That would be the red pin.)

Where Cavalcade passes under the I-45, there are two gas stations and a convenience store, formerly another Mr. Qwik's. Where Main passes over the I-45, there is a gas station and several fast food joints, including a McDonald's. If when travelling to or through Houston, for whatever reason, Melissa Trotter stopped at Cavalcade or Main, for whatever reason, she could have encountered Anthony as he prowled for his next live-in girlfriend, or his next victim, whatever suited him at the time.

If Shore encountered Melissa Trotter at either of those locations or elsewhere, it would have been a coincidence, to be sure; a chance encounter. Recall though that it was only a chance encounter for Laura Tremblay, and Carmen Estrada, and Selma Janske, and Diana Robellar. It was only a coincidence that Dana Sanchez wanted a ride up the I-45 so she could tell her boyfriend she was pregnant.

Temporal Profile
Anthony Shore had not killed anyone in a while. At the end of 1988, many, many neurons were firing in his head telling him it was time to kill again.

For substantiation, I refer you to the work of M.V. Simkin and V.P. Roychowdhury, electrical engineers at UCLA. Because I am an incurable geek, I was irresistibly drawn to their scholarly paper cleverly entitled Stochiastic Modeling of a Serial Killer. It's brilliant work, and I have already applied their mathematics to Anthony Shore's case.

Their mathematics tells me that Melissa Trotter was murdered at a time when Shore was particularly inclined to murder. Their mathematics also helped me identify additional possible victims beyond Melissa Trotter. I'll detail all that in my next series. Here I'll focus on Melissa Trotter and simplify what I think I have learned.

Serial killers kill in clusters. If there is a statistically significant number of killings, the killings will tend have taken place in groups separated by periods of idleness. Simkin and Roychowdhury can explain it better than I can, so I present their abstract.
We analyze the time pattern of the activity of a serial killer, who during twelve years had murdered 53 people. The plot of the cumulative number of murders as a function of time is of “Devil’s staircase” type. The distribution of the intervals between murders (step length) follows a power law with the exponent of 1.4. We propose a model according to which the serial killer commits murders when neuronal excitation in his brain exceeds certain threshold. We model this neural activity as a branching process, which in turn is approximated by a random walk. As the distribution of the random walk return times is a power law with the exponent 1.5, the distribution of the inter-murder intervals is thus explained. We confirm analytical results by numerical simulation.
Maybe not. I'll try again.

Simkin and Roychowdhury argue that there is a similarity between the attacks of a serial killer and the seizures of an epileptic. In each case (they argue), too many neurons are firing all at once and the brain becomes overloaded.

Neurons are always firing, but at different rates. There are periods, however, when lots of neurons are coincidentally firing at nearly the same time, and it is during these times that an epileptic is most likely to have a seizure and a serial killer is most likely to kill. I realize the implications are enormous.

The neural firings that lead to epileptic seizures follow a mathematical model called A Random Walk. By studying the murders committed by Andrei Chikatilo (53 killings in 12 years), they found that the pattern of his attacks could also be modeled by A Random Walk analysis.

For now, it is sufficient for the non Big Bang Theorists among you to understand that serial killers do not kill in evenly spaced time increments. They kill and kill and kill, then lay low for a while, until they are compelled to kill and kill again.

With that in mind, consider the timing of Anthony Shore's attacks, crudely presented below.


The list begins in 1984, the year Shore moved back to Houston. He had previously lived in League City, Texas for one year when he was in high school. League City is home of the notorious Killing Fields and darn close to many of the I-45 killings. I've reviewed those cases, and I don't believe Shore is responsible for any of those killings along I-45 south of Houston.

The list ends in 2003. That is the year Anthony Shore was arrested for the murder of Carmen Estrada.

This list includes Shore's choking and rape of his Amy Lynch, his second wife. That is the 1999 attack. Shore also choked and raped Pauline Cody, I don't know the year of that attack, but I believe it was in 2002. Shore attempted to choke at least one other of his long-term partners during sex, but ceased when she objected. I did not include any such an incident in the list.

The attack in 1996 was the murder of Laurie Tremblay. The four attacks grouped in the middle are the attacks on Shore's other acknowledged victims.

Somewhere between 1995 and 1998 inclusive, while Shore was living with Amy Lynch, Shore came home with blood all over his shirt. That blood may have been from Dana Sanchez, or Melissa Trotter, or someone else entirely. I don't have the specific date, and that attack is not in the list.

The list does not include an attack on Melissa Trotter.

Given those qualifications, and assuming Simkin and Roychowdhury are not completely full of beans, it seems to me that there may be other victims of Anthony Shore out there to be discovered, particularly near in time to the first attack (on Laura Tremblay) and near in time to the last attack (on Amy Lynch).

I can see three explanations for the timing of Shore's attacks. First, Simkin and Roychowdhury are indeed full of beans. I don't think so, but it's always good to keep such a possibility in mind.

Second, Shore may have killed too infrequently to allow simulation via A Random Walk analysis. I believe that is a more likely explanation than the full-of-beans alternative.

Third, there may indeed be other victims out there not yet properly attributed to Anthony Shore. I'll discuss who some of those other victims might be in my next series. Here I'll simply note a grouping of four attacks followed by what seems to be an incomplete grouping of one attack. Shore attacked four girls in four successive years. Then Shore seemingly attacked just twice in the eight years until his arrest. The first of those attacks was on Amy Lynch, and it took place just three weeks after someone strangled Melissa Trotter with one leg of a pantyhose.

A Bad Relationship
Shortly before her murder, Melissa Trotter was involved in a bad relationship. She was being harassed and stalked by someone she knew, someone she wished not to identify. That person threatened to choke the life out of her, and that person looked like Anthony Shore.

I'll explain.

Melissa Trotter lived in Willis with her parents. She went to Montgomery Community College in The Woodlands. At the time of the murder, she worked at a bookstore near the college. She had just recently left a job at a resort on the east side of Lake Conroe. Her body was discovered in the Sam Houston National Forest on the west side of the lake. The map below should help make the relative locations more clear. Click to enlarge.


The yellow house icon at the bottom of the map is where Anthony Shore lived. The yellow house icon at the top of the map is where Melissa Trotter lived with her parents. The green schoolhouse icon is the community college where Melissa went to school. The red pin near the top of the page is where I believe her body was discovered on 2 January 1999. I could be wrong about that specific location.

The green sailboat icon is the resort on League Line Road. I believe, but I am not positive, that is the resort where Melissa Trotter worked. Here's an overhead view of the resort.


Whether Melissa worked there or at another resort, she was getting threatening phone calls around November of 1998, the month before she was murdered. I'll repeat below portions of a post-conviction affidavit that I presented earlier in its entirety.
My name is Lisa Roberts. I swear to the best of my knowledge, the following is true and correct: 
1. In 1998, I was employed at League Line Marina Resort on Lake Conroe, Conroe, Texas. I was working in the phone room or call center. My job was to try to call possible customers and get them interested in the resort. About ten people worked in the phone room at this time, including Melissa Trotter. Robert Graham was our supervisor. 
2. Around November of 1998, Melissa began receiving phone calls that seemed to upset her. At first, she would hang up real abruptly. I'd ask her during a break what was going on, and she'd say something like, "men." I was pretty sure the problem wasn't customers, but Melissa did not say who was bothering her. 
3. As I recall, it was not too long before the time Melissa disappeared, she got phone calls that really upset her. Cora, who also worked in the call center, would patch the phone calls through to Melissa. Melissa broke down and started crying. She said "he won't quit calling." Cora patched another call through, and I picked up Melissa's phone. 
4 The caller thought Melissa was on the line and started saying completely foul things. He said: "You're a fucking bitch," and swore he was "going to choke the life out of me," meaning Melissa. He went on, saying that he was going to get her back for what she did to him. I remember him saying, "I'll strangle you: I'll choke the life out of you. I'm going to fuck you while you die." I started yelling back and he realized Melissa was not on the phone. That was the first phone call I took.
"I'll strangle you: I'll choke the life out of you. I'm going to fuck you while you die."

That is exactly what Anthony Shore (nearly) did to Amy Lynch just six weeks or so after Melissa Trotter received the threatening phone calls. That is exactly what Anthony Shore (nearly) did to Pauline Cody several years later.

Later in Lisa Robert's affidavit:
8. While Melissa was working at League Line, this one guy picked her up three times, as I remember. The first time Melissa seemed O.K. about it. The second time he came to get her, Melissa said "Oh god, oh god." Nickie Mains and I confronted her as the guy was pulling up. I said she did not have to get in the car with anyone she did not want to. I told her I'd get my boyfriend. Melissa said, "You don't know what that will do: that'll cause problems." 
9. The night guard would not let the guy past, so he parked on the side of the road outside the entrance. The first two times he came to get Melissa, he parked in the dark. The third time he came to get Melissa, she was scared to death. We told her not to go, and when she insisted she had to, we made her promise to call us when she got home. She called forty-five minutes later. On this third occasion, this man parked in the light and I was able to see him and his car. He was driving a pick-up, full size, and older model, light blue in color. I did not know who the person was and Melissa did not tell us his name. 
10. I know who Larry Swearingen is. I went to school with him. I had at least five classes in junior high and high school with him, including auto repair and a math class. The man who picked Melissa up was not Larry Swearingen. The voice on the phone was not Larry Swearingen's voice.
The police decided that the scary guy who picked Melissa up from work was Robbie Grove, who is Larry Swearingen's cousin. When much later Lisa Roberts was shown a picture of Robbie Grove, she identified him as the scary person who picked up Melissa from work that night. It was dark outside, but she said the scary guy was standing in the light.

The police dismissed Robbie Grove as a suspect. The DNA on the blood flakes found under Melissa's fingernail did not match Grove's DNA.

Perhaps it was not Robbie Grove that Lisa Roberts saw picking Melissa up that night. Perhaps it was someone who looked like Robbie Grove. Someone, for example, like Anthony Shore.


That's Anthony Shore on the left, around the time of his arrest. That would be five years after Lisa Roberts saw the scary guy who waited for Melissa outside her place of work.

That's Robbie Grove on the right. The picture is from his MySpace page. You need to mentally remove a decade or so from his image for a temporally-unbiased, head-to-head comparison with Anthony Shore.

To allow the side-by-side comparison, I made the following modifications to the originals.
  • I scaled the images so they would be similar in size.
  • I converted Grove's image to gray shade, since Shore's image was gray shade.
  • I rotated Grove's image so they would be oriented similarly.
  • I cropped the top of the heads because Grove was wearing a hat and Shore was not.
  • I cropped the other sides of the picture to frame the two faces.
  • I darkened the background on Grove's picture to hide the distracting items in the background.
I made no other change to either image.

It seems to me that Anthony Shore and Robbie Grove could easily be confused in the dark. Lisa Roberts may have seen Anthony Shore. I can understand why, when shown a picture of Robbie Grove years later she thought he could have been the man she saw that night.

In summary, about six weeks before her murder, Melissa Trotter was involved with a man who looked like Anthony Shore and who threatened to strangle her, to choke the life out of her, to fuck her as she died.

Sound familiar?

Possessing Melissa Trotter
Melissa disappeared from Montgomery Community College on 8 December 1998. Her body was found 25 days later in Sam Houston National Forest. She had been dead less than a week.

Someone had held her captive for two to three weeks. During that time, she had been well fed. Beyond the ligature around her neck, there was no evidence she had been bound. Her body showed no obvious sign of injury other than those associated with the strangulation.

Whoever murdered her possessed her for two to three weeks.
Hell, I did this, at this time I, it's a sexual union, had something to do with it. The more I'm thinking in retrospect, that it's having to do with possession of a person. Making them ... do ... things. -- Anthony Shore, confessing to the rape of Selma Janske
Anthony Shore had engaged in several behaviors consistent with possessing someone in the fashion that Melissa was held captive.

He left his daughters alone in the house. To insure they did not leave, he installed deadbolts on the doors, requiring keys both inside and out. He glued the windows shut.

He bound Selma Janske, Diana Robellar, and Dana Sanchez with duct tape. Such a binding would not leave ligature marks.

He routinely drugged his daughters by putting Benadryl in their hot chocolate.

On multiple occasions he drugged Gina Worley, his first wife, with Rohypnol, the date rape drug.

On one occasion, Pauline Cody found a suspicious powdery substance in the refrigerator. Shore told her the drug belonged to a friend and that Shore was going to help that friend use it on "a woman they all knew" so that Shore could "take advantage of her." That was the night Pauline awoke to find Shore choking her as he was raping her. She left him after that.

Given his experience with jailing his daughters, binding his victims, and drugging women, Shore was well experienced and well equipped to keep Melissa Trotter captive for several weeks.

The question naturally arises as to where Shore may have held her captive. I don't know the answer to that, but I can think of three possibilities.

The first possibility is that Shore held Melissa captive at his old house on Tallulah Lane. According to the public records search that revealed Tallulah Lane address, Shore occupied the house until October 1999, a year after the possible first encounter with Melissa Trotter. The public records result, of course, might be in error, and this hypothesis could be easily disproved by anyone who lived in or near the Tallulah residence at the time. While I have no evidence that Shore did not still own the house on Tallulah when Melissa Trotter was being held captive, I consider this possibility unlikely.

For my second hypothesis, I note that Shore made pretty good money. At least he did until he was fired after pleading guilty to molesting his children. While he worked as a telephone installation and repairman, he was earning $80,000 per year. (He worked long hours.) In 1998, that amount of money would have allowed him to rent some small, isolated place suitable for holding someone captive.

Finally, I wonder if he held her captive in his own house at 734 E. 18th Street. I realize that Amy Shore was living there around that time, but I wonder if she was actually there at that specific time. I note this paragraph from Strangler, discussing Shore's dejection after Amy left him because he attacked her.
Tony Shore's downward spiral continued unabated. He spent Christmas alone, he had not heard from either of his daughters, and his divorce from Amy was pending.
So neither of Shore's daughters nor Amy was with him at Christmas. His daughters had gone to California earlier and would never return to him. I don't know where Amy was, but she was apparently not at home on Christmas, and perhaps not at home on any of the days surrounding Christmas. That would be Christmas of 1998, the time Melissa was being held captive.

Possibly relevant also is what Pauline Shore found when she moved in after Amy moved out. Some of the walls inside the house had been recently repainted, and brown paper was on all the windows. Shore explained that he was repainting the house in exchange for rent and that the brown paper was to keep the paint off the windows.

Perhaps.

The Nylon Ligature
The nylon ligature used to strangle Melissa Trotter is one of the strongest pieces of evidence that Larry Swearingen is innocent, and one of the strongest pieces of evidence that Anthony Shore is guilty. I'll explain.

I begin with the relevant portions of ME Joye Carter's autopsy report:
The neck was remarkable for a brown stocking ligature which was tied in the back in a simple knot. ... The ligature consisted of a piece of brown hosiery. The toe was intact on one limb of the ligature and it appeared to be a sandal-foot-type toe. The second limb appeared to be cut Irregularly. The ligature was tied around the posterior surface of the neck. There was a single simple knot. The ligature was removed from around the neck by cutting. The cut edges were marked with red identifying tape. The diameter of the ligature was 3-1/4 inches.The ligature appeared to be a cut leg of pantyhose. There was a 1/4 to 1/2 inch remnant of the panty portion on the cut end. The cut ends were slightly rolled. There was a run going through the entire length of the hosiery. The ligature imprint was poorly discernible due to the decompositional change of the neck. There was a dark purple, 2-1/2 inch, raised mark on the posterior surface of the neck. Upon inspection of the anterior neck wound, there appeared to be a transection of the larynx. The edges of the severed larynx were irregular due to postmortem animal activity.
Melissa was strangled with one leg from a pair of pantyhose. The remainder of the pantyhose was found in  the trash outside Swearingen's mobile home on or around January 5, three days after Melissa's body had been discovered. Swearingen had been in jail for four weeks at that time, having been arrested on 11 December. The police had searched his home twice after he was jailed, once on 15 December and again on 18 December. They searched every room, looked through boxes of clothes, and looked through the trash. They did not find any pantyhose.

The pantyhose were discovered a week later by Swearingen's landlord. The landlord was cleaning the mobile home in preparation for the next tenant. The landlord either found the pantyhose in the trash or placed them in the trash after finding them in a box of clothes.

Swearingen could not have possibly placed them there between the two police searches and the landlord's mysterious discovery. Swearingen was in jail.

Someone who wasn't in jail at the time planted the pantyhose in an effort to frame Larry Swearingen. That person was most likely Anthony Allen Shore, though I don't rule out the possibility that the HPD was once again engaged in "framing the guilty." Those familiar with the wrongful execution of Preston Hughes know of what I speak.

None of that, however, is what first caused me to seriously suspect Anthony Shore. It first hit me that he might have murdered Melissa Trotter when I read this portion of his confession regarding his murder of Carmen Estrada.

Shore: And she freaked out and I knew this was not, this was, this was gonna be real bad and my life was fucked forever. so I panicked and once again it just started to become daylight, so to avoid discovery, you know, I strangled her because I knew that ...

Swaim: What did you strangle her with?

Shore: I wanna say a nylon ligature. Piece of cord. I don't remember.

"I wanna say a nylon ligature."

I believe that, when questioned about his killing of Carmen Estrada, Shore searched his mind for the types of ligatures he had used on his victims, and he recalled strangling one of them with a nylon ligature.

For that reason, and all the other reasons detailed in this post, I believe Anthony Shore is finally the answer to my question: "Who Killed Melissa Trotter?"

9 comments:

Rose Fleng said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick.Bonin said...

Shore was not shy about discussing his other murders. Seems he would be happy to discuss Melissa too if he killed her. Any way to ask him?

tsj said...

Rick,
We know that Shore was not shy about discussing at least some of his other murders. If he killed other people, and I believe he did, he was shy about talking about them.

In Strangler, Corey Mitchell points out that most, but not all, police associated with Shore believe he killed others. They have one name in particular. I have four names, possibly six, of his possible, unacknowledged victims.

As for simply asking him, there is a way. It's a bit slow to do it "correctly", but it's underway. We're talking months, not weeks.

Anonymous said...

Those mathematical studies sound very interesting - I intend to look at them myself. I wonder if they have ever been used and accepted during expert testimonials by courts at state and SCOTUS levels and hence, accepted as general indicators of a killer's likely victim?

Maria

tsj said...

Maria,
I think the mathematical models are suggestive rather than probative. I think they may be more helpful to the police than to a DA.

Angelika said...

Super great news from Texas! An indefinite stay of execution has been issued in Larry Swearingen's case YAY!!

tsj said...

Angelika,
Thanks for the heads up. I had already heard of that ruling and I have a post up on it now.

Anonymous said...

I've read the entire series on Swearingen and Shore and want to believe what you've laid out here but Swearingens behavior just doesn't add up.

1. Swearingen evidently confessed to other inmates while in jail, "F*** yeah I did it". How many people heard that and how reliable are they? Did they stand to gain anything by snitching?

2. Has any explanation been offered why his trailer was torn up?

3. You mentioned cell phone records placed him near the spot Trotter was found. Can you talk more about that?

4. What kinda evidence is the prosecution using to defend the fact that she was in fact out there for ~25 days. Have there ever been bodys found anywhere that were out there that long that held up similar to how hers did?

hmmm said...

Swearengin and Shore were in the same cell block, so heads up, Shore is also a huge talker, loves to talk and talk and relive his crimes. He could have told Swearingen details about his case, also the reverse. Just saying.

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