Another tragic, yet strange, case gripped me last night. A lot of research later, I still am not sure I understand everything about it and probably no one ever will.
The players: Peter Weber (victim), 27; Ila Legacy Womack Grey (murderer), 28; and Jesse Kenneth Lee (murderer), 20.
Now as I read more about it, the more confused I get. The Investigators', "The Witching Hour" last night mentioned her one son, Thane [I'm not sure about the spelling, but for now will spell it this way, it could be Thayne], but never mentioned any further children. Yet an article from The Philadelphia Daily News' article, "Cops: Bewitching couple killed him. Poconos man found dead in Louisiana," dated 8 May 1997 states, "Arrested and charged with second-degree murder were Ila Legacy Womack Grey, 28, a mother of three... "
Three?! Where did the other two come from?
Here is the article in its entirety:
Latty, Yvonne (1997, May 8). "Cops: Bewitching couple killed
him Poconos man found dead in Louisiana."
The Philadelphia Daily News
The New Orleans couple say they are "good" witches, but police say they did a terrible deed.
One of them wrapped a T-shirt around the neck of the couple's roommate and strangled him after an argument. Then, the pair buried the man's body beneath their home, Louisiana authorities said.
For three months, the decomposing body of Poconos resident Peter Weber, 27, lay underneath that house. Flies swarmed, a horrible smell arose from the ground. Then, an eviction notice came in the mail and the couple decided to move the body to a wooded area.
Weber's body was found April 21 by four children who were exploring the area.
Arrested and charged with second-degree murder were Ila Legacy Womack Grey, 28, a mother of three, and Jesse Kenneth Lee, 20.
The pair shared a home on Lopez Street with Weber, a waiter and busboy at a local cafe.
Grey, a self-described witch and "Second High Priestess in Waiting" was arrested May 2 at the Witches Closet, a French Quarter store where she worked as a counselor and reader. Lee was picked up in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
Witchcraft had nothing to do with the murder, police said.
"She said she is a good witch and only practices her art in self-defense," said Sheriff Jack Stephens of the St. Bernard Parish (La.) Sheriff's Department, referring to Grey.
Grey told investigators the trio had been drinking at a bar on Jan. 7. When they got home, a drunken Weber grabbed Grey, and her boyfriend Lee responded by slamming a stool on Weber's head.
Then Lee grabbed a T-shirt, wrapped it around Weber's neck and strangled him.
The pair tied Weber to a clothesline, wrapped his body in a sheet and buried Weber.
The couple broke up about a week ago when Grey discovered Lee was seeing another woman, police said.
Grey is being held on $1 million bond. Lee sits in a Florida jail on burglary charges and probation violations, as well as the St. Bernard Parish murder charge.
Weber's sister, Helen Spence, of Brodheadsville in the Poconos, would not comment. But the manager at Cafe Degas, where Weber worked, has only warm memories of the tall "good-looking" Weber.
He had an "honesty in his big blue eyes that made you feel he could see inside you," said Jacqueline Guiot, the manager at Cafe Degas.
"We loved him very much," Guiot said. "He didn't deserve to be treated like this and killed like an animal."
Now that's just part of it.
Going back, we can start at the beginning.
Mr. Weber had left New England for New Orleans. It's my understanding, from the show, that he actually knew Ila, or someone who knew her, where he used to live. Evidently there were, at one time, co-workers.
In any case, he moved into a boarding house somewhere in New Orleans and met up with Ila. Ila said that she was living in a house with no electricity at 1636 North Lopez Street in New Orleans. It's a pale blue rickety looking house with white trim. It looks to be the first one near the corner on the North side of the road.
So Ila suggested that he move in, she warned him she was Wiccan, as she said "because I know some people aren't comfortable with that." Ila says he suggested putting the electricity in his name so they could turn the power on, "It sounded like a good idea at the time," and then she added, "It wasn't it a good idea."
Mr. Weber was one of either five or six children and according to his sister, they were a close family, so it came as no surprise when his family began to get worried after not hearing from him. They contacted the police in his area, who in turn did an initial investigation.
The detective said he went to Ila's house and knocked on the door saying it was the police. No one answered. He tried opening the door and a man was sitting on the couch. I'm sure the detective was immediately suspicious that the guy was ignoring the knocking.
The guy [whom I believe was Jesse Lee], said that Mr. Weber was in rehab. At some point he reached Ila who said the same thing, if I'm not mistaken.
The detective says that there appeared to be no evidence at all that a crime was committed, but he implied that he suspected otherwise. He also said that he was sure Mr. Weber's family felt he was putting them off. My personal feeling is that the detective was putting the family off and did not feel that a crime had been comitted. I think he put the Weber disappearance on the low priority scale ,assuming it was something like a drug related homeless situation. Maybe not, but it seems the case.
An unidentified body was found in a wooded area by some local teen-aged boys over in St. Bernard Parish. The detective heard about the body and dutifully faxed over dental records of the missing Mr. Weber that the family had provided. I'm sure it came as a surprise to the detective when he got the call notifying him that the dental records were a match. Now the case was murder and a St. Bernard Parish detective was involved too.
Because I can't remember their names and because one is male and the other female and they were from different parts of Louisiana, I'll refer to the first detective as Mr. Detective and the second one, the one from St. Bernard Parish as Ms. Detective.
The body was found with his arms crossed over his chest along with a number of dimes, which piqued the interest of both detectives. Both admit that they didn't know what the dimes meant, but figured it had to be important somehow.
Ms. Detective went to speak with Ila herself where Ila gave her a story about what happened. Ila said that she, Peter and Jesse went to a bar where one of them became both disruptive and combative. I missed the rest of this part, but it seemed to me that she said Peter got upset and left and never came back.
Ms. Detective rolled her eyes, she didn't think Ila was being honest.
The next day Ms. Detective got a call from Ila. In fact, she called several times frantically, wanting to speak to Ms. Detective. When she finally got her, she changed her story. In fact, she told Ms. Detective that she had lied. Her new story was that there had been an argument between Mr. Weber and Mr. Lee. Mr. Lee then wrapped something like a sheet around Mr. Weber's neck and kept twisting it tighter and tighter. Then when all was said and done, Ila said that Mr. Lee kept saying, "Come on Peter this isn't funny! Wake up!" Ila said he never did.
Ila said that her son, Thane, came out and she took him into the bathroom while it was going on and made him sit in the bathtub.
Ila said that they wanted to give him a proper burial at a grave site, so not knowing where to go for this, they actually put the body underneath the house! Yeah, that's proper, isn't it?
Then when the investigation began, and the heat was on, they loaded him up in the back of a truck and went "looking" for a grave yard. Because they never found one they dumped the body in the woods. Ila actually told this story and even related this on the show!
All I have to say is yeah, right. And I'm an Obama supporter.
At some point, they arrested Ila and sent her son to live with his dad. There was no mention of two other children. The dad tried speaking to Thane about the incident, but the child seemed neither upset about it, nor did he appear to know anything about it.
The neighbors said that around the time Mr. Weber came up missing, Ila and Jesse were outside in the backyard at 2 or 3 in the morning, praying over candles. This was the only time any of the neighbors had ever seen them doing this.
Investigators also later found that there is some kind of ritual to ward off spirits or for forgiveness or something where you scatter silver over the body. The dimes, everyone supposes, are standins for the silver.
In the end, both Ila and Jesse were convicted. Various websites list how neighbors smelled an awful smell.
Evidently Ila appealed her decision and won, for a time, because her neighbor basically testified that Ila was a drug user and not only used them, but did so while her son was in the house. Ila tried to claim that this tainted the jury. The court agreed, but the Louisiana Supreme Court balked at that and said no way. In the written opinion, the LaSC said that she damned herself anyway with the evidence of her own lies. They reinstated the conviction, thank goodness!
As I learn more, I'll post updates here.