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6 brazen criminals who attended their victim's funeral

Seven family members dressed in black look solemn as they lay a wreath of flowers on a grave

The adage that ‘criminals always return to the scene of the crime’ does ring true on some occasions. However, they’ll sometimes engage in other forms of risky behaviour as well. Calling 999 (or 911) to report a murder that they themselves have committed, for example, or even going to the funeral of their victim.

This article will look at peculiar examples of murderers attending their own victims’ funerals. Why do they do it? Perhaps to deflect attention away from themselves in any ongoing investigations, or to simply flirt with the danger of being caught.

1. Colin Ash-Smith

In 2015, a prisoner bragged about a murder he’d committed and gotten away with. The killer was one Colin Ash-Smith, who was imprisoned at the time for another offence.

22 years previously, a young girl in Kent had been brutally attacked and murdered at a pedestrian crossing. The prisoner who Ash-Smith shared his story with immediately recognised the case and told the prison authorities about the confession. The news eventually filtered back to Kent Police.

The 1993 murder of 16-year-old Claire Tillman was looked back into. Ash-Smith had been a suspect at the time but was never charged. His parents were friends with Claire’s so it made sense that he might attend the funeral. He did so quite brazenly, even wearing the same jacket that he had on when he killed the teenager.

Ash-Smith was eventually found guilty of Claire Tillman’s murder and received a further 21 years behind bars.

2. Randolph Sanders

In January 2015, Randolph Sanders walked into a Philadelphia police station to confess to the murder of 56-year-old charity manager Kim Jones.

She ran a non-profit organisation called 'Turning Point for Children' and one day found a financial irregularity that led back to Sanders. He had, effectively, stolen more than $40,000 from the charity. Kim confronted him about what he had done.

The next day, Sanders - dressed in all black - accosted Jones at a bus stop and shot her in the back of the head, killing her instantly.

To throw police off the scent, Sanders attended his victim’s funeral, shaking her partner’s and son’s hands and offering his condolences. He even appeared on television news, being interviewed about the murder as one of Kim’s work colleagues.

Randolph Sanders was finally found guilty of murder and sentenced to life without parole.

3. Henry Louis Wallace

Before the police identified him, Henry Louis Wallace was known by another name, ‘The Taco Bell Strangler’. Wallace lured 11 women to various Taco Bell locations in North and South Carolina, before raping and strangling them.

As he knew every one of his victims, he would very often attend their funerals, pretend to grieve, and make sure to be seen comforting the family, all while knowing that he was the reason the funeral was taking place.

He was active for four years before finally being apprehended by police in March 1994. Wallace has spent the nearly two decades since awaiting execution on Death Row.

4. Qasim Yusuf Khan

Qasim Yusuf Khan was a tailor and married father of one. In 2014, a 12-year-old girl came into his shop in Mumbai and asked him to repair a wallet. Khan claimed she annoyed him, so he tried to sexually assault her and eventually strangled her to death as she struggled. He later admitted to performing sexual acts on the girl’s corpse before discarding it in a large rubbish bin.

To make matters worse, Khan not only attended her funeral but sat in the front row for the ceremony. Such was the local anger that a mob of angry residents had to be stopped from storming the police station and issuing justice themselves.

5. Adam Williamson

One day before his 90th birthday, Australian Air Force veteran Ken Hanford was attacked and killed by two men in his own home.

Adam Williamson and Jonathan Cooper broke into Mr. Hanford’s residence in Victoria, assaulted and tied up the elderly man. Cooper, high on crystal meth, was told a lie that turned the case. Williamson pretended that Hanford was a known local paedophile. Cooper, who was sexually abused as a child, believed his criminal partner and stabbed the old man in the back five times.

Cooper panicked and went into hiding. Williamson was less perturbed and attended their victim’s funeral service, even going out of his way to speak to and console Hanford’s granddaughter. They were soon found guilty and given large sentences.

6. Deunta Akeem Grier

In 2015, Deunta Grier solemnly stood and listened to the preacher give a reading at the funeral of his girlfriend. 24-year-old Tiffany Bailey had, it seemed, been shot by an intruder during a violent home invasion gone wrong.

The reality was quite different. Bailey was shot to death by her boyfriend. Grier attended the funeral but didn’t make it the whole way through the church service. Midway through, he approached an off-duty policeman and confessed. He received life in prison for his crime.