Posts Tagged ‘Unsolved Mystery’

A young couple vanishes after a frightening car crash in South Dakota, only to be discovered several months later only feet away from the crash site. But how did they get there?


Arnold Archambeau and Ruby Bruguier


Victims mysteriously disappear after their vehicle crashes into a ditch, only to show up feet away from ditch several months later.

On the morning of December 12, 1992, a car stopped at a remote intersection at the edge of the Yankton Sioux Indian Reservation in Lake Andes, South Dakota. It was cold and the road was icy.

The driver was 20-year-old Arnold Archambeau. One of the passengers was his girlfriend, 19-year-old Ruby Bruguier. The other passenger was Ruby’s cousin, 17-year-old Tracy Dion. All three had been drinking when the car crashed in a frozen ditch.

Tracy recalled what happened:

“We came up to that stop sign. That’s all I remember is just him looking and, saying there are no cars and him spinning out from the stop sign. And it was just like the snap of a finger and the next thing you know, we ended up in the ditch. I was upside down in the ditch and Ruby and I was in the car you know. Arnold wasn’t in the car. I don’t know where he was. Ruby was crying. She was saying oh my God, oh my God. She just kept hitting the car. The next thing I know, the door, it was open a little ways and she had enough room where she slid out. And then so I was going to reach over and then it was just like that, the door went shut.”


Ruby Bruguier

Arnold Archambeau

By the time help arrived, Tracy was the only person still in the car. For some unexplained reason, Arnold and Ruby had abandoned her.

By daybreak, the police had already searched the area. Although the ice underneath the car was frozen solid, they feared that Arnold and Ruby had wandered off and fallen through the ice at another location.

Bill Youngstrom was a Deputy for the Charles Mix County Sheriff’s Department at the time of their disappearance:

“We walked around the ice part. We had one officer walk on the opposite side of the railroad tracks, thinking maybe they wandered off toward the lake area, which was also frozen. I’ve been to a number of accidents where there hasn’t been somebody around. The driver hasn’t been there, no passengers there. And a lot of times it’s because they’ve been partying. Out drinking. I mean we do have a DWI law. That was initially my first thought. Maybe Arnold was out drinking and didn’t want to get arrested, so we figured he’d show up in a few days.”

Arnold’s aunt, Karen Tuttle, did not accept that theory:

“I knew he wouldn’t hide, he would’ve come home to us or called us and told us I’m over here don’t worry about me. But we never heard anything from him.”

Over the next three months, Deputy Youngstrom investigated every possible lead. Day after day he came up empty. Then the spring thaw arrived. In early March, a passing motorist saw a body in the ditch, just 75 feet from the accident site. It was Ruby Bruguier. Deputy Youngstrom witnessed a gruesome scene:

The bodies of Bruguier and Archambeau were discovered in a ditch several months later, but how did they get there?

“Her glasses were missing. Both shoes were missing. Her clothes were in tact. It appeared to be the same clothes that she had on the night of the accident. But the body was very decomposed. It was hard to recognize. And in fact we had to get down to look at a tattoo to get a positive identification of the body. At that time, our department decided that we would start pumping the ditch out. And about noon the next day we found the body of Arnold submerged in the water, about 15 feet away from where we found Ruby. Arnold’s body was very well kept. His skin color was fine. He was not frozen to the ground. The clothes were not frozen to the ground. There is a question mark as far as in our investigation if he was wearing the same clothes that he was the night of the accident.”

The bodies were immediately autopsied but there was no way to determine the time of death. The coroner concluded that Arnold and Ruby had both died of exposure. But Deputy Youngstrom suspected foul play:

“Death by exposure is like they froze to death. I cannot actually buy that. They may have froze to death. But they didn’t freeze to death at that ditch. It’s impossible that they could have been there the entire three months. I myself personally walked that ditch several times during that period. I’ve gotten written affidavits from people that’s also watched, walked it, people that have nothing to do with the case. They couldn’t have been there. They couldn’t have missed.”

Deputy Youngstrom was further baffled by the discovery of two items that seemed to support the theory that Arnold and Ruby had not died in the ditch:

“We found a tuft of hair alongside the road. This hair was later determined by the forensic laboratory to belong to Ruby Bruguier. That hair couldn’t have stayed there for three months. In my opinion, it was when whoever brought the bodies back to the ditch, that’s when that piece of hair fell off of Ruby. At the time we pulled Arnold’s body from the ditch, I found a set of keys in his pocket, the keys were a car or vehicle key. And what appeared to be two house keys. I still have these keys in my possession. And to this day I have not found the vehicle nor that house that these keys fit.”

Soon there was another startling revelation. A witness claimed to have seen Arnold, accompanied by three other people on New Year’s Eve, almost three weeks after he was reported missing. Authorities brought the witness in for a polygraph exam. She passed.

But how did the bodies of Arnold Archambeau and Ruby Bruguier end up in the very same ditch where they crashed their car three months earlier? Ruby’s father, Quentin Bruguier, had his own theory:

“They had to die someplace else. Somebody had to come and put them back in there again, to make it look like that’s where they died.”

Were Arnold Archambeau and Ruby Bruguier victims of foul play? How and why their bodies were discovered in a ditch 75 feet from the crash site remains a troubling mystery.

Source: Unsolved Mysteries (UM)

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Detectives have been trying to solve this cold case for years – maybe you can help.

Blonde, blue-eyed, beautiful and blessed with a bubbly personality – the quintessential girl next door. That was Sharon Marshall. She was also very intelligent, an avid reader near the top of her high school class, listed in Who’s Who of American High School Students, a Lt. Colonel in the ROTC and she had earned a full scholarship to Georgia Tech University where she planned to study aerospace engineering. Sharon proudly graduated from high school in Forest Park, GA in 1986.

Only her name wasn’t really Sharon Marshall – she didn’t know what her real name was. Nor did she know who her parents were or even what day, month, year or in which city or state she was born. It is thought that Sharon was born sometime in the late 1960’s although no one knows for sure because Sharon had been kidnapped when she was just a toddler, probably sometime between 1973-1975.

Franklin Delano Floyd, a psychopath, sexual predator and convicted felon, abducted and raised Sharon as his own daughter while posing as her ailing father, all the while sexually abusing her from a very young age. Floyd would later claim that he had “rescued” Sharon when she was unwanted and abandoned by her biological parents.

The first known public record of Sharon exists in 1975 in an Oklahoma City school where she was registered under the alias “Suzanne Davis“.

 

SUZANNE DAVIS – 1975

"Suzanne Davis"
“Suzanne Davis”

Sharon’s good natured personality and good grades ultimately worked against her. Although she had few friends and sometimes dressed inappropriately, no one was suspicious of the young lady who had to be home by 4:30 p.m. everyday to help her sick father or wondered why she moved so often that she was in the fourth school in a single year during her high school career. If anyone did get curious and questioned her about the whereabouts of her mother, Sharon would explain that when she was a young girl her mother had died of cancer or she was known to tell others, her mother had died in a fatal car accident. When the questions became too probing or intense Floyd and Sharon would pick up and move to places like Oklahoma City, Louisville, Atlanta, Phoenix, Tampa, New Orleans and Tulsa.

It is known that upon her graduation Sharon moved to Phoenix, AZ.  Sometime during the next couple of years Floyd and Sharon moved to Tampa, FL where she gave birth to a baby boy on March 21, 1988 using the alias “Tonya Dawn Tadlock”. She subsequently named the baby Michael Anthony Hughes and it is thought she used the last name Hughes because at the time, Floyd was using the aliases Charles Hughes and Clarence Marcus Hughes although, he also used many other aliases over the span of his criminal career. The natural assumption is that Floyd was Michael’s biological father, however, this theory was disproved with DNA test results in the 1990’s.

 

Sharon Marshall & Michael Hughes

Sharon Marshall
Sharon Marshall
Michael Hughes
Michael Hughes

Franklin Delano Floyd

Floyd in 2002
Floyd in 2002
DEATH ROW - Current Mug Shot
DEATH ROW – Current Mug Shot

During this time period, Sharon began to work as an exotic dancer, her dreams of studying aerospace engineering by now a distant memory. Sharon made friends with Cheryl Ann Commesso, 19, an exotic dancer who worked at the same club. Cheryl was beaten and killed by two shots to the back of the head in 1989. She was dumped along Florida Interstate 275 and for a long time was known simply as “Jane Doe I-275”. Soon after, Floyd and Sharon left Florida and shortly after that, the trailor they had occupied burned to the ground.

In yet another twist to this stranger than fiction story, Sharon and Floyd were married in 1989 in New Orleans under the aliases Clarence Marcus Hughes and Tonya Dawn Tadlock. Floyd and Sharon, along with Michael, then headed to Oklahoma.

In April of 1990 Sharon was killed in a suspicious hit and run accident while both she and Floyd were being sought in connection with Cheryl Ann Commesso’s murder investigation. Floyd remains the primary suspect in the hit and run that killed his daughter/wife.

After his mother’s death, when DNA test results proved conclusively that Floyd was not Michael’s biological father, Floyds visitation rights were terminated and Michael was put into foster care. His foster parents, who had begun formal adoption proceedings, reported that when he first came to them Michael was non-verbal, had limited muscle control and often exhibited hysterical behavior. While in their care, however, Michael apparently made great progress.

In the final twist to this bizarre and sad story, Michael was kidnapped by Floyd from Indian Meridian Elementary School in Choctaw, OK on September 12, 1994. He held school officials at gunpoint and forced Michael and the school principal into the principal’s pick-up truck. Eventually Floyd let the principal go, basically unharmed but traumatized, tied to a tree. Young Michael was never seen again.

Floyd was arrested two months later in Kentucky where he steadfastedly refused to give any information as to Michael’s whereabouts. Floyd claimed Michael was out of the country or possibly in the Atlanta, GA area. However, multiple witnesses have come forward saying Floyd confessed to them that he murdered Michael by drowning him in a bathtub, somewhere in the Atlanta area. Still other witnesses say they saw Floyd bury Michael’s’ body in a grave. Floyd was tried and sentenced to 55 yrs in prison for Michael’s kidnapping.

Some time later, a mechanic working on Floyd’s old pick-up truck, which had been auctioned, discovered a multitude of photos wedged over the gas tank. The explicit photographs clearly proved Sharon had been subjected to sexual abuse her entire life. In addition, photos showing Cheryl Ann Commesso beaten and bound and sitting on the sofa in Floyd’s old trailor in Florida, were discovered along with photos of other females. These photographs were used as evidence against Floyd in the Commesso murder trial in 2002 where he was later convicted and sent to death row.

After Sharon’s death, upon further investigation into Floyd’s background, investigators learned that he was a career criminal who had first been arrested at the age of 17 in a gunfight with law enforcement during a burglary. Floyd was also arrested for abducting and raping a young woman at a bowling alley in 1962. All told, Floyd has admitted to convicting at least 19 felonies.

Floyd has not been convicted of either Sharon or Michael’s murders but is still under investigation for both crimes. He has a documented history of schizophrenia, was raised by two alcoholic parents and at some point was turned over to an orphanage by his mother who never came back to retrieve him. Floyd’s defense attorneys presented these facts in his defense at his trials in an attempt to solicit sympathy from the juries.

Franklin Delano Floyd now sits on death row at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, FL.

Sadly, Michael Hughes has never been located and is presumed dead. His mother “Sharon Marshall” still remains unidentified and is buried in Choctaw, OK.

Real Name: Unknown

Known aliases:

  • Sharon Marshall (most commonly used alias)
  • Suzanne Davis (mostly when she was a young child)
  • Tonya Hughes
  • Tonya Dawn Tadlock

Real Name: Franklin Delano Floyd

Known Aliases:

  • Charles Hughes
  • Clarence Marcus Hughes
  • Trenton Davis
  • Warren Judson Marshall
  • Preston Morgan
  • Kingfish Floyd

If you have any information about Michael or Sharon, please contact the Choctaw, OK Police Department or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

If you found this case interesting and would like to learn more about Sharon and Michael and this fascinating case, I highly recommend author Matt Birkbeck’s terrific book  ” A Beautiful Child”. It’s one of the best true crime stories I have ever read.  Warning:  once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down until you’ve finished reading it!