One suspicious “suicide” in a small town may not be unusual. But five deaths within a square mile of each other, all of them within a year of an oil boom hitting Centerville, Texas? While a hand full of people got rich, the family members of the deceased were left with nothing but questions. We’ll discuss this tale of death, forged wills, and oil wells, with Synova Cantrell, author and advocate and Jennifer Davis, daughter of one of the victims.
A very important book was released August 1, 2019 in regards to any victim of crime. Survivors, shocking true stories about America’s pursuit of police transparency and justice. Author and Organized Crime Historian Denny Griffin joined True Crime Writer and Victim Advocate Synova Cantrell on New York Radio to discuss it and upcoming book, Black Gold Run Red in Texas. Joining them via telephone was one of the victims daughter in Synova’s upcoming book.
Denny believes it is a book that needed to be written. He said his hat is off too all the contributors and those who persisted and pursued the fight for justice. Trying to get answers and hold those accountable for crimes committed.
On December 8, 2010 the 911 dispatcher in Centerville Texas received a call from Gerald Willhelm. In a remarkably calm voice Gerald reported that he thought his wife Janice had killed herself. She had been shot in the neck. Gerald explained they had been sleeping in recliners and apparently Jan had awaken and shot herself. Authorities quickly responded and ruled the death a suicide immediately at the scene.
However after reviewing the available evidence Jan’s family as well as Author and Advocate Synova Cantell are not convinced. This case may be the tip of the iceberg given the relatively high number of suicides in this small area.
Equally troubling is that to this date the authorities have never contacted Jennifer to inform her that Janice was dead. Nor her brother. Instead they appear to have contacted Jan’s brother whom she was estranged from for many years. Jennifer talked about how Leon County Authorities responded to her initial concerns with dead silence.
“That kind of treatment is about the worst that can be done to victims families. Reprehensible.” – Denny Griffin
Synova who also maintains a cold case blog and several websites explained how she began writing on this case. Once she got into the case after much research Synova explained how she discovered tentacles from it going into many other cases. It soon became apparent that some underlying conspiracy was at hand.
“It took me a series of five blog posts (articles of 1500 words) to touch the surface and get into this case” – Synova Cantrell
When asked about what they have done on the case Jennifer answered that numerous attorneys have been involved with the case the last 8 years. Several of which employed or contracted Private Investigators. Thus far, all agree the case is a homicide followed by a forgery.
How quickly was this case ruled a suicide? The authorities ruled it a suicide at the scene before Janice Willhelms corpse was removed from the recliner in her home. The Leon County Coroner ruled the cause of death as suicide at the scene before it was taken to the Dallas Medical Examiner for an autopsy. Even though the Pathologist who conducted the autopsy does not believe it was a suicide the cause of death was not to be contested since under Texas Law an elected official had already made that determination.
“They are going up against money, they are going up against Big Oil and those who control it there in that area.” – Synova Cantrell
Synova Cantrell explained how through her lengthy investigation including several Private Investigators who worked on the case and an attorney. She believes that the money revenues are a major factor in why no Law Enforcement will move on the case. She suspects that no one was to jeopardize the flow of money.
Denny Griffin asks anyone who has knowledge of the case to speak up or contact them. Either through his website or Synova’s.
Janice Willhelm forged will
When asked who she thinks is ultimately behind this case, Jennifer Davis believes she knows some but not all involved.
“Who profited from this? Where is the money going?” – Jennifer Davis
Interested in reading more? Both Denny Griffin and Synova Cantrell’s books can be obtained from Amazon. In either hard copy or kindle.
Interested specifically in this case? The basics can be read here.