Friday, July 8, 2016

Shawna Forde: Guilty or Innocent? Part I of II

Foreword:  It has been recently been brought to my attention that a supporter of Shawna Forde has started a campaign of harassment against me and my private information such as past home addresses has been shared on various sites.   An allegation that this blog is based on lies was made but she failed to include a link to it so people could decide for themselves.   As I have not attacked the supporter,  I can only guess that this action is based upon the fact I have written about the criminal cases of Shawna Forde and her cohorts.  This supporter has previously attacked another blogger on a personal level and continues to do so for sharing the information from the trial which was used to obtain the guilty verdict.

 I believe the best argument for guilt or innocence is information and facts; when personal attacks and insults are launched, it indicates that the opposing argument lacks a foundation for their claim. Often, these people will lauch personal attacks,  attempt intimidation,  use harassment, and make accusations to try to discredit the opposing view.  The truth can also be found by simple research.

I can only advise that you do as I have encouraged readers to do with the Jodi Arias trial:  seek out the truth and educate yourself.  I have included links at the bottom of each of the articles of sources I have used.  An excellent source created by a person who attended the trials of Forde and Gaxiola,  used recording from the trials,   researched the case, and interviewed many of those connected to the case or the people is the book "And Hell Followed With Her: Crossing the Dark Side of the American Border.

A Shawna Forde discussion page on Facebook should soon have audio recordings taken from the testimony of Forde's trial.   After those are posted, it's possible there will be more to come if the source is able to locate them.    Please join us if you are interested in discussing or commenting on the case.

When Jodi Arias was admitted to her forever home,  an old case was brought to the attention of the Arias trial watchers.  It was the 2011 trial of Shawna Forde for the 2009 murders of Raul Flores, Jr. and his 9-year old daughter Brisenia.  She was also charged with the attempted murder of Brisenia's mother,  Gina Gonzales.   Forde was found guilty of the charges, and awaits execution on death row at Perryville prison.

Convicted murderer Shawna Forde became Jodi's vent mate after Jodi was assigned to her cell.  Shawna's supporters monopolized upon the notoriety Jodi's case brought to bring attention to Shawna.  Like Jodi,  Shawna was a fan of the media and the attention it could bring her.   Prior to her arrest,  she was frequently in the media spotlight,  and some of the times she initiated the contact.  At the time she was arrested,  Shawna was starring in a documentary about her border activism.  Her desire for media recognition and the things she did to get it was one of the reasons her husband left her.

Shawna's supporters were eager to share the "facts" of her case with the mass amount of Arias trial watchers;  trial watchers were also directed to the Shawna Forde support site.  At first glance,    those "facts"  made it appear that Shawna was an innocent woman, wrongfully convicted, and unjustly sentenced to death for a crime she did not commit.   According to the supporters and their "facts",  Shawna should have been found innocent because  there was not any DNA linking Shawna to the crime,   the surviving victim failed to pick her from a line-up, and Shawna did not match the description the victim gave of the female intruder.  Additionally,  a major witness in the case was a co-conspirator who was given a plea deal for implicating Shawna and there was proof his girlfriend was the woman who the witness saw during the murders..

The "facts",  as reported,   forced trial watchers to wonder how a jury could have sentenced Shawna to death if those "facts" were true and  the only evidence existing in the case. And, like trial watchers usually do, they wanted more information.    The unthinkable situation drove trial watchers to seek it out.  And, that is when they discovered they had only received a tiny portion of the facts associated with the case.

Shawna's supporters had done as many Jodi supporters have done, and left out the full story behind the "facts" they presented as proof Shawna was innocent. When the evidence attached to the Arivaca murders is considered as a whole,  it presents and interlocking trail that explains how a jury was able to find Shawna Forde guilty of murder.  But, for some, a question may still linger.    Was it a case of a robbery gone wrong, making Shawna guilty of felony murder? Or, was it a home invasion that included plans to destroy all witnesses,  making Shawna guilty of premeditated murder?

The answer to Shawna's guilt can be found in the evidence used at her trial;  but her past may also help people to decide.  Six months before the Arivaca tragedy,  Shawna was linked to another attempted murder that was could have had either a financial or revenge motive.


About six months before the attack on the Flores' home,  an attempt was made on Shawna's soon-to-be ex-husband's life.  On December 22, 2008,  Shawna's estranged husband, John Forde, was shot five times in his duplex home and left for dead.  As he lay dying on the floor,  there was only one person he could think of who would want him dead:  Shawna Forde.

John had met and married Shawna years earlier.  By 2007,  the relationship had soured.  Shawna was not bringing anything to the relationship.  She bounced from job to job "stirring up drama and getting fired",  while John maintained steady employment.   While he supported the family and wanted married live, Shawna's primary focus was on her own interests.  And, that was recognition for being an ass-kicking female Minuteman who had the balls to to what others would not.

Shawna  was dedicating the majority of her time to the Minutemen movement and border activism.  She would disappear for weeks at a time for activities related to the group.   Shawna seemed to revel in the recognition she received for being a woman involved in a group primarily made up of men. But, it was a life John did not want to live.  Late into 2007, he gave Shawna the choice between continuing her border activities and her trips to Arizona or getting a job, contributing to the marriage, and staying married.  Shawna picked the later.

Shawna let go of her border activities for awhile and got a job working as a hairdresser at a beauty parlor in Sears department store.   But, the quiet life did not last for long.   Shawna had been bringing home multiple items from the store,  and John suspected she was stealing.   Shawna assured him everything was legit,  until she suddenly packed all the items into her car and asked John to drive her back to the store to return them.  According to Shawna,  she had purchased it all on her friend's employee discount and she didn't want to get the employee in trouble.  So, she  made arrangements with security to return the items without question.

Shawna eventually started to get drawn back into border activism.  Then,  in   February,  2008,  Jim Gilchrist, known as the co-founder of the Minutemen movement,  made Shawna his director of border operations.  The promotion pulled her back in and Shawna returned to her old habits.  But, her methods proved to be too radical and intense for the Minutemen.  By June, 2008, she was kicked out. Shawna then focused her energy on her own Minutemen group,  Minutemen American Defense,  AKA MAD.  By August, 2008,  Shawna was behaving as she did when John first presented the ultimatum.  He served her with divorce papers in August, 2008,  after Shawna had been gone on another border patrol trip.

While Shawna was away,  John started to get their financial affairs in order so a clean break could be made.  He was shocked at what he found when he looked at Shawna's.  She had been living off of credit cards and was thousands of dollars in debt and in default on many of the bills.   The bills included credit cards for jewelry and a 30,000 line of credit from the credit union of one of Shawna's employers,  Boeing Employees Credit Union.   He discovered she purchased a new orange Honda Civic but failed to make a single payment.  Shawna's bills concerned John because as her husband, he could have been found liable.   So,  he obtained a high interest loan to consolidate the bills into one lump payment and bring Shawna out of arrears.

Shawna and John used a legal assistance company in Everette, Washington to help with their divorce.  Through the company, Peaceful Separations,  it was decided John would pay Shawna a small monthly allowance while the divorce was being finalized.  The proposal allowed John to keep his home and he would pay $25,000 of Shawna's debt but she would be responsible for the other $78,000 she had incurred.  At the time,  Shawna was not working and the agreement would have left her homeless, in debt, and without income but it was a situation she created.  It would have forced her to find a job which would have impacted her border activism and the attention it drew for her.  It was a situation that Shawna did not like and the wheels could be seen turning in her brain as she tried to find a way out of the situation she placed herself in.  At one time,  John recalled,  Shawna had turned up to Peaceful Separations to sign some papers and while there,  she asked a telling question:  What would happen in their situation if John suddenly died.   John was worth 1/2 million dollars at the time and Shawna would have inherited a significant amount;  it was enough to pay off her debt and allow her to build a base of operations for her Minutemen group.

 John was informed of Shawna's inquiry and he was advised to continue to pay her the small monthly sum.  But, it wasn't enough for Shawna who frequently asked for more money.  John refused.   His unwillingness to give Shawna more money wasn't the only thing that upset her.   He changed the locks on the family home because Shawna had been gone for a long time. When she found out, it angered her and she threatened to contact the police if he didn't give her a key.  She informed him that she had a right to access the marital home until the divorce was finalized.  She was correct so unlike the money situation,  John complied with her request.

John had given Shawna a key to the home and she had access, so the call he received from her on December 22, 2008 seemed unusual. She wanted to know when he was going to be home because she wanted to pick up some of her things.  Shawna had never phoned to ask him the question before and since she had a key, she could have done it whether he was home or not.  He became suspicious of her motives and believed she may have been looking to damage his vehicle.  So, after arriving home, he frequently checked it through the window of his home.   John finally settled down in the living room to watch the evening news when a strange man in a hat suddenly appeared in his home.  John thought it was a lost visitor who had mistakenly went into the wrong home. Before John could utter a word,   the man shot him 5 times and ran off, leaving him for dead.   As he lay on the sofa dying,  John thought about who would have desired him dead.   The answer angered him and gave him the strength to inch his way to the phone and dial 911.  While on the phone with the dispatcher,  Shawna's name came up several times and John told the operator he believed she had tried to have him murdered.

John was rushed to the hospital and Shawna was picked up and brought to the police station for questioning.  She naturally denied being involved in the shooting but suggested it was an act of revenge based on her border activism 2000 miles away in Arizona.  Shawna explained that the Mexican cartel must have sent members of an international gang, MS-13,  to kill her husband.  After her questioning,  Shawna was later released but failed to comply with further requests for help with the case.   She did not attempt to visit John in the hospital or notify any of his family of the terrible incident.  She did, however,  move into his duplex home with her boyfriend the day following his shooting .  She also started using John's credit cards and debit card as if they were her own.

By the time John arrived at the hospital he had lost consciousness due to his injuries.  His condition was so severe that he had to be placed in a medically induced coma on a Diprivan drip for several days.   When he finally was woke up,  the doctors told him it was a miracle he lived.   Detectives soon interviewed him about the shooting.  He was provided a photo line-up which included a suspect they had in mind.   However,  John could not make a positive ID at the time.   He thought one man in particular looked very similar to the man who shot him, but he could not be sure and didn't want to risk implicating a man who might be innocent.

John was able to assist with the construction of a composite sketch of the man who shot him.   The sketch looked a lot like the same man Shawna had recently moved into John's home, right down to the sunken in cheekbones.    The similarity between the two did not escape the eyes of the police or those around Shawna.

As John remained in his coma in the ICU,  Shawna treated his home like it was her own and played house with her new boyfriend.   Detectives tried to make contact with her for further questioning about his attack, and she avoided them.  Then,  one week after John's shooting,  an assault was reported at John's address.  Police arrived to find Shawn sitting on the floor, hugging her knees, and sobbing that she had been raped.   There was not any blood at the scene except for a small amount in the shower.   There were injuries to Shawna's body but they were extremely superficial in nature. She had cuts that were very shallow, included hesitation marks, and many had already scabbed over.  Shawna's wounds were not of the brutal nature of the dangerous international gang, MS-13, linked to the Mexican drug cartel.  Yet, painted on the floor was a large number 13.

When the police attempted to question her at the scene,  Shawna failed to respond and would roll her eyes like she was loosing consciousness.   At one time, they thought she was under the influence of drugs because her injuries did not account for her behavior.  But, then she magically recovered as EMS was rolling her out of the home.  It only took the threat of her purse being left behind.  Shawna demanded that they stop,  and get her purse before allowing them to proceed.   She was checked at the hospital and a rape kit performed;  it was negative for DNA.

The day after she claimed she was raped,  Shawna contacted the press to get them to print a story about the attack.  She had not yet provided a statement to law enforcement.  Over the next few days she blasted the story on her website, posted pictures, and gave a radio interview about it.  Her actions did not appear to be the actions of a victim traumatized by a brutal rape, beating, and knife attack.    She seemed more interesting in talking to the press and getting noticed by the public than she was in capturing her alleged attackers whom she claimed were responsible for the murder attempt on her soon-to-be ex.

Others in the Minutemen movement soon became suspicious of her story.   One organization,   the American for Legal Immigration Pac (ALIPAC) was originally going to post a story about her rape by the vicious cartel.  But after considering the facts,  they put a hold on the story.   They reminded readers Shawna was a cosmetologist and stated many of the wounds looked made up.   Read the notice here:  Shawna Forde Advisory story.

Pictures were taken by Shawna and posted on her site after her hospital visit as proof she was attacked.   
ALIPAC's concerns about Shawna's alleged rape were reasonable.  Most noticeably was the nature of her wounds.  MS-13 was a gang noted for brutality and murders, not for leaving a victim with only superficial and non life-threatening wounds.  Yet, Shawna's wounds indicated they were not made by someone who wanted to cause her any significant injury.   And, Shawna's willingness to go public with her claims while avoiding the police did not seem reasonable either. It was not until two weeks after her report when she finally met with investigators to discuss it.

Two days after meeting with investigators,  Shawna reported she was attacked again.   Just prior to the attack,  she had been on the phone with her mother.   She told her a car had been following her and she had to duck into an alleyway to hide.  Then she hung up, and called a friend who lived out of state.  When the friend answered,  it seemed like a routine call to catch up. However, the friend thought it was a little unusual Shawna kept telling her where she was at.  Then, the call became serious.  Shawna told her she spotted two cars that were following her and had to duck into an alley to hide.  When the friend heard Shawna shout  "Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh shit!” she hung up and immediately called 911.   When she called Shawna back,  Shawna told her of the  brutal, viscous, life threatening attack that just occurred.  Her attackers shot her.... .... ...  in the arm.

Shawna claimed that her attackers had shot at her  head but the experienced and brutal gang missed their target. She again claimed the newest injury was linked to her border activities and the gang,  MS-13.  But, her story was not reasonable.  If the gang was willing to kill her husband, and shoot at her head,  why did they not kill her a week earlier during the alleged rape?  Shawna may have realized the irrational nature of her claims because her story changed.   She started to suggest her attackers were friends of her son out for revenge because she turned him in.   Whereas her story worked better regarding her alleged attacks, it did not provide a reasonable answer for John's. Whoever shot him wanted him dead.  And Shawna Forde would have inherited 1/2 million dollars if he did.  People started to suspect Shawna staged the attacks to try to remove suspicion off of herself for John's attempted murder.

Investigators failed to find one single lead in Shawna's case.  It was soon dismissed due to lack of evidence.   But, John's case was still being actively investigated.  They had a sketch of the shooter and it looked a lot like Shawna's boyfriend,  Thomas Wayne Gibler.

 By the time Shawna was allegedly attacked the second time,  she had been living in John's home with Gibler for almost two weeks.  John did not return to that home and took refuge in an unknown location to recover from his wounds.   Shawna remained in his home,  continuing to rack up several thousands of dollars in debt using John's credit cards.  She forged his name on a check to obtain another $3,000 dollars from his credit union.   John learned it was not the first time she forged his name.  Prior to the divorce,  Shawna had forged his name to obtain a $9,000 loan on their join account.

Shawna had depended upon John's income to help support her while she focused on her Minutemen activities.  She used her connection as his wife to obtain money under false pretenses and was living off credit cards so she didn't have to work.  The divorce would have made her homeless,  taken away John's income, and left her $78,000 in debt.  She would have been forced to abandon her dreams of recognition for her border activism and forced to get a job to survive.   A 1/2 million dollar inheritance would have paid off her debt,  allowed her to build her own group, MAD, and not have to work while doing so.

Shawna had a strong motive to want John dead and she was connected to someone who looked like the shooter.   Investigators kept their eyes on Shawna and Gibler.  Gibler was a long time repeat offender who had many felonies under his belt.  They knew it would not be long before he would offend again.  And,months after the shooting he did.   A new booking photo was obtained,  and a new photo line-up was created with the updated photo and shown to John.  This time, John recognized his shooter immediately and picked Gibler out of the line-up.   Despite the positive ID,  no charges have been made and the case remains open.


John Forde's attempted murder was not the only crime where Gibler's name was attached to Shawna Forde's.   It turned up in the Arivaca murders as well.   The intruders who had murdered Raul Flores and his daughter only injured his wife, Gina.    They had taken a box of jewelry belonging to that wife when their search did not turn up the money, drugs, and guns they expected to find in the home.  Among the pieces of jewelry,  was a belt buckle with the letter "G" for Gina.  Gina later identified the piece as her own.   This belt buckle was among multiple pieces of the victim's  jewelry found in Shawna's possession when she was arrested.   While in jail, Shawna wrote Gibler and asked him to tell the court he was the one to give her the "G" belt buckle because she liked the "Guess" clothing brand. The letter was seized and never found its way to Gibler.

It is unknown if Gibler was one of the people who Forde recruited to help with her planned home invasions,  but the circumstances make it look that way.    Prior to the invasions,  Forde had held a meeting with several men and explained her intention to rob drug dealers in the Arivaca area to obtain funds for her organization.  The conversation soon turned to home invasions.  According to an informant attending the meeting,  Shawna explained she was looking for a crew who would be willing to do what it took.  On June 2nd,  the informant made a phone call to Shawna Forde and asked her if she had any part to do with the May 30th invasion on the Flores' home.  The phone call was recorded.

Forde denied involvement in the Arivaca slaying.  The informant asked her when she was looking to carry through with her own plans,  and she responded that her "main guy"  had been arrested and they needed to bail him out first.   Thomas Gibler was arrested on May 19th,  eleven days before the Arivaca murders.   He was on his way to meet up with Shawna Forde in Arizona and join her organization when he was involved in a high speed chase and arrested.


According to Forde,   the goal of her group, MAD, was to prevent the influx of illegal immigration into the United States and put an end to both human and drug trafficking out of Mexico.  Shawna Forde claimed she wanted to do some good for the United States. Some of the major members of Shawna's group, the ones linked to the Arivaca murders,  had criminal backgrounds.   They did not seem to be the people someone would turn to to do "good."

Shawna Forde
  • history of prostituion and theft as a teen
  • history of theft including charges as an adult
    • 2/22/1993 charge for theft while using the last name "Eddy";  disposition:  Guilty.
    • 6/1/1993 charge for theft while using the last name "Darling";  disposition:  dismissed w/o prejudice.
    • 2006:  dropped out of city council run when she was charged with theft again. 
  • history of  multi-drug abuse that continued into her adulthood:  Halcion, Darvocet, Valium, Tylenol with codeine, marijuana and cocaine.
  • Stole pain medications from her close friend,  Kathy Dameron.   Kathy found the pills in Shawna's purse.
  • Caught going through the drawers of a home she was invited to for a Minutemen dinner party.  She was banned from the home.
  • Tried to con fellow Minutemen into sending her money by claiming it was for an ailing Minuteman who needed help but refused to be named.  She requested people either send her the cash or checks made out in her name.  That type of fundraising was supposed to go through the leaders to prevent fraud.
  • Stole money from the ticket sales of a Minutemen related event.
  • defaulting on several credit cards; took out loans and never paid.
  • Forged her husband's name on a loan application for $9,000
  • Forged her husband's name of a check for $3,000 while he was recovering from 5 GSW's.
  • Connected to the man her husband claimed shot him;  she moved him into her husband's home the day after her husband was shot.
  • Brought Jason E. Bush down to Arizona just days before the Arivaca murders because he as "perfect for the job"  she had planned.
Shawna's claims of attacks - this is a excerpt from the article,  No boundaries: Shawna Forde and the Minutemen movement,   written by Scott North of The Herald   (click link for the entire article).

Claims of attacks

Over the years, border-watch activist Shawna Forde has made repeated unproven claims that she and her family have been targeted for violence by Hispanics. Here is a list of some of those events:

Aug. 20, 2006: Forde e-mails other Minutemen, claiming she was attacked by a Mexican man outside a Starbucks in Seattle. She claims he was driven off by a group of U.S. Army troops who happened to be in the area.

Nov. 15, 2006: Forde's car crashes into a guardrail on a highway near Yakima. She claims she was run off the road by Mexican truck drivers.

Feb. 4, 2008: Forde reports her teenage daughter missing and suggests the girl had fought off two prior abductions by Hispanic gang members in Everett. The teen turns up within days, unharmed.

Dec. 29, 2008: Forde reports being beaten and raped in Everett by Spanish-speaking people she claims are linked to drug cartels. The attack comes a week after the near-fatal shooting of her ex-husband inside the same home. The rape investigation ends for lack of evidence.

Jan. 15, 2009: Forde is found in an Everett alleyway with gunshot wounds to her right arm. She says the shooting is linked to the other recent incidents. Later, Forde acknowledges telling police she believes local street toughs, not drug cartels, are behind the violence. Police say there is no evidence to support her Dec. 29 rape claim. They continue to investigate the shootings.

Thomas Gibler
  • Shawna's boyfriend she moved into her husband's home the day after her husband was shot 5 times.
  • Her husband identified Gibler as the man who did it.
  • Long-standing rap sheet with felony convictions
    • armed robberies
    • charged with shooting an ex-girlfriend
    • multiple drug convictions for substances such as crack,  PCP, LSD, marijuana, sometimes in large quantities.
    • high-speed car chases
    • A total of 14 felony convictions.
    • He was considered a high-risk,  violent offender.

Jason E. Bush
  • falsely claimed the valor of military honors he was not due.
  • After his arrest for the Arivaca killings,  he was charged with two other murders
    • 1997 murder of a white supremacist he believed was a "race traitor.'
    • 1997 fatal stabbing of a Hispanic homeless man
  • Had long-standing ties to  white supremacist groups
    • (Some claim neither he nor Shawna could be prejudice because he was "Mexican American"  as noted on his Perryville intact.   However, his earlier arrests in other states show he identified himself as "white"
  • 11/27/96
    • felony for issuing checks over $50 w insufficient funds
  • 1/13/97
    • felony for issuing checks over $50 w insufficient funds
  • 3/13/99 
    •  Trafficking contraband in prison
    • felon escaping from custody
    • assault on a law enforcement officer
  • 8/20/2008 
    • assault for causing bodily injury on a family member.

Albert Gaxiola

  • 1/7/1991 felony for dealing marijuana
  • Was known about town as a drug dealer.
  • 1999 - no show/ parole violation

Some of the people Shawna appointed to her group, the ones she called upon for the home invasions, were felons and thugs.   But, some of her supporters claim Shawna had nothing to do with the Arivaca murders.   Others claim that it was only Bush and Gaxiola who were responsible for the crime and Shawna was an innocent bystander who witnesses and police pulled into the mix and falsely accused.  But, the claim is not reasonable.

  • Why would the victim claim Shawna looked like the woman who invaded her home but state she could not be positive if she wanted to falsely implicate Shawna?
  • Why would the victim claim jewelry in Shawna's possession was the same that was stolen from her if it was not?
  • Why would the victim be afraid to implicate Oin Oakstar and his girlfriend Sandy Stroup if they were the true invaders but then still implicate Albert Gaxiola as being responsible for the crime?
  • Why would Oin Oakstar implicate Shawna Forde and Albert Gaxiola but not Al's girlfriend if she was the woman the victim saw at the scene?
  • Why would the government want to "set Shawna up"  when her group made little impact on Border activism and some of those in the Minutemen field didn't even know who she was?
  • How could Shawna be with Bush three hours away in Douglas Arizona when he got shot if his blood was found out in Arivaca three hours away at the scene of the Flores' slayings?  
  • If Shawna was with Bush on the night of the murders, as she indicated, what does it mean if his blood is identified at the scene which was located in a remote area, over three hours from where she claimed they were
The evidence used to convict Forde will be discussed in Shawna Forde: Guilty or Innocent?  Part II


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