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Teen Murders Parents After They Forbid Her From Seeing Her Best Friend

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The Stepp family seemed to have it all. Parents Mark and Dolores Stepp had good jobs that afforded them a comfortable lifestyle while daughter Francine had a promising life ahead of her. But secrets inside their home would eventually erupt into unfathomable violence. 

Mark and Dolores were Navy veterans who relocated from Wisconsin to Stillwater, Oklahoma in 1979. Mark worked as a technician at a power plant while Dolores was an accounting supervisor for Oklahoma State University. Both were successful at their jobs.  

Friends say Mark was easygoing while Dolores had a type-A personality. Despite their different temperaments, the couple was devoted to each other and their daughter, Francine Stepp. 

As parents, however, the Stepps took their military background to heart. Francine’s friends remember them being strict and overbearing.  

“Her parents seemed like they were very controlling of everything that she did, who she could be friends with, where she could go,” former classmate Julie Reid told “Snapped,” airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.

Tensions arose when the Stepps’ little girl became a teenager.

“She was forced to go home after school every day. If they let her drive her car she had to drive straight home after school,” said Reid.

Relegated to staying close to home, Francine spent most of her time with her neighbor and best friend Cindy Sue Wynn. 

“Francine was really nice, really introverted, very quiet. Cindy, on the other hand, was the polar opposite. Cindy had to be the center of attention,” Reid explained to producers. 

Upon graduating high school, Francine enrolled at Oklahoma State University. However, she dropped out before the end of freshman year. Tragedy would soon follow.

Just past 6 on the morning of June 8, 1988, Cindy’s mother, Mitzi Wynn, was awoken by loud banging on her front door. She found Francine hysterically crying and saying that her parents had been murdered. 

Stillwater police officers arrived at the scene. Upon entering the home, they heard an alarm clock emanating from the master bedroom. Inside were the bodies of Mark and Dolores Stepp. 

They had been shot and stabbed. Mark was laying in bed while Dee was on the floor with a large knife protruding from her rib cage. They were both naked. 

There were no signs of a forced entry, nor was anything missing from the home. .22 caliber bullets were found embedded in a wall and the knife in Dolores’s back matched those in the kitchen. The savagery of the attack suggested the killer knew their victims. 

Francine told detectives she had spent the night at Cindy’s new apartment. She said she came home early that morning and found the front door ajar before discovering her parents’ corpses. 

Detectives spoke with Cindy to confirm Francine’s alibi. When notified of the Stepps’ murder, she became immediately defensive, raising suspicions. 

“I’ll get an attorney. F–k it, I’m not playing no more. I’m fed up. I’ve had a bad day,” Cindy is heard saying on audio of her interview, obtained by “Snapped.” 

Cindy did ultimately confirm Francine’s alibi, claiming she came over around 9 the previous night. 

On June 22, a neighbor of the Stepps contacted police, claiming she had seen Francine driving near their home on the morning of the murder, which is when she was supposed to have been at Cindy’s apartment.

Investigators questioned Francine and Cindy’s friends and classmates. A teen named Michael D. Reed informed police the girls had told him they wanted to kill their parents. 

“Cindy said she would take care of Francine’s parents to get even with them,” Reed later testified, according to local newspaper The Oklahoman.

Reed said the girls approached a local man named Jackie Phillip Myers and offered him a “big sum of money to take care of Francine’s parents.” Police contacted Myers, who confirmed the story but said he didn’t take the offer seriously. 

Detectives questioned Cindy a second time and she cracked under pressure. She said that like Francine, she had serious problems with her parents. 

Cindy was eventually kicked out of her home, at which point she moved in with the Stepps. However, the relationship soured and the Stepps had Cindy leave and told Francine she could no longer see her best friend. 

Cindy said she and Francine began to fantasize about life without their parents.

“The original plan, we believe, was that Cindy would kill Francine’s parents and then Francine would kill Cindy’s parents,” former Stillwater Police Commander Ronald Thrasher told producers.

Cindy said it was just a fantasy until Francine took matters into her own hands. Investigators, however, didn’t think she was telling the whole story.  

Using Luminol, crime scene investigators sprayed the Stepps’ house, looking for traces of blood. On a rug outside the master bedroom, two separate sets of footprints were found. 

“That’s when we knew that we had two suspects,” Thrasher told producers. 

Francine was brought back for questioning, and after encouragement from her grandfather, came clean. She claimed her parents’ controlling ways had become too much to bear.

“I just wanted to be myself. I wanted to move away from my parents. They said that if I moved out, they wouldn’t help pay for college,” Francine is heard telling investigators on audio of her interrogation, obtained by “Snapped.”

Her parents forbidding Francine’s friendship with Cindy was the final straw. When they couldn’t find a hitman to kill her parents, they decided to do it themselves. 

At 2 a.m. on the day of the murder, Francine and Cindy headed into the Stepps’ home. Francine was holding the gun. Cindy was by her side. 

“Cindy kicks the door open and yells at the parents and Francine says the gun just started going off. Francine is kind of at a loss as to what happened. She remembers a knife but doesn’t remember a lot of details,” Thrasher said.

Francine said Cindy didn’t physically take part in the murder but helped with the planning and cleanup. The murder weapon was thrown in a local lake and afterward they went to Cindy’s apartment before Francine returned home. 

“They were going to wait until the heat died down. As soon as the police lost interest, then they would go ahead with killing Cindy’s parents,” Thrasher told producers. 

When confronted with Francine’s statement, Cindy admitted to her involvement but claimed she ran out of the house when Francine started shooting. Investigators, however, knew that was a lie.

“We had forensic evidence to tie her directly to the crime,” said former Stillwater Chief of Police Norman McNickle.

Francine Stepp and Cindy Wynn were arrested and charged with first-degree murder on July 13, 1988, according to The Oklahoman

Cindy Wynn was convicted on charges of being an accessory to murder as well as soliciting for murder in the first degree. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison, local newspaper Tulsa World reported, and was released from custody in 1999. 

Francine Stepp pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of her parents, Mark and Dolores Stepp, and was sentenced to life in prison, according to the Stillwater News Press. Now 51, she is currently incarcerated at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center women’s prison. 

For more on this case and others like it, watch “Snapped,” airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen or stream episodes here.

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Crime

Spray-painted hate speech discovered in Bethesda

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Police in Montgomery County, Maryland, say they are investigating spray-painted hate speech at a Bethesda grocery store, a high school and two churches.

Police in Montgomery County, Maryland, say they are investigating spray-painted hate speech at a Bethesda grocery store, a high school and two churches.

Police said officers observed garbage Dumpsters with blue spray paint reading “WHITE PRIDE 2021,” behind the Giant at 10400 Old Georgetown Rd. on the morning of Oct. 3.

Officers learned a short time later that the phrases “NO COMMIES,” “LGBT IS UNNATURAL” and “WHITE PRIDE” with circles and crosses spray-painted in blue were found at multiple spots a few hundred feet away at Walter Johnson High School, at 6400 Rock Spring Drive.

Police said officers were advised of similar vandalism in the immediate area — on the welcome sign of a church in the 10000 block of Old Georgetown Road, and at a bus stop at Old Georgetown Road and Democracy Boulevard shortly after.

Officers were advised of more vandalism on the Bethesda Trolley Trail and at another church in the 6000 block of Grosvenor Lane, police said.

All the vandalism was committed in the space of about a half-mile square.

Surveillance video shows images of a potential suspect who appeared to be a male, slim to medium build, wearing a light-colored hat, dark red (possibly plaid) shirt or jacket, tan pants and brown boots, according to police. The potential suspect was wearing a headlamp and a backpack too.

Montgomery County police released these images of the suspect in the vandalism.

Police are asking anyone with more information on the incident or the identity of the suspect to call the 2nd District Patrol Investigations Unit at 240-773-6726.

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Police: DC police officer jumps from moving car, fires weapon during struggle with armed suspect

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An officer was dragged across the road after trying to make a traffic stop in the area of Brightwood in Northwest D.C. Friday.

Two D.C. police officers were injured and a suspect was wounded after an altercation that caused an officer to jump from a moving vehicle driven in the Brightwood Park neighborhood in Northwest D.C. Friday afternoon.

D.C. police Chief Robert Contee said officers were flagged down by someone who reported that an armed man with a cast on his arm was chasing another individual. The officers radioed that information and officers in the area began looking for someone meeting that description.

Road closures were put into effect at 500 Kennedy Street NW for a police investigation following the incident.

A little while later, officers stopped a man matching that description and felt a firearm in his waistband during a search, according to Contee. A fight then broke out, and the suspect managed to break free and run to an alleyway, where he got into a vehicle.

Police tried to get the man out of the car, as one officer entered into the rear seat in an effort to remove him. However, the suspect was able to start the vehicle, injuring one officer as the car took off down Kennedy Street.

The officer who entered through the rear asked the suspect several times to stop, but the man kept driving, Contee said.

“During that that drive down Kennedy Street, a shot was fired by our officer, striking the individual,” Contee said.

It was initially reported that the officer was dragged, but Contee clarified that the officer inside the car jumped out of the rear after shooting the suspect. Despite being shot by police, the suspect inside the car continued to go down the street.

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty reported that a man with a gunshot wound turned up at a nearby hospital shortly after the incident. Contee confirmed that the individual was the suspect wanted in this incident.

Contee said the man had a single gunshot wound, and was taken into surgery for treatment. Police are still looking for his vehicle, which is described as a dark-colored Jeep.

Two officers were sent to hospitals to be treated for injuries caused during the incident. D.C. police are still investigating the area and looking for video from nearby crime cameras.

Brightwood Park was identified as one of the five areas the District was focusing on in its 2021 Fall Crime Prevention Initiative. Contee confirmed police increased its presence in the area recently, adding that it was “disrespectful to the community” that the suspect chased someone down the street with a loaded gun.

Contee thanked the resident who warned officers of the armed man, and asked any other potential witnesses — such as the man who was being chased — to come forward and offer a statement to police by calling 202-727-9099.

“This is an incident where one of our brave officers is out here, and citizens did exactly what we asked them to do: they told a police officer,” Contee said. ” …[To] that citizen, thank you. They did what they exactly what they were supposed to do and those officers, they did exactly what they were supposed to do.”

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Loudoun man apprehended after pointing gun, crashing car in police chase

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A man pointed a gun at a Loudoun County Sheriff’s deputy before fleeing, pointing a gun at a construction worker a short time later and then crashing the car he was driving after deputies say they tried to serve him multiple felony warrants. 

A man pointed a gun at a Loudoun County Sheriff’s deputy before fleeing, pointing a gun at a construction worker a short time later and then crashing the car he was driving after deputies say they tried to serve him multiple felony warrants.

The chase happened along the Fairfax-Loudoun County, Virginia, line on Thursday night.

Deputies said Terry Settles, 48, was seen getting into the passenger-side of a car in South Riding. But when deputies tried to pull the car over, the sheriff’s office said the car turned into the McBryde Terrace neighborhood.

Then, deputies say Settles pushed the driver out of the car and climbed behind the wheel. When a deputy tried to apprehend Settles, he pointed a gun at the deputy, according to the sheriff’s office.

The deputy went to take cover and Settles shut the door on him. Deputies said Settles backed into a sheriff’s car before driving off into Fairfax County. Deputies say they then lost sight of the vehicle and began coordinating with Fairfax County Police.

The sheriff’s office was told that Settles pulled a gun on a construction worker near Bull Run Post Office Road in Loudoun County.

Law enforcement from the Fairfax County Police Department, the Prince William County Police Department, the Virginia State Police, and the U.S. Park Police helicopter helped search for Settles.

Settles was found in a wooded area between Bull Run Post Office Road and Braddock Road, armed with a knife and refusing to come out of the woods, according to deputies.

Soon after, he was taken into custody. Both a knife and a gun were found at the scene. No members of law enforcement were hurt in the pursuit. Settles was taken to a hospital for minor injuries.

Deputies said Settles abandoned the car he was driving in a wooded area near where he was found after he was “involved in a single-vehicle crash.”

He was arrested on multiple charges including attempted aggravated murder, two counts of assault on law enforcement, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and driving on a revoked license.

Fairfax County, Prince William County, and Frederick County all served Settles with warrants. Settles is at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center on no bond.

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