Grandma Shirley Skinner Still Slumming in the Slammer

Posted: December 3, 2009 by thinkgoat in Crime, Murder
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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By Thinkgoat

Ashland, IL I’m not quite sure how I feel about the two latest stories I’ve featured being in close proximity to where I was raised. It really was a neat place to grow up…safe. And I suppose, to some extent, it still is a great environment to start and rear a family. That is: if you’re not needing police protection from the Rushville or Ashland Police Departments. Yesterday’s feature story was the tale of Ryan Jones, a 22-year-old who lost his life in a “vehicular accident” and the police allegedly lied about the entire scene. Today’s feature is focusing on the one-year-old murder of Steven Watkins in Ashland, Illinois – where it took a year to make an arrest when there were three adults in that home. I’m not sure if Chief Birdsell thought it was a prime opportunity to conduct a holiday home tour or what was bouncing around that noggin of his – nonetheless, he allowed contamination by not securing the crime scene as there were many in and out of that house. Oh, that and not conducting a gun shot residue test…not calling the Cass County Coroner…the list is vast. After completing the story on Rushville’s PD, I really thought they would win the competition for biggest fuck up. I made that decision in haste.

Before anyone gets the impression I do not support law enforcement, that’s very far from the truth. I don’t support arrogant nor incompetent asswipes who make a mockery of those who are actually willing to do their job. Without further ado, let’s recap the series of events that placed Ashland’s Chief Birdsell in this competition: and place some more focus on the Steven Watkins’ case – a father murdered in cold blood.

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Alex, Steven, & Sidney Watkins

The following colored text is the original story I wrote and published on the Dreamin’ Demon.

Steven Watkins drove into Ashland to his estranged wife’s grandparent’s house to pick up his youngest daughter for his court ordered/approved visitation. I’m sure he was anticipating a less than warm welcome as he and Jennifer were due in court the following day to continue his effort to gain full custody of his child. But I’m fairly sure Steven didn’t plan on getting a bullet through the back of his head.

Yes, I’m aware of the fact we read about this shit every day. What sets this case apart is the best part: how this case was handled. The cast of characters are some I know so very well. So let’s get to it.

Steven’s estranged wife, Jennifer Watkins, was staying with her grandparents, Kenneth and Shirley Skinner. When Steven arrived to pick up his daughter, Jennifer, Shirley, and Kenneth were all home. So was little Sidney. There was a 911 call placed regarding a domestic disturbance, Steven was shot from behind, and when Chief Jim Birdsell arrived, the dog and pony show started.

There was a body. There was a gun. The scene started out with 4 people, add Birdsell and whomever he brought along, plus the numerous others that were allowed to walk on in and have a look around. Grandma Shirley started pulling a Fred Sanford, having some flipping medical condition that allowed the focus to shift from the dead dude with his head shot up, to her. Of course they got some medical attention for that poor ailing woman of 74 years. In walks Robert Daniel, owner of MECCA Ambulance, a man I spent many years working beside – fully expecting to find his victim but totally not expecting to find a body sprawled out on the living room floor with a hole through the back of his skull. Knowing Robert (and knowing he is quick on his feet) I’m sure he handled the situation like a pro. Or at least the best one can after finding what he did. Discovering that Chief Birdsell had been there a while and that the Cass County Death Examiner, Wyatt Segar had not been called…well Robert made a command decision to take it upon himself and report the corpse to someone who’d actually give a shit. I can only imagine that conversation…”Hey Segar, it’s Bob. Hey. We’ve got a situation here in Ashland. We got called for a medical and our patient isn’t the one laying on the floor with brain matter scattered. I think you should probably come. Yep, the police chief is here but I don’t think he’s seen the body he’s been tripping over. See you soon.”

Wyatt Segar made the drive in record time, processed the crime scene as a death examiner will as grandma Shirley was being taken to the hospital. God only knows what else was taking place within that home…but the one thing that didn’t take place was a gun shot residue test. Nope. Birdsell didn’t think it was necessary I suppose. Cause shit, if a test was done, he’d actually be responsible for making a decision to arrest someone. He couldn’t decide on calling in a fucking murder.

For damn near a year, Steven’s family has been wondering where their granddaughter was. As soon as the dust settled a bit, Jennifer took Sidney and split the state. Her attorney couldn’t give them a location. Couldn’t let them know little Sidney was okay. The State’s Attorney, John Dahlem couldn’t tell them where they were in making any arrests. Jim Birdsell became a pro at uttering, “No Comment”. This family knew nothing other than the fact that 3 adults knew exactly what happened on November 25, and the authorities had totally fucked the crime scene up so much so, an arrest was looking like a long shot. That’s right: there was a waning feeling that an arrest would be made, in a case where the victim was shot in the head from BEHIND!There’s a name for this kind of thing. Execution style.

Then the State of Illinois came in and yanked the case from Cass County. (oh, it was “turned over”) *ahem* Okay, which ever way you want to read it. But shit started to happen. No one knew. Especially not the Skinner family who were yucking it up at their winter home in Florida. Yucking it up, living the good life until they were leaving a pizza joint Monday evening. That’s when Birdsell was flown in, escorted by officials who actually knew how to handle a situation, and Shirley Skinner was arrested for allegedly being the gun-wielding granny. According to her attorney, Shirley’s “obviously very upset. She’s traumatized by the charges.” Hey lawyer dude: wasn’t she fucking traumatized by having her grandson-in-law laid out dead on her living room floor?

Shirley Skinner was flown back to Illinois September 2nd, and is being held in Pike County (because Cass County has no jail) on a $5 million dollar bond accused of first-degree murder. According to the officials, the one’s who actually made things happen, more arrests may follow. God I hope so. And I also hope Steven’s family gains custody of Sidney so she can join her older half-sister who also resided with her adoring father. The Watkins now have custody of her. I can only imagine it would make the step forward a little easier to take knowing that Steven’s most prized blessings would be safe and sound in the loving arms of a family who displayed patience and grace and not with a family who chose to settle a custody dispute with a Glock 9mm.

Source1Source2Source3Source4Source 5


In a court hearing on December 1st, the $5 million bail for Shirley Skinner stands until the judge has time to review the Grand Jury transcripts. Her attorney is arguing for a reduction of bail – $100,000 in cash would be ideal. He stated her family would be able to bail her ass out of the slammer and she’d be willing to surrender her passport and wear a home monitoring device. Because of her age and her ties to the community of Ashland, she poses no flight risk. He also states, in referring to the authorities arresting her in Florida, that she was in Illinois a week prior to that arrest and would have turned herself in had she known they were going to charge her. In a bold statement from Chief Birdsell, even he admitted the Skinners had been uncooperative in this investigation. Ya think?

What the fuck is wrong with these people? Seriously. Someone shot Steven Watkins and that “someone” was one of three adults in the house…Shirley, Kenneth, or Jennifer. Murder is typically frowned upon. You know, it is against the law. Surely Shirley 😉 is smart enough to deduct some arrest was bound to happen once the case was handed over to the Illinois State Police. Why didn’t she surrender herself a long time ago? Like say…when Steven was lying dead on her floor? It’s not hard to call bullshit on her lawyer’s statement.

During the court appearance, new details were disclosed. They’re awesome.

First, Chief Jim Birdsell was called to testify. Shirley Skinner’s fingerprints were not found on the glock used to shoot Steven. As a matter of fact, there were no fingerprints. Not unusual from what I’ve been told about that particular weapon since it has a textured surface. Although there were no fingerprints on the weapon – the authorities (one’s who actually can do something) found DNA of two individuals. Guess who… yes, Jennifer is a given. Who was the 2nd? According to Chief Birdsell’s testimony, it was “possibly” his! Now, DNA is pretty definitive. It either belongs to one or it doesn’t. There’s no “possibly” to that shit.

“Would it be unusual to find yours on the gun?” the defense attorney asked.

“Yes, sir,” the police chief responded.

While Birdsell claims to have worn gloves while he was standing in the Skinner home, (which should be standard operating procedure for anyone who sticks or keeps their thumb up their ass – doctors wear them), it’s hard to grasp how his DNA got on that gun. He seems to be a little befuddled as well. What’d he do? Drool on the damn thing?

It was also revealed that when Birdsell arrived, Shirley was alone gazing at their handy work laying dead on the floor while the others (plus guests) were chilling in another part of the house. It’s been claimed that Steven forced his way into the home, pushed Grandma Shirley to the ground and was attempting to get at Jennifer and his daughter. If grandma’s all sprawled out on the floor (and lest we forget her age) are we to believe that woman was able to spritely grab Jennifer’s gun and deliver a good shot? Why was the gun out?

Shirley is reported as having two marks on her right hand between her thumb and index finger that evening but no photographs were taken because she wasn’t feeling so well and needed that medical attention and well… I’m not sure they even thought about preserving this Kodak moment. A few casual questions, no gun shot residue test, no actual reporting a dead guy on the floor, allowing others into the crime scene, and blowing boogers or God knows what kind of DNA on the murder weapon – it’s no wonder it took almost a year for the local authorities to determine they might need some help thinking this one out. Good God. How the Watkins family still has faith, I’ll never understand but will continue to admire.


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  1. Lazlo says:

    Turn up the heat!! Fantastic coverage Thinkgoat. I still say that granny is covering for Jennifer, but that is complete supposition. And they all should go down for conspiracy.

    Between the two police depts, it’s hard to say who is winning. Does corruption trump incompetence? And the degree of incompetence surely has to be weight adjusted here. Jesus – it makes Barney Fife look like Inspector Poirot in comparison.


  2. thinkgoat says:

    “Between the two police depts, it’s hard to say who is winning. Does corruption trump incompetence? And the degree of incompetence surely has to be weight adjusted here.”

    You know, I neglected to set the criteria in which to vote. Being in something “over your head” is one thing. Granted, Birdsell hasn’t had the opportunity (?) to process many murder scenes BUT when small children know more about forensic preservation, crime scene processing, and general professional conduct, one must wonder what the hell is wrong with this guy. I can’t help being blown away by Birdsell’s lack of knowledge. (or however they’re explaining it!)

    In my opinion, there is no way at all Jennifer should be on this side of those steel bars. I’m hoping for more arrests soon. And although it’d be terribly sad for that little girl (and no doubt, if Jennifer is arrested they’ll play upon that sympathy) that family should have thought of the child prior to pulling the trigger.


  3. Peeperann says:

    Wow, I have to say, it seriously scares me, the LE in that area. I agree with Laz, I think Jennifer did it and it’s being covered by granny there. The sheriff is a douche with no idea of how to do his job.

    It’s a year later, and still no real answers. Shouldn’t the state start looking into these people in charge and replace them?


  4. Lazlo says:

    They are ELECTED Peeper! These are the Guys the good people of these towns WANT!! You think they would know they were idiots just by looking, LOL


  5. KnowitAll says:

    I was thinking the same thing when I read about the Chief idiot being asked why is your DNA on the gun.

    I am sure he used latex gloves but perhaps he put the gun in his lunch box for safe keeping since he didnt have any brown paper bags in the squad car that night. What an inept moron.


  6. twisted terrors says:

    Another fantastic piece of work! Keep the LE straight! Just because they have the power behind them doesn’t mean they should abuse that power. Good Job!


  7. thinkgoat says:

    Sheriffs are elected officials and the Chief of Police position is appointed by the Mayor of the community. With that, the town of Ashland is dually screwed because their mayor must not have the balls to remove Birdsell and Birdsell obviously can’t tap into any good sense that God may have given him and step down.


  8. Friend of Steven In chandlerville says:

    I agree that any coverage for Steven is good !! But pls dont lay all the blame on Birdsell the Cass County Officer’s Dave Osmer , Bob Fair and Johny Osmer was there that night and they also Failed to do there job , they did not help this investigation at all They hurt it by not using the information they had at the Time. I believe Nanny and the rest of them belong in jail and I believe they will all get what is comming to them in time!


  9. thinkgoat says:

    I agree all involved need to be exposed – however – in the news sources, Birdsell is the primary character. Researching this case, Dave Osmer, Bob Fair, and Johny Osmer have not been mentioned and if so, not to the extent of Chief Birdsell. Once their name is in print, named and assigned a part in their play, I’d be more than happy to include them.


  10. boreal says:

    Hi thinkgoat I noticed you said you post for the dreamin demon. That’s an awesone site. I used to post there a few years ago.
    Is this site new? I like the Grandma Skinner article. My family is from Ashland. The Steven Watson case was bungled badly.
    I am going to the Demon to see if they have anything over there.
    good write up.


  11. thinkgoat says:

    I haven’t been to update my story on the Demon yet – thanks for making my list of things to do grow longer! 🙂

    Welcome to CC Boreal!


  12. Karrie says:

    I have kind of followed this story since they made the arrest and I think that the granddaughter shot him. I could see the Grandma taking the rap for her because she is old and probably doesn’t have too many breaths left in her and she figures, ‘hey my little Jenny has a lot more to live for that I do.’ Either way, they should all be locked up because whether they were in another part of the house or not, they were there and they know some of what went on.


  13. thinkgoat says:

    I’ve always held the feeling the granddaughter shot him as well. And for some reason – she’s remained untouched.

    One of the many things that blows me away about this case – Jennifer left the State first. Took her daughter and split. Her attorney was quoted as saying he wasn’t quite sure where she was. THEN, the other two adults who were present when this murder took place (and there were no arrests yet…) were allowed to leave the State as well. Murder, to me, is kind of a big deal.

    I’ve got a horrible sinking feeling that the Watkins family will not see the kind of justice this crime warrants. By the sound of it, not a single thing was preserved at the crime scene…no proper nor formal interviews, no gun shot residue, no pictures of much but the dead body. The Chief of Police’s DNA was found on the gun – which to me, is going to be an extremely hard thing for the Prosecution to overcome. The defense attorney is going to scream about the scene being contaminated. Unfortunately, it was. I really don’t want to believe the lack of professionalism was intentional but on the same notion, I simply cannot believe a handful of cops can be sooo stupid.


  14. Friend of Steven inChandlerville says:

    As always you guys make good points BUT there is no way the Illinois state police and few good old boys would have got a warrant in less than a week of taking over the case along with a extridition out of Florida and a 3 COUNT GRAND JURY INDITEMENT unless there evidence was Rock solid and i can tell you this Shirley did it they have the proof!! As far ass the others there that night not helping they chose to turn there heads and not help! What kind of person let alone a Sheriff and Deputy would just turn there head on a MURDER !!


  15. Karrie says:

    Hopefully Steven’s family pursues a civil suit against the Chief for his carelessness and stupidity.. If they would have done their job from the get go… then Im sure that his family would have justice by now. I also think that punishment on authority figures such as these police officers should be a lot harsher because they swear to protect and serve and they failed to even do that.


  16. SHELLY says:

    OMG Goat, did you see where the old bitch tried to get two of her employees from the pallat factory to kill Steven so she wouldnt have to? I hope this old hag lives a nice long time behind bars!


  17. thinkgoat says:

    Shelly, Yeah, shocking. I’m going to write something new up tonight


  18. Friend of Steven inChandlerville says:

    Did you also here that the Cass County Sheriff’s office had information that could have led to an arrest last Dec. they should be held accoutable for their actions as well!


  19. jennifer says:

    You point a lot of fingers at everyone without knowing the real facts behind it all. Thanks for the intertainment in your wanna be cop, lawyer actics its precious.. and enteretaining. Keep blaming the police when you dont know how the law works 😉 DNA is a lot different than a fingerprint. GOOGLE it or something everytime u bring it up you just make yourself look sooo damn iggnorant. JUSTICE FOR STEVEN WE KNOW ITS SOON!!


  20. thinkgoat says:

    As long as we’re all pointing fingers and suggesting ways to make one appear smarter, might I suggest a dictionary or spell check? I believe one can be found on Google as well. 😎


  21. jennifer says:

    it was off my cell phone i typed fast my bad


  22. jennifer says:

    bless the watkins!


  23. jennifer says:

    thinkgoat arent you that radio guy who got fired? Mark Thoma? Sounds like him. You both are very full of what you say and feed off of its responces.


  24. thinkgoat says:

    Never heard of him. Sorry. Is he National? And I’m not sure – but I think cell phones won’t send the message until you’ve made sure it’s what you’d like to send.

    And yeah, you’re right. I love stories that get attention. But it’s not about me. If it were, I’d direct you to my personal not professional blog.


  25. thinkgoat is really Bubba the Love Sponge.

    I don’t get why you people come here and comment on these articles when you should be reading my movie reviews.


  26. jennifer says:

    No he is not national. Not my cell phone oviously. haha. What are your movie reviews? Please tell me someone isn’t really going to make a movie about this.


  27. thinkgoat says:

    A movie about what? What in the blazes are you going on about now?

    BTW – “oviously” has a “b” in it. Obviously.


  28. jennifer says:

    i know im on my cell it texts its own fast ill get on a lap top so i can see what im writing im not retarded i know how to spell english teacher but thanks 😉 and read above he said something about movie reviews i thought it would be stupid to make a movie about this. no one will know these people. Lifetime might buy it 😉


  29. thinkgoat says:

    Yeah, I don’t know. You’ve got more patience than I, trying to type all that out on a cell, for sure! I’d get pissed and throw the phone.

    Hahahaaa! I missed Deathstalker’s comment – he was referring to the movie reviews he writes, not that this story was going to become one! Sorry!


  30. jennifer says:

    its a keyboard with all the tiny letters i punch them too damn fast or just not at all most the time ppl sort of get what i am saying. ohh i get it.. well its late you guys have a good night.


  31. thinkgoat says:

    I gave up on attempting anything long on those keyboards. Again, you’ve got more patience!

    Would love for you to take some time and give us your side of the Watkins / Skinner murder. All opinions are welcome here, Jennifer.


  32. jennifer says:

    I am more of a reader. I do have opinions. I just do not like hurting peoples feelings and I know that Officer Birdsell has taken a lot of heat I do feel bad for his family and him. I know Jim personally he is a really nice man. My daughter Emily went to school with Caitlyn at ICC. He can’t catch a break its the grandma that shot steven people forget but its him that gets yelled at. He did his job. He did it well. Also the Bob Fair & Allen Pherigo if they even helped.. I just think the whole thing is very sad and I Hope it gets resolved soon. That woman needs to be put in prison before she dies in trail.


  33. thinkgoat says:

    The postponement of the trial just caused me to go, “ugh”. At least there’s been an arrest and things are moving forward. For too long it seemed as though nothing was being done with this case. It’s discouraging to see so many other cases get solved and tried in less time than it took for them to nab Shirley Skinner. I’m not sure how the Watkins family has held onto faith as they have. They must be truly awesome people.


  34. jennifer says:

    yah they must be.


  35. Friend of Steven says:



  36. Jennifer says:

    WE? Do you speak for multi-personalities? Birdbrain ohhh your so cleaver i bet you smile as you type that. Does it get you off to judge others jobs and how things are handled? Jim did his job, he handled it well. He was in Florida with the other troopers when the arrest was made. You are some sort of a inbread chandlerville fuck arent you? Can’t tell your facts from what you here in “Slick Pennys”. Why don’t you go fuck your cousin and leave the police work to the police who are doing the work like jim, the state police, and everyone else involved.. and go bitch about something NEW and tragic like the soldiers that are dying, go to you’ll find something. All of you will. Journal Courier thanks you for buying their newspapers the past year as well without your psycho stalking of this case they might have went under.


  37. Friend of Steven says:

    As I said before you stupid uncaring psycho BITCH go write to somewhere where they want to hear your thoughts because on here we could care less!! You must either be a Skinner/Webster or Birdsell family member That is the only way your CUNT ass could say the things you do !!! Justice for Steven will come and not from any help from Birdsell or Cass County!! You have abviously NOT read a paper to even start to comprehend what has went on in this case!! I dare you to come on down to Slick Penny’s and say what you say on here to anyone in there cause Im sure YOU wouldnt like it!!


  38. Lyndi says:

    Just saw the Steven Watkins Murder Case on Dateline NBC tonight (10-8-10). The entire story written by Thinkgoat on the website puts everything into perspective and reality. I can believe a police department could be so stupid; it’s a coverup. The Chief of Police Birdsell should be asked to resign or be fired. I certainly wouldn’t have any trust in his ability to protect me and neither should anybody else. I watch America’s Most Wanted (AMW) every Saturday night. Thank God Steven Watkins has so many friends that Justice Will Be Served! It’s obvious there is a “conspiracy” in the Skinner Family. Hang in there everybody and don’t give up. Jennifer must be a “goody two shoes.” Don’t listen to her! I’m glad somebody put her in her place. Life is too short.

    Somebody who cares!


  39. thinkgoat says:

    Looks like Uncle Ed shoved a red-hot poker up Jennifer’s ass tonight on Dateline. I also think he may have slipped up a bit…talking about them vetting the plan, but not so well. Was he part of that vetting process? Sort of sounded like it…

    Maybe he’ll get a subpoena to appear in front of the Grand Jury as well.


  40. Moved to Rushville on Purpose says:

    Wasn’t that the strangest show? I’ve read about this for the past couple of years and I drive thru Ashland, Il, from Rushville to Springfield, Il to visit family so it is very close to our hearts. He just wanted to be with his daughters and have a good life. Some of us know what it is like to have an estranged relationship when you get divorced and have to deal with custody issues. He didn’t deserve to die, for God’s sake! The upcoming court dates on with ex-wife, et al,would hopefully get some answers to the rest of this horrendous nightmare that his family has had to endure!
    God Bless you, Steven, and your beautiful daughters and wonderful family. Many of us pray for you!


  41. shelly says:

    I still find the case sickening, At least visitation has been given to the Watkins family.

    If you follow that link you can see the Dateline intervier, thanks to BTTRUTH!


  42. Karrie says:

    I agree about Ed TG! He was talking about a plan and then he tried to say “if there was a plan” … I found it sick to listen to the 911 call. She was crying and needing an ambulance for her Grandma but not her dead husband.


  43. thinkgoat says:

    Yeah, listen to the 911 call again, you can hear little Sidney scream, “Daddy” and then cry.


  44. Karrie says:

    Oh dear god…. 😦


  45. Deb says:

    I also watched the Dateline segment. I live not too far from Ashland, so I heard about this crime when it first happened, and have been following it ever since.

    Here are my thoughts. You will never convince me that Jennifer had NOTHING to do with Steven’s murder. Old granny may have pulled the trigger, but Jennifer knew it was going to happen and probably planned the whole thing.

    Steven seemed to be such a great father. Jennifer could have learned so much from him as a parent. FOR SURE.

    I hope she rots in hell and I hope Steven is waiting to kick her ass down there.

    As far as the local LE…well never trust small town cops in Illinois. Helloooo!!! Paris, IL! Illinois is filled with dirty cops and politicians. Yeah. I’m real proud to call this my home.


  46. Diana says:

    Keep after them, Watkins family. The Skinners deserve no rest.

    Civil suit filed against killer, relatives


  47. ashley says:

    how could you shoot someone in front of your child. =[ esp that childs father. … im speechless. someone should have shot jennifer and her grandma.


  48. Jennifer Watkins says:

    I was arrested today by the u.S. marshals for refusing to allow my daughters grandparents to see her.

    I am heading back to Illinois, see ya’ll later!


  49. thinkgoat says:

    We’re all happy she was nabbed but posing as her online is not something we will tolerate. Make a moniker, that’s fine – do not use the name of someone involved in the case.



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