Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


            Let us not forget Leslie Rae White who was murdered by William Housman and Beth Markman on October 4, 2000:

Leslie Rae White
(February 25, 1982 to October 4, 2000)
THE CASE: Shortly after graduating from high school, Leslie White, the victim, met William Housman when she began working at the Wal-Mart photo shop in Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County. They began a romantic relationship; however, Housman was already involved in a romantic relationship with co-defendant Beth Ann Markman, and had been living with her for nearly two years.

Markman discovered e-mails between White and Housman, revealing their affair. Markman told Housman to end his relationship with White, and told several friends and co-workers she intended to “‘kick [White's] ass.’ “ Markman's co-workers noticed bruising around her eyes and neck, which she attributed to fights with Housman over the e-mails. On one occasion, Markman called Wal-Mart to speak with White, which left White scared and crying. Markman also visited the store once, looking for White, but left without incident. Markman told a friend “if she ever got her hands on [White], she was going to kill her.” She told her probation officer, Nicole Gutshall, she caught Housman cheating on her, and if she caught him cheating again, she would kill the girl.

Housman did not terminate his relationship with White. Housman and Markman made plans to move to Virginia for a fresh start. However, Markman became suspicious that Housman had not ended his relationship with White. Markman drove Housman in her car to a local Sheetz store, where Housman used a pay phone to call White at Wal-Mart. He falsely told White his father died, and asked her to come to console him. He told her Markman was out of town. Various Wal-Mart employees testified White received this call from Housman, and she told her co-workers Housman's father died and she was leaving work early to console him.

When White arrived at the trailer where Housman and Markman lived, Housman talked with her in the living room, while Markman hid in the bedroom until, according to her subsequent confession and trial testimony, she heard a thump and White cried out because Housman hit her hand with a hammer. Then Housman and Markman subdued White and tied her hands and feet with speaker wire, shoved a large piece of red cloth in her mouth, and used another piece of cloth to tie a tight gag around her mouth. With White bound, Markman and Housman stepped outside to smoke cigarettes and discuss their next move. Upon reentering the trailer, Markman held White down while Housman strangled her with speaker wire and the crook of his arm, killing her. During the struggle, White scratched Markman's neck. White died of asphyxiation caused by strangulation and the rag stuffed into her mouth.

After White died, Markman wrapped White's body in a tent and placed it in the back of White's Jeep. The couple then fled to Virginia. Markman drove her car and Housman drove White's Jeep-carrying White's body. In Virginia, they drove to a remote piece of land owned by Housman's mother, then placed White's body in the trunk of an abandoned car. They discarded White's personal effects, except for her camera, which they intended to sell.

Housman and Markman remained in Virginia for several days, staying with friends and Housman's father. Housman continued to drive White's Jeep, which he held out as his own. While staying with Larry Overstreet and Kimberly Stultz, Markman corroborated Housman's story that they bought the Jeep from Markman's friend in Pennsylvania. At the Overstreet residence, Markman retrieved White's camera from the Jeep and they all took pictures of each other-Markman stated she bought the camera from the same woman who sold them the Jeep. Overstreet and Stultz recalled seeing scratches on Markman's neck, which Markman explained were from a dog. Stultz gave Markman the phone number of a pawn shop, and the shop owner testified he gave Markman $90 and a pawn ticket for the camera. Markman asked Stultz for cleaning supplies because “the Jeep smelled bad, like somebody had a dead animal in [it].” Markman also told Stultz that Housman had been seeing another woman, and if she ever met this other woman, she would “whoop her ass.” Another friend, Nina Jo Fields, testified that during the couple's visit to her home, Markman told her Housman had been cheating on her, but that she “[didn't] have to worry about the damn bitch anymore, [because she] took care of it.”

After White's parents filed a missing persons report, the authorities tracked her Jeep to Housman's location in Virginia. Deputy Brian Vaughan of the Franklin County Sheriff's office in Virginia went to the house to question Housman and Markman about the Jeep and White's whereabouts. When he saw the Jeep in the driveway, he ran the license plate number, which traced back to the Toyota Leasing Corporation.

Markman and Housman came to the door to greet Deputy Vaughan. Deputy Vaughan questioned them separately in his patrol car about the Jeep. Housman, who was questioned first, told Deputy Vaughan he called White to ask her to console him about his dog, which had just died. Housman said White never arrived at the trailer, and he subsequently left with Markman for Virginia. He claimed a friend loaned him the Jeep.

Subsequently, Markman voluntarily entered the patrol car and explained to Deputy Vaughan she had only seen White once, but had had several phone conversations with her. She denied knowledge of White's whereabouts, but indicated White had a bad relationship with her parents, suggesting she had run away. Markman denied knowing how Housman acquired the Jeep, and admitted driving separate cars to Virginia. When Deputy Vaughan asked Markman if she was afraid of Housman, she said she was not; rather, she admitted she had a violent temper, and Housman often had to restrain her from attacking him. She said she provoked Housman in the past and had thrown things at him, but Housman never assaulted or threatened her.

Following the police visit, Housman and Markman drove back to the property where they left White's body; there they abandoned the Jeep. Despite the couple's efforts to conceal the evidence, the police soon discovered the Jeep, as well as White's partially-decomposed body in the trunk of the abandoned car-the body was still bound, gagged, and wrapped in the canvas tent. Housman's fingerprints were found on the car's trunk lid and license plate, a compact disc recovered from the Jeep, the Jeep's hatch, and other evidence recovered from the scene. Markman's fingerprints were found on a potato chip bag retrieved from the Jeep, and the Jeep's passenger door and rear hatch. Subsequent analysis revealed Markman's DNA under White's fingernails.

The Pennsylvania State Police obtained a search warrant for Markman's trailer and executed it; they found blood on a pillow and urine on the carpet in the place White was likely strangled. Police also discovered two lengths of speaker wire, red fibers on the floor, a piece of red cloth, a steak knife, red fibers on the knife, a tent storage bag, a hammer, and a stethoscope. Police arrested Housman and Markman on October 11, 2000, exactly one week after the murder. Police retrieved White's camera from the pawn shop and developed the film. The pictures taken at the Overstreet residence were admitted into evidence at trial; in one photograph-taken just days after Housman and Markman strangled White to death-Markman is laughing while Housman pretends to strangle her.

Following their arrest, and after receiving Miranda warnings, Markman and Housman waived their rights and agreed to be interviewed, providing tape-recorded statements. Each independently confessed to participating in White's murder. Housman admitted to killing White by strangling her, but claimed Markman instigated the murder to eliminate the source of one of their relationship problems and enable them to start their relationship anew. He maintained Markman directed him to tie White up and strangle her, and Markman forced compliance by hitting him with a hammer and then spinning the hammer in a threatening manner. After White died, Markman listened with a stethoscope to verify her death before wrapping the body in the tent.

In her police statement, Markman admitted she bound and gagged White and held her down while Housman strangled her. She insisted, however, Housman devised the plan to murder White in order to steal her Jeep, and he coerced her assistance by threatening to kill her with a hunting knife if she did not obey him. Markman also asserted Housman wore down her resistance by terrorizing her the night before the murder by holding a knife to her throat and forcing her to remain naked in the trailer. Markman said she only realized White was dead when White lost control of her bladder.

Murder victim's mom: Death is the right punishment for 18-year-old's killing

Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com By Jan Murphy | jmurphy@pennlive.com
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on January 07, 2015 at 8:00 AM, updated January 07, 2015 at 10:50 PM         


Shawnee White holds a photo of her daughter, Leslie, who was killed in 2000. Does Shawnee support the death penalty? As you can imagine, she does. 'My 18-year-old daughter is the reason. Taken from us too soon.'
EAST WATERFORD — Knowing that the graduation gift they gave their oldest daughter contributed to her death in 2000 still cuts like a knife through the heart of Shawnee White.

The new shiny black Jeep was intended to recognize the milestone Leslie achieved in graduating from Juniata High School and a means to help the 18-year-old fulfill the dreams she had for the rest of her life.

Never did White or her husband George think that vehicle would draw the envy of a man and his live-in girlfriend, who wanted it so much they would kill for it.

Thinking back on that now, White said, "It hurts. It hurts."


A photograph of Leslie White, held up by her mother, Shawnee. 'I've always wanted to know what her last words were,' Shawnee said. 'I want to know if she was praying.'
Shawnee White Shawnee White, mother of murder victim Leslie White, favors keeping the death penalty in the state's sentencing options but would like to speed up the appeals process in capital cases.

The Whites are one of many Pennsylvania families who now have an unwanted connection to one of the 186 death row inmates housed in state prisons. Each one of these inmates are there because they committed murder. The motives behind those killings vary, but in Leslie White's case, she crossed paths with people who valued a vehicle more than her life.


The mantel at the Shawnee White home in Juniata County. Said White: 'This never had to happen. She [daughter Leslie] truly was an innocent victim in all this.'
It happened a little more than 14 years and three months ago. Time has erased some of the details of the tragic story surrounding Leslie's death from White's memory. But during an interview in the Juniata County home where she raised her children whose pictures grace the mantle in the family room, White vividly remembers the last time she saw Leslie alive.

Leslie was heading for the door with a bellyful of her mom's chicken potpie that she had been so hungry for. She grabbed the report due that day for her class, as she called out, "Mom, I'm outta here."

Her mother had no reason to think her daughter wouldn't return home. She expected Leslie around 10 p.m. after completing her shift at Wal-Mart in Mechanicsburg where she worked in the photo lab. She said her daughter thought that job would help her in her quest to become a photojournalist.

But 10 p.m. came and went. Her mom waited and watched the clock. Ten-fifteen, 10:30. Still no Leslie. White became concerned. Everybody else went to bed. But White waited. Her daughter never let her worry about her whereabouts like that.

At midnight, she woke her husband to tell him Leslie still wasn't home. An hour or two later, she called Leslie's boyfriend to ask if he knew where she was. He told her he had calls into Leslie as well but hadn't heard from her.


An image of Leslie White, whose body was found wrapped in a canvas tent and stuffed in the trunk of an abandoned car.
William Housman and Beth Markman were convicted of killing Leslie White in 2000. Housman is on death row, and Markman had her death sentence reduced to life in prison. Submitted by Pa. Department of Corrections 

He also said Leslie had left a message on his phone that night about her plans to go to Newville to console William Housman, a Wal-Mart co-worker who took a shine to Leslie's Jeep. Housman rode in it on the few occasions when Leslie gave him a ride home or took him and other co-workers out to grab a bite to eat during a dinner break. One time, Leslie drove him to her house, but he never got out of the Jeep while she ran inside her home.

In the phone message that Leslie left for her boyfriend, she said Housman's father had died in Virginia, and his father was all he had. He threatened to commit suicide by walking out in front of tractor-trailer on the interstate.

Her mother wasn't surprised Leslie would make that 25-mile trip from Wal-Mart to Newville to see Housman after hearing that message.


Pictures line the mantel at the home of Shawnee White in Juniata County. On remembering the murder of her daughter in 2000: 'It hurts. It hurts.'
"I taught my kids that, no matter what, if somebody needs help, you go to them. I raised my kids that way, and still to this day, if someone needs help whether monetary or what, we help them," she said. Then, with a slight laugh, she added, "And it usually comes back to bite you."

But going back to that agonizing night, White said she sensed something was terribly wrong when Leslie didn't call.

"My daughter would call home. She would let us know if she possibly could. So we knew from the minute she reached that trailer she had no opportunity to call, because she would always call and let you know where she was, where she was going and stuff like that," she said.

After a harrowing night that yielded little sleep, White called the Lewistown police in the morning to file a missing person report. She was told since her daughter was 18 years old, she was free to be anywhere she wanted, and her mom could do nothing about it.

Unsatisfied with that response, White called three or four more law enforcement agencies to ask for help in locating her daughter. It wasn't until she spoke with Deputy Brian Vaughan, of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office in Virginia, that she felt she finally found someone willing to help.

Vaughan tracked the black Jeep to Housman's mother's property. More police work over the course of a week led to confessions from Housman and his live-in girlfriend Beth Ann Markman, who owned the trailer outside of Newville where Leslie was killed. Police found Leslie's partially decomposing body wrapped in a canvas tent and stuffed in the trunk of an abandoned car on the property, still bound and gagged.


Shawnee White keeps a large scrapbook that contains news stories of the court proceedings surrounding the two individuals convicted of killing her daughter, Leslie, in 2000. The home is located in Juniata County.
From court testimony, White learned that Housman had traveled to North Carolina a few weeks before the murder to find someone who would change the Jeep's title to show him or Markman as its owners.

"That's how he was going to get the Jeep. He picked her as the victim because of her Jeep," White said as tears again filled her eyes.

Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed said some murders are the result of a violent relationship or are drug related, and not necessarily shocking. That wasn't the case with Leslie White.

"With Housman and Markman, this never had to happen," Freed said. "She truly was an innocent victim in all this. She simply was graduating high school, gotten a job, started to find her way in life and came across these two and paid with her life for having done nothing at all."


Shawnee White looks through a scrapbook that contains news stories about the court proceedings involving the individuals who were convicted of killing her daughter, Leslie, back in 2000.


Shawnee White looks through a scrapbook that contains stories on the trial of the individuals involved in the death of her daughter, Leslie, that took place in 2000.
In White's mind, Housman and Markman both deserve to die. But only one of them now sits on death row: Housman.

Markman, whom court records indicate saw Housman's friendship with Leslie White as a threat to their relationship, succeeded in getting her death sentence reduced to a life sentence through a plea deal in 2010.

Anger rises in Shawnee White's voice talking about that turn of events. She wanted the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office to contest that decision, but she said she was told the case was no longer a priority and the office's limited resources had to be reserved for cases that were.

"I just wanted to scream. Leslie's case was no longer a priority? Markman gets a plea deal. Did Leslie get a plea deal? Did she plea for her life when they were killing her?" she said, wiping away tears. "They give Markman a plea deal because the county didn't have funding to fight all these cases and he had to prioritize the cases. That is the worst. She literally got off of death row because of funding.

"Then you see this [Eric] Frein, the cop killer. They spent millions and millions and millions of dollars hunting him down, and they have millions and millions of dollars to keep people on death row. But they didn't have the funds to go after and keep Markman on death row?"

While not wanting to pick a fight with White, Freed said resources hadn't led to the acceptance of the plea deal that got Markman off death row. Rather, he said the decision was tactical to ensure Markman would remain in prison for the rest of her life. He knows the Whites didn't agree with his decision and he did consult with them. But it was his decision to make.  

"With her being willing to plead to a life sentence, I believe that was a better resolution," Freed said. "You can never guarantee your result with a jury. So almost in any case, we're willing to agree to a plea to a life sentence to avoid a trial."

As for Housman, he is in the early stages of the appeals process. If his execution is carried out, White said she wants to be there to watch him die. But before he does, she wants to speak to him.

"I'd just like to maybe get one chance to face him and ask him why. Not that they would give it to me. But if there was that one opportunity that I could ask him," as her voice trailed off for a few moments as grief overcame her. "I've always wanted to know what my daughter's last words were. I want to know if she was praying."

White doesn't understand why the justice system takes so long to execute a death sentence. She doesn't understand how the court could accept a plea deal from Markman and simply wipe away the 12 jurors' unanimous decision to sentence her to die.

And White struggles to accept that while Housman and Markman have sat all these years behind bars, they get three meals a day, a bed to sleep in, a place to work out — and it's all stuff her tax dollars pay for.

So does she support keeping the death penalty in Pennsylvania? Absolutely yes.

"My 18-year-old daughter is the reason. Taken from us so soon," she said.

© 2015 PennLive.com. All rights reserved.

Shawnee White
Published on Jan 2, 2015
Shawnee White, mother of murder victim Leslie White, favors keeping the death penalty in the state's sentencing options but would like to speed up the appeals process in capital cases.


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