Justice for Greg

Additional Information

 

Mystery Solved

My  name is Gregory Lance.  In April 1999, I was arrested for two murders I  did not commit.  I was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to two  concurrent life sentences.  To date, all efforts to exonerate me have  failed.  The evidence presented at trial against me was either false or  circumstantial.  It seems that you cannot pick up a newspaper or log  onto the internet today without reading about another innocent person  being exonerated after spending years in prison for a crime he or she  did not commit.  It is the same story over and over.  Except for the  part about being exonerated, my story is much the same.

My Story
This  case is about a Russian couple who were murdered, and whose home was  burglarized and burnt down in Cookeville, Tennessee on August 5, 1998,  and my fight to prove I did not do it.  The prosecution’s theory of the  case was that I committed these murders in retaliation for the victims,  Victor and Alla Kolesnikow, foreclosing on a trailer park that I had  purchased from them.

Living in the home directly across the  street from Victor and Alla Kolesnikow were a couple and their daughter,  Sam, Peggy and Samantha Horn.  Like myself, Sam and Peggy were also  purchasing their property from Victor and Alla.  Next door to the Horn’s  lived James Redmon (brother of Peggy Horn), together with his  wife/girlfriend.  James Redmon and his brother David were also  purchasing property from Victor and Alla.  On August 3rd 1998, Victor  Kolesnikow swore out a warrant against David Redmon, brother of James  Redmon and Peggy Horn.  A Putnam County Sheriff’s deputy served the  warrant the next day, August 4th.  Before the sun rose on August 5th,  Victor and his wife Alla lay dead in their home, having been shot  multiple times and burnt beyond recognition.  James Redmon is the  individual who placed the 911 call at 3:30 a.m. on August 5th, 1998.

 From  what we have been able to glean from witness accounts of what happened,  sometime during the day on August 4, 1998, Sam and Peggy Horn went to  the Kolesnikows’ home and Peggy Horn requested permission to use their  bathroom.  While in the bathroom, Peggy unlocked the bathroom window so  that she and Sam could reenter the home to kill the Kolesnikows.  In the  early morning hours of August 5th, the Horns returned to the  Kolesnikow’s home.  After committing the murders, Sam and Peggy searched  the Kolesnikows home for their safe and other valuables before setting  their home on fire.  The State Fire Marshall, Phillip Gentry, used a K-9  unit to search the burnt home.  The dog indicated that gasoline residue  was present so arson was immediately suspected.  Seven bullets/shell  casings were found.  Bullet projectiles and fragments were found in the  bodies.

 After the fire was put out, law enforcement began a  search for the weapon used in the murders.  They searched the roadside  leading back to town but found nothing.  A dive team was called out to  search the river the road crosses but still nothing was found.  About a  month and a half later, a Tec 9mm pistol was found about a mile from the  crime scene on the passenger side of the road.  It was determined by  the crime lab to be the same weapon that was used to fire the seven  shell casings found in the victims’ home.  The same day the gun was  found, Sam Horn gave a statement to police and drew a picture of a  weapon he said he saw in the possession of Claude Wright.  Wright was  one of the last people to see Victor Kolesnikow on August 4, 1998, but  was never considered a suspect or a witness by the police.  Sam Horn’s  drawing was a duplicate of the murder weapon that was recovered by law  enforcement.

According  to the prosecution and the ATF officers who investigated this case, the  murder weapon was bought new from Bend of the River Gun Shop where an  individual by the name of James Myers worked.  The state’s case rested  in part on the assumption that the murderer sought and used a stolen  gun. According to an affidavit signed by Mr. Myers on May 20, 2012, the  prosecution was aware that Mr. Myers sold Sam Horn stolen guns. The  prosecution’s theory at trial as to the ownership history of the murder  weapon was that it was stolen from Robert Sheppard.  According to Myers,  at one time, Sam Horn’s place of business was “right before you get to  Bob (Robert) Sheppard’s house and business.”  Mr. Myers further states  that a Tec 9mm gun uses 9mm ammunition and that he sold Sam Horn 9mm  ammunition.  Mr. Myers further states that “Most everyone that knows Sam  Horn knows he is a killer.  Everyone was afraid of him because they  know he would not hesitate to kill them if they ever crossed him.” And,  “It is common knowledge among the people that know him that Horn killed  the Russian couple that lived across the road from him.”

 While  much of what happened that night remains a mystery, the following is a  summary of my trial and many of the facts that have come to light since  that fateful night.

 The Trial

I  was tried in October 1999.  As you would expect, the prosecution called  as witnesses members of the Putnam County Sheriff’s office, bomb and  arson investigators, and members of the Tennessee Bureau of  Investigation who were actively involved in the investigation at the  scene of the murders, at the Heron farm, and also those who participated  in the laboratory testing of various items.  The investigation revealed  that the Kolesnikows were killed with a Tec 9 and then their house was  burnt with them in it.  A 9 mm Ruger was also recovered and tested at  TBI’s laboratory.

At trial, the most damaging witnesses against  me were former friends and co-workers, Mike Snow, Eric Tanner, and Keith  Herbstreith.  Erik Tanner testified that prior to the murders, I asked  him to find a “hot” gun for him.  Prior to trial and during the initial  investigation of this matter, law enforcement asked Erik Tanner if I had  asked him to find him a gun and he denied that that ever happened.   Erik Tanner was given a lie detector test but we have not been provided  with a copy of those results.  Keith Herbstreith testified that three  weeks prior to the murders I asked him if he knew anyone who would kill  them for hire and that later I stated “I’m going to have to kill them.”   Keith failed his lie detector test and later recanted his statement to  my mom.  Following my conviction, an acquaintance of mine went to see  Mike Snow and asked him why he made the statements against me that he  did.  Mike’s response was “The day I signed that statement against Greg  they let me out of jail.  What will Lance’s parents do for me if I  change my statement?”  I never said or did any of these things.

During  the course of the trial, the prosecution made much of the fact that I  was seen target practicing at the Heron farm on August 2, 1998, the  Sunday prior to the murders and that two military type gas cans were  present in the barn that same day.  Witness Jerry Gardner saw me at the  farm shooting a .22, not a Tec 9 or a Ruger.  At trial, TBI Agent Bob  Krofssik testified that he was at the Heron farm on August 24, 1998, and  did not observe any bullets, projectiles or casings on the property at  that time.  No one saw me on the farm between the dates of August 24th  when Agent Krofssik was there through August 27th, the day the Putnam  County Sherriff’s office and the bomb and arson investigators spent an  entire day out there collecting evidence.  Furthermore, the gas can  recovered at the murder scene was a red, plastic gas can and not  military type cans like those seen at the farm.  None of this had any  connection to me.  According to other witnesses at trial, multiple  individuals both visited and shot guns on that property.

At the  hearing on a Motion for New Trial, my attorney called Mr. Chris Henry as  a witness. Henry stated that in a conversation with Sam Horn about  “snitching”, Sam told him that the way to take care of snitches was to  knock on their front door, shoot them, and burn their house down behind  him and leave.  According to Henry, at some time prior to testifying in  court for me, Sam threatened to kill Henry because they got in some  arguments about dope.  When Henry was asked if he had ever seen a Tec 9  at Sam Horn’s house, he testified that he had not only seen one at Sam’s  house but that he had shot Sam’s Tec 9.

In 2012, my family spoke  to one of the individuals who was selected as a juror in my trial.   According to this juror, the jury as a whole did not believe I actually  committed the crimes but, they nevertheless voted guilty because they  thought I knew who actually committed the crimes.  This particular juror  felt that I was not guilty.  He stated, “They deliberated for hours and  couldn’t reach a verdict.  He said they couldn’t agree if Mr. Lance had  done the murders or even if he had been present at the crime scene….”   In order to break the deadlock, the jury agreed to be bound by a  majority/quotient vote.  This juror and two others have all expressed  their belief that I should have a new trial.

Post-trial Witness Statements

Following  my conviction, my family hired a retired FBI Agent to assist us in  investigating this case.  Through his investigation, my investigator  obtained statements from several witnesses who were either present at  the Horn residence on the night prior to the murders or the morning of  the murders or those who had personal knowledge of the events  surrounding the murders.  These statements tell a very different story  than the one presented by the prosecution at my trial and strongly point  to other suspects.  I would like to point out to you the most relevant  portions of those statements and how they relate to this case.

Billy Cleghorn

Billy  Cleghorn was present at the Horn residence between 3:30 and 4:00 a.m.  on August 5, 1998.  When he pulled into Sam’s driveway, the fire was  burning at the Kolesnikows’ home.  At that moment Sam came out of the  house and instructed him to leave as the police were on their way.   Cleghorn stated that Sam looked crazy and had been awake for some time  from taking meth. 

Sometime shortly after the murders, Sam,  Peggy, Samantha, Billy Cleghorn, and Lacy and Jenny Harness left the  Horn residence on Poplar Grove Road and moved to Jackie Cleghorn’s  residence near Austin Bottom.  While at the residence, Peggy began  crying and talking about dead people, leaving her blouse over there, and  a gun with a light hooked to it for seeing better in the dark.  Sam  made a statement in the presence of Billy that Peggy was crazy and out  of her head on drugs.

According to Billy, Samantha told him that  her mother had gone over to the Kolesnikows earlier in the day on August  4, 1998, and unlocked the bathroom window.  Samantha stated that she  fell asleep in a recliner on the front porch of her parents’ home, that  she woke up between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. on August 5th, noticed the lights  on at Victor’s and Alla’s house, and thought that something must be  wrong because Victor and Alla normally went to bed around 9:00 p.m.  She  then heard several gunshots.  Upon hearing the shots, Samantha got  scared and went into her residence.  She further stated that shortly  thereafter her parents came in the house, smelled like gasoline, were  carrying an assortment of items that came from Victor’s and Alla’s home,  and were laughing about doing the murders.

Jackie Cleghorn

Jackie  Cleghorn told the investigator that he and his girlfriend, Rachel (who  later became his wife), stayed at the Horn residence for 3 to 4 months  in the summer of 1998.  Also at the residence at that time were  Samantha, Sam, Peggy, and Lacy and Jenny Harness.  Jackie knows that Sam  and Peggy Horn got behind in making their payments to Victor.

Sometime  prior to the murders, Jackie and Rachel moved from the Horn residence  to an apartment in Austin Bottom primarily because he and Rachel had  been involved in arguments with Sam and Peggy.  Peggy had accused Rachel  of trying to set up or frame Sam for their illegal activities.   Cleghorn said the argument got heated and Sam pulled a gun and put it in  Cleghorn’s mouth.  Cleghorn noted that he knew that Sam was a dangerous  man.  Cleghorn has no personal knowledge as to who was responsible for  the murders of Victor and Alla and claimed that he was in no way  involved.  Cleghorn heard Samantha say that after the murders the law  had found either a coat or a blouse that belonged to Peggy.  Supposedly  it had some blood on it and Cleghorn thinks the law was not aware the  coat or blouse belonged to Peggy.  Cleghorn himself heard Peggy state  “This makes three people I have helped kill.”  Cleghorn personally feels  that Lance was not responsible.  Cleghorn stated that he knew Sam Horn  probably better than anyone else and it was his opinion that Horn was  responsible for the murders although Sam never admitted that to him.

Rachel Cleghorn

Rachel  Cleghorn is Sam Horn’s niece and Jackie’s wife.  She stated that she  and Jackie stayed at the Horn residence in June and July of 1998 and  that during that time there was tension between Sam and Victor over a  well pump.  Rachel and Jackie got their own place in July but the day  after the murders they went to the Horn residence to find out what had  happened.  At that time Peggy was freaked out, saying that she could not  stay there any longer and that it was not safe for her and Samantha to  be there.  At first Rachel thought she was high.  But Peggy acted  differently than when she was high.  Peggy talked about moving far, far  away so she could be someone else and that she was feeling responsible  for things.  When Rachel asked her what sort of things, she went from  scared crying to mad and yelling things.  Sam came into the room,  grabbed her arm and said, “Shut up Peg, you’re talking out of your  head.  Do you want to go for a walk?  Maybe you want to go to the  creek.”  The last three days that Sam and Peggy were at the Cleghorns,  Peggy stayed to herself.  Rachel took Sam’s statements to mean that Sam  would kill her and leave her there.

Lacy Harness

Lacy  Harness told Mr. Harcum that he has no personal knowledge that Sam and  Peggy committed the murders although he did state that he was of the  opinion that Sam Horn was responsible.  Harness feels that Greg did not  commit the murders. Harness feels that the murders occurred over the  land Sam Horn was buying from Victor and Alla.

Harness reiterated  that he believes that Victor and Alla were killed over the property.   There were a total of three parcels included in his definition of  “property.”  One parcel was the Horn residence (about 16 acres).  The  other two parcels consisted of property with a trailer on each parcel  that Peggy’s brothers were buying from Victor.  Peggy’s brothers were  David and James Redmon.  Harness stated that James Redmon was making  payments on his property, that David was making his payments and when he  couldn’t make the required payments he would make up the difference by  mowing Victor’s yard or doing some fencing for him, but Sam and Peggy  Horn were way behind in their payments to Victor.  Harness knew that Sam  had no money coming in.

On the day before the murders, Harness  was at the Horn residence along with his sister Jenny, Samantha Horn,  and Lisa Adkins. Harness recalls that Jackie and Rachel Cleghorn showed  up at the Horn residence at about 5:00 p.m.  Billy Cleghorn arrived at  between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m.  Lacy says that he stayed up until about  10:30 or 11:00 p.m. on the night of August 4, 1998 and fell asleep in  Sam’s recliner on the front deck of the house.  Harness was awakened by  Sam making a statement “what is that?”  When Harness woke up, he was on  the couch in Sam’s residence, unsure as to how he got there, and noticed  that Sam was coming from the back of the house.  Horn was in his  underwear and in the process of taking off a green sweatshirt.  Horn was  also wearing his socks and a tee shirt under his sweatshirt.  Sam  looked out the window of the house and told Harness that Victor’s house  was on fire.  Shortly thereafter, Sam went inside to take a shower.   Harness believes that the shower was running when Sam woke him up.  He  didn’t see Peggy but assumed that it was possibly her that was taking a  shower.

Harness stated that after the murders occurred he stayed  up at David Redmon’s trailer for a short time.  Harness advised that Sam  and Peggy got scared and came up to David’s trailer and stayed a few  days.  Harness advised that they wanted to hide out from the law that  was around their residence.

Harness stated that sometime after  the murders they all went and stayed with Jackie and Rachel.  Harness  said that at that time Peggy was talking crazy.  Harness’ sister, Jenny,  told him that Peggy admitted to her and some others that she did the  killing and Sam burnt the house.  Harness said Jenny also heard Peggy  say that she saw the lady’s spirit come out of her when she was shot.   Lacy never heard Peggy admit to anything or make any statement about her  and Sam being involved.  Harness claimed that he told Detective Burgess  he did not think Lance committed the murders.

Paula Lacommore

 Paula Lacommare was interviewed twice by Mr. Harcum, the first time in November 1999 and the second time in June 2006.

Paula  did not know Victor and Alla but learned of their murders from her  mother who had read it in the paper shortly after the murders happened.   Paula’s mother was a real estate agent and had previously shown  property to Victor and Alla.

Paula’s first contact with Sam was  in July 1999 when she visited the Horn residence.  She did not return  there until October 1999 when she went there with Billy Cleghorn to pick  up some of his personal items from the Horn residence.  Paula stated  that Cleghorn formerly lived at the Horn residence. Paula said that  during the time that she was involved with the individuals who spent  time at the Horn residence, she frequently heard comments made about Sam  Horn being crazy and a murderer.

Paula met Samantha through  Billy Cleghorn.  Billy moved out of the Horn residence in the middle of  August 1999.  Cleghorn said that he left after he woke up at the Horn  residence and Sam was pointing a gun at him.  Horn accused Cleghorn of  stealing property from him, more specifically red phosphorus.

Paula  recalled that before the murders occurred Mike Henry came by her  residence in August of 1998.  Henry worked on junk cars at Sam Horn’s  residence and was a meth user.  Paula said that Henry told her he had  just been at the Horn residence and Sam made the statement that he was  going to kill the foreigners.  Horn said he was tired of them “geeking”  on him and always meddling.

In her second interview, Paula  claimed that she had not been completely truthful with my investigator  or the two agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation who  interviewed her.  Paula claimed that she was telling the truth on the  date of her second interview.

In her second interview, Paula said  that in September 1999 Samantha was at her residence on South Meade.   Paula says that all of the statements made by Samantha occurred  somewhere between midnight and daylight.  Paula said that they were  talking about Jesus and Samantha asked her if she knew something bad  would she have to tell it.  Paula told her that it was between her and  Jesus. Paula says that Samantha then became emotional and started  crying.  Samantha then stated that everyone thinks her dad is bad but  that her mother is just as bad.  Samantha stated that her mother was  having an affair with a neighbor or landlord.  Paula was under the  impression that Samantha was referring to the individual that Sam was  renting from or paying money to for land.  Samantha then stated: “If my  dad knew my mom was fucking this person he would kill him.” Samantha  continued crying and stated something bad happened.  She then stated  that her mom and one of her dad’s “emps” went over to the residence and  killed those people.  Lacommare said Samantha used “emps” to refer to  individuals that worked for her dad. Samantha never identified the  “emp.”  Samantha stated the bathroom window was unlocked at the  residence.  Her mom and the “emp” entered the residence through the  window.  Samantha did not mention when the window was unlocked or who  was responsible for unlocking it.  Samantha mentioned something about  wanting to get something that the people had in the bedroom.  Paula does  not recall what was wanted but recalls something about it being on the  headboard in the bedroom.  Samantha said her mom let the “emp” in with  her and her mom killed the people.  Samantha did not mention anything  about how the people were killed.  After making the statement that her  mom killed the people, Samantha started bawling more and went into the  bathroom.  Although she does not recall clearly what was said, she did  perceive something was said about Samantha’s dad burning the residence.

These  witness statements contain much more detail about what went on at the  Horn residence on the night prior to the murders, the morning of the  murders, and the days following but they are far too many to set out in  their entirety.  These statements clearly define the dynamics between  the individuals who ran in Sam and Peggy Horn’s inner circle as well as  the fear that Sam instilled in those around him.  Although the witnesses  were spoken to at different times, were not in the presence of each  other when giving their statements, and they all tell a story that is  slightly different from the others based on what they observed, they  basically tell the same story.

Sam Horn died December 26, 2002.   Peggy Lynn Horn is still alive and from what I understand, lives  somewhere in Florida or Alabama.

 Both the victims’ family and my  family deserve to know the truth.  And the truth is that Samuel Eddie  Horn and his wife, Margaret (Peggy) Lynn Horn killed Victor and Alla  Kolesnikows.  Peggy Lynn Horn should be imprisoned for her participation  in these murders as well as the other murder that she confessed to.   Prosecuting Attorney Bill Gibson admitted in open court that he knew Sam  Horn was manufacturing and selling crystal meth.  Gibson even said he  would rather have prosecuted Sam Horn for the murders of the  Kolesnikows.  I don’t understand why the prosecution failed to consider  Sam and Peggy Horn as the suspects in these crimes.

 According to  the website of Centurion Ministries, a group of individuals dedicated  to working to free the wrongfully convicted, it takes approximately  $350,000 to defend a wrongful conviction case.  I have spent everything  that I have to pay for lawyers and investigators in an effort to prove  my innocence.  If you have any information that would be helpful in my  case, please contact my mother, Joyce Argo, by email at  joyceintennessee@gmail.com.  If you would like to contribute to my  defense, you may do so by mailing a check to The Greg Lance Defense  Fund, c/o Joyce Argo, P.O. Box 305, Cookeville, TN 38503-0305. 

 Thank you.

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