The Crimes-Picayune

2A: Justin Bloxom

January 11, 2021 Peyton Breaux
The Crimes-Picayune
2A: Justin Bloxom
Show Notes Transcript

This is the story of a 12 year-old boy that went missing in North Louisiana eleven years ago and how his disappearance created new legislation all over the south.

This is the story of Justin Bloxom - this episode features graphic content and crimes against children. Episode 2B is also tells Justin's story but is geared more toward younger listeners. 

Visit the Justice for Justin Bloxom Facebook page:

Episode 2: Justin Bloxom

Hey, y’all! I’m your host, Peyton, and today I’m going to do something a little differently. You might’ve noticed the title of this episode is 2A - well, I felt the story I’m going to tell you is so important for all ages to hear, but there are some graphic details and very mature material included in this case that might not be appropriate for a younger listener. So I’ve decided to release another episode telling the same exact story, but as if I was relaying it to a 3rd/4th grade audience. 

This is the story of a 12 year old boy that went missing in north Louisiana 11 years ago and how his disappearance created new legislation all over the South. This is The Crimes-Picayune.

March 29, 2010: Justin was staying at his best friend Dustin Rosegrant’s house in Stonewall, LA. (Stonewall is only about a 20 minute drive south of Shreveport. It sits at the northern part of DeSoto Parish and is very tiny population-wise, sitting at less than 2,000 people at the time of our story.)

It was a Monday night but the boys were on spring break

Justin got there around 6PM

Justin + Dustin lived “6-7 minutes from one another” - Amy

It was a normal night; the boys played video games, hungout, went to Dustin’s room around 9:30/10 to watch TV because Dustin was getting tired but Justin stayed up and was on his phone. 

Justin was born May 29th, 1997 to his parents Amy and Kevin.

He was the second of 4 boys!

Justin’s story was featured on an episode of Web of Lies where his mom said he loved to skateboard and he played football for his middle school’s team. His girlfriend at the time described him as just being so goofy and kind and how easy he was to talk to. They would text all the time. 

Justin was attached to his phone, his mom said he was averaging about 2,000 texts per month; which breaks down to about 70 messages per day. 

The family had recently had an issue with Justin regarding social media. His dad, Kevin, found out that Justin had a Myspace account even though they had both told him he was way too young for one. So Kevin reached out to his mom, Amy, (they were separated but still remained in close contact for their boys) and she addressed the account with Justin. He had written something inappropriate in the “about me” part of his profile and on the Web of Lies episode, his mom shared that she explained the meaning behind the words. She said “I explained to Justin the importance of not putting things out there that you don’t know what it means. Things can get misconstrued. People will look at you like a different person based on what you put out there on the world wide web.” 

Dustin woke up around 9 the next morning and saw that Justin wasn’t there

He looked around his house, calling his name, started getting concerned

Dustin called his mom because he was so concerned and she told him to call Justin’s mom and see if maybe she picked him up early that morning and he just didn’t tell anyone/wake anyone up

Dustin went to Justin’s house with his bag, thinking he might have forgotten it, and he gave it to Justin’s brother, Tyler. 

Tyler calls his mom and asks if she had picked Justin up that morning and she said, “No, Justin stayed the night at Dustin’s house…”

Tyler explains they can’t find him; Amy tells them to call 911 and she’d be home soon. 

Officers gather everyone at the last place they knew Justin had been, the Rosegrant home.

They start brainstorming where Justin could be, thinking maybe he just snuck out to another friend’s house

Dustin told officers he knew Justin had a girlfriend named Tyler - Justin’s older brother’s name was also Tyler. 

But Tyler lived in Shreveport (about 20 miles north) and knew he’d need a ride to get there.

Officers visited Tyler at school - she lived in another parish so the schedules were different and she had school that week.

Tyler and I were friends in high school so I reached out to her to get her perspective on the events that happened that day. 

She said she was sitting in class when they called her over the intercom to come to the office. When she got there, she was greeted by police officers and a detective. They asked her if she knew where Justin was or if she had heard from him recently and she told them the last time they had spoken was the night before and she hadn’t heard from him since. 

Tyler had no idea Justin was missing until the officers told her right before asking her to return to class. When she got back to class, she checked her phone and saw that Justin’s mom and brother had both been trying to reach her but because she was in class she hadn’t seen these attempts. 

Back at Dustin’s home, some boys that were standing around the neighborhood said they overheard a neighbor, Charlie Pate, talking about having seen a taxi cab around 2 that morning.

Charlie was a teacher up late working

He said he couldn’t see who was in the car but could see the company was Action Taxis. At the time the taxis were this bright, kelly green with yellow lettering down the sides and would’ve been easy to recognize, even in the dark. 

Detectives received a printout of the messages that were going to and from Justin’s phone

They saw that he and Tyler had text until about 9:30 but noticed that a different number started messaging him around 11PM and consistently continued until 3AM. And when I say consistently I mean like every minute or two they’d exchange messages. 

According to the Web of Lies episode, the messages started out like a normal conversation “who are you, how are you, etc.” and then gradually became more sexual until they were entirely sexual. At one point, the number sent pictures to Justin that were so graphic in nature that he said “you know I’m only 12 years old.”

Justin’s mom, Amy, talks about how she felt when she learned what the messages to Justin’s phone said. She said “parts of me were angry at Justin for not seeing through some of the stuff that was sent to him.” (“12 year olds are more trusting than we are”)

“Son why didn’t you just really think, ya know, just think.”

“He didn’t feel the danger. He was going to meet this young girl and a taxi was coming to pick him up.”

Detectives learned that Justin was talking to a 15 year old girl named Amber. Amber persisted and pushed Justin into coming to see her so they could engage in the acts they were texting about. 

Around 1AM, Amber said she had borrowed a car and was coming to pick him up. She text him and said she was parked at the end of the street but Justin wasn’t going to walk down that far so he told her to just go home. And the detectives said they could see in the messages that this happened several times where Justin would give up trying to see her but she’d convince him and then he’d give up, etc. 

Around 2AM she said she’d send a taxi to come pick him up instead and it finally showed up around 3 that morning. 

So with the neighbor’s eyewitness account of an Action Taxi brand cab seen at the Rosegrant house just hours before, as well as the texts messages stating Amber would send a taxi for him, an officer wondered if a strange encounter he had earlier that morning was maybe connected? He said that he had just started his shift when he noticed a car that was pulled over to the side of the road. He pulled in behind it and according to Corporal Adam Ewing with Desoto Parish, this was standard practice for them to do just to check and make sure everyone is okay and no one needs assistance. 

As the officer looked around, he noticed a white male with a flashlight in the brush. The man stated he ran out of gas and when he got out to call for help, he dropped his keys. The officer stated he offered the man a ride but he declined stating someone was already on their way with some gas and an extra key. 

Another officer recalled seeing the same taxi that morning just a couple hours later because of how weird the driver was acting. 

He said “He had the steering wheel in his hands and he was rocking back and forth violently making the car shake.” 

After hearing both of these strange accounts, Corporal Ewing said he wanted to know if the taxi was still there. But when officers returned around 2PM, the taxi was gone but they noted there was a pile of cigarettes on the ground. In the Web of Lies episode the officer said it looked like someone had just stood there and chain smoked and chain smoked and chain smoked. 

When Sgt. Banta looked up from the pile of cigarettes, he noticed that there had been a path made in the brush where it was obvious it had been walked over. He followed the path deeper into the woods and saw what he thought was trash, but came to realize it was actually blue jeans. Justin’s blue jeans. Less than 12 hours after Justin sent his last text messages, officers found him, face down in a shallow puddle of water, dead. 

Detectives knew whoever was driving that cab had something to do with Justin’s death. They called Action Taxi to figure out who was driving in the area that morning. 

Just that morning, the morning of Justin’s disappearance, an employee of Action Taxi, Brian Douglas Horn, had returned the cab, quit, and walked away on foot away from the business. 

Horn was born in 1975 close to the area in the city of Mansfield, LA. 

In a book by RJ Parker and JJ Slate, Horn didn’t have the most stable childhood, and experienced behavior problems like throwing paper airplanes from his window that he had lit on fire as well as his parents being arrested for selling drugs out of their home. 

Horn’s criminal record dates back to 1994, when he was 19 years old. Since then, he had 14 arrests, including 2 sex-related offences and he had been regestered as a sex offender. 

Detectives went to Brian Horn’s home, where his wife Amanda answered the door. She said she hadn’t seen him in a while because they were in the process of separating. 

That afternoon, a press statement released stated Horn was a POI

His brother brought him to the station where he voluntarily turned himself in. They questioned him about his circumstances the previous night and why he was in the woods. He reiterated what he told the officer that pulled in behind him, that he had run out of gas and when he went to call for help he lost his keys. 

Because Brian’s brother, Kevin, had driven him to the station, investigators wanted to search his car too. 

Kevin was super upfront and open with police and helped them by indicating what belonged to him and what his brother Brian had brought from his taxi when he picked him up. 

As officers dug through Brian’s belongings, they found a SIM card

A SIM card, for those that don’t know, is like a chip that goes into your phone that stores information. At this time, they were about the size of a fingernail, and they were a lot easier to remove back then and I remember just popping mine out and putting it into another phone and it would usually just keep my contacts and I believe my texts.

Back at Horn’s home, officers looked through Brian’s wife Amanda’s computer. They found that she had LOTS of searches on sites like Craigslist for ads looking for sexual partners. 

They also found a folder named “mandybug143” that included child abuse and people being smothered, but the computer belonged to his wife so there wasn’t a way for them to get Brian  for possession. 

Officers knew Brian Horn had SOMETHING to do with Justin’s murder, but they didn’t have anything to tie him directly, it was all circumstantial at this point, UNTIL, during their search of the woods where Justin’s body was found, underneath a shoe belonging to Justin was the key to Brian Horn’s taxi. 

When officers confronted him with this information, Horn requested a lawyer. 

Now that they had Brian, they wanted to search for Amber because Amber had been the last person to talk to Justin.

But officers unknowingly already had her. When they searched the SIM card Brian moved to his brother, Kevin’s, vehicle from his taxi cab, the numbers were a match. Brian Horn was Amber.

Less than 36 hours after Justin was murdered, Brian Horn was arrested on March 31st, 2010 for his murder.  

Brian Horn was indicted by a grand jury on April 12, 2010.

He was initially charged with second-degree murder. Second-degree murder in Louisiana defined by the Johnson Law Firm is “the killing of another person when the offender intends to kill the victim. [or] An offender who kills someone without specific intent while he commits a felony or while he’s attempting to commit a felony.” In addition to the text messages, the SIM card, and the key found at the scene, fingerprints were lifted from the outside of the taxi cab and were found to belong to Justin. And because Horn kidnapped Justin, they can now charge him with first-degree murder because that is defined, again by the Johnson Law Firm, as “the killing of another person with intent while committing specified felonies;” and this small difference between the two charges will come up again later. 

Horn was arraigned on January 3, 2012 for first-degree murder and kidnapping

I want to add here that he has pled “not guilty” any and every chance he got.

His trial began March 28, 2014 

In a DeSoto Parish newspaper called The Enterprise, they write “Detectectives testified… Justin was taken to the location off Highway 171 and left in a shallow pool of water with scratches and bruises to his back, a cut on his lip, and a gash under his eye.” 

Justin’s cause of death was asphyxiation. The medical examiner, Dr. James Trailer, explained “if a person was being choked forcibly, they would lose consciousness after about 15 seconds, but if you release them, they will regain consciousness. In order to kill them, you need to hold them in a tight hold like that for up to 90 seconds. After 90 seconds, brain activity ceased. Anything after 30 seconds was not accidental.”

Just a second ago I explained that the difference between first and second-degree murder is the intent to kill. Dr. Trailer is arguing that Justin more-than-likely lost consciousness around 15 seconds, stopping him from fighting back. So Horn continued to choke Justin for another minute after he stopped moving. Horn had 60 more chances to stop, but he didn’t, and to me, that proves his intent. 

Dr. Traylor also testified that “Justin died from being smothered, and opined that the perpetrator smothered Justin while on Justin’s back.” 

He identified “petechiae” (pu-tee-kee-eye) in Justin’s eyes and on his face/forehead as well as “an abraded contusion on the inside of Justin’s mouth consistent with the perpetrator compressing his lips and mouth against his braces.”

During trial, Brian Horn’s brother-in-law, Ronald Roberts also took the stand to talk about an event that happened 6 months before Justin’s murder. According to Roberts, Horn stated “you get away with more driving around in a taxi cab. You could probably drive around all day with somebody kidnapped and nobody would know.” 

Brian Horn had been the one using his then-wife’s computer to pose as her, searching for sex with strangers and he was the one downloading the images of children. 

He got Justin’s number from a contact list he downloaded from a friend of his stepdaughter’s phones. It’s not made clear in any of my research, but I don’t think the friend of his stepdaughter knew but Horn was aware that Justin was only 12. 

The jury found Brian Horn guilty of first-degree murder and took them less than an hour to sentence him to death. 

Like I said earlier, Horn has never admitted guilt to killing Justin and ultimately never stated what actually happened that night, but authorities believe that the cab ran out of gas in the spot Horn was spotted by several officers later that day and Justin sent “Amber” a text saying the cab died. They think Horn’s phone went off and Justin put two and two together and ran into the woods where Horn choked him to death. 

Justin has several memorials in his honor all over that small town. He has a garden dedicated to him at the middle school he was attending at the time of his death. There is also a big white sign that sits in that very spot Justin ran into the woods that night. It says “Justin M Bloxom 05/29/1997-03/30/2010 Now in God’s hands, forever in our hearts Matthew 6:9-15”

Justin’s mother never stopped fighting for him. 

In May of 2010, Amy Bloxom filed a wrongful death suit against the owner of the cab company that hired Brian Horn. The owner knew Horn was a registered sex offender and hired him anyway. Within 10 days of hiring Horn, Justin was dead. 

Justin’s mom didn’t stop there though. According to the Justice for Justin Bloxom Facebook page, now in Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma, “Justin’s Law will prohibit a person registered as a sex offender who committed a sexually violent offense on a child under the age of 13 from employment in certain fields such as a taxicab or limousine driver.” 

Earlier I briefly mentioned Brian Horn’s criminal record and that he had been arrested 14 times from 1994 until 2010. Here’s a breakdown of his arrests:

1994 - unauthorized use of an access card + forgery 

He was given a 3 year suspended sentence and placed on parole until 1997

1995 - resisting arrest, dismissed

1995 - pled no-contest to charges of indecent behavior with a juvenile; he was found in a vehicle with a girl that was 13; and got 3 years in prison (Caddo)

1997 - contributing to the delinquency of juveniles, dismissed

1997 - simple burglary, no disposition

1998 - rape of a juvenile (14 years old) 

1998 - escape, sentenced to 4 years

1998 - possession of marijuana with intent to distribute + illegal possession of stolen things 

2002 - indecent behavior with juvenile 

2003 - pled guilty to sexual assault charges in 1998 and was released from prison in 2007 (Missouri) 

In September of 2018, the Louisiana Supreme Court overturned Horn’s conviction, stating his lawyers infringed on his Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel. This part gets a little messy but I’ll try to explain it the best I can. Horn didn’t want to admit to killing Justin during trial, but his defense didn’t listen to him and said “I’m not asking you to let him walk the streets. I’m not asking you to find him not guilty.” And basically telling them the State has failed to prove there was intent, meaning he can’t be found guilty of first-degree murder, and I think manslaughter is a better fit. 

He cited a court case that happened in 2008, McCoy vs LA, where the same exact thing happened to Robert McCoy and his counsel. That one went all the way to the Supreme Court where they ruled they would reverse the ruling stating the mental state wasn’t proven in McCoy’s case. 

And ultimately the Court granted him a re-trial. 

In June of 2019, prosecutors filed another indictment against Horn but with a slight change to the wording. An article by KTBS3 writes that it still includes the charge of first degree murder but this time will be while attempting to carry out a second-degree kidnapping instead of aggravated kidnapping. 

As far as I could see, his new trial is set for this March, March 2021. 

Justin would be turning 24 years old this year. His loved ones keep his legacy alive by posting pictures in the Justice for Justin Bloxom Facebook page. They often ask people to just share Justin’s story with anyone and everyone because it might just save a child’s life.