Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Willa Glendora BLANC






A.K.A.: "Corvette Girl"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping a millionaire, burning his body and raiding his bank accounts
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: February 22, 2009
Date of arrest: March 14, 2009
Date of birth: June 19, 1961
Victim profile: Walter Sartory, 73
Method of murder: ????
Location: Union, Boone County, Kentucky, USA
Status: Pleaded guilty. Sentenced to life without parole on January 4, 2012

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Former cleaning lady sentenced to life

By Brenna R. Kelly -

Jan. 4, 2012

BURLINGTON — A former cleaning lady who kidnapped a Hebron millionaire, duct taped him to a chair in her basement and burned his body when he died, stood silent Wednesday as a judge sentenced her to life in prison.

Willa Blanc, 50, who pleaded guilty last month to avoid the chance of being sentenced to death if convicted, will not be eligible for parole.

Under state law, kidnapping someone who is not released alive carries the same penalty as capital murder. That allows prosecutors to seek the death penalty or life in prison even if they can’t prove the victim was murdered.

Blanc expressed no remorse in court for the death of 73-year-old Walter Sartory. Commonwealth’s attorney Linda Tally Smith said she has not shown any remorse to date.

“There’s a difference between feeling bad for what happened and feeling bad for the fact that you got caught,” she said. “She’s a very proud person, and I think in her own mind she’s found justification.”

Sartory’s burned body was found in March 2009 in Indiana, about two weeks after friends from an Internet bulletin board reported him missing.

Another friend from the bulletin board drove eight hours to see Blanc sent to prison.

“He deserved some representation,” said Elizabeth Kearley, of Charlotte, N.C., who met Sartory online 16 years ago. Sartory, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and had a severe social phobia, had no immediate family.

“He had a heart of gold. He had no reason to be killed like that,” Kearley said.

Five of Blanc’s family members attended the hearing. Her niece, Dorthea Smith, of Westwood, stood while Boone Circuit Judge Tony Frohlich imposed the sentence.

“She’s a very nice person, loving,” said Smith. “Right or wrong, she took responsibility for her actions and she did it with pride and I’m proud of her.”

Blanc’s attorneys, public defenders Joanne Lynch and James Gibson, did not want to comment.

After Sartory’s death, Blanc used forged documents to raid his bank accounts, getting more than $200,000.

Blanc’s son, Louis Wilkinson, 30, is also charged in the case and is scheduled to stand trial later this month.

“Unfortunately, Walter Sartory died at the hands of two people because they were greedy,” Tally Smith said. “It was unadulterated greed.”

Sartory, a retired scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, worked hard, saved his money and invested it wisely. He had at least $2 million when he died.

“It’s extremely sad, and it demonstrates that some people’s greed can cause them to do things that none of us could ever imagine,” Tally Smith said.

Sartory met Blanc in 2008 when she cleaned his neighbor’s home. In the weeks before his disappearance, Sartory told friends that he thought Blanc was trying to scam him and even changed his locks fearing that she had picked up his key.

Investigators believe that Sartory was taken to the basement of Blanc’s Union home in mid-February and died about a week later. That’s when, investigators say, Blanc and Wilkinson, drove the body to Indiana in a 50-gallon plastic trash can and told friends they needed to burn a dead dog.

Sartory’s friends in Virginia, who he had met on the bulletin board, reported him missing on Feb. 26, launching an investigation that involved more than 25 sheriff’s deputies, but by that time, he was already dead.

Kearley said the group formed on the Prodigy bulletin board had become Sartory’s family.

She started the paranoid schizophrenia board because her father suffered from the mental illness.

“Walt was the first person who connected with me,” she said.

Kearley never met Sartory in person, and only talked to him once on the phone, but he felt like family.

“His family was on his computer and they had no idea that he was as connected as he was. We were his family,” she said. “One of the reasons why he was killed is they thought he was so isolated, that no one would care or miss him, but he was missed and his is missed.”

Since he moved to Hebron about a year before his death, Sartory had been in therapy and had been interacting with people more.

“He had spent his life avoiding social situations because of the fact he was distrustful of other human beings,” Smith said. “The first time that he basically opened himself up to someone who was a stranger to him, it resulted in his death.”

As part of her plea, Blanc agreed to sit down with Tally Smith and two detectives to clear up remaining questions in the case. She had hoped it would help prosecutors decide how to proceed against Wilkinson.

But Tally Smith said the hours-long interview was “not productive” while still meeting the terms of the agreement.

“It’s clear that she’s found a way to try to describe the events in a way that paints her in a better light,” she said. “But unfortunately the facts speak for themselves.”


Cleaning lady pleads guilty to exploiting reclusive millionaire

December 1, 2011

A former cleaning lady will serve life in prison for kidnapping a reclusive 73-year-old Hebron millionaire, burning his body and raiding his bank accounts.

When Willa Blanc was arrested in March 2009 after Walter Sartory’s body was found in an Indiana field, she favored flashy designer clothes and drove a red Corvette.

But as she pleaded guilty Thursday to capital kidnapping in Boone Circuit Court the only remnant of that life were the Versace eyeglasses she wore with her gray-and-black striped jail uniform.

Blanc, 50, who was facing the death penalty at a trial set to begin next month, agreed to the plea in exchange for life in prison without the possibility of parole.

While pleading guilty to nine counts before Judge Tony Frohlich, Blanc admitted that she kidnapped the retired scientist, abused his corpse, exploited him, forged documents and stole his money.

Investigators believe that Blanc wormed her way into Sartory’s life after she met him in 2008 while cleaning his neighbor’s home.

In the weeks before his disappearance in February 2009, Sartory told friends that he was suspicious of Blanc, who would stop by his house and stay for hours – something Sartory, who was terrified of interacting with people he did not like, friends said after his death.

Fearing the Blanc had picked up his key, Sartory had his locks changed.

After not hearing hear from Sartory for several days, a friend in Virginia called the Boone County Sheriff’s Office on Feb. 26.

Soon more than 25 deputies were working on the case in hopes of finding Sartory alive. They later learned that Sartory was already dead.

Investigators believe that Sartory, who had no immediate family, was taken to Blanc’s basement on Feb. 17 and that he died on for before Feb. 22.

That’s when, investigators say, Blanc and her son Louis Wilkinson drove Sartory’s body to Indiana in 50-gallon plastic trash can where they told friends they needed to burn a dead dog.

Authorities believe Blanc began taking Sartory’s money on Feb. 18 when she had her name added to his bank account.

Sartory, a scientist who had retired from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, was worth millions of dollars, according to court records.

Blanc transferred $210,000 from his Fifth Third account and had access to a Fidelity account with $1.3 million, investigators said.

Blanc admitted Thursday to forging a power of attorney and a trust agreement that would give her 60 percent of his assets in the event of his death.

Around the time of Sartory’s disappearance Blanc told a Chevrolet dealer that she would soon have $7 million.

At the time, Blanc’s $290,000 home was being foreclosed. Deputies also learned that she frequented Indiana casinos.

When deputies searched Blanc’s home after her arrest, they noticed books on the shelf, with subjects “including legal topics, medical topics and a book the title of which was along the lines of ’How to Choose Your Prey.’”

In return for Blanc’s guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop the murder charge against her.


Trial date set in murdered millionaire case

By Brenna R. Kelly -

June 22, 2011

BURLINGTON - The mother and son accused of kidnapping and killing a Hebron millionaire are scheduled to stand trial in January 2102, nearly three years after the man's death.

On Wednesday, Boone Circuit Judge Tony Frohlich set the trial for Jan. 26, 2012.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Willa Blanc, 48 and her son, Louis Wilkinson, 28, who are accused of kidnapping Walter Sartory in mid-February 2009, drugging him and holding him in their basement duct-taped to a chair. Sartory died about after about a week, said investigators who found his body March 13 in an Indiana field.

The pair's trial had been scheduled twice before but was pushed back because prosecutors and defense attorneys were waiting on laboratory results. A pretrial hearing in the case was also scheduled for Sept. 7.

The trial is expected to last about five weeks, said Boone Commonwealth's Attorney Linda Tally Smith.

Blanc and Wilkinson are charged with murder, kidnapping, abuse of a corpse and exploitation of an adult. Blanc is being held on $10 million bond and Wilkinson is being held on $5 million bond.

Sartory was a retired scientist who suffered paranoid schizophrenia and a severe social phobia. He had more than $2 million in investments at the time of his death. In addition to murder, Blanc and Wilkinson are also charged with raiding his accounts after his death.

According to a lawsuit hoping to recover the money filed in federal court, Blanc used several forged documents to transfer at least $210,000 of Sartory's money into her name.

Sartory's estate filed the suit against Fifth Third Bank and Fidelity Investments in April alleging that the financial intuitions should have known the documents, including a power of attorney, were fake. The suit is in the process of being settled, according to federal court records.

The suit also blames Fifth Third for giving Blanc access to Sartory's safe deposit box, from which she removed 13 gold coins worth $950 each.


Schizophrenic genius whose worst fears came true

New Zealand Herald

January 10, 2010

As with many paranoid schizophrenics, Walter Sartory's life was governed by fear. Convinced that the CIA was spying on him, the brilliant mathematician and scientist moved to a secluded home in Kentucky, where he filled the garage with powerful computers and withdrew from the world, devoting his time to stock market speculation.

Helped by a natural genius for statistics, Sartory swiftly managed to amass a US$14m ($19m) personal fortune. But the money didn't make him happy. Instead, voices in his head began to overshadow his life, telling him that the outside world was full of mysterious and hostile people who were secretly plotting to murder him.

In the event, his worst fears were justified. At some point last February, the researcher, who had spent 30 years working at Oak Ridge in Tennessee, one of the secretly built US government laboratories where the atomic bomb was developed, was abducted and gruesomely murdered. Police say hundreds of thousands of dollars were then emptied from his bank accounts. His body was chopped into pieces, driven across state lines, and burned. The ashes were spread in woodland. A charred pair of steel-rimmed spectacles was all that was recovered.

The forthcoming trial of Sartory's accused killers is already the subject of morbid public interest. But comparisons to the troubled genius at the centre of the Hollywood film A Beautiful Mind have made Sartory's murder an object of national fascination.

Aged 73, the scientist fitted the tragic victim role perfectly, down to his aptitude for chess, and his eccentric wardrobe and mannerisms. Meanwhile the mother-and-son pair accused of his murder n Willa Blanc and Louis Wilkinson n make textbook pantomime baddies. Blanc is the alleged author of the macabre murder plot and is being held in the local jail on $10m bail. She faces the death penalty if found guilty.

On the basis of a partial confession by her son, detectives believe Sartory was held captive in a basement for a week, strapped to a chair with duct tape, drugged, and ordered to reveal passwords and sign documents that gave them access to his fortune. The accused have both pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of murder and kidnapping. On 20 January, Wilkinson will face a hearing to decide if he is fit to stand trial.

The story has appalled the American public. "We all struggle to have faith in mankind," Linda Tally Smith, the prosecuting attorney told the Los Angeles Times this week. "To think that a man who was already paranoid, who lived his whole life in fear of others, could fall prey to something so horrific is heartbreaking." An affidavit filed by police in the case detailed Mr Sartory's sad life story, painting a portrait of a widely respected scientist whose classified work involved designing nuclear reactors and creating centrifuges which are commonly used in medical research.

A gifted inventor, he also held at least 3 patents. He retired in 1992 and devoted his life to searching for extra-terrestrial life, and investing on Wall Street, creating complex algorithms, mostly in his head, that helped to transform his modest retirement savings into an impressive investment portfolio that grew to be valued at $14 million. Last January, according to the Los Angeles Times, Sartory had a shy date with a woman he met through an internet site for people with personality disorders. They held hands.

His private life, however, was overshadowed by mental illness. He believed the CIA had him under surveillance, using specially trained ants. A tiny circle of loyal friends who tolerated his occasional eccentricities would phone him almost every day.

Apparently it was these friends who first revealed that the scientist was missing. Last February, concerned that he had stopped returning calls, Ann Cartee is said to have contacted police, forwarding them a recent email he had allegedly sent her detailing his worries about a local woman who had begun "barging into" his home. By the time detectives had begun to piece together what had happened, it was too late.

That woman, it is claimed, was Willa Blanc. According to the police affidavit, she befriended the frail man, tempted him into her home, forced him into the cellar, and tied him up. It is the prosecution's case that Sartory, bound, gagged, and unable to gain access to the medication he took each day to prevent panic attacks, Sartory survived a few days. But eventually, he became disturbed, and suffocated. The motive for the crime, it seems, was straightforward greed.

Blanc apparently had a gambling habit and a taste for expensive jewellery. After allegedly gaining power of attorney over the elderly mathematician, she and her son, it is alleged, embezzled US$200,000, spending vast portions of it in casino boats on the Mississippi.

Though both suspects have pleaded not guilty to murder, kidnapping, and embezzlement, detectives in the case claim that a paper trail connecting Sartory's bank account, Blanc and beneficiaries including her attorney and her mortgage company leaves serious questions for them to answer.

According to the reports of officers who searched the buildings where he spent his last days, his living room had been converted into a monitoring station full of computers that analysed radio signals from outer space in search of alien life. The rest of the house was littered with "to do lists" detailing his daily tasks, from brushing teeth to taking medication.

Blanc's living room concealed darker secrets. The police affidavit said that in a collection of books about the law, the title of the most well-thumbed title "was along the lines of How to Choose Your Prey".


Death penalty sought in Sartory case

December 3, 2009

BURLINGTON - Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for the 48-year-old former cleaning woman accused of kidnapping, drugging and killing a 73-year-old reclusive millionaire.

Willa Blanc and her son, Louis Wilkinson, 28, face complicity to murder, kidnapping, theft and abusing a corpse charges in the death of Walter Sartory, whose burned body was found in a field outside Indianapolis in March.

Sartory, a retired mathematician who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and a severe social phobia, had numerous investments - many of which were transferred into Willa Blanc's name after his death, investigators said.

Commonwealth's Attorney Linda Tally Smith told a judge Thursday that she intends to seek the death penalty for Blanc, but has not decided whether to seek the same punishment for her son.

Blanc and Wilkinson, both of Union, appeared in Boone Circuit Court Thursday where Judge Tony Frohlich scheduled a competency hearing for Wilkinson on Jan. 7.

After the mother and son were arrested at a Sharonville motel March 14, Blanc told a public defender that Wilkinson is "of low mental functioning and would be unable to invoke his own right to counsel," according to court records. So, she asked the public defenders to represent her son.

However, investigators at a hearing earlier this year disputed that claim, saying Wilkinson was highly intelligent and well-spoken.

After his arrest, Wilkinson began telling detectives about what happened leading up to Sartory's death. Wilkinson told deputies that he arrived at the house he shared with his mother on Feb. 16 or 17 to find Sartory taped to a chair in the basement. He also told deputies this his mother was drugging Sartory and that he had to perform CPR on the elderly man three times. After about a week, Wilkinson said he carried Sartory to a van but was stopped by his mother.

He was not able to finish his story because a judge ordered that detectives stop questioning him until he could talk to the public defender his mother asked to represent him.

The mother and son are now represented by two different public defenders.

Blanc's attorney, Joanne Lynch, asked the judge Wednesday to reduce Blanc's bond from $10 million to $100,000 cash.

"We are asking to set what we believe is a more reasonable bond," Lynch said. "We're not even anticipating that our client could make that particular bond."

Lynch pointed out that Blanc's bond is more than 13 times higher than any other inmate in the Boone County jail.

Tally Smith asked the judge to not reduce the bond, saying that Blanc tried to elude authorities and is a flight risk.

"The gravity of the offenses clearly justify a bond in that amount," Tally Smith said. "This is a death-penalty-eligible offense and the Commonwealth plans to file notice of intent to seek the death penalty."

Frohlich had not issued a ruling on the bond by Wednesday evening.

Investigators say after Sartory died his body was stuffed in a trash can, driven to Indiana in a rented minivan and burned. During Thursday's hearing an attorney for the minivan's owner, BMC Rentals, asked that the van, which is being held for evidence, be released.

Tally Smith said that both the prosecution and defense are waiting for laboratory tests. After the results are returned, the defense will have to decide if they need the evidence to be independently evaluated.

But BMC attorney Jim Kidney told the judge that the van was cleaned and rented eight times after Willa Blanc used it.

"It was sanitized," Kidney said. "If there was anything there or any substance it has been compromised to the nth degree."

The van has been held for 274 days and in that time BMC has lost about $16,000 in rental fees it could have made on the van, Kidney said.


Burned, Dismembered Remains Found; 2 Arrested

Police: Woman, Son Took Money From, Killed Man

March 15, 2009

Detectives from northern Kentucky spent much of Saturday in central Indiana after remains they believe are that of a man missing since February were found in some woods.

Investigators converged on a remote part of the Morgan-Monroe State Forest in Paragon, in southwestern Morgan County, where the remains were discovered, apparently dismembered and burned, 6News Tanya Spencer reported.

Walter Sartory, 73, of Hebron, Ky., was reported missing on March 4. His purported caregiver, Willa Blanc, 47, and her son, Louis Wilkinson, 27, both of Union, Ky., were arrested at a motel in Hamilton County, Ohio, early Saturday morning in connection with the disappearance.

Blanc and Wilkinson both face charges of knowing exploitation of an adult, tampering with physical evidence, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse. Blanc was also charged with knowing abuse or neglect of an adult.

Boone County, Ky., authorities said they're "99 percent sure" the remains that were found are that of Sartory.

"(Sartory was) pretty much a recluse -- no immediate family and no friends to speak of here," said Boone County, Ky., sheriff's Deputy Tom Scheben.

Sartory's relatives in Virginia called police after they hadn't heard from him for a while.

Blanc was held on $4 million bond, and Wilkinson was being held on $1 million bond, both in Ohio.

Police said Blanc was in the process of transferring more than $1 million from Sartory's bank account to hers when both accounts were frozen on Wednesday.

"She got a little over $210,000 from him in a short period of time, purporting to be his health care advocate," Scheben said.

Investigators said Blanc has an acquaintance in Morgan County and recently rented a van and made a trip to Indiana under what they called suspicious circumstances.

"(Sartory) was kidnapped. He was held against his will and was dead before he was ever reported missing," Scheben said.

Police blocked off the area in which the remains were found and planned to return on Sunday to search for more evidence.

Investigators hoped to gather enough evidence to charge Blanc with murder.



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