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Solved after 21 years: The case of Amanda Slaughter

Updated: Dec 17, 2021

I've covered plenty of cases here that went cold for years, sometimes decades before being solved. These cases end in all sorts of different outcomes. Unfortunately, today's case didn't end the way anyone involved probably wanted. Let's talk about Amanda Slaughter.

Amanda Gail Slaughter was born on August 13, 1976 to Brenda and Keith Slaughter. She had a brother, Michael Keith Jr., but I don't know if he was older or younger.

I went back and forth on what to call Amanda throughout this video. She's called Amanda on places like the Charley Project, which tends to list missing people by their full names. But her loved ones seemed to know her as Mandy, so that's what I’ve decided to call her here.

In her early teens, Mandy lived with her family in Orangefield, Texas, about 100 miles east of Houston. From what I've read, she seemed to be boy crazy, always getting crushes on new guys and talking to them on the phone for hours at a time. In one incident, her mom cut the phone cord and Mandy spliced it back together -- which is actually pretty impressive. I don’t know if she did it with tape or something more permanent.

In either 1990 or 1991, Mandy. who would have been 13 or 14 at the time, met 24-year-old John Fouts through a mutual friend, Bobby Nichols. Despite the age difference, Mandy and John soon began a relationship. I don't know that her family knew about this, and I can't imagine they'd be happy about it if they did.

On April 28, 1991, John and Bobby wanted to leave town, and John insisted they bring 14-year-old Mandy along with them. They picked her up and she never returned home.

The three of them lived in San Marcos, Texas for a month, then moved to Forth Worth. During this period, Mandy's journals revealed mixed feelings about the situation. Sometimes she wanted to leave and go back home, sometimes she wanted to stay. She said she missed her parents, but was afraid she'd be sent to a juvenile center if she tried to go back. She and John fought quite a bit during this time; Bobby got tired of it and left on June 13.

That same month, Mandy met John’s sister, Ruth. She introduced herself as Amanda Wells, said she was 17 and claimed her parents had died in a car crash. At some point, she took John's last name and referred to him as her husband, though it's not clear if thy were ever legally married.

On May 17, 1992, Mandy gave birth to the couple's daughter, Meredith Lee (who I've also seen called Meri). By this time, they were living in Springfield, Missouri and John was working as a plumber. His boss, Gloria Pittsenbarger, said he was a gentleman and customers liked him. But she often felt herself caught in the middle of John and Mandy’s many fights.

On the morning of August 19, 1992, Gloria couldn't get in touch with John -- and he had to work that morning. She went to the couple's trailer to see what was going on. Mandy answered the door, apparently having turned off John's alarm. She told Gloria, very rudely, to leave.

It was the last time anyone would see Mandy alive.

Later that day, John told Gloria that Mandy had left him and was on her way to Minnesota. The next day, Gloria returned to the trailer and smelled something strange. Having worked in the medical field before, she recognized the smell immediately and called the police.

Mandy's body was found the next day, in a 55 gallon drum under her trailer. She was 17, though everyone who knew her in Springfield thought she was 21. By this time, John's apprentice had also contacted police and told them John asked him to hide a body.

John Fouts was charged with second degree murder and went on trial in the spring of 1994. During the trial, the volatile nature of the couple's relationship came out, with accounts of reciprocal physical and verbal abuse. John tried to claim self defense in Mandy’s death, but the medical examiner gave evidence to the contrary. The medical examiner also said something during the trial that I found interesting enough to share:

"I'm not saying that Mandy Fouts was a saint. She obviously was not. We've heard the stories. But nowhere in the jury instructions do you find that you can kill your wife because she's a bitch."

John was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. His sentence was later overturned on the basis that the jury should have been able to also consider voluntary manslaughter. But in 1997, he pled guilty to second degree murder and was once again sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was released in 2005, remarried and, as of 2012, was living in Idaho.

Merideth, his daughter with Amanda, was raised by his mother, her grandmother. As a child, she believed her grandmother was actually her mother, but her "sister" -- actually her aunt -- told her the truth when she was 16.

The following year — 2009 — John’s mother died. While going through her grandmother's things, Merideth found a safe with a diary inside. The diary belonged to one Amanda Slaughter and gave the names of her parents and brother.

Merideth was confused. She knew her mother's name was Amanda, but knew nothing about an Amanda Slaughter. She and a co-worker searched the name and found that Amanda was a missing person. Her parents had been looking for her since she left home in 1991, having no idea where she was or what had happened. They’d never even changed their home phone number for all those years, just in case she called.

Merideth took the diaries to the police. A DNA test was ordered that compared Merideth's DNA to Brenda Slaughter's. They were a match, meaning Mandy Fouts, who had been killed in 1992, was actually the missing Amanda Slaughter. In 2012, over twenty years after she was reported missing, Mandy's loved ones finally find out what happened to her.

So that's all I the information I could find on the case of Amanda Slaughter, or Mandy Fouts. There obviously hasn't been much coverage, but there is one really good write up in the Beaumont Enterprise, which you can read here for more information.

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