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True-crime TV show feeds curiosity over Monica

Susan Monica breaks down in court after seeing a photo of her pigs during her double murder trial in Jackson County Circuit Court. Mail Tribune / file photo

WIMER – A recent television show about convicted multiple murderer Susan Monica created a stir on social media, with community members recounting past exchanges with Monica and curiosity about the property where she fed her victims to her pigs.

Monica, 72, is serving consecutive 25-year terms for murder and dismemberment of two men in 2012 and 2013.

She was arrested in January 2014 for using a stolen Oregon Trail Card that belonged to missing handyman Robert Harry Haney The investigation led police to grisly details about the murder of Haney and 59-year-old Stephen Frank Delicino, both of whom worked on Monica’s 20-acre farm.

Since the trial, which played out like a reality TV show in Jackson County Circuit Court, the property has been targeted by vandals and thieves, and has been a source of curiosity, according to community members and the new property owner.

The TV show, “Snapped,” a true-crime series on Oxygen Network, outlined details of Monica’s life and broadcast firsthand accounts from neighbors.

A Vietnam War veteran, Monica was born Stephan Buchanan in 1948 and was honorably discharged, working as a welder and engineer for decades before moving to Wimer in 1991.

Monica lived largely off the grid while building a home along West Evans Creek Road, her property languishing unimproved since her conviction in 2015. From prison, she deeded the land to neighbor Robert Dawson for $10 in 2015, who, prior to his death last year, sold it to his son, Daron Dawson, for $11 in December 2019.

Daron Dawson declined to discuss any plans for the property. Asked his thoughts about the TV episode, Dawson said it "seemed pretty straight forward.” In an email to the Mail Tribune, Dawson said he “never spoke with Susan Monica about the investigation or what happened or to her during the trial.”

“My interactions with S.M. I would describe as cordial, light conversation mostly about animals. She is unique, but I would describe lots of people that way. I was surprised to hear what she had done,” he said.

Dawson said news of the murders and the subsequent trial made the property a target, with theft of building materials, and six years worth of weather damage had taken a toll.

“Most of the property has been vandalized and pilfered. Thieves have stolen everything of value. There seems to be a lot of curious people who come by. Plenty of them appear on trail cameras,” he said.

“It started immediately (after the trial) and continues, however, there isn’t anything left.”

Dawson declined to discuss personal details about Monica or whether he had communications with her. Wimer resident Shannon Prince, who never visited Monica’s property, said she met the former resident at various yard sales, and she said Monica was “obsessed" with buying cookbooks despite living in a ramshackle barn with no kitchen.

“Probably the biggest surprise is we all thought she was a woman. Which she’s not. And that they only found the two bodies,” Prince said.

Former Wimer resident Toby Hudson said he was invited to Monica’s property to bid on a repair job for a dump truck.

“I had an automotive shop called T&T automotive back in 2003. I had been over at the local NAPA getting some parts, and she asked if I’d mind getting her old dump truck running. My technician that I had working with me took a look and saw what was going on with the vehicle and knew it was out of her league as far as cost,” Hudson said.

“The whole place and the way it was kept, and her kind of ‘off’ type personality was pretty creepy. She offered me her skid-steer in trade to fix the dump truck. I told her trades didn’t pay the bills.”

Hudson recalled concern for the living conditions of Monica’s pigs.

“I’ve raised pigs, and I used to cuddle with my pigs when I took them to fair a couple years in a row when I was 13 and 14. If you raise an animal that is that hungry and that big, and does not like people, especially a pig, they’re going to kill you,” he said.

"Her animals were totally corralled and didn’t seem like they were allowed on the property to feed and graze or be exercised. They were lumpy and saggy.”

Former Evans Valley Fire District Chief Bill Fuller recalled responding to Monica’s property for questionable burning practices and for attempting to injure a neighbor. Fuller, who was interviewed for the show, said Monica was pulled over for hauling steel supplies “with her tiny import,” refusing to stop for police.

“She didn’t get along with the neighbor at all, so there were always disputes. Susan had a backhoe and was finally gonna put electricity to her house and had an easement down that long driveway. The neighbor lady said, ‘No, you’re not.’ She got in the bucket, and Susan turns around and backs up and lady scrapes her knee, so she calls police and fire and EMS,” Fuller recalled.

Fuller said he’d been to Monica’s property several times during disputes with neighbors, but recalled Monica being a skilled welder who once crafted railings for the fire department. Fuller recalled Haney as always happy, and he said Delicino had volunteered at the fire station. Amidst renewed interest in Monica’s case, Fuller said he wished peace for all involved.

“When I saw pictures last night, that’s how I remembered (Haney) at the Wimer Market, always smiling. Stephen worked for the fire department doing community service,” he added.

Fuller said a spoof called “The Pig Lady” had been partially filmed by another production company inside the bar he recently sold, but he said he hoped the attention would die down and Wimer could go back to being known for something other than the murders on West Evans Creek Road.

“It’s weird the things you end up being known for … that you don’t want to be known for,” he said.

To watch “Snapped” online, see www.oxygen.com/snapped.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.