Justice for Betty Belanger Brock and Shirley Barrington Weatherly
Two women, murdered by the same man, 5 years apart. Had Idaho County investigated Betty's death, Shirley may still be alive.
Two women, murdered by the same man, 5 years apart. Had Idaho County investigated Betty's death, Shirley may still be alive.
The families of Betty Sanders Belanger Brock and Shirley Barrington Weatherly are relieved to announce that Clayton Ray Strong has been captured. He was arrested on weapons charges in Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila, Mexico, and authorities there are cooperating with the U.S. Marshals to extradite him to Parker County, Texas.
Betty Sanders Brock, of Milton, Florida, was befriended online by Clayton Ray Strong in 2010 when her husband of 35-years was terminally ill with cancer. Betty had unknowingly opened the door to a predator. By December, 2016, she was dead under suspicious circumstances, 2,500 miles from home, leaving her large and loving family in grief and trauma. Three months later, in March, 2017,Clay remarried. On August 7, 2021, his new victim was found shot to death, and Clay may have fled the state. He was caught on security cameras disposing of a firearm at a department store in Eagle Pass, Texas. CrimeStoppers is offering up to $1,000 for information leading to his arrest: Parker County Crime Stoppers - 817-599-5555
Starting in 2010, while her husband, Jim Brock, was dying of cancer,Clayton Ray Strong began targeting Betty in a financial fraud romance scheme. After Jim's death, he rushed her into marriage and used abuse and isolation to control her. When her family intervened in the abuse by calling for wellness checks, he took her to a remote town in a coroner state, where she died under suspicious circumstances. Her family is convinced he murdered her.
A Close and Loving Family
Betty Sanders Brock was a loving mother to five sons and two daughters, and stepmother to the son of her husband of 35-years, Jim Brock. The family life revolved around Betty and Jim's home in East Milton, Florida. The home was the frequent site of cookouts, holiday gatherings, grandkids' sleepovers, and long talks about life and love over coffee and snacks with Betty. Family members who didn't live in town spoke with Betty regularly on the phone, sometimes daily. They considered Betty a best friend as much as a mother. No family is perfect, and Betty's was no exception. There were challenges over the years, as there are in any family. But Betty's love and devotion for her family, and theirs for her, was unwavering. She considered her adult children her best friends and her grandchildren her greatest delight.
If Betty had an achilles heel, it was her generosity of spirit. She was forever rescuing stray dogs, cats, opossums, hawks, and people, too. She could not bear to see anyone or anything suffer. Sometimes that cost her some peace of mind. But she had no idea it could also cost her the safety she had come to take for granted in her small, rural town.
Betty Was Targeted Online: 2010
In 2010, Betty's husband, Jim, was diagnosed with cancer. Unfamiliar with the risks of the Internet, Betty shared her impending widowhood openly online. Clayton Ray Strong befriended her in an online interest group, offered sympathy, and gradually inserted himself into her life. He claimed to be alone, unhappy, and jobless in Fort Meyers, Florida, and eager to move to her region of Florida for work. He offered to help out around the couple's property in exchange for short term lodging while he checked out job opportunities. Betty and her husband declined, but he showed up in their yard, anyway, saying he'd sleep in his beat up station wagon. Out of the goodness of their hearts, they allowed him to sleep on a cot in an outbuilding on their property. He never looked for work. Instead, he attached himself to Betty and began driving wedges between her and everyone she knew.
Strong's untimely presence and suspicious behavior was alarming to Betty's family and friends. He worked hard to get close to Betty, to get between her and her dying husband, and to isolate and alienate Betty from her friends and family. He asked questions about her finances, insistently tried to prevent her from being alone with her family members, and inserted himself into the most private family circumstances. When Betty's family sought information about him, he reacted in secretive, paranoid, and aggressive ways, but rarely in front of her.
Betty's Family Intervened and It Backfired.
Had it not been for Strong's suspicious behavior and attempts to isolate and control her, her family would have been happy to see her find love and companionship late in life. But the red flags were too numerous to ignore.
Deeply concerned, Betty's family conducted a background check on Clayton Strong, and found evidence that he was lying to Betty about his life. When Betty was given the evidence, she became wary of Clayton Strong, and asked him to leave. But he skillfully manipulated her compassionate, helping nature, and she allowed him to stay. She said he confided things in her that made her understand how much he needed her help. He persuaded her to let him move into the couple's home so he could better help take care of her dying husband, Jim.
Several of her family members persisted in warning Betty. They soon became Clay's priority in his alienation campaign. He skillfully drove wedges between them and Betty, positioned himself as a victim of their intolerance, and accused them of trying to control her life, and worse. He used a common tactic of romance scammers: plant seeds of suspicion that your family doesn't really love you but only wants your money or your help. While Clay had access to the house, a coin collection went missing, and Clay accused a relative. Betty gradually became guarded with her family, and protective of Clay.
Betty's Husband Died, and She Married Clay Strong: 2011
On August 28, 2010, Betty's husband, Jim, died in hospice. Clay immediately began pressuring Betty into marriage.
He love-bombed her, doting on her every need, rarely letting her out of his sight, positioned himself as the only person who really loved her, and continued contriving schemes and stories to instill paranoia in her about her family and friends. He jealously guarded her time, reacting with extreme anxiety and distress, and demanding to be present when family members tried to take her aside to work on funeral preparations, to check on her well-being, or to have one of their normal private talks.
Betty's family begged her to slow down, give herself time to grieve and to adjust to the changes in her life, and spend some time alone before making any big decisions.
Betty told her adult children:
- "He wants to get married, but I want time on my own."
- "I'd never marry someone who doesn't accept my children."
- "I'll never let someone push my family out of my life."
- "He won't take no for an answer."
Clay succeeded in rushing Betty into marriage just 5 months after her husband's death. He quickly took control of her life, her assets, her daily routines, her health, and her relationships. He escalated his campaign to alienate and isolate her from family and friends, and monitored and restricted her communications. Her family and friends were shocked and afraid for her safety. But she insisted Clay loved her, conceded he had emotional problems, and believed he would never harm her.
Her large and loving family saw the pattern of a mentally unstable predator, manipulating a kind and caring widow, and tried every possible means of alerting her to the danger and getting her to at least slow down. Unfortunately, Betty was a big-hearted, trusting, small town woman who didn't see the danger until it was too late.
The Honeymoon Phase: 2011-2013
After their marriage, Clay and Betty went traveling, posting their adventures on Facebook, and to the outside world, they appeared to be a happy couple. There were pictures of camping, gem hunting, bicycling, and other outdoor adventures. Even some in the family started to hope that they had been wrong, or Clay had changed, and Betty could be happy, even if it meant being apart from the family.
But, soon after, everything shifted. The couple returned to their home in Milton, Florida. There, Betty was alternately romanced and abused. Her family was alarmed to find out that he was locking her inside her own home and controlling the keys, depriving her of clothing so she couldn't run away, keeping a guard dog on a chain inside the front door, controlling and limiting her access to phones and Internet, and telling her that her family didn't love her and would abandon her in her old age.
Betty's Family Called for Wellness Checks and Police Intervention: 2013-2015
When the couple were back in town, of course her family wanted to visit. Visits were restricted, monitored, and kept short by Clay. One by one, Clay demanded that this son or daughter, that friend, this grandchild or nephew, not be allowed on the property. He was armed at all times. During the rare occasions where a relative was allowed to visit, Clay monitored the visit, pacing, and cutting it short. In some cases, he threatened to shoot family members if they returned.
Soon, Clay was keeping Betty indoors at all time, curtains drawn, locks on the outside of the interior rooms, not allowing Betty to answer the phone, restricting and monitoring her phone calls, and refusing to answer the door. When anyone could manage to see her, her condition was alarming: she had untreated injuries, was severely withdrawn and intimidated, and seemed drugged or poisoned.
The condition of the home was equally alarming: living room furniture had been removed and a guard dog chained up in its place, multiple padlocks added inside the main doors and on the outside of the inner rooms, to which only Clay had the keys. A gate was added to the yard, which was kept locked, and again, only Clay had the keys. Betty had to be asked to be allowed outside or into the bathroom.
Betty's family tried every persuasive and legal avenue to intervene.
They called for wellness checks, reported the abuse to law enforcement, and got social services involved. In keeping with a common pattern of abused women, Betty protected her husband. In line with her religious belief, she defended his right to be the head of the household and to control everything about their life together. She would acknowledge the abuse to certain of her adult children in the rare private conversations they could manage to get past Clay. But she would mostly deny it to other family members, police, and social services.
During the one visit where police separated her from Clay, the police report shows that, when asked if she needed their help, she said "No," but nodded "Yes." They asked whether Clay was listening on a walkie-talkie that was next to her. He was. Police did nothing to intervene.
The family was struggling unsuccessfully against a nightmare, in which the person they loved most in the world was being harmed, brainwashed, and terrorized in her own home -- and they were powerless to stop it. At least by any legal means. Certainly, some family members considered extralegal interventions. But this would have put their spouses and children at risk.
After several wellness checks, Strong threatened to "disappear" Betty if anyone intervened any further, and he said, "You will never see her again."
Betty Disappeared: 2015
In the summer of 2015, Clayton Strong made good on his promise to "disappear" Betty, taking her to a remote town in Idaho, in an Airstream trailer, concealing her whereabouts, and cutting off all contact between Betty and her family. The family searched for her with the help of a missing person's report, private investigators, and every means they could find. They learned that Strong had addressed all public records to a post office box, and later closed the box. Unknown to the family, he had taken her to a small, remote RV Park in Idaho, where witnesses say he kept her locked inside their Airstream trailer with a padlock on the outer door. The few people who ever saw Betty said she seemed "completely out of it" and under Clay's strict control.
Betty Died Under Suspicious Circumstances: 2016
On December 14, 2016, Clayton Strong delivered Betty's dead body in their SUV to the Syringa Hospital parking lot.
Clay told the staff she had died in their Airstream trailer at Harpster RV Park. He had failed to call police or EMS, or to inform any of his friends at the RV Park that she had died, and he had waited many hours before taking any action. He claimed the delay was because he had to dig his truck out of the snow.
But witnesses at Harpster RV Park have said the roads were clear, and no one had to dig out their vehicles. Given the time he left the RV Park, and the location of the Airstream, witnesses say they would have seen him moving her body had he done it when he said he did. At that time of morning, there is a steady stream of residents walking to the laundry, showers, and restaurant, which were located no more than 100-feet from the site where the Airstream was parked. There is no chance the events transpired the way Clay reported them.
Idaho County Officials Did Not Investigate
Syringa hospital does not intake deceased people, so their staff contacted the Idaho County Sheriffs Dept. When a deputy and the coroner arrived, Clay claimed Betty had died of Parkinson's Disease. The fact is, Betty did not have Parkinson's Disease, and her medical records verify that fact.
The Sheriffs deputy took Clay at his word, did not investigate, did not visit the scene of her death, did not check police records from their hometown, did not ask for verification that she was ill, and did not attempt to contact any other next of kin. Instead, the deputy immediately released her body to the coroner.
The Coroner approved Clay's request for cremation without checking his story about her cause of death, without conducting an autopsy, and without making any attempt to contact other next of kin. Clay told the coroner that Betty had no other family besides him, that she had been sick with Parkinson's for years, and that there were no medical records, because she didn't believe in doctors. These were all lies. The coroner designated the cause of death "Natural Causes," and released Betty's body to the crematorium.
What Law Enforcement Would Have Known Had They Inquired
- Betty's medical records from her hometown show no diagnosis or symptoms of Parkinson's Disease or any other disease, and was in remarkably good health when she was last seen.
- A few calls to the very few medical facilities in the small town would have shown that Betty had not been diagnosed there or seen for Parkinson's Disease or any other ailment.
- Had the deputy checked Sheriffs Department records from Betty's hometown, they would have seen multiple complaints against Clayton Strong for domestic abuse and threats of violence against family and social workers.
- A Google search on her name and address from her drivers license would have produced contact information for Betty's sister, her six adult children, and a host of other relatives in her very large family.
- Had investigators spoken with the owners or other residents of the RV Park, they would have learned that Clay did not share Betty's death with anyone, nor ask for help moving her body, nor contact police or EMS. This was suspicious to them, because Clay was socially active and had friends there.
- They also would have learned that Clay had been locking Betty inside their Airstream RV, that she seemed drugged, that Clay was exhibiting signs of paranoia, and that he was heavily armed, and believed he was in jeopardy.
Obvious Questions Law Enforcement Should Have Probed, and Didn't:
- Why was Betty not hospitalized or in a doctor's care if she was sick enough with Parkinson's to die?
- Why wait many hours before notifying authorities of her death? What took place in those hours?
- Why relocate the body, which is illegal, rather than having the police and coroner come to the scene?
- Why move the body into your truck, on your own, in the dark, when you had friends nearby who could help -- and then wait until daylight to travel to town?
- Why was Betty's large, loving family not notified of her death, when Clay had all of their contact information, and knew they were desperately concerned about her and trying to check on her well-being?
- Why insist on an immediate cremation?
- Why lie to the coroner: that she had no family, and that she died of a disease she didn't have?
The lying, itself, which Idaho County could easily have discovered, should have raised alarms. It would also have given them cause to hold Clay, because in Idaho it is a general misdemeanor to lie to a police officer, and penalties include up to six months in the county jail.
How Betty's Family Found Out About Her Confinement and Death
In January, 2017, the month after her death, Clayton Strong reappeared at Betty's property in Milton, Florida, and began loading up trucks with her belongings. Neighbors contacted her family. Betty's son, Dan, immediately drove to the property, hoping to see his mother.
Clayton Strong told Dan that Betty had died the previous month in Idaho. When Dan asked how she had died and why Strong hadn't notified the family, Strong claimed Betty's kids didn't care about her, and demanded he get off his property. Dan's niece was in his truck, hoping to see her grandmother, and her safety was Dan's foremost concern. So Dan reluctantly left, and notified the family.
A Demand for Justice: 2017
Betty's family began campaigning for an investigation into her death immediately. They were told by Idaho County Sheriffs Dept that, with the evidence destroyed by the cremation, and the removal of the Airstream from Harpster, and Clay now out of state, they would be unable to secure any search warrants, or subpoenas, or otherwise get cooperation from a judge to investigate our mother's death. Unfortunately, they said, if he murdered our mother, as we believe he did, he got away with it.
Betty's family begged them to at least record an official complaint and build an official file with the evidence the family had gathered, test the biological samples they had access to, interview the witnesses they had found who could testify to Clay's abuse of Betty, and question Clay about the verifiable lies he had told the deputy and coroner when they processed Betty's death. They did none of these things.
In Spite of Extended Appeals from the Family, and New Information Provided, There Was No Police Investigation.
In spite of the suspicious circumstances of her death, no law enforcement agency investigated the death of Betty Sanders Strong. Idaho County Sheriff, Doug Giddings, stated that he would open a homicide investigation in January, 2016. It never happened. Clay was never even questioned. Witnesses were never interviewed. A formal complaint was never taken, in spite of multiple, detailed reports from the family, supplying circumstantial evidence and witness testimony that ought to have at least opened an investigation.
We Knew There Would Be Another Victim
We reasoned with Idaho County that, even if Clay would never be held accountable for Betty Strong's death, documenting our complaint would at least get his abuses on record, and having that information available to other law enforcement agencies, or searchable online by families, could prevent someone else from being harmed or hold him accountable in the event someone else was harmed. Out of options to get a law enforcement investigation into Betty's death, the family's concerns shifted. Given the pattern we witnessed, we expected there would be a new victim. We needed to get the word out on our own. That was the genesis of this web page and our attempts at media coverage.
Clayton Strong Remarried Three Months Later: 2017
Just three months after Betty's suspicious death, Clayton Strong remarried in another state. Betty's family felt they had to warn her and her family. Like Betty's family, her adult children urged their mother to take the warning seriously. Betty's family supplied her family with records and contacts of law enforcement in Santa Rosa County and Idaho County. They presented this website to her. Still, she was not convinced, and followed the same pattern that Betty and many other abused women have: she stood by her man.
A Journey for Justice: 2019
Hearing more reports of abuse by Clay against his new victim, and seeing that no investigation was going to be undertaken by any law enforcement agencies, Betty's family decided to undertake an investigation of their own. Supported by family, The goal was to gather enough to persuade law enforcement to open an investigation into Betty's death. The new information still did not produce hard enough evidence to convince Idaho County to open an investigation. But the circumstantial and witness statements could supply law enforcement with leads, locations, and witnesses to reveal a pattern that would show premeditation, in the event something were to happen to Clay's new wife. Idaho County Sheriffs Department Investigator, Brian Hewson, told a member of Betty's family, who met with him in person in the summer of 2019, "If something happens to Shirley, we will get involved, and we will open an investigation into your mother's death." As of Aug 16, 2021, he has not responded to the family's email about reopening the case.
The results of this work have been documented for law enforcement.
The pattern followed by Clayton Strong in the case of Betty Brock Strong has elements of the classic romance-for-profit scam, and shows premeditation to harm her.
Urge them to officially record the 2017 complaint of Betty Strong's family against Clay Strong. Ask them to open an investigation into her Dec 14, 2016 death in Harpster, Idaho, in light of new events. Ask them to document the circumstantial evidence provided by the family, in case it can be instrumental in preventing Strong from evading justice in this new case. Establishing a pattern may play a useful role in the prosecution of Clayton Strong for the August, 2021 murder.
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