Some Notes about the True Case of Jim and Cathy Stroup
by Traciy Curry-Reyes
James Stroup aka Jim Stroup is up in age now, but he remembers the case very well. I asked him about the movie and how close he felt the movie was in portraying the truth, and he felt the movie was no where near the actual case. The movie was very Hollywood, he thought, and it depicted in no way the real city of Twentynine Palms. First, Twentynine Palms is a gritty neighborhood. Lots of drugs, lot of meth houses, and unsavory people according to Stroup. It was then and it is now, not a good place to live. The place where the murder occurred was actually a very tiny apartment with only one big great room with no working phone; not the lavish home we see in the movie. Mr. Stroup explained that the apartment there in Twentynine Palms was actually a weekend place that they used. They actually lived in a trailer a little further out in the desert. I started asking him about the part in the movie where the daughter is actually the one trying to solve her mother's murder, but here is the kicker...the daughter had nothing to do with trying to find her mother's killer. The pieces of the puzzle were put together by the father himself. And everyone around the case, the father, the prosecution, the neighbors, everyone who knew the case well said that the daughter most likely knew about the murder before hand. This has not been proven in a court of law. This is the opinion of many surrounding the case. According to the actual killers, the specifics of how the robbery would take place were discussed in the presence of the daughter, Sherryl. I have not had the opportunity to speak with Sherryl, and I am sure she would disagree. But, what we do know is that Sherryl actually supported her husband the entire time that he was under suspicion, and she still carries his name...Seawright. Stoup and his daughter have nothing to do with one another. The last time he spoke with her was about 8 months according to him; she called out of the blue and said "hey, it's me." and Mr.Stroup responded "well, what does me want." He said that he went on to tell her that he wanted absolutely nothing to do with her or her children. There is alot of bad blood between them since the trial. Stroup said they were all devastated to learn that it was Michael Seawright that had orchestrated all of this. Even after the brothers were convicted, no one suspected Seawright. In fact Stroup indicated that he was really glad to have Seawright around to handle the business. Now that he looks back on it, he realizes that Seawright played them all. He made a point to keep up with the case. Every time the police came around, Seawright had to know everything that was going on. He even read the murder book of the case (this is a book attorneys use to compile a case. Includes all the evidence and angles of looking at the case). In fact, Jim Stroup said that "Michael was more interested in the murder book than I was." But, the pieces of the puzzle started to fit together once the gun used in the murder turned up, and Seawright was named as the person who stole the gun from Stroup. The problems between Jim Stroup and his daughter started when she started dating Seawright. James Stroup never trusted Michael; he knew that Michael was a good con man. But it was his wife Cathy that fought for Michael. It was Cathy who suggested that Michael work for them, and she took Michael under her wing and treated him as a son. All for him to end up murdering her the way that he did.
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