Posts Tagged ‘unsolved murder’

Crime Wire Consultants Update

February 11, 2017
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Crime Wire Consultants

Pat Caristo

Pat is the Executive Director of the Resource Center for Victims of Violent Death (http://bridgesforvictimsofviolentdeath.org). She has been a licensed, working private investigator since 1985, specializing in the area of unsolved homicide investigations. Her many years of investigative experience include the Philadelphia Police Department (which commended her for heroism), the UNM Police Department and the NM Organized Crime Prevention Commission. Pat is trained and experienced as an intelligence analyst and crime-prevention specialist. She has taught sex crimes investigation/crime prevention classes at the NM Law Enforcement Academy and the UNM Law and Medical Schools. She currently teaches investigative-related classes for the UNM Continuing Education Department.

William “BILL” Sullivan

Bill was born and raised in Marengo, Illinois. He attended Southern Illinois University and graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in 1969. He was elected Coroner in Dekalb County in 1975.

In 1979 he was chosen as the only Coroner in the U. S. to assist nine other experts in compiling a manual for the correct way to investigate deaths —a project of the US Justice Dept.

In 1984 Bill became the Director of Operations for the Onondaga County (New York) Medical Examiner’s Office, a position that made him the office administrator and chief investigator.

In 1988, he formed Forensic Consulting Specialties (FCS) and became licensed by the State of New York as a Private Investigator. FCS (www.f-c-s.com.www.f-c-s.com.http://www.f-c-s.com) performs specialty investigations such as murder and suspicious death cases, autopsy and second autopsies, as well as regular civil and criminal investigations.

Peter Hyatt

Peter Hyatt is a Statement Analyst and instructor who teaches statement analysis and analytical interviewing to law enforcement and corporate America. He has authored the investigator training manual for the DHHS and the State of Maine, as well as the book Wise As a Serpent; Gentle as a Dove. He has been interviewed extensively on radio and television, including the nationally televised program, “Crime Watch Daily” and “Taken Too Soon: The Katelyn Markham Story” documentary.

Peter has analyzed statements made in many high-profile crimes and missing person cases, such as Jon Benet Ramsey, Hailey Dunn, Darlie Routier, and Santa Claus on his blog at http://statement-analysis.blogspot.com.

Lyle Sharman

Lyle is the owner/operator of Arizona-based United Private Investigations (www.unitedprivateinvestigations.com). Prior to opening his own business, Lyle entered law enforcement and became a Tactical Trainer. During that time he was offered a position to be a bodyguard for the CEO of Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He spent the next 21 years as an expert in Executive Personal Protection, and Director of Security and Surveillance with Mandalay Bay.

Lyle is a nationally known expert in missing person cases, having worked and solved over 35 of them. He has appeared in several television shows and has regularly appeared in the nationally recognized crime show Crime Watch Daily.

Tom Shamshak

Tom owns and operates Shamshak Investigative Services, Inc., a private investigation firm that was established in July 1999. Tom’s firm specializes in criminal defense investigations, cold case murders, and missing person cases. Tom also consults as a police procedures expert and has worked for both plaintiff’s and defendant’s counsel. He has testified in federal and state courts as a police procedures expert. Tom is a retired law enforcement professional. During a 21 year career, Tom worked in three Massachusetts municipal police departments, and served as a police chief of two communities. Tom is a Life Member of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, and a Life Member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Tom earned a Bachelor of Science in sociology from Suffolk University, a Master of Science degree from the Graduate School of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University, and has pursued doctoral studies at Boston College.

During his law enforcement career, Tom was a police trainer and served as a police academy director. In addition, he served as a college instructor and has taught criminal justice and sociology courses at Anna Maria College, Boston College, and Middlesex Community College. From 2005-2015, Tom served as the Program Director and Lead Instructor of Boston University’s Certificate in Professional Investigation.

Tom is affiliated with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Since 2005, he has been a member of Project ALERT, a division that investigates unresolved missing children cases. Tom has also served as the Public Safety Consultant to the Molly Bish Center for the Protection of Children and the Elderly.

Tom has made numerous guest appearances as an expert commentator on local and national television networks and news magazine broadcasts. He has provided commentary on a variety of topics including criminal investigations, unsolved murders, missing persons, security matters, and terrorism. He has appeared on CNN, HLN, Court TV, TruTV, Fox News, Investigation Discovery, 20/20, NPR radio, and the local Boston affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox 25, NBC, and WGBH. He has also served as a consulting investigator for the A&E reality series, Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal, and he appeared in four episodes.

Tom is a past president of the Licensed Private Detectives Association of Massachusetts.

www.shamshakpi.com.

Pete Klismet

Pete Klismet served his country with two tours in Vietnam on submarines. Following military service, he earned a college degree, and then worked for the Ventura Police Department in Southern California.  While there, he attended graduate school, earning master’s degrees from two universities in Southern California.  He was offered and accepted an appointment as a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In a twenty-year career with the FBI, Pete was highly decorated, served with distinction in three field offices, and received numerous awards and recognition from the FBI. Pete was selected to be one of the original ‘profilers’ for the FBI, perhaps the FBI’s most famed unit.

Before his retirement from the FBI, Pete was named the 1999 National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.

Following his retirement, he accepted a position as an Associate Professor and Department Chair of a Criminal Justice program at a college in Colorado.  Having retired from that, Pete and his wife Nancy live in Fort Collins, Colorado. Pete is the author of three national award-winning, non-fiction books: FBI Diary: Profiles of Evil, FBI Animal House, and FBI Diary: Home Grown Terror. His background as an FBI profiler proved beneficial in two of the books.

Gene Cervantes

Gene is retired from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, where he served as Classification Staff Representative. His previous positions include Classification and Parole Representative, Correctional Counselor, Parole Agent and Group Supervisor. He is Peace Officer Standard Training (POST) certified. In the fall of 2005, following the murders of his cousin and her husband, he joined Citizens Against Homicide (http://www.citizensagainsthomicide.org) and currently serves as a Board Member and Victim Advocate. You can reach Gene at 209 743-7033.

 

 

Lyle Sharman, Owner/Operator of Arizona-based United Private Investigations. http://www.unitedprivateinvestigations.com/index.htmLyle Sharman, Owner/Operator of Arizona-based United Private Investigations. http://www.unitedprivateinvestigations.com/index.htmLyle Sharman, Owner/Operator of Arizona-based United Private Investigations. http://www.unitedprivateinvestigations.com/index.htm

Justice For Molly Bish

February 9, 2017

A few minutes before 10 o’clock on the morning of June 27, 2000, Magi Bish dropped her daughter Molly off at the local swimming hole, Comins Pond, in the town of Warren, Mass. The 16-year-old Molly, a high school junior, had just started a summer job as a lifeguard there the week before.

The parking lot was empty, except for a dump truck dropping off a load of sand. Magi, watched her daughter walk toward the beach. She then waited for the dump truck to drive out before driving away. But when swimmers arrived twenty minutes later, the only traces of Molly were her water-bottle, sandals, a police radio and an opened first aid kit. Molly had vanished, and for Magi and her husband John, a nightmare like no other began.

The only lead the police had to work with was a man Magi remembered having seen when she dropped Molly off the previous day. He had been sitting alone in a white vehicle in the parking lot. Nervous over his presence, Magi waited around for about 20 minutes until the man drove off.

The ensuing search for Molly became the most extensive in Massachusetts history.  Molly’s story was told on America’s Most Wanted, 48 Hours, Court TV, Unsolved Mysteries, Larry King, Nancy Grace and other national and local media outlets.

But in spite of everyone’s best efforts, Molly’s fate remained a mystery for three long years. And then in June 2003, the search for Molly came to a heartbreaking end when 26 of her bones were found scattered on the side of a mountain only five miles from her home. Molly was buried on her 20th Birthday.

Investigators believed Molly’s killer was probably a local with intimate knowledge of the area. However, no arrests were made and the case went cold.

And then in January, 2009, a suspect surfaced, 60-year-old Rodney Stanger. He was a longtime resident of Southbridge, Mass., located just a few miles from Warren. Stanger had moved to Florida the year after Molly disappeared. Neighbors say he was an outdoorsman who was known to hunt and fish in the area around Comins Pond. And he had access to his brother’s car, which was same type that Magi had seen the day before Molly disappeared. He also matched the composite sketch of the driver of that car.

Stanger was brought to the attention of the authorities when the Massachusetts State Police got a call from the sister of Stanger’s live-in girlfriend, Crystal Morrison. The sister told police that Crystal had hinted to her that Stanger was involved in Molly’s murder. On February 25, 2008, just days after the conversation between the sisters, Crystal was found stabbed to death in their mobile home. Rodney Stanger was charged with the murder.

On October 28, 2010, under a negotiated plea deal with prosecutors, the now 62-year-old Stanger was sentenced to serve 25 years in a Florida prison for second-degree murder of Crystal Morrison, and concurrent sentences for burglary of a dwelling and battery. The chances of Stanger ever breathing free air again are slim.

On the Molly Bish Foundation Website is this message from Molly’s parents, Magi and John Bish:

“We will find… the person that harmed her. It’s been a journey, a story of love and loss, but we are still hopeful and we want Molly to know we’ll never give up.”

If Rodney Stanger is in fact Molly’s murderer, let’s hope sufficient evidence can be developed to charge and convict him. The Bish family’s journey needs to come to an end. And Molly is entitled to justice.

 

 

Crime Wire Consultants

February 2, 2017

The people listed below have volunteered to serve as consultants to Crime Wire and to review cold case murders on a pro bono basis. I can’t thank them enough for their willingness to apply their expertise to help bring resolution or a sense of peace to the survivors of murder victims.

Pat Caristo

Pat is the Executive Director of the Resource Center for Victims of Violent Death (http://bridgesforvictimsofviolentdeath.org). She has been a licensed, working private investigator since 1985, specializing in the area of unsolved homicide investigations. Her many years of investigative experience include the Philadelphia Police Department (which commended her for heroism), the UNM Police Department and the NM Organized Crime Prevention Commission. Pat is trained and experienced as an intelligence analyst and crime-prevention specialist. She has taught sex crimes investigation/crime prevention classes at the NM Law Enforcement Academy and the UNM Law and Medical Schools. She currently teaches investigative-related classes for the UNM Continuing Education Department.

William “BILL” Sullivan

Bill was born and raised in Marengo, Illinois. He attended Southern Illinois University and graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in 1969. He was elected Coroner in Dekalb County in 1975.

In 1979 he was chosen as the only Coroner in the U. S. to assist nine other experts in compiling a manual for the correct way to investigate deaths —a project of the US Justice Dept.

In 1984 Bill became the Director of Operations for the Onondaga County (New York) Medical Examiner’s Office, a position that made him the office administrator and chief investigator.

In 1988, he formed Forensic Consulting Specialties (FCS) and became licensed by the State of New York as a Private Investigator. FCS (www.f-c-s.com) performs specialty investigations such as murder and suspicious death cases, autopsy and second autopsies, as well as regular civil and criminal investigations.

Peter Hyatt

Peter is a Statement Analyst and instructor who teaches statement analysis and analytical interviewing to law enforcement and corporate America. He has authored the investigator training manual for the DHHS and the State of Maine, as well as the book Wise As a Serpent; Gentle as a Dove. He has been interviewed extensively on radio and television, including the nationally televised program, “Crime Watch Daily” and “Taken Too Soon: The Katelyn Markham Story” documentary.

Peter has analyzed statements made in many high-profile crimes and missing person cases, such as Jon Benet Ramsey, Hailey Dunn, Darlie Routier, and Santa Claus on his blog at http://statement-analysis.blogspot.com.

Lyle Sharman

Lyle is the owner/operator of Arizona-based United Private Investigations (www.unitedprivateinvestigations.com). Prior to opening his own business, Lyle entered law enforcement and became a Tactical Trainer. During that time he was offered a position to be a bodyguard for the CEO of Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He spent the next 21 years as an expert in Executive Personal Protection, and Director of Security and Surveillance with Mandalay Bay.

Lyle is a nationally known expert in missing person cases, having worked and solved over 35 of them. He has appeared in several television shows and has regularly appeared in the nationally recognized crime show Crime Watch Daily.

Gene Cervantes

Gene is retired from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, where he served as Classification Staff Representative. His previous positions include Classification and Parole Representative, Correctional Counselor, Parole Agent and Group Supervisor. He is Peace Officer Standard Training (POST) certified. In the fall of 2005, following the murders of his cousin and her husband, he joined Citizens Against Homicide (http://www.citizensagainsthomicide.org) and currently serves as a Board Member and Victim Advocate. You can reach Gene at 209 743-7033.

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Changes Needed

January 30, 2017

Before my retirement in 1994 I spent 20 years in law enforcement and investigations. As you might guess, I was and still am very much pro law enforcement.

Soon after retiring I began writing fiction and true crime books, and a few years ago created the Crime Wire Internet radio show with Susan Murphy Milano. We dealt with topics that included missing persons, domestic violence and unsolved murders. The show went on hiatus after Susan passed, but is now back and in full swing. It has been while doing Crime Wire that I really started looking at unsolved murders from the standpoint of the victim’s survivors, and there are a few things that I find bothersome. I’ll talk about two of them here.

One is the lack of options available to the survivors if they find reason to believe the police investigation was lacking in some respect; and the handling agency won’t address the situation in a manner satisfactory to the survivor. What can be done?

Many people think they can simply take their concerns to another agency with jurisdiction and that agency will take over the investigation. For example, the county sheriff can intervene over a town or village department, and a state agency can replace the sheriff. In reality, however, the odds of that happening are slim to none. The agency you are looking to for help won’t get involved unless there is evidence of malfeasance in the initial investigation, or the handling agency or the district attorney “invites” them in. The request of the survivor by itself is not sufficient.

The second thing, which is my main peeve, is the difficulty in obtaining police records and reports and/or coroner reports and photos. My comments will be general in nature because every jurisdiction has its own rules and regulations that will vary from place to place.

There are many perfectly valid reasons for the police not to release information that could compromise an active investigation. I have no issue with withholding information to protect the integrity of the investigation.

I do have concerns, though, when talking about cold cases that have been inactive for many years or decades. In all too many of the cases I’ve heard of, the police agency refuses to release any information, citing the open case exemption to complying with the FOIA or Sunshine Laws in the specific state.

Suppose the survivor has the resources to hire a private investigator to pursue the 30-year-old murder case the police haven’t updated her on in ten years. She’d like to see what the police have done to perhaps give her investigator some ideas or save him a few steps. I submit that the reports could be released, even if partially redacted. Or at a minimum, a synopsis of the case could be made available.

How about the survivor who bumps into some friends of her husband who was murdered eight years ago? These friends were the last known people to have seen her husband alive. They ask her how the investigation is coming and wonder why the police never interviewed them. Concerned about the quality and depth of the investigation she wants to look at the records to see what was actually done. “Sorry Ma’am, it’s an open case and we’re prohibited from allowing you access to the file.”

In this example the open case status can be used to conceal sloppy police work under the guise of protecting the integrity of the investigation. Because only the police can see the file, how will the survivor ever know if the investigation was a sincere effort to find the truth? Where is the transparency?

I believe there needs to be a mechanism for survivors to have access to open-case police files under certain circumstances. Such as: the case has been inactive for a specific number of years or there is credible reason to believe the initial investigation was incompetently conducted or corrupt.

Getting changes made will be a very tough uphill battle and will require the support of as many groups and individuals who are interested in helping survivors as possible. Still, it would be a worthwhile fight.

Unsolved Murders

January 29, 2017

Up until this morning if anyone asked me how many unsolved murders there were in the United States, I would have had no idea. My guess would have been a few thousand and probably been on the high side. But due to a project I’m working on I did some research on that question. What I learned shocked me and I’m going to share it with you.

A January 2015 article by Thomas Hargrove of Scripps News (you can read the entire article at http://www.thedenverchannel.com/decodedc/how-many-unsolved-murders-are-there-its-greater-than-the-population-of-des-moines) begins with: “Think about this. More than 211,000 homicides committed since 1980 remain unsolved – a body count greater than the population of Des Moines, Iowa.”

Hargrove goes on to say: “Truth is homicides are less likely to be solved today than they were 40 years ago. Police fail to make an arrest in more than a third of the nation’s murders, resulting in an ever-increasing accumulation of cold cases.”

And an NPR piece by Martin Kaste on March 30 of that year explains in part: “If you’re murdered in America, there’s a 1 in 3 chance that the police won’t identify your killer.

“To use the FBI’s terminology, the national ‘clearance rate’ for homicide today is 64.1 percent. Fifty years ago, it was more than 90 percent.

“And that’s worse than it sounds, because ‘clearance’ doesn’t equal conviction: It’s just the term that police use to describe cases that end with an arrest, or in which a culprit is otherwise identified without the possibility of arrest — if the suspect has died, for example.”

After absorbing those stats I no longer wondered why Crime Wire was getting so many requests to profile or review cold cases. With a killer being identified in only a third of the murders and less than two thirds of cases being “cleared,” there are an awful lot of people out there wondering why their loved ones are dead and at whose hand.

What’s the reason for these disappointing numbers? I don’t think killers are any smarter. And, after all, the police are better trained; technology has seen great advancements over the years;  security cameras are everywhere and DNA evidence is pretty much accepted as indisputable. You’d think the bad guys should be taking it on the chin, but obviously they aren’t.

When you compare those 211,000 unsolved murders to our overall population of over 300,000,000, they may sound insignificant. However, I suspect the families of the dead who are still seeking answers and justice would beg to differ.

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Denny Griffin, Crime Wire

 

Survivors of Murder Victims

January 26, 2017
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Denny Griffin, Crime Wire

Over the past several years Crime Wire has profiled a large number of unsolved murder cases. Many of them are “cold” and have been inactive for years or sometimes decades. The survivors we deal with often believe the police did a poor investigation that contributed to a solvable case going unsolved and cold.

Our new Crime Wire Case Review Service (CWCRS) was formed to help survivors resolve their doubts about the quality of the investigation. Our panel of investigators, analysts and advocates will examine the case documents and render an opinion as to whether the initial investigation was adequate and appropriate; things were missed or not followed-up on; or that advances in technology (particularly DNA) that weren’t available at the time of the murder may now prove beneficial. This service is provided pro bono.

Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle a survivor is likely to face when preparing their submission is a lack of police reports. Because unsolved murder cases remain open (even if inactive) most police agencies tend to refuse to release any information at all, or  at least nothing relating to their investigation. The inability to be able to see those important documents obviously limits the effectiveness of the review.

However, all submissions, even those without police reports, will be given consideration for review.

 

 

 

The Rise and Fall of Tony Spilotro

January 26, 2017

The manuscript is currently undergoing Phase I editing with the publisher. There will be two more phases of editing followed by formatting and cover design. I’m optimistic we’ll be able to get on the production schedule by spring.

cruise-mobster

Denny Griffin, true crime author

 

 

Death on the Beach

May 8, 2008

At 6:36 am on February 18, 2007, the body of 21-year-old Joshua Whittier was found on the beach in Navarre, Florida. According to police reports and autopsy results, Josh’s death was caused by accidental drowning.

 

Melody Grell, Josh’s mother, initially accepted those findings. But a couple of weeks after her son’s death, disturbing information began to come to light, causing Melody to have second thoughts about how and why Josh ended up dead on that beach. The more she learned the more convinced she became that his death may not have been an accident at all.

 

Armed with an increasing number of questions and new evidence, Melody began her quest for authorities to take another look at Josh’s case. For the past 14 months she has been engaged in an often frustrating and uphill struggle to get answers to her questions and make sure all the evidence is examined.

 

Although Melody began her battle alone, she’s picked up some allies along the way. A former police officer-turned-reporter, a retired homicide detective with 30 years experience, a private investigator, and a forensic pathologist have offered helping hands. But to date her efforts to attain justice have hit a dead end. 

On May 7 Melody discussed her story on my Blog Talk Radio program. Joining us was David Craig, an investigative reporter with Reality News Network (http://www.realitynews.net) who has been researching and reporting the story.

You can replay the show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/dennisngriffin.

Additional information is available at http://www.tokesquest.com/unexplained/id1.html and at http://realcrimes.com under Florida cases.

Denny