For this week’s Sum it Up: several cold cases were in the news. Rockfort Police (IL) announced an arrest in the 1998 murder of Debbie Lynn Logsdon. “Richard L. Brown was served a warrant last Friday for first-degree murder. Deputy Police Chief Greg Lindmark would not say what new piece of evidence led police to Brown, but he attributed the arrest to “the diligence and thoroughness from the detective who worked on this in 1998.”
The case of Hawley Harvey Crippen is getting new attention. “Crippen was convicted and then hanged for the murder of his wife after jurors were shown a chunk of human flesh, unearthed from the basement of the Crippen home, that had a scar similar to one Cora had on her torso.” That scar was examined for mitochondrial DNA (from the maternal line) and as it turned out, does not match the mitochondrial DNA in other members of Cora’s family. Moreover, DNA showed that the scar tissue came from a male!
The Crippen family is still trying to clear Hawley Harvey’s name, get his conviction overturned, and get his body released from the United Kingdom’s Pentonville Prison burial grounds. Crippen’s family in Ohio wishes for his remains to be buried in the USA. UK authorities however say “that Crippen’s living family members weren’t closely related enough to him to have legal standing sufficient to raise questions about the hanged man.” To be continued!
The case of Lysandra Marie Turpin was featured last week on television in ”On the Case with Paula Zahn,” a show on the cable and satellite TV network Investigation Discovery. It ran a segment on the investigations surrounding Ernest Samuel Christie Jr., a Fieldbrook resident who local investigators recently discovered had killed 27-year-old Lysandra Marie Turpin in 1988. Ernest Samuel Christie III, who contacted police and who now uses the name Sam Christie, was 16 years old at time of the murder. He came forward with the secret that had been a burden to him for years.
My Dutch tech man Clouseau alerted me to big blunders in the Dutch 2005 murder case of Anneke van der Stap. According to the Telegraaf, Anneke’s clothes were not searched for biological materials that could be used to test for DNA. But the worst thing is, they will never be able to do so because for whatever reason, her clothes were laundered! When Anneke was finally found, decomposition made the search for traces and biological materials extremely difficult. And now the cleaning act may cost authorities their case! No word yet on whose brilliant idea it was to “clean up” but I bet Clouseau will keep us posted on this!
We also have some good news coming from the Netherlands! The Rotterdam Cold Case Squad will be re-opening 60 unsolved murders from the 80s and 90s involving prostitutes. All cases will be searched for similarities in murder weapons, methods, locations, etc. Clouseau is hereby ordered to keep us posted on all 60 cases!
The St. Petersburg Times interviewed Ray McEachern about the case of William Thomas Zeigler and focussed in on McEachern’s approach to be an advocate for Zeigler. Ray is the brother of Leigh McEachern, the deputy who arrested Zeigler for four murders. More news about the case will be posted here soon.
Another cold case got a new twist. The case of the missing Lily Aramburo is now finally a homicide case! “In December 2010, Aramburo’s case was transferred from missing persons to homicide. And the department has assigned the case to Ray Hoadley, a veteran homicide detective who solved the cold case murder of an 18-year-old Homestead girl killed in 1993. The development has given hope to Aramburo’s closest relatives and friends.” I knew a long time ago that Lily was not just missing but murdered. Now that the authorities finally realize that as well we may be able to get some results.
While making my rounds around the blawgs I came across this one: No Body Murder Cases. This website features murder trials and investigations without the victim’s body and the list was longer than I had expected. Check it out and if you know of another “no body” case, contact Thomas A. (Tad) DiBiase. I am sure he’d appreciate it!
The Scientific American has an interesting article on insanity verdicts. “Forty-six U.S. states have some version of the insanity defense on the books, with Utah, Montana, Idaho and Kansas disallowing it. This defense is designed to protect people who are incapable of understanding or controlling their criminal actions and to help them get treatment. Nevertheless, the idea of offenders being deemed legally innocent is hard for the public to swallow.” The article discusses the McNaughton rule. Pay attention to the comments below the article as well!
Two heartbreaking cases back in the news this week:
1: Last Friday, outgoing Colorado “Gov. Bill Ritter awarded a posthumous a full and unconditional pardon to Joe Arridy, who was executed in 1939 by lethal gas after being convicted of killing 15-year-old Dorothy Drain with a hatchet. Arridy was labeled “mental defective” at the time and reportedly couldn’t tell red from blue. Ritter said an overwhelming amount of evidence now suggests Arridy didn’t commit the crime.”
The case of Joe Arridy is one that has haunted me ever since I was made aware of it by Bill Perske. When I was still with Amnesty International and was working on the case of Richard Lapointe, I got in touch with Bill Perske who was part of a group of Lapointe supporters. Bill not only actively assisted me in the Lapointe case, he made me aware of others and sent me books.
One of them was “Unequal Justice? What can happen when persons with retardation or other developmental disabilities encounter the criminal justice system.” That book has the beautiful art of Perske’s wife on the cover. The other book “Deadly Innocence?” featured the story of Joe Arridy. I highly recommend it. It tells you the story of a warden who tried to save the life of a prisoner he had to execute. It is the story of fellow prisoners playing hours on end with Arridy. It is the story of a young man who stood no chance when he was interrogated and had nobody on his side. Mentally, Joe was about six years old. He loved ice cream, playing with trains, and did everything that was asked from him.
Last month, Ritter pardoned 20 people, most of them for minor crimes. The Arridy pardon is the first time Colorado has pardoned someone it executed. When Arridy was put to death in 1939, he had no relatives to claim his body, so he was buried in a mass grave in Canon City, Colo., where he was executed.
2: The murder of David Burgess (63)
“David Burgess was the finest immigration lawyer of his generation, responsible for a number of trailblazing cases.” That is how the Guardian’s well written obituary starts. David Burgess was a brilliant human right defender and father.
“In 1996, Burgess acted for Karamjit Singh Chahal, an alleged Sikh militant facing deportation to India, where he claimed he would be at risk of torture. In a landmark decision, the ECHR ruled against deportation, maintaining that protection against the risk of torture is absolute, even for those who may pose a security risk to the UK. The Chahal judgment was instrumental in preventing the deportation of terrorist suspects rounded up after 9/11 under the so-called “Belmarsh powers”. In 1991, Burgess caused the then Conservative home secretary, Kenneth Baker, to be found in contempt of court for failing to stop the deportation of “M”, a Zairean asylum seeker. The case established that government ministers can be held responsible for their actions, and Professor Sir William Wade described it as the most significant constitutional case for more than 200 years.”
There are many articles out on the web to highlight his transgenderness. Charged with his murder is Nina Kanagasingham. Nina appeared before the Old Bailey last Monday. She is currently undergoing a sex change and will return to court for a plea and case management hearing on February 3, 2011.
UPDATE: Mr Kanagasingham is set to stand trial over the death of Mr Burgess on July 18, 2011 at the Old Bailey.
Ben, Your Law Student, is blogging again. I look forward to reading his new posts.
And I’d like to end with “Lier, lier, pants on fire!” If you want to know what that is all about, read the Crime Analyst’s Blog!
Till the next Sum it Up!