Teen held in girl's death

Victim found strangled; boy charged with murder

The last time Jason Doggendorf saw his 14-year-old daughter it was 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and she was talking on the phone with a boy.

Cell phone and computer records show that she was up until about 2 a.m. arguing with him, her father said. But when her mother came downstairs to her room about 6 a.m. Thursday to wake her up for school, she was nowhere to be found.

Police discovered Kaylin Michelle Doggendorf strangled to death Friday night in eastern Kosciusko County, less than a mile from her home. Joshua Wright, a 17-year-old who lives at nearby Ridinger Lake, is being held at the Whitley County Jail, charged with her murder.

Exactly what happened to Kaylin after she disappeared from her parents' home in northwest Whitley County early Thursday is unclear – whether she left voluntarily or was abducted. And authorities aren't releasing information about her relationship to Wright and whether she was communicating with him before her disappearance.

Jason Doggendorf said his daughter knew Wright but didn't seem to like him much and the two were not dating. After her disappearance, police dogs picked up the girl's scent outside their home, though the trail didn't lead anywhere promising. There were no signs of forced entry, and Doggendorf said he's a light sleeper and would have heard any struggle inside the house.

The case confounded both authorities and Doggendorf's parents at first. There was no immediate evidence that she was in danger, and she had no history of running away from home, Sheriff Mark Hodges said.

Police initially worked the case as a runaway child. And Doggendorf's parents began to hope desperately that's all it was. But as the time grew later Thursday and into Friday, so did their worry, her father said.

"You're hopeful that school would get out and she'd come back, but that time came and went," Jason Doggendorf said. "Then dinnertime comes and is gone and she's still not back."

Her parents organized a news conference in front of television cameras Friday afternoon to ask for their daughter's safe return.

And police stepped up their search for the girl. Neighbors said an Indiana State Police airplane circled the area Friday and officers from several departments stepped up their presence.

Jason Doggendorf talked softly about his daughter at his home on the Whitley-Kosciusko county line Saturday afternoon.

He smiled as he recalled helping her develop her softball skills. She played third base and catcher and had a knack for it – though she waffled, as any teenager, between loving softball and wanting to drop it entirely, he said.

He said has been encouraged by the outpouring of support his family has received from friends and neighbors. A memorial for Doggendorf on Facebook, which started with just eight people, had grown to more than 2,100 by Saturday night.

Jason Doggendorf said he was proud of his daughter's work in school. She was already preparing for college.

Jerry Klausing, principal of Whitko Middle School, where Doggendorf was an eighth-grader, said she was a good, solid student who stayed out of trouble and had a tight group of friends.

Klausing, at the request of police, gathered Doggendorf's belongings from her locker and looked through them for clues. He found nothing out of the ordinary in her planner. Just a reminder written on St. Patrick's Day: "Wear flipflops," it said.

It was the last day she went to school.

Man convicted of rape at Maritime Heritage Park

POSTED: Friday, Mar. 26, 2010


BELLINGHAM - A man is facing a life sentence in state prison after he was convicted Thursday, March 25, of raping and beating a homeless woman in Maritime Heritage Park in 2008.

A jury found Hector S. Salinas, 38, guilty of three counts of first-degree rape and one count of first-degree kidnapping.

The case was given to the Whatcom County Superior Court jury Thursday morning, and it read its verdict shortly after 2:30 p.m. The date for his sentencing hasn't been set.

The convictions count as Salinas' third strike under Washington's "Three Strikes and You're Out" law. His past convictions include first-degree robbery and second-degree assault, which are also strikes.

The woman flagged down police officers near the Prospect Street post office at about 2:00 a.m. June 30, 2008. Her face was bruised and her right eye was swollen. She told officers she had been raped by a stranger.

She gave the officers a description of the rapist and was taken to St. Joseph Hospital. An officer with a police dog arrived and began to track the suspect's path from the woman's campsite, where part of the attack occurred.

The dog followed a circuitous path but eventually picked up a stronger scent as it crossed a bridge over Whatcom Creek and went down the boardwalk toward Holly Street.

The dog led its officer to a spot underneath the Roeder Avenue bridge, where Salinas was found sleeping.

Salinas ran from the officers but was eventually arrested. His clothing and results from a rape examination the woman underwent at the hospital were sent to a Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for testing.

The results showed her DNA was on a blood spot on the sleeve of a jacket Salinas was wearing when he was arrested, and DNA matching his profile was found in the results of the rape examination.

The woman provided police with a suspect description that contained 15 items, and the physical and clothing description matched Salinas when officers arrested him, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dona Bracke said.

Salinas' attorney, Starck Follis, countered in his closing argument that the description was not specific enough to prove Salinas was the attacker.

Furthermore, he said the woman was provided a series of photos at the hospital that included a photo of Salinas' face, and she couldn't identify him as the attacker.

In court she identified Salinas as her attacker, but Follis said that identification was highly suggestive and too unfair for the jury to give it credibility.

Bracke said the police dog began tracking harder as it neared where Salinas was sleeping, providing more evidence of his guilt.

Follis countered that the dog went off track for 13 minutes, according to police records, before crossing the creek and tracking harder. Salinas testified Wednesday that someone approached him as he was sleeping, which could have lured the dog to his site if that person was the attacker.

The crime lab's analysis showed the only DNA found on the jacket sleeve matched the victim's profile, blood on the inside of the jacket matched her profile and Salinas' profile, and semen from the results of the rape exam matched Salinas' profile.

Follis said the results were ambiguous or untrustworthy.

One crime lab scientist did testing on the jacket out of order, providing a skewed result, Follis said.

Bracke said the scientist went back, corrected the order of the tests and came to the result that matched the woman's profile.

Follis said the State Patrol's policies dictate starting the test over, which didn't happen.

The semen sample tested was too small and could have skewed the results, Follis argued.

The DNA profile contained one area of data that was ambiguous and couldn't be matched to Salinas' profile, Follis said. The lab dropped the ambiguous data and calculated the odds that a matching profile could be found in someone in the U.S. who was not Salinas.

"Is that really the solution - that if something doesn't fit you drop it?" Follis asked.

Salinas' testimony included a timeline before he was arrested early June 30. He testified he found the jeans and jacket, put them on and went to sleep at about 10 p.m.

That would have been before the rape happened. Bracke said the jacket had the blood on it when officers arrested Salinas the next morning - a contradiction that casts doubt on his entire story.

Follis said the blood could have come from an officer investigating the crime and subsequently handling the clothing seized from Salinas.

K-9 bomb squad already makes mark on case

By Jim Bellis • Staff Writer • March 24, 2010
The Robertson County Emergency Management Agency has a new member who has already proven her value, and that, without having yet completed her final training for certification in the recognition of explosives.

Onya, a two-and-one-half-year-old German Shepherd came to the agency from Montgomery County and had received minimal training prior to her arrival.

Since arriving Onya has received training in agility, search and rescue, and explosive recognition as part of her training towards full certification. The explosive recognition recently proved to be useful.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Homeland Security District 7 Bomb Squad, was called to Port Royal to search for evidence, specifically a weapon.
Although uncertified, Onya was called into service for training on this mission. With handler Melinda Hogan, Onya located the weapon where other K-9 units could not. Onya alerted to a handgun and notified Hogan by barking.

Onya’s explosive recognition training helped her to identify the faint scent of gunpowder still encased in an unfired pistol round and contained in the handgun’s magazine. The weapon had lain outdoors for 16 days and been rained on which further dissipated the scent. Despite these handicaps the gun was located and has now been entered into evidence.

Hogan said the two spend many hours each month in training together. She said all hours spent on her part are volunteer hours for EMA. The potential for safety is increased with each training session allowing Onya to be used more effectively in potential life-saving applications involving bomb threats in public places such as businesses, shopping areas, and schools.

Onya is expected to be fully certified by late summer but has already proven her value as she continues on track toward earning her credentials. Her badge has already been ordered.

Is Chelsea King's Alleged Killer a Serial Killer?

The recent discovery of two missing teenage girls’ remains in San Diego County – within four days and 20 miles of each other – has sparked a seemingly unprecedented rage here over justice, correctional and mental health systems that have so many cracks they are leaking victims of sexual predators.

Never in my 13 years as an investigative newspaper reporter in San Diego - or the last five years that I’ve been a true crime author here - have I seen such intense anger or such incessant media coverage generated by a single local murder suspect or case. And it’s not just local media, the national cable crime news commentators have had the talking heads debating this case as well. I’ve also never seen a suspect apprehended so quickly after a teenager was reported missing.

Just three days after 17-year-old Chelsea King didn’t come back from a trail run at a community park in Rancho Bernardo, 30-year-old John Albert Gardner III was arrested on suspicion of her murder with the special circumstance allegation that he raped or attempted to rape her, which makes him eligible for the death penalty. Her body was found two days later in a shallow grave on the shore of nearby Lake Hodges.

Gardner, who completed his three years’ parole in 2008 after serving five years for molesting and assaulting a 13-year-old girl in 2000, was also charged with assault with the intent to commit rape or sexual assault of graduate student Candice Moncayo. Moncayo was attacked while running on a trail in the same area in December 2009 and has since identified Gardner as her attacker.

Four days after a body thought to be Chelsea’s was found, authorities got a tip about the whereabouts of 14-year-old Amber Dubois, who was last seen in front of her school on a Friday the 13th in February 2009. After a fruitless search for the past year, the Escondido police found her skeletal remains that Saturday afternoon in the isolated rugged area of Pala.

After much media pressure to discuss the possible connection between the two murder cases, the Escondido police acknowledged that Gardner is a “focus” of their investigation into Amber’s murder. (When Amber went missing, Gardner was living about two miles from her school.) But unlike the speedy charges in Chelsea’s case, which came almost immediately after authorities said they found his DNA on a pair of her underwear, Gardner has not been charged in Amber’s case.

So, the burning question is whether Gardner is guilty of both murders and the authorities just haven’t been able to gather enough evidence to prove it yet, or if he is simply the victim of circumstance and an easy target of the community-at-large’s frustration with society’s failure to keep sexual offenders like Gardner in check and these two girls safe.

The anger and frustration stems in part from a series of missed opportunities by “the system” to keep Gardner behind bars for longer: a psychiatrist’s initial recommendation to give him a much longer sentence, deeming Gardner a “bad guy” who “manifests significant predatory traits and is a danger to the community”; the DA’s decision to give him a plea deal that resulted in a fraction of the possible prison term; multiple missed chances to send him back to prison for parole violations; and now a reported dispute between prison and mental health clinicians about releasing him when they did.

We human beings like to draw conclusions based on patterns of events, and I can hear the defense arguing that the timing of the back-to-back discoveries of bodies is just a coincidence, and that the two cases are unrelated. Also, I can hear them argue that just because Gardner’s DNA was found on Chelsea’s underwear doesn’t mean that he killed her. Finally, even if the defense acknowledges that he did assault Chelsea and Moncayo on that isolated park trail, it could argue that his MO doesn’t fit with the scenario of picking up Amber in front of her school amid hundreds of other students. If any one of those statements is true, then another killer could still be on the loose.

The timing of the discovery of Amber’s body is a bit curious. Last August, two trained dogs brought in from Virginia and Maine through a private search tracked her “live” scent to that same general area, but a second search by dogs often used by the FBI could not replicate the result. Escondido police are not disclosing how or why they decided to revisit that area on that particular Saturday, and because of a gag order issued by a judge because of the media rampage, they won't do so anytime soon.

The two cases are also complicated by an overlap in law enforcement jurisdiction. Gardner’s last registered address was his grandmother’s house in Riverside County, about 50 miles to the north of the Rancho Bernardo/Escondio area, but he’d been kicked out of there and was staying with his mother in Rancho Bernardo when he was arrested (which means he apparently failed to reregister within the timespan required under Megan’s Law). There is yet another attempted teenage abduction case that is under investigation by Riverside County authorities, in which the suspect’s composite strongly resembles Gardner.

So that means that two sheriff’s departments, a police department and the FBI have been and will continue to coordinate efforts to gather evidence between now and August, when Gardner has his preliminary hearing. With all these investigative resources and power, it will be interesting to see what, if any, additional charges will be filed against him by then.

Meanwhile, the community is out for blood. And people want someone or something to blame - even if it's the faceless government - for the murders of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois.

Caitlin Rother, a Pulitzer-nominee who worked as a investigative newspaper reporter for nearly 20 years, is the author of four books, Body Parts, Twisted Triangle, Naked Addiction, and Poisoned Love, and is the co-author of Where Hope Begins. Her next book, Dead Reckoning, the story behind the murder of Tom and Jackie Hawks by Skylar Deleon and his clan of outlaws, including his wife, Jennifer, will be out in February 2011. For more information about Caitlin Rother, check out her Web site, caitlinrother.com.

Search and rescue dog mourned

CLINTON — CLINTON — Trax loved to work.

The Clinton County Sheriff’s Reserve K-9 continued training in search and rescue until just weeks before his death Friday from cancer. Trax, the first dog in Iowa to serve on a sheriff’s reserve force, was 12.

“The search work is what he enjoyed,” said Lois Hall, Trax’s handler, owner and partner. “To the dogs, it’s a big game. It’s hide and seek. And he certainly loved to do it.”

Lois, a sheriff’s reserve deputy, estimates the German Shepherd was involved in more than 300 search and rescue operations in his lifetime, including natural disasters, robberies, burglaries, drownings, suicides, murders, missing persons and evidence recoveries.

Lois and her husband Bill, Clinton residents, signed up as reserve deputies in Clinton County in 1999. They raised Trax from a puppy and started training him when he was just 10 weeks old in 1998, and the dog was brought onto the force when the Halls joined the following year.

The couple’s two other dogs, Hawk, a 6-year-old German Shepherd, and Deker, a 5-year-old Collie, currently serve as reserve K-9s. The Halls hold weekly training sessions and attend numerous seminars across the nation every year with the dogs.

“We didn’t have K-9 units in our community at the time we started,” said Bill. “Basically, we think that we kind of spurred all of that in placing them.”

The Clinton County Sheriff’s Office now has two full-time K-9 units on the force, in addition to the Halls’ two reserve dogs. Sheriff Rick Lincoln said the Halls and their animals have been an asset to both the community and the region.

Trax was certified through the North American Police Work Dog Association, assisting law enforcement and emergency response agencies in six states and in Canada in his lifetime. As part of being trained in search and rescue, he worked in trailing, air scent, evidence search, human remains detection and disaster first response.

Trax was also a nationally certified therapy dog, and regularly visited area hospitals and assisted living centers. The dog received numerous awards through both his work with law enforcement agencies and his involvement with local educational and civic programs.

“He was always eager to train, he was always eager to work,” said Lois. “Everything I asked of him, he did. Whether it was to be a search dog or to be a therapy dog, or obedience-wise, he did it.”

Lois said Trax showed the first signs of illness in May last year, when he began having balance problems in agility exercises. The dog was diagnosed with transitional cell carcinoma, and underwent treatment at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Purdue University in Indiana.

Lois said Trax never lost his drive to work in the months before his death. The Halls continued weekly sessions with him, although they realized the animal would likely never return to active duty.

“He continued to train until just a few weeks ago, because he wanted to do it,” said Lois. “He wanted to go out. He wanted to search, and to leave him in the car was just, for him, devastating. So we would take him out and allow him to train, although at that point, we knew he couldn’t work an actual case.”

As Trax’s condition began to worsen over the last month, Lois said she was with the dog non-stop, and she was able to be at her partner’s side Friday when he died.

The Halls hope to hold a memorial ceremony for Trax sometime early next month. Lois said the dog’s service with the county was unique because he was still considered an active member of the reserve at the time of his death.

“I always wanted to do something with dogs,” Lois said. “Something useful, not just for sport. Having a dog like Trax that could serve the community, save lives, help families recover their loved ones, and provide comfort to those who needed it proved to be the perfect partnership for both of us.”

Search for missing Atoka fisherman slowing

Officials plan to scale down the search for a missing Atoka fisherman lost on the Mississippi River on Saturday.

Although Stephen Grayer’s boat was recovered Sunday, a search has yet to find his body.

Grayer, 49, left his home at about 7:30 a.m. Saturday to fish in an area he knew well. It’s unknown what exactly sent him into the water. His 16-foot fiberglass boat didn’t show signs of serious damage.

The search has included underwater efforts with sonar, dragging lines and aerial units equipped with thermal-imaging cameras. The river banks and foliage were searched by teams on foot, in the air and with cadaver dogs.