A Nose for Disease

In 1989, The Lancet carried a curious report on a dog that kept licking a mole on her owner's leg. The mole turned out to be a malignant melanoma. Since then, scientists have observed similar "disease sniffing" abilities in mice and rats, which tend to avoid sickly members of their own species. Now researchers think they have figured out how these animals do it.

Scientists have previously identified a number of mouse smell receptors, cell-surface proteins in the animals' noses that pick up everything from the fragrance of food to the scent of fear (ScienceNOW, 21 August 2008). Neurogeneticist Ivan Rodriguez of the University of Geneva in Switzerland and colleagues wondered whether there might be additional such receptors that respond to a disease "scent," perhaps by detecting chemicals associated with bacteria and inflammation.

The researchers scoured the already deciphered mouse genome, looking for genes that might encode additional receptor proteins in its olfactory system, the sensory cells that connect the nose to the brain. They found genes for five new receptors, all of which belong to a known family of proteins called formyl peptide receptors (FPRs).

The known FPRs include two immune system receptors that detect chemicals given off by pathogens in the blood, helping immune cells track down and attack foreign bodies. Could the newly identified ones on olfactory cells do the same, detecting pathogens but those outside the body on another animal? Rodriguez's team exposed olfactory mouse neurons in the lab to disease-causing bacteria and the urine of sick mice. Sure enough, some of the chemicals sparked a "smell response" in the neurons, as reflected by electrical changes in the cells, the researchers report online today in Nature.

The neurons possessing the newfound FPR receptors reside within a part of the olfactory system at the base of the brain that also sniffs out sexual signaling chemicals called pheromones. This area--the vomeronasal organ--is linked directly to the brain's emotional center, the amygdala. "This makes a lot of sense," says Rodriguez. When a mouse detects a nearby mate, or danger, in the form of disease, it needs to trigger a quick reaction, whether it's an attempt to reproduce or to avoid a nearby sick animal, he says.

Rodriguez's team also found disease-smelling receptors in gerbils and rats, but he thinks it's unlikely they'll be discovered in human noses. There's no evidence that we have FPRs anywhere but in our immune system, he says.

The results are "very exciting, if not a major breakthrough," says neuroscientist and smell expert Pierre Marie Lledo of the Pasteur Institute in Paris. The discovery will open "new field of research" into the molecular basis of sniffing out disease, says Marie-Christine Broillet, a specialist in olfaction from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.

K9 Bobby helps serve and protect

Geneseo, Ill. -

As the hostile suspect wrestles Sgt. Jamison Weisser to the ground, the Geneseo officer knows help is just a button click away.

Using a remote control on his belt, Weisser is able to open the rear door on his police SUV and release Bobby, the Geneseo Police Department’s K9.

Seeing his handler in trouble, Bobby leaps into action and brings down the suspect.

The sequence of events was part of a demonstration Weisser and Bobby gave at the open house at Maple Ridge Veterinary Clinic in Geneseo on April 18.

The “suspect”  was Illinois State Police Trooper Jason Wilson who, while wearing a bite guard on his left arm, allowed himself to be brought down by Bobby in several different demonstration scenarios.

“It’s hard to find volunteers willing to let Bobby go after them,” joked Weisser to the crowd of approximately 30 watching the demonstration.

Bobby, a 3-year old German shepherd, has been with the Geneseo Police Department since December 2007.

He was brought to the United  States from Hungary and was introduced to Weisser at training sessions in Michigan.

“Bobby was pre-trained when I got him. He knows what he’s doing, it was me who had to be trained,” explained Weisser.

The dog is trained to find narcotics, help capture suspects and do article searches.

“Everything we do is a game to Bobby,” said Weisser. The dog’s ultimate goal is to receive a tennis ball as his reward following an activity.

“The tennis ball is his life,” said Weisser. “He will skip over food to go for the tennis ball.”
Weisser told the crowd, “If anyone has any junk tennis balls, I will take them. We go through about a tennis ball a day.”

Though they may be games to Bobby, the tasks he performs are very serious ones.

Bobby is trained to locate marajuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin and any derivative of those drugs, including crack and ecstasy.

“When he knows there are drugs, his behavior changes,” said Weisser. “His breathing gets deeper and his tail wag becomes more deliberate.” When Bobby locates drugs, he sits or lays down to alert Weisser to his find.

Bobby’s also trained in article search. “He’s not a scent discrimination dog. I can’t hand him a boot or a glove to sniff and tell him to go find a person,” said Weisser.

Instead, Bobby focuses on “human” scents to find items.

“If a suspect tosses something into a field while fleeing, Bobby can find that item a lot faster than we could,” said Weisser.

When an item is found, Bobby normally lays down and places his paws on either side of the article. “He’s trained not to touch it, because we don’t want him damaging evidence,” said Weisser.

“We train a lot using keys on a soccer field,” he said.

When searching for items, Weisser keeps Bobby on an extra-long 15-foot lead. “We work in tandem. He searches with his nose, and  I use my eyes.”

When it’s a suspect Bobby’s after, he’s trained to “bite and hold” said Weisser. “Bobby’s trained to try and get the suspect to the ground until I can get there.”

Bobby is the Geneseo Police Department’s second dog. The department previously had Carlo, who worked with officer Larry Dawson, and retired in 2003.

“Carlo was with the department for 10 years,” said Weisser.

“A few years back, after Carlo retired, case law came out that was extremely harmful to K9 units as a whole and drastically reduced their capabilities. Once that was finally sorted out, it re-opened the door for K9 units,” he said.

At that time, Geneseo began looking at again having a police dog. Weisser “put his name in the hat” to be part of the unit.

“I’ve always had dogs in my life. I  can’t remember a period when I didn’t have a dog,” said Weisser.

“I’d never had a German shepherd before, but from here on out, that would be the dog I’d get,” he said. “They’re extremely smart, loyal and just fantastic.”

Weisser and Bobby do eight hours a month of structured training with other K9 units in the Quad Cities and surrounding areas.

“I’m a younger handler, so those sessions give me a chance to be able to interact with and learn from other handlers,” said Weisser.

On a daily basis, Weisser works with Bobby on basic obedience commands, such as sitting, staying and laying down. Every other day the duo works on more police-specific work such as finding hidden narcotics.

Recently, Bobby also has been learning to work with his new bullet- and stab-proof vest.

The vest, which he’s had for about a week, was donated to the Geneseo Police Department by Gary and Janet Haase of Geneseo after the couple read an article in American Profile about a New Mexico woman’s efforts to buy vests for police dogs.

“Working with Bobby is a whole other aspect of police work,” said Weisser, who’s been with the Geneseo Police Department for seven years. “He’s a partner to me, and we’re together almost 24/7.

“When we work, we’re together, and when we’re at home, we’re together. It’s like working with a partner who doesn’t speak the same language.”

In addition to Bobby’s abilities to assist with police work, Weisser said the dog “makes a fantastic
public relations tool.”

“We’re able to go into schools and talk to kids. The kids love him, which helps us bridge a gap between the police and the Geneseo community,” he said.

Killer gets life without parole

Mario Lavell Cockerham, 27 years of age, of Houston, Texas, was convicted by a Liberty County jury of Capital Murder and sentenced to Life without parole in prison by 253rd District Court Judge Chap B. Cain, III, on April 17.

A jury was selected to hear the capital murder case against Mario Lavell Cockerham in the 253rd District Court, the Honorable Chap B. Cain, III, presiding, on April 13.

Assistant District Attorneys Ragis Fontenot and Anne Streit began the presentation of the State’s evidence on April 14. Evidence presentation was completed on April 17.

The evidence revealed that on or about March 23, 2007, Mario Lavell Cockerham murdered Jenna Yvonne Ross, a six-month-old baby girl of Daytons, by suffocation.

The evidence also revealed that Cockerham, who resided in Houston, was Jenna’s father and was married to Renita Cockerham.

It was also revealed that during the same criminal episode, Cockerham gravely assaulted Alicia Yvonne Ross, Jenna’s mother, by stabbing her multiple times. Due to the injuries suffered by Alicia Yvonne Ross, her survival was questionable at the time.

Cockerham was arrested on the afternoon of March 23, 2007. A Liberty County

grand jury indicted Cockerham for the capital murder of Jenna Yvonne Ross on May 2, 2007. During the investigation, the Dayton Police Department sought and received assistance from Baytown Police Department crime scene investigators, the Texas Rangers and the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office. Although diligent and exhaustive efforts were made by investigators, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s laboratory analysis of the evidence collected revealed no physical evidence connecting Mario Lavell Cockerham to the crime.

Also during the investigation, Texas Ranger Frank Huff sought the assistance of Fort Bend County Deputy Sheriff Keith Pikett and his scent discriminating bloodhounds. During the trial, Pikett’s testimony revealed that Cockerham’s scent was detected by the bloodhounds on an item of clothing worn by Jenna Yvonne Ross at the time of her death. Additionally, the bloodhounds found Cockerham’s scent on a telephone and the contents of Alicia Ross’ wallet that had been recovered from the crime scene. Key testimony at the trial was also given by Alicia Yvonne Ross who identified Mario Lavell Cockerham as the perpetrator and painstakingly described to the jury the details of how the capital murder was committed.

Having begun their deliberations at approximately 2 p.m. on April 17, the jury deliberated approximately 90 minutes before unanimously convicting Mario Lavell Cockerham of capital murder as charged. Thereafter, presiding Judge Chap B. Cain, III, assessed an automatic Life sentence without parole against Cockerham.

District Attorney Mike Little stated “We in the District Attorney’s Office are very grateful for the conviction of Capital Murder handed down by the jury in this case. The jury patiently and attentively listened to many days of testimony and then carefully considered all of the evidence and testimony prior to reaching their verdict. We are pleased that the jury recognized the severity of this horrible crime and acted accordingly. We are also very pleased with the sentence handed down by Judge Cain. The sentence of Life without parole insures that Cockerham will spend the rest of his natural life in prison. Certainly, Ragis and Anne conducted an extremely thorough and very competent prosecution in this case. The people of Liberty County should be very proud to have attorneys of this caliber representing them in our district courts. However, we in the District Attorney’s Office could not successfully try cases of this nature without excellent investigations such as the one in this case. Chief Pete Douzat and the Dayton Police Department did a tremendous job in not only conducting an excellent investigation and providing exemplary trial testimony but also in remaining truly committed to bringing Mario Lavell Cockerham to justice throughout the entire criminal justice process. This case was a textbook example of law enforcement teamwork as revealed by the very able assistance provided by Texas Ranger Frank Huff, the Baytown Police Department, the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Last but certainly not least, we are very hopeful that the sentence of Life without parole handed down to Jenna’s killer will provide some degree of consolation to her grieving family. Although nothing can bring Jenna back to her family, they can perhaps receive some solace in knowing that the one who took her from them will never breathe free air again.”

BPD Uses Bloodhounds to Sniff Out Accused Church Burglar

It was money meant for the offering plate. Police say instead went to a Bryan man's pocket.

Earlier this year, 15 churches in Bryan were burglarized, 14 of them in the same manner. Wednesday, the Bryan Police Department said it connected a Bryan man to at least a third of the burglaries.

Central Church of Christ was one of the churches burglarized between February and March. When the burglar struck, he took offering money in the form of Belizean bills and Cuban pesos.

Three weeks later, 22-year-old Keith Richards was picked up on drug charges.

"He had a giant wad of Belizian/ Cuban money in his pocket," said Bryan Police Detective Shawn Davis.

Bryan police began to think Richards could be the church burglar. Detectives said its what he left at the scene, that helped them sniff him out.

"Just blunt objects, fire extinguishers, rocks, just whatever he could to bust a door or window open," said Davis.

Detectives took scent samples from those objects to visit the bloodhounds at the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Department.

"We smell a hamburger. The bloodhound smells bread, sesame seed, beef, cheese and tomato. They divide all that up," said Bryan Crime Scene Investigator Curtis Klingle.

Much like a photographic lineup, the dogs perform a scent lineup. After smelling a suspect, the dogs are led down a row of scents. One of the scent samples was from evidence of a burglarized Bryan church.

Officers said on five different line-ups, three different dogs all matched Richards' scent to the crime scene.

Police said the bloodhounds are a new tool the department plans to use more often.

"The crooks are wearing gloves now, but you're not gonna ever stop the depositing of scent or DNA," said Klingle.

Thanks to a few pups, Police said some Bryan parishioners can worship again in peace.

Bryan Police are still investigating to see if Richards is connected to the other nine church burglaries, all of which were committed before Richards was arrested.

The department is also exploring the idea of getting its own bloodhounds.

Richards in accused of the March 1 break in at El Calvario Baptist Church; the March 9 burglary at First Christian Church; and the March 16 burglaries at Mount Nebo, St. Joesph's Catholic School and Central Church of Christ.

His bond is set at $98,000.

Jury returns verdict at Carl Poole inquest

A JURY has returned a verdict of death by misadventure on a Alfreton man who died following a police chase.
Father of one, Carl Poole, 34 suffered a fatal heart attack on March 18 last year, an inquest at Derby and South Derbyshire Coroner's Court heard this week.

Mr Poole had been stopped by police while driving on Anchor Road in Eastwood but ran away. He was later found wet and lifeless, slumped against a wall next to the Erewash canal in Langley Mill.

Speaking at the inquest, forensic pathologist Guy Rutty said a post mortem examination revealed amphetamines in Mr Poole's system.

It was these drugs combined with the cold water in the canal Mr Poole had fled through, and the strenuous exercise of fleeing the police that caused him to suffer heart failure and die.

Mr Poole's mother told the hearing the pair had rowed earlier in the day.

Lindsey Hardstaff said: "I shouted at him told him to get himself together. I knew he'd been taking drugs and told him to pull himself together, get a job and sort his life out. He just kept saying he would."

Carl had earlier been in the car, a red Peugeot 206, with three other men - the car's owner Andrew Fennell, David Simms, and Jamie Naylor. The four had parked at B&Q in Eastwood. Carl, who was banned from driving for having no insurance, then drove off in the car while the three men went into the store.

Coroner Louise Pinder said the men's evidence to the hearing yesterday were inconsistent with those they made to the police at the time, and with each others.

The car was seized by police and 14 plastic bags containing amphetamine were found.

Mr Fennell said Carl had taken the car on the agreement he would be back in a few minutes, but never returned.

After his evidence, during the inquest, Mrs Hardstaff accused Mr Fennell of lying: "I know you are lying. Tell me the truth so I can get to the bottom of why Carl died. You were on drugs and Carl was on a drugs run. Why were you paying him £100?

Mr Fennell said that no one had given Carl money for drugs.
Jamie Naylor, another man in the car, said he had last seen Carl at 4.30pm when he took the vehicle. He later tried calling him but got no answer.

Mrs Hardstaff claimed at the hearing Mr Naylor had sat in her house after Carl's death and told her Carl had been given £100 for a 'drug run'. An allegation he denied.

The red Peugeot had been stopped by Pc Jonathan Mortimer at 5.35pm as part of an operation that uses automatic number plate recognition, highlighting vehicles of interest. He said: "At 5.35 pm I was parked on Anchor Road when I was alerted to the vehicle.

"I signalled to him through the window and asked him to get out the vehicle."

As they both walked towards the police car Mr Poole ran off across the road. Pc Mortimer got back in the car and attempted to follow Mr Poole and radioed for assistance. He saw Mr Poole climb a barrier and head in the direction of Nottingham before losing sight of him.

Mr Poole was seen running by a number of witnesses before Pc Leigh Whitehead from the police dog unit found him slumped and 'lifeless' at 6.05pm. He was certified dead at 7.20pm in the back of an ambulance.
Detective Chief Inspector Richard Gooch said: "I think to avoid capture he entered water to minimise the scent of him once he suspected the dogs.

He added: "I'm as happy as I can be that no third party was involved. I will never know why he ran away from the officer."

The car had been stopped by Pc Jonathan Mortimer at 5.35pm as part of an operation that uses automatic number plate recognition, highlighting vehicles of interest. He said: "At 5.35 pm I was parked on Anchor Road when I was alerted to the vehicle.

"I signalled to him through the window and asked him to get out the vehicle."

As they both walked towards the police car Mr Poole ran off across the road. Pc Mortimer got back in the car and attempted to follow Mr Poole and radioed for assistance. He saw Mr Poole climb a barrier and head in the direction of Nottingham before losing sight of him.

Mr Poole was seen running by a number of witnesses before Pc Leigh Whitehead from the police dog unit found him slumped and 'lifeless' at 6.05pm. He was certified dead at 7.20pm in the back of an ambulance.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard Gooch said: "I think to avoid capture he entered water to minimise the scent of him once he suspected the dogs.

He added: "I'm as happy as I can be that no third party was involved. I will never know why he ran away from the officer."

The jury of eight people took and hour and a half to return their verdict. Death by misadventure means that the person deliberately undertook a task that caused death and often involves taking a risk, as Mr Poole did when he entered the canal.

Police find body in Cape home

Many questions remained unanswered Monday evening after the smell of a decaying body led police to what they have coined a "suspicious death" in a south Cape Coral home.

A neighbor smelled the rotten scent and contacted police, who discovered a body inside an apartment at 4921 Coronado Parkway at about 7:56 a.m., according to city spokesperson Connie Barron.

The individual's identity and the manner in which he or she died had not been released Monday night as the Cape Coral Police Department's investigation into the death continues.

As forensic technicians, detectives and medical examiners shuffled in and out of the yellow-taped crime scene Monday afternoon, the scent of decay wafting through the air and the surrounding neighborhood seemed juxtaposed. Residents rode bikes, walked their children and pets, and spoke of the peaceful nature of their neighborhood.

"It's been pretty quiet," said 8-year area resident John Daly as he watched the commotion. "There's a lot of empty houses around here. It's kind of surprising; there's not too much crime that I know of."

"It's a quiet neighborhood," said another resident, who requested not to be identified by name. "I have no qualms."

The resident said he has heard loud music at times, but nothing out of the ordinary.

"That's just a normal thing in any neighborhood," he said.

Neighbor Brandon Thornburg said he knew of a resident, named "Ginny," of another apartment in the complex where the body was found.

"She told me that yesterday there was an odd smell and that this morning the smell got worse," he said.

Before Thornburg could get any details from her, Ginny told him that she was speaking with Cape police and could not talk.

"It's weird," Thornburg said. "You come home and there's police tape all over the place."

According to previous police documents, an individual by the name of Ginny Lee lived in the complex as of May.

Attempts to contact Lee were unsuccessful Monday evening.

In June, a death occurred in the same complex, according to police documents.

Barron said the 2008 death was caused by a drug overdose.

K-9s in Hickory for training, testing

HICKORY - Sasha barks once and sits by her handler, tail wagging.

With one word from Jerry Hacker, she lunges, latching onto the arm of someone nearby and sinking her teeth into the bite sleeve that protects her skin.

Another quiet word from Hacker and Sasha lets go, sitting next to his side, tail wagging, looking up to him for approval. He gives it to her in the form of a scratch on the head and words of praise.

Sasha, a Belgian Malinois, and Hacker are with the Reidsville Police Department. They're in town this week as part of the N.C. Spring Seminar with the American Police Canine Association, hosted by the Catawba County Sheriff's Office. More than two dozen K-9 units are getting certified in obedience, aggression, evidence recovery, tracking, searching for narcotics and more.

Some, like Sasha, are experienced. Sasha is 10 years old. Others are new.

Gene Ramos is with the Concord Police Department. Although his dog, Cello, is 7 and experienced, Ramos is a new K-9 officer. He graduated from a training course Friday and said he feels pretty confident in his and Cello's abilities.

On Tuesday, he and Cello successfully identified marijuana, methamphetamine, hash, heroin and cocaine, all sealed inside cardboard boxes and placed among 11 other identical cardboard boxes on the floor. To pass the test, each team is given unlimited time to check out the boxes and identify which ones have drugs. The dog can make whatever signal it wants, but the officer must tell the person administering the test which box contains drugs.

Handlers make finding drugs a game for their dogs and the dogs eagerly walk from box to box sniffing them out.

When Cello found a box with drugs, he pawed at it and licked it. Ramos gave Cello a tennis ball as a reward.

Ramos admits the situations he and Cello are training for can be difficult.

"It can be stressful, and it can be pretty hard," he said. "Nothing's easy in the real world."

The pair also took their tracking test Tuesday. You can be certified as level 1, 2 or 3. Level 1 is for a quarter mile, level 2 is one mile and level 3 is for one-and-a-half miles. Human scent is laid out on grass, asphalt, gravel and other surfaces, on objects such as guns, weapons, cash and other items for the dogs to find, said Mike Johnson, president of the American Police Canine Association. Depending on the level of certification, there are time intervals between when the items are placed on the trail and when the teams go out to track them.

Johnson said only about five out of 96 teams are certified at level 3.

"A lot of teams don't try for it because it requires a lot of time and effort," he said.

You also have to be certain of your certification. If you're certified as level 2 and try for a level 3 and fail, you lose your level 2 certification, as well, Johnson said.

David Vallas and Rex, with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office, tried for a level 2 tracking certification Tuesday, but didn't achieve it.

Vallas said he would try again. He's worked with Rex, building on the skills Rex already knows, to get him ready for the level 2 certification.

The dogs in town this week also work to ensure they won't run away when there's danger. Gunfire tests make sure dogs won't run when they hear shots fired.

"You go through baby steps with the dogs to train them. It takes several months to get them accustomed to it," said Bob Lewis, president of and master trainer with Canines United for Public Safety. "You want a dog that's confident with himself and is able to protect the officer that he's with, because that's his main job."

The dogs also are required to search for suspects. A "decoy" suspect hides in the woods and the dog has to search for that person. Dogs must also do article searches for a leather object, a plastic object — such as a credit card — and a metal object, such as a can.

"We look at different materials that hold the scent of a person better than others, so we can test them if a suspect dropped something," Lewis said. "In training, we make it a game for them. It's 90 percent praise, so it's fun for them, so that they want to work for you."

If a dog fails a test, Lewis makes recommendations for what the officer can do to help retrain the dog.

"A dog is just like all the other tools in your belt — it's just one more tool you have with you," said Lenny Rivera, with the Concord Police Department. "When we're not doing article searches or looking for drugs, we're answering calls, going to wrecks, doing things that any other officer would be doing."

Officers just want to be sure that extra "tool" will react when there's danger. Tuesday afternoon, Ramos and Cello, as well as Thomas McKenzie and AJ with the Mint Hill Police Department, got extra training on passive resistance training.

"A guy can be sitting on the couch, watching a ball game, with a gun under his leg, and you want your dog to go after him," Johnson said.

Both Cello and AJ did not react initially to Dannie Cline, the "decoy" on the couch. After a little bit of training with Cline showing some aggression toward the dogs' respective officers, and the officers training their dogs to attack Cline, the dogs knew Cline was a threat. They barked at him and attacked his arm.

"You have to do an increment process," Johnson said. "When they first came in, they didn't care. But the person could have been a threat initially. They're learning."

McKenzie said he saw an improvement in AJ after just two times.

"I feel a lot better, but we have more work to do," he said.

The seminar will continue throughout the week.

A rare look inside a Del. drug ring

Documents reveal tactics of multimillion-dollar marijuana operation

The News Journal

The 28-year-old leader of a multimillion-dollar Delaware-based drug operation relied on constant motion -- routinely changing cell phones, operatives and "stash" houses -- to avoid law enforcement for years, according to court papers.

Andrew Pollner of Wilmington used a shell company -- East Coast Power Washing -- to hide his profits and launder other drug money by buying into a restaurant chain, the papers say.

The organization -- which smuggled 2,200 to 6,600 pounds of marijuana into the country each year -- was finally tripped up through a low-level informant, said Acting U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss.

"They systematically worked their way up the chain through this organization," Weiss said of investigators. "They exercised a great deal of patience and perseverance. That's why the entire investigation took the better part of two years."

Those same tactics led one of Pollner's operatives -- Henry Cook, 31, of Claymont -- to plead guilty to two drug charges Thursday in federal court.

A "cooperating defendant" led agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to Cook in October 2007 when he had $62,000 in cash and was trying to buy a kilo of cocaine and 10 pounds of marijuana in north Wilmington, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert F. Kravetz.

While in operation, though, authorities say Pollner's ring distributed marijuana in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Eight people have been arrested in Delaware and most -- including Pollner -- have pleaded guilty. Others were arrested in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Before its demise, the ring was "the most substantial marijuana conspiracy, in terms of the sophisticated nature of the operation and the volumes involved," that Weiss could recall.

Bill Glanz, agent in charge of the DEA's Delaware office from 1973 to 1988, said he saw similar organizations in the Philadelphia area over 30 years with the agency but never one like Pollner's in Delaware.

University link disputed

One example of Pollner's sophistication was his use of "stash" houses, authorities said.

While the last was in Glasgow, near Newark, it had been in operation as a hub for drug storage and distribution only for about four months, court papers indicate. Before that, Pollner used up to seven other locations, including homes in Avondale, Pa., and Wilmington's Trolley Square.

Prosecutors believe Pollner got his start in the Newark area in 2000 and that his operation targeted and made millions from University of Delaware students.

Albert "Skip" Homiak, UD's executive director of campus and public safety and a Delaware State Police veteran, expressed doubts that Pollner's operation was UD-centered.

"I'd suggest you have pockets of this kind of activity throughout the state, so you don't know if it was targeting UD students," he said, adding that the school has not seen a drug problem on campus.

He said the involvement of Patrick Marcey, 29, of Rehoboth Beach, a former University of Delaware student, and the location of the stash house near campus were not conclusive. Marcey pleaded guilty to processing marijuana in the stash house and making deliveries, according to court records.

"I do know from previous experience [that] a stash house is usually not where you have a lot of drug activity," Homiak said, adding that dealers prefer a stash house to be low-profile to avoid detection.

A visit Wednesday to the former stash house on Garvey Lane indicated that few in the area knew or suspected that drug activity was going on there.

Neighbors, who did not want to be identified, said they only realized something was amiss in summer 2007 after notices were posted on the home saying it had been seized by the federal government.

While Homiak downplayed any UD connection, he said school officials are "obviously concerned ... because of the location."

"We have 20,000 students here," he said. "We try to maintain a safe and secure community, so any time there are indications of criminal activity, we take that all very seriously."

Vacuum-packed cash

Pollner's drug operation likely went big-time around 2004 when he established a relationship with one or more Canadian providers of high-grade, hydroponically grown marijuana, according to prosecutors and court papers.

This grower or growers apparently could smuggle drugs across the border into upstate New York, where couriers would pick them up and deliver them to Pollner's stash houses. Weiss would not say whether Canadian officials are investigating the operation at their end.

The couriers, according to prosecutors, used pickup trucks or cars, with the drugs stashed in large black duffel bags, similar to the ones hockey players use to carry their equipment.

At the stash houses, marijuana would be broken up and packaged for resale.

The job of making local deliveries fell to Marcey, who lived at the Newark-area stash house and was paid $5,000 a month, according to the court documents.

Marcey would get text messages with instructions from Pollner on a prepaid cell phone that Pollner gave him, complete with pre-programmed phone numbers.

Pollner would constantly change his phone and the phones he gave employees and sometimes customers.

Glanz said this is a typical method used by drug dealers to make it difficult for police to track them and their calls.

Marcey then would make deliveries and collect cash, according to court papers.

At the stash house, the cash would be vacuum-packed in bundles of $50,000 to be delivered to Pollner.

Sometimes, the cash would be sent back to pay for new deliveries of marijuana.

Drug dealers often pack cash in plastic because it covers up the scent of drugs on the cash that could be picked up by drug-sniffing dogs, according to attorneys and experts.

The people who worked for Pollner, or at least their jobs, also seemed to be constantly shifting.

As part of Pollner's operation, authorities say, one unidentified cooperating witness told investigators that he was hired to transport drugs to Florida and made a number of runs from 2003 to 2005.

He told investigators he was provided a rental car that Pollner arranged, was told where to meet someone to get the drugs -- often in the parking lot of a Newark hotel -- and was given money to buy plane tickets to fly himself back to the Delaware area after the deal was completed, according to court records.

In 2005, Lewis Busby, 65, of Wilmington, was added to smuggling runs and stashed drugs in large fuel containers concealed in a boat that he would tow on a trailer to Florida, the papers say.

Busby was paid $4,000 to $6,000 per trip, they say. For a time, Busby also made $800 to $1,000 a month "rent" by allowing Pollner to use the basement of his Avondale, Pa., home to stash marijuana, prosecutors said.

That "lease" agreement ended in late 2005 or early 2006 because Busby was unhappy that Pollner had started to store cocaine there as well, according to court papers.

A shift in the business

Glanz, who retired from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration in 1998 and is now a private investigator for Hyden and Associates, said the marijuana trade has changed significantly over the past 10 years.

"The thing I find ironic is that people in Delaware are now supplying people in Florida with marijuana, when at one point marijuana was all coming from [or through] the state of Florida," he said.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the drug generally was grown in outdoor fields, making it less potent, he said.

"Canada wasn't a source," he said, nor were hydroponically grown drugs.

One thing that remains the same, and which seems to be true in this case, is that marijuana dealers are generally the most sophisticated businessmen, Glanz said.

"They would invest money and launder money and those cases would always result in the most seizures of assets," he said, as opposed to other dealers who would spend all the money they made quickly.

He believes this was -- and still is -- because marijuana always has had high profit margins and, compared to other drugs, a lower risk.

In Philadelphia at one point, federal prosecutors wouldn't consider pursuing a marijuana case unless more than 500 pounds was involved, he said.

Pollner's group seemed to be following in that trend.

"As evidence, I'd point to the record-keeping," he said. "It shows a very professional organization."

Haleigh Cummings: Forgotten Angel?

Satsuma, Florida- Haleigh Cummings has been long forgotten by the media. I hardly see any reports regarding her when I flip through the news. Nothing. Investigators at a loss? I am, how could she just vanish. Leaving no clues? Is she alive? Is she dead? No one seems to have the foggiest clue as to what happened to Haleigh.

The last “adult” to see Haleigh before she disappeared has been questioned numerous times for countless hours just to get a solid timeline of events leading up to Haleigh’s disappearance. Investigators have yet to nail that down. It’s unfortunate gone without any trace left behind. No fibers or stains or hairs to say this is me I was here. Blood hounds tracked her scent the day she disappeared to a pond, the railroad tracks, and a thick wooded area? Hopefully she was accompanied by an adult for those adventures. It seems almost impossible to me she could vanish with nothing left behind.

Almost eerie in a way. Like someone took the time to carry this out with all loose ends tied up. What happened to Haleigh? Where did she go? Who ever did this to her really took the time to carefully pull this off minding evidence that may or may not possibly be left at any type of scene. Who did this? A stranger? An aquaintance? Was it a friend? Was it family? I too am standing at that empty crossroad in that unforgiving desert alongside her family. Waiting, wondering when she is going to come home. Is she ever going to come home? She has been missing for over 60 days.

There has been plenty of bickering back and forth from both sides of Haleigh’s family. Crystal and Ron are both slinging mud at one another. Most coming from Crystal. Can’t says I blame her much. Considering Haleigh was in the care of Ron’s now wife when Haleigh disappeared. Id be a bit upset also. Dont know if id go as far as some of the accusations Crystal has made against the pair but I wouldnt be none happy to say the least. There has been speculation of some unsavory characters around Ron’s home during the time Haleigh disappeared. What any of that has to do with her disappearance if it does have anything to do with it is beyond me. More goose for the chase. None of which has brought Haleigh home. All the accusations and ranting about he said she said all the finger pointing at people has yet to bring the girl home.

There is reports from Satsuma that the community is upset with Crystal and Ron over this they say its taking away from the true problem, finding Haleigh. Its been reported that Ron lost his job. What that has to do with Haleigh I dont know just more mud for the puddle. Ron has moved away from the Hermits Cove a few miles south with his grandmother in Welaka, Florida. Crystal has also packed up Haleigh’s room and is residing in St.Johns County. She is no longer at “ground zero” either. She is still operating the Haleigh Bug Headquarters. There was a tip called into Putnam County Sheriffs office the other day regarding a woman believing she saw Haleigh in a vehicle with a large man and a woman. It’s reported investigators didn’t find any reason to check on it. Makes my heart sink. I haven’t heard or read about any searches for Haleigh.

Like many others Haleigh has become a forgotten angel in our nation. She has moved into the status with so many other wonderful, bright children. Lost and missing never to be heard from again. It saddens me deeply for her. Wondering why won’t someone at least let her be brought home. Living or not. Who took her? Why did they take her? Seems to me they really had this one figured out. Not just a fly by the seat of there pants decision. Thought out, calculated. Its to bad. Haleigh is a beautiful child. So full of life and smiles.

Haleigh is a five year old girl she has curly blonde hair and brown eyes. She is three feet tall and weighs thirty nine pounds. She has a birthmark on her left cheek. Anyone out there with any information about Haleigh is urged to please contact Putnam County Sheriffs office at (386)-329-0800 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-277-TIPS (8477). Or call Haleigh Bug Headquarters directly at (954)-553-6514.

Take a bite out of crime

Dutch bursts out of the police truck with his teeth ripped back in a vicious snarl. The German Shepherd’s blood’s up and pity anything that gets between him and the crook. Anything but the slobbery toy Const. Paul Jessen holds out, instantly turning the fierce beast into a puppy.

Jessen got Dutch when he was 11 months old, and the dog already had a chip on his shoulder. That’s part of what makes the 85-pound K-9 cop such a valuable partner.

“They do have that aggressive streak when you need it. There are times when you have to arrest somebody and they’re not about to be arrested,” the Halifax Regional Police cop explains.

Jessen’s been with the police for 21 years and in the K-9 unit for 13. He’s on his third dog, and he’s seen them sniff out some well-hidden bad guys.

Jessen and his dog once arrived late on the scene of a stolen van. The thieves had ditched the vehicle and fled on foot.

“It was a parking lot, which is more difficult for the dogs because the hard surface doesn’t retain the scent as well as grass or woods,” he says. “He went right to a dumpster a half kilometre away. We looked inside and sure enough, they were inside. It was a mother and son team.”

Most criminals underestimate the dog’s nose, which can track down explosives, narcotics and evidence, as well as people.

“A lot of people are very surprised. They’re not expecting to be caught,” he says. “They are German Shepherds and they do have huge teeth.”

Cops and canines work and live together. Dutch’s insulated dog house is in Jessen’s backyard, so he quickly adjusts to the weather. He’s about halfway through his eight-year working life.

“Then, they start showing their age. The work is fairly punishing for them. It’s punishing for us, too,” Jessen says. In retirement, the dogs often become pure pets for the handlers, or they find another home for them.

Not all are as ill-tempered as Dutch. Jessen took his retired German Shepherd to visit his three-year-old nephew. “He was all over him, and he doesn’t care at all. I wouldn’t do that with (Dutch). He’s got personal space issues.”

Police display new murder evidence

A FUBU jacket found near a murder scene a year ago might play a vital role in bringing the killers of a young Halifax man to justice.

Investigators released photos of the shiny silver and black jacket on Thursday in hopes it will lead them to whoever killed Jaumar Carvery.

“We believe it belongs to one of the suspects in the shoot­ing," said Sgt. Kevin Smith of the Halifax Regional Police/ RCMP integrated major crime unit. “There’s potential here for people to possibly recognize it and come forward.

“We want to make sure we keep this investigation in the public eye."

Mr. Carvery, a 21-year-old fa­ther of two, was shot five times just after midnight last May 3 at an intersection of two walk­ways — Sunrise Walk and Mid­dle Lane — in the Uniacke Square neighbourhood off Got­tingen Street in Halifax.

Sgt. Smith spoke to reporters at the crime scene near a me­morial tribute to Mr. Carvery, a former high school basketball star who was about to start a job as a maintenance worker. The memorial, protected by a blue tarpaulin, contains doz­ens of cards, candles, teddy bears, flowers and poems.

Sgt. Smith said Mr. Carvery was living about 50 metres south of the shooting scene and went out that night to meet his brother on Sunrise Walk — they intended to go downtown — but was intercepted by at least three people before he got there.

He was shot four times in the chest and once in the heart, his mother said, and he died in hos­pital.

Police officers on foot patrol on nearby Gottingen Street heard the shots and ran to in­vestigate. One suspect was seen running north from the scene, Sgt. Smith said.

A police dog later followed a trail about 200 metres north to Wood Avenue.

The officers found the jacket but the dog lost the scent there, suggesting the suspects may have fled in a car.

Sgt. Smith said police have done forensics work on the jacket but he wouldn’t talk about what they learned.

“That’s sensitive informa­tion and we’re not going to re­lease it to the public," he said.

Asked why investigators Sgt. Smith said investigators have received good co-oper­ation from witnesses and com­munity members. “We’ve got some persons of interest, without question," he said.

But he compared the situa­tion to a puzzle and said police may know a lot about the shoot­ing but they need to learn more. “Knowing what occurred — and by no means do we think we know everything — is one thing (and) proving it is another. That’s a burden we have to con­tend with."
In December, the victim’s mother, Ordra (Susie) Carvery, spoke of her frustration with the pace of the police investiga­tion and pleaded for the public to help.

“My son died a horrible, hor­rible death," she said at the time.

Ms. Carvery said it’s no se­cret who the suspects are or that they targeted her son out of jealousy. She declined to comment on Thursday.

A little more than four weeks after Mr. Carvey’s killing, the body of Daniel Martin New­man, 65, was found in the same neighbourhood, along a path­way next to St. Patrick’s-Alex­andra School on Maitland Street. He had been stabbed to death.

That crime also remains un­solved, but police have said they have no reason to believe the two killings are related.

Teen Bank Robbers Leave Scent

On March 4, two males robbed the Provident Bank at 5815 Burke Center Parkway in Burke. Now, Fairfax County Police have arrested one of the suspects, a 17-year-old Burke boy.

In a March 4 affidavit for a warrant to search the teen’s home for possible evidence, Fairfax County Police robbery Det. Craig Guyton, with the Criminal Investigations Bureau, explained the case against him.

He wrote that, during the bank robbery, “One of the suspects was armed with a black, semi-automatic pistol and maintained control of the lobby while the other suspect vaulted the teller counter.” Cash was taken from each teller by one of the robbers, and then both left the bank on foot.

Afterward, Guyton and another detective, B.A. Gaydos, viewed the bank’s surveillance footage. One suspect’s face was partially covered with a bandana, and the other suspect wore a ski-type mask, and Gaydos thought he recognized one of them as the Burke teen. [The Connection is not revealing his name because he’s a minor].

Gaydos had previously arrested the teen; he therefore also knew his address and that he lived in the neighborhood behind the bank. So, wrote Guyton, “Police K-9 units responded to the scene and were able to establish a track from the crime scene to the wooded area behind the bank.”

There, police found a black, ski-type mask and a dye-stained pillow case. According to the affidavit, “An amount of dye-stained, U.S. currency was found inside the pillow case.”

Furthermore, some 30-45 minutes after the robbery, police Det. Earl Bowers was standing near the intersection of Oak Leather Drive and Burke Center Parkway when he saw a particular vehicle approach the intersection. A young woman was driving and, wrote Guyton, her male passenger “was acting in a suspicious manner and appeared to be avoiding eye contact with Bowers.” Bowers then ran the vehicle’s registration by the DMV and, stated Guyton, the driver turned out to be the “known girlfriend” of the Burke teen.

Guyton also wrote that a police bloodhound sniffed the mask that was recovered in the woods as evidence and began to track the specific scent on it. According to the affidavit, the dog “tracked through the neighborhood to the parking lot directly in front of [the Burke teen’s residence] and also showed interest in the front door” of that home.

On March 9, Guyton also requested a warrant to search the teen’s cell phone. He wrote that, after seeing the bank surveillance video, Gaydos believed the suspect “controlling the [bank] employees with the firearm and carrying what is believed to be a cell phone” looked like the Burke teen. In addition, Guyton obtained a warrant to take a DNA sample from the teen’s cheek so it could be compared with the DNA found on the mask.

On March 18, Guyton obtained juvenile petitions charging the teen with robbery and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and a detention order was issued for him. The next day, March 19, Guyton went to his home and took him into custody. The teen was slated to appear in court on April 7.

SLED bloodhound finds burglary suspects

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division bloodhoud led police to four suspects accused of breaking into a Batesburg-Leesville business.

Police Chief Wallace Oswald asked for the help of SLED’s tracking team around 5:30 Wednesday morning to search for people who burglarized a local business.
SLED said “Judy” the bloodhound picked up a scent and tracked it through the woods.

She located and sniffed more evidence that was along the way.

Judy kept tracking approximately one mile through the woods to a nearby road.

SLED said she led police to footprints in a sandy area of the roadway and eventually to a house that’s not far from the crime scene.
Batesburg-Leesville police later brought four people from the house in for questioning.
SLED said police arrested “several individuals.“

Charges were pending.

Who Can You Trust? Sunday School Teacher Charged with Rape and Murder

A Sunday school teacher, Melissa Huckaby was arrested Friday on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering Sandra Cantu. Only eight years of age, the Northern California girl’s body was found by farm workers last week stuffed into a suitcase. They were draining an irrigation pond a few miles from her home. She may even be charged with rape and molestation as well as murder.

Formal charges were filed Tuesday afternoon. Monday, San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Robert Himmelblau stated that the murder in the course of kidnaping charge against Huckaby could also include special circumstances charges, which would be those of rape with a foreign object and lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. With those added charges, Huckaby would be eligible for the death penalty or life in prison without parole. The District Attorney’s Office will probably not determine whether or not to seek the death penalty until closer to the date of the trial.

Sandra Cantu disappeared on 27 March. Police were called in and began a search. The following day, they brought in scent dogs. Despite allegations that the dogs were brought in too late, the scent should have lingered long enough to have been followed. Indeed, according to some, a bloodhound can track a scent which is days old. However, sorting out recent scents from old scents could prove problematic and inconclusive for the purposes of tracking.

Sandra Cantu was visiting her friend and playmate Madison Huckaby, aged five, when she disappeared. Huckaby lived with her mother and grandparents five doors down from where Sandra Cantu lived.

Currently, the police are reticent and silent on the exact cause of death concerning Sandra Cantu, nor are they detailing any evidence which lead them to allege sexual assault.

Tracy, CA Police have been criticized for how this case unfolded. They began the search for Sandra Cantu twenty-four hours after she had been reported missing and no Amber Alert was issued in this case. Many local residents are critical concerning the lengthy time in which it took to bring in the scent dogs. Scent dogs may have been inconclusive given how active Cantu was in the neighborhood. However the lack of cadaver dogs may be a more important issue. Some are saying that a faster response from the police may have saved Cantu’s life.

Currently, Melissa Huckaby remains in custody without bail. She is at the San Joaquin County Jail where she is being monitored by jail staff concerning her mental health. She is not being allowed visitors.

Rape, child sexual abuse and murder are relatively rare among women. According to the FBI, only seven percent of all murders are committed by women, and solo killing of children by women is incredibly rare. However, they do happen.

“It’s extremely unusual for women to be involved in abduction and murder of a child,” a Federal agent with the FBI’s Washington DC Headquarters stated. “Sometimes we see this when a woman is working with a male partner. . . but while I have not been involved directly with this investigation, from what I know of the case, so far, that circumstance is not applicable here.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation Behavioral Analysis Unit and investigators from the Crimes Against Children Unit have become involved in the case by providing on-site and telephone consultations with the local officials in Tracy.

Several of Huckaby’s relatives spoke to reporters on Sunday. One man who only identified himself as a member of the family read a statement saying that the allegations against Huckaby were out of character.

Cold Nose

New crime-fighting Karelian dog joins investigative team

By Eve Newman
Boomerang Staff Writer

A new puppy has joined the Cold Nose Investigators team, and soon Nadi — a Karelian bear dog — will be working alongside Moose, Zoe and Josephine, her golden retriever teammates who do everything from wilderness tracking to cadaver, narcotics and pet detection to therapy.

Nadi, who’s now 4 months old, will be trained in bear detection, bear protection, wildlife investigation work and human cadaver work, owner Curt Orde said. Curt and his wife, Cathy, make up the human component of Cold Nose Investigators, a Centennial-based group that travels around the country providing professional canine services free of charge for private citizens and public agencies.

Nadi’s primary work will be bear detection and protection, said Curt. The couple will be spending the summer coordinating campground volunteers throughout the Laramie region of the Medicine Bow National Forest, and Nadi will help alert campers to the presence of bears, helping both campers and bears avoid conflicts. Once fully trained, she’ll chase bears away from human areas, stopping once the bear has left the area.

“That teaches the dog it has to let the bear go, and it teaches the bear that once it gets away from people, it’s in a safe environment, and there’s no need to shoot the bear. It saves both bears and people,” Curt said.

The Ordes acquired Nadi from the Florence, Mont.,-based Wind River Bear Institute. The institute developed a program called Partners in Life, which uses Karelian bear dogs to help bears and people avoid conflicts.

Nadi was selected for bear detection work based on her aptitude and her personality.

“We’re fortunate to have a dog like this in this part of the country, and we really believe she’s going to be an asset to the community, and to bears and any agency that may wish to use her,” Curt said.

The Ordes are also teaching Nadi a skit that they’ll take to schools and community groups to teach people about safe behavior around bears, including never feeding bears.

First, Cathy holds out her hand and Nadi wraps her front paws around the outstretched arm. Then Cathy points her finger and Nadi falls over. Then Nadi rolls over on her back with her feet up, helping illustrate the maxim, “A fed bear is a dead bear.”

Practicing the skit earlier this week, Nadi showed she’s still very much a puppy with a short attention span, though she did manage to get through her part with only a few prompts from her owners.

A black and white, high-energy animal, Nadi can already track bear and human scents, and she’s found bear tracks near her home in Centennial. Out in the woods, cars driving along a distant highway will attract her attention, and she loves jumping at moths.

“She would make a good police officer,” Curt said.

“She’s totally aware,” Cathy said.

She’s taken her place as the newbie among The Golden Gang, but after only a couple days of practice and watching Moose, she figured out that she’s supposed to scratch when she finds the scent she’s after. Compared to the very refined golden retriever breed, the Ordes called Nadi a “ruffian,” though a smart one that has attempted to open doors by twisting the knob with her paws.

They described Karelian bear dogs, which originated in Finland, as a wilder breed, evidenced by their desire to dig dens.

“At eight weeks, she already picked up cadaver scent. (With) most dogs you have to ingrain that interest in them and that skill in them. It’s instinctive with her. They’re hunters,” Curt said

Cathy said Moose was ready for action when he was 11 months old. Nadi should progress at a similar rate, meaning they’ll aim to put her to work starting this fall, especially if she gets a whole summer’s worth of practice in the campgrounds.

Her training, like that of her teammates, will be almost daily and will be ongoing, with certification done yearly.

“She’s really amazing to watch,” Cathy said.

Burke Teen Charged with Bank Robbery

On March 4, two males robbed the Provident Bank at 5815 Burke Center Parkway in Burke. Now, Fairfax County Police have arrested one of the suspects, a 17-year-old Burke boy.

In a March 4 affidavit for a warrant to search the teen’s home for possible evidence, Fairfax County Police robbery Det. Craig Guyton, with the Criminal Investigations Bureau, explained the case against him.

He wrote that, during the bank robbery, “One of the suspects was armed with a black, semi-automatic pistol and maintained control of the lobby while the other suspect vaulted the teller counter.” Cash was taken from each teller by one of the robbers, and then both left the bank on foot.

Afterward, Guyton and another detective, B.A. Gaydos, viewed the bank’s surveillance footage. One suspect’s face was partially covered with a bandana, and the other suspect wore a ski-type mask, and Gaydos thought he recognized one of them as the Burke teen. [The Connection is not revealing his name because he’s a minor].

Gaydos had previously arrested the teen; he therefore also knew his address and that he lived in the neighborhood behind the bank. So, wrote Guyton, “Police K-9 units responded to the scene and were able to establish a track from the crime scene to the wooded area behind the bank.”

There, police found a black, ski-type mask and a dye-stained pillow case. According to the affidavit, “An amount of dye-stained, U.S. currency was found inside the pillow case.”

Furthermore, some 30-45 minutes after the robbery, police Det. Earl Bowers was standing near the intersection of Oak Leather Drive and Burke Center Parkway when he saw a particular vehicle approach the intersection. A young woman was driving and, wrote Guyton, her male passenger “was acting in a suspicious manner and appeared to be avoiding eye contact with Bowers.” Bowers then ran the vehicle’s registration by the DMV and, stated Guyton, the driver turned out to be the “known girlfriend” of the Burke teen.

Guyton also wrote that a police bloodhound sniffed the mask that was recovered in the woods as evidence and began to track the specific scent on it. According to the affidavit, the dog “tracked through the neighborhood to the parking lot directly in front of [the Burke teen’s residence] and also showed interest in the front door” of that home.

On March 9, Guyton also requested a warrant to search the teen’s cell phone. He wrote that, after seeing the bank surveillance video, Gaydos believed the suspect “controlling the [bank] employees with the firearm and carrying what is believed to be a cell phone” looked like the Burke teen. In addition, Guyton obtained a warrant to take a DNA sample from the teen’s cheek so it could be compared with the DNA found on the mask.

On March 18, Guyton obtained juvenile petitions charging the teen with robbery and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and a detention order was issued for him. The next day, March 19, Guyton went to his home and took him into custody. The teen was slated to appear in court on April 7.

Jury sees first photos of murdered woman, hear autopsy results

MIRAMICHI - Several jury members became emotional this week at seeing photos of Maria Tanasichuk's dead body.

As the murder trial continued against Maria's husband David Tanasichuk this week, investigating officer Sgt. Brian Cummings of the Miramichi Police Force returned to the stand to speak about the pictures he took in 2003 after her body, covered by tree branches, was eventually discovered in the woods near the Chatham snowmobile trail.

Autopsy and firearm experts testified as well, concluding the death was caused by gun shots to the head.

Maria's sister Sharon Caroll was in the court room as the photos were discussed and wiped tears from her eyes. Two female jurors also appeared to be upset.

The body was discovered more than five months after Maria went missing and the photos depict a body that had begun decomposing.

The series of pictures were taken upon the discovery of the body and an image was taken after each branch was removed.

On Wednesday Crown prosecutors John Henheffer and Bill Richards focused the case away from the relationship Tanasichuk had with his wife before she went missing and turned to the evidence of the body and the analyses performed by authorities on the crime scene itself.

Cummings described the clothing found on Maria at the scene.

"She had on a green camouflage jacket, orange on the inside, very warm, a tan sweater with a deer and a lighter sweater underneath. She had two bluish purple gloves, long underwear, two pairs of socks and black boots."

The Crown asked if she wore anything on her head.

"No, there was nothing on her head."

Several pieces of jewelery were discovered as well— the loop earings in each ear and a stud, as well as a cross in her hair and two diamond rings.

Cummings told the court Carroll's husband found a sawed off rifle in the woods under an abandoned pick up truck box and he sent it to the lab in Bathurst looking for prints. After discovering Maria had been shot to death, he began to look for casings at the scene and sent the rifle to be tested by a firearm expert.

On cross examination, defense lawyer Brian Munro, continued to suggest Maria had angered local drug dealers when she confronted them about not selling to Tanasichuk.

"Have you heard of the phrase rat?" Munro asked Cummings.

"Yes. When a person goes to the police about illegal activities," he answered.

"And drug dealers don't like them," said Munro. "Could they have believed she would go to police?"

The defense asked why surveillance was done on Tanasichuk when Maria went missing and not on others, such as Ralph Chapman, a man once convicted of drug dealing.

"I had no reason to believe Ralph was peddling drugs," replied Cummings.

He also questioned why no one had noticed the rifle under the truck uring the many sweeps they'd performed in the woods in the months before is was discovered.

The officer indicated he may have missed the gun for the same reason the search team was unable to find Maria's body for so long — because of all the snow.

Search and rescue dogs were brought in from Maine to help search for a body back in 2003.

Deborah Palman, game warden for the MaineWildlife Department testified to being the one to find the body. The team came in May but found nothing and had to return in late June to search again.

She and her teammates used cadaver dogs to search the area and tracked their locations using GPS to record the spots where they had already been.

"On the second morning we looked on the laptop and noticed a block in behind the Portage Restaurant that had not been done," said Palman. "It was a block with no easy access, there was no trail in that section. They wanted it gridded, eliminated."

As she began to sweep the area with her dog Alex, she said Alex clearly picked up a scent and ran out of view.

"Because of the heat he usually stayed close, but he left and headed up wind," she said, "He came back and had that look like, ‘hey you, you've got to follow me."

Though Palman expected her dog found a dead moose carcass she quickly realized he'd found a human body when she saw the dog had run to a pile of branches with a green piece of cloth visible underneath.

She also noted what she believed to have been old marijuana growing operation that had been abandoned in the area.

Munro questioned why she thought there had been marijuana growing there.

"There was none there anymore but I've come across that sort of thing and it looked like marijuana was there at one time. There was old chicken wire."

The experts

Sgt. Guy Chamberlain was a forensic identification specialist with the Bathurst RCMP who was not only involved with the search at Tanasichuk's home after Maria went missing but also a part of the search team that discovered her body. He was the officer who looked at the gun seized in the woods as a possible murder weapon for fingerprints and attended the autopsy.

"The branches were piled on top of the remains," said Chamberlain of the scene where Maria's body was discovered. "There is no natural way those would have landed there like that."

Chamberlain examined the sawed-off rifle and green tarp it was found in for any traces of fingerprints or DNA but could not find anything suitable.

He did find a print on a piece of electrical tape attached to the gun, however the mark was too distorted to use.

"Because it didn't match Mr. Tanasichuk, it was not suitable?" asked the defense. "Were you told to focus on Mr. Tanasichuk?"

"Not at all," replied Chamberlain. "I don't look for a specific person. There was no proper fingerprint to compare. It could have been for anybody."

Dr. Marek Godlewski conducted the autopsy on Maria's body.

At trial he was sworn in as an expert as an anatomical pathologist and for forensic pathology.

Godlewski identified two "defects" to the skull — two round holes above the right eye and above the right ear.

He determined these to be entry wounds of bullets and found two metal objects on the x-ray as well as several metallic fragments.

The bullet wound to the forehead, he said, had created fracture lines through the face of the skull.

The court heard Godlewski could not perform several standard autopsy procedures due to the level of decomposition of the body, but he believed the evidence was clear.

"My conclusion is the death was caused by gun shot wounds to the head," said Godlewski.

During defense questioning, Munro wanted to know more about the size of the bullet wound holes, asking whether a small discrepancy in their size could mean they were different bullets that came from different guns.

" One was .6 centimetres, the other .7. The report does not show a distinction between between the [holes]," he said.

"There weren't three defects?" asked Munro.

"Well I only identified two," said Godlewski.

However, Justice Glady Young heard once the skull was taken for further examination a third bullet was found in Maria's head.

Darryl Barr, civilian member of the RCMP, was sworn in as an expert in firearms and tool marks, including damage assessment, ammunition examination, trajectory analysis and wound ballistics.

Investigating officers delivered the sawed-off rifle discovered in the woods as well as .22 caliber ammo found in the Tanasichuk residence during the seizure and the skull and tissue containing the bullet fragments.

He examined the marks the barrel of the gun left on bullets when they were fired and matched two of the bullets from Maria's body as coming from that rifle.

"I could not identify where the third bullet came from, there was too much damage too that bullet," he explained.

He added the fact that because the rifle in the wood had been altered when the barrel was shortened, it became easier to match the source of the bullets because the jagged cuts at the end of the barrel would create more distinct grooves in the surfaces of the bullets.

Barr's cross examination continued later in the week, however, Munro did ask him about two other bullets the investigators sent for him to analyse.

These weathered bullets were found 70 metres from the crime scene and Barr indicated one bullet had definitely not matched the markings left by the sawed-off rifle, while the other was too weathered to determine its origins.

Munro suggested that with two inconclusive bullet examinations and one bullet that did not come from the rifle, two shooters or a second gun should not be ruled out of the murder.

Saratoga woman and her dog, Sweep, are there when they're needed

The World Trade Center. The Columbia Space Shuttle disaster. The terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City.

To the rest of the country, these places and events conjure up unspeakable horrors. Lynne Engelbert views them through another filter — that of hope, pride and gratitude.

Idly scratching the head of Sweep, her border collie, Engelbert recounts her 20 years as a canine search specialist. The Saratoga resident and her dog are among an elite squad that is regularly called upon by such agencies as the California Office of Emergency Services and FEMA. Engelbert's job: to enter collapsed buildings during disasters, and — with Sweep's help — locate those who are trapped in the rubble. She also assists in training detection dogs for the Coast Guard, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office and Fire Department.

As one of three daughters of an Oregon farmer, Engelbert says her unusual career choice was almost pre-ordained: "I say only jokingly that I was raised by border collies. My dad had one that would work with him all day, and then play with us at night. That dog kept us in line, and if we were doing something wrong, she would let us know."

Those early years on the farm taught Engelbert the value of hard work and instilled in her the notion that there was no such thing as a "man's job." During her career she has raced dragsters, while doing mechanical maintenance
on the cars herself. She has done the traditional as well, marrying and having two children — Shanti, 37, and Samir, 33. Her husband, David, died in 2006.

Even as she was raising her children, Engelbert still hankered for the rush of adrenaline she had experienced on the racetrack. She became part of NASA's team of rescue specialists, venturing into buildings to locate the trapped. But as the years wore on, the physical demands of the job took their toll. "As a rescue specialist, you're one of the first people in after a disaster," Engelbert explains. "I got too old to drag a jackhammer through a small space. But I still wanted to be on the front lines."

Engelbert happened to watch a demonstration of the talents of "sniffer dogs" performed by Shirley Hammond. After the cataclysmic earthquake in Mexico City in 1985, Hammond (a retired RN and member of the Urban Search and Rescue team) had championed the notion of sending dogs in to locate those caught in demolished buildings. She and her husband David, a structural engineer, subsequently were instrumental in petitioning Congress to pass the legislation that resulted in the establishment of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Hammond has since written the book considered the "bible" by rescue dog handlers, Training The Disaster Search Dog). Says Hammond, "From my experience in Mexico City and with US&R, I was very involved with establishing the criteria and standards for doing rescues with dogs. I gave a presentation in San Francisco, and Lynne was in the audience."

As soon as Engelbert saw Hammond's rescue dog demo, she was hooked. She hung around with Hammond and other rescuers for two years, while earning a degree in fire science technology. Two years later she acquired the first of four dogs she has trained for rescue work. "I've been doing this ever since," she says.

Rescue dog handlers like Engelbert now play a crucial role in the disaster recovery process. Once structural and HAZMAT specialists have determined that a building is safe enough for rescuers to enter, Engelbert and Sweep and their colleagues are allowed in. The highly trained canines typically find victims in short order.

"Our dogs can determine very quickly if there's someone alive in the building, just using their noses," says Engelbert, a member of California Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 3. "They're taught to find a live human scent, so they'll stand there and bark at the scent source until we can visually or physically mark it. Then we turn it over to the rescue specialists to pull the person out."

When not working on "live finds," Engelbert serves on the board of the Canine Specialized Search Team, and is an associate with the Institute for Canine Forensics, which takes the lead on historical remains detection (i.e., so-called "cold cases"). In 1999, Engelbert was deployed to the Milpitas landfill, where she and her dog Lucy (now deceased) helped locate the body of a San Jose woman who had been missing for more than two weeks. "It's absolutely amazing what these dogs can find," says Engelbert. "They can go in and detect burials that are hundreds, or even thousands of years old. We humans never lose our smell."

Engelbert admits that her husband was never entirely comfortable with the idea of her traveling across the country to work major disasters with mostly male crewmembers. But to her, it was just business as usual.

"I grew up on the farm and I have an engineering background; I've always been in a more male-oriented environment," Engelbert says. "Still, it was hard for my husband when I'd go out on a deployment. When I went to Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center, it absolutely freaked him out."

It's not difficult to understand his anxiety: Though Engelbert usually ventures into structures to find victims who may still be alive, the World Trade Center assignment was grim in the extreme.

"By the time any of the task forces got there, there really weren't any live people to be found," she reveals. "It was more bits and pieces than a large source of scent for the dogs. But we did locate one body, which belonged to one of the firefighters." Once Engelbert's dog picked up the scent of the fallen man, it took four hours for rescue teams to extricate his body from the ruins. "It gave everyone goose-bumps to find one of their own," Engelbert says. "To be able to give him to his family to take home was really an amazing feeling."

Faced with such tragedies, how is it possible for Engelbert to keep her sanity on the job? "I know it's a very odd thing to say that I love my work," she muses, "but I do. For example, on the shuttle recovery mission, I — along with the thousands of others who were there — helped bring all seven astronauts home. To be able to do that, to bring closure to the families, is truly a gift. It's a blessing that I get back."

Surprisingly, such blessings are often the sole compensation that Engelbert and her fellow rescue dog specialists receive. "The only time I get paid to do what I do is if I go out on a national deployment that FEMA puts on; then we're paid well," she says. During those assignments, the task forces are on call 24/7. If they're lucky, they can squeeze in a few hours of sleep. But even so, they must be ready to spring into action should the situation dictate.

Such was the case when Hurricanes Ike and Gustav slammed ashore last year. Engelbert was among the rescue teams on standby in Atlanta and Montgomery. "The storms headed into Texas, so we didn't get to engage," she says. "But FEMA was very active; there were seven task forces in Texas, waiting for deployment."

Engelbert was also part of the response effort after Hurricane Katrina, working as an emergency manager at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field. In that capacity she provided aid to teams at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. "They had no power or water, and were isolated from the surrounding area," Engelbert says. "My primary job was to help support the needs of everyone at the centers, and the rescue teams. I was very busy."

These days, Engelbert stays just as busy — and ready to report for duty at a moment's notice — by keeping both herself and Sweep in top physical condition. The latter requires a significant amount of focus: She takes the collie to training sites in Menlo Park and Brisbane, hiding live human "scent sources" at various locales for the canine to discover.

"It's really difficult for us to find ideal training sites. We need piles of concrete, green waste to simulate what's left after a tornado or a hurricane, woodpiles, construction waste. If you look at the pictures taken after Katrina, most homes were demolished to nothing but sticks. Rescue dogs need realistic situations. As you train, so shall you perform," Engelbert advises.

For a time, NASA made a portion of its property available for such maneuvers. But due to the current economic crisis, NASA has tightened its belt. "They've decided that if we can't pay, they're no longer going to allow our teams to train there," Engelbert says ruefully. "Losing this site has been devastating."

In her dreams, Engelbert envisions connecting with a charitable soul who will contribute a chunk of property to the cause. She serves as the West Coast director of Search and Rescue Assist, a registered nonprofit dedicated to the training and support of rescue dogs. The organization is based in Maryland, where a generous resident reportedly has answered SARA's call for an East Coast training facility. "There's a guy there who owns a quarry who's given us the use of part of the property; it has a huge wood pallet pile, a concrete pile and a grassy area for obedience and agility training," says Engelbert. "I'd love to see someone help us do something similar here."

Failing such an arrangement, Engelbert says she and her fellow rescue dog handlers would be thrilled to learn when buildings in the area are about to be demolished. "I tell people,`Let us play in your junky old place.' Someone can knock a building down on Friday, we can train in the rubble on Saturday and Sunday, and then they can start cleaning and grinding on Monday. If I see a demolished building, I'm like a kid in a candy store."

Even without ideal training capabilities, Engelbert remains committed to assisting with rescues. She's delighted that her son Samir is becoming a rescue dog specialist (Shanti is a commander in the U.S. Navy). And she gives praise to the four-legged friends who've been by her side for the past two decades.

"Whenever you see a disaster, everyone talks about the`sniffer dogs,' " Engelbert says. "I always say,`If you can't find them, you can't rescue them.' Our dogs can — and do — find them very quickly."

More information about rescue dogs can be found at the Institute for Canine Forensics website, k9forensic.org

Quest for artificial nose to sniff out terrorists’ fear

LAW enforcement agencies are seeking scientists to develop an artificial nose that can detect the smell of fear as terrorists pass through security at airports.

The US Department of Homeland Security is advertising for specialists to devise airport scanners that will sniff out “deceptive individuals”.

The technology builds on recent breakthroughs in finding human scent-prints which, many researchers believe, may be as unique to individuals as fingerprints.

Body odours also change perceptibly according to mood. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have already produced a gel that acts like the smell receptors in the human nose. Now they are trying to create a version that can isolate the tangy smell of adrenaline, the stress hormone, so that nervous passengers or those with a guilty conscience can be singled out.

Homeland Security wants a device that automatically compares odours with scents collected from crime scenes and held in a “smell bank” which, like DNA or fingerprints, could be used in court.

Last week officials said they only wanted to explore the possibilities but scientists are already predicting that it is only a matter of time before police will be able to sniff out crime artificially.

Professor Kenneth Furton, who is assembling a smell bank at Florida International University in Miami, said the technology could identify bank robbers by matching scent molecules collected from crime scenes on swabs.

He said chemists could already identify human smells by race, age and environment. Scientists will be able to tell police whether a thief is white, black or Asian, whether they are a teenager or older, and maybe even their last meal.

Furton, who taught chemistry at the University of Wales, Swansea, before moving to Miami, is also seeking body odours which mark people out as depressed. Other chemists are looking for the signature smells of cancers, asthma and other diseases.

Such advances could also be an additional tool in paternity cases, as family members give off a similar scent. Twins can smell as identical as they look.

One barrier to better security through sniffing is perfume. Detectors will have to be adapted to screen out more complicated molecules in bestselling scents such as Jennifer Lopez's Glow range and Chanel No 5 which mask natural smells and confuse detector dogs.

Natural scents can be boosted by stress, which releases hormones from armpits and hands. The odour can then spread in 20ft clouds to cling to clothes, furniture and walls.

The search continues

Police search for body in Knox County

By Samantha Swindler / Managing Editor

Volunteers with Human Remains Detection & Recovery of Kentucky were searching an area off Highway 6 in Knox County Tuesday after police received a tip that the body of Jeremy Johnson might be in the area.

Johnson, 25, of Woodbine, was last seen leaving the former Angels & Wings Restaurant in Corbin on June 10, 2008. About a month later, his car was found down a rural path off Kentucky 459, about four miles from Johnson’s home, but there was no sign of Johnson. Rumors of foul play circulated the community, prompting Johnson’s family to create a web site at www.myspace.com/whereisjeremyjohnson and offer a reward for information in the case.

Over the past year, law enforcement has searched rural spots in Knox and Whitley counties based on tips that Johnson’s body may have been dumped nearby.

Cadaver dogs began searching a wooded area near the intersection of Hwy. 6 and Ky. 459 at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday based on an anonymous tip called in to the Knox County Sheriff’s Department.

Kentucky State Police and members of the Knox County Sheriff’s Department were at the scene, though police did not say what — if anything — the dogs had found as of Tuesday evening.

Human Remains Detection & Recovery of Kentucky was formed about three years ago, and its dogs have helped work several high-profile cases in Jefferson County, said handler Lannis Garett.

Six handlers were in Knox County with dogs that included a golden retriever, doberman, German shepherd and a standard poodle, all trained to alert their handlers if they find bone tissue, blood, hair, teeth and even fingernail clippings.

“They can detect a drop of blood,” said handler Stephanie Stefanic. “You line up a bunch of things and you have a drop of blood on one, they can tell you where that drop of blood is.”

Garett said cool temperatures and light snow flurries Tuesday would have an effect on the dogs’ abilities, but said that the breeze would help by carrying scents even farther.

“Everything plays a big factor when you’re searching for something that’s buried,” Garett said. “The wind, the temperature, the humidity, the barometric pressure, how warm it’s been the last few days, how cool it got last night — all those are factors that have to be figured in.”

Anyone with information on Johnson’s whereabouts should contact Kentucky State Police-Harlan Post at (606) 573-3131 or the Knox County Sheriff’s Department at 546-3181.

FBI Digs Under Church; Memorial For Sandra Grows

TRACY, Calif. (CBS13/AP) ―As residents in this quiet Northern California community questioned who would stuff an 8-year-old girl's body in a suitcase and dump it in a pond, police Tuesday searched a local church and questioned the girl's neighbors.

"I hope they catch whoever did this. I lived here my whole life. I used to feel safe, but I don't anymore," said 19-year-old Melissa Landrum, who lives in the mobile home complex where Sandra Cantu was last seen alive March 27 and had known the girl since she was born.

The investigation has touched on everyone who lives in the complex, including a pastor who became a focus Tuesday. Investigators cordoned off Pastor Lane Lawless' home and Clover Road Baptist Church for a search after questioning him for three hours the night before.

The Clover Road Baptist Church was cordoned off Tuesday afternoon as agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation combed over the property, hauling out items and bagging items found.

CBS13 cameras rolled as an agent from the FBI's Evidence Response Team crawled into an underground space and emerged with what appeared to be a pair of work gloves. The FBI has not commented on what they are searching for.

Officers searched the Lawless' home again Tuesday morning, along with four other homes in the complex, according to a maintenance worker who witnessed it.

Police point out that, contrary to some media reports, that Lawless has not been arrested, only questioned, "like hundreds of people," said Sgt. Sheneman. Officials stressed that they are not focusing on any one person in the investigation, but say the case is shaping up to head in a particular direction.

That direction, Sheneman said, is confidential. "To comment on that would compromise the investigation and I cannot do that," he said.

Despite officials' downplaying the significance of searching the pastor's home and church, retired FBI profiler Candace DeLong says authorities are legally obligated to justify their interest.

"They will have to have sworn before a magistrate they had reason to search that property," DeLong said. "They're not releasing that information now, but there has to be a reason he's a person of interest and they got a search warrant."

DeLong also believes that investigators already know the cause of death, but are not ready to release that information to the public. She says that, in 75 percent of similar cases, the killer will be a caretaker or relative of the child.

"The likelihood is that this is someone that saw her, that coveted her, that invloved her in his fantasies, then actoed out that fantasy," said DeLong.

The wife of Pastor Lawless says that they are cooperating fully with investigators.

"They took the usual stuff, phone, computer, things of that nature," said Connie Lawless. "We were very open to them taking anything they wanted to take. We were not at all disturbed by that. We feel that the more people they can eliminate the quicker they will be able to get to the truth of the matter."

Connie said she suspected that police were interested in her husband's church because Sandra often played at their house with their granddaughter. She said the Lawless family has nothing to do with Sandra's disappearance.

"It breaks our heart that someone would take such a sweet child," she said.

Officials say they suspect the culprit is a local resident, given the area that Sandra's remains were found in. She was stuffed into a suitcase and dumped into an irrigation pond, in a rural area about two miles from where she lived.

"I've lived here for almost 12 years, I've worked here for nine years," Sheneman said. "The location where Sandra's body was found I'm completely unfamiliar with. Someone would have to be familiar with the area to know to go there to place that suitcase."

A somber crowd gathered at a makeshift memorial for Sandra outside the mobile home park where she lived. Stuffed animals, flowers, candles and written prayers decorated the memorial as the ever-growing crowd stood mostly in silence.

One mourner fainted at the scene and was taken away by ambulance, according to CBS13 correspondent Laura Cole.

A local defense attorney and DNA expert that has worked on several famous cases -- including the Unabomber, O.J. Simpson and the Phil Spector murder trial -- says that critical details of the case will point police to Sandra's murderer.

"The fact that she was still clothed in the clothes she had [the day she disappeared] suggests to me that whatever happened probably happened very quickly," said Bob Blaiser.

Surveillance video showed Sandra Cantu skipping away from her mobile home park the day she disappeared, and Blaiser says that was opportunity the killer was waiting for.

"It may have been what attracted the person who kidnapped her, the fact that she was also alone," Blaiser said.

The fact that Sandra was found so close to her home suggests that the murder was a crime of passion, he added.

Blaiser criticized the Tracy Police Department's handling of the case, saying that they took too long to bring in scent dogs to track down the missing eight-year-old girl, a move he said could have "absolutely" saved her life.

"It's very sloppy police work," Blaiser said. "They can't think of everything, but that's sort of the very obvious thing that you expect them to think about."

Scent dogs did search the park and around Sandra's home the day after she went missing, and Blaiser says her scent was most likely gone by that point.

Sandra Cantu's father publicly defended the Tracy Police Department for their work in the case and expressed his appreciation for their dedication.

"They're doing everything possible," Daniel Cantu said. "I don't think anyone else put in this position could've done any better."

Closed Delaware Hotel serves as K-9 training ground


Staff Writer

Although the condemned Delaware Hotel is closed to guests, area police are finding a use for it.

On Tuesday, K-9 officers from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office and Delaware City and Dublin Police, accompanied by their human partners, practiced searching for drugs on the building’s second floor.

Thor, a black-and-brown German Shepherd, rummaged through a room for the hidden contraband. He sniffed the television console, bed and desk.

“Where is it boy?” Sgt. Larry Dore asked. “You smell it?”

Thor began barking and scratching at an air-conditioning unit in the corner of the room.

“Good boy,” Dore said, patting Thor before handing him a worn rubber toy used as a reward and training tool.

Deputies converted heroin, hashish, cocaine and methamphetamine from the sheriff’s office evidence room for use in the training.

The hotel’s caretakers agreed to allow police, who are always looking for new locations to train their dogs, use the site for training. Police make efforts to expose dogs to different environments so they can perform more effectively in field work.

Because of the unpredictability the field, variety is crucial in all aspects of training, Dublin Police Officer Eric Cochrun said. For example, if the hidden drugs were all in the same type of packaging, the dogs might become accustomed to look for a particular kind of material instead of keying in on the drugs’ smell.

“We don’t want to train them to find plastic bags,” Cochrun said. “We want them to find drugs.”

So, officers hid the drugs wrapped in nylon, aluminum foil and even in a wooden box. During training, the officers also hide dog food, air fresheners and other fragrant items that criminals might use to conceal the scent of drugs.

The hotel’s size, amount of rooms and variety of smells there made it an attractive site to conduct training, Delaware County Sheriff Walter L. Davis III said.

The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office currently has two K-9 officers, named Thor and Rocky. A third dog retired in September and the sheriff’s office is currently seeking a replacement.

“Our K-9s are valuable law enforcement tools,” Davis wrote in an e-mail to the Gazette. “The dogs are used in a variety of ways including detecting narcotics, tracking people, evidence recovery and suspect apprehension.”

Employees with the Ashley-based dog-training company Azzi International walked two K-9s-in-training, Elvis and King, through the exercises. The dogs, which are imported from Europe, require months of training before they are ready for the field.

The sheriff’s office is considering buying Elvis, but Davis said it was too early to make a final decision.

“It is helpful to observe a dog in training but it’s too early for us to make a decision,” Davis said. First, the sheriff’s office would need to hire a K-9 handler, he said. “The match between a handler and a K-9 is very important.”

Cochrun, a six-year veteran of the Dublin Police Department, has worked with his K-9 partner Bairre for three years.

At the end of the day, Bairre goes home with Cochrun and roams free around the house along with his other three dogs. Cochrun described the trust he has with K-9 partner, Bairre, as a “powerful partnership.”

“I spend more time with that dog than my wife and kids,” Cochrun said.