Hearing for Fritz, former Owendale-Gagetown softball coach, reset for August

ARO -- Authorities here have postponed a preliminary hearing for a former Owendale-Gagetown softball coach accused of criminal sexual conduct with a 14-year-old female athlete.

Cory D. Fritz, 26, of Sebewaing, remains jailed as he awaits a Monday, Aug. 17, hearing at which time District Judge Kim D. Glaspie will determine whether there is probable cause for Fritz to face trial on 20 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Investigators allege Fritz, from October 2005 to March 2006, had a sexual relationship with a Gagetown sophomore.

The teen became pregnant, authorities allege, but what became of the infant remains a mystery.

Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark E. Reene has alleged that Fritz, in a written statement, has said the girl delivered the child in June 2006 and the remains of the infant are buried in a wooded area in Gagetown or Elmwood Township.

During an earlier court hearing, Reene and Fritz's attorney, Kevin J. Rieman of Bay City, disagreed about whether the child was born alive. Rieman also has questioned whether a child ever existed.

Reene has alleged that Fritz was present when the baby died. He further claimed Fritz indicated the teen had dug a hole to dispose of the body.

Reene has said that police continue to actively search for the remains with help from forensic anthropologists and cadaver dogs.

Meanwhile, Fritz's bond conditions state that if he is released he is prohibited from entering Gagetown or Elmwood Township to remove human remains.

Glaspie set bond at $50,000 cash or surety, which means Fritz must either pay the full amount or pay a surety agent 10 percent to guarantee his appearance in court.

No charges have been filed in connection with the alleged missing remains.

Authorities have not named the teen.

Criminal sexual conduct carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

The case remains under investigation. Anyone with information should call Detective Sgt. Mark Krebs at the state police Bad Axe Post, (989) 269-6442.

Remains could be those of missing man

The discovery of human remains found in lower Florence County is being treated as a suspicious death case by police. Thursday evening, a man moving a mobile home on North Old Georgetown Road found the skeletal remains.

Police say the bones were covered in a tarp, and buried in two feet of dirt under the house. At one time, the home belonged to 54-year-old Randy Bratschi, who's been missing for nearly five years.

Since then, police have trudged through swamps and woods in lower Florence County and even brought in cadaver dogs.

Captain Brett Camp, Florence County Sheriff's Office said, "He just completely, you know completely disappeared with no one last seeing him."

Florence County deputies tell us they suspected from day one that Bratschi's disappearance was suspicious. The month before he disappeared, police say Bratschi was brutally beaten by his estranged wife. She was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill. That charge is still pending in court.

Investigators say she's always been a suspect in his disappearance.

"We had many phone calls that came in. Different people had many stories to tell. We listened to them, all those stories," said Camp.

And they followed every lead, but hadn't gotten any solid information in the last few years, that is, until Thursday afternoon. They got a call that human remains were found under Bratschi's mobile home near Coward.

Investigators believe the remains could be Bratschi's said Capt. Mike Nunn with the Florence County Sheriff's Office. "Obviously, the body was placed there by some means. We're not certain exactly how. It probably took some effort to place the body there over time."

Search and rescue team locates body of Mottville man

The body of missing Mottville man, Mark Sobotka, has been recovered by search and rescue teams.
At approximately 12:23 p.m. Friday July 17 a rescue team from the Western New York Search Dogs, Inc. located Sobotka's body. Theodore Vogel and his cadaver dog, Zoe, recovered the body in a heavily wooded area approximately a quarter-mile behind Sobotka's residence.
According to the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department, it appears Sobotka died from a single gunshot wound and evidence at the scene indicated he died from an apparent suicide.
Friday morning, search and rescue teams from Cayuga Highland Search and Rescue, Western New York Search Dogs and Onondaga County Wilderness Search and Rescue returned to the area to complete their search of more than 30 acres.

Missing Man Found After Water and Air Search

After nearly two days of looking in and around a 1/2 mile stretch of the Spring River by search and rescue teams and family members the search ended Monday when the body of 54 year old Steve McPherson was spotted from a helicopter.

Up til today all search efforts had made no headway so it was decided to bring in a cadaver dog from Jonesboro and a helicopter from Baxter county. Hardy Police Chief Ernie Rose explained what happened as both joined in the search.

"Actually the cadaver dogs were here and getting in the river as the helicopter approached to do a search by helicopter they spotted the body in the river on the way upriver to where we were located at our command center ."

The body was located approximately a hundred yards North of the Camp Curl bridge located by the Spring River Camping and Canoe park.

The search had been going on since late Saturday night when McPherson was reported missing during a float trip. It is not clear how he went into the water, whether he jumped in or fell in.

Steve Garner with the Hardy Search and Rescue team says for all the traffic, drowning's on the Spring River are fairly rare.

"For the volume of people that we have on this river and the things that the people do as they come down the river, it's one or two a year."

Owing to the shallowness of the river and considering McPhersons height of 6'2". Family members were hoping that he might have made it to shore since no trace was found in the river.

Garner, a rescue diver along with another diver had searched the bottom on Sunday.

"We covered it well yesterday evening with divers and came up empty handed right in this spot."

The search was coordinated by Gary Gililand the Fire Chief from 9 Mile Ridge along with search and rescue teams from Hardy and the Fulton County Sheriffs Department.

After dragging the river all Monday morning that after noon the search efforts were ramped up. Using cadaver dogs from Jonesboro and a helicopter from the Baxter county sheriffs office.

Shortly upon arrival the helicopter located McPhersons body further down the river from where the main search had been located nearly at the campground.

McPherson was pronounced dead at the scene by Fulton County Deputy Coroner Doug Wortham.

The body will be sent to the state crime lab for an autopsy.

10-Year-Old Vanishes into the Night

At a construction site in Burke County in August 2001, a worker clearing the lot to build a new home found a black bookbag and Tweety Bird purse filled with clothing, hairbows and other childhood treasures.

The next day, police were scouring the area, about 13 miles north of the Cleveland County line, with cadaver dogs, searching for the body of a 10-year-old girl.

No one knows for sure what happened the night Asha Degree disappeared. Witness reports seem to suggest that she left her home in the early hours of the morning and set out walking down Highway 18 in Shelby, dressed all in white with a black bookbag on her back and a Tweety Bird purse in her hands.

Whether she was alone that night, what made her leave home, who may have crossed her path and caused her harm – numerous questions remain.

One thing is clear: when her parents woke up on Valentine’s Day in 2000, their wedding anniversary, Asha was nowhere to be found. Harold Degree, her father, was the last person to see her alive when he checked on her at 2:30 a.m. February 14. She was asleep in her bed.

Later that day, police launched a community-wide search for the young girl. Two motorists reported seeing her walking down the highway around 4 a.m.

“A truck driver that was driving down Highway 18 in the wee hours of the morning… reports that he saw a young black female, gives the clothing description, walking down Highway 18 as he’s traveling down that road to make his delivery,” said John Kaiser, special agent for the State Bureau of Investigation. “I don’t know that it was ever confirmed that that’s her, but it’s always been believed that that had to be her.”

Kaiser was assigned to the case in 2004 right out of the SBI Academy. He had been a police officer in Gastonia when Asha Degree went missing and had seen some media coverage of the case.

But when the case file landed on his desk, he was shocked by the amount of tips that continued to come in, years after Asha disappeared. False alarms that Asha’s body has been found have occasionally come in. And yet, the case remains unsolved.

“Until you can bring me evidence that says 99.9 percent that these are her remains or this is her body, I am not going to believe that she’s dead,” Asha’s mother, Iquilla Degree, told NC WANTED. “I don’t believe that. All we have is hope. Everything else, people can take away from us, but they can’t take our hope away… She’ll be 18 this year, maybe she thinks she’s been adopted or something… maybe she’ll start looking for us.”

Asha would have graduated from high school this year.

“This was not the first child to be lost in America but you see it on TV, and you feel sorry for the parents, you have empathy for them. But when it happened to us, for everybody around us, it was almost like it happened to them,” Iquilla said. “This is Cleveland County. Stuff like this doesn’t happen in Cleveland County.”

And the county has engaged itself in the search, keeping the case in the public eye, reporting any possible clue to police.
Kaiser avoids speculating on what happened to Asha until the right tip comes in.

“The theories that have been put forth by the people involved in this case and by the citizenry in Cleveland County are numerous and one seems as incredible as the next one seems plausible,” Kaiser said.

In the mean time, he is working hard to follow up on every lead and hopes for the right person to come forward with information that will close this case.

If you have any information about the disappearance of Asha Degree, call NC WANTED toll free at 1.866.43.WANTED (1.866.439.2683) or click on "Report a Tip" Your identity can be kept confidential.

Body Found Could Be Pasco Woman

PASCO--A body found in a suitcase and police say it could be Tiairra Garcia.

The Pasco woman disappeared last summer.

Now searchers have located bones in the same place Tiairra's friends admit to dumping her body.

After a year of searching, Pasco Police think they've found Tiairra Garcia.

“The body was found in a region where they believed she was ultimately dumped,” Pasco Police Captain Jim Raymond said.

Police tell me they found her just a few miles east of Enumclaw off of Highway 410.

“Located in what's best described as a ravine, very wooded tree line, the search and rescue cadaver dogs found the remains site,” Capt. Raymond said.

Pasco Police say they've been searching the area for more than a month.

With the help of King County Sheriff's and search and rescue teams they narrowed down the exact spot.

“There were weather issues earlier in the year, obviously most of the area was closed due to heavy snow and those type of things so we had to wait one for the area to open up and then it was very remote,” Capt. Raymond said.

Pasco Police say it's rare to actually be able to find a body after this amount of time.

“To be quite honest with you this set of circumstances it’s locating the remains is actually a good thing, we feel we'll be able to help obviously the family with some of that closure,” Capt. Raymond said.

Two people are already serving time for her death, but for being upfront about where her body was their sentences were lighter.

Ashone Hollinquest will likely get out in a few weeks based on time already served.

Tiairra's boyfriend, Marnicus Lockhard is serving an eight year term.

What's left of this once smiling 19 year old is mostly bones, bones the King County Medical Examiner will use to ID her, and hopefully send her home.

Police believe Tiairra was accidentally shot; it was the disposing of her body that became the focus of the case.

A woman accused of covering up the killing and lying to police is set to go to trial in a few months.

Action News called the King County Medical Examiner's office to get an update on the autopsy; they tell us the report may be ready Tuesday.

Deerfield police still searching for missing man

Police continue to search for Raymond Cowger, 58, of Raymond Road.

His wife reported him missing around 10 p.m. last Thursday night when he did not return home.

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COWGER

Police Chief Mike Greeley said Cowger walked away from the home and police are "confident" he planned to commit suicide. The man's vehicle was left parked in the driveway.

Police are still classifying the case as a missing person, but have also been using cadaver dogs to assist with the search.

Greeley said Cowger, who is retired, is believed to have been wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Greeley said the residence is in the area of Pawtuckaway State Park.

Police are asking anyone with information or who may have seen Cowger to contact the Deerfield Police Department at 463-7432.

3 K-9s join region's departments

Three area police departments are getting fresh four-legged officers: Chase, Mac and Knox.

The dogs graduated last month from the Orange County Sheriff's K-9 Training Facility in Montgomery.

"We teach them some of the skills in the field," said Sgt. Dave Campbell, a dog trainer. One of the most important skills is tracking, where the dog can follow where a person has walked or run.

"We teach them how to sniff underneath a door and bark to indicate that someone is hiding behind it. Another thing we do is article search and evidence," Campbell said. "That is where the dog sniffs out a human scent on an article that has been left behind. For example, my dog sniffed out a rifle hidden under a bunch of leaves."

Officers worked with their dogs for 16 weeks, for 40 hours a week. Chase is assigned to Officer Don Decker in the Village of Liberty; Mac to Officer William Conklin in Port Jervis and Knox to Officer Jason Ross in the Town of New Windsor.

"There are days you have to have a lot of patience with your partner," Decker said. "Overall, it is the best thing I have ever done since I became a police officer."

Decker said he totally trusts his partner. Chase lives in Decker's home. "He is right there for me and I am there for him when he needs something."

In September, the dogs will be cross-trained for six weeks in either narcotics or explosives detection.

vwhitman@th-record.com

High Speed Chase Suspect Evades Police

FOX POINT - Employees at Innovative Optique, an eyeglass shop in a strip mall at 333 W. Brown Deer Road, are proud of their boss. Dozens of customers and friends stopped by Monday just to make sure Lupe Aguilar is ok.

Alone in his shop Saturday, Aguilar fought off an armed attacker.

“He put the gun in my back and took me to the back room,” he told TODAY’S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray.

Lupe ignored the man’s orders to stay in the store and escaped to another business. A clerk in that store called 911.

“Lock your doors if you can and keep everybody away from the windows,” the 911 dispatcher told the caller.

The suspect left in a 2003 black Ford Mustang convertible seen in a Glendale squad car's dash cam video.

A high-speed chase roared through North Shore neighborhoods. Squad cars approached 90 miles per hour on I-43 and were still too slow to keep up with the suspect.

“He endangered the lives of many people,” said Fox Point Police Chief Tom Czaja. “He also put a lot of fear in people’s lives.”

The pursuit flew past Bayshore Mall before the wanted man disappeared in a Whitefish Bay neighborhood.

The suspect crashed into a tree. Officers went door-to-door, but he was nowhere to be found. A police dog could not even track the wanted man's scent.

“They did the best they could at the time,” said Czaja.

Aguilar wants his attacker caught before he strikes again.

“I don’t want him to hurt anybody or kill anybody,” he said.

While detectives try to figure out who was driving that Mustang, Aguilar himself found some evidence that could lead to an arrest.

“I came in this morning to clean up the place and I discovered his glasses and his watch and the [surveillance] tape,” he explained.

The armed attacker did not get away with anything from the optometry store. Police believe the suspect is a man from Illinois with a history of armed robbery.

Dead body found in Hope Ranch

Search and rescue crews yesterday recovered a dead body from a ravine in Hope Ranch, near the spot where a missing 89-year-old Mesa woman was last seen about a month ago.

However, a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department spokesman said the body had not yet been identified. He said emergency crews could not even determine if the body was male or female.

The body was found at 2:30 p.m. by a gardener who ventured into the ravine to check on a water pump, the spokesman said. Search and rescue crews hoisted the body up the steep embankment at about 5 p.m.

The spokesman said the body could be positively identified sometime today.

On June 27, Metta Thomson, 89, who authorities said suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, wandered away from her home in the 3300 block of Cliff Drive. After scouring the Mesa area, searchers turned their attention to Hope Ranch, where a person reported seeing a woman who matched Thomson’s description.

Despite an extensive search, police failed to find the woman, though dogs tracked her scent to an area near Hope Ranch Lake. Divers scoured the lake for evidence, but found no trace of the woman.

Police deal with two holdups in two hours last night

Police were kept busy Tuesday night as they responded to the second holdup in the space of less than two hours at area businesses.

A police dog was called in and a perimeter set up after a lone suspect walked into the Panago Pizza outlet on Harvey Avenue between Spall Road and Hardy St. just before 10 p.m. and producing a knife, grabbed an undisclosed amount of cash from the till before fleeing on foot.

According to RCMP Const. Wilson, on scene, the suspect roughly matched the description of the male who had attempted to holdup the Wrap Zone restaurant on Lanfranco Road shortly before. He also confirmed that the staff member on duty was not injured. The Panago Pizza outlet is in Spall Plaza, next door to another Wrap Zone restaurant.

“There may have been a vehicle involved in this, but we can’t be sure,” said Wilson. He described the weapon produced by the suspect as boxcutter, and that the police dog had been able to follow a track for a short distance along Enterprise Way behind the Spall Plaza in the vicinity, but lost the scent and was called off.

news@kelowna.com

Dog helps catch robbers

A dog's keen nose helps in catching a robbery suspect.

State police say two men went into a Little Caesars Pizza shop at 1013 Governors Place in Bear Sunday morning wearing masks. The first man, 18-year-old Devin Parker of Philadelphia, jumped the counter and implied he had a handgun. The store employees were ordered into the bathroom while the second suspect, 19-year-old Wyatt Davis of Bear, grabbed some cash. The two then fled out the back door.

Police found the two on Boggs Street, sweating and out of breath. An officer had his K9 track a scent from Little Caesars that led to a pile of clothes that the suspects wore during the robbery. Troopers found Parker's drivers license in the clothing, and the k9 tracked the scent to where Parker and Davis were caught.

Both are charged with robbery and wearing a disguise during commission of a felony. They're in Howard Young prison on $60,000 bail.

Million Dollars in Cocaine Found In MS

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Southaven police found $1.2 million worth of cocaine, hidden in a secret compartment of a car, stopped on I-55 Thursday night.

Offices say it's one of the biggest interstate drug busts they've made.

7 kilo's of cocaine were found hidden behind the rear bumper of a grand prix.

Southaven Police Officer, Kyle Hodge showed how all 7 fit sideways behind the false compartment.

Hodge says, "to remove the cocaine, yes, we had to get wrenches out, take the lights out, take the bumper half way off."

While Hodge helped with the bust, it was actually Southaven K-9 Sgt. Lance Shepard who stopped the car for a missing tag light. Shepard was the one who found the hidden compartment.

Investigators say the cocaine was vacuum sealed in an effort to hide its scent from K-9's, but in this case, the drug dog wasn't needed. Hodge says officers are trained to find hidden compartments and have found drugs just about everywhere.

He says, "The bumpers, behind fenders, under seats, in seats, engine compartments, inside tires, welded to the wheels".

Now, 20-year old Jose Valle-Tellez, 24-year old Rhonda Millsap and 24-year old Elias Salgado Hernandez are charged with felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

Hodge says the methods in which smugglers try to hide drugs, are constantly evolving and they're constantly trying to stay ahead of the game.

He says, "From building false compartments attaching them to vehicles to using natural voids, building compartments in 18 wheelers...They're trying to get the drugs to a destination where they can sell them and we're trying to intercept them along the way."

No bond was set for any of the suspects. They're being held in the DeSoto county jail and are expected to be transferred to federal court next week.

Pet store to offer tracking training for family dogs

Westborough - A child wanders away from a picnic or a park: it’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Westborough Aquarium and Pet Shop owners Ron and Linda Bertrand plan to help alleviate that fear by training pet dogs to track the family’s children.

“Tracking Little Wanderers” will be offered in the fall at Westborough Aquarium and Pet Store at 18 Lyman St. Ron, an experienced trainer, will run the 12-week program.

“There will be a fee, but we will donate it to the no-kill shelter,” Ron said.

The Bertrands’ devotion to animals is clear in their full-service pet store, where they offer premium pet food and treats, toys, leads, and other items for cats and dogs, as well as fish, hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, birds and turtles, and all their supplies.

Not only that, but the Bertrands groom animals and even clip bird wings and nails. They also offer boarding for small animals of all types.

“We’ve had all sorts of requests to board reptiles,” Linda said.

Ron’s first love, however, is training dogs. He started at 19, with his own company, K9 Guard Dogs Limited.

“I did that on my own for several years until I became a police officer and brought the first K9 Unit in Northborough,” he said. “[Kano] did a lot of good things in the department. I don’t think we were ever more than 10 minutes before we found our person.”

He has continued offering training to dog owners since he and Linda opened the Westborough store in 1988.

Now he wants to use his skills in training dogs to track so that it can benefit both owner families and their dogs.

“It’s something that I’ve wanted to do, getting the family involved in training and scent work,” Ron said, adding he hopes none of his trainees ever need to be put to the test in the real world. “It’s my goal to work on them tracking the children.”

Tracking is no simple task, and Ron will evaluate dogs before they start training to be sure individuals are up to the challenge.

“There are all sorts of things when you teach a dog to track,” he said, such as using their eyes and their nose as they follow a scent. “They do that by using their nose. They actually smell crushed vegetation and the scent that falls down to the ground.”

The training will take place behind the store, where the regular obedience classes occur. Beyond the paved parking area and road is a wooded area that Ron plans to use.

“You start off with very simple things going on,” he said. “The dog will watch the parent and child go behind a tree.”

Ron said that while the program is designed for the whole family, people aren’t the only ones to benefit.

“It’s fun for the dog,” he said. “There’s a little reward [when he tracks something]. It’ll be the dog’s favorite toy.”

According to Linda, Ron loves the training as much as the dogs do.

“He gets bored at home,” she said. “He teaches our little [Yorkshire terriers] to track him.”

Search expands for missing woman

BERKELEY — Hundreds of people have joined in a search to find 72-year-old Julia Madsen, who vanished June 25 after an evening stroll on the beach in South Seaside Park. Initially, the searchers hoped to find her alive. Now, they hope to offer closure to her family.

Search teams have assembled with law enforcement and volunteers in a near-constant effort to find the woman who was reported be in an early stage of Alzheimer's disease.

Recently, a national group was brought in to help. State Police Detective Sgt. John Donegan contacted Tim Miller of Texas Equusearch, an organization involved in searching for Natalie Holloway, an American woman whose sensational disappearance in Aruba has never been solved.

Donegan said he called Miller for advice on conducting a search over terrain like Island Beach, and Miller volunteered to come to New Jersey.

The search efforts have been exhaustive.

In addition to combing nearly every inch of Island Beach State Park, authorities have collected hundreds of aerial photographs using a photo-equipped drone plane. Their efforts have led them to believe that she is not on Island Beach State Park property.

"It was an amazing effort, and an impressive show of support," said the missing woman's son, Guy Madsen.

Madsen left her son's home on 22nd Avenue in South Seaside Park section of Berkeley the evening of June 25. Madsen's husband, Ed, was in the house when she said she was going out for a walk. Less than an hour later, Ed Madsen began looking for his wife and authorities became involved.

Berkeley police, the Ocean County sheriff's and prosecutor's offices, volunteers from fire companies, the Red Cross, the Central Jersey Search and Rescue and the New Jersey Park Police all have assisted in the search for her since her disappearance.

Photographs from the drone aircraft will be analyzed further in San Diego, where they will filter out colors and look specifically for the color pink, the color of the pants Madsen was wearing on the night she left, Donegan said.

They likely will go back and search those areas again. The State Police also put a cadaver-search dog on a boat to try to catch a scent in the wind off the bay, Donegan said.

Ginny Guilani, 50, went to high school in Rutherford with Guy Madsen and his sister Eileen. Her heart aches for the family, she said Friday while riding her bicycle on Island Beach, near where she summers.

Bill Paul, a volunteer firefighter with the Lavallette Fire Department, was out with four other members of his company on Friday, searching a quadrant of the brush on the bay side.

"This is what we do," Paul said.

Lavallette Assistant Fire Chief Joe Barraco said the task of searching is one that fire companies always join in.

"We are just out here trying to give some closure to the family one way, shape or another."

Suspects sought in Petal Drug Co. heist

PETAL — Police are searching for two armed robbers who pulled off a midday heist Wednesday and threatened Petal Drug Co. customers and employees.

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The men, at least one of them carrying a pistol, entered the store on Old Richton Road around noon and ordered customers to the floor, interim Petal Police Chief Leonard Fuller said.

No one was injured in the incident and no cash was taken, according to police.

The men took prescription drugs from employees and fled in a store-owned automobile.

"(The employees) just wanted them out of the store, so someone gave them the keys to a delivery vehicle," Fuller said.

The Ford Escort delivery car was later found abandoned in a field near the intersection of Old Corinth Road and Fairchild Drive.

Police believe the robbers fled in another vehicle.

"We had tracking dogs that went after it for a while, but they lost the scent," Fuller said. "It went several hundred yards, so we think they might have gotten picked up."

Fingerprints and other crime scene evidence would take hours to collect and process, Fuller said.

Photos of the vehicle were taken at the location where it was abandoned.

The vehicle was then towed to a city impound lot for processing.

Top dog at Police Department earns title by finding gun, man

Herc is the man. Well, not exactly.

But he certainly is the top dog at the Buffalo Police Department these days.

In the last two weeks, the 3-year old German shepherd has recovered a loaded handgun in a drug-related arrest and found a missing Blasdell man who fell into a ravine.

Herc’s work underscores the importance of the department’s K-9 unit in performing certain tasks at a much faster pace than their human counterparts, police officials say.

In other words, the nose knows, said Lt. Salvatore Losi, praising the ability of the dogs in the K-9 unit he heads. They specialize in tracking the scents of humans, drugs and chemicals involved in weapons and bombs.

In the last few years, the number of Buffalo police dogs has increased to five with another scheduled to start in December.

Herc, who is K-9 Officer Mary Ellen Sawicki’s partner, howls with enthusiasm when it comes to his job, especially when it involves catching the bad guys.

At 71 pounds, he’s lean and, when it’s called for, mean.

He stands only 30 inches tall, but the canine, from the Czech Republic, has been known to bound up on his hind legs standing more than 5 feet high when cornering a criminal.

Herc, as in the mythic Hercules, also has a playful side when visiting schools, community centers and scouting groups.

“When we do searches at schools, the little kids just love him, but not so much the big kids,” Sawicki said.

The key to a successful K-9 team is training, according to Losi. “We’ll do drug hides in a building or track a human in a field. That keeps the dogs sharp, and the handler can read the dog’s indications,” the lieutenant said.

Reading those signs proved invaluable Sunday when Sawicki and Herc were called in to assist Hamburg police in searching for man who had been missing since Saturday.

The team began its search in a heavily wooded area off Fairview Parkway not far from where the 26-year-old man’s vehicle had been located.

Hiking through brush, mud and water, Sawicki said Herc’s nose came up, and he began yanking on his leash. A short time later, the dog’s head shot up and looked off into the distance. Sawicki, looking in the same direction, spotted a form lying in a shallow ravine about 20 feet away.

Hamburg Officers Jason Nappo and John Baker, who were with the K-9 team, climbed down into a 10-foot-deep ravine and positively identified the semiconscious missing man, who was carried out on a stretcher.

Sawicki and Herc had spent two hours covering an estimated 4 miles before locating the missing man. “It was terrific to find him alive,” Sawicki said.

A week earlier, it took Herc less than a minute to locate a handgun after police broke up a pot party on the porch of a vacant house on the 1000 block of Fillmore Avenue.

As Officer Gary Sengbusch chased one of the individuals who fled, he spotted a handgun in the suspect’s possession. But when the officer apprehended the teenager, the gun was missing.

Police searched an overgrown area of brush but with no luck until Sawicki and Herc arrived. The dog got down on his belly and crawled into the brush. He then quickly backed out and looked up at Sawicki.

“That was his way of telling me there was something in there,” Sawicki said. “It was a loaded gun, and he found it in about 30 seconds.”

With Herc’s recent successes, Losi said the dog is apparently trying to send a message that he has no intention of being displaced by two of the unit’s newest dogs, Thor and Duke, respectively assigned to Losi and Officer Russ Medina.

“Right now, Herc’s the man,” Losi said.

FAYETTEVILLE : 2 UA police dogs have noses keyed to find explosives

The University of Arkansas' newest police officers aren't lazy, it's just that frantic scratching doesn't mix well with explosives.

Dox and Orno are the UA Police Department's new explosive-detecting dogs. The Hungarian-bred German shepherds can identify the scents put off by a wide array of explosive components.

When they find something, they sit politely - waiting for their reward, often a tennis ball or some small toy.

The dogs' first day on the job was June 1, where they helped sweep campus buildings in advance of the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. shareholders meeting. The university bought the dogs for $16,000 from Von Klein Stein Working Dogs of Sherwood.

The tab was paid by UA's athletic department, said Lt. Matt Mills, department spokesman.

Mills said the dogs will be used to check facilities before athletic and special events, which the university had been contracting out. The dogs also will patrol the campus, as both are trained in protection as well, he said.

Because the dogs aren't trained in narcotics detection, Mills said campus police will continue to rely on neighboring agencies for support. They will, in turn, be used to assist the departments of other communities, he said.

Bomb dogs are in use around the world, but only three are stationed at Northwest Arkansas police departments - including Dox and Orno. For years, Bentonville police were the only agency in this corner of the state to have a certified explosive-detection dog.

Handler Guary Morgan has gotten used to responding to calls all over the area in his 10 years on the job. He also works closely with the Springdale Police Department's bomb quad.

Morgan said he averages about five calls a month, which may not sound like much. A certified explosive dog can search an area quickly, he said, "and a lot more thoroughly than 30 people could do all day."

Guns and ammunition are the most common items Mor- gan said he's found.

"I just hold the dumb end of the leash; the dog does all the work," he said.

Morgan said he is pleased UA bought the dogs, even though it means they won't have to contract with his company, Specialized Canine Protective Services.

"I love the fact they have bomb dogs," Morgan said.

Morgan said until recently, if he wasn't available the nearest bomb dog was in Little Rock.

Staff Sgt. Travis Taylor, kennel master at Little Rock Air Force Base, is ready to send his dogs to help police departments and agencies statewide - with his commander's approval.

Taylor is in charge of several dogs stationed at the base, which take turns patrolling it. He said they have a mixture of explosive- and narcotic-detecting dogs.

The dogs typically are used as a preventative measure, Taylor said. Someone may be less likely to bring contraband on a base if they see dogs patrolling, he said.

The dogs also are a deterrent to people officers encounter, Taylor said. A person getting pulled over may get agitated with an officer and start to get out of their car, but once they see the dog "they are more likely to cooperate instead of getting bit."

Wal-Mart Stores also appreciates the security offered by dogs and has its own bomb detector dog, a German shepherd named Maverick, said Patty Morgan, the dog's handler and wife of Guary Morgan.

Patty Morgan said the company has long hired dogs, but formed its own unit six years ago.

She said her primary focus is the Bentonville headquarters, but they also work the company's large events and help out at Razorback games.

In time savings alone, the company has gotten its money's worth with Maverick, Morgan said. Items in question can be checked and cleared without having to evacuate places, such as Reynolds Razorback Stadium, she said.

Before UA purchased dogs, Morgan said she and Maverick would assist local law enforcement agencies when needed. She said they also frequent public events, such as ribbon cuttings.

Maverick is trained in handler protection, Morgan said, but "he's a social butterfly."

When Arkansas police agencies shop for a dog, most go to Criss Gardner at Von Klein Stein.

Gardner is a dog handler for North Little Rock police and one of five people in the National Narcotics Detector Dog Association who can certify dogs. The organization also certifies explosive-detecting dogs, which have more stringent requirements, he said.

Explosives dogs have to be able to discern explosive ingredients in a wide range of situations, which could alter the smell of the component. Narcotics dogs aren't tested the same, he said, "because marijuana smells the same whether it's in a Lexus, on a Harley or a Greyhound bus."

Gardner said handlers of explosive-detecting dogs have different tasks to perform than do narcotics handlers. He said if a handler finds a bomb, they need to be able to tell the bomb technician everything they can about it, from placement to the colors of the wires.

Handlers also have to take a tactical approach to sweeping an area, Gardner said. He said when he's searched UA's Bud Walton Arena, they marked each room that has been cleared.

If those rooms were disturbed, they were searched

again, Gardner said.

Chris Krodell and Jeff Shetlar, handlers with the UA police, went through Gardner's program before taking the dogs back to Fayetteville.

Gardner said the amount of training a dog receives increases its price. He said his dogs typically range from $3,500-$6,500. He said even from good lines, only a small percentage of dogs are good enough for detection work.

Working dogs are often imported from Europe because of stricter standards, Gardner said. The United States doesn't have the same requirements, he said.

Here a dog may have faults, such as bad hips, but be registered by the American Kennel Club, so people will breed them, Gardner said. In Europe, that same dog couldn't be bred. "We train real good coon dogs and duck dogs, but we've butchered a lot of breeds," he said.

Civilian Search and Rescue Dogs from Across the Country Train in Blackfoot

IDAHO FALLS - Dogs and trainers from across the west have trained all weekend, learning new skills that will help someone in trouble.

They are just normal dogs you'd find in your neighborhood, but will be the first canine responders at the scene of an emergency.

"It's a lot of work, it's a lot of commitment, we spend a lot of our weekends training," said dog handler, Susan Janz.

Janz and her lab mix are training at the Bingham County Transfer Station, Sunday. Organizers say this North American Police Work Dog Association workshop is the largest in Idaho history.

"There is nothing more fun than watching a good dog follow a scent pool and then going in and finding whatever you have them looking for. It's just a blast," said Idaho Search and Rescue Dog President Ann Christensen.

Dogs can cover more ground then a team of searchers and have a higher sense of smell than we do.

"When we walk into a pizza place, we smell pizza. When a dog walks into a pizza place, he smells tomato sauce. He smells pepperoni. He smells Canadian bacon. He smells green peppers. He smells onions. He smells each individual thing instead of the way we do," said Christensen.

"It's amazing. It's so fun because they are always coming and they are excited and they lick you and give you love, and they are always so happy and excited to find you," said Jennifer Hayman, 11, who hid in rubble for the dogs to find her.

There are a lot of sacrifices to have a civilian search and rescue dog, but Janz said it's worth everything.

"But it's worth it just to be able to help people find their lost loved ones."

Three other groups of dogs are around Blackfoot this weekend working on tracking, wilderness search and other training techniques.

Master trainers from across the country came to Blackfoot to help give guidance to the handlers and the dogs, making sure they are trained by the best.

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Drug-sniffing K-9s get police badges, praise

NEW HAVEN — One of the Police Department's newest members sniffed out $65,000 worth of heroin in his first 10 days on the job. He got lunch for his trouble.

On Monday, the department's two new narcotics dogs received their department badges in a short ceremony at police headquarters and high praise from their boss.

Over the last 10 days, the golden Labrador retrievers, Orvis and Nia, helped in searches at four locations, he said, including the one in the 1200 block of State Street where the heroin was found hidden in ductwork under a bed.

Chief James Lewis said at the very least Orvis made short work of a task that would have taken his human counterparts much longer to do and "may have found something that we may have never found."

Orvis, who is partnered with Detective Ted Forbes, also helped police seize nearly $17,000 in suspected drug money. The police already had it, but it wasn't clear if it there was sufficient evidence to seize it under asset forfeiture, which requires authorities to show the money was proceeds of illicit activity. According to Forbes, the solution that allowed the seizure was a "money line-up," for the lack of a better description.

The money, along with a .40-caliber handgun, was seized over the weekend in a case with an unusual back story. Patrol officers were approached by a 28-year-old man.

"He said he was having some family issues and needed to go to jail," said Sgt. Rob Criscuolo, a supervisor with the Tactical Narcotics Unit. He even tried to get into the back of the police car, Criscuolo said.

The officers heard him out. They patted him down as a precaution and found the gun and cash, he said.

Later, Forbes took three piles of money, two from the police station and one seized from the man, for Orvis to sniff. The dog hit on the $17,000, meaning there were residual drug traces present. Forbes shuffled the piles in a different order twice more, to be sure, and Orvis hit on the same one each time.

Orvis and Nia, who works with Detective Jodi Novella, graduated from the State Police K-9 Academy last month. The two dogs were driven up to the academy in Meriden each day by their handlers and spent five weeks in training with the academy staff and six more in tandem with their partners, Novella said.

The dogs are trained to sniff out eight scents: crack, heroin, methamphetamine, steroids, marijuana, hash and Ecstasy.

In addition to the badges, the department also received a $5,000 check from a neighborhood group that raised money for the animals' training and care.

The "SoHu" Block Watch collected the money in a series of fundraisers, the most recent one a calendar showcasing pets in the East Rock neighborhood.

Shawnee, a German short-haired pointer, was another guest of honor at the ceremony. With the "cover dogs" for each month left to a $1-per-vote contest, the pup alone brought in $416, according to Lisa Siedlarz, the SoHu activists who organized the events.

Lewis had attended a Block Watch meeting some months ago and mentioned, in passing, that he hoped to get narcotics dogs back, which sparked a neighborhood conversation, she said.

"It's not often that they are thanked for what they do, and this was a small way to say thank you and to show that we support the use of K-9s," Siedlarz said.

DallasNews.com Deputy's use of scent ID targeted in lawsuits

The only dog handler in Texas who uses scent to identify suspects in crimes is named in two lawsuits amid increasing criticism of a practice that defense attorneys say can be hopelessly imprecise.

The Victoria Advocate reported Sunday that the work of Fort Bend County sheriff's Deputy Keith Pikett led to 62 days in jail for Calvin Lee Miller before the Yoakum native was cleared in the robbery of one elderly woman and sexual assault of another.

A swab of Miller and the scent from the assault victim's sheets were sent to Pikett, whose three bloodhounds indicated Miller's scent was on the sheets.

The other lawsuit involves a former Victoria County sheriff's captain who became a murder suspect based on scent evidence.

No laws or regulations govern scent lineups, but they're admissible in courts across the nation. Only tighter oversight can keep shoddy scent IDs from becoming key evidence, a growing number of critics say.

"This is junk science. This isn't even science. This is just junk," said Jeff Blackburn, chief counsel for the Innocence Project of Texas. The group works to free wrongfully convicted inmates and started to investigate Pikett recently.

The premise for scent identification revolves around two things: Dogs have a keen sense of smell — sometimes 10,000 times more sensitive than humans — and everyone has a unique scent.

Supporters say it can be a reliable and important part of law enforcement when lineups are closely regulated and human interaction is limited.

Critics contend scent IDs are easily influenced by human involvement such as the use of a leash during a lineup; the presence of many scents on evidence or in scent lineups; and the fact that humans must speak for dogs in court.

Even supporters say great care must be taken if scent lineups are to be considered reliable.

"As a dog handler, you'd better be acting as a scientist," said Steve Nicely, a police dog handler who has since served as a defense witness. "Otherwise, you're acting on myth and folklore."

Pikett's scent work led to a search warrant for the house of former Victoria County sheriff's Capt. Michael Buchanek during the 2006 investigation of the high-profile murder of Child Protective Services worker Sally Blackwell in Victoria.

The deputy's dogs walked from a spot where Blackwell's body was found to her home about five miles away, then to Buchanek's home nearby. Through a scent lineup, authorities obtained a search warrant. Another man eventually pleaded guilty in the case.

Rex Easley, an attorney for Buchanek and Miller, criticized Pikett's use of a leash and said the evidence was contaminated with countless other scents. An expert hired by Easley blasted Pikett's work.

The lineup was "the most primitive evidential police procedure I have ever witnessed," said Bob Coote, who worked with police dogs in the United Kingdom. "If it was not for the fact that this is a serious matter, I could have been watching a comedy."

Pikett's attorney, Randy Morse, said his supervisors haven't set guidelines for his work because he's the only one who understands it. Morse said he had advised his client not to comment.

Some prosecutors and investigators support scent identification because it can offer leads where there were none.

San Jacinto County District Attorney Bill Burnett used Pikett as an expert witness to prosecute three co-defendants in a murder case. One was convicted of murder, another of capital murder and the third was acquitted.

"I felt like this evidence was certainly credible," Burnett said.

The Scientific Working Group for Dog and Orthogonal Detection Guidelines is drafting a list for scent lineups. The group will likely suggest an international board to oversee certifying agencies, said Kenneth Furton, chairman of the federally funded group. Even with certification, Furton said, no criminal case should be built on scent lineups alone.

The 43-year-old Miller, who was initially targeted because police knew him as a habitual nonviolent offender, said he moved away from Yoakum after his arrest. Easley said the former high school football player still doesn't understand how he ended up in jail.

"His question was, 'If I didn't do it, how could those dogs say I did it?'" Easley said. "And I told him dogs can't talk."

Police dog tracks down Clinton Township woman accused of stealing boyfriend's log-splitter

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A 48-year-old township woman has been charged with stealing her boyfriend's log-splitter in an incident that involved a domestic dispute, a chase and a police dog tracking her.

The incident began on the evening of July 12 when police responded to a report of a domestic dispute at a township home.

A 44-year-old man told police that the woman, his girlfriend, had stolen his pickup truck with a log-splitter attached to it. She had driven off in the direction of Interstate 78 with the boyfriend chasing her in another vehicle, police say. He returned home after failing to find her.

A short time later, police received a report that the girlfriend had arrived back at the residence with the pickup truck but without the log-splitter, police said.

When police arrived at the home again, the truck was in the driveway, but the house appeared empty. Because the officers suspected the woman had fled when they arrived, the officers called for a K-9 officer to track the woman.

Readington Patrolman Chris Heycock and his dog Roman tracked the woman's scent out of a bedroom window, through a neighbor's yard and across Route 31, police said.

The woman was located near a gas station, arrested and charged with theft, receiving stolen property and harassment. She was released on her own recognizance.

The boyfriend was granted a temporary restraining order.

Police later located the log-splitter and returned it to its owner.

Putting police dogs to the test

Three furry, four-legged officers will be representing their respective area law enforcement agencies this weekend as they seek certification and compete in the Level I U.S. Police Canine Association trials in Mason County.

Rex is with the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, Barry, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office; and Brit, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Department of Public Safety.

More than 30 dogs from Michigan and Canada will be participating in the trials geared toward certification that started Friday and will be held at Mason County Central High School.

The event is hosted by the Mason and Lake county sheriff’s offices. It’s the second time the annual event has been held in Mason County.

Certification in the USPCA’s standards is required for Mason County’s police dogs. Other departments have different requirements. For example some counties say a police dog must be certified but don’t specify by what agency.

Rex, Mason County’s police dog, is certified by the USPCA every year.

See POLICE DOGS, A2

Lake County Chief Deputy Dennis Robinson commands his police dog, Barry, to be quiet during Thursday’s practice for K-9 trials in Scottville this weekend.

LISA ENOS | Daily News

Police dogs

from page A1

During the trials this weekend five judges will evaluate the dogs in obedience, agility, article search, suspect search, and all phases of criminal apprehension.

Having Rex certified in a process that is overseen by five judges each year is helpful if Mendham is called into court for a case and has to testify about the dog.

“It’s a positive thing for the sheriff’s office because it increases our training,” said Mason County Undersheriff Tom Trenner. “Training in this business is a good thing.”

Trenner said Mendham spent a lot of time building obstacles and setting up the event. He said he’s glad Lake County is co-hosting the event because of all the work involved.

Mendham said although the event is a certification for the dogs, it has turned into an competition and trophies are awarded.

Thirty three teams are registered for certification including four from Canada.

“Every dog here has the potential to win,” Mendham said of those participating.

Today’s events, article and subject searches, will begin at noon at the MCC football field. On Sunday, criminal apprehension trials will begin at 8 a.m. Trials wrap up both days at 5 p.m. These events are open to the public.

On Friday dogs were tested in obedience and agility.

The level II competition was held in mid-April in Kalamazoo.

Level II evaluates the dog’s ability to track the scent of a person, find articles of evidence left by that person on the track and to be able to follow the original track to when other scents and tracks are involved.

Mason County Sheriff’s Office

Rex

3 K-9s join region's departments

Three area police departments are getting fresh four-legged officers: Chase, Mac and Knox.

The dogs graduated last month from the Orange County Sheriff's K-9 Training Facility in Montgomery.

"We teach them some of the skills in the field," said Sgt. Dave Campbell, a dog trainer. One of the most important skills is tracking, where the dog can follow where a person has walked or run.

"We teach them how to sniff underneath a door and bark to indicate that someone is hiding behind it. Another thing we do is article search and evidence," Campbell said. "That is where the dog sniffs out a human scent on an article that has been left behind. For example, my dog sniffed out a rifle hidden under a bunch of leaves."

Officers worked with their dogs for 16 weeks, for 40 hours a week. Chase is assigned to Officer Don Decker in the Village of Liberty; Mac to Officer William Conklin in Port Jervis and Knox to Officer Jason Ross in the Town of New Windsor.

"There are days you have to have a lot of patience with your partner," Decker said. "Overall, it is the best thing I have ever done since I became a police officer."

Decker said he totally trusts his partner. Chase lives in Decker's home. "He is right there for me and I am there for him when he needs something."

In September, the dogs will be cross-trained for six weeks in either narcotics or explosives detection.

vwhitman@th-record.com

Editorial: Screen out junk science

The Dallas area remembers few crimes that equal the ghastliness of 7-year-old Ashley Estell’s murder. Authorities thought they had the right suspect, the man who plucked her from a Plano city park and strangled her.

Michael Blair spent 14 years on death row, but the case against him came apart, and prosecutors declined to try him again last year.

The weak link: forensic work. Supposed expert testimony based on hair-fiber analysis produced damning trial evidence, but the findings were later discredited by newly developed DNA technology.

The theme of shaky forensics also played out this year in a South Texas case based on the bizarre-sounding but somehow established practice of using dogs to identify suspects through a so-called “scent lineup.”

Perhaps most bizarre of all is that dog evidence gets into courtrooms in Texas and across the nation absent regulation or scientifically accepted protocols.

In the Texas case, it was DNA, once again, that cleared a wrongly accused suspect. Calvin Lee Miller, 43, was picked up based on a tip in a string of attacks on elderly women in the Victoria area.

Enter the bloodhounds. Dog handler Keith Pikett of the Fort Bend County sheriff’s office takes a swab of a suspect’s body and observes his dogs sniff it out along with swabs from anonymous people. The dogs supposedly provide conclusive cues about which swab is the bad guy’s. Only Miller spent 62 days in jail before DNA proved he wasn’t the bad guy. The bloodhounds also mistakenly led authorities to a Victoria County sheriff’s captain in a high-profile murder case.

The Innocence Project of Texas is investigating how many of Pikett’s hundreds of criminal cases should be reviewed for possible miscarriage of justice. That’s an important initiative, but the battle against shaky or junk forensics needs to be fought on many fronts.

The National Academy of Sciences released an exhaustive report this year after an 18-month, congressionally mandated study on forensics. The conclusions would disillusion anyone who thinks television’s CSI reflects the reality of the nation’s crime labs.

The report says about 50 percent of DNA exonerations reveal outmoded, invalidated or improperly used forensic techniques. Poor training and lack of resources harm police investigations despite strong interest from prosecutors and juries expecting CSI-like results.

The report also suggests a clearinghouse for peer-reviewed guidance, something that would surely benefit the forensics community and the nation’s courtrooms. Currently, judges have to make decisions about what is admissible based on conflicting expert opinions on the reliability of forensic techniques. There needs to be a better way, and Congress should pursue options for making it happen on a national scale.

Texas, meanwhile, has already established its Forensic Science Commission, an investigatory body that’s still in its infancy, with a staff of one. Using paid consultants, the panel examines complaints on a restricted list of forensic disciplines but has yet to issue an opinion on the cases it has agreed to review.

State lawmakers should pay close attention to the outcome of these cases and the value of the commission’s recommendations. The panel may well deserve expanded authority and bulked-up resources.

With this state’s nation-leading list of exonerations — 38 so far — Texas has a heightened responsibility to make sure jurors aren’t hearing hogwash from the witness stand.

On the right track: The making of a bloodhound

WELLINGTON — In a dark, empty parking lot at the far edge of the Mall at Wellington Green, a man is soaking his socked feet from a big gallon jug of water. Then he stomps around in an erratic path, leaving wet footprints on the pavement.

Wet-sock man disappears into the bushes just as a Palm Beach County sheriff's cruiser drives up.

A tall deputy opens the back door and a magnificent bloodhound springs out, wearing a black harness emblazoned with "Sheriff."

There should be superhero music.

Bolo, the 1-year-old bloodhound, is learning to be a tracker.

"He gets so excited," said his handler, deputy Paul Lennertz.

"He knows the game now. He wants to track."

Lennertz lets Bolo sniff a set of keys belonging to K-9 trainer Cpl. Chris Wolf. Rearing and straining at the leash, Bolo is off. Wolf's wet footprints are rapidly drying, but they contain just enough of his scent for Bolo to follow with certainty.

But Wolf has disappeared, forcing Bolo to find him by scent alone.

Lennertz's job is to praise the high-spirited rust-and-black dog when he stays on task and correct him before he veers off course.

They are in week seven of their six-month training. Starting on mud and grass, their tracking lessons get progressively more difficult. Bolo will gradually be expected to pick up scents after longer elapsed times, over greater distances and in all kinds of weather, mimicking real-life tracking conditions as closely as possible.

When their training is complete, they will join three other sheriff's K-9 tracking teams, which locate missing people. Tracking requests come several times a week, at times as often as once a day, according to Sgt. Mike Anderson, who heads the K-9 unit.

"He's a slobber factory," said Capt. Martin Bechtel, who heads the sheriff's District Six office west of Boynton Beach, "but he couldn't have a nicer disposition." Bolo spent a few months with Bechtel. Now the 120-pound bloodhound lives with Lennertz, the usual practice for K-9 teams.

Bolo's long ears drag on the ground as he sniffs, and the folds of his face catch and amplify scents. Once he has identified a scent pattern, Bolo's brain memorizes all its details and ignores all other distracting odors until it locates the source.

Bolo finds Wolf twice, based on his wet footprints. He balances on his hind legs, embracing Wolf with his forepaws, accepting dog treats, hugs and lavish praise that echoes across the parking lot.


Jamming Prison Phones Will Backfire, Groups Warn Congress

Letting the nation’s prisons jam wireless signals to stop inmates from using contraband mobile phones sets a dangerous precedent and is the wrong solution to a vexing problem, public interests groups told a Senate committee Tuesday, just a day before a hearing to consider a jamming bill.

Mobile phones in prisons became a national issue after a convicted murderer on death row used a smuggled mobile phone to call Texas state Sen. John Whitmire to complain about his treatment. The inmate mentioned that he knew the name, addresses and ages of his kids, scaring the senator, who heads a criminal justice committee. Gang members have also used mobile phones to keep running rackets from inside prison walls and to order the killing of witnesses, leading to the current drive to install mobile phone jamming equipment inside prisons and jails.

Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the top Republican on the Senate Commerce committee, has introduced a bill that would, for the first time ever, legalize cellphone jammers use in prisons.

One company CellAntenna hopes to capitalize on the rogue dialing. It has developed a jammer it claims will block only cellphones within a prison and not interfere with public safety equipment and the prisons’ own wireless communication signals.

But public interest groups, including Public Knowledge, the New America Foundation, and the Main Street Project, told the committee in a letter that cited a Wired magazine story that blocking technology is unproven and that blocking is not possible without causing collateral damage.

“Allowing the legal manufacture, importation and sale of jamming equipment will create a loophole that history shows the FCC will find impossible to close,” the groups wrote.

“Jamming prison cellphones would jeopardize public safety because there is no way to jam only phones used by prisoners,” said Harold Feld, legal director for Public Knowledge. “All wireless communications could be shut down within a prison.”

Prisons have used cellphone trackers and mobile phone sniffing dogs to try to find rogue mobile phones, but the devices are in high demand and supply is hard to clamp down on since a guard can makes thousands sneaking in a single cellphone.

Moreover, the large majority of calls and texts are from prisoners to their families — a way to get around the usurious rates that telecoms charge prisoners and their families to stay in touch via payphones.

And since prisoners that keep in touch with their family are less likely to break the law again when they get out, there’s a good public policy reason to find a better solution to the problem — such as cheap phone rates for inmates.

Or as Vince Beiser put it in his Wired magazine story about the problem:

Whatever their crimes, most convicts have parents, children, and others they’re desperate to stay in touch with. Letters are slow, and personal visits often involve expensive, time-sucking travel. Some prisons have public phones for making collect calls, but access is limited, conversations are often monitored, and phone companies often charge much higher rates than on the outside.

A Virginia woman whose husband is six years into a 40-year sentence says she won’t let him use a cellphone because she doesn’t want him to get in any more trouble. As a result, “my phone bill last December was $800,” she says. “That was my whole Christmas bonus.” Between calls she drives seven hours each way, twice a month, to see him in person.

“Cellphones are the best thing since conjugal visits,” says a California con I’ll call Jack. “And being a lifer, I don’t get those.” Jack doesn’t want his real name printed because I spoke to him—several times—on a contraband handset he had procured in the pen, where he’s doing time for second-degree murder. “I call my mom three or four times a week,” he says. “And I text my daughter every night.”

Feld also noted that the blanket prohibition has kept cell phone jammers out of the mainstream, and argued that a single exception could lead to unforeseen circumstances.

“Once such a jamming device is built, it will inevitably become available on a wider basis. Who knows what chaos that will cause?” Feld said.

Sen. Hutchinson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The bill is called the Safe Prisons Communication Act of 2009 and the Senate Commerce committee will hold a hearing on the cell jamming bill Wednesday at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

Sen. Whitmire will be among the witnesses.

Dog Debate At Center Of Murder Case

Can a dog's nose be trusted enough to send a man to prison for the rest of his life?

That's a key question a jury may have to consider if Walker County Superior Court Judge Jon Wood allows certain testimony to be heard during the murder trial of Sam Parker next month. Judge Wood is holding a pre-trial motions hearing this week to decide what the jury will and won't hear.

Parker, a former sergeant with the LaFayette Police Department, is being held without bond accused of murdering his wife Teresa. She seemingly vanished more than two years ago leaving behind a family and career with Walker County 911. There is no evidence she has died, a body was never found and investigators have not found a murder weapon.

During a second day of testimony about so-called cadaver dogs, two specialists in that field explained how their dogs "hit" on a scent in Walker County that they say could be from a decomposing human body.

Lisa Higgins with the Louisiana Search & Rescue Dog Team said she was asked and paid to bring her Australian Shepherd "Maggie" to LaFayette to investigate a car being kept at the Walker County Sheriff's Department impound lot.

"Almost immediately I gave the command and she hit really hard, worked very, very hard inside the wheel well on the front driver's side and gave a full indication right there," Higgins said.

Higgins added Maggie also got excited about something when she sniffed around the back door on the passenger side of the car. But there is no evidence about what it was that excited Maggie and investigators so far have said they have not found any evidence to corroborate the dog's "hit."

Higgins said Maggie has been trained to sniff out the scent of a decomposing human body. But Maggie and other similar dogs can also "hit" on a decomposing pig, which testimony shows has the same odor and chemical make-up as a human cadaver.

Defense attorney Doug Woodruff asked Higgins about the accuracy of Maggie's nose and if there is any scientific proof that shows these type of dogs only get aroused by cadavers.

"Scientifically, no," Higgins replied.

Upon further cross examination Higgins said Maggie has only shown accuracy on occasions when other physical evidence points to where a body has been dumped.

We also saw video played in the courtroom to demonstrate how another dog, Eddie, found a sample pair of pants hidden in the Walker County Jail that was perfumed with a cadaver scent. Eddie is an English Springer Spaniel belonging to Martin Grime, a world-renown forensic K-9 expert based in the United Kingdom.

Grime testified he was paid $450 a day, plus travel and living expenses, by the FBI to search some areas in Walker County in connection with Teresa Parker's disappearance.

During a visit to Parker's home back in September 2007 Grime said he and Eddie sniffed around their garage.

"He immediately gave a positive bark response within the garage between a truck parked to the left of the entrance and a boat parked to the right," Grime said.

Grime added Eddie did not seem interested in the vehicles but in a scent that was wafting in the air, based on the way the dog held his nose upward. Grime said Eddie then "hit" on an abandoned house next door. Testimony shows that house was never repaired after a fire gutted the inside and killed a child several years ago.

During lengthy cross-examination Grime said there is no evidence to show Eddie smelled anything incriminating against or linked to Mr. Parker. Like Higgins, Grime said cadaver dogs can only prove useful when there is other evidence that corroborates the dog's "hits."

The FBI has a keen interest in the outcome of this case. If Parker is convicted the case could pave the legal way for future prosecutions where there is no evidence other than dog "hits" in connection with a person accused of murder.

Toward the end of the day Judge Wood learned that while Grime has international acclaim he has never testified as an expert witness in the United States.

Testimony ended Tuesday with a couple Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents saying Mr. Parker has always been cooperative with the investigation and allowed them to do whatever they wanted on his property.

A third day of testimony begins at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday.

Sheriff: Ex-boyfriend beat woman to death, hid body in field

HARGILL — A woman’s deranged ex-boyfriend bludgeoned and beat her to death and then dumped her body in a field near this northern Hidalgo County town, authorities said.

Authorities found the body of 35-year-old Laura Isabel Reyes partially buried beneath grass clippings Monday afternoon in a field less than a mile east of M. Davila Road, near Farm-to-Market Road 490, said Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño.

Investigators believe Reyes’ slaying came at the hands of an obsessed ex-boyfriend, Jose Juan Sanchez, 33, who had allegedly abused her and threatened to kill her in the past. Deputies said Sanchez likely fled to the Houston area.

“It is one of those obvious domestic violence cases that we see way too often,” Treviño said.

Reyes’ family told deputies they had last seen her Sunday morning and believed she was doing well.

Authorities discovered her body about 4:45 p.m. Monday — nearly 24 hours after a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper found Reyes’ brown Dodge Caravan parked near the intersection of Davila and FM 490.

The van’s shattered front passenger window, blood on the driver’s-side window and a shoe jammed between the driver’s-side door and the vehicle led troopers to believe the vehicle had not been involved in a crash.

U.S. Border Patrol cadaver search dogs led investigators to Reyes’ body in the field, where it appeared someone had cut nearby grass and vegetation “in an obvious attempt to hide her,” the sheriff said.

The woman’s body was fully clothed except for the shoe found in the van, Treviño said. It remains unclear whether she suffered any other abuse immediately before her death. However, investigators found a rock at the scene that they believe was used to kill her.

An autopsy that was to take place Tuesday evening should provide more details about how she died.

Records show Reyes had a driver’s license with a Dallas address.

But she had most recently lived in Edinburg and McAllen, the sheriff said.

Her slaying marks the 15th new homicide case the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office has investigated this year.

Local law enforcement agencies across Hidalgo County have probed a total of 24 new homicide cases so far in 2009. A fatal shooting Tuesday morning near Alton became No. 16 on the list of homicides the sheriff’s office has handled this year.

Sanchez and Reyes had each found new relationships since they split up three months ago, but he would still call her and send her text messages, Treviño said.

Friends of Reyes told investigators they had witnessed Sanchez frequently abusing her and threatening to kill her — clear signs of domestic abuse that are common motives in homicide investigations, the sheriff said.

“We have seen that too many times,” he said.

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Jared Taylor covers law enforcement and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4439.

Teen accused in grisly Three Forks murder posts bail

A 14-year-old accused helping his father dispose of a Three Forks woman's body by incinerating it in a burn barrel outside her home is being released from a youth detention center after posting $50,000 bail.

Lance Myran appeared before Gallatin County Judge John Brown Tuesday afternoon to hear the conditions of his release, which include wearing a GPS monitoring ankle bracelet, a recommendation made by Deputy County Attorney Todd Whipple.

Clad in a white dress shirt and tie, Lance Myran appeared in court Tuesday afternoon flanked by his attorney and his mother, saying little except to answer the judge's questions with an occasional, "Yes, your honor."

Before signing the release order, Brown also ordered the teen to reside with is mother at her home in Miles City, attend school or work and all court appearances, have no contact with the victim's family, avoid drugs and alcohol and stay in Montana.

Lance Myran has been held at the youth detention facility since he and his father were arrested in June.

Lance's father, Jay J. Myran, 37, is charged with deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence in the case. He is accused of killing Gayle Brewster, 53, then burning her body in an effort to dispose of it. His bail is set at $1 million.

Jay Myran, 37, reportedly told detectives his son, Lance, helped him get rid of evidence and lift Brewster's body into the burn barrel where it was incinerated. According to court papers, Lance retrieved a coffee can of fuel from a nearby fuel tank for his father to use as an accelerant. Lance stayed home from school on May 13 to help keep the fire going to dispose of the body, court papers state.

Jay Myran, who is described in court documents as Brewster's ex-boyfriend, reportedly lived with her in a rental trailer on property at 3155 Pyfer Road north of Three Forks where the alleged crime occurred. Lance Myran was also reportedly staying at the residence at the time of the incident.

Brewster was reported missing on May 27 by her landlord. The landlord had just returned home from a trip out of town to find that Brewster had not picked up her mail and fed her cat while she was away, according to court documents.

A Gallatin County Sheriff's deputy went to Brewster's residence on May 27 and spoke with Myran who said he hadn't seen Brewster since May 12 and that she had left town for several weeks, according to court documents.

Authorities went to the residence on June 4 after being notified that Myran and his son had moved out of the home to look for a suicide note, but did not find one. They did find Brewster's cell phone and her purse, which contained her wallet and bank card, according to court papers.

Cadaver dogs were brought in to search the area and "showed 'interest' consistent with the positive presence of the odor of human tissue and/or blood decay on the area of floor just inside of Gayle's bedroom," court papers state.

Further investigation revealed bone chips mixed with ash in a burn barrel outside the home. Dr. Thomas Bennett, an associate state medical examiner, examined the barrel and observed several bones on the top layer of the ashes and a bone that appeared to have two surgical pins or screws in it, according to court papers.

Authorities obtained x-rays of Brewster from Bozeman Deaconess Hospital. One of the x-rays revealed two pins in Brewster's ankle consistent with the pins in the bone fragment in the burn barrel, according to court documents.

In addition to bone fragments, authorities also found bits of lead consistent with a shotgun shot, a metal plate consistent with an x-ray of Brewster's ankle and jewelry beads in the burn barrel.

Authorities also talked to Brewster's landlord who said Myran had left garbage in the bed of one of her trucks when he moved out. Detectives examined the garbage and found another spent 410 shotgun shell, several bottles of carpet stain remover, bleach and other cleaners.

Detectives interviewed Myran in Billings on Tuesday, June 9. Myran said he was in the trailer on May 12 with a 410 shotgun in his hand, getting ready to shoot rabbits, when Brewster grabbed the shotgun barrel and placed it in her mouth and it discharged, court papers indicate.

Myran reportedly told authorities he dragged Brewster's body outside where he left it overnight. The next day he placed the body in the burn barrel and lit it on fire, adding wood to the fire as it burned throughout the day, he reportedly told authorities.

Frantic 911 call launched yearlong Caylee drama

One year ago, a sheriff's dispatcher in Orange County, near Orlando, Florida, received a strange 911 call. A small child was missing -- and had been for a month.

The child's grandmother was frantic, talking a mile a minute. But her mother seemed unemotional, disconnected from the drama around her.

So began the Caylee Anthony case, a mystery that became a nightly fixture on cable television and captivated true-crime buffs across the country.

Today, the tot's 23-year-old mother, Casey Anthony, is in jail, charged with first-degree murder, and faces the death penalty if convicted. She denies harming her daughter or having anything to do with her disappearance.

Her attorney, Jose Baez, has said that once all the facts are known, it will become clear that his client is innocent.

While reports of missing children are not unusual -- a Haleigh and a Haylee are two recent examples -- several elements came together in the Caylee case to make it a high-profile news story, said Robert Thompson, who heads the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University.

"The fact that it's a toddler had that really dramatic, 'this is our worst nightmare' thing. It doesn't get any more dramatic than that," he said. "Then, of course, there's Casey herself."

The 30-day delay in reporting Caylee's disappearance, along with the frequent release of police documents containing the personal details of the family's life, whetted the public's appetite. See how the case unfolded »

"By that time, it becomes self-fulfilling," Thompson said. "Once the story gets into the inbox of places that cover this thing -- Dateline, America's Most Wanted, Greta van Susteren, Nancy Grace, Geraldo -- it becomes a packaged drama. We want to know how it turns out."

Caylee's body was found December 11, six months after she disappeared and just a few blocks from her grandparents' house. The remains were bagged and partially buried in a swampy, vacant lot.

Duct tape covered the child's mouth. But the cause of Caylee's death is just one of many questions that remain unanswered a year later. And the answers are not likely to come soon, if at all. Casey Anthony's trial, originally scheduled to begin October 12, has been pushed back until some time next year.

Thousands of pages of court files have been made public. Police questioned Anthony's friends and boyfriends, pored through her cell phone records, went through her computer, and seized her digital photo albums. They even analyzed her sleep patterns. But the picture that emerges is far from clear.

The story begins at about 9:40 p.m. on the evening of July 15, 2008, with Cindy Anthony's call to 911. The call capped a day in which she and her husband, George, a retired police officer from Ohio, received an impound notice and tracked down their daughter's abandoned white 1998 Pontiac Sunbird -- and then their daughter, Caylee's mother, who was staying with a boyfriend.

"I found out my granddaughter has been taken," Cindy Anthony told the 911 dispatcher. "She has been missing for a month. Her mother finally admitted that she's been missing. ... We're talking about a 3-year-old little girl!"

"I need to find her," Cindy Anthony continued. "I told you my daughter was missing for a month. I just found her today, but I can't find my granddaughter. She just admitted to me that she's been trying to find her herself. There's something wrong. I found my daughter's car today, and it smells like there's been a dead body in the damn car."

George Anthony told police later that the car gave him "a bad vibe."

"I got within three feet of it. I could smell something. You look up and you say, please don't let this be. Please don't let this be," he said in a July 24 police interview.

A cadaver dog confirmed for police the scent of human decomposition in the car trunk. Casey Anthony's friends told police she said she hit an animal with the car. But many of her stories did not check out, investigators said.

Although Casey Anthony has frequently fallen out with her parents, they have always insisted that she is innocent. They haven't visited her in jail for months, in part because authorities record the visits and release them to the public.

During the search for Caylee, some say Casey Anthony didn't behave the way one would expect of a worried mother. She went to nightclubs and sent hundreds of text messages to friends, according to cell phone and text transcripts and investigative reports released by police.

Those phone and text records also showed that she hardly mentioned her missing daughter.

At one point, police analyzed her sleep patterns, finding that the cell phone calls and text messaging ceased for only three or four hours a night at about the time Caylee disappeared.

For weeks, curiosity seekers camped out in lawn chairs outside the Anthony home, where the family had posted large flyers asking, "Where is Caylee?" When the crowd grew unruly, Cindy Anthony waved a hammer and George Anthony shouted back at the hecklers.

Authorities say they also found traces of chloroform, a knock-out drug, in the trunk of Casey Anthony's car. And they said that on her computer, they found Internet searches of missing children and chloroform Web sites.

Investigators first labeled Casey Anthony a person of interest, and later, a suspect. She was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder on October 14.

But Thompson, the pop culture professor at Syracuse, cautions that the final curtain hasn't fallen on this drama.

"It isn't necessarily a slam dunk," he said. "We have the JonBenet Ramsey case to show that we may think one thing, and it isn't so." Early in that investigation, authorities said John and Patsy Ramsey were "under an umbrella of suspicion" in their daughter's death, but they later were cleared.
"These things are capable of twisting around," Thompson said. "But that's another element that makes them interesting."

Search and rescue dog dies after life of service

TAMPA - Her first mission was to search for survivors amidst the wreckage of the World Trade Center.

She was deployed to Punta Gorda after Hurricane Charley in 2004, then to Biloxi, Miss., after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

When she wasn't searching areas deemed too dangerous for people, Jessie often visited sick children to brighten their day or showed up at local schools to help teach safety lessons.

Jessie, a search and rescue dog for Tampa Fire Rescue and a member of the state's Urban Search and Rescue team, died Sunday after an illness. The yellow Labrador was 13.

"She was a great search dog and taught me to be a better handler," Tampa Fire Rescue Lt. Roger Picard said in a written statement.

Jessie had been in retirement for three years at the Oldsmar home of Al and Sandy Tupper, Picard said.

"During her retirement years, Jessie provided them with companionship and laughter," Picard said. "The Tuppers returned the favor by accepting her as their own and feeding her plenty of treats."
Picard was at Jessie's side when she died.

Jessie was one of Tampa Fire Rescue's first certified search and rescue dogs. Marley, a black Labrador trained by Capt. Mark Bogush, died in February. Together, Jessie and Marley helped locate 10 bodies at ground zero after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City.

As a team, Jessie and Picard passed numerous state and federal exams for both urban search and rescue and cadaver certifications, fire rescue officials say. Jessie was certified with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and assigned to the state's urban search and rescue Task Force 2.

Picard continues to work with members of Tampa Fire Rescue's canine team, preparing new dogs for future search and rescue missions.

Lawyers argue dog evidence in Parker case

LaFAYETTE, Ga. — Lawyers at a motion hearing in the Sam Parker murder case this morning gave their final arguments about whether the judge should allow testimony from cadaver dog experts into the trial.

Walker County Superior Court Judge Jon “Bo” Wood said he would make a decision “well before jury selection,” which begins next month.

District Attorney Leigh Patterson questioned forensic experts who testified that both Sam’s and Theresa Parker’s DNA was found on the bumper of Theresa Parker's car.

She also said that a cadaver dog alerted on that car, which means the dog's reliability is corroborated.

“The dog alerted where her body had been stored before he disposed of it,” Ms. Patterson said.

Assistant Public Defender Doug Woodruff argued that the cadaver dog testimony is scientifically unfounded and should not be admitted. He said it is not enough to infer that DNA trace is the same thing as death, which is what he believes the prosecution will ask a jury to do if that evidence is admitted.

“There is a very distinct possibility of confusion on the part of the jury,” he said. “They could give (dog testimony) undue weight and it is our position that any weight is excessive.”

Just before the lunch break, Mrs. Parker’s friend and co-worker, former 911 operator Ronnie Knox, was detailing the her last conversation with Mrs. Parker before she disappeared on March 21, 2007.

This testimony is leading up to discussion of a March 22 search of Mr. Parker’s home on Cordell Avenue.

See Thursday’s Times Free Press for complete coverage.

Three nabbed in Don murder case

City police officials along with crime branch officials cracked the Pradeep Karneshwar alias Pradeep Don murder case on Monday with the arrest of three assailants. However, Raman alias Rakesh, the shooter, who actually shot the don in chest, is still at large.

According to crime branch officials, they received intelligence that soon after the incident, Jignesh Soni, the main conspirator in the case, shifted to a hiding on Ambli-Bopal Road. On the basis of the tip-off, officials kept a surveillance on the road.

"We kept a watch from Iskcon circle to Ambli bus stand. During the patrol, we got to know that Jignesh was to come along with his friends to go to his advocate. We nabbed the trio from the road and found a country-made revolver and a pistol with them. We have arrested them on charges of murder and arms act and have handed over the trio over to Khadia police station officials for further investigation," said JD Purohit, sub-inspector of crime branch.

Mayor Chavda, assistant commissioner of police, D Division, told TOI that on July 5, Jignesh Soni, 26, a resident of Khadia, came with Rakesh, one of the Don's gang member, on a bike. Jignesh went forward and hugged Don while Rakesh inserted a pistol and punctured his heart. They were not alone in the operation. As plan B, they also had Naman Vyas, 26, a resident of Satellite, a master of commerce dropout, and Eric Shah, 20, a resident of Ambawadi, a second year bachelor of commerce, working with them. As the operation went smooth, they fled the scene soon after Don collapsed," he said.

The youths fled from the city after the incident and went to Vadodara and stayed there for a week. They then came back and started consulting the lawyers to explore legal angles. "According to primary details, Jignesh decided to kill Don after last Navratri where he was beaten up by Don in front of everyone. Despite being a top gang member, he was frequently humiliated by Don and even used to take orders in personal matters. Don's accomplice Manish John also used to beat him. It was not accepted by him and he told his idea to eliminate Don to his friends," said a senior crime branch official. In addition to that, Don also asked him not to take Rs 15 lakh from one of his clients in share broking.

"We have no records for Naman and Eric. While Naman used to assist Jignesh in his business dealings of share market and college admissions, Eric was a student at LJ College of Commerce on SG Highway. As they used to live in Khadia earlier, they were in touch with Jignesh and had worked on several occasions. Our search for Raman is on," said JM Yadav, sub-inspector of crime branch.

Karneshwar, 48, was shot dead in Limda Pol near his residence when he went out with his dog for a walk on Sunday afternoon. As there were many eye witnesses for the incident, police were on hot heels for Jignesh and other youths involved in murder.

Dog handler sued over 2 cases of scent misidentification

VICTORIA, Texas – The only dog handler in Texas who uses scent to identify suspects in crimes is named in two lawsuits amid increasing criticism of a practice that defense attorneys say can be hopelessly imprecise.

The suits against Fort Bend County Sheriff's Deputy Keith Pikett were filed by Calvin Lee Miller, who spent 62 days in jail for robbery and sexual assault before being cleared, and a former Victoria County Sheriff's captain who became a murder suspect before another man pleaded guilty in the case.

Pikett's work figured in both cases, the Victoria Advocate reported Sunday. For example: In the case involving Miller, a swab from Miller and the scent from the assault victim's sheets were sent to Pikett, whose three bloodhounds indicated Miller's scent was on the sheets.

No laws or regulations govern scent lineups, but they're admissible in courts across the nation. Only tighter oversight can keep shoddy scent IDs from becoming key evidence, a growing number of critics say.

"This is junk science. This isn't even science. This is just junk," said Jeff Blackburn, chief counsel for the Innocence Project of Texas. The group works to free wrongfully convicted inmates and recently started to investigate Pikett.

Pikett's attorney, Randy Morse, said he has advised his client not to comment.

The premise for scent identification revolves around two things: Dogs have a keen sense of smell – sometimes 10,000 times more sensitive than humans – and everyone has a unique scent.

Supporters say it can be a reliable and important part of law enforcement when lineups are closely regulated and human interaction is limited.

Critics contend scent IDs are easily influenced by human involvement such as the use of a leash during a lineup; the presence of many scents on evidence or in scent lineups; and the fact that humans must speak for dogs in court.

Even supporters say great care must be taken if scent lineups are to be considered reliable.

"As a dog handler, you'd better be acting as a scientist," said Steve Nicely, a police dog handler who has since served as a defense witness. "Otherwise, you're acting on myth and folklore."

Morse said Pikett's supervisors haven't set guidelines for his work because he's the only one who understands it.

Some prosecutors and investigators support scent identification because it can offer leads where there were none.

San Jacinto County District Attorney Bill Burnett used Pikett as an expert witness to prosecute three co-defendants in a murder case. One was convicted of murder and another of capital murder. The third was acquitted.

"I felt like this evidence was certainly credible," Burnett said.

The Scientific Working Group for Dog and Orthogonal Detection Guidelines is drafting a list for scent lineups. The group probably will suggest an international board to oversee certifying agencies, said Kenneth Furton, chairman of the federally funded group. Even with certification, Furton said, no criminal case should be built on scent lineups alone.