Severed Limb Found on Sacramento River Bottom

SUTTER COUNTY, CA - An autopsy was scheduled for later Monday on the discovery of a human limb found Sunday at so-called "Beer Can Beach" in Sutter County.

The Sutter County Sheriff's Department said people playing paintball in the river bottom area at Garden Highway and Lee Road called in the finding around noon.

Sheriff's investigators determined the severed remains were human, said spokeswoman Brenda Baker, but it was not yet known if they were male or female.

Monday, sheriff's deputies, search and cadaver dogs were back in the area of the discovery, looking for clues, said Baker.

The Sacramento Police Department is investigating a missing person's case in which the last known sighting of the individual was several miles from the remains' discovery, according to Sgt. Norm Leong. It was not known if there is any connection between the two incidents.

Copyright 2009 / All Rights Reserved

Howick pair help out in tragedies


Recovering bodies isn’t the toughest challenge for a police officer sent to the scene of the Victorian bushfires and the Samoan tsunami – it’s listening to the living tell their stories of tragedy.

Dog handler sergeant Shane Salmond and five-year-old german shepherd Jess recently returned from helping with relief efforts in Samoa.

The Howick resident has a specially-trained cadaver dog used for searching out bodies.

When the pair were called upon to go to Samoa the southern tip had been searched several times but not methodically, Mr Salmond says.

"We were asked to search a stretch of about 8km of coastline and were able to do that task about two weeks faster than manpower alone."

There were about eight people unaccounted for and the authorities wanted to make sure there were no bodies in the rubble.

The dogs found lots of dead chickens and fish, showing they were doing their job, but there were no people to be found.

"The thing that sticks in my mind about Samoa is there were people who had lost everything, but they were sitting under tarpaulins with a big smile on their faces, waving and happy to see us."

The extreme heat was a challenge because they worked between 5am and 8pm – a tedious job for the dogs who only get rewarded when they find something.

"The dogs really struggled but they still worked hard. We normally work two dogs and rest two dogs but there was no shade because the trees had been knocked down, so although you’re resting them they are in scorching temperatures and suffering."

The Victorian bushfires earlier this year were the first time police dogs had been deployed overseas.

"That was a pretty horrific scene to be in because there was still some danger with large trees falling down and fires still burning around us.

"It was like being on another planet," he says.

The rewards outweighed the tough conditions.

"I’d sat at home and seen the events on the news like everyone else, and then the next minute I’m on a plane going over there.

"It’s good being able to help and put training to use.

"The locals are so appreciative of the help, which is a big plus for the New Zealand police," he says.

Desert search continues for woman missing five years

Stacia Glenn, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/22/2009 06:02:07 AM PST

LUDLOW - Only a rusted ladder and slabs of rotten wood could be seen in the tunnel of darkness that stretched 100 feet below the cold desert ground.

A bone-searing breeze blew red dust into the faces of about 50 search and rescue personnel who remained heavily bundled as the sunrise lifted temperatures just above 40 degrees.

They'd camped out the night before, just yards from the Red Dog Mine, where iron ore miners once crawled and coughed and party-goers came in their wake to hang out.

It was in this musty old mine that a determined detective hoped to find the remains of April Pitzer, a young mother who disappeared in June 2004 after deciding to move back home to Arkansas.

Pitzer was last seen by her roommate, who said he helped her pack and drove her around to say her goodbyes. A friend of the family reported Pitzer missing two weeks later.

Sheriff's homicide Det. Steve Pennington has received several tips that Pitzer was killed and hidden in a mine. Following a few fruitless searches, he began coming out on his own time to poke around the mines.

They first searched the Red Dog Mine in 2005 after discovering that it was owned by the best friend of Pitzer's then-roommate, Chuck Hollister.

"I firmly believe she's out there," said Gloria Denton, Pitzer's mother, who flies out from Arkansas twice a year for searches. "Every time I leave, it just breaks my heart. But I will never give up. It's not over until we bring April home."

When authorities first searched the Red Dog Mine, they found a white suitcase and clothing in a nearby ravine that Denton recognized as her daughter's. And though search and rescue crews have rooted through the mine looking for signs of April, they found nothing.

This particular mine was created in 1902 and is now owned by Bagdad Chase Mine Co. It stopped operating in 1979, though locals were known to party and even live in the mine that is now closed off by a metal grate.

A 30-foot metal mine head once used to pull iron ore out of its depths still towers above. Piles of lumber, a wire mattress frame, shards of broken glass and empty spraypaint cans are discarded beneath it. A bullet-riddled target of Osama bin Laden has been tacked to one frame. Another features a bumper sticker reading "Save a child. Shoot a drug dealer."

That bumper sticker has been plastered on countless trash cans, gates and mine beams in the vast desert.

The Red Dog Mine hasn't been the sole focus in Pitzer's disappearance. Detectives have scoured others, including the Golden Mine, where they found a white cross and a roach clip engraved with Hollister's name 150 feet down.

But no Pitzer.

There are about 22,000 mines in San Bernardino County. The task of pinpointing which mine she was dumped in is daunting to detectives.

"Somebody knows something, they're just not calling us," Pennington said. "It's hard to believe there are people out there who just don't care."

To make matters more difficult, both Hollister and his best friend have died. Detectives believe they may have been involved in Pitzer's disappearance, but now do not know how to prove it.

A recent tip was called in that search and discovery crews were looking in the right place but they "hadn't gone far enough."

Assuming that the caller was talking about the Red Dog Mine, they assembled Nov. 14 to try again.

For the first time, two cadaver dogs were lowered into the mine.

Crews spent two hours setting up safety mechanisms for people - and dogs - to be lowered into the mine. At 10 a.m., Peter Sellas and his black Labrador Retriever, Hunter, strapped on harnesses and walked to the mouth of the mine.

He clung to the ladder with his right hand and clutched Hunter with his left, trying to keep the dog relaxed as crews above fed more rope for them to descend into the mine.

When the pair reached the first level 20 feet below, searchers pulled up their harnesses and dropped down flashlights.

Seven minutes later, handler Sharon Gattas and her Golden Retriever, Denver, made the same trek into the seemingly endless black hole.

They unleashed their dogs and carefully picked their way over broken wires and slivers of wood that litter the mine's floor. Hunter and Denver sniffed the walls, the floors and especially a small mound of dirt on the very bottom.

"They didn't hit on anything and they searched like little mad men," Gattas said, adding that she doesn't believe Pitzer is buried in the Red Dog Mine. "It's very unfortunate. But (the mine) is very well-traveled and somebody would have seen her."

Pennington acknowledges that Pitzer may not be in a mine. In fact, a clue scribbled on a truck stop bathroom wall in Oregon indicates that Pitzer was buried in the open desert outside Barstow.

While cleaning a Love's truck stop bathroom in September 2004, an employee stumbled across a tile that read "Want to find a missing girl from Arkansas? I-15, 3 miles east of Barstow."

Searchers scoured that area three separate times, but found no sign of Pitzer.

They scanned surveillance footage of the men who came in and out of that bathroom but couldn't match them to any of Pitzer's friends or acquaintances.

Denton believes her daughter was abandoned in the desert and she refuses to give up the search. She wants answers, and she wants Pitzer's daughters, now ages 9 and 11, to know the resting place of their mother.

"What it would give me is knowing that I did my job as a mom, that I've seen it through and I brought her home to lay her to rest," Denton said. "It's the best thing I could do for her."

Anyone with information on Pitzer's disappearance is asked to call Pennington at (909) 387-3589.

Search extensive, futile Whitley combed for missing body of Debra Houser

Frank Gray
The Journal Gazette

LARWILL – They came to Larwill on Saturday with horses, ATVs, boats and dogs, people from all over, all with the same grisly goal: to find the body of Debra Houser, hidden somewhere in the overgrowth in the rolling, ravine-filled countryside of Whitley County – maybe.

So far, the efforts have proved fruitless.

No one knows for sure where the body of Houser, who police say was killed sometime Tuesday or Wednesday, has been hidden. Rodney L. Houser, her ex-husband, who was charged with murder in her disappearance after an informant told police that Houser asked him to help hide the body, won’t say where she is.

For three days, police searched the countryside around the Housers’ home at 4041 Old Trail Road, just west of Columbia City, but found nothing. Saturday morning, after a call for volunteers, more than 100 people – police on foot and with off-road vehicles, firefighters and conservation officers with boats, cadaver dogs from Chicago and Kentucky, a woman with a bloodhound, a team of people on horseback, and plenty of others with just their eyes – turned out, forming 40 teams to comb the countryside.

The body is believed to be within 25 or 30 yards of water – a river, a lake, a pond, a ditch, a culvert – so check everything, Detective Sgt. Charles Vogely of the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department told searchers before they were sent out. The body might be submerged. It might be concealed under leaves or brush. The person who hid her has some expertise. He would have hid the body well. So be on the lookout for anything that looks unnatural, Vogely said.

After the body is found, Vogely said, showing a hint of optimism, back away. Don’t touch anything. Leave the area by the same path you took in, he said. Let police note what kind of boots you are wearing.

Richland Township Fire Chief Steve Yann, working off two huge maps of townships, gave each search team a small map showing a specific area to search and sent them on their way.

Then, through the morning, men in hip waders slogged through algae-filled pools near lakes; people stumbled through the overgrowth and muck and piles of refuse that dot the rural area; boats carrying dogs that could smell a body underwater plied lakes; airplanes slowly circled, looking for any signs of a body.

The search, though, had its perils. It’s hunting season, and the woods were full of hunters gunning for deer. There was concern for the searchers, so they were all given green or yellow vests.

With hunters in remote areas, there is always the chance someone could find the body. But police say Houser went out a second time, after dumping his wife’s body, and further concealed it, specifically so hunters wouldn’t find it.

It’s frustrating, Whitley County Sheriff Mark Hodges said.

Vogely, on the road with a bloodhound handler, expressed similar frustration. The dog sensed nothing, and after a few minutes, they moved their search on.

“Come on, Deb, give us a sign,” Vogely said to himself. “Come on.”

Meanwhile, the countryside is full of blood trails from deer, Yann said. “It’s a tremendous issue.”

Before hunting season, it would have been easy to spot areas that had been disturbed. Now, with hunters tramping through the woods, everything has been disturbed, Yann said.

“We’re up against anything and everything that could happen,” Yann said.

About 1 p.m., hours after the search began, a man walked into the Larwill fire station, the headquarters for the search, and approached Hodges.

“I’m Deb Houser’s son-in-law. I want to help. I want to do everything I can to find my mom,” the man said.

“He was a sick, twisted individual,” said Jeff Abbott, the son-in-law. “She kept trying to get away from him,” but she kept agreeing to give it another try.

“It’s sick,” Abbott said. “I can’t believe anyone would do that to someone.”

By about 4 p.m., when nothing had been found, the sheriff said they might as well send teams home as they come in. By about 5:30, the search was halted.

There will be no further search today, Hodges said. On Monday, police will sit down and review everything they have and plot a new strategy. It might come to the point where the entire county will have to be divided into a grid and every square on that grid searched.

But then, the body might not even be in Whitley County. The information they have came from a killer, police said, and killers sometimes lie.

In the meantime, Hodges is asking property owners to search their own properties. They’ll know the remote areas where someone could hide a body, and they’ll be able to recognize if anything is out of place, he said.

Testimony Begins In Capital Murder Case


The victim’s husband and a Halifax County investigator who was at the first crime scene — a trailer where prosecutors say Dennis Lee Daniel smashed Courtney Marie Servais with a glass coffee pot and ripped out her hair with tape — both testified Wednesday in Daniel’s capital murder trial.

Daniel is facing charges of capital murder, abduction, robbery and carjacking in the December kidnapping and death of Courtney Marie Servais. Servais went missing Dec. 19 and was found Dec. 24.

Daniel faces life in prison or the death penalty if found guilty of capital murder. In Virginia, prosecutors can pursue the death penalty if the defendant is charged with first-degree murder plus another serious felony, in this case, robbery.

On Wednesday, Commonwealth’s Attorney David Grimes showed the jury 30 photographs of the doublewide trailer, where Daniel lived with another woman who he had a romantic relationship with.

A Halifax County investigator, Jimmy Clay, spent more than four hours there cataloging and photographing evidence. Clay testified that he wasn’t working Dec. 19, but another investigator called him in.

“He said he had a crime scene that he couldn’t handle by himself,” Clay said.

Grimes flipped through the photos on a projector as the jury watched. Picture after picture showed blood and hair.

A picture of a bathroom popped onto the screen. Grimes asked Clay to describe what he found there.

“You have tape here, tape here,” Clay said as he drew jurors attention to parts of the screen with a laser pointer. “The tape had what appeared to be blood stains on it and hair.”

Investigators also found blood on the shower curtain and the back of the shower.

In the doublewide, they found a rug with a bloody footprint, scissors, tape dispensers and the handle of a broken glass coffee pot, Clay said.

Courtney’s husband, Steven Servais, also testified Wednesday.

He said that his wife was treated at Southern Virginia Mental Health Institute — where Courtney met Daniel — for postpartum depression after the birth of her third child.

Courtney, 30, left the hospital in June 2008 and returned home, Steven said. He testified that he asked Courtney to leave in October after she said she spent a weekend with Daniel. But Courtney came back home when a November electrical explosion sent Steven to the hospital with second- and third-degree burns.

The couple’s relationship started turning around, and Steven noticed that Courtney put back on her five-year anniversary ring that he gave her.

Courtney stayed with Steven until Dec. 19 — the day she went missing.

Intentions To Hurt, Humiliate, Punish
During opening statements Wednesday morning, Grimes said Servais and Daniel had an intimate relationship that continued after they both left the mental hospital.

Months later, Servais and Daniel learned that they both had not been faithful to each other.

“What happened there is a seed that was planted for a time bomb that was set and went off Dec. 19, 2008,” Grimes said.

On that day, Servais met with Daniel. They ended up at Daniel’s doublewide trailer.

“You’ll have evidence that what happened in that doublewide was a nightmare for Courtney Servais,“ Grimes said.

They left the doublewide, and Grimes said the defendant took Servais to an abandoned house off Buckhorn Road, where Daniel beat her to death.

“The blows had enough force to press her head into the ground and make a mold,” Grimes said.

Daniel hid her body nearby. Grimes said police found him with some of her possessions, including her clothes.

Steven Milani, a defense attorney for Daniel, told the court during his opening statement that Daniel accepted responsibility for the murder.

Milani said Servais dropped in on Daniel Dec. 19. The pair drove around, visiting Paul’s Place and Buckhorn Creek.

“They rolled up their pant legs,” Milani said. “They put their toes in the water; they socialized.”

Also that day, Daniel drank brandy and took six or seven Xanax. Milani said an expert witness would tell the jury about the mental and health effects from mixing alcohol and Xanax.

Later that day, Milani said Daniel went into a violent rage after Servais mentioned his son. Servais and Daniel’s son had had an affair, Milani said.

“He smashed a glass coffee pot on Courtney’s head,” Milani said of the fight at the doublewide. “His intention was to hurt; his intention was to humiliate; his intention was to punish.”

Daniel then took Servais to Buckhorn Road, and they got out of the car, Milani said. Servais ran back to it and locked the doors, which enraged Daniel. He ripped out the passenger-side window, which wasn’t closed, and pulled Servais from the car.

“He smashed her head with a piece of lumber he found there,” Milani said. “He did that out of anger that was inside him.”

But Milani said Daniel should not be guilty of capital murder because he had no intention to rob Servais.

To get the death penalty in Virginia, prosecutors have to prove that a first-degree murder occurred during the commission of another violent felony, in this case, robbery.

“There was a murder committed,” Milani said. “But in this back and forth, there’s no talk about robbery. I’m going to ask you to find there wasn’t a robbery.”

On Thursday a lieutenant for the Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Office testified in the capital murder case.

The prosecution focused some of its questions on what personal items were found on the victim and in her car after she went missing Dec. 19.

To find Daniel guilty of capital murder, the jury must find that he killed Courtney Servais during the commission of another violent felony, in this case, robbery. 

Lieutenant Todd Barrett investigated Courtney Servais' Honda after police found it. He said that a trash bag in the Honda had some of Servais' clothes.

"I found a pair of lady's boots," Barrett said. "I found a pair of lady's pants, a lady's blouse."

He said that he did not find any jewelry in the car.

Barrett also responded to the abandoned house where cadaver dogs found the victim's body.
He said that no jewelry was found on her body or at the crime scene.

Servais' babysitter testified Monday that Servais dropped her kids off at her house on Dec. 19.
The babysitter said that Servais had on a gold necklace and gold rings.

Remains found Monday thought to be those of missing area man

November 18, 2009

Paul Morse
The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton police say they have not yet identified a body found at Dundas Peak but strongly suspect it is missing Greensville man David Skarratt.

A forensic pathologist and coroner's experts spent much of yesterday trying to identify badly decomposed remains of a man found just below Dundas Peak on Monday.

"We are working from old dental records and other methods of identification but have not yet made an identification," said Detective Sergeant Tom Andrew, head of the Mountain detectives bureau, yesterday.

"We are exploring the possibility that it may be Mr. Skarratt. We hope to be able to bring closure for his family."

Skarratt disappeared from his family's Forest Avenue home near Webster's Falls on Sept. 15. Specialized search and rescue crews scoured the area several times and turned up various articles belonging to Skarratt, including his journal and cellphone.

Yesterday, Andrew said it appears the body's location made it next to impossible to be spotted.

"The body was 30 feet below the sheer vertical cliff face of Dundas Peak, and another 10 feet down a near-vertical slope," he said.

"To have seen it from the top, one would have to lie down on one's stomach and hang way out over the precipice."

The body could not be reached from the bottom of the slope.

After Skarratt's disappearance, searchers used a cadaver dog directly above where the body was found Monday afternoon, but Andrew said the body's distance from the peak and the strong air currents along the cliff face likely would have prevented the dog from catching any scent.

Two months later, a hiker walking along the bottom of Spencer's Gorge smelled the unmistakable smell of a decomposing body and scrambled up far enough to see something under the leaves.

Police hope to identify the body in the next several days, and, in the absence of other information, continue to treat the case as suspicious.

The North East Wales detection dogs with a nose for trouble

Published date: 18 November 2009 | Published by: Rob Bellis

WHEN a group of illegal immigrants were found hiding in a lorry bound for Wrexham earlier this year, the sniffer dog that picked up their scent was trained just down the road from their intended destination, in north east Wales.

The 18 men – 16 Afghans and two Iraqis – were discovered in Calais, hiding in a tanker full of gluten powder that was about to make the crossing to the UK.

There was very little air in the tanker and the men may not have survived the journey had they not been detected by the specially-trained dog from Flintshire-based Wagtail UK.

Colin Singer, a former RAF dog handler of 24 years experience, is the man behind Wagtail.

Colin and his team train dogs for a number of specialist jobs including the body detection dogs to the UK Border Agency at various ports in northern France and it was one of these that sniffed out the Wrexham-bound stowaways.

“We’ve had some good successes,” he said. “We’ve also found people hiding in some very unusual places.

“We’ve found them in wheelie bins, gluten powder of course – there wasn’t a lot of air in that tanker, they were lucky to survive – we’ve even found them hiding in dog food, I suppose they must have thought ‘If we hide in dog food the handler will think they are barking because of that and won’t check.’ But we do.”

As well as searching for people trying to smuggle themselves across the border, these specially-trained dogs can also assist in search and rescue operations such as in disaster zones.

Wagtail’s dogs – predominantly labradors, springer spaniels and cocker spaniels as well as - come from a number of different sources, including rescue centres, or are donated by owners who can no-longer look after them or by gun-dog breeders.

“The type of dogs we use are gun dogs, they have very good retriever, hunting instincts,” Colin explained. “We use the natural hunting instinct of the dog and develop a game which the dog enjoys and trains them to detect a scent. It’s got to be fun or the dog won’t do it.

“The selection process is very strict though – for every 10 dogs we probably say no to eight.”

Wagtail take on dogs between 10 months and two years old and their basic training takes about four months.

The dogs are then trained to do a specific jobs – some are trained in explosive and firearms detection and also in mine detection. Wagtail dogs have been out to Iraq and some are now working in Afghanistan.

The Flintshire company were also the first to provide detection dogs to work on the site of the Olympic Village in London and Wagtail dogs have ‘cleared’ such major sporting arenas as Lord’s cricket ground and Wembley Stadium.

Some dogs are trained in drug detection and Colin and his team work closely with the police in drugs searches such as in the pubs and clubs of Wrexham.

Fire investigation dogs are trained to identify accelerants and pinpoint where a blaze was started which can be vital when investigating cases of arson.

Wagtail also provide cadaver dogs that can detect human remains buried.

Training continues throughout the dog’s life and, through the training and work, these naturally active dogs are given a real sense of purpose.

“It’s satisfying to take on a dog that’s not wanted and give it a job that it will enjoy,” said Colin.

“Often the more lively they are the better,” he said. “The naughty dogs tend to have a mind of their own which can be a great attribute for search dogs when they are working on their own or guiding the handler.”

Teen found guilty in corrections officer's Buckeye murder

Reported by: staff

PHOENIX -- A jury has found a Buckeye teen guilty in the carjacking-murder of a 28-year-old Arizona corrections officer.

The verdict against 16-year-old Benjamin Bruce Cannon was returned November 12 after a six day trial, according to the West Valley View.

Cannon and another teen, Felix Vasquez, were indicted last year for the murder of Bradley Gerrard.

Cannon, who is being held without bail, was found guilty of first-degree murder, armed robbery, auto theft and arson, courts records show.

Vasquez, 17, is awaiting trial.

Gerrard was found dead just after midnight on October 18, 2008 in the median of the road at Tartesso Boulevard and Bruner Road in Buckeye. His car was discovered several miles away, partially burned.

Police said it appeared the murder happened when the suspects carjacked Gerrard.

Court paperwork revealed Vasquez sneaked out to meet Cannon at a park near his Buckeye home.

Detectives said Cannon brought a shotgun and told Vasquez they were going to carjack someone so they could go to a party in Goodyear.

Vasquez said he lay down at the intersection of Tartesso and Bruner while Cannon hid behind a pillar.

Documents report that Vasquez said the victim pulled up and saw him lying on the ground.

Vasquez said Gerrrard got out and asked if he was alright.

That's when Vasquez said Cannon came running up and shot him in the chest.

But, Cannon tells a different story, saying he was the one lying in the road, while Vasquez was the shooter.

Police said there is no evidence to indicate that Gerrard was targeted because of his job.

Tracking dogs managed to pick up a scent from the crime scenes that lead them to the murder weapon and eventually the two teenagers, according to police.

"It does bring some relief," said Lt. Danny Coleman, a corrections officer who used to supervise Gerrard. "It's not over though, everyone has to hold their grief every day."

Gerrard's wife, who asked not to be identified, spoke to ABC15 shortly after her husband's death.

"When the doorbell rang, I ran to the door and thought it was him," she said. "When I saw the two officers, I said, 'Is he dead?' They said, 'How did you know?'"

"They got nothing, but they took everything," said the victim's wife. "They took my life, they took my family, they took my love. He meant everything to me."

Gerrard's wife was eight weeks pregnant at the time with the couple's second child. They already have a son.

"He was thrilled," said his wife. "When he got the ultrasound, he framed it and showed everyone at work. He was so excited."

"I don't want anyone else to have their family torn apart like this, to have your soul-mate taken from you," she said.

Gerrard was assigned to the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis. He had been a corrections officer since 2004.

Massive police search for missing man on Englefield Green

Posted by Russell Butt

Concern for a missing person prompted a massive police search in Englefield Green tonight (November 17).

Nineteen police cars, four police vans - including a specialist search and rescue unit, two dog handling units and two police helicopters were called in to aid with the search of woodland around the village green for an Ascot man in his mid-fifties police say had been missing since Monday afternoon.

The search, which was a combined effort between officers from Thames Valley Police and Surrey Police, began around 4.30pm following a call from one of man's friends who was concerned for his safety and continued well into the evening.

The police closed off Cricketer's Lane while the search was undertaken, but the huge police presence on the green attracted a lot of attention from local residents, many of whom said they had never seen anything like it. Richard Alexander, of Castle Hill Farm, near where the police vehicles were all parked, said: "I have lived here 25 years and I have never seen so much police activity here.

"I got told by a police officer that it was someone 'important' they were looking for. We joked that it might be Prince Charles."

Mr Alexander's house is also next door to the house of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani, one of the richest men in the World, though Mr Alexander believed he is not in the country at the moment.

However Sergeant Matthew Lloyd of Thames Valley Police said that this was not the case.

"If it is someone famous, no one has told me, but we can't say who it is" he said. "This response is normal for someone we believe is a high risk of causing danger to themselves.

"I would like to reassure residents though that there is nothing sinister going on, it looks much worse than it is. It's getting dark and getting cold and we are very concerned for this man's safety."

Sgt Lloyd added that Thames Valley Police officers had been in communication with and monitoring the man since he went missing on Monday afternoon, but stepped up their concern late on Tuesday afternoon following the communications with the man's friend.

The Thames Valley Police helicopter was first called to search the area around 4.30pm, before the Surrey Police helicopter took over the search after dark. It circled continuously around the village green until 7pm before searching the area near the old Brunel University campus, north of the village green, before leaving the scene around 7.20pm.

Foot patrols were also seen down in the village searching the footpath from St Jude's Road down to Blays Lane.

Search for missing persons expands

Jean Bédard used to broadcast on the radio to people, now he's trying to find them through the Internet, pamphlets and, hopefully, on television.

Bédard, who's created two French and two English websites (,, and to help locate missing persons, continues to expand his efforts.

"I want to create a group of about 25 volunteers who will assist police in searching (missing people)," Bédard said on Friday.

His efforts have been mostly solitary since 2007, when he woke up with a newfound mission to assist in the search for a Trois-Rivieres, Que. girl, Cedrika Provencher.

That led to the creation of

He said it continues to disturb him that about 68,000 persons -- including runaways -- are reported missing every year.

Bédard has been encouraged by the feedback he's received, not just from local city, provincial and RCMP police, but from the FBI and Interpol.

"I get 148 emails a week from from FBI (for missing person cases)," he said.

"I've been told we are the only group that offers sites for both missing children and adults."


Bédard took a big step over the summer when he received federal approval for a non-profit organization: L'Association des Enfants et Adults Disparus Corporation.

Through the association, Bédard has asked MP Guy Lauzon to lobby the federal Ministry of Public Safety for a startup fund.

The money will be used to equip the volunteer service, with a van, an office and even a search and rescue dog.

"I'm hoping that an owner of a building will come forward and give us free space," Bédard said, adding all of the association's work has been conducted out of his home.

He was also meeting MPP Jim Brownell to see if the provincial government could provide a search and rescue specialist who could provide training for his prospective group.

The association has also been given the okay to seek donations, which can be placed at the Desjardins Caisse de Populaire on Pitt Street and Montreal Road.

In the meantime, he's waiting for a decision from the Canadian Radio Television Corp. on his application for TV channel that will broadcast information on missing persons.

Unidentified Child's Body Found in SF Bay

By Riya Bhattacharjee

The body of a child recovered Sunday from San Francisco Bay near the Berkeley Marina remains unidentified.

Authorities have not yet confirmed whether the child is Jashon Williams, the missing 17-month-old son of 23-year-old Oakland resident Zoelina Williams, who was found beaten and shot to death near the Aquatic Park entrance early Friday morning.

Authorities spent 10 to 12 hours Saturday searching the waters near Aquatic Park for Jashon’s body, but to no avail.

But just before 11 a.m. Sunday, according to Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Greenwood, several kayakers spotted a body floating in the waters and called 911.

Greenwood said Berkeley police arrived at the scene and asked Oakland police to investigate as a “as a matter of professional courtesy.”

Greenwood said the Alameda County coroner’s bureau took custody of the child’s body.

Members of the Alameda County Sheriff’s office, a volunteer dive team and search-and-rescue dogs, and aircraft from the California Highway Patrol and East Bay Regional Parks District assisted in the search.

Williams may have been with his mother when she was killed, Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason said.

Oakland police arrested Curtis Martin III at Chestnut Street and 24th Avenue in Oakland a little after 1 p.m. Friday for his alleged involvement in the homicide, Berkeley’s fifth this year.

A patrol officer conducting a routine security check in the south end of the park shortly after 4 a.m. found the body of an adult female lying on the shoreline adjacent to the parking lot on Bolivar Drive north of Potter Street.

Greenwood said at 4:50 p.m. Monday that “the investigation into the homicide continues,” but that there were “no new developments in the case to share.”

Martin is scheduled to be arraigned in the Alameda County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon.

Greenwood said that Martin declined to be interviewed by reporters.

If Martin “is held to answer in tomorrow afternoon’s arraignment, and he remains in custody with a no-bail hold, he will be moved to the Santa Rita Jail,” he said.

Detectives learned of Martin’s alleged involvement through their ongoing investigation. According to Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Officer Andrew Frankel, this information was sent out as a “Be On the Look Out” bulletin to neighboring agencies.

Martin, 38, is an Oakland resident who was convicted in 1994 for fatally beating 3-year-old Devin Brewer of Oakland, the son of his then-girlfriend. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison, of which he served only six. Police arrested Martin last year in a domestic violence case, but did not prosecute him. He has spent time in jail on robbery, burglary and weapons charges.

Police searched Martin’s home, as well as the home where Zoelina and Jashon Williams were living in Oakland.

Zoelina Williams’ relatives contacted Oakland police at 12:40 a.m. Saturday to let them know about the missing child, he said.

A Berkeley resident who works at the park and did not want to be identified said that the crime scene is at a place frequented by bikers, joggers and dog walkers during the day, but desolate at night. The park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., similar to other City of Berkeley parks.

“The woman was shot twice, they needed a place to dump the body and they dumped it there,” he said. “It’s not the first time a body has been dumped there. I think the last time it happened was eight years ago. A lot of people dumps things in the park because no one can see it, so you can do whatever you want there.”

Anyone with any information on this crime is urged to call the Berkeley Police Department’s Homicide Detail at 981-5741 (office) or 981-5900 (non-emergency dispatch line). Callers wishing to remain anonymous can call the Bay Area Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

New developments in search for missing Casey County man

Reporter: Janet Kim

New developments Sunday night in the search for a missing man.

Divers and search dogs were looking in and around a Casey County pond for any sign of 55-year-old Charles Randolph.

He disappeared last month, leaving behind his medicine, truck and dog.

Randolph's family says a dozen people came and searched the Black Hole Pond, near Randolph's home, where he was last seen.

Crews included dive teams and cadaver dogs.

Dogs may have picked up human scent, but a body has yet to be found.

Charges filed in August murder case

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 12:44 PM CST

Two Ste. Genevieve residents have been charged in connection with the death of a Ste. Genevieve man whose body was found in August in rural De Soto.

The Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney's Office announced last week that Kenneth Ritrovato Jr., 33, has been charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Chester A. Scherer, 53, of Ste. Genevieve.

Angela Parke of Ste. Genevieve has been charged with tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution.

According to authorities, Scherer was last seen alive at a party that Ritrovato and Parke also attended the night of Aug. 7 in rural De Soto. After Scherer was reported missing Aug. 11, the vehicle he was riding in was later recovered in the city of St. Louis. The vehicle had been burned.

Scherer's body was found by police during a search with cadaver dogs Aug. 31 around Upper Plattin Road in rural De Soto. It was determined Scherer died of multiple stab wounds.

Ritrovato is being held without bond. Parke is being held on a $7,500 cash-only bond.

Authorities reported that the investigation is ongoing and additional charges are possible.

Couple plead guilty to concealment of body

By Sarah Newell Williamson | Hickory Daily Record

Published: November 17, 2009

TAYLORSVILLE - An Alexander County couple charged with killing the woman's 4-year-old daughter pleaded guilty Monday to felony concealment of a body.

Investigators found a child's skeleton on property near the home Olga Mendez and Kevin Eduardo Videa had shared in the Little River community in October 2008.

Mendez and Videa had moved at the time the body was found.

They were located in Longview, Texas, in late February.

The couple was returned to Alexander County in early March and charged with first-degree murder of Mendez' daughter, Brilly.

Police located the child's remains on the property following a search initiated by the Department of Social Services into the disappearance of the girl.

Mendez and Videa fled Alexander County shortly before a cadaver dog found the skeletal remains in the family's backyard, according to Alexander County authorities.

Brilly's remains were buried about 4 feet deep in a wooden box in the back yard, beside a shed.

Mendez and Videa appeared in court on Monday. Murder charges were dropped against the pair and they pleaded guilty to felony concealment of a body, according to WSOC-TV.

The murder charges were dismissed because the medical examiner could not determine the cause of death.

The couple received probation and time served, but could be deported because they were in the country illegally, WSOC-TV reported.


Aug. 27, 2008: DSS notifies the Alexander County Sheriff's Office about concerns they have that Brilly Mendez, 4, is missing. Deputies begin their investigation and go to the family's home.

Sept. 8, 2008: Olga Mendez, 25, and Kevin Videa, 21, flee Alexander County.

Oct. 24, 2008: A cadaver dog discovers the buried remains of Brilly Mendez.

Feb. 20: Mendez and Videa are arrested in Longview, Texas, by FBI agents and the Longview SWAT team.

March 5: Mendez and Videa are brought back to Alexander County.

Nov. 16: Murder charges are dropped and the couple pleads guilty to felony concealment of a body.

Kent County Sheriff to update case of Deanie Peters, missing since 1981

By The Grand Rapids Press

KENT COUNTY -- Cold-case investigators attempting to solve the 1981 disappearance of Deanie Peters have scheduled a news conference for Thursday to update their efforts, but authorities said they will not announce an arrest.

The team of five detectives set its eyes on solving the Peters case about 20 months ago, pledging to revisit all aspects of the 14-year-old's vanishing Feb. 5, 1981.

Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma will address the probe but is not expected to declare any major developments toward an arrest or resolution.

As recently as May, the investigators used a backhoe to excavate a 30-foot-by-50-foot area behind an Ionia County schoolhouse while searching for Peters' remains. It was one of many areas authorities said they were taking another look at during the renewed focus.

Peters went missing from a wrestling practice at Forest Hills Middle School gymnasium after her mother said she left to use the bathroom. She hasn't been seen since, a case that has baffled investigators then and now.

Through the years, police have searched fields, looked into a school incinerator, sent divers into a shallow pond and searched a mound of rocks with cadaver dogs.

They have jailed a school janitor for a night, and questioned suspects in Lowell. Officers have traveled to other states including Kentucky and a visit to Florida's death row for an interview with a potential suspect.

Hornbrook teen's body found in reservoir

Posted November 17, 2009 at midnight

HORNBROOK - The body of a Hornbrook teenager has been recovered from the waters of the Iron Gate Reservoir near here.

The partially submerged body of Daryl Leroy Dyke Jr., 19, was found Saturday about 100 yards south of Jenny Creek Bridge and about 25 feet offshore, Siskiyou County sheriff's spokeswoman Susan Gravenkamp reported late Sunday afternoon.

She said a sheriff's deputy spotted the body as rescue teams were preparing to continue a search for the missing teen.

That search was to include sheriff's deputies, the sheriff's dive team and water safety unit, volunteers from the sheriff's posse in conjunction with four water-certified cadaver dogs with their handlers and the Klamath County Sheriff's Office dive rescue team.

Gravenkamp said no obvious signs of trauma were found on Dyke's body and an autopsy is scheduled to be performed this week.

Dyke had been missing since Oct. 28 after a California Highway Patrol helicopter spotted his submerged canoe in the reservoir.

Dyke's father had reported his son missing after he failed to return from a camping trip in the Jenny Creek area.

The elder Dyke said a friend of his son's had called him saying he was worried because he had not been able to reach the teen.

That friend found the teen's belongings and his dog at the campsite.

Dyke's father drove to the campsite and told the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department it did not appear that his son had been there in some time. He reported that the only thing that appeared to be missing from his son's campsite was his canoe.

Found human remains ID’d, search resumes for more

Reported by: Kristina De Leon
Last Update: 10:27 am

Remains Found Friday Identified
Authorities say his name is Richard Ashbacher. He was reported missing in 2007 after moving here from Iowa. (Heidi Search Center)
Authorities say his name is Richard Ashbacher. He was reported missing in 2007 after moving here from Iowa. (Heidi Search Center)
SAN ANTONIO -- On Tuesday morning, searchers will return with cadaver dogs to the scene where a number of human bones have been found.

On Friday, the remains were discovered near Babcock and Huebner roads by a group of Scouts.

One of them, Steven, told News 4 WOAI, “We were just walking around and we stumbled across the guy's pants and there was a leg bone and then we went farther and there was a skull.”

News 4 WOAI was told the bones were that of a former Air Force Academy student.

Authorities say his name is Richard Ashbacher. He was reported missing in 2007 after moving here from Iowa. According to the Heidi Search Center’s Web site, the Air Force Academy student spent the night at a friend's apartment nearby.

But the next morning he was gone and had left some clothes behind, along with his cell phone.

Investigators are still working to figure out Ashbacher’s cause of death.

Search for 5-year-old reaches tragic end; body found Monday

By Nancy McCleary
Staff writer

SANFORD - It was the ending everyone had feared.

A body believed to be 5-year-old Shaniya Davis was found Monday afternoon - a week after the Fayetteville girl went missing - in woods off a rural road south of Sanford.

Volunteers who had spent nearly two days searching for Shaniya wept upon learning a body had been found.

Police have not identified the body as Shaniya and were working with relatives to make a positive identification. There was no information available on the cause of death late Monday. The girl's mother and a Fayetteville man are charged in her disappearance, though no additional charges had been filed.

Shaniya was reported missing Nov. 10 from her home in the Sleepy Hollow Mobile Home Park off Murchison Road.

The body was found about 1 p.m. roughly 100 feet off Walker Road, which is a popular spot for dumping deer carcasses, said Theresa Chance, a spokeswoman for the Fayetteville Police Department.

Walker Road is just south of the Carolina Trace community and about 41/2miles south of the intersection of U.S. 421 and N.C. 87 in Lee County.

Members of the U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department, who were training in Sanford with their police dogs, found the body.

It was the second day law enforcement and volunteers had combed the rural, wooded area.

The search resumed in full force about 7 a.m. Monday, focusing on an area of about 11/2miles, from N.C. 87 to Frank Wicker Road and back along Walker Road.

At least 250 people were scouring the area that was partially covered by kudzu, a thick vine that smothers the ground and creeps up trees.

Jeff Riccio, a dog trainer with Tarheel Canine Training Inc., was with the Virgin Island officers when the body was found.

"We went to look for the command post on Walker Road ... and we smelled something," Riccio said.

They left the area and headed south to Benhaven Volunteer Fire Department, where another searcher mentioned the dumped deer carcasses.

Riccio and the officers, acting on a hunch, returned to Walker Road.

"One of the guys from the Virgin Islands, one of the guys who wasn't handling the dogs, said, 'I think I found something,' " Riccio said.

One of their cadaver dogs alerted on a spot in a ditch where they found the body, Riccio said. Deer carcasses were scattered around the site.

"It was both relieving and terrible at the same time," Riccio said.

Shortly after noon, police moved their command post to the Benhaven Volunteer Fire Department, about two miles south of the area. The new site had barely been set up when word that the body had been found was announced.

Todd McNeill of the Carolina Trace Fire Department broke the news, said Tonya McBride, a mother of four from Sanford who helped with the search.

"He was emotional; his voice was cracking," she said.

"A gentleman who was behind me, when they said she (Shaniya) was dead, I've never seen a grown man cry like that," McBride said.

The discovery of the body hit volunteers - many of them parents - hard. Most of them said they felt compelled to help.

"If, God forbid, it was one of my children, I would want everyone to help out," McBride said.

Another volunteer, Reginald Monroe of the Lemon Springs community, was angered by the outcome.

"This is a terrible thing. To do this to a 5-year-old," he said, shaking his head. "I'm very angry and outraged."

Monroe, a father of three, said he felt he had to take part.

Andy Thomas, chief of the Benhaven Fire Department, and his wife, Jennifer, said the tragedy hits hard with parents.

"There's nothing to prepare you for a child to die," Andy said.

Deborah Rush of Anderson Creek and Laura Heidemann of Lemon Springs searched on horseback along Frank Wicker and McDougald roads.

They heard over a two-way radio the body had been found. Even then, they didn't want to believe the news.

"We kept hoping," Heidemann said. "We kept checking the ditches all the way back."

Drink-drive policeman escapes ban

Published Date:
16 November 2009
By Stef Hall, Crime Reporter

A police officer from Lancashire convicted of causing a hit-and-run crash while drunk had been caught over the limit nine months earlier - but the case was dropped.
Andrew Armstrong, 50, was seen asleep in his car with the engine running by a neighbour who called police in December.

He was breathalysed and charged with being in charge of a motor vehicle with alcohol above the limit, but the case was scrapped at court due to a lack of evidence.

But it has emerged police did not interview Armstrong or the witness and insisted it was normal practice.

Nine months later, Armstrong, a Lancashire Police officer for 23 years, fled a head-on crash before being found by a police dog in bed at his ex-wife's house.

He is facing jail for the second incident when he is sentenced on Tuesday.

Armstrong said: "They should have interviewed me but they didn't. Interviewing me would be the normal course of action. Even the Professional Standards Department didn't want to know. They never spoke to me."

His outraged neighbour, who said she saw Armstrong asleep with half empty bottle of vodka, said: "They had a witness – me – and a positive breath test. Nine months later he was involved in this crash and someone could have been seriously hurt.

"I don't think an ordinary member of the public would have got away with sitting behind the wheel of a car drunk with the engine running, on a public road.

"It annoys me that you are encouraged to report crime but then nothing gets done about it.

"I am so concerned I am going to write to Jack Straw."

The 53-year-old had been watching TV on December 29 when she saw Armstrong in a car outside his then home on Sulby Grove, Ribbleton, Preston.

She said: "I went upstairs at about 9.30pm. I noticed a cars with its lights on and engine running through the window, but couldn't tell if anyone was in it.

"Three hours later, about 12.30am, it was still there. It didn't feel right for a car to be parked with its lights on for so long, so I woke my husband and told him.

"He went outside to pretend to check his van and saw a man asleep with a bottle of booze in the car. His engine was still running. He thought it was the man who lived across the road, which he did, but we hadn't known then he was a police officer."

Armstrong, who was based at police headquarters in Hutton, was breathalysed, arrested and charged.

However, the case was dropped when it got to Burnley Magistrates Court on January 8. But on September 24 Armstrong failed to stop after a head-on accident in North Todd Lane, Lostock Hall, which left a woman with whiplash injuries and a written-off car.

As she climbed out of the passenger side of her car she saw Armstrong stagger away along a bridle path.

A police dog followed his scent to his ex-wife's house in Lyndale Grove, Lostock Hall, where she invited officers into the house. Armstrong was found in a bed in a ground-floor bedroom.

Armstrong, who worked at Leyland Police Station, then threatened a police sergeant who came to assist in his arrest and had to be handcuffed.

He was finally breathalysed almost two hours after the crash and was found to be more than three times over the legal drink drive limit.

Armstrong, 50, of Cardale, Hutton, near Preston, pleaded guilty at Blackburn Magistrates' Court to driving with excess alcohol, failing to stop after an accident and using threatening behaviour. He was suspended from duty and then resigned. He will not get his police pension.

Huntsville police K-9 unit trains dogs from across Southeast

By Victoria Cumbow
November 16, 2009, 10:09AM

HUNTSVILLE, AL - Most Huntsville police cars have a number on the front license plate to identify the officer, but for the vehicles in the K-9 unit, the dogs' names are on the front of the car.

Names like Gunner, Stryker and Isis - three of the unit's nine dogs - identify the vehicle on the front plate because according to Officer Cory Upton, they're in charge.

The eight narcotics dogs one bomb dog are trained in Huntsville to detect drugs and bombs based on odor, something their handlers can't do.

"We teach them to associate odor to their toy," said officer and head trainer Mike Posey.

The K-9 unit trains dogs from all over the Southeast in a 13-week program at its facilities off of Johnson Road. Although the initial training happens during those weeks, the dogs are constantly being retrained to keep them on their toes.

For drug dogs, they're trained to scratch where they find a scent. Bomb dogs are trained to sit when they smell something, so as not to disturb whatever is in the bomb.

Huntsville's K-9 unit is the second oldest in the nation, active since 1963. The dogs are trained for obedience, agility and evidence recovery. They can find hidden persons, track scents and apprehend criminals.

Sgt. Jeff Huskey said the dogs are not pets. They're taken care of extremely well, and while they go home with their handlers, they're isolated and not considered family dogs, he said.

"They are a tool," said Upton. "I don't go home and let my kids play with my gun, so my kids don't play with the dog."

Untrained, a dog costs around $7,500. Trained, they can bring in as much as $15,000. Huntsville uses German Shepherd breeds from Europe. They're not the only dog used in K-9 units, but Huntsville's had good experiences with them, so they keep buying the breed.

This year alone, the Huntsville dogs have had between 30-50 felony apprehensions and recovered more than $150,000 worth of physical evidence," Huskey said.

Earlier in the year, a dog grabbed the arm of a gunman hiding in a river, forcing him to drop his weapon. The gunman later told police he had planned on shooting at officers as they came around a set of bushes.

"The dogs do save lives," Posey said.

Most shepherds can understand about 500 commands, and Huntsville's dogs are trained to understand 20-25.

"They're intelligent, loyal, good-tempered and dependable dogs," Posey said.

Upton added, "If they had thumbs, they'd be driving the car."

Huskey said sometimes, they're better than humans because they don't rationalize. They simply do what they're told.

Once an officer gets into the K-9 unit, they rarely leave.

"This is the best job in police work," Posey said.

Jodi Henrickson investigation still active: police

Nov. 20 will mark five months since the disappearance of Jodi Henrickson.

RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Dave Ritchie said last week he has no new developments to announce, but he did tell The Undercurrent the case is still being actively investigated.

The last reported sighting of the Squamish teen was in the early morning hours of June 20 after she had attended a party or parties.

A website put up by members of Jodi’s family marked the four-month anniversary of her disappearance last month. “It has now been four months since Jodi Henrickson went missing, with essentially no new information in the case,” the website says. “We are more or less in the exact same position as four months ago: knowing absolutely nothing.”

The website goes on to say it was not in their family member’s nature to “run away” or to “go any length of time without phoning home” and that when she left home “she left with a smile, with absolutely no negativity.”

The website also thanks people for their support and urges anyone who may know anything to call the Squamish RCMP.

On a number of occasions Cpl. Ritchie has told The Undercurrent that the investigative team is still treating the case as a missing persons file and, when asked, has declined to say if anyone was being actively investigated in her disappearance.

He has said they are “still just naming Jodi in the file.”

RCMP have said that cadaver sniffing dogs from Washington State were used in at least one of the numerous searches conducted on Bowen Island.

Cpl. Ritchie said any rumors people may have heard about the Henrickson case should be reported to allow the RCMP to “check it out and dispel it ourselves.”

Anyone wishing to pass on information can call the local detachment at 604-947-0516 or the Squamish RCMP at 604-892-6100. The anonymous Crime Stoppers tip number is 1-800-222-TIPS.

As investigation unfolded, suspicion of Clark grew

By Vivian Yee
Staff Reporter
Published Friday, November 13, 2009

The arrest warrant for Raymond Clark III released this morning makes public, for the first time, the details of how authorities came to suspect Clark in the murder of Annie Le GRD ’13 — and reconstructs Clark’s activities the day Le disappeared and the days after.

Clark was arrested Sept. 17, nine days after Le was first reported missing and five days after her body was found in a wall cavity in the basement of 10 Amistad St., the research building where both Le and Clark worked. As investigators searched the building, combed through electronic key card swipe records and watched video surveillance footage, they uncovered a trail of DNA evidence that pointed to the animal laboratory technician. And repeated encounters with Clark himself only fueled their suspicions.

Clark has yet to enter a plea.

Though police began interviewing Le’s family, friends and colleagues soon after her roommate, Natalie Powers, reported her missing on the evening of Sept. 8, nothing appeared to involve Clark until Sept. 10. That day, pharmacology postdoctoral fellow Rachel Roth, who worked with Le, approached Yale Police Officer Sabrina Wood, showing her a box of Wipe-All hygienic wipes with what appeared to be splattered blood sitting on a steel pushcart in one of the laboratory rooms Le had worked in G13, prompting Wood to call FBI agents to the scene.

As she waited for the FBI to arrive, Wood watched Clark come in and leave G13 “several” times, according to the affidavit. He walked over to the pushcart and shifted the box from one side of the cart to the other, turning it so the spatter faced away from Wood, then leaned on the cart as he made small talk with the officer. Later that day, Clark began scrubbing a drain in G13, even though Wood said it did not appear to need cleaning.

There were other encounters between investigators and Clark, too: Clark came up to Yale Police Officer Jennifer Garcia on Sept. 10, according to the affidavit, and volunteered information, saying he had known Le. Clark told Garcia he had seen Le working in G13 at about 10:30 a.m. the morning of Sept. 8 and later saw her leaving the building at 12:30 p.m. But video surveillance records did not show Le leaving 10 Amistad at any time after she entered it that day.

As part of a series of interviews with Le’s co-workers, investigators spoke to Clark on Sept. 10 and learned that he had been assigned to take care of the animals in three laboratory rooms, including G13, on the day of Le’s disappearance. The two had known each other for at least four months, he told FBI agents, but never socialized or saw each another outside of work. During the interview, agents also asked Clark about scratches on his face and upper left arm, which he said had come from a cat.

And while the FBI asked the public for information about Le’s disappearance, displaying Le’s photograph on billboards and setting up a tipline, other FBI team members were gathering objects from the building and Le’s home. They would eventually amass a collection of about 250 pieces of evidence, including the box of Wipe-Alls and an extra-large lab coat with red stains found in a recycling bin in 10 Amistad. DNA on the box and lab coat matched the DNA on toitletries taken from Le’s house — and lab testing also revealed DNA on the lab coat from an unknown male.

Even as police collected bloody evidence, they insisted that there was no evidence of foul play and no suspects. But when Connecticut major crime squad investigators turned up bloody clothing during a search of the basement of 10 Amistad on Sept. 12, police officers confirmed that they now considered the building a crime scene. The items found included a rubber glove, a white sock, a pair of Vikings-brand work boots labeled “Ray-C” on the back, and one blue short-sleeved hospital scrub shirt, all stained with what appeared to be blood. Through chemical analysis, investigators found blood-like stains and spray patterns that had been cleaned off the walls of G22 and G13, later confirmed to be blood.

The next day, an odor “similar to that of a decomposing body” struck investigators inspecting the locker room in the basement of 10 Amistad, according to the warrant. Cadaver dogs were brought to the scene and immediately detected a decomposing body. Shortly after 5 p.m., investigators found Le’s body concealed in a wall behind the toilet in a mechanical chase. She was wearing surgical gloves with her left thumb exposed, with several items surrounding her body in the wall cavity, including a green-inked pen, a stained lab coat and a sock — one that matched the blood-stained sock found the day before.

On Sept. 15, police obtained a search and seizure warrant to collect mouth swabs, body hair, fingerprints and fingernail clippings from Clark. DNA tests showed that stains on the sock had a mixture of Le’s and Clark’s DNA, while the pen contained Le’s blood but Clark’s DNA inside the pen cap and on the barrel. Over the next few days, more hair fibers and blood stains turned up in various lab rooms.

FBI agents conducted a detailed examination of when and where Clark’s security keycard was used in the building before and on Sept. 8, finding a flurry of activity. While he used the keycard to access G22 three times and once to access G13 in the 12 days between Aug. 27 and Sept. 8, he used it 11 times to open G22 and five times for G13 on Sept. 8. Clark apparently moved between rooms a total of 55 times between 10:40 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. on the day Le disappeared. Investigators also found that Clark’s keycard was the only one used to access G22 — where the traces of blood had been found on the walls ­— after Le swiped into 10 Amistad that morning.

The warrant, submitted with the affidavit, was signed by a judge, and Clark was arrested at a Cromwell, Conn., motel in the early morning of Sept. 17.

Search Continues For Missing Casey Co. Man

By Katherine J. Shepherd-Producer

Posted: Nov 15, 2009 9:26 PM

Searchers were back out in Casey County this weekend looking for a missing man.

It's been one month since anyone has seen or hear from Charles Randolph. Earlier today his family helped organize another search of a pond near the 55-year-old's home in Yosemite. The family says cadaver dogs picked up on some kind of scene, but that did not lead to any clues.

His family is offering a $5,000 reward for information on his whereabouts. If you can help, call the Casey County Sheriff's Department.

Search for 17-month-old son of slain Oakland woman winds down at Aquatic Park

Updated: 11/14/2009 04:58:49 PM PST

BERKELEY "” The missing toddler of an Oakland woman found dead at Aquatic Park had not been in the care of his mother for nearly two weeks, relatives of the slain woman said Saturday.

A Berkeley police officer found 23-year-old Zoelina Williams beaten and shot at least twice about 4 a.m. Friday.

Authorities searched Aquatic Park and the surrounding waterways all day Saturday but did not find 17-month-old Jashon Williams or any evidence related to his disappearance, police said.

Curtis Martin, 38, of Oakland was arrested about 1 p.m. Friday as a suspect in Zoelina Williams" slaying. Police said Martin is not talking about the slaying or the missing child. Martin is not the father of the missing boy, though it was not clear whether Williams and Martin had been in a romantic relationship, police and relatives said.

Malcolm Lewis, Zoelina Williams" uncle, said a sister of Martin"s had been watching the toddler since the night of Oct. 31.

Williams apparently asked Martin for a ride to Vallejo early Friday "” possibly to get the child "” but something happened on the way, relatives and authorities said. Police on Friday recovered a van in West Oakland believed to be used in the homicide.

Berkeley and Oakland police apparently did not know Williams even had a child until her relatives notified them after she turned up dead. Oakland police said she and Jashon had been living with relatives on Chestnut Street in West Oakland.

Samantha Ratcliff said she last spoke with Williams, a lifelong friend, Nov. 8.

"We went out for my birthday,— said Ratcliff, 22. "I asked her when the last time (was) she"d seen her baby, and I said, "When are you getting him back?—

Oakland police Officer Jeff Thomason could not confirm the relative"s story that Jashon has been gone since Oct. 31.

"It is believed that (the child) was with his mother during the time she was murdered," Oakland police said in a statement.

About 25 Berkeley police officers, divers and foot patrol crews from the Alameda County Search and Rescue Team arrived at Aquatic Park before dawn Saturday and searched for many hours.

"We haven"t found anything relevant to this case,— said Berkeley police Lt. Andrew Greenwood.

An inflatable boat and at least three dogs, including one cadaver dog, were used in the search police said. A California Highway Patrol fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter from the East Bay Regional Parks Department also searched.

Oakland police searched Williams" and Martin"s houses in West Oakland but turned up nothing related to the missing child. Police would not comment on whether authorities are searching, or will search, other areas in Berkeley, Oakland or surrounding cities.

The relatives of the suspect and the victim live just two blocks from one another and are friends who had a picnic together in a West Oakland park in September, Williams" relatives said. A sister who came to the gate at the Martin home declined to comment Saturday.

Martin has a criminal record dating back to the early 1990s. In 1994, he was arrested in the beating death of 3-year-old Devin Brewer of Oakland, the son of his girlfriend at the time. He served six years in prison for the crime.

The child died at an Oakland hospital the day after Martin took him for a haircut and returned him bruised and swollen.

Martin claimed the boy had fallen at the park.

He originally was charged with murder but was allowed to plead no contest to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for 11 years in prison, authorities said Friday. He was out of prison by 2000 because he was given credit for time served.

In 2008, he was arrested for violating a court order to prevent domestic violence. He was never prosecuted.

At the time of Devin"s slaying, Martin was on parole for robbery and previously was convicted of armed robbery, burglary and weapons violations.

Williams" death marks Berkeley"s fifth homicide of the year.

Winters murder case gets under way

Published: Friday, Nov. 13, 2009 - 12:00 am | Page 3B

Yolo County jurors on Thursday began hearing a small-town murder mystery.

Did a Winters woman who both lawyers said was having an affair abandon her family, never to be seen again?

Or did her husband kill her and dispose of her body, which authorities have yet to find?

In opening statements at the Woodland courthouse, prosecutor Robert Trudgen told jurors that a jealous Felipe Cruz Hernandez borrowed a gun from his brother and killed his wife, Leticia Barreles Ramos, while their 9-year-old daughter slept nearby.

Cruz Hernandez rented a carpet cleaner at a local hardware store but failed to get rid of all the evidence, Trudgen said.

FBI investigators helping Winters police found blood on the furniture and under the carpet of the couple's apartment, the prosecutor said. DNA tests are expected to be offered as evidence.

If she'd gone away, Barreles Ramos, a 28-year-old bakery worker, would not have left behind her Mexican passport, $1,000 in cash, "an apartment full of blood and her daughter," Trudgen told the jury.

Defense lawyer Monica Brushia offered a different explanation: Barreles Ramos, who was seeing another man, had departed in the middle of the night, abandoning her daughter and leaving behind her wallet by accident.

Neither the girl nor neighbors had heard a commotion or seen anything amiss, except for one man, who reported hearing a woman weeping and the sounds of quick footsteps on the stairs, Brushia said.

When the girl woke up the next morning, "the only thing that was wrong was her mother was gone," the defense lawyer told jurors.

The daughter will testify, she said.

The arrival of FBI agents and the arrest of Cruz Hernandez, 39, in May shocked the community of 7,000 in western Yolo County.

Winters hasn't had a murder for a dozen years.

The investigation stretched the small police force to its limits.

Multiple searches with cadaver dogs failed to turn up Barreles Ramos' body.

Defense lawyers pushed for a speedy trial, with the absence of a body presenting an additional challenge for prosecutors.

Grim, unrelenting dig for IRA victim's body in the bog

Tuesday, 10 November 2009
The republican history of Crossmaglen in south Armagh is indelible. Large green, white and orange lettering spells ‘IRA’ on telegraph poles and details of a number to text to join Sinn Fein sit below colour drawings of the south Armagh brigade of the IRA.

But cross the border a few miles away and similar reminders of the Troubles are hard to find — unless you happen upon the townland of Carrickrobin near Hackballscross in Co Louth.

The Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains yesterday started digging at a bog in Carrickrobin after four months of careful preparation.

They are looking for the remains of Gerard Evans, a 24-year-old Crossmaglen man who went out for the night in Castleblaney in Co Monaghan in 1979 and never came home.

Instead, the painter was abducted by the IRA, murdered and never seen again — thought to have been buried in a secret location.

And for 30 years his family have waited to have his remains returned to them.

The commission’s focus on the bog follows information passed to Mr Evans’ aunt and information given anonymously to a newspaper on the fate suffered by Gerard Evans at the hands of the south Armagh brigade of the IRA.

Since July the commission has searched rigorously for anomalies in the soil which could betray the presence of human remains. There have been cadaver dogs from a special police unit, aerial searches and prolonged work by geophysicists. Two miles of old drains have also been cleared.

A forensic archaeologist from the University of Bradford, who specialises in finding buried bodies, is also involved. He said bogland was “one of the most challenging environments”.

It is the ideal terrain to bury a body in — and by extension the most difficult terrain in which to find it again. Over the coming weeks the commission will dig around 1.2m down in an area of around 1.2 hectares. In theory, most clandestine graves are dug to depths of between 0.5m and 1m.

The survival of bones and tissue depends on the oxygen content of the soil, while any bones are certain to be dyed brown from the peat. The survival of materials also varies — cotton decays first, but wool, leather and synthetic materials are more durable.

Although the IRA have never claimed Gerard as one of ‘their’ Disappeared — nine victims they kidnapped and secretly buried in the 1970s — a former member of the south Armagh brigade of the IRA told the Sunday Tribune they murdered him because he was an informer.

The same commission team was involved in the 18-month long search for the remains of Danny McIlhone. Coincidentally, today marks one year since his remains were found in Ballynultagh, Co Wicklow. One expert said it was “immensely” rewarding to help in a fruitful search. But while the commission works in hope, it is a hope tempered with realism and an unwillingness to inflate the expectations of families waiting to bury a loved one.

Their work is dull and unrelenting. Like any other outdoor workers they break for lunch and open the boots of their cars to access their flasks and sandwiches. Gerry Evan’s brother Noel paid a visit to see the dig in progress yesterday. But he and his female companion did not spend long at the desolate scene and had no comment to make.

Motions filed in murder hearing

CEDAR CITY - A status hearing in the death penalty case of Martin "Marty" Chris Nelson, 45, took place Tuesday in 5th District Court. Nelson was charged with two counts of aggravated murder in the deaths of St. George residents Derek Davis and Chad Grijalva, both 34.

The two men told family members, Oct. 24, 2007, they were going from Toquerville to the Cedar City area to run errands.

Detectives said Davis and Grijalva approached Nelson at his home in Beryl to settle a debt of several hundred dollars. They were reported missing when they failed to return home to their families.

After police went to Nelson's property to serve a warrant for his failure to register as a sex offender and discovered a truck belonging to one of the two victims was on his property, the convicted sex offender became a suspect. Evidence collected at the scene suggested the two men were shot eight times in the torso and head with a .22-caliber rifle about 20 yards from Nelson's house, the Associated Press reported. Cadaver dogs found the bodies of Davis and Grijalva buried beneath the floorboards of a tack shed on Nelson's property, the AP said.

Nelson was then charged with aggravated murder by prosecutors who are seeking his execution if he is found guilty.

The hearing addressed outstanding motions including a request by Stephen McCaughey, certified public defender for capital cases, to have two separate juries for the trial and penalty phases of the alleged double-murder case and a declaration of the provision that requires 10 of the 12 jurors to agree on the life without parole sentence unconstitutional.

Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett said he is in the process of responding to those motions.

"This is the kind of typical stuff you see in a death penalty case," Garrett said.

The motion to quash a bind-over on two counts of possession of stolen property - a firearm and vehicle - were also discussed at the hearing.

Kanab residents, Fred and Pennie Grijalva, parents of Chad Grijalva, and Davis' mother attended the hearing, Garrett said. Phone call attempts to the Grijalva's for comment were unsuccessful. The contact information of Davis' mother was not known.

Fifth District Judge G. Michael Westfall is expected to rule on the motions Nov. 20.

COLD CASE: What happened to Anne Clark in 2002?

By Laura Rillos KVAL News

PLEASANT HILL, Ore. -- It's been seven years since Anne Clark disappeared, but neighbors still remember the search for the 41-year-old woman.

A man, who did not want to give his name or appear on camera, recalled seeing "cadaver dogs" search the backyard of the home Clarke lived in with her boyfriend and her 14-year-old daughter.

The dogs didn't find anything. That's a common theme in the search for Clark, a mother of two, who seemingly disappeared without a trace.

Investigators believe Clark has been killed -- and there's no chance she's living somewhere else in Oregon or the United States.

"No, she would have contacted her daughter, she would have picked up her checks," said Kurt Wuest, a volunteer investigator with the Lane County Sheriff's Office. "There's no logical explanation other than the fact foul play was involved."

Clark's disappearance was reported on Sept. 20, 2002 -- nine days after she was last seen.

According to detectives, friends said it was not uncommon for her to leave the home for a day or two after fights with her boyfriend.

According to Wuest, Clark's car was left behind or, if she did drive it somewhere, the vehicle was returned to the home. She also left her clothes and personal effects behind. Her boyfriend later told investigators Clark had returned to take her things, but had not seen her. That story is unconfirmed, according to Wuest.

"We suspect foul play was involved and most likely someone associated with her was likely involved," said Wuest. When asked if Clark's boyfriend was considered, he said, "He's obviously a person of interest."

According to Wuest and Lane County detective Randall Fenley (at right), Clark had filed a police report alleging domestic violence against her boyfriend. However, he has never been arrested or named a suspect in her disappearance.

But with no crime scene to process, the investigation met a dead end.

Wuest had hoped for a break a few years ago, when a car belonging to an acquaintance came up for auction. They purchased the car and had the interior taken out to search for evidence.

Something was found but "not that we can talk about," said Wuest.

Whatever they found, it's not enough to make an arrest or lead to a conviction.

Wuest and Fenley would like to speak with anyone who knew Clark, her boyfriend or any acquaintance. You can reach them at (541) 682-4311.

At the time of her disappearance, Clark sometimes used her maiden name "Magnuson" or the last name "Ellingsworth."

Search finds no sign of man

Written by Adam Madison, The Triplicate November 10, 2009 12:00 am

Searchers have found no sign of a missing Burnt Ranch man in southeast Del Norte County, where he is believed to have disappeared three months ago.
The search has involved five cadaver dogs and a team of Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue workers combing the area, according to Terry McNamara, search and rescue coordinator.

Thomas Pickle, who would now be 63 if he is found alive, is presumed by authorities to be a possible suicide.

McNamara said the team of dogs and people found “nothing at all” during a recent 17-hour search.

“We came up with no signs or any clues of any kind,” he said.

McNamara said the investigation is not over, but no date has been set as to when the search will resume.

The Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office and Siskiyou County authorities determined that Pickle had gone missing July 23 after receiving a Siskiyou County warrant to turn himself in on suspicion of cultivating marijuana.

The only sign of Pickle was his abandoned truck, which was found in Elk Valley, 30 miles north of Little Bald Hills Road in Orick.

His wife told authorities that Pickle had a history of leaving and camping in the woods for long periods.

She also told authorities that Pickle had told her he was distraught, and was going into the woods to kill himself, according to Sheriff’s Office reports.

The wife’s report wasn’t given to authorities until September, when a federal helicopter doing flyovers in the Elk Valley area located Pickle’s truck and authorities asked his wife why his truck was in the area, according to sheriff’s reports.

Police & Cadaver Dogs Back on the Scene on Imperial Ave.

After a few days of relative inactivity at Anthony Sowell's Imperial Avenue house, police homicide detectives and cadaver dogs are back on the scene. Two cadaver dogs went into an abandoned school building on East 125th and Abell Street about a block and a half from Imperial Ave. at around 12:30pm Monday. Neighbors say that the school building has been abandoned for about twenty years.

So far, a total of eleven victims have been found in Sowell's home and backyard, but police had also searched the areas around his home for more potential victims and evidence.

The Cuyahoga County Coroner says that eight victims were strangled, and seven of them still had something around their neck. One victim was manually strangled, and the other two were killed by homicidal violence. The cause of death of the last victim is undetermined.

FBI profilers were also in town over the weekend, meeting with police about Sowell. Currently, they are putting together a timeline of all of the places he lived. The FBI has offered to assist the Cleveland Police in following up on any leads on unsolved crimes outside of the Cleveland area.

Already he is suspected to have been involved with murders in East Cleveland, OH; Coronado, California and Cherry Point, NC. Sowell served in the Marines from 1978 to 1985. During that time he was stationed in Parris Island, SC; Cherry Point, NC; Okinawa, Japan; and Camp Pendleton, CA. In 1989 he lived in East Cleveland, and was attacked a pregnant woman. He was convicted of attempted rape and was imprisoned from 1990 to June 2005. Sowell moved into his Imperial Ave. home upon his release from jail.

Sowell, 50, is being held without bond at the Justice Center and is charged with aggravated murder, rape, felonious assault and kidnapping. If convicted, he may end up getting the death penalty.

Cadaver Dogs to Search for Bodies in Child Sex Investigation

Jason Vaughn FOX 4 Web Producer

November 10, 2009
LAFAYETTE COUNTY, Mo. - An investigation into child sex crimes now requires the help of cadaver dogs. Police are expected to search for bodies on a stretch of farm property in Lafayette County, Mo. outside of Bates City after a father and four sons were arrested on child sex charges Tuesday.

According to authorities, the five were arrested on active warrants for sex crimes against children.

Burrell Edward Mohler Sr., 77, has been charged with forcible rape with a child less than 12 years old by the use of forcible compulsion, two counts of felony rape and two counts of use of a child in a sexual performance.

Burrell Edward Mohler Jr., 53, has been charged with deviate sexual assault with a child less than 14 years old and two counts of use of a child in a sexual performance.

David A. Mohler, 52, has been charged with forcible rape with a child less than 12 years old by use of forcible compulsion.

Jared Leroy Mohler, 48, has been charged with forcible rape with a child less than 12 years old by use of forcible compulsion, forcible sodomy, knowingly had deviate sexual intercourse with a child less than 12 years old by use forcible compulsion and two counts of use of a child in a sexual performance.

Roland Neil Mohler, 47, has been charged with use of a child in a sexual performance.

The men are being held in the Lafayette County jail in lieu of bond. A spokesman with the Missouri Highway Patrol said the investigation of the property is ongoing, and there is a press conference scheduled for Wednesday at 1 p.m. We will be live streaming the press conference on

Rain extinguishes house fire, but removes evidence

By Adrienne Francis

Posted November 9, 2009 10:31:00

Police say heavy rain overnight proved to be both a help and a hindrance to their response to two incidents.

The Bureau of Meteorology says Darwin received 23 millimetres of rain since 9am yesterday morning - most of which fell overnight.

Duty Superintendent John Emeny says the rain helped put out a house fire on Macleod Road in Howard Springs.

He says officers were called to the vacant house after midnight but are not treating the fire as suspicious.

Separately, Superintendent Emeny says the overnight rain washed away scent that would have helped police detector dogs sniff out evidence at an unlawful entry.

"Two males of Aboriginal appearance unlawfully entered the Groove cafe at Nightcliff by smashing a glass door with a brick," he said.

He says alcohol and cash were taken.

The murder mystery with no body

For most of the investigation into Ermatati Rodgers' disappearance, police had suspected Polish dairy worker Lukasz Reszpondek of murdering her and burying her body.

Ever since the 41-year-old divorcee, known locally as Tati, vanished from her Wrexham flat in January 2008, leaving her money, clothes and passport behind, he had been their prime suspect as he had been the last person to see her alive.

But although officers from North Wales Police believed Indonesia-born Ms Rodgers had been killed by her colleague - and alleged lover - crucially, they had no body, no confession and no obvious motive.

Reszpondek was interviewed by police on a large number of occasions and was arrested on suspicion of murder and held for three days. But he continually denied being involved.

What followed was a murder investigation that relied heavily on undercover surveillance, media appeals and old fashioned detective work.

Officers believed 28-year-old Reszpondek, who was a married father-of-two, had started a relationship with Ms Rodgers.

They met in the summer of 2004 while working at Dairycrest, Wrexham, Reszpondek's wife remained in Poland.
Police at field
Police dug up fields on the Erddig estate looking for the body

At the trial at Mold Crown Court, the prosecution alleged that he had lost his temper and strangled her "against a background of the emotional and conflicting demands of the eternal triangle of a wife and another woman".

Despite public appeals, a £100,000 reward for information and an appearance on the BBC's Crimewatch programme, officers still did not have enough evidence to charge Reszpondek.

As Det Ch Insp Wayne Joes said: "We had got so far with the investigation, all we really needed to do was find the body."

But by August last year they strongly suspected he had buried her body in a field on the Erddig estate beyond the former Bersham Colliery workings near his home in Rhostyllen, Wrexham.

They set up nine secret cameras in the countryside as part of the surveillance operation which recorded his car being driven slowly in the lanes near the burial spot on a number of occasions.

It later emerged that he had placed the area under his "favourites" on his car satellite navigation system and named it "Tt".

His trial was told that when police began digging in the surrounding fields looking for her body, he "made the error of taking the bait".

"The defendant watched the police looking for the body from the top of a nearby slag heap, hiding in bushes, wearing camouflage clothing and using binoculars," prosecuting barrister Michael Chambers QC said.

"What he did not know was that the police were watching him, watching them."

By Sunday afternoon, 22 March, 2009, the police digging was getting close to the actual field which contained the body.

That night - 14 months after Ms Rodgers went missing - Reszpondek tried to move her body, fearing police were close to finding it.

However, it was more difficult than he anticipated and after about three hours he had to stop.
Ermatati Rodgers
Ermatati Rodgers and Lukasz Reszpondek met at work in a dairy

It was only at that stage that he went to Wrexham police station and told officers that Ms Rodgers had in fact collapsed at his home and died and that he had panicked and buried her.

A post-mortem examination showed no sign of any natural causes which would have explained her sudden death.

But it did find bruising and a fractured thyroid cartilage consistent with strangulation.

Further investigations showed that the day after Ms Rodgers went missing, Reszpondek bought a spade, gloves and other items including a large suitcase on his credit card.

The suitcase was a 135 liter lilac case which he bought from TJ Hughes after asking for their largest.

However, after he was initially interviewed by police soon after Ms Rodgers disappeared, he bought a duplicate spade and case, using £150 cash, to put police off the scent.

When questioned, he said that the spade and case he had bought were still at his flat.

'Misled police'

Police analysis of Mr Reszpondek's computer also found he accessed the Polish Wikipedia site soon after her disappearance searching for words including "gnicie" meaning decayed/putrefaction/rot and "saprophytic", meaning creatures that feast on dead bodies and organisms.

But despite all the evidence against him, Reszpondek continued to deny the murder throughout his trial, although he did admit to preventing Ms Rodgers' lawful burial.

Det Ch Insp Jones said it was typical of the lies Reszpondek had always told them.

"Lukasz Reszpondek portrayed himself as a friend of Ermatati Rodgers. He was asked formally on half a dozen occasions whether or not he was involved in her disappearance, whether there was an accident or anything," he said.

"On all those occasions he wither misled us or decided to go "no comment" in interview. He didn't assist us whatsoever in the investigation."

A jury has now decided he was not telling the truth - and the near-two year mystery of what happened to Ermatati Rodgers has finally been solved.

Search ends for missing cowboy, body found

by staff

Posted on November 7, 2009 at 2:47 PM

LIBERTY COUNTY, Texas – The search for a missing cowboy has come to a tragic end after cadaver dogs led police to his body on Saturday.
Gene Roberts, 45, was reported missing near the Trinity River after he and his horse disappeared last Sunday.
Roberts was helping friends herd cattle away from the rain-swollen river when he took off after a stray cow.
The two other herders noticed that Roberts was missing. They located the horse, but there was no sign of their missing friend. Police suspected he was swept away in the rising flood waters.
Authorities and crews searched for Roberts, but could not locate him. Cadaver dogs picked up a scent and led police to his body.
Roberts's body was found Saturday morning along FM 1008, not far from where he was reported missing.

Exonerated man seeks cash for 27-year sentence


SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. — No bars or razor wire hold former Florida inmate No. 082629. Instead, William Dillon sits on furniture the color of ripe lemons, surrounded by cheerful animal statues and blooming plants, a prisoner no longer after 27 years.

He could get more than a million dollars in state compensation for his wrongful imprisonment, though how much he'll get — if anything — is up to lawmakers because he has a prior conviction for felony drug possession. A hearing on the matter took place this week in Tallahassee, though Dillon says it's impossible to put a dollar amount on his freedom.

"When I actually did walk down those steps, I was so lightheaded, felt like I was being lifted down those steps, I really did," Dillon recently told The Associated Press. "It was so awesome. I don't think I can ever replace that feeling, coming out of there after so many years of feeling I never, ever would."

Dillon, 50, walked out of the Brevard County jail last November after tests showed that DNA found on the killer's shirt — which investigators found at the crime scene, splattered with the victim's blood — wasn't his. A month later, prosecutors announced they wouldn't retry him for the 1981 bludgeoning death of James Dvorak, and his conviction was erased.

Dillon, one of more than 200 inmates exonerated by DNA nationwide, plans to move to Tallahassee soon so he can be available during those hearings. Under the state's automatic formula, Dillon would receive $1.35 million — $50,000 for every year in prison.

Eric Ferrero, a spokesman in the Innocence Project's national office, said 27 states currently have compensation laws on the books. Of those states, Florida is the only one where a roadblock occurs if the former inmate already had a felony conviction on his record.

Norman Wolfinger, the state attorney in Brevard County, said in a letter to the Legislature that while there isn't enough evidence to convict Dillon again, lawmakers should consider that his innocence isn't proven, either.

Dillon cried while testifying Monday at his first compensation hearing. Afterward, he said he forgave the jailhouse snitch who recanted his 1981 trial testimony that Dillon had confessed to the murder. Roger Dale Chapman testified Monday that detectives told him they'd send him to prison on a fabricated rape charge if he didn't lie.

Although it isn't feasible, Dillon said he would prefer that his compensation be paid by the prosecutors and law enforcement agents he believes railroaded him — not taxpayers.

"I think the people that did it to me — knowingly did it to me — should have to pay for it," he said.

Admittedly cocky during the 1981 investigation, Dillon was angry when he went to prison. He said he grew suicidal after a parole hearing a few years ago, when he was given a possible release date of 2043. He mourned the loss of children he would never have, a youth that was stolen and the holidays he would miss. But he "settled it" for himself when he realized rage would do no good.

Dillon walked out of jail last year wearing a T-shirt that read "Not Guilty" and a grin. At first, nothing was easy. After almost three decades under the dim glow of prison lights, Dillon was uncomfortable in the black of night. He couldn't eat unless he was told. When he tried to buy a dozen chocolate doughnuts at a grocery store, he held up the line for an uncomfortable lesson on debit card machines.

"Everything that was out here had completely changed to me," he said. "It was like I was Fred Flintstone that came out."

He ate lasagna with his family on his first day home, and he celebrated Thanksgiving with loved ones a few days later. In the year that followed, he gained a few pounds and grew some facial hair. He still plays guitar, an instrument he picked up behind bars, and now talks of going back to school.

Dillon and Wolfinger both place some blame on John Preston, a dog handler who claimed his animals could track scents months after a suspect was present. He testified his dog found Dillon's scent on the shirt and at the crime scene. He was later discredited and died last year. Preston's testimony was also used against Wilton Dedge, convicted in Brevard in the early 1980s of sexual assault. DNA evidence freed him in 2004, and the Legislature awarded him $2 million.

Now, Dillon focuses on his most powerful weapon against those who wronged him: telling his story to law students and law enforcement agents. He said he harbors no anger toward the system, but he wants the individuals involved in the prosecution and investigation to be held accountable.

"I feel like I'm the thorn in their side right now and I am the scariest thing that they have seen in quite a while compared to the system that they've been running," he said. "My mouth is a dangerous tool on them. Each day I think of more and more stuff that happened that shouldn't have happened. And each day I remember it, it comes closer and closer to getting in their closet."

(This version CORRECTS that investigators tested DNA from shirt worn by killer, not victim, which was left behind at crime scene.)