Craft returned to jail on new charge

by David Rupkalvis
(Posted Today 02:53 pm)
editor@grahamleader.com

Jeremiah Justin Craft’s time as a free man was short-lived.
The Graham man who is accused of murdering and sexually assaulting 16-year-old Bridgett Herard was returned to jail Thursday on new charges related to the teen’s death.
The Texas Department of Public Safety filed a charge of improperly disposing of a corpse against Craft, and the 31-year-old Graham man was arrested without incident Thursday afternoon. DPS officers and the 90th Judicial District Attorney’s investigator worked together to prepare the charge.
Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Jim Ross arraigned Craft on Friday and set bond at $75,000.
Young County Sheriff Bryan Walls confirmed Craft was back in the Young County Jail but said his department had nothing to do with the new charges.
District Attorney Brenda Gray said talking about any specifics of the case would be inappropriate.
“Ethical rules prevent me from commenting on a pending case,” Gray said. “ Preserving the right of any defendant to a fair trial necessarily includes some curtailment of the information that may be disseminated about either the defendant or other matters occurring prior to the actual trial of a case. A criminal case, regardless of its nature, should be tried in the courtroom and not in the media. It is my primary duty to see that justice is done. I intend to do just that.”
Defense attorney Chuck Smith said he would be appealing the new charge and bond.
“At first glance, I think this is just a charge they brought up to put him back in jail,” Smith said. “I think we’ll be filing another writ of habeas corpus to get another PR bond.”
Defense co-counsel Jeff McKnight agreed, saying case law at the Second Court of Appeals gives Craft a strong case when a writ is filed.
“I believe the charges that are currently pending are as a result of the fact that he got out,” McKnight said. “It’s not new charges. They all stem from the original incident. These charges could have been brought a year ago. I believe there’s case law and prior decisions from the court of appeals to warrant a PR bond.”
McKnight said the defense team would file an appeal with District Judge Stephen Crawford and move to the appeals court if necessary.
Craft’s return to jail marked the latest twist in a case that began when Herard went missing on Christmas Eve in 2008.
When her family reported her missing a few days later, the Young County Sheriff’s Office began a lengthy search for the teen.
In the middle of January, volunteer searchers from Search One Rescue in Fort Worth found the body of Herard using cadaver dogs. Herard’s body was found behind a home just outside Graham where she was last seen, allegedly with Craft.
A few weeks later, Craft was charged with the teen’s murder and ordered held on a $1 million bond.
A Young County Grand Jury indicted Craft on charges of murder and sexual assault on May 11.
Craft’s defense attorney Chuck Smith appealed the bond set on his client, saying the state had not met a Texas Constitution requirement that the state be ready for trial within 90 days of an arrest if the suspect is incarcerated.
Crawford ruled against Smith’s appeal, and Smith took the appeal to the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth. The appeals court initially ruled against Smith before coming back two months later and reversing its decision.
Gray then appealed the ruling to the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals which decided Feb. 19 that Craft must be set free.
Crawford did as he was ordered Monday, releasing the Graham man on personal recognizance bond.
But Craft’s freedom lasted only four days before the state filed new charges, and Craft was arrested on a warrant with the new charge.

Search For Missing Poway Teen Continues

POSTED: 12:14 am PST February 26, 2010

About 160 sheriff's personnel and police officers trained in search and rescue combed the north Rancho Bernardo area Friday with tracking dogs for a 17-year-old Poway girl reported missing by her family after she failed to return home from an after-school run.Chelsea King is a long-distance runner and routinely runs in rural areas, said Jan Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.After school on Thursday, she parked her car in the parking lot of the Rancho Bernardo Community Center on West Bernardo Drive in preparation for a run, Caldwell said. She never returned to her locked car, according to the spokeswoman.

A command center was set up Thursday night at the center where King's car was found. Multiple law enforcement agencies, including the sheriff's department and San Diego Police Department, searched dense vegetation in the area overnight and planned to continue searching Friday, authorities said.Friday morning, law enforcement personnel from Riverside County arrived with canines to aid in the search. Additional canines from other agencies within San Diego County were also being used in the search, according to San Diego County sheriff's Lt. Harold Turner.As of 10 a.m., the canines being used were trained in tracking, not cadaver searches, he said. Later Friday morning, boats were expected to arrive to help search Lake Hodges, which separates north Rancho Bernardo from Escondido, Turner said.A reverse 911 call was also used to ask Rancho Bernardo-area residents to report right away if they saw the teen, according to authorities.Dozens of friends and family were gathered at the command center but were not assisting in the search, authorities said.More friends of the teen, many of whom took the day off from school, spent the morning passing out fliers with a photo of King.King is white, around 5 feet 5 and 115 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes. A family spokeswoman told news media at the center that King is a member of the San Diego Youth Symphony, a straight-A student and has been eagerly awaiting college acceptance letters. She is slated to graduate from Poway High School this spring, according to the spokeswoman.Anyone with information on her whereabouts was urged to call the sheriff's department at (858) 565-5200 or San Diego County Crime Stoppers at (619) 531-2000

WHAT HAPPENED TO MICKEY GUIDRY? SAN MARCOS TEEN WENT MISSING THANKSGIVING WEEKEND NEAR OCOTILLO CAMP IN ANZA-BORREGO; WHEREABOUTS REMAIN A MYSTERY

“Thanksgiving weekend is the busiest of the year. Tens of thousands of people were in the desert…It’s likely someone would have come across him. If it was at night and he was on foot, someone could have given him a ride.” -- Detective Patrick Yates

By Miriam Raftery

February 25, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) - Grounded for stealing his stepfather's motorcycle and going joyriding November 20th in a Riverside County park, 16-year-old Mickey Guidry (also called Mike or Mikey) took his parents’ blue Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV on Thanksgiving to join friends who were camping at 5454 Split Mountain Road in Ocotillo Wells. He left camp at 3 p.m. on Friday, November 27th—and hasn’t been seen since. Now ECM has learned that this wasn't the first time the teen has gone missing. Sheriff officials are treating the case as a runaway--but the boy's mother fears her son may be the victim of foul play.

On Saturday, the 28th, a family off-roading reported the Jeep abandoned, tire worn to the rim, along Fish Creek Wash, 22 miles along a rugged, rocky off-road vehicle trail on November 28th. They spotted it in the morning, but didn’t report it until 5:30 p.m., when Ranger Don Strampfer at Anza Borrego State Park confirmed the Jeep had been reported stolen. Guidry’s stepfather reported the Jeep stolen but declined to file a missing persons report on his son, believing the boy would return as he had in the prior joyriding episode.He'd asked permission to go camping for the weekend with friends, and when his parents refused, he took off in the Jeep.

Unaware that a teen was missing, Strampfer waiting until Sunday to visit the site by daylight. He found a key in the ignition and turned it, but the vehicle was not driveable, stuck in sand with one wheel. “The front bumper was torn off. The front tire was blown off and the rim was melted down. He was hell-bent to get where he was going (assuming Guidry was driving). He couldn’t go any further,” he said, adding that Guidry likely took off on foot—or may have been picked up by passerbys, since it was the businest weekend of the year for off-roading.

Guidry on Mt. Palomar
But Guidry’s wallet, with his high school ID, was left in the vehicle. His cell phone had been shut off after his parents reported the vehicle stolen. Authorities believe the teen may have tried to walk back, or cut across rough terrain around 8 miles to Highway 78.

He had no flashlight. No water. No food. His wallet, ID, and clothes were left behind in the Jeep. No working cell phone. His cell phone, though its service was cut off, was not in the vehicle when it was found.

Despite these disturbing circumstances, Sheriff’s officials have treated his disappearance as a teen runaway case. No forensic evidence was gathered from the Jeep or the scene where it was found. Only a cursory search has been done on the boy’s computer. Media was not notified of the missing teen until three weeks after his disappearance—and then only because an aerial search was finally mounted; officials say they issued a release because the public would ask questions about helicopters and dog teams combing the area weeks after the teen vanished.

“There is no explanation as to why the SD Sheriffs didn’t bother to start looking for him until three weeks after I reported him missing,” Mickey’s mother, Missy Perucca, posted in a comment on East County Magazine February 8th. They tell me that they “thought he’d been found already”…but they never verified it."

Some authorities dispute that contention; Sheriff’s representatives, Ranger Stampfer, and Guidry’s mother provide conflicting details.

On Monday, November 30th, Ranger Stampfer reached Perucca, Guidry’s mother, to inform her the Jeep had been found. He confirmed that she told him her son had taken the Jeep.

She filed a missing person’s report on her son later that same day with the San Diego County Sheriff. Detective Anthony Radicio took the report.

“At 4:50 p.m., I received a satellite call from the boy’s stepfather in Afghanistan,” Stampfer disclosed, adding that Guidry’s mother conveyed Stampfer’s request to her husband. Major Douglas Perucca had deployed to Afghanistan on November 28th, the Saturday after his son took the Jeep. “He said Mickey was familiar with that area, because he’d taken him out there multiple times,” Stampfer recalled.

On Saturday, December 5th, Stampfer next heard from family friends who came to get the Jeep.

“If it was my kid, I would have had my own search team out there 24/7—immediately,” he noted.

Stampfer then arranged a meeting with his staff and supervisor, and made flyers to post in the Anza-Borrego area. He next spoke with Mickey’s mother on the 12th. “She called me back to ask if we found a cell phone in the Jeep, and she informed me that her son, Mickey, was still missing,” he said.

He received a call from Detective Pat Yates, San Marcos Sheriff Substation, at some point and learned that a major search was being planned. But Stampfer confirmed, “Nobody did a search in at least the first week.”

Mickey’s mother says she made numerous calls to Sheriff’s officials. “They just said, `Oh, he ran away. He’ll come home when he is ready. They pretty much just blew it off until I sent them a letter…I told them I would go higher up, up to the media, whoever was higher because they wouldn’t give it any attention,” she told East County Magazine.

Jan Caldwell, spokesperson for Sheriff Bill Gore (photo, left), says a deputy responded “immediately” after the first call was made. “The detective has tried numerous times to speak with the parents, however his calls are never returned,” she said in an e-mail to East County Magazine. “He has even left cards with neighbors.”

Caldwell suggested we invite the boy’s mother to meet with us and detectives. She declined, stating she felt it would be a waste of time and that she would rather spend time searching for her son or seeking media coverage of his case. So ECM met with three Sheriff’s representatives on our own.

“I can tell you that the husband did not report the kid missing for several days, even though they reported the car stolen,” said Captain Don Crist. “There were several prior incidents like this one.”

One week earlier, detectives learned, Guidry’s stepfather reported his motorcycle stolen. Guidry had taken it joyriding on Ortega Highway in a state park in Riverside County. When it ran out of gas, he walked out and upon meeting up with a park ranger, made up a story that he’d been kidnapped, but escaped. The fib sparked a helicopter search for the kidnappers, until the teen confessed to a Riverside Sheriff’s deputy that the story was not true.

According to Detective Patrick Yates, “The Mom reported that had happened before that. Ours is perhaps the third or fourth time that he had taken a vehicle from the parents.” Perucca disputes that there were prior episodes, but did confirm the Riverside situation. “He was just stupid. He was afraid he would get in trouble, so he told them he’d been kidnapped. He didn’t realize it would be such a big problem and start a big search.”

Asked if the family got a bill for the search due to the bogus story, she replied, “They said they were going to send us the bill, but they haven’t yet.”

Crist said the stepfather was advised when reporting the Jeep stolen that the boy could be apprehended at gunpoint, since without a missing persons report, deputies would assume the driver to be armed and dangerous. He said it is rare for parents to follow through with a stolen vehicle report by a teen for that reason. “Three times they declined to report him missing,” he said.

At first, Perucca said that she and her husband believed Mickey would return home after the weekend, and assumed he was safe with friends. They had the cell phone company turn off his cell phone service as a punishment and planned to ground him when he came home.

But he never returned.

Crist defends the department’s actions. “We did take it seriously. We expended a lot of energy,” he said. “Our detective went to the house. He even left cards with neighbors. We even tried to call the father in Afghanistan on his cell phone…She [the mother] even said `Quit calling my neighbors.’”

But Perucca tells a different story. “They never said they wanted him to contact them,” she said of her husband. “They never once asked for his e-mail.” She said she stopped responding to the detective who came to the house because she didn’t believe he was taking the case seriously.

“I told him to assign the case to somebody else—he kept saying `Your son is a runaway and we’re not going to look for him. After those three weeks, I told him `Don’t call me and don’t go to my house anymore. I wanted the case to go to someone who would actually go look for my son….How do they know he didn’t get picked up by some pervert and buried in the desert?”

She said she had friends on dirt bikes go search the desert for her son. She contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and had flyers made. Guidry is listed there as an "endangred runaway." Mickey's mother said officials in local law enforcement tried to discourage her from putting up posters. “They said not to waste my time.”

On December 14th, Yates said he got a call from the boy's mother, who hung up when he put her on hold for “less than 30 seconds” to respond to Deputy Radicia. He says he called all of her phone numbers and the stepfather’s several times over the next three days, then knocked on neighbors’ doors.

He said when the boy was first reported missing, the department viewed it as a “standard runaway case.” There are more than one million missing kids, he added.

Asked how many runaways return within the first 48 hours or so, he acknowledged, “99%.” Most of the rest are parental abductions, he confirmed.

Asked why a disabled vehicle abandoned in a remote desert location wouldn’t trigger concern that the boy may have come to harm, he replied, “People dump vehicles in the middle of nowhere all the time.”

Asked why the department finally issued a press release, posted quietly on its website on December 17 or 18, he replied, “Generally when there is a lot of activity in the field, the public will ask questions.”

As for why Search and Rescue operations were not commenced until December 17th, with a major search not held until December 20--over three weeks after the vehicle was found--Yates maintained that there was a search “immediately” with “units on the ground and in the air. He said Rangers in Anza Borrego had also done some initial searching.

When asked about Yates’ statement, Stampfer expressed surprise. “I do circles around for about a hundred yards and follow prints, but it’s nothing like a major search with helicopters and dogs.” He was not certain when the first air search or use of dogs occurred, but confirmed, “Nobody did a search in at least the first week.”

Perucca is upset that the Sheriff has refused to conduct forensic tests on the vehicle. “They never looked at the car,” she said, adding that rain would have destroyed any prints long before the Sheriff’s searches began weeks after Mickey disappeared. “My friends brought it on a flat bed truck and took it home…They never once said can we look at the car.”

Yates said he examined the vehicle, but didn’t say where. Crist said no forensics would be taken because “there was no evidence of a crime.” He added that there could be hundreds of prints, adding “We could bog down the system looking for prints on this and prevent a rape case from getting forensics done…We’re not going to do anything further.”

Told of Yates statement, Perucca responded with anger. “He only looked at the outside of the car. He never looked at the inside. I had it locked. The alarm was set. From the time we reported it missing, they had an entire week to go out to see the car in the desert and they never did….I think what they’re realizing now is they did wrong in this initial thing and they’re trying to cover their butts.”

Stampfer said he looked inside the vehicle and didn’t note anything obviously amiss, such as blood stains. He expressed surprise when told that the Sheriff’s office has declined to take fingerprints, though he concurred with Yates’ contention that it would be hard to find a suspect’s prints when so many other people had been in the vehicle.

Donald A. Parker, sergeant in charge of Search and Rescue operations for the San Diego Sheriff, says he did not find out about the missing teen until December 16th. He and Astrea helicopter pilots flew out the next day but found nothing, other than tracks in the dirt where the Jeep had been (it was removed by friends of the family), and a white blanket that may have been Guidry’s in a wash northeast of the Jeep site.

In coming days, more searches were done by air and on foot. Searchers used Google Earth, knowing they were likely searching for a body after so many weeks. They focused on the route from Split Mountain to the Jeep’s end location at longitude N. 33, 02, 55, W. 116, 01, 54, as well as the route Guidry may have taken on foot if he’d struck out over rugged, boulder-strewn terrain toward Highway 78, visible from a rise near where the blanket was found.

On December 20th, with weather down to 25 degrees, a major search was finally launched with helicopters, Parker, Yates, and about 50 trained volunteer searchers. San Diego’s Search and Rescue has a national reputation for excellence, said Parker. “They all get training. We have one academy a year and we’re always looking for volunteers.” Volunteer searchers include the CEO of Scripps Healthcare, former police, former and current military members, nurses, paramedics, software engineers, and stay-at-home grandmothers.

The Sheriff’s department also brought three or four teams of cadaver dogs. Even after so many weeks, a body would still have a detectable odor, said Parker, who recalled finding one body after six months. They searched Harper Flat, where a searcher reported a smell, but found nothing other than numerous footprints that may have belonged to illegal border crosses who frequent the area.

Searches were also conducted using motorized units, including quad units from the west to Pinon Valley, where a drop-off is so steep that four-wheel drivers must winch theselves up from the command post. Motorized vehicles searched along the route from 78 towards where the blanket was found, but could not go the final portion due to impassable terrain.

“We found zero—except the blanket,” Parker said.

The team did spot mountain tracks, and even made efforts to find where a mountain lion might have holed up. “It’s literally a needle in a haystack,” said Parker, who added that given that Guidry is 5 foot 10 and weighed 155 pounds, a mountain lion attack would be unlikely—unless he fell and was injured.

Parker hopes to go back with a borrowed unmanned aircraft, which is less costly than a helicopter costing $1,000 an hour. The same aircraft has been used in the search for Amber DuBois—the missing Escondido teen whose disappearance has been widely publicized, even making national TV news, in stark contrast to the case of Mickey Guidry.

Parker said limited resources made it impossible to search the 200 square miles of very rugged terrain. “There are boulders the size of this table,” he said of one wash where an earthquake struck not long ago.

“Do I think he’s out there?” he paused. “I really don’t know.”

Sheriff’s say four basic scenarios are possible. If Guidry tried to walk out, he may have died from exposure or injury, and simply hasn’t been found. A positive sign is that no buzzards were spotted circling in the vicinity visible from a ranger station, and all such sightings are investigated due to border crossers and off-roaders who often run into trouble in the desert.

The second scenario is a staged disappearance, in which the Jeep was abandoned on purpose and Guidry hooked up with friends who spirited him away. But he couldn’t have known his parents would shut off cell service, and had no way to communicate with anyone after leaving the campground.

Third, he could have met with foul play. Perhaps someone met him at a gas station and forced or convinced him tp go 22 miles into the middle of nowhere. Or he drove on his own, got stuck, then set off on foot or got a ride with someone who had bad intentions. If so, he could be anywhere--killed, or held captive, like Steven Staynor or Jaycee Dugard.

The fourth possibility is that he hiked out (or got a ride) and left voluntarily with whoever picked him up. If he made it to Highway 78,depending in which direction he went next, he might ridden to Julian, Borrego Springs, Brawley, El Centro, the Imperial Valley or points further east. It is also possible that he returned to the San Diego area, or headed out of state.

Crist thinks Guidry may well have been able to reach Highway 78, or get a ride. “He could have gotten out of there easily. There were several options,” he asid.

“We’re sure he made it out,” Perucca told East county Magazine, “but what happened after that? All the things that cross your mind…He’s very impressionable. There were no troubles with drugs or alcohol,” she said, adding that she has searched his room in the past to make sure. She believes he had help to steal the motorcycle, and doesn’t believe he would plan to runaway on his own.

She said she has spoken with her son’s friends, who continue calling and texting her. “I have all his phone records, everyone he called.” She said she spoke with the girl and her family that Mickey camped with, and that the mother confirmed her daughter’s version of events. Mickey’s mother referred to the girl as his “girlfriend.” She confirmed that Mickey had reportedly told that family a tall tale, indicating his Dad was going to Iraq.

“I don’t know where he came up with this stuff—it’s totally out of the blue,” she said. “He wasn’t always like that. He wasn’t a big liar other than little stuff, like did you clean the cat box? Yeah Mom, if he was feeling lazy.” She said Mickey was slated to have a meeting with a psychiatrist, however, because of the earlier stolen motorcycle incident, but never made the appointment since he disappeared before.

Perucca said the family told her Mickey was wearing a white jacket, a detail she found puzzling. He didn’t own a white jacket and had no money to buy one, she noted.

ECM called the”girlfriend”, who declined to speak with us. We did speak with the girl’s mother, who asked that the family’s names not be published. Sheriff officials say the girl’s family was cooperative, but the girl’s mother seemed less-than-candid with ECM.

“He was there with us,” the woman said. Asked when he left the camp, she said she couldn’t remember the day, but noted, “As far as we know, he was going home.”

Asked if they had any reason to believe he would runaway, she replied, “Absolutely none, not a thing…We just met him so we had no clue what he was like, didn’t know anything.” She insisted that her daughter barely knew Mickey and that they were just school friends.

Yates said the family told authorities a somewhat different story. “They were snowed—led to believe by Mickey that his family was abandoning him; he told them they were splitting up and he was going to a brother in Los Angeles. There is no brother, no siblings, and according to his family he was not told to get out.”

Mickey showed up unannounced at the family’s campsite at the Ocotillo Wells trailer park, he said, adding that the family told authorities they gave Mickey gas money to get home. It is unknown whether or not he stopped for gas before heading out on the rugged road, which ran right by the campground, or whether he might have met up with someone – a stranger, perhaps—at a gas station or someplace else before heading out into the rugged terrain—if in fact he was still driving the vehicle at that time.

ECM asked the girl’s mother what date she learned that Mickey was missing. She said she didn’t recall. We asked when she was first questioned by authorities. “I don’t recall if it was a day or two later, or two weeks later,” she said. She claimed she didn’t remember if she had talked to Mickey’s Mom. “I don’t recall talking to her directly. She talked to my daughter,” she said. “I feel really bad that he hasn’t shown up. As a mother I would be going crazy,” she added.

She said she found it odd that there was so little media coverage, noting that an article in the Borreo Sun didn’t run until three or four weeks after Mickey disappeared. “As a Mom, I would have been on the news two or three days after my daughter was gone; after one day I would have been calling trying to find out.”

A Google search has turned up no other media reports on Mickey’s disappearance, other than East County Magazine’s December 22 article. Not one. (Note: Our story indicates the Sheriff announcement of Mickey being missing was made December 18. The Sheriff’s office has since removed that press release from its website. The Sheriff declined our request for written records on this case, citing a pending investigation and the fact that we requested records more than 30 days after the disappearance. )

Josh Watkins, a friend of Mickey’s, said he last saw Mickey shortly before Thanksgiving, about a week before he disappeared. “He’d ridden his Dad’s motorcycle to school,” he said. “I don’t know who he went camping with; normally he calls me to invite me to stuff like that.”

He said Mickey was a loner who didn’t have many close friends and hung out with “random” people after school.

Asked if there was anyone Mickey was close to, he named the girl whose family Mickey camped with the last night he was seen alive. He described her as “really close to him” and added, “She sits next to me in class. She was calm about it; she seemed worried but she wasn’t extremely freaked out.” He said the girl told him she hadn’t seen Mickey since about a week before he went missing. “I asked her if she knew anything and she said she didn’t.”

He said he didn’t believe Mickey was involved with drugs or gangs, and that Mickey had told him how he and his stepdad “always rode motorcycles together; it sounded like he was having fun.”

No one interviewed for this story expressed any knowledge of any serious problems for Mickey at home, other than the vehicle thefts. But Watkins noted, “He hung out with some trouble-makers; he just liked to get into trouble, do like dumb stuff.” Asked for an example he said, “Like making bombs out of household items just for fun,” but added he never thought Mickey would do anything threatening or “too dangerous.”

He said a Sheriff’s official called him about a week after Mickey’s disappearance, but he didn’t return the call. A couple of weeks later they called back and talked with him.

Sheriff’s officials don’t know what happened to Mickey Guidry. But they assured, “nothing lends itself to foul play involving the family, because the kid dictated his own moves.” Nor do they suspect the family that Mickey Guidry camped with on the last day he was seen alive.

Mickey did not yet have a driver’s license. The Jeep, registered in his stepfather’s name, was a gift for his birthday in August and was to be transferred to his name once he obtained his license.

“That he made it this far is amazing,” Yates said of the place where the Jeep became stranded. Strampfer concurred that it would take considerable driving skill to navigate the treacherous dirt off-road for so many miles.

Mickey’s mother expressed frustration that school officials at San Marcos High School have refused to give her information. “They won’t talk to me at all,” she says. “They say talk to the principal, but he won’t talk to me either.”

Sheriff’s officials say that teachers and school officials have been cooperative.

East County Magazine called the school and asked to talk with school officials, teachers, and anyone else who knew Mickey. We also asked for public records on when the school was contacted by Sheriff’s officials, or whether the school reported Mickey missing. One official returned our call, only to inform us that tersely, “I’m not going to share any information. You can speak to the parents. You can’t speak with any of the staff members here on record,” he added, citing board policy. “And I don’t want to be quoted in any publication I will take you to court if it’s public.”

Mickey’s mother expressed frustration, and said she’s more than willing to have records on Mickey made public if it could shed any light on his whereabouts, or anyone who might know. “At this point, to me, he doesn’t have any privacy. He needs to be in the media. Somebody has to have seen him at some point.”

Asked where he might have wanted to go, if he left voluntarily, she said he had wanted to go back to the family’s former home in Arkansas. But she’s notified a realtor there to keep an eye on the home, which was vacant for a couple of months, with no results. Mickey enjoyed Future Farmers of America (FFA) and ROTC courses at school, though his grades had slipped, prompting the grounding before he took off on Thanksgiving, she said. He enjoys working with small engines—lawn mowers and cars—so possibly could seek work in a repair shop if he did run away, which she believes is not likely.

Sheriff’s deputies recently came to the home to take DNA samples of her son and herself, also requesting dental records. Sheriff’s officials say they have searched hospitals and morgues in adjacent counties, but no match has been found.

They recently took Mickey’s computer and a cursory-level search found nothing. Asked when a deeper search would be completed, they would not give a date. “It’s a slow process…very bogged down, and we have to prioritize our cases,” Yates said.

He suggested that putting up flyers for Mickey Guidry could be counter-productive for the department. “You start putting these out with every runaway and it hurts,” he said, suggesting that the public would stop responding to posters for children believed in imminent danger if too many runaway cases are publicized.

He suggested that Guidry, like the fabled boy who cried wolf, may have been responsible for his own fate—and for law enforcement not considering foul play a likely motive.

“Mickey was the last one to have control over his life,” Yates concluded. “The last person who spoke to him told him, `Mickey, go home.’”

Mickey has sandy hair and blue eyes. His birthday is August 3, 1993. He may have been wearing blue or black shorts or Dickies jeans with blue high-top tennis shoes.

Asked what would happen to Mickey if he should return home, Yates “Probably nothing,” added that it’s unlikely the family would press chargers for the stolen vehicle, as they would merely be glad to have their son safely home.

Perucca, a scuba diving instructor (photo, right), says she is not working because of Mickey’s disapearance. Mickey’s stepfather asked for and received permission from the military to come home early on compassionate leave, and was slated to arrive home last night.

“I just can’t handle this anymore,” Mickey’s mother said, her voice breaking.

Detective Yates said he has “zero leads” and encourages anyone with information to call him at (760)510-5233.

Natalee Holloway’s father flew a search dog and handler to Aruba to search for the missing teen’s body on Friday, although prosecutors said they have

Ann Angela, a spokeswoman for the Aruba Prosecutors’ Office, said the dog is searching a small reservoir in northwestern Aruba that witnesses have previously identified as a location where Holloway’s remains might be found.

Holloway, from Mountain Brook, Ala., disappeared in may 2005 in the Aruban capital Oranjestad. she was 18 at the time.

Angela said neither police nor prosecutors have any new information in the case, but they gave Dave Holloway permission to search.

Click here for photos from the case.

Dave Holloway did not immediately return a message seeking comment. his attorney, Vinda de Sousa, told the Associated Press he insisted on another search of the reservoir after a witness who identified it as a possible location passed a lie detector test in the U.S.

De Sousa said she does not know how long the dog and its handler will remain on the island, nor how much Holloway is paying for the search. she added that the search had been planned for some time.

Holloway’s mother, Beth Holloway Twitty, said she was not aware of the development and declined further comment.

Natalee Holloway was last seen leaving a bar with Dutch man Joran van der Sloot on the final night of a high school graduation trip.

No trace of her has ever been found despite extensive searches involving hundreds of volunteers, Aruban soldiers, FBI agents and even Dutch F-16 jets.

Dutch prosecutors have said authorities still lack proof they need to convict Van der Sloot, who has been arrested twice and released for lack of evidence.

Veteran police dog calls it quits

Posted: February 24, 2010 - 12:17am


By Michael Atkins

Binky, a supreme sniffer that started as one of the first-ever Savannah-Chatham police dogs, has retired after eight years of service.

The Belgian Malinois, aged nearly 12 years, has notched more than 330 arrests since 2001 - the year metro police established its K-9 unit. He was also called out for 210 tracks and performed 172 searches for evidence, 820 for narcotics and 207 through buildings.

"What we call work is play for them," police Cpl. Amanda McGruder, Binky's handler, said, adding that the pooch has eased seamlessly into retirement. "All our dogs go home with us, and you really get attached to them.

"He's the king of the hill."

Sgt. Greg Ernst, who supervises the K-9 unit, recounted an instance in Bryan County where Binky, catching a scent from air bubbles, dove into a swamp to drag out a burglary suspect.

"That's a prime example of Binky's ability to find people - anything that involved searching for suspects, Binky was outstanding," Ernst said. "And he still has an incredible drive to do his job; he just doesn't have the endurance. It's just like when all of us get old, the heart's willing but the body just can't do it."

On Tuesday, meanwhile, Binky's suitable replacement was introduced at the police training grounds off Dean Forest Road.

Djieno - pronounced "Geno" - a dog of Binky's breed and Dutch descent, arrived in Savannah on Saturday and has turned plenty of heads during his nascent career.

"I like him - he's got a good, loving temperament," Ernst said. "We can take him anywhere, into a school for demos, search for suspects in crowded areas. He already appears to be a real strong tracker."

Such was evident during Tuesday's exercise, as Djieno darted directly to one of six wooden boxes, where Officer Will Fernandez was hiding. The dog belted out a bark before clamping his jaws on Fernandez's arm, protected by a burlap sleeve.

"Watch out Savannah," McGruder, smiling, said afterward. "Djieno's in town."

DPS helicopter crew finds Cordes Lakes girl, dog helped child survive cold

By Lisa Irish
The Daily Courier

An Arizona Department of Public Safety Ranger helicopter crew found a 3-year-old Cordes Lakes girl early Friday morning about three-quarters of a mile south of her home after she had been reported missing from her front yard the evening before.

DPS officers found Victoria Bensch in good condition, but flew her to Phoenix Children's Hospital because of frostbite on her face, legs and arms, said Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office. Victoria's mother and father reunited with her and her mother accompanied her to the hospital.

Victoria and her dog, Blue, apparently wandered away from her home traveling over several hills, D'Evelyn said.

"We had a mounted posse group ready to head into that area when the Ranger helicopter crew spotted Victoria and Blue," D'Evelyn said. "We're so glad she's OK.

"We believe her dog with her was a major factor in her survival. Blue kept her warm and alert and provided some solace for her."

Officers dropped Blue off at the command post in Cordes Lakes, D'Evelyn said.

Victoria's parents called the Sheriff's Office to report her missing just after 6 p.m. Thursday from their home in the 21000 block of Fremont Drive in Cordes Lakes. Her parents had last seen Victoria playing outside on the porch of their home at about 5 p.m. and they spent an hour searching the area around their home before contacting Sheriff's deputies, D'Evelyn said.

No one at the girl's home heard anything unusual or suspicious before they discovered she was missing, D'Evelyn said.

The Jeep Posse, Yavapai County Sheriff's Response Team, DPS, DPS Ranger helicopter, and Mayer Fire Department personnel assisted Sheriff's Office deputies in their search for Victoria throughout the night and early morning.

Deputies and detectives spent the evening contacting registered sex offenders in the Cordes Lakes area and ruled out their involvement in Victoria's disappearance, D'Evelyn said. Cars leaving the area were checked as well for any signs or evidence of the missing girl.

Friday morning, deputies and specially trained search volunteers deployed scent dogs, who smelled an item of Victoria's clothing from her room and tracked her scent outside the home, D'Evelyn said.

Searchers also re-checked areas they searched Thursday night.

"This appears to be a non-criminal rescue," D'Evelyn said. "It appears she wandered away."

If you have any information about this incident, please call the Sheriff's Office immediately at 928-771-3260.

Charges Dismissed Against Yoakum Police Investigator

Written by Emily Collins

After months of investigation, federal charges against Yoakum Police Investigator Collin Campbell have been dropped.



Since May 2009, the Case of Calvin Lee Miller versus Investigator Campbell, the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Department, and Fort Bend County Sheriff Deputy Keith Pikett has been pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Victoria Division.

Campbell was sued by Miller, a cleared suspect in the 'Twilight' rapist case, for what Miller claims was faulty evidence used to keep him in jail for two months charged with the rape of two elderly women living in Yoakum.

On Tuesday, Calvin Miller's Defense Attorney Rex Easley Jr. told Newscenter 25 that he dismissed the charges filed against Investigator Campbell on Monday after he determined that Campbell did not have enough knowledge of the way the scent dogs worked in the investigation of Miller to justify suing him individually.

"I filed a motion with the federal court, Judge Rainy, to dismiss him and on Monday the Judge ordered his dismissal," said Easley.

The remaining defendants, who Easley says he believes have the most liability in the case, are former Fort Bend County Sheriff's Deputy Keith Pikett and Pikett's employer at the time, the Fort Bend County Sheriff.

Pikett is accused of using what Easley calls a "Junk Science Injustice," by using faulty dog scent lineups in the rape case against Miller and thousands of others.

Depositions against the two have been set for the end of March.

Dogs trained in Olean to put their noses to work

By Julia Sampson
Olean Times Herald

Not all dogs smell the same.

Actually, Steven Phillips, owner of Command Dogs of Olean, said that an average dog has 200 to 250 million scent cells and if you lay the membrane lining in a dog’s nose out, its scent system can cover the entire animal’s body.

Search and rescue dogs and their abilities have been in the news a lot recently because of the devastation in Haiti. Special dogs with special skills are being trained and used right here in the Olean area.

Mr. Phillips has been training dogs for the past 30 years.

“I train residential dogs as well as police dogs,” he said. “I sort of fell into it. Years ago I wanted a doberman, but I knew that such a big dog would need to be trained properly so I worked with a New York state trooper and it sparked an interest.”

Today he owns a German shepherd named Persia, whom he is training for narcotics and search and rescue detection.

New York State Police Sgt. Timothy Fischer said dogs do not smell human “odor” as humans do.

“Human scent is called ‘rafts’ - skin cells - it’s made up of a person’s age, gender, what they’ve eaten,” Sgt. Fischer said. “What you and I think of in terms of human odor is different for dogs.”

The 27-year handler is in charge of the state police K-9 unit out of Albany.

Consequently, search and rescue dogs are trained a bit differently, depending on their area of “expertise.”

“Our dogs are first trained as tracking dogs,” said Sgt. Fischer. “Tracking dogs pick up a scent that is anywhere from 4 hours old to even a couple of days old.”

These scents are transfers to objects, Mr. Phillips said.

“Say a K-9 unit is called to a bank robbery,” he said. “The dog will sniff the last place the suspect touched and start the trail from there.”

Often, the animal does not “find” the criminal, Mr. Phillips explained; however, the dog does give the police an idea of the route the person took. In addition, Mr. Phillips reiterates that the main function of a police dog is as a “locating tool” - drugs, explosives and other evidence.

According to Sgt. Fischer, tracking dogs are taken to the scene of the crime and will track a person until they get within a certain distance, maybe 100 yards or so, and then they will “air scent” to finish locating the person.

“Air scenting is when a dog lifts his nose into the air to pick up human scent,” he said.

Some search and rescue dogs are not trained for tracking, but all tracking dogs are trained for “air scenting.”

“There does not have to be a specific last known location point for an air-scenting dog to do their job,” Sgt. Fischer explained. “Is it easier when that is known? Yes, but it is not essential for the animal when it assists in a search.”

Urban search and rescue dogs are trained specifically to locate the living as well as locating cadaver odor in and around building collapse.

“These dogs are able to navigate building rubble to locate both the living and deceased,” Sgt. Fischer said. “It is completely different from a search for a lost or missing person in rural areas.”

“The dogs have to know what to do; how to navigate certain terrain,” said Mr. Phillips. “A dog that is trained in Urban rescue would not know what to do in a rural setting. It isn’t trained for that.”

Mr. Phillips also dispels the perception that all search and rescue dogs are police dogs.

“The majority of search and rescue dogs are owned by a private person,” he said. “Also, the only job the dog handler has is to be able to read the dog and let those in authority know what the dog is saying. The dog and handler are simply a tool.”

While it takes quite a bit of time and dedication to train a dog for search and rescue, stated the Command Dogs business owner, cadaver dogs are the hardest to train.

“It is illegal in New York to use human body parts for (cadaver) training, therefore we use pseudo scents to train the dogs,” he said. “Three scents are used for training: above ground cadaver scent, buried scent and human distress scent - the odor produced in humans via the flight or fight response.”

Additionally, dogs are trained differently for water rescue. “They have to be able to work on a boat,” said Mr. Phillips.

As with obedience training, the dog has to think it’s playing a game when it’s working during a search and rescue, it has to be fun,” said Mr. Phillips, who is certified through the DEA and licensed through New York state to train dogs for drug detection, and holds a license through both the state and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms to train dogs for explosives.

“Training dogs, whether for obedience or otherwise, is about positive motivation,” he said.

Child finds human remains in Toledo

Crews with cadaver dogs spent Friday searching a rural area outside of Toledo after a boy found parts of a human skeleton while playing in the woods Thursday.

Officials weren't releasing many details Friday, saying it's too early in their investigation. They are sure the skeleton remains are human, though, and they're searching for other parts of the body in the surrounding area, said Chief Deputy Stacy Brown of the Lewis County Sheriff's office.

Cadaver dog teams from Pierce County were helping with the search of the rural, wooded area Friday afternoon, Brown said.

Brown said officials have an idea who the body might be but right now are working on collecting enough parts of the skeleton to make an identification. She did not release who officials have in mind or if they thought this was a case of foul play.

"It's just too early to speculate," she said.

Brown also said it's doubtful any positive identification will come before early next week.

The remains were discovered by an 8-year-old boy who was playing in the woods on his parents' property Thursday afternoon. The area, on the 100 block of Cougar Road, is northeast of Toledo and near the Cowlitz River.

Brown commended the boy and the family for not disturbing the scene but instead calling authorities immediately.

Three juvenile boys arrested in armed robbery at Sikeston Sonic

Sunday, February 21, 2010
Standard Democrat

SIKESTON, Mo. -- Charges were filed Saturday in connection with a Friday night robbery at a fast food restaurant in Sikeston in which a gun was also used.

Cleveland Roberson, 17, and Traversial Scott, 17, both of Sikeston, were charged with first-degree robbery and armed criminal action. They are being held at the Scott County jail on $100,000 cash or surety.

A 16-year-old from Sikeston was also arrested in connection with the robbery. Authorities will not release the name because of his juvenile status. He is in custody at Mississippi County Juvenile Detention Center.

Around 10:15 p.m. Friday, officers with the Sikeston Department of Public Safety were alerted to a robbery at the Sonic Drive-In, 216 N. Main St. in Sikeston, said Sgt. Jim McMillen, public information officer. The victims reported three teenage males entered the business and demanded cash and that one of the boys was armed with a handgun.

"When the workers handed over the money, the thieves ran east from the area," McMillen said.

Officers, assisted by a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper and Scott County deputy, were called to the scene along with Sikeston's police dog and handler. The dog immediately began tracking the scent of the offenders. The Scott County deputy located three teenagers on East Kathleen Street matching the descriptions. The police dog continued tracking the scent until he also arrived on the scene where the three subjects were detained.

The Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigative Unit had already begun its investigation, McMillen said. A witness was brought to Kathleen Street to view the suspects. Detectives were able to arrest the three from their preliminary investigation and took them into custody.

An officer found a large amount of cash near the area where the three subjects were standing. During a follow-up investigation at the homes of the teens, detectives turned up other evidence from the robbery.

McMillen said all involved did "excellent work" in the investigation, which was wrapped up in about an hour.

Recent local missing persons cases Family, supporters continue search for missing Chester woman

From staff reports), By Michael Buettner (Staff Writer)



ENON - Under a gray sky, a cold wind blew off the gray water of the Appomattox River and across an icy marsh. Under the winter-bare trees of Point of Rocks Park, a scattered half-dozen people trudged up and down the snow-covered ravines, their grim task fittingly reflected by the bleak landscape.

For a few hours on Saturday afternoon, the search for Kelly D. Catalano went on, as family members, friends and a few strangers moved by the Chester woman's mystifying disappearance sought clues despite the fresh snow and low-30s temperatures.

Joseph DiStefano has been bringing his all-terrain vehicle out every weekend since Friday, Jan. 15, when Catalano, 40, was last seen by co-workers at Blue Print Automation Inc. off Ruffin Mill Road.

The day after Catalano disappeared, DiStefano and a friend were hunting for ducks and geese along the nearby Appomattox when they walked into the middle of a search by Chesterfield County Police. "They saw we were carrying guns, so they started asking to see our ID and asking us a lot of questions," he said.

DiStefano didn't know Catalano, but he knows the woods and wetlands along the river. Intrigued by the case, he decided to get involved in the search.

The few facts known about Catalano's disappearance seem puzzling in the extreme.

According to police, she was last seen about 10 a.m. that Friday, when she told fellow employees that she was going for a walk along the edge of the plant property, near the confluence of Swift Creek and the Appomattox.

One co-worker, who asked that his name not be used, told The Progress-Index a few days afterward that Catalano "just took off, with her machine running." Police said a witness told them he saw Catalano "sprint towards the river."

Gina Desimone, a co-worker and friend of Catalano for five years, said at the time that Catalano's clothes and keys were left in her locker. She had not punched a time card and her car remained in the plant's parking lot.

"Kelly had her phone with her, but when I called it, it went straight to the voice mail," Desimone said. She added that friends and family had continued many times to call her, with no response.

Police conducted an extensive search of the area around the factory for several days after Catalano's disappearance. Those searches were carried out "in the water, on the ground and in the air - multiple searches," said Ann P. Reid, public information officer for the Chesterfield County Police Department. Divers assisted with the water searches, and cadaver dogs were brought in to help with the ground searching, she said.

The searches did not turn up any indications of an abduction or other foul play, Reid said. She added that investigators "are still considering that she might have taken her own life."

As of Friday, Reid said she had no new information about the case. "It's still a missing persons case," she said.

The suggestion that Catalano might have committed suicide doesn't add up for her family members and friends.

"I definitely don't think it was suicide," said Bonnie Smock, one of Catalano's four sisters, who joined the search on Saturday with another sister, Judy Williams.

Williams has been staying in the Tri-Cities since shortly after Catalano's disappearance was reported. Smock and another sister, Lori Williams, have been traveling frequently to the area from their hometown of Meadville, Pa.

Smock said Catalano's behavior before her disappearance simply did not make sense for someone thinking of committing suicide. "There was too much planning," she said, explaining that Catalano had signed up to run in a race, was talking with a nephew about his plans to visit her in the near future and had even filled her car's gas tank the night before she went missing.

Much of the reason police have considered suicide a possibility is some statements she made in the days immediately before her disappearance. Chesterfield Police Capt. Terry Patterson told The Progress-Index last month that "A couple of people said that she was asking a lot of questions about what happens to someone after death and if one needs to be baptized in order to go to heaven."

But family members said Catalano had a deep interest in religious beliefs about the afterlife dating from her teen years and that any comments she had made about heaven should be considered in that light, not as a sign of depression or suicidal thoughts.

Adding to the mystery, co-workers and family members have said that in the days before she disappeared, Catalano said she was worried that someone might have been inside her house while she was at work.

One rumor has circulated that police found the doors of her house "wide open" the morning after she was last seen, but Smock said that was not true. "The back door was not locked, but that was probably just an oversight" after police and a nephew of Catalano checked the house the night before.

Police spokeswoman Reid said investigators are aware that family members, friends and members of the public have done some searching on their own and understand their reasons for doing so. "It's difficult for family members or anyone who knew Ms. Catalano, because they don't have closure," she said.

Standing on a bluff above the desolate marsh at Point of Rocks on Saturday, Smock said she understands that police have not closed the case on her sister. What she and the rest of her family hope now is that public awareness of Catalano's disappearance won't just fade away.

"Don't give up on her," she said. "Don't forget."

- Michael Buettner may be reached at 722-5155 or mbuettner@progress-index.com. Catalano is one of 3 missing

Police in the Tri-Cities and Richmond are seeking information on three people who have disappeared recently:

- Kelly Catalano is 40, white, stands 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighs 145 pounds and has brown eyes and brown hair. Anyone who has information about her disappearance is urged to call Chesterfield County Police at 748-1251 or Chesterfield-Colonial Heights CrimeSolvers at 748-0660.

- Michael Lesly Green was last seen on the morning of Dec. 19 at his home in the 1400 block of Baylors Lane in Petersburg. He is 27, black, is 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighs 220 pounds, has a medium-brown complexion, a moustache and a goatee. Anyone with information about Green's whereabouts is asked to call Petersburg Crime Solvers at 861-1212.

- Jill Edmonds disappeared on Jan. 25. Her vehicle was found abandoned on the Powhite Parkway near the James River in Richmond. An extensive search of the river and nearby land turned up no sign of her. She is 40, black, 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighs 157 pounds and has straight, shoulder-length black hair. Anyone who has information about her is asked to call Richmond Crime Stoppers at 780-1000.

Remains identified as those of Thomasville man who went missing in 2003

By David Ferrara

Remains found more than a year ago have been identified as those of a Thomasville man who disappeared in 2003.

The 31-year-old Christopher Randolph Hill was last seen Aug. 16 of that year near an oilfield in Barrytown, a small community in the southeast section of Choctaw County.

"At least I know where he's at now," his mother, Vicki Gregor, said Tuesday. "I know he's not laying out in the rain and cold anymore."

More than a year ago, investigators said remains found in Choctaw County might be his. The results of a DNA test and a dental record comparison confirmed that suspicion, District Attorney Spencer Walker, who serves Choctaw, Clarke and Washington counties, said Tuesday.

The last people to report seeing the Hill alive said that he ran into a wooded area near the oilfield when a neighbor said he was calling authorities. Hill and Jason Dixon had been suspected of breaking into a storage shed near an oilfield, authorities have said.

Online court records show Dixon, a Gilbertown resident, was later charged with burglary and theft of property.

Police dogs searched the heavily wooded area the day Hill went missing but found nothing, and authorities said Hill never again contacted his family or friends.

Over the years, authorities distributed fliers with Hill's picture.

For years, Gregor said, she pushed authorities to open a homicide case. She didn't know how, but she believed her son had been killed. He had been struggling with a crystal meth addiction, and even became mixed up in dealing the drug, she said, but he was seeking therapy. She talked with everyone who knew him. She even spoke with psychic detectives in Virginia and Arkansas.

In November 2008, acting on new leads, authorities called in a team of cadaver dogs and unsuccessfully searched the area where he disappeared.

A month later, Windle McIlwain was searching for old bottles in a trash pile about 30 yards from his property in Barrytown when he kicked a bone. He realized it was human and called authorities.

Choctaw County Sheriff James Lovette, who took over as sheriff after Hill disappeared, said Tuesday that his office had treated the incident as a missing person's case.

But Walker said his office would continue to investigate the death.

"There'll be some interviews conducted," the district attorney said. "Questions remain unanswered that I intend to follow up on."

NY man recants story about killing, burning wife

By JIM FITZGERALD

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Werner Lippe knows a lot about fire.

The 68-year-old jeweler, on trial on charges of killing and incinerating his wife, used a propane-and-oxygen torch to melt platinum and gold in his home workshop. He kept a 55-gallon oil drum as a burn barrel to get rid of trash, tomato plants, even the carcass of a deer he shot to protect his vegetable garden. When his mother died and her body was being prepared for cremation, Lippe testified that he asked a mortician, "By the way, how do you burn people?"

Prosecutors believe Lippe mastered that skill, using the barrel in 2008 to burn up the body of his 49-year-old wife, Faith Lippe, who was divorcing him. The drum disappeared soon after Faith Lippe did; her body hasn't been found.

Westchester County jurors have heard more than two weeks of testimony at Lippe's murder trial. They are expected to hear closing arguments and begin deliberating Tuesday. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors presented jurors with multiple confessions. The jury has repeatedly heard a recording of him saying, "I hit her with a piece of wood. ... I dumped her in the barrel and burned her" and details like the color of the ash that Faith Lippe's body was reduced to.

Lippe now insists the confessions were made-up stories concocted to get dogged investigators off his back until he could make his case to a judge.

During two days of testimony last week, he spoke coolly and confidently about the intricacies of jewelry making, dangerous acids and high-temperature flames. He said it was just his curiosity that prompted him to talk to the mortician and to ask a friend, after his wife disappeared, how deep a body would have to be buried to fool cadaver dogs.

Defense lawyer Andrew Rubin says Lippe was neither strong enough nor clever enough to pull off the murder.

Born in Poland, Lippe grew up in Austria and went to Germany to study jewelry-making. He came to New York in 1979 and became a topflight craftsman and goldsmith, with his own business in Manhattan's diamond district 40 miles from his Cortlandt home.

He considers his client list confidential, but grudgingly admitted on the stand that he made pieces for Donald Trump and Yoko Ono. An employee said some of Lippe's pieces sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Lippe was married twice in Europe. The first marriage lasted two years, the second eight weeks, he said.

He met his third wife, Faith, in New York. About 17 years younger than him, she had been in the fashion business but concentrated on home and children after they married in 1990, he said. At the time of her death at age 49, she was a part-time nutrition consultant to the Ossining schools.

In recent years, the marriage became contentious. Lippe told prosecutor Christine O'Connor that the couple argued constantly.

He had his son Andrew, now 15, secretly tape arguments for ammunition in the divorce.

"Your control-freakness has to stop. I will stop this. I guarantee it," Lippe told his wife in one recording played at trial.

It seemed both spouses wanted out. Werner Lippe, an accomplished skier, said he wanted to move to a log cabin near the slopes in Utah. His wife wanted no part of it, he said.

She served divorce papers, and he was fighting her claims for child support and maintenance. He envisioned that Andrew would go off with him, while their daughter Stephanie, now 13, would stay with her mother.

A meeting about the divorce between the Lippes, their lawyers, their children and their law guardians was scheduled for Oct. 7, 2008.

On Oct. 3, Faith Lippe missed several appointments. Her husband said he saw her being driven away in an SUV but could not see who was at the wheel. Her handbag was still at home.

Lippe said he became concerned when she did not return that night, but he did not call her cell phone.

The next day, he said, he drove an hour to ask a friend in Connecticut about the rules for filing a missing-person report. He had lunch and checked on his boat at a marina before coming home and calling 911.

Within a few days, state police with dogs searched the grounds of Lippe's home looking for his wife. They noticed, but did not confiscate, the burn barrel.

Later that month, Lippe confessed to a friend, James Learnihan, that he burned his wife's body. Learnihan was wearing a wire at the behest of investigators.

"She doesn't exist anymore," Lippe said in one taped conversation. "They cannot find her. It's impossible. ... I burned her in a barrel."

He said he hit his wife in the head with a piece of wood to knock her out, then shoved her into the barrel. "She burned for close to 24 hours," he said.

State police surprised Lippe with Learnihan's recording and he confessed again, describing to them the silver-gray color of the ash.

But he recanted his confessions after he was arrested. He said he made up the story because he was afraid of Learnihan and feared he was being framed. He said he repeated the story to police because they weren't listening to his claims of innocence.

Lippe testified that he thought he would eventually be able to explain to a prosecutor or judge and be let off. They would have more education and a "higher IQ" than police officers, he testified.

When police went to find the burn barrel, it was gone. Lippe said he had innocently thrown it out.

Prosecutors displayed photos that showed the barrel would have fit into Lippe's Audi.

Pa. ice rink roof collapses, but no one injured

ROSTRAVER, Pa. — Emergency crews say everyone is accounted for and OK after a partial roof collapse at a suburban Pittsburgh ice rink where a youth hockey tournament was taking place.

The collapse happened Sunday afternoon at the Rostraver Ice Garden, about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Officials found nothing after searching the building with cadaver dogs and infrared cameras.

The collapse happened while a worker was resurfacing the ice during the hockey tournament. The worker wasn't injured.

The cause of the collapse hasn't been determined.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

ROSTRAVER, Pa. (AP) — The roof of a skating rink partially collapsed while the ice was being resurfaced during a youth hockey tournament Sunday, and emergency crews used cadaver dogs to search through the rubble for anyone who might have been trapped.

Everyone who got out of the Rostraver Ice Garden was OK, but emergency officials didn't know how many people had been in the building and were searching the site, about 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

The director of operations for Rostraver West Newton Emergency Services said a 100-by-200-foot section of the roof fell Sunday afternoon.

"There are some people unaccounted for," Director Mike Stangroom said.

Kim Little, a line cook in the rink's restaurant, said people inside heard a crack while a worker was resurfacing the ice on a Zamboni, a small vehicle used to clean and smooth the rink's surface. Minutes later, she said, the roof collapsed.

"The whole roof just fell in, and you could see the sky," Little said.

She said a birthday party was taking place in the building, which also has banquet and meeting rooms and from the outside looks like a large airplane hangar.

The cause of the roof collapse hadn't been determined.

Mother moves, works to keep missing son on people’s minds

By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune

A “March for Sly” has been planned for Sunday night in front of Superior’s Stargate Nightclub.

Sylvester McCurry, an 18-year-old Duluth East High School senior, disappeared from the back door of the club Jan. 17. He’s been missing since, with no evidence of his whereabouts.

His mother, Tammy Carter, has planned the 8 p.m. march in an attempt to keep people aware of his missing status and to advocate for better safety for the 16- to 20-year-olds who attend the occasional no-alcohol nights held at the club.

“They should have called the police instead of kicking him out of the club,” Carter said.

McCurry was ejected from the club about 11 p.m. for being intoxicated, police have said, and dogs have tracked his scent to a back door of the Superior Inn, where he had plans to stay that night.

Carter, of Eden Prairie, Minn., is staying in the area until her son is found, she said. She believes her son was abducted despite no evidence of foul play.

“He’s waiting for us to find him,” she said.

McCurry’s aunt, Jennifer Talbott, said the family is trying to stay positive and focus on the search. They’ve independently searched Wisconsin Point to the docks of Superior.

Superior Police Capt. Chad La Lor had no updates on McCurry’s case Tuesday. He said leads are still trickling in, but at a slower pace than in past weeks. Searches of the waterfront with dogs were made last week and this week, he said, because “absent of anything else, it’s something we felt we needed to do.”

Police have found no evidence of foul play, accidental death or of McCurry “hopping in a car and heading across the country,” La Lor said. “At this point, it’s anybody’s guess.”

Carter’s family has set up a fund for her, called the “Tammy Jo Carter Fund” at any US Bank. Donated money will go toward allowing her to be away from her work as a certified nursing assistant so she can remain in the Twin Ports to search for McCurry.

Search for Mackenzie Cowell, Missing 17-Year-Old, Continues in Washington

No Suspects: Mackenzie Cowell's Vehicle was Found Locked, One Set of Footprints Leading Away, 40 Miles from Her Home

4
The FBI has now joined the search for missing Mackenzie Nicole Cowell in Chelan County, Washington, according to Wenatchee World. The 17-year-old disappeared after leaving beauty school Tuesday night. Mackenzie Cowell's car was found a few hours later near Mission Ridge, about 40 miles from where she lives in Orondo. Authorities discovered her purse and some clothes in the locked vehicle, but found her debit card missing. A single set of footprints led away from the car.

With the six FBI agents joining the hunt Thursday, the number of investigators searching for Machenzie Cowell numbered about 30, according to the Seattle Times. The FBI re-interviewed witnesses and helped follow up on tips received since the high school student went missing. The agents comprise one of the FBI's Child Abduction Rapid Deployment teams.

But authorities do not have much to go on. No Amber Alert was issued for the 17-year-old because her disappearance did not fit criteria for one. There was and continues to be no evidence of foul play or that suggests that Mackenzie Cowell was abducted.

Chelan County Sheriff's Office chief of administration Jerry Moore said, "We don't have a suspect vehicle and we don't have a suspect. We have no witnesses seeing her abducted or taken. We can't verify that she didn't walk away on her own."

Helicopters have failed to catch a glimpse of her. Bloodhounds have failed to pick up a trace of her scent. No one has seen her. A search on the computers at her home turned up nothing suspicious.

Residents in Pitcher Canyon noticed Mackenzie Cowell's car Tuesday night and notified authorities. However, investigators are at a loss as to why the vehicle was parked near a residential driveway in Pitcher Canyon so far from the teen's home. Given her background of good grades and active schedule, investigators do not believe the teen is a runaway. Besides high school and beauty school, Mackenzie Cowell was also a member of the Appes-Ettes Dance Team.

Searchers include the FBI, Washington State Police, the Chelan County Sheriff's Office, Douglas County Sheriff's Office, and the Wenatchee Police department.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) are also active in the investigation. At present NCMEC has 13 missing children on their list of those gone missing in the state of Washington within the last year. Of those, nine are teenagers.

According to statistics from a Department of Justice study, two-thirds of missing juvenile victims are between the ages of 12 and 17. Of those, eight out of 10 are white females.

Mackenzie Cowell is a white female, is 5' 8", weighs 110 lbs., and has brown hair, which was recently dyed to have a reddish tint. She wears braces. She was last seen wearing black pants, a black top, and a black coat that tied off at the waist. She was also wearing brown boots with fur trim.

Anyone with information regarding Mackenzie Cowell or her whereabouts is urged to call 509-667-6848.

South Kitsap Men Awakened to Home-Invasion Attack by Unknown Suspects

By Kitsap Sun Staff


Two South Kitsap men were beaten by masked assailants as they tried to sleep early Saturday.

Deputies were called to a Minterbrook Road residence shortly after 3 a.m. Saturday, according to Kitsap County sheriff’s reports. Two roommates, 26 and 23, said they were sleeping in their apartment above a garage when two male suspects — wearing either ski masks or hooded sweatshirts pulled tightly around their faces — began attacking them.

One of the roommates said that one of the suspects choked him, and deputies did find red marks along both sides of his neck. The roommate had a “severely swollen” hand that appeared fractured, deputies said. The roommate believed that he’d injured his hand punching the suspect.

The other roommate had a swollen lip and red marks on his rib cage, deputies said.

The violent struggle continued until the suspects fled on foot. A tracking dog traced their scent to a set of fresh tire tracks, where the suspects may have driven off, deputies said.

One of the victims explained that he leaves a door open in the home so his dog can come and go at night. The suspects likely entered there, deputies wrote in reports.

A knit hat, glove and box-cutter style razor knife were left at the home, and the victims told deputies that they may belong to the suspects. Deputies took those items as evidence.

The victims said that they had no idea who would attack them.

The sheriff’s office is still investigating the incident. Anyone with information is asked to call 911.

Scent Sample Led to Arrest in Rapist Case, Also Lawsuit

A cleared suspect in the Twilight Rapist case is suing over what he claims was faulty evidence used to keep him in jail for two months. The man claims human error caused bloodhounds from the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office to match him to a crime scene.

A Yoakum Police Investigator, Fort Bend County and a Fort Bend County Sheriff's Deputy are named in the suit, filed by Calvin Miller.

In late January of last year, the community of Yoakum was shocked when a 65 year-old woman paid an intruder thousands so he wouldn't rape her.

The next month, Yoakum Police asked Miller, a convicted felon, to meet them at the Police Station. Miller took his attorney.

At the station, Investigator Collin Campbell swiped a gauze pad on Miller's hand, without Miller's consent, then told Miller he could leave.

Eleven days later, a 79-year-old Yoakum woman was raped on her way to mass. Investigator Campbell asked Miller's attorney for a DNA sample. Miller refused and Campbell traveled to Fort Bend County to use the gauze pad he said he touched Miller with, in a scent lineup.

Campbell said three bloodhounds on three separate tests matched Miller's scent to the scent on the victim's bedspread.

According to court documents, in a probable cause statement to a judge that day, Campbell told a judge both victims described their attacker as a soft-spoken black man.

Campbell said after the first incident, "a local citizen approached Affiant and informed me that Calvin Lee Miller had been buying a lot of cocaine with cash recently. Affiant has spoken to Calvin Miller in the past and has personal knowledge that Calvin Lee Miller is a tall soft spoken black male and is alleged to use cocaine. Based on the similarities of the description and the fact that Calvin Lee Miller is unemployed and was spending cash for drugs, we asked Calvin Miller to come to the Yoakum Police Department to speak with us. On February 16, 2009 Calvin Miller arrived at the police department with an attorney. At that time Affiant shook Calvin Lee Miller's hand while holding a gauze strip. The gauze strip was used to puck up Calvin Lee Miller's scent."

A judge authorized an arrest and Miller was picked up on March 4, 2009. On March 9, a Lavaca County Magistrate issued a search warrant for a DNA sample from Miller.

April 2, Campbell was notified by the DPS Crime Lab that Miller's DNA sample excluded him from samples taken from the rape victim. Miller remained in jail accused of the first robbery.

On May 1, Miller took part in a jail house lineup, but was not identified by eyewitnesses. May 5, Miller was released.

Now Campbell is not only trying to catch a serial rapist, but defend his name in court. Also named in the lawsuit is Fort Bend County and Fort Bend County Deputy Keith Pikett who manages the bloodhounds.

Taylor's alleged accomplice testifies that both are innocent

- Staff writer

Johnny Beck, who dodged the same murder charge that landed Greg Taylor in prison for nearly 17 years, took the stand today and insisted that both he and Taylor were not guilty.

"This man is innocent," Beck said. "I don't understand. It's mind-boggling. It's scary this happened."

Beck's testimony came during a hearing in which Taylor is asking a panel of judges to exonerate him. A Wake County jury convicted Taylor in 1993 of killing Jacquetta Thomas. Charges against Beck were later dismissed for insufficient evidence.

Beck says he has no idea why he escaped prosecution and Taylor didn't.

"I still don't know today exactly why," he said. "I told them nothing different. I told the truth."

Beck recalled his wife's eerie premonition after he told her he thought they'd seen a dead body in a cul-de-sac in Southeast Raleigh. She told him: "You gonna get in trouble on those streets."

Raleigh police targeted the pair because Taylor's SUV was stuck in the mud near where police found Thomas' body the next day. At Taylor's trial, prosecutors told jurors that Beck was the killer and that Taylor had helped and was guilty of murder just the same.

Beck and Taylor have not seen each other or spoken since the night before Thomas' death. Their recollection of the night they ventured into Southeast Raleigh on Sept. 25, 1991, for crack cocaine was similar.

Beck dramatically described seeing Thomas' body lying in the cul-de-sac as he and Taylor left to thumb a ride back to town.

"It shocked me. I thought it was a man," Beck said. "Then, I thought it was carpet. I'd never seen a body in the streets." Earlier Thursday, a woman who picked up Taylor and Beck after their truck got stuck in the mud that night testified that neither man had blood on his clothes or skin.

Taylor was charged with murdering Jacquetta Taylor the next day. Crime scene experts testified earlier this week that whoever killed Thomas that night would have been covered in blood.

"I have a very weak stomach," said Barbara Ray, who picked up Taylor and Beck that night. "If I had seen blood on them I never never would have let them in my car."

Ray's testimony was different from what she told police shortly after Thomas' death. Ray explained to judges that she was a drug addict in 1991 and she was trying to protect her children from her problem. She said that her life is under control now and felt compelled to tell the truth.

Earlier Thursday, a police dog trainer testified that a police dog used at the crime scene where Thomas' body was found never signaled she found Thomas' scent on Greg Taylor's SUV, contrary to testimony by the dog's handler at Taylor's trial.

"There's such power of suggestion here," said Jonni Joyce said, an expert called by Greg Taylor's lawyers. "He altered the investigation."

Joyce said investigators shouldn't have used the dog they did to track scents to Taylor's SUV because the dog wasn't trained for that sort of task.

Joyce said Sadie, the dog, was not trained to track the scent of the dead; she was a search dog who tracks the trail of a missing person. Andy Currin, the dog's police handler, initially told his supervisors that Sadie couldn't perform the task the day Thomas' body was discovered.

They insisted he do it anyway. Joyce said the dog would have been trying to please his master. She thinks the dog didn't track Thomas' scent to Taylor's SUV. "The handler can talk the dog into a false read," she said.

La Crosse Student Missing After Wedding Reception

Craig Meyers missing, footprints lead to river

Updated: Monday, 15 Feb 2010, 2:00 PM CST
Published : Monday, 15 Feb 2010, 5:56 PM CST

A La Crosse, Wisconsin college student has been reported missing after wedding reception and night of drinking.

Police are considering whether or not to search the Mississippi River for 21-year-old Craig J. Meyers. La Crosse police Capt. Rob Abraham said a set of footprints leads out onto the river, but further investigtion revealed those prints did not belong to eyers.

Meyers, a student at Western Technical College, was last seen around 2 a.m. Sunday when his cousin dropped him off on the 700 block of Market Street. Police said Meyers spent Saturday night at a wedding reception and drinking at two bars.

Craig Meyers is 5-foot-6, 165 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes. He was last seen wearing a black leather jacket, light-colored collared long sleeve shirt and dark pants. Anyone with any information is asked to call La Crosse police at (608) 785-5962.

Meyers' family reported him missing around 11:40 a.m. Sunday. Police questioned several people in areas he was last seen while family members searched the downtown area. A bloodhound with the Jackson County sheriff's office lost Meyers' scent near the same location he was last seen.

Meyers studies criminal justice at Western Technical College.

The disappearance is similar to eight alcohol-related drowning deaths in rivers in the same region between 1997 and 2006. The FBI found no evidence of foul play in those cases.

Earlier this month, police closed the case on the death of University of St. Thomas student Dan Zamlen, whose body was recovered from the Mississippi River in St. Paul, Minn.

Zamlen's death rekindled suspicions of a so-called “happy face serial killer,” preying on college men like Zamlen and University of Minnesota student Chris Jenkins who vanished under similar circumstances.

Police launch landfill search for missing baby Gabriel

by Megan Boehnke - Feb. 9, 2010

San Antonio police began excavating a city landfill Tuesday in search of the body of missing baby Gabriel Johnson, all the while saying they remain hopeful the child is still alive.

Police haven't said whether there is new evidence suggesting the child is in the dump beyond text messages sent from the mother, Elizabeth Johnson, to the boy's father nearly seven weeks ago in which she claims claiming she had smothered him, stuffed him in a baby bag and left him in a dumpster.

Police are sifting through trash that came from a motel where Johnson was staying the last time the child was seen alive.

The likelihood of finding the body in the dump, experts say, is not good. That is especially true in a case where there's no confirmation that the child is dead, said forensic expert Paul Laska, who oversaw a landfill search for a child in Florida.

"Sometimes unfortunately, you end up having to do things because you have a public out there expecting you to," Laska said.

Gabriel's mother, Elizabeth Johnson, 23, recanted her original statements that she killed the boy but has since her arrest refused to speak with Tempe Police.

She is being held in a Maricopa County jail on kidnapping, child abuse and custodial interference charges. Any additional charges, Arizona authorities said, would have to come from San Antonio law enforcement, where the child was last seen alive.

Police would not say how they identified where the child might be, but only that one of many leads led them to the landfill.

San Antonio Police announced over the weekend that they are investigating the case as both a homicide and missing person's case. The homicide classification allows them to do the landfill search, said Sandy Gutierrez, a spokeswoman with San Antonio police.

The landfill operators will spend the next six days removing 45 feet of debris before reaching the trash from the motel. Police will then begin their search for any evidence using volunteers and cadaver dogs.

Such searches cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, take weeks to complete and are often fruitless. Once the landfill operators determine exactly where in the dump the trash of interest is, dozens of volunteers from the police and fire departments gather for weeks to sift through the debris. They use cadaver dogs and forensic anthropologists.

They follow dates on discarded newspapers to make sure they are looking in the right spot.

They become experts on the difference between turkey bones, chicken bones and steak bones. And often times, they never find the body.

The two most publicized landfill searches in the Valley both came up empty despite partial admissions from suspects and forensic evidence found in garbage cans.

The bodies of Tempe mother Cookie Jacobson, whose children told police they found her dead and stuffed her in a garbage can, and an Ahwatukee teen who was shot to death by a friend who said he also disposed of the body in a residential garbage can, were both never found.

The same thing happened to 10-year-old Florida girl Andrea Parsons who disappeared in July 1993, a case worked by Laska.

Police suspected convicted child molester Claude Davis, who told the Martin County Sheriff's Office he was collecting cans with the girl when she fell and hit her head. He said he panicked, throwing the body in a dumpster.

Police and landfill owners at the time tracked the trash from that dumpster to an area the size of a couple landfills and spent the entire month of December searching, said forensic expert Laska, who was, at the time, the head of the crime scene for the Martin County Sheriff.

Her body was never found and charges against Davis did not hold up.

Though police never believed his story that she died accidentally and he dumped her body, authorities had an "obligation" to search the landfill, Laska said.

Deputies used heavy machinery and cadaver dogs in the search, and though the stench was overwhelming, the dogs were able to ignore animal bones and pick up scents that led them to human hair clippings from barber shops and discarded feminine products.

If the child is in the dump and authorities have identified the right place, Laska said, he has confidence that cadaver dogs could pick up the scent. It's unclear whether San Antonio police are using cadaver dogs.

"Landfill people are our best source of information, because you're trying to take this big landfill to find this specific area," Lasks said.

Police in San Antonio worked with the phoenix-based owner of the landfill last month to identify exactly where to find the trash from the motel. The company immediately cordoned off that area and began re-directing dump trucks, said Peg Mulloy, a spokeswoman for Republic Services, Inc.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Wyoming’s K-9 search team brings hope to families

JACKSON, Wyo. — It is dark. Under only a few feet of snow, it is impossible to move. The sounds of the people above are almost clear. But any shouts, or even screams, stay trapped below, muffled by frozen walls.

And then the patter of light feet above. A scratching sound, a sliver of light and then the nose of a dog in a flurry of snow.

Members of Wyoming K-9 Search and Rescue have an idea of what it’s like to be trapped in an avalanche, even if they haven’t been in one. Though not in danger, they know how gratifying the sound of rescue can be after time spent in the dark, immobilizing snow.

The K-9 unit is made up of 12 dogs and their handlers. They are separate from Teton County Search and Rescue but help on searches for missing people. They can cover more area faster than human searchers, said Kelly Lewis, president of the group.

The dogs are often the unsung heroes of rescues.

Amanda Soliday and her golden retriever, Roscoe, were called out four times in October. There are probably about 15 rescues a year the group is asked to help with, she said.

Soliday started with the group as a volunteer, hiding for the dogs during trainings. When she got a dog for a pet, she joined. Roscoe is her third dog that has worked with Wyoming K-9.

Sometimes the work is tragic. The first time Soliday helped with a search, it was to find the body of a person who drowned in the Snake River.

But finding a victim’s body, however tragic, can offer relief to the victim’s family, said Cora Pfaff, whose German shepherd, Rohan, is a member of the unit. Pfaff knows firsthand the importance of search and rescue. About four years ago, her nephew disappeared. It was several days before they found his truck and even longer before they found his body. The story didn’t end happily, but at least the family had closure, she said.

The dogs have different certifications like avalanche, water rescue or wilderness, and are called out based on what skills are needed, Lewis said. In total, there are 11 certifications a dog can have.

Wyoming K-9 is part of a larger group that includes Montana, Idaho and Utah. These states have developed a unified set of standards for dogs to gain certification.

The nonprofit group consists of volunteers. They train at least one weekend a month and often gather unofficially other days throughout out the month to keep their dogs sharp, Lewis said. The trainings also help the dogs learn to find people with different scents than their handlers, with whom who they’re used to working.

The dogs train one at a time, and those waiting in cars for their chance to dig through snow to find “victims” bark and whine with anticipation.

The dogs must be brave and willing to try new things, such as riding in helicopters or boats, Pfaff said.

Avalanche training is a progression. The dogs start by following their toy into a cave they see a person venture to. They progress to not seeing where the person is hidden and having “victims” buried beneath several

feet of snow.

Every month the training is different, but the goal is always the same, to find and get to people, whether they are alive or dead, as quickly as possible. In cadaver searches the dogs learn to find human remains buried deep within an elk carcass.

They learn to track living people: those who are lost or children who have run away. They can find them in buildings, in the woods or in neighborhoods.