Teen held in girl's death

Victim found strangled; boy charged with murder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was the last day she went to school.

Man convicted of rape at Maritime Heritage Park

POSTED: Friday, Mar. 26, 2010


- THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follis said the results were ambiguous or untrustworthy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

K-9 bomb squad already makes mark on case

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Chelsea King's Alleged Killer a Serial Killer?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Search and rescue dog mourned

CLINTON — CLINTON — Trax loved to work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Search for missing Atoka fisherman slowing

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

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

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

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

Police suspect foul play in case of missing South Seattle woman

The check sat for two days, then the Seattle-area pastor became worried.

It was routine for Nicole Cearo to pick it up from him, a family friend who routinely held the checks at the start of each month. He called her cell phone. It went to voice mail.

The checks remain, but Cearo has disappeared.

Nicole  Cearo
Nicole Cearo

It's been nearly a year since anyone has seen Cearo alive, when she was picked up from King County Jail on March 30 by a man with whom she had a history of domestic violence, police say.

Sometime after her disappearance, police believe that man admitted killing her.

"She put her hands on me," he allegedly told an associate, according to police documents. "See if they find her ass in Seward Park."

On Sept. 5 -- four days after police investigators learned of the alleged statement -- they teamed with King County Search and Rescue. Cadaver dogs searched the park, and police looked for a body in the water.

The all-day effort found nothing, but police didn't publicize details. The man who allegedly made the threat -- the same person who investigators were told picked her up from jail the last time she was seen -- didn't know about the search, and police didn't want the case to be jeopardized.

Investigators trying to find Cearo checked all police, jail and Social Security databases. The Social Security data track employment. But police found nothing.

They called her cell phone. It went to voice mail.

Most phone numbers found for her family were disconnected, and messages left by seattlepi.com at one that wasn't went unreturned. Attempts by a reporter to reach Cearo's mother at her last known King County address also brought nothing.

Now, Seattle police say the case has gone cold.

Cearo, 20, spent part of her childhood in Chicago, living in a drug- and gang-scarred housing project. At 9, she attended an anti-violence program at the Yesler Community Center and told a Seattle P-I reporter she'd already seen stuff beyond her years.

Court documents show Cearo had a minor police record, starting in 2007 when Sea-Tac police cited her for driving without a license or insurance -- the first of two such tickets. Later that year, police said they found the 18-year-old with alcohol.

She was investigated for attempting to elude an officer and added in a stolen vehicle case, but charges were not filed in that case.

In February 2009 -- a little over a month before her disappearance -- landlords at the Coronado Springs Apartments in the 10600 block of 14th Avenue Southwest filed an eviction notice, saying she owed $828.

On March 28 of that year, a South Precinct officer responded to a shots fired call in the 9000 block of Seward Park Avenue South, looking for a white car with five people.

Cearo and four others were in a car matching that description, the officer wrote in an incident report. Police ran her name and learned she was violating a no contact order -- one involving the man who picked her up from jail the day she was last seen.

She was booked into jail for violating the order.

"It should be noted that (the man) and Ms. Cearo had a history of domestic violence against each other," homicide Detective Earl Kasner wrote in court documents.

The man is not being named by seattlepi.com because he has not been charged in connection to Cearo's disappearance.

He was arrested for auto theft after she went missing, and in a jailhouse interview "stated that he had not seen her since (March 30) after he picked her up from the King County Jail and had been looking for her as well," according to police documents.

Prosecutors have called that man a career criminal and convicted felon with 33 known arrests and at least 42 warrants. His conviction history includes assault, theft, harassment, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.

Police said he was one of the five people in the car stopped that night in Seward Park, but he wasn't booked. The next time he was at jail, police said, he was there to pick up Cearo.

Detectives investigating the case learned they had shared unit 819 of the Coronado Springs Apartments , and when the man returned after King County sheriff's deputies removed their belongings because of the eviction notice, Cearo was not with him.

Two sets of detectives heard an associate of the man say he admitted killing Cearo. Now police aren't sure if the man was talking about park or the surrounding neighborhood also called Seward Park.

"Evidence suggests that Ms. Cearo has been a victim of foul play, and all other attempts to locate Ms. Cearo have been exhausted," Kasner wrote in police document. Of 21 Seattle homicide cases -- which doesn't include Cearo, though police presume she's died -- six have been confirmed domestic violence cases.

By the time she was reported missing, Cearo had missed a court hearing in the domestic violence case, and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

Believing she was a homicide victim, police received a search warrant for Cearo's phone records, but found no strong leads. They're hoping a tip -- even an anonymous one -- could help bring closure.

"If anyone has information about this incident or who may know the identity or whereabouts of the suspect," Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel said, "they're asked to call 911 or Seattle police immediately and refer to this incident."

Anyone with information, including those who want to remain anonymous, can call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. For information on texting a tip, click here

Part 3 of 3: Search for killer John Vining's 4th victim 'not over'

On a cold day this January, Travis Vining stood at the edge of a pond bog on the Deseret Ranch in Osceola County, watching two cadaver dogs sniff the ground.

They were searching for Bob Ragen, who disappeared in May 1987. He was last seen with Travis' father, John Vining, before Vining was sentenced to Death Row for killing a diamond dealer.

They didn't find any remains that day, but they aren't giving up.

"It's not over," said Detective Dave Clarke.

But it is for Travis.

"I will not be going out there again," he said.

The path to the truth

Travis' odyssey began more than five years ago, triggered by a sudden memory of his father telling him he killed two men in a drug deal. It has been a long journey, one that Travis thought had ended on Jan. 6, 2005, the day he got his father to confess to killing the men.

It wasn't the end, though. Travis still thought of Ragen, a business associate of his father's who disappeared the same year Vining killed the two men and diamond dealer Georgia Caruso.

If he could get his father to admit to the killing, Travis would finally have closure.

Travis used the only ammunition he had: Money that he deposited into his dad's commissary account so he could buy cigarettes.

Last summer, Travis wrote his father a letter, saying he would not deposit any more money until 78-year-old Vining revealed what happened to Ragen.

At first, his father was outraged and sent his son threatening letters. But for Vining, the few items from the commissary — bought with money from his son — make sitting in a 6-by-9-foot cell tolerable.

In September, Travis got a letter from his father, telling him he shot Ragen three times and buried him where the father and son used to hunt, Deseret Ranch, which has thousands of acres in Osceola County.

On Dec. 17, John Vining sent another letter with more location details and a map.

The day after investigators searched the area, Travis wrote his father a letter, saying the issue was closed for him. He deposited $200 into his father's commissary account.

"I still have compassion for my father," Travis said.

How does John Vining feel about his son's betrayal? A reporter for the Orlando Sentinel wrote Vining, asking for an interview.

He tore up the reporter's business card and sent it and the letter back with a message.

"Not interested! Not now — not ever."

Dogs trained to help sniff out clues in unsolved cases

SAN ANTONIO -- Trained dogs play a big part in police and deputy work by helping track down suspects and find bodies.

This week, dog handlers from across the country were in San Antonio to get their dogs certified.

News 4 WOAI's Kristina De Leon found out that some of the dogs are helping out in San Antonio's most high profile cases. The training is all fun for the dogs. But it is important work for the humans that handle them as well as for the public.

Experts say a dog's nose is much more sensitive than a human's and and does most of the job.

"That allows them to search things that we would be able to search with their eyes," Christy Bormann.

Christy was on standby with her dog "Cody" for a trip to Haiti, but wasn't needed afterall. Dog "Remi" has been at the Tessman landfill for days helping to search for missing baby Gabriel Johnson.

"It's tough on the dogs. It's a lot of sensory overload for them. Uh, the trash smells and the gases that are coming from that trash is a lot for them to take in," explained canine search speciailist Erin Gillenwaters. "But they've been doing really well. We've been able to work through it."

Gillenwaters said the dogs will stay out until something is found.

"We just, you know, that we're able to find the missing person and bring closure to the family," added Gillenwaters.

Dog "Chopper" helped in the search last week at Canyon Lake, when the body of missing boater Scott Freund was found.

News 4 WOAI wanted to see how the dogs worked, so we put "Cody" to the test. Within 16 seconds, Cody found Kristina De Leon's hiding in a closet and alerted the trainer right away.

The training lasts through Thursday is conducted by the Bexar County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators search Queens basement for remains in Kristine Kupka case

Investigators hope they are tantalizingly close to solving the decade-long disappearance of a pregnant Baruch College student - but two days of searching a Queens basement has yielded nothing.

Kristine Kupka, 28, vanished in October 1998, but her body has never been found. While suspicion has long centered on the married professor whose child she was carrying, he has not been charged.

Cold case detectives dug up the basement of a Liberty Ave. plumbing supply store Thursday, a day after a cadaver dog indicated a corpse was buried in the concrete.

While the excavation has not yet turned up Kupka's remains, her long-suffering sister refused to give up hope that her beloved sibling would be found.

"It's been horrible and I can't even describe it," said Kathy Kupka. "In my mind, I know she was killed in that [store]."

Darshanand (Rudy) Persaud, Kristine Kupka's boyfriend and chemistry instructor, has "certainly" remained the prime suspect over the years, a high-ranking NYPD source said Thursday.

The missing woman's sister, who has spent 12 years keeping her sibling's case from being forgotten, believes Persaud - the last person seen with Kristine Kupka - is guilty.

"I want to know what happened," said an enraged Kathy Kupka. "I want closure."

"She was afraid of him," said Kathy Kupka, remembering that her sister once told her, "'If anything happens to me, it's Rudy.'"

Persaud, now a dentist living in Florida, has never cooperated with investigators, police sources said.

His cousin, Khemraj Maraj, was the former owner of the Jamaica store that entered cops' cross hairs in 2000 when they received an anonymous tip that the five-months pregnant Kristine Kupka was buried in its basement.

Maraj refused to let cops search the store, which used to be an auto-supply shop, and investigators did not have enough evidence to obtain a warrant, the sources said.

Every six months for the last decade, cops would visit the store, and each time Maraj would deny them entrance, the sources said. But in January, the cold case detectives learned the store had been sold - and the new owner granted them permission to search the basement.

"We've been waiting all these years to search this place," said Gil Alba, a private investigator hired by Kupka's family.

"It was a stumbling block," Alba said. "Why wouldn't they allow us inside?"

Investigators have focused on a six-inch slab of concrete that appears shoddily installed on the basement floor, sources said.

A dog signaled a "hit" under the slab Wednesday but cops did not locate any remains, leading investigators to fear that it was a false positive, the sources said.

The investigators will resume the search early Friday after the dust from the latest round of digging settles, clearing the air for the dogs, police said.

Khemraj Maraj, who has moved to Florida, could not be reached for comment Thursday. Investigators have suspected that he and another cousin may have helped Persaud dispose of Kupka, the NYPD sources said.

A woman who answered the phone at Persaud's office declined to comment Thursday and neighbors in his suburban Tampa neighborhood said he had not been around for days.

Kathy Kupka said her sister, who lived in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, was not aware Persaud was married when they began their affair and that he pressured her to have an abortion.

When she refused, their romantic relationship cooled but they still spent time together - including Oct. 24, 1998, when Persaud said he wanted to show her his new apartment.

That was last time Kristine Kupka was seen alive, police confirmed.

Cops and private investigators searched hospitals, warehouses and the coastline but never located Kupka, and there was no evidence that her baby was ever delivered.

"She was fabulous, funny and smart," said Kathy Kupka. "She was great, incredibly funny, and just so strong."


Police search for clues to body parts found on California beach

SACRAMENTO — Two severed limbs and a head were found on Beer Can Beach in California's Sutter County over the weekend, according to authorities.

The first gruesome discovery was made Saturday evening, when two fishermen came across what appeared to be human remains at the river bottom area off Garden Highway and Lee Road, according to a news release from the Sutter County Sheriff's Department.

Deputies confirmed the remains were human — two severed limbs — and called in detectives to investigate. The investigation continued into Sunday, when detectives found a human head in bushes about six feet up a hill from where the remains had been found the day before, the release states.

The department called in cadaver dogs from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department and the state Office of Emergency Services Search and Rescue team, but the six dogs did not find anything else.

A forensic exam is scheduled to determine whether the remains belong to a man or woman

Cadaver dogs to be used to look for missing Letisha Faust

FRANKLIN CO. - Local investigators tell us they plan to bring in cadaver dogs in their continued search for a Patrick County woman. Letisha Faust disappeared on December ninth.

In January, crews tried to search a Franklin County pond after her vehicle and a sandal were found nearby. The search was suspended for bad weather.

This past weekend, seven divers cleared the two acre pond on Walnut Knob Road, with no sign of Faust.

Police are still treating this as a missing person case, but plan to search that area with the dogs on Sunday.

Hagerstown Police seek public's help in finding bank robber

HAGERSTOWN — Hagerstown Police are asking for the public’s help in finding the person who robbed the Sovereign Bank in downtown Hagerstown on Tuesday morning.

The bank at 100 W. Washington St. was robbed at 8:09 a.m., police said in a news release.

A white male wearing a blue hooded sweat shirt and a blue bandanna across his face approached a teller and demanded money, the release said.

He did not display a weapon and no one was injured, police said.

After getting the money, the robber fled southbound across West Washington Street through the walkway on the west side of Discovery Station, according to the release.

The robber was described as approximately 6 feet tall, with a thin build and a very fair complexion.

He was wearing a blue full-zip, hooded sweat shirt with a light-colored hood interior, a blue bandanna with a white design, black knit gloves and light-colored shoes.

A Maryland State Police K-9 unit found the sweat shirt, bandana and gloves under a vehicle in the parking lot behind Discovery Station, police said. Those items were collected as evidence and submitted to the Western Maryland Crime Laboratory for processing.

The K-9 unit tracked the robber’s trail up the steps on West Antietam Street to the dry bridge on South Prospect Street, then south to Baltimore Street where the scent was lost, the release said.

On Friday, police released photos of the man in the bank.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Hagerstown City Police at 301-790-3700, ext. 234, or at crimetip@hagerstownpd.org.

Searchers find body of missing woman

Members of the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office search and rescue team found the body of a woman missing since Monday about 1.5 miles southwest of her parked car just off southbound Interstate 17 near the Munds Park overlook.

At noon on Wednesday, searchers using a specially trained scent dog found Tanya Morris' body completely covered in snow about 100 feet from where her shoes were found Tuesday, said Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.

Morris' boyfriend was there with searchers, and her family arrived about 30 minutes after her body was found, D'Evelyn said.

Morris, 39, disappeared after calling a friend about 6 p.m. Monday to say she was taking her dog Max on a walk and then heading home, D'Evelyn said. Family members called the Coconino County Sheriff's Office to report her missing Monday.

Morris' car was found a 30-minute drive away from her Flagstaff home.

"Coconino County deputies had heard Morris liked to scout for antlers and that might explain why she was out there with her dog," D'Evelyn said.

Coconino County Sheriff's deputies and rescue personnel began an extensive search after Morris' car was found, D'Evelyn said.

Late Tuesday, Morris' dog Max and some of Morris' clothing was found about 1.5 miles southwest of her car. Since that area was just within Yavapai County boundaries, Yavapai County Forest Patrol deputies, along with several Yavapai County Sheriff's Office search and rescue units, led the rescue efforts from that point, D'Evelyn said. Coconino County deputies assisted searchers throughout the morning.

The exact cause of Morris' death is under investigation, although exposure to the severely cold weather may have been a factor, said D'Evelyn, who added there is no evidence of foul play in her death.

"There have been instances of people becoming disoriented from hypothermia and shedding clothing, so that's something we're looking at," D'Evelyn said. "But we're just not sure if that was involved here."

Blotter: Man shot after domestic dispute

A domestic dispute between two men sent one of them to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the chest.

The incident happened around 8 p.m. Monday in the 400 block of Jordan Street in Shreveport.

Sgt. Tom Oster said the two men were arguing for a couple of hours before the elder of the two took matters into his hands, shooting the other man in the chest. He then went to his neighbor's house to call police.

The victim, who is in his 50s, was taken to LSU Hospital, where he was in critical condition Monday, Oster said.

Oster said he could smell alcohol on the suspect, who is in his 70s. Charges were pending. Investigators were on the scene gathering evidence and waiting for a search warrant. No other details were available.

Authorities still looking for Haughton woman

Authorities still need help locating Nancy Miller, 39, of Haughton.

She was last seen March 3 at her home in the East Highland Mobile Home Park in Haughton, a news release states. She is 5 feet, 6 inches tall, weighing about 240 pounds. She has auburn hair.

According to the latest reports from witnesses, someone fitting Miller's description walked into the Reflections restaurant across from her mobile home park. She reportedly opened the door and walked in, looking confused. She then turned around and walked out and across Highway 80 toward the westbound lane.

She was wearing a blue housecoat or robe with jogging pants and no shoes. Miller's parents have confirmed the blue housecoat she often wears is missing from her home and none of her shoes are gone.

Canine trackers have confirmed the story of the witness. The canine tracked Miller's scent from her home to the Reflections doorway to Highway 80.

Investigators believe Miller may have gotten into a car with someone along the highway, the news release states. They have asked neighboring states and area law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for her.

People who have seen anyone matching Miller's description should call (318) 965-2203.

Break-ins continue in downtown Mansfield

MANSFIELD — The number of downtown business burglaries in the past week increased to five after two more break-ins Friday.

The latest were reported at Camellia Mexican Restaurant, 812 Washington Ave., and Great Wall Restaurant, 1059 Washington Ave. Both were broken into after closing hours by someone who smashed the glass doors. Small amounts of cash were taken.

Three convenience stores were hit earlier in the week.

Mansfield Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest. Call (318) 872-8888 or the Mansfield Police Department at (318) 872-0520 to report information. All calls are confidential.

Sniffing out the dead: Trainer teaches dogs to find human remains

Dr. Barbara Weakley-Jones watches her dog, Abby, smell around the base of a tree.

“Did you find something?” she asks. “Did you find something?”

Abby paws the ground, lifts her head and barks.

“Good girl. Good job,” Weakley-Jones says.

Abby runs toward her owner, leaving the glass spice container she found beneath the tree where Jones buried it a few hours before. Weakley-Jones knows it is there because she marked the spot with a flag.

Abby, whose full name is Abracadaver, used her nose to smell the human fluids frozen inside the container. The 8-year-old German shepherd is what Weakley-Jones calls a “cadaver dog,” and what the more prim might refer to as a “human remains detection dog.”

Some people train dogs to find missing people. Some train them to find drugs. Weakley-Jones trains them to find dead bodies. It may seem gruesome, but for Weakley-Jones it makes perfect sense: She has always preferred the dead to the living when it comes to her work.

When she was in medical school, she says she constantly worried she would make a mistake and kill her patients. The dead never worried her, which explains how she ended up performing autopsies as a state medical examiner.

“The only thing that can come out of a dead body is something positive,” she explains, “like you get the murderer, you get the killer, you tell the family that the baby died of sudden infant death. …”

In late 2009, she was named Jefferson County's first woman coroner. She succeeded Dr. Ronald Holmes, who retired. Last month, she spent a few days volunteering in Haiti after the earthquake only to be flown back early because of illness.

Neither of which explains the dogs.

Until you learn that before she became a doctor, she wanted to be a veterinarian.

Few clues in slaying

29-year-old shot multiple times Sunday morning

MOULTRIE — Invesitgators are still trying to put together details of a fatal shooting that occured Sunday morning in Southwest Moultrie.

A Moultrie man was shot multiple times and died at the scene, authorities said.

Moultrie Police Investigations Commander Alfonzo Cook said officers responded to a house on Fourth Street Southwest at 5:56 a.m. Sunday about multiple shots being fired. When officers arrived, they found Willie Bender Jr., 29, of 504 Fourth St. S.W., lying on the ground outside with multiple gunshot wounds. The shooting took place across the street from a daycare center and a few blocks from the Colquitt County Arts Center.

Bender’s live-in girlfriend was the one who reported hearing the gunshots, but officers did not immediately have any suspects or motive for the shooting and she was not injured. A person of interest in the case was apprehended in Albany on a Moultrie robbery charge. He was questioned about the shooting, but he was not listed as a suspect, police said.

A Moultrie police K-9 dog was brought the scene, and Cook said the dog did pick up a scent that took officers to the Fourth Street Southwest and Fourth Avenue Southwest intersection. Officers and investigators collected evidence as the dog led them to that spot.

Cook said investigators were following leads to determine a motive and any suspects in the shooting. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Moultrie Police Department at 985-3131 or at 890-5451.

Family members were at the scene of the shooting Monday afternoon, but they declined to comment. They stated they were a family grieving Bender’s loss.

Bender is the third person shot and killed in Colquitt County in 2010 after five people were murdered here in 2009. There have been six people murdered in Colquitt County since October, including:

• Manuel Rodriquez, 36, believed to be of Smith Road, was found stabbed multiple times by a Moultrie Observer newspaper carrier on Smith Road Nov. 21. No arrests have been made in the case.

• Millard Brett DeMott, 56, of 4895 Highway 133 N., was shot and killed Dec. 18. Ronald Elbert Bryant, 49, of Highway 33 N., was charged with murder, felony murder, armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in the case.

• Juan David Giron Lopez, 18, of 1011 Joe Louis Ave., was shot and killed during an attempted armed robbery in his back yard Jan. 25. Demetrius Key, 18, of 117 Clay St., Tamocious Collins, 18, of 207 Hillcrest Ave., and Maurice Welch, 16, of 313 Third St. S.W., were each charged with murder.

• Leticia Duran Carbajal, 38, of Tifton, was shot and killed during a murder-suicide at Universal Forest Products on Industrial Drive Feb. 1. Cesar Augusta Ardiano Larios, 29, of Norman Park, shot Carbajal then died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, apparently because she refused to date him, authorities said.

Second storey intruder startles woman

by Wayne Moore - Story: 53337
Mar 17, 2010 / 10:00 am

Kelowna RCMP are looking for a man who attempted to break into a second floor home early Tuesday morning.

Constable Steve Holmes says a man climbed onto the second floor balcony of a fourplex on Wyndham Crescent in Glenmore shortly before 1 a.m.

"He tried to open the door, the woman woke up, turned on the light and he jumps down and runs away," says Holmes.

He says the woman described the man as Caucasian, medium build wearing black.

She didn't get a look at his face.

Holmes says police dogs were unable to pick up a scent, however, police did interview a man who was across the street at the time.

He says police consider the man, who lives in the area, a person of interest but have no evidence to make an arrest.

Drugs worth millions in warehouse theft

ENFIELD, Conn., March 16 (UPI) -- An allegedly well-planned burglary yielded pallets of tens of millions of dollars worth of prescription drugs from a Connecticut warehouse, police say.

Enfield, Conn., police met with federal investigators to piece together evidence in Sunday's theft at the Eli Lilly warehouse in which burglars allegedly stole $70 million worth of Prozac, Cymbalta and Zyprexa, The Hartford Courant reported Tuesday.

The theft was "extremely substantial" and well planned, Chief Carl Sferrazza said.

No painkillers or narcotics were taken, said a spokesman for Eli Lilly.

"This will turn out to be, unfortunately, the largest theft that our town has ever experienced," Sferrazza said.

Sferrazza speculates the thieves were sophisticated, allegedly scaling up the walls, cutting a hole in the roof and rappelling down before disabling the alarm and proceeding "to steal multiple pallets of prescription drugs," he said.

"I can tell you it was many, many pallets," he said this morning. "They might have spent at least a couple of hours unloading all these drugs."

Police arrived at the warehouse about 1:50 p.m. when the theft was discovered. Despite the efforts of a scent-sniffing police dog, no suspects were found, the newspaper said.

Search for mom and son resumes after items discovered on beach Thurston County sheriff's deputies Wednesday afternoon resumed the search for Shantina

Thurston County sheriff's deputies Wednesday afternoon resumed the search for Shantina Smiley and her 8-year-old son, Azriel, whose abandoned van was found Sunday on a remote beach near Olympia.

Detective Lt. Chris Mealy said the search, which had been called off earlier, was back on after someone in the area recovered several items that washed up on the beach overnight.

Mealy says the items include two mismatched leather shoes, a half-full and corked wine bottle, an inhaler and an orange ball. He said one of the shoes could be a child's shoe. He added that Smiley purchased a bottle of wine during her travels around Olympia on Saturday night. Sheriff's Sgt. Cheryl Stines told The Olympian that Azriel uses an inhaler.

On Thursday, Mealy said the items that washed up on the beach appear to be connected with Smiley and her son.

Mealy says the positive identification of the items does not change the direction of their investigation. Thurston County has a boat in the water scouring the shoreline for clues. Investigators also are examining Smiley's bank records and court and public records and talking to people.

Charles Grimmer, who lives near the beach, told The Olympian that search dogs had been to his home twice after his wife reported to the sheriff's office that someone had knocked loudly and repeatedly on their garage door about 1 a.m. Sunday.

Grimmer said the couple feared someone was trying to get in.

He said he activated the home's alarm system, then went to front door and looked outside, but he could see no one. After his wife called the sheriff's office, investigators came to the home with bloodhounds. Stines confirmed that a search dog failed to pick up a scent at the home.

Wednesday, a boat searched the Boston Harbor area with a bloodhound on board to try to pick up the scent of Smiley, 29, and her son. Dogs also searched the roads and the area surrounding the beach.

Smiley and her son disappeared while on their way from their home in Silverdale to Castle Rock for a visit with Smiley's stepfather. Smiley grew up in Castle Rock, where she graduated from Castle Rock High School in 1998, and where she and her son lived with her mother and stepfather in 2005. (Her mother died that November.)

Smiley's stepgrandfather, Silas Smith, said Smiley made the same drive from Silverdale to Castle Rock a couple of weeks ago.

"She was looking forward to seeing her stepdad and his daughter," Smith said Wednesday. He doesn't think the trip "had anything to do" with Smiley's disappearance.

"We haven't heard nothing," he said. "We're just waiting for good news."

Smiley, whose maiden name was Kanally, lived with her grandmother Carolene and her late husband, Ron Edgell, in Castle Rock while growing up. She also came to live with the Smiths in Brinnon in 2008, Silas Smith said.

"She took a course in medical billing and decoding and came out with real good honors," he said. "She had a part-time job. At the end of this month she was going to work full-time in it. She was doing real good up in this area. She was going to get married to a real nice man."

Smiley's fiance, Robb Simmons, said he has no idea why Smiley and her son stopped in Olympia, at roughly the midpoint of their drive.

Simmons has witnesses who saw Smiley on Saturday have told investigators she seemed disoriented. At one point she bought a corn dog at a store, then tripped and fell while leaving. She did not return for the corn dog.

She got directions to the freeway but apparently went in the opposite direction, investigators said.

Simmons said Smiley is a recovering alcoholic who was under a lot of stress and relapsed last week. But he says she would never endanger the boy.

According to court documents, Castle Rock police arrested her April 13, 2005, for driving under the influence of alcohol. Because the arrest was her first DUI, she qualified for deferred prosecution — a chance to have the charge dismissed if she successfully completed alcohol treatment and other requirements. The Department of Licensing showed the charge was due for dismissal this April 13.

Mount Penn man guilty of rape, jury decides

A 30-year-old Mount Penn man smiled faintly when he was found guilty Thursday in Berks County Court of raping and beating a 73-year-old borough woman in December 2008.

Samual G. Thompson was convicted of rape, aggravated indecent sexual assault and related charges. He was acquitted of one count of aggravated assault.

Reading Eagle: Jeremy Drey
Samual G. Thompson of Mount Penn, convicted of raping a 73-year-old woman, is returned to the cellblock Thursday following the verdict.

The victim, whose name is being withheld by the Reading Eagle, looked relieved when the jury foreman read the verdict at 5:30 p.m.

"Praise the Lord," an 81-year-old friend of the victim said after the verdict was announced. "Justice has been served. Everyone is happy. We have tears in our eyes."

The friend and his wife, both of Reading, said it was difficult to wait 51/2 hours for the verdict.

"We really had to sweat it out," the friend said.

The Reading Eagle also is withholding the friend's name.

Judge Stephen B. Lieberman revoked bail. He said Thompson faces a sentence of 50 to 60 years in state prison.

"The defendant has a lack of remorse," he said. "The defendant is a liar and poses a danger to the community."

Lieberman ordered that Thompson undergo an evaluation as required under the state's Megan's Law to determine if he is a violent sexual predator. Sentencing was scheduled for June.

During the trial, Thompson maintained his innocence, saying he was home during the rape in the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 2008. The victim is now 74.

First Assistant District Attorney M. Theresa Johnson provided DNA evidence linking Thompson to the rape.

State police forensic witnesses testified that Thompson's DNA was found near the victim's groin.

They said that his DNA and the victim's were also found on Thompson's condom.

Thompson's attorney, Robert J. Kirwan of Exeter Township, argued that the evidence was tainted and another person was possibly involved.

The victim testified Tuesday that she was beaten and raped in the bedroom of her home on Butter Lane.

She said she told the man who raped her that she and God would forgive him.

The frail, 5-foot-tall woman spent five days in Reading Hospital recovering from facial and arm bruises.

Thompson testified that he had sex with his wife several hours before the rape was reported.

He said he was out with friends and then went home to bed at 3 a.m.

Police testified that an Exeter Township police dog tracked the scent of footprints in the snow from the woman's house to Thompson's residence in the 2600 block of Cumberland Avenue.

Kirwan said he would appeal the verdict.

Contact Holly Herman: 610-478-6291 or hherman@readingeagle.com.

Taking BO 'fingerprints' to new levels

By Sharon Schmickle

In the movie “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou,” the George Clooney character, Everett Ulysses McGill, makes work easy for bloodhounds on his trail by slathering his hair with smelly Dapper Dan pomade.

Even without the help of Dapper Dan, those bloodhounds should have been able to sniff out McGill and the other two fugitives on an epic run from a prison chain gang.

It’s been pretty well established that each of the 6.7 billion people on Earth has a signature body odor.

Now scientists are taking that taking that BO “fingerprint” to new levels in a search for answers to fascinating questions: Can body odor reveal when someone is lying? Does itreflect your state of health, such as whether you have cancer or diabetes? Is it possible to smell anxiety in a person’s personal vapors?

This “odorprint” research is reported in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly magazine published by the American Chemical Society.

An initial goal for the studies is to establish a scientific basis for dogs’ abilities to tell one person from another by smell.

Investigators in Europe and the United States have long used the forensic technique known as a scent lineup. They swab crime-scene evidence to capture a criminal’s scent and then line up the collected scent with “decoy scents.” A dog previously presented with a pad that had been swiped on a suspect is then set onto the scents to see whether the canine zeros in on the one associated with the crime.

But courts are asking for more validation of the forensic technique, Professor Kenneth Furton of Florida International University in Miami told Chemical & Engineering News.

Nailing down that validation is far from simple — especially given the deodorants, scented lotions and other concoctions we use to make our bodies less or more smelly. Then, of course, there’s garlic breath.

Furton and his colleagues have been searching for machine-detectable patterns in the volatile chemicals emitted by people. In one study, they swabbed the hands of 60 individuals with specially cleaned pads and used sophisticated chemical techniques to turn up 63 compounds the researchers could analyze through pattern-recognition techniques in order to distinguish individuals.

Validating scent lineups is just a beginning.

The U.S. government has funded research at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., which could lead to odor-based human ID systems. Think of them as a supplement the FBI’s fingerprint database. The vision is to build a database of odorprints and then install sniffing devices in places like airports in order track people of interest to police and the FBI.

This sort of government surveillance is not far-fetched, said Ivan Amato, the article’s author and a senior correspondent for Chemical & Engineering News.

I recommend reading Amato’s article for his support of that observation and for more details on the potential forensic and security applications of the research.

Beyond defense and law enforcement, this research delves into areas as highly personal as the odors coming from your underarms, breath, skin and genitals. (It turns out that different bacteria live in different places on our bodies, and from their respective posts they make different contributions to our odorprints.) The science has a long way to go, but it seems this cacophony of personal odors may one day reveal whether you are lying, sick, stressed out — or, maybe even, in love.