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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dead police trainer still subject of child porn investigation

1-16-2010 Vermont:

A criminal investigation is underway at the Vermont Police Academy in Pittsford. State police suspect the academy's training coordinator used a work computer to access child porn and then took his own life after becoming the target of a criminal investigation.

The investigation of a police academy trainer took a turn for the worse Saturday.

State police say 44-year old Dave McMullen of Cornwall committed suicide behind a maintenance shed at the academy, one day after police seized his home computer as part of a criminal investigation.

"All indicators reveal this was a self-inflicted would. An intentional act by Mr. McMullen. There is no indication anyone else was involved," said Major Ed Ledo of the Vermont State Police.

Police believe McMullen used a computer at the academy to view child pornography, something that came to light during an unrelated personnel investigation. While child porn wasn't actually found on the computer, emails suggested it had been accessed.

"As a result of those titles being found in Mr. McMullen's e-mails, is indicated that there was potential. We knew it was pulled in from an outside source based upon further examination of that one computer," said Ledo.

Police are examining McMullen's home computer in addition to four taken from the academy.

At this time, police don't believe any others at the academy were involved in the incident.

McMullen was the training coordinator for homeland security and counter-terrorism at the academy. Prior to that -- he worked for 16 years at the state department of corrections and as a part-time police officer in Vergennes.

Police aren't releasing any details surrounding the personnel investigation. ..Source.. by WCAX.com

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Investigation into Vt. Police Academy trainer continues

1-19-2010 Vermont:

Police are still searching for answers in connection with a child pornography investigation at the Vermont Police Academy.

"At this point we don't have any information to indicate there was any child pornography on what we've examined so far," Vt. State Police Maj. Ed Ledo said.

Ledo says the investigation of former police academy trainer Dave McMullen could take weeks.

Autopsy results confirm McMullen shot and killed himself Saturday after becoming the target of a criminal investigation involving child porn.

"Nobody expected the suicide," Ledo said. "I didn't see that coming. None of the investigators did either, but as a result of that it makes you wonder. It makes us wonder. We're suspicious people anyway."

McMullen and several others at the academy were suspended last week during an unrelated personnel investigation. It was during that investigation that human resource workers came across two emails on McMullen's computer with titles suggesting child porn, prompting them to contact police.

"They were terms that you or any reasonable person would conclude this isn't right," Ledo said.

Police seized that computer and three others, as well as a computer and several items from McMullen's home. They also interviewed McMullen shortly before his death. But they say nothing major came to light during that interview.

"Nothing at all," Ledo said. "Nothing to confirm suspicions that there was porn. Had that been the case he would have been charged at that time."

Reporter Keagan Harsha: But he denied viewing child porn during that interview?

Ledo: Exactly.

McMullen did leave behind two suicide notes for his family but police won't elaborate on what those notes said. In the meantime, forensics teams continue to analyze the computers searching for evidence. And police say that analysis could take more time than originally thought because one of the hard drives is severely damaged. ..Source.. by Keagan Harsha - WCAX News

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No charges in Police Academy investigation

7-12-2010 Vermont:

No criminal charges will be coming from an investigation into the Vermont Police Academy following the suicide of a trainer there.

The state attorney general says suspicion of possible misconduct came to light in late 2009, when inappropriate e-mails were discovered on four employees' work computers.

Investigators found evidence of child pornography on the computer of training coordinator Dave McMullen, and as he became the target of the investigation he killed himself.

The attorney general's review indicated that no other academy personnel were involved and with McMullen dead, there are no grounds for a criminal prosecution.

"There is no reason to move forward on anyone else, because no one else is involved in having child pornography or being linked to Mr. McMullen," said Vermont State Police Major Ed Ledo.

All of the pornography that was found was located on McMullen's personal computer. None was found on any of the computers seized from the police academy. ..Source.. by WCAX.com

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Vermont court denies newspaper access to records

3-31-2012 Vermont:

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont's highest court (Rutland Herald v. Vermont State Police and Office of the Attorney General (2010-434)) has ruled that records of a criminal investigation at the Vermont State Police Academy will remain confidential.

The Vermont Supreme Court on Friday upheld a lower court ruling denying the Rutland Herald access to files on a criminal investigation of possession of child pornography by a trainer and other police academy employees. The investigation ended after the trainer committed suicide after suspected child pornography was found on his computer.

The newspaper ( ) argued that the investigative records should be open because the investigation was over and because it was an internal investigation.

Supreme court justices said state law doesn't contain an expiration clause making records public after an investigation has concluded. The ruling further said there's nothing that sets apart internal investigations. ..Source.. by NECN.com

Amber Alert canceled after mom, 2 kids found safe; suspect shot himself

3-31-2012 Texas:

HOUSTON—A man shot himself after kidnapping a woman and her two children Saturday morning. He is the same suspect involved in a police chase following an assault on the same victim on Thursday, according to Houston police.

On Thursday, 22-year-old Courtney Dickerson escaped from police after assaulting a woman in the Medical Center. Investigators said Dickerson attacked the victim, who was an ex-girlfriend of the suspect, on her way to work and forced her to drive to an apartment complex by knifepoint. After assaulting her, he stole her car.

Officers chased him through southwest Houston. During the pursuit, he bailed out of the vehicle and took off running. Police weren’t able to catch up with him.

The victim and her 2-year-old and 4-year-old daughters were then abducted around 11:30 p.m. on Friday from the 8100 block of Lawler St. by Dickerson, a registered sex offender. Police issued a double Amber Alert.

Dickerson was spotted near his registered address and again chased by the police. He again fled from his vehicle on foot and shot himself in the head. He was taken to Ben Taub hospital where he died.

The victims were safely located and reunited with family and the Amber Alert has been cancelled.

"(Dickerson) said that he wasn’t going to let them take him alive when they were chasing him," said Diana Walton, the victims’ aunt.

Friends said Dickerson knew the woman for 10 months. Police said she made several reports of abuse against him.

Dickerson was also wanted for the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in 2010 but was never arrested. ..Source.. by khou.com

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hospital Administrator, Convicted Child Molester Dies of Lung Cancer

3-23-2012 California:

BAKERSFIELD - The former Twin Cities Hospital administrator convicted of child molestation has died.

Donald Baker, of Templeton, died at the San Joaquin Hospital in Bakersfield a week ago.

Last month, a judge sentenced Baker to 16 years at Wasco State Prison for child molestation and possession of child porn.

Baker died of natural causes. He had been suffering from lung cancer. ..Source..

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Death Row inmate shouts 'Go Cowboys!' before execution

3-28-2012 Texas:

Jesse Joe Hernandez put to death for slaying of Karlos Borja in 2001

HUNTSVILLE, Texas - A convicted child sex offender was executed Wednesday for the beating death of a 10-month-old boy he was baby-sitting at a home in Dallas.

Jesse Joe Hernandez smiled and laughed at times before receiving a lethal injection for the slaying of Karlos Borja 11 years ago.

"God bless everybody. Continue to walk with God," the 47-year-old Hernandez said. Moments later, he shouted "Go Cowboys!" in honor of his favorite football team.

As the drugs took effect, the condemned man repeated his appreciation for those he knew who had gathered to witness the execution. "Love y'all, man," Hernandez said. "... Thank you. I can feel it, taste it. It's not bad."

He took about 10 deep breaths, which grew progressively weaker until he was no longer moving. Ten minutes later, at 6:18 p.m. CDT, he was pronounced dead.

No one related to the slain child attended the execution, the fourth this year in Texas. It was carried out about two hours after the U.S. Supreme Court denied last-ditch appeals for Hernandez.

Ten-month-old Karlos was taken to a Dallas hospital in April 2001 with a skull fracture and bruises to his head, thigh and abdomen. A week later, he was taken off life support and died. His 4-year-old sister had similar beating injuries to her head, ears and eyes but survived.

Hernandez's DNA was found in Karlos' blood on a pillowcase and on the child's clothing. The boy's sister drew stick figures for detectives to help describe her attack.

Hernandez denied beating the children but later told a detective he may have hit the boy with a flashlight. He did not include the flashlight reference in a written confession in which he said he "just exploded" and struck them with the back of his hand.

"They were being very bad by crying a lot for nothing," Hernandez wrote.

Howard Blackmon, the former assistant district attorney in Dallas County who prosecuted Hernandez, recalled seeing photos of the badly bruised boy connected to tubes while in the hospital and his sister's red, bruised forehead.

"I don't think Hernandez admitted to any intent to kill," he said. "He did admit to striking."

Jurors saw those images and also learned that Hernandez had a previous conviction for molesting a child and drug possession, had beat his ex-wife with a baseball bat, burned a girlfriend's child with cigarettes and was found with a shank while locked up in jail.

Court records showed Hernandez and his wife of six years had been living with the two children and their 22-year-old mother about three days in a Dallas house that had no running water. Hernandez and his wife were to watch the children while their mother was working as a waitress.

On April 11, 2001, Hernandez's wife left to run some errands. When she returned he told her the kids were sleeping and not to disturb them. Hours later, after their mother returned from work, the girl complained her head was hurting and the mother took her to a hospital. While they were gone, Hernandez's wife checked on Karlos, discovered his injuries and called paramedics. Police were then notified.

In trying to stop the execution, Hernandez's attorneys unsuccessfully argued that his trial lawyers were deficient because they didn't pursue evidence that the boy was prematurely removed from life support and had toxic levels of the drug pentobarbital in his blood. The same barbiturate is used in the execution process in Texas.

The attorneys also claimed an initial appeals lawyer did not investigate the case beyond the trial record and that failure cost Hernandez his lone opportunity to raise substantive legal claims following his conviction.

Brad Levenson, director of the Texas Office of Capital Writs, said a more thorough investigation could have shown Hernandez wasn't responsible for the child's death.

The Texas attorney general's office opposed any delay, questioning whether the high court even had jurisdiction in the case because constitutional claims weren't raised earlier in state courts.

At least six other condemned Texas inmates have execution dates scheduled for the coming months. ..Source.. by KSAT.com

Accused rapist dies in car crash

3-21-2012 Ohio:

An Ohio man who died in a one-vehicle crash was to stand trial this week on charges that he raped a hospital patient.

An Ohio man who died in a one-vehicle crash on Sunday was to stand trial this week on charges that he raped a patient at Mount Carmel East hospital.

Abayomi O. Shobo, 41, of Columbus, was driving north on Hilliard-Rome Road when his minivan went off the right side of the road and into a utility pole south of Renner Road, Columbus police said. He died at Mount Carmel West hospital about 3 p.m., less than an hour after the crash.

Shobo's 6-year-old son, Emmanuel, was in the van. He was in critical condition yesterday at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Sgt. Brooke Wilson said.

"We're not sure why he left the road," Wilson said. Police found no evidence that Shobo had been drinking.

Shobo was indicted on four counts of rape in May, more than two months after a 53-year-old woman told police that he forced her to have intercourse while administering a medical test at the hospital on March 9, 2011.

Police collected saliva and skin cells from Shobo for DNA testing after finding semen on the panties that the woman was wearing at the time of the incident, according to search-warrant documents.

Shobo's DNA profile matched the evidence, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said yesterday. The woman was prepared to testify at a trial that was scheduled to begin yesterday in Common Pleas Court.

The woman described herself as a handicapped widow and pastor when she sought a civil stalking protection order against Shobo in August. She alleged in the filing that Shobo threatened her after the rape and attempted to hire a cellmate to kill her while he was being held in the Franklin County jail.

She dismissed the request for the protection order in February but filed a lawsuit against Shobo two weeks ago, seeking monetary damages.

According to the suit, Shobo "violently attacked" her during the medical test, "causing injury to her knees and shoulders and ultimately raped" her.

The lawsuit also says that while in jail, Shobo "elicited others to attempt to kill (the woman) to prevent her from testifying" and that after his release on bond, Shobo "or others at his request, drove by her home and shot a firearm, mistakenly hitting the neighbor's residence."

O'Brien said that he was aware of the intimidation and murder-for-hire claims.

"Police investigated them but a case was not presented to the grand jury," he said.

Shobo's attorney, Blaise Baker, said yesterday that there was no evidence to support the allegations of threats or a murder plot.

"If there was any substance to that, I can't help but think the county prosecutor, at the urging of detectives on the case, would have asked the judge to reconsider his bond and put him back in jail," Baker said.

Jail records show that Shobo was incarcerated from May 13 to Aug. 11.

Columbus lawyer Mathew Voltolini, representing the woman in the lawsuit, declined to comment.

Of the crash, Baker said he saw no signs that his client wanted to hurt himself or his child.

"He didn't present himself that way the last time I spoke with him," Baker said. "Not at all. He presented as someone who was committed to his family."

At the time of Shobo's arrest, a Mount Carmel official said he no longer worked there. On his Facebook page, Shobo said he had attended the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and studied vascular, abdominal and OB/GYN ultrasound.

Janice Piscitelli, a Mount Carmel spokeswoman, said Shobo was a cardiovascular sonographer who worked on an "as-needed basis" at the hospital. His dates of employment were unavailable yesterday, she said. ..Source.. by John Futty

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sex offender died of ‘natural causes’

3-27-2012 United Kingdom:

A STAFFORD Prison inmate who sexually abused two young boys in the 1980s died from a complication of appendicitis while serving his sentence.

Anthony Smith, 67, was jailed for nine years in August 2008 after admitting 15 sexual offences.

A Stafford inquest heard on Monday that Smith, of Lexington Court, Abbey Street, Nuneaton, had been at Stafford Prison since November 2008 and suffered from a number of health issues, including constipation.

In June 2011 the former engineer underwent a hip replacement at Stafford Hospital, which appeared to have been successful.

But on July 22 he returned to hospital suffering from abdominal pain and a raised temperature.

He was diagnosed with constipation, prescribed medication to relieve the condition and discharged.

On July 25 he was still constipated, and was examined by prison GP Dr Daniel Ndukwe, who told the inquest his temperature had fallen to a normal level.

But on July 26 he was found to be “delirious” by fellow prison GP, Dr Henry Obi. “his abdomen was distended (swollen), his pulse was very quick and his colour was grey,” Dr Obi told the inquest at Stafford Crown Court.

Smith was taken to Stafford Hospital where a CT scan revealed he had necrotising fasciitis, an infection of the soft tissue. he was anaesthetised and surgery was started to remove the dead tissue from his body.

Surgery was abandoned when medics deemed his condition, which affected the area from his neck to his thighs, unsurvivable.

He was transferred to the recovery area and kept in a comfortable condition, but continued to deteriorate.

He was pronounced dead at 4.40pm that day.

A post mortem revealed Smith’s appendix was inflamed and his cause of death was given as necrotising fasciitis due to acute appendicitis.

Pathologist Dr Stephen Harris told the inquest Smith had also suffered kidney failure.

But Dr Ndukwe told the inquest he was surprised that Smith had suffered acute appendicitis.

“if he had appendicitis he would have been more obviously unwell and his fever would have got worse rather than resolved,” he added.

Dr Theresa Bentley from Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust told the inquest that appendicitis was a difficult condition to diagnose because “the position of the appendix varies from person to person and you get different symptoms.” South Staffordshire Primary Care Trust carried out a clinical review of the case, the inquest heard, and recommendations made included better communication between the Prison Service and the hospital’s accident and emergency department.

Lynn Tolley from the PCT said that information given to the department about Smith’s condition on July 22 was “incomplete”, meaning staff relied on details from Smith himself. Measures have now been put in place including the creation of a standardised clinical letter which can now be given to staff when a prisoner is transferred to hospital.

The inquest was told that Smith was in a single cell when he was taken ill, to enable him room to mobilise following his hip operation, but would have had access to a bell to call prison staff if he needed help.

Paul Cotton, from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, said the care Smith received was “equitable to what he would have expected to receive out in the community”.

A jury returned a verdict of death by natural causes. ..Source..

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mangum man found dead in Jackson County jail

3-24-2012 Oklahoma:

Investigators said Trent Davis hanged himself with a sock Thursday in a Jackson County jail cell. Davis, 19, of Mangum, was awaiting trial on a rape charge filed in 2011.

Trent Davis, 19, was found about 5:45 p.m. hanging from a commissary-issued sock that had been looped through a ventilation vent, Sheriff Roger Levick said.

Davis was alone in his cell, Levick said.

It is not clear exactly when Davis died because he was found hanging above the combined toilet and water fountain fixture — an area that is not covered by the cell's surveillance video, Levick said. Investigators will review additional video footage to make that determination, he said.

Levick said there was no indication Davis was depressed or suicidal.

Davis was charged in June with rape after a 13-year-old girl told police he assaulted and then forcibly raped her in his mother's pickup outside a party in Blair.

At the time, Davis was serving a five-year deferred sentence after pleading guilty in Greer County District Court in 2010 to a felony manslaughter charge for his role in the death of a 13-year-old Mangum girl.

Levick said the body was sent to the medical examiner's office for evaluation.

The state jail inspector's office and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation will investigate the death, he said. ..Source.. by Zeke Campfield

Police: Body Found In River Is Convicted Child Rapist

3-23-2012 Tennessee:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Metro Police announced Thursday that the body removed from the Cumberland River Wednesday afternoon was convicted child rapist Dwight Farris.

Sources at the scene had previously identified the body as Farris to NewChannel 5 reporters.

Police arrived on the scene just after 5 p.m. Wednesday.

"Fire department and OEM responded and within about 30 minutes they did find a body, possibly a male subject. We believe it might be the person who threatened to commit suicide a couple of weeks ago," said Captain Natalie Lokey of the Metro Nashville Police Department.

The body was found caught up in a fallen tree along the banks of the Cumberland River near the Rock Harbor Marina in west Nashville.

Police said 52-year-old Farris had disappeared on March 8 after fleeing the Davidson County Court House during a sex crimes trial.

In lieu of his disappearance, Farris was convicted of three counts of rape, five counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, five counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, one count of displaying sex acts to a minor and one count of criminal exposure to HIV. The convictions related to his sexual relations with a 14-year-old male family friend.

Officials said that during his trial Farris was free on bond and wearing a GPS monitoring device. When police sought the signal for the device they found it had stopped sending a signal just before Farris fled. Farris was last seen on 1st Avenue North & Gay Street in downtown Nashville.

According to reports, Farris' niece flagged down a police officer that night and informed him her Uncle did not want to go to jail and would jump off a bridge. Police said that there were no reports of anyone jumping from a bridge that night.

Farris was out on a $250,000 bond during his trial, and there was a hearing set later this week to collect that bond. ..Source.. by News Channel5.com

Convicted rapist dies in jail following cancer battle

3-24-2012 Texas:

A convicted rapist battling liver cancer died in jail this week, before a judge could rule on his attorney's request to have him moved from prison to hospice care.

Joseph Eckrote, 52, was convicted in January 2009 on six felony counts, including kidnapping, rape and robbery, for attacking his ex-girlfriend in May 2008, two weeks after she filed for a protection-from-abuse order.

Then-Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. ordered him to serve consecutive sentences of six to 12 years for the kidnapping and eight to 16 years for the rape, and concurrent sentences of five to 10 years for robbery and 12 to 24 months for simple assault.

Eckrote, incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas, had been confined to a wheelchair and required assistance with nearly every facet of daily life, from bathing and dressing to walking up and down stairs, his attorney David Aikens Jr. said in court filing. ..Source.. by

Supreme Court refuses church-state case involving child sex abuse by clergy

3-19-2012 Missouri:

US Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up an appeal by a man who says he was abused by a Roman Catholic priest decades ago. He sought to challenge the archdiocese's assertion that the First Amendment shields it from a lawsuit.

The US Supreme Court declined on Monday to take up a case challenging the use of the First Amendment’s separation of church and state as a shield to block a negligence lawsuit against a Roman Catholic archdiocese that hired and supervised a priest accused of being a pedophile.

The high court action ends an attempt to hold the Catholic Church legally accountable for alleged sexual abuse that took place more than 40 years ago.

The plaintiff in the case says he was twice sexually abused by a trusted parish priest when he was 13 or 14 years old. The priest, who has since died, was assigned to a Catholic Church in St. Louis.

The plaintiff, identified only as “John Doe,” sued the Archdiocese of St. Louis for negligence for employing the priest in positions where he would have contact with children.

“The Archdiocese was aware of past instances of child sexual abuse involving [Father Thomas] Cooper, and knew that leaving him alone with children was likely to result in harm,” writes Marci Hamilton in her brief on behalf of Mr. Doe.

Because Father Cooper has since died, the civil case was dropped against him. But Doe sought to hold the archdiocese accountable for its failure to protect him and other children.

The archdiocese defended the suit by claiming the First Amendment bars judicial examination of hiring and supervisory decisions within a religious organization. The archdiocese also argued that the suit must be dismissed because the alleged sexual acts did not take place on church property.

According to the lawsuit, Cooper invited Doe to a “clubhouse,” where the priest allegedly engaged in oral rape and attempted anal rape with Doe.

The Missouri courts agreed with the archdiocese and dismissed the lawsuit.

In his appeal to the US Supreme Court, Doe had asked the high court to reverse a 2010 decision by the Missouri Supreme Court finding broad First Amendment protection against government intrusion into church matters.

In throwing out Doe’s lawsuit, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District noted that courts in Missouri have declined to recognize a cause of action for negligent failure to supervise clergy. Such an inquiry would impermissibly inject the courts into matters of religious doctrine, the state’s courts have ruled.

“The [Missouri] Supreme Court has held questions of hiring, ordaining, and retaining clergy, necessarily involve interpretation of religious doctrine, policy, and administration, and such excessive entanglement between church and state has the effect of inhibiting religion, in violation of the First Amendment,” the state appeals court said.

The appeals court added: “Until the Missouri Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court declares differently, [the 2010 state precedent] constitutes controlling law in Missouri, law which we are bound to apply.”

Most states that have addressed the issue have ruled that the First Amendment is not a bar to negligence lawsuits involving religious organizations and the alleged sexual abuse of children.

Ms. Hamilton said that in addition to Missouri, judges in Utah and Wisconsin have ruled that the First Amendment is a bar to similar negligence lawsuits.

Doe’s lawyer argued that Missouri law is also wrong to limit accountability to only those acts of alleged sexual abuse that take place on church property.

“Child sex abuse is not merely a single act – it is a continuum of grooming and building trust,” Hamilton wrote.

“[Doe], a child in a devout Catholic family, who knew Cooper only through the parish, became ensnared in Cooper’s web, because Cooper was an employee of [the archdiocese] acting in his assigned role while befriending, grooming, and seducing [Doe],” she wrote.

Hamilton said there is no threat to the First Amendment by subjecting the archdiocese to neutral principles of tort law in a negligence lawsuit.

“There is nothing in tort law that mandates that the beliefs of an organization must be taken into account in order to determine whether it has acted negligently in placing employee pedophiles near children,” she wrote. “The facts needed to prove the tort involve conduct, not belief.”

The case was John Doe v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis (11-840 Cert Denied Section). ..Source.. by Warren Richey, Staff writer

See also: Whatever happened at Father Cooper's cabin in 1971, the archdiocese isn't responsible by Nicholas Phillips 7-14-2010

See Also: On Petition For Writ Of Certiorari To The Supreme Court Of Missouri

Man Found Dead After Fleeing From Local Police Identified

3-21-2012 Montana:

TEMPLE (March 24, 2012)— A man found dead after a major manhunt Friday night has been identified.

45-year-old Terry Lee Turner was found dead around 8:30 p.m. Friday evening.

Temple police were looking Friday night for a man they described as armed and extremely dangerous who fired a shot as he fled from officers near Wayne’s Kwik Stop at 23118 S.E. H.K. Dodgen Loop.

Police had been working with law enforcement authorities in Montana to locate Mr. Turner on several felony arrest warrants, and had received reports Turner was at the RV park behind the store.

Turner was wanted for two counts of failure to register as a sex offender, two counts of felony sexual assault, and bond forfeiture.

An initial investigation indicates Turners cause of death was an apparent suicide.

His body has been sent to the Southwest Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas for an autopsy.

A handgun recovered by his side only shows to have been fired once. ..Source.. by KWTX.com

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Report clears Fond du Lac officers

Posted in Related Deaths
3-20-2011 Wisconsin:

Fond du Lac - The Fond du Lac County prosecutor says Officers were justified in defending themselves and firing at a gunman who had shot and killed a police officer in March, the Fond du Lac County district attorney's office ruled Monday.

A report issued by the DA's office says the gunman, James Cruckson, 30, sexually assaulted his girlfriend and refused to return her 6-year-old daughter. Several police officers responded. The report says Cruckson shot and wounded one officer who entered the home, and he riddled another officer's squad car with bullets.

As a third officer ran to investigate the sounds of gunfire, Cruckson shot him twice and killed him. One shot hit Officer Craig Birkholz, 28, in the abdomen below his bulletproof vest, and the second hit the top of the vest with fragments entering his torso.

Cruckson later killed himself. ..Source.. by DINESH RAMDE

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DOJ releases FdL shooting report

10-5-2011 Wisconsin:

MADISON - The Wisconsin Department of Justice has released more than one thousand pages of documents related to its investigation of the March shooting that killed a Fond du Lac police officer.

The Fond du Lac County district attorney ruled last month police acted appropriately during the shooting.

FOX 11 filed an open records request with the state to obtain the records from that incident. The DOJ handed them over Tuesday.

The department has since posted the report on its website. Click here to read it.

Authorities say James Cruckson shot and killed 28-year-old officer Craig Birkholz as he ran towards the scene. Cruckson also shot Officer Ryan Williams and his K9 officer Grendel, both recovered. Cruckson later took his own life.

As Fond du Lac officers battled his shots March 20, frantic calls poured into to 911.

"I believe I'm hearing gunshots," one caller said. "Yes, stay in your house, stay away from windows," the dispatcher responded.

"I'm on Division and Lincoln," another said.

"You need to stay in your house, we have an incident going on on Lincoln," a dispatcher responded.

The recordings are part of more than 1,000 pages of investigative documents, photos and video, released to FOX 11 by the Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation.

Some information has been removed to protect the victims, Officer Ryan Williams, James Cruckson's former girlfriend and Officer Craig Birkholz.

Dash cam video shows Birkholz racing to the scene. Other officers were already there, including Williams. Bullets were flying.

"Shots fired, shots fired, we got a sniper," officers say over radio.

The video goes black when Birkholz leaves the car. DOJ removed the video, because it captures Birkholz' death.

According to the autopsy report, Birkholz was shot twice.

Newly-released video from the Department is giving us a first look inside the duplex where it all began. Video shows the second floor where police say Cruckson fired nearly 50 rounds through a window.

Hundreds of pages of interviews confirm Cruckson was driven by a crumbling relationship. He spoke with a negotiator ten times during the standoff.

In the report, the negotiator describes Cruckson as having flat emotions. He said Cruckson never yelled during the conversations, but did admit killing an officer and raping his former girlfriend.

However, in audio previously released by Fond du Lac authorities, Cruckson blamed her for everything.

"You lied, that's why those cops got killed, so pretty much you killed those cops," Cruckson said on her voicemail.

Hundreds of photos show the aftermath of Cruckson's attack, Williams' vest pierced in several places, squad cars riddled with bullets and a community and department forever changed.

The report, like the Fond du Lac County district attorney, also concluded that officers acted appropriately to protect the community. ..Source.. by Lindsay Veremis, FOX 11 News

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SPECIAL REPORT - In Their Own Words: FdL Officer Shooting One Year Later

3-21-2012 Wisconsin:

Concerns about 6-year-old prompted police to enter Lincoln Avenue duplex


Jon Gutzmann

Capt. Jon Gutzmann has no regrets about his decisions and actions the morning of March 20, 2011.

He was one of three officers to first enter James Cruckson’s home at 24 S. Lincoln Ave. on the city’s west side after Cruckson’s ex-girlfriend, Josephine Warner, reported a sexual assault and that her 6-year-old daughter was still in the house.

That morning, he saw a bloody Officer Ryan Williams tumble into Officer Zach Schultz on the stairwell leading up to where the armed and suicidal Cruckson was situated.

Gutzmann later heard calls about Officer Craig Birkholz being shot by Cruckson and killed.

During the shootout, Gutzmann left the house in an armored vehicle only to return again with the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team to find Cruckson dead on the first floor of his residence from a single self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“Obviously, I have thought about this a great deal over the last year,” said Gutzmann, who continues to read reports and listen to dispatch tapes. “… Given the information I had that day, no, I would have not made any other decision. In speaking with other (officers) that were in that house, we all agreed that was the best method, given the information we had.

“I said all along that I don’t know if I could go back and sit in my house and look at my children if, in fact, the little girl would’ve have been in that home and harmed. … I took an oath to not let that happen.” ..This is a multi-page article, more in the original.. by Russell Plummer

Suicide victim wanted in Maryland sex crime

3-23-2012 Tennessee:

KNOXVILLE — The man who killed himself Sunday night in the University of Tennessee Medical Center parking lot was facing a sex-crime charge in his home state of Maryland, authorities said this week.

Knoxville police arrived at the hospital, 1924 Alcoa Highway, and found the man's body in his vehicle with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. Knoxville Police Department investigators identified the man as Daryl R. Baker, 53, of Walkersville, Md., KPD Lt. Dusty Lane said.

Baker had been indicted on a sex-abuse charge in Frederick County, Md., but had not yet served with the indictment, according to the Maryland State Police. Investigators there wouldn't give further details.

Knoxville police said they still don't know why Baker, who had no known ties to East Tennessee, came here to commit suicide. ..Source.. by News Sentinel staff

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mississippi executes man for 1995 sex slaying

3-20-2012 Mississippi:

PARCHMAN, Miss. — A Mississippi man who was an 18-year-old Eagle Scout when he was charged with murder was executed Tuesday for the 1995 sexual assault and slaying of the wife of his former boss.

Larry Matthew Puckett, 35, was put to death by injection and pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said. Puckett was convicted of the Oct. 14, 1995, killing of Rhonda Hatten Griffis, a 28-year-old mother of two who lived northeast of Hattiesburg in Petal.

Puckett said "no" when asked if he had a final statement. Wearing glasses, he stared up at the ceiling as he lay strapped to the gurney, not looking over in the direction of the victim's parents. He took several deep breaths as the drugs began flowing into his arms and then appeared to fall asleep.

While Puckett's supporters claimed that the woman's husband killed her in a jealous rage, the victim's mother said she found Puckett in the home holding an axe handle, which prosecutors said was used in the killing.

"I caught him in her house with the club in his hand," Nancy Hatten told The Associated Press on Friday. "Her husband wasn't anywhere on the premises at the time. He drove up later."

Griffis' husband found his wife's battered body in the living room, according to court records. Puckett had worked as a landscaper for Griffis' husband, and the crime occurred weeks before Puckett was scheduled to leave for basic training with the Navy.

Puckett, who ran from the home, was captured two days later. He confessed to being at the Griffis' home to burglarize it, but claimed Griffis' husband killed her, according to court records. Puckett was sentenced to death on Aug. 5, 1996.

Supporters who insisted Puckett was innocent rallied Monday at the state Capitol in Jackson alongside the man's mother, Mary Puckett. They raised a sign that read "Take a Stand, Save Matt" and many wore black T-shirts with words in white lettering: "Save Matt."

But Gov. Phil Bryant refused to grant a reprieve after the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon denied his final petition. Bryant said in a statement as the execution hour loomed that he had reviewed the case but decided against intervening.

"In light of Mr. Puckett's having been convicted by a jury of his peers more than 15 years ago and after a review of the facts associated with his case, I have decided not to grant clemency and will not delay the execution," Bryant's statement said. "My thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family."

Earlier, Puckett spent his final hours receiving his parents, brothers, uncle and a spiritual adviser at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, where the death chamber is housed. He requested a last meal of Macadamia nut pancakes, shrimp and grits, ice cream cake, caramel candy and root beer.

Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said the man's mood was "somber" in the hours before the execution. Epps said he talked to Puckett about his childhood and becoming an Eagle Scout, but he did not want to talk about the crime for which he was convicted.

"He said there's more to the story and he denied committing the crime," Epps said.

Epps said Puckett requested that his relatives and lawyer not watch the execution. Griffis' parents were on the witness list.

Thousands of people had signed an online petition in support of Puckett, insisting on his innocence. They had hoped to persuade Bryant to stop the execution.

Puckett has spent much of his time on death row writing letters to friends and family and essays on a variety of topics, including musing about what it will be like to be executed.

"Now picture yourself surrounded by big burly men with firm grips on you as they direct you to the execution chamber. The excitement and base fear course through you like no other time in your life. You sweat, you pant, you want them to stop. They won't, they can't, the whole process is inexorable," he wrote on a website that prints prisoners' letters. "Ironically, at the moment of your death your body proves to you are the most alive."

Puckett has requested that his body be released to his mother, Mary Puckett.

Mary Puckett said at Monday's rally that her son's treatment was unfair from the start.

"Like a lot of people, I thought if someone was convicted of a crime, they were probably guilty," Puckett said. "But if this can happen to us, it can happen to anyone."

Hatten said she's convinced the right man was convicted in her daughter's death. Hatten described her daughter as a woman who deeply loved her husband and children and stayed busy taking care of them.

An only child, Griffis was nearly finished with college when she became pregnant and dropped out to make a home. She hoped someday to finish her degree in social work at the University of Southern Mississippi.

"She loved us and helped us and did what she could do for us," Hatten said. "She was always a joy to us."

Another Mississippi death row inmate, William Mitchell, 61, faces scheduled execution Thursday. Mitchell had been out of prison on parole for less than a year for a 1975 murder when he was charged with raping and killing Patty Milliken, 38.

Milliken disappeared on Nov. 21, 1995, after walking out of a convenience store where she worked in Biloxi to have a cigarette with Mitchell. Her body was found the next day under a bridge. She had been strangled, beaten, sexually assaulted, and repeatedly run over by a vehicle, according to court records. ..Source.. by Our Press Services

Accused rapist dies in Sunday crash

3-20-2012 Ohio:

A Far West Side man who died in a one-vehicle crash on Sunday was to stand trial this week on charges that he raped a patient at Mount Carmel East hospital.

Abayomi O. Shobo, 41, of Larksdale Drive, was driving north on Hilliard-Rome Road when his minivan went off the right side of the road and into a utility pole south of Renner Road, Columbus police said. He died at Mount Carmel West hospital about 3 p.m., less than an hour after the crash.

Shobo’s 6-year-old son, Emmanuel, was in the van. He was in critical condition yesterday at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Sgt. Brooke Wilson said.

“We’re not sure why he left the road,” Wilson said. Police found no evidence that Shobo had been drinking.

Shobo was indicted on four counts of rape in May, more than two months after a 53-year-old woman told police that he forced her to have intercourse while administering a medical test at the hospital on March 9, 2011.

Police collected saliva and skin cells from Shobo for DNA testing after finding semen on the panties that the woman was wearing at the time of the incident, according to search-warrant documents.

Shobo’s DNA profile matched the evidence, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said yesterday. The woman was prepared to testify at a trial that was scheduled to begin yesterday in Common Pleas Court.

The woman described herself as a handicapped widow and pastor when she sought a civil stalking protection order against Shobo in August. She alleged in the filing that Shobo threatened her after the rape and attempted to hire a cellmate to kill her while he was being held in the Franklin County jail.

She dismissed the request for the protection order in February but filed a lawsuit against Shobo two weeks ago, seeking monetary damages.

According to the suit, Shobo “violently attacked” her during the medical test, “causing injury to her knees and shoulders and ultimately raped” her.

The lawsuit also says that while in jail, Shobo “elicited others to attempt to kill (the woman) to prevent her from testifying” and that after his release on bond, Shobo “or others at his request, drove by her home and shot a firearm, mistakenly hitting the neighbor’s residence.”

O’Brien said that he was aware of the intimidation and murder-for-hire claims.

“Police investigated them but a case was not presented to the grand jury,” he said.

Shobo’s attorney, Blaise Baker, said yesterday that there was no evidence to support the allegations of threats or a murder plot.

“If there was any substance to that, I can’t help but think the county prosecutor, at the urging of detectives on the case, would have asked the judge to reconsider his bond and put him back in jail,” Baker said.

Jail records show that Shobo was incarcerated from May 13 to Aug. 11.

Columbus lawyer Mathew Voltolini, representing the woman in the lawsuit, declined to comment.

Of the crash, Baker said he saw no signs that his client wanted to hurt himself or his child.

“He didn’t present himself that way the last time I spoke with him,” Baker said. “Not at all. He presented as someone who was committed to his family.”

At the time of Shobo’s arrest, a Mount Carmel official said he no longer worked there. On his Facebook page, Shobo said he had attended the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and studied vascular, abdominal and OB/GYN ultrasound.

Janice Piscitelli, a Mount Carmel spokeswoman, said Shobo was a cardiovascular sonographer who worked on an “as-needed basis” at the hospital. His dates of employment were unavailable yesterday, she said. ..Source.. by John Futty

Monday, March 19, 2012

Escambia Bay body identified

3-19-2012 Florida:

A preliminary identification has been made regarding the body boaters discovered Saturday morning in Escambia Bay.

Investigators used a GPS ankle monitor to tentatively identify the body found as the remains of Patrick Willingham, 29, of Pensacola.

According to Sgt. Scott Haines with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office, Willingham was on a GPS monitor through State Probation in Escambia County as he was a register sex offender.

Willingham, who had been reported missing to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office on Dec. 22 of last year by his family.

Officers with the Florida Highway Patrol discovered Willingham’s abandoned vehicle just east of the 17-mile marker on the Escambia Bay Bridge, Dec. 21.

According to Haines, Willingham’s GPS monitor last transmitted on Dec. 20, at 9 a.m. from the top of the Escambia Bay Bridge.

State Probation received a notification that Willingham had travelled too far from his base unit and the monitor could not be tracked.

No foul play is suspected in Willingham’s death, according to Haines, but the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office is continuing its investigation.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit checked the area with boats on Dec. 22 and the Florida Wildlife Commission checked the waterways on Dec. 28, but both searches were met with negative results.

According to Haines, individuals testing a boat discovered the body floating in Escambia Bay around 11:30 a.m.

The boaters, who were not identified by Haines, remained on the scene until units from Avalon Fire and Rescue, Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office and Lifeguard Ambulance responded to the scene.

Just before 3 p.m. members of Avalon Fire and Rescue, Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida District 1 Medical Examiners Office left Archie Glover Boat Ramp to recover the body.

A positive identification of the body will be done through further analysis of the remains according to Haines.

According to Haines, the body appeared to have been in the bay for a lengthy period of time.

A fisherman, who would not give his name, said he and a fishing partner caught a couple of red fish early Saturday morning near piling 90. Later Saturday morning they returned to the piling to catch more fish when a boat informed them about it being a crime scene.

Despite the investigation, the Archie Glover Boat Ramp was busy with boats being launched for fishing and boating excursions.

"The fog was really intense this morning," said A.J. Ward of Pace, who was fishing with friends Saturday morning. "The fog finally lifted around 11 a.m., but we were back and forth across the bay between the bridge and the train tracks and didn't see anything all morning.

"Early on it was like our own private lake since visibility in some spots was limited to 20 yards and 100 yards in others since the fog was so thick.” ..Source.. by Santa Fosa Press

Ex-letter carrier indicted

USA Today has reported that "Spratling died in custody on March 19, 2007, less than two months after he was certified as sexually dangerous." He had been committed to the Federal Civil Commitment program under the Adam Walsh Act.
4-5-1988 North Carolina:

A federal grand jury in Houston indicted a former Galveston letter carrier on child pornography charges involving the U.S. mails.

Wallace Spratling, 51, was charged with two counts of using the mails Sept. 10 to receive a child pornography magazine and videotapes.

Another two counts charge him with causing the delivery of the same items, and a fifth says Spratling placed an advertisement seeking to buy sexually explicit material depicting minors.

Spratling of the 1400 block of Hutchings in Galveston has been suspended without pay, and administrative action to fire him has begun, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The indictment follows a yearlong investigation that also involved the U.S. Customs Service and Galveston Police Department, ending in a raid on his home. If convicted he could be sentenced to 40 years in prison and fines of $1.25 million. ..Source.. by .Houston Chronicles.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Broward lawyer Stephen D. Jerome, 61, kills self amid child porn probe

3-14-2012 Florida:

Police say that Stephen D. Jerome jumped from the roof of his Fort Lauderdale office building after they searched his home for child pornography and arrested him for drugs

Stephen David Jerome had a flair for the dramatic.

The Pompano Beach bankruptcy lawyer acted in community theatre, and was known to break into song in the courtroom.

Early Friday morning, he chose a dramatic ending to his own life. Police say he jumped from the roof of the 11-story BankAtlantic building at 1600 S. Federal Hwy., where he kept an eighth-floor office, hours after bonding out of the Broward County Jail on minor drug charges.

Acting Broward Medical Examiner Dr. Darin Trelka said that Jerome died at the scene from "multiple blunt force injuries [to the] head, trunk, pelvis and extremities.'' Results of toxicology testing are pending.

Born on Dec. 7, 1950, in Pennsylvania, Jerome was 61.

Officers who raided Jerome’s home, in the 400 block of Northeast 15th Street, on Thursday, found small amounts of pot and oxycodone, and drug paraphernalia. But that wasn’t what they were looking for.

According to a search warrant, they expected to find two videos featuring boys and girls as young 7 being used for sex by adult men. They took his computer equipment and related items.

A woman who answered the phone at Jerome’s office on Tuesday angrily declined to comment or identify herself.

“When someone jumps off the top of your building, your office gets very busy,’’ she said, adding that Jerome’s body had already been buried.

Had he lived, Jerome, a 1977 University of Miami law school graduate, might have faced child pornography charges for the second time.

In 1990, after a three-month investigation that yielded a stash of European kiddie-porn magazines in his bedroom closet, Jerome was charged with sexual performance by a child, a third-degree felony.

Two years later, he was sentenced to probation and community service after pleading no contest. He could have faced five years in prison. Also, the Florida Bar briefly suspended his license to practice law.

At the time of his plea, The Miami Herald reported: “Jerome, who shared the house with several other people, never admitted wrongdoing and was prepared to go to trial, his lawyer [Mark Skipper] said. But prosecutors obtained personal writings and diaries and ‘were just putting so much pressure on him for two years that he couldn’t take it. He just wanted to end it,’ Skipper said.’’

But the experience didn’t stop Jerome from seeking the company of children. A photo on his Facebook page shows Jerome surrounded by youngsters during the Christmas holidays in 2008, in Guatemala.

"This picture was taken just after we finished putting up the lights,’’ Jerome wrote on his Facebook page. “The neighborhood kids were absolutely thrilled with the display and were thrilled to be part of my picture.’’

Jerome was already well known for his holiday displays in Broward. A 2003 Sun-Sentinel feature about elaborate holiday decorations described the candy canes, “big and little snowmen,’’ reindeer, angels, and 27,000 lights outside his home.

Jerome told the newspaper: “My domestic partner, Balvino Barrera, is from a very small, very poor village in Guatemala. Christmas 2001 was our first Christmas together. I got him his first Christmas tree and we decorated inside the house.’’

Friday, Jerome was due onstage for opening night of The Producers, with the Pembroke Pines Theatre of the Performing Arts. He’d been cast in the lead role of the bombastic Max Bialystock, and by all accounts was looking forward to it.

“This was his second show with us,’’ said Alvin Entin, the theatre company’s board chairman, also an attorney. “About two or three years ago, he played Alfred Doolittle in My Fair Lady,’’ the father of main character Eliza Doolittle.

“He did a lot of work with Broward on Broadway,’’ a now-defunct theatre company, and Curtain Call Playhouse, also in Broward., said Entin, who broke the news of Jerome’s death to the cast on Friday, knowing little more than Jerome had died.

He said he got a call from Jerome’s law clerk, then told director Beverly Riches. Together, they told the cast.

“There was shock, amazement, a lot of sadness, crying,’’ he said.

The show went on with a second actor cast for the role, Keith Kramer, who was to have split the four-week run with Jerome. Another actor, Troy Stanley, who’d recently done the play with a Tamarac theatre company, also is filling in.

“An announcement was made prior to the opening curtain [Friday] that one of the cast members had died,’’ Entin said. “We put up a little memorial plaque’’ at the theater, part of the Pembroke Pines River of Grass ArtsPark.

Kris Coffelt, artistic director of Curtain Call Playhouse, a Broward-based touring theatre company, said that Jerome had done a production every year since the 2006-07, when he debuted in My Fair Lady.

"He did a lot of musical revues from all different Broadway shows,'' she said. "He had a beautiful voice...and a wide vocal range, from high bass to high tenor.''

He also helped out with the lighting and cues, she said.

"The only show he couldn't do was this year, because when we were casting [during the holidays] he was away visiting his partner in Guatemala.''

She said that Jerome "did as well in comedy as drama. He was very versatile.''

In one show program, Jerome's bio noted that he was "classically trained,'' and had been a guest soloist on an Alan King television special.

"He was a sweet, sensitive man, and he took what we did very seriously,'' Coffelt said.

Riches, the Producers director, said that she saw Jerome in My Fair Lady, and cast him in the Mel Brooks musical for his comic timing and strong voice: an operatic tenor.

“He was very thrilled, and it was a big commitment for him,’’ she said, because of the travel time between his office and the theater.

But when he got the lead, he told Riches that he would change his schedule, to make rehearsals.

Jerome’s penchant for the dramatic extended beyond the stage. In 1987, he bought a royal title, Count of Macedonia, from the estate of a homicide victim, for $300.

He was already known as the defense lawyer who belted out a snippet of the 19th Century Italian opera Pagliacci during closing arguments in a 1982 criminal trial.

Pagliacci means “clowns.’’ Jerome lost the case. ..Source.. by ELINOR J. BRECHER AND STEVE ROTHAUS

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Porn Probe Pompts Gay Lawyer to Commit Suicide

3-13-2012 Florida:

Stephen Jerome, 61, Had Been ‘Out’ For Decades

Jerry Levy, 69, his legal assistant, a retired attorney said of Jerome, “He lived his life with drama and flair, and with a love and caring, and a song on his lips and in his heart; a good attorney who served his clients well.”

Theater and acting was his passion, and on Friday evening, March 9, Stephen Jerome was set to star as Max Bialystok in the opening of the Pembroke Pines Theater of the Performing Arts production of ‘The Producers.’

Instead, on that very morning, the talented thespian, a prominent open and out gay 61-year old bankruptcy lawyer, took his own life by leaping from the 11th floor of his law office building, located at 1600 South Federal Highway in Pompano Beach.

His death came within hours of his having been released from the Broward County Jail on a $1,000 bond, for charges of Possession of Oxycodone, Marijuana, and Drug Paraphernalia.

Twenty-four hours before, on Thursday morning, at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Jerome had been served with a search warrant, by the multi agency task force known as L.E.A.C.H., the Law Enforcement Against Child Harm Task Force, which targets Internet predators of children and child pornography. The warrant, signed by a Broward County Circuit judge on Monday, March 5, provided for the seizure of Jerome’s home computers.

Detective Jennifer Montgomery of the Broward Sheriff’s Office and her team executed the warrant on March 8. She was troubled by Jerome’s death, stating, “No one feels good about an outcome like this.”

In fact the team of detectives who executed the warrant returned to his law office the next day to express their regrets to his law partner and staff. One even offered to adopt Jerome’s dog, a small mixed shepherd, affectionately, named ‘Nudnick.’

He was arrested on Thursday, not for child pornography, but for the possession of illegal narcotics that he did not have a prescription for, that deputies say, “were in plain view as the warrant was served.”

Nevertheless, the task force will have to carry out its duty to search the computers in order to determine if pornographic files were housed on them. “It’s our obligation,” Detective Montgomery stated, “to identify them in case there are potential victims.”

Twenty years before, in 1992, Jerome had served five years probation for possession of child pornography. It was a terribly difficult time for him. While his law license was suspended, he spent time delivering pizzas.

As Jerome returned to the practice of law, he developed a reputation as a successful bankruptcy lawyer, while cultivating his passion, participating in theatrical groups throughout the county. He played Luther in South Pacific, Mushnick in Little Shop of Horrors, and Charlegmagne in Pippin, along with a host of other starring roles.

“Theater enriched him,” said Keith Kramer, a fellow cast member in The Producers.

Over the years, during the Holiday Season, Jerome would dress as Santa Claus and walk from courtroom to courtroom, regaling crowds and singing Christmas carols for the judicial staff. With a marvelous voice that ranged from high bass to high tenor, Jerome once even appeared as a soloist on an Alan King television special.

His fellow cast members at TOPA in Pembroke Pines have dedicated this show to him.

One of those community actors, renowned attorney Alvin Entin, remarked “Stephen was a bundle of joy and energy and brought enthusiasm and passion to his role and the cast. We are all deeply saddened.”

It was Jerome’s former law partner, Jodi Fisher, who would pick Jerome up from the Broward County jail at 4 a.m. on Friday morning. She drove him to his Fort Lauderdale home, where they chatted about “the future” for a few hours, and how to deal with the arrest, the practice, and other issues.

“Of course,” she said, “he was distraught. But he picked himself up and went to work. He was at the law office by 9 a.m.” Fisher had herself just begun working there again, contemplating a renewed business relationship with Jerome.

But Fisher would later find out that Jerome, upon returning to the office, executed a new will, naming her as the Personal Representative only moments before leaping to his death.

Jerome’s life partner, Balvino Berrera, 48, was in Guatemala with his family. According to Fisher, Jerome had planned on retiring in the next few years to Guatemala to be with Berrera full time. Jerome also wired Berrera funds early Friday morning.

His final words to a staff member at his office that morning was to excuse himself “to go to the bathroom,” but instead he wound up leaping to his death from a small balcony on a higher floor.

Said Fisher, who had just recently begun returning to the office to work with Jerome, “He was my little nerdy brother I could never get rid of. He was my office husband, a wonderful law office partner, and my best friend. People thought we were married.”

“This is terrible news,” Aaron Humphrey, Esq., emailed his colleagues, “Stephen was a great attorney who will be missed.”

Added Dean Trantalis, “It represents the passing of another important member of our community, and is a loss for everybody. The circumstances under which he died are very painful to everyone, but our hearts go out to his family and friends.”

A 1977 graduate of the University of Miami who was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, family members are planning a burial and funeral service for Jerome tomorrow in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Local members of the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Network will be gathering at his home to celebrate Stephen’s life, Thursday, at 7 p.m. ..Source.. by Norm Kent

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Man who pleaded guilty to sexual abuse dies

3-8-2012 West Virginia:


A 22-year-old Diamond man who pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a 10-year-old girl in Belle died Wednesday at his home.

Bryan D. Confere pleaded guilty to a single count of sexual abuse in 2011 for a crime that occurred in 2006. He was 17 at the time of the crime.

Officers said the death was not suspicious and there is no investigation, said Kanawha County Sheriff's Department Lt. Bryan Robbins. The obituary in Thursday's paper did not list a cause of death.

While he was out on a $70,000 bond for the 2006 crime, he traveled to Boston and attempted to take a 12-year-old girl from her South Boston home. Confere's car broke down a few houses away from the girl's home and he continued on foot.

He left a 16-year-old Pennsylvania girl, who was a runaway, in his vehicle as he proceeded toward the 12-year-old's home.

The 16-year-old girl caught the attention of people living in the area and called 911. He was arrested before he reached the 12-year-old's home.

Confere met the 12-year-old on GothCityChat.com, an online chat room.

Confere also had a profile on vampirefreaks.com.

The case in Boston fell apart and he was sent back to West Virginia where he was sentenced last March to six months to two years in the Anthony Center in Greenbrier County.

He also was required to register as a sex offender for life. ..Source.. by Charleston Daily Mail.com

A Colorado fugitive who killed himself identified

3-10-2012 Montana:

A Colorado fugitive who killed himself in a Ballantine motel Friday night has been identified.

Brenton David Glaser, 29, of Evans, Colo., was wanted for contempt of court out of Weld County, Colo., and is listed on the county's most-wanted list, according to the Weld County Sheriff's website. Members of the Montana Violent Offenders Task Force and Yellowstone County Sheriff's deputies were attempting to serve him with a felony warrant when he killed himself. The warrant, which does not list a bond amount, lists Glaser's original charge as sexual assault.

Officers responded to Tiger Town Convenience Store and Motel at 2253 S. 16th Road, Room 2, at about 5:30 p.m., to serve Glaser with the felony warrant.

"We received information from the Colorado Task Force on Friday about the suspect possibly being in our area," U.S. Marshal Darrell Bell said. "Once we were given that information, we confirmed his whereabouts."

Sheriff Mike Linder said officers entered Glaser's motel room, but before they could detain him, he had locked himself into the bathroom. When officials forced entry into the bathroom, they found Glaser had "cut himself in the neck causing severe damage and bleeding."

He continued to resist, Linder said, so officials used a Taser in attempt to prevent Glaser from causing injury to officers or further injury to himself.

"He was a really big man," Linder said. "There were state, local, federal and extra sheriff's deputies there. You just never know what's going to happen in these felony fugitive cases, so we took every precaution."

There were no medical or law enforcement personnel injured, and no shots were fired.

Immediately after using the Taser on Glaser, officials applied first aid and called for medical help, Linder said. The Worden ambulance and the HELP Flight helicopter responded, but the helicopter was canceled when Worden medical responders were unable to revive him.

Motel owner Carol Hayes said she checked the man into the room Wednesday. She would not reveal further details.

Linder said as far as officers know, Glaser was traveling alone. ..Source.. by CARMEN DAYE IRISH

Friday, March 9, 2012

Man Shot After Authorities Locate Him

3-9-2012 Montana:

REED POINT - A man is dead after shooting himself near Reed Point Thursday as authorities tried to pull him over on an attempt to locate.

The Bozeman Police Department says the man was wanted out of Bozeman for sexual assault with a weapon. The Montana Highway Patrol spotted the suspect's vehicle near Reed Point.

MHP and Stillwater County pulled over the vehicle driven by the suspect. Authorities say the man shot himself before officers got out of their car. The suspect's name has not been released.

Troopers then shut down the Frontage Road about five miles west of Reed Point.

"At this time, it does not appear that there was any exchange between officers," said Sgt. Jay Nelson with the Montana Highway Patrol.

"During the incident, our detectives developed information that was a very kind of volatile situation that had the potential for becoming a much worse situation," said Lieutenant Steve Crawford with the Bozeman Police Department.

The Montana department of criminal investigations is in charge of the case. The suspect was transported to Billings, but was pronounced dead. ..Source.. by Nicole Grigg

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Man kills himself during I-90 stop, possibly linked to Bozeman sexual assault

More details have been released about the events possibly leading up to a shooting along Interstate 90 on Thursday afternoon between Reed Point and Columbus.

Bozeman police began investing a report of sexual intercourse without consent involving a weapon on Thursday morning, according to Bozeman Police Lt. Steve Crawford.

The incident reportedly took place at a residence on the north side of Bozeman and involved a person who was known to the alleged victim, Crawford said.

Police identified a person of interest and vehicle to look for in the case and notified area law enforcement.

Later in the morning, police received information that the person of interest was possibly in the Billings area and Billings law enforcement was notified.

Authorities then relayed back that they had located a vehicle, a 2001 Ford Ranger with Montana plates, on Interstate 90, and Bozeman police asked them to stop the vehicle.

A Montana Highway Patrol trooper and two Stillwater County deputies spotted the suspect's vehicle around 1 p.m. on Interstate 90 about 10 miles west of Columbus.

According to Montana Highway Patrol Lt. Col. Butch Huseby, the man pulled off the interstate at exit 397 near Reed Point, and before officers could exit their vehicle it appears the man shot himself.

No shots were fired by law enforcement, Huseby said.

The identity of the person has not yet been released.

The MT Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating the incident.

Crawford said that at this point Bozeman authorities have not confirmed that the person of interest in the report of sexual intercourse without consent incident is the same person involved in the shooting.

"We will continue to investigate our part of the incident to fully document what led up to the events that occurred in Stillwater County," Crawford said.

Crawford added that they are not looking for any other suspects in the Thursday morning incident in Bozeman. He said there was not a threat to the general public, adding that the suspect was known to the alleged victim.

We will bring you more information as this story continues to develop. ..Source.. by KRTV.com

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Sexual Assault Suspect Who Killed Himself on I-90 Identified

3-24-2012:

The Stillwater County Sheriff's Office has released the name of the man who shot himself after being pulled over by police.

County officials say 54-year-old William Carl Norman of Livingston died Thursday near Reed Point as authorities attempted to apprehend him.

Norman was wanted in connection to a sexual assault with a weapon case that had been reported in Bozeman.

Montana Highway Patrol identified his vehicle on Interstate-90 Thursday around noon.

Norman shot himself in his own vehicle before officials were able to reach him. ..Source.. by KFBB.com

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sex offender dies in prison

3-8-2012 Maine:

FARMINGTON -- A former Jay man serving 15 years in the state prison for sexually assaulting a 6-year-old boy he met at church in 2005 has died according to a release from the state Department of Corrections.

Robert Storer, 74, was admitted to Pen Bay Medical Center in February because of ongoing health problems. He died on Tuesday.

The Maine State Medical Examiners Office has been contacted, which is routine in inmate deaths.

Storer, an Alabama native, admitted to molesting the boy close to a dozen times in 2005 and 2006.

Storer reportedly met the boy through the child's parents, who attended the same church, the Church of the Nazarene in Jay.

He befriended the family and spent time with the boy alone and through youth activities, authorities said in 2007.

It was on those occasions, as well as the week where the boy stayed with Storer while the family was relocating to Jackman, when the sexual assaults took place.

He was convicted on six counts of gross sexual assault and one count of unlawful sexual contact, according to newspaper archives.

He was sentenced in Franklin County Superior Court to 25 years with all but 15 years suspended.

In 1961, Storer was convicted of indecent exposure in Alabama.

In 2000, he arrested in Alabama on charges of sexual molestation of a child, but the charges were dropped and he left the state, eventually moving to Maine. ..Source.. by Doug Harlow

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Homeless man who drowned in Grand Junction ditch failed to show up in court on sex charge

3-6-2012 Colorado:

The Mesa County Coroner's Office said today that a 55-year-old homeless man died from an accidental drowning in a ditch in Grand Junction.

Daniel J. Devereaux Jr., a resident of Grand Junction, was found Saturday afternoon in the drainage off Horizon Drive.

"Mr. Devereaux was also acutely intoxicated," the coroner's office stated.

Court records show Devereaux was arrested and charged with sexual contact without consent on Dec. 28 and failed to appear at his arraignment in Mesa County last week. Devereaux had a pending warrant for his arrest.

A trespassing charge in Grand Junction was dropped in January, court records show.

He was sentenced to a year in jail in 2008 after a drunken-driving charge that included charges of leaving the scene of an accident, open container and no proof of insurance. He was rearrested in 2010 after the court determined he had not paid either his $2,300 in fines his fines or $1,175 in restitution from the accident.

The only address for Devereaux in public records is the Mesa County Sheriff's Department's Alternative Sentencing Unit in Grand Junction. ..Source.. by Denver Post

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Notorious Sex Offender Dies

3-6-2012 Canada:

The convicted sex offender Keith Lucky Whetstone popularly known as Keith McCormick has died today in from natural causes.

Whetstone was serving his third prison sentence for robbery when he died at the age of 64 at the Pacific Regional Treatment Centre in Abbotsford, B.C. Canada.

According to authorities, the convicted sex offender was suffering from a lengthy illness and died of natural causes.

Whetstone remained one of Canada’s most prolific criminals until his death.

In 1993, he went on a cocaine binge and sexually assaulted a 25-year-old woman, and as though that was not enough, the sex fiend went further to sexually assault two 11-year-old girls at knifepoint in Port Alberni.

For these crimes, Whetstone was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Barely a year after he finished serving his sentence, Whetstone was again sent to prison to serve a nine year jail term for seven charges of robbery.

In 2008, he was paroled but he breached his supervision order by failing to return to his house for monitoring. This resulted in police issuing out a Canada-wide warrant for him.

One would have thought that while on the lam, Whetstone would keep low, but not him. He got himself involved in a string of robberies until he was finally caught in 2009 and given a global sentence of 7 years in jail – a jail term he was serving until his death. ..SOurce..

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Alex Marbury

February 2012 :

Alex Marbury was the very heart and soul of RSOL during its formative years. He loved RSOL and its people and, in turn, was the recipient of much appreciation and affection. Hundreds of those now connected to RSOL were first welcomed into the organization by Alex in his role as email contact and member of the Admin Team. He has been sorely missed since his retirement a few years ago.

Alex died in the hospital on Sunday February 19 after a year-long debilitating illness.

All of us in RSOL are deeply indebted for his indefatigable efforts to end the registry and stand against the demonization of people labeled sex offenders. But his work on behalf of human rights for sex offenders was only a small part of Alex’s life and work for social justice and racial equality. No one of any background whose humanity was being violated would fail to receive Alex’s support and love. In next month’s Digest Alex’s good friend and admirer, Paul Shannon, an initiator of the RSOL project, will share a few of the details of Alex’s remarkable life.

This month's RSOL Digest will be dedicated to the memory of Alex. He cared deeply about the Digest and enjoyed nothing more than being asked to write an article for an upcoming edition. His retirement left a gap in our hearts and our lives; the sadness at his passing is only mitigated by the knowledge that he is now at rest and at peace. ..Source.. RSOL Website

STATE v POLLARD

June 2009 Ohio:

The question presented is whether a section of the Indiana Sex Offender Registration Act that we refer to as the "residency restriction statute" constitutes retroactive punishment forbidden by the Ex Post Facto Clause contained in the Indiana Constitution. In this case the answer is yes.

Anthony Pollard died while this case was pending on transfer. Because the issue raised in this appeal is of great public importance with a likelihood of repetition, we choose to adjudicate the claim on its merits. See Horseman v. Keller,841 N.E.2d 164, 170 (Ind.2006). ..Source..

Saturday, March 3, 2012

2 Killed in Gulfport, Suspected Shooter Found Dead

Posted in Related Deaths
10-11-2011 Mississippi:

GULFPORT, Mississippi -- Police in Gulfport are investigating a double murder-suicide.

Gulfport Police say the crime happened on Monday around 1pm at a home on Kent Ave.

The victims have been identified as a minister's wife 45-year-old Karen Ferguson, and her son 21-year-old Trevor Cole, who has cerebral palsy. Both were found shot to death inside their home.

The alleged shooter, 70-year-old Paul Buckman, was found dead inside an apartment at Creekwood North Apartments on Oneal Road just blocks away. Police say Buckman died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Investigators say Karen Ferguson is the wife of Minister Les Ferguson who works at the Orange Grove Church of Christ. Police say Buckman previously attended their church, but was accused of molesting their disabled son Trevor. Buckman was sent to jail, but bonded out a few days later.

Investigators say the couple's 5 year-old son was also home when the suspect entered the house, but Mrs. Ferguson told the child to run. The child was able to escape to a neighbors house. The neighbor called police.

Police are still investigating the case. News 5 will bring you more details as they are released on wkrg.com and News 5 at 5pm and 6pm. ..Source.. by WKRG Staff

Friday, March 2, 2012

Polk County Jail inmate dies in apparent suicide

3-2-2012 Florida:

An inmate facing child sex abuse charges was found hanging by a sheet in his cell this morning, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Wilfredo Morales-Torres, 40, had been held in the South County Jail in Frostproof since his extradition in December from Michigan, the agency reported.

He was assigned to a cell by himself and left a suicide note stating he was depressed and wanted to go to sleep. It could not be learned today if Morales-Torres was on suicide watch or how often corrections officers checked his cell.

Morales-Torres had been charged with kidnapping, attempted lewd molestation and false imprisonment of a 14-year-old girl. He also was charged with stealing a car and jewelry and dealing in stolen property. His death remains under investigation. ..Source.. by Henry Pierson Curtis, Orlando Sentinel

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pinconning man killed in Thursday hit-and-run had pending sexual assault charges

5-27-2011 Michigan:

KAWKAWLIN TWP. — At the time he suffered fatal injuries in a Thursday night hit-and-run, a Pinconning man was free on bond and facing several sexual assault charges.

Richard A. Lesniak Sr., 64, was apparently chasing his dog when he entered the southbound lanes of M-13 near Wetters Road in Kawkawlin Township around 10:20 p.m. A vehicle struck him and continued on its way, Bay County Sheriff’s deputies report.

Emergency personnel transported Lesniak to Bay Regional Medical Center where he died as the result of his injuries.

Court records show Lesniak was arraigned March 18 on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and single counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and sexually communicating with a minor over the Internet.

State police troopers began investigating Lesniak in June 2010, when parents of a 16-year-old girl with Asperger syndrome contacted them claiming Lesniak had attacked and groped their daughter in Merritt Township Park. The teen told investigators Lesniak had been communicating with her via Facebook and text messages for some time.

At one point, Lesniak threatened to kill the teen’s dogs if she didn’t text him nude photos of herself, the teen said.

The teen said she was walking her dog by the park on June 29 when Lesniak drove up in a car and assaulted her. Lesniak denied any wrongdoing when interviewed by troopers, saying the teen was pursuing him and he was only communicating with her to offer counseling, court records show.

Attorney Paul F. Beggs, representing Lesniak, previously said the teen sent inappropriate messages to his client of her own choosing, then made up the allegations against him out of embarrassment.

Lesniak posted a $5,000 bond on March 21. He was scheduled to appear for a settlement conference before Bay County District Judge Timothy J. Kelly on June 29.

As of Friday afternoon, deputies had not located a suspect in the Thursday hit-and-run. Deputies found a black driver-side mirror with chrome backing at the scene.

They believe it is from a Chevrolet Silverado, Tahoe or Suburban manufactured between 2000 and 2006. ..Source.. by Cole Waterman | The Bay City Times