Back in October 2008, we reported that Minnesota’s prisons were receiving decks of playing cards featuring 52 violent unsolved homicide, missing person and unidentified remains cases that occurred throughout the state of Minnesota in the past 50 years. The decks of cards were distributed to all 515 police departments and sheriffs’ offices in Minnesota, 75 jail facilities with 10,000 decks to Minnesota state prison inmates.
Recently, a tipster helped in solving a cold case missing person in Wabasha County. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner positively identified the remains of Deana Patnode of Inver Grove Heights. She disappeared in 1982 but her remains were found seven years later. Unfortunately, the police could not identify her until recently when a tipster saw a reconstructed picture of her on the deck of the playing cards. The tipster remembered seeing her in the neighborhood where he used to live. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension found relatives of the missing person and matched her DNA with her relatives.
Thanks to the Minnesota Cold Case Playing Cards, this may be the first tip generated and hopefully not the last, to help solve a cold case.
State lawmakers are working on expanding legislative bills to require persons to provide their DNA to law enforcement at the time of their arrest. The Hastings Center reported that in 2007, 91 DNA expansion bills were introduced in 36 states. Almost half of the bills include persons arrested for various felony offenses. More than a dozen states already allow law enforcement to collect DNA from suspects before they are convicted.
Currently, the state of Colorado has introduced “Katie’s Law”. This law would take DNA evidence from every arrested felony suspects. Katie Sepich was a graduate student at New Mexico State who was raped and murdered back in 2003. The killer’s DNA found beneath her fingernails and eventually led police to an arrest, three years later.
Since 2006, Katie’s Law has been adopted by 16 states and has been credited with hundreds of arrests along with 200 suspects exonerated for crimes they didn’t commit. DNA is a good technology that helps to solve crimes. Many law enforcement agencies say that it is easier to do and less intrusive than taking fingerprints at the time of an arrest.
However, state criminal defense groups and the American Civil Liberties Union feel that it is unconstitutional and against a person’s 4th Amendment right. Opponents to these bills claim that DNA is a lot more than a fingerprint because it reveals a person’s past, present and future history. In addition, taking DNA samples from someone who has not been convicted of a crime may pose legal retribution in the future.
Several Federal Laws such as the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000, the 2001 U.S.A. Patriot Act and the Justice for All Act of 2004 allowed for further definition of qualifying offenders to include all persons convicted of felonies under federal law. Two recent federal actions again expanded DNA sample categories. When Congress renewed the Violence Against Women Act in 2006, it included an amendment that authorizes federal officials to collect DNA samples from individuals who are arrested and from non-United States persons detained under U.S. authority. In April 2008, the Department of Justice published a proposed rule directing certain U.S. law enforcement agencies to collect DNA samples from individuals who are arrested, facing charges, or convicted, and from non-United States persons who are detained under U.S. authority.
Then there is the cost of collecting DNA samples from everyone who is arrested. In Colorado, approximately 60,000 people are arrested on felony charges each year. The cost of collecting and testing DNA would be $1.8 million per year. With budget cuts, states don’t know where they will get the money. In addition to the cost, critics worry about the security of a government DNA database and the potential privacy invasion of people arrested, but never convicted of a crime.
Whenever a state lists the most wanted criminals on a web site and asks for information about them, the capture rate is high. Take for example in Colorado, when Crime Stoppers and Fugitive Location Apprehension updated their 50 Most Wanted Criminals List, it resulted in six arrests within a few days. Many of the criminals who were spotlighted were wanted for murder or were sex offenders and even some were wanted for white-collar crimes.
Law enforcement can’t do this without the support of the community and their tips. In Colorado alone, some 39,000 people have warrants out for their arrests. Many of these people are career criminals. When they are not in jail, they are out victimizing people. That is why it is important to help law enforcement catch these people.
To help law enforcement in Minnesota, a good web site is Minnesota’s Most Wanted. This web site breaks out the most wanted by Fugitives, Unsolved Crimes, Cold Cases, Escapees and Absconders, Bail Jumpers, Missing Persons, Child Support Enforcement, Incarcerated Offenders in jail or prison, recently released offenders and registered sex offenders.
If you have a tip, you can anonymously call crime stoppers and may receive a reward for your tip. Let’s get these criminals off the street and in jail where they belong.
According to the FBI Strategic Plan submitted to the national Association of Chiefs of Police the new Radiological Evidence Analysis Lab Suite (REALS) in Aiken, South Carolina will serve as a hub laboratory for FBI and intelligence agencies. These agencies will be involved in the prevention of terrorism and investigation of disbursement of radiological materials.
Now the FBI will have a flexible radiological containment laboratory where their experts can safely conduct forensic examinations on items of evidence associated with radiological material. Up to now, traditional forensic laboratories were not designed for the safe examination of radiological materials and evidence associated with a radiological disbursement. It is important to properly collect, preserve, and analyze forensic evidence in order to solve crimes.
The FBI conducts more than one million forensic examinations annually. From terrorism, espionage, public corruption, civil rights, criminal organizations and enterprises, to white collar and violent crime, the volume of evidence will increase dramatically each year. In addition, the complexity of the examination methods, as well as the complex nature of the investigations has increased.
The FBI will also help develop the forensic capabilities of other countries through partnerships with other forensic laboratories and scientists. In this way, the FBI can provide the optimum level of forensic services to meet the increasing demands. Constant improvements in forensic analysis are necessary in order to develop robust research and development programs that can be quickly deployed to support the entire forensic community.
On February 10, 2009, the Sun Newspaper announced that Hennepin County launched a YouTube program to assist law enforcement to catch the county’s ten most wanted fugitives as well as photos of about a dozen people with felony warrants. Because of the popularity of YouTube, law enforcement believes that tips from viewers will help catch these fugitives.
Currently on the YouTube Most Wanted site is embedded the first two episodes, which have already been viewed 1,596 and 498 times, respectively. The Sheriff’s Office and Crime Stoppers of Minnesota co-produce the program. You can also view it on city cable-TV channels. The Sun Newspapers also plans to carry it at mnsun.com.
To keep up with current technology, Crime Stoppers recently began accepting tips via text messaging. You can send a text tip to text “TIP674” plus your message to CRIMES (274637).
A Sun Focus article recently reported that a 20-year-old Minneapolis man pleaded guilty in federal court to counterfeiting charges. Nijm Mukhtar El-Amin Scott pleaded guilty to one count of manufacturing counterfeit currency.
He apparently made the counterfeit bills on his computer and other equipment. He manufactured $100 bills out of real $5 bills. Overall, he manufactured a total of $10,000 to $30,000 in counterfeit currency.
His counterfeit scheme was based on buying expensive electronic items with some of the counterfeit bills at area retail stores. Then he would return the items for “real” cash. Back in October 2008, he purchased a DVD player and GPS navigation system at the Wal-Mart in Fridley. He paid with six $100 counterfeit bills. He also purchased a $300 DVD recorder and other items at a different Wal-Mart using six $100 counterfeit bills.
When Scott was arrested the police recovered approximately $16,000 in counterfeit $100 bills from his apartment, along with the DVD player and GPS system purchased in Fridley on the previous day. Scott faces a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
A 52-year-old Colorado Springs, Colorado man was recently arrested . He was a substitute teacher at Spring Creek Youth Services Center. Kyle G. Speed was arrested on suspicion of trading child pornography and sexual exploitation of children – a class three felony.
What makes this arrest important is that Speed may have been part of a larger operation starting in New Zealand. “Operation Achilles” was reported in a March 2008 ABC news article. This operation started in Queensland, New Zealand by police task force Argos and is alleged that a core administrator of this highly secret website was a 29-year-old Queensland public servant.
The website catered to pedophiles who were sophisticated in the knowledge of computer encryption. As a result, they felt that they were untouchable and in a safe zone. These pedophiles made and traded images of young children involved in the most terrible sex acts. They thought that they were invincible. The network had more than 400,000 child abuse films and images on their computers.
However, the world’s police caught up to their computer techniques and was able to invade their network. So far, all of the major players in this group have been caught and the police were able to rescue 20 children from around the world from ongoing sexual abuse. In addition, they have caught at least 14 American alleged child abusers. Kyle Speed may be one of those child pornographers who is now off the network. Operation Achilles will continue until law enforcement is satisfied that all pedophiles are caught and sentenced as well as the children used in the videos can be found.
On December 16, 2008 Hollywood, Fla. Police Chief Chadwick E. Wagner has formally closed the Adam Walsh case . Adam Walsh was the son of John Walsh, host of America’s Most Wanted. Adam was abducted from a Hollywood, Florida mall and murdered more than 27 years ago.
Throughout the last 27 years, the police were investigating this case. They have concluded that from all of the evidence presented to them they have concluded that it is clear and irrefutable that Ottis Toole was the abductor and killer of Adam. This conclusion is based on a vast amount of circumstantial evidence.
Ottis Toole died in prison over ten years ago but was a known pedophile and a convicted murderer. As a result, no formal, legal action will be taken and the Walsh family has agreed not to seek any legal action.
The Hollywood Police Department decided to announce their findings in the interest of justice as well as for closure for the Walsh family.
In a comment from John Walsh he said, “We can now move forward knowing positively who killed our beautiful little boy. We, along with our children, Meghan, Callahan and Hayden, pray for the thousands of parents of murdered and still-missing children. We continue to fight for their safety, and to make sure that no child — especially Adam — died in vain.”
It may have taken three years to convict and sentence this criminal who killed two innocent people, but hopefully the families of these victims have received some type of justice.
Back in 2005, Sir Mario Owens killed Javad Marshal Field and his fiancée Vivian Wolfe who was in the car with Fields, because Field was to testify against Owens in a 2004 murder case. The victims’ families were devastated as well as the community.
Recently, Owens was sentenced to death by lethal injection according to Colorado law. The Judge in this case set a March 2009 date for the death penalty to be imposed but it is almost certain that it will take years for the death penalty to be carried out due to the appeals process. However, recent changes in Colorado state law have made the process a bit more efficient. Under the new streamlined procedures, the death penalty may take only years and not decades in appeal. The Judge also sentenced Owens to an additional 65 years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder and witness intimidation.
There is only one other inmate currently on Colorado’s death row, Nathan Dunlap who murdered four people at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in 1993.
Even though the families cannot get back their loved ones, perhaps this is finally justice for all.
You may recall Jesse James was a notorious outlaw in the Wild West. He robbed banks and killed innocent people. It was rumored that he started his crime spree when he was a teenager. Recently, Douglas County, Colorado sheriffs arrested two teenage boys for their involvement in one of the worst crime sprees in that county.
Sheriffs apprehended Brandin Kreuzer and Taylor Moudy both age 19 for a crime spree that started this summer. Both boys seemed like model students and everyday guys. But during the summer they stole cars, burglarized homes, led police on car pursuits, robbed a Circle K convenience store armed with guns and wearing military style clothing and even shot a deputy in the arm.
After their crime spree this summer, one of them went off to college and tried to blend in. However, police knew that these boys were very dangerous. They both face multiple felony charges including attempted first-degree murder.
We know how Jesse James’ life ended. At least these two boys won’t see the same fate.