|To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1192)||7/11/2004 1:00:47 PM|
|From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell|
|Re: 7/11/04 - New Haven Register: Ex-Yale teacher pushes to clear name |
Ex-Yale teacher pushes to clear name
Randall Beach , Register Staff 07/11/2004
NEW HAVEN — The only person ever identified as a suspect in one of the city’s most notorious unsolved murders is making a new push to clear his name.
Former Yale University teacher James Van de Velde’s attorney recently hired a private detective, and new reward posters have been put up in the East Rock neighborhood.
The posters show a smiling Suzanne Jovin, a Yale student who was murdered 5½ years ago as she walked near campus. The posters remind the public there remains a $150,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of her killer.
Van de Velde, who was a Yale lecturer and Jovin’s adviser in 1998, has consistently denied he committed the crime.
Now living in the Washington, D.C., area, Van de Velde has frequently criticized New Haven police for their investigation. He has suggested a series of forensic steps to crack the case.
His attorney, David Grudberg, said in an interview from his New Haven office that he hired Markle Investigations, which has set up a Web site and e-mail address to take tips on the Jovin case.
"Our firm has engaged them (Markle), on Jim’s behalf," Grudberg said.
He confirmed Daniel Markle, who heads Markle Investigations, is the son of Arnold Markle, the former state’s attorney in New Haven.
"Our goal is to help solve a terrible crime that everyone would love to see solved," Grudberg said.
He noted the reward, which would be paid by Yale and the state, has been offered for several years, with no result.
"In our view," Grudberg added, "the reward has not been properly publicized."
He declined to list any other places where the posters have been placed. Markle could not be reached for comment, nor could Van de Velde.
The posters, which were put on telephone poles on Edgehill Road and Whitney Avenue, note Jovin was a 21-year-old Yale student when she was stabbed to death the night of Dec. 4, 1998.
"Authorities believe Ms. Jovin was picked up by a vehicle on or near the Yale campus around 9:30 p.m.," the posters state.
They note she was found about 20 minutes later lying near the corner of Edgehill and East Rock roads.
"A passenger van may have been used in the crime," the posters add, alluding to witness reports of such a vehicle parked nearby.
The posters list a number to call with tips on the case: (877) 593-9962. An e-mail address is also listed: email@example.com and a Web site: www.marklepi.com/reward.
The Web site contains an archive of news stories about the murder, the Police Department’s case profile and a lengthy analysis by Van de Velde of the investigation.
In that write-up, Van de Velde claims police indulged in "lazy speculation that perhaps Jovin was murdered by someone within Yale, perhaps even one of her instructors."
He added, "The facts of the case suggest that Suzanne Jovin was murdered in a random act of violence."
Van de Velde was identified by New Haven police as the "lead suspect" in 1999. Yale identified Van de Velde as being in a "pool of suspects."
Van de Velde’s lawsuit against New Haven police and Yale was tossed out by a judge in March. He was awarded $80,000 after suing Quinnipiac University for dismissing him from a teaching position.
New Haven police Lt. Herman Badger, who is in charge of the Investigative Services Division, declined to comment on Van de Velde’s analysis.
Badger said he hadn’t seen the posters, but he said, "That’s fine with us. We welcome any information. We’re constantly looking for a successful conclusion to the investigation."
Badger said three detectives continue to work on the Jovin case. "It always remains at our forefront. It’s an everyday investigation."
The Jovin family could not be reached for comment.
Like the case itself, the posters have been controversial. At least one was seen downtown on Chapel Street earlier last week but it had vanished by Friday.
Meanwhile, a man who lives near the crime scene said he has taken down many of the posters.
Philip Langdon, a writer who specializes on urban issues, said in an e-mail that he removed some of the Jovin posters because he considers them "unseemly," and their posting was "a tawdry stunt."
Noting the emphasis on the $150,000 reward, Langdon said, "It seems crass, as if this were the Wild West of bounty hunters and others eager to make a profit from someone’s crime or a person’s death."
Langdon questioned the posters’ effectiveness, since police years ago went door-to-door in the neighborhood seeking information in the case.
David Cameron, a Yale professor of political science who has criticized police handling of the Jovin case, said the posters are "eye-catching" with their dual photos of Jovin.
"I don’t think they’ll do any good, 5½ years later," Cameron said. "But who knows? Maybe they will."
Randall Beach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 789-5766.
Will new efforts by James van de Velde resolve the mystery of Suzanne Jovin's murder? Tell us in Town Talk.
©New Haven Register 2004
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|To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1193)||1/12/2005 11:23:26 PM|
|From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell|
|Re: 12/16/04 - CBS 48 Hours: JonBenet: DNA Rules Out Parents|
JonBenet: DNA Rules Out Parents
Dec. 16, 2004
On the surface, Boulder, Colo., is the ideal American town. It's beautiful, peaceful, and seemingly cut off from the types of crime that infect larger cities. It's no wonder that Boulder attracts successful, affluent families like the Ramseys.
”We moved to Boulder. We very strongly felt we had moved to a very safe, small kind of 'Ozzie and Harriet' kind of community,” says John Ramsey, JonBenet's father.
But, on 48 Hours Mystery Saturday, Correspondent Erin Moriarty exposed a different side of this quaint small city -- a darker side, made up of a small group of burglars, thieves, and sex offenders. It's where the answer to Boulder's most notorious unsolved murder, the case of JonBenet Ramsey, may be found. And investigators hope new evidence will finally lead to a break in the case.
The nightmare began eight years ago, in the early hours of Dec. 26, 1996, with a 911 call from JonBenet's mother, Patsy Ramsey.
Boulder police responded immediately to Ramsey's call for help, and what first looked like a kidnapping quickly became a murder, when JonBenet's body was found by her father in a small storage room in the basement of her house.
Because of the bizarre ransom note, and the fact that JonBenet was killed in her own home, detectives focused on her parents, John and Patsy, as their prime suspects.
Boulder police brushed aside the thousands of leads that came in, and dismissed the possibility that an intruder had somehow slipped inside the house and committed the murder. Instead, they leaked information to the media -- sometimes fabricated information, charges of pornography and sexual abuse -- to put pressure on the Ramseys.
"You couldn't go to buy groceries for your family without passing headlines that said that John Ramsey had molested his first daughter. Absolutely false," says Lin Wood, the Ramsey attorney. "Headlines that John and Patsy were pornographers. Absolutely false. Headlines that they were devil worshipers. Absolutely false."
Throughout the lengthy and sometimes hostile police interrogations, both in 1998 and 2000, the Ramseys maintained their innocence. Now, eight years later, investigators are no longer focusing on the Ramsey family, correspondent Moriarty reveals.
Detectives working for the Boulder district attorney now believe that one, possibly two, intruders entered the Ramsey home and killed JonBenet and they are finally concentrating their efforts on the underside of Boulder that was largely ignored during the initial investigation.
"A lot of people don't really think about, 'Let's go find out who's their next door neighbor.' It's not until something big happens that we worry about who are our neighbors," says John San Augustin. He and Ollie Gray were originally hired by the Ramseys in 1999, and they are now part of a small band of private detectives, working without pay, and determined to find JonBenet's killer.
"From the get-go, Patsy and John were the focus of JonBenet's murder," says San Augustin. "And nobody really looked into the intruder theory."
"When you start turning rocks over in Boulder, you know, stand back," adds Gray.
What they have discovered is startling. Within a two-mile radius of where the Ramseys once lived, 38 of their neighbors are registered sex offenders. What these private detectives have also discovered is that in the months before JonBenet's murder, there were more than 100 burglaries in her neighborhood.
"All the crime that was actually going on, I don't think that the Ramseys had any clue that this was going on," says Gray.
From the outset, police never seriously considered the evidence that someone outside the Ramsey family may have killed JonBenet.
"I don't think the Ramseys did it and I think they ought to start looking for the people that did," says retired homicide Det. Lou Smit, who once quit because police ignored the intruder theory.
Now, he's back on the case, working for the Boulder district attorney. He can no longer speak publicly, but he spoke to 48 Hours back in 2002: "This murder was not conducted upstairs in a nice bedroom. This murder was conducted in a basement, and it was very vicious."
Autopsy results showed evidence that JonBenet may have been subdued with a stun gun, and then eventually killed with an intricately tied device known as a garrot.
The current investigation also focuses on the possibility of two intruders, because of two very clear, and different, boot prints in the room where JonBenet was found. And, there's another clue investigators are interested in: a rope found in the bedroom next to JonBenet's.
What's more, detectives are now seriously investigating a lead that was ignored years earlier: a report of an unknown blue van spotted outside the Ramsey house the night before and the day after JonBenet was murdered.
After a murder investigation that went nowhere, the answer to the question, "Who killed JonBenet," is likely in the Denver police department crime lab.
"I believe the technology of today makes it extraordinarily difficult for a killer not to leave his calling card," says police forensic specialist Greg LaBerge, referring to the suspect's complete DNA profile.
He believes he has the DNA for the man he suspects is the killer of JonBenet Ramsey: "It would be very, very helpful to the investigation to have that DNA matched to an individual."
The crime lab has two spots of JonBenet's blood found on the underwear she was wearing the night of the murder. Mixed in with that blood is the DNA of an unknown person. It has taken years to isolate, but forensic scientists in Colorado now have a complete DNA profile of the killer. They know the killer is a male. What they don't know is his name.
Augustin and Gray are convinced that the DNA sample belongs to JonBenet's killer, because of a small amount of matching DNA that also was found under the 6-year-old murder victim's fingernails.
48 Hours has learned that the DA's office is using this DNA profile to investigate several suspects in the case.
One of those suspects came to light in a most dramatic way. It was early in 1997, when Alex Hunter, then Boulder district attorney, made a startling announcement: "I want to say something to the person or persons that took this baby from us. The list of suspects narrows. Soon, there will be no one on the list but you."
Those words were written by the FBI as part of a strategy to put the killer and any accomplices under pressure. That strategy may have worked. But just two days later, the Boulder Sheriff's Department discovered a man by the name of Michael Helgoth, dead in his home, an apparent suicide.
Did he have anything to do with JonBenet's murder? "We were walking along at the end of the day, just as calm as can be. He just casually comes up and says, 'I wonder what it'd be like to crack a human skull,'" says John Kenady, who worked with Helgoth at an auto salvage yard outside of Boulder. "And I looked at him and I thought, 'Whoa, I don't want to have this conversation.'"
Just a few months before JonBenet's murder, Kenady says he noticed a change in Helgoth's attitude: "Mike was pretty happy around late November, about him and a partner making a killer deal, and they were each gonna make $50,000 or $60,000."
Kenady didn't think anything of it, until he read in newspapers about the ransom note found at the Ramsey home that demanded a curious $118,000. It was close to the amount Helgoth had said he and his unknown partner would make -– and it was a ransom that was never paid to anyone.
"Then Christmas goes -- comes. And then he's really depressed. And there's no money. And then he said that he wanted to crack a human skull," says Kenady. "And then, she received a crack in her skull. I felt obligated to go to the police department and tell them what I knew."
Gray says Kenady "provided a very relevant piece of information that should have been a priority lead for the Boulder police department." Kenady says he called 10-20 times, but got no response: "No one would call me back."
"I got the distinct feeling that they had absolutely no interest in anything that took them away from the theory that John and Patsy Ramsey killed their daughter," says Gray, even though he and San Augustin were convinced Helgoth was worth a closer look.
"His friends say that he owns several stun guns, that he was a gun nut," adds Gray. "And supposedly through the sources that we talked to, that he used to break into people's houses just for the thrill of doing it."
The stun gun is important because Gray and San Augustin believe, from examining autopsy photos, that JonBenet was incapacitated with one at some point during her attack.
"In that time frame, 1995-95 time frame, the only stun gun that had a laser sight on it was Air Taser," says Gray, who adds that he believes this was the same type of stun gun used on JonBenet.
San Augustin adds that the high-tech boots, which they later took into possession, were originally ignored by investigators in Helgoth's home. But they were later discovered by Kenady and passed on to Gray and San Augustin.
San Augustin showed 48 Hours the underside of Helgoth's boot. "On the left is the high tech impression that was made in the area where JonBenet's body was found," says San Augustin. "There's no reason for Helgoth's boot to be in the Ramsey home where JonBenet's body was found."
The investigators turned the boots over to the Boulder police, who now claim their investigation showed they were the wrong size for a match. But they have yet to be turned over to the district attorney for further analysis.
The private detectives in their investigation also uncovered a number of Helgoth's personal video tapes that they say the sheriff's office ignored. San Augustin says they found one piece of video that included coverage of an unsolved murder in Colorado.
But what was even more disturbing were videotapes of Helgoth and one of his girlfriend's children. "The ex-girlfriend and he had a major argument over supposedly her coming home and finding the daughter in the bedroom, and he was in bed under covers and she was on the covers," says Gray. "They had a big fight and there were temporary restraining orders issued."
Most surprising of all, however, was the nature of Helgoth's suicide. Investigators initially said he died from a bullet to his head. But in fact, Gray says, the fatal shot was nowhere near his head.
"The gun was found on Michael's right and he's right-handed," says Gray. "The bullet hole is on Michael's left and it goes across the body from left to right."
"It became really odd to us that he would then take the gun and bring it around and then try and shoot himself," adds San Augustin. "It doesn't make sense why you would have somebody commit suicide in that manner."
The investigators were left with only one conclusion. Someone killed Helgoth. Why?
"If he's one of two people involved in a major, major-major death of a small girl, what's the best way to eliminate an -- you know, the word getting out that you had any involvement in it?" asks Gray. "You eliminate your partner."
Was Helgoth involved in JonBenet's murder -- and was he killed by a partner for what he knew? In the Ramsey ransom note, there was the mention of "two gentleman who are watching over your daughter."
"If you look at the case real close, you'll see that quite possibly there was more than one person involved," says San Augustin.
But there is one thing investigators are sure of: Helgoth's DNA does not match the DNA profile sitting in the Denver crime lab.
"Investigators must be careful not to put all the weight in the investigation on the DNA because the DNA, as important as it is, could be misleading them, depending on who it matches or who it doesn't match," says LaBerge.
It could mean that if Helgoth was involved, he wasn't alone. And the person who sexually assaulted and killed JonBenet is still out there.
How did 6-year-old JonBenet become a target? Gray and San Augustin have a theory of how she may have been marked for death.
"She was high profile in her community. She had just participated in several pageants in the general area," says Gray. "She had participated in the Christmas parade in Boulder. So you know you have seen her."
Investigators believe that putting JonBenet in the public eye may have inadvertently put her in the sights of a sexual predator as well.
48 Hours has learned that JonBenet may have been targeted for murder long before she took the stage, possibly at a local dance studio called Dance West, where she took lessons.
"To someone with that, you know, kind of a twisted mind, she may have looked like a really good target," says former Denver private investigator Pete Peterson. Less than a year after the murder of JonBenet, he was hired to work on another case in Boulder that had strange parallels to the Ramsey case.
"There's a Dance West school where the victim of the assault in our case, the one that we investigated, and the Ramsey girl, both attended," says Peterson, who now believes Jon Benet was first targeted at that dance studio because of what happened to his client, just nine months after JonBenet was murdered.
Like JonBenet, she took lessons at Dance West. And like JonBenet, another girl, who is identified as "Amy," was attacked and sexually assaulted at night in her own bedroom on Sept. 14, 1997.
That night, Amy's father was out of town. After catching a movie, Amy and her mother returned home late. What they didn't know when they entered the house was that there was already an intruder inside.
Amy's father, who asked that his identity be obscured, agreed to talk about what happened that night: "My feeling is he got into the house while they were out and hid inside the house, so he would have been in there for perhaps four to six hours, hiding."
Before going to bed, Amy's mother turned on the burglar alarm. Around midnight, Amy woke up to find a man standing over her bed, his hand over her mouth. "She remembered the intruder addressing her by her name," says Peterson. "He said, 'I know who you are.' He repeated those things a few times, apparently. 'I'll knock you out. Shut up.'"
Peterson says Amy's mother heard whispering, and proceeded through the doorway, and saw a person, who just brushed her aside and quickly made his escape by jumping out a second-floor window.
"He was like a ghost," recalls Amy's father. "We couldn't figure out where he came from, or where he went."
By the time the Boulder police arrived, the man was long gone. Because the intruder had gotten in and out of the house so easily, Amy's father began to think this wasn't the first time he had done something like this.
"The first thing that occurred to us was that it was the parallel to the Ramsey case because it was exactly the same situation," says Amy's father, who even told the Boulder police about the Dance West studio connection to the Ramsey case. "I think someone, somewhere, drew a bead on her. Obviously had us under surveillance that we were not aware of."
The studio has since gone out of business and been torn down, but photos show that there was a balcony overlooking the dance floor where parents and anyone else could come in and watch the children.
But Amy's dad says that when he told the police detectives about the information he had, "they were completely uninterested in it."
"They were very frustrated," says Peterson. "It was difficult to get them to do anything much less, you know, beyond taking a report."
But not only did the Boulder police dismiss any link to the Ramsey case, they didn't even bother to use the mother's eyewitness description to make a composite sketch. That's when Amy's family hired Peterson. What he has uncovered in his investigation may not only solve Amy's case, but also help lead to the capture of JonBenet's killer.
"This person is someone with a huge ego, someone who views himself as bold," says Peterson, who believes there are too many parallels between Amy's case and JonBenet's murder.
Both JonBenet and Amy were sexually assaulted by an intruder at night in their homes -- within nine months of each other. Fiber evidence shows that JonBenet's attacker may have been wearing black, as was the man who attacked Amy. And there's the fact that both girls took lessons at the Dance West studio.
But Boulder police never found any connections to the murder of JonBenet.
Yet, Peterson found something very disturbing. As he collected evidence in and around the house, and did background checks on people who worked in the neighborhood, he found a group of individuals with criminal histories, who roamed the neighborhood at night.
He made surveillance videotapes, and showed 48 Hours vehicles that he believes were used by a roving band of criminals. "We did tail them at one point, within two blocks from the Ramsey house," says Peterson, who watched the neighborhood for weeks.
In his possession, he had a map that was discarded by the group under surveillance. "I think it's a blueprint for burglary, at least," says Peterson.
48 Hours has discovered that, of Colorado's most dangerous sex offenders, one in eight also has prior convictions for burglary or robbery. "They burglarize and sexually assault if the opportunity presents itself," says Peterson.
And in Amy's neighborhood, that opportunity seemed to present itself quite often. Peterson says there were 19 burglaries, breaking and entering, or trespassing reports in a two-month period. He did background checks on his suspects in Amy's case, and discovered that some of them had at one time worked at the Ramsey home.
"Two or three people we were looking at had associations with both neighborhoods," says Peterson, who went so far as to collect the sample of one man's handwriting. "We talked with him several times. ...We had him write something."
Peterson then had an expert compare that handwriting to the Ramsey ransom note. He claims he found distinct similarities were found, but "handwriting analysis is kind of an art. It's pretty subjective."
He also collected cigarette butts found outside Amy's house, and discovered that the "same brands were found in the Ramseys' alley."
"I expected it to be a serene, quiet, safe area," says Peterson of the Boulder neighborhoods. "It's fairly serene and quiet, but you find that there's a real undercurrent of activity at night that would give me pause for concern if I lived here."
Peterson, however, is a private detective with no police authority. He's been censured by a judge in the past for how he's gathered evidence. And in this case, he's planning to hand over all of his materials to the Boulder DA. He hopes they will take his theory seriously.
In his heart, does he think these two cases are connected? "I think that there's a really good likelihood, that's what we're pursuing," says Peterson. "We're pursuing that angle still."
Meanwhile, Boulder DA investigators are continuing to pursue their own leads.
For a very long time, John and Patsy Ramsey were the most hated couple in America.
"It was like this mass of humanity wanting to crucify us," says Patsy Ramsey. "Our fault was that our daughter was murdered, and we were hated for that," adds John Ramsey.
Boulder police worked almost single-mindedly to try to prove they killed their daughter, JonBenet, but a grand jury failed to indict the Ramseys -– in large part because of one critical piece of evidence. It was the unexplained male DNA in JonBenet's underwear.
"Right now, the DNA profile that's in hand doesn't match anyone associated with the investigation, so that would include the parents," says LaBerge, the Denver police scientist who believes this is the last and best hope to crack the case. "If the DNA never matches someone, the case, depending on the rest of the investigation, may never be solved.”
Now, the same DNA that saved the Ramseys from indictment is finally being used to check out the dozens and dozens of suspects who were ignored for years.
48 Hours has learned that investigators are now doing what they call a "grab and swab." Armed with a simple cotton swab, they are tracking down people of interest and demanding a DNA sample from the inside of their mouths.
There is one man, who investigators refer to as the "Candy Cane Man," who had one of the decorative candy canes that lined the Ramsey's front walk on the night of the murder. He says he removed the item a week after the murder "because it was there."
But it turns out that some of the canes were missing the next day, when JonBenet's body was discovered. Investigators fear they may have been taken by the killer or killers as a bizarre souvenir –- which led to this man, who admitted he once had an obsession with JonBenet, and built a shrine to her that he now keeps on his computer.
He also has a fascination with infamous killers, particularly serial killer John Wayne Gacy. This year, he voluntarily gave investigators a DNA sample, and was cleared when it didn't match the Ramsey crime scene DNA.
There is another man investigators say should have been looked at eight years ago: Gary Oliva. 48 Hours spoke to Oliva in 2002.
"When you see that footage of her in her little cowboy suit going, 'I wanna be a cowboy sweetheart' and all that, I've never seen anything like it," says Oliva. "I believe she was a genius at the age of 6."
Oliva, a convicted pedophile who used to hang around the Ramsey's old neighborhood, adds: "I believe that she came to me after she was killed and revealed herself to me."
At the time of her murder, he was just living down the street from the Ramsey residence. He was seen at the candlelight vigil held shortly after JonBenet's death. And four years later, when he was arrested for drug possession, police found a stun gun in his backpack.
He denies killing or hurting JonBenet, and also provided a DNA sample that didn't match evidence in the Ramsey case.
But the Boulder DA investigators still have a list of people they'd like to talk to, reportedly more than 100 names – including Oliva and anyone who can shed more light on the mysterious death of Michael Helgoth.
"It's gonna take a group of investigators to go out and pound the pavement, find out who legitimately could've killed JonBenet," says San Augustin.
48 Hours reports that there is now what's believed to be a complete DNA profile of JonBenet Ramsey's killer. And there's strong evidence that he may have had an accomplice and that he may have tried to kill again.
Meanwhile, the Ramseys are currently living in a small town in northern Michigan with their 17-year-old son, Burke. John Ramsey recently lost a bid for the Michigan State Legislature. And Patsy Ramsey continues her battle with cancer.
JonBenet would now be 14, and a freshman in high school.
© MMIV, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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|From: John Sladek||4/19/2005 7:29:58 AM|
|Jeff, This is sort of related to James Van de Velde's situation. |
Doctor in anthrax case is left with broken pieces of a life
By BARBARA O'BRIEN
News Southtowns Bureau
Dr. Kenneth Berry hasn't been linked to any crime.
The former Wellsville physician whose homes were searched in connection with the anthrax killings has visited Wellsville recently, and is living on unemployment in New Jersey, according to a friend.
"Who's going to hire him?" asked the friend, the Rev. Richard "Pastor Dick" Helms of Wellsville.
Dr. Kenneth M. Berry lost his job as an emergency room doctor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in McKeesport, Pa., last year after his name surfaced in the anthrax investigation.
His home on East Pearl Street in Wellsville and a home in New Jersey were searched by agents from the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service on Aug. 5. The searches were part of the investigation into a series of anthrax terrorism incidents that killed five people and caused serious illnesses to 17 others in September and October 2001.
Local officials said last summer that federal authorities told them they were searching the Wellsville house for trace evidence of anthrax.
Berry, who was never charged in the anthrax case, is "still plugging away," Helms said. He said he was in Wellsville several weeks ago for Family Court proceedings, Helms said. Berry is estranged from his wife and reportedly is seeking to see his 4-year-old son.
"It's not a good situation," Helms said.
Berry was sentenced to two years' probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine after he attacked his wife and stepdaughter in New Jersey on the day the homes were being searched. Helms said Berry, who was allowed to keep his medical license, has filed an appeal in that case.
Helms, who said he talks with Berry fairly regularly, said the FBI has all but acknowledged that Berry is "pretty much cleared" and is not a suspect in the anthrax case.
"They won't say it publicly," Helms said. "If they tell you, we'll be so happy."
But the FBI is not commenting on Berry.
"The anthrax is an ongoing investigation. The FBI is enjoined from commenting on it," said Joe Parris, supervising special agent.
Helms thinks that the FBI will not clear Berry because of the Richard Jewell case.
"As soon as they do, they're liable," Helms said.
Jewell was named by the FBI as a suspect in the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta in 1996 that killed a woman and wounded 111 people. The FBI later said he was not a suspect, and Eric R. Rudolph pleaded guilty last week to the Atlanta bombing.
Berry is the founder of an organization called PREEMPT, which has crusaded for more vaccinations against anthrax and better medical preparation for terrorist attacks on America.
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|To: John Sladek who wrote (1195)||4/19/2005 5:58:01 PM|
|From: Bear Down|
|Did anyone else notice that the bombing once blamed on "person of interest", Richard Jewel (olympic park security gaurd), was admitted to being the work of Eric Rudolph?|
Just read it the other day. Am I that much outta touch or did the gov keep that one pretty low key?
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|To: Bear Down who wrote (1196)||12/4/2005 11:43:36 PM|
|From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell|
|Re: 12/4/05 - Hartford Courant: Pride & Prejudice In New Haven |
Pride & Prejudice In New Haven
By DONALD S. CONNERY
December 4 2005
"I can't think of a more important task than solving cold cases. We must develop and use every crime-solving tool we have available." - Gov. M. Jodi Rell, Nov. 21.
This December day in 1998 was the last day in the life of Suzanne Jovin.
The bright and beautiful 21-year-old Yale senior was up and about after 5 that morning. As if impatient for a future of great accomplishments, she was a whirlwind of activity during the next 17 hours.
Just before 10 that night in New Haven, her body was found lying face down at the side of a quiet street in the wealthy East Rock neighborhood less than two miles from the university's central campus. Someone had stabbed her 17 times in her back, neck and head.
Seven years later, Suzanne Jovin's killer remains at large. The crime has not been solved. Little about the investigation has been made public for years. It seems stalled. Yet authorities tell me the detectives are not stymied, the hunt goes on, and this case is not so cold that it needs fresh minds and a whole new approach.
Call me a skeptic. The police and prosecutors blinded themselves at the start by focusing on a single suspect whose innocence should have been seen as obvious in the first days and weeks. Such blinkered thinking, deepened by an unwillingness to admit error and change course, is a frequent factor of unsolved cases and is the hallmark of virtually every "wrong man" miscarriage of justice.
Wallowing in denial, they have gone in circles ever since. Yes, detectives have knocked on doors, checked alibis, ordered forensic tests, followed up on leads and kept track of people who might know something. But inertia set in long ago.
The New Haven police chief then, Melvin Wearing, has been replaced. Capt. Brian Sullivan and Sgt. Ed Kendall, key investigators, were forced into early retirement because of a scandal that arose from a separate homicide. Another investigator died. These days, the Jovin investigation, supervised by New Haven Assistant State's Attorney James Clark, is pretty much left to a single detective, Michael Quinn, in between other chores.
Over the years there have been mistakes (beginning at the crime scene), a rush to judgment, an absence of imagination and the erosive effects of ego, pride, territorial concerns and misplaced institutional loyalties.
Result: a close-mouthed parochialism that fails to fully engage the state's increasingly sophisticated investigative resources. Worse, the cops and prosecutors have not fully enlisted the help of the public despite the unusually large but seldom publicized $150,000 reward.
Fortunately, there is a way out of this dead end.
But first, you should ask: Why is this case about an Ivy League golden girl so special? Why not draw attention to the unsolved killings of the many other young victims of violence in Connecticut, usually less white and less privileged?
It hardly needs saying that each life is valuable and each death tragic. Even a child born and bred in the meanest of circumstances has great possibilities. Murder victims and their families deserve justice equally. But reality intrudes. The public imagination is drawn to class, fame, power, wealth and the promise of lurid disclosures. Or sometimes a particular death evokes a powerful sense of loss going beyond family and friends.
The slaying of Suzanne Jovin was bound to attract exceptional press and public interest. She was a dazzling undergraduate at one of the world's leading universities. Born in Gottingen, Germany, to U.S. scientists Thomas and Donna Jovin, raised there in a 14th-century castle, she was vastly talented. She spoke four languages. Even as a teenager she had greater experience in other countries and cultures than the man being groomed to become our 43rd president.
Energetically pursuing a double major in political science and international studies, Jovin seemed destined for a life of public service. She would be at the center of the nation's greatest modern challenge to its security. Nearly three years before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, she produced a formidable senior thesis on international terrorist Osama bin Laden.
Just as impressive was her commitment to the social good. A friend has told of her "very, very strong sense of justice and righteousness." She tutored urban children. From the start of her freshman year to her last hours, she devoted herself to the Yale chapter of Best Buddies, joining other students in bringing friendship and joy to the lives of adults with mental disabilities.
Picture her final hours in this labor of love: directing a Best Buddies pizza-making party at Trinity Lutheran Church, driving home the volunteers, returning the borrowed car to the university, turning in the keys to the campus police, then, at about 9:30, walking into the night and an encounter with a madman.
Even so, it was not the heartbreaking death of an outstanding young woman that made the Jovin case a national story through the first year of her death. For the Connecticut press as well as the New York Times, Time, Vanity Fair, 20/20, Court TV, CNN and the other big media, the compelling force was the flood of speculation, with undertones of romance, obsession and anger, about a student-professor relationship gone wrong.
The permanent coupling of the homicide with a case of false accusation began within a week of the crime with the local headline "Educator Grilled in Jovin Matter." Thereafter, the victim's name was linked to that of her thesis adviser, James Van de Velde, one of the university's most popular lecturers.
A 38-year-old Yale graduate and former dean of Saybrook, one of Yale's residential colleges, his class on the national security dimensions of international drug trafficking had been cited by Spin magazine as among the most interesting college courses in the country.
As an officer in the U.S. Naval Intelligence Reserve, he had worked at the Pentagon and the State Department. He had carried out assignments everywhere from Bosnia to Singapore. Born and raised in Orange, still a bachelor, he was a handsome, politically conservative "straight arrow" with a sterling reputation.
With the avalanche of publicity about his possible guilt, based mostly on police leaks, rumor and conjecture, Van de Velde's good name was destroyed. In the words of a Courant headline, he went "From Pillar to Pariah." Never mind that no hint of any relationship with the victim outside the classroom ever surfaced. Never mind the absence of any history of violence. His academic career came down in flames.
In a grave lapse of conscience, Yale itself, putting out his name as one in a supposed "pool of suspects" even before the official police statement, subsequently canceled his political science classes just hours before the start of the next semester on the excuse that his students should be spared distractions.
When I read this, I thought about Peter Reilly. He was the central figure of Connecticut's nationally famous "wrong man" case of the mid-1970s. Although his mother's death was the most savage homicide in Litchfield County history, the teenager was released from prison during the appeal of his conviction. The "confessed killer," eventually exonerated, returned to our regional high school for his senior-year classes. No distractions were expected or reported.
With his lectures abruptly ended, his teaching contract unlikely to be renewed, Van de Velde's days at Yale were numbered. The university said it was willing to recommend him to other institutions but would have to note that he was under suspicion for murder. His academic opportunities vanished. Quinnipiac College had already added to his woes by expelling him from its master's program in broadcast journalism.
An independent investigator, Patrick Harnett, now Hartford's police chief, has described Van de Velde as "Richard Jewell with a Ph.D.," referring to the security guard mistakenly targeted by the FBI and defamed in the press for the Atlanta Olympics bombing in 1996. The great oddity about Van de Velde's situation now, as it has been for seven years, is that he is both "the only named suspect" in the Jovin murder and the citizen who has been more active than anyone else in trying to keep the case alive and demanding a solution to the crime.
These days, the typical individual in his predicament - usually suspected of terrorism or espionage - is known as "a person of interest." As if imagined by Kafka, the suspect is "outed" as a suspect but usually not arrested and never cleared. As his good name is sliced and diced, the state provides no evidence of guilt, only ripe speculation and whispered hints of odd behavior.
He finds himself mired in the no-man's land of the falsely accused. He fights shadows. As if contagious, he fights mostly alone. Except for a few, his friends and colleagues, having lost their critical abilities and powers of speech, fade away. In Van de Velde's case, even Yale's vaunted law school was seized by a strange indifference to his fate.
Moviegoers in recent weeks caught a whiff of this atmosphere in the film, "Good Night, And Good Luck," about the Red Scare days of the 1950s.
As a young United Press reporter in that dreadful time, I trailed U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy in the early days of his reckless and fruitless hunt for traitors in high and low places. Later, as assistant director of Harvard's press office, I was proud to be part of a university that stood by its own as accusations of communist connections rained down on the faculty. It was a glorious day when attorney Joseph Welch eviscerated McCarthy on national television by saying, "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
James Van de Velde knew nothing of my background when he called on me at my northwest corner farmhouse one day nearly three years after the crime. He did know I had written about the Reilly case and was active in exposing justice system calamities around the country.
I recall his need to make it clear that his ordeal did not come anywhere close to the horror of his student's death and the suffering of her family. Yet he plainly was in despair. If law enforcement failed to solve the crime, he would be in limbo forever. He believed every day wasted by a fixation on him was one more day of justice delayed. What does it take, he asked, to bring the law to its senses?
My own dilemma was that I could not possibly find the time to dig into this fascinating affair. I was much too occupied with people in worse situations, awaiting execution or serving life sentences for crimes they did not commit. Yet I had followed the case closely, my file on it was already bulging, and I was appalled at the way Yale had thrown its man overboard.
I was an admirer of Kingman Brewster, the university's best known president in the last of its three centuries. He had led Yale through the stormy years of 1963-77, highlighted by Vietnam War protests. He had gone on to become America's ambassador to Britain and master of University College, Oxford.
Carved in the coping surrounding Brewster's gravestone in a cemetery near the Old Campus, just a few minutes walk from Van de Velde's old corner office in Brewster Hall, are the words, "The presumption of innocence is not just a legal concept. In commonplace terms, it rests on that generosity of spirit which assumes the best, not the worst of a stranger."
I believe in the presumption of innocence. It is part of the glue of a truly civilized society. But if you are a university administrator or a journalist looking at a case of murder, you don't want to be a fool about it. You do the right thing by your fellow man, but you remain alert to signs of guilt even in the absence of evidence.
The remarkable thing about the falsely accused is that the evidence of innocence is often blatant, as with Peter Reilly, as with Van de Velde. The fact that he opened himself to every test and request of investigators, including his unwise willingness to endure, without seeking legal counsel, a four-hour confrontational interrogation, was held against him. His cooperation was interpreted as intellectual arrogance: this Yale brain thinks he can outfox us cops. Yet a failure to cooperate would also have been held against him.
You wonder how the justice system, which gets things right most of the time, can be so insanely wrong some of the time. The DNA revolution of the past 15 years, while identifying the rapists and murderers of many cold cases, has also produced a parade of the exonerated coming out of the nation's prisons.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg of injustice. The vast majority of the many thousands of innocents behind bars have no hope of a DNA miracle because crucial crime-scene material good for testing has been misplaced or destroyed, or never existed.
They can only dream of the kind of good luck that rescued former Warwick, R.I., police detective Scott Hornoff in 2002 after more than six years of incarceration for the murder of a young woman. The conscience-stricken actual killer stepped forward to take the blame. He expressed surprise that state and local police, obsessed with Hornoff, had never questioned him despite his known association with the victim. A subsequent official inquiry said the massive failings in the case were "inexplicable."
Citizens and false-confession fans will do well, starting nine days from now in a Hartford courtroom, to closely follow the next legal steps and new evidence in the longest and most reprehensible of Connecticut's several current cases of wrongful conviction.
In this space on Feb. 21, 1993, the Courant's law-trained Tom Condon made a powerful argument for the actual innocence of Richard Lapointe. He is the middle-aged, brain-damaged Manchester man long behind bars for the killing of his wife's grandmother, Bernice Martin, in 1987.
A similar but even more exhaustive examination of the Suzanne Jovin case and the plight of its lone identified suspect appeared in Northeast on April 1, 2001. Les Gura, then city editor, raised the question, "Are You Wrong About James Van de Velde?"
This classic in investigative journalism, then the longest article ever to appear in the Courant, was the first of two major developments that year that seemed sure to speed Van de Velde's redemption. He thought of it as a turning point.
His big problem had always been his misfortune in living close to the crime scene and being alone in his apartment, watching television, at the time of the murder. If you didn't have the foresight to live elsewhere and place yourself in a mall or on a train when someone else took a life, how can you prove your innocence? Gura, saying that "Van de Velde's mission is all but impossible," leaned as far as he could in his favor without breaking the line between reporting and advocacy.
Then, in late October, came the headline, "Test Shows DNA Not From Jovin's Yale Adviser." A sample from the victim's fingernails, earlier identified as coming from a man, did not match Van de Velde's DNA.
Revealing this information in a written announcement instead of facing press conference questions, the New Haven area state's attorney, Michael Dearington, also said no match had been made of samples obtained from the victim's boyfriend and various police, fire and ambulance personnel at the crime scene. Therefore, investigators would now be requesting DNA samples from the victim's circle of friends.
That day, Van de Velde was in the Middle East on a U.S. government intelligence mission. For newspaper readers, this information itself was telling. The suspect, effectively barred from academia, was again working for Uncle Sam. The rigorous tests and interviews conducted by government investigators obviously had found nothing in his character, behavior or history to deny him the high security clearances necessary for individuals working in counter-terrorism.
With the DNA announcement seen as a second turning point, Van de Velde tried to believe that the Jovin case investigators would now look beyond him - perhaps even apologize. Maybe he could get his reputation back if reporters no longer automatically linked him to the crime.
But there was no apology and no sign of any lessening of the almost religious dedication to the theory of his guilt. Even so, Van de Velde's spirits had been bolstered ever since late 2000 by the knowledge that Yale, under pressure from the Jovin family, had hired two of New York City's retired Finest to conduct an independent investigation. In addition, the university added $100,000 to the $50,000 reward already established.
Andrew Rosenzweig's life in law enforcement had taken him to the heights: chief investigator for the Manhattan District Attorney's office. A New Yorker article by Philip Gourevitch, later expanded to the book "A Cold Case," had told of his astonishing persistence, after nearly three decades, in finding the man responsible for a double homicide.
Patrick Harnett's long career in the NYPD, including the Son of Sam case and organized crime activities, had made him commanding officer of the major crime squad. He intervened in one investigation headed for disaster with a falsely accused suspect.
Andy and Pat were longtime friends and associates. When Pat became the Hartford police chief, Andy worked with him as assistant chief until two months ago. The pair reminds of me of the careful, thoughtful Scotland Yard types I knew during my six years in London. There, even known criminals hauled in for questioning are referred to as people "helping us with our inquiries."
Rosenzweig and Harnett devoted six to eight months to intensive inquiries and analysis (Rosenzweig has continued to be involved, without payment) but came up short. Murder investigations are like that: especially difficult if good leads and evidence are not found in the first days and weeks of the crime.
The conditions of the access Rosenzweig and Harnett were given, with reluctance, to the police investigative file constrains them from talking about its details or their own findings. But it is clear they were deeply troubled by the one-dimensional way the complex case was handled in New Haven. Though detectives, including retired consultants, are loath to pronounce anyone innocent until someone else is shown to be guilty, Rosenzweig was heard to say years ago that "what was done to Van de Velde should not have been done even to a guilty man."
The frustrations in the Jovin case long ago became almost unbearable - for the victim's family and friends, for Van de Velde's family and friends, for the detectives and prosecutors, for the independent investigators, for the leaders at Yale eager to get the great embarrassment behind them.
Thomas and Donna Jovin are all too aware that their daughter's death never got the kind of full-throttle effort seen in the Half and Susanne Zantop case, the husband-and-wife Dartmouth College professors murdered in New Hampshire on Jan. 27, 2001. With FBI assistance and officers of the law in several states cooperating, valid suspects were soon identified. The teenage killers were tracked to Indiana after fleeing from their homes in Vermont. It all happened in three weeks.
Professor David Cameron's frustrations finally spilled over. He has been the Yale faculty member most vocal in urging greater action in the Jovin investigation, and the one most critical of the Yale hierarchy's failure to presume Van de Velde's innocence. A former chairman of the Political Science Department, he had hired the lecturer, held him in high esteem, and, like a few other supporters, had invested untold hours trying to figure how the crime was carried out and by whom.
Two years ago, with the investigation heading into its sixth year, Cameron wrote a powerful appeal published in the Courant (Dec. 21, 2003) and in the Yale Daily News, asking for a whole new direction in the case.
He told of the New Haven police turning down Dr. Henry Lee's offer of forensic help when the crime-scene evidence was still fresh. He told of potential witnesses never interviewed and of a tan or light brown van seen parked where the body was found. The police never sought the assistance of the public in finding the van for more than two years, Cameron said.
"A plastic soda bottle with Jovin's fingerprints on it was found at the scene," he wrote. "The police did not immediately track down where and when she obtained the soda - especially important since one of the last people to see her on Old Campus has said she did not have a soda bottle when he spoke with her."
He remembered Dr. Lee calling the case cold even when it was still warm. He quoted Chief Wearing saying a year earlier, before leaving the department, that the cops "were on the right track" but "If we can't solve the case in the next year, if someone else wants to look at it, that's fine."
The looking at it should be done, Cameron believed, by the cold case unit of the chief state's attorney's office in Rocky Hill. The outfit had been set up in 1998 by Christopher Morano, a resourceful assistant state's attorney in Jack Bailey's office who became the state's top prosecutor after Bailey died. The professor recommended transferring the case to these more experienced sleuths instead of leaving it "in the hands of a single New Haven detective."
And if this is some kind of turf war, as indicated by State's Attorney Dearington's stated unwillingness to seek assistance, Cameron suggested "a multi-level state-local task force that includes the cold case unit" as a way of giving everybody credit if the killer is caught.
Nothing changed. It probably didn't help that the designated suspect, Van de Velde, had been advocating a move to the cold case unit all along. So this year I decided to make a try on my own.
I was impressed by the way the entrance of state experts into the deeply frozen Concetta "Penney" Serra case had made all the difference. Back in 1973, the 21-year-old had been stabbed once in the heart in a stairwell of New Haven's Temple Street Garage.
Three men became early prime suspects including a distant cousin of the police chief. The victim's father demanded the state take over the case after one of the falsely accused, Anthony Golino, on the eve of his trial in 1987, was found to have the wrong blood type. Golino's life was so damaged by being cast as a murderer that Dr. Lee calls him "one of the victims of this crime."
The big break came when advances in technology enabled forensic scientists to match a thumbprint found on a tissue box in the victim's car to Edward Grant, arrested earlier on domestic violence charges. With DNA on a handkerchief found near Penney Serra's car keys also matched to Grant, he was convicted in 2002, 29 years after the crime.
Chris Morano is refreshing as an innovative chief state's attorney with an open-door policy. He has encouraged Connecticut lawmen to adopt the latest knowledge about eyewitness identification procedures. He sees the value of full electronic recording of suspect interrogations. When we discussed such matters for several hours not long ago, I slipped in a question: Would he and his cold case experts be willing to take on the Jovin murder?
Yes, of course, but he has to be asked. The state's attorneys operate their own fiefdoms; you can't tell them what to do. He smiled at the suggestion that his job was akin to herding a bunch of cats.
On Oct. 8 I wrote to Dearington and New Haven Police Chief Francisco Ortiz to ask about getting the case transferred. My hopes rested on Ortiz. He was fairly new to the top job and not burdened by a personal history in the Jovin investigation.
I noted the approaching seventh anniversary and spoke of my concerns. I said the fact that one of my three daughters is a faculty member at Yale-New Haven Hospital, teaching nursing in a city sometimes dangerous, made me especially mindful that an unsolved killing means a killer, if not dead or in prison, is still on the loose.
Echoing Cameron, I suggested calling in the cold case unit and gave my reasons. I said, in effect: Please tell me if genuine progress now underway makes this a dumb idea; if so, I will go away.
I was "asking only for excellence in law enforcement." I quoted Arthur Miller's statement at the 1995 Hartford forum on the Richard Lapointe case: "I would like to protect the police, even from themselves. We need them. We need their principled upholding of the law."
Neither letter was answered. Consequently, weeks later, I began making inquiries in New Haven. I finally reached the key players.
Prosecutor Clark was hostile, asking what part of his "unequivocal" refusal to talk about the case did I not understand. State's Attorney Dearington was courteous, but equally close-mouthed. Like Clark, he did not take me up on an offer to publish whatever case specifics might attract leads to potential witnesses from readers.
Dearington's guard dropped just once. It was when I observed that the Jovin slaying was still unsolved "after seven years" and said again, "seven years!" In my mind, this is a long time. Maybe not in his. He asked me, rhetorically, "How long did it take to solve the Penney Serra case?"
Chief Ortiz was different. We talked at length late one afternoon. I thought him charming, wonderfully professional and in no way defensive as I deplored the failings of the investigation and suggested a fresh approach at the chief state's attorney's level.
He said he is not necessarily opposed to the idea. He indicated he would not stand in the way if Dearington were willing to let command of the case go out of New Haven. But he depicted the investigation as anything but stalled. "I like the direction it's going at this time." He said my article could be valuable in drawing attention to the case. But as for disclosing selected details for publication - even for the purpose of soliciting public input ... In other words, I got nothing.
And I have no idea where this is going. The person in the world with the least expectation of change is James Van de Velde. He made his own effort at advancing the investigation on Feb. 1, 2004, in an article for Northeast that offered a laundry list of forensic possibilities. He called for imaginative maximum use of new crime-fighting technology and a fresh approach on all fronts. He might as well have been talking to the wind.
Van de Velde has gone through the wringer and has come out a winner, at least in terms of being able to deal with adversity and keep on living an honorable life. He is married, is the father of a sparkling boy and lives in the Maryland outskirts of Washington, D.C.
His counter-terrorism work for a variety of intelligence agencies has put him in situations where his experience as a murder suspect came in handy. He has interviewed alleged terrorists at Guantanamo. He was deeply involved in the government's efforts to solve the country's greatest unsolved crime: the anthrax attacks in 2001 that killed five people, sickened 17, closed government and private offices, and cost a billion dollars or more in security changes.
That massive investigation was thrown wildly off course by the unwarranted focus on a single suspect, research scientist Steven J. Hatfill. He was never arrested but fired from his biodefense work under government contract after being labeled a "person of interest" by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.
As in "Les Miserables," it is no small thing to keep your cool if you are Jean Valjean relentlessly being pursued by cold-eyed Inspector Javert. Van de Velde's worst moment in his post-Yale life came when prosecutor Clark turned up in Washington with two New Haven detectives two summers ago.
With Clark silent, I rely on Van de Velde's account: "They persuaded the Naval Criminal Intelligence Service and the Defense Security Service of the Pentagon to pull me from my post, interrogate me, demand that I take yet another polygraph test (despite my having passed a test two weeks earlier for a liaison post I was chosen for by the CIA), accuse me of the crime and terminate my military assignment. As a result of Clark and the New Haven police, I was kicked out of my position as Senior Intelligence Analyst for al-Qaeda and anthrax at the Defense Intelligence Agency."
The ripple effect of this episode led to the loss of his job at the DIA and a legal struggle to restore his Top Secret clearance - a fight he won before a Pentagon administrative judge and the Navy Appeals Panel 20 months later. He resumed his counter-intelligence work with his Top Secret status restored, this time for the State Department.
I sometimes despair about understanding how the guardians of our safety - who usually do good service, who rarely knowingly intend to railroad an innocent man - can rationalize behavior that gets in the way of true justice. How will they live with themselves if still more years go by and a terrible death slips out of mind, out of sight?
The English writer G.K. Chesterton said long ago that "The horrible thing about all legal officials, even the best, about all judges, magistrates, detectives and policemen, is not that they are wicked (some of them are good), not that they are stupid (some of them are quite intelligent), it is simply that they have got used to it."
Copyright 2005, Hartford Courant
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|To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1197)||12/7/2005 7:36:53 PM|
|From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell|
|Re: 11/7/05 - Waterbury Observor: BUSTED!|
By John Murray
For the past year friends and family of John Regan stood by his side after he was arrested for allegedly raping the wife of one of his best friends. The charge was so outrageously off the wall, and despicable, that many people in the community refused to believe he had committed the crime.
His DNA was found on the victim, but maybe, some justified, they had consensual sex together. There was no way John Regan could have slithered so low as to sexually assault his buddy's wife, the reasoning went, that was too far off the charts.
That the arrest came 11 years after the attack made the charge even more surreal to Regan's family and friends. The statue of limitations for sexual assault ran out after five years, but Regan was still charged with kidnapping. His loyal supporters believed an upcoming trial would vindicate him.
Denial is a powerful force, but the farce is over. John Regan not only attacked and raped the wife of one of his best friends, police now believe he may have been a serial rapist, and police have even darker suspicions that he may have murdered some of his victims.
A terrifying incident on Halloween night destroyed John Regan's mask of innocence, and revealed the monster that lurked beneath.
As darkness descended upon Halloween, a month before his kidnapping trial in Waterbury was to begin, Regan was arrested in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. and charged with trying to abduct a 17 year old high school girl from the school parking lot.
Waterbury Police Chief, Neil O'Leary, who broke the case last year by connecting dots separated by an 11 year span, talked to the Observer the day after the latest arrest. He said Regan had removed the back seat of his van in Saratoga Springs, laid down a blue tarp, and had pre-knotted ropes waiting to secure his victim.
In addition, sources have confirmed that the ropes were tied in a noose and Regan had a shovel in the van with him. It is not unreasonable to conclude that John Regan was intent on raping, killing and burying his young 17 year old victim.
O'Leary, who immediately dispatched three Waterbury detectives to Saratoga Springs, said Regan had been in New York for two weeks working at a relative's construction project. O'Leary said Regan had probably stalked the girl because of the way he had positioned his van for the attack. The sliding door was positioned right next to the driver's door. When the student, a cross country star on one of the premiere teams in the country, went to open her door after practice, Regan is accused of opening the sliding door of his van, grabbing her by the waist, covering her mouth, and attempting to drag her into the van.
"She bit, screamed, yelled and kicked him," O'Leary said. "He yelled at her to stop. Thank God she got away."
Regan was confronted by two teachers and is accused of jumping back in his van and fleeing the scene. A coach and parent pursued the van in their cars. They called the police on cell phones and the van was stopped minutes later and Regan was arrested.
"It is horrific what happened to that child," O'Leary said. "Thankfully she was not physically hurt. But the fact that this happened strengthens the case back here in Waterbury."
O'Leary said that the Waterbury police had received a tip about Regan several weeks ago which sparked a new police investigation. A photo technician at a local lab was processing film and he noticed all the images were of women who were unaware that they were being photographed. He saw that the film was sent in by John Regan and recognized that the customer had been charged with kidnapping and assaulting women in greater Waterbury. Security personnel for the store contacted the Waterbury police department.
The women had been photographed as they jogged and worked out along a several mile stretch of a bicycle path through the woods in Cheshire. In most of the images of the women, sources confirmed, they were wearing shorts and tight fitting athletic attire.
Other images on the rolls of film were of a former co-worker that Regan was accused of assaulting last summer. Police have said that the woman was unaware that Regan had been stalking her.
After Regan was arrested in New York, the Waterbury Police Department got a warrant to search his house on Euclid Avenue and removed additional photographic images. Waterbury police have charged Regan with stalking, and in the near future he will be arraigned back in Connecticut.
But two days after Regan was captured in Saratoga Springs, he attempted to hang himself with a bed sheet. He was cut down within minutes, surviving an attempt to avoid the consequences of his actions, such as coming face to face with his wife, children, and the friends and family who had supported him this past year.
Regan has been denied bail and is being held in a psychiatric hospital in New York state.
"This guy is a dangerous man. Period." O'Leary said. "He was stalking school kids. I hope the New York courts continue to hold him on no bail. It is a detriment to society to let him out. He is sick and dangerous."
On another note, O'Leary said this latest incident should bury any doubt anyone was harboring about Regan's innocence in the sexual assault case 12 years ago. "I always believed the woman was sexually assaulted," O'Leary said. "We have a perfect DNA match that says it was John Regan who did it. This should end the rumors forever."
This latest twist in the most bizarre and complicated case of Neil O'Leary's career needs a recap. The Observer has written two major stories on the case and COLD CASE was originally published last November.
Please click to read COLD CASE.
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|To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1198)||12/7/2005 8:30:06 PM|
|From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell|
|Re: Why John Regan fits the Jovin killer profile|
Over the years I've read countless stories about murders, abductions, rapes, etc. Not once have I ever said to myself "this guy fits my profile of Suzanne Jovin's killer." John Regan does.
1. Regan lives in Waterbury, CT. and worked as a traveling salesman for ABC Supply Co. which has offices in six CT cities. This puts him in a van driving around CT.
2. Regan was caught attacking a girl in Saratoga Springs, NY, so we know he doesn't just stick to his home town. Suzanne Jovin was killed in New Haven, CT.
3. Regan tried to abduct the girl by forcing her into his van without the use of a gun—- in a crowded area. According the the New Haven Police, a tan or brown van was seen driving slowly by the Jovin crime scene.
4. Regan apparently likes high school to college age girls. Suzanne Jovin was a Yale student.
5. Regan is a known stalker who appears to plan his attacks. This is consistent with my theory that Jovin's killer parked his van and waited for a victim with an escape route in mind.
The reason why I never considered a single abductor/killer theory a high probability is the amount of effort and planning that would take and the high risk of getting caught. Yet here we have a guy who travelled alone, rigged his van accordingly, and wasn't afraid to do so with people around.
It seems reasonable that Regan might have parked his van in the dead area on Elm near Park (where Suzanne lived) waiting for a suitable victim. When Suzanne walked by he, as he did in the attempted Saratoga Springs abduction, grabbed her by the waist, covered her mouth, and threw her into the open van. This suddeness would explain why Suzanne would not have dropped her soda bottle. Being that he was far from home (Waterbury) he had planned to do "things" in his van. Perhaps Suzanne became belligerent and he just got nervous and stabbed her repeatedly to shut her up.
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|To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1199)||12/7/2005 9:05:17 PM|
|From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell|
|Re: John Regan's DNA|
Given that John Regan has had his DNA tested, and given that tri-state (NY, CT, and MA) police forces are speculating Regan might be behind a bunch of unsolved murders and disappearances, why have there not been any DNA matches?
When people are arrested, their fingerprints are filed electronically immediately (at least local, often national). However, even though DNA samples might also be taken, they are only allowed to be entered upon *conviction*. Regan has not yet been convicted of anything so privacy laws prohibit his DNA from being entered into the national DNA database.
The only way Regan's DNA can be checked for a match is if a law enforcement body with jurisdiction requests it. Jurisdiction is normally held by the police department in the city in which the alleged crime occurred. Therefore, as pertains to the Jovin murder, this request would likely come from the New Haven police, although the FBI or CT State's Attorney could also intervene.
According to news reports, area police departments are making such requests. For example, Worcester, MA launched a special investigation as to whether Regan might have been involved with the Molly Bish disappearance in 2000. The Worcester District Attorney eventually cleared Regan of any involvement. As of today, no law enforcement authority has requested John Regan's DNA be compared to the DNA collected from under Suzanne Jovin's fingernails.
As regards the partial print found on the soda bottle found near Suzanne, since it was a palm print, that would not be in the fingerprint database regardless. Again, a special request would have to be made for Regan's palm print to see if it matched. Yes, palm prints like fingerprints are unique.
I should mention that in the past year or so since CT law changed and DNA samples became mandated for convicted felons (not just sex offenders) the state forensics lab has done several thousand and added them to the state database which automatically puts them in the national one. There has obviously been no match so far with the Jovin fingernail DNA, a comparison for which would be done automatically each time a new sample is added.
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|To: Jeffrey S. Mitchell who wrote (1200)||12/7/2005 9:09:25 PM|
|From: Jeffrey S. Mitchell|
|Re: 11/19/05 - Hartford Courant: A Look Into A Secret World;|
Quiet Neighbor Suspected Of Being Sexual Predator; 11/23/05 - DA: No Connection Between Bish, Kidnapping Suspect
A Look Into A Secret World
Quiet Neighbor Suspected Of Being Sexual Predator
November 19, 2005
By KATIE MELONE, Courant Staff Writer
WATERBURY -- They sat next to him in church, watched him beautify his Victorian house and sipped lemonade with him on summer evenings.
Those who know John Regan, the son of a well-known retired city dentist, say he was an ordinary middle-class husband, father, and Catholic living in the city's historic Overlook neighborhood.
But, over the past year, police say, they've unearthed a parallel world Regan, 49, kept secret from his family, friends and his neighbors: a world of surreptitious photographs, the stalking of young women, and rape, court papers and police charge.
"Your next-door neighbor, your guys to the left, to the right of you, you think you know them, you think you know their problems," said Grant Hayden, the branch manager of ABC Supply Co., where Regan worked until last summer. "That's the same thing you'd get from John Regan. He was average. Just average. Kind of an outgoing guy. A good parent and seemed like a good citizen. Everybody's in shock about this."
After a failed suicide attempt, Regan, a former salesman and manager at the roofing company, now sits in a psychiatric facility in upstate New York charged with trying to abduct a 17-year-old girl in a parking lot there on Halloween.
The arrest in New York state came as Regan prepared to go to trial in Waterbury on kidnapping charges in the 1993 rape of a friend's wife that for years went unsolved, and the 2004 attempted rape of a co-worker. He's also accused of photographing and stalking the co-worker as recently as October.
"Everyone's saying the same thing - sad and unbelievable," said Gloria Vilardo, 71, who often visits her daughter, one of Regan's neighbors, on Euclid Avenue. She's watched him work on his house, and in his immaculately kept yard. "How do you lead a double life?" she wondered.
Efforts to reach Regan's family were unsuccessful.
Regan's most recent arrest in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., set off a frenzy of media reports that he could be tied to other sex-assault cases, sending shock through his hometown city of roughly 100,000.
"It makes me think - take a look at who's in your neighborhood," said Audra Cables, a bartender at Drescher's, a popular downtown bar and restaurant. "I guess you don't know."
Sources familiar with the investigation have said Waterbury police have reached out to state police about the homicides of two prostitutes found in Harwinton in the late 1980s. Both women worked the Grove Street area of Waterbury, only a mile or so from Regan's home.
A law enforcement task force is also looking into whether Regan could be linked to unsolved crimes in other states he may have traveled to for his work as a salesman. They have looked at Regan's work records in Massachusetts, where authorities are working to solve the homicide of Molly Bish, a 16-year-old who disappeared while working as a lifeguard in Warren in 2000. Police recently found several undated pictures of Regan with a mustache similar to the one worn in a police sketch of a possible suspect in the Bish case.
They have found no conclusive evidence thus far, and Worcester District Attorney John Conti has said in published reports that he does not think there is a link between Regan and the Bish killing.
"It's reckless, it's irresponsible," said E. Stewart Jones, the defense attorney who is handling Regan's criminal case in upstate New York. "They're throwing his name into the investigation when there's nothing to link him to these unsolved crimes. It's not fair to him, to the families who've lost loved ones."
Regan's world unraveled in the summer of 2004. Around 7 a.m. on the morning of July 31, Regan took his 21-year-old female employee to his vacationing father's house on Fleming Street, according to her account in court papers. He pulled her onto his lap, wouldn't let her go, then got on top of her. She managed to wriggle away, run out of the house, and called police on a cellphone.
Regan was charged with first-degree unlawful restraint a month later in August 2004, and was ordered to stay away from the victim. Timothy Moynahan, his attorney in the case, declined to comment.
Chief Neil O'Leary, who as the lead investigator had worked on the unsolved 1993 rape for a decade, said the site of the rape was close to Fleming Street, where Regan allegedly attacked the co-worker, and Euclid Avenue, where Regan lives.
He quickly found other links.
The 1993 victim smelled oil on her attacker, whose head was covered and voice disguised; Regan was a roofer and worked with tar.
Regan had once worked on the victim's house. He knew her husband well, court records show.
O'Leary also learned Regan attended a stag party the night of the rape for his cousin, Gregg Regan, according to a warrant. The victim's husband could not attend the party because he was out of town, and all the attendees, including John Regan, were aware of his absence.
Regan signed a consent form to submit his DNA, and the results produced a perfect match to DNA recovered from the 1993 victim shortly after the assault, court records state. Regan was charged with first-degree kidnapping because the statute of limitations had run out on the sexual assault.
Hubert Santos, Regan's attorney in the 1993 case, did not return a call for comment.
In early October, a Walgreen's clerk contacted police, saying that John Regan had a roll of film developed that included pictures of a dozen young women, mostly blondes, in their 20s, who were not aware they were being photographed, police said. Waterbury police started to investigate.
Sometime that month, Regan went to Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where he has family. He tried grabbing the 17-year-old girl from behind and pulling her into his van on Oct. 31, police charge. Inside his van was a sheet tied into a noose, a camera and film, according to reports in the Saratogian, the local paper.
"I think it was a fairly surprising act for a location like that," said Lt. Gary Forward of the Saratoga Springs police department. "There were a lot of people around. We believe from our investigation he went there with the specific purpose of abducting a young girl. I think he determined to do that regardless of who was around. I don't think we can say that specific person was targeted. But we can say with great certainty he was very organized."
Jones, Regan's defense attorney in New York, says accounts of the incident there have been exaggerated. Regan has pleaded not guilty in that case. Jones expects an indictment to be unsealed after Thanksgiving.
"He has a different explanation for what occurred. I know he didn't handle it well," Jones said of Regan's fleeing the parking lot after he allegedly tried to abduct the 17-year-old girl. "I think if he hadn't left, we wouldn't be talking right now."
Days after the upstate New York attack, police discovered one of the women in Regan's roll of film was his former co-worker, the same woman he tried to rape in July 2004, police said. They lodged a stalking charge against him Nov. 2, his third pending criminal case.
The arrests have rocked the community and his church, St. Margaret's, where he attends Mass and his mother attends regularly.
"And when the DNA evidence surfaced - oh - it was a real shock to all of us," said the Rev. Joseph Looney.
Looney recalls leaving the house of one of Regan's neighbors one summer evening and being called over for some lemonade. He obliged. Regan's sons played in the yard. He said he observed that Regan was a little reserved, but still a polite, friendly man. Regan offered to repair some pews in the church, Looney recalls.
Since the arrests, he has assured Regan's mother, Gioia, that he's praying for Regan.
"I like that phrase that says in every tragedy we have the opportunity of finding the seeds of an equivalent blessing," Looney said.
An Associated Press report is included in this story. Courant Staff Writer Dave Altimari also contributed.
DA: No Connection Between Bish, Kidnapping Suspect
11:29 AM EST, November 23, 2005
Associated Press WORCESTER, Mass. -- The district attorney said there is no connection between a Connecticut man arrested last month for an attempted abduction in upstate New York and the unsolved slaying of teenager Molly Bish.
Worcester District Attorney John J. Conte said that there is no evidence linking John Regan, 49, of Waterbury, to the death of Bish, who disappeared from her lifeguard post at Warren's Comins Pond in June 2000. The 16-year-old's remains were found three years later in a wooded area a few miles away.
"He has never been a suspect in our eyes," Conte said. "We have nothing that connects him."
Conte said investigators have records showing Regan wasn't in the area at the time of Bish's disappearance, but he declined to give details.
Reports of a possible link between Regan and Bish surfaced in recent weeks after Regan, a traveling salesman, was arrested Oct. 31 for allegedly trying to pull a 17-year-old girl into his van in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Investigators began checking hotels near Warren to see if Regan was in Massachusetts during Bish's disappearance. He traveled annually to sales conferences in Sturbridge, not far from where Bish disappeared.
Regan faces unrelated kidnapping, stalking and unlawful restraint charges following two alleged attacks in Waterbury. Police searched his parents' house recently and found several undated pictures of Regan with a mustache similar to the one worn in a police sketch of a possible suspect in the Bish case.
Investigators from Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York met in Springfield on Monday to discuss several cases, including Regan's. A state trooper from Conte's office attended the meeting.
Conte said a special grand jury impaneled in May 2004 to investigate the Bish case is expected to conclude its work by the end of January.
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