DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Who Killed Theresa?: 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Investigating a police force...

Question: It's bad enough to have one lazy, incompetent cop on a police force...but what happens when an ENTIRE police department is deemed to be inept?

Answer: Cold cases don't get solved.

In 2005, the Harvey Police Department in Cook County, Illinois didn't solve any of its nine homicides.

There were also 36 federal lawsuits against the department.

In January 2006, state police and the attorney's office raided the Harvey Police Department and discovered that nearly 200 rape kits found in the evidence vault were never sent to the state crime lab. They also had dozens of homicides on the books.

The task force seized records and evidence related to unsolved murders and other violent crimes, and now investigators are examining unsolved cases going back a decade.

After the raid, murder charges were laid in one homicide that was a year old. On September 25, 2007, indictments were announced in two more cold case murders stemming from the same raid.

Of course, the police department blames chronic understaffing and political influence for their poor track record. (It couldn't be their own incompetence and corruption could it?)

In addition to the police having possible gang ties, the state's lawmakers also say the department hired officers with questionable backgrounds. In fact, one of the city's police officers was actually a plumber by trade who happened to be the mayor's brother.

When members of the state's task force told a victim's mother they were investigating her son's murder, she cried. "With Harvey, year after year, I'd call them and say, you know, 'I'd like to know what you're doing with my son's case.' And they never had any information for me. I thought they would never solve it. I thought it was a cold, cold case."

To read more about Harvey's "finest", visit,1,2175776.story?track=rss&ctrack=3&cset=true,jun18_06.article


Maritime Missy


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Dirt on Forensic Palynology

>>> Bushes on the opposite side of the bridge on Compton Road where Theresa was found.

Doreen Prior sent me an interesting article on forensic palynology. It’s a big word that basically means using pollen and spores as evidence for legal purposes.

Apparently, the country of New Zealand leads the world in the use of forensic palynology, and the acceptance of this type of evidence in courts of law.

So how can pollen and dirt solve crimes?

The following are excerpts I’ve edited/summarized from the article:

Let’s say a suspect was hiding out in the bushes before assaulting a victim. Forensic pollen evidence from flowers or leaves in the bushes may have been attached to the suspect’s clothing. If the clothing that the suspect wore on the night of the crime were examined, it might have contained certain types of pollen that the prosecution could have used to link the suspect to the scene of the crime. If the examination revealed no pollen, that evidence could have been used by the defense to argue that the defendant was not at the scene of the crime.

In the article, it gives the example of a case in Austria where the discovery of the murdered victim's body, and the conviction of the criminal were based primarily on the evidence recovered from a pollen sample associated with the crime. During a vacation along the Danube River, a man disappeared near Vienna, but his body could not be found. The police soon found a suspect with a motive for killing the missing person, but had no evidence to link the person with the possible crime. Without a confession or a body, the prosecutor's case seemed hopeless.

As the investigation proceeded, a search of the suspect's room revealed a pair of boots with mud still attached to the soles. These were taken as evidence and given to a geologist for analysis. The mud was examined and found that it contained modern spruce, willow, and alder pollen. In addition, there was a special type of 20 million-year-old, Miocene-age fossil hickory pollen grain present in the mud.

Based on the pollen evidence, the geologist was able to pinpoint where the defendant must have walked while getting mud on his boots. Only one location, a small area 20 kms north of Vienna along the Danube Valley, had soils that contained the precise mixture of pollen found in the boots' mud. When confronted with the identity of this location, the shocked defendant confessed his crime and showed the authorities where he had killed the victim and then buried the body, both of which occurred in the precise region pinpointed by the geologist.

For more on this fascinating branch of forensic science, visit:


Maritime Missy


Are you listening?

I read a lot and every once in awhile, I come across a quote that resonates with me. These ones I found particularly relevant to this blog:

"Take no comfort or solace that you're not in jail yet - that day is coming."
-- North Port (Florida) Police Chief, Terry Lewis

“We’re always just one phone call away from solving this case.”
-- Westwood (Kansas) Police Lieutenant Dan Brewster

"Someone out there is living with a secret."
--Lt. David Waltemeyer, assistant commander of the criminal investigations division for the Anne Arundel County Police Department, Maryland

"There are plenty of well-meaning "snitches" out there; they just want to make sure snitching isn't hazardous to their health."
--Eugene Kane, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Maritime Missy


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ante up

I've always wondered how successful programs are that offer cash rewards for anonymous tips. According to Wikipedia, Crimestoppers, which was started in New Mexico in 1976, has solved more than 1,000,000 cases and resulted in more than 500,000 arrests.

Minnesota has a similar program called "Spotlight on Crime".

Spotlight on Crime is a unique public-private partnership between Minnesota's business community and the state's crime fighters. It focuses on crimes that remain unsolved after investigative efforts have been exhausted. Only violent crimes against innocent victims are considered.

According to the program's website (, "the concept of reward programs in Minnesota to help crime fighters solve cases is not new. However, none of these existing programs has Spotlight on Crime's long-term public-private commitment, a focus solely on violent crimes such as homicides or abductions, the level of funding and the amount of money offered as rewards."

Some of the companies involved in Minnesota's Spotlight on Crime include some pretty big names like Target, Wal-Mart, General Mills and some banks. The donations are tax-deductible.

Since June 2001, more than $1 million has been offered in 21 Spotlight on Crime cases. Five of those cases have been solved and charges have been laid in a sixth. Those are pretty good statistics for cold case resolutions.

I think the time has come to establish a fund to be able to offer a significant cash reward in Theresa's case.

The announcement of such a fund for Theresa Allore is yet another way to renew interest in the case and hopefully, motivate a few people to come forward with valuable tips. (With all the recent stories of crimes against women on Canadian campuses, it's as good a time as any to get one started.)

Of course, we would need somebody to champion this cause. Any takers?

Maritime Missy


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Corresponding for a confession

Inmates can prove to be a valuable source of information on cold case crimes. Various law enforcement agencies have already started to tap this resource through initiatives like the Cold Case Playing Cards in Florida. (see Sept. 16, 2007, blog entry.)

If details of Theresa's case prompted tips and leads from the prison population, what next? Lots of interviews probably.

But what if the tips pointed specifically to another incarcerated individual? How would you get that person to confess?

The "Apple Dumpling Gang", two retired lawmen and a newspaper publisher, managed to coax an inmate to confess to several murders through writing letters over a five-year period. They had the time, skill and dedication to cultivate a "relationship" with the suspect and their efforts paid off.

To read more about this volunteer band of detectives, click here:

Can we identify a few incarcerated suspects in Theresa's case and either eliminate them or confirm their involvement the same way?

One caveat though...jailhouse confessions may not be reliable. Their motives for confessing may not be altruistic so it would take a skilled interrogator to ensure the legal process wasn't compromised. get tips, leads or confessions from inmates, you might also have to determine what they want in exchange for that information. Can the justice system come up with acceptable "plea agreements" to get them to talk (e.g., cash rewards, transfers to jails closer to their homes, additional prison privileges, etc.) and then publicize those offers within the prison population and let the inmates know that Quebec is willing to "deal" for legitimate leads?

North Dakota managed to get a confession from William See Walker on a 25-year-old murder of a university student through a plea agreement.

Maritime Missy


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Andre on the CBC

There's been another Moosehead Beer Heist. My brother's gonna be on the CBC this afternoon - he wrote a song about the first heist, in New Brunswick.

You can hear his song, Looking for Empties on Andre's MySpace site.

Interview: CBC Saint John... - Paul Castle's show, SHIFT.


No truer words spoken.

"...If you know something and you keep your mouth shut ... you're just as guilty as the person that did it."
-- Evelyn Safe, sister of Buffalo murder victim

Buffalo's Cold Case Squad being hailed as heroes by sister of murder victim

In a small office inside Buffalo Police Headquarters, Buffalo's Cold Case Detectives take on big cases. They're a team of people who helped convict Altemio Sanchez - - the Bike Path Rapist and Killer and helped exonerate Anthony Capozzi.

Now though, with murder charges against a man named Dennis Donohue, there's another local family with praise for Buffalo Detectives.

A mother of three, strangled to death and found inside her South Buffalo home - - September, 1993. Joan Giambra's body - - brought out in broad daylight.

It's a day that haunts Giambra's sister - - Evelyn Safe. "

Lately - - the past year - - I've been thinking about it every single day."

And Buffalo's Cold Case Squad's been thinking a lot about Joan Giambra's case too. Hard work by detectives and DNA did it again.

Dennis Donohue - - whose identity is still not being revealed - - charged now, with Giambra's murder. There's also the potential that Donohue may be responsible for two other murders in Western New York.

Safe said, "That just boggles my mind. It boggles my mind. I've said in the past - - if you know something and you keep your mouth shut ... you're just as guilty as the person that did it."

For more than a decade, answers had been few and far between for the family of Joan Giambra - -one of 17 sisters and brothers. Safe said, "Yes. We've been waiting a long time. And I'll tell you if it wasn't for Dennis Delano and the cold case squad - - I don't think it would've happened. Dennis Delano and them guys and gals - - they're like hound dogs. They take a bite out of something and they don't let go until they get to the truth. And that's a warning for anybody else out there."

Buffalo's Cold Case Squad has been working on old cases since March 2006. So far they've been very successful.


If you have information that could help solve Theresa's case, step up to the plate. Be a hero. Email or Your information will be treated with the utmost discretion.

Maritime Missy


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I hear crickets.
I see tumbleweed.

It sort of feels like a ghost town in here! I checked the site statistics and even though we're getting a lot of people reading the blog...we're not receiving very many comments/feedback.

Could the following reasons have anything to do with it? (Don't won't offend me with your answers!)

1. My blog entries are too long.
2. The new format of the comments form is confusing/intimidating.
3. My blog topics aren't interesting.
4. There's no reason to comment because I've said it all in the post.

If you have any ideas for blog topics or questions, please don't be shy! Send them along via email ( or leave a comment. (It's easy to do. Trust me!)


Maritime Missy


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lost Evidence = Long Shot??

"The best advice I can give though, for people who are looking for evidence: be persistent and be creative. Many times I was told something was lost, and it was later found by simply looking everywhere."
--Stacy Horn, The Restless Sleep

As everyone who reads this blog knows, much of the evidence from Theresa's case has been lost. We're not sure if it was thrown out or misplaced. There is a slim possibility that the evidence could be languishing in a box in the basement of some property warehouse. If so, then efforts will probably be made to locate it. This could take awhile.

In the meantime, I've compiled a few excerpts from Stacy Horn's book that explains how evidence is stored/processed, and why evidence was often destroyed or lost in New York City. I'm sure NYC's problems are symptomatic of most other jurisdictions throughout North America:

-- The people at the Property Clerk may have figured, what’s the point? The chances of solving a cold case even as little as a few years after it happened are slim. Before DNA became a serious factor in clearing cases, they must have really believed there was no point in holding onto evidence. Few detectives came back for anything from these older cases. Plus, there are storage issues.

-- When someone is murdered in New York, the first thing a detective does with the evidence is go to the precinct to see the Property Officer, who will give the detective vouchers with serial numbers for each piece or group of evidence. The voucher lists each object and describes it as either investigatory (needs tests), property (needs to be stored), or arrest (will be needed for court). Belongings of the victim that do not require testing are left with the Property Officer. From there it will either go to the Property Clerk’s office in that borough, or to one of four large Property Clerk warehouses located around the city."

--...the new controls that were effectively applied to drugs and money were not applied to evidence from homicides until the 1990’s. No one was trying to walk off with old bloodstained shirts. They weren’t particularly interested in saving them either. If Tommy Wray [a cold case detective] needs old evidence for further examination or testing or for an appearance in court, he has to get the storage numbers from the Property Clerk or the Police Lab, and then go down to the warehouses himself to get it. That’s when his problems begin.

"First, was the evidence ever really stored there in the first place? A retired detective described what it was like at the Property Clerk’s in a 1972 New York Times article. “You can walk into that office and you have to wait with maybe 50 or 60 other guys in order to get to a little window and take out evidence or return it.” It wasn’t worth the trouble. If the evidence was important, they held onto it, he said. I recently stood with Steve Kaplan at the Property Clerk window in Manhattan and waited. Nothing has changed. We stood for two hours, unacknowledged. When I argued that we should complain Kaplan said, “Then we would wait forever.”

Next, even if the evidence was stored there, did the Property Clerk save it or throw it out? “I saw a guy in there with a pitchfork, throwing old evidence out into a dumpster,” one Cold Case detective remembers. It’s difficult to find evidence from cases earlier than 1990. “Whenever they can’t find something they always give one of the same three excuses,” one frustrated detective said. “The fire, flood or the move.”

--The warehouses look like that final shot of Raiders of the Lost Ark, when they are putting away the Ark of the Covenant, amongst endless stacks of wooden crates.

--The inventory and storage operations at the warehouses are crude. They don’t use computers. They’ve got pens and logbooks and file cabinets. If there’s anything on a computer it’s because an individual who knows the software program Excel took it upon himself to put it there for his use alone.

--“Find it yourself,” the officer at the Property Clerk’s warehouse told Wendell Stradford and his partner Carl Harrison (aka Chuck), when they came looking for evidence from a 1988 case where a nine-year-old girl and her mother were raped and murdered. Harrison had just picked up the case and was trying to track down about a dozen Property Clerk vouchers. He called the Property Clerk two or three times a day for a month asking about them. They finally gave him some storage numbers and told him he’d have to find the rest himself. Chuck was most interested in a vaginal swab that had been taken from the little girl. According to a piece of paper in the case folder, there was a possibility that the vaginal swab was at a private DNA lab in Maryland called Cellmark Diagnostics. The people at Cellmark told Chuck that they had extracted DNA from the swab and sent it back to the Police Lab in small tubes. The Police Lab said they sent them back to Property Clerk. Chuck and Wendell went back to the Property Clerk and looked themselves. No tubes. They went through the Police Lab logs books for that week looking for a clue. Then they found the answer. The Lab was supposed to send the evidence back to the Bronx Property Clerk, but they gave the package a Manhattan storage number. It never got to the Bronx. Chuck and Wendell found the tubes sitting in a box at the Manhattan Property Clerk. They took them to the OCME and got a hit. They now have a new suspect.

--The ME’s office stores samples when they conduct serological tests, and they have a warehouse, too.

Maritime Missy


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Getting Creative to Solve Cold Cases

Creative thinking has given us everything from airplanes and Zambonis to Astroturf and the zipper. I believe the key ingredient to solving cold cases is applying some creative thinking.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has taken an innovative approach to getting tips on their old cold cases. They created a deck of playing cards with information on 52 cold cases and distributed them to the state's 93,000 inmates. It makes sense. If you want access to the criminal mind, take your message to that audience.
The only thing I would do differently for a Canadian version of these cards is let the inmates know there's an incentive for cooperating with an investigation. (e.g., cash awards, upgrade their privileges).
Other than that, I think the cards are a great idea. They're relatively inexpensive and have a long "shelf life". They're not like flyers or newspaper articles which can be disposed of within a day or two. The playing cards would be used and seen for a much longer period of time.
I really think this idea should be incorporated into Theresa's investigation. So where do we start? Well...we need to:
- determine how many inmates there are in Canada so we know how many decks of playing cards that need to be printed. (In 2004-05, there were 32,100 adult prisoners in custody in Canada. )
- find out how much it will cost to produce the cards
- determine which agencies could provide grants to assist with the costs and distribution of the cards
- get buy-in from law enforcement (e.g., RCMP and Surete du Quebec)
- put together a proposal to request funding
- determine which 52 cold cases should be part of the deck

Here is some more information on how Florida got their Cold Case Cards into the prisons....
Prisoner Poker Could Crack Cold Cases
Phil Davis, Associated Press
Copyright AP 2007

Prison inmates are getting a present from the state of Florida: playing cards. For detectives looking to solve dozens of cold cases, it's the start of a game of Go Fish that might pay off big.

On Tuesday, Florida's nearly 93,000 state inmates started getting one of two decks that between them highlight 104 of the state's most troubling unsolved murder and missing persons cases

"What better way to get them talking than to have cards with the cases on them?" said Special Agent Tommy Ray of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. "These are people who have been in there for years. That's the best source of information. There are a couple of high-profile cases I think we'll get solved.”

Ray helped launch the statewide program after he and colleagues on a cold case squad in Polk County got the idea to produce a similar deck for county inmates there in 2005. They were inspired by the famous most-wanted deck of Saddam Hussein and other fugitives issued to U.S. troops shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Soon after the Polk County cards were issued, they generated a tip. Two men have been charged with murder in the 2004 killing of one of the victims on the cards, Thomas Wayne Grammer.

Other law enforcement agencies have caught on. Authorities in San Diego, Kansas City, Mo., and Odessa, Texas, are among those who have created their own decks, and Ray said he has gotten inquiries from as far away as Australia.

For the state program, authorities printed 85,000 decks featuring the first 52 cases, and started handing them out Tuesday to inmates at Wakulla Correctional Institution in the Panhandle town of Crawfordville. In a few weeks, 15,000 decks with 52 different cases will be distributed.

The King of Spades in one deck is Tiffany Sessions, a 20-year-old University of Florida sophomore who disappeared on Feb. 9, 1989. The Queen of Diamonds in that deck is 12-year-old Jennifer Odom, a Pasco County girl whose body was found on Feb. 25, 1993, six days after she disappeared.

Sessions' card features her smiling face. Odom's card has a picture of a sweat shirt and her book bag because authorities didn't want to give the state's sex offenders pictures of children.

The state attorney general's Crime Stoppers Fund is paying the $75,000 cost of the program — about $68,000 to produce the cards and $7,000 for rewards, an agency spokeswoman said. The Polk County deck was produced with help from the local Crime Stoppers program.
Maritime Missy


Friday, September 14, 2007

Here I am....

My apologies to everyone for not posting any entries the past few days. I was away on business and didn't have a chance to update the blog. So if you can bear with me for another day...I'll get my latest thoughts organized and posted for your comments and input.

I do want to thank everyone for taking the time to check into this blog on a regular basis. I read every one of your emails and comments and I'm grateful for your continued interest and feedback. I'm sure it means a lot to John as well. :-)

Maritime Missy


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

DNA. The Holy Grail of Cold Cases.

Can anyone remember whether or not the SQ saved the evidence collected from Louise Camirand's and Manon Dube's case and if they did, was it ever tested for DNA and compared for a possible link?

(Read the article below and see what the Scottish police were able to do with a series of 30-year-old cold cases 'across the pond'.)

Forces probe unsolved murders
Three Scottish police forces have launched a new investigation into the unsolved murders of seven young women dating back almost 30 years.

The inquiry was launched after what police described as a "significant scientific breakthrough".

The cases include Edinburgh's notorious 1977 World's End pub murders.

The man leading the inquiry, involving the Lothian and Borders, Strathclyde and Tayside forces, said there were strong links between the deaths.

Lothian and Borders Deputy Chief Constable Tom Wood said: "The advances in DNA have given us information we could never have imagined in the past.

For the full article from BBC News, click and paste the following URL into your browser (I think the link is broken):

Maritime Missy


Monday, September 10, 2007

Are Canadian universities a playground for predators?

School's in and the predators are out--at York, Carleton and Laurentian Universities in Ontario.

September 9, 2007
Two sex attacks at York U. Police say two suspects may be students as well


The new school year at York University is off to a violent start after two men sexually assaulted two women and tried to attack another at a campus residence.

Toronto sex crimes detectives said the duo, who may be students themselves, found "victims of opportunity" in their rampage early Friday at Vanier College's dormitory, just hours after the first Thursday pub night in nearby York Lanes.

Six entries to campus buildings have so far been reported to police: Two women were sexually assaulted, the assailants attempted to sexually assault a third woman and the other three are considered as break-ins.

The men are described as being white and in their early 20s. One is over six feet with light-coloured hair and the other is about 5-foot-5 with short dark hair and a dark complexion.

Witnesses are asked to call 416-808-7474 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.

Det. Christine Long said two of the victims were treated at hospital and later released.
She said none of the women knew each other.

They were "victims of opportunity," she said.

Long said police are reviewing surveillance and other forensic evidence. There were no signs of forced entry, she said.

"I feel both suspects were very comfortable with the environment, therefore they're either part of the school or were part of the school," she said.

But students don't seem too worried or frightened by the attacks.

"I lock my door," said first-year student Jennifer Johnson, of Keswick. "It's like a house, I'm not going to let somebody just walk into my house."

Another female resident said everyone is taking responsibility in tightening security at the highrise dorm which houses between 250 and 300 co-eds.

Gilary Massa, with the York Federation of Students, said a large number of campus alerts have been issued.

"I'm very pleased with how the university is handling (the incidents)," she said. "They're taking the security measures they have to take."

She said the attacks have shaken her.

"I spoke to my roommate and she came in from Vancouver and she was frightened and I am ... in shock," said the fourth-year student who described the campus as safe.

Parent Dave Lightfoot said he feels his son is safe living on campus and has faith in its security, although his wife Victoria urged her son to escort girlfriends to their residences after hours.

"Our dormatories are safe," said York spokesman Alex Bilyk. Bilyk didn't know how security was breached by the attackers.

"It's regrettable that these two sex assaults happened. We try to ensure the safety of the community, (but) every community is vulnerable to a crime like this," Bilyk said.


Maritime Missy


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Another cornfield. Another murder. Another cold case.

This time, it was Mary Pierce whose nude body was found in a cornfield in 1977 in Greeley, Colorado. She had been raped and stabbed. Fortunately for Mary, detectives are still actively investigating her case 30 years after the fact.

Here are some excerpts from the local newspaper, The Tribune, about the Mary Elizabeth Pierce case (my comments are in red):

"But it was a farmer -- who owned the cornfield -- who found the body. The farmer had walked past the cornfield Thursday, saw a sock lying beside the dirt road, and thought nothing of it. When the search for Mary Pierce began, he remembered the sock and went back. About 100 yards from U.S. 34, in his field of corn, he found the nude body of Mary Pierce....
***As I mentioned before, I wonder why somebody from the Gagnon farm hadn't found Theresa. At least the Gagnon fields had already been harvested. The Colorado field still had tall cornstalks... and yet Mary's body was found the following day after she disappeared.***

"...sheriff's deputy Bill Spading and Greeley detective Mike Savage, combed the cornfield for clues. Dogs were brought in, metal detectors were used in the cornfield, the ditches, the dirt roads, to find the knife that killed Mary Pierce.
***Too bad this same effort wasn't applied in Theresa's case.***

"Jesse talked about hearing the dogs barking that night," Molocznik said. "And a farmer close to the cornfield reported his dogs were barking like crazy about 3:30 in the morning. It would have been the time she was being killed in the cornfield."
***Hmm...this farmer had dogs who noticed something was wrong the night Mary was being killed. As I mentioned before, if the Gagnon farm had dogs, wouldn't they have alerted their owners if a car was parked for any length of time in front of the property? And if nobody was home that night, what about the next six months? The dogs surely would have noticed a dead body.***

The Tribune editorial staff sums up the investigative efforts in the Mary Pierce case:

"We're glad -- and proud -- that our local authorities continue to follow up on such tips, regardless of how remote they may be, rather than let them collect dust. That gives the lives of those murdered or who have disappeared relevancy, respect even. And the detectives' work gives the families some hope."
***I'm sure the Allore family would love to be able to say the same thing.***

To read more about this case, click here:

Maritime Missy


Friday, September 07, 2007

Are Canada's pathologists qualified to do their job?

You'd think that an important job like pathologist would be a licensed profession in Canada. Apparently not. You can practice pathology without being board certified. (At least you have to be a licensed doctor before you can call yourself a pathologist.)

There is a Canadian Association of Pathologists but they don't regulate the profession. I think the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada considers pathology a "specialty" and offers training. Pathologists aren't required by law to take the training and you don't necessarily need it to take a job as a pathologist.

This excerpt is from a CBC story:

"When it comes to autopsy reports, the field of pathology can be a subjective one. It's based on research and opinion, and it's especially controversial in Canada, where there is no formal training or certification process. Only a handful of practitioners in Ontario are entrusted with the job — and they've learned by doing."

If I am wrong on this, somebody please enlighten me.

Maritime Missy


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Judges used logic to acquit Truscott...

I've been reading and re-reading an article from the Globe and Mail for the past week that details the decision for the acquittal of Steven Truscott in the 1959 rape/murder of Lynne Harper.

I can't help notice the similarities between Lynne Harper's and Theresa Allore's cases in terms of location and manner of death. Both Theresa and Lynne appear to have been "garrotted". (The sleeve of Lynne's blouse was torn and adapted as a ligature. Theresa was probably strangled using her scarf that was found torn in two pieces in the field. Both Lynne and Theresa were found in a field/copse semi-naked and shoeless.)

The judges make some good points in determining that Truscott couldn't have been responsible for Lynne's death.

I wonder if the judges would say the same thing about Theresa's death...that it couldn't have been a friend who killed her because more signs of struggle would be evident...and that there was no way she could have walked bare foot to her final resting place. (If Theresa's body wasn't in such an advanced state of putrefaction, I also wonder if the coroner would have also found lacerations on her feet/legs.)

It's also interesting to note that in in 1997, when Truscott asked for DNA tests to exonerate him, he discovered that the court exhibits had been destroyed. (Sound familiar??)

Truscott seems to have been acquitted based on "logical interpretation" of the evidence. I think that's what most of us are trying to do in determining how Theresa died and who might have killed her.

Here are excerpts from the Globe and Mail story....

Truscott acquitted in death of Lynne Harper
Globe and Mail Update
August 28, 2007 at 1:30 PM EDT

........The judges presiding over the (Steven) Truscott appeal - former Chief Justice Roy McMurtry, Mr. Justice Michael Moldaver, Mr. Justice Marc Rosenberg, Mr. Justice David Doherty and Madam Justice Karen Weiler - said that some of the most improbable elements of the case involved the way Ms. Harper's body was found.

"The victim was largely naked and had evidently walked into the copse with bare feet. There were lacerations on her leg that appeared to have been caused by barbed wire. She had been expertly strangled with a sleeve of her blouse.

"While far from conclusive, that gruesome picture - no struggle, the use of her blouse as a garrotte and sex while she was dead or dying - seems out of place with the actions of a 14-year-old schoolboy whose sexual advances were rebuffed by a 12-year-old classmate," the court said.
Logic suggests that Ms. Harper would have put up a struggle had her friend been attacking her , the judges added. "It also suggests that ....the mode of strangulation - likely carried out in a fit of frenzy - would have been manual, not ligature, and not with a piece of Lynne's blouse that had to be torn and adapted to a specific use."

Her bare feet and leg lacerations were decided puzzling if Mr. Truscott truly lured her into the bush voluntarily , the Court said."That being so, we can think of no reason why Lynne would have removed her shoes and socks before entering the woods," it said. "The ground in Lawson's Bush was not at all conducive to walking bare foot. As is apparent from photographs of the scene, it was completely covered with broken branches, twigs, roots, foliage, stones and mud."

Maritime Missy


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Things I've learned about strangulation...

Now that's a statement I never thought I'd ever write. But here I am...reading forensic pathology papers on the subject of homicidal strangulation.


I was re-reading investigators' and autopsy reports after Theresa was found on April 13, 1979. John discussed those events on this blog in April of this year. Three statements from those entries have always stuck in mind:

1. Detective Roch Gaudreault noticed “marks of strangulation” on Theresa.

2. "Gauldreault and Durand do not make mention of the strangulation marks that were observed earlier." (in a meeting with Theresa's father on April 14, 1979)

3. "The gullet contains “a little vomiting matter” '. ..Sourour observes the absence of visible traces of external traumatic lesions on the body.
-- Teresa Sourour, pathologist who supervised Theresa’s autopsy

Here are some facts that relate specifically to those comments:

- Prolonged submersion and decaying may dim or destroy the external signs of asphyxia. Signs of violence or other cause of death may also be lost.

- Oftentimes, even in fatal cases, there is no external evidence of injury. While patterned abrasions and contusions of the skin of the anterior neck are typical of strangulation cases, some cases have no externally evident injury whatsoever.

- The summary experience with choking for control of suspects -- also called the “carotid restraint hold” , “shime waza”, or “the sleeper hold” -- is that death can ensue without the intent of the officer, and without leaving external marks on the body.

- The common scenario for homicidal strangulation is that the individual is found dead... There being no externally-evident injury, the body is taken for autopsy with a suspicion of drug overdose, and the injury of strangulation is not found until the neck dissection is carried out at autopsy, ordinarily at the end of the case. Therefore, photographs and trace evidence collections are not made.
Source: Death By Strangulation, Dr. Dean Hawley, forensic pathologist

- “Sometimes the victim may vomit. And it’s important if the victim does vomit, that the officer photograph the vomit if he can find it. He should keep it as evidence. Nausea and vomiting is one of the pieces of evidence that the victim was strangled.
Source: Dr. George E. McClane, Emergency Room Physician at a San Diego hospital.

- Ligature marks are a clue that the hyoid bone may be broken. As a general rule, on a post
mortem exam, if a hyoid bone is fractured the death will be a homicide from strangulation until proven otherwise. However, because the two halves of the hyoid do not fuse until age 30, the hyoid may not break in younger victims who die as the result of strangulation.
Source: How to Improve Your Investigation and Prosecution of Strangulation Cases by Gael Strack and Dr. George McClane

I may not be a coroner, pathologist or doctor, but if I were writing Theresa's autopsy report, I would add "Theresa Allore was a healthy, young woman with no signs of drugs, blunt force trauma or gunshot wounds. I would therefore suggest that Ms. Allore's cause of death was most likely due to homicidal strangulation."

Maritime Missy


Saturday, September 01, 2007

How cops get killers to confess...

This post was written by a Chicago homicide detective. He explains the tedious process of coaxing a confession out of a criminal.

He says, "Between the low clearance rate and not guilty verdicts, I figure you have 3 out of 4 chances that you will get away with murder...Usually offenders who have been through the system for serious crimes before won't confess. They know that all you are selling them is decades in state prison."

Click here to

Maritime Missy