Tag Archives: Season 4

My First Case – Season 4, Show 13, 2014

Is this your favorite case?  Good guy wins.  Bad guy loses.  Both victims survive.

As an added bonus, we get to hear from the original judge in this case–a man whose probity & wisdom give hope for the judiciary.

But:  This is a stranger-upon-stranger crime, the most difficult to solve.  It’s going to take brains to figure out this one.

Front Page News, 1977:  These are newspaper photos showing Lt. Joe making the arrests in his first case.

Lt Joe's First Arrest Ingrid

Summary:  It’s early Sunday morning, 1977.  A Colorado rancher, Fred Howard, stops at a convenience store to buy a newspaper.  He hears calls for help.  Susan Irving, the young cashier, has been shot.  Just as he rushes in to help, he finds himself facing a gun.  He struggles against the attacker.

Lt. Joe (not yet “lieutenant”) is a hard-working young officer back then, assigned to burglary cases.  He’s ambitious, with hopes for his future.  He wants to work his way up to homicide detective.

Back in the day, though, detectives were hired more for their burly appearance & aggressive personalities than for their intelligence, which was sometimes sub par.  They tended to be poorly educated, more brawn than brain.

Lt. Joe doesn’t fit in, since he’s more brain than brawn.

The older detectives tease him.  They refer to him contemptuously as “college boy.”

He doesn’t take much guff.  “I assured them it was true that I was smarter than they.”

When Lt. Joe arrives with the other officers, both victims have been taken to the hospital.  Susan Irving is in critical condition.  Fred Howard is undergoing surgery.

As the junior in the group, Lt. Joe is assigned to interview neighbors.  That’s a useless task.  No one heard or saw anything.  Frustrated by the lack of results, Lt. Joe notices that the door to the convenience store is open.  Even though he’s not in charge of this case, he decides to go in & look around.

He finds this is not the usual convenience store robbery.  There’s been quite a struggle.  Displays are knocked over.  Things are a mess.  But in the mess, Lt. Joe finds a clue.  It’s an ID bracelet.

His boss orders him back outside.  The superiors are discussing the case.  It would take a lot of work to solve it.  They probably wouldn’t succeed.  They decide they should just move on to easier work.  “How odd is that?”  Lt. Joe remembers thinking.  “We’re just going to give up?”  But then he sees an opportunity.  He volunteers to take on the case solo.

The bosses are amused.  Of course, they sneer, this college boy is going to fail.  But then again, it would be fun to watch him fail.  So they give him permission to go ahead.

Lt. Joe keeps the ID bracelet as his only bit of evidence.  The name on it is “Ingrid.”

He visits the hospital to see what he can find from Susan or Fred.

Lt. Joe is just learning how to do detective work in a hospital.  He acts as if he belongs.  Someone greets him as “doctor.”  He strides into Susan’s room as if he is, indeed, a doctor.  She is lying there, heavily sedated.  He reads her chart & discovers that she is suffering from a bullet wound to the brain.  Suddenly, Susan screams out in pain & terror.  Nurses rush in & order him out.

“So my first attempt at posing as a medical doctor,” he remarks, “went very badly.  I got better as time went on.”

He goes on to find Fred.  Fred is not in good condition, but he can talk.  He tells Lt. Joe about the events that morning.  Fred had rushed in when he heard cries for help–from the gunman, who was luring him inside.  As he knelt to help Susan, he heard the click of a trigger.  He put his hands up as if to surrender, but was shot in the finger.  He lunged at the gunman, & they struggled, with more shots fired. Fred remembered tearing off the bracelet.  So now Lt. Joe knows that the “Ingrid” bracelet does indeed link to the perpetrator.  But Fred’s memory of the traumatic event is not perfect.  He describes a young, white male.

Back at the office, the bosses discourage Lt. Joe from going any further–& indeed he is discouraged.  “My opportunity for solving this was slowly circling the drain.”  Susan is mostly unconscious & cannot talk.  Fred is suffering & is not sure of his memories.  The only clue is a piece of “junk jewelry.”

At night, Lt. Joe stays on in the office & stares at the bracelet.  What can it tell him?

The name “Ingrid” is cut with a 3D effect, popular at the time.  Lt. Joe goes to see a jeweler, John.  John tells him that a new Hermes engraving machine is the only way to achieve that effect.  Lt. Joe calls the company & asks for a list of stores that own that particular machine.  The number in Colorado Springs alone is 27.  Ever persistent, Lt. Joe sets out to visit every one of the 27 stores.

But he’s discouraged.  “It could be Denver,” he moans to himself.  “Kenda, you moron, it could be Pueblo.”

But he hits the jackpot with one of the 27 stores in Colorado Springs.  The “Can-Do Shop” sold an “Ingrid” bracelet to a mixed race couple.  The manager of the store remembers the black boyfriend as “loud, profane, a real a..hole.”

“Well,” remarks a delighted Lt. Joe, “I’m looking for someone like that.”

But his next job is to find a needle in a haystack.  The store has hundreds of carbon copy receipts from previous sales.  He’s found one needle in a haystack, the machine.  Now he has to find another needle in a haystack, the receipt.

Lt. Joe sits for two hours reading receipts.  At last, he finds “Ingrid.”  The receipt gives an address on the west side of Colorado Springs.  That’s Ingrid’s address.

Now he embarks on yet another search.  He looks up every arrest record from that part of town.  This search takes days.  But he succeeds.  He finds a parking ticket (just a mere parking ticket!) from directly in front of Ingrid’s door.

The parking ticket was in the name of Fred Henry Swain, age 21.

Now Lt. Joe looks further.  Swain has an arrest record “as long as your arm,” including violent crimes.  He does not live at Ingrid’s address.  He lives three blocks from the convenience store.  “It’s very common,” Lt. Joe points out from his current long experience, “for robbers to rob where they live.”

But this is hardly solid evidence.  Lt. Joe doesn’t want to lose out.  “It’s my first time in the deep end of the pool,” he remarks, “and I’m not going to drown.”

So he goes to work writing a case for probable cause, to convince the district court judge to issue an arrest warrant.  He piles on every detail, with all the supporting evidence he can muster.  His request eventually reaches seventeen pages.

The judge, now retired & interviewed for this show, issues the arrest warrant.

How does Lt. Joe feel?  “I didn’t walk out of his office.  I floated,” he exults.  “I had just become Sherlock Holmes.”

Now, in yet another test of Lt. Joe’s patience, he stakes out the apartment building where Swain lives.  He brings backup.  “The principle,” he says, “is overwhelming force.”  He needs to convince the (possibly armed & dangerous) suspect that there is no escape, no opportunity to fight back.

It takes several hours, but here comes Fred Swain, along with Ingrid.

Fortunately for Lt. Joe’s career (& our attachments here), the press has sent a photographer to the stake out.  The news hits the front page of the newspaper.

Lt. Joe is triumphant.  Only five days have gone by, & he has “the guy they said I would never find,” in a case where everyone else wanted to give up.  With the bosses looking on, Lt. Joe leads his suspect, in handcuffs, to the interrogation room.

Swain refuses to talk.  Lt. Joe gets a search warrant for Swain’s apartment, where he finds filth everywhere, dirty clothes, empty food containers–& a pistol.  The ballistics match.  It’s the weapon used in the assault, proof positive.

The judge convicts Swain on two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of aggravated burglary, with adjudication as an habitual criminal.  Sentence is 60 to 98 years.  The judge constructs the sentence so that Swain will never return to the outside world.

People congratulate Lt. Joe.  He gets a transfer to the homicide unit.  People praise his “innate talent.”  “But,” he says, “doing it is what made me feel good.”

The journalist who is interviewed says she hopes the victims went on to live long & happy lives.

The victims: Of course, you know there’s a dark side.  Fred Howard, the rancher, was 63 when this incident occurred.  The first bullet hit his wedding ring & destroyed his ring finger at the base.  Three more bullets entered his chest at close contact.  He recovered as well as possible & went on to live another ten years in what Lt. Joe believes was a happy & constructive life.  Susan Irving, in her early 20’s at the time, was left a paraplegic.  She did not live long after that.

Ingrid:  The old newspaper photos show Ingrid under arrest.  She soon went free.  Her only crime seems to have been a remarkably poor choice of boy friend.  She seemed to have no knowledge of the Sunday morning assault. Plus, she had an alibi.  What was she doing early that Sunday morning?  She was working.  Lt. Joe thinks she may have been clerking–at another convenience store.

Motive:  Fred Swain got away with all of $20.  He selected early morning when few people are around, only one clerk in the store.  He could easily have taken away the meager amount of money without hurting Susan.  And what possible reason was there to shoot the kind-hearted man who tried to help?  Did he wish to eliminate him as a witness?   Lt. Joe calls him “as cold blooded as it gets.”  As far as I can see, this is one more crime that lacks any logical, rational motive.

The perpetrator:  Fred Swain is in his 60’s now.  He spends time at the prison law library, where he writes legal motions & appeals to the court to release him.  The court turns him down every time.  But, as Lt. Joe bitterly remarks, all this legal action comes at tax payer expense.  Lt. Joe also bitterly remarks that all these years later, Fred still has a big mouth & nasty attitude, & that it’s remarkable that other prisoners haven’t attacked or killed him.  Can we conclude that, as well as a well-run judiciary, there’s also a well-run prison?

Bullying in the workplace:  The workplace harassment Lt. Joe experienced is far too common.  After he solved this case, the bullies backed off for a while.  But essentially, he didn’t get a break until all of them retired & left.  By then the atmosphere in detective work had changed.  Intelligence began to hold a value.  Before long, a college degree was a requirement.

Safety in the workplace:  Look at Susan’s workplace.  Did she belong there isolated, alone, with no backup, no protection?  Lt. Joe stood up fine, as you know he would, to years of insults & teasing.  No one can stand up to first-degree assault & aggravated burglary.

The Master Key – Season 4, Show 8, 2014

This is the most difficult & disturbing of all Lt. Joe’s cases.  The real-life level of violence was so high that managers at the ID channel asked the production company not to depict what actually happened.  The television version actually lightens up the case, although that’s difficult to believe when you contemplate the gruesome torture deaths of two small children & a pregnant woman.

Even as Lt. Joe told me what happened, he said he had to gloss over some of the depravity.

As he puts it at the beginning of the show, “I had not seen that kind of violence before.  It was very, very disturbing to me.”

Favorite quotes:  “People are capable of anything.”  “People are the most dangerous animals on earth.”  Although Lt. Joe repeats these lines elsewhere, this is the show where they resonate most.  (I expect you agree that “capable of anything” is a phrase that could apply to the jury as well as the perpetrator.)

Summary, the television version:  It January 12, 1979, 9:00 in the morning at the Fountain apartments in Colorado Springs.  Sorella Wollford, interviewed for this show, plans to spend the day babysitting for her upstairs neighbors, in apartment 210.  The children are Carlos, age 4, & Benjamin, age 2.  Their mother is Yvonne Sisneros, expecting her third child.  When time passes & Sorella does not hear from Yvonne, she goes upstairs & knocks on their apartment door.  She hears a thumping noise.  There’s a ruckus going on.  No one answers the door.  Not knowing what to do, Sorella returns to her own apartment. Hours later, she hears the sound of sirens.

When the call comes, Lt. Joe is in his office poring over cold case files.  For once, this is during regular daytime business hours, a rare time for murder.  But there is nothing routine or common about this case.  Every detective on the force responds.

Lt. Joe arrives to find Benjamin Sisneros, the husband & father, intensely emotional, sitting on the floor in the hallway outside the apartment.  All of the normally cool, professional responders were distressed & upset.  Surveying the scene from the front door of the apartment, Lt. Joe was staggered by what he saw.

What he saw was the woman’s body, now covered with a blanket, bloody with as many as 60 stab wounds, plus strangulation & sexual violence.  The two-year-old boy has been stabbed 22 times; the four-year-old 19 times.  A bloody barbell lies nearby, used in beating the children in the head.

You can imagine Lt. Joe’s reaction, all the more as a photo comes up of his own two small children.

“I was so disturbed,” he says, “that I was filled with rage.  My thought was I am not going to eat, sleep, anything, until I had this son of a bitch by the throat.”

How did this crime begin?  Lt. Joe finds no sign of robbery & no sign of forced entry.  Stab wounds are small & round, unlike those a knife might inflict.  Police find a possibly significant clue, a ballpoint pen, covered in blood & white flecks.  Lt. Joe speculates that it fell from the killer’s pocket.

Benjamin Sisneros is interviewed for this show.  He was young then, now approaching old age.  He is Lt. Joe’s first suspect.  Benjamin reveals that his wife was three months pregnant.  He is an air traffic controller at Fort Carson.  He had been at work since early that morning.  But when he called home & no one answered, he says he became worried.  He signed out of work at 12:10 PM.  He drove home. He called police at 12:45.

Figure how long it took him to drive home, there is a very short period of time–about five minutes–unaccounted for.  Could he have murdered his wife & children during that five minutes?  Lt. Joe believes it’s possible.  He is stretching to find a plausible reason to suspect Benjamin.

But Benjamin says that when he arrived home, he found the door unlocked, unusual for his wife, who was careful about security.  He discovered his wife’s body in the bathtub.  Horrified, he pulled her onto the floor & covered her with a blanket.  Then he called police.  Nothing about him suggests guilt.

Besides, the coroner reports time of the deaths as between 9AM & 11AM, & Benjamin had not left work until just after noon.  Lt. Joe dismisses Benjamin as a suspect.

An anonymous tip gives an address for the possible killer.  Lt. Joe arrives, along with two backup cars.  He finds a 28-year-old man.  This man can account for his time that day.  He shows no physical signs of having just committed three murders.  He reacts to the abrupt arrival of police as a normal person would.  “We were hoping this meant something,” Lt. Joe says.  “It didn’t.”

Meanwhile, police have been canvassing everyone in the apartment building.  The city is shocked.  Media are everywhere.

The police find a witness, a man who was going out to walk his dog.  This man saw someone with a key letting himself into apartment 210.  The man is dressed in a plaid shirt & tan pants.  This could be Jimmy, a maintenance man for the apartment building.  Finally, Lt. Joe has a lead.  “This is a euphoric moment,” he says.

The director of maintenance for the apartment complex identifies this as James Joseph Perry, although he says Jimmy does not have a master key.  But a background check reveals that Jimmy has a criminal record.  He arrived in Colorado after fourteen years in a New York prison for murder.  Lt. Joe orders a search warrant.

When police arrive at Jimmy’s address, they find Victoria Martinez, Jimmy’s common-law wife.  She says Jimmy has been away all night.  He has girl friends with whom he often spends the night.  She does not find this unusual.  Then she reveals something truly important.  She works cleaning apartments in that same building, & she has a master key.  The key is missing.  Police look in the washing machine & find the clothes they hoped to find–a damp plaid shirt & tan pants, washed with a great deal of bleach.  Bleach destroys blood stains.  Lt. Joe mourns, “We were inches away from finding damning physical evidence.  He beat us to it.”

Police return to the maintenance office of the apartment building.  One officer requests to use the telephone.  As he stands at the desk, he finds himself gazed at a jar of ballpoint pens.  These are pens exactly like the bloody pen police found.  Furthermore, he notices a paint roller flecked with white paint.  Is he looking at an explanation for the white flecks on that pen?  Laboratory analysis will later reveal that yes, there’s a match.

But as this officer is still at the desk, he looks up & sees Jimmy himself entering the office.  Jimmy is wearing a watch flecked with white paint & blood.  His shoes look suspiciously streaked.

Police rush to arrest Jimmy.  Lt. Joe states the obvious, “There is nothing I wanted more than to lock him up.”

Jimmy looks caged & cornered.  He demands a lawyer.  The lawyer brings an end to any idea of a tough interrogation of Jimmy.

Lt. Joe does discover more about him, though.  Jimmy is a sexual hustler.  He hassles women.  He’s been accused of molesting & assaulting women.

One witness even heard him remarking about an attractive woman named Yvonne.

Lt. Joe believes Jimmy planned ahead.  He took Victoria’s master key.  He used it to open the door to Yvonne’s apartment.  He raped & murdered her.  He murdered the children.  Then he went on with an ordinary day at work.  He did all that, & then he just went back to work.

The day arrives for Jimmy’s trial.  Jimmy pleads innocent.  Jimmy testifies, & he is quite a performer.  He tells the jury that while he was in that New York prison, he found God.  He talks about how religion made him a changed man.  He came to Colorado to start a new life.

The jury believes.  The jury acquits Jimmy on all charges.  Jimmy walks free.

Lt. Joe’s reacts, “I was absolutely dumbstruck, & he is laughing at me.”  The other officer interviewed, Skip Armes, describes this as his “greatest professional disappointment.”  The acquittal shakes faith in the court system.  It’s a “violation of the human spirit,” an affront to civilization.

The case goes cold.  There are no other possible suspects.  Several months pass by.

Lt. Joe gets a phone call from NYC police.  They want him to know that Jimmy has been found dead in the Bronx.  Someone threw Jimmy through a window on a tenth floor, & as Lt. Joe puts it, “he didn’t bounce so good.”

Yvonne had “the greatest possible misfortune of living in view of a monster.”  Benjamin, who lost his wife & children to the monster, talks about suffering over his entire life, nearly forty years of mourning & pain.

Summary, real life version:   Remember that that the ID channel considered the details of this murder too disgusting for television viewers.  Lt. Joe considered the details too disgusting to reveal to me in private conversation.  Anything you read here is short of the truth.

In the TV version, Jimmy is said to murder the children so they could not serve as witnesses.  That makes no sense, since small traumatized children could not have been able to testify, in or out of court.  In real life, he murdered to silence them.  One was found with a rag stuffed down his throat.  Also, the frenzied & prolonged nature of the attack indicates that this monster was enjoying himself.

In the TV version, police find the ballpoint pen. At about the same time, there’s mention of extreme multiple stabbing with a small-diameter round weapon. A ballpoint pen could not be that weapon.  It is too breakable.  In real life, police found the apparent weapon in Jimmy’s tool belt.  It was a nine-inch cross-point screwdriver washed in gasoline.  Its dimensions matched the wounds.  Police also found a bloody kitchen knife.

The TV version mentions several weapons Jimmy used to commit murder, but not the weapon that actually caused Yvonne’s death.  Cause of death was a mop handle thrust from her vagina to the base of her heart.

In the TV version, Jimmy is able to walk away, make his way home, & wash his clothes.  In real life, he was covered with blood, just as you’d expect.  Several people noticed, but described the stains as brown, & assumed he had been working on some particularly filthy task.  Police found blood on his belt, shoes, & watch.

The lunch time routine at that delightful place of employment (don’t you wish you worked there?) was to sit in a car & slug down vodka.  Jimmy arrived in time for one drink, but he was not his usual self.  His co-worker noticed Jimmy was agitated & sweaty.  He had scratches on his hands.  He was shadow boxing, pretending to fight.  He declared, “Oh, man, I can handle three people at once.”

Yes, the jury heard that evidence.  Yes, Lt. Joe commented just as you’d expect, that Jimmy could handle three people at once, as long as two were children, one was a pregnant woman, & all were defenseless.

In the TV version, police find dry-looking clothes in Jimmy’s washing machine.  In real life, they found the clothes still damp, smelling strongly of bleach, & covered with bleached-out spots, in a clear attempt to get rid of blood stains.

In the TV version, the jury ignored evidence.  In real life, the jury ignored a Rocky Mountain range of evidence.

In real life, Lt. Joe says he went home & hugged his children for half an hour.

Criminal’s progress:  The progress from one crime to the next is something like a jobs lists on a good resume, ever bigger & more accomplished as years go on.  Jimmy started out as a small time burglar & molester of women.  He worked up to sexual assaults.  Next was murder.  In New York, he was convicted of first-degree murder, with a sentence of twenty-five years to life.  Ever the charmer, he told the parole board that he had been accepted to a Bible college in Colorado.  This was the first time he won by “playing the God card,” as Lt. Joe puts it.  The New York parole board jumped at the change to get him far away.  As a Bible student in Colorado, he specialized in seducing the female scholars.  He took them to his car in the parking lot of the school, then videotaped sex with them.  Some were too embarrassed to object; others complained to authorities.

Tracking down witnesses:  You’d think residents of that neighborhood would have been frightened & horrified.  You’d picture them falling all over themselves to aid in the police investigation.  They should have been outside, milling around, demanding police get rid of the monster in their midst.  At the time, the press thought so, too.  They were surprised that residents & neighbors did not help–or even show up, looking worried.  Potential witnesses avoided the police.  They stayed silent, even when they had information.  Lt. Joe says that, in a bad neighborhood, that’s an ordinary pattern of behavior.  People have criminal histories, outstanding arrest warrants.  They don’t invite police notice.

But, Lt. Joe says, if you track them down, they do tell the truth.  They’ll cooperate if they have to.

Other children involved:  Victoria, Jimmy’s common-law wife, had two children from a previous relationship.  She was at least somewhat aware of Jimmy’s proclivities. Yet she allowed Jimmy to have access to her children.  Lt. Joe says bitterly that she needed Jimmy around to help with the rent.

How much time does it take to commit murder?  Lt. Joe momentarily considered whether a perpetrator (Benjamin, the husband & father of the victims, only briefly a suspect) could theoretically have committed this crime in a period of only five minutes.  When Lt. Joe teaches, he demonstrates the possibility of speed in a crime.  He asks the students to time him in a demonstration.  Here’s how the demonstration goes:  Lt. Joe sets up a dummy (or any physical object).  He enters the classroom, shouts at the object that he hates it & is going to kill it.  He then begins a virtual stabbing, counting with each blow…one, two, three…up to a count of fifty.  He then shouts that he is glad the object is dead & storms out of the classroom.  Total time: less than two minutes.

God is my character witness:  This case was so important that the chief district attorney prosecuted it personally.  Legally, when Jimmy took the stand as a witness, that meant the DA could cross-examine him about his criminal past.  Jimmy’s true depravity should have been clear & visible to the jury.  Yet Jimmy turned on the charm.  He used religion as his chief persuader.  He somehow brought the jury, mostly nice middle-class women (including a friend of Kathy’s), into a sentimental world of his imagination in which sin is wiped clean, past crimes forgiven, & a very bad guy magically becomes good, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Nearly the moment they were dismissed, the jurors realized their mistake.  In the bright light of the outside world, they came to their senses. They refused interviews.  They asked the judge not to reveal their names.

In the public outcry over the verdict, there was even a ballot initiative to eliminate trail by jury in the state of Colorado.

If you pay attention to the news, you’ve seen other verdicts gone wrong, other juries bamboozled.  You’ve heard of other criminals finding self-serving religion.  This has all happened before & will happen again–just not to the extreme of this case.

Karma:  Police in both Colorado & New York were quite pleased with the fate that struck down Jimmy.  Lt. Joe mordantly refers to Jimmy’s defenestration as “cement poisoning.”  Police in the Bronx did not investigate the murder.  They put the case away in their “Had It Coming” file.  They even sent Lt. Joe a photo of Jimmy on the sidewalk.  Lt. Joe kept that gory picture in his desk for the next seven years.

Snitch – Season 4, Show 7, 2014

Few of Lt. Joe’s shows have a bright spot.  This one does, at least off screen.

The victim, Jimmie Stevenson, is a police informant, a snitch.  “There is no more dangerous occupation,” Lt. Joe points out, “than being a police informant.”  But did Jimmie die because he was a snitch?

Most quoted lines:  “He [referring to Barney Davis] is a one-man crime wave.  If he’s awake, he’s doing something criminal.”

“A homicide investigation is not a sprint.  It’s a marathon.  Your guy is doing something.  You’d better be doing something.”

Summary:  It’s a summer night, 1993.  People are gathered in the parking lot of a convenience store when two police officers approach.  The crowd starts to disperse.  A shot rings out.  The two officers find a man lying dead on the ground.  They know him.  He’s Jimmie Stevenson, a police informant.

When the call comes in, Lt. Joe is at his office.  It’s 10 PM on a Friday night, & he is just finishing up for the weekend.  Now, as he says, “We’re gong to work until we run out of things to do, whether it’s four hours or four days.”

Jimmie Stevenson was one of Lt. Joe’s most valuable informants.  Police appreciate help from people like Jimmie, whose information can be critical.  Jimmie had a minor criminal record.  He had trouble holding his life together.  And there were those with a motive to kill him.

As Lt. Joe explains, “Snitching, as it is referred to on the street, is something that is frowned upon to the point of death.”

Jimmie is dead by one bullet to the heart.  It was a perfect shot.  The killer is either an expert marksman–or lucky.  One 9mm casing lies near the body.  The bullet is lodged in a hole in a fence behind.

Just two hours before, Jimmie had talked with police in the same parking lot.  He had told them he had information about drugs.  Could this conversation have led to murder?

A young woman has been standing by the public telephone.  She waited for a call that never came.  But she did see a car speeding away.

This leads to an interesting character.  The license plate of the car reads KINGPIN.  That certainly sounds like a criminal moniker.

Instead, Lt. Joe finds that the “king” is Marlin King, age 17.  He’s a teenager with no criminal record.  He lives in the suburbs with his mother.  But he likes to act like a tough guy, & sometimes he hangs out in the city’s worst neighborhoods.  His mother lights into him.  This kind of behavior is very much against her maternal rules.  He tells Lt. Joe he departed that parking lot scene in order to get home in time for his curfew.  Lt. Joe decides Marlin King is just a “want-a-be, hang-around kind of guy.”  Maybe the “king” gets a kick out of disobeying his mother.

In interviews back at the scene, police talk to an apartment building manager, who saw two men moving guns into one of the apartments.  It’s the middle of the night by now, & Lt. Joe & other officers make what could be a dangerous entry into Apartment 4-B.  But they find shotguns not handguns.  There’s no evidence of murder here.  But a woman who lives there does admit she had a call from a friend who was at the scene of the shooting.

This is Ebony Jones, who lives in an apartment one floor up.

Police move up for another potentially difficult entry.  They find Ebony Jones, asleep.  She doesn’t want to talk, even after they show her a disturbing photo of Jimmie Stevenson lying in a pool of blood.  She claims she ran away before the shooting started.  She is obviously afraid to snitch.  Lt. Joe can’t force her to talk, so he decides to leave her alone, temporarily.  “Let her stew in it for a while.  Sometimes the mind is its own worst enemy.”

Ebony Jones was a down-and-out teenager then.  Nearly twenty years later, as she appears in interviews for this show, she is good looking & articulate, with a competent & confident air.  She probably looks healthier now than she would have back then.

Next, Lt. Joe goes to talk with Jimmie’s parents.  They are distraught, as is Jimmie’s sister, Stephanie Riley.

Stephanie says she has spent the night conducting her own investigation.  She says that as she drove around the neighborhood, another car almost ran her off the road.  Driver shouted, “I killed that mother-f—er.”  She says this is Barney Davis. Lt. Joe describes Barney as a one-man crime wave.  He had been harassing Jimmie for the last few months, ever since Jimmie witnessed a murder outside a nightclub.

Lt. Joe decides not to talk with Barney Davis.  There’s no point.  As he puts it, “Somewhere between the ‘Barney’ & the ‘Davis,’ he tells you to drop dead.”  But, of course, he tracks down Barney.  Alas, Barney has an alibi.  At the time of this murder, he was in police custody, under arrest.  His other crimes provide an alibi for this crime.

Stephanie confesses she was not telling the truth about Barney Davis.  She is emotionally distressed & pleads with Lt. Joe to find her brother’s killer.  He promises he will.

In a surprising twist, a woman calls.  She tells Lt. Joe that she is concerned about her 15-year-old daughter.  Her daughter, she says, witnessed just enough to know something about who the killers are.  She says a woman is responsible, Michelle Shalazar, along with twin sisters, Shawna & Sheena.  “That girl,” she says about Michelle, “is crazy.”  According to this woman, Jimmie owed money to the twins.  There was reportedly an argument at school that day.  (These people go to school?)  She says that Michelle has a gun, a 9 mm. handgun, just what Lt. Joe is looking for.

This information is hearsay.  It is not sufficient evidence to arrest Michelle or the twins.  Lt. Joe needs an eyewitness.  He needs to go back to Ebony Jones.  “She is fearful for a reason,” he says. “She watched them kill somebody.”  This time, he takes Ebony for interrogation at the police station.  “The purpose,” he says, “is to take them away from their comfort zone.”  Before they reach the interrogation room, there are no fewer than six locked doors “between her & sunshine.”  He has her under psychological control.  He threatens to arrest her as an accessory.  But he also promises that, if she talks, he will protect her.

Ebony talks.  Shawna & Sheena have been dealing drugs.  Jimmie owes them $40.  On that night, Ebony was in one car with Shawna.  Michelle & Sheena were in a second car.  They were cruising around, when by chance, they come across Jimmie in that fateful parking lot.  They demand money.  He doesn’t have the money.  Michelle rants, calls him names, threatens him.  He still doesn’t have money.  Michelle works herself into a murderous rage.  She pulls the trigger because she is angry, not because it will get her the money.

Ebony recalls seeing Jimmie fall in slow motion.  She runs away.  The murder, she says, was “senseless & stupid.”  About the non-existent money, she says, “You can’t get blood from a turnip.”

With Ebony’s testimony, Lt. Joe issues three warrants for first-degree murder.  All three turn themselves in.  All three are 17 years old, & are charged as adults.

With a plea bargain, Michelle is convicted of second-degree murder & sentenced to twenty years in prison.  Sheena is sentenced to eight years’ probation.  In a jury trial, Shawna is acquitted.

Ebony Jones describes herself back then as “young & dumb & crazy.”  Under a witness protection program, she relocates & starts a new life.  She goes to church.  She works in the community.  She says she does her best to be a good person.

Lt. Joe summarizes this taking of a human life over a small amount of money & at the hands of a teenager.  It “doesn’t make much sense.”

The murderers:  You won’t be surprised to hear that Lt. Joe describes these three women as “scum of the earth.”  He figures the IQ level at 85.  One twin may have been acquitted on this case, but soon enough, she was in prison on other convictions.  Lt. Joe doesn’t know for sure, but he believes all three are now either dead or locked up.  That’s certainly how they were tending.

The sentences:  In this case, the plea bargain makes sense.  This actually was second-degree murder, an unplanned killing.  Michelle didn’t plan to find Jimmie that night.  She found him by happenstance.

The motive:  Killing Jimmie was not going to pay his debt.  So the killing wasn’t really about money.  It was about rage, Lt. Joe says, & because this young woman had the ability to kill.

A sort of happy ending:  When all this happened, Ebony Jones was 17 years old & alone.  She had no father, & as Lt. Joe puts it, her mother was “in the wind.”  She was hanging around with bad people.  Given the difficult decision about whether to talk to police, she had no one to advise or guide her.

Imagine where this life was taking her.  She was on a path toward prison or an early grave.  On the witness protection program, she moved to Arizona.  She started a new life.  She appears to be on an entirely different life path.

Lt. Joe says he could have moved her to the next block, & the dimwits of her neighborhood would never have found her.

But note that on screen, all these years later, she is wearing dark glasses & a large hat.

Blood Innocence – Season 4, Show 6, 2014

Carl Taylor was a veteran, & not just any veteran.  He was a hero of the Korean war.  He had rescued fellow combatants from a burning plane.  He had back to retrieve bodies of the fallen.  A grateful nation had presented him with awards for his courage.

He continued in the Air Force for another ten years after that.

And then, as Lt. Joe bitterly says, when he was used up, they threw him away.   Lt. Joe refers to a long history of the neglect of American veterans, back to the Revolutionary War, when no one bothered over much about paying salary due, & any injuries soldiers suffered were their own problem.  It was true in 1776, Lt. Joe says, & it’s too close to true now.  (This was in private conversation.  The show does not dwell on such issues.)

Carl ends up deeply underemployed & semi-homeless.  With poverty all too often comes danger.  It takes money to buy a safe place to sleep in a secure environment.  Carl could not afford such luxuries.  And so as he attempted to sleep in the back of a unlocked truck, Carl was murdered.

Most quoted lines:  “A murder case is like a spinning top on a table.  Put pressure on it, & it goes off the table, & you never get it back.”

Summary:  This is one of Lt. Joe’s early cases, 1978.  The murder happens in the wee hours of  a hot August night, just outside the South Hancock apartments, a Colorado Springs locale with a reputation for street crime.  Carl Taylor & his boss Jim are movers from Oklahoma who have been working on a job.  They’ve parked the truck for the night.  Jim is sleeping in the cab.  Carl is sleeping in the back.

About 1 AM, Jim hears a commotion.  He jumps from the cab & runs to the back of the truck, where he finds Carl beat up & bleeding, on the point of death from severe head injuries.

When the news comes, Lt. Joe is going through paperwork at his office.  He’s been working what he calls the “cocktail shift,” 6 PM to 2 AM.  Now he’ll be working the rest of the night & who knows how long after that.

He finds a gruesome scene inside the truck.  The scene is bloody, not only pooled blood from the body but also castoff blood.  The castoff blood tells of violence, the cruel repeat of a blunt instrument.  It seems that the perpetrators had in mind to steal from the truck.  But the truck was nearly empty.  In their panic to run, they left behind what little loot they did pick up.  Lying nearby is a cardboard box they dropped.  The box contains a few Christmas ornaments.  Lt. Joe also finds $43 in blood-stained cash.

Carl’s brother talks about what a good man Carl was, his courage in the Air Force, his family of a wife & two daughters, his post-military work as a long-haul trucker, a delivery & moving man.

First Lt. Joe talks with the boss Jim.  Then he interviews Everett, a local boy who had been working with them the previous day.  Everett reveals that Jim was a loud & argumentative boss, complaining & even threatening Carl, as in “I’m going to punch your lights out.”

Lt. Joe goes back to talk with Jim again.  This time, Jim is defensive.  He says he didn’t really mean his threats.  That was just talk.  More important, Jim’s hands are clean.  His clothes show no sign of blood.  He says that, just hours before, he had paid Carl $43 in cash for the day’s labor.  That accounts for the blood-stained cash.

Jim is no longer a suspect.  But people in the nearby apartment building are certainly suspects.  Lt. Joe knows many of them by their arrest records.  A number of them are soldiers living off base.  (The base has rules, Lt. Joe remarks, & these guys are not the type to obey rules.)

In an attempt to narrow down the suspects, Lt. Joe interviews Lois, who manages the apartment building.  Lois knows everyone who might or might not get involved in a crime of this magnitude.  Lt. Joe begins interviewing right & left.  One person doesn’t know everything, but everybody knows something.  It’s a early version of crowd sourcing.

One interview is with Joe White, a soldier with a minor criminal history.  He’s distressed, confused, & frightened during the interview.  (Yes, that does sound suspicious.  But people do tend to get that way when Lt. Joe is the interrogator.)  This man says he was with his girl friend all night, but he can’t remember where she lives. Lt. Joe tries a polygraph test on him. Joe White passes.  He seems to have nothing to confess.

Now comes the part where I become squeamish:  Lt. Joe attends the autopsy.  He does this routinely, he says, because he can learn something.  What he learns from this autopsy is that the head injuries show a pattern of ridges.  The weapon was heavy.  It had mass.  It imprinted a pattern into the injuries it inflicted.

Lt. Joe himself is no longer squeamish.  But the autopsy does impress him with “the sadness of it all, the uselessness of it all.”  All this violence was for what?  Just a box half full of old Christmas decorations & $43 cash?

Lt. Joe doesn’t know what type of weapon could have inflicted these patterns.  But he comes up with a good idea.  He takes the autopsy photos to those who very well may know, the employees of a local tool manufacturer.  Autopsy photographs are not for the uninitiated.  One of the tool experts throws up in a trash can.

But the tool experts, those who can bear to look, think the patterns look familiar.  They decide it’s the leg of a surveyor’s transit.  That makes no sense to Lt. Joe.  “Who’s going to have that in his pocket in a bad neighborhood in the middle of the night?  I don’t think I’m looking for Mason and Dixon.”

The tool experts think again.  Perhaps this is a bumper jack from a General Motors vehicle, 1972.  Now that makes sense.  Now police have something to look for.

Police also arrest a man for burglary.  He claims to have information.  In exchange, he wants a deal for a lighter sentence.  This is a necessary evil of police work.  Criminals know criminals.  Lt. Joe suggests this man talk first, think about a deal later.  Here’s Lt. Joe the interrogator again: “I’m going to beat him up psychologically to see what he knows.”

What he hears is that four men were involved in the crime.  They are Sonny Evans, Phil Brown, Eric Kendall, & “some other dude.”  The three named suspects all have criminal records.  All live in the apartment complex.  Best of all, a “lightning bolt,” as Lt. Joe puts it, is that Sonny drives a 1972 Cadillac.  Want to bet there’s a bumper jack in that car?

Lt. Joe gets a search warrant & impounds the car.  Sure enough, there’s the jack.  “I’ve seen these ridges before,” says Lt. Joe glumly.  He takes the jack to the crime lab.  Although wiped clean, the jack still shows a tiny bit of human hair, just about 3/8 inch.  Hidden inside the hollow center of the jack is dried blood, plenty of evidence.

Police arrest Sonny & Phil.  Eric has fled to Philadelphia.  Police find him there & extradite him back to Colorado.  Lt. Joe likes interviewing Eric. “It feels very good when you reach that point,” Lt. Joe declares. “You’re talking to a player–not one who knows them, one who IS them.”

Eric confesses “in complete order & in detail.”  He names that missing fourth man, the “some other dude” that the informant had mentioned.  That’s Rickie Dillon, a bad guy with a big swagger.  According to Eric, the other three men knock on his door that night.  They invite him to join them in a fun little theft.  That truck looks like easy pickings.  They consult on a plan to steal what they imagine to be valuable contents.  Why does Rickie carry the jack?  He assumes he will need it to pry open a lock.

But the truck is not locked.  Rickie is surprised when the victim jumps up.  Rickie panics.  He attacks.  He keeps on attacking.

Jim hears the noise & jumps out of the cab.  The would-be thieves drop the box & the cash.  They run off.

As Eric signs his confession, Lt. Joe goes looking for Rickie Dillon.  People around the apartment complex don’t like Rickie.  (Wonder why?)  They’re willing to talk.  And Rickie is not good at hiding.  Police find him virtually the first place they look, at his girl friend’s house.  While she’s saying he’s not there, they find him in the basement, hiding behind the furnace.

Eric, Sonny, & Phil are convicted of first-degree burglary.  They each get sentences of five to seven years.

Ricky Dillon is convicted of first-degree murder.  He gets a life sentence.

This was, as Lt. Joe says at the end, brutality without purpose.  The victim presented himself to the killer just seconds before the attack.  The attack came without thought or explanation.  Carl died at the hands of a man who didn’t even know his name.

Real life versus the TV version:  On TV, Lt. Joe leads the SWAT team into a building to find Rickie.  He is in front, seemingly dressed in just a suit & tie, no protective gear.  In real life, he tells me that, of course, he had protective gear.  On TV, the crime lab appears not to find dried blood on the jack.  Only Lt. Joe can spot it.  In real life, he & the manager of the crime lab lifted up the jack at the same time & peered in from each end–& guess what they saw?

Making a deal with a criminal, part one:  In the course of interrogation for burglary, a man offers information about this case.  He’d like to exchange his information for a lesser charge or lighter sentence than he might otherwise deserve.  Lt. Joe promises nothing, & in the end snarls, “No deal.”  Actually, Lt. Joe did not have the authority to make a deal.  He could tell prosecutors that the man has been helpful.  And indeed, this prolific & well-informed burglar did offer up the names of three of the perpetrators.  That’s something for prosecutors to think over.

Making a deal with a criminal, part two:  In the show, Rickie’s girl friend claims she doesn’t know where he is.  Lt. Joe threatens her with arrest as an accessory if she doesn’t tell the truth.  She continues to lie, even as police find Rickie hiding in the basement.  What happened next:  Lt. Joe did indeed arrest her.  She was convicted & served ten years.

Finding a criminal who’s hiding:  Lt. Joe tells me it’s common for criminals to be really dumb at hiding.  (Just read the current headlines.)  “You need to not sit still,” he says.  “If you sit still, I’ll find you.”   (Why is he telling me this?  Some sort of sibling thing?)

Judgments & sentences:  Compare Rickie Dillon with the killer Ronald Ball in “Death Grip,” the 4th show of this fourth season.  Rickie Dillon got a public defender.  He also got a life sentence.  In contrast, Ron Ball’s parents paid half a million dollars for an expert defense team & a bevy of expert witnesses.  A jury found Ron Ball to be temporarily insane.  He served about ten years in a state psychiatric hospital.  That’s a prison facility, & he left with a criminal record.  But it’s nothing like a life sentence.

Does money make all the difference?

Temporary insanity:  If you’re thinking about sudden impulsive killing, such as one might expect from a verdict involving “temporary insanity,” consider this further contrast.  Ron sought out his victim with a loaded gun.  Doesn’t that look as if he was demonstrating an ability to plan ahead?  The ability to premeditate a decision is a factor in the legal definition of insanity, even if not necessarily in a medical diagnosis of mental illness.  On the other hand, Rickie seems not to have planned ahead for murder.  He arrived with a car jack intending to pry open a lock.  He seems to have had no idea a human being was inside the truck.  Seconds later he uses the jack to kill, hitting again & again in a frenzied attack.  Doesn’t that seem like insanity, temporary or not?

Poker Face – Season 4, Show 5, 2014

This is a house with a lot of visitors.  People come & go, buying & selling, dealing & drinking–all day, all night.  The proprietor is a colorful character, bragging about his wealth.  So when the proprietor is murdered, there is an extraordinary range of suspects.  Lt. Joe’s metaphor keeps expanding, from a “Yankee stadium full of suspects,” then yet more suspects filling the stands, & then, when he sees the extent of drugs involved, two Yankee stadiums.

But, after all, the murderer turns out to be the girl friend.  Isn’t the significant other always the number one suspect?  Though it’s not clear in the show, in real life, Lt. Joe did zero in on the girl friend sooner rather than later.  Real life doesn’t have the cliff hangers of TV plots.

Most quoted line:  “I see dead people in my dreams.  Not from the movies.  Real dead people.”  In case you missed the source of the original line, “I see dead people,” or its many variations & parodies, it’s from the 1999 movie, Sixth Sense.

Summary:  It’s 1990, with a game of cards going on in a working class neighborhood of Colorado Springs.  The five card players let themselves in, & they go about their game, even though the man who lives there, Jamie Foster, isn’t at the door to welcome them.  This is a house where people cheerfully come & go, at all hours.  To the card-playing visitors, the only sign of a host is a blanket-covered person on the couch.  They assume that’s someone sleeping, most likely Jamie’s girl friend, Leona, known as Oni.

Card playing for money is only one of assorted businesses Jamie conducts in this house.  Another man, Charles Miller, appears looking for Jamie.  He wants to make a deal for car parts.  Since none of the card players knows where Jamie is, Charles goes to wake up Oni.

When he gets no response, he pulls back the blanket.  There, lying dead all this time, is the murdered body of Jamie Foster.

When the news comes in, Lt. Joe is attending the autopsy of a suicide victim.  (It’s rarely just another day at the office for a homicide detective.)

Lt. Joe finds the body shot twice in the stomach & once in the head.  Relaxed positioning makes it look as if Jamie was shot while he was asleep.  There is no sign of a fight.  There is no cover up other than the blanket.  One clue is scrape & drag marking on the porch & driveway, as if someone had recently removed something heavy.

Lt. Joe finds other indications of the various businesses that Jamie ran from his house, such as a large supply of alcohol & cigarettes.  Jamie was the neighborhood entrepreneur & purveyor.  He ran a sort of pawn shop.  He ran a home-based late-night club where he sold alcohol after hours.  He bought & sold cars.

Nevertheless, Lt. Joe notes, “Everything about this is vague, & one thing I don’t like is vague.”  As he interviews, he hears one story repeating, that Jamie bragged about having money.  But that leaves him with “a field of suspects that could fill Yankee stadium.”

He interviews the five card players first.  He finds that, with so many people going in & out of the house at all hours, it’s not unusual to find Jamie absent or sleeping.  Lt. Joe releases four of the card players, but decides to interrogate one of them, John Baker.  John Baker has a key to the house.  He arrived first for the card game & was alone in the house for some period of time before the others arrived.  He says it’s normal not to have a schedule in that house.  He often finds Jamie or Oni asleep, especially since they tended to have worked all night at the after-hours club.

John Baker reveals that Jamie had been fearful & angry lately.  He had complained of weird hang-up phone calls.  He had started carrying a 38 revolver.

This is progress.  A medical examination shows that 38 caliber bullets were what killed Jamie.  Could he have been killed with his own gun?  (No cliff hanger here:  The answer is yes.)

Furthermore, John Baker notices that a safe is missing from the closet.  Marks on the carpet show where the safe dragged across.  Those marks fit in with the scrapes & drag marks on the porch & driveway.  The difficulty of moving such a heavy object provides one more clue:  There may well have been more than one perpetrator.

But everyone knew about the safe.  Rumors abounded that it was full of cash, diamonds, & who knows what other valuables.  As far as the number of suspects, we’re “back in Yankee stadium, & the stands are full.”

Police search for Jamie’s missing car.  When they find it, they approach cautiously.  But instead of a dangerous killer driving it, they find a woman, terrified, unarmed.  Nothing inside the car or trunk is at all suspicious.  The woman says Jamie gave her the car to drive because she was thinking of buying it.  This turns out to be just a prolonged test drive.

At this point, Lt. Joe says, “Everything is complicated & confused.”

Jamie’s girl friend Oni is still missing, & that’s suspicious.  Police find a man who may be her second or would-be boy friend.  He is Fidel, a driver for UPS.  He tells them something that changes the case.  Oni, he says, is a major drug addict, with a habit that could cost more than $500 a day.  Drug involvement means “another stadium full of suspects, including her.”

Why is Oni missing?  Did she–or others in the drug world–have their eyes on Jamie’s money?

Lt. Joe is optimistic about finding Oni.  As he says, “People like this don’t know how to run.”  Police search motels that cater to the down & out.  They search pawn shops.

They find a pawn broker, Bob Smith.  He says a regular at the shop is sudden flush with money, buying back things he had pawned just shortly before.  His name is Michael Parsons, & his address is on an old receipt.

When police arrive, Michael is “all about denial.”  He says he doesn’t know Jamie.  He doesn’t know Oni.  He can’t keep eye contact.  He’s lying.  Finally, under classic Lt. Joe questioning, Michael confesses he had gone to Jamie’s house to help Oni move the safe.  Oni had told Michael that Jamie is not there, & as Lt. Joe points out, “In a way, she’s right.”  The safe was heavy, hard to move, & difficult to pry open.  When they did get it open, they found all too little money.  “That had to be a disappointment,” Lt. Joe says.  After that, Michael says he took Oni to the bus station.  He says he hasn’t heard from her since.

Police charge Michael as an accessory to murder, along with first-degree burglary.

Oni calls & says she wants to surrender.  “We accept surrender,” deadpans Lt. Joe.

Oni has quite a story.  She says she took the bus to Kansas City to escape the four men who barged in, knocked her down, & killed Jamie.  The men dragged the safe as far as the driveway & then found it was too heavy to take further.  The story becomes more & more convoluted.  “If she’s not the worst liar on the planet,” says Lt. Joe, “she’s in the top five.”

Police lock up Oni.  Eventually, she confesses.  She had heard Jamie bragging about the contents of the safe, & she decided on stealing what she thought would be a large amount of money.  She found Jamie asleep on the couch.  She shot him with his own gun.  She is convicted of second-degree murder & sentenced to 24 years in prison.

As Lt. Joe says, she was just looking for another hit–& willing to murder to get it.

Nicknames:  Leona Geraldine Jones went by the nickname Oni.  Often, in the underworld of drugs & crime, people are known only by nicknames–for them, a welcome anonymity.

The Safe:  Although there was someone willing to kill to possess it (not to mention that Yankee stadium full of suspects who probably thought about stealing from it), this was really just a cheap safe, intended as fire protection, not burglary proof.  Witness that a couple of non expert bumblers were able to pry it open.

The Accomplice:  Michael Parsons served twelve years in prison for his role in this crime.  Why is there always someone willing to go along as accessory to crime, no matter how heinous or dangerous?  That’s a question with no answer.

A Business Mentality:  Lt. Joe tells me there’s “always a Jamie,” in certain neighborhoods.  This Jamie served a useful function in his neighborhood.  People admired him.  In addition to his other enterprises, Jamie also sold drugs.  He fenced stolen property.  He had served three years in jail.  Producers for the show don’t mention quite all the illegal enterprises, as they wish to maintain our sympathy for Jamie.  But who doesn’t feel sympathy for a murder victim, no matter who he was?  No one deserves murder.

The Perpetrator:  Oni was so seriously addicted to crack cocaine that she would not have been able to function as a drug dealer, except on the outer fringes of that underworld.  Her physical health had begun to decline, too.  Lt. Joe does not know what happened to her, but doubt she survived her time in prison.

The Title: Oh, we could go for less snarky titles.  Show some respect!

Death Grip – Season 4, Show 4, 2014

Lt. Joe begins this episode with the line:  “Love is blind, but it can also be dangerous.”  What I see in this case is not blind love but blind rage.

The attention-getting issue in this show is the question of temporary insanity.  Should a mentally ill killer be incarcerated in a special facility?  Or for the safety of the public, should a killer be locked up despite mental illness?

And then there’s the concept of “temporary”?  Was this jury a bunch of patsies?

Most Quoted Line:   “Sympathy is just a word in the dictionary between ‘s..t’ (bleeped out in the show, but not so you don’t know what it means) & ‘syphilis’.”

Summary:  Scene is an apartment building, Colorado Springs, on an evening in February, 1979.  A mother & infant are sleeping in one of the apartments.  She awakens to loud noises–& the crash of a vehicle through the wall, dangerously close by.  She grabs her baby & runs outside.   What she finds is blood.  The windshield of the truck is covered with blood.  A woman, covered with blood, sits on the ground.  Inside the pick-up truck is a the bloody body of a man.

Lt. Joe is working the night shift.  He arrives at the apartment building to find a crowd of spectators, along with the level of confusion that he has come to expect.  The woman on the ground is too traumatized to respond or speak.  An ambulance takes her away to a hospital.

Lt. Joe soon discovers that this was murder.  “This [death] is not from running into a building. This is from running into a bullet.”

What appears to have happened is that the driver of the truck rolled down the window while the truck was still in gear.  Perhaps he was talking with the shooter.  The bullet hit through the open window & into the man’s head.  A spasm of death locked him into position, with his foot still on the gas pedal & his hands on the steering wheel.  The truck lurched forward, crashed into the building, & then almost bounced backward before it came to rest.

At that point, the traumatized passenger in the truck fell or leapt to the ground.  She is Lori Alice Firth, age 23.   The murdered man is Michael Lyle Faast, a furniture salesman, married, with two small sons.

Lt. Joe looks for witnesses.  One of the spectators is Warren Anderson, who announces he is a witness, but then becomes agitated & attempts to run away.  Of course, Lt. Joe is suspicious.  He takes him in for questioning.  Warren is lying, but what he’s lying about turns out to be personal.  He was on the scene that night to pursue an extra-marital affair that he wants to keep secret.  He pleads for sympathy, thus eliciting the now-much-quoted line about sympathy.  He goes so far as to offer a $500 bribe, a first for Lt. Joe.  Lt. Joe threatens to hold a press conference that will reveal all.  Under this sort of pressure, Warren talks, but as far as the murder goes, “he really doesn’t see a lot.”  Lt. Joe accurately decides, “I have better things to do than talk to you.”

A more useful witness is the owner of the truck.  Lt. Joe tracks him down.  Michael is a friend, who borrowed the truck in order to help his sister move.  His idea is that Michael & Lori are just friends.  But Lori is a close enough friend that she goes along to help with the move.

Clearly, the question now is whether Michael was having an affair with Lori.  Reportedly, he was unhappily married to Claudia.  Is this a love triangle?  Is someone jealous?

Lt. Joe goes to inform Claudia of Michael’s death.  Michael’s mother & father are there, & they react with horror & devastation.  But Claudia, interviewed for this show, displays a cold, calm demeanor.  She goes about her house tidying & cleaning.  She tells the suspicious Lt. Joe that Michael owned a rifle & a gun.  Did she have both motive & means to commit murder?  Of course, Lt. Joe orders a ballistic comparison to see if the fatal bullet could have come from Michael’s gun. (It didn’t.)

Claudia also knows about Lori.  She says that Michael had been working on a book about his father’s experiences in World War II.  Lori had been working for him as a part time stenographer, doing organizing & typing–& apparently, moving work.

What Claudia says in the interview is that she did feel the pain of the loss of her husband but couldn’t show her emotions.  She couldn’t stop moving.  That was agitation & distress, not a steely temper.  She was left as the single mother of two children, Mark, then age six, & Patrick, age one.

The time comes when Lt. Joe can interview the traumatized Lori.  “This is it,” he says.  “This is the moment.”  He finds Lori still an emotional mess, but able to talk.  She identifies the perpetrator as her former boy friend, Ron Ball.  He is an Air Force officer, who once had everything going for him, a “golden boy,” as Lt. Joe describes him.  Lori fell in love with him.  He did not return her affection, although he grudgingly allowed her to follow him as the Air Force posted him to Colorado Springs.  After three years, though, Lori breaks up with him.  Ron does not like rejection.  At once, he wants her back.  He proposes marriage.  He sends disturbing letters.  Lori becomes frightened of him.  To try to get rid of these unwanted attentions, Lori may have told him she had a new boy friend.

That boy friend, however, was not Michael.  She says she was not romantically involved with Michael.

But that’s not what Ron thought.  Ron became ferociously jealous.

Now Lt. Joe knows who the killer is.

Look at the fate in the minute-by-minute timing of all this:  Michael is a furniture salesman, off work when the store closes at 9:00.  He plans to spend the rest of the evening helping his sister move.  It takes him about 45 minutes to leave work, borrow the truck, & go to pick up Lori.  Meanwhile, Ron visits Lori at about 9:35.  Within just minutes, she has brushed him off, & he storms out to his car to retrieve his already loaded pistol.  (Does this look like pre meditation?) When Michael arrives a few minutes later, about 9:45, Ron is in the parking lot, gun in hand.  His emotions are at a boil.  Michael sees Ron.  He rolls down the window to try to speak to him.  Ron fires the shot.  The truck lurches forward in the “death grip.”  The truck breaks a window & comes all too close to hitting the mother & baby asleep in the lower level apartment.  Lori witnesses all this.

Patrol officers find Ron’s car parked outside a bar.  A plainclothesman enters the bar as if he were a customer.  Sure enough, he finds Ron there, dressed in his Air Force uniform.  Plan is that to arrest Ron right then & there, with other police ready to storm in & take him a gunpoint, if necessary.  Suddenly, the bar stool is empty.  Ron is in the men’s room.  The arrest does not quite go according to plan, but it does happen.

Police search Ron’s car.  They do not find a gun.  Lt. Joe needs a confession from Ron.  Under questioning, Ron requests legal counsel.  But, despite that moment of lucidity, he is in general not acting in a sane manner.  He talks to himself, on & on.  He displays, Lt. Joe says, “extremely bizarre behavior.”

In due course, three Air Force officers arrive to demand their colleague’s immediate release.  They act as if Lt. Joe were their not too bright subordinate.  He explains what Ron has done.  Suddenly, their arrogance turns to shock.  What follows, Lt. Joe says, must be the “fastest discharge in military history.”

Ron is acquitted by reason of temporary insanity.  He is sent not to a prison but to a hospital.

Michael’s wife Claudia, speaking over thirty years later, says that she still feels the pain of her great loss.  Lt. Joe comments, “What a waste of a life.”

Unusual Emotional Reaction:  In a portion of the interview not aired, Claudia says that she can see why Lt. Joe might have interpreted her flat reaction as suspicious.  She was candid in the interview that she has difficulty expressing herself.  A reaction like hers is rare, but it does happen.  Lt. Joe has often approached killers to tell them of a death that is not news to them.  Sometimes, they can’t even pretend to be surprised, much less sorry or sad.  A few recognize that it would be in their best interest to put on a pretense of grief or shock.  But generally, people are not good at lying, & an experienced detective like Lt. Joe can tell the difference.  Claudia, it turns out, was not good at displaying the truth of her own deep emotions.

Motives for Murder:  Wouldn’t you think Ron might have done a bit of research before he selected a murder target who was not, in fact, competition for Lori’s affections?  Again, as so often in Lt. Joe’s cases, there’s no logical motive.  There is not literary–no Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, or P. D. James for us.  This is life & death, real & messy.

But if the motive is missing, replaced by anger & rage, does that mean the killer is insane?

Temporary Insanity:  Ron’s parents hired the best defense attorneys.  They reportedly spent a full $500,000.

During a jury trial, expert psychiatric experts argued that Ron was insane at the time of the murder.  Ron claimed not even to remember his actions that night.  Lt. Joe believes Ron spent about ten years in a state psychiatric facility.  He does not know what happened to him after that.  His personal belief is that Ron was sane.

Murder trails often revolve around issues of mental illness. Ordinarily, juries are reluctant to say the word “acquit” when a defendant is clearly guilty, even if mentally ill by all medical definition.  Some jurisdictions allow a verdict of “guilty but mentally ill.”

But a jury can be manipulated.  Jurors can react with emotion rather than logic.

Does that mean the defendant gets off easy?  Sometimes, at least, it does not.  Certainly, ten years in a state psychiatric prison would be unpleasant, not to say punitive.  But most of us will think that Ron got off easy, considering his violence left behind a man horribly dead, two small children fatherless, a devastated wife & parents, & a severely traumatized young woman.  Add that his actions nearly killed a young mother & infant.

Justice for Dollars:  Contrast Ron’s fate to the outcome for murderer Rickie Dillon, in “Blood Innocence,” the sixth show of this fourth season.  Rickie is one of four men bent on stealing whatever valuables they can from an unsecured truck.  Unknown to him, there are no valuables, & a man is sleeping in the back of the truck–Carl Taylor, a veteran & war hero.  Within seconds of breaking into the truck, Rickie decides–abruptly & for no discernible reason–to beat this poor man to death.  Like Ron, Rickie may (or may not) have suffered from temporary (or permanent) insanity.  But the two killers, Rickie & Ron, differ in race, socio-economic status, criminal history, & financial resources.  Rickie had a public defender–no half million dollar defense for him.  Rickie’s sentence was life in prison, no chance of parole.

Does money make all the difference?  Does this case give us blind love, blind rage–but not blind justice?

Jury versus Judge:  Here is Lt. Joe’s maxim.  If you’re guilty, ask for a jury to decide your fate.  If you’re innocent, request a judge.

Bad Things Come in Threes – Season 4, Show 3, 2014

If there’s one truth a homicide detective learns quickly, it’s to pay attention to seeming coincidence.  In this case, three women are killed within one general geographic area & within a short period of time.

Lt. Joe tells me he used to be squeamish.  But he overcame it by the time he finished his first year as a homicide detective.  I may never overcome the vision of the peanut butter in this story.

Most Quoted Line:  “I always think there’s no such thing as coincidence.  Coincidences are always suspicious.  If they happen more than once, they become evidence.”

Summary:  It’s January 8, 1995 at the Lair Lounge in Colorado Springs.  A bartender passing by the back door hears a disturbing sound, human moaning.  Two women lie in the front seat of a car.  One is dead.  The other dies later in the hospital.

When his pager goes off, Lt. Joe is practicing with his highly accurate .45 automatic.  As he approaches the death scene, he sees a red mist.  That’s high velocity blood splatter.  That’s only from bullets.  So he already knows this is murder.  Even though it is a winter night, the car windows are rolled down.  That indicates the victims knew the killer.  He finds 9 mm. casings.

The victims are two women.  Shirley Harper Swalley, age 30, was an unemployed teacher, divorced, with two daughters.  Her former husband & a daughter, now grown, appear in interviews.  Michelle Vigil, known as Mickey, age 29, was an elementary school teacher, married, with two sons, ages two & four.  Her stepmother appears in interviews.

A man of interest appears on the scene.  He is Valentino, very distraught.  He says he was a would-be boy friend of Shirley’s.  But, he says, Shirley worried about taking on a new boy friend.  Her old boy friend, Gino, was jealous, controlling, & dangerous.  “I like that,” Lt. Joe comments drily.  “Pay attention to this guy.”

Sure enough, Gino shows up in a van.  “He had The Look,” Lt. Joe notes.  Everything about him adds up to “suspect.”  Gino knows that.  “Good,” Lt. Joe says.  “You have frightening grasp of the obvious.”  Gino says he had been at a party.  He came over to the Lair Lounge because he was supposed to meet Shirley that evening, then heard rumors of the murder.  Unfortunately for the investigation, Gino’s alibi checks out.

Next Lt. Joe goes to tell Michelle’s family.  They are devastated.  Michelle’s husband says that she was with Shirley just to cheer her up–& also to give her a ride since Shirley’s car had been stolen recently.  He reveals that Shirley was addicted to cocaine.  That news puts the investigation into new territory.  “Murder cases become enormously complicated when drugs are involved.”

Lt. Joe looks into a similar drug-related murder that happened four days earlier, in Elbert County, Colorado, not his jurisdiction.  A UPS driver had come upon the body of Sherry Holmes, age 24.  Sherry, like Shirley, was a drug addict.  Could this be the same killer?  That crime had what to Lt. Joe is the distinguishing mark of a Mexican drug cartel.  The body, killed with six gunshot wounds, is heavily covered with peanut butter.  The pounds of peanut butter are to make the body attractive to predators, wolves or coyotes, who might, Lt. Joe says, be counted on to dispose of the body or at least to drag it off “into the sunset.”

Lt. Joe interviews Gino again.  Gino says that Shirley & Sherry were acquaintances.  He brings in the name of James Palecek, a former boy friend & drug dealer.  Shirley supposedly owed James $2,500 in drug debt.  James is the one who stole her car.  Was he settling the score?

Shawn, Shirley’s former husband, says that Shirley had once been a good woman & a devoted mother.  But drugs had overtaken her life.  Her children saw her less & less.  “Everything you’ve ever been,” Lt. Joe says about drug addiction, “fades into the past.”

Witnesses at the Lair Lounge that night remember Shirley quarreling with two men over money.  One is James’ brother Paul Palecek.  The other is Filippi.  A bartender remembers seeing Paul go out back to the men’s room.  Meanwhile, Filippi goes out the front door.  The top part door is covered with signs & posters, but she remembers seeing his legs through the unobstructed bottom part of the door.

Now police pick up Jason, a drug addict who claims to have information.  He says he saw a hit list of drug buyers who owned debts to the “Mexican mafia.”  He thinks he read the names of all three of these women on the hit list.  Jason rambles on in a drug-induced paranoia.  This is a dead end.

Lt. Joe looks at the evidence so far.  In addition to the 9 mm casings, police discover 25 mm casings.  Conclusion is that two shooters used two guns in a simultaneous shooting.  Police also find blood-stained paper towels in the trash can of the men’s room.  The door of the men’s room is directly next to the back door.  Neither are visible from the bar.  So Paul could have gone out the back door, shot the victims, then returned to clean up.  As far as Filippi is concerned, Lt. Joe is no longer convinced that the bartender observed his legs through the front door.  As the second shooter, he could have gone out the front door, around to the back, shot the victims, then returned again through the front door.

Who is Filippi?  He’s a middle-level drug dealer connected with James & Paul.

Police find Paul’s car at a motel.  They approach cautiously.  It’s all too obvious Paul could kill again.  “Once you kill,” Lt. Joe remarks, “it’s just numbers after that.”

Police succeed in arresting Paul.

Paul is convicted of first-degree murder with two consecutive life sentences, without possibility of parole.  Filippi escapes to Mexico, where as far as we know, he lives a free man, without consequences for murder.  James is convicted on other drug-related charges.

It turned out Lt. Joe was right about Gino having The Look that goes along with the “willingness to kill.”  Gino was eventually convicted of killing Sherry Holmes.  He is serving life in prison.

What is especially poignant about this case is that Shirley had plans to go to a drug rehab center.  She was scheduled to depart the very next day.

The Back Story:  Shirley & Michelle met as teachers at an elementary school in Colorado Springs.  Shirley became addicted to drugs, divorced, & dropped out of teaching.  She was in a bad way.  Michelle went out with her that night to console & comfort a friend in trouble.  Michelle had nothing to do with the drugs or drug dealers.  She was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people.  Four small children were left without their mothers.

Coincidences:  The seeming coincidences of this case are not really coincidence but inter-connection.  The criminals in the world of drugs have a survival reason to stay well acquainted with one another–& with the addicts who buy from them.  Lt. Joe says the peanut butter is not unique.  At least two of the killers received sentences of first degree murder.  But one walked free, & the Mexican drug cartels continue in the news.

Sick Joke:  An unfortunate UPS driver, driving around lost, came upon the body of Sherry Holmes, just hours after (human) predators took her life & before the peanut butter drew in (animal) predators.  Lt. Joe reminds me of the advertising slogan, “What Can Brown Do For You?”

Death Comes Knocking – Season 4, Show 2, 2014

Would you believe this investigation took place within only three hours?  Yet Lt. Joe was already too late, even as he began.  The murderer was already on his way to commit another murder.  “We were on chapter one,” Lt. Joe says, “and didn’t realize chapter two was unfolding.”

Favorite lines:  “What makes humans so dangerous is their emotions.”  “Don’t monkey with someone else’s monkey.”

Summary:  The year is 1991.  On a late afternoon in an apartment complex in Colorado Springs, Cathy Hickey lies napping on her couch.  She awakes to screaming from an upstairs apartment, then footsteps pounding down the stairs.  She runs outside & finds her teenage neighbor lying, bleeding to death.  This is Robert Addison Jr., known as Bobby, age 16.  Upstairs in the apartment is another body.  This is Bobby’s mother, Ernestine Addison, age 40.

Bobby was a nice kid, a good student at the local public school.  Ernestine worked as a nursing assistant.  They were churchgoers.

Lt. Joe is teaching a class at Pikes Peak Community College when he gets the page, “DB” for “dead body.”

He arrives to find a crowd, media in full force, a “Tower of Babel,” with “an enormous amount of emotion.”  Neighbors assume this is a murder-suicide.  Indeed, multiple victims in a private home often indicate that.  But multiple gunshot wounds on the woman have “powder halos” around them.  The gun was fired over & over, from close up.  It’s obvious the woman was trying to get away.  The complicated wound entering the boy’s back under his rib cage also could not have been a suicide.  The sad story the evidence shows is that Bobby heroically died in an effort to save his mother.  Even after he was shot, he ran outside attempting to get help.  Lt. Joe forces himself to appear cold & matter-of-fact, but internally he is hit by the sorrow of these deaths.

The victims knew the killer.  There is no sign of struggle or forced entry.  Ernestine had been preparing dinner, with food already in pots & pans.  This killing was done in an “emotional rage.”  Lt. Joe sees him as Mr. X, a “mysterious demon.”

There’s a witness.  A neighbor, a seventh-grade girl named Darlene, heard a heated argument inside.  Then she saw a man in a suit run to his “truck car” & speed off.  There were only two models of “truck cars” available in that era, so that narrows the vehicle search.

Sharyl, Ernestine’s daughter & Bobby’s sister, talks about Robert Addison Sr., Ernestine’s ex-husband & Bobby’s father.  Here’s the first suspect.

Lt. Joe finds him in his office 15 miles away, surrounded by co-workers who can vouch for his presence throughout the day.  He claims to have had a civil relationship with his ex-wife, & he weeps when he heard the dreadful news.  He is not Mr. X.

Lt. Joe hurries on to find Mattie Wilson. Ernestine’s mother & Bobby’s grandmother.  She is at home with her son Lincoln, who is interviewed for this show.  They have already seen the news on TV.  They are devastated.  Lincoln mentions that Ernestine was involved with an older man, whose name he can’t remember.  Now Lt. Joe is no longer looking for Mr. X.  Now he’s looking for Mr. Boyfriend.

He rushes to the hospital where Ernestine worked & tracks down her co-worker & friend, Linda.  Linda is distraught to hear the tragic news.  She knows a lot about the boyfriend.  He is 15 to 20 years older than Ernestine.  He wears a suit.  He is possessive & controlling.  Ernestine had said she was going to end the relationship.  She has a plane ticket to go to Florida.  This man’s name is Bryant.  There is confusion about whether that’s his first or last name.  But there is no confusion about who is now the number one suspect.

Lt. Joe goes on to Bryant’s place of employment as a salesman in the furniture department of J. C. Penney at a local mall.   The manager there confirms an employee by the name of Herman Coleman Bryant.  He is in his 60’s.  He has a wife Emma, age 69, & has been married more than thirty years.  He had left work that day without permission.  He seemed upset about something.

Lt. Joe calls the sheriff in El Paso county where the Bryants live.  He almost drops the phone when he hears law enforcement officials are already at the scene.  There’s been another murder.  Emma is lying dead in the yard.  According to neighbors, a “mysterious madman” has barricaded himself inside the house.

“We didn’t get it done fast enough.”  El Paso County is not Lt. Joe’s jurisdiction, not his crime scene. But Lt. Joe notices evidence in the driveway, a Chevrolet El Camino “car truck,” just as Darlene had described.  Lt. Joe knows the man barricaded in that house is Herman.

Force is the only option.  A SWAT team has already arrived.  The entry team charges inside, only to find a closed bedroom door.  Now they must make a second entry.  Lt. Joe worries, “What if he isn’t done making people dead yet?”  Inside the bedroom, a shot rings out.  The entry team enters to find Herman kneeling by the bed & dead, with a gunshot to his head.  There is no arrest to be made.

This turns out to be murder/suicide event after all.

The Trajectory of the Bullet:  One bullet killed Bobby.  In an effort to protect his mother, he flung himself over her body on the bed.  He was almost horizontal & still moving when the bullet entered his lower back, traversed through his chest, tore into his throat, cut his tongue, & stopped inside his mouth.  He lived long enough to run outside.  Of course, the meticulous Lt. Joe had the gun & the 38-caliber slugs analyzed to make sure that the weapon in all four deaths was the one & the same.

Domestic Violence:  The most dangerous time in a domestic violence relationship is during a breakup.  The victim attempts to get away.  The bully objects.  He wants control–or else.  Herman Bryant was a control freak.  When Ernestine decided to go to Florida, perhaps to take up again with an old flame, it was clear he had lost control.  He took control again, death’s total control.  Was his wife Emma also trying to get away?  Was he losing control of her, too?  We don’t know.  Lt. Joe could find no friends, no acquaintances, no contacts to tell him about her.  She seems to have been unusually isolated from the world, & that of itself tells us something.

Eyes Wide Shut -Season 4, Show 1, 2014

Dear family & friends,

Here we go on the fourth season of Homicide Hunter.

You’ve probably noticed improvements.  The production company is working with a bigger budget, more experience, & an investment in new cameras.  Image quality is way up.  There’s a cinematic look that wasn’t there before.  The new cameras give a feel of film rather than video. We’re getting dramatic shots of sky & mountains as never before.

Some improvements are less visible, such as actual Colorado Springs police uniforms & accurate police car markings.

Maybe best of all: No more voice-over narration.  Now Lt. Joe does all the narration.  No more annoying recaps after every commercial.

Eyes Wide Shut

Do you believe that murder will out?  Even after five years?  Lt. Joe believes so.  As he says in this first show:  “Dark secrets are extremely destructive.”

Summary:   It’s 1989 in North Cheyenne Canyon park, Colorado.  A park ranger is picking up trash.  But the trash he spots is clothes.  Nearby, in a creek bed, he sees a bloody body, dressed only in underpants.

Lt. Joe had just finished testifying in court, when his pager goes off.  It’s the code for murder.

The body in the park is a young black man, in good physical condition.  The body has been bludgeoned & stabbed repeatedly in what appears to have been a high speed attack.  Despite a few defense wounds, the body lies with one eye open & one eye shut, sign of a quick death.  Nevertheless, there are no blood splatters around & no blood on the nearby clothes.  Lt. Joe concludes that the park is not the crime scene.  He believes that, for whatever reason, the man voluntarily took his clothes off before the attack.

How does he identify the victim?  In the clothes, he finds a paper cut in strips, each hand-written with the same phone number.  (You’ve seen strips like this on public bulletin boards.  They invite you to take a strip & call for something like babysitting or lawn work–or for a more nefarious service.) The phone number leads Lt. Joe to a pager company, & the pager company leads him to the owner of the pager.

The victim is Corey Edge, age 20, a Golden Gloves boxer.  At Corey’s house, Lt. Joe finds his mother & Lamar Edge, Corey’s brother, then just 14 years old.  Interviewed for this show, the adult Lamar emphasizes how devastated his mother was & how much Corey had to live for.  Corey had the potential for a professional boxing career.  Corey also had a reputation as a ladies’ man.  His mother says there were so many phone calls to the house, supposedly from Corey’s female admirers, that she had the phone taken out.  You don’t have to have Lt. Joe’s experience to think that sounds suspicious.

Lamar mentions that Corey spent the night with friends. So Lt. Joe visits the Sanchez home where two brothers, Jason & Daryl, ages 16 & 19, live with their parents.  Jason & Daryl say that Corey planned to stay overnight with them, in their basement retreat. Then, about midnight, Corey went out to a convenience store.  He didn’t return, & they were allegedly concerned about him.  Later, they decide to mention that Corey was selling crack cocaine at the store’s parking lot.  Corey was a novice at selling drugs, very early into the game.  But already, there were 152 calls on his pager.  To Lt. Joe, that translates to 152 suspects.

The story the Sanchez brothers tell is consistent & believable.  They claim Corey was not there when they woke up the next morning. Indeed, his gym bag is still in the house, with the pager & clothes inside.  (A drug dealer is apparently always on call.  Pager had gone off at 2:30 AM.  But it went unanswered.  Corey was already gone by then.) Perhaps a disgruntled customer is responsible, or perhaps the murder was part of a “drug rip,” a robbery of drugs.

Lt. Joe interviews clerks at the convenience store.  They do not remember either Corey or the Sanchez brothers.  They see nothing, know nothing.  He interviews others of Corey’s associates.  One Jimmy Van gives him a glimmer of hope.  Jimmy has an extensive criminal history, especially considering that he’s still in his teens.  He’s had confrontations with Corey, who once beat him up in front of other would-be alpha males.  Did that incident embarrass Jimmy enough to lead to murder?  But Jimmy has an alibi that checks out.  Besides, Corey was good with his fists.  Police think that Jimmy, even with a knife, could not have taken on Corey & done all this damage on his own.

Lt. Joe is looking for what he calls multiple offenders.  That makes sense.

The case draws media attention.  Anonymous tips pour in.  One tip leads Lt. Joe to two men with long criminal records, Barney & Rat.  Rat is such a weirdo that in his living room, he keeps a live rat in a cage.  The carpet is full of suspicious coppery brown stains.  Are Barney & Rat lying?  “If you’re going to lie to me, you’d better be exceptionally good at it,” Lt. Joe intones, “because I’m exceptionally good at finding out.”  But lab tests find no blood in the nasty carpet stains.

Lt. Joe says he’s “getting madder by the minute.”

Next comes Jimmy Stevenson.  Police have charged him with breaking & entering.  Jimmy wants to negotiate a deal.  He offers up information.  He tells a tale that involves a mastermind, Big Daddy, hit men & guns. Lt. Joe recognizes a fantasy story when he hears one.  “Been reading a lot of comic books?”

Then Lt. Joe has an epiphany that will eventually solve the case.  Perhaps Corey never went to the convenience store that night.  Perhaps Corey was in his underwear because he had been sleeping–in the basement, near the Sanchez brothers. Lt. Joe canvassed the apartment complex.  A neighbor saw something suspicious–men carrying away a large tarp about 3 AM that night, a tarp large enough to contain the body of a boxer.  As Lt. Joe puts it, “I’m starting to like this.”  He’s sure he now knows the crime scene, the Sanchez place, & the perpetrators, the Sanchez brothers.

Lt. Joe shows up at the Sanchez apartment, once again, this time with a search warrant.  Technicians spray to find hidden blood.  But to Lt. Joe’s shock & surprise, they find nothing.  The place is clean.

The father of the two brothers, Daryl Sanchez Sr., laughs in triumph.  Lt. Joe dramatically confronts him: “Maybe you should write this down. There will be a judgment day. I don’t forget, & I don’t forgive.”

Nevertheless, the case goes cold for five years.

Then the “magic moment I’ve been waiting for” arrives.  Ralph Sanchez, the brother of Daryl Sanchez Sr., in this unpleasant family, is under arrest for assaulting his brother.  Agitated & angry, he decides to cooperate.  He talks about how the murder happened.

The family is difficult to track.  They moved to California right after the murder.  (Why would that be?)  But of course, Lt. Joe locates all four of them.

Facing judgment day at last, they confess.  As Corey slept in their basement that night, Daryl Jr. decided to steal drugs from his pants pockets.  Corey awoke & threatened them with a gun.  He shot at them, but the gun jammed.  Jason rushes to Daryl’s “rescue,” with a knife. They beat Corey with a pipe.  They stab him repeatedly.  Corey tries to get away, but collapses on the staircase.  The Sanchez parents arrive just in time to see him draw his last breath.

Naturally, they are eager to cooperate.  All four go to work to get rid of the body & clean the apartment.  They clean with bleach.  They repaint.  They replace tiles.  Lt. Joe points out how rare it is to see a family of criminals work together so well.

Daryl Jr. & Jason strike a plea deal.  They are found guilty of second degree murder & sentenced to 22 years each.  Father & mother go away for six & four years.

The (Non) Motive:  Note that the Sanchez brothers confess in such a way as to make the murder seem like self-defense.  There was zero evidence that Corey had a gun. Corey was asleep & without defense other than his fists.  His supposed friends didn’t just quietly steal from him.  They set upon him like a pack of wolves.  As with other murders in this series, there appears to be no understandable or logical motive.

Cleaning Up Blood:  This clean up wasn’t easy.  But all four of the remarkably cooperative Sanchez family had jobs as custodians.  They had the materials, experience, & expertise to do a superlative job.

Family Dispute:  On “judgment day,” Daryl Sanchez Sr. was in the ICU, attacked in a brotherly dispute over $200.  When Lt. Joe arrived to arrest him, he cried.

Judgment Day:  Lt. Joe’s dramatic prediction about judgment day took place in court & in the presence of an attorney.  Claiming police harassment, Daryl Sanchez Sr. had hired a lawyer.  He requested & received a restraining order.  That held the police at bay–for a while.

Lesson Learned: Don’t bring a fist to a knife fight.  That’s what Lt. Joe says, but you knew that already, didn’t you?

The Sentences:  Even murder cases are plea bargained.  That avoids trial & saves the tax payers money.  It keeps up the win statistics for prosecutors.  But the result is that murderers can receive a lower charge & a lesser sentence than they deserve.  You’ll agree with Lt. Joe that there are those who should not be walking free amongst us.  (Read on for a purely emotional statement:  If the Boston bomber, that creep & coward, gets a plea bargain, you’ll hear me scream all the way to Texas.  He comes to trail in November.)

The Aftermath:  All four members of the Sanchez family are out of prison at this point.  Lt. Joe doesn’t know where they are now, but they’re among us some where.  Lamar Edge, Corey’s brother, interviewed for this show, lives in Detroit & works as an auto mechanic.

The Link:  How popular is this series, now in its fourth season?

The ID channel has put in two copycat shows–No Where to Hide and Cry Wolf.  (Of course, neither matches up to Lt. Joe. Need I say that?)  Lt. Joe is off to San Francisco this weekend to film a Toyota commercial.  He’s negotiating a book deal.  The ID store is selling Lt. Joe merchandise.  (Ask if I want a life-sized cardboard Lt. Joe figure glaring at me day & night?)  And see link below to a video of the all-time cool accessory, a Lego Lt. Joe.  (But, no, this boy who created this figure should not be watching shows like this.  They’re too gory for me, much less for a child.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgzhWJlZ9cA