Paul Skalnik learned about the benefits of being a jailhouse informant when he was in the Harris County Jail in Texas in 1978 for passing bad checks.
Skalnik had drained his wife’s checking account, used her good credit to buy a Lincoln Continental and a customized Dodge van, and opened credit cards in her name, according to a New York Times Magazine investigation with ProPublica.
Skalnik was in jail when police began asking inmates for information on the “Moody Park Three,” anti-police-brutality activists who were charged with inciting a riot. Skalnik called the DA’s office and said he could help.
In court, Skalnik told jurors that one of the defendants had confessed to him in prison that his plan all along was to “incite the Mexican American youngsters.” The defendant and his two co-defendants were convicted.
Skalnik soon learned how his information would benefit him in Florida, where he had been convicted of grand larceny and sentenced for violating probation. Prosecutors recommended he that Skalnik be moved from jail to work release.
Since then, Skalnik’s testimony helped send dozens of people to prison, including four on death row, according to the article. In Pinellas County, Florida, alone, Skalnik testified or supplied information in at least 37 cases from 1981 to 1987.
The case of Elizabeth Short ( the “Black Dahlia” ) murdered in January 1947 turns out to be a key piece in a complex puzzle of evidence connecting serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards to seven wrongful convictions. This article gives an overview of ten related cases, and explains significant new evidence discovered since John Cameron’s book on Edwards was published in 2014.
The Ten Cases
1. Josephine Ross, Frances Brown and Suzanne Degnan
( William Heirens convicted )
On June 5, 1945, 43-year-old Josephine Ross was found dead in her apartment at 4108 North Kenmore Avenue, Chicago. She had been repeatedly stabbed, and her head was wrapped in a dress. She was presumed to have surprised an intruder, who then killed her. Dark hairs were found clutched in Ross’ hand, indicating that she had struggled with the intruder before she was killed. No valuables were taken from the apartment.
On December 10, 1945, Frances Brown, a divorced woman, was discovered with a knife lodged in her neck and bullet wound to the head in her apartment at 3941 North Pine Grove Avenue, Chicago, after a cleaning woman heard a radio playing loudly and noted Brown’s partly open door. Brown had been savagely stabbed, and authorities thought that a burglar had been discovered or interrupted. No valuables were taken, but a message in lipstick on the wall of Brown’s apartment was left:
On January 7, 1946, six-year-old Suzanne Degnan was discovered missing from her first-floor bedroom in Edgewater, Chicago. Police found a ladder outside the girl’s window, and a ransom note:
“GeI $20,000 Reddy & wAITe foR WoRd. do NoT NoTify FBI oR Police. Bills IN 5’s & 10’s. BuRN This FoR heR SAfTY.”
A man repeatedly called the Degnan residence demanding the ransom, but hung up before any meaningful conversation could take place.
William Heirens confessed to these three murders, and pleaded guilty, but there are numerous indications that the confessions were false.
2. Elizabeth Short
On the morning of January 15, 1947, Elizabeth Short’s naked body was found severed into two pieces, after being last seen alive on January 9, 1947.
On March 14, an apparent suicide note scrawled in pencil on a bit of foolscap was found tucked in a shoe in a pile of men’s clothing by the ocean’s edge at the foot of Breeze Ave. Venice. The note read: “To whom it may concern: I have waited for the police to capture me for the Black Dahlia killing, but have not. I am too much of a coward to turn myself in, so this is the best way out for me. I couldn’t help myself for that, or this. Sorry, Mary.” The pile of clothing was first seen by a beach caretaker, who reported the discovery to John Dillon, lifeguard captain. Dillon immediately notified Capt. L. E. Christensen of West Los Angeles Police Station. The clothes included a coat and trousers of blue herringbone tweed, a brown and white Y shirt, white jockey shorts, tan socks and tan moccasin leisure shoes, size about eight. The clothes gave no clue about the identity of their owner.
Crime authors such as Steve Hodel (son of George Hill Hodel) and William Rasmussen have suggested a link between the Short murder and the 1946 murder and dismemberment of six-year-old Suzanne Degnan in Chicago, Illinois. Captain Donahoe of the LAPD stated publicly that he believed the Black Dahlia and the Chicago Lipstick Murders were “likely connected”. Among the evidence cited is the fact that Short’s body was found on Norton Avenue, three blocks west of Degnan Boulevard, Degnan being the last name of the girl from Chicago. There were also striking similarities between the handwriting on the Degnan ransom note and that of the “Black Dahlia Avenger”. Both texts used a combination of capitals and small letters (the Degnan note read in part “BuRN This FoR heR SAfTY” [sic]), and both notes contain a similar misshapen letter P and have one word that matches exactly.
3. Marilyn Reese Sheppard ( Husband Sam Sheppard wrongly convicted )
Samuel Holmes “Sam” Sheppard (December 29, 1923 – April 6, 1970) was an American osteopathic physician and, toward the end of his life, a professional wrestler. He was convicted of the brutal murder of his pregnant wife, Marilyn Reese Sheppard on July 4, 1954, at their Bay Village, Ohio, home. He spent almost a decade in prison, mostly at the Ohio Penitentiary, before a retrial was ordered, where he was acquitted in 1966.
On June 6, 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court, by an 8-to-1 vote, struck down the murder conviction. The decision noted, among other factors, that a “carnival atmosphere” had permeated the trial, and that the trial judge Edward J. Blythin, was clearly biased against Sheppard because Judge Blythin had refused to sequester the jury, did not order the jury to ignore and disregard media reports of the case, and when speaking to newspaper columnist Dorothy Kilgallen shortly before the trial started said, “Well, he’s guilty as hell. There’s no question about it.”
Stephanie Bryan (age 14) was last seen on April 28, 1955, walking home from school where she went through the parking lot of the Claremont Hotel. A large-scale search failed to find her. In mid-July, Georgia Abbott, Burton Abbott’s wife, reported finding personal effects which had belonged to the girl, including a purse and an ID card, in the basement of the Abbotts’ home in Alameda. The basement was in the home she shared with her husband, their son Christopher, and Burton’s mother, Elsie Abbott (née Moore).
In interviewing the Abbotts, the police learned that Elsie Abbott had found the purse earlier, but said she did not connect it with the case. She would profess her son’s innocence until she died.
Police subsequently recovered Stephanie’s glasses, a brassiere, and other evidence in the basement. No one in the family could account for how the victim’s personal effects came to be in the basement.
Abbott stated he had been at the family’s cabin 285 miles away near Weaverville, California, in Trinity County, when Stephanie disappeared.
On July 20, 1955, the victim’s body was found by The San Francisco Examiner reporter Ed Montgomery, in a shallow grave, a few hundred feet from the cabin and Abbott was charged with her rape and murder.
Abbott was subsequently convicted, sentenced to death, and executed after a stay from the governor reached the execution chamber too late.
Edwards apparently led Montgomery to the body, using a false name:
5. The Robison Family Murders
On June 25, 1968, near Cross Village Michigan, a family of six were executed in their summer cabin. The bodies were not found until July 22.
John Cameron obtained the case file with a FOIA request.
The letters “EBE” are highlighted in two documents, see “It’s Me”, page. 254. Cameron suggests Edwards thought of himself as “Edward Burns Edwards”.
When the prime suspect Scolaro learned of the impending charges and arrest, he committed suicide on March 8, 1973.
6. The Zodiac Killings
The Zodiac killings started on December 20, 1968. The killer targeted four men and three women between the ages of 16 and 29, with two of the men surviving attempted murder. The Zodiac himself claimed to have killed up to 37 victims. The killer originated the name “Zodiac” in a series of taunting letters and postcards sent to the local Bay Area press. See here for more evidence that Edwards was the Zodiac killer.
8. Laci Peterson ( Husband Scott Peterson convicted )
Laci Peterson disappeared while 8 months pregnant with her first child around December 24, 2002. Her husband Scott Peterson was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. An anonymous message was sent to the press soon after Laci and her son Conner’s remains were discovered on the shore of San Francisco bay, hundreds of further messages posted by “I Killed Laci Peterson” were subsequently posted. A cryptic signature apparently encoding “Edward E” ends “1947”, apparently referring back to the murder of Elizabeth Short. See here for more evidence on Laci/Scott Peterson..
9. Teresa Halbach ( Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey convicted )
Sometime during the day on October 31, 2005, photographer Teresa Halbach was scheduled to meet with Steven Avery, one of the owners of Avery Auto Salvage, to photograph a maroon Plymouth Voyager minivan for Auto Trader Magazine.
On November 11, 2005, Steven Avery was charged and later convicted of the murder of Halbach. Avery protested that he had been framed. Brenda Dassey ( who was an alibi for Avery ) was also convicted after making a confession that has all the hallmarks of being false. Two anonymous notes were left. See here for more on Teresa Halbach.
10. Coleman Family ( Husband and father Chris Coleman convicted )
Chris Coleman was convicted of strangling his wife, Sherri, and their boys Garrett, 11, and Gavin, 9, on May 5, 2009. Red, spray-painted graffiti messages were left inside the house. The messages apparent reference the 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short. See Opinion: New trial likely for murder of wife, two sons.
The Old Evidence
John Cameron connected the above murders ( with the exception of Teresa Halbach and Laci Peterson ) to Edwards in his 2014 book mostly using various anonymous writings – either discovered at a crime scene, sent to newspapers, or left on the internet, most notably in a website about the Black Dahlia case ( BlackDahliaSolution.org ).
The Peterson case is mentioned in appendices, but without any detail. John Cameron contacted me in 2015, sending me a copy of his book. I started to understand Edwards, and the evidence linking Edwards to the Peterson case, including the “Message from God” and the “I Killed Laci Peterson” messages, I also decoded the “Short Code” signature, see here. I already knew Scott Peterson was innocent on the basis of other evidence.
The New Evidence
In August 2019, I was contacted by Margot Burns ( first name changed ), who explained that she encountered Edwards in 1971, she had been forced to help him prepare one of the Zodiac cards, and he confessed to the murders of Elizabeth Short, Stephanie Bryan, Paul Lee Stine and to directing the planting of the remains of Laci Peterson on the shore of San Francisco Bay using a boat.
Finally there is evidence that Edwards and/or his associates was manipulating and mis-directing people who were studying the murders:
The “fratpack” forum on which the “I Killed Laci Peterson” messages were posted was apparently being run by Edwards and/or his associates. This was used to mis-lead people into thinking the author of the “I Killed Laci Peterson” messages was someone who was looking into the case.
On April 11, 2003 Steve Hodel’s theory that his father murdered the Black Dahlia in 1947 was announced, on April 13 further rumours in the Black Dahlia case were announced, the very same day that Conner’s body was found. See here.
The final page of the the BlackDahliaSolution website discussed Larry Harnisch, a Los Angeles Times copy editor and writer, who published books about the case.
The author of the BlackDahliaSolution website claimed he was 13 years old in January 1947, after being challenged about knowing an inordinate amount about the case in the FAQ section ( It’s Me, page 303 ). If Edwards was born June 14, 1933, as he claimed in this autobiography that would be true, but in fact records show he was born May 30, 1928 ). Conclusion : Edwards was using his fake birth date as a cover story.
The evidence linking Edwards to the wrongful convictions of William Heirens, Sam Sheppard, Burton Abbott, the West Memphis Three, Scott Peterson, Steven Avery, Brendan Dassey and Chris Coleman is extensive and compelling. Edwards committed murders and framed innocent people from 1945 to 2009. See here for more on Edwards.
[ Teresa Halbach disappeared on October 31, 2005 ]
Selected messages, with possible interpretations in brackets [ … ]
95. Tue Oct 11, 2005 6:05 am Thus in a matter of days. I will return to my old ways. Read the paper. It will happen sooner than later. [ Edwards gives notice there will be a high profile murder reported by newspapers. ]
96. Tue Oct 11, 2005 6:10 am
Fore if you may have my number. You will enter a permanent slumber. [ If someone has Edwards’ telephone number, they will be killed. ]
97. Tue Oct 11, 2005 6:15 am
Fore you and I should meet. Only once never to repeat. It is those as you.
Whom look best when turning blue.
98. Tue Oct 11, 2005 6:18 am
Not wise enough to figure my numbers.
Fore which you write proves your dumber.
99. Tue Oct 11, 2005 6:24 am
Fore now it is my time to leave.
Thus this is a time you should believe.
Now to prove what I say.
I return to my old ways. [ Edwards re-iterates he is leaving, returning to some previous MO ]
100. Tue Oct 11, 2005 6:27 am
As the waters become cool. I seek out someone new.
121. Posted: Sun Oct 23, 2005 10:41 am
Subject: Judge May Rule On Life Insurance Today
Put my money in a bag. We will play a game [ Perhaps a reference to collecting the life insurance money for his “adopted” son Danny Boy that Edwards murdered in 1996 ]
157. Sun Oct 30, 2005 1:25 pm [Annie has this as 12:25 p.m.]
Fore if you break the code. Then it is you who will know.
Fore now we will see. If you are as smart as me.
218. Nov 13, 2005 7:25 pm
Fore thee who break ith thee code. Will be led to my humble la bode. [ The long code somehow points to Edwards’ home address ]
245. Posted: Sun Nov 27, 2005 4:27 pm
Fore thou say what I do shocks the world. I laugh at thee so seek a
woman with a man an earl. [ A reference to Steven Avery’s brother, Earl Avery. Steven accused his brothers, Earl and Charles, of possibly killing her. But Earl says that Steven apologized to him and that they’ve made up. ]
The timing and content of these messages suggest that Edwards was involved in the murder of Teresa Halbach, confirming the interpretation of the other anonymous messages.
On December 20th 1990, John Brookins visited his friend Sheila Ginsberg’s house, to help her clean before the arrival of her son from out of town. Around 5 PM, John left to give his friend a ride to work. When he returned, he found Sheila’s daughter, Sharon, standing over her with a pair of scissors, stomping them into her chest, screaming that she had to die. Sharon fled the scene shortly after John’s arrival. John, a black man standing over a dead white woman, panicked and left the scene.
Months later, John was arrested for the murder of Ms. Ginsberg. The case was permeated by police misconduct, an ineffective display of counsel, and a clear absence of morality. Based on witness testimony from Sharon Ginsberg (a prostitute who had consistently harassed her mother for money to fuel her meth & crack cocaine addiction) and suspected planted DNA evidence, John was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. He has been in prison for 28 years for a murder he did not commit.
The students of Georgetown University under the direction of Marc Howard and Marty Tankleff have created a documentary to bring awareness to Johns case:
Serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards confessed that he planted Laci Peterson’s remains where they were discovered.
Margot: “He told me about parking the car and walking by the tree, going past the puddle, and taking the walk down to where he could direct how the body was positioned. The raft floated between the two rocks and the body was lifted to the flat rock.”
This adds to the existing evidence that Edward Wayne Edwards was involved : two anonymous confessions, the “Message from God” and the “I Killed Laci Peterson” messages. See Who Killed Laci Peterson.
The prosecution theory in the Scott Peterson case is that Scott dumped the body of his wife in San Francisco bay, weighed down by concrete anchors.
An appeal brief summarises the search of the bay like this:
As discussed more fully below, the state searched the bay for weeks and weeks looking for the anchors but found nothing. (64 RT 12644-12645; 65 RT 12709-12710, 12779, 12786-12787; 66 RT 12813-12825, 12837.) Police used dive boats, sonar, a special underwater search vehicle and specialized dive teams from the FBI, Contra Costa County, Marin County and San Francisco County. (64 RT 12644-12645; 65 RT 12786-12787; 66 RT 12819-12820.) Because they found nothing at all, the state was left with pictures of concrete dust to prove that five anchors had been made.
GERAGOS: Well, there were other searches. There is a lot of garbage down there. They brought the garbage up, correct? Back in September they brought up a number of items that were garbage, correct?
GERAGOS: Beer bottles, tea glass bottles, small items of garbage were brought up repeatedly from the bay floor by the divers, correct?
GERAGOS: The third location the divers found a wooden stick, right?
ARMENDARIZ: You are referring to F45. And that’s correct.
GERAGOS: How big was this wooden stick?
ARMENDARIZ: There is a photograph of it on 33096. And it was F45.
GERAGOS: How big would you estimate it to be?
ARMENDARIZ: There is a ruler in the photograph, which is a foot long. And looks like it’s approximately foot and half, possibly about two feet long.
GERAGOS: So apparently the, whatever, however you got these targets, the divers were able to find pieces of wood that were a foot and a half long, correct?
ARMENDARIZ: Correct. They went to the dive location. And in that general dive location was a piece of wood that they found.
GERAGOS: Okay. And they went down looking for a target, and after ten minutes they came up with a tea glass bottle?
GERAGOS: How big is the tea glass bottle?
ARMENDARIZ: It’s photographed in 33026. And it’s a standard, this is an estimate, approximately twelve-ounce tea bottle, glass tea bottle.
GERAGOS: When you say standard, like a Snapple bottle?
ARMENDARIZ: No, it was a little larger than a Snapple bottle.
GERAGOS: And apparently they were able to, divers were able to find that on the bottom of the bay floor?
ARMENDARIZ: They recovered that from the bay.
GERAGOS: And so they found there was a target area, somebody was able to, either through side-scan, or through mapping, or something, to find something on the floor and they found a blue square bucket, right?
ARMENDARIZ: Blue square bucket was the item that was recovered by the dive team that brought that up to the boat, correct.
GERAGOS: How about the A15? What is that?
ARMENDARIZ: A15 was another bucket that was recovered from the dive team.
GERAGOS: Okay. A7?
ARMENDARIZ: A7 was a beer can that was located.
The second witness, Hendee, explained the scope of the search:
HENDEE: No. They’re far apart. What I started to say was that the operation that we set up, we tried to search a grid one and a quarter miles in length across and one and three quarters of a mile down. If you try to, in terms of trying to understand how big that area is, it’s 21 football fields across from end zone to end zone. If you lined one up after the other, that’s 21 football fields by 39 football fields down. You take that and you make that your perimeter, and that’s a huge area to cover. And that’s what these people were trying to do. We broke them down into quarter mile grids, and each agency that had a side-scan sonar operator searched those grids with their side-scan sonar device. And if they found an object, then we had dive teams standing by to go in and try and recover whatever object that they saw on the side-scan sonar.
HARRIS: How many divers would go out at any particular given time?
HENDEE: It all depended, on the, if we’re talking about the May 16th through May 23rd operation, I’d have to check each individual officer’s reports to find out how many were on their particular dive boat. The FBI dive team probably had six divers, maybe eight operating on an every day basis. The spot divers that would go down when a side-scan sonar operator found something, depending on how many were on that boat, and I don’t know for sure how many were on any particular dive boat at that time, but the entire operation that we were running over this eight days was averaging about 45 to 50 people a day, total, in the operation.
JUDGE: Does that include all the divers?
HENDEE: That included the divers, the boat operators, the Coast Guard personnel. Everybody.
GERAGOS: So that we all understand, when they are traversing this, what they are actually doing is going down on one side, and as far as you know, the REMUS device actually will take images so that they mapped the entire bottom of the bay floor that it covers; isn’t that correct?
GERAGOS: Then the machine, as far as you understand, can piece together each of those little images so that you get a mosaic, that when you look at it all together, I suppose if they could do, that if you had a large enough screen, you could see, you would have a map of the entire area here; isn’t that correct?
HENDEE: I don’t know if they have that equipment. But if you could put it all together, you would he have a mosaic. Problem with that, though, is, it covers a hundred fifty percent coverage area. So you would have to put one picture on top of the other a little bit, because that’s what you are getting, a hundred fifty percent coverage.
GERAGOS: So that we understand, and when you say a hundred fifty coverage area, you have got the coordinates here, right? What I’m pointing to. There is four of them; is that correct?
GERAGOS: Now, out of those four coordinates, you say a hundred fifty percent coverage area. Do you mean that it goes a little over fifty percent this way? Do you mean as they are going up and down, that they are actually kind of slopping over into the next area that they are going to cover?
HENDEE: It spans a little bit of the next area so that you are actually, you are not missing any areas. You are going up. You are turning. It comes back down, and it’s covering part of what it had just seen the last lap.
GERAGOS: Not only are you not missing any areas, you are covering the same square twice.
HENDEE: Right, yes
To summarise, the search was systematic, the searchers made a complete map of the floor of the bay area where Scott could have dumped Laci’s body, with 150% over-lapping coverage, and objects as small as a beer can or small glass bottles could be located and brought to the surface. The only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that Laci Peterson’s body was NOT on the bottom of the bay for several months ( near the island where Scott went fishing ), weighed down with concrete anchors, as the prosecution claim. Instead, something else entirely occurred.
According to the appeal ruling overturning Casmer Volk’s conviction, on April 28, 2011, Thomas and Sarah Hart left their four-year-old son Larry (names changed) in the care of their friend and daycare provider Diedre Cleary, while they vacationed in Oregon. Diedre lived with her boyfriend, now husband, Casmer Volk.
On April 30, Diedre took Larry to hospital, where a physician prescribed an antibiotic for a recurring ear infection. Larry soon suffered diarrhea, a common side-effect from the antibiotic. On May 1, Casmer Volk, by himself, cared for Larry for two hours.
Larry’s parents returned later on May 1, and Diedre and Casmer returned Larry to his home. The next morning, May 2, Larry complained of soreness, and according to his mother when questioned stated “Cas hurt me” and Casmer “put his pee-pee in my bum”.
However when examined at hospital, there was no sign of rectal bleeding. Moreover, when questioned the child equivocated on whether he was telling the truth or not. On hearing the equivocation, his mother indicated that Larry had been offered a reward for repeating the accusation, and repeated the offer of a reward.
Larry’s underwear was submitted for forensic testing ( even though it is unknown if it was the underwear he was wearing on the date of the alleged rape ). It tested positive for p30, a presumptive test for sperm, however no sperm was found.
Note that a presumptive test is a test that does not prove the substance tested for exists in the sample, it merely indicates that the substance MAY exist. A confirmatory test is needed to confirm the result.
The prosecution argued that only Casmer could be responsible for the p30 result, as he had not fathered any children, so (the prosecution speculated) his sperm count might be low. In fact the p30 could come from other sources, and according to forensic expert Greg Hampikian it is unlikely it came from semen.
At the first trial, there was a hung jury. At a second trial, Casmer was convicted and sentenced to 28 years to life. However, the defense failed to submit scientific evidence that Casmer has normal levels of sperm, and also failed to explain to the jury that the detected p30 may not have come from sperm.
Thus Casmer was convicted even though the prosecution’s forensic case was entirely false, and even contradicted by the hospital examination, which detected no rectal bleeding or trauma.
In February 2018, the conviction was overturned, on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel, and according to the Facebook support page “Casmer Volk is Innocent” at a hearing on November 12, attended by 12 supporters, a retrial date was set for December 4, 2018.
They detail Kathleen Zellner’s re-investigation of the case, and the agonising twists and turns in Brendan Dassey’s efforts to have his confession thrown out as coerced.
Specifically, we learn that:
(1) The State’s theory of how the blood-spatter on the rear cargo door of Teresa Halbach’s car was deposited is not tenable. Also, the blood near the ignition key would not have been left by Avery turning the ignition, instead it was planted there.
(2) The hood-latch DNA could not have been touch-DNA, and the swab wasn’t from the hood-latch. Instead the sample swab was relabeled with a swab taken from Avery.
(3) Halbach’s body could not have been incinerated with a couple of tyres. Also, there is no stain. Expert Dr John DeHann is positive the burn pit is not the primary burn site. (About 35 minutes in to Ep. 3). No photos of discovery of the bones, remains, not done, no documentation. This implies the remains were recovered elsewhere and not at the site where Steven Avery had a bonfire.
(4) Remains were allegedly discovered in burn barrel #2 many days after it had been previously been searched. Again, this implies the remains were in fact recovered elsewhere.
(5) There was a Brady violation ( withheld evidence ) concerning evidence that Halbach’s vehicle left the Avery property.
(6) The blood planted in Halbach’s car came from blood Avery deposited in his bathroom sink ( there was evidence of a break-in, he reported someone cleaned up the blood on Nov 3, on Friday morning the blood in his sink was gone ).
(7) Flakes of Avery’s blood recovered from the carpet of Halbach’s car must have been planted, not deposited there from his bleeding finger.
(8) The .22 bullet fragment recovered from Avery’s garage should have had bone fragments – it didn’t, meaning it could NOT have passed through Halbach’s head. Instead it had wood fragments. Zellner recreated how the .22 bullet fragment occurred. The DNA evidence ( Halbach’s DNA on the fragment ) was forged.
(9) Bryan should have been called as a witness to impeach Bobby, in fact Bobby saw Teresa leave and told Bryan, but Bryan was not called as a witness. We can infer that prosecutors scared Bobby enough with what he saw happened to Brendan, and material on Bobby’s computer would have given them plenty of leverage. ( Also, that was another Brady violation, the computer contents at the very least are impeachment information favorable to the defense ).
On February 1, 1997, Charles Newsome was shot in the back and arm while driving in West Memphis, Arkansas, and bled to death. Antonio Williams, Kendrick Gillum, and Demarco T. Wilson (WGW) were subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
The key witness was Frederick Ellis, who was a passenger in the car. In his first statement to police, he could not give the names of the shooters, but then a few hours later he identified Williams and Gillum, then five days later he identified Wilson and another person, who it transpired was in Kentucky at the time. Ellis testified that he had known WGW “pretty much” his entire life.
However Ellis and another witness Kevin Johnson, the only witnesses who identified WGW as the shooters, gave statements which were contradictory and also conflicted with other trial testimony – a defense witness testified the shooters were in another car and not on foot, whereas the State’s witnesses testified the shooters were on foot. In addition, Johnson did not did not give his statement until nine days after the shooting, when he could have talked to Ellis. Ellis and Johnson were both convicted felons, this was the third Capital Murder trial where Ellis testified that year and after his testimony implicating WGW, the West Memphis Police Department dropped seven charges against him.
In summary the evidence suggests Ellis lied about who shot the victim, and named people in order to curry favour with the police, and perhaps to absolve himself from wrongdoing.
The first anonymous message, shown below, was sent to the Modesto Bee on May 4, 2003. ( Note that the bodies of Conner and Laci were discovered on April 13 and 14, Scott was arrested on April 18, Easter Day was Sunday 20 April ).
This appears to be a confession that the writer framed Scott Peterson.
[ Note: the reason that Edwards references Stayner on the 1st page may be that Stayner tried to frame others for his crime ( and in Modesto ).
“On Feb. 19 authorities found Carole Sund’s wallet insert in Modesto, about 90 miles from the crime scene. A month later a passerby found the tourists’ car. By then, the FBI was all but convinced it was looking for several killers. The main evidence was a taunting, anonymous letter mailed from Stockton on March 15. The letter described where Juli Sund’s body would be found. “We had our way with her,” the writer boasted, referring to Juli.
Investigators began to focus on a pair of methamphetamine users from Modesto, Michael (Mick) Larwick, 42, and his half-brother Eugene (Rufus) Dykes, 32. Both men had extensive criminal records. On March 25 Juli’s body was found exactly where the letter specified. Sometime after that, Eugene Dykes gave what the FBI regarded as a confession.
The FBI now realizes it was duped. Investigators say it was Stayner who left Carole Sund’s wallet insert in Modesto and Stayner who wrote the letter.”
So Stayner attempted to frame Dykes, enough to make him confess, acting as a “disciple” of Edwards. The repeated use of “12” appears to be a reference to the 12 disciples in Christianity. Note also the final two lines on the reverse side are taken from the Gospel of St. John, perhaps a reference to “John” who according to Margot Burns was working with Edwards in 1971.
[ Edit Nov 11, 2019 : it seems quite possible that Edwards was operating the Fratpack forum and also “forumsforjustice.org” see here ]
Some of the IKLP messages allude to the Zodiac Killer.
66. Wed Oct 05, 2005 3:30 am You are jealous this I see. As was with my cousin Zodiac. You will never capture me. Fore it is I who does not lack.
384. Thu May 18, 2006 2:05 pm Post Fore if thou breaks the code with FreeBird inside. Thee will tell thou where all others now hide. Thou is not very close. Not by photo of a boat. If thou asks why. Turn eyes to the sky. If thou is so slow. Thou will never know. Thou makes fun of thee if it will. Not laughs will stop thees amazing thrills. Zodiac had four but there were many more. Contact made from within the front door. Thous belief of her walk. Is basic stupid talk. Thou never leaves from within. No one witnesses thees sin. When of a state of no attention. It is how thee starts the detention. Travel in plain light. Right in thous sight. Thou never thinks twice. Thee appears so nice. If thou only knew. How much thee laughs at you. The most obvious of all alludes. Passes by right in front of you. Thou has so many wrong guesses. Thee listens learns and progresses. Thou who count not look for thee. Is why thou makes it easy to be free. A last note to thou stuck on a boat. Thee stands on another deck and simply gloats. FreeBird
386. Thu May 18, 2006 7:47 pm Fore Zodiac and thee are not one in the same. Thou watch what they say about Z and his fame. If thou believe Z has not always been free. Then thou is so wrong in what it believe. More than thou will ever know is Z count. Smarts without thou knowing is what Z is about. FreeBird
The next message refers to a “code” that was “told” more than 30 years ago:
387. Mon May 29, 2006 2:01 pm Fore the code is old. Over 30 years it was once told. Should thou be as bright as sun light. Should not take thou long to get it right. FreeBird.
Mon Oct 10, 2005 2:19 pm Fore here is a clue for who remain on my list. 28527 – 8240 – 791 – 94 – 7 tho is smart who deciphers this.
If the zero and alternate digits are dropped ( analogous to the decoding of the Zodiac short signature ), the result is 8 2 8 4 9 9 7. Using the mnemonic substitution
9 – E ( “e” is similar to mirror image of “9” )
8 – D ( “8” can be made with two D’s – see Zodiac code )
7 – W ( W can be made from two 7s )
4 – A ( “A” when tilted to the right becomes “4” )
2 – R ( “R” is slightly similar to “2” )
this translates to D R D A E E W an anagram of “EDWARD E”.
[ Update Oct 19, 2019. Note the grouping of the digits, 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1, this matches the date on the”Message from God” 5 – 4 – 03, plus 5 4 = “E” “D”.
Note: In October 2019, a witness who was forced to help Edwards make a Zodiac card, and to whom he confessed multiple murders, told me that Edwards told her that 7 was associated with W, confirming my original interpretation back in the year 2015.
Finally, if you take the symbols “GOD ( I )” from the “Message from God”, apparently a clue to the identity of the writer, and stack them over one another, the result is a circle with a cross, similar to the symbol used by the Zodiac Killer to sign his correspondence:
Besides these mysterious messages, linking the Scott Peterson case to the Zodiac Killer, and thence to Edward Wayne Edwards, circumstances suggest the involvement of a devious, manipulative, psychopath serial killer:
(1) Planting the bodies, in such a way as to frame Scott Peterson for the murder would involve risk.
(2) Laci Peterson’s head and parts of each arm and leg were missing, and all her internal organs were missing, suggesting they were removed and Conner was then removed from Laci’s corpse.
(3) Conner was found above the high tide line, and had twine looped around his body, tied in a bow. The body was in relatively good condition, suggesting it may have been kept in a bag, separate from the body of Laci.
(4) A calculation to estimate when Conner died, when done correctly ( see the Habeas petition, available here ) suggests that Conner lived into January.
Possibly Laci was abducted after observing the burglary of the Medina house in progress to prevent her calling police, or possibly her abduction was planned in advance and intended to divert the attention of the police from solving the burglary. Edwards had a record of safe burglary, and could have been the mastermind behind it.
On April 11, 2003 Steve Hodel’s theory that his father murdered the Black Dahlia in 1947 was announced, on April 13 further rumours in the Black Dahlia case were announced, the very same day that Conner’s body was found. See here.
Could Edwards have planted the bodies of Conner and Laci to “steal” Steve Hodel’s thunder? Was this no strange coincidence, even a clue? See here for the extensive evidence that it was Edwards that murdered the “Black Dahlia” ( Elizabeth Short ) in 1947.
A new Facebook group Wrongful Conviction Discussion has been quite busy. Please remember that this new group does allow people to take either side of a case in a respectful and sensitive way, whereas the main group only allows that during the voting period on a proposal.
Thanks again to everyone who has voted on proposals, or contributed to the discussion.
Two of Darlie Routier‘s three sons were stabbed to death on June 6, 1996, around 2:30am at night. Darlie stated an intruder attacked her and the boys, but she was accused of staging the attack, convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Here are some key points about the case:
Darlie was very nearly killed by a knife slash to her throat, which came within 2mm of cutting her carotid artery. If it had been pierced, she would have bled to death within a few minutes.
As well as a slashed throat, Darlie had a stab wound to her arm and very extensive bruising.
A bloody fingerprint that didn’t belong to any of the family members was found on a glass table that was in the Routier home at the time of the stabbings.
A bloody sock was discovered 75 yards from the house. The sock had blood of both her boys on it, powerful evidence of an intruder. The boys were still alive when first responders arrived. The severity of their injuries means that Darlie did not realistically have time to perform many “staging” actions alleged by the prosecution.
Routier’s clothes from that night were placed in the same evidence bag as her sons’, which could have led to cross contamination.
Prosecution witness Tom Bevel testified the mixture of blood from Darlie and the boys in millimeter sized drops of blood on Darlie’s nightshirt was due to cast off first from the boys and then later drops of Darlie’s blood landing in exactly the same places.
In at least three other cases, Bevel’s testimony has led to wrongful convictions.
The jury played the “Silly String” video nine times. At least one juror has changed his opinion that she is guilty, and regrets his decision. The jurors admitted that they never looked at the photos showing how extensive Darlie’s injuries were.
At trial, the prosecution argued that the screen was cut by a bread knife from the kitchen, on the basis of microscopic glass rods. It is now known that these were likely due to contamination from finger print brushes.
The state of Texas offered Routier life without parole in exchange for her admitting guilt, but she refused the offer.
In June 2018, Vanessa Potkin, an Innocence Project attorney stated : “Darlie’s conviction rests entirely on faulty blood spatter analysis and character assassination”.
Two of Darlie’s pro bono attorneys launched a new website in June 2018 with details abut the case to coincide with a four-part ABC documentary about the case. The Legal Documents page has a link to the Habeas Corpus appeal which describes the case in detail.
In the US, there have been almost two thousand wrongful convictions Yet in so many cases, prosecutors, police, judges and even defense attorneys simply refuse to acknowledge these catastrophic mistakes. Our guest – a former prosecutor – explains why we blind ourselves to these injustices. Read more and listen to the podcast here
I spent nearly two hours on the phone with Jeff, yet it felt like no time went by.
I was on the edge of my seat.
With his thick, throaty New York accent, he is a naturally flowing conversationalist and born storyteller who is warm, engaging, feisty and funny. His intelligence seethes out through his words, quite easily. He told me over Facebook messenger, before we spoke in person, that he would be “easy to talk to.”
Such was certainly the case.
As a boy, Jeffrey Mark Deskovic could swim the length of a pool underwater without coming up for air. On sultry days at the Elmira Correctional Facility, where he spent most of his 16 years behind bars for a rape and murder he did not commit, Mr. Deskovic would close his eyes under a row of outdoor showers and imagine himself swimming. For months after his release in September…
Attorney’s hope to reinstate a bar complaint against Prosecutor Juan Martinez as more evidence of professional misconduct surfaces. Click on link below to read the appeal. Juan Martinez Bar Complaint Appeal
On May 25, 2017, a Motion for Post-Conviction was filed by an attorney who did the Motion pro se..
We are still awaiting the judges response to the Motion.
We know that the wheels of justice turns slowly. We just do not want the wheels to come to a complete halt.
The following are two of the arguments in the Post Conviction Relief Motion. There’s more.
Trial Counsel Failed to Impeach Jen***, (the victim) Through Cross—Examination of Deputy Ma ***’s 911 Call Into Evidence.
Mr. Ajoloko’ s primary defense at trial was that he was not the individual who robbed Jen***. Despite that fact, trial counsel failed to use evidence which reflected Ms . Jen***’s inability to identify the perpetrator. Failure to impeach a victim about her ability to identify the defendant as the perpetrator may constitute ineffective assistance of counsel. See e.g. Rutledge v. State, 786 So.2d 1199…
A former Naperville resident who spent two decades imprisoned for arson and murder in the death of his mother-in-law was acquitted of those crimes Wednesday by a DuPage County judge who called the case “fatally compromised.”
As Judge Liam Brennan was finishing reading his ruling in the retrial of William Amor, the defendant — aware he was about to be found not guilty — let his head drop and took off his glasses a moment later to wipe away tears. Lauren Kaeseberg, one Amor’s attorneys from the Illinois Innocence Project, who was seated next to Amor, quietly placed her hand on his back.
“I’ve always been hopeful. I’ve always thought essentially that the system would do the right thing,” Amor, 62, said afterward. “It’s unfortunate it took 22 years.”
Amor thanked Brennan, who vacated Amor’s 1997 murder conviction last year in the wake of advances in fire science that undercut…