15 - آسیب رساندن به کسی که دوستش داریم

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15 - آسیب رساندن به کسی که دوستش داریم

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Chapter 15

Hurting the Ones We Love

Going over case files in his windowless office at Quantico one day, Gregg McCrary got a phone call from one of the police departments in his region. It was one of those anguishing cases you seem to hear about all too often.

A young single mother was leaving her garden apartment complex to go shopping with her two-year-old son. Just before she got into her car, she suddenly developed stomach cramps, so she turned around, hurried back across the parking lot, and went into a rest room just inside the apartment building’s back door. It was a safe, friendly neighborhood where everyone knew everyone else, and she gave her little boy strict instructions to stay inside the building and play quietly until she came out.

I’m sure you’ve already anticipated what happened next. It’s about forty-five minutes before she’s finished in the bathroom. She comes out and the child isn’t in the hall. Not yet alarmed, she goes outside and looks around, figuring he’s just wandered off a little, even though the weather is chilly and brisk.

But then she sees it: one of her little boy’s knit mittens, lying on the pavement of the parking lot and no sign of him anywhere. Now she panics.

She rushes back to her apartment and immediately dials 911. Frantically, she tells the emergency operator that her child’s been kidnapped. The police arrive quickly and comb the area looking for clues. By this time the young woman is hysterical.

The news media picks up the story. She goes before the microphones and pleads to whoever took her son to bring him back. As sympathetic as the police are, they want to cover their bases, so they quietly administer a polygraph, which she passes. They know that in any child abduction, time is of the essence, which is why they call Gregg.

He hears the scenario and listens to a recording of the 911 call. There’s something about it he doesn’t like. Then there’s a new development. The agonized woman receives a small parcel in the mail. It has no return address, no note or communication enclosed—just the matching mitten to the one she found in the parking lot. The woman goes to pieces.

But now Gregg knows. He tells the police the little boy is dead and that his mother killed him.

How do you know? the police press him. Children get snatched away by perverts all the time. How do you know this isn’t one of those cases?

So Gregg explains. First, there was the scenario itself. No one is more fearful of a child getting snatched away by a pervert than a mother. Is it logical that she would leave her son unattended for that long a period? If she had to be in the bathroom for an extended time, wouldn’t she have taken him in with her or made some other makeshift arrangement? It’s possible that it happened the way she said, but then you start compounding the factors.

On the 911 tape, she distinctly says that someone “kidnapped” her child. It’s been Gregg’s experience that parents will do almost anything to psychologically deny such a horrible situation. In the heat of hysterical emotion, you might expect to hear her say he was missing, he ran off, she doesn’t know where he is, or something like that. For her to use the word kidnap at this stage suggests she is already thinking ahead in the scenario that will play out.

The tearful plea before the news media is certainly not incriminating in itself, though we are now all haunted by the image of Susan Smith in South Carolina pleading for the safe return of her two young sons. Generally, parents we see doing this are completely on the level. But the problem is that this kind of public display tends to legitimize the few who aren’t.

What capped it for Gregg, though, was the return of the mitten. Basically, children are abducted for one of three reasons: they’re taken by kidnappers for profit; they’re taken by child molesters for sexual gratification; and they’re taken by pathetic, lonely, unstable people who desperately want a child of their own. The kidnapper will have to communicate with the family, either by phone or written message, to set out his demand. The other two types want nothing at all to do with the family. None of the three merely send back an artifact to let the family know the child was taken. The family already knows that. If there is to be some proof of the legitimacy of the crime, it will accompany a demand; otherwise, it’s meaningless.

What Gregg decided the mother had done was to stage a kidnapping according to her perception of what a real one would be like. Unfortunately for her, she had no idea of the actual dynamics of this type of crime, and so she blew it.

Quite clearly, she had reasons for what she had done and could therefore convince herself that she had done nothing wrong. That was why she passed the polygraph. But Gregg wasn’t satisfied with that. He brought in an experienced FBI polygraph expert and had her retested, this time with the knowledge that she was a suspect. And this time the results were completely different. After some directed questioning, she admitted having murdered her child and led police to the body.

Her motive was the common one, the one Gregg had suspected all along. She was a young single mother, missing out on all the fun of her late teens and early twenties because she was saddled with this child. She had met a man who wanted to intensify their involvement and start a new family of their own. But he had made it clear that there was no room in their life together for this kid.

What is significant about this type of case is, had the police come upon the body without having had the child reported missing, Gregg would still have come to the same conclusion. The child was found buried in the woods in his snowsuit, wrapped in a blanket, then completely covered with a thick plastic bag. A kidnapper or child molester would not have taken this much care to make him warm and “comfortable,” or to try to shelter the body from the elements. While many murder scenes show obvious and prolonged rage, and dump sites often show contempt and hostility, the hallmarks of this burial were love and guilt.

The human race has a long history of hurting the ones we love or should love. In fact, during Alan Burgess’s first television interview after becoming Behavioral Science Unit chief, he stated, “We’ve had violence for generations and generations, going all the way back to Bible days when Cain shot Abel.” Fortunately, the reporters didn’t seem to catch his reinterpretation of the world’s first murder weapon.

One of the major cases of nineteenth-century England involved allegations of intrafamily violence. In 1860, Scotland Yard inspector Jonathan Whicher went to the town of Frome in Somerset on the murder of a baby named Francis Kent, from a prominent family in the area. The local police were convinced the child had been killed by Gypsies, but after investigating, Whicher became convinced that the actual culprit was Francis’s sixteen-year-old sister, Constance. Because of the family’s stature and the very idea that a teenage girl could possibly kill her baby brother, Whicher’s evidence was overruled in court and Constance was acquitted of the charges he had brought against her.

A huge public reaction against Whicher forced him to resign from Scotland Yard. For years, he worked on his own to prove he’d been right and that this young woman was a murderess. Eventually, bankruptcy and poor health made him abandon his quest for the truth—a year before Constance Kent confessed to the crime. She was tried again and sentenced to life in prison. Three years later, Wilkie Collins based his groundbreaking detective novel, The Moonstone, on the Kent case.

The key to many murders of and by loved ones or family members is staging. Anyone that close to the victim has to do something to draw suspicion away from himself or herself. One of the earliest examples I worked on was the murder of Linda Haney Dover in Cartersville, Georgia, the day after Christmas in 1980.

Though she and her husband, Larry, were separated, they remained on reasonably cordial terms. The five-foot-two, 120-pound, twenty-seven-year-old Linda regularly came over to the house they used to share to clean for him. In fact, that’s what she was doing that Friday, December 26. Larry, meanwhile, took their young son out for a day in the park.

When the two of them return from their outing in the afternoon, Linda’s no longer there. But instead of finding a clean, straight house, Larry sees the bedroom is a mess. Sheets and pillows are pulled off the bed, dresser drawers are half-open, clothing is strewn around, and red stains that look like blood are on the carpet. Larry instantly calls the police, who rush over and search the house, inside and out.

They find Linda’s body wrapped in the comforter from the bedroom, with only her head exposed, in the outside crawl space under the house. As they unwrap the blanket, they see that her shirt and bra have been pushed up above her breasts, her jeans are around her knees, and her panties have been pulled down to just below her pubic area. There is blunt-force trauma to the head and face and multiple stab wounds, which appear to the officers to have been made after the bra was pushed up. They believe the weapon to be a knife from an open kitchen drawer, but they can’t find it (and never do). The crime scene indicates that she had been assaulted initially in a bedroom, then her body was moved outside and into the crawl space. Blood drops on her thighs show that the killer had handled and positioned her.

Nothing in her background made Linda Dover a particularly high-risk victim. Though she was separated from Larry, she wasn’t involved in any other relationships. The only unusual stress factors would be the holiday time of year and whatever led up to the disintegration of her marriage.

Based on the crime-scene photos and the information the Cartersville police sent me, I told them the UNSUB would be one of two types. Quite possibly, he would be a young and inexperienced, inadequate loner who lived nearby and essentially stumbled into this crime of opportunity. Police mentioned after I said this that they’d been having problems with a neighborhood thug, whom many of the residents were afraid of.

But the crime had too many staging elements, which made me lean toward the second type: someone who knew the victim well and therefore wanted to divert attention from himself. The only reason a killer would have felt the need to hide the body on the premises was what we classify as a “personal cause homicide.” The trauma to the face and neck seemed highly personal, too.

I told them I felt this UNSUB was intelligent but only educated through high school and had a job requiring physical strength. He would have a history of assaultive behavior and a low frustration level. He would be moody, unable to accept defeat, and was probably depressed for one reason or another at the time of the murder, most likely from money problems.

The staging had its own internal logic and rationale. Whoever had brutalized Linda did not want to leave her body out in the open where another family member—particularly her son—might find it. That’s why he took the time to wrap her in the blanket and move her to the crawl space. He wanted to make this look like a sex crime—hence the raising of the bra and exposure of the genital area—though there was no evidence of rape or sexual assault. He thought he had to do this, but still felt uncomfortable with police seeing her bare genitals and breasts, so he covered them with the blanket.

I said the offender would be overly cooperative and concerned at first, but would turn arrogant and hostile when challenged on his alibi. His postoffense behavior might include increased drinking or drug use, or perhaps a turn toward religion. He would have changed his appearance, maybe even changed jobs and moved out of the area. I told the police to look for a total reversal in behavior and personality.

“The way he is today is nothing like the way he was prior to the homicide,” I said.

What I didn’t know was that, at the time the Cartersville police requested the profile from me, they had already charged Larry Bruce Dover with his wife’s murder and wanted to make sure they were on the right track. This really ticked me off for several reasons. For one, I had more active cases than I could handle. But more importantly, this put the Bureau in what could potentially be an uncomfortable position. Fortunately for all concerned, the profile turned out to be a perfect match. As I explained to the Director and the Atlanta SAC, if it hadn’t been so accurate, a skillful attorney might have been able to subpoena me as a defense witness and force me to say that my “expert” profile pointed away from the defendant in certain areas. From that point on, I learned always to ask police if they had a suspect, even though I didn’t want to know in advance who it was.

But at least justice was served in this case. On September 3, 1981, Larry Bruce Dover was convicted of the murder of Linda Haney Dover and sentenced to life behind bars.

A variation on the theme of domestic staging came with the murder of Elizabeth Jayne Wolsieffer, known as Betty, in 1986.

Just after seven on the morning of Saturday, August 30, police in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, were called to 75 Birch Street, the home of a popular dentist and his family. Upon arriving about five minutes later, Officers Dale Minnick and Anthony George encountered thirty-three-year-old Dr. Edward Glen Wolsieffer, who was lying on the floor, the victim of an attempted strangulation and a blow to the head. His brother, Neil, was there with him. Neil explained that he lived across the street, had been called by his brother, and had rushed over. Glen had been stunned and disoriented and said Neil’s was the only phone number he could remember. As soon as Neil got here, he had been the one who called the police.

The men said that Glen’s thirty-two-year-old wife, Betty, and their five-year-old daughter, Danielle, were upstairs. Every time Neil started to go up to check on them, Glen had felt faint or begun moaning again, so neither of them had been upstairs yet. Glen told Neil he was afraid an intruder was still in the house.

Officers Minnick and George search the house. They don’t find an intruder, but they come upon Betty dead in the master bedroom. She’s on her side, lying on the floor next to the bed with her head toward the foot of the bed. From the bruises on her neck, the drying foam around her mouth, and the bluish coloring of her bruised face, it appears she’s been manually strangled. The bedsheets are stained with blood, but her face seems to have been cleaned off. She’s clad only in her nightgown, which has been pushed up to her waist.

Danielle is asleep and unharmed in the next bedroom. When she wakes up, she tells the police she didn’t hear anything—no sounds of breaking in or fighting or any commotion.

Without describing the scene upstairs, Minnick and George come back down and ask Dr. Wolsieffer what happened. He says he was awakened just as it was getting light by a noise that sounded like someone breaking into the house. He got his handgun from the night table and went to investigate without waking Betty.

As he neared the bedroom door, he saw a large man at the top of the stairs. The man didn’t seem to spot him, and he followed him downstairs, but then lost him and started looking around the first floor for him.

Suddenly, he was attacked from behind with some kind of cord or ligature, but he was able to drop his gun and slip his hand in before it could tighten around his throat. Glen then kicked back, hitting the man in the groin and causing him to loosen his grip. Before Glen could turn around, though, he was struck in the head from behind and blacked out. When he awoke sometime later, he called his brother.

Dr. Wolsieffer’s visible injuries don’t appear serious to the police or the paramedics they’ve called to the scene—a contusion on the back of the head, pink marks on the back of the neck, small scratches on the left side of his ribs and chest. But they don’t want to take chances, so they have him taken to the emergency room. He doesn’t look too bad to the doctor there, either, but he admits him based on the dentist’s report of having been unconscious.

From the beginning, the police were suspicious of Wolsieffer’s story. It didn’t seem logical that an intruder would enter the home from a second-story window in daylight. Outside, they found an old ladder leading to the open window of the back bedroom the intruder allegedly used as his entrance. But the ladder was so rickety, it didn’t look as if it could support the weight of even an average-size person. It was leaning against the side of the house with the rungs facing the wrong direction. The ladder had made no indentations in the soft ground to indicate that any weight had been placed on it, nor were there any markings on the aluminum gutters it was resting against. And no dew or grass was on the rungs or roof near the window as there should have been had someone used it that morning.

There were also contradictory indicators inside the house. Nothing of value appeared to have been taken, not even any jewelry that would have been apparent in the bedroom. And if the intruder intended to kill, why would he leave an unconscious man with a gun nearby downstairs and go back upstairs to kill, but not sexually assault, his wife?

Two points were especially disturbing. If Glen had been choked to the point of passing out, why were there no marks on the front of his neck? And the most unfathomable part of all: neither Glen nor his brother, Neil, had gone upstairs to check on Betty and Danielle.

To further fuzz things up, Dr. Wolsieffer’s story evolved as time went on. His description of the intruder grew more explicit as he recalled more details. The man wore a dark sweatshirt, a stocking mask, and had a mustache, Wolsieffer said. He contradicted himself on several points. He told family members he’d been out late Friday night but talked to his wife before going to sleep. He had told police that he never awakened her. Initially, he had reported that about $1,300 had been taken from a desk drawer, but later took that back when police found a deposit slip for the money. When police tried to question him after they arrived on the emergency call, he seemed only barely conscious and practically incoherent, yet when told at the hospital of his wife’s death, he referenced having heard the police call for the coroner.

As long as the investigation continued, Glen Wolsieffer came up with newer and more elaborate scenarios to explain the attack. Eventually, the number of intruders grew to two. He had admitted having an affair with a former dental assistant but told police he had ended it a year ago. Yet later he conceded that he’d just seen—and had sex with—the woman a few days before the murder. And he’d neglected to tell police about another affair he was having at the same time with a married woman.

Betty Wolsieffer’s friends told police that as much as she loved her husband and had tried to make things work, she was tired of his behavior, particularly the late Friday nights, which had become a regularity. Days before she was killed, she had told a friend she was going to “take a stand” if Glen stayed out late again the coming Friday.

Following the initial interviews at his home and the hospital, Glen refused to talk to police on the advice of his lawyer. So they focused on his brother, Neil. His story of that morning seemed almost as strange as Glen’s. He refused a polygraph, saying he had heard they were often inaccurate and he feared a damaging result. After repeated requests by the police, Betty’s family, and pressure from the media to cooperate in the investigation, Neil scheduled an interview with police at the courthouse in October.

At about 10:15 a.m., fifteen minutes past the scheduled time for the interview, Neil was killed in a head-on collision between his small Honda and a Mack truck. He was actually traveling away from the courthouse when hit. The coroner’s inquest ruled his death a suicide, though it later appeared he may have overshot the turn and was nervously trying to get back. We may never know for sure.

More than a year after the murder, the Wilkes-Barre police had assembled a large amount of circumstantial evidence pointing to Glen Wolsieffer as his wife’s killer, but they had no hard evidence and so no proof with which to charge him. His fingerprints and hair were found at the crime scene, but it was his own bedroom, so that didn’t say much. Police theorized that any ligature or bloody clothes he may have worn could have been disposed of in a nearby river prior to Glen’s call to his brother. Their only hope for an arrest and conviction lay in bolstering their case with an expert opinion that the crime was committed by someone who knew the victim personally and had staged the crime scene.

In January of 1988, the Wilkes-Barre police asked me to provide an analysis of the crime. After reviewing the by-then voluminous material, I concluded rather quickly that the murder was indeed committed by someone who knew the victim well and staged the crime scene to cover that up. Since the police already had a suspect, I didn’t want to generate our normal profile, or point the finger directly at the husband, but I tried to give the police some ammunition to help them support an arrest.

A daylight, weekend break-in in that neighborhood, into a home with two cars parked in the driveway, was an extremely high risk crime against low-risk victims. A burglary scenario was highly improbable.

It was totally inconsistent with everything we’d seen during our years of research and case consultation throughout the world that an intruder would enter a second-story window and immediately head downstairs without checking rooms on the second floor.

There was no evidence that an intruder had brought any weapons with him, which made an intended homicide scenario highly improbable. Mrs. Wolsieffer was not sexually violated, which made an intended-rape-gone-bad scenario equally improbable. And there was no evidence of even an attempt to take anything, which was another reason that an intended-burglary scenario was improbable. This narrowed down the potential motives considerably.

The method of death—manual strangulation—is a personal-type crime. It is not a method a stranger is going to choose, particularly one who has planned enough and made the effort to break in.

The police continued methodically and meticulously building their case. Although they were convinced as to who the murderer was, their evidence was still circumstantial and had to hold up in court. In the meantime, Glen Wolsieffer moved to Falls Church, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C., and set up a dental practice there. Late in 1989, an arrest warrant and affidavit of probable cause was prepared, referencing my report. On November 3, 1989, thirty-eight months after the murder, a team of state, county, and local police came down to Virginia and arrested Wolsieffer in his dental office.

He told one of the arresting officers, “It happened too fast. We got into it. Everything was a blur.” Later, he claimed he was talking about the attack on him by the intruder(s), not the murder of his wife.

Though I’d already been qualified at that time as a crime-scene analysis expert in several states, the defense referred to me as a “voodoo man” for the way I came up with my interpretations, and the judge ultimately ruled that I couldn’t testify. Still, the prosecution was able to incorporate what I’d told them. Combined with the thorough police work, they were able to secure a conviction for murder in the third degree.

There were many red flags in the Wolsieffer case—the rickety and wrongly positioned ladder, the staging of a sex crime without any evidence of sexual assault, the inconsistency of the choking wounds, the seeming lack of concern evidenced by not checking on the wife and child, the fact that the child was never awakened by any noise. But the most prominent red flag of all was the utter illogic of the supposed intruder’s actions and behavior. Anyone breaking into a house to commit a crime, any crime, is going to first concern himself with the greatest threat—in this case the six-foot-two, two-hundred-pound armed man of the house—and only secondarily with the lesser threat, the unarmed woman.

An investigator always has to have his antennae up for these inconsistencies. Perhaps because we’ve seen so many of these cases, we’re always acutely aware of going beyond what people say to try to figure out what the behavior really shows.

In some ways we’re like actors preparing for a role. The actor sees the words written on the page of the script, but what he wants to act is the “subtext”—what the scene is really about.

One of the clearest examples of that is the 1989 murder of Carol Stuart and the severe wounding of her husband, Charles, in Boston. Before it was done, the case became a cause célèbre and threatened to tear the community apart.

One night as the couple was driving home through Roxbury from a natural-childbirth class, they were apparently attacked by a large black man while their car was stopped at a light. He shot Carol, thirty, and then went after twenty-nine-year-old Charles, who sustained serious abdominal injuries requiring sixteen hours of surgery. Though doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital worked feverishly to save Carol, she died within hours. Their baby boy, Christopher, was delivered at the same time by cesarean section but died within a few weeks. Charles was still recuperating in the hospital at the time of Carol’s large and publicized funeral.

The Boston police sprang into action, rounding up every black man they could find who matched Charles’s description of the attacker. Finally, he picked one out of a lineup.

But shortly thereafter, his story began to unravel. His brother Matthew doubted there had been a robbery at all when he was called upon to help Charles dispose of a bag containing the supposedly stolen items. The day after the district attorney announced he was charging Charles Stuart with the murder, Charles committed suicide by jumping off a bridge.

The black community was understandably outraged by the accusation he had made, just as they were six years later when Susan Smith falsely claimed a black man had kidnapped her two children. In the Smith case, however, the local sheriff in South Carolina went out of his way to diffuse the problem. Cooperating with the media and federal authorities (such as our own agent, Jim Wright), he got to the truth in a matter of days.

It didn’t work out so efficiently in the Stuart case, though I feel it could have had police clearly analyzed what Stuart had told them and weighed it against what appeared to have happened at the scene. Not everyone will go to such lengths to stage a crime—that is, to shoot yourself that seriously. But just as in the Wolsieffer case, if a supposed offender strikes out at the lesser threat first—in most cases the women—there has to be a reason. In any robbery situation, the robber will always attempt to neutralize the most formidable foe first. If the greater threat is not taken out first, there has to be another reason. With “Son of Sam” David Berkowitz, he shot the women first, and in most cases more seriously, because they were his target. The man was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The problem posed by staged crimes for any of us in the law enforcement field is that you can easily become emotionally involved with the victims and survivors. If someone is in obvious distress, we obviously want to believe him. If he’s a halfway decent actor, if the crime appears legitimate on the surface, there’s a tendency to look no further. Like doctors, we can empathize with the victims, but we’re doing no one any favors if we lose our objectivity.

What kind of person could have done such a thing?

As painful as the answer to that question might sometimes be, that’s what we’re here to find out.

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