Monday, November 24, 2008

Getting Away with Murder - Part 2

by Stacy Dittrich

Today, in Part 2 of Getting Away with Murder, I’ll be focusing on the cases of Natalee Holloway, Rilya Wilson, O.J. Simpson, and JonBenét Ramsey. (Click here to read Part 1) Out of these eight featured cases, only two bodies have been found (Simpson and Ramsey), and only three suspects have been arrested in the murders (O.J. Simpson, who subsequently was found not guilty, Geralyn Graham, and Casey Anthony, both who are currently awaiting trial). While watching the various experts commentating on most of these cases, I hear repeatedly how difficult it is for the prosecution to proceed with charges without a body. Not so, says Assistant U.S. District Attorney, Tad DiBiase, an expert in the area of “No Body Cases.”

DiBiase has tracked these cases as far back as 1834, when seaman Maurice Fitzgerald was murdered at sea and his body was never found. However, his killers were tried and found guilty of murder. According to DiBiase, this case and 279 others in the United States (excluding ID, NH and VT) tracked through November 2008, only resulted in 25 acquittals or reversals on appeal due to the fact no body was found. His contention is that it is a high probability of a conviction without a body, and the case should proceed.

Unfortunately, it seems that some prosecutors are “gun shy.” The possibility of a not guilty verdict or the suspect walking free is too great in their eyes. In the meantime, the murderer is out on the streets free to kill again. In this aspect, I say kudos to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in Florida for the arrest of Casey Anthony. If the evidence is there, take it and run with it.

Regardless, there are some circumstances that it would be highly unlikely any charges would come whether or not the body is found—these are few and far between. In the case of missing Alabama student, Natalee Holloway, sometimes politics plays a far greater role than a murdered high school student.

4. Natalee Holloway—Missing May 30, 2005, No Body Found.

I believe it’s certainly safe to say at this point that the Aruban government has thoroughly botched the investigation into missing American high school student, Natalee Holloway, 19, and failed her family miserably.

On Monday, May 30, 2005, Natalee Holloway was last seen alive in a bar in Aruba while on a senior class trip. There is no question that she was accompanied by then 17-year-old Joran Van der Sloot, and brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe (pictured right with Holloway) as she left the bar. She was never seen again and her body has never been found. In the meantime, all three men have been questioned in the case and no formal charges have been brought. The fact that Van der Sloot is the son of a prominent Aruban political figure raises some eyebrows. Apparently, his father's influence is enough to erase the fact he recently confessed to the murder of Holloway on videotape. Smoking marijuana, the Aruban authorities claimed they could not proceed as he “was under the influence when making that claim.”

According to Women In Crime Ink’s Robin Sax, an L.A. Deputy District Attorney, it is not for the prosecution to question his frame of mind—it’s up to the defense to prove he was “muddled by the wacky weed.” But, like all of the other claims and witness statements in the case, the information was ignored. Just recently, Van der Sloot was videotaped taking part in a sex ring in Thailand. Allegedly, there’s more to the tape than that. FOX News’ Greta Van Susteren claims to have in her possession more of the tape which has Van der Sloot confessing to Holloway’s murder—yet again. She offered to bring it to Aruban prosecutor Hans Mos in person, but he refused. Why? He said there is nothing on the tape that has any substance—a claim made even though he has never seen it.

At this point, Joran Van der Sloot is laughing at law enforcement in his country, and at the Americans that believe in his guilt. Unfortunately, it may take this sociopathic animal murdering another human being before he is finally caught. Either that or the Kalpoe brothers need to grow a conscious and start talking. But, the question remains: even if they do talk, and Holloway’s body is found, will they even prosecute Van der Sloot then? I think not.

This sends a clear message to parents out there: If your child is taking a class trip or vacation with friends—send them to Florida.

5. Rilya Wilson—Missing, unknown month, 2000—No Body Found.

There are some people who actually have not heard of 4-year-old Rilya Wilson, but you may have heard the story. Rilya was the foster child in Florida who went “unnoticed” by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF). Living at the time with foster mother, Geralyn Graham, DCF didn’t notice Rilya was missing until two years later. According to Graham, Rilya was picked up by a caseworker for a doctor’s appointment and was never returned. DCF authorities quickly established this wasn’t the case, but admitted they had “lost this child” within the system.

Furthermore, the outrageous actions of the DCF ultimately caused the resignation of the DCF chief, and news laws that require officials to track missing foster children and the supervision of caregivers.

In 2005, Geralyn Graham was charged with first degree murder in the death of Rilya. While incarcerated, she allegedly told a fellow inmate, “I killed it.” She claimed Rilya (pictured left) had demons and she dumped the child’s body in a ravine—authorities have yet to locate her remains. At this time, Graham is still awaiting trial and prosecutors are confident they will attain a conviction.

The case sparked outrage against DCF treatment of African-American foster children and is presently being used to help lobby a bill that would enact the “Rilya Alert.” Similar to the Amber Alert, the Rilya Alert would be geared towards missing African-American children within the foster care system.

6. O.J. Simpson—Found Not Guilty in the Murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, October, 1995.

Like most, the mere mention of Simpson’s name is difficult to say without vomiting in my mouth a little. One would be hard pressed to find a person that truly believed in his innocence, especially after he wrote a full blown confession in a book years later. His arrogance and mockery were never-ending (I’ve always seen a chilling connection between the attitude of Joran Van der Sloot and Simpson . . . blech). The case in which the famed football star brutally sliced and diced his ex-wife and her friend has caused prosecutors, and defense attorneys, to tighten their belts and get their acts together for the last decade. The world’s obsession with the O.J. Simpson case is never-ending. Just recently, Simpson (pictured right) was tried and convicted of armed robbery in Las Vegas for holding a memorabilia dealer in his hotel room at gunpoint. Some say it’s retribution for getting away with murder.

As Simpson sits whining away in his jail cell awaiting sentencing, he is appealing his conviction based on the fact he is black. However, some say this is precisely the reason he was acquitted in the murders over a decade ago and that he uses his ethnicity to his benefit when suited. Black or white, most prudent people of all colors believe that this is a man who deserves to live, and die, in prison. It looks like we may just get our wish. Simpson will no longer be remembered for his impressive football career—he will forever be remembered in the graduating class of the upper echelons of crime like Manson and Bundy. It would seem that miracles in the halls of crime really do happen—The Juice has finally been squeezed dry.

It’s at long last time to throw that used-up-piece-of-fruit in the garbage where it belongs.

7. JonBenét Ramsey—Murdered, December 26, 1996—No Arrests Made.

The case that, twelve years later, still is heatedly debated on the crime blogs and media, the Ramsey case is, undoubtedly, solved in the minds of many. However, it is the prosecutor who is most important and, apparently, they don’t have a clue who the murderer is. I wrote my own theory on the Ramsey case (view it here) that sparked outrage among the supporters of John Ramsey, the father of victim 6-year-old JonBenét. Referring to someone like myself as a BORG, which I think stands for “believer of Ramsey guilt.”

Either that or they’re obsessive Star Trek fans.

The small group of supporters launches an immediate attack for anyone pointing to JonBenét’s parents as the murderers—a fact I firmly believe. No doubt several of them will make an appearance in the comments section of this post.

No one but John and Patsy Ramsey (who is now deceased) really know what happened the night of December 26, 1996. After a lengthy Christmas day, they put their 6-year-old daughter to sleep, woke up the next morning, found her missing, and ultimately discovered her sexually assaulted and dead body in the basement.

The prosecutor has since cleared the parents and believes that, someday, DNA evidence will hit on a match to the true murderer. It’s my opinion that the human race will most likely witness The Rapture before an arrest in the murder of JonBenét Ramsey. It’s a shame, but the man that brutally took the life of this small, innocent child has to look in the mirror every day and live with it.

But, if he can be so cold-hearted to commit murder he probably doesn’t care.

All eight of these cases have generated millions of dollars in movie, television, and book deals, feeding society’s hunger for a good crime story, and driving those at-home-super-sleuths into a frenzy for the need to solve. There may be several more that I didn’t touch on, but these are the ones that come to mind when I think of “crime stories.” Of course, it’s a historical fact that these cases will be replaced over the next few decades with a new class of innocent victims and barbaric heathens that will get away with murder—a sad, and frightening, fact.

I have always said during my tenure as a police officer that my job security was higher than anyone’s. Now, as a full-time crime writer, my opinion remains the same.


A Voice of Sanity said...

I read your theory on the JonBenet Ramsey case. What a piece of nonsense. The so called 'ransom note' (actually a terroristic threat) tells anyone with a clue who committed this crime and ironically, had it been properly understood and acted on, almost certainly would have led to an arrest and conviction. To this day it serves to eliminate suspects since the offender in this case was almost certainly a white male aged about 14 years old and most definitely was not a family member.

FleaStiff said...

Its not so much that you accuse the Ramseys as that you do it out of such wilfull ignorance.

One of the most valuable tools available is dna ... and your reasons for dismissing it betray your ignorance of dna testing. Someone else's dna is all over her outer garments and her panties. Why do you want to dismiss this evidence?

The note's threat of beheading and indication of surveillance is utterly without any relevance whatsoever since it had not been read at the time of the making of the 911 call. You seem to think they should have placed great weight on those parts of the note, I think they should have placed no weight on them whatsoever, but I can't see why it would be relevant when those parts had not yet been read.

The discovery of the corpse was as a result of the detective having given them a make-work project to get them out of her hair. Nothing about the search was at all suspicious. Several police officers had already been told to go search the basement ... do you suspect them too?

FleaStiff said...

Send them to Florida?
Well, but for the adverse publicity Joran would have been attending college just outside of Tampa, FL. So how safe would Florida have been?

Natalee Holloway did not take undue risks or engage in any particularly dangerous behavior, she merely got unlucky and it happened in a place where the police action was rather absurdly ineffectual until it became known who was involved and then the police action became profoundly comical and intentionally misleading.
I doubt the statements made by Joran on the videotapes were entirely truthful, but have no doubts that he is responsible for her death. I do have doubts as to the role played by his father. I don't think she died from an idiosyncratic reaction to any date rape drug. I think it was a simple murder of a rape victim. Nothing else. No body? Not really of any significance. The only thing of significance is the political clout of The Judge and his son in Aruba versus the political clout of the Holloway Team in the USA.

Rose C said...

Good review, off to read your Jonbenet ramsey theory.

A Voice of Sanity said...

Anyone who thinks that Florida is safer than Aruba need only search for "Oba Chandler" to get a rude awakening; and then there are many, many other horrific cases in that state. Has everyone forgotten that foreign tourists driving rental cars in FL were in so much danger at one time that items identifying the vehicles as rentals were removed?

I would be more inclined to look at those who came to Aruba with Natalee or other foreign visitors than at any local. This disappearance happened during the school visit, not before or since. We have yet to see a long list of other unsolved murders or missing persons on Aruba. In Alabama, where Natalee came from, I recall that the number of missing persons is over 1,000 and we hear far less about efforts to find any of those persons.

Stacy Dittrich said...


Again, the information came directly from the police reports, search warrants, and witness might want to read but thanks for your input!

Read the post on Natalee again. The point I made with the Florida comment is NOT that it was safer, but that you would be dealing with American law enforcement, possibly FBI, instead of the lax LE in Aruba

Levi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Levi said...

According to forensic experts the DNA on her clothing could have come from many different sources.

If all the Ramsey supporters are going to get all worked up about DNA, the SAME DNA on her, should match the DNA on the ligature, paintbrush handle, the white blanket, tape, flash light, her shirt, broken glass pane, baseball bat, the bowl, spoon, her underwear, under her nails, etc if they want the DNA to ACTUALLY PROVE SOMETHING.

A Voice of Sanity said...

I see no evidence that the police in Aruba were any less zealous than those in the USA have proven to be all too often. Surely the JonBenet Ramsey case in CO is proof in point, as was the O J Simpson case in LA. And the case of Johnny Bonds versus Michael Lee Davis (LINK) is another one. The police wrote off horrific murders as a murder/suicide and punished officer Bonds for continuing to seek the actual killer. This is not the first nor the last time a police force has made this mistake - or many others.

Hydrant said...

A Voice of Sanity what is you expertise in the collection of evidence? I admire your opinions and comments and it is important to remember we are all human. Althoiugh I did not share your vision regarding the innocence of Scott Peterson, I was curious as to your thoughts on Drew peterson and that case.

A Voice of Sanity said...

Re Drew Peterson, I am extremely suspicious of him. As a cop, he certainly knows better than most how to avoid leaving evidence. OTOH, one only has to look at cases such as that of Colleen Stan ("The Girl in the Box") to see how dangerous it is to assume with no evidence.

As far as Scott Peterson is concerned, I merely have to note that despite spending $11 million on this prosecution the state could never find any valid evidence against him. All they had was a theory with no facts (and which could not possibly have been true) and evidence of either bad character or bad taste.

If you want a view of the evidence, go look at Guilty? to see what the prosecution offered. Then look at Innocent! to see what the real circumstantial evidence in this case actually proved. I count 18 items of evidence for fetal abduction, zero for uxoricide.

cherry6905 said...

I believe the Ramsey's did it. I don't see how you could come to any other conclusion if you read the police reports and ransom note.
Thank you stacey for sticking with it.

A Voice of Sanity said...

cherry6905 said... <... Clipped ...>

What you believe and what the evidence proves are exactly opposite. Here is a real ransom note:


Now you explain why the note the Ramseys found was so different.