Saturday, March 7, 2009

Letter from retired detective to Carol Dodge

I am a retired Detective Supervisor who has worked in Southeast Idaho for an extended period of time. I have not worked in the Idaho Falls area, but have assisted on many cases in the past with these agencies.

When I read the contents of your website I became concerned that as a family victim of a serious crime that not more has been done to communicate with you properly. I hope not to offend you or any of the persons involved in the investigation, but want to give you some background of why these type of things occur. Idaho does not have a high crime rate and as a result does not investigate these type of crimes on a frequent basis. Even if a person works 20 or 30 years as a detective, you probably would only be assigned 10-15 investigations of this type of magnitute over your career.

In Idaho Falls, Bonneville County and all of Southeast Idaho you do not have investigators who are assigned as Homicide Detectives. As a result those officers are frequently under trained and lack experience in what to look for on these type of crime scenes. Additionally some of the supervisors, especially those at the IFPD do not have the experience to oversee the detectives who are investigating the crime. As a result you frequently have things that should have been done, but where missed. As a result the case is not brought to a sucessful conclusion. You will also find that frequently there are what is term as "Turf Wars" Many agencies do not have the funding or equipment that is necessary to process such a crime scene. As a result the stiff necked supervisors fail to call in or ask for assistance from those who have the equipment. In our area the IFPD could have asked at least two bigger agencies that have the equipment and expertise to assist.

The first would be the Crime Lab in Pocatello (CSI). Don Wykoff is the supervisor of that unit. He and his staff who have received extensive training in processing these type of crime scenes could have been summoned to assist the IFPD. The State Police also in Pocatello have crime scene trailers and detectives who could have responded at no cost to the IFPD.

I would have also called out the Pathologist and the Coroner to the scene. The coroner is frequently an elected official, say someone from the Fire Department and really doesn't aid in the investigation. However the Pathologist who will be examining the victim later, will be allowed to see everything as it was before anything was moved. This could prove to be beneficial when he locates evidence during the autopsy. In this particular case if he has been trained on Blood Spatter he can evaluate the evidence and directon of the spatter, drops, transfers and many other items. This is another piece of evidence that would show the positioning, location and direction of attack. If detectives have done their job correctly they should have photographed and documented this very important evidence.

Frequently when detectives document this type of evidence, they place evidence markers on the wall, floor and other locations to give a pattern analysis. Frequently hundreds of photographs showing the droplets, transfers and contacts should be taken to document this evidence. Video tape and camera stills should be taken of the entire crime scene by one person, slowly entering the scene to document exactly how the scene was before anyone entered.

At this point assignments are given to each officer who is involved in the investigation as to what they are going to do. What freqently happens in these type of cases is the Administration of the Department, the Chief of Police, Captains, Mayor etc..hear about the crime and then utilize their power to go into the scene and examine what has occurred. If the Officers on the scene are doing their job correctly, they will refuse to allow any of the non involved parties into the scene until the scene is released. As a result of allowing extra persons into the scene, evidence is moved, destroyed or obliterated. Freqeuntly supervisors are worried that someone else might get the credit and make their department look bad. As a result they do not call for the additional assistance that is needed in these type of cases. Knowing what I know about equipment expenditures during this time frame, it would not surpise me to see that IF did not have all of the necessary equipment to process the scene.

As you stated in the web site I have never heard of a crime scene being released in such a quick time to the apartment owner. Usually what you see is a uniformed officer standing guard on the apartment for days until all of the investigators and crime scene techs are sure that they have not left anything untouched.

The other problem that you have is the fact that there are suggestions of drug users being associated with your daughter. I would have to ask the IFPD if they are not allowing you full access to the case file, why. You want justice in the case and if there are multiple suspects involved, then you would not do anything that would endanger this. The police need to see you as part of their team. Is the police department protecting someone within its own group. Are they protecting someone that they are using for information on drug cases because he/she has provided good information on other cases. Does it involve someone who has a family member in a high position. We do not have to look far in the past to see other problems like this. How much does politics play into the outcome of this investigation. In recent years a large number of victims have complained about the lack of communication from detectives handling cases. It appears that this is similar to what you have been experiencing. As I read over your experiences there appears to be many faults and investigative techniques that were not used.

As a victim I would be demanding a weekly contact from the lead investigator in the case. If he or she does not call weekly, then I would be talking to the Chief of Police and if he did not respond then the Police Commissioner who oversees the Police Department on the City Council. Additionally I would be contacting the various media outlets such as Americas Most Wanted, Court Television, Nancy Grace, Fox News and some of the others who could bring this to a new light in the media.

Be forewarned that for every 20-25 contacts you might get turned down, but all it takes is one sucessful contact. Locally I would contact Brenda Baumgarten with channel 6. She has experienced some of the same issues with the IFPD in the past. If she does not take it then maybe Aaron Kunz. Both of these parties have been around and have some experience with interviewing people. I also believe that they would give it an honest effort. In reference to the print media, I would have some reluctance of having anyone at the Post Register handle the case. The reason I say this, is due to the fact they have to rely upon the Police Department for news. They have to keep it friendly and will frequently look the other way to avoid conflict.

I would try Debbie Bryce at the Idaho State Journal. I have found that she digs into a case and will report what she finds no matter what the outcome is. You might ask why I would take the time to give you this information. I have seen too many times in the past where investigators are put into these positions not because of their ability, but because of their friendships with Leadership, with the positions they hold in their church or civic groups and so forth.

As a result frequently you have people in these positions that do not do their job. And when the public complains it goes upon deaf ears. You and your family are victims as much as your daughter was. You deserve the very best in treatment and investigative techniques. You pay the wages of those who are supposed to be handling the case and you and the media should demand answers and results.

I would question if the Post Register was allowed access to the file, then why doesn't the police department under the freedom of information act provide you with a copy. If they claim it is an open investigation, the insurance company covering your daughter would need a full and complete copy to provide a settlement. I would then have known and experiened investigtors who do not work at IFPD or Bonneville Sheriff look at the case and give you a full and descriptive indication of what went right and what went wrong. The reason I say someone else who would not be swayed by friendships in the Department. You need someone who knows what to look for and be honest if there are mistakes that were made. You also need someone who has the contacts such as Dr. Henry Lee the renouned pathologist that can look at crime scene photographs and give you valuable information. You also need someone that can send the information to the Behavioral Science Unit at Quantico FBI Academy to review the contents of the report and see if there are possibilities in the profile of this having multiple offenders with the case or a single person. You also need someone at the FBI crime lab to review the evidence that was collected to see if there are other avenues that need to be explored. As you can see there are many other things that could have,and should have been done. Without reviewing the case file, I can only make suggestions and hope that you get some positive feedback from others who have information concerning this horrible crime. Also remember as a general rule suspects do not keep quiet. They frequently will talk about something like this and if there is another suspect in prison in Nevada, I would hope that the Nevada authorities have placed someone either in the cell or near the cell of the other suspect to see if he might be talking. You and your family will be in our prayers. I hope that this helps a little bit to understand some of the complexity of these type of cases.


Anonymous said...

I think it was a cover up, nothing else, i would check DNA of everybody who was in close contact with this case, especially the officials and their family members, this case "stinks", there is to many clues given to the acussed man by the detectives,totally unprofessional behavior.
If there was a connection with a drugs, another reason for cover up. As for confession from the man who is still in prison, he just give them what they want to hear, i remember movie, there was an interigation and the guy give whole football team players names.. just to give him a break.
very sad story, my heart goes to the Mothers, i am a Mother and i can just say i am sorry.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone asked the school resource officer to submit DNA. He may be the mayor but during his interview he kept looking away as if he were guilty of something.

Anonymous said...

Who knows maybe he has a silent contract with the kid that did it ?

Anonymous said...

I would start thinking mixed modus operandi. Satanic order in the chaos. Somewhere the killer is laughing. High birth order.divide and conquer. a mask for the occasion. hmm.snaked right under their noses I bet!

Anonymous said...

I don't know about a cover-up. That seems way to 'Dateline or 48 Hours' for inexperienced murder/crime scene Idaho Falls PD detectives. What I found particularly thought provoking and probable is that the head cop, once discovering Angie had been murdered inside her apartment, and although his department didn't have the investigative tools or professionals to investigate the murder case, would refuse to request help from nearby qualified legal departments because that head cop feared not getting credit for solving the murder. The result?
An innocent young man is in prison and the murderer is still free.
Thanks a lot, IF cops and detectives {eyes rolling, head shakes back and forth - no, no, no = GOD help us All}

Anonymous said...

I agree that there's a cover up. I think DNA needs to be taken from Jared Fuhriman and others. Amazing how suddenly Fuhriman has a short term memory loss problem now and had to step down as mayor.

Anonymous said...

And why was there drug paraphernalia found at Fuhriman's home??? Sounds fishy to me. Was he involved with drugs back when this murder took place??? Did Angie know something??? A lot of questions popping up now.

Anonymous said...

I found this Dateline story very interesting. If you get the chance look at the case of David Camm. Although the case is different I hope it you find a reason to believe that even after years and no change in the case, There may be one. Just hang in there.

Janet Davidson said...

I have just seen the Dateline episode about Angie's tragic death. I believe that this Police Dept and City Mayor should be held accountable for letting a killer go free all these years now. They have DNA and have never even tried to match it to a person!! They should all be fired and then sued by Mother of Angie and the man still behind bars for a crime he did NOT commit!! Never mind the shame they should feel for their part in this miscarriage of justice for Angie!!!!

Unknown said...

Cover-Up? Satanic Cult? Innocent Man? Shame? No. I'm a juror who was on the Chris Tapp trial. I was in the court room. I had access to evidence and testimony of this case. Dateline, the "retired Detective" and the people who've left comments or made this website have NOT. Dateline is a news-drama, income-generating machine. I don't watch TV and I don't read the news - I didn't back then and I still don't. I was the only juror who wasn't tainted by what the media was pumping out prior and during the trial. I was also the only juror who - during the initial vote - said Chris Tapp was guilty: Me against 11 other people. I've never shared this publicly until now. There were 6 of those 11 who said he was innocent. The others were undecided. A request was sent to the judge who returned a reply saying we had to be unanimous - it could not be a hung jury. I was also the only juror who must have paid attention during the trial - which was a 3-ring circus - because I had 3 pages of notes compared to 3 sentences or a paragraph the others took during the same testimony. I paid attention as if I was the one sitting in the Defendant's chair. I paid attention as if my life depended on it - because to me, it did. I knew that my responsibility as a juror was serious and that I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I treated it frivolously or had ANY doubts. Do I think he kill Angie? No. Do I think the Judicial System is corrupt? Yes. Do I think the Prison system is a business - just like the U.S. Military is? Yes. Yes. And 18 years later, I still have NO DOUBT that Chris Tapp is guilty. Why? The evidence proved his admission true. Was it based on DNA? No. It was based on photographs taken at the scene. Why doesn't Chris recall what happened? Because he was high on drugs at the time. Does that make him innocent? Does killing a pedestrian with your car while you were drunk make you innocent? Angie was strong and healthy. I have no doubt that she would have been able to fight off her attackers had Chris Tapp not helped to hold her down. The attackers knew what they were doing - I guess they'd spent a lot of time watching crime shows on tv prior because they cleaned Angie's apartment spotless before they left which is why the unit was returned to the landlord so quickly. And for the record, I know the woman who developed the more accurate method of testing DNA and I had a small part in helping her with her research. Ironically, that scientist also lives in Idaho Falls, Idaho - and I applaud her every day for her efforts to out-perform her male colleagues who still don't give her the credit she's due. I just had to get that off my chest and explain to you how this trial still impacts my life. I also have a mother who died in prison and a brother who's sharing the same prison as Chris right now for unrelated charges. My life is full of irony… (continued)

Anon 1 said...

(Continued) The trial was also held during Mother's Day in 1998. I knew, that as a mother, I may one day run into either Chris' mother or Angie's mother in this small town and I had to be sure of my verdict. I felt compassion for both of them - especially since my own life was scarred by violence and injustice - I was well aware of the high cost of crime a family must pay for someone else's actions. There was no miscarriage of justice. Murder doesn't have a statute of limitations. Ben Hobbs is in a Nevada prison for committing the same type of crime on another woman - the only difference is that woman lived to convict him and Nevada sentenced him before Idaho could (See AP 6/26/1997 ). He's serving a minimum of 20 years. What you really should be asking is "Will the prosecutors of this case extradite Hobbs when he's released?". "Is 30 years enough time for Chris to be rehabilitated?" From personal experience, the justice system doesn't do anything to rehabilitate inmates. Prisons get money from them while in prison (yes, it's true!) and then release them when they can no longer hold them but make them continue paying for their "services" and it's nearly impossible for convicts to get a job so they can pay their fines. So what do they do? They commit another crime just so they can go back to prison where they have food, warmth, shelter, companions, and feel like they "belong". If anything, I hope anyone reading this will THINK about what I've said. I doubt I'll be visiting this site again anytime soon. I'm only here today because the memory of what's happened to both Chris and Angie AND their families and friends still haunts my life, but NOT because I think an innocent man was wrongly accused. Do us all a favor and stop watching tv and watch the documentary by Eugene Jarecki called "The House I Live In". It may change your perspective and change our world for the better. – Juror L.

Leslie K. said...

Juror L,
I appreciate your response & service in this case but u also need to take into consideration u only saw ONE of the interrogations videos of Chris Tapp! U only saw the one with him actually confessing! U didn't get to see the other 6 videos of 20hours before of them feeding him the info about the murder! I don't care how well u clean an apartment, even if u started it on fire & it burn almost completely u still leave DNA! So to say Chris was there & left ZERO DNA cuz he cleaned it up b4 he left is completely outrageous. Jurors are only shown what the judge & the justice system allows into the trial & unfortunately sometimes that's just NOT enough to make an informed decision especially when someone's life is on the line! That is what makes the Justice System SO messed up! Thank God we now have the Innocence Project because now there is a chance for thousands of innocent people to get there lives back. Unfortunately even if they get exonerated they still only release them with the clothes on their back & nothing else & send them in there way with No compensation for the many years they spent in prison! There are only a handful of states the Exoneree's can actually sue for being wrongfully convicted! The others hopefully still have family around & alive that can help them. If not they will end up on the streets. Criminals that are on parole get taken care of better. They at least get a place to stay, meals, warm bed, health care if they r sick & job opportunities! It's really sickening! They really need to look into the justice system and make sure someone is truly guilty before incarcerating them!!