Thursday, March 26, 2015

Why the "Perfect Crime" is Becoming Easier, not Harder

The Alligators Ate Her, so Ha Ha!
One would think with the advances in science these days - better DNA analysis, greater analysis of all physical evidence, the ability to track phones and discover Internet search history - all of these things would mean a case is easier to prosecute and to see a murderer put away for good.

And, yet, in my opinion, science is actually turning out to be a bit of a disaster for seeing justice done; while more cases are solved and closed (via DNA matches), less of these are actually being successfully prosecuted. Did I just contradict myself? No, let me explain further.

Solving a case simply means you are sure enough who did it that you don't need to investigate further.                   If you have enough evidence, you can go to prosecution. But, sometimes, the case is simply closed administratively because the suspect is dead. Other times, cases are called solved without actually proving who did it, they are solved because the investigators believe or claim to believe they know who did it (by way of circumstantial evidence or limited physical evidence) and the case is closed administratively. Sometimes, someone is simply railroaded because it is easy to get a jury to believe he did it or someone simply gets the label of perp in an administratively closed case because it is believable and comforting to the family and citizens and increases the closure rate for the police department. Doing so also gets the family, press, and community of their backs. Often crimes linked without true proof are glommed on to serial killers who are already serving time and it isn't a stretch to think they committed yet another crime even if it is never actually proven.

So, while added scientific evidence can close cases, some properly and some questionably, does science really help in the courtroom? I don't believe so...I think science and TV CSI shows along with lay juries and squirrelly defense attorneys and their bought experts combine to make it nigh impossible to convict these days especially since a good portion of crimes still just don't have strong physical evidence; circumstantial evidence must take the criminal down. Once upon a time, it was almost always circumstantial evidence that brought a guilty verdict but now juries overwhelmingly mistrust even solid circumstantial evidence;, they want solid proof that the party is guilty, incontrovertible proof that doesn't allow for a smidgeon of a doubt, no matter how minuscule and ridiculous  that doubt might be. Juries don't have faith in their own ability to determine guilt by the totality of thee evidence; they want science to do the determination for them and, oftentimes, that level of physical proof does not exist. The prosecutor doesn't want to wreck his win rate (a politically bad move) by taking anything but slam dunks to court so we THINK the system works because the citizens are unaware of how many cases are shoved under the carpet and forgotten over time. Most of the time when tough cases (well, tough in terms of getting lay juries to convict) go to court, it is because the press has put so much pressure on the police

A good example of prosecuis when Robert Durst was found not guilty of the murder of his neighbor, Morris Black. Mind you, he confessed to pulling the trigger, confessed to killing Black. He admitted to shooting Black with his own gun in his own apartment. He confessed to chopping up Black's body and getting rid of the parts and cleaning up the apartment. While many parts were found (and some showed signs of severe bruising indicating the victim was beaten), the head with the location of the bullet hole was hidden well enough to never locate. Durst never told police where the head was. Durst had a motive (stealing Black's identity along with other possible motives) and following the crime, he went on the run. If that isn't a solid circumstantial case, I don't know what is. The jury let him off though because they accepted Durst's explanation (created, I am sure, of his lawyer) that he shot Black in self-defense when Black (after somehow getting into his apartment and locating his gun) came at him with the weapon. Durst claims he grabbed the weapon, and in the struggle, shot Black. And because the jury did not have physical 100% absolute proof this did not happen, Durst walked.

Casey Anthony also walked because the jury was willing to accept a ridiculous alternative theory conjured up by her attorney. OJ Simpson walked, I guess, because there wasn't a videotape of the crime. Now, mind you, there are some people who get convicted by juries based on nearly zero evidence but these are scapegoats selected because it is pretty obvious the jury won't like these defendants and the prosecutor is quite sure they would be happy to convict him. But, if there is a chance the jury will feel the slightest bit sorry for the defendant, a circumstantial case is likely to go down in only because too much science has made juries not trust circumstantial evidence (and the lawyers  and experts who present it).

There never has really been such a thing as a perfect crime, just a good-enough crime that won't be closed in court. Serial killers get away with most of their crimes simply because they are strangers and the police have no idea who to connect to the evidence. Bodies that disappear rarely have justice meted out to the one that turned them into just a body because the jury almost always has to have proof that the person is dead. Elizabeth Johnson, in spite of the fact she told her estranged husband she killed their baby and he hasn't been seen in six years, only got a short sentence for false imprisonment (interfering with custody) and she is already out of prison. But, since she also claimed she gave the baby away to a stranger in the park, the jury thought the less horrible of her claims might be true and didn't convict her of homicide.

Killers now know that if you can hide enough of the evidence well enough (especially a body), you won't need to have committed a perfect crime because a good-enough crime will have the jury rule, "Not guilty."

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

March 24, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Brenda Leyland Inquest and the Suicide Ruling

The ruling came down today that Brenda Leyland committed suicide, that no one else was else was involved in causing her death. Already there are those who say they will never accept the ruling, that they have no doubts Brenda was murdered. Others accept the suicide ruling but believe that there are those who are responsible for pushing Brenda to the edge, in a sense, pushing her off the cliff. I certainly see their point of view; Brenda might be alive today if Martin Brunt hadn't doorstepped her, if the newspapers hadn't run a vicious campaign of name-calling, labeling Brenda a troll in large black letters across the top of tabloids, perhaps, if she hadn't been targeted by certain pro-McCann groups that turned over a certain list to the McCanns/Summers&Swan/SKY/the police/whomever that started the ball rolling.

But, as far as the manner of death is concerned, there is a large gap between criminal behavior and bad behavior. Just as Brenda Leyland's tweets did not meet the standard of criminal behavior, those who outed Brenda did not commit any criminal acts as far as I can see, just rather mean ones. Now, defamation is another matter and this is a civil one which Brenda Leyland's family can decide to pursue or not.

But I want to discuss the matter of suicide, why people choose this option and how often families and others often refuse to accept this manner of death as what really happened, why they so often believe someone has gotten away with a homicide staged as a suicide.

First, to why people commit suicide; because it brings an end to the struggle, whatever struggle it is. Often, the full depth of that struggle is not apparent which is why the act of suicide comes as such a shock to those around the deceased. They might have understood that the victim had problems or was depressed, but they don't believe that it was so bad that the person would have taken his or her own life. Interestingly, sometimes they are actually right, but the person who has committed suicide lacked the ability to put things into perspective; that whatever misery they feel today may blow over in a couple of weeks, or they are overfocusing on the negative, or everyone in life experiences bad blows. Some people can handled massive trauma and others are felled by the slightest misfortune; people are very different but families and friends often can't fathom someone taking their life over something they think could have been weathered.

Brenda Leyland could have refused to talk to Martin Brunt. She could have shut down her Twitter account, stayed away from the Internet, and taken a vacation to the Canary Islands until all the nastiness in the news had blow over. She could have then returned to friends and family and taken up the rescue of abandoned animals. She could have, but she didn't. She simply couldn't stand the pain she found herself in after being thrashed in the media and she decided to remove herself from ever having to deal with it or think of it again. This is the way suicide happens.

But, some just won't believe it, in spite of no evidence to the contrary. Brenda had contemplated suicide; she said so to Martin Brunt. She researched ways to kill herself. She bought implements with which to take her own life. She went to a private place where she would not be disturbed. She carried out her wish to end her time on earth. There is zero evidence of anyone else in the room who assisted her in any way nor is there any evidence of trauma which might indicate someone forcefully took Brenda's life.

I can't tell you how many obvious cases of suicide are brought to me by family who claim their loved one was murdered. It doesn't matter to them that the death occurred behind a locked door, that there was no sign of violence, that there was a three page suicide note left beside the body written in the victim's handwriting, that the deceased had spoken of suicide prior to taking their life or had actually attempted suicide prior to this successful suicide. They cannot accept that the victim needed to go to this extreme, that if they had been that desperate, the family would have known it and they would have helped them.

And, I think, in the end, this is why the family refuses to accept a suicide ruling; they feel guilty. They feel like they should have, could have done something. They should have known their loved one was in such a bad way, they should have, oh, why didn't they know? Were they too involved in their own lives, did they brush off their loved one when they had asked for help? Did they roll their eyes or scoff at them when they spoke of their problem being so bad? Did they tell them to get over it, move on with their lives, grow a backbone? Did they tell them their significant other wasn't worth moaning about? Did they push them too hard in school? Did they, did they, did they? The recriminations go on because the truth of the matter is, you often have no idea if a person is ready to jump, really jump, this time.

Who knows if during another week or month of her life Brenda Leyland would have chosen to tell everyone to sod off and then taken a cruise around the world? Who knows if Brenda didn't have a myriad of other problems and this was just the straw that broke the camel's back? Who knows if the same treatment had been meted out to another "troll" that this person might have not have stood up and fought back? Who knows? None of us. 

My prayers go out to the family of Brenda Leyland in the wake of this tragedy. Whether they want to pursue a civil course of action is entirely up to them. But, as far as a criminal matter, this case is simply not one.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

March 20, 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The End is Near in the Madeleine McCann Case

As most of you are quite aware, I have refrained from commenting on the Madeleine McCann case for months now as doing so has been both pointless and unpleasant. It seems that many feel a great deal of anguish as the Scotland Yard so-called investigation blunders on...with no inspiring results...and Andy Redwood retires (which is hardly something a man would do on the eve of a great investigative coup); frustrated, they are striking out rather viciously at anyone who dares suggest that all is not going to end well. In other words, the writing is in the wall - as it has been since Scotland Yard announced that the McCanns were not suspects, that they were only looking at an abduction, and that Jane Tanner actually saw a man with a child (even if there is no evidence he exists and he was walking in the wrong direction). This Met review and investigation clearly was never intended to include the Tapas 9 as a focus and there are many who do not want to believe that their hopes are going to be dashed after all the effort they have put forth to shed light on the evidence and the McCanns likely involvement in the disappearance of their daughter, Maddie.

But, four people seem to agree that this case is going to be put to bed as a stranger abduction that simply can't be solved or can't be prosecuted. These four people are Gonçalo Amaral, Tony Bennett, Joana Morais, and myself. Now, while we may not agree on exactly what happened to Madeleine McCann, while we may not entirely agree on how it all went down - who did what and what the timeline was - we all seem to agree that the outcome is going to be politically based and not one supported by evidence and proper investigation. In other words, four people from vastly different backgrounds and skill sets, four people who have a great deal of knowledge of the Madeleine McCann case, all agree that a whitewash is in the making.

Yet, there are many who are outraged at each one of us for daring to suggest that Scotland Yard has just wasted ten million pounds on a faux investigation, mad at all of us in spite of the fact absolutely nothing useful has come of four year of effort, that there has been zero progress, and they are calling us names even though it is a straight up fact that there has never been any focus on the Tapas 9 by Scotland Yard and it is also a fact that you can't make a case against someone by claiming in court that they are guilty simply because all other leads failed to put forth fruit.

We are about to hear the outcome of the McCann suit against Gonçalo Amaral but this matters little as far as the criminal case is concerned. I hope Gonçalo prevails enough to lessen the damage he has suffered, but it won't matter as far as putting the McCanns behind bars; the civil case truly has nothing to do with the criminal case. The criminal case is dead in the water and as recent news reports have pointed out, there are those who think the money being spent on the McCann case is a waste of resources. I totally agree because there is never going to be a true resolution unless Maddie's body is unearthed with sufficient physical evidence to link someone to the crime. Since Scotland Yard is looking in all the wrong places, this evidence is never going to see the light of day.

So, folks, all of you who think a good outcome is just around the bend, brace yourselves. I know all of you only want truth and justice but, as I have learned working almost two decades in this field, the one thing trumps truth and justice every time is politics.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

March 19, 2015

Cover for 'Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann'

By Pat Brown

Rating: 1 star1 star1 star1 star1 star
Published: July 27, 2011

What really happened to Madeleine Beth McCann in Praia da Luz, Portugal in 2007? Was she abducted as the Gerry and Kate have claimed or did something happen to Madeleine on May 3 in the vacation apartment and the incident covered up? Criminal Profiler Pat Brown analyzes the evidence and takes the readers through the steps of profiling, developing a theory that is intriguing and controversial.