Spontaneous Combustion at Its Best: The Cold Case Investigative Research Institute

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“If law enforcement hasn’t thought of it, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea.”

(Sheryl McCollum)

When you pair Sheryl “Mac” McCollum with inquisitive, interested students of every academic discipline and personal background, combined with excellent colleagues and a state of the art facility, it’s spontaneous combustion of the best kind, the learning kind!

It all takes place at the Cold Case Investigative Research Institute  based in Atlanta.   As CCIRI Founder Sheryl McCollum says, “We’re in the business of tryin’ and we put fresh eyes on every case.”  After a long career in criminal justice, McCollum started the institute in 2005. Students receive no class credit and no grades for their work with the institute. Participation is strictly volunteer, yet there has never been a shortage of students eager to be a part.

Sheryl McCollum, Cold Case Investigative Research Institute,Shattered Lives Radio

Sheryl McCollum

The Cold Case Investigative Research Institute is a one of a kind non-profit born out of “an accidental teaching method” giving the opportunity for students to sink their teeth into a real case, and the rest is history with an impressive lineup of 30 colleges with professionals from which to draw ten years later!

Over their 10 year history students have worked on several high-profile cases, such as Chandra Levy, Tupac Shakur, and the Boston Strangler, as well as many  cases the public may not be as familiar. They are affiliated with colleges all over the country where each case is assigned to that college’s area of expertise, working independently, and combining information from each to add to the solvability of the case.

 

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 Highlights from the podcast:

  • “Civilians solve crime all the time”- Expertise you can’t pay for from the school of hard knocks;
  • “The Institute is Like a Church” All are welcome, no requirements needed.  Students come with many things to offer such as real life expertise , common sense
  • The Timeline for new cases, action plans, experts and expected outcomes. 1 year minimum time spent on each case, but many go on much longer.
  • The Miracle of Argocy College: A new home and unlimited potential. Example: videoconference with over 200 students for the benefit of one family’s case  equaling 400 man hours;
  • Duane Thompson, PhD –  “an all around top cop”
  • Donations: Send to-  The Cold Case Investigative Research Institute, 235 10th Street, Atlanta, Georgia  30318
  • Cases Discussions- Whodunit Versus Unproven:   Natalee Holloway; Amber Hagerman
  • The Comic Book about the Amber Hagerman case, one of a kind story
  •  Coldest Case ever worked,  “bullets don’t disintegrate!”
  • Update on the Mary Shotwell Little Case;
  • The Bizarre Case of Vi Ripken (mother of in the Baseball Star Cal Ripken, Jr.)
  • FUGITIVE APPREHENSION PLAN- for the future- endorsed by the Army, Secret Service, Marshall, Service, FBI etc… Stay tuned for more!
  • The “nuts and bolts” of figuring out a case – Example: Chandra Levy Case
  • Ladyjustice   describes the Institute as a “Think out of the Box” Institute
  • No sadness… and “a little pool of money.”
  • Traditional academics versus the fulfillment that is received from this “non-traditional learning experience”
  • Advantages for the students – National training from experts on all aspects of criminal justice and working real high-profile cases!
  • Parting Messages for the Audience – the benefits of DNA and encouraging you to help others wherever it’s needed.

 

“The comments expressed on this website or on the broadcasts of Shattered Lives do not necessary reflect the opinions or beliefs of the hosts, producers, or other guests.”

Spontaneous Combustion at Its Best: The Cold Case Investigative Research Unit

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On the Road to Remember 2014 in Connecticut

I am a fine person in my own right with talents, and skills and hope for the future!

I am a person of every, race, creed, color, age, gender and ethnicity or circumstance.

I may have veered off the most direct or safest path…or someone else may have taken control such that my future is not what I wanted it to be.

However, I know that I am valued and loved and deserve the dignity of a rich and full life without judgment passed by others.

I am a missing person from this our state, or one of the 49 other states. 

I am someone’s child. 

Donna R. Gore “LadyJustice”

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I am happy to be embraced by the Cue Center for Missing Persons, for I know they will assist my family and law enforcement with every resource available.

Thank you for coming to hear my story.

There are many things that will be said about this year’s 2014 CUE Center for Missing Persons On the Road to Remember Tour. However, I tend to gravitate to special moments capturing humanity.

Why I was selected to be a potential tour stop, I do not know, I do remember the captivating description at the microphone offered by Monica about this tour and her heartache when particular locations have to be denied; among thousands of missing adults across this country, why families would have to clamor for attention is beyond all understanding.

Why media does not expand their definition of “breaking news” to include our ever-expanding list of “broken hearts for the missing” in Connecticut, even when there is no car crash, new murder, or other story of import to cover, I do not understand. (A New Haven Police photographer and a New Haven Register photographer were the exceptions- THANK YOU!)

Although the planning of this event began many months ago with many starts and  stops along the way, this  “perpetual plan ahead Coordinator” learned that an event could look like a choreographed ballet- complete with butterflies, ribbons, and balloons in a short time.

Life is about timing and in the end, the stately Connecticut State Police Museum and Education Center was the perfect venue and backdrop for our hosting. On May 29, 1903, Governor Abiram Chamberlain signed House Bill #247 which authorized the creation of the Connecticut State Police, the first of its kind in the country.

1901262_704453792973980_5124058894255109536_nAs I parked my car about 8:30 a.m. waiting for everyone else to arrive in the presence of the morning dew and brilliant sunshine, I wondered what this would turn out to be.  Would the families come? Would law enforcement come? Would the media come? Would we be ready when Monica and her staff arrived?  Not to worry! Not easy for a person who wants such things to be “near perfect.”

The detectives of the Connecticut State Police, particularly, Tonya Campagnone and her team, and Sergeant Elisa Tuozzoli and colleagues, Ann Mays and Jessica Agosto of the New Haven Missing Persons Unit, soon arrived to assist in unpacking my cram-filled car. A stress fracture did not keep this Coordinator down in the least! In fact, I couldn’t recall feeling pain-maybe because I was focusing on other people’s pain. What a great healing method!

Where to put things? Better here, or over there? Do we have enough tables?  Food and drink generously donated by New Haven restaurants and real bathroom facilities, were relative luxuries on this grueling journey.

NamUS posters told the story before the families arrived. Their photos haunted me. I wondered what was their back story of which few spoke.

Families represented at event:

  • Evelyn Frisco- Missing since June 2004; New Haven, Contact New Haven Police- 203-946-6316- 5’2” Family present at event;
  • Jose Ortiz, Missing since December 2005- New Haven; Contact New Haven Police  203-946-6316; Family present at event;
  • Jerry Dolphin- 20 years old; Missing since October 1994- New Haven; Contact New Haven Police; Family present at event;
  • William Paul Smolinski, Jr – Missing since August 2004-Waterbury; Contact New Haven CT FBI 203-777-6311, Case # 62D-NH-44785; NamUS MP # 43;
  • Lisa Calvo- 40 years old; Missing since October 2005;  Height-4’11” Contact New Haven Police; Family present at event;
  • Bernadine Paul – 38 years old; Hispanic; Missing since June 2000; Contact Waterbury Police -203-574-6941; Case # 00-45074;                            NamUS MP # 392; ;
  • Ande Fan- Asian Male 5’4” Missing since August 2004- New Haven; Contact New Haven Police;
  • Marquita Jones – Missing since Summer of 2011- Hill area of  New Haven;  Contact New Haven Police;   5’ 2” Nicknames – “Keighia,” “Kecia,” “Luv.” Quita Luv
  • Mary E. Badaracco- 53 years old,  Missing since August 1984; Sherman, CT; Contact your local law enforcement Case # A84277483; NamUS MP # 303; Family came after event; $50,000 Reward for more information;
  • Janice K. Pocket- 7 years old, Missing since July 1973- Tolland, CT ;  Contact CT State Police 860-779-4940; Case # 000000014; NamUS # 2555;
  • Debra Lee Speckler- Missing since July 1968-Vernon CT: Contact Vernon Police Department – 860-872-9126 ext. 289; Case # C-3710-68-J;                NamUS MP # 5426;
  • Lisa Joy White – Missing since November 1974-Vernon, CT; Contact Vernon Police Department – 860-872-9126 ext. 289; Case # 000000019; NamUS MP # 2559
  • Alyssiah Wiley-  20 years old;  Previously Missing—in Bridgeport  Remains located in Trumbull, CT in May 2013; Mother Corrinna Martin attended event.

New families were especially forthcoming while speaking both publically and one on one. Corrinna spoke of “establishing an intimate relationship of cooperation with their law enforcement”; hopes to locate daughter Evelyn Frisco, long missing, before her mother, Janet dies.

Others spoke of the evils of drugs, how Jerry Dolphin was on the threshold of new ventures and how this event tearfully opened wounds; the quest to find Billy Smolinski and the importance of NamUS legislation.

Retired State Police officer Jerry Longo was visibly moved and couldn’t take his eyes off of former 7-year-old Janice Pocket’s poster- missing while looking for butterflies. He stated soberly to me, “I remember her. I worked this case.”

A wonderful give and take was noted between families, law enforcement and Cue Members.  A  make shift “Memory wall” was set up along the ancient 1920 brick edifice behind the Museum, consisting of quilted swatches of missing persons around the country as well as the vivid CUE Road Tour color collage with all of the faces of the missing emblazoned on the poster just waiting for Monica and hope to arrive at their stop!

The visuals were quite powerful; a custom-made multicolored ribbon and butterfly tree, yellow butterfly badges for families to wear and yellow balloons that went careering into the heavens to join others.1925292_735282959875593_6019599327779758457_n

As a new Coordinator, I marveled at the way CUE Center Founder, Monica Caison, was able to instantly engage new families and provide comfort. I tried to keep my distance when I saw this happen.  I too was able to do the same with guests and as a veteran homicide survivor. It made me feel so good!

My one regret was that I was unable to get a photo with Monica. There was no time to talk or bond with a new Coordinator, unfortunately.  We did tour the Museum together for a few minutes in which she enthusiastically took photos and interacted with staff.

An honorable mention must be given for her dedicated staff of volunteers who helped navigate. They make it all come together with good humor considering their many duties, fatigue,“ and the road ahead.”  Elisa, David and Janeanne were gracious, as was Harlan Chavis who parted by saying, “See ya’ at the Conference.”

No story would be complete without a postscript or two:

As I was just about to depart, Beth Profeta, daughter of missing Mary Badaracco, rolled down her car window and announced, “She was here for the event.” I identified myself, (as I had not seen her in a few years). She was frazzled, mad and disappointed that she had “gone off course and gotten lost.”  We spent the next hour or so talking at the end of the Complex’s driveway, staged a few photos on her car hood and up against “a mighty oak tree” of dear mother, Mary Badaracco.

Cars were whizzing up the driveway to other buildings except for a distinguished looking gentleman approaching, proudly wearing a CT State Police cap and riding an adult three-wheeled tricycle.  He introduced himself, struck up a conversation with us, said he lived up the hill and this was part of his “stomping grounds.” I can’t recall his name, but he did proudly share with us that he was 99 years old and rode his bike on the grounds daily!

AMEN! The perfect ending to a perfect day!

On the Road to Remember 2014 in Connecticut

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Karl Karlsen Establishes a Pattern of Conduct

 

Karl Karlsen

Karl Karlsen

“I took advantage of the opportunity (of a death.)”

A confession to an ex-wife about murdering his son, it appears he is talking in code of some sort.

“I didn’t push the truck, I said,” Karl Karlsen continued. His second wife, Cindy was wearing a wire and capturing his words during “Operation Abigail” in cooperation with law enforcement concerning the death of his son from a former marriage, Levi Karlsen. Cindy feared she would be his next victim, “the next insurance policy.”

“No, I said I had nothing to do with it,  but I said I took advantage of the situation once it happened.”

Police listened to incriminating statements captured on Cindy’s audio recordings, and they brought Karlsen in for questioning. During a 9.5-hour interview, investigators said Karlsen denied killing his son, Levi, 75 times, and that he’s given several explanations for Levi’s death, including that he accidentally knocked the pickup truck off the jack and onto his son, crushing him to death.

Truth is, a new insurance policy for a son in his 20’s, just 17 days prior his death, seemed fishy.

While Karl Karlsen did admit he caused the truck to fall on Levi during the police interrogation, investigators said Karlsen maintained it was an accident, leaving for a funeral after he viewed his son under the truck and found him “four hours later.”

“He did admit that he caused the truck to fall on his son. He did admit that he left his son on the floor dying, but he never admitted that it was a planned, deliberate act,” said Seneca County Lt. Investigator John Cleere.

Levi’s death was initially ruled an accident in 2008. Police said Karlsen collected a $700,000 life insurance payout after the incident and that Levi had signed a handwritten will before his death, leaving everything to his father. But at the time, authorities said they didn’t know about the life insurance policy or the will.

Levi Karlsen

Levi Karlsen

Another Karl Karlsen money trail now leads to a new charge of murder by arson, New Year’s Day 1991.  Karlsen was motivated by insurance money and 18 years separated two deaths. On the trail from California returning to upstate New York, a pattern of conduct was established. See video from ABC news

Karlsen was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years to life for Levi’s death. Twenty three years later, after his first wife died, California law enforcement decided to pay attention to “a track record of mishaps.”

When California investigators looked at the records, there was an August 1986 car fire, a November 2002 barn-horse fire, and then, they wondered, what happened to Karlsen’s first wife?

Christina, Levi’s mother, perished in a house fire on  New Year’s Day 1991. The only possible escape was a boarded up broken window. As the house burned, Karlsen and his three unknowing young children stood outside and watched. A week after the fire he gathered the three children and left California, heading back to New York to be near his family.

As of August 31,2014, under California law, murder for financial gain  qualifies Karlsen for the death penalty if convicted.

Someone who knows how to “work the system and make everything look like an accident” seems to be a common theme more often than not.

How do these monsters slip by virtually undetected? Is it lack of experience on the part of law enforcement? Is it charm or the cunning nature of the killer? Is it a family held hostage by fear and unanswered questions?  I think all of the above!

When someone in the family “grows a conscience,” or decides they may be the next victim, the tables are turned.

Once the judicial process is on the horizon, only then can they breathe a bit easier.

During such a vulnerable time, going through a trial and forced to face the convicted, an experienced advocate with skill and a sense of perspective can help through the process by assisting in customizing a victim impact statement which is used during the sentencing phase of the trial.

Karl Karlsen deserves to be put away forever. May their victim impact statement assist them in doing so!

For those in need of a professional Victim Impact Statement, please feel free to contact me through this website. For more information see my informational page on Victim Impact Statement Assistance.

 

References:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/york-man-prison-murdering-son-charged-wifes-death/story?id=25164857

http://www.fltimes.com/news/article_bc98b99a-30b3-11e4-9162-0019bb2963f4.html

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On the Road to Remember Tour Connecticut Event

 

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To date, NamUs, The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, lists approximately 164 registered missing from Connecticut.  Other sources are claiming 300+.  The true number may be somewhere in between.

ALL families in Connecticut that have a missing person or unsolved homicide are invited to attend. The event is FREE and open to the public.

Please bring pictures, posters, or any mementoes of your loved one to share with the public and the media.

Cue Center for Missing Persons registered cases from Connecticut include:

  • Bernadine Paul, from Waterbury, age 38. Missing since year 2000. Circumstances – She went missing at a retail store after making a bank withdrawal.
  • Evelyn Frisco, from New Haven, age 42. Missing since 2004. Circumstances – Following a court appearance she was never seen again. (The nature of the court appearance is unknown to this writer.)
  • Mary Badarraco, from Sherman, age 53. Missing since 1984. Circumstances – Former husband, Dominic Badarraco, is a person of interest in this case and was also more recently charged with bribing a judge on unrelated charges.
  • William P. Smolinski, Jr.  from Waterbury, age 31. Missing since 2004. Circumstances – Last Seen at his home in the vicinity of the 100 block of Holly St. in Waterbury, CT. All of his personal belongings were left behind.

 Location Sponsor:

Amid the backdrop of tradition, respect, proud history of service, and numerous collectible keepsakes, we hold our On the Road to Remember event on the grounds of the Connecticut State Police Museum (The oldest State Police force in the country!)

Museum Promo

Connecticut State Police Museum

 

Details:

Connecticut State Police Museum

294 Colony Street Meriden, CT – (Leo J. Mulcahy Complex)

Director: Jerry Longo

Event with the Cue Center Staff and Families begins at 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

Museum Tours available beginning at 9:30 a.m. to approximately 2:00 p.m.

Museum Phone: Call 203.440.3858 for appointments and tour information.

Contact On-Line Form: http://www.cspmuseum.org/contact/onlineform.asp

Media has been invited to interview family members and bring more awareness to all missing person’s cases from our area.

Join us to remember ALL of Connecticut’s MISSING!

 

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