Archive for category Justice
There are so many circumstances under which so many people confess….
This blog is not an attempt to chronicle all serial killers, or even one killer’s confessions, or a discussion of false accusations or wrongful convictions. To try to compile such information in one shot, this writer would just faint away in exhaustion. However, my point is to present a smattering of different kinds of confessions, as such emotions are intriguing to me and hopefully to other readers.
Tommy Lynn Sells, convicted serial killer . Says he does not want to “Come out here and say a bag of hoo-hoo” to quote his own words from a transcript of a 2004 “20/20 interview.” (He has claimed responsibility for over 70 murders across the United States!) However, that’s what prolific serial killers do. They are so convoluted in their descriptions and mix up events that you never know what’s really going on. Are they trying to be coy? Are they trying to fool interviewers? Or, do they really, just don’t remember the accumulated impact of their crimes?
Diane Fanning uncovered the truth and brought justice for accused mother Julie Rea Harper and her son Joel. In the early morning hours of Oct. 13, 1997, Julie Rea was sleeping in her home when she was awakened by a scream. Concerned about her son, Joel, she went to investigate and yelled his name, but his bed was empty. Julie said she then struggled with a masked intruder, chasing him through the house, bursting through two glass doors and into the backyard. Then, she said, the intruder walked away, removing the mask under a street light before vanishing into the night.
Within minutes, police arrived. Julie had a bruise over her eye and a gash on her arm. Police immediately searched her home and found Joel dead, his T-shirt bloody from multiple stab wounds to his chest.
Why didn’t they believe her? Well, they were sloppy in their initial investigation and trial and there was a messy divorce, and perhaps “the intruder in the middle of the night” just seemed so unbelievable.
Then there was another victim in the ring of terror by Sells who survived. On December 31, 1999, 10-year-old Krystal Surles was staying at the house of a friend, 13-year-old Kaylene ‘Katy’ Harris, when she was attacked by a man in the bedroom where the two girls were sleeping. She had just witnessed Kaylene having her throat slashed, when the man grabbed her and cut her throat. Pretending to be dead, she stayed still until she could escape and get help from the next door neighbor.
She survived and was able to assist in the conviction of Sells.
The actual retrial began in summer 2006. The court ruled that serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells’ confession would be permitted as evidence in her new trial, despite questions about its credibility. Meanwhile, the court ruled that some of the damaging testimony from Rea Harper’s ex-husband would not be allowed.
The Defense attorney, Ron Safer, maintained that Rea Harper’s first lawyer had been in over his head and that despite evidence to the contrary, police had unjustly focused on her as their prime suspect from the very beginning.
“All you have to do is examine the physical evidence and the circumstantial evidence for a concentrated couple of days,” he said, “and you can reach no other conclusion but Julie was 100 percent innocent.-
Enter true crime writer and researcher Diane Fanning, who saw Rea Harper’s story on “20/20″ and found herself moved by her proclamation of innocence.
Diane was finishing a book on the brutal history of Tommy Lynn Sells, who was a death row serial killer with a history of drug addiction. She corresponded with Sells, and mentioned her doubts about Rea Harper’s conviction. (Through the Window)
Diane said, “I didn’t tell him who she was, I didn’t tell him where it happened, I didn’t tell him when it happened, nothing,” And he popped back with a letter and said, ‘Was that murder you were talking about one that happened two days before the one I did in Springfield, Mo.? Say maybe on the 13th?'”
What was it about a timeline that didn’t make sense? Joel was killed Oct. 13th- two days before police say Sells had raped and murdered 13-year-old Stephanie Mahaney in nearby Springfield, Missouri.
A Second Look and a Second Chance at Justice
The Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University and the Chicago law firm Schiff Hardin decided to represent her in her appeal pro bono and would spend in time and money- The equivalent of $1 million on her defense.
“A taste” of what one of Tommy Lynn’s Sells Confession was like:
For the entire transcript with 20/20 See link- http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=784420&page=1&singlePage=true
Did you commit the murder of the boy in Lawrenceville?
I committed a murder two days before, the Springfield murder. I know this. Is it this murder you’re talking about? I’m assuming, got a good shot at it. You know. But, but to be-
Can you tell me, Tommy, what you remember about that murder?
Next to nothing. And, and I tried talking to Bob [NAME UNCLEAR] about this, and uh, y’all, y’all come here in forty-five minutes and you want me to disclose a murder investigation that, I’ve sat through many, and it takes hours. And, and y’all just want me to try to say that I’ve done something that I’m not a hundred percent sure; I’m not even forty percent sure. I know I committed a murder two days before Springfield…
Can you tell me what you do remember about that?
I remember getting in a fight with a woman. Well, not a fight, but a struggle.
Where was that? At a diner? At a restaurant-
No, no, during the murder.
During the murder?
Right. OK. And I thought it was her that I killed. But apparently it wasn’t. Now, y’all saying it’s a boy, and, and you know, it wasn’t like I asked for a name and, and, you know, I just went in to a dark room and started cutting. Or stabbing.
Do you remember why you went to that particular house?
Well, see, I wouldn’t say I had the right house, but I’m not even sure if I went to the right house. Uh.
Were you looking for someone or something?
What were you looking for?
I was looking for a woman, uh, that, that I had got into an argument with at a little convenience store earlier that day. And I had followed her, and thinking this is where she lives. No, go figure that. You know, it’s, it sounds awful coincidental, and the finger sure points to that one. You know. But, but before I say, yeah, I did something; I want to know I did it. I just don’t want to come out here and say, uh, a bag of hoo-hoo, and say this is what you want to hear, this is what I want to tell you. I’m, I’m, and you understand what I’m saying?
And…on and on….
Through Diane’s unrelenting pursuits and meticulous research, in 2011 Diane Fanning received the prestigious Defenders of the Innocents Award.
Status of Tommy Lynn Sells: Sells was executed in Texas on April 3, 2014, at 6:27 p.m. CST by lethal injection. He declined to make a final statement.
Intimate Partner Violence
In 1991, after years of domestic violence, Geraldine Kelly shot and killed her husband and stored his body in a freezer at their home in Ventura, California. She told her young children that their father died in a car accident. Seven years later moving back to Somerville Massachusetts, she had the body driven across country stored in a local storage facility in Somerville. In 2004, 13 years after the murder Kelly was gravely ill with breast cancer and confessed to her daughter that she had killed her father claiming he abused her for years and told her where to find his body. The body was mummified but identified as John Kelly based on distinctive tattoos he was known to have including a panther, a Kewpie doll and a skull. The cause of death was a gunshot to the back of the head.
Lock Ness Monster Photo
In 1934 a doctor named Robert Kenneth Wilson offered a picture to the Daily Mail newspaper. Wilson told the newspaper he noticed something moving in Loch Ness, stopped his car to take the photo. Wilson refused to have his name associated with it so the photo became known simply as “The Surgeon’s Photo.” For decades this photo was considered to be the best evidence of the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. In 1994 at the age of 93 and near death Christian Spurling confessed that the surgeon’s photo taken 60 years ago was a hoax and the mastermind behind it was his Stepfather Marmaduke Wetherell.
Confessed to: the Murder of William Desmond Taylor
William Desmond Taylor was an actor and a top US film director of silent films in the early days of Hollywood. He was to death in 1922 it became one of Hollywood’s most famous mysteries
In 1964, 42 years after the murder a reclusive old woman living in the Hollywood Hills was suffering from a heart attack and summoned her neighbor. she asked for a priest to confess but when no Priest was available she began to make her confession to her neighbor. As she was dying on her kitchen floor she said she was a silent film actress by the name of Margaret Gibson and that she shot and killed a man named William Desmond Taylor. She is alleged to have been involved romantically with Taylor but a motive as to why she killed him was never mentioned.
The Violin Story: In 1936 Polish virtuoso Hall Huberman was performing at Carnegie Hall and decided to switch the Stradivarius he was playing in the first half of his performance to his newly acquired Guarnerius violin. After the intermission the Stradivarius was stolen out of his dressing room by 20-year-old Julian Altman who was a New York nightclub musician.
Altman went on to become a violinist with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. and performed for Presidents and politicians with the stolen Stradivarius for many years. In 1985, 49 years after the theft, Julian Altman who was in prison for child molestation and gravely ill confessed to his wife that he had stolen the violin. He then instructed his wife where to find the Stradivarius at the couple’s home. Along with the Stradivarius, she found newspaper clippings recounting the theft. In 1987 his wife returned the Stradivarius to Lloyds of London in exchange for a $263,000 finder’s fee.
Romantic Confessions of Love… Okay- Proposals: “That One Thing”
This says it all! 8 minutes of bliss! http://www.wimp.com/romanticproposal/
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”
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.
As 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.
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
“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.
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.
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.
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!)
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!