Monday, September 09, 2013


Wednesday, August 07, 2013

New York's Other Deadly September 11th

The hijacking happened on the evening of September 10, 1976.
After a TWA flight took off from LaGuardia for Chicago, a group of Croatian nationals masquerading as passengers handed a note to a flight attendant and announced a takeover.

Led by a 28-year-old resident of West 76th Street named Zvonko Busic, the group claimed to have five bombs on board, plus a sixth stashed in a locker in the subway station at Grand Central Terminal.
Busic forced pilots to fly first to Montreal, then to Newfoundland. The 727 next headed to London and finally to Paris, where the hijackers surrendered after 30 hours in the air.

But air piracy wouldn't be their only crime. Though the bombs Busic claimed to have on the plane turned out to be fake, the one in the locker at Grand Central was real.

Police removed it from the locker, and when they tried to deactivate it the next day, it went off, killing NYPD Officer Brian Murray(below) and wounding three others. For more on P.O. Brian Murray and the story go to 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

DB Cooper Parachute Packer ID’d as homicide victim

The man who packed the parachutes used by infamous skyjacker DB Cooper has been identified as the victim of a homicide in Washington State.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office said that 71 year old Earl Cossey died April 23rd 2013 of blunt force trauma to the head. The sheriff’s office said his body was found by his daughter when she went to check on him.

Cossey played a small part in one of the Northwest’s most enduring mysteries.

Cooper, whose real identity isn't known, hijacked a passenger jet in 1971. He released the passengers at Seattle-Tacoma Int’l Airport in exchange for $200,000.00 and four parachutes.
He jumped out of the plane somewhere near the Oregon state line. No one knows what happened to him from that point forward.

Cossey was a skydiving instructor and he packed the parachutes provided to the skyjacker.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Miranda Warning: Common Misunderstandings

The Miranda warning comes from one of the biggest legal cases of the 1960's and thanks to countless arrest scenes in TV and movies, it’s one of the best-known applications of the Fifth Amendment. But what you don’t know about Miranda could be more significant than you think.

Currently, there is a big debate about the Miranda warning and Boston terror suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Federal investigators said after Tsarnaev’s detention that he would not be read his Miranda rights under something called the “public safety exemption.”

Under the exemption, police can interrogate a suspect without advising him or her of Miranda rights if they believe the suspect could have information about an imminent threat to public safety.
That exemption allowed investigators to interrogate Tsarnaev while in custody, without informing Tsarnaev of his rights to a lawyer and his right to stay silent.
According to an AP report, after 16 hours of questioning, a representative of the United States Attorney’s office read Tsarnaev his Miranda warning, and the suspect stopped talking to investigators.

The “Miranda” in the Miranda warning was Ernesto Miranda. He was arrested in March 1963 in Phoenix and confessed while in police custody to kidnapping and rape charges. His lawyers sought to overturn his conviction after they learned during a cross-examination that Miranda was never told he had the right to a lawyer and had the right to remain silent. (Miranda had signed a confession that acknowledged that he understood his legal rights.)

The Supreme Court overturned Miranda’s conviction in 1966 in its ruling for Miranda v. Arizona, which established guidelines for how detained suspects are informed of their constitutional rights.
The Miranda warning actually includes elements of the Fifth Amendment (protection against self-incrimination), the Sixth Amendment (a right to counsel) and the 14th Amendment (application of the ruling to all 50 states).
However, there are common misunderstandings about what Miranda rights are, and how they can protect someone under criminal investigation.

First, there is not one official Miranda warning that is read to a suspect by a police officer. Each state determines how their law enforcement officers issue the warning. The Supreme Court requires that a person is told about their right to silence, their right to a lawyer (including a public defender), their ability to waive their Miranda rights, and that what they tell investigators under questioning, after their detention, can be used in court.

The Miranda warning is only used (or "should only be used") by law enforcement when a person is in police custody and usually under arrest or is not free to leave a custodial situation and is about to be questioned. Anything you say to an investigator or police officer before you’re taken into custody—and read your Miranda rights—can be used in a court of law, which includes interviews where a person is free to leave the premises and conversations at the scene of an alleged crime.

In fact, Ernesto Miranda came into a Phoenix police station voluntarily to answer questions in 1963 and also participated in a police lineup.

The police can ask you questions about identification, including your name and address, without a Miranda warning. And they can use any spontaneous expressions made by you as evidence—for example, if you say something without the prompting of police before you’re taken into custody.

Of course, you’re still protected by your Miranda rights after you’re detained even if you waive them after an arrest. At any time, during an interrogation, you can stop answering questions and ask for a lawyer.

In the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, investigators probably felt they had enough evidence to charge him and win a case in court without any of the information Tsarnaev volunteered before he was read his rights.

As for Ernesto Miranda, though his original conviction was set aside by the Supreme Court ruling, he was retried and convicted, and was in jail until 1972, then in and out of jail several more times until 1976. After being released in 1976, he was fatally stabbed during a bar fight. His suspected killer was read his Miranda rights and did not answer questions from police. There was never a conviction in Miranda’s death.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Police in Cartoons

Police have always been included in various forms of entertainment throughout history, whether it was on the big screen in movies or the television screen. Even cartoons jumped on the bandwagon and realized police are fun to watch!

I can remember many examples of police in cartoons growing up. They interacted with characters of all sorts to include cats, bears, and of course bad guys. Below are just a few examples that come to mind. I'm sure I am forgetting many. How many can you recall from your early years?

Top Cat was popular in the early 1960's. A gang of alley cats in NYC that were constantly being watched over by Officer Charlie Dibble. The cats were always looking for ways to feed themselves or get ahead making a quick score (cartoons imitating life...?)

Deputy Dog was also a product of the same era. A Sheriff  in the state of Tennessee. Many of the story lines were built around the jailhouse that was DD's station. He was always trying to protect his produce from a local gang of characters; Vincent "Vince" van Gopher and Muskie Muskrat. He hung around with these two and didn't take many of their crimes very seriously as they also regularly fished together.

 Dudley Do-right of the Canadian Mounties. Again, from the same approximate time frame of the 1960's. Dudley was always trying to catch his arch nemesis Snidely Whiplash.  He romantically pursued Nell Fenwick, the daughter of Inspector Fenwick his boss.

I'm sure I could go on with the assistance of various search engines delving into history and coming up with all sorts of memories on this subject. Point being, we are and always have been (and always will be) a source for the media in one form or another.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Subway Vigilante

In 1984, mid afternoon on a subway car on the number 2 Train in New York City, Bernard Goetz was approached by four youths who demanded money from him. Goetz arose from his seat and produced an unlicensed handgun and summarily shot all four. After the shooting he spoke to two female passengers on the train and asked them if they were injured, as the two women had been knocked down by other passengers when they fled to the opposite end of the subway car when the shooting began. Goetz was approached by the conductor and Goetz told him "they tried to rob me". The conductor asked Goetz if he was a Police Officer and Goetz told him he was not. He refused to turn over the weapon and got off the train, jumped onto the tracks and escaped by running through the tunnel at Chambers St., downtown Manhattan. He turned himself in nine days later. The newspapers dubbed him "The Subway Vigilante".

Charles Bronson had nothing on this guy when he portrayed Paul Kersey in the long running sequel of movies "Death Wish" which began its reign in the 70's. According to police reports Goetz made several statements that indicated he had a plan when he arose from his seat and began firing his revolver at the youths. "Speed is everything" Goetz told police in a video taped statement. He told police that while still seated he planned a "pattern of fire". The public responded calling Goetz a hero and claimed he acted in self defense. He received enormous support as the public was tired of living in fear due to the rising violent crime rate in NYC. Goetz was eventually convicted for CPW-criminal possession of a weapon. He served eight  months in jail.

The four youths he shot all survived, although Darrell Cabey was paralyzed having his spinal chord severed by one the bullets fired by Goetz. The other three; Barry Allen, Troy Canty and and James Ramseur, all nineteen years old went on to commit other crimes.

As of 2005 Goetz was living in New York City and even ran for Mayor in 2001. He sells and services electronic test equipment through his company Vigilante Electronics.

Police Respect

Readers from all generations will certainly recall the term "Hippie", but do you remember the slogan that became synonymous with police respect?
 This saying wound up on bumper stickers, posters and lapel buttons all over the U.S and possibly around the world as the movement grew into popularity. How many variations of this have we see over the years?
The Hippies themselves took the rap here for being the bad guys but as some of our dinosaurs here may remember they were mostly  a peace loving group that had an affinity for music, free love and a green leafy substance...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

School Shootings....Not A New Trend

Most can remember the latest and recent of these horrific acts, but unfortunately it is not a new form of violence we are experiencing...and not just in the U.S.
In 1975 there was an eerily familiar act of cowardice and violence in Brampton Canada that few if any living in the U.S. might have even heard about:

Brampton Centennial HS 1975
May 28, 1975 Brampton, Ontario...It was a "beautiful spring day" according to Lorna Matthews, a 10th grade student at the time. She walked into the hallway and heard what she thought was firecrackers. Another girl then yelled "There's someone shooting people out there!" She and others retreated to a nearby classroom and remained hidden until Police gave the all clear.
 Michael Slobodian, a 16 year old walked on to the campus just before noon with two high powered hunting rifles and at least two ammunition belts. He killed a 17 year old student and an English teacher along with wounding 13 others before taking his own life. A note that Police found in his home indicated he had planned to kill Mrs. Margaret Wright, the English teacher and a Science teacher to include any others that got in his way. It was never made clear as to what triggered such anger against the teachers.

May 28, 1975 Brampton

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Daring Con Man Who Sold The Brooklyn Bridge

George C. Parker was one audacious con man.

This New Yorker is supposedly the first guy who came up with ballsy idea of “selling” the Brooklyn Bridge to unsuspecting rubes after it opened in 1886.
Shockingly, the scam worked. Parker is said to have sold the bridge twice a week for years.
His typical marks: gullible tourists and immigrants. And it wasn’t just the bridge he sold but Grant’s Tomb, the Statue of Liberty, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and other monuments.
“He preyed on unsuspecting foreigners who believed that America was the land of opportunity, assuring them they could buy as an investment the right to charge tolls or fees for access to the landmarks,” writes Tamar Frankel in The Ponzi Scheme Puzzle.
Parker’s success convinced other swindlers to try their hand at selling the bridge. But they may not have gone as far as Parker did, who set up a fake real estate office and forged documents proving he was the owner.
He was arrested for fraud a few times and finally sent to Sing Sing for life in 1928. His one legacy: the phrase “I’ve got a bridge to sell you” was inspired by his ruse.
[Images: NYPL Digital Gallery]

Interviewing The Elderly

As investigators we find victims' in every walk of life, and in every stage of life as well. Many times a case will come in involving an elderly victim. Whether it's a robbery, fraud or even family related victimization, getting the answers is what we're all about right? As most of us know, sometimes communicating with another generation, be it before or after our own can be difficult. There are gaps in our philosophies, thought processes and styles of communicating to name only a few. There are however some basic "go by's" that I believe make it easier to get what you need from an elderly person, be they victim or witness. Again, these are basic and every person is different unto themselves as they move through an event:

First thing is to remember that as in other generations, there are all different levels of a persons ability to communicate. There are 75, 80 and 85 year old people who span the spectrum in their ability to recall what has happened and/or what they have seen. Don't assume that because you are interviewing an elder  they cannot hear you well. Speak in a normal tone and judge from there if you have to raise your voice a little for them to hear you. It's a mistake to begin speaking in a loud voice or try to over simplify your words. The person may feel like they are being spoken down to and you will begin to shut them down before you even get started.

Make sure you show respect. If you are speaking with an elderly person, don't forget they come from a different time where elders were given respect. First of all they deserve that... and usually expect it too!

Allow time for the interview. This is a mistake that is made with all types of victims,witnesses and offenders alike, not just the elderly. When we all began our careers in pretty much the same way; running from one problem  to the next, we were focused on getting there, getting the basics; "Just the facts Ma'am"...and moving on to the next one. Well, now we are tasked with getting beyond the basics and that takes time. Don't be in a rush (even if you are) and do not allow the person your are interviewing to feel your desire to get the info and take off. You may have to spend some time and allow the story to unfold. You can and should guide them in the direction you need to go and help them stay on track if they "wander".

"You" may have to answer questions! Some elders fee like they have lived long enough to say whatever they want to. That may come in the form of asking you anything from how much you are being paid to how did you get their name or any other number of questions that might seem inappropriate. Be prepared to answer as tactfully and diplomatically as you can.

Always leave the "door open" for additional information. This may be as simple as leaving your business card to going back another day and asking the same questions in a different manner or  sequence.

In summary, an interview with an elder may be as routine as any other you have conducted or may leave you emotionally drained based on the individuals abilities and willingness to patient, respectful and know when it's OK to joke around a little bit. You'll know that by some of the responses you get and your subjects overall demeanor. These encounters can be extremely rewarding if handled properly.
Hank Asher; The Father of Data Fusion

In January of this year Hank Asher passed away. He was affectionately known as the father of data fusion.
If you ever searched for information gleaned from a public record or any other source, chances are Hank's hand was involved in your ability to do it. I cannot adequately explain in this Blog what Hank has meant to the law enforcement community around the world. Hank was a special person who lived to fight terrorism around the world with his ability to think outside the box with computer algorithms. He also loved helping children and our fight to protect them from the hands of online predators and pedophiles. I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Hank on several occasions. "Unique" falls well short of one word to try and describe Hank, but it leads in the direction one would need to go. To say he will be missed leaves volumes to be spoken. Literally....the world lost something special when Hank left it... in attending his memorial in March I learned much more about Hank than I knew. If I was impressed with the man before, I was left in awe after hearing people speak about some of the things he had done that I was unaware of. I hope his family, friends and the company and technology he helped create can continue on...God's speed Hank...