Homicide

Murder on Madison’s Doty Street: Do the Police Have Something to Hide?

Steve Spingola published this article at Right Wisconsin. To see the content, please use this link:

http://www.rightwisconsin.com/perspectives/369048871.html

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Steve Spingola is a retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide lieutenant, an author, and an investigator for TNT’s Cold Justice.


Murder in Milwaukee

Steve Spingola published this article at Right Wisconsin. To see the content, please use this link:

http://www.rightwisconsin.com/perspectives/366147491.html

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Steve Spingola is a retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide lieutenant, an author, and an investigator for TNT’s Cold Justice.


Milwaukee’s 2013 Per Capita Murder Rate Worse than Chicago’s

The 2013 Milwaukee homicide numbers are in and they continue to defy a national trend.  While the number of murders in many large cities (i.e., New York and Chicago) ebbed, Milwaukee’s increased by 15 percent.

Statistically, a person in Milwaukee was more likely to become a victim of homicide than an individual in Chicago (see the below chart).   In 2013, the number of homicides in the Windy City fell 17 percent.

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City                           Population          Number of Homicides          Ratio

Milwaukee              598,916                  106                                        1:5650

Chicago                   2,714,856               413                                       1:6572

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“A fatal shooting on New Year’s Eve and a couple of nonfatal shootings concluded a violent year in Milwaukee,” the first sentence of an article in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes, “in which more people were killed by assailants than in any since 2005.”

http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/fatal-shooting-brings-2013-c-homicide-tally-to-106-b99175576z1-238380301.html

A New Year’s Day article in the New York Times praised Chicago officials for implementing strategies that reduced the number of dead human bodies at the Cook County morgue.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/01/us/fewer-murders-in-chicago-this-year-after-a-brutal-2012.html?_r=0

Sources within the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) point, in part, to Chief Edward Flynn’s administrative strategy, which, they claim, is purposely designed to marginalize the MPD’s Criminal Investigation Bureau (informally known as the Detective Bureau).

“It’s tough to find highly qualified detectives to volunteer to work homicide,” said one high-ranking source.  “Many of the really good detectives have retired or, extremely frustrated, have found a place to lay low until he’s [Flynn] gone.  And those with initiative have their knees cut out from them towards the end of their respective shifts in order keep a lid on overtime.   In the interim, the department, until recently, hadn’t offered a promotional exam for the rank of detective in years.

“Here’s a question the media should ask: why is it that, even though the numbers of some categories of crimes have declined, clearances rates have not? If deterrence — the chance of getting caught — plays a role in the criminal mindset then failing to clear crimes empowers future criminality.”

In the late 1990s, Milwaukee had 300 detectives in its ranks.  Today, the source says, the number of detectives has fallen nearly 35 percent.  This is due, in part, to a shift in administrative philosophy, which now mandates that police officers sent to certain felonies, such as robberies and burglaries, conduct the primary investigation.  In many instances, some detectives claim that, by the time the follow-up reaches their desks, inexperienced officers have inadequately processed the scene or have failed to canvass the area for potential witnesses.

As 2014 unfolds, it will be interesting to see if city officials address the rising murder rate, as well as other issues impacting overall MPD morale.  Absent any pressure from the media, though, it is likely that the status quo will remain unchanged, even as the gang invested city in the corrupt state 90 miles to Milwaukee’s south somehow manages to get a grip on its murder rate.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available in audiobook format at Amazon.com.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014


Zimmerman Case Similar to the Shooting at the OK(auchee) Corral, with One Glaring Exception

The Hells Angels have a saying: three men can keep a secret if two are dead.

During the trail of George Zimmermann, what the jury heard was the version of events from the confrontation’s only survivor.   The shooter may have been telling the truth; he might have embellished certain facts, or misrepresented his true intent.  However, the bottom line in the Zimmermann case is the bottom line: investigators and jurors are not clairvoyant.  The jury did what the jury should have done when presented with the information it received: acquit the person charged with a crime the state could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

In my book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II, I discussed a somewhat similar case in a chapter entitled, “Shooting at the OK(auchee) Corral.”  During this incident, which occurred about a year-and-a-half prior to the death of Trayvon Martin, a homeowner, Mike Fitzsimmons, heard someone inside of his unattached garage. Instead of calling the police, he decided to arm himself and confront the intruder, James Babe.  Fitzsimmons called 911 after the shooting and said, “Someone was in my garage. They ran out, they wouldn’t, they were attacking me, so I shot him.”

In the Okauchee case, the homeowner, although he alleges an attack, suffered no injuries while discharging two rounds. After the first shot hit Babe, information contained in a search warrant affidavit noted that a second round was discharged as Babe was either falling or had landed on the homeowner’s deck, as the projectile passed through Babe’s body and was lodged, in part, in a wooden plank.  Moreover, tests revealed that the shooter had marijuana in his system.

Absent much controversy, since Fitzsimmons and Babe were both white, the Waukesha County District Attorney’s office ruled the shooting a justifiable homicide.

Needless to say, Al Sharpton did not visit lake country to protest. President Obama didn’t chime into the investigation by proclaiming that if he were white and had a son the child would look like James Babe.  U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, the congressman who represents the area, did not stand in the well of the House of Representatives attired in the outer garment that Babe wore the night he died, even though there had been no recent break-ins in well-heeled Okauchee. Babe’s supporters didn’t send out Tweets promising riots, and the case barely received any attention locally, even though Mike Fitzsimmons was apparently never booked. Moreover, Wisconsin does not have a Stand Your Ground law, and, at the time of Babe’s death, the state legislature had yet to pass the Castle Doctrine.

Where, then, was the outrage from, at a minimum, the cheesehead media?

Since the Shooting at the OK(auchee) Corral lacked a racial nexus, the media types were aware that the public would care little much about the incident, although James Babe is just as dead as Trayvon Martin.

Media outlets, with the exception of taxpayer funded NPR, are for profit businesses. They need to sell what they are peddling in order to entice advertisers to fill their coffers.  Much of what is printed or makes the news has little to do with equality or justice, but, instead, the numbers on a balance sheet.

If you don’t believe me, just ask Milwaukee Police Officer Matt Knight.

All needless deaths are tragic. Both the Martin and Babe families had to bury their sons, which it is why it is important for parents, teachers, police officers, and religious leaders, to stress the value of making sound judgments. When a person stumbles into a garage that isn’t theirs or goes looking for a confrontation with someone they could have avoided, the end result might be their last day on earth or their fate in the hands of a jury.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Volume-Steven/dp/0979683998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364048098&sr=8-1&keywords=best+of+the+spingola+files

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013


Rogue Former LAPD Cop has Paul Bunyan-Sized Axe-to-Grind

In law enforcement circles it is common to hear that a suspect has told friends, relatives, and/or accomplices that, “I’ll never be taken alive.” In reality, though, it is usually just tough-talk.  Criminals love to talk-the-talk of John Gotti or Tony Montana—the fictional Cuban cutthroat in the 1983 movie Scareface; rarely, however, do they walk-the-walk.  Fortunately, for officers working the streets, the fear of death serves as a powerful deterrent.

What sends law enforcement into a frenzy is a well-trained killer with nothing to lose, like Christopher Dorner, the former Los Angeles Police Department cop gone rogue.  More than 100 tactically trained officers turned their attention to mountains surrounding Bear Lake, California, on Thursday, where Dorner’s vehicle was found burning.

Last Sunday, police allege that Dorner murdered Monica Quan and her boyfriend, Keith Lawrence, in a condominium parking garage in the Los Angeles suburb of Irvine. Quan is the daughter of a retired LAPD captain turned attorney, who had represented Dorner during an appeal of his termination for providing false statements to internal investigators. According to a manifesto he authored, Dorner believes that the attorney did not act as his advocate, and, instead, failed to attack the jaundiced evidence used against him.

From prior experience, it is not unusual for an accused officer to allege that internal investigators embellished statements, twisted facts, or conveniently omitted exculpatory information. In most law enforcement agencies, the commander of an internal affairs unit reports directly to the chief-of-police. Hence, some believe that the outcomes of high-profile internal investigations are pre-determined by the chief; whereby, the chief’s henchmen construe the facts necessary to make a square peg fit into a round hole.  This pre-ordained outcome is then rubber stamped by the chief-of-police, who self-rationalizes this lack of institutional integrity as the ends justifying means.

Without knowing all the facts, a hunch says that Dorner’s beef with the LAPD stems directly from the aforementioned scenario. Three days prior to the homicides of Quan and Lawrence, The Huffington Post reports that CNN’s Anderson Cooper received a coin, given away by former LAPD Police Chief William Bratton, with bullet holes that read, “I never lied.”

Unlike the usual criminal suspects, most of whom lack the knowledge or willingness to walk-the-walk, Dorner’s Rambo-like credentials and his apparent alacrity to die are enough to cause the hair on the back on any cop’s neck to stand upright.

The Guardian notes that Clint Grimes, a former “navy comrade,” described the marksman Dorner as “friendly, bright and technologically savvy…They’re not looking for a stupid guy, here.”

So where is Christopher Dorner now?

Reports suggest that there are hundreds of cabins in the area where Dorner’s vehicle was found. With the snow and frigid cold descending on the Bear Lake area, Dorner certainly will take shelter. Having knowledge of police and military tactics, he likely knows that, once the snow clears, the police will use infrared equipped helicopters and drones to locate a single individual isolated in a remote location.  This leads me to believe that, if he is not already dead, Dorner might do one of two things: forcibly enter a cabin occupied by others or procure a vehicle.

Reading between the lines, law enforcement is concerned that Dorner might make use of improvised explosives.  This is likely why investigators scoured his mother’s residence and sifted through the garbage.

Hopefully, the manhunt will come to an end peacefully, although the proverbial writing on the wall points to a tragic ending.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Vol-ebook/dp/B00AGZTALE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354972268&sr=8-1&keywords=spingola+files

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013


Circumstantial Evidence, Homicide, and the Wrongfully Accused

Dorian

                Brian Dorian                                                                                              

  In Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I, I profiled the case of the so-called “honey-bee shooter”—a lone gunman who murdered one man and shot another. Based on a physical description of the shooter and his vehicle, authorities in Will County, Illinois, later arrested Lynwood Police Officer Brian Dorian. A few days later, prosecutors charged Dorian with the homicide of a 45-year-old construction worker in rural Beecher.

The case against Dorian was circumstantial. At the time, I warned readers that “misidentifications are the primary cause for wrongful convictions.” Charges against Dorian were later dropped after a forensic examination of Dorian’s computer indicated that he was logged-in to a password accessible Web site at the time of one of the shootings.

Some, however, including “Louis 31,” who posted a comment on the Spingola Files Web site, insisted that the circumstantial evidence strongly implicated Dorian.

“Anybody could have been on the computer,” Louis 31 wrote. “Same truck, same clothes, got new tires the day after, 2nd sketch looks exactly like him [Brian Dorian], cell phone ping in cedar lake (about four miles from where the shooting occurred) from his phone. Pulled over in Scherillville, IN about 12 miles from the shooting in Indiana.”

Challenging Louis 31’s claims, I pointed out that Dorian—a police officer at the time of these shootings—would possess significant knowledge of the methods used by law enforcement to gather evidence. Why, I asked, would Dorian leave his cellular telephone on to ping off a tower during an unprovoked, thought out attack and go on a shooting spree in a vehicle that detective’s might easily identify as his own? Regardless of the circumstantial evidence, the case against Dorian didn’t pass the smell test.

And, sure enough, after spending more than a week in a Joliet jail and having his named dragged through the mud, the cloud of suspicion surrounding Dorian’s involvement in these shootings came to an end almost a month later when an armed man attempted to rob an L.A. Tan Salon in the Chicago suburb of Orland Park.  A customer, who entered the business during the commission of the crime, disarmed the would-be robber, and then shot the perpetrator—later identified as a 48-year-old rural Rankin, Illinois, man. The deceased, Gary Amaya, matched the physical description of the honey-bee shooter.  Amaya also drove a blue truck, consistent with the description of the vehicle leaving the homicide scene. Ballistics proved that the firearm recovered from the Orland Park salon matched the gun used in the honey-bee shootings.

“Circumstantial evidence has mistakenly convicted innocent people of serious crimes,” I noted at the time. “Over the course of the past year, reports abound of persons released from prison due to DNA testing.”

The 12-year anniversary of an unsolved homicide in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, bears a strong similarity to the pursuit of Brian Dorian, although, in this instance, the individual who committed the homicide(s) likely remains at-large.

On February 26, 2000, the body of 38-year-old Kathy Thompson was discovered on Laurel Avenue, not far from downtown Eau Claire. News and legal sources note that Thompson was strangled with a ligature—most likely a belt; her shirt and bra were pulled over her head exposing her breasts. Her sweater was located just a few feet from her head. Based on evidence at the scene, detectives believe that Thompson’s body was dumped after the woman was strangled to death at another location.

Thompson’s remains were found less than three hours after she was released from an Eau Claire jail at 3 a.m. She, along with her new husband, had been arrested after a bloody domestic brouhaha. Thompson’s husband—still behind bars during the commission of her murder—was obviously excluded as a suspect. Eau Claire detectives then focused their attention on those who might have an axe to grind with victim.  In short order, they found an individual with a plausible motive, 57-year-old former cop Evan Zimmerman.

Zimmerman

                      Evan Zimmerman

A chronic alcoholic, investigators learned—to no surprise—that Zimmerman was highly intoxicated during the time period when Thompson went missing. Eau Claire detectives spent nearly a year attempting to debunk Zimmerman’s explanation for his whereabouts and believed a jury would see through the inconsistencies in his alibi. Moreover, one key witness, while under hypnosis, described a white van with a woman inside moving through the area that matched a vehicle owned by Zimmerman.

Only one key piece of evidence linked Zimmerman to Thompson: a hair belonging to Thompson found in a hairbrush inside Zimmerman’s van.  However, since Zimmerman and Thompson once dated and shared the van, finding Thompson’s hair would not necessarily include or exclude Zimmerman as a suspect.

The shaky circumstantial evidence aside, Zimmerman was charged and a jury later convicted him of murdering Thompson.

Soon afterwards, the Wisconsin Innocence Project began scrutinizing the evidence used to convict Zimmerman.  Investigators alleged that Zimmerman used a phone cord as a ligature to strangle Thompson, although Milwaukee County Medical Examiner Dr. Jeffrey Jentzen, who examined the ligature wounds, noted that marks on Thompson’s neck were likely made by a belt buckle. Zimmerman also owned a dog that he frequently transported in his van. While dog hair was found throughout Zimmerman’s van, not a single such hair was discovered on Thompson’s sweater. DNA located at the crime scene—from cigarette butts, hairs, and from Thompson’s fingernails did not belong to Zimmerman.

After examining the evidence, an appeals court vacated Zimmerman’s conviction. Absent the testimony of a key witness, prosecutors declined to retry the case.  A short time thereafter, the freed Zimmerman died of cancer.

Yet if Evan Zimmerman did not murder Kathy Thompson, then her killer—a person whose DNA is not a match for samples maintained in state or federal databases—remained at-large.  If so, a possibility exists that Thompson’s killer might be linked to the January 2001 homicide of Angelina Wall.

Wall left her job at McDonald’s on Hastings Way, less than a half-mile from the Laurel Avenue location where Thompson’s body was discovered, en route to her residence on Birch Street. Wall’s body was discovered near Highway J in Fall Creek, about 10 miles southeast of the McDonald’s.  

This table, contained within a brief filed on Zimmerman’s behalf by the Wisconsin Innocence Project, highlights the similarities between the two cases:

Thompson Homicide                                                                   Wall Homicide

Last seen 2:30-3:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, February 26, 2000. Last seen 2:30-3:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, January 6, 2001.
Last seen walking home alone. Last seen walking home alone.
Lived in north-central Eau Claire Lived in north-central Eau Claire
Ligature strangulation (likely a belt) Source suggests ligature strangulation (belt possible)
Body discovered dumped along city street in plain view, miles from her home. Body discovered dumped along rural road in plain view, miles from her home.
Body discovered about 5:45 a.m., meaning perpetrator had at most three hours to commit the crime. Body discovered about 5:45 a.m., meaning perpetrator had at most three hours to commit the crime.
Body partially undressed. Body partially undressed.
A few personal items, but not all valuables, were missing. A few personal items, but not all valuables, were missing.

 According to this brief, specific details from the Wall homicide, which remain under seal, contain even more similarities.

As to possible theories, absent a review of specific police reports, it is difficult to accurately speculate. Using my background in criminal investigative analysis (i.e. profiling), however, a hunch says that both of these homicides were crimes of opportunity. The suspect is probably an individual who had fantasized about sexual domination and control. Since the Thompson and Wall homicides occurred on a Saturday morning after bar time, the suspect probably has the ability to suppress his homicidal thoughts until he is under the influence of alcohol.  The killer(s) probably patronized nearby taverns prior to the attacks and feels comfortable in the north-central area of Eau Claire.  Since strangulation, even with a ligature, requires some strength, the suspect probably works with his hands.  He may have been in the area for a relatively short period of time laying cable or a working a detailed construction project. Since it is apparent that the suspect’s DNA has no match in CODIS—the national DNA databank—he is likely deceased, severely disabled, or simply stopped consuming alcohol.

Homicide investigations are typically more complex when the crimes are perpetrated by strangers. The timelines of the investigations, DNA evidence, and the use of criminal investigative analysis when appropriate, can produce a handful of suspects for detectives to evaluate and still exclude the innocent.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Vol-ebook/dp/B00AGZTALE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354972268&sr=8-1&keywords=spingola+files

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013


When Self-Defense is Self-Evident

BWS_bestofspingola_300dpi

When Wisconsin Republicans took control of the state’s governorship and both branches of the legislature two years ago they passed sweeping legislation pertaining to firearms and self-defense—namely concealed carry and the Castle Doctrine.

But when does a shooting morph from self-defense into little more than a glorified execution?

In my new book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, I profiled the “Shooting at the OK(auchee) Corral,” an incident, whereby, a homeowner in the well-heeled town of Okauchee, Wisconsin, shot-and-killed a man who had entered his garage. The Waukesha County District Attorney’s office later cleared the shooter, Mike Fitzsimmons, in the death of the intruder, James Babe.

Even though Wisconsin’s so-called “Castle Doctrine” provides a blanket of legal protection for shootings that occur when an intruder enters a dwelling, a Minnesota case illustrates why gun owners need to understand the totality of the doctrine of self-defense—the tenants of which emanate from natural law.

On Thanksgiving, two teenagers forcibly entered the Little Falls, Minnesota home of 64-year-old Byron D. Smith, a retired gopher-state employee.  Around noon, Smith, who was home alone, was “sitting in his basement” when he heard someone walking outside his residence.  He then heard the sound of shattering glass, as if a window had been broken on the main level.  Smith told investigators that he then heard footsteps in the main level hallway. A few moments later, an individual began descending down the stairs into the basement. 

Armed with a .223 rifle, Smith shot the intruder, 17-year-old Nicholas Brady, who then tumbled down the stairs. According the criminal complaint, the badly wounded Brady looked-up at Smith, who then shot the unarmed intruder in the face.  Smith allegedly told investigators that he fired the round at Brady’s head because, “I want him dead.”

For whatever reason, instead of immediately calling the police, Smith then placed Brady’s body on a tarp. 

A few minutes later, Smith heard an additional set of footsteps on the main level.  Soon, another person began descending down the steps into the basement.  Smith told investigators that he waited until he could see the female’s “hips,” and then opened fire. Eighteen-year-old Haile Kifer then fell down the steps. Smith told investigators that he attempted to fire at Kifer again but his rifle jammed—at which time Kifer allegedly laughed at Smith.

According to the criminal complaint, Smith told investigators, ‘If you’re trying to shoot somebody and they laugh at you, you go again.’

Smith then reached for a .22 revolver and shot Kifer in her chest several times.  Still alive, Smith placed the handgun under Kifer’s jaw and discharged a round “under the chin up into the cranium” in order to get “a good clean finishing shot” to put her out of her misery.

Castle Doctrine aside, citizens and police officers may employ the use of deadly force in self-defense if they fear for their life or the life of another. The purpose of using deadly force is to stop the actions of the perpetrator.

A 1969 Minnesota statute—609.065—permits “the intentional taking of the life of another” if “resisting or preventing the commission of a felony in the actor’s place of abode.”  Under this statute, Smith’s actions would have likely met that state’s standard of self-defense if he had simply stopped after shooting Brady and Kifer just once.  Instead, Smith is now charged with two counts of second-degree murder.

And, make no mistake about it, the State of Minnesota appears intent on making an example out of Smith, as the powers-that-be have assigned  the case to Peter Orput—a seasoned prosecutor and proud member of the NRA.

“Somebody has got to stand up for these two dead kids,” Orput told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. I have some strong feelings about the evidence I’ve reviewed.”

The alleged use of excessive deadly force by Bryon Smith should serve as a reminder to every gun owner that the doctrine of self-defense is not a license to kill. Sometimes, as I’ve written before, the best form of crime control is calling the police.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Vol-ebook/dp/B00AGZTALE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354972268&sr=8-1&keywords=spingola+files

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012


“Eyes in the Sky” Aid Investigations in Cities Large & Small

AmerStaz

Surveillance—particularly security cameras, traffic cams, and squad car traffic video—increasingly plays a role in criminal investigations. One recent example is the Christmas Eve homicide of on-duty Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena.

Officer Sebena, known as “Jen” to her colleagues and friends, failed to respond to a 4:24 a.m. call from her dispatcher. Since squad cars at the Tosa PD are equipped with GPS location finders, the Com Center instantly knew the whereabouts of Sebena’s marked patrol vehicle and sent another officer to check on her welfare. Just four minutes later, the responding officer found Sebena shot-to-death just outside a Wauwatosa fire station, located at 1601 Underwood Avenue.

An agent from the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation observed four expended shell casings at the scene—one from a 9 mm handgun and the other three from a .40 handgun, consistent with the on-duty firearm carried by Jennifer Sebena, whose pistol was missing from her unsnapped holster.

As is the case in many non-officer homicides, investigators immediately turned their attention to the slain officer’s 30-year-old husband, Benjamin Sebena.  Two weeks earlier, Jennifer Sebena told another police officer that her husband had pointed a gun at her head. With this information in hand, detectives focused on surveillance video near the Sebenas’ suburban Menomonee Falls home, as well as the thoroughfares to-and-from the crime scene in the trendy village area of Wauwatosa.

According to the criminal complaint, detectives from the Wauwatosa PD gained access to surveillance video from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Statewide Traffic Operations Center—an Orwellian-type facility with access to the stored data from hundreds of surveillance cameras.  From a camera mounted on the top of a traffic pole at N. 108th and W. Burleigh Streets, investigators observed a black Toyota Prius with black tire rims traveling westbound on W. Burleigh at 3:45 a.m.—about 35 minutes prior to Officer Sebena’s body being located outside the Tosa fire station just over four miles away. A minute later, the same vehicle was observed on video moving northbound on Hwy. 45 from W. Burleigh Street en route to the Sebena residence. The black Prius matched the description of the vehicle Benjamin Sebena drove to the Wauwatosa PD less than three hours later.

Two days later, Wauwatosa PD Detective Jeff Griffin—watching video from the BP gas station just blocks from the Sebena residence—observed what appeared to be the same black Prius moving south on Appleton Ave. at 1:35 a.m. on December 24.

With this video evidence in hand, detectives could firmly establish an investigative timeline.  Moreover, sources say that, during the interrogation, this video played a key role in obtaining a confession. After detectives informed Benjamin Sebena about the video showing the route of his vehicle, they led the suspect to believe that the shooting was captured, in part, by surveillance cameras near the fire station, even though no such evidence actually exists.

As Judge Andrew Napolitano correctly notes in his book Constitutional Chaos, while it is unlawful for citizens to lie to law enforcement officers during the performance of their duties, the courts have ruled that it is perfectly lawful for law enforcement officers to lie to members of the public in order to obtain incriminating statements.

And the use of surveillance cameras are not limited to large cities or high-profile murder investigations. In the small, southwestern Wisconsin city of Platteville, police have access to three cameras, some of which are disguised as simple street lights.

http://www.swnews4u.com/section/1/article/9937/

These “Eyes in the Sky” allow the Platteville PD to enforce quality of life issues, like public urination and vandalism.

While the video in Platteville is typically stored for 30 to 60 days, sources say that data obtained from traffic cams by the Wisconsin DOT’s Statewide Operations Center can be retained for up to 10 years.

Like it or not, as George Orwell said, “Big Brother is watching.”

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Vol-ebook/dp/B00AGZTALE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354972268&sr=8-1&keywords=spingola+files

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012


Demagogues and Gun Control

Over three years ago, Mike Kuspa, one of the Midwest‘s foremost experts on major shooting tactical responses, and I formed The Spingola Group (SG).  This crew of current and retired law enforcement officers has one goal in mind: assisting organizations, such as schools, churches and businesses, to prepare their staffs for those critical minutes after an armed madman enters their facility with the intent to kill as many people as possible.

http://www.badgerwordsmith.com/spingolagroup/

While there is no foolproof way to fully thwart the madness witnessed in Newtown, Connecticut, the old cliché that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure can minimize the carnage.

Unfortunately, whenever an opportunity presents itself, grandstanding politicians are all too willing to dance on the graves of murder victims in order to advance their own myopic agendas.  By now, though, Americans should know that policy made in a vacuum—the internment of Japanese-American citizens after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the speedy implementation of the USA Patriot Act quickly come to mind—usually results in our rights and freedoms fading like a dying ember.

Some of the pontificators in the mainstream media, many of whom have likely never shouldered a firearm or lived in a troubled neighborhood, have also jumped into the fray.  Liberal Wisconsin State Journal columnist and gun control advocate Chris Rickert, generally one of Madison’s more rational voices (I know, that’s probably an oxymoron), is a prime example. 

In a recent shot at “Republican” politicians, Rickert claims that the “silence” from the likes of Gov. Scott Walker, and the leaders of the legislature, Scott Fitzgerald and Robin Vos, on a shooting spree in another state is telling.

“When you’re a true believer, events [such as those in Newtown] aren’t evidence,” Rickert quotes former Democrat Party legislator Mordecai Lee. “Events aren’t facts because you have a belief that can’t be overturned by any events or facts.”

What would Rickert and Lee propose to resolve the problem? The columnist, of course, is short on any specifics, although a hunch says European-style gun control.

Dr. John R. Lott, the author of “More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws,” is a researcher who views events by looking at the numbers not the rhetoric from the usual suspects.

“Europe has a lot of multiple victim shootings” said Dr. Lott in recent interview with Front Page Magazine.  “If you look at a per capita rate, the rate of multiple-victim public shootings in Europe and the United States over the last 10 years have been fairly similar to each other. A couple of years ago you had a couple of big shootings in Finland. About two-and-a-half years ago you had a big shooting in the U.K., 12 people were killed. 

“You had Norway last year [where 77 died]. Two years ago, you had the shooting in Austria at a Sikh Temple. There have been several multiple-victim public shootings in France over the last couple of years. Over the last decade, you’ve had a couple of big school shootings in Germany. Germany in terms of modern incidents has two of the four worst public-school shootings, and they have very strict gun-control laws. The one common feature of all of those shootings in Europe is that they all take place in gun-free zones, in places where guns are supposed to be banned.”

In my new book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, a chapter entitled, “Do-Gooder Signs Provide Solace for Active Shooters” takes New York City’s nanny-state mayor, Michael Bloomberg, to task for his simplistic view on the Second Amendment and self-defense.

“These are the same signs [posted gun-free zones],” I noted, “that James Holmes—the shooter at the Aurora, Colorado theater—likely ignored. After all, reality dictates that do-gooder, no carry policies do little more than provide killers, like Holmes, with some solace in knowing that their law-abiding victims have voluntarily disarmed.”

Having served for parts of five decades as a law enforcement officer, I know, in most instances, that calling the police is often the best form of crime prevention.  Yet, when confronted by a suicidal gunman or an armed burglar, when a victim needs the police in a matter of seconds the police are likely minutes away.

Just ask Brittany Zimmermann, the University of Wisconsin-Madison student attacked and killed by an intruder in her Doty Street apartment on April 2, 2008. In a struggle for life, Ms. Zimmermann did call the police, but officers were never dispatched.

http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=24474

Almost five years later, sources say only one Madison Police Department detective works the case, rarely, on a part-time basis. While the brass at the Madison PD claims Zimmermann’s homicide is not officially a cold case, the investigative strategy, it appears, is centered on a future hit from a DNA data base.

Chris Rickert certainly knows that Brittany Zimmermann was killed only a few miles away from where he works.  If Madison journalists spent as much time exposing the botched investigation into Ms. Zimmermann’s death as they do carrying water for gun control, the Zimmermann family might finally have some peace this Christmas.  Brittany Zimmermann was not murdered with a firearm. She was stabbed to death. If she had access to a handgun—the same instrument Rickert et al would seek to ban or control—Ms. Zimmermann would likely be alive today and the bloody crime scene on Doty Street would have had a much different look.

As the holidays near and the Zimmermann family realizes that another year has come-and-gone with their daughter’s killer at-large to murder again, one can bet that Mr. Lee’s quote that “Events aren’t facts because you have a belief that can’t be overturned by any events or facts” are more applicable to those of Rickert’s ilk than proponents of self-defense—a long held tenant of natural law.  Just ask the family of Brittany Zimmermann.   

Benjmain Franklin once said, “Those who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor security.” 

As such, the attributes the Spingola Group identifies to confront evil are “anticipation, preparation and perseverance”—not unarmed surrender. 

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Spingola-Files-Vol-ebook/dp/B00AGZTALE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354972268&sr=8-1&keywords=spingola+files

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012


Milwaukee Dismemberment Case Fuels Speculation

Based on a handful of e-mails to SF, the May 30 discovery of a dismembered body in a Milwaukee sewer is cause for intense speculation.  One person asked if a serial killer was on the loose.  Yet another said the crime brought back memories of Johnny Deep dismembering the body of a slain mobster in the movie Donnie Brasco.

What we do know is Department of Public Works employees conducting routine maintenance on a sewerline stumbled upon—no pun intended—human body parts near N. 40th Street  and  W. Garfield Avenue on the city’s north side. An August 16 report, released by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s office, notes that the homicide victim’s upper arms and torso are “still missing.”

“It must be a dope dealer,” one person wrote.  “Why hasn’t anyone reported the victim missing?”

This question is impossible to answer since the medical examiner (ME) and the Wisconsin Regional Crime Lab are unable to identify the body. This means the victim’s DNA is not on file with the Wisconsin Department of Justice or CODUS—the FBI’s nationwide DNA database.

The report from the ME’s office states that the person murdered was “an adult black male” who was “dismembered with an unknown tool.” 

In order to clear a homicide, it is important to establish an investigative timeline. This is virtually an impossible task when investigators are unable to identify the victim. Answering the ‘who’ question—as in who was murdered—enables detectives to develop a reference point in conjunction with relatives, friends, and acquaintances.

Moreover, it is risky to speculate about a motive without knowing the background of the victim. 

Consider the circumstances behind some recent North American dismemberment cases. 

  • In Elmore City, Oklahoma, authorities charged 30-year-old Justin Hammer with killing the ex-boyfriend of his girlfriend, dismembering the body, and placing the parts in a pond on his property.
  • In Bethany, OK, police located the dismembered body of 19-year-old Carina Saunders inside a military-style duffel bag. Two suspects, 34-year-old Jimmy Massey and 37-year-old Luis Ruiz, stand charged in connection to the young woman’s murder.
  • In Montreal, Canada, the so-called ‘cannibal killer,’ Luke Magnotta, killed and dismembered 32-year-old Jun Lin.  According to the Reuters News Service, “…police believe that the murder is shown in a gruesome online video of a man stabbing another man to death before dismembering and defiling the corpse.”
  • Outside of Detroit, members of the U.S. Coast Guard pulled the mutilated torsos of 32-year-old Danielle Greenway and 42-year-old Chris Hall from the Detroit River after their dismembered remains were spotted by a local angler. Prosecutors charged the couple’s houseguest, Roger Bowling, 39, with the slayings.
  • In Canada, a review of 13 dismemberment cases there indicates that, in the majority of instances, the suspects knew the victims.

The aforementioned cases seem to suggest that dismemberment victims typically know their killers.  However, before drawing any conclusions in the Brew City dismemberment slaying, it is important to know and understand the totality of the crime, although a hunch tells me that—absent the identity of the victim—this case might be difficult to clear. 

You can bet that homicide detectives from the Milwaukee Police Department are scouring missing persons reports from Milwaukee and, if need be, Chicago.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

or

www.badgerwordsmith.com/books.html

© Steven Spingola,Wales, WI, 2012


When Mistaken Priorities Cost Lives

 Sunday’s heinous shootings at a southeastern Wisconsin Sikh temple—dubbed by the FBI a possible act of domestic terrorism—illustrates that, in some instances, the criminal justice system tragically misallocates precious resources.

While the FBI correctly claims that the current state-of-the-law prevents its agents from collecting data on suspected domestic terror suspects, under the provisions of the Patriot Act, law enforcement can purchase information from privately held companies or non-profit organizations. Corporations, such as ChoicePoint and Acxiom, routinely sell detailed dossiers on American citizens to law enforcement. In the 1990s, the Milwaukee Police Department paid for and received information from the Southern Poverty Law Center—the same group that followed the activities of Sheikh Temple shooter Wade Page for the past ten years.

Even though red flags popping-up around active shooters, such as Colorado’s James Holmes, Tucson’s Jared Loughner, and Page, in hindsight, appeared visible, too often the resources needed to monitor trouble individuals are wasted enforcing trivial laws and incarcerating those who are relatively harmless.

This certainly is the case with an Arizona man locked-up on July 9, 2012, for holding a weekly Bible study in his Phoenix home.

The Rutherford Institute’s John Whitehead reports that Michael Salman was “fined more than $12,000 and sentenced to 60 days in jail starting on July 9, 2012, for the so-called “crime” of holding a weekly Bible study in his Phoenix home”—a violation of city building codes.

“In such a society,” Whitehead argues at www.rutherford.org, “we are all petty criminals, guilty of violating some minor law. In fact, Boston lawyer Harvey Silvergate, author of Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, estimates that the average American now unknowingly commits three felonies a day, thanks to an overabundance of vague laws that render otherwise innocent activity illegal and an inclination on the part of prosecutors to reject the idea that there can’t be a crime without criminal intent. Consequently, we now find ourselves operating in a strange new world where small farmers who dare to make unpasteurized goat cheese and share it with members of their community are finding their farms raided, while home gardeners face jail time for daring to cultivate their own varieties of orchids without having completed sufficient paperwork.”

Mr. Salman is currently an unfortunate guest at Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s 2,000-prisoner tent city, where according to Whitehead, prisoners “battle the heat by positioning themselves in front of a few large fans, but they are of little use when temperatures reach 145 degrees. Stun fences surround the perimeter, with four Sky Watch Towers bearing down on the occupants. Facial recognition software and K-9 units keep track of the people moving about, longing for their freedom.”

In the interim, while law enforcement and our courts incarcerate thousands of people like Mr. Salman for minor offenses, those exhibiting psychotic and/or homicidal behaviors seemingly roam from state-to-state under the radar screen of the newly created American surveillance state.

Moreover, if an organization, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, is able to compile data on individuals like Wade Page and lawfully sell this data to law enforcement, one has to wonder if the 77 intelligence fusion centers—funded in part by federal tax dollars—are up to the task or if these domestic spy operations spend too much time focusing on individuals like Michael Salman instead of keeping their eye on the prize.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

or

www.badgerwordsmith.com/books.html

© Steven Spingola,Wales, WI, 2012


Do-Gooder Signs Provide Solace for Active Shooters

To view this article, checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You coming to Amazon.com in December 2012.

————————————————————-

Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

Or

www.badgerwordsmith.com/books.html

© Steven Spingola,Wales, WI, 2012


When Advocates Want it Both Ways

Yesterday, members of the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP and Operation Rainbow PUSH—the outfit operated by Jesse Jackson—continued to criticize the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) for its investigation of the shooting death of 13-year-old Darius Simmons on the city’s near south side.  

Seventy-five-year-old John H. Spooner is charged with the slaying.  Similar to the fed-up, out-of-control character portrayed by Michael Douglas in the movie Falling Down, prosecutors allege that Spooner shot-and-killed Simmons because the elderly man believed that the teenager had burglarized his home.

The critics of the MPD’s investigation, however, are not complaining about the thorough investigation that expeditiously resulted in serious criminal charges.  Instead, these armchair cops are taking the MPD to task for questioning Simmons’ mother, Patricia Larry, for nearly two hours inside of a detective’s squad car.

http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/groups-renew-criticism-of-police-in-teens-death-probe-lk5psi5-159264725.html

Unfortunately, police departments around the nation are often second guessed after investigators have painstakingly pieced together the pieces of the puzzle.  In hindsight, what looks relatively straight forward after the fact might appear rather convoluted in the minutes and hours immediately following a critical incident.

“I’ve been to parking troubles that turned-out to be shootings, and shootings that turned-out to be parking troubles,” a veteran officer told me during one of my first days on the street.  “The information given to you by the dispatcher is only as reliable as the caller. Keep an open mind and let the facts, not someone’s opinion, lead the way.”

And, more often than not, shooting scenes are somewhat chaotic, especially when the victim’s family is on the scene and emotions are, understandingly, running high.

Answering the who, what, why, when, where, and how, questions takes time, as information from witnesses, as well as the relationship between the suspect and victim, needs verification. 

Moreover, the grilling Ms. Larry received, I would argue, is fairly typical. 

When a Milwaukee police officer uses deadly force, the officer and his or her partner, as well as other law enforcement witnesses, are immediately separated.  Some of these officers are shuffled into the same interrogation rooms used to question suspects of gang related shootings, armed robberies, and homicides.  In the past, some officers where ‘dissuaded’ from calling their spouses to simply let them know that they were still in one piece.

Criminal Investigation 101 calls upon detectives to preserve the integrity of an investigation by separating and then interviewing witnesses, victims, and suspects, before those involved have a chance to compare notes.

In the aftermath of Jeffrey Dahmer, the community and various special interest groups demanded that the MPD conduct thorough criminal investigations.  Now, however, members of these same special interest groups are complaining that the MPD’s investigators are ‘too thorough.’  

For these armchair cops, you can’t have it both ways. 

The bottom line is the bottom line. A crime was committed, a suspected was located and arrested; the District Attorney’s office charged the alleged perpetrator—and all of these activities were conducted within the bounds of the law and the Constitution.  

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volume I, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit:

www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html  or www.badgerwordsmith.com/books.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012


Cities Looking to Milwaukee for Answers Need to Check the Right Places

As far as criminology is concerned, we live in interesting times.  While cities like New York and Milwaukee are experiencing significant decreases in crime, political leaders in Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans are searching for answers.

In Chicago, the 2011 homicide clearance rate was just 30 percent.[1] In some police districts on the Windy City’s south and west sides, the crime rate has skyrocketed to the point where Mayor Rahm Emanuel has asked for and is receiving assistance from federal law enforcement agencies.[2]

While the population of New Orleans is about half that of Milwaukee’s its homicide rate is more than double that of the brew city’s.[3] Yet New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu—a member of a family long associated with the Louisiana’s Democrat Party machine—is making a mistake by looking to Milwaukee’s Homicide Review Commission for answers. In about an hour, a solid Milwaukee street cop could reach the same conclusions as this commission and save taxpayers $500,000. Instead, Mayor Landrieu should take an in-depth look at the Milwaukee Police Department’s—past and present—policing strategies.

Historically, many of Milwaukee’s policing strategies are very similar to those of New York City’s, where both crime and incarceration rates have declined—the ultimate win-win for victims and taxpayers. In his book, The City that Became Safe, Franklin Zimring notes, “The 20-year adventure in New York City, was, to be sure, a demonstration project of effective policing, but it was much more than that. It was a demonstration that individual and aggregate crime rates can change substantially over time without removing or incarcerating a larger number of active offenders.”[4]

So what is driving crime rates down in New York City while incarceration rates are also decreasing? Zimring believes it is the NYPD’s aggressive stop and frisk policing model.

Regardless of what Milwaukee Magazine claims[5], the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) has had a long history of proactive policing programs.  In the early 1990s, District Two initiated a highly successful Directed Patrol Mission (DPM) to suppress gang activity. In the late 1990s, District Five used its neighborhood patrol staff to target drug and gang activity. In 1996, the old Gang Crimes Unit, which comprised just 3.3 percent of the MPD’s complement of sworn personnel, took over 3,100 guns off the street, while the Vice Control Division targeted drug dealers citywide. Around the turn of the century, District Three’s special units dramatically reduced violent crime in the Metcalfe Park area.

Retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis had an active hand in many of these district initiatives, long before university professors deemed aggressive proactive policing strategies hip-and-trendy.  Police can disrupt violent crime through policing strategies that hobble criminal organizations with a thousand cuts. Like any legitimate business, if key personnel of a criminal gang are unavailable an organization’s effectiveness decreases.

Yet long-term incarceration rates do have an overall affect on the violent crime rate. This is where criminologists, prosecutors, judges and law enforcement officials need to have a serious discussion about what type of individuals occupy prison beds.  While the U.S. accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population, America incarcerates 25 percent of the entire world’s inmates.[6] With the federal government running trillion dollar annual deficits and many state budgets in tatters, public safety officials need to ensure that prison beds be reserved for violent offenders, which should include those who traffic hard drugs.

A 1994 study of the prison population notes that “over half the offenders” sent to Wisconsin prisons each year committed property offenses.[7] Many of these offenders receive prison sentences for crimes committed in low-crime jurisdictions, which means other, more violent offenders get released to half-way houses or other non-traditional prison settings to make room for property offenders.

While officials in Detroit, Chicago, and New Orleans continue to scratch their heads, all Wisconsin needs is a little tweaking.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012


[1] “Only 30 Percent of Last Year’s Murders have been Solved.” CBSChicago.com, January 25, 2012. 10             Feb. 2012. http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/01/25/only-30-percent-of-last-years-murders-have- been-solved/

[2] “Federal Agents to Assist Police in Fighting Crime on South, West Side.” CBSChicago.com, February 10,    2012. 10 Feb. 2012.  http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/02/10/federal-agents-to-assist-police-in- fighting-crime-on-south-west-side/

[3] “Mayor Landrieu Unveils Plan to Reduce Murder Rate.” wwltv.com. November 22, 2011. 10 Feb. 2012. http://www.wwltv.com/news/crime/Mayor-Landrieu-Unveils-Plan-to-Reduce-Murder-Rate-134362043.html

[4] Zimring, Franklin E. The City that Became Safe, New York, NY. Oxford Press, 2012.

[5] Bamberger, Tom.  “Street Smarts.” InsideMilwaukee.com. January 23, 2012.  10 Feb. 2012.                 http://www.insidemilwaukee.com/Article/1232012-StreetSmarts

[6] Talvi, Silja J.A. (2007). Women Behind Bars: The Crisis of Women in the U.S Prison System. Los    Angles. California: Seal Press. pp. xv.

[7] DiIjlio, John & Mitchell, George. “Who Really Goes to Prison in Wisconsin.” The Wisconsin Policy Institute Inc. Milwaukee, WI, April 1996.


Murder by the Numbers

Some homicide numbers from 2006 to 2011 spotlight things worth noting.

If you are a killer and want to get away with murder, you may want to set-up shop in Chicago.  WBBM radio reports that the Windy City’s homicide clearance rate was just 30 percent in 2011. If you think this number is horrific, it is a seven percent improvement from 2010, when investigators cleared only 28 percent of Chicago murders.

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/01/25/only-30-percent-of-last-years-murders-have-been-solved/

A cynic might claim that Chicago’s homicide clearance rate has declined as a direct result of a mandate requiring videotaped confessions.  SF’s post concerning former Chicago PD police commander Jon Burge’s interrogation techniques might, in part, explain the significant drop in clearance rates there—down from 80 percent in 1991.

http://www.badgerwordsmith.com/spingolafiles/2011/01/23/bag-man-a-portrait-of-illinois-justice-system/

The city of Milwaukee reported 84 homicides in 2011. Sources claim the clearance rate was near 70 percent, which means 26 killers remain at-large to reoffend.  From 1990-1999, Milwaukee homicides claimed the lives of 1,432—an average of 143.2 a year.

http://www.knoxnews.com/data/murder-knoxville-nation/

Milwaukee’s homicide clearance rate from 1990-1999 was an astonishing 84 percent, which meant, on average, 23 killers remained at large in any given year.  As such, even though Milwaukee’s homicide rate per capita has declined, the number of killers at large in 2011 compared to the average in the 1990s has increased 13 percent.

To get an idea how Milwaukee homicides stack-up, no pun intended, against other areas of Wisconsin consider these numbers as the concealed carry permits arrive in the mail:

  • In 2008, Milwaukee County experienced 74 homicides, causing public officials to laud the decrease. 
  • In 2008, Dane County’s homicide rate soared to 11—a 63.5 percent increase from 2006.   
  • These 2008 numbers indicate that a Milwaukee County resident is 330 percent more likely to fall victim to homicide than one in Dane County.  
  • In 2008, the total numbers of homicides in Eau Claire, Brown, Washington, Waukesha, Qzaukee, and Sheboygan counties totaled just nine.  
  • In 2008, Milwaukee comprised 11.6 percent of Wisconsin’s population, but accounted for 48.6 percent of the state’s homicides.  

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012


Karma and Casey

To read this article, purchase the Best of the Spingola Files, coming to Amazon.com’s Kindle store in January 2012.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011


The Killer Conundrum

To view this article, checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You coming to Amazon.com in December 2012.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your organization is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files presentation The Psychology of Homicide.  For more information, visit http://www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011


The Fog of Time & Grafton Crimes

To view this article, checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You coming to Amazon.com in December 2012.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. 

For more information visit www.badgerwordsmith.com/books.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011


The Delaware Dumpster Debacle

To view this article, checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You coming to Amazon.com in December 2012.

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Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders

If your organization is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files presentation The Psychology of Homicide.  For more information, visit http://www.badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011


This Holiday Season, Rats Needed

To read this article, purchase the Best of the Spingola Files, coming to Amazon.com’s Kindle store in January 2012.

Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders.  Spingola also travels to present The Psychology of Homicide, a riveting program concerning high-profile homicide investigations, to groups and organizations.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010


Police Believe Actual “Honeybee Shooter” is 10-7

To read this article, purchase The Best of the Spingola Files, coming to Amazon.com’s Kindle in January 2012.

Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders.  Spingola also travels to present The Psychology of Homicide, a riveting program concerning high-profile homicide investigations, to groups and organizations.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010


A Cry from the Grave

To view this article, checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You coming to Amazon.com in December 2012.

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Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of The Killer in Our Midst: the Case of Milwaukee’s North Side Strangler and Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders.  Spingola also presents The Psychology of Homicide, a riveting program concerning high-profile homicide investigations, to groups and organizations.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010


Chicago PD Reels as Officer Deaths Climb

Chicago police are under fire—literally. 

By all barometers, it has been a horrific week for those in blue just 100 miles to the southeast of Spingola Files HQ. 

Last Monday, off-duty Officer David Blake was shot and killed on that city’s southwest side. 

Earlier today, a gunman killed an on-duty Chicago police evidence technician and a former Chicago Housing Authority officer. 

While investigators are busy probing both matters, they have yet to ascertain a motive in the killing of Blake, a 15-year veteran who died in his SUV with a cigarette still dangling from his mouth.  The evidence strongly suggests that the perpetrator shot Blake while both were inside the vehicle. Robbery is apparently not a motive.  Blake’s wallet was located on his person.  Detectives also found his duty weapon inside the SUV. 

Blake resided a distance from the West Seipp Street crime scene—a one-block road described by an area resident as lightly traveled and not an area where people typically go to congregate.

As detectives worked diligently to clear the Blake case, another tragedy unfolded. 

Earlier today, Officer Michael Flisk, age 46, was shot and killed while investigating a burglary on Chicago’s south side. 

“News of Flisk’s slaying set the department reeling,” the Chicago Tribune reports, “leaving officers crying in the cold night outside the Cook County morgue…” 

A father of four children, Flisk was the sixth Chicago police officer killed in 2010. 

Police officials report that Flisk was dispatched to the 8100 block of S. Burnham Avenue to investigate a burglary, which was reported around noon.  Upon arrival, the evidence technician met Stephen Peters, a former officer with the Chicago Housing Authority, who had reported a garage entry.  Around 1:30 p.m., witnesses heard gunshots.  When back-up officers arrived, they found Flisk and Peters dead in an alley. 

“There hasn’t been a year this bad since the 1960s,” Mark Donahue, the President of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police, told the Chicago Tribune.

Even though the details of these three slayings remain imprecise, it is clear that Chicago crime is out of control.  In a recent interview with WBBM radio, former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson noted that suppressing the windy city’s ever expanding gang problem  is likely the number one issue in the upcoming Chicago mayoral election. 

But how many officers must die before Chicago’s political leaders decide to take the gloves off? 

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Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the the author of Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders.  Spingola also travels to present The Psychology of Homicide, a riveting program concerning high-profile homicide investigations, to groups and organizations.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010


The Honeybee Shooter Case: Circumstance or Coincidence?

To read this article, purchase The Best of the Spingola Files, coming to Amazon.com’s Kindle in January 2012.

Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the the author of Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders.  Spingola also travels to present The Psychology of Homicide, a riveting program concerning high-profile homicide investigations, to groups and organizations.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010