Posts tagged “person of interest

Keep a Tight Lid on Keller Homicide Information

“I want to know the truth. I want to know what really happened, you know? When were they searching? If they were searching, why didn’t they search the area of the park sooner,” Northern Illinois University student Sara Pezel told NBC Chicago in response to the ongoing investigation into the homicide of freshman Antinette “Toni” Keller. 

In mid-October, Keller went for a walk in Prairie Park, just south of the NIU campus and was never seen alive again.  Her body was later discovered burned beyond recognition near a set of railroad tracks not far from campus. 

Of course, the NIU community is looking for answers. Students, faculty and the victim’s family are perturbed that the DeKalb police are withholding information from the public. 

But justice requires that investigators keep a tight lid on senstive information pertaining to the investigation.  

Why? 

Reading between the lines, it appears that Keller was probably killed by a transient with a criminal past.  One can bet that police are combing the park in attempt to identify frequent visitors and/or homeless individuals that call the 150 acre park home. They are also searching for campsites or make-shift shelters, while railroad detectives are checking contacts in their databases. 

I believe Keller’s body was burned to destroy potential DNA evidence. Since Keller decided to take a random walk in Prairie Park, the slaying has the hallmark of a crime of opportunity.  The perpetrator likely observed the young women alone and isolated; whereupon, he acted on impulse to fulfill his fantasies.  

As of 2000, most states require convicted felons to provide DNA samples.  A reasonable investigator might conclude that the person who killed Ms. Keller may have served time in prison, possibly for a sex offense.  These type of offenders are keenly aware of the power of DNA evidence.  Through the prison grape vine, it is well known that fire is one method used to destroy forensic material. 

Should the NIU community be concerned that a killer is on the loose? Absolutely, although I would be willing to bet that perpetrator has fled the area. 

In the interim, the police should provide as little detail as possible.  During future interrogations, detectives want to hear specific, first-hand information from the suspect.  If specific details of the Keller homicide are somehow released or leaked to the public, it could compromise a confession.

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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  and The Killer in Our Midst: the Case of Milwaukee’s North Side Strangler

 

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010