Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Closer and Law & Order are fiction

But this is real.

CSI fans take note: the forensic evidence was vital. It was a complex crime scene, demanding days of processing, and exceptional care in the preservation and collection of evidence. There were diagrams and measurements, footprints and fingerprints, blood spatters and ballistics, bullet trajectories and two bodies. But the case took ten years to solve, rather than one hour.

Jeffery E. Hoover was convicted yesterday by a Federal District Court jury in the 1997 murders of Harold Fowler and Duane Johnson. It has been a remarkable case. Over the course of a decade, over 700 investigative reports were submitted on this case by Lincoln police officers--well over 10,000 pages. The case was never mothballed, and was actively investigated and reported upon during each of those long ten years.

Even when new leads surfaced earlier in this decade, an incredible amount of intensive, imaginative, and exceptional police work was necessary to build a case that could be successfully prosecuted. These cases are exceptionally uncommon. Murders are rarely solved after a lapse of several years. We have a number of these cases under our belt though, a testament to the never-give-up attitude of our Criminal Investigations Team.

I could not possibly be prouder of the officers who contributed to this case over the years. Det. Sgt. Jim Breen merits special praise for his lead. Det. Sgt. Ken Koziol, Det. Sgt. Larry Barksdale, Officer (now FBI Special Agent) Jeff Howard also devoted huge efforts to this case, along with lots of other detectives and officers who played supporting roles.

What really fills me with pride is the dedication these officers had towards doing the right thing for two victims who were not exactly model citizens. It's easier to work hard for a victim you can identify with: to whose parents, wife, and children you feel a sense of obligation. It's easier to expend your best effort on a crime that captures the headlines day after day. This was not the case with Harold Fowler and Duane Johnson. They were killed in a botched drug deal. They both had their problems. There was no public outcry when they were murdered. The case was in the news for a very short time. It didn't matter.

Over the years, I have consistently seen our detectives and investigators expend exactly the same effort, regardless of the victims' station in life, race or ethnicity, and even their criminal past. These are cases that were out of the public eye within a couple of days. In many police departments, these cases would have been quickly relegated to the back of the file cabinet. These victims had few advocates or none at all. In some cases, these victims had been tossed aside by society. But they had new advocates in the women and men of LPD who worked tirelessly--sometimes over many years--to ensure that justice was done. Here are some of the more notable of such cases during my service as chief:

  • Joshua Reyman, killed on 10-11-1991
  • Tammy Martin, killed on 9-7-1993
  • Michael Schmader, murdered on 12-23-1994
  • Alfredo Estrada, killed on 4-16-1996
  • Brandon Pickenpaugh, murdered on 2-18-1999
  • Cheryl Walters, killed on 12-19-2000
  • Cesar Cedillo, murdered on 7-6-2003
  • Richard Hamilton, killed on 4-4-2005

Add to that list Harold Fowler and Duane K. Johnson, murdered on 6-14-1997. Congratulations to everyone who played a part in a complex, difficult, and remarkable case. And for everyone involved in the cases noted above, thank you all for your immense commitment to justice.


Anonymous said...

Very good work in the cases you mention. But, what about cases such as Gina Bos, and Tina McMennamin, and the young girl found west of Lincoln, whose murderers have yet to see a prison cell?

Of course, said...

Wow, "anonymous" at 10:18, let no good deed go unpunished! Will all unsolved crimes be solved? No, but let's not acknowledge the hard ones that are. And who says some of those others won't yet be solved? Typical though, "could we have everything, but could it cost us less?"

Anonymous said...

Kudos to all involved. Thank you all for your hard work.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chief:

The County Attorney's office and the U.S. Attorney's office had somrthing to do with this conviction.

Gary Lacey
County Attorney

Tom Casady said...

Anonymous 3:54, possibly Lancaster County Attorney Gary Lacey:

Was that duck?

You're absolutely right, the prosecuting attorneys in this case did a phenomenal and committed job in the quest for justice.

I trust their bosses have bestowed suitable accolades in their own manner!