Email from my Dad to MSP that I was copied on this morning:
When I called Sgt. Gray in late 2006 he informed me that the task force and its FIRST hard lead. Someone (Lamborgine) had flunked a lie detector test. The same rule apparently does not apply to Busch and Gunnels.Busch is released on January 28, 1977 because he passed a lie detector test administered by an inexperienced MSP polygraphist. When the MSP has this polygraph reviewed by 3 experience polygraphists we are advised that all 3 concluded he did not pass. The first test results were published in the Detroit News and the Daily Tribune. My family has been denied access to these later readings. Last year Pat Coffey advised me that one of the three polygraphists was in the zero to minus 6 range and was inconclusive. Coffey was also told that the other two concluded the proper reading was well below minus 6. The MSP talks to the media and Coffey but not to the victims.Chris and I met with Gunnels in October. He acknowledged taking 2 polygraph tests. The MSP reports state that the first test was inconclusive because Gunnels took evasive action. The results of the second test are redacted in the MSP reports.On November 20, 2012 the OCP responded to my third FOIA request regarding the Gunnels investigation. The OCP repose contains the following information:“POLYGRAPH QUESTIONS RESULTSOther than the control questions, Gunnels was asked three specific questions regarding the Child Killing investigation. Due to his DNA hair being discovered on Kristine Michelich he was asked the following:1. Did you participate in any way in the killing of Kristine Michelich?2. Do you know for sure . who killed Kristine Michelich?3. Did you have any physical contact with Kristine Michelich?”
Both of the MSP polygraphists present concluded Gunnels “COMPLETELY” failed all aspects of the examination.Why and by whom was Gunnels removed as a suspect at the February 26, 2010 meeting?
Sorry I am not great at responding quickly to comments. I wisely chose the “preapproval” option for all comments, so they do not show up until I read them and post or, sometimes, quickly delete. Trust me, it’s better this way. Originally I did not allow comments for reasons anyone who has read any of the other sites devoted to these crimes can certainly appreciate. For every person who wants to do battle with me over what s/he thinks I think, or thinks I can wave a magic wand, or wonders why I just don’t get it–there are many more who have reached out in positive ways I could have never imagined. To those people—many thanks. To those I have not yet responded to—I will; I just have to do this in relatively small doses.
I cannot even tell you how absurd this entire thing is, from start to non-finish, and every messed up twist and turn in between. It’s like moving a sand dune with chopsticks. It’s fucking exhausting at times and it often feels pointless. Which is what has long made the MSP, the OCP and the family members and close associates of guilty parties exhale a big, fat, self-satisfied (if hollow) sigh of relief. As I posted earlier tonight in a comment to a reader, if you want to try to wrap your head around why something like this is so bogus and such a mess, read Portraits in the Snow, The Oakland County Child Killings . . . Scandals and Small Conspiracies (M.F. Cribari, 2011).
Columbine is phenomenally researched and written about many angles of the massacre by two students at Columbine High School in April 1999. The book is correctly described as riveting journalism and “the story none of us knew.” It took Dave Cullen nearly ten years to write it.
Compare how a district judge in Colorado dealt with the delay by officials and an open records request by two families who had been waiting almost a year for a report on the sheriff’s findings. A YEAR. It seems plain that officials were delaying the release of the report for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the one-year statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits.
The summer after the April massacre at Columbine High School, Jefferson County investigators said their report on the crime was six to eight weeks away. (Columbine at p. 297.) As the one-year anniversary to the killings approached, Jefferson County again said the report was six to eight weeks out. My family has heard the “six to eight week” mantra many, many times since 2006 in the OCCK investigation. “Don’t go to the media just yet; give us six to eight weeks.” We did it many times until we couldn’t look ourselves in the mirror any more for having been strung along so many times.
The Jefferson County, CO, investigators wrapped up most of their work in the first four months, but were “skittish about presenting the information. Yet the longer they waited, the more leaks they risked, the more rebukes, and the higher the stakes to get every sentence right.” (Id.) Delay compounded delay.
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death suit in Colorado is one year. Ten days before the anniversary, two families (the Rohrboughs and the Flemmings) filed an open records request demanding to see the report immediately—one last option to avoid lawsuits for wrongful death or negligence. Most of the families just wanted to see the promised report. Six to eight weeks had turned into 51 weeks.
Fifteen other families filed suits against the sheriff’s department in the following days. “The cops had been stonewalling, and litigation looked like the only answer. Families could sue for negligence or wrongful death, and use the process to force out information. The verdict would be less important than discovery.” (Id.) As Dave Cullen explains, the lawsuits were expected to fail because the legal thresholds in federal court were too high—negligence was insufficient. (Id. at 298.) “The main strategy was to flush out information.” (Id.) How sad that it had come to that.
The open records case was heard before Colorado District Judge R. Brooke Jackson. The Rohrboughs and the Flemmings wanted to see the report and since they were filing, they also asked for everything, “including the Basement Tapes, the killers’ journals, the 911 calls, and the surveillance videos. Rohrbough wanted to compare the raw data to the narrative under construction by Jeffco. He predicted a chasm. ‘They lie as a practice,’ he said.” (Id.)
Judge Jackson read the request and said yes. “Over furious objections from Jeffco, three days before the anniversary, he allowed the plaintiffs to read the draft report. He also granted them access to hundreds of hours of 911 tapes and some video footage. He agreed to begin reading the two hundred binders of evidence himself, but noted that would take months.” (Id.) A few days later, Judge Jackson ordered the sheriff’s department to release its report to the public by May 15.
He also released more evidence, including a video that drew a lot of heat. For months, Jeffco had referred to it as a ‘training video’ created by the Littleton Fire Department. It was based on footage shot in the library shortly after the bodies were removed. It would be the families’ first look at the gruesome scene. It would be ‘difficult’ to watch, Jackson’s ruling stated, but that was no reason to suppress it.
‘There is no compelling public interest consideration that requires that the video or any part of it not be disclosed under the Open Records Act,’ Jackson wrote.
The next day, Jeffco began duplicating the tape and selling copies for $25. Spokesman said the fee was to defray copying costs. The families were aghast.
. . .
Brian Rohrbough had broken through Jeffco’s armor. Judge Jackson kept ordering releases. In May, he unleashed all the 911 tapes and a ballistics report. For a while, every thing he read, he released. The killers’ families tried to stop him [unsuccessfully].
(Id. at 299.)
The county released its report on May 15, as ordered. The report was ridiculed, even without the public knowing at the time that Jefferson County was still suppressing the file on Harris and the search warrants. “Officials seemed truly bewildered by the [public’s] response. Privately, they insisted they were just acting the way they always did: building a case internally, keeping their conclusions to themselves. Communicating the results was the prosecutors’ role. It wasn’t their job. They still couldn’t grasp that this was not any normal case.” (Id. at 300.)
It would be four more years before Sheriff’s Detective Mike Guerra would confess to participating in the Open Space Meeting, where destruction of the pre-massacre file on Harris was discussed and subsequently implemented. Officials had boldly lied at the press conference ten days after the killings and repeated these lies for years. In August 2004, “the Colorado attorney general called a grand jury to flush the file out and consider indictments. (Id. at 343.) “The file was never recovered, though investigators were able to reconstruct most of it.” (Id. at 344.)
The grand jury’s September 2004 report contained many whopping understatements. It found the fact that Guerra’s file was stored in three separate places and that all three were destroyed during the summer of 1999, was “troubling.”
It was also “troubled” by the Open Space meeting, attended by the county attorney, among others, press conference omissions and the apparent shredding of documents by a secretary at the request of a sheriff division chief. “But every witness denied involvement in the destruction, the report said. Given that, the grand jury could not determine whether the suspicious activity ‘is tied to a particular person or the result of a particular crime.’ Accordingly, it concluded there was insufficient evidence to indict.” (Id. at 344.)
So, I ask again—were the families who filed the open records lawsuit or the families who felt they had to file wrongful death and negligence suits because law enforcement was not responding, disrespecting the people working the case or the legal system? Just who was being disrespected?! Multiply that one year delay in Columbine by 36 and ask who is doing the disrespecting in the OCCK case.
Failure to Address the Obvious Intensifies Suspicion; When in doubt, accuse the victims of disrupting the investigation and of rank disrespectPosted: April 15, 2013
If you haven’t read Columbine, by Dave Cullen (2009), you should. Cullen covered the story of the massacre of students at Columbine High School by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in 1999. Cullen covered the story as a journalist beginning on the day of the attack. His book includes a blend of his contemporaneous reporting and nine years of research, including hundreds of interviews and the examination of more than 25,000 pages of police evidence, many hours of video and audiotape, as well as the work of other reliable journalists. Cullen explains in his Note on Sources: “To avoid interjecting myself into the story, I generally refer to the press in the third person. But in the great media blunders during the initial coverage of this story, where nearly everyone got the central factors wrong, I was among the guilty parties. I hope this book contributes to setting the story right.” (Author’s Note on Sources.)
Two powerful things stood out for me in this book. First, Cullen’s description of the killers, “two good students with lots of friends, who were secretly stockpiling a basement cache of weapons, recording their raging hatred, and manipulating every adult who got in their way.” He described them further with the chilling description of callousness with a powerful sadistic streak. This second part describes the person or people who were capable of the OCCK murders.
The most powerful fact that hit home, however, was how the Jefferson County (CO) Sheriff Department behaved in this case to cover its ass and how, even in a case this horrific, the department had no problem throwing the parents of victims under the bus. As an outsider, you might even have initially bought the concept that these “mouthy” parents were “disrespecting” the county authorities in their quest for the truth. Thank god someone like Dave Cullen pursued this story and made public the shameful acts of that agency in the face of the most horrific mass-shooting in a high school.
In 1997, two years before Harris and Klebold hunted and shot dead their fellow students and their teachers on April 20, 1999, Randy and Judy Brown, parents of a boy at Columbine who had been friends with Dylan and Eric, warned the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department about Eric Harris for more than 18 months. In fact, they had complained to the department some 15 times. (Columbine, p. 165.) The Browns viewed Eric as a “criminal in bloom,” and they spoke to Eric’s dad repeatedly and kept calling the cops. (Id. at 163.) All of it was ultimately ignored.
Law enforcement was called to Columbine High School after shots were fired, and as the horror unfolded, Jefferson County discovered they had files on both Harris and Klebold. They even had 12 pages from Eric Harris’ website in their file, spewing hate and threatening to kill. They had ignored this information since 1997.
The sheriff’s department quoted from Eric’s site in an application for a search warrant, but, inexplicably, never executed the search warrant. This was well before the carnage on April 20, 1999. The warrant established probable cause to believe Harris was building pipe bombs.
Although Jefferson County quoted extensively from Eric Harris’ website in the search warrants executed in the very aftermath of the killings on April 20, they then denied ever seeing that website! “They would spend several years repeating those denials. They suppressed the damning warrants as well. Then Sheriff Stone fingered Brooks [the Browns’ son] as a suspect on The Today Show.” (Id. at 165.)
To the Browns it looked like retribution. Yes, their son had been close to the killers—close enough to see it coming. The Browns had blown the whistle on Eric Harris over a year earlier, and the cops had done nothing. After Eric went through with his threats, the Browns were fingered as accomplices instead of heroes. They couldn’t believe it. They told the New York Times they had contacted the sheriff’s department about Eric fifteen times. Jeffco [Jefferson County] officials would insist for years that the Browns never met with an investigator—despite holding a report indicating they had.
The officers knew they had a problem, and it was much worse than the Browns realized. Thirteen months before the massacre, Sheriff’s Investigator s John Hicks and Mike Guerra had investigated one of the Browns’ complaints. They’d discovered substantial evidence that Eric was building pipe bombs. Guerra had considered it serious enough to draft an affidavit for the Harris home. For some reason, the warrant was never taken before a judge. Guerra’s affidavit was convincing. It spelled out all the key components: motive, means, and opportunity.
A few days after the massacre, about a dozen local officials slipped away from the Feds and gathered clandestinely in an innocuous office in the county Open Space Department Building. It would come to be known as the Open Space Meeting. The purpose was to discuss the affidavit for a search warrant. How bad was it? What should they tell the public?
Guerra was driven to the meeting, and told never to discuss it outside the group. He complied.
The meeting was held secret, too. That held for five years. March, 22, 2004, Guerra would finally confess it happened, to investigators from the Colorado attorney general. He described it as ‘one of those cover-your-ass meetings.’
District Attorney Dave Thomas attended the meeting. He told the group he found no probable cause for the investigators to have executed the draft warrant—a finding ridiculed once it was released. He was formally contradicted by the Colorado attorney general in 2004.
At a notorious press conference ten days after the murders, Jeffco officials suppressed the affidavit and boldly lied about what they had known. They said they could not find Eric’s Web pages, they found no evidence of pipe bombs matching Eric’s descriptions, and had no record of the Browns meeting with Hicks. Guerra’s affidavit plainly contradicted all three claims. Officials had just spent days reviewing it. They would repeat the lies for years.
Several days after the meeting, Inspector Guerra’s file on his investigation of Eric disappeared for the first time.
The cover-your-ass meeting was a strictly Jeffco affair, limited mostly to senior officials. Most of the detectives on the case—including the Feds and cops from local jurisdictions—were unaware of the cover-up. They were trying to crack the case.
(Id. at 165-66
As time went on and the lies continued, law enforcement’s failure to address the obvious intensified the public’s suspicion. Families suspected a lie but couldn’t prove it.
[T]he public had two pressing questions: Should authorities have seen Columbine coming? And should they have stopped it sooner once the gunfire began? On both these controversial questions, Jeffco had obvious conflicts of interest. And yet they charged ahead.
It was a staggering lapse of judgment. Jeffco could have simply insolated the two explosive issues into an independent investigation. It would have been easy enough; they had nearly a hundred detectives at their disposal, few of whom worked for Jeffco.
The independent investigation didn’t seem so obvious in 1999. The commanders were essentially honest men. Not one had a reputation as a dirty cop. John Kiekbusch was deeply respected inside and outside the force. They believed they were innocent and the public would see that. And many of them were. Stone and his undersheriff had been sworn in only three months earlier—they bore no responsibility for missing any warning signs from Eric Harris. Most of them had no role in command decisions on April 20. Kate Battan was running the day-to-day operations; she was clean.
But some cops made really bad decisions after April 20. Survivors were right to suspect a cover-up. Jeffco commanders were lying about the Browns’ warnings about Eric, and Randy and Judy Brown made sure everyone knew. Inside the department, someone was attempting to destroy the Browns’ paper trail. Shortly after the massacre, Investigator Mike Guerra noticed that the physical copy of the file he had put together on Eric a year earlier disappeared from his desk. A few days later, it reappeared just as mysteriously. [Luckily, this guy testified truthfully under oath when the Colorado attorney general opened an investigation into this mess.] Later that summer, he tried to call up the computer record and found it had been purged.
The physical file again disappeared and has never been recovered.
Over the next several months, division chief John Kiekbusch’s assistant took part in several activities [evidence purging] she later found disturbing.
(Id. at 248.)
Families of some of the victims ended up filing a lawsuit against officials in what they described as a “Hail Mary Pass” to get answers. The way the judge handled that lawsuit was a third powerful issue that stood out for me. More on that tomorrow.
So were the Browns disrespectful to investigators by questioning what they knew made no sense and what would have happened if they “just let the professionals do their jobs?”!! Jefferson County was disrespectful to the Browns and to the parents of the murdered students, despite their forceful protestations to the contrary. And the judge in this case actually had a spine, as you will see. Finally, the Colorado attorney general actually conducted a full-on investigation into this joke of an investigation. The Michigan attorney general won’t go near the OCCK case.