Monday, April 12, 2010

Who Holds The Answers To Springfield's Biggest Mystery---What Happened To Sherrill, Suzie and Stacy?:

Stacy McCall (l.) Sherrill Levitt (m.) and Suzie Streeter (r.)

I very seldom write about The Springfield Three, aka The Three Missing Women. I find that I can't be objective when I get to the police and the prosecutors office in this case. For those of you who don't know, I have been receiving tips and conducting my own investigation into what happened to Sherrill Levitt, Suzie Streeter and Stacy McCall on June 7, 1992.
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The SPD and the prosecutors office have pretty much stonewalled me and the evidence I have brought them regarding the women. They are in possession of two rings that were found in a house on W. Walnut Street in Springfield. The rings were found in a shoebox full of articles about the women along with two other rings.
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Those rings still have not had any DNA testing conducted on them "because we feel the were handled by too many people," according to Lt. Allen Neal of the SPD. Touch DNA could be crucial in this case for analysis on the rings. Until people start DEMANDING answers, we will be at the same place we are now in another 18 years....still seeking justice for Sherrill, Suzie and Stacy.
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David Lohr, a nationally recognized author and missing persons advocate, wrote an article this past week about Sherrill, Suzie, Stacy and my quest to have the parking garage at Cox South cored.

Please read his article below and let me know what you think. Should the garage be cored, or just forgotten?

Sleuth Won't Give Up on Women Missing for 17 Years:
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(April 10) -- Two teens and a mother disappeared in Springfield, Mo., almost 18 years ago. Their bodies have not been found, the case has not been solved. Police say there is no evidence to determine what happened to Sherrill Levitt, Suzie Streeter and Stacy McCall, the "Springfield Three," as the case has been called.

But the former lead investigator and a local journalist refuse to let it go. They believe that finding the answers has been hindered by a mismanaged investigation and the refusal to follow leads provided by new technologies that indicate where the remains of the women might be buried.

"I had never worked a case like it before then and have not worked one like it since," former Springfield police Sgt. Mark Webb told AOL News. At the time of the women's disappearance, Webb worked as the lead investigator in the case. He is no longer with the Springfield Police Department but remains in law enforcement as the chief of police in nearby Marionville.

Local reporter and independent investigator Kathee Baird, who has been following the case since 2005, is also critical of the investigation.

"We have evidence suggesting where these women could be, and they are ignoring it," Baird told AOL News. "It makes no sense. I don't know what's wrong with this department.

'Disappearance of the 'Springfield Three'

On June 6, 1992, McCall, 18, and Streeter, 19, attended a party after their graduation from Kickapoo High School, according to Webb. The women originally intended to stay at a hotel, but throughout the night their plans changed several times. They finally decided to spend the night at Streeter's house with her mother, 47-year-old Levitt. The teens arrived at Levitt's East Delmar Street home at about 2:15 a.m.




Levitt-Streeter House 1717 E. Delmar

McCall and Streeter had planned a trip to an amusement park on the afternoon of June 7, Webb says, but when their friends arrived to meet them at Streeter's house, no one was home.

The women's vehicles were parked in the driveway. The friends also observed a broken porch light. They cleaned up the broken glass and went inside the unlocked house, thinking the women might have gone for a walk. When they still didn't show up, the friends called the police, Webb says.

He got the case the next day.

Webb says all of the women's personal belongings, including their purses and clothing, were discovered inside the house. Levitt's Yorkshire terrier, Cinnamon, was also there. Investigators found no sign of a struggle or evidence of foul play, other than the broken porch light.

One of the few leads investigators had was the sighting of a green Dodge van in the area at the time the women went missing, but they had no way of knowing who owned it.

"We interviewed friends, ex-boyfriends, relatives and people that were at the parties," Webb said.

The police conducted several searches in the area but found nothing of interest.

By September 1992, Fox's "America's Most Wanted," NBC's "Unsolved Mysteries" and CBS's "48 Hours" all had run feature stories on the case.

One of the tips authorities received as a result of the publicity indicated the women's bodies were on a farm in Webster County. A search warrant was obtained, but authorities found no evidence of value.

Leads continued to trickle in, but Webb says there were other things going on that hindered the investigation.

Investigator: Case Was an 'Emotional Ride'

Former Police Chief Terry Knowles micromanaged the case and questioned possible suspects himself. Information obtained was not properly shared among the investigators, Webb says.

"The whole case was so unusual in the way it was conducted," he said. "It became a very politically charged environment, and people started taking sides. [It] was not only an emotional ride for the family but [also] for the investigators. It was also a career-ender for some of the officers, and I was one.

"I didn't quit or get fired, [but] I ended up getting reassigned because of disagreements over the way the case was going."

Webb is not the only person connected to the case who has spoken about problems in the investigation. In 2002, George Larbey, former president of the Springfield Police Officers Association, told the Springfield News-Leader that detectives did not think Knowles had confidence in them.

"If your highest command tells you how it's going to be, simply put, that's how it's going to be," Larbey said. "Detectives felt powerless. ... The newer guys wouldn't have any idea what was going on, that this wasn't normally the way we did business.

"Knowles, who is retired, could not be reached for comment. But he gave an interview to the same reporter for a story about the 10th anniversary of the disappearance. He acknowledged being heavily involved in the case.

"I don't recall that being an issue back then," he said then about the criticism. "What anyone wants to say 10 years later -- I can't control that. It's certainly disappointing, and it's frustrating at the time to be doing everything you possibly can.

''Despite all the in-fighting, the case went to a federal grand jury in August 1994. At the time, authorities allegedly had three suspects on their radar. One of them was Robert Craig Cox.

Suspect Robert Cox


Mug shots of Robert Craig Cox (left is 1995--right is 2009)

Cox had served time on death row in Florida for the 1978 beating death of 19-year-old Sharon Zellers. That conviction was later thrown out by the Florida Supreme Court, which ruled that there was not enough evidence to tie him to the crime. After his release, he was taken into custody in California in connection with a 1985 kidnapping. He moved back to his hometown, Springfield, after serving that sentence.

"He was working outside Sherrill and Suzie's house at the time, doing underground cable work," Stacy McCall's mother, Janis McCall, told AOL News.

Cox was questioned about the women's disappearance, but police were unable to find enough evidence to link him to the case. In 1995, Texas police questioned Cox about an abduction in Plano. He was later arrested in Decatur for holding a gun on a child during a robbery. He is behind bars and is not eligible for parole until 2025. He has not been contacted.

Springfield police Lt. David Millsap has confirmed that Cox was questioned in regard to the case.

"He was interviewed several years ago," Millsap said, adding, "I would not classify that he has been ruled out. Nobody at this point has been ruled out as a suspect."

Tips Kept Coming In
-Not long after the five-year anniversary of the women's disappearance, Streeter's and Levitt's relatives had them officially declared dead. McCall's parents refused to take the same action.

"We chose not to because my feeling is if Stacy ever comes back, she'll say, 'You didn't have any faith that I'd ever be back,'" said Janis McCall. "I want her to know that she's not declared dead."

In the wake of her daughter's disappearance, McCall founded One Missing Link, an organization that helps families of missing people.

"When a person goes missing, we will help them, and if they are in the immediate area, we will go out, at the request of law enforcement, and help them with a search," McCall said.

During the summer of 2002, authorities received another tip. The tipster told police that two men who worked for a local concrete company and drove a green van had placed the women's bodies on land in Webster County. A two-week search of the property again yielded nothing. The following year, a similar search, with the same results, was conducted south of Cassville.

Five years ago, reporter and independent investigator Baird took an interest in the case.

"I was visiting my mother, and my son looked at me and said, 'Mom, you have to help find out what happened to those ladies. You are supposed to be safe in your house.' Out of the mouth of a 10-year-old. That always stuck with me," Baird said.

From that point on, Baird immersed herself in the case, conducting her own investigation. As news of her work spread, she began receiving her own tips, many of which directed her to the same location.

"It kept leading me to a parking garage at Cox South Hospital," Baird said. "Some of the original suspects allegedly had connections to the location, and it was under construction at the time the girls went missing. Several tipsters felt the girls had been buried there prior to the cement being poured."

Parking Garage May Be Burial Site

Parking garage on Cox South campus between Hulston Cancer Center and Wheeler Heart Institute

Authorities were hesitant to look at the parking garage. They did not think that tips pointing to it were credible and told members of the media that they had come from psychics.

Webb says the Springfield Police Department had received several tips pointing to the location when he was the lead investigator on the case, but not all of them were from crackpots or psychics.

"[The parking garage] was under construction in that area at the time," Webb said. "We heard early on that they were buried under concrete in new construction or they were buried under a parking lot."

Baird asked a man who operates a micropower impulse radar system to examine the cement floor in the parking garage. She was hoping that his experimental equipment might be able to detect dental mercury or precious metals or stones, suggesting the presence of jewelry.

The results of the scan proved to be interesting; however, Baird realized she would need a more reliable way to examine the area.

In June 2006, she asked Rick Norland, a ground-penetrating radar specialist, to conduct a scan of the area.Norland has experience in locating bodies beneath the earth and has successfully found graves in the past. He was also one of the experts selected to help at ground zero in New York City following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.



The anomalies lie beneath the concrete under the ramp in the parking garage

"[Baird] did not give me any details or indication of how many bodies might be there," Norland told AOL news.

Soon after beginning the scan, Norland says he discovered three anomalies roughly 3 feet below the surface of the cement. Two were side by side; the third was by itself. The anomalies were about 2 feet wide, and the soil changes were between 5 and 7 feet long. The equipment cannot show bones but is capable of showing voids one would expect to see if something is buried underground.


Screen shot of one of the anamolies from Norland's GPR scan
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"These anomalies are very consistent with what a gravesite would look like," Norland said. "The next thing would be to come back in and do positive identification by a core sample -- drill down through there and poke a camera or some sort of device in there and examine what is there. That way you can determine what that anomaly is."

Both Baird and Norland took their findings to police.

"We talked to the police a couple times, and they are very skeptical of the equipment and what I did," Norland said. "The detectives said, 'I don't know what it is.' They were very adamant about not proceeding forward."

Questionable Findings



Baird took her findings to the media but Sgt. Mike Owen initially responded that the information was not worth spending "the thousands of dollars" it would take to verify it. After Baird agreed to cover the cost of a core, which was quoted at between $200 and $400, Owen said his department had spoken with its own expert, who discounted Norland's findings.

"It would be impossible to see what this man [Norland] claims he has seen," Owen said in an October 2007 interview with KY3.com.

AOL News provided copies of images that were taken of Norland's scan to two independent experts.

"Even had I not known what the story was about, there is definitely a break in the normal soil layers. This does not mean that there are buried bodies there, but there seem to be anomalies in this screen shot," Bryan Bacheller, manager of Digital Concrete Imaging Inc. in Florida, said in an e-mail.

Sean Henady, founder of the missing-person search and recovery group 3View Search Services, agrees.

"Myself and some experts I work with looked at the images, and we feel the location should be looked at closer and possibly cored," Henady said. "We would only need to do a 2-inch core to qualify the location."

Lt. Millsap said he could not comment on any of the details of the ground-penetrating radar search without reviewing the entire case file.

"That was discussed, but I don't have any knowledge about anything," he said. "I would tell you that all credible leads have been followed up on. I know the incident you're talking about, and I don't know how much involvement the department had."

On Tuesday, Stacy Fender, media relations coordinator at Cox Health, told AOL News she would check to see if officials at the hospital would allow an independent team, such as 3View Search Services, to re-examine the spot and possibly take a core sample. Fender responded via e-mail Wednesday.

"We consider this to be a matter for the Springfield Police Department and the Greene County Prosecutor's Office and remain willing to cooperate with any investigation they would like to pursue," she wrote.

Questions Remain
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It's still unclear why the Springfield Police Department won't take the time to examine the parking garage. Even students at Missouri Southern State University are baffled.

"I don't understand why they won't dig," said Nikki Rush, whose criminal justice group examined the case as part of a class project. "They went to several places on hunches and dug, so what would be wrong with checking this one? That's the big question for everybody right now. Prove them wrong that there are no bodies there or prove there are."

Janis McCall does not believe her daughter is buried beneath the parking garage and says she is not even convinced her daughter is dead.

"I have no reason not to believe she is alive because they have found no sign that she is dead," McCall said. "Realistically, I have to admit there is a good possibility, probably 99 percent, that she is dead, but if there is a possibility, even 1 percent or a half a percent, as her mother, I am going to keep it at the forefront and say she's still alive."

Meanwhile, Baird says she is willing to be proved wrong.

"If I am wrong, they are more than welcome to go on any TV show and say, 'See, we told you so,' " she said.

Here is a link to the GPR scan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8DKyRK27pM

http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/sleuth-wont-give-up-on-missouri-mom-teens-missing-for-17-years/19432471
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UPDATE 03-12-11:
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Investigation Discovery was in town in December of 2010 and interviewed myself, Janis McCall, former Springfield police detective Mark Webb, Rick Norland and Janelle Kirby.  They also traveled to Tennessee to interview Bartt Streeter for a show featured on Disappeared called The Springfield Three.

The story has no gone international with London's Daily Mail picking the story up.  Authorities still have not cored the parking garage, however,  pressure from viewers of the show and residents in the area may put enough pressure on them to do so

31 comments:

Chelsea said...

2 amazing articles. I can't believe how corrupt the Spfld PD is. Start a Facebook page, get some recognition going, and start a petition. That will rattle their cage more then anything. Take it from some who's well versed in this. Numbers & people always shake a shady tree.

Anonymous said...

I believe the that the garage should be examined further. It is not going to hurt to take a 2 inch core sample or for that matter dig up the area of which the anomalies are located. It is in an area where no cars are parked, so it shouldn't effect anything.

This all happened when I was in the 8th grade, and I also attended MSSU back when it was considered MSSC in 1997-2001, several of my CJ classes were still all shocked that the case was not still being conducted or for that matter solved. We discussed several times how we would handle the case if we were the investigators, etc. It was something that we all wanted answers to even after all those years.

For this case now being 17 years old, why not get some answers that we haven't had before. There are tons of us that want to know what happened to the women, and if no one takes a stand to have the case solved, then we are not going to get any of those answers. To me, it sounds like the PD doesn't want to try and solve the case (or when it was going strong, someone inside was withholding severe information that could have solved the case. Which explains why so many were transferred out of that department or transferred off the case). I feel that they would rather beat around the bush and give excuses rather than find the facts.

In closing....reopen the case completely, and follow all the leads that have been given. Whether they are hunches, or full blow facts, these women need to be found. It will not hurt anything to look further into this. And with today's technology, we can do so much more now than what we could do back then.

Anonymous said...

I think it's worth a look. $200, $400, even $1000 would be, comparatively, chicken feed, and would allow either confirmation, or decisive refutation of the burial possibility. It'd also be interesting to know why the expert Owen consulted discounted Norland's findings.

A question--what connection, if any, is there between the Cox mentioned as a suspect, and the Cox medical 'empire'?

Anonymous said...

this is outrageous, these moronic local P.D.s could'nt find their asses with both hands, why hasn't the FBI been brought in? this is really too much, it should be brought up in the upcoming local elections, maybe it will take a politician to fan the flames, these women need justice now, and they will not receive it from the bureaucracies of springfield, or greene county, what a damn shame

Anonymous said...

The Springfield 3
Not to create a or suggest a vigil anti act, but has anyone simply considered slipping in and drilling a small hole through the concrete into the center of void and then sending down a few swabs and seeing if it returns any DNA? I know it is not the proper approach, but obviously they are not heading toward the right approach anyway.

Anonymous said...

about the 3 missing ladies, being 17 years i would declare them all dead,but then again i got a real gut feeling that the police are involved with the kidnappers seeming as they are to chicken shit to dig down and prove that they are right and there are no bodies,if the leave it any longer the bodies and bones will eventually rot away not saying that theres any flesh left obviously!, well i hope you all get answers soon,

much regards

Anonymous said...

3 missing women....I grew up in Sprfld so it hits at home. From reading this article, sounds like the police obviously have something to hide. Why else be so reticent to do a little drilling? Doesn't make sense. Why not follow this lead like they did the others?
And to answer one lady's question. No. The suspect "Cox" has nothing to do w/ the hospital Cox. Just irony at it's best.
A very sad saga attached to my home town.

Anonymous said...

I dated Cox up until his last arrest in Decatur, TX. One night, while at a casino in Bosier City, he told me he had done "the worst thing you could imagine" and I needed to get away from him. I saw how he could set up alibies to be one place, while actually somewhere else. He told me he worked for one of the girls fathers at a car dealership at one time. In my heart, I truly believe he is responsible for these missing women.

Anonymous said...

I CANNOT believe they will not drill.....wat is the big damm deal?? wat is wrong with the police department?? wat if it was their mother daughter sister....i bet they would dig then....Please dear heavenly father give this precious lady sum closure!! help that police department dig up THAT CONCRETE!!! my prayers go to this family..i pray that they find sum comfort and closure VERY SOON!!

Anonymous said...

It sounds to me like the cops are hiding something. It doesn't cost much to dig a part of cement up. Start a facebook page and let's petition. I just saw this case in TV and how awful for the famalies to have no peace.

greenbean0716@yahoo.com said...

In regard to "The Springfield Three", have you (or anyone) started a "dig up that parking garage" page on FB? Or something along those lines. People will "like" something like this on Facebook readily if it says you are trying to reach a certain number of "Likes". This would show how much support there is across the United States, and possibly the globe, to get some closure for the families of the victims. If it is an expense that is in the thousands, as the police stated, maybe dollar donations can be raised by individuals who want to see that spot investigated more thoroughly. At very LEAST there should be a second scan of the area. Technology is getting better daily. It is such a shame to think that the questions could possibly be answered by performing a fairly simple task. I support the work you are doing and have put into the investigation of the Springfield Three. I saw the episode of "Disappeared" tonight on Discovery ID. Best of luck and best wishes to you - someone who cares enough to find the truth for victims and their loved ones.

Anonymous said...

I was shocked to see the episode on the Springfield Three on Investigation Discovery. I knew Cox in High School. We never called him by his first name Robert; everyone called him middle name, Craig. He was year older than me and dropped off the planet my senior year of high school, which corresponds to his Army time and the murder in Florida.

Cox was a wrestler and ball player in high school, very bright, rebellious, and he loved attention. He grew up in the center of Springfield, where these three women went missing.

Keep the light shining bright. Based on what I know of Craig, his involvement wouldn't be surprising at all.

sorandumb said...

Hey there I write him in jail... Id really like to learn more about him.please email me aurora91w@gmail.com.th&nks so much

Anonymous said...

I'd contact the hospital and get permission to drill. Leave the PD out of it. It's not their decision to make. If the owner of the hospital or the board of directors give you permission to drill then call your guy, pay for it and have it done. If you find something...THEN call the PD. Don't tell them what you are doing, if they don't know they can't stop you.

Anonymous said...

Amen!!!!!!! Have the hospital give permission! Isn't it their property? Surely they must show more compassion than the heartless Springfield PD. These poor women deserve to be found!

Doris said...

I just watched this on tv Im from newfoundland Canada and I cannot believe with my own two ears what I heard This is an outrage The police really need to get off their asses and seriously look into this crime Ive seen shows on murders where they have dug up miles and miles of well maintained terrains, mountains of it and hours on end This is a very big lead What is the problem Is someone on the force involved OMG do something This isnt rocket science

Anonymous said...

I saw the old Disappeared episode on Netflix and went looking to see what was found in the parking garage dig. It's shocking they never did it. The way the episode ended made it sound like the investigators and hospital management were making plans about it. Obviously someone in charge quashed the idea. The excuse of how costly the core drill would be is absurd, considering the expenses put into this case over two decades. I wonder how many leads and interest this case has gotten in the last two years while the general public thinks the bodies are under the garage and the killer is behind bars. If the drill project reveals something, the authorities can finally focus on a site. If the drill project reveals nothing, at least it ends public speculation and maybe generates a renewal of interest, you stuff and patch the hole. I'd agree about moving independently with permission from the hospital, but if you do find something, who's to say the police won't just charge everyone with interference and obstruction. They need to take action or come up with a better excuse.

Kathee Baird said...

@ anon @ 1:44 - The way the episode ended it did "appear" that plans were being made to do something...either the meeting of former and current investigator's or a possible cord.

Sadly, neither one has taken place.

IMHO, everything that was done by the SPD when NBC/Disappeared was here was carefully worded an plotted because the national spotlight was asking some very tough questions.


k

Kathee Baird said...

@ anon @ 1:44 - The way the episode ended it did "appear" that plans were being made to do something...either the meeting of former and current investigator's or a possible core.

Sadly, neither one has taken place.

IMHO, everything that was done by the SPD when NBC/Disappeared was here was carefully worded an plotted because the national spotlight was asking them some very tough questions.


k

Bassrivergrrl said...

I'm with the idea of a covert mission in the dark of night to get a core. Ive seen lots of GPR anomalies and those sure do look suspicious.....break out the black gear and lets do it!

Anonymous said...

In response to the springfield three missing women... It's an outrage. Get the FBI or someone higher than the useless police department to get something into action. Why not blackmail Cox or give him an ultimatum/plee bargain coz i think he is guilty- To confess to the murders admit if he is guilty & to the location of the bodies. If hedoes so that he could possibly avoid and escape the death penalty if the victims families r in approval so atleast they can have the closure and if deceased bury their loved ones. I hope this case will be reopened and solved by this year. All the best love and light

Anonymous said...

They have contacted the hospital and the hospital told them that they feel this is a case for the authorities, but the hospital was and probably still is willing to cooperate with the authorties and their decision. So more or less....the hospital has given their concent IF the authorities are willing, but obviously that is where the problem lies "with the authorities". It all seems a little fishy to me.

tina stewart said...

This is for the Springfield 3. Back in 2002 a tipster told the SPD that 2 men who worked for a local concrete company and drove a green van. Does that sound right? They were looking for a green van and then in that report a GREEN VAN! Then you are looking in the parking area, then the two men worked for a local concrete company. So did you look into who pored the concrete in the parking area? And if so did the two men work for them? It all sounds right to me!

Anonymous said...

Yes, they should dig into that park lot, too many ppl point their fingers at the spot to be a coincidence.

sicwititdimeful said...

Cox has said he will reveal where the 3 bodies are located after his mother dies. Where are your sources for the tipster in 2002 aboiut this green van and concrete workers, i cant find anything on it

Kathee Baird said...

Limited information is available on the web about this.

We believe the green van could be a ruse.

k

Anonymous said...

I just finished watching the story of these three women on tv and decided to check online to see if the hospital parking garage ramp was ever dug up and the bodies found. I'm disappointed to see that still to this day nothing has been done to further investigate the possible burial site. I hope that soon they will allow the site to be dug up and the remains found so that the families of these women can find the closure they need.

Anonymous said...

Help bring justice to this senseless crime, bring closure to this too long of a cold case, bring embarrassment and shame to the SPD and COX Hospital for diverting this case for way too long over a damn core sample.

Anonymous said...

I saw this episode today on the ID Channel and there is NO reason why the SPD shouldn't probe that area of the garage because it is NOT that expensive to dig 3' under concrete. Afterall, they have probed other areas and spent thousands of dollars. I wonder if SPD would not have already probed the garage if these women had been the wives or daughters of some of the local corrupt politicians? This kind of reminds me of the recent case in MO in which the 14 year-old girl (I think her name is Daisy) was raped by the son of a politician and then left on the front lawn of her home. Nothing was done about that situation it until recently (after the girl attempted suicide). What the hell is wrong with the authorities in Missouri?

Anonymous said...

Another prime example of a crooked police department. The SPD has a vested intrest to protect their own ass from the embarrassing outcome if these girls were found under COX HOSPITAL parking garage. Keep fighting Mrs. Baird and eventually you will find the right sources to bust through the red tape and bring closure to these poor girls. Nothing makez a person more mad than to see our authorities abuse thier power this way. Just proves they could give a shit less about closing this case!

Anonymous said...

Anyone read about the missing man in Sabine Texas, Alfred Wright?? Another story about the authorities not doing their job, hiding evidence, not cooperating with a full investigation, and the Sheriff himself being a suspect of this racially motivated crime! The SPD sounds like the same. No matter their involvement you see the poilice departments nationwide as crooked as they come, covering shit up, and throwing up walls to protect and serve themselves, NOT YOU OR THE VICTIM. I'm not saying they are all that way but pick up the paper lately and you'll see it happens from your local PD all the way to the top of big GOV. Shame.