Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Brief Return of Hobbes

I've been out of the blogging business since my last post 'Market Research' way back when. My colleague Inspector Lex Ferenda has done a wonderful job taking the blog further and the visitor mark past 20,000. He's doing a better job than I ever did, and he's more handsome too. I'd pretty much said all I wanted to say when I handed over the mantle to Lex. Except, however, for one post that I couldn't quite articulate. There are times when we - the police - get things wrong. Quite a lot of things in fact. Our problem is, if we're the investigative experts, the ones who get paid the big bucks to get things right, who can tell us when we've done otherwise? Below is an admirable example of who can, and a pertinent reminder that behind every victim there is another victim, and another victim, and another....those being the primary victim's family and friends.

If there was one guest post that is worth my coming out of retirement to publish, then it is the one below. I salute John Allore, and I sincerely hope he and his family finally receive the justice - and service from the police - that they deserve.

Us and Them (and fear of the other) *

Police are cold-hearted functionaries; at their worst, dim-witted donut-eaters - punching the clock, but never really solving problems. Crime victims are whiners; bi-polar depressives who through their “advocacy” ultimately serve as a distraction to serious police work.

The story of my sister’s murder, and how the Quebec police bungled the investigation over thirty years ago is well documented. If you want the full story you can find it here on my website. Moreover, the former Vancouver police officer – and now Geographic Profiling professor at Texas State University – Kim Rossmo featured an entire chapter on Theresa Allore’s case in his recent book, Criminal Investigative Failures. I have been asked to write down some words about the victim’s perspective in the victim-police-society equation. To that end I’d like to make some comments about how we often come round to seeing police as lazy functionaries and victims as whiney troublemakers:

  1. After 30 years the murders of Theresa Allore, Manon Dube and Louise Camirand remain unsolved. Quebec police to this day refuse to investigate a possible connection between these murders. The murders occurred within 17 months in 1978-79. The Quebec police claim they had no indication that the murders could have been connected despite the fact that the lead investigator in all three cases, who’s the whiney victim and who’s the donut-eating cop?
  2. The initial media articles in 2002 on the death of these three young women laid a foundation for serial murder with particular focus on Kim Rossmo’s groundbreaking ideas on geographic profiling. At the time the Quebec police pooh-poohed the concept of geographic profiling as a criminology fad. Two years later I intercepted the lead investigator into Theresa’s death on his way to Washington; why was he traveling to the States? To learn about a new frontier of police research called Geographic Profiling. Who was he going to study with? Kim Rossmo.
  3. Five years after all three murders remained unsolved Quebec’s Surete du Quebec made the decision to dispose of all physical evidence from the cases. I usually keep anything that has an unresolved connection with my past be it pictures, recipes or memorabilia: Again, who’s the investigator here?
  4. Having learned that my sister’s body was found with a watch on her wrist stopped at eleven o’clock, I resolved to purchase 4 similar watches on Ebay from the 70s and place them at the crime scene at the same time of the year that she disappeared (to see when they would stop, to establish a time of death). The Quebec Police ridiculed this exercise as pointless-victim-meddling, yet all four watched stopped within 15 minutes of 11:00 PM, thus establishing an approximate time of death. Again, who's the victim, and who's the investigator? Because it would appear that I am both.
  5. Similar to the watch; my sister’s wallet was discovered by the side of a road in the Spring of 1979. There was some disagreement as to whether the wallet had been thrown there the prior winter (when she disappeared) or whether it had been placed there more recently in the Spring after her body was discovered. To answer the question I purchased a similar wallet from the 70s, placed it in the Canadian snow around the same time that she disappeared, and retrieved it the following Spring (around the time that the actual wallet was discovered). The results? The wallet was probably tossed in the Fall when she was murdered. The Surete du Quebec’s reaction? I was a whiney troublemaker not contributing what-so-ever to solving my sister’s murder.
  6. Faced with the reality that my sister’s wallet was found by the side of the road approximately 10-miles from where her body was discovered, the Surete du Quebec was asked, “doesn’t this prove that the killer drove a car, and disposed of the wallet after murdering her?”.” Not necessarily”, replied lead investigator, Roch Gaudreault… “Wild animals could have carried the wallet from the crime seen to the resting place by the side of the road.”

Yes… wild animals… following the roadways of men, traveling ten miles, and conveniently disposing the evidence along the banks of a highway.

Do you still want to ask me why I question the professionalism of police officers?

* Footnote: Us and Them: Dark Side Of The Moon was the first album Theresa ever bought and she DID listen to it on headphones.

5 comments:

  1. Interesting post. It is a difficult topic for those in law enforcement to handle, but listening to criticism is the only way to learn and improve.

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  2. Sometimes a cold case unit can come and look at these old cases, years later, and use modern forensics to get some new evidence. If nothing else, a new set of eyes - someone who isn't invested in the original investigation.

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  3. I sincerely hope you and your family see justice served. God bless.

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  4. Anon,

    Hey, John Allore here. Regarding your comment, that was certainly my hope, until we learned that law enforcement tossed all physical evidence in the cases.

    This isn't unusual in Quebec, or even Canada (I know many a cold case where police destroyed physical evidence after the case was merely tepid).

    I'm curious to know if this is the case in the UK? It certainly is rare in the States where evidence is rigorously kept for decades.

    Regarding the victim / law enforcement rel/ship: I will offer some hope ('cause I'm really a hopeful guy!). I had some rocky years of mistrust with modern investigators that were assigned to Theresa's cold case. But currently the case has been assigned to the same investigator for approximately 6 years, and we have a pretty good communication going. He always makes himself available (always returns my calls), and I don't expect him to work miracles (I don't expect police to dedicate unreasonable resources to this old crime)... there's only so much they can d at this point.

    (Thanks LH for posting this)

    John A
    www.theresaallore.com

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  5. John, your humble yet noble post and subsequent comment is a lesson in dignity for all of us. I do not know of any case in the UK where physical evidence has been destroyed in any unsolved cases. I only wish I could assist...you are always welcome to e-mail me, and please do keep me updated with any developments.

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