Thursday, December 6, 2012

When Curiosity leads to Murder, Part I

I’m a day late in posting because I had quite a bit of writing to do on my book.  When the story takes you someplace and you get in deep enough, it is very difficult to leave in order to turn your attention to something else.  So instead of blogging, I stuck around with Jorja to investigate cases. 
Investigating.  It is what I really enjoy, whether I’m conducting the investigations, reading about them or writing about them.  I am extremely interested in criminal law, always have been, and I think my naturally curious nature made me very good at what I do.  As a defense investigator I may not always discover the absolute truth but I do my best to get the whole picture of what will be provided to a jury in order to verify what information they will use as they deliberate after the trial.  The truth is in there somewhere; they just have to figure out whether the information they have been provided is enough to prove guilt or reasonable doubt.

Sometimes that job is not as easy as it may sound.  Have you ever been on a jury?  For a serious criminal matter full of details and packed with witnesses who remember details differently than the next person?
Some cases are simple.  Others are not.

I could describe any number of cases I’ve worked to give you examples of the good, the bad and the ugly.  But instead, I’d like to tell you about an interesting case I learned about quite by accident while on vacation and only due to my own curiosity…
Big Horn National Forest
Have you had the pleasure of driving through Wyoming? 

Wildlife in Big Horn
I’m not talking about Yellowstone National Park, although I have seen most of it and it is worth the trip.  I’m talking about driving east from Yellowstone and through the Big Horn National Forest.  That part of the state is absolutely beautiful.  We also saw a larger number of wildlife driving through the Big Horn National Forest than we did at Yellowstone.  Yellowstone did offer a variation: elk, a lot of bison, deer, mule deer and even a mother bear and her cub.  Through the Big Horn we saw elk, moose and so many deer I lost count after I got to 60.  We also saw a lot of cows, many of them wandering on the road rather than the fields, and a tree completely full of turkeys.  Along with the numerous sights of wildlife, the scenery was just spectacular. 
Fallen City in Big Horn
One particular area really caught my attention.  After passing through lush green fields, we drove alongside the mountain and came to an outlook we learned was titled the “Fallen City.”  An odd name, you might think, but if you look at the hillside above the valley at the rocks jutting up through the trees (called a massive boulder field) it is really quite something. 

As we stopped to check out the Fallen City, take photos, stretch our legs and take a break before we finished heading out of the mountains, we caught sight of something at the bottom of the valley.  The object appeared to be a vehicle.  We used the regular camera, the binoculars and even the video camera to try to get a closer look and while it was difficult to see much, we assumed the vehicle had been down in the valley for quite some time. 
That particular trip took us through eight states before we arrived home after a 17-day road trip.  You can imagine we saw quite a few attractions and distractions, any of which would have been on my mind for days and weeks to come.  But even after I arrived home, I could not forget about the car, or what appeared to be a car at the bottom of the valley at Fallen City.  I decided to do some research, to see why the car ended up over the cliff, who was involved and if I could find the truth behind the story my imagination was beginning to put together.

What I found was not what I expected. 
What I found was a story about a case that was said to have occurred some 28 years before.  If the accounts I read are true, it involves murder, a confession, a botched investigation and two jury trials ending with a result you might not expect... 

To read Part II, check back this weekend when I post again on Sunday. 


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