Sunday, January 26, 2014

Contradictions Surround Jodi Arias As Trial Date Nears

As the pubic continues to wait to finally learn what punishment lies ahead for convicted killer Jodi Arias, the inmate continues to Tweet from her jail cell while trying to pick the pockets of the public to foot the bill for an appeal that seems to be as far off as her sentencing verdict!  Yes, she has been found guilty of first degree murder and that's a huge relief.  However, in the weeks and months since the guilty verdict Arias has seemingly ramped up her efforts to play on any sympathy she may have garnered from her 18 days of testimony.  Sure, she has her supporters and she has sought to monetize their support in numerous ways.  "If you believe in Jodi, support her"...... 

OK, I know my commentary has run amok lately because I simply cannot fathom how a convicted murderer could be running so many enterprises while locked up in an American jail.  I don't see how Sheriff Joe Arpaio is allowing this activity to continue now that Arias is no longer presumed innocent.  She was convicted by a jury of her peers, fair and square. Her words and actions are wrapped in contradictions.  Her defense team fought to force potential jurors to disclose social media information, namely Twitter handles.  Is this because prosecutor Juan Martinez or some other representative of the State is Tweeting about the case and she doesn't want jurors to be unfairly biased against her?  I don't think so - in fact, Jodi Arias herself was perhaps the most active of Tweeters during her own murder trial. Contradiction #1?

Contradiction #2 - on her website, Jodi Arias continues to sell "Survivor" t-shirts even though the jury seemed to reject her claims that Travis Alexander physically abused her.  Sure, there were some angry written exchanges between Jodi and Travis but not a single shred of actual evidence that he ever struck, choked, body slammed her or was the cause of her now infamous crooked finger. The defense was never able to produce one single witness to testify that they witnessed said abuse or violence, nor could they produce any former girlfriends of Travis who said that they experienced violence at the hands of Travis Alexander. I know, I know - domestic abuse can be hidden from family and friends.  But women who are physically abused usually tell someone, or the telltale signs of bruising becomes apparent to those around the abuse victim.  The domestic violence claims are only substantiated by Jodi Arias' words.  How many of you were shocked when she displayed that Survivor t-shirt during the mitigation phase? 

Contradiction #3 - Jodi Arias Tweets that neither she or her family members have received funds or have profited from her art sales.  Where has the money from those early eBay art auctions and other art sales gone? She originally posted that money received was going to help pay her family's travel expenses to and from the trial. We also know Arias has sold a few limited edition prints - and although I don't know what has been sold prior to the two prints that are currently being offered through her site, I have been keeping track of the number of "Sailing at Sunset" and "Picasso Calla Lillies" that are still up for grabs.  Is her support losing steam? As of this morning, her site still shows there are 89 Picasso Calla Lillies and 66 Sailing at Sunset prints for sale. These numbers haven't changed in a long while, which appears to point to a diminished interest. That being said, we know Jodi Arias has taken in thousands and thousands of dollars since she was arrested.  Yet she recently Tweeted that she planned to file for bankruptcy protection, but she lacked the funds to do so.  Contradiction #3 is a big one with me. She's probably received enough money in her commissary fund to pay for 5 bankruptcy filings. 

Contradiction #4 - Jodi Arias has been trying to fire her lead attorney Kirk Nurmi, basically telling the courts through a lengthy hand written letter that Nurmi hasn't been to see her once since her conviction. She also wrote about Nurmi not being in touch with her feelings; this I believe was mainly prompted by the playing of she and Travis' "sex tape" at her trial.  That audio tape back fired on her. Instead of painting her as the shy and inexperienced young woman who went along with Travis' sick fantasies, it really called into question who was the aggressor in their intimate relationship. At the very least, it absolutely showed that Arias was an equal and willing participant in their sex life.  This was not the effect Jodi Arias expected the recording to have on the jury or the viewing public.  It was the first real look into who Jodi was when she was with Travis. We got to hear how she interacted with him, and it just reinforced my belief that Travis had absolutely no idea that she was recording the call.  She lured him into the sexually charged conversation, and there is little doubt in my mind that her reasons for recording it was to use it against him in the very near future. She knew that recording could cause Travis a lot of pain and humiliation.  So Kirk Nurmi played the tape against Jodi's wishes for it to not be played in open court. Arias also later would claim that Kirk Nurmi gave up on her early and Jennifer Willmott did the bulk of the research and real trial work.  Jodi Arias is also on the record for pleading with the trial judge to retain Kirk Nurmi as her lead attorney when he left the public defender's office before her trial began. She told the Court that he knew her case inside and out, and he was the person who was best qualified to represent her because of the amount of time they spent on her case, and she argued it would be very detrimental to remove him and get another attorney up to speed on her case.

Contradiction #5 - Testimony about Jodi's lack of family support during her crucial early years in life was peppered throughout her defense case. The alleged beatings with a wooden spoon at the hands of her mother and an overbearing and foreboding father were described by Arias herself during her weeks on the witness stand. The defenses' expert witnesses testified how this lack of support may have effected Jodi's adult relationships. Yet Sandy Arias and her twin sister sat in the courtroom to support her day after day. Her father Bill doesn't look so foreboding now, as age and failing health seem to have taken a toll on him. Jodi testified about a dysfunctional family, and how she was out on her own at the age of 16 or 17 years old.  She wanted to leave the jury with the impression that she grew up in an abusive household. Yet the defense never called her mother, father, aunt, brother or grandparents to the stand to back up the abuse claims. She collectively threw her family under the bus at her trial in an attempt to explain away one of the reasons why she remained in an abusive relationship with Travis Alexander.  But during the mitigation phase, Arias showed the jury photo after photo of her family together on vacations and holidays.  She spoke fondly of her childhood memories, at one point calling it "idealic". I think she forgot what she was trying to accomplish earlier in her trial. This is what happens when people lie. "With the truth, there's nothing to remember".  Didn't Juan Martinez say something to that effect? It's a simple statement, yet it's so true.  Jodi Arias wanted jurors to believe she lacked family support growing up and she used it as a mitigating factor during the trials penalty phase. Yet she contradicted herself in asking the jury to let her live "for them", pointing her crooked finger towards her family in the gallery.

The latest Arias shenanigan that has raised many eyebrows was the announcement that they are now accepting donations for Jodi's planned appeals. They have created the JAA Appellate Fund, an irrevocable trust.  Donations made to this entity are non-refundable and non tax deductible. The donation site says that 100% of the funds collected will be used to pay legal fees and expenses relating to her appeal (for her wrongful conviction), but they only give the bare minimum information about this trust. Who paid the attorneys to draw up this trust? Who are the trustees? Who will be charged with auditing the fund to ensure monies are used for the purpose the trust was drawn up for? Why aren't the trustees listed and why isn't the trust document itself being made available to the public? Make no mistakes, Jodi Arias wants the public to foot the entire bill for her defense - AGAIN. "If you believe in Jodi support her!" Her site also claims that proceeds from the sale of her jodi-bands will be used for her legal fees as well.  

Setting up an appellate fund before the sentencing phase has even gotten under way seems suspicious to begin with.  Once Arias' fate is known, there is an automatic appeals process that begins. Let's say Jodi Arias' case gets to the appellate court and she claims she is indigent or unable to retain her own counsel to handle the appeal - wouldn't she get another court appointed attorney? What happens to the money collected from the JAA Appellate Fund then? Will the Arias family foot part of the bill with the funds they have collected from these sources? Remember the trust that was set up in little Caylee Anthony's name, where very little of the money was actually used to help any other family who had a missing child? If memory serves me, the Anthony's paid themselves salaries from that trust and it quietly and quickly was dissolved. I firmly believe that Jodi Arias has a plan in place to divert any funds she has collected since her incarceration from the reach of Travis Alexander's family. She has to know that a wrongful death suit is imminent, but she also knows it won't move forward until after the criminal proceedings are over.  Think OJ Simpson. The Goldman family and the family of Nicole Brown Simpson won a multi million dollar civil suit against the former football hero, but collecting the funds has proved difficult. 

We haven't heard much about Kirk Nurmi or Jennifer Willmott since the mistrial was declared at Jodi Arias' sentencing hearing.  I wonder what they have been up to?  What will their strategy be at the new sentencing hearing? Will Jodi Arias' family and friends step up to the witness stand and testify on her behalf this time around? Or will it again be a one-woman show?  I trust that Juan Martinez has been using these last six months fine-tuning his arguments for a sentence of death for Jodi Arias.  Mr. Martinez seems to take his cases very seriously, and I'm certain that he wants to get justice for Travis once and for all.  There are those people out there who believe getting a death sentence for a female is an unlikely outcome.  That may be true, the odds may be stacked in favor of a life sentence for Jodi Arias. All I can say about that is that an Arizona jury handed down a death sentence for a young woman with two small children in the same jurisdiction.  Remember Wendi Andriano.  Her mitigation case was similar to Arias' - no criminal history, her age at the time of the crime was cited, and she had two young sons at the time of sentencing.  The jury decided Andriano's killing of her terminally ill husband was indeed heinous enough to warrant a trip to death row. 


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cold Justice Team Helps Solve Another Cold Case - Willie Louise Kellum Homicide

Markis Heard
Chalk up another one for TNT's Cold Justice team.  In episode 2 of Season 2, Kelly Siegler, Yolanda McClary and the team headed to Camp Hill Alabama - population 900, to review the 2005 unsolved homicide of 78 year old Willie Louise Kellum.  Ms. Kellum was a beloved mother, grandmother and life long friend of the community where she lived before being sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled to death with a cord in her home on February 21, 2005. Willie Louise was last seen in town grocery shopping and going to a laundry mat on the day she was found dead by her grandson, who was staying with her at the time of her death.

Camp Hill Police Chief Roosevelt Finley was the first officer to arrive at the crime scene back in 2005 and what he saw disturbed him greatly. He knew Willie Louise, he knew her family.  He couldn't imagine who would want to cause harm to Ms. Kellum. Crime scene photos showed an empty metal Brinks Security box near Kellum's lifeless body, and police believed the murder was committed during a robbery.  Kellum's adult daughters told Kelly Siegler and Yolanda McClary that they believed their mother may have received her income tax return, but neither of them knew how much money she was expecting or what was in that Brinks box.  The police collected evidence in 2005, but they lacked the resources to properly test it - that all changed when Siegler & McClary came to town.

Police had considered a few suspects in Willie Louises' homicide during the original investigation. Her grandson was said to have been staying with her at the time of the murder, and he was the one who discovered the body.  She had another grandson who was known to be staying at the house as well.  But the thought that a grandson could possibly sexually assault his own grandmother was a thought so sick and twisted that nobody wanted to believe it was possible. The small town rumor mill lay suspicion squarely on one of the grandsons, but with five warrants out for his arrest at the time Cold Justice came to town, the team was unable to locate him to re interview him. Ms. Kellum's telephone records ended up being a key piece of evidence. A phone call was made from Kellums home to the home of a woman who was the former girlfriend of a man named Markis Heard.  During the 2005 investigation, police could find no link between Markis Heard and Willie Louise Kellum. 

That phone call made Markis Heard a suspect in the 2005 investigation, but once the evidence was submitted for testing, the results were undisputable. DNA collected from Ms. Kellums underwear was found to be Markis Heard's. No doubt about it, the chances of the DNA coming from another human being was less then zero - he was indicted for the murder.  The link between Markis Heard and Willie Louise was also uncovered during Siegler and McClary's investigation.  Markis Heard was a friend of one of the Kellum grandsons. I was surprised that this link wasn't established during the original police investigation.  Heard's girlfriend's home was only a 5 minute walk from Ms. Kellum's home, and his alibi on the day of the murder completely fell apart after they re interviewed his former girlfriend and determined there were several hours where his whereabouts were unaccounted for.  In addition, Heard has a record for sexual assault and was in prison serving a 15 year sentence when this case was re-opened.  Heard allegedly sexually assaulted his own young daughter, so is it a stretch to believe he would sexually assault a 78 year old woman?  Yes, there are monsters walking among us, and it seems Markis Heard was one of them.

Armed with the new DNA results and the other evidence collected from the original investigation, it would appear this should be an open and shut case against Heard for the District Attorney's office. When Kelly, Yolanda and Police Chief Finley met with Willie Louises' daughters to tell them they had their suspect, they were truly relieved and grateful.  Relieved that their family members did not appear to have been directly involved in the murder, and grateful that Chief Finley never gave up on this case.  Another great episode. It seems unfortunate that it took 8 years to identify the suspect in this case, when DNA evidence was there all along waiting to be tested. This should never happen due to lack of resources.  I am looking forward to the rest of Season Two.  The Cold Justice team is racking up an impressive record. During Season One, their involvement and investigations helped local law enforcement secure 5 indictments and one guilty plea.  

The show's opening says that from 1980 to present day, there are more than 200,000 unsolved homicides across America.  That's a chilling statistic.  What if even 25% of those cases could be solved?  Can we build enough prisons to hold all of the murderers out there who have evaded justice? Is our justice system failing or is it just underfunded and understaffed?  How many other Willie Louise Kellum cases are there out there with DNA evidence waiting to be tested?  I don't know if as an adult, I'm just more aware of the violent crime that seems to be plaguing our society, or if murder is just becoming part of the American landscape. It's a frightening thought either way.  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Has Jodi Arias Filed Tax Returns Since Her Arrest?

I continue to be flabbergasted over the peddling of "original artwork", limited-edition prints, Survivor t-shirts and most recently added "Jodi-bands" by convicted murderer Jodi Arias - all being done out in the open while she is behind bars awaiting sentencing for the 2008 murder of 30 year old Travis Alexander.  While the sales are nothing new, it nags at me that now that Arias HAS been convicted of murder it seems nobody or nothing prohibits her from continuing these activities.

40 states have some sort of "Son of Sam" law that should prevent convicted murderers from cashing in on their notoriety - Arizona has similar laws, yet it seems that the State Attorney's office is not interested in Arias' online ventures. In a November 17, 2013 article on myfoxphoenix.com, Fox 10's legal analyst Brian Foster said of Arias "I think she is pushing the law as far as she can both with her murder trial in her defense and now selling this artwork". The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office is in charge of Jodi Arias, and they claim that although they'd like to put a stop to it, there is only so much they can do.  I have a hard time believing that.

Myfoxphoenix asked County Attorney Bill Montgomery his thoughts on Arias selling artwork online, and they were told "there was nothing here right now that indicates a violation of the law".  So if the Sheriff's office and County Attorney's office isn't concerned that Jodi Arias is making money off of her murderous notoriety, who might?  The murder of Travis Alexander should not be used as a financial platform for his killer - yet it has.  Jodi Arias was a waitress who would not have been known to the world had she not killed Travis Alexander, exactly the type of crime that the Son of Sam Laws were enacted for. 

If the MCSO and County Attorney's offices aren't interested in the money Arias & Co. are taking in through these numerous sources, perhaps the IRS would be?  What about the Arizona tax board?  I'd love to know how Jodi Arias, who insists neither she or her family is "profiting from the arts sales", and has tweeted about her plans to file for bankruptcy drummed up enough cash to pay an attorney to set up the JAA Appellate Trust Fund. Setting up such a trust isn't rocket science, but it does require some legal help.  As you probably know, setting this up as an irrevocable trust means once you donate to this fund you can never get your money back. It's unclear how much money has been donated to this fund, or how much money Arias has collected from the sales of her artwork, limited edition doodles, jodibands or her Survivor t-shirts.  If you recall, it was only at her sentencing phase speech that she declared 100 percent of the proceeds from sales would be donated to causes related to battered women. I know for a fact that prior to her multi-media style speech to that Arizona jury that her website said "a portion of the proceeds" would be donated to these shelters. A PORTION...which technically could mean 1/2 of 1%.  I wholeheartedly believe she changed this to be 100% of the proceeds because she wanted to make herself look more philanthropic. Pure and simple trial tactic.

By setting up this JAA Appellate Fund, Arias is attempting to shield any monies from future liens, lawsuits filed by Travis Alexander's family and her own creditors. SURELY Jodi has collected enough money to file for bankruptcy by now.  Arias may think she is the smartest inmate in history, since she continues to mock the justice system and the Alexander family by selling this murderbilia from her jail cell.  I am baffled that Sheriff Joe is letting these activities continue on his watch. So much for being labeled "the toughest Sheriff in the country".  Arias may be hiding her exploits in legal loopholes for now, but there IS one government entity that even she cannot hide from. The Internal Revenue Service.  Jodi Arias IS running a business by selling her artwork.  The money she has collected from the sale of these arts and crafts (and I use the word "art" loosely) is taxable income. As such, she has to pay taxes on this money.  From the IRS website:


What is taxable?  
All income from auctions, traditional or online and consignment sale is generally  taxable unless certain exemptions are met. This income is generally considered either "business" or "ordinary" income.  In certain circumstances such income can qualify for taxable gain treatment.  

Business income resulting from auction or consignment sales is subject to the same taxes as the income of any other retail or service business.  That may include income tax, self employment tax or excise tax.  A retail or business owner must include this income in his or her business income.  A person must include a gain from a sale whether he or she operates a business or not.  A reportable gain is the income above the original cost or basis for the item.  These gains may be business gains or capital gains. 

Income resulting from auctions akin to an occasional garage sale is generally not required to be reported.  However, if an online garage sale turns into a business with recurring sales and purchasing of items for resale, it may be considered an online auction business (limited-edition prints? jodibands?).  Some people sell a product or a service online as a hobby. This income generally must be reported and deductible expenses are limited.  

There you have it. I'd be curious to know if Jodi Arias has filed tax returns for the years of 2008 through 2013. Inmates are not exempt from filing tax returns when they have taxable income just because they are incarcerated. She most certainly has taxable income.  The real problem is that Arias has been allowed to run amok unchallenged for the last 5 years while her legal drama was waiting to unfold.  Although it would be difficult to get an exact accounting of how much money has been donated to Jodi Arias and then siphoned off to her family or friends, a good forensic accountant should be able to track the items that have been sold online.  Arias' inability to keep her pie-hole shut will ultimately be her undoing. She has been publicly advertising what's up for sale in a very public way via Twitter and her various websites. 

In a previous post, I was able to make an educated guess about how many limited edition prints of her Picasso Calla Lillies and Sailing at Sunset she has sold by simply noting how many her site say remain for sale. She had 100 of each originally @ $39.00 a piece.  Today, her site says there are still 66 limited edition prints of her "Sailing at Sunset" and 89 "Picasso Calla Lillies" up for sale. A little basic math tells us that she's sold 34 of one and only 11 of the other, or a total of 45 at $39.00 each.  That's $1,755.00 for this venture alone, and we know there was a flurry of art sales on eBay before they shut down the sales due to public outrage.  We all know she's taken in thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, all the while claiming she lacks the funds to file for bankruptcy or help pay for her own legal fees. This woman has got nerve.

The donations she receives to her commissary account have undoubtedly kept her well fed and well read during her stay at Sheriff Joe's place. It seems to me that Arizona needs to amend their Son of Sam laws to account for the likes of Jodi Arias, a name that meant little until June 9, 2008 when Travis Alexander was found murdered in his own home. I have faith that the Alexander family will file a wrongful death suit against Arias once the criminal proceedings have concluded. My fear is that Arias has a huge head start in hiding this money, or diverting it to a irrevocable trust that nobody can touch or funneling it through family or friends on the outside. This is exploitation and pure greed as Arias strikes while the iron is hot.  

But all things must come to an end, and Jodi Arias' days in the Estrella jail are numbered.  Her sentencing retrial date is approaching and with any luck there will be no more delays.  Travis Alexander would have been 36 years old had he not met Jodi Arias. He may have had a wife and children by now, and there's no telling what he may have accomplished with his life. Jodi Arias' own words came back to bite her once before, with her "no jury will convict me" prediction before her trial.  I hope she keeps posting comments online, they prove she was operating a business and has taxable income that she probably hasn't paid taxes on or reported. The totality of her words and her actions show absolutely zero remorse or humility, just pure greed and a lust for infamy.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Jury Selection Begins March 17 - Jodi Arias Penalty Phase Re Trial

Jodi Arias' defense team lobbied for a delay before beginning her sentencing phase re trial and it looks like they what they wanted. It's hard to believe the re trial was originally supposed to begin in July of 2013!  After months of near silence out of the Maricopa County courtroom where attorneys and Judge Stephens have been meeting in closed door sessions, a date has finally been announced to begin jury selection and get this trial going again.

It looks like March 17th is the date folks, but this trial will be a lot different than trial #1 where we could watch it in real time as the testimony unfolded. There will be no live television coverage in the rematch, and it remains unclear how the media will handle covering the conclusion of one of the most sensational trials Arizona has seen.  I've got to believe that Jodi Arias herself will miss the cameras in the courtroom watching her every move.  As hard as Nurmi & Willmott pushed to ban live coverage, Jodi Arias remains in the public eye through her social media shout outs and the many websites she runs from the Estrella jail complex. How will she handle being just another criminal defendant in a courtroom?

You know this has to be a blow to her ego. She has become quite accustomed to the attention she has received, the good the bad and the ugly.  She seems oblivious to the fact that she is facing life in prison or a death sentence as she continues to peddle her wares and fund raise for her expected appeals.  It will be interesting to see Kirk Nurmi and Jennifer Willmott's demeanor when they get back to the courtroom.  Arias has publicly slammed attorney Kirk Nurmi and his treatment of her and his insensitivity towards her feelings.  We can already see the writing on the wall in that Arias will argue ineffective assistance of council, perhaps she forgot how hard she lobbied to keep Nurmi on her case when he went into private practice before the trial began?  I personally am looking forward to the resolution of this case once and for all.  

It's 2014 for God's sake - Travis Alexander would be 36 years old if he were still alive.  He might have been married with children by 2014 had he been given the opportunity to break away from Jodi Arias. There's no telling the things he may have accomplished in the past 6 years.  When I hear former Arias juror Diane Swartz talking about how certain jurors believed Jodi Arias had a difficult childhood and a not-so-great family life as a mitigating factor in favor of giving her life, it really makes me wonder why those same jurors don't feel for Travis' truly appalling and tragic childhood.  He didn't use his upbringing as a crutch or an excuse, instead he used it for motivation.  Why is that so hard to see?  How does Jodi's upbringing as a mitigating factor outweigh the aggravating circumstance of how absolutely brutal this murder was? How terrifying it must have been for Travis Alexander, who fought for his life and tried to escape Jodi on his hands and knees down that hallway - only to have his neck slashed and a gunshot to the face? I don't understand how anything about Jodi Arias' upbringing or how Travis may have treated her comes close to mitigating the method in which she butchered this man.

Add to the non-mitigation of the case the perjured testimony and the lies Arias told to law enforcement during the course of the investigation and I don't see how this isn't a death verdict unless you are just an anti death penalty juror. Judgement day for Ms. Arias is coming, and it will get a lot closer when March 17th rolls around.  So what does Juan Martinez have to do differently to get through to this jury?  He has to hammer home how absolutely brutal of a murder this was. He has to demonstrate that Travis was completely ambushed in that shower stall.  He has to drive home the fact that Jodi sentenced Travis to death and carried out his execution without the benefit of any type of trial. She knew what she was doing, and she brought the murder weapon with her. The idea that Travis would be enraged by the dropping of his camera is ridiculous - she destroyed his BMW and didn't body slam her for that. Travis needs to be humanized in that court room. He was trashed so badly during the first trial and if you recall the prosecution wrapped up their case fairly quick. The remaining months became the Jodi Show. Do not give her the same opportunity to let jurors develop a bond with her.

No doubt, Jodi Arias has been sitting in her jail cell fine tuning her story. Thanks to all of the books and magazines people are sending her she has probably studied her Psychology Today for information that could help her. She is cunning, and I believe she will do or say anything to keep herself off of Death Row - I think she actually can see herself walking out of that prison some day. The State of Arizona has the death penalty, to be used for the worst of the worst murders. For murders committed in a cruel, depraved or heinous manner. Whether or not you agree with the death penalty, those jurors have to follow the law. Is this a death penalty worthy murder? If not, what does a death penalty murder look like?

Garfield Allen Arrested After Cold Justice Heads To Altus

The premiere of Cold Justice aired last night, and the first case profiled for Season 2 has already netted an arrest warrant on a 13 year old cold case. This is great for TNT and producer Dick Wolf, but it's even better for the family of Tracy Allen.  27 year old Tracy Allen vanished in May of 2001, leaving her two young daughters with her next door neighbor while she went to talk to her ex husband Garland Allen. She was never seen alive again.  Garland Allen told friends and family various stories about what happened to Tracy the last night she was seen alive, but he basically said that Tracy left with a boyfriend and left her kids behind.  This is a story nobody really believed, but without evidence that a crime had been committed police had little to go on.

Garland Allen had a history of domestic abuse with Tracy, and people who knew Tracy say she'd never have left her daughters to be with another man. That May night in 2001, a neighbor watched Tracy's two small daughters Rainey and Stormy - when Tracy hadn't come home she took the kids to her house next door so they could sleep. Garland Allen showed up at 3:00AM to get the children and when the neighbor asked where Tracy was, he told her that their vehicle had gotten stuck in the mud and Tracy was taking a bath because she had gotten muddy. She didn't buy that story, so the next day she went next door to check on Tracy and she wasn't there. There were no signs that she had taken a bath or shower, and there were no muddy clothes or towels in the house. Her belongings were still there. It didn't look like she had planned on being gone for a long period of time.

Garland Allen picked up his kids around 3:00AM and took them to his mothers house, telling her that Tracy left with her boyfriend and left the kids behind. He took off for some period of time and when he returned he was disheveled and was acting strangely. I think Garland's mother knew in her heart that he had done something bad, but she was actually afraid of him too. She later told law enforcement that he had a look on his face that she had never seen before when he came back early that morning. For some reason, Tracy Allen was not even reported as missing until 2002.  For the next 12 years, Garland Allen told his two daughters that their mother had left them for another man - a black man.  Garland Allen was said to have been a racist, in addition to being a wife beater.  Tracy's friends say she had been dating a black man, but his identity was unknown to the police who later investigated the theory.

When the Cold Justice team rolled into Altus, they had no body, no crime scene and no evidence that a crime had even taken place.  All they had was a suspicious disappearance and an ex husband with a violent past and a whole lot of unanswered questions.  They interviewed family and friends of both Tracy and Garland. It quickly became apparent that Garland's story of what happened the night Tracy disappeared did not add up.  One witness told the police that shortly after Tracy vanished, Garland abruptly moved out of the mobile home he had been renting - when they went to clean up the place there was a large square of carpet that was missing from the center of the room.  Allen reportedly said "sorry about the mess, shit got out of hand", or something to that effect.  Working with local police, the team then began to try to determine who the unknown black man was that Tracy was reportedly dating. They had to find out who he was in order to rule him in or rule him out. They came up with a name, and although the man is now deceased they were able to verify he was in jail during the time Tracy vanished.  That ruled him out, it also proved that Garland's story of Tracy driving off with her boyfriend was a lie.

Tracy and Garland's daughters were interviewed two years after their mother's disappearance by the police. The interviews were tape recorded, and after some digging around they were able to get their hands on the tapes.  What 5 year old Rainey said on the tape blew the case wide open. She was asked a series of questions about her family.  When asked about mother, Rainey said that her mommy was rolled up in the carpet, with a towel around her head - and then she was put in the ditch.  When they asked her who rolled her mother up in the carpet, she said "daddy".  The tape was heartbreaking to hear, the honest words of a 5 year old girl who had obviously been witness to her mother's death at the hands of her father. The story was spot on, corroborated by the missing carpet at Garland's trailer - they were building a strong circumstantial case against Garland Allen.  The Cold Justice team headed to Texas where Garland, Rainey and Stormy were now living and under the ruse of asking him to come to the police station to retrieve some of his stolen property that had been recovered, they caught him completely off guard and he had no time to try and remember the story he had told Altus police in 2001.

When Garland Allen entered the police station in Texas, he was accompanied by his second ex-wife and his now teen aged daughter Rainey. Garland found himself face to face with Altus police detectives and a fresh round of questioning about the night Tracy disappeared. At first he stuck to his original story, that she had taken off and left the kids behind. When confronted with the question about the carpet that was removed, he tried to say he was just changing the carpet and didn't have time to remove it all. This sounded so completely ridiculous you could almost see the wheels turning in Garland's head while they were questioning him. He continued to deny having anything to do with Tracy's disappearance.  In another room at the station, police were talking to Rainey. They asked her if she knew what happened to her mother, she had been told for years that her mother basically chose another man over her kids. She seemed bitter towards her mom, very sad that Garland did this to his own daughters.

When they played the tape recording of that 2003 interview and she heard her own voice as a child, she seemed genuinely shocked at the content and what she had told the police about what happened to her mother. Had she blocked it all out over the years because it was too painful of a memory? Once she heard that tape, you could tell that her world would never be the same because she did love her father - the man who killed her mother and rolled her up in carpet and threw her in a ditch.  The Altus PD took their case to the DA and an arrest warrant was issued for Garland Paul Allen for second degree murder. When the police went to arrest Garland, they were too late - he was on the run. The police went to Garland's ex wife who was caring for Rainey and Stormy and Rainey was able to get her father on the phone. She told him the police were looking for him, he simply said "I know pumpkin". Rainey begged him to turn himself in, he insisted he didn't do anything to Tracy. Garland spoke to the police, who told him that if he turned himself in, they would let him visit with Rainey before they booked him. He said he'd be at the police station in an hour. He was a no-show.

Garland was eventually apprehended after a brief police chase. When detectives questioned him this time about what happened to Tracy he finally admitted that something happened the night she went missing. He told the detectives that they had been arguing and he pushed her and she fell down the front steps and hit her head. Why do killers always try to minimize their actions when they finally confess? It seems in more cases than not, they try to turn their murderous actions into an accident or self defense. In the end, Garland Allen led the police to Tracy's burial site. At least Tracy's mother has some closure in finally knowing what happened to her daughter and having her remains back. What a tragic story for these two daughters who lived with their mother's murderer for all of these years, and even worse - they were told that their mother basically abandoned them for another man. I can't think of a more hurtful lie.  I hope Garland Allen rots in jail for a very very long time. He thought he could just erase Tracy's existence and that nobody would miss her?  Think again.  Way to go Kelly, Yolanda, and detective Allen Brown. 

One of the things I really love about this show is how much these people seem to care about the work they are doing. It seems clear to me that Kelly Siegler and Yolanda McCleary aren't doing this show to become big stars or to launch their acting careers. They care about these murder victims. And there is something so humble and real about Kelly Siegler - in addition to being a ferocious former prosecutor, she shows a very human side on this show. In last night's episode, she revealed that she was a witness to domestic violence and abuse when she was growing up with her mother and an abusive stepfather.  She's a self-made success story and I really admire her for all she's accomplished and how much she seems to care about crime victims. You rock Kelly! Although it's unrealistic to think that every episode will nab a killer, it's a fascinating look into how a criminal investigation works and the problems unique in solving cold cases.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cold Justice Helps Nab Killer of Tracy Lynn Allen - UPDATE

**UPDATE**
TNT's Cold Justice is set to open Season 2 next Friday, and the first case they are airing has already nabbed the suspected killer of Tracy Lynn Allen, who went missing in Altus Oklahoma back in May of 2001.  Allen's ex-husband Garland Allen, who was still at large when I first wrote about this case has been caught and arrested - charged with second degree murder of his ex-wife Tracy Lynn Allen.  Garland Allen, who had always denied any involvement in Tracy's disappearance - telling family, friends and the police that his wife ran off with another man, leaving her two children behind finally led investigators to Tracy's remains once he was captured. By the way, these men may want to use a different lie to try to hide a wife or girlfriend's sudden disappearance. The old "ran off with another man" story rarely rings true, especially when the woman has two children she would  never leave behind.
Garland Allen

Apprehended in Wise County, Allen told detectives that Tracy died after falling and hitting her head on an anvil in the yard. He said that he then took her body, wrapped it in a piece of carpeting and buried it in the woods at the Tom Steed reservoir near Altus.  Working with investigators in Wise County, Allen led police to the area where Tracy's remains were finally located.  A 12 year old mystery has been solved.  I don't know how much stock police are putting into Allen's claim of how Tracy died. At the time that Tracy vanished, she had a protective order against Garland Allen and it appears she truly had reason to fear her ex.  Allen was captured in early December after a brief time on the run.  The Cold Justice team of Kelly Siegler, Yolanda McCleary and Alan Brown teamed up with Altus police detectives Bill Perkins and Rusty Williams and Altus Police Chief Tim Murphy to re-examine the evidence and do some DNA testing which wasn't available back in 2001 when this crime occurred.

It will be very interesting to see Episode 1 of Cold Justice to see how they unraveled this 12 year old mystery and catch Tracy Lynn's killer. We'll have to tune in on Friday and watch the case as it unfolds!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Arias Hawking Wristbands For Appellate Costs

Just when I thought I couldn't be more disgusted with the dollars Jodi Arias is attempting to take from the public, she comes up with another money making scheme.  The latest is in the form of a white rubber wristband, and for $25.00 you too can have one and show your support for this convicted murderer.  Sold "exclusively" on Jodispage.com, these are the same style wristbands made popular by people such as Lance Armstrong and are now sold to support causes such as breast cancer research and the like.

From her website:

Jodi’s right to a fair trial has been taken from her. Our justice system has failed her and the result is a wrongful conviction that now must be appealed. Jodi Arias Support Wristbands are now being offered exclusively through this website. They are a symbol of our love and support for her and a way in which we can help raise money for her appeal. All of the proceeds from the sale of these wristbands will be deposited into the JAA Appellate Fund. Every purchase is then, in essence, a pledge of $25 towards the fight for Jodi’s freedom. If you believe in her, then fight for her.


Wow. Why does she keep calling this a wrongful conviction?  Her right to a fair trial has been taken from her? There are so many contradictions in her pleas to the public that I can't begin to list them.  One thing seems crystal clear - she wants your money, and perhaps her original artwork, limited edition prints and Survivor t-shirts aren't selling as well as she thought it would.  This is just disgusting.  Let's get the penalty retrial going and ship Ms. Arias off to prison where she so richly deserves to be.  Seems to me she's gotten very comfortable living rent free at the Maricopa County jail.  Isn't jail supposed to be punishment?  

Somebody please make it stop!  Ms. Arias continues to use Twitter as her medium to announce her latest venture, the wristbands:  "to raise funds for appellate costs, wristbands (or "Jodisbands" as many people are calling them) are being sold at ........"posted Jan 2  and "They read "Justice4Jodi.com" and "Free Jodi"....also posted Jan 2.  

Uuumghh.  I hate to be the one to burst her bubble, but the chances of "Free Jodi" happening is less than ZERO.  Would you want your son, brother or friend to date this woman?  I know she would like us all to believe the killing of Travis was a one-time heat of the moment event, brought on by months of emotional, sexual and physical trauma and that she's not a real danger to society. Sorry, I don't buy into this way of thinking.  Thankfully most of us would never ever harm another human being in the way she stabbed, sliced, shot and tortured Travis Alexander.  She lost her right to freedom the moment she decided to ambush Travis in that shower stall.

There are not enough wristbands in the world to "Free Jodi". Note to Internal Revenue Service:  please audit this inmate!