Perhaps this is the moment to step away from the rapid fire culture of fast food/internet media for a minute, or two. Indeed, sometimes it is best to look back at the progress, or lack there of, we've made regarding past outrages rather than focusing on the never ending blizzard of new ones.
In the fall of 2011 animal control officers were rummaging through a field behind a Bethany, OK Homeland Grocery Store. They were looking for feral cats. What they found was a duffel bag filled with the dismembered remains of Carina Saunders.
The nature of the crime was cinema worthy horrific and its back story was so luridly tragic that both the local and national press immediately saw its worth in terms of newspaper sales and TV ratings. For weeks they ran wild with it, while all but ignoring the brutal murders of two other local young women which occurred shortly after Ms. Saunders' body was recovered.
The suburban Bethany police force, numbering less than 40 officers and existing mainly to hand out traffic tickets and make an occasional home burglary investigation, dove straight into the Carina Saunders' case without a net. Apparently the working theory was that the sooner someone was nailed to the wall for the crime, the quicker book and movie deals could be signed and everyone would get a big, sweet, payday.
The investigation was so driven by ego and incompetence that within a month, or two the quickest way to have your name show up on the front page of the metro's daily paper, "The Oklahoman," was to become either a suspect, or confidential informant for the Bethany cops.
To no one's surprise, once their names hit the news, all those informants began changing their stories, denying they'd ever told them, or started leaving the area for parts unknown.
In the end, the police charged Jimmy Lee Massey and Luis Ruiz with Saunders' murder. The intense hubris of the cops proved costly. The evidence against the pair proved so unreliable that seven long months later not only had the Bethany police withdrawn from the investigation, but prosecutors were letting Ruiz walk out of the county lock up as free as a bird, while Massey remained there on separate charges.
A couple of days ago, The Oklahoman's Jennifer Palmer wrote that last month, Ruiz and the City of Bethany came to an out of court cash settlement over the charges and his incarceration. Ruiz had sued, claiming false arrest and imprisonment, plus malicious prosecution.
According to Palmer, Ruiz filed statements saying investigators ignored his alibi and had used, "exploitative and abusive," interview techniques to coerce Massey into not only confessing but implicating him. Ruiz also accused the police of altering reports when the local DA began questioning their investigation.
Despite all the egregious behavior, Bethany got off on the cheap. Palmer reported Ruiz, decided that his seven months spent wrongly accused and imprisoned in the county slammer, were only worth $50,000. Actually less, since it figures his attorney is going to pocket anywhere from 20 to 30% of that sum.
One can only speculate why Brother Ruiz was willing to let the city off the hook, although we might have a hint, or two. Palmer also reported that shortly after the 50 grand total was agreed to he was stopped by the OKC cops for having a busted tail light on his car. Police allege Luis Ruiz was found to be intoxicated and in possession of six grams of meth, a glass pipe, and a loaded syringe. He is currently out on bail. It isn't the first time he has run into some sort of trouble since he was sprung thanks to Bethany's legendary detective work.
Yes, when it comes to a firm offer of cash, sometimes it is best not to push your luck. Especially if it's certain your personal character and behavior will be spelled out to a jury, possibly filled with hard eyed Trump types, who, based solely on your name, don't like you to begin with.
Palmer wrote that the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, who is in charge of the Saunders' murder investigation, still considers the case open and active, but refuses to comment on it.
Kelsey Bransby was found shot and dying in a south side apartment shortly after Carina Saunders' body was discovered. It turned out two of her friends were involved. They claimed the shooting was an accident and because of a drug induced panic they fled the scene. Danielle Cooley got 25 years probation, which she quickly violated, and the actual trigger man, Cole Hopper went away for nine years.
Alina Fitzpatrick's nude body was found in an empty lot in northeast OKC during November that year. As soon as the local police found out she had a large amount of meth in her system they appeared to lose all interest in finding her killer, or killers. Her death remains classified as, "suspicious," rather than a homicide, despite numerous bruises and scrapes on her body, and a gag found stuffed in her mouth.
A fourth woman, Jaymie Adams disappeared in December 2011. Her body was found in far southeast OKC a month later. After another, quite public, long and winding trail led to a dead end, a man named Joseph Cyr was finally charged with her murder. His trial has been delayed numerous times, the latest being a couple of weeks ago, when his attorney fell ill the evening after jury selection took place.
So now, nearly five years after the fact, we see local police and prosecutors are 1 for 3, with one case pending when it comes to solving capital crimes. We also find the media is 2 and 4 when it comes to covering them.
Yeah, there might not be any Professor Moriarty's in the world, but there certainly aren't any Sherlock Holmes, Jack McCoy's, or Edward R. Murrow's either.
And--as that grim reality sets in--let's get back to the selective hysteria du jour.
On to South Carolina.