Appellate Arguments heard in the Leila Fowler Murder Case.

On the afternoon of January 23, 2018 a three judge panel of the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District for the State of California heard oral arguments on an appeal filed by attorney Marcia Levine on behalf of Isiah Fowler.  In the fall of 2015, Isiah (who was 12 years old at the time of the April, 2013 murder) was convicted of killing his 8 year old sister Leila.

The focus of Tuesday’s hearing was whether or not the 12 year old defendant’s constitutional rights to a Miranda warning were violated by Calaveras County Sheriffs and the F. B. I.  The appellant’s argument was that the trial court erred in determining whether or not a custodial setting existed in the four different times Isiah was questioned.  The trial court essentially looked at the various situations from the viewpoint of whether an adult would feel that he or she felt free to end questioning and leave versus whether a 12 year old would feel the same way.  This concern was amplified because Isiah’s father was in the room during the emotional fourth interrogation with the County Sheriff’s investigators and an F. B. I. agent, trying to get Isiah to confess.

Levine worked with the trial attorneys, Mark Reichel and Steve Plesser, whose efforts leading up to and during the trial to raise the custodial interrogation issues and preserve them for appeal were crucial to arriving at this hearing.

I was fortunate enough to be in court Tuesday with Reichel, Plesser and Isiah’s father, step mother and older brother and sister.  We were all surprised by how sympathetic the panel was to the appellant’s position.  The result was that we left the court with a sense of guarded optimism that the court may rule to remand the case to the Calaveras County District Attorney who will decide on whether to retry the case, offer a deal or dismiss the charges all together.

Based on the fact that the Appellate Court had a draft of their position drafted prior to the hearing, a final decision is expected to be released within the month.  The substance of that decision will be posted here as soon as it becomes available.

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Arrests finally made in the murder of Dorothy Wiederrich.

74 year old Dorothy Wiederrich was bound and stabbed to death in her Lodi home on February 12, 2016.  Later that year Alan Gregor was also stabbed to death in his home located less than a mile from the Wiederrich residence.   Kenneth Vanderford, 52 and Kevin Etherton, 26, both from Stockton, were initially arrested for the Gregor murder after a police photo of a pickup truck, believed to be the murderers escape vehicle, was identified.

My investigation into the crimes found that one of Dorothy Wiederrich’s relatives identified the truck as one that Wiederrich purchased for the boyfriend/husband of her housekeeper.  That person was Kenneth Vanderford.  Vanderford and Etherton were arrested for the Gregor killing about a year ago and will be arraigned in the Wiederrich case February 13 on the two year anniversary of her death.

I investigated both murders, interviewing relatives and neighbors, in the hope that these apparently random stabbing murders in which the killers got into and out of the victims’ home without being seen or heard, might lead me to the real killer of Leila Fowler.

At this point it seems unlikely that either Vanderford or Etherton was involved in the Fowler case.  I say that because I hope that Vanderford and Etherton’s DNA was run through the CODIS data base and did not match the unidentified male DNA found on Leila Fowler’s body.

The following link is for an article on the arrests in the Wiederrich case that appeared in the Lodi Sentinel.

http://www.lodinews.com/news/article_684ef0da-0197-11e8-ba09-53a7f44ff5ff.html

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FBI releases composite sketches in the Sheri Papini kidnapping case.

The FBI just released these sketches for the two women who allegedly kidnapped Sheri Papini while she was out on a run in Shasta County on November 2, 2016.  Ms. Papini was found weeks later bound to a post on the side of a road in Yolo County.

Ms. Papini was reported missing by her husband who tracked her cell phone to a location where her phone and the ear buds were neatly placed on the ground.  The cord for the buds was coiled up and stacked on the phone.

The presence of masks on the sketches of the two suspects certainly makes a positive identification more difficult, but if you have any information to share, please contact the authorities as instructed in the FBI release.

Papini_2017-10-25-10-47-01 (1)

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The Shrinking Pool of Public Information

The Shrinking Pool of Public Information.
 
Today I went down the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Warrants Office to learn if there were any outstanding warrants for particular individual. I was politely told by the clerk that I could only have the information if I was the person in question or accompanied by the person in question.
 
Meanwhile in Tuolomne County, not only is that kind of information readily accessible by the public, it is available on line with mugshots.
 
What is it that the Sacramento County Sheriff hopes to accomplish by severely limiting this kind of information?

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Arrest made in the Andrea St. John Murder

A series of murders that appear to be connected took place in Lodi and Castro Valley from February through December of 2016.  The three deaths were all by stabbing, neighbors did not see anyone enter or leave the victims’ homes nor did they hear anything to alert them that an attack was taking place.

As written about earlier, the first victim was Dorothy Wiederrich of Lodi on 2/13/16.  The second victim was Alan Karl Gregor, also of Lodi on 9/25/16 and the third victim was Andrea St. John of Castro Valley. St. John was killed on 12/13/16.  All were over 50 years of age.  All were stabbed to death.  All were the victims of a robbery.  In the case of the Gregor and St. John murders their homes were set on fire in an apparent attempts to destroy evidence.

In January of this year, authorities announced the arrest of Kenneth Vanderford, 51, and Kevin Etherton, 25, both from Stockton for the murder of Alan Gregor. (See the photos below.)  This weekend the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) announced the arrest of Luckie Dacanay, also of Stockton for the murder of Andrea St. John.  (See the photo below.) According to the ACSO, St. John was tortured and killed before her house was set on fire.  At the time of his arrest, the alleged killer was in already in San Joaquin County Jail for child molestation, although his name does not yet appear on the California Registered Sex Offenders web site.

Amazingly, neither of these cases has lead to an arrest in the Wiederrich case.  The cases may be unrelated, but sources inform us that there are some connections between Vanderford and Wiederrich.  According to news reports, Dacanay has confessed to the St.John killing.

If anyone saw any of these men in the area of 2315 Woodlake Circle, Lodi, CA on or about 2/13/17 or Valley Springs, CA on or about 4/27/13 please contact me or the San Joaquin County or Calaveras County Sheriffs’ offices.

Screen Shot 05-09-17 at 02.55 PM 001Kenneth Vanderford

(Courtesy Sacramento Bee)

Screen Shot 05-09-17 at 02.55 PM

Kevin Etherton

(Courtesy Sacramento Bee)

Screen Shot 05-09-17 at 02.58 PM

Luckie Dacanay

(Courtesy East Bay Times)

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The use of lie detector tests seemed slanted in favor of law enforcement.

I read an article in today’s Sacramento Bee about the Sherri Papini kidnapping case out of Shasta County. (http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article141599034.html) According to the Bee’s article, Papini’s husband Keith was cleared as a suspect when he passed a lie detector test.

A year and a half or so earlier, Isiah Fowler also passed a lie detector test, arranged for by his defense team of Mark Reichel and Steve Plesser.  I was their investigator.  The test was administered by an individual who actually trains the F. B. I.  Calaveras County chose not to accept the results and instead relied on analysis techniques that were deemed inaccurate more than 10 years ago.

It appears that law enforcement gets to utilize polygraph tests only when convenient for them to do so.

 

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Arrests made in one of the Lodi, CA stabbing murders, but nothing new in the earlier case.

On Friday,January 13, 2017, the Lodi Sentinel reported that Lodi Police arrested Kenneth Vanderford, 51, and Kevin Etherton, 25, on suspicion of murder, burglary and arson with great bodily harm in the stabbing death of Alan Karl Gregor Jr. on September 25, 2016.  This is the murder that was discovered when the Lodi Fire Department was called to extinguish a fire at Gregor’s home on Vine Street.

This means that the February 2016 stabbing of Dorothy Wiederrich remains unsolved.  A television story on KOVR in Sacramento, CA implied that there may have been unidentified DNA found at the Wiederrich crime scene.  Given that there was also unidentified male DNA found on the body of Leila Fowler I offered that DNA profile to the Lodi PD.  Sadly, I received a polite reply telling me there was no unidentified DNA found at the Wiederrich scene.

This makes me wonder if I asked the wrong question.  It is believed that the unidentified DNA found on Leila Fowler’s body is not in the national fingerprint and DNA database known as CODIS, because the source was not convicted of a qualifying felony.

Our concern is that the DNA found on Leila will not be compared to newer entries to CODIS unless a member of the Isiah Fowler defense team remains vigilant and keeps shaking the tree.  I did not ask the Lodi PD if they compared any DNA found at the Wiederrich crime scene to that found on Leila’s body, nor did they say whether or not they had done so of their own volition.

In the meantime, if anyone knows any members of Dorothy Wiederrich’s family, please have them contact me at info@johnkennedyinvestigations.com or (916) 487-1670.

 

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