July 13, 2007

Getting Away with Murder

If you want to get away with murder, all you have to do is commit the crime in Russellville, Arkansas.

Russellville is a small town that sits on the Arkansas River approximately 75 miles northwest of Little Rock. Being a small town, Russellville doesn’t have a lot of major crime; however, the police department has plenty of cops around just in case. This can be evidenced by the fact that every time someone rolls through a stop sign or doesn’t signal properly, there are usually 3-5 Russellville police vehicles, complete with K-9 unit, on the scene in a jiffy. Apparently, it takes one officer to hold the ticket book, one officer to put Grandma through 30 minutes of field sobriety tests, one officer to watch the dog sniff around Grandma's trunk for cocaine, and between one and two officers to put the fear of God into Grandma so she comes to a complete stop in the future. Too bad the Russellville Police Department isn’t as diligent when a resident is murdered.

In December of 2005, Nona Dirksmeyer, a 19 year old college student was murdered in her Russellville, Arkansas apartment. According to reports, Nona had been strangled, stabbed, and then bludgeoned on the back of the head with the base of a lamp. The blows from the lamp caused the fatality. Nona was found by her boyfriend, Kevin Jones, his friend Ryan Whiteside, and Kevin’s mother. The trio went to the apartment after Kevin couldn’t get in touch with Nona after repeated attempts.

Some six or seven months later, Kevin Jones was arrested for the murder of Dirksmeyer. The key piece of evidence against him was a bloody palm print found on the shade of the lamp used as the murder weapon. Jones claimed that he never touched the lamp after discovering Nona’s body; however, he was found straddling her and he was covered in blood when the EMT workers arrived on the scene.

Jones’ trial began this week in Ozark, Arkansas after a change of venue request was granted to the defense. There have only been a few witnesses called to the stand so far, but I believe the defense already has the case locked in their favor after only three days of testimony.

Here is what has been stated so far:

· According to the Detective Sgt. that worked at the scene, the RPD has no procedure for preservation of evidence from a crime scene and no procedure for preservation of the crime scene itself.

· Police never requested to search Jones’ vehicle for blood or DNA evidence, because they figured if he did kill her that he wouldn't have had "much" blood on him. Obviously these dorks don't watch Cold Case Files. It only takes a drop.

· Dirksmeyer’s cell phone was found on the kitchen floor with the battery missing. The phone was never tested for fingerprints or DNA and was released to Dirksmeyer’s father before any arrests were made.

· An officer testified that he didn’t bother getting prints from the phone, because it was not collected into evidence until the following day, and another officer had picked up the phone and placed it on the kitchen table. It was assumed the officer that picked up the phone was not wearing gloves and would have compromised any prints.

· Jones’ house was never searched.

· Jones had no cuts or abrasions that would have likely resulted from the struggle.

· Two cups with straws found in the bathroom trash of Dirksmeyer’s apartment were never collected and tested for DNA, because the officer assumed they had been used by Dirksmeyer and Jones.

· A condom wrapper was found that contained male DNA not belonging to Jones.

· Piece of a finger nail found in the carpet by the defense contained male DNA not belonging to Jones. (Why didn’t the police find it first?)

· No DNA has been collected from anyone other than Jones and Dirksmeyer.

· Fingerprints were found on the base of the lamp that was used as the murder weapon. One officer testified that the prints were not usable for comparison to other finger prints; however, it was determined that the prints did not belong to Jones. Huh? Didn't the prints on the lamp have to be COMPARED to Jones' in order to determine they weren't his? In any case, the RPD did not collect fingerprints from other people questioned.

How pathetic. I think the prosecution should just go ahead and drop their case now. Jones may have killed Dirksmeyer, but it will not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt as required for a conviction. Not only was the investigation botched, but the prosecuting attorney -- whose primary experience is busting people for writing hot checks -- is going up against a defense attorney that graduated from Harvard Law School. Good luck with that, Mr. Gibbons.

The truly sad thing is that the person that killed this young girl, whether it's Jones or someone else, will probably never be brought to justice. Whatever evidence existed has been lost forever. I assumed most police departments would have put procedures in place to prevent this type of fiasco after the OJ Simpson trial. I'm sure some places have, but not in Russellville, Arkansas.

So, yes, you can get away with murder in Russellville, Arkansas. Just make sure you obey the traffic laws , and don't write any bad checks.


At 7/17/2007 6:08 AM, Blogger K. Buckhill said...

I think this problem would occur in many towns like Russellville across America. The problem is that the police forces probably assume that they would never have to deal with homicide--the "I can't believe it happened in my town" syndrome--and don't have the proper protocols in place to secure the crime scene, collect evidence, etc. It does sound like the haphazard, botched Simpson/Goldberg crime scene investigation, which was more shocking because the police force of a major city which experiences double to triple digit homicides per year f*ed up so terribly, in a downright comical manner! One would think, however, that at least one of those R-ville cops would have some common sense in that case, but to no avail... You are right that her family will probably not see justice served in this case.

At 8/01/2007 5:58 AM, Blogger Arkytam said...

I live in Arkansas and I enjoyed your post...but, it saddens me to no end that because of the policeman's ignorance this Jones boy was probably innocent and the real killer has gone free. Not only that, this Jones boy will probably have to move in order to ever have a chance at some kind of life...Here everyone will think of him as the guy who got away with killing Nona?? How is he supposed to ever succeed in life with that tag hanging around his neck.

At 8/01/2007 6:02 AM, Blogger Arkytam said...

I am from Arkansas and I really enjoyed your comments. I don't know what saddens me more, that Nona was killed, that the killer will never be caught or that this Jones boy is going to have to move to have some kind of chance at life. How is he supposed to succeed here with 1/2 the people thinking he is some kind of killer? This story is just sad on 1000 fronts.


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