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  1. #1
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    Heather Coffin

    Speaking of cases with interesting parallelsÖ

    http://www.northeasttimes.com/2003/0731/heather.html

    Sheehan pleads guilty to murder

    By Tom Waring
    Times Staff Writer

    Raymond Sheehan said he wished he could take back the morning of Feb. 16, 1987.
    That day, Sheehan walked into a Horrocks Street home and raped and strangled 10-year-old Heather Coffin.
    Sheehan, 38, got away with the crime until July 8 of this year. Almost immediately after his arrest, he confessed in a seven-page statement to homicide detectives.
    Last week, Sheehan pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, which carries an automatic sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole. In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty.
    "Allís I can do is apologize wholeheartedly," Sheehan said at his July 23 court hearing, adding that heíll try to atone for his crime.
    Coffinís family was not in a forgiving mood.
    "Let him rot," said Randall Coffin, Heatherís dad.
    The Coffins supported the death penalty immediately after Sheehan was arrested, but accepted the plea because the suspect would never be released from prison.
    Besides, no punishment would erase the painful memories of that February morning.
    "Itís not going to bring my sister back," Kim Coffin said.
    Sheehan, a 10th-grade dropout, worked for Randall Coffinís contracting business but lost his job because of a poor attitude.
    According to Sheehanís confession, he entered the Coffin house in Frankford through an unlocked door shortly after midnight "in a drug-induced cloud" because he believed Randall Coffin owed him money.
    Sheehan walked upstairs, entered Heatherís room and banged into a lamp.
    "Poor Heather woke up," he said in his confession.
    Heather, a fifth-grader at St. Martin of Tours, recognized Sheehan, and he choked her to put her back to sleep. But the girl kept waking up. Thatís when Sheehan raped and strangled her one final time.
    Randall Coffin denied he owed Sheehan money when he fired him, and the Coffin family remains angry that he would kill Heather during the attempted burglary.
    "Itís not the right way to get even," said Shawn Watson, Heatherís cousin.
    The rapist and murderer left a pubic hair and sperm on his victim, but DNA technology was not sophisticated enough at the time to tie Sheehan to the crime.
    The technology advanced over the years, with police saying the odds that someone other than Sheehan committed the crime were 1 in 740 million.
    Sheehan, of the 3400 block of Shelmire Ave. in Mayfair, waived his preliminary hearing on July 16, and the next court date was set for a week later ó an indication that he was likely to plea.
    At the July 23 court hearing, about 30 Coffin family members and friends were in attendance. A framed picture of Heather in her St. Martinís uniform sat on the desk of Assistant District Attorney Ed Cameron.
    No family or friends were there in support of Sheehan.
    Besides the murder plea, Sheehan pleaded guilty to rape. Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner, who labeled the crime an "unspeakable evil," tacked on 10 to 20 years for rape to the life sentence for murder.
    Watson, who was 14 at the time of the murder, said Sheehan robbed his family of innocence.

    Ö

    http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0307/08/se.10.html

    ...
    JOHNSON: The fact that DNA technology has caught up with our investigation is tremendous. CARROLL: Heather's sisters, then 7 and 4, were sleeping in the same room when she was killed. Today, they are relieved and feel their family has finally been vindicated.

    DANIELLE COFFIN, SISTER: My dad went through so much. Everybody saying that it was my dad. Everybody saying, when I would go to school, people saying, "Oh, yes, you're the sister that your dad killed your other sister."

    KIM COFFIN, SISTER: It's not anger, I don't think, now. I think everyone's relieved. It's just a matter of who did it, why they did it, and, I mean, what's he going to get for doing it?
    ...


  2. #2
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    There are no similarities between the Heather Coffin case and the JonBenet case.

    For starters, in the Heather Coffin case, there really was an intruder. He didn't feed Heather pineapple before he killed her. He raped her and left semen on her. He didn't leave a ransom note along with the body.

    imo

  3. #3
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    Thanks for bringing that story here. What a nightmare for that family! All these years go by, but finally advances in DNA nailed the real rapist/killer.

    I'm convinced that one day the same kind of resolution to the Ramsey case will be in the news.

  4. #4
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    Actually I can see some similarities.

    1. A young girl was raped, strangled and murdered in her house at night.
    2. Her family were the only others known to be present
    3. Her body was found by her father.
    4. Her family was under an "umbrella of suspicion."
    5. No signs of forced entry.
    6. DNA samples were sent to the FBI in 1991 but no match was made because DNA testing wasn't advanced enough.

  5. #5
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    tipper, the similarities you listed are general, superficial and meaningless. For one thing, Heather and JonBenet aren't the only girls who have been strangled to death in their own homes, with only their families known to be present. Also, even if John Ramsey had actually FOUND JonBenet's body instead of knowing where it was all along, so what if it was the fathers who found the bodies? What's so significant about that? And so what if both sets of parents were suspects in their daughters deaths? That's par for the course in murder investigations. Family members must always be ruled out first. That there were no signs of forced entry in either case is not a big deal. That's not uncommon is such cases, and anyway, Lou Smit apparently still believes the Ramseys' phantom intruder gained entry by way of a broken basement window. As for the DNA, the samples in the JonBenet case were fragmented, degraded and unsourced, unlike the DNA in the Heather case, which came from fresh semen found on the body.

    Here are some very significant differences between the two cases:

    In the JonBenet case, there was a ransom note, even though JonBenet was killed and her body left in the house. Add to that, the note appears to have been written by Patsy Ramsey. Experts including David Liebman, former president of the National Association of Document Examiners, and Gideon Epstein, former director of the forensics unit of the documents lab at the Immigration and Naturalization Service are convinced beyond a doubt that Patsy penned it. (Check Shylock's posts for the link to her exemplars if you want to see the matches yourself.) No ransom note was left in the Heather case.

    Fibers consistent with fibers in John Ramsey's black wool shirt made in Israel were found in JonBenet's panties and in her crotch area. Fibers consistent with Patsy's jacket were found the paint tote and tied into the ligature used to strangle her. Your post didn't mention Heather's parents' clothing fibers being found in Heather's underwear, pubic area, or tied into the ligature. That reminds me...was she strangled manually, or with a ligature as JonBenet was? If Heather wasn't strangled with a ligature, that's another difference between the two cases.

    JonBenet was sexually molested, but not raped as Heather was, and no semen was found on JonBenet's body.

    imo

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by tipper
    Actually I can see some similarities.
    How long was the ransom note that was found?
    How long did it take the family to lawyer-up and refuse to cooperate with the police?
    Did the police overlook an older brother who probably committed the crime?

  7. #7
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    And here's the BIGGEST difference between the Coffin case and the Ramsey case ....

    >The rapist and murderer left a pubic hair and sperm on his victim, but DNA technology was not sophisticated enough at the time to tie Sheehan to the crime.<

    There was no pubic hair or sperm left on JonBenet.

    There was no rape.

    There was evidence of slight digital or object molestation, but not penetration by a male member.

    In addition ... Coffin's attacker did not hang around to practice and write a three page ransom note for a dead body.

    Face it ... the only reason the Ramsey note exists is to explain JonBenet's dead body in the Ramsey house. Rapists and murderers don't NEED to explain the dead bodies of their victims. What does it matter to them where they are found? They are out of there ... gone. A person OUTSIDE of the house does not care what is found inside.

    The explanation for JonBenet's dead body only mattered to three people ... John, Patsy and Burke Ramsey. They were in the house when the crime was committed. Only people INSIDE the house care what is found inside.




    IMO

  8. #8
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    The intruder in the Jonbenet case may have been very careful,likely aware of the newer technologies that could eventually link him,however he made a mistake he did leave behind hair and dna.

    IMO

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by tipper
    Actually I can see some similarities.

    1. A young girl was raped, strangled and murdered in her house at night.
    2. Her family were the only others known to be present
    3. Her body was found by her father.
    4. Her family was under an "umbrella of suspicion."
    5. No signs of forced entry.
    6. DNA samples were sent to the FBI in 1991 but no match was made because DNA testing wasn't advanced enough.
    AND YET...........Without lawyers and without leaving town and without all those other "necessary" things the Ramseys did, the parents did not go to jail, did not even go to a grand jury, did not go to trial, etc. How is that explained????????

    Of course Ivy and Cherokee summed the differences up way more eloquently than I would, but they are real and valid. Excellent Ivy and Cherokee.

    The other major difference in this case is that the Ramseys didn't kill Heather!
    This is my opinion only
    This post may not be copied to any other forum

    God Bless America

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cherokee
    ...
    There was no rape.

    There was evidence of slight digital or object molestation, but not penetration by a male member.


    ...


    IMO
    Colorado Uniform Crime Definitions:

    "Forcible Rape - Forcible rape is defined as any sexual penetration directed against another person (including oral, anal or by use of an object) against that personís will, regardless of the victimís age. (Colorado Uniform Crime Reporting Definition).Beginning in 1996, the definition of rape used by Colorado law enforcement agencies was changed to more closely match the Colorado Revised Statutes. As a result, the new definition is broader than the definition used by the FBI. Therefore, the total number of rape offenses may appear larger than the national average and the total number of Colorado statewide offenses reported in prior years."


  11. #11
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    Okay, tipper... have it your way. JonBenet was "raped," albeit gently, by either digital penetration or the insertion of the handle of an art brush, which caused a slight vaginal injury.

    imo

  12. #12
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    No problem. The idea that penile penetration is the only thing that qualifies as "real" rape is just one of my personal hot buttons. I agree that as rapes go this one was comparatively gentle. Though I'm sure if she was conscious, JonBenet didn't think so.

  13. #13
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    A tiny piece of birefringent foreign material found in JonBenet's vagina doesn't automatically mean that all, and perhaps none, of the injuries to the vagina were caused by the wooden stick.

    There's evidence, supported by medical experts, that strongly suggests JonBenet was entered by either a finger or a child's penis, and was the source of the acute injuries to the vagina.

    There was a small amount of bleeding at the 7 o'clock position of the vagina and this acute (new) injury was at the same 7 o'clock position as a chronic (old) injury that had eroded the epithenial (top) layer of tissue at that spot.

    In other words, what ever it was or who it was that caused the acute injury to the vagina on the night of the sexual assault, was also the likely source of the chronic injury that had been inflicted 2 or 3 days prior to the murder.

    JMO

  14. #14
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    Originally posted by BlueCrab
    There was a small amount of bleeding at the 7 o'clock position of the vagina and this acute (new) injury was at the same 7 o'clock position as a chronic (old) injury that had eroded the epithenial (top) layer of tissue at that spot.
    It seems to me that quite a while ago here at WS it was theorized that the 7 o'clock position of the injury and the chronic inflammation might be indicative of digital and/or object penetration by a right-handed person. I think the same person is responsible for both the acute injury and the chronic damage, but that the chronic damage was done with a finger and the acute injury was probably done with the paint stick. (As a BDIer, I don't think the vaginal injury was staging. I think it was the catalyst that led to JonBenet's death.)

    imo

  15. #15
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    BlueCrab and Ivy, I agree with both of you. The acute and prior injuries were caused by the same person and the acute injury was not staging, but was the trigger of the incident that ended in JB's death.
    The intruder is innocent! JMO

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