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  1. #31
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    Missouri Mule:

    I became a bit confused, myself, about the hearsay rule, after reading your post.
    I found this while looking up other cases of answering machine messages/hearsay rules:

    "...we also express our views that testimony concerning the content of the voice mail message is not barred by the best evidence rule (which does not apply to tape recordings, see Commonwealth v. Duhamel, 391 Mass. 841, 844 [1984]), and that Officer Hodson's testimony as to the content of the message was not hearsay, as the purpose for which it was offered related to the fact that it was made, and to whom, rather than to the truth of any matter asserted in it. See Commonwealth v. Sullivan, 410 Mass. 521, 526 (1991).(13)"

    Considering the above, I'm sure you're right in this case.

  2. #32
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    The principle of the hearsay rule, from what I can tell is that any "utterance" that is not made under oath or in a court sanctioned setting, does not meet the standard of "truthfulness" to be introduced as evidence. In this case, I believe that Jannelle could testify that she heard an obscene message and whether or not she recognized the voice but she could not disclose any details of the obscene message that suggest motive or details of the crime that might be "evidence". Normally, there is no issue of "truthfulness" in a "generic" obscene call, but if that call contained a detail, such as a "hatred of blondes", that might be excluded as hearsay.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by kemo View Post
    The principle of the hearsay rule, from what I can tell is that any "utterance" that is not made under oath or in a court sanctioned setting, does not meet the standard of "truthfulness" to be introduced as evidence. In this case, I believe that Jannelle could testify that she heard an obscene message and whether or not she recognized the voice but she could not disclose any details of the obscene message that suggest motive or details of the crime that might be "evidence". Normally, there is no issue of "truthfulness" in a "generic" obscene call, but if that call contained a detail, such as a "hatred of blondes", that might be excluded as hearsay.
    Thanks, Kemo - you've explained it a lot more succinctly than I could!

  4. #34
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    It's also pertinent to note that anyone in the house who picked up the phone, listened to or erased messages could state what he or she heard but there would be no objective evidence to support his or her account or testimony. That is no different than any other eye- or ear-witness account. It all depends on how much credibility one can accord the witness. For example, a husband (who has killed his wife) can have an accomplice call his home or cell from the wife's phone and then later make up the content of a call from the "wife." Or in another situation, an innocent witness might embellish or downplay information to keep some other misdeed a secret.

  5. #35
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    I really wrestle with the idea that Janelle and Janis heard a bunch of messages but weren't able to recall the content of them. Were they that poor with detail? I'd have to guess no. They must have been listening intently to whatever the messages said, as they were seeking important information and a critical time. I'd at least expect them to be able to offer some details.. but to go totally blank and have the messages completely disappear is a perfect storm.

  6. #36
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    If the messages were ordinary, like, don't forget the meeting tomorrow, I can see forgetting details, such as what meeting and where. And in Janis's case, the stress of having a missing child might make big gaps in short-term memory. But it is also worth noting that when listening to someone else's answering machine in someone else's house, one would expect a person to be very careful to list callers, etc., in the event that a message was accidentally erased.

  7. #37
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    What's there to say that every detail of every phone call is not known to SPD? Perhaps LE has told both Janelle and Janis McCall not to speak about the contents of the calls as I believe they did concerning the broken porch globe. SPD is under no obligation to inform the public. And obviously the information has not led anywhere since it has not helped to close this case in almost 19 yrs. It's just another of many dead ends.
    “Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don’t practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us – and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along.” – Carl Sagan, The Fine Art of Baloney Detection

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane View Post
    What's there to say that every detail of every phone call is not known to SPD? Perhaps LE has told both Janelle and Janis McCall not to speak about the contents of the calls as I believe they did concerning the broken porch globe. SPD is under no obligation to inform the public. And obviously the information has not led anywhere since it has not helped to close this case in almost 19 yrs. It's just another of many dead ends.
    What's to say that every detail IS known to the SPD? What's to say that Jannelle and/or Janis were NOT told NOT to speak about the contents of the calls? Why should we assume that whatever was said on the phone has been properly investigated?

    I've never understood why the benefit of the doubt should be given the police department. On the other hand I don't give them all the blame but to give them a free pass is overdoing the "trust" thing. When we start believing the public pronouncements of public officials is infallible we are well on the way to a dictatorship.
    “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

    Arthur Conan Doyle





  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Missouri Mule View Post
    What's to say that every detail IS known to the SPD? What's to say that Jannelle and/or Janis were NOT told NOT to speak about the contents of the calls? Why should we assume that whatever was said on the phone has been properly investigated?

    I've never understood why the benefit of the doubt should be given the police department. On the other hand I don't give them all the blame but to give them a free pass is overdoing the "trust" thing. When we start believing the public pronouncements of public officials is infallible we are well on the way to a dictatorship.
    I guess the difference is that unlike you I don't feel that SPD has the obligation to run their case by me. There are hundreds, if not thousands of unsolved cases here on Websleuths alone and because they are unsolved the common theme over and over again is coverup; police corruption, police incompetency, conspiracy, etc. Whether the contents of the phone calls are known or not, or if they have any real evidence or not, they are under no obligation to keep the public informed.
    “Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don’t practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us – and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along.” – Carl Sagan, The Fine Art of Baloney Detection

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane View Post
    I guess the difference is that unlike you I don't feel that SPD has the obligation to run their case by me. There are hundreds, if not thousands of unsolved cases here on Websleuths alone and because they are unsolved the common theme over and over again is coverup; police corruption, police incompetency, conspiracy, etc. Whether the contents of the phone calls are known or not, or if they have any real evidence or not, they are under no obligation to keep the public informed.
    That's true enough but it also invites public skepticism. Why SHOULD the public believe they are being well served. I never took allegiance to the Springfield Police Department. So far as I know the department could be run by incompetents and corrupt officials. It wouldn't be the first time in American history. One only has to look at the sordid history of the New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Los Angeles police departments for gross corruption and police brutality. Come to think of it, isn't that what was the norm in the days of the Soviet Union?

    But I never wanted to make this about police corruption. I did want to ask a direct question. Why SHOULD we believe their public pronouncements? I'm not getting that part. Have they earned our trust? Methinks not.

    I actually DO believe any decent police department has a duty to keep the public well informed about the progress of unsolved cases. I can think of no logical reason not to do so. I also think it is the smart thing to do. When I worked for the public I always found it to my benefit to keep the customers well up to date on the case. It earned their trust and cooperation. And it is hard to argue how people are going to be encouraged to come forward if they do not have faith in their public officials. The department is only shooting itself in the foot by slamming the lid on a two decade old case. There is just no upside that I can see.
    Last edited by Missouri Mule; 03-28-2011 at 04:34 PM.
    “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

    Arthur Conan Doyle






  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Missouri Mule View Post
    That's true enough but it also invites public skepticism. Why SHOULD the public believe they are being well served. I never took allegiance to the Springfield Police Department. So far as I know the department could be run by incompetents and corrupt officials. It wouldn't be the first time in American history. One only has to look at the sordid history of the New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Los Angeles police departments for gross corruption and police brutality. Come to think of it, isn't that what was the norm in the days of the Soviet Union?

    But I never wanted to make this about police corruption. I did want to ask a direct question. Why SHOULD we believe their public pronouncements? I'm not getting that part. Have they earned our trust? Methinks not.

    I actually DO believe any decent police department has a duty to keep the public well informed about the progress of unsolved cases. I can think of no logical reason not to do so. I also think it is the smart thing to do. When I worked for the public I always found it to my benefit to keep the customers well up to date on the case. It earned their trust and cooperation. And it is hard to argue how people are going to be encouraged to come forward if they do not have faith in their public officials. The department is only shooting itself in the foot by slamming the lid on a two decade old case. There is just no upside that I can see.
    Well, it doesn't matter if it's someone who is late on their Montgomery Wards payment or fleeced their Grandma somehow, skip tracing work is not police investigation work. Just keep running those SSN numbers and they'll show up somewhere when they go back to work. A whole different set of obligations to the District Attorney's office, the future Defense Attorney, suspect, and the victim come with police investigative work. But nothing is owed to the general public.
    “Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don’t practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us – and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along.” – Carl Sagan, The Fine Art of Baloney Detection

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane View Post
    Well, it doesn't matter if it's someone who is late on their Montgomery Wards payment or fleeced their Grandma somehow, skip tracing work is not police investigation work. Just keep running those SSN numbers and they'll show up somewhere when they go back to work. A whole different set of obligations to the District Attorney's office, the future Defense Attorney, suspect, and the victim come with police investigative work. But nothing is owed to the general public.
    I never said it was the "obligation." I'll ask again. What is the upside to stonewalling the investigation and more recently the coring of the garage floor? You should read all the comments on the internet. Apparently half the public who bothers to comment on this case thinks that the police department is corrupt to the core. We have hundreds; perhaps 1000s of people who have signed petitions to have the garage cored. Yet nothing happens. Even Janis McCall now states she would like to see it cored. Bartt Streeter wants it cored. So why isn't it?

    How in the world does that obstinance benefit them or advance this case? I just don't see the logic at play here. Even if one believes the police did everything under the sun to solve the case their public relations rates a negative 10 on a scale of 0-10. It's really that bad.
    “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

    Arthur Conan Doyle





  13. #43
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    I am having a problem with the June 5 obscene call left on Sherill's and Suzie's answering machine for a few reasons:

    1. An obscene caller is aroused by listening to the victim on the other end of the call, NOT by leaving a message. Doesn't make any sense. Now if it was a "threatening" call that had sexual overtones, that's another thing, particularly if Suzie was preparing to testify in the upcoming grave robbers case. However, I doubt it because I think Sherill would have called the police and there would be an incident report on the matter. Also, I doubt Sherill would have allowed Suzie to go partying all night if a threat had been made.

    2. I am assuming the alleged call had not been heard yet by Suzie and Sherill, and that the answering machine was flashing, noting that there were calls that had not been listened to yet. I find it hard to believe that a house with a teenager in it - one who was graduating from high school on Saturday and making plans about parties and a trip to Branson - would have ignored a flashing light on an answering machine.from the day before and even early Sunday morning. Also, Sherill would have seen the light flashing when she was on the phone Saturday night. She would be concerned if it was a message from Suzie, maybe her car broke down, etc. I also doubt, with graduation on Saturday, anyone would ignore a call that could be from relatives or friends congratulating Suzie, and talking to Sherill on the big day.

    3. An obscene or threatening message would be remembered by anyone listening to it for the first time. I don't understand how Janelle could forget what was said on the message from June 5 or the two subsequent calls on Sunday. I don't think LE told her to keep this info to herself, either.

    LE still has the answering machine tape, apparently. Can't remember where I heard Mrs. McCall's messages for Stacy to call her, perhaps the Disappeared segment. In any event, I think technology currently can decipher the erased messages on the tape, or will be able to one day. I do think, without a doubt, there is something unusual about the account of the messages, and I believe, in my opinion, it is related to the women's disappearance.



    I would like to know what Janelle said in the messages she left that morning? I think that was the reason the messages were erased. Just my opinion.
    Last edited by fullmoon; 08-05-2012 at 09:35 AM.

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by fullmoon View Post
    I am having a problem with the June 5 obscene call left on Sherill's and Suzie's answering machine for a few reasons:

    1. An obscene caller is aroused by listening to the victim on the other end of the call, NOT by leaving a message. Doesn't make any sense. Now if it was a "threatening" call that had sexual overtones, that's another thing, particularly if Suzie was preparing to testify in the upcoming grave robbers case. However, I doubt it because I think Sherill would have called the police and there would be an incident report on the matter. Also, I doubt Sherill would have allowed Suzie to go partying all night if a threat had been made.

    2. I am assuming the alleged call had not been heard yet by Suzie and Sherill, and that the answering machine was flashing, noting that there were calls that had not been listened to yet. I find it hard to believe that a house with a teenager in it - one who was graduating from high school on Saturday and making plans about parties and a trip to Branson - would have ignored a flashing light on an answering machine.from the day before and even early Sunday morning. Also, Sherill would have seen the light flashing when she was on the phone Saturday night. She would be concerned if it was a message from Suzie, maybe her car broke down, etc. I also doubt, with graduation on Saturday, anyone would ignore a call that could be from relatives or friends congratulating Suzie, and talking to Sherill on the big day.

    3. An obscene or threatening message would be remembered by anyone listening to it for the first time. I don't understand how Janelle could forget what was said on the message from June 5 or the two subsequent calls on Sunday. I don't think LE told her to keep this info to herself, either.

    LE still has the answering machine tape, apparently. Can't remember where I heard Mrs. McCall's messages for Stacy to call her, perhaps the Disappeared segment. In any event, I think technology currently can decipher the erased messages on the tape, or will be able to one day. I do think, without a doubt, there is something unusual about the account of the messages, and I believe, in my opinion, it is related to the women's disappearance.



    I would like to know what Janelle said in the messages she left that morning? I think that was the reason the messages were erased. Just my opinion.
    Many people have trouble with these accounts and changing timelines, etc.

    From information that I have seen, the police have the tape but evidently the available information on it is relatively useless.

    The important thing to remember is that we only have the account by the person answering the phone and listening to the messages. We will never know what was actually said on the other end.
    “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

    Arthur Conan Doyle





  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Missouri Mule View Post
    Many people have trouble with these accounts and changing timelines, etc.

    From information that I have seen, the police have the tape but evidently the available information on it is relatively useless.

    The important thing to remember is that we only have the account by the person answering the phone and listening to the messages. We will never know what was actually said on the other end.
    Yeah...I’m DEFINATELY one of the ones in the skeptical camp, having ‘trouble’ with the stories and timelines.

    Mule, when you say LE has the tape and deemed it ‘useless,’ is this the conclusion of local/state LE from 1990‘s technology, or after an analysis from a national contemporary forensic lab ? Even after that, it may be deemed ‘useless’ by LE, but I don’t know if any future defense would agree. At the least, it would be something hard and weighty. I’m sitting in the jury box, I’m far more inclined to place importance on details of that tape and what it tells us by FBI like experts from a national crime lab than the countless accounts reported (well meaning and otherwise) by First Responders.

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