TX TX - Yogurt Shop Murders, Austin, 6 Dec 1991

Discussion in 'Cold Cases' started by colette, Jan 1, 2009.

  1. colette

    colette Well-Known Member

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    I think LE has convinced the parents that those 3 were the killers and any new information can not get through the hatred. I think the 3 were railroaded and the real killer left his DNA.
     
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  2. Bella15

    Bella15 New Member

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    Anyone know if the DNA has been entered into Codie's to search for a match?
     
  3. Bella15

    Bella15 New Member

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    *.codis
     
  4. kemo

    kemo Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure plenty of cynics out there would question how seriously Austin Law Enforcement is about identifying the mystery DNA but the claim has been made that there is no match.

    A problem is that Texas and many other states have not collected DNA samples on all arrested felons and there is still a problem of doing the collecting, the sequencing and then putting it onto CODIS.

    Many states have passed laws requiring widespread collecting without providing the funding to complete them in a timely manner. It is anybody's guess how many criminals are walking the streets while their cheek swab is sitting in some state lab backlog while their unidentified DNA, associated with a serious crime, is on CODIS.
     
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  5. no greed

    no greed New Member

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    In the spring of 2007 the DA's office sent 6 items from The body of Amy to Fairfax Identity Labs of Richmond, VA. They would conduct the STR test that had not been available during the '01-'02 trials. They were hoping to find biological evidence for the upcoming retrials. In March 2008 the defense was informed that the Y-STR testing had revealed a full male DNA profile in Amy's vaginal swab. This matched none of the defendants. The state was now looking for an unknown 5th assailant. In April '08 Jordan Smith of Austin Chronicle reported "unnamed prosecutors" said they knew the identity and he was likely "someone known to Amy." Suggesting that the 13 year old was sexually active. In late August '08 Jordan Smith reported "courthouse sources" said as many as 5 dozen people had been tested.
    This does not tell us if the DNA was ever ran in CODIS. It appears that the DA's initial reaction was to find someone close to Amy.
    I have read that ATF agent Charles Meyer who worked with APD on this case for years through the trials of Scott and Springsteen was suspicious of McDuff involvement. I wonder if McDuff DNA was retained and tested. I have read that a hair sample was kept. Do not know if true. You would think CODIS would be the first place LE would look and have a way to automatically search for a match with all knew DNA added to CODIS.
     
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  6. no greed

    no greed New Member

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    I found where in the summer of 2009 when the judge released Springsteen and Scott on their own recognizance bond, the DA Lehmberg in a prepared statement said "despite testing 130 people" the state could not identify an unknown male donor. I fear that this indicates that the DNA had not been ran through CODIS at that time.
     
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  7. kemo

    kemo Well-Known Member

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    Failure to check CODIS, and recheck it yearly would pretty much amount to sabotaging the investigation. McDuff as well as someone named Denis Reid, who may have been a better suspect, have been officially cleared. I would assume DNA was compared. Reid had a history of " messy" fast food robberies but none involved rape.

    The DNA taken from Amy's rape kit is solid. I have no idea who the 130 who were ruled out are but I suspect some are known associates of the four original suspect. I wonder if some were boys in Amy's seventh grade class.

    There were two DNA samples taken from the bodies of the Harbison sisters. The DA's office is being circumspect about them. Apparently they are male but only partials. It is not know if they came from the rape kit or off of their bodies. Partial profiles can rule someone out completely but they can only rule someone in among a certain percentage of the population. It is also possible that these samples did not come from the killers but from customers or anyone else they had contact with. Still, if any of the original suspects were a partial match along with a small percentage of the male population, it would support the contention that they were involved. If all of them can be excluded, it raises the question of how could four suspects strip, tie up, and sexually assault those girls and leave no DNA while two men who had casual encounters did. The decision to withhold this information is telling.

    The official version of events is that Wellborn was the "getaway" driver while the other three plus one or more mystery accomplices did the job. That would be quite a crowd. I can't recall an armed robberies of a small shop with two employees ever having more than two perps. Realistically, how much money did they expect a yoghurt shot to take in on an early December day. Three of the girls were tied up. Why would that many guys need to tie any of them up? This makes no sense. It did not go down that way.

    Officially, they are still investigating the case and the APD has a lead detective assigned to the case (his name is Swan) they insist that the four are still suspects and they are trying to identify the mystery DNA doner.
     
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  8. no greed

    no greed New Member

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    That is the essence of the case. So many people have so much invested in this case that I feel it has been sabotaged. I do not have any confidence that the DNA from Amy has been checked with CODIS for matches, or that McDuff, Reid, the Mexicans or others that confessed have been compared. Unless APD,the DA, or lawyers representing the accused who have access to information confirms things that most of us would assume has been done, I assume it has not been.

    It will soon be the 25th anniversary of this horrible crime. IMO when the city council refused to fund a Cold Case External Review Board as recommended by the Public Safety Commision all hope for a clear resolution of who was responsible for the YSM's was extinguished.
     
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  9. no greed

    no greed New Member

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    Based on statements of the defense lawyers and the testimony of crime scene reconstructionist Ross M Gardner, the DNA testing has revealed the rape of all the girls. Fire damage of Eliza was to extensive to retrieve DNA from her vagina, but her DNA was discovered in the anal cavity of Sarah. Assumed to have been transferred by the rapist. Partial unknown male DNA that matched was found in the vaginal swabs of the Harbison sisters. This partial does not match the complete unknown male DNA discovered in Amy's vaginal swab. Jennifer must have been raped prior to Sarah because a partial DNA of Jennifer's boy friend was found in Sarah. It is assumed to have been transferred after the rape of Jennifer.
    I hate discussing these gruesome details, but feel it contributes to the accurate picture of the crime. I have also confirmed that the 12 million dollar out of court settlement was devided between the Harbisons sisters biological parents, Amy's parents, and Eliza's mother. Eliza's father refused to join the suet. I am beginning to wonder if Moebius was not on to some truth concerning this case and many others. It is true he got many facts wrong about the YSM's, but much of what he has written about seems to have legitimate bases.
    I am pretty sure that the four accused were not guilty. I am pretty sure that the motive of the crime was not robbery. There was much sexual satisfaction derived by the perpetrators. That may have been the motive of these murders. And there was much known non taxed money money exchanged because of these murders. There is a distinct possibility that a lot of unknown non taxed money could have been moved because of the laws as they were and the way the law suit was settled. The way the YSM have been investigated, tried, and not investigated all lead me to believe there is the possibility of some very powerful people being involved.
     
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  10. colette

    colette Well-Known Member

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    No, I think the police just don't want to be wrong. They still think those 4 men are involved.
     
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  11. kemo

    kemo Well-Known Member

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    No Greed, you are privy to some very good information. Do you have a link to the information you provided in your first paragraph?

    Generally, biological material obtained from Rape Kits is very compelling evidence. It is not prone to contamination by random cells that might circulate in most environments.
     
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  12. colette

    colette Well-Known Member

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    If one of the girls had sex with her boyfriend then later was raped, those cells from the boyfriend could then transfer to the next girl raped by the killer.
     
  13. kemo

    kemo Well-Known Member

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    (Continued from above)

    If handled correctly, contamination by those taking the sample or doing the testing should not occur. Still, to prevent that possibility however remote it might be ( and refute the arguments of defense lawyers), it is common practice to obtaining DNA profiles from all lab employees, forensic technicians and even first responders and compare them with any DNA found. I think it is pretty safe to assume that partial sample X-2 belongs to one of the perps and partial sample X-3 belongs to Jennifer's boyfriend (No Greed, is this correct?)

    While partial samples can eliminate a suspect, they can not absolutely identify a suspect and they may not be usable in a CODIS search. Still, they can be strong evidence when there is other evidence. If, for instance, it can be determined that one in 100,000 men have markers consistent with that sample, perhaps 20 men in the Austin metro area would have it, but how many of them have other links to the crime? If any of the four original suspects fall into the "possible" range I would expect LE to disclose that information since it would support their continued belief that the Four were involved.

    The possibility that these murders were part of some greater financial fraud would come down to the question of whether or not the parents actually received the full $12 million. If they (and their lawyers ) did, I don't see where the fraud would lie. If money is unaccounted for, there are definitely something worth pursuing.

    My guess is this was planned by two, as yet unidentified perps, primarily as a sexual assault. Women who work in retail stores late a night are vulnerable to such crimes. The unexpected presence of the two younger girls raised the profile of the case.
     
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  14. no greed

    no greed New Member

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    Kemo, I am not privy to any unpublished info. Primarily my knowledge of this case is based on published articles. I recommend Michael Hall's "Under the Gun" published Jan 2001 in Texas Monthly. It was very prophetic before the first trial was conducted. Jordan Smith's articles on the YSMs are a great source. Her Austin Chronicle articles on 6/15/01, 12/31/08, 12/16/11 have been very illuminating. Corey Mitchell's book "Murdered Innocents" originally published in 2005 and updated later is very good. Beverly Lowry's new book "Who Killed These Girls?: Cold Case: The Yogurt Shop Murders" published in 2016.
    The DNA evidence I wrote about is primarily from Lowry's book. Gardner testimony is written about on p329. Sawyer, def atty for Springsteen, is on pages 315,332,333. The DNA evidence shows a full unknown male profile in Amy's vaginal swab. A full known male in Jennifer's, her boy friend from that afternoon. Jennifer's swab also contained an unknown partial male DNA not matching that in Amy. Sarah's swab contained 2 partial male DNA profiles. One matched the unknown in her sister, the other a partial of Jennifer's boy friend. Sarah's anal cavity contained Eliza's DNA. Amy's fingernails contained Jennifer's blood.
    Clothing items from the girls missing was new information to me. Discovery of these items would be as incriminating as the murder weapons. IMO this crime was most likely committed by 2 older males with experience in sexual attacks on women and serious perversions.
     
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  15. TXE

    TXE New Member

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    Thinking about this and sad that it's not solved. Tomorrow is 25 years.
     
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  16. Samaritan

    Samaritan Follower of the Way

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    Bump for 25 years gone. Hopefully, one day, justice will be served.
     
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  17. no greed

    no greed New Member

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    KXAN news in Austin is airing a 25th anniversary story. Detective Swann said "We have some unanswered DNA questions that we are continuing to address." Swann said the DNA is a very specific type, and finding a match is extremely labor intensive. "We have to just take a DNA sample from the next person we think it could be. And so if we ever get to the point where we have a national data base for some of the different sub-types of DNA that we have, that could be a key to bringing this investigation back into a courtroom." KXAN asked if any Yogurt Shop evidence had been impacted with the recent problems and closure of the APD crime lab. Swann said "no." He said that all evidence had been tested at other crime labs, including the states DPS lab.
    Why do I feel the need to parse every statement that comes from APD and DA's officials? Swann told the truth about the YSM evidence being processed at other crime labs. That is known. What is not known is if the remaining evidence being held by APD at the crime lab was damaged. The lab was closed because refrigeration was lost, evidence damaged, and failure to disclose. He did not answer that. He also did not specifically answer if the full unknown male DNA evidence found in Amy has been run through CODIS. The way he answered about testing the right suspect makes me suspicious. I found at absolute crime dot com that in February 2013 the defense attorney's for Scott and Springsteen asked that the DNA evidence be checked for alternative suspects including McDuff. At that time no testing of alternative suspects had been done. I am also confused on the Swann statement of it being very labor intensive. KXAN had another story a few months back where they interviewed Scotts former attorney. He disclosed the partial DNA evidence found in the Harbison girls. Certainly a computer program could spit out all of the CODIS possible matches to this partial DNA evidence and then narrow it down to a pool of possibles based on age and location in December 1991. From that point it could be labor intensive I suppose, but I do not have the feeling that is what Detective Swann was talking about.
     
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  18. watergirl62

    watergirl62 .

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    I remember when this happened. The city was in shock for a very long time. My boss' husband was working at Brackenridge ER when they brought these girls in. He had nightmares for a long time. Such a tragic senseless crime.

    I am not surprised that this has never been solved. Total cluster %\$!@. Sitting on my hands now.

    [emoji257] [emoji257] [emoji257] [emoji257]
     
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  19. Tuffgong

    Tuffgong On Time Out

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    [FONT=&quot] The two guys that perpetrated these horrible crimes were in the store prior to closing and they left physical evidence behind. Numerous witnesses reported seeing two suspicious men sitting in the booth next to the counter. One former police officer claimed that the one guy was buying a can of Sprite after 10. Two more witnesses claimed that the two men were still in the store after Harbison locked the front door at 10:50, still drinking soft drinks. The crime happened at or around 11. Well, you have the two men there at that time. The next day police report finding chairs placed on top of all tables, except one, the table where the two guys sat. Napkins were refilled at all tables, except the table where the two men sat. Moreover, there was a can of coke and a styrofoam cup sitting next to the register, as if someone was ordering one last Coke for the road, but did not take it with him. Locked store, two men inside, this is the crime. The one man went back to say he had to use the restroom before he left, the other man controlled the front of the store, bam. They exited through the back after they committed their carnage. Now the million dollar question, where was the trash from the previous night? Is it still in the store or in a dumpster? Odds are, there are some cans of soda with fingerprints on them. And there were no other food stores in that strip mall, none open at that time. Did they fingerprint that table? Did the APD check rape kits on unsolved violent rapes before and after this crime? The physical evidence was out there. But lazy APD decided they would coerce some confessions and just go with that. They are still doing that. The confessions were weak and coached. This was not about robbery, this was a calculated sexual attack by two men that have done this before and after. [/FONT]
     
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  20. kemo

    kemo Well-Known Member

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    I have just finished reading "Who Killed These Girls". This book is the definitive source on the case and lays it all out pretty well. Her assessment of what happened is probably pretty accurate.

    The DNA evidence previously discussed solidly establishes that two unknown men committed the rapes effectively coming close to eliminating the Four from any involvement. She also demonstrates that the crime did not go down the way Springsteen and Scott said it did in their " confessions". It was the two men in the shop at closing time that did the crime from inside the shop. The back door was not used to access the shop, so the back door was not propped open and whoever the sketchy guy who went to the bathroom that the former cop had seen was, he had nothing to do with the crime. There was no lighter fluid used and nothing was piled on top of the bodies, as Springsteen and Scott described. Flammable materials on the shelf were lit and the fire spread from there.

    The author takes the reader through the interrogation process and we can seen how false confessions can happen. I think anyone who finds themselves being "interviewed" by law enforcement should lawyer up immediately if there is any hint that you are a suspect.

    The one thing that Lowry has no answers for is "who is the real perp?" At this point, there is nothing left but the hope for a DNA "hit".
     
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