WHEN ELECTED OFFICIALS BECOME POLITICAL ANIMALS THERE IS NO JUSTICE
By Jim R. Schwiesow
It is not good to be partial to the wicked or to deprive the innocent of justice. Proverbs 18: 5
Those who have not had an experience with our judicial system are most likely laboring under the illusion that justice is swift, and that those in the system who function on behalf of victims are clearly and unequivocally dedicated to the best interests of the victims they represent to the exclusion of all other concerns, political or otherwise. I am going to cite the facts of an actual case handled by my office, which I suspect may alter the opinion of some in regard to our system of justice. The case that I will be highlighting involved murder, in fact multiple murders, the cruel, cold, and calculated killings of helpless and infirm residents of a nursing home. Murder is always foul, but when it involves the senseless and motiveless killing of helpless children or aged bed-ridden residents of a care facility, it is damnable.
The case began with a phone call from the Supervisor of the Immigration & Naturalization service office in a nearby city. The supervisor told me that an INS agent in New York had received a phone call from a young woman, a Canadian National residing in my county on a visa, and that this woman had confessed to the agent that she had murdered an elderly male resident of the nursing care facility where she was employed. The supervisor advised that he would mail a copy of the report and provided the name and telephone number of the agent who had taken the unsolicited confession.
Upon receipt of the report my investigator and I drove to the community in which the care facility was located, and there we talked to the Chief of Police. We showed him a copy of the INS agent’s report. To say that we were surprised by his response is an understatement. The Chief told us that this same young woman had come to his office, about a year previous, and had confessed to the killing of the very same male resident named in the INS agent’s report. The Chief advised that he had telephoned the mayor of the community and that both he and the mayor had talked with the young woman for about an hour, and that at the conclusion of the talk the mayor had said that the young woman was touched in the head and the matter should be dropped. Apparently the chief was not about to contradict the mayor’s wishes, he dropped the matter failing even to document it in his files.
We drove from the police station to the care facility, and there we asked if we might visit with the administrator. This gentleman invited us into his office and was very affable until we made mention that we had some information regarding one of his employees that he should be aware of, and dropped her name upon him. Now, he became nervous and evasive. He informed us that this employee had been terminated, and that he could say nothing further until he had consulted with the care facility’s attorneys. He might as well have waved a red cape in front of us. Peace officers can be a suspicious lot, and our interest was now, definitely peaked.
The following day we returned to the facility with a subpoena duces tecum, which demanded the production of this employee’s employment records, her work schedules during the time of her employment, and more particularly her schedule on the day that the resident of whom she had confessed killing, had died, and finally a record of all deaths at the facility during her time of employment. Often, when these subpoenas are served, the respondents will call their lawyer and there is then considerable wrangling between attorneys for the state and attorneys for the respondent about what documents may be produced, the inviolability of certain documents and other matters. Since we were not going to receive the records requested for some time we requested that we be able to interview other employees at the facility who were on duty on the day that the resident has died. We were - they said upon the advice of their attorneys - denied access to these employees, and the employees were instructed not to talk to us on their off duty time as well. This thing was developing a very peculiar odor, and the stink did not dissipate, but rather intensified when we located and interviewed the daughter of the deceased.
When we talked to the daughter of the deceased, we found that she was, on the morning of her father’s death, working at a local store when she received a call from a person at the care facility. The caller said, “You had better come to the facility, your father is not doing too well.” When she arrived at the facility she was told that her father was dead, and she was later to find out he was in fact already dead when she received the original call. She was also told that an aid that had been feeding her father at the time of his death was so distraught over the man’s death that she had to be sent home. The fact is she had been sent home permanently, and never worked another day at the care facility. When the daughter went to her father’s room she smelled the scent of disinfectant in the room, and she had the distinct feeling that the area around the bed had been freshly cleaned. She also said that she found her father’s false teeth on the floor underneath the bed. And who was this aid that had been so distraught that she had to be sent home? You guessed it; the aid was no less than the Canadian confessor that no one wanted to believe.
Now, we had enough to bring this young woman in to answer some questions. During the session she again confessed to deliberately killing the man in her care, and she said that she had killed him by stuffing food into his mouth until he was dead. When asked why she had killed him she stated that she hadn’t liked the way that he had looked at her. During the course of our conversation with her she also told us that she had made plans to kill her husband. Lucky man! We got to her first. We now had enough for an exhumation order, and the body was disinterred and examined by a forensic pathologist. The examination disclosed that that man’s gullet and breathing passages into the lungs were completely packed with food. He had died a terrifying and atrocious death by strangulation. Asphyxiation was fixed as the cause of death. Great you say, now justice will be done, and the family will have the solace of knowing that the killer of their helpless loved one will be punished to the full extent of the law. Dream on, nothing is goof proof in our legal system.
There now happened a rapid confluence of events of a type that never fails to energize law enforcement officers who are in a search for the truth and on a quest for justice. The nursing home aid was charged with murder in the first degree and, as a new jail was currently under construction in our county, she was moved to a jail in a neighboring county. The records that we had subpoenaed were delivered for our examination. And we were now to be confronted with some pretty chilling facts. About the same time that we discovered, through our perusal of the documents taken by subpoena, that this woman had been the last to administer to four residents just prior to their deaths (from natural causes of course) we received a call from the neighboring county sheriff advising that our star inmate had confessed to one of his jailers that she had killed another female resident by smothering her to death with a pillow, and that she had also vaguely alluded to the fact that there were probably more.
The case now hit the papers and there was a closing of ranks by the bleeding hearts in the killer’s community. It was opined that the poor thing was being persecuted. The mayor, you remember the infallible mayor who had intuitively discounted her confession to his police chief, now made a news release in which he stated that we were barking up a wrong tree. He said that his police department had investigated this matter and found no validity to the allegations. He decried the public relations damage being done to the community and to the poor care facility that had so unfortunately employed this nutcase. I’ll bet that you think that this could not get to be weirder, right? Wrong!
As these events were unfolding we were busy with some follow-up investigation. We had conclusively established that the time of death of the poor smothered female resident coincided exactly with the recollection of the time of the killing by our poor maligned murderess. And we were moving along with the documentation of a connection between the killer and two more victims, and possibly a third. We had now come to firmly believe that we had four sure victims, and the possibility of a fifth. But, now we were hit with a bombshell.
The county had recently acquired a new county attorney. Elected by voters who were protesting the previous very skilled, but autocratic, county attorney whom they had believed to be too uncompassionate, this lady was the ultimate feminist. Entirely unskilled and with no prosecutorial experience, she was on a crusade to reform the office that she had won by default, and prove to the world that she alone held the key to the rehabilitation of criminal offenders. She initiated a program whereby the perpetrators of crimes and their victims were brought together to commiserate, cry on one another’s shoulder, share their feelings and be delivered from any guilt for wrongdoing or desire for vengeance. She was a bane to the entire law enforcement community, whom she held in contempt.
Without any consultation with my office, this god’s gift to the law profession linked up with the attorney representing our accused killer, and negotiated a plea agreement whereby the killer would plead to second-degree murder on one charge. Hearing of this, through the grapevine, I cornered her at a conference and made her privy to all of the evidence that we had assembled to prove that we were dealing with a serial killer. I asked her to consider filing a second charge of first-degree murder, and to then stand by as we continued to assemble evidence to prove that several more helpless people had been killed by this degenerate. She haughtily informed me that she was in charge of prosecutorial matters, and that she would decide whom, or what, would be prosecuted. Twice I suggested that we put personal differences aside and work as a team for justice, not only for the victims, but also for their families. She said to me, “You just have to be in control don’t you.” To which I replied, “I have forty-three years of investigative experience, how many years do you have?”
I filed in the district court, the day following this conversation, a preliminary charge of first-degree murder in the case of the lady who had been smothered to death. The county attorney, who has by law the discretion as to what charges will be pursued, promptly moved for dismissal of my charge. Subsequent to that dismissal we received from a state agency, that had done an audit of the care facility, a report documenting the fact that officials of the facility had in fact been informed by this aid that she had killed the resident by strangling him with food, and that these same officials had conspired to cover it up. Sometime later, while working another case, I complained to the medical examiner about the fact that this cold killer was off the hook for these other murders. And he said to me, “ Why would you want to pursue this? All that you will accomplish is to put that care facility out of business and a lot of people will lose their jobs. She is already going to do time for one killing, what possible good can come of convicting her of the others?” How does one deal with reasoning such as that? I could only say, “Doc, what if one of these victims had been your mother or your father, would you still feel the same way?”
There has to be a finale to every story, and the finish to this one leaves me discouraged. Not only was a serial killer let off the hook, the victims were denied justice and their families were deprived of closure and restoration. But, what is more disturbing is the thinking of our people in regard to their misplaced pity for murderers and their total lack of compassion for the victims of these social deviates. I don’t recognize this country anymore.
© 2006 - Jim R. Schwiesow - All Rights Reserved
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Jim Schwiesow is a retired sheriff with 46 years of law enforcement service. He served with the Unites States Army with the occupation forces in post war Berlin, Germany, and has a total of nine years of military service, which includes six years in the U.S. Army Reserve.
His law enforcement service includes: three years in the military police, fifteen years as an Iowa municipal police officer, and twenty-eight years as the duly elected sheriff of Sioux County, Iowa.
Jim has written a number of articles, which have been published in various professional law enforcement journals.
There has to be a finale to every story, and the finish to this one leaves me discouraged. Not only was a serial killer let off the hook, the victims were denied justice and their families were deprived of closure and restoration.