Monday, September 9, 2013


Except from Turvey, B. (2013) Forensic Victimology: Examining Violent Crime Victims in Investigative and Legal Contexts, 2nd ed., San Diego: Elsevier Science.

In cases where victim actions, history, or demeanor are relevant to legal proceedings, forensic examiners may be asked to examine victim-oriented behavioral evidence and contextualize it before the trier of fact. This is the forensic aspect of forensic victimology [fn12]. ...the rules of admissibility vary from state to state, court to court, and judge to judge — as the admissibility of victimology evidence is made by the court on an individual basis and based on a sometimes-unique interpretation of the law.

[fn12] The single feature that distinguishes forensic examiners from all others in the field is the expectation that they may be asked to provide expert testimony regarding their findings in a court of law. If they conduct examinations and render findings without this expectation hanging over their work, it is not being done in a forensic context, and subsequent conclusions may not be prepared with the same standards of confidence or certainty. Worse, findings may be overly confident, without the required scientific restraint.

The question arises as to the role of victimology in this venue. In general, forensic examiners should conduct themselves as both scientist and educator. It is their role to provide a cooling effect to the often-heated issues surrounding victim-oriented behavioral evidence. They must examine the evidence impartially, through the lens of the scientific method, and render conclusions related to victimology in accordance with their findings. When necessary, they must be able to explain their findings to the court and show how they achieved them.

For the small percentage of cases that do go to trial, there is an unavoidable vulnerability to the culmination of errors, improper motivations, and the zeal of advocates on either side of the courtroom. This is particularly true of information related to the victim. As described in preceding chapters, victimological information can be compiled ineptly, reported inaccurately, or provided in a biased manner—and that is when it is collected at all. The misinformation that follows may combine during court proceedings to have a tremendous impact.

Bad information can create a snowball effect: errors and omissions in the original information provided to police lead to errors in the investigation; leading to problems in the case assembled against the accused; leading to mistakes in the charges handed down and how the case is brought by the prosecution; leading to false perceptions by the judge, jury, and media. All these can have influence over whether or not a defendant is convicted and how he or she is sentenced. Generally speaking, one purpose of forensic victimology is to help prevent this snowball effect from happening. 

Victimological information should be gathered objectively and consistently, and then used to describe or evaluate the victims and their circumstances so that judges and juries are privy to information that may be relevant to their decisions. In this context, direct questions must be asked: was the victim using drugs; does the victim have a history of falsely reporting crime; what was the extent of the victim’s physical injuries; was the victim conscious during the attack; does the victim have a history of taking rides from strangers or letting strangers into his or her home; does the victim lock his or her door at night? The judge, who determines what is legally admissible, decides the issue of relevance for these and similarly themed questions. Then, as already discussed, the judge makes a ruling: sometimes everything about a victim is admissible, sometimes nothing, and sometimes the court “splits the baby” by admitting a percentage of victim information.

The more accurate and complete the victim information provided, the clearer the context of the crime. This is an investigative axiom. During an investigation, everything about the victim must be learned and documented, with nothing treated as trivial. Unfortunately, there is a tendency on the part of some investigators to avoid gathering some or all of the victimology, to deprive the court of contextual information that might sway their findings against prevailing case theories. The court should view this practice with dismay, as informed decisions about what to admit and what to keep out cannot be made in the absence of a complete investigative effort and record.

Presenting victimological information in court involves a different standard from the investigative effort. Investigative victimology gathers everything; the court decides admissibility based on that record in the context of the collective issues in a case. Typically, victimological evidence must serve a particular purpose related to a legal issue to be admissible. For example, victimological information may demonstrate that a crime has actually occurred or that the elements of this case meet the definition of the charges brought against the accused. Information about the victim will undoubtedly contextualize the crime and help to reconstruct exactly what took place and in what order. 

Information about the victim may also allow the judge and jury to better understand who the victim is/was, why that person was targeted, how the victim was acquired and harmed, and most importantly by whom. On the other hand, if there is a specific reason to doubt the victim’s credibility or the accuracy of particular statements, victimology may be introduced at trial to bring this to light. 

These are just some of the many possible scenarios, but the theme remains clear: to be admissible in court, victimology must be relevant to a factual matter or legal question, and not simply part of a smear campaign.

Recent high profile cases involving victimological evidence include:

Jodi Arias
Jodi Arias was charged with first degree murder in the killing of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. The killing took place at his home in Mesa, Arizona, in June 2008. Ms. Arias claimed she killed Mr. Alexander in self-defense. As part of her defense, she asserted that Mr. Alexander had become increasingly violent and more sexually demanding in the months before the confrontation that led to his death. She also claimed he was sexually interested in young boys. 

The prosecution, however, claimed that Ms. Arias killed him in a jealous rage, stabbing him at least 27 times. As part of her defense, explicit details regarding Ms. Arias’ sexual relationship with the victim were a constant feature of courtroom testimony.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK)
In late 2012, Dominique Strauss-Kahn reached a financial settlement with the hotel maid who claimed that he had sexually assaulted her. The former head of the IMF was accused of rape but then later the prosecution was dropped in 2011 when the victim was determined to be unreliable. She was not charged with making a false report, and sued him in civil court along with the New York Post.

Stacey Rambold

In 2013, District Court Judge G. Todd Baugh drew public ridicule after he sentenced former Billings teacher Stacey Rambold to a mere 30 days in jail for the 2007 rape of Cherice Moralez. A former Montana high school teacher, Rambold was convicted of raping the 14-year-old student. She later committed suicide.

Judge Baugh described Ms. Moralez as a troubled youth who seemed older than her years, explaining of Rambold's light sentence that she was "older than her chronological age" and "as much in control of the situation" as Rambold.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Oklahoman: Report sparks debate over innocence of Karl Fontenot

By Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: August 4, 2013

ADA — Chris Ross is the only person left in his office who was there when Donna Denice Haraway went missing. Haraway's murder was one of the first murder trials he worked on as a 27-year-old prosecutor.

Photo - Chris Ross, district attorney for Pontotoc County, discusses the murder conviction of Karl Fontenot in his office in Ada. Ross says he remains confident that Fontenot is guilty. <strong>Jim Beckel - THE OKLAHOMAN</strong>
Chris Ross, district attorney for Pontotoc County
And almost 30 years later, nothing has changed his mind on who killed Haraway.

Meanwhile, efforts are underway to free Karl Fontenot and Tommy Ward from prison, the two men convicted of the 1984 killing of the 24-year-old Ada woman.

The Oklahoma Innocence Project, an initiative based out of Oklahoma City University's law school, filed a brief in support of application for post-conviction relief on July 24 that outlines why the organization's legal staff believes Fontenot should be released from prison

“There were many inconsistencies throughout the investigation into Ms. Haraway's disappearance, many of which help our case for post-conviction relief for Karl,” Tiffany Murphy, the Oklahoma Innocence Project director, said during the July 24 news conference. “We firmly believe an innocent man has been in prison for nearly 30 years for a crime he did not commit."

And Ward, also convicted of Harraway's murder, awaits a similar brief to be filed.

His attorney Mark Barrett said he has been working on Ward's case for several years and anticipates that a brief will be filed for Ward. It will outline issues similar to what can be found in the Oklahoma Innocence Project brief, although it won't likely be identical.

Barrett said he believes that Ward and Fontenot are both innocence.

“You can expect something that will be filed on Tommy Wards' behalf not too far in the distant future,” Barrett said. “Exactly when, we're not sure.”

The state has 30 days to respond to the Innocence Project's brief, but Ross said he plans to ask for a one-year extension to respond.

But Murphy said she believes a year is too long of an extension.

“I have no disagreement that an extension can be had, and the statute allows for an extension of another 30 days,” she said. “So he's entitled to at least 60 days under the statute. The statute was built to accommodate the need for additional time. The statute was never built to accommodate a year.”

Fontenot and Ward were tried in court in September 1985. Both men were found guilty and sentenced to death. They were scheduled to die in January 1986. Fontenot's case was appealed, and he was granted a new trial.

During the time span of Fontenot's appeal, Haraway's remains were found about 30 miles east of Ada. In 1988, Fontenot was retried, convicted and sentenced to death a second time.

His sentence was later commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the Oklahoma Innocence Project.

After talking to Ross, it becomes obvious there's little that he and Murphy would agree upon regarding the case.

Ross can spend hours outlining why he feels the men are guilty. Murphy has a 91-page brief that she and a team of lawyers and law students from OCU have worked on since last year.

The brief outlines “substantial evidence not presented during (Fontenot's) trial or appeals establishing not only his innocence but the incompetence of the police investigation which led to his false confession and violations of his state and federal constitutional rights.”

But after reading the brief, Ross is left with a growing Microsoft Word document with red notes throughout it, explaining how and why he disagrees with the Innocence Project.

“I have extreme confidence that nothing that they have presented in their brief would have changed a jury's verdict,” Ross said.

For one, Ross disagrees on how the Oklahoma Innocence Project presents Fontenot's alibi.

The Innocence Project argues that Fontenot told police during a lie-detector test that he was at a party the night that Haraway disappeared from her job at McAnally's, an Ada convenience store. Affidavits from partygoers along with police reports place Fontenot at the party for the entirety of the night, according to the Innocence Project brief.

“Both OSBI and Ada Police Department were aware of this party based upon several witness reports, dispatch records, and police reports,” the brief reads. “However, not only did this evidence not eliminate Mr. Fontenot as a suspect, it was impermissibly withheld from his trial attorney, George Butner, to use in building his defense.”

Ross said he does not believe police suppressed evidence nor does he think witness statements add up to place Fontenot at the party.

“If we can use common sense — let's say me and you are charged with a crime, and me and you say we know that we're at a party the time that crime was committed — how do the police and prosecutors keep us from telling our attorneys that?” Ross said. “They can't.

Ross said three partygoers who were initially interviewed told police that Fontenot wasn't at the party, or that they didn't know when the party was or that they didn't know who Fontenot was.

Murphy said the Innocence Project staff still continues to look for DNA to test to add to its case for Fontenot's innocence.

“The primary reason there's nothing to test is because the police destroyed it,” Murphy said.

Murphy said, for one, police did not properly collect evidence at the convenience store the night Haraway disappeared.

So far, the Innocence Project staff hasn't found anything to send off for DNA testing, but Murphy does not think they're finished looking.

Meanwhile, Ross said he has always had an open-book policy, allowing anyone to test anything he has for DNA.

“I think there is zero percent chance that there's any DNA,” he said. “DNA (is) what we believe to be a certainty, what we're taught is certainty, and past that, there is no certainty — short of crimes committed on videotape.


While this is an even handed article, it misses many of the important forensic issues in the case, or perhaps avoids them entirely.

For the Forensic report by the author (Brent E. Turvey, PhD) filed with Fontenot's application for relief, see: Investigative and Forensic Assessment: Abduction and Homicide of Donna "Denice" Haraway.

For the complete filing by attorney Tiffany Murphy, see: Karl Fontenot v. State of Oklahoma, District Court of Pontotoc County State of Oklahoma, No. CR-88-43. Brief in Support of Application for Post-Conviction Relief.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Forensic Solutions, LLC and the International Association of Forensic Criminologists are pleased to sponsor this three day training event, in conjunction with Elgin Community College in January of 2014. It is intended to be a basic sex crimes academy for those working in the criminal justice system as investigators and legal professionals. 

Course Text: Rape Investigation Handbook, 2nd Ed. by Savino and Turvey.

Note: Each registration fee includes the cost of the textbook, Rape Investigation Handbook, 2nd Ed. by Savino and Turvey. Copies will be provided to registrants at the door. Registrants do not need to purchase their own copy.

Registration details below.


Topic: Introduction 
  • Human Sexuality and Sexual Deviance
  • Sex Crimes
  • Rape and sexual assault - legal constructs
Topic: The Investigative Response
  • The First Investigative Response
  • The Crime Scene
  • Biological Evidence and the Medicolegal Exam
  • Interviewing Suspects and Victims


Topic: The Victim
  • Forensic Victimology
  • Eyewitness ID and Testimony
  • False Allegations of Sexual Assault
Topic: Physical Evidence
  • DNA for Detectives
  • Reconstructing the crime


Topic: The Offender
  • Rapist Motivations
  • Rapist Modus Operandi and Signature
  • Investigating Serial Rape
  • Sex Crimes on Trial
This course is open to the public, however it is intended primarily for front-line criminal justice professionals including:
  • Patrol officers
  • Criminal investigators
  • Sex crimes investigators
  • Forensic Nurses
  • Criminal Attorneys

    Elgin Community College
    1700 Spartan Drive
    Elgin, Illinois 60134

    January 9-11, 2014
    9:00AM - 5:00PM Daily

    Brent Turvey, PhD

    Phone: 907-738-5121

    Shawn Mikulay, PhD

    Phone: 847-214-7963


    Det. John Baeza 
    (pictured right, circa 1995).

    Det. John J. Baeza, NYPD 
    Manhattan Special Victim Squad (ret.)

    John Baeza is a retired NYPD Detective. He worked on patrol in Harlem's 32nd Precinct and then was transferred to Manhattan North Narcotics where he worked as an undercover police officer/ Detective. He then worked in the Manhattan North Narcotics Major Case Unit as both an investigator and undercover.

    He transferred to the Detective Bureau where he worked in the Manhattan Special Victims Squad. There Det. Baeza was involved in the investigation of thousands of cases and related crime scenes, including: sex crimes, rapes, serial rapes, sexual homicides, child abuse, false reports, and other felony crimes. He was also temporarily assigned to the Manhattan North Homicide Squad for six months.

    Now retired from the NYPD, John Baeza recently worked as the Director of Security for the Ron Paul 2012 United States Presidential Campaign. He served in this capacity, on the road, for fifteen months working with federal, state, local, and campus police.

    John Baeza is currently a Criminal Case Analyst, providing consulting on the investigative review of the following: Criminal Profiling, Criminal Investigative Procedures, Homicide, Rape, Child Abuse, False Reports, Linkage Analysis, and Proper Interview of Victims and Suspects. He is involved in both trial consultations and post-conviction review.

    Brent Turvey
    Mexico City (2013)
    Brent E. Turvey, Ph.D.
    Forensic Scientist/ Criminal Profiler 

    Brent Turvey holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, with an emphasis on Forensic Psychology, and an additional Bachelor of Science in History. He went on to receive his Masters of Science in Forensic Science after studying at the University of New Haven, in West Haven, Connecticut. He also holds a Ph.D. in Criminology from Bond University.

    Since graduating in 1996, Brent has consulted with many government agencies, law enforcement agencies, and private attorneys in the United States, Australia, China, Canada, Barbados, Korea and Scotland on a range of rapes, homicides, and serial/ multiple rape/ death cases, as a forensic scientist and criminal profiler. This includes cases under investigation, as well as those going to trial. He has also been court qualified as a forensic expert in the areas of criminal profiling, forensic science, victimology, and crime reconstruction, providing expert examinations and courtroom testimony in legal jurisdictions throughout the United states since 1996.

    He is the author of Criminal Profiling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis, 4th Ed. (2011); and co-author of  Rape Investigation Handbook, 2nd Ed. (2011); Crime Reconstruction, 2nd Ed. (2011); Forensic Victimology, 2nd Ed. (2013); and Ethical Justice (2013) - all with Elsevier Science.

    Brent is currently a full partner, Forensic Scientist, Criminal Profiler, and Instructor with Forensic Solutions, LLC (, as well as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Sociology and Justice Studies at Oklahoma City University. He is also the Secretary of the Academy of Behavioral Profiling, as well as a member of their board of directors.

    Paul J. Ciolino
    Private Investigator
    Paul J. Ciolino, Investigator
    Paul J. Ciolino & Associates, Inc.

    Paul J. Ciolino is an internationally known investigator who has specialized in catastrophic civil and high profile murder investigations for over thirty years. He has appeared on network and cable television stations as commentator, analyst, panel member, and expert on sex and murder cases on over one hundred occasions. He is also a paid investigative consultant for CBS News.

    Ciolino is the author of In The Company of Giants: The Ultimate Investigation Guide For Legal Professionals, Journalists & The Wrongly Convicted

    He is also a co-author of the best selling and critically acclaimed textbook Advanced Forensic Civil Investigations,  published by Lawyers and Judges Publishing Company. And he is the co-author of Advanced Forensic Criminal Defense Investigations.


    Those interested in registering for this workshop may pay by check, money order, or Visa/ MC. ECC students can enroll for course credit. 

    Visa/ MC
    Click on the appropriate link below.

    1. Law Enforcement/ Government

        Individual rate:                                 $355.00 = Click here.

    2. Law Enforcement/ Government 

        Group rate*:                                      $295.00 = Click here.

    3. Student rate**:                                 $275.00 = Click here.

    4. Non-Student/ Public:                      $375.00 = Click here.

    *Group rate = 3 or more registrants from the same organization.
    **Must be enrolled in an accredited college or university; student ID required.

    Check or Money Order
    Make all checks or international money orders payable to Forensic Solutions, LLC in US Dollars. Also, provide your name, employment/ student information, and contact information including phone and email so that we can contact you and send updates.

    Mail to:
    Forensic Solutions, LLC
    P.O. Box 2175
    Sitka, Alaska 99835 

    Re: Sex Crimes Academy

    Registration fee includes the cost of the textbook, Rape Investigation Handbook, 2nd Ed. by Savino and Turvey. Copies will be provided to registrants at the door.

    Friday, July 5, 2013

    Rape Investigation Handbook, 2nd Ed.

    from: Rape Investigation, 2nd Ed., by Co-authors Brent E. Turvey, PhD and Det. John Savino, NYPD (ret).

    "Few individuals can walk forward knowing that they have truly made a profound difference. Be one of those individuals; strive to be a determined professional, relentless in the pursuit of justice for both victim and criminal alike; be an individual with integrity and passion in pursuit of justice"
    -John O. Savino

    Each and every one of us will travel a different path to becoming an investigator. Our journey down that path influences our investigative abilities and helps determine the type of investigator we will become. It is hoped that sharing my path, and my journey, will help others resolve issues in their own, and also shed some light on how this textbook came to be.

    My particular journey as a Sex Crimes investigator with the New York City Police Department’s Manhattan Special Victims Squad, where I spent 18 1/2 years investigating sexual assaults and child abuse allegations, began innocently enough. In 1989, I was promoted to Detective and transferred from the Manhattan North Narcotics Division to the quiet and peaceful Central Park Precinct – or so I thought. Central Park is 840 acres located in the middle of Manhattan, visited by approximately 35 million people a year. It is also a home to squirrels, birds, fish and other animals.

    The Central Park Jogger Case
    One of my first assignments was a sexual assault that occurred on a jogging path in Central Park only a few weeks after: the now infamous "wolf pack" assault of a jogger which occurred in April of 1989. It was a case that shock and enraged all of New York City. The NYPD quickly arrested five teenagers in connection with the brutal beating and rape of the young investment banker, who had been attacked while jogging. The five teens quickly confessed to the assault, and rape, and admitted to leaving her dying in a ravine next to the jogging path.

    Needless to say the pressure was on to solve this new sexual assault. The victim in the new assault had been jogging when she was approached by several youths, who grabbed her and attempted to knock her to the ground before they attempted to sexually assault her. Because of the heightened state of alert after the "wolf pack" assault, other joggers had chased the youths away, and prevented the assault. In 1989 when these assaults occurred, video surveillance equipment was not as prevalent as it is today, NYPD did not have databases available of known offenders or photo databases of everyone arrested in the city available for viewing by victims, DNA testing was still in its infancy and not available in New York City at the time. The NYPD complaint system was not yet computerized and there were no manuals or booklets available on how to investigate a sexual assault. There certainly were no instructions provided on how to conduct an investigation with New York City watching on the TV news and in the newspapers.

    The search for the bad guys began with an interview of the victim, whom I was able to convince to visit a Hospital to document any possible injuries she may have suffered after the assault. I visited the location of the assault the very next day at the same exact time of the assault in an effort to locate any possible witnesses, because they may have used the same path the day before. 

    I then began visiting each of the nine police precincts that surrounded Central Park and located several youths who fit the general description of the assailants and who had been issued summonses for a minor infraction by a uniformed patrol officer on the day of the sexual assault. I also decided to visit several of the youths who confessed to the sexual assault of the female jogger. Several weeks after their arrest, I was transferred to the Manhattan Sex Crimes Squad and began my journey as a Sex Crimes Investigator.

    Obviously, this was not the end of that story, but more about that shortly.

    The Manhattan Special Victims Squad
    After being assigned to the Sex Crime Squad, I quickly realized that sexual assault was a very unique crime and with an extremely high recidivism rate. On my own time, I began reading everything I could find about sex offenders, interviewing techniques, and books on homicide investigations. At the time, there were numerous books available on how to run a good homicide investigation, but none of these focused on the actual process of conducting sexual assault investigations.

    I also began gathering intelligence on sex offenders and photographs of everyone arrested by the NYPD for any type of sex crime. The photographs were placed in photo albums to bring to victims to view after they were assaulted. When the unit received its first Personal Computer, created a database that was used to assist with identifying similarities among assaults and offenders, which helped investigators to link those with similarities more quickly. I learned the difference between signature behavior and M.O. behavior, and incorporated that as well.

    Complaint information was also entered into the database, and this helped identify victims who had filed multiple sexual assault complaints.

    Beyond the database issues, I studied the different typologies of sex offenders in an effort to help with my interrogations when they were caught. I also began meeting with Rape advocates to explain what sex crime investigators do. I turn, learned what they do and how to enlist their cooperation to advancing my investigations.

    Around the same time, I made the decision to visit the police crime laboratory. I eventually made friends with the laboratory personal, who taught me about the ABO/ secretor-non-secretor blood typing method, which was used prior to DNA. Since 1989, the technological advances in DNA and advances in policing have helped solve many investigations and exonerated the wrongly accused.

    All of these things were done to educate myself, to utilize every tool and resource at my disposal (and make them when they didn’t exist), and to make the squad more effective at the task of sex crime investigations.

    DNA Advances & Matias Reyes
    In 2002, Matias Reyes confessed to being solely responsible for the "wolf pack" assault of the Central Park jogger back in 1989. The five teenagers originally arrested had their subsequent convictions vacated. As reported in Saulny (2002):

    Thirteen years after an investment banker jogging in Central Park was savagely beaten, raped and left for dead, a Manhattan judge threw out the convictions yesterday of the five young men who had confessed to attacking the woman on a night of violence that stunned the city and the nation.

    In one final, extraordinary ruling that took about five minutes, Justice Charles J. Tejada of State Supreme Court in Manhattan granted recent motions made by defense lawyers and Robert M. Morgenthau, the Manhattan district attorney, to vacate all convictions against the young men in connection with the jogger attack and a spree of robberies and assaults in the park that night.

    The judge ruled based on new evidence pointing to another man, Matias Reyes, a convicted murderer-rapist who stepped forward in January, as the probable sole attacker of the jogger. He was linked to the rape by DNA and other evidence, as the reliability of the earlier confessions and other trial evidence was cast in doubt.

    Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly reacted yesterday to the judge's decision with a bluntly worded statement that underscored the breach that had opened in recent weeks between the Police Department and the district attorney's office over the case.

    Mr. Kelly challenged the credibility of Mr. Reyes's claim that he had acted alone. He also complained that the district attorney's office had denied his detectives access to important evidence needed for the department's own investigation.

    Technically, Justice Tejada's ruling made a new trial possible. But after the judge vacated the convictions, Peter Casolaro, an assistant district attorney, immediately responded with a motion dismissing the indictments and forgoing a new trial.

    Justice Tejada replied, ''The motion is granted. Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.''

    Then the stuffy, crowded courtroom on the 15th floor of 100 Centre Street erupted in screams, cheers, applause, and weeping by family and supporters of the young men -- Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Kharey Wise and Raymond Santana.

    They were all teenagers at the time of the attack on April 19, 1989. Now they are 28 to 30 years old and have all completed prison terms of 7 to 13 years for the park offenses.

    Despite their initial confessions, which were later recanted as coerced, no physical evidence associating the original group of teens with the crime scene had been found. Reyes’ DNA was the only DNA recovered from the crime scene.

    As advancements are made in DNA and other evidence technology, this will undoubtedly provide new tools available to the sex crimes investigator. But technology can sometimes make an investigator lazy. I am not sure where technology will take us in the future. Currently we have investigators running around with cotton swabs taking DNA samples from suspects, and we can test keyboards, cell phones, and even eyeglasses for the DNA of the individuals that used them.

    We may even have portable DNA testing machines in the future. But technology alone cannot solve a case. The investigator cannot rely on technology or pre-written check lists to solve a case. For example, in the current era of policing, the word "COMPSTAT" is tossed around by supervisors.

    "COMPSTAT" is short for "computer statistics", and is an accountability and management process for police departments. The "COMPSTAT" process has created lists of "Investigative Steps" to be followed during investigations, and too many bosses are more concerned with making sure these checklists are completed rather than with actually catching the right bad guy. This kind of political concern protects careers but keeps the real bad guys on the street.

    My journey with the Manhattan Special Victims Squad ended in May of 2007, when I retired from the NYPD. My decision to leave the Special Victims Squad was difficult but necessary as my wife, Elaine, and children, Brittney, and Anthony had also become casualties of the investigations I conducted. My dedication to the victims, my desire and drive to solve the case and lock up the bad guys required more than a 40 hour work week, and included missing many of family birthdays and holidays. After 251/2 years, the decision was made to end my career with NYPD and dedicate more time to my family.

    My Last Case
    In April of 2007, I worked my last sexual assault investigation with a detective newly assigned to the Manhattan Special Victims Squad. I was assigned to help guide him on his first high profile rape investigation. He had the distinction of being assigned to investigate the most heinous crime reported to the unit during my eighteen-year career in the sex crime squad, and possibly the history of the Manhattan Special Victims Squad.

    My journey was about to come full circle; I was now going to walk the path with a new detective as he began his journey, and help him avoid any pitfalls he might encounter. This would also be done under the microscope. The New York City press and the “brass” of the New York City Police Department would be watching every move we made. The brutality of this case had, once again, shocked New York City and brought all the political pressure a major investigation can bring.

    An offender had forced the victim, a 23-year old Columbia University student, into her apartment. She was held captive there for 19 hours while he both sexually assaulted and tortured her, repeatedly. This offender was keenly aware of forensic technology, because he poured bleach on the victim's genitalia in an effort to destroy his semen. He also used scissors to slash the victim's eyes so that she could not identify him, and tried to kill her by forcing the ingestion of different medications. He then poured scalding water on her body in an effort to wash away any evidence he may have left. The offender even went so far as to glue the victim’s mouth shut before he bound her to a futon bed, leaving her for dead. As reported in Newman (2007):

    The woman was returning to her apartment on Hamilton Terrace near West 141st Street on April 13 at 9:30 p.m. when a man who had gotten into the lobby entered the elevator with her and forced his way into her apartment, [Police Commissioner Raymond] Kelly said.

    Over the next 19 hours, Mr. Kelly said, the man tied the woman to her bed with computer cables and taped her mouth closed, raped and sodomized her repeatedly, burned her with hot water and bleach, slit her eyelids with scissors, and force-fed her an overdose of ibuprofen or a similar pain reliever.

    At one point last Saturday afternoon, Mr. Kelly said, the assailant took the woman’s A.T.M. card, withdrew $200 at a bodega on West 141st Street and returned to her apartment. A few hours later, he set fire to the woman’s futon and left her, unconscious, to die, Mr. Kelly said. She woke up to the smell of smoke, used the flames to melt the cable that bound her to the bed frame, and escaped, Mr. Kelly said.

    The offender had set the apartment on fire in an all out effort to destroy any physical evidence, including the victim herself. He wanted nothing left to chance.

    The victim regained consciousness before the apartment was completely engulfed. She was able to direct her bindings into a flame, releasing her from the futon. Partially blinded, she escaped the burning apartment and sought refuge with a neighbor.

    Technology played an important role in this investigation. In 2007, the New York City Police Department had a specialty unit called the "Real Time Crime Center", which had access to a multitude of databases and police surveillance cameras positioned throughout the city. Also, investigators spread out in the neighborhood and located surveillance footage of the assailant using the victim’s ATM card. Using surveillance footage and the victim’s description as a guide, we were able to get a flyer with a sketch all over the New York television news reports.

    Bosses were carrying the "COMPSTAT" checklist around, and making sure all of the boxes were checked off, but technology and checklists did not solve this case. We spent several sleepless days processing the crime scene; we wanted to make sure the criminalist assigned did not miss anything. We actually made the crime scene unit come back several times to gather more evidence we thought might help identify the offender.

    We also gathered the victim's personal belongings after the scene was completely processed – the ones that had not been damaged or destroyed by the fire. We did this because she and her family told us they would never be able to return to the apartment again.

    Eventually we were ordered to go home and get some sleep, but we did not leave. We were running on adrenaline, and did not want to go home until we caught this guy. We spent our time reviewing the hundreds of tips that came pouring into the NYPD's tip line from our flyers.

    One tip stood out, and it eventually led us to Robert A. Williams, a homeless career criminal whose father lived only a short distance from the victim’s building. As reported in Newman (2007):

    The attack set off a citywide manhunt, and the police released a sketch of the attacker based on the bodega security video and descriptions by the victim and by people who had seen the man in the lobby…

    On Thursday around 5:40 p.m., the police were called to 190-25 Woodhull Avenue in Queens on a report of a burglary, Mr. Kelly said. A woman there told officers that she had seen a man leaving a vacant apartment next door to hers as she returned home, then noticed that her own apartment had been burglarized.

    Officers saw Mr. Williams leaving the building, questioned him and found his story wanting, Mr. Kelly said, noting that the man was carrying a screwdriver and a hammer. He was arrested without incident, Mr. Kelly said.

    At the 103rd Precinct station house, Mr. Kelly said, officers checked Mr. Williams to see if he had scars on his abdomen like those of the rapist. “The scars matched the description,” Mr. Kelly said.

    Mr. Williams, who is homeless, has a lengthy police record dating to his childhood, the authorities said. He was charged in a murder as a juvenile, though the outcome of that case is sealed, a law enforcement official said.

    In 1996, Mr. Williams was convicted of attempted murder and served the maximum eight-year sentence, in part because he was found guilty of 28 disciplinary violations in prison, said Linda Foglia, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Correctional Services. The infractions included assaulting prisoners and staff members, harassment, lewd conduct and throwing bodily secretions.

    With a strong suspect identified, we brought a photo array to the victim while she was still recovering in the burn unit. We all had to wear hospital scrubs and surgical masks so we did not contaminate her. We also used larger sized photographs in the array so that she could see them, even with the injuries in her eyes.

    When the victim positively identified Robert A. Williams in the array, we could see the relief on her face; we had identified the monster responsible for her suffering and he was not going to remain on the streets. Robert A. Williams was identified and apprehended only seven days after this brutal sexual assault, but not by technology, lists, or luck. This case was solved because of the dedication of the investigators assigned, and their need to bring closure to this victim, who at one point while being tortured during the attack had begged to be killed, to end her pain.

    Eventually, DNA also linked Williams to the crime and confirmed what the victim had already told us. But as I explained, DNA, technology, and computers were not the reason he was identified and captured – they were the tools of dedicated and tireless investigators. Robert A. Williams was convicted on July 24, 2008 with 44 counts, including attempted murder, arson, rape and sodomy and is currently serving life in prison.

    Since leaving the NYPD in 2007, I relocated to Florida with my family where I have been working as a detective with a large State Agency. I am currently conducting financial and fraud investigations, and have been able to successfully apply the techniques described in this text during in my new career. I’ve always said that if you can work sex crimes, you can work anything, and it proves truer every day.

    Rape Investigation Handbook, 2nd Ed.
    Investigators have tremendous influence over the outcome of sexual assault investigations, and even the healing process of the victims. The victim, it must be remembered, is the most important person in the investigation; without them we do not have a case. Once they have determined that a crime has occurred, the investigator must obtain the victim’s trust and confidence. They must also help them overcome any feelings of guilt, embarrassment or shame in order to have a successful prosecution. This takes time, sincerity, and continued follow-up.

    The investigator's job and responsibilities do not end with an arrest; they require much more. These are among the main goals of the sex crimes detective: the determination of criminal activity, the exoneration of the innocent, the identification and arrest of legitimate suspects, and their successful prosecution. This is justice, and it helps to heal both victims and communities.

    Det. John Savino (far left), Det. Fiol, and Sgt. Crespo, 
    Manhattan Special Victims Squad, with 
    Robert A. Williams (center; cuffed).

    This book was created in an effort to provide the fledgling investigator, novice investigator, seasoned investigator and even students of criminal justice with the fundamentals of conducting an investigation in the service of justice. During my career as a sex crime investigator, I discovered there was a need for this type of text, which makes available techniques and procedures discovered during many years spent conducting thousands of sexual assault investigations. 

    These techniques can be used successfully during any investigation: from the initial report, to the collection and examination of physical evidence, and towards a successful prosecution. However, we also detail the dynamics of a sexual assault, from both the victim and offender perspectives. It is a comprehensive case approach to sexual assaults; it draws from the lessons we have learned in our casework, as well as from the experiences of our distinguished contributors.

    I would like to acknowledge and thank Brent Turvey, whom I’ve known and worked with now over the course of the last 18 years. Without him this text would not be possible. His faith and patience is greatly appreciated along with our many philosophical cross-country telephone calls.

    Brent and I are excited to present this updated text, and have enlisted the assistance of some of the top experts in their fields to contribute, and provided their knowledge and expertise. It also needs to be said that I have been personally inspired by the victims that I came to know during my career with the Manhattan Special Victims Squad. They have exhibited extraordinary strength, courage, determination and patience during the investigative process. The victims I have worked for have placed their utmost trust in me during their investigations and it is for them that I participate in writing this text. 

    It is my professional belief that a sex crimes investigator should always put

    forth their best effort, because their actions, or lack thereof, have lasting effects on the lives of those they touch. The investigator, after all, has the ability to leave the trauma in the office, or the case folder in the desk drawer. And they must, in order to meet the new challenges that they face every day. The victim, however, does not have this luxury; each is uniquely burdened with their own injuries, every minute of every day for the rest of their life. Some learn to survive well and with dignity; some do not; and many others fall in-between. The best chance they have at justice, and survival with dignity, is to be treated professionally and with respect by the investigator. This is shown only by the efforts that are made to follow up on evidence, investigate all leads, and to ensure that any arrests made can result in a clean and certain prosecution.

    It is my hope that the readers of this text are attempting to become better investigators. If so, I am certain that if they follow the information and guidelines we have provided they are on their way to becoming a better investigator. There is no doubt about this, and about the fact that it will
    make a difference in someone's life.

    -John Savino

    "To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Newman, A. (2007) “Man Is Arrested in Torture of Student at Columbia,” The New York Times, April 21.

    Saulny, S. (2002) “Convictions and Charges Voided In '89 Central Park Jogger Attack,” The New York Times, December 20.