Timothy, Sean, Etsy discussed on Crime Junkie

Crime Junkie


When he's done, the person conducting the polygraph says that in his opinion, Eddie is telling the truth. Police don't have enough to charge him with anything. And back in New York, despite his unwillingness to speak with detectives, Joey also agrees to take a polygraph and he passes too, so no charges for him either. That same day, Timothy's case goes to a grand jury, and he's indicted on a second degree murder charge. But by now, Dennis has already started to build a really strong defense. Because Timothy's mother is certain that in January of 1986, Timothy was actually in a youth group home called saint cabrini, which is an hour away from Middletown. Timothy was apparently sent there because he was getting into some trouble. But he hadn't been arrested or anything back then, so we're not talking about a high security setup. I mean, still, the kids who stay there are monitored. And his lawyer realizes that this could be the answer to their prayers. He subpoenas the records from saint cabrini and sure enough, he sees that Timothy's placement there went from December 30th, 1985, through January 31st, 1986. Dennis is now totally convinced that Timothy's confession was bogus. But the records he has won't be enough to satisfy the court. Their general placement records, there's no documentation proving that Timothy was there when Sean was killed. So it's time to get the DA's office on board. Of course, prosecutors want more information. So they send an investigator of their own to the facility to dig deeper. The DA's investigator manages to get more detailed records that show not just placement, but hourly bed checks on the day of the murder. Dennis pours through the records as fast as he can, but in the meantime, a preliminary hearing is held, where police dispute the defense's claims that Timothy's confession was coerced. Detectives who testify say Timothy wasn't scared at all. He was totally calm when they spoke with him, and they were, too, because they didn't think that they were interviewing a suspect. But Dennis says that with a guy like Timothy, police wouldn't have had to be wildly aggressive to get him talking. He was very compliant, and it would have been easy to press his buttons. An article by police interrogation expert Richard a Leo in the journal of the American academy of psychiatry and the law says that people who are highly suggestible or compliant are more likely to falsely confess. Highly suggestible people tend to be unassertive and have higher levels of anxiety. And those in other personality traits can make them more vulnerable to interrogation pressure. Timothy could fit the bill, but maybe that doesn't even matter. Maybe those group home records will be all they need to prove that he wasn't involved. According to Tristan Corden's reporting, the saint cabrini records state that all 43 youths were in their beds from the night of January 15th, 1986 through the next morning. They were checked on every hour from one to 9 a.m., and in that important time window of like four to 6 a.m., staff noted that everyone was asleep and the cottage was clean and quiet. But it might not be the solid piece of evidence the defense thinks it is. This episode was made possible by Etsy, where special doesn't have to mean expensive. I don't know if you guys have met me before, but I adore sequin. And I used to say that I own way too much for someone who lives in Indiana, but I've got this whole new attitude about it now. I have stopped waiting for an occasion to wear it and now I wear a sequin to the office. It's a real moira rose vibe. You would love it, trust me. So I am always on the lookout for new and unique sequin pieces to mix into my wardrobe, and I have found some of the cutest stuff on Etsy. Like I just got this light sequined duster jacket with fringe on the ends that is adorable. But Etsy isn't just clothing, sellers on Etsy have handmade items in every category, like home decor, kids toys, jewelry, and more. If you're new to Etsy, use code hello ten at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase. That's code hello ten. Maximum offer value of $50 ends October 31st, 2022. See terms at Etsy dot com slash terms, extraordinary, handmade, affordable. Etsy has it. Shop Etsy dot com. That's because a sank cabrini staff member who was on duty at the time testifies at the hearing, and according to detective sergeant Jason Jennings, the man admits that he had been caught sleeping on the job once before. And his supervisor told him if it ever happened again he'd be fired. So, as for the group home records being indisputable proof that Timothy was nowhere near Middletown, investigators have their doubts. But his lawyer doesn't agree, he says the attendance records placed Timothy at saint cabrini continuously through the entire month of January in 1986. So if prosecutors want to move ahead, they're going to need to show that the facility's records are wrong. Not just around the time that Sean was murdered, but a couple of days before that when Timothee said that Eddie called him at home to arrange the whole thing. The DA realizes his office probably won't be able to tear apart Timothy's alibi. But there's one more thing that he wants before he just dismisses the murder charge. He asks for a polygraph. Under most circumstances, a defense attorney is not going to urge a defendant to take a polygraph. But this is not most circumstances. Not only is Dennis convinced that a polygraph won't hurt them, he thinks it's going to be the thing that saves Timothy. So on Saturday, October 17th, Timothy is brought in from jail to a library in the DA's office. While he answers questions, his lawyer Dennis, Timothy's mom, the DA and the investigator wait in another room. There's some nervousness in the air. Even though the defense thinks this will go their way with the polygraphs. I mean, you can never be a 100% sure. But Timothy finishes up and right then and there, they find out he passed. That Monday, after 12 days in Orange County jail, Timothy walks out a free man. The DA tells the public that at this point there is no indication that Sean was murdered because he was involved with drugs in some way, so police are back to square one. Detective Bernstein wants to keep going, maybe track down other group home employees, formally interview them, even polygraph them. But the chief tells him it's time to move on, the charge was dismissed, that's it. Cynthia tries to wrap her head around the latest development. I mean, in less than two weeks, there went from being three people potentially facing charges for her son's murder to none. It is a roller coaster ride that she never wanted to get on in the first place. And as much as the Edwards family has been trying to move forward, it's almost impossible to do while they're still being bombarded with rumors. Especially because many of the people who share info have an ulterior motive. Like, if someone is mad at a neighbor, they'll tell Cynthia the neighbor might have had something to do with Sean's murder, hoping that she'll pass it along to police. This goes on for years, and in October of 1999, that's when a new lead comes in. A man who just retired from the Middletown state hospital tells police that one of the psychiatric patients, a guy named William, used to threaten to kill staff members, quote, like he killed Sean Edwards. Because of HIPAA laws, the man hadn't been able to come forward when he was an active employee. But he once policed to know about it now. Investigators subpoenaed the hospital records, and when they managed to gather everything a few months later, detective Jerry misch goes through the hundreds of pages, at least ten thick binders. All of it dealing with staff's daily interactions with William. But there is nothing in the records implicating him in anything. And William was actually staying in the hospital at the time of the murder. He was occasionally allowed to leave on a day pass, but he couldn't just come and go as he pleased. He wouldn't have been able to wander around at 5 36 a.m.. And detective misch says there's nothing indicating William was ever missing from the hospital. So, that's it for that lead. But by now, technology has advanced considerably since Sean was killed. So in March of 2000, Middletown detectives meet with the state police forensics team for a case review. And here's where things get messy. For one thing, we don't know who handled or packaged the various pieces of evidence because sergeant Jennings told us that he couldn't find records detailing the chain of custody. A second issue is, at least some of the evidence, including Sean's bloody clothing, was preserved in plastic. According to a forensic scientist and crime scene expert, George skiro, any evidence that's damp or wet needs to be air dried completely and then packaged in unused dry paper containers. If it's left in plastic for more than a couple of hours, the evidence can be altered or destroyed because fungus or mold can start to grow. And listen, it's not like this was unknown science back then. A law enforcement investigations guide that was publicly released by the army in late 1985 says that damp garments should never be put in plastic bags because there's almost always rapid biological change. But I don't know how readily available this information was back then, especially to smaller departments. And I don't know what the common day to today practices were. But based on the condition of Shawn's evidence, the forensic pathologist tells Middletown that it's not clear if their lab will be able to get any DNA results. Although, it does seem like the lab was able to pull something. There was apparently a small sample of unidentified DNA found on a piece of evidence, but we don't have any details about that. And that's because of the third issue. We don't know the results of a lot of lab testing that was conducted because those records also can't be located. Last we heard Middletown was waiting on state police to get back to them with copies of the results, and they were also in the process of digitizing everything that they do have in Sean's case file, which is at least four huge boxes of records. So maybe they have these documents and just weren't able to find them when we spoke with them. I don't know why they aren't digitized or why these important facts aren't more diligently passed down or recorded in some other way is a more systematic problem that I honestly see across a lot of departments. At any rate, during that case review in 2000, the forensic pathologist shares some insight that bolsters the position many of the detectives have already taken, which is that considering Sean's athletic abilities, there was probably more than one assailant. She also tells them it might be worth it to get a blood stained pattern expert to look over the crime scene photos, which they do. That expert says it looks like Sean was standing up when he was stabbed based on the cast off blood stains on the wall behind him. Now I'm sure you guys know this but cast off blood is droplets that are thrown or transmitted onto a surface from a moving source of blood. So a bleeding victim or a bloody weapon being swung around. Now, with the evidence, it seems like all is not lost, because in 2002, after hearing about a new technique that uses gold dust to get fingerprints off clothing, detective mish starts making plans to submit Sean's football jacket for testing. Though it's hard to get fingerprints off fabric at the time, only two agencies were doing this. The U.S. Secret Service and the Royal Canadian mounted police. It takes almost a year to get it set up, but in March of 2003, Secret Service performed the test. But after all of the work that went into making it happen, police are disappointed when it yields nothing. But that same year, police get a tip that once again brings their attention back to Joey. This episode is made possible by sleep number. You guys I officially have it dialed in. Last night, my sleep IQ score was 83, and that was with my sleep number set at 75. Now I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so even 83 isn't perfect to me. I'm using the sleep IQ data that I'm given from my bed to continually dial it in even more. I am determined to get my sleep IQ into the 90s. You see, sleep IQ data shows sleepers who use their 360 smart bed technology get 28 more minutes of restful sleep per night. That is up to 170 hours per year. So why choose proven quality sleep from sleep number? That's because every great day starts the night before. Discover special offers now for a limited time at your local sleep number store, or at sleep number dot com slash crime junkie. Now a word from our sponsor better help. Recently, I had a physical, and it was like this long three hour process where I did blood work, and they checked my skin and my organs, and I mean, everything, except my mental health, which seems bananas since quite literally, you use your brain for everything, and how you experience the world around you, how you input information, how you react with people, completely affects your life. So it's important to invest time and care into keeping your mind healthy. Better help is online therapy that offers video phone and even live chat only therapy session. So you don't have to see anyone on camera if you don't want to. It's much more affordable than in person therapy, and it's available worldwide. Better help will assess your needs and the can match you with your own accredited therapist in under 48 hours. Visit better help dot com slash crime junkie and join the over 2 million people who have taken charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. Our listeners get 10% off their first month at better help dot com slash crime junkie. That's better HELP dot com slash crime junkie. A confidential informant says that the knife used in the Sean Edwards homicide is in a house that Joey's mom owned before she passed away. Specifically, in an air duct in the basement. And listen, if you're like me, you're like, hold up. I thought we already found the knife handle at the scene, wouldn't that have been the murder weapon? But police were never able to definitively conclude that anything found at the crime scene was used as a weapon. So this lead could be huge, especially because some investigators are still convinced that Joey has a hand in this somewhere somehow. So the new owner of the house agrees to let police have access to the basement. Feeling hopeful, officers go down there. They open up the air duct, and they find dust. Another dead end. Then, in 2007, detective mesh interviews someone about Sean, who says that that whole rumor about Sean stealing cocaine from Nelson was a garbled version of telephone. He says that he himself was actually the one who stole the cocaine. From Nelson's drug business partner. It's just one of the many bizarre turns this investigation has taken in the 36 years since Sean's murder. But it honestly makes sense and confirms what everyone has been saying all along that Sean had no involvement in drugs whatsoever. For the Edwards family, it has been decades of questions and grief and even fear because at times the family would get harassing phone calls where the caller would tell them that killers got the wrong sibling, and it should have been one of them who got murdered. They never figured out who was calling, or if the calls were really connected to Sean or just a terrible hoax. They tapered off and eventually stopped, so Cynthia thinks it was someone just screwing with their heads. Although why someone would take the time to do that is just beyond me. But get this, Cynthia had a notebook where she'd write down all of the rumors and stuff people told her about Sean. And at some point, she says someone broke in through the back door of her house, and they actually stole that out of her filing cabinet. And that's the only thing they stole. I don't know if she reported it because Cynthia and Sean's sister Kimberly said that over time, they really lost faith that police cared to help them. They felt like they were fighting an uphill battle alone. And they've had bad experiences with several different investigators. Police say that they've spent thousands of hours trying to get to the bottom of Sean's murder and doing everything they can to catch whoever's responsible. Behind the scenes, they tell us that the investigation is still active. It's cycled through multiple detectives as people have retired, including almost everyone Nina interviewed. The newest investigator, a man named Andrew Rosen says that the investigation has taken two different directions that police are now focusing on. One is still drug related, whether Sean himself was involved in drugs, or if he was just friendly with people in the game, police aren't sure. The other direction is that Sean found out about something that someone didn't want him to know. Exactly what that is, we don't know. All detective Rosen would say is that it's related to some sort of illegal activity. Again, not that Shawn was necessarily involved in it himself, but he might have known about it. Maybe whoever did this thought he was going to tell people something, which if you remember, is kind of what people have been telling Kimberly for years, and it could help explain why Sean was afraid in the time leading up to his death why he was carrying around a weapon. There was still a lot of different theories among retired and active cops. Some think Sean's murder was planned from the beginning, others think it started as a fight and then escalated. To Cynthia, the brutality of the attack makes her think it was deliberate. Someone wanted her son to die. And with advancements in technology, especially forensic genealogy, police say they're optimistic that they'll be able to learn more from the evidence they do have. In fact, detective Rosen says that there are plans in the works for more lab testing. Police have also developed potential new suspects, some of whom were not on the radar during the early investigation. They're being pretty tight lipped when it comes to naming them or discussing them at length. But they did say that several of these people are connected in some way, either loosely like they know each other or more directly, like they might have worked together to kill Sean. As far as older suspects and persons of interest, we tried to track down Timothy fair-weather, but we couldn't find any contact for him, but Nina managed to reach his mother, who said that he wouldn't be interested in speaking with us. None of the phone numbers that we found for Eddie Devlin worked, and other people had passed away, including Joey salgado, John fig Lucy, mister figg, and Nelson. Actually, it looks like Nelson was deported at some point and police heard that he was later killed in Colombia. The good news about some of the newer suspects is they're still alive, which means that if they are responsible, they can be held accountable for murdering a child who is still so missed so many years later. To this day, Kimberly has such a clear picture of Sean. The way he looked the last time she saw him alive, lounging on the couch, happy that big grin on his face, but she's also haunted by another memory. Sean in a casket at his funeral, just a few days after that. Cynthia doesn't understand how this could happen, and the grief that she carries in her heart is always there. And it has been from the moment that she learned her son had been killed. She told us, quote, I didn't let them roam the streets. They had a curfew to get home before dark. He's the last kid I ever thought that would happen to. End quote. Let's help this family get some small measure of comfort. Someone out there knows who is responsible for Sean's murder. So if you have any information about this case, please call the Middletown police at 8 four 5 three four three three one 5

Coming up next