Paint Flakes, Car Parts and a Memory

Date Published 09.09.13

There’s a new lead in the Golden State Killer case. I posted an update about it on the site here.


I won’t repeat myself except to say that I think real estate and construction are among the strongest areas to investigate in this case.


Cold case investigations are frequently a union between old evidence and new technology. In the Golden State Killer case, the clue of decades-old paint flakes has been resurrected and blasted to millions through a 24-hour news cycle and non-stop social media. The offender was infamous back in the day for his speed and ability to escape. If he’s still alive, he’s growing old in a world that outpaces him at every turn.


Another cold case has recently unearthed old clues. Literally --- the Oakland County Child Killer investigation from the 1970s, which I wrote about here and here, got a jolt when car parts were discovered buried in the ground during construction of a new home in Grand Blanc Township, near Flint. The car parts were of an old blue AMC Gremlin; victim Timothy King, 11, was observed talking to a man in such a car shortly before his abduction and murder. Investigators are currently examining the car parts for a connection.


Sometimes it’s not a material object like paints flakes or car parts that help solve a cold case, but a vivid, lingering memory. Hats off to blogger Richard Friend, of Lost Laurel, a website dedicated to “revisiting the vanishing retailers of Laurel, Maryland.”


In August 2012 Friend wrote a long post about the unsolved murder of 27-year old Stefanie Watson, a local woman who went missing in July 1982 and whose remains were found weeks later. The case had rattled him as a child. Friend decided to revisit the incident when he realized the 30-year anniversary of her murder was coming up.


A year later, this past July, Friend posted again about the case, and the news was startling. Investigators told him his story had breathed new life into the case. Forensic testing on preserved DNA from the back of the driver’s seat of Stefanie’s car matched a 68-year-old inmate named John Ernest Walsh, a convicted sex offender who’s been incarcerated since 1989. Walsh was charged with Stefanie’s murder.


Investigators in Santa Barbara are asking people to search their memories, because they know memory is powerful. It was powerful when someone digging in the ground came across a blue car part and remembered a boy murdered many years ago. It was powerful in Laurel, Maryland when an elegiac reminiscence partnered with a crime lab resulted in justice for Stefanie after 31 years.







The Feed

RT @emilynussbaum: The artful @hodgman's straightforward case for Hillary:
@Twaikuer @pattonoswalt @daveanthony Know what he does believe in? PAC $. Took 10K from HRC pac 2006. That means he's in her pocket.#BSLogic
@Twaikuer @pattonoswalt @daveanthony Good one. Unfortunately Bernie on record as not believing in charity.
@johnlevenstein Thanks for asking, btw. That's the kind of elevated discourse missing lately. A lot of mud slinging. #I'mNotAboveItEither
@johnlevenstein Can't convey it all thru Twitter but yes, she has flaws. Too poll-driven, burned needed bridges, trouble owning mistakes.