As happens in most deeply researched stories, I found interesting connections that did not make their way into my Dirty Laundry crime story. Two involved Angela DeDear, the Liberty, Texas title company officer and step-daughter of murder victim Joe Floyd Collins.
April 6, 2013 Associated Press
Authorities have a video from a police interrogation room that shows a murder suspect shooting a detective to death before killing himself with the officer's gun, a person with knowledge of the investigation said Saturday.
The suspect, Jeremy Powell, was not handcuffed during questioning at the Jackson Police Department on Thursday, the person said on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the ongoing investigation.
Powell overpowered Det. Eric Smith and took his gun, shooting the veteran detective four times before shooting himself in the head inside a third-floor room of the department's headquarters, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said. Other officers heard the shots ring out and rushed to the interview room, but both men were dead.
The AP has asked for the video to be released under open records laws, but authorities have not responded to the request.
Powell, 23, was being questioned about the stabbing death of a man whose body was found Monday near a Jackson street.
Ken Winter, executive director of the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police, said it's not unusual for a suspect to be unrestrained during questioning.
April 6, 2013 Reuters
JOHANNESBURG - Thieves have made off with 66 rhino horns worth some $2.75 million in one of the biggest horn heists South Africa has seen after breaking into the safe of a game farm owner.
The horns had been removed from rhinos at the Leshoka Thabang Game Reserve in northern Limpopo province to protect the animals from poachers who supply them illegally to international crime syndicates.
Demand has also been growing for rhino horn in Vietnam, where a newly affluent class has been buying it to treat ailments ranging from hangovers to cancer. The treatments have no basis in science but demand has pushed the price up to $65,000 a kg, making it more expensive than gold.
"In my hands it is worth nothing, but in the hands of the guys who have it now, the horns are worth a lot of money," Johan van Zyl, owner of the game farm, told Reuters by telephone.
He said about 42 kg of horn had been stolen, which, according to prices of Vietnamese traditional medicine deals, would sell for about $2.75 million on the streets of Hanoi.
April 5, 2013 Huffington Post
Prosecutors and police cooperated more than ever before in 2012 to free people falsely convicted of crimes they didn't commit, according to a new study.
Last year, 63 people were exonerated, according to figures compiled by the National Registry of Exonerations. In more than half of the cases, law enforcement officials launched the process to clear the names of the innocent -- or at least cooperated with reviews triggered by others.
The participation of district attorneys and cops in 54 percent of the exonerations stands in stark contrast to previous years tallied by the Registry. Going back to 1989, researchers spotted the helping hand of law enforcement in only 30 percent of the exonerations.
"We see a clear trend. Prosecutors and police are more open to re-investigating cases and clearing the names of innocent people who were wrongfully convicted," said University of Michigan law professor and Registry editor Samuel Gross in a statement. "This is as it should be. The purpose of law enforcement is to seek truth and pursue justice. I’m glad to see they are now doing so more often after conviction, to help correct some of the terrible mistakes we sometimes make."
Julius & Ethel Rosenberg
On April 5, 1951, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are sentenced to death after being found guilty of conspiring to transmit atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. The Rosenberg case began with the arrest of Klaus Fuchs, a German-born and U.S.-employed scientist who confessed to passing classified information about the U.S. atomic program to the Soviets. Following his 1950 conviction, U.S. authorities began an extensive investigation of Los Alamos, New Mexico, the top secret U.S. atomic development headquarters where Fuchs worked during the war.
April 4, 2013 Associated Press
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. — Just months before being gunned down, Sheriff Eugene Crum made good on a campaign promise to do what many in law enforcement have attempted in southern West Virginia — crack down on drugs, especially the illegal sale of prescription pills.
In three months and two days on the job, he'd already helped indict dozens of suspected drug dealers through Mingo County's new Operation Zero Tolerance.
Authorities haven't said whether that work was related to his shooting death at midday on a street in the small town of Williamson on Wednesday, but residents and county officials suspect it.
Crum's team has targeted people "who spread the disease of addiction among our residents," said County Commission President John Mark Hubbard.
Resident Jerry Cline stood near the site of the slaying hours later, the drug crackdown clearly at the forefront of his thoughts.
"He told them right before he got in as sheriff, 'If you're dealing drugs, I'm coming after you. I'm cleaning this town up,'" Cline said. "He got out just to do one thing, and that's to clean this town up. That's all that man tried to do."
Martin Luther King Jr. assassination scene
On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. is shot to death at a hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. A single shot fired by James Earl Ray from over 200 feet away at a nearby motel struck King in the neck. He died an hour later at St. Joseph's Hospital. The death of America's leading civil rights advocate sparked a wave of rioting in the black communities of several cities around the country.
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