Annie Dookhan, a chemist at the Hinton State Laboratory in Boston, was loved by prosecutors — she was a whiz, testing more drug evidence than everyone else in the lab, and she always got them the results they wanted. Although some of her coworkers wondered just how she got it done, no one else was very concerned because she was helping put people in jail.
In 2011, someone in the lab noticed she’d forged the name of an evidence officer in a log book. Investigators started pulling that string, and when all was said and done charges against more than 21,000 people convicted of drug crimes were dropped and estimates were she may have falsified evidence in more than 40,000 drug cases.
Find out how Annie Dookhan went from being a shining star in the Massachusetts criminal justice system to the biggest fraud in Massachusetts history.
And as a bonus, the trailer for our new Groovy Tube podcast!
Joyce Carol Vincent was pretty, bubbly, smart and talented. She also didn’t talk about her past and had parts of her life even those closest to her knew nothing about. Still, when the remains of a woman were found in a London bedsit in January 2006, about three years after the woman died, none of her friends or acquaintances realized it was the Joyce they had known. It just wasn’t possible.
But really, it kind of was.
Join us for Episode 28.
And in recommendations, we talk about Nobel Prize winner and all-around huge influence Bob Dylan. Spoiler alert: We love him.
You might remember Phil Hartman from Saturday Live, where in the 1980s he was uproariously funny as Frankenstein in the ongoing Frankenstein, Tarzan and Tonto bit, or as the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer (“Your world frightens and confuses me…” Trust us, it was funny). Or maybe you loved him on The Simpsons, where he did another lawyer, Lionel Hutz, and Troy McClure, a newscaster and former unmemorable actor, who always opened with, “You might remember me from such roles as…”
And you also probably remember Hartman was shot May 28, 1998, by his wife, Brynn, who then shot herself.
We look back at Hartman, his wife, and the circumstances surrounding the murder-suicide.
When Blanche Kimball was stabbed to death in her home in Augusta, Maine, in 1976, police were stymied. She’d been stabbed 44 times and left to die, only found by police after neighbors became concerned at least a week after she was killed.
Gary Raub — then Gary Wilson — was at the time tearing an alcohol and violence-fueled path through central Maine, but somehow avoided serious attention from the police.
The case was one of Maine’s oldest cold cases. But in 2012, DNA and some smart cross-country detective work and, ultimately, a piece of apple pie flavored chewing gum, led to Raub’s arrest 3,000 miles away.
The case was the oldest cold case in Maine to be solved.
We also discuss “Tower,” more Kimmy Schmidt and lots of other stuff.
So, what do you do with a musical genius who loves guns and scares the hell out of people?
Well, since he’s rich, more famous than famous and influential, nothing.
Until someone gets hurt.
Phil Spector, whose “wall of sound” production transformed the music of the 60s, spent decades bending people to his will with crazy antics and the threat of violence. Lana Clarkson, an actress and part-time hostess at the House of Blues in LA, didn’t know spector when she met him in February 2003 when he stopped into the House of Blues in February 2003. She made the mistake of accepting Spector’s invitation of a drink and shop talk at his house that night. She didn’t get out alive.
Episode 25. Join us as we talk about Phil Spector’s murderous wall of crazy.
[In photo: Phil Spector points a gun as his bodyguard helps him in 1975. (Mark S. Wexler/Corbis)]
In April, Richard Dabate was arrested on charges he murdered his wife in December 2015. The evidence against Dabate is a cyber-crumb track of electronic device information, the biggest ones provided by the Fitbit his wife was wearing when she was shot in their Connecticut home. Investigators said it’s the first time a Fitbit has been used to help bring murder charges against someone.
More than 30 years before, another woman was killed, also by a Connecticut Richard. Helle Crafts body was never found — her husband had chopped her frozen, dismembered corpse up with a woodchipper and sprayed it into the Housatonic River during a blizzard. But enough was found to convict him, the first time in Connecticut someone was convicted without a body.
Two stories of relentless investigation helped along by tiny details, as well as some mind-blowing idiocy and laughable narcissism.
When 16-year-old Jessica Briggs was found dead under the Maine State Pier in Portland in May 1989 — stabbed, beaten and eviscerated — police quickly narrowed their focus to her fellow street kids. They arrested her sometime boyfriend Tony Sanborn in 1990, he was convicted of her murder in 1992 and an appeal failed in 1994. In April, after 27 years behind bars, Sanborn was let out on bail after attorneys spent more than a year combing through police and prosecution files that show a trail of lies and constitutional violations.
The star witness? 13 at the time of the murder? Turns out she was legally blind and couldn’t see what she’d claimed she’d seen, something the prosecution didn’t share with the defense. Another important witness? Police had threatened to pursue the adult man’s sexual assaults on underage girls unless he testified that Sanborn told him he’d killed Briggs. The defense didn’t know about that, either. And that’s just the beginning.
Sanborn’s release was a first for Maine, but what lead to it will blow your mind.
Join us for Episode 22! And keep an eye out for Episode 22.2, with important updates on this ongoing case.
Today’s quiz: After 9/11, what was the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil? You know, the one that killed more people than any other? That’s right, Oklahoma City. Don’t you feel people have kind of forgotten about that one?
In any case, we talk about Tim McVeigh the twisted white supremacist whose bomb killed 168 people, including 19 young children in a day care center in 1995, including what led him to it and what happened after.
Episode 21. You never know what we’re going to say. Neither do we.
In a VERY SPECIAL episode, we feature the April 2 Noir at the Bar event, in which a dozen members of the Maine Crime Writers blog and some guest speakers read (brief!) passages from their work. The Maine Crime Writers blog is a loose group of published mystery and crime writers who live in, and often write about, Maine. The genres run the gamut from cozy to hard-boiled — a little something for everyone. There may even be some lobsters and lighthouses.
Martha Moxley was bludgeoned to death, then stabbed through the neck with the broken end of a golf club when she was 15. If it had happened in 2015, an arrest probably would have been made almost immediately. But it happened in 1975 in an exclusive gated neighborhood in Connecticut and the man finally convicted in 2002 — Michael Skakel — came from a rich, powerful family that did everything it could to make sure police couldn’t do their jobs. And now, 15 years after his conviction, his money and relationship to the Kennedy family means the legal acrobatics JUST. WON’T. STOP. We take you through the nigh of October 30, 1975, and what happened in the ensuing decades, right up to now, as the Connecticut Supreme Court waits to consider a motion to appeal Skakel’s conviction, which it upheld in December.
It’s a story of wealth, power, privilege, kow-towing cops and warring writers. It’s a story of two families, one that had it together and another that was falling apart. Mostly, though, it’s the story of a teenage girl who died for no good reason, and the failure of the system to do something about it for a long, long time.
It was the best of times, then the worst of times, for two con men — and their marks — as they separately traveled America using one of the country’s most famous and powerful names to wheedle their way into the hearts and minds of the rich. And ultimately, for one, to commit murder. What drove these two very different men — one French, one German — to call themselves Rockefeller? And why did people who should know better buy it?
It’s a funny, shocking, tragic and ultimately sad story.
Everyone makes stalking jokes. Everyone. But from the time it first came into modern public perception as a thing, to the recent murder of singer Christina Grimmie, and for millions of regular people who aren’t celebrities and have to live with it every day, it’s not a joke at all.
What’s happened since the vicious 1982 attack on actress Theresa Saldana, or the 1989 murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer? Or even since the June murder of Grimmie? And when did we actually start calling it stalking? And what’s the deal with “Catcher in the Rye”?
Also, we talk to lawyer Matt Nichols about why it’s okay to revoke bail for some people charged with big crimes, and our recommendations include old-timey movies that we like even though they’re not in color.
From drunken assaults to sex trafficking to an Uber app in which Satan told the driver to kill, the ride-share business has had plenty of crime during its short life. Drivers, passengers, bystanders — everyone joins the party. We discuss some of the highlights from our special perspective of being Uber drivers ourselves.
Buckle up, folks. It’s going to be a rough ride.
And on this week’s recommendations, a discussion of other things devolves into a rant on why Maureen won’t read the Harry Potter books. I know! What’s wrong with her?
What seemed like a good thing for people on the margins when it started out turned into one of the most horrific tragedies of the late 20th century, thanks to a narcissistic megalomaniac who had just enough charisma to convince politicians he was a godsend and to leave him alone, get a thousand people to follow him into the jungle and ultimately get many of them to kill their children then die because he convinced them it was the best thing for them.
Fond of the cliche “drink the Kool Aid”? Here’s where it came from. And it’s not pretty. Anyway, it was Flavor Ade.
We take a look at Jim Jones, Jonestown and what led to the 1978 massacre in Guyana.
Also, Matt Nichols talks about what attorney-client privilege really means in Ask a Lawyer, then we complain about 48 Hours and Dateline — aren’t there enough murders in the U.S. for them to do some fresh shows? Sheesh.
A special road trip episode as we talk in the car ride home from Washington DC about the Women’s March and other stuff. Fun fun fun with one million others! What’s the deal with the crowd count? The guys who were there? What was the deal with the boy in the tree? What DID he see? What we saw, did, heard. Why the hell did we go, anyway? Not a lot of crime, just a lot of stuff.
This is a departure from our usual, so if you would rather hear about crime (and stuff), check out our other episodes. We’ll talk about Jonestown and how it’s about more than just “drinking the Kool-Aid” the week of January 29, and Chandra Levy the week after that.
Time for a traffic study, America!
Here’s a small taste of us, along with sister Nicki and friends Kayla and Paige, at the Women’s March in DC!
What happens when the details of a tragedy become the foundation of internet legend? We discuss the Massachusetts nursing student’s disappearance on a dark New Hampshire road as the 12-year mark approaches, it’s connection with the Vermont disappearance of 17-year-old Brianna Maitland a month later, as well as the possible Boston serial killer of young mostly drunk men and a bunch of other stuff.
And we tie it together. we promise.
We also discuss the CSI Effect with lawyer Matt Nichols and then we profess our love for The Mod Squad and other cop shows of our childhood. Solid.
It’s been 20 years since the body of JonBenet Ramsey was found in the basement of her parents’ Boulder, Colorado home. She’d been bludgeoned to death and strangled. The case has, to quote one documentary “haunted America” ever since and, America being what it is, spawned a variety of documentaries over the past months, some good but most not so much.
We discuss some of the docs, as well as the “evidence” and evidence of the crime, including the implausible intruder story and the role of her parents, John and the late Patsy Ramsey in keeping the investigation from ever reaching a realistic result. The story has everything: sexploitation of a cute kid, rich white folks, dueling investigators, lies and videotape.
Sarah Cheiker happily lived most of her 80-plus years in her Los Angeles bungalow. That changed when three drifters befriended her. In 2008 she disappeared, turning up 3,000 miles away in Maine four years later, abandoned in a ramshackle cabin that the police officer who found her said he wouldn’t keep his dog in.
What happened to Cheiker from the time she met Nicholas and Barbara Davis in the mid-2000s to when she was found in Maine in 2011 will make your hair freeze.
We discuss her long strange trip on this week’s Crime & Stuff, and then have attorney Matt Nichols clarify some of the nuances of multi-state crime in Ask a Lawyer.
We also trash Santa Claus, moon over Dennis Lehane and discuss Tig Nataro’s “One Mississippi.”