Using MiniFiler™ to Solve a Cold Case Homicide

Using MiniFiler™ to Solve a Cold Case Homicide







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Using MiniFiler™ to Solve a Cold Case Homicide Using MiniFiler™ to Solve a Cold Case Homicide Presentation Transcript

  • San Diego Police Department Crime Laboratory
  • 805 & PALM AVE
  • Discovery of the bodies Palm Ave I-805
  • Discovery of the bodiesPalm Ave I-805
  • Saturday Morning –September 25, 1993 ELLIS The victims were lying by a smoldering fire pit. COMBS They did not have any identification on them. One of the victims (ELLIS) had a ball cap with the name “USS Constellation” on it. COMBS Underneath the bill was printed the name “ELLIS.” ELLIS
  • ELLIS USS Constellation HatCOMBS CAMERA
  • Results of Autopsy: COMBS  Two bullet wounds to the left side of his head.  One bullet wound in the left of his back. Bullet Wounds Bullet Wound
  • Results of Autopsy: ELLIS Bullet Wound Bullet Exit Wound wound on left side of torso, left side of head, and a Abrasion contact bullet wound on left side of forehead. AbrasionAbrasion Bullet Wound Bullet Wound
  • USS Constellation
  • KEITH COMBS 23 year old from Ohio Married to Lisa Combs Machinist Mate in the US Navy assigned to USS Constellation on North Island Living aboard the ship, wife in Philadelphia, PA
  • EUGENE “CLIFF” ELLIS 20 year old from Mississippi Engaged to Lucy HARDY, a sophomore at Mississippi State Machinist Mate in the US Navy assigned to USS Constellation on North Island Living aboard the ship
  • Time Line – September 24, 1993 Some time between 5:00-5:30 pm, ELLIS and COMBS meet up with friends POPE and MILLIGAN at the barracks. They drive there in ELLIS’ 1993 White Toyota 4x4 pick-up truck and get to the Palm and I-805 area around 7:00-7:30pm. They build a fire, drink their beer and hang out till 11:00 pm. POPE ELLIS COMBS POPE MILLIGAN MILLIGAN
  • MILLIGAN POPE MILLIGAN POPE COMBS with Photos recovered ELLIS’ Truck from Combs’ camera
  • Time Line 0130 – 0500 9/25/1993  Early Saturday morning, after the bar “Anchors and Spurs” closed, a large crowd of bar patrons went to 805 and Palm to build a bonfire and continue partying.  A group of about 30 - 50 people, mostly all USN, had gathered at one bonfire at 0130.  Ellisand Combs were seen at this bonfire between 0130 and 0500.  Theirbodies were discovered at 0745hrs.
  • SCENE PROCESSING: Items of evidence from the crime scene were processed for fingerprints, 13 prints were found. These prints did not match either of the victims. They were run through AFIS with no hits. These prints still remain to be identified. Beer bottles/soda cans found at the scene did not contain usable fingerprints. The casings found at the scene were all .22 caliber and fired from the same weapon.
  • On 9/29/93, 17-year old LeopoldoCHAVEZ, was stopped while drivingELLIS’ truck in Baja California.The State Judicial police determinedthe vehicle was stolen. Chaveztaken into custody.
  •  CHAVEZ was a documented Otay Mesa gang member and went by the moniker “Weasel.” CHAVEZ would not talk to SDPD and was charged with auto theft in Mexico, but extradited back to San Diego on an unrelated Juvenile Court warrant for escaping from Juvenile Hall. CHAVEZ was brought to SDPD on 10/7/93, but again exercised his right to silence.
  • TRUCK PROCESSING Several fingerprints from the truck matched to CHAVEZ. Items of evidence were collected included 1 bottle, 1 cup, clothing, a bandage, etc. Red Cup Clothes & Bandage Fingerprints Bottle Fingerprints in Door Jam
  • INVESTIGATION OF CHAVEZ Three witnesses identified CHAVEZ from a photo line-up as being in the area just prior to the victims being killed.
  • WHY THE CASE WENT COLD At the time a search warrant of CHAVEZ’ family’s residence in Tijuana was requested but was denied by Mexican Judicial Police. No physical evidence (including fingerprints) linked CHAVEZ to the scene and no other viable suspects could be identified. The Juvenile DDA and Superior Court DDA assigned to see if the case could be issued along with escape charges against CHAVEZ decided there was insufficient evidence to charge CHAVEZ at that time.
  • SUBSEQUENT INVESTIGATION Case reviewed in 2000 by SDPD and inactivated in 2001. In 2002 the case was reviewed by NCIS. Their case was also inactivated. In 2009 a review of the case at the SDPD by NCIS Special Agent Kim Tedesco lead to a request to the SDPD Laboratory for DNA examination of various items of evidence from the crime scene.
  • Heineken Sprite Can Cigarette ButtCigarette Butt Coors Lite Bottle Pepsi Bottle
  • Clothing ExamCombs’ clothing
  • USS ConstellationA single swab was used hatto swab all four pocketsfrom Combs’ jeans.A second swab wasused to swab all fourpockets from Ellis’jeans. Ellis’ clothing
  • Evidence from Ellis’ truckThe red cup, juice bottle, andbandage from the victim’s truckwere analyzed for DNA.
  • The age of the case and storageconditions of the evidence meant that degradation was a potential factor.
  •  Samples were analyzed with Identifiler while leaving sufficient to be retested (if needed) with Minifiler. If the concentration of a sample was such that only a single amplification was possible only Minifiler was attempted.
  • Analytical Summary Item Identifiler Minifiler 7 – Cigarette butt X X 8 – Cigarette butt X X 9 – Sprite can X 10 – Heineken beer bottle X 11 – Pepsi bottle X 12 – Coors Light bottle X X 24 – Comb’s pants pockets X 33 – Ellis pants pockets X 42A – Red cup from truck X 42B – Juice bottle X 43A - Bandage X43A-1 – Bloodstain from bandage X
  • 7 - Cigarette butt
  • 7 - Cigarette butt Minifiler
  • 12 – Coors Light Bottle
  • 12 – Coors Light Bottle Minifiler
  • 8 – Cigarette butt
  • 8 – Cigarette butt Minifiler
  • 42 – Red cup from Ellis truck
  • 24 – Combs’ pants pockets Minifiler
  •  In January 2010, the lab was advised of a CODIS hit on the DNA profile from the cigarette butt found between the two victims and the pants pocket of COMBS. That hit was to CHAVEZ. The second DNA profile (from the cigarette butt) still had an unidentified male DNA profile that yielded no hits in CODIS.
  • FOLLOW-UP INVESTIGATION CHAVEZ stated he had found ELLIS truck in Tijuana, Mexico and took it for a joy ride. CHAVEZ stated he had never been to I-805 and Palm Avenue and had never DMV PHOTO 3/18/02 fired a firearm. CHAVEZ was extradited to San Diego on 10/15/10 and arraigned at the San Diego Juvenile Court on 10/19/10. ARREST PHOTO 7/7/10
  • CURRENT INVESTIGATION: WITNESSES  CHAVEZ’ brother “Bandit” had bragged to HEDDERSON about how “Weasel” killed the two sailors at 805 and Palm Ave.  “Weasel” had also showed John HEDDERSON HEDDERSON three firearms he had in his possession.
  • FURTHER INVESTIGATIONOn January 11, 2011 the results from the latent print analysiswhich was done on the case identified CHAVEZ and EdwardELIAS, as leaving several prints in ELLIS’ vehicle. ELIAS JUVENILE PHOTO ELIAS ARREST PHOTO 1999
  • EDWARD ELIAS “LAZY” ELIAS voluntarily provided his DNA which was analyzed by the SDPD Lab and compared to the unidentified DNA recovered from the crime scene. ELIAS’ DNA is the unidentified DNA in the mixture with CHAVEZ’s DNA found on both the cigarette butt at the crime scene and on a cup in ELLIS’ vehicle. ELIAS PHOTO 1/25/11
  • PROSECUTION The trial for CHAVEZ and ELIAS was held in March 2012. On March 26, 2012, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all charges against both CHAVEZ and ELIAS. On May 11, 2012, CHAVEZ and ELIAS were both sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
  • AcknowledgementsNCIS Special Agent Kim Tedesco of the SDPDCold Case Homicide Team andDeputy District Attorney Andrea Freshwater of theSan Diego District Attorney’s Office