Standards Lead to Solving Cold Cases
by Ms. Debbie Fantigrassi
Plantation (FL) Police Department
In the course of complying with a mandatory accreditation standard, the Department’s General Services Captain, Brian Pillado, conducted a semi-annual inspection of the property and evidence function. The inspection included an inventory of high liability items and general evidence. During the inventory, two 30-year old rape kits, 1982 and 1983 respectively, were identified that met the criteria for a cold case review/investigation. The review/investigation of unsolved/cold cases is also an accreditation standard.
The 1982 case involved a suspect who abducted two females at gunpoint and sexually battered one of them. Multiple felonies were committed during the criminal episode. Evidence in the case was submitted to the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) Crime Lab and a suspect was linked to the crime through DNA evidence. The suspect is serving a life sentence in prison on an unrelated sexual battery case, and confessed to Department detectives in a prison interview. The suspect is not eligible for parole and is destined to spend the rest of his life in prison, so a decision was made to forego criminal prosecution and not subject the victim to a trial.
The 1983 case involved a young couple who was putting their five year old son to bed one evening when a suspect committed an armed home invasion demanding money and jewelry. As the female victim came out of her son’s bedroom, the suspect ordered both victims to lie on floor, bound the male victims’ hands and feet, threatened to kill them both, and committed sexual battery at gunpoint on the female victim. Evidence in the case was submitted to the BSO Crime Lab which linked a 49-year old subject to the crime. The suspect was subsequently arrested by Department detectives and charged with Armed Burglary, Armed Sexual Battery, and Armed Kidnapping. The suspect is currently in the Broward County Detention Center awaiting trial.
A full inventory of all the rape kits in the custody of the Plantation Police Department identified twenty-two additional cases wherein evidence was subsequently resubmitted to the BSO Crime Lab for analysis. Those cases are currently pending.
In my role as Accreditation Manager, I am frequently asked about the benefits of accreditation and why we commit so much time and resources to such a challenging and sometimes arduous process. The cases set forth above, discovered in a routine, but mandatory evidence inspection/inventory, exemplify why we champion the accreditation process and work hard to maintain our accredited status.
For the victims of these serious violent crimes, little did they know that an accreditation standard would be a contributing factor in solving their cold cases three decades later. Although one victim died of natural causes, hopefully the surviving victims and families will find some peace knowing the perpetrator that changed their lives forever is being held accountable for their crime.
Justice prevails and ACCREDITATION WORKS!