For all documents provided via FOIA re Jermane Scott’s case please link to:
Monday the 9th of December was a crucial day in the investigation of the murder of Bertram Thomas. Key evidence, aided by a growing list of witnesses would further shape an investigation already lacking in objectivity. Tunnel vision would soon merge two separate crimes into one, and these crimes would all be attributed to a 19-year-old by the name of Jermane Scott.
Bertram Thomas’s recovered vehicle was held by Springfield Crime Scene Unit from Dec. 7th through Dec. 9th. Sgt. Haytas wrote a brief report detailing the CSU’s findings. Luminol—used to locate blood—tests revealed bloodstains on the drivers seat, while several latent prints were also lifted from the vehicle.
Detective Estep’s notes from the morning of Dec. 9th mentioned that the bloodstains found in Thomas’s car, could possibly be attributed to Thomas bleeding “[a]lot from his rectum due to bloodstains found in his underwear at scene.” Whether Estep was referencing the underwear worn by Thomas at the time of his murder, or further underwear at his residence is not certain.
What is known for certain is that the only underwear documented into evidence by Springfield CSU, made no mention of bloodstains in Thomas’s underwear. Indeed Dr. Stewart’s post-mortem further offered no evidence of Thomas having “bled alot from his rectum.” luminol tests can reveal evidence of bloodstains from many years ago, and the bloodstains exhibited in Thomas’s car could have been far from recent. However, the bloodstains found in his underwear would have been less likely so.
The “several latent prints” found in Thomas’s vehicle would likely have been expected— with Thomas himself the obvious contributor. Naturally, any prints found not attributable to Thomas would be of greater interest, and matching those to a potential suspect would have likely placed them in the victim’s vehicle. More importantly, prints found on the steering wheel, or even the drivers side door would have strongly suggested someone else of having driven the vehicle.
Thomas’s vehicle was placed in secure storage at 3pm on Dec. 9th. The latent prints were never attributed to anyone. but significantly Officer Mike Beedy—during Scott’s trial— specifically testified that the prints found did not match that of Jermane Scott.
Prints taken from items removed from the crime scene didn’t match those of Scott either. The ceramic frog that was collected on the second visit to Thomas’s residence by the CSU was ‘broken’ while in evidence storage. Not before Beedy testified to it being dusted for prints though. Needless to say Scott’s prints were not found on the ceramic frog. The important question—that was not asked by Scott’s attorneys in relation to any tested item—in regards to the car, and the items taken from the crimescene was were any of the prints not that of Bertram Thomas? And if so, were other possible suspects taken into consideration?
What was becoming clear was that Springfield Police had already focused on who was guilty before these results had come in. As for the ceramic frog, we shall come back to that shortly. First though, evidence surfaces of a crime Jermane Scott did commit.
At approximately 11am on the morning of Dec. 9th, Det. Allen Icenhour received a call from Pat Shultz—an employee of Key Bank—relating to someone attempting to pass a check through one of their drive-thru stations. The account payee of that check was Bertram Thomas.
Icenhour, assisted by Estep went to take statements from both tellers at the drive-thru. Both Michelle Hamilton and Lachele Noaks offered information as to the car and individuals within. After running the plate, it became clear that it was licensed to a Paula Donahoe. According to Estep’s notes, after receiving this information, he and Icenhour went to find Donahoe at the address relating to the temporary plate.
According to Icenhour however, before visiting Donahoe, both he and Estep went to Juan Mendoza’s house where Detectives Smoot and Flores transported him to headquarters.
*It should be noted that although Mendoza was clearly a person of interest to Springfield Police during the initial stages of Thomas’s investigation—and in connection with the Paris Harper homicide—no record was provided via FOIA request of any formal interviews with him. Indeed, before trial, Scott’s defence attorneys were unable to access any interviews pertaining to Mendoza regarding the Thomas case. Juan Mendoza was not called as a witness at Scott’s trial by either the prosecution or the defence.
Icenhour and Estep arrived at Donahoe’s residence shortly after 3pm and interviewed both Paula and her husband Keith. During their interview with Keith Donahoe, it became apparent that he had driven both Scott and Gilbert to cash the check at Key Bank. He also informed the detectives that Scott had been to see him the previous day—Wednesday. 4th—to show him a credit card which belonged to Bertram Thomas. Also on that same occasion Scott was with someone he referred to as ‘Mikey Mike.’ Mikey Mike would turn out to be Michael Enis, and Michael Enis would later be one of the prosecutions 2 star witnesses testifying to being present when Scott shot Thomas.
According to Icenhour’s report he searched the neighbourhood for Scott, and then assisted detectives Smoot and Flores in visiting the residence of both Scott and Reggie Gilbert. Both Gilbert and his mother Marla were willing to let detectives search the property but detectives instead chose to secure the house and obtain a search warrant. Det. Flores was issued a warrant and the Springfield Crime Scene Unit arrived at 3.54pm to process the property.
The search warrant issued Dec. 9th read as follows:
What is clear from the warrant is that detectives had reasonable cause to believe that items belonging to Bertram Thomas were to be found at the residence, and most importantly the judge agreed with them. Amongst those items that were specifically stated were: A .22 caliber rifle, checks, and/or credit cards. The burning question though was how did this all come together so quickly?
The Springfield CSU—officers Haytas and Beedy—collected 10 live .22 caliber bullets, 2 .22 caliber casings, assorted Nike merchandise, Bertram Thomas’s credit card and a key case with 4 keys.
According to the CSU’s report, officers Jacobs, Icenhour, Flores and Estep were at the scene. Icenhour’s report varies slightly, indicating that Det. Smoot was also at the residence and that Estep joined the officers at the scene shortly after he arrived.
Jermane Scott has never denied both having, and using Bertram Thomas’s credit card and 2 of his checks. Of the items found at his residence Scott only denies 1 item having nothing to do with him.
—There are lots of issues with the keys found at Scott’s residence on Dec. 9th. I shall go through them 1 step at a time. Often minor details don’t appear to be of consequence, yet when grouped together they can become major details. What I am about to detail, provides no categorical proof of misconduct. However, I believe it does strongly warrant disclosure by Springfield Police.
*Files pertaining to this needed disclosure should be available via FOIA. The police files that were released to us were far from complete. Those files not released are part of the public record.
During the CSU’s second sweep of Thomas’s residence officers Haytas and Beedy collected several items from the property. On Haytas’s report they were listed as such.
However, #1….white ceramic frog—that very frog that got ‘broken’ while in evidence storage—contained 2 other items. As we can see from the same report by Haytas—only a matter of paragraphs previously—the frog contained 2 further pieces of evidence. Evidence, by his own words, collected by Haytas himself.
“2 keys on a thin wire ring and a empty “$” sign money clip.”
Considering Thomas’s murder involved a robbery, an empty “$” money clip would certainly be an item of great interest. Giving Springfield Police Department the benefit of the doubt, it’s certainly possible that Sgt. Haytas just included the clip and the keys in with the ceramic frog. These things happen—they shouldn’t, but they do. Easy solution: Just look at the property receipt.
Property receipt 16551 is the problem.
Firstly, it was not included in the FOIA report given to us. Every other written report included in the FOIA—of which many are not —that references a property receipt, has that receipt included. Granted, some are 90% illegible but they are at least present. For it not to be included raises a major red-flag, especially when keys turn up at a suspects house that the suspect denies being there. Especially when not denying anything else that was found at his property.
—Some FOIA requests turn out better than others. Often they are expensive, yet incomplete. Jermane Scott’s were a mess—see for yourself via the link at the head of this article. Upside down, out of order, illegible, and incomplete. Often what isn’t included can only tell you so much, and the mere lack of information obviously doesn’t yield a great deal of information. It’s what is included, that ‘shouldn’t’ have been that tells the story.
Haytas mentioning the “$” clip and the keys, and then not including them is the gold here. After all, Sgt. Graeber in his summary report on Dec. 7th—the date of the second CSU search—revealed that “upon information that we had received we found that the victims money was gone,”
—The victims money being gone would shortly be followed by the victims “$” clip being gone too. Lost in paperwork. It’s almost always the case too that ‘information received’ is rarely documented, and even more rarely included in FOIA requests.
During Scott’s trial it was revealed that Springfield Police Department hadn’t tested the keys ‘found’ at Scott’s residence on any of Thomas’s properties—Thomas also had 2 further properties he rented—or his vehicle. By the time they did test the keys ‘found’ at Scott’s property it was some 10-months after the crime, and perhaps more importantly a matter of days before Scott’s trial commenced.
*Keys tested during pre-trial hearings.
That the keys didn’t work on the properties some 10-months later because of the locks being changed was not surprising. What was surprising was that Springfield Police didn’t check to see that the keys were those of Thomas’s properties upon finding them on Dec. 9th. On closer inspection however, I believe there’s a very good reason for them not doing so.
*Interestingly Smoot declared “There’s no car key here.” Officer Beedy of the CSU however testified—during the introduction of exhibits at trial—otherwise.
Within Scott’s comment he mentioned, “What’s amazing is those LE people didn’t think it was necessary to check to see if those keys would fit any of Mr. Thomas’s property the entire 10 months I was awaiting trial.”
Yet why would they? The two keys taken into evidence on the second search by the CSU, that should appear on the ‘missing’ property receipt were—by my reckoning—added to the 2 copied car keys that belonged to Scott’s friend Deena. No need to check the house keys as they were indeed verified by Thomas’s daughters as being his. Interestingly, the 2 keys found in the ceramic frog added to the keys Scott admitted to having at his property, equal the 4 keys recovered by the CSU. Perhaps even more telling is that when the keys are first reported found they are in a ‘key case,’ but by the time they have been described on the property receipt they are attached to a ‘rabbit’s foot.’—to which Thomas’s daughters also testified their father owned.
Most pertinently however is why would Scott keep the keys to Thomas’s residence but discard the keys to the car? After all he was being inextricably linked to both by Springfield Police.
The key here is that Springfield Police assumed those car keys found at Scott’s residence were those to Thomas’s vehicle, and added the keys found at his property to them. Whose to say they didn’t test those keys on Thomas’s vehicle at some stage soon after finding them? The problem they had was that by the time the day of Dec. 9th was over, they had already charged Jermane Scott with not only robbery of Bertram Thomas, but his aggravated murder too.
Next time: Police interviews on Dec. 9th, including the 2 key witnesses, Michael Enis and Terry Portman.
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