Archive for April, 2006|Monthly archive page

Unsolved Mystery: Fiocco

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the body found Tuesday in a Pennsylvania landfill is indeed that of TCNJ freshman, John Fiocco, Jr. Identification was made using dental records. Investigators now await DNA results for final confirmation, as well as toxicology results from an autopsy performed Tuesday evening. The medical examiner was unable to determine a cause of death. There were no bullet or stab wounds to the body, which was badly decomposed and had sustained multiple fractures from the trash compacting system. Due to the fact that several pints of Fiocco’s blood were found in the garbage bin, investigators believe that Fiocco was dead before sanitation workers removed the contents to a processing facility and, ultimately, the landfill.

The investigation is ongoing. Police have found no positive evidence of foul play, but consider the young man’s demise a “suspicious death.” State police superintendent, Col. Rick Fuentes, told the press that ‘despite hundreds of interviews with students and university staff, police have found no one whose conduct seems suspicious. “We have no persons of interest,” Fuentes said.’

As for myself, I’m beginning to wonder if investigators will be able to determine how John Fiocco, Jr. ended up in that garbage bin, but it’s good to know that they haven’t yet given up.

Investigators who have now been working on the case for more than a month say it could be weeks before forensic tests on Fiocco’s remains yield clues that could shed light on the 19-year-old’s final hours.Police suggested that they were considering several possible scenarios that could explain how a drunken Fiocco ended up in a campus trash bin after a night of partying on March 25. But in a meeting with reporters at the college campus in suburban Mercer County, they declined to provide any specifics about where they might turn now.

Several questions cross my mind:

  • In additon to the blood found in and around the trash bin, was there, as reported earlier, blood found on the platform below the trash chute?A presence of blood there would indicate that he did indeed go down the garbage chute.
  • Were any hairs or fibers from Mr. Fiocco’s clothing found around the garbage chute opening?This would obviously be another strong indicator that his body traveled through the chute.
  • Were Mr. Fiocco’s fingerprints found inside the rim of the trash chute doorway, indicating that he might possibly have entered the chute of his own volition?While this seems highly unlikely, it must be considered. When drinking is involved, all judgment can and often does go out the window. However, fingerprints in that location would not necessarily prove that no one else was involved — only that Mr. Fiocco was, at least, semi-conscious when he entered the chute.An absence of his fingerprints, in the presence of other evidence such as fibers, would give a strong indication that he was unconscious and, thus, put into the chute by one or more other people.
  • Have police found an explanation for the one wet sock found in the dorm room where Mr. Fiocco was believed to have fallen asleep? Was the other sock found with the body?The wet sock stands out as a puzzling thing to me. I’m curious to know if the corresponding shoe was wet as well and whether any of his friends have any knowledge as to how the sock became wet. Maybe there’s a perfectly innocent explanation for it, and it has no relevance whatsoever to the case, but I’m bothered by it.
  • What is the proximity of the trash chute to the room where Fiocco fell asleep and was last seen by fellow students?
  • Was any commotion heard by anyone in nearby rooms?
  • Was any forensic evidence found beneath Fiocco’s fingernails, indicating that he put up a fight?

I’m sure there are additional questions relevant to the investigation, but I’m out of time for now. I’ll leave it to you, the reader, to ask the rest. Nevertheless, I suppose we must put our faith in the investigative team to come up with the answers. I hope that those answers are to be had and that the mystery does not remain unsolved.

Anyone with information is asked to call the New Jersey State Police Tip Line at 1-877-748-6577. At one time The College of New Jersey had set up their own tip line and email address. I’m not sure if those are still active, but the phone number and email address are listed in the last paragraph of my original entry on this case, entitled John Fiocco, Jr.

In addition to the North Jersey.com article linked above, the Philadelphia Inquirer has a thorough and informative article on the background and investigation.

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Body Found: John Fiocco, Jr?

A body found in a Bucks County, Pennsylvania landfill may be that of missing TCNJ college student John Fiocco, Jr. Authorities have been searching the landfill since Fiocco’s blood was found in and around a dumpster beneath his dormitory building on The College of New Jersey campus.

Updates will be posted as they become available. Please post any links in the comment section.

Update: 7:51 pm, CT

Officially, it still has not been confirmed that the body found today is that of John Fiocco, Jr., but the young man’s family is in mourning and the lead investigator is referring to the discovery as a “significant development. “

TULLYTOWN, Pa. (AP) – The remains of a white man were found Tuesday in a Pennsylvania landfill where authorities have been searching for evidence related to the disappearance of freshman John Fiocco Jr., police said.While authorities wouldn’t confirm the body of Fiocco had been recovered, the student’s uncle said the family was in mourning and thanked police for “bringing closure” to the case.”Johnny was caring, sensitive, smart and witty,” Joseph Fiocco said outside the family home in Mantua Township. He asked anyone with information about his nephew to contact authorities. He would not answer questions.Tullytown Patrolman John Finby said the remains were found at 1:45 p.m. New Jersey State Police said they had made an important discovery at the landfill. Capt. Al Della Fave said there had been a “significant development” but would not disclose any further information.

It’s a terribly sad day for all.

This brings to an end the search for the missing student. The truth about what befell Mr. Fiocco is yet to be learned. One can only hope that the medical examiner will be able to determine cause of death and investigators will be able to solve the mystery and attain justice, if necessary.

LINK to a previous entry on this case.

Another Red Herring?

The more that comes out regarding Geoffrey van Cromvoirt and the allegations against him, the less likely it appears that he had anything to do with Natalee Holloway’s disappearance. According to John Q. Kelly, attorney for Beth Twitty and Dave Holloway, the VBC T-shirt found on the beach has no connection to the case. The forensics aren’t there. Beyond that, Geoffrey van Cromvoirt wasn’t even working for his father’s company at the time Natalee Holloway went missing.

In the photo on the beach, van Cromvoirt was working for the “visibility team,” a unit made up of private security guards who work with police to patrol beaches, downtown Oranjestad and other tourist areas.

Van Cromvoirt worked on the beach patrol from August to December, 2005, said Rob Smith, chairman of the Aruba Hospitality and Security Foundation, which runs the program. Before the visibility team, the teen worked at a water sports company but left when business got slow. He returned to that job and left the visibility team when business picked up again, Smith said.

No one — family, friends, volunteers — NOT ONE of the persons who participated in the search for Natalee had ever heard this young man’s name until his arrest last Saturday. All we have is rumors, innuendo, and a T-shirt that can’t be connected to anyone.

Oh yeah, I shouldn’t forget that recently released audio tape of Joran, Deepak, and Satish arguing about who is to blame for what happened to Natalee, and who lied about whom. It’s all a bunch of finger-pointing and confusion. Does it mean that none of the three know what happened to Natalee? Or is it just three scared and unscrupulous boys, each looking to save his own skin by blaming the other? The only definitive thing that can be said is that interrogators were obviously lying to the suspects about what each of them had said regarding the others’ involvement. It’s a common tactic and doesn’t appear to have accomplished anything in this case.

I don’t think the Aruban law enforcement community is capable of redeeming their image and solving this case. It’s just one ridiculous blunder after another. Joe Tacopina sure make the most of it; didn’t he?

I’m really frustrated and aggravated by this investigation. Does it show?

Geoffrey (or is it Godfried?) van Cromvoirt

Rather than an addendum to my previous entry, let’s just go with a new one. The New York Post is providing plenty of fodder for consideration and speculation. According to this article in the Post, Natalee’s friends have told officials that Natalee spent time with Geoffrey van Cromvoirt earlier during her vacation, as well as on the night of her disappearance.

According to what Holloway’s friends have told authorities, the blond-haired, blue-eyed van Cromvoirt was seen with their classmate after she left van der Sloot – the pals say they saw them in the Holiday Inn casino together. But when the casino’s video surveillance tapes were turned over to police, investigators could find no sign of Holloway and van Cromvoirt, the source noted.

Van Cromvoirt’s father is the security expert in charge of video surveillance at the
hotel.

Aruban authorities are also scrutinizing a surveillance tape taken earlier on May 30 that shows Holloway arguing with a light-haired young man in a jewelry store in the Wyndham Hotel, according to the source.

They’re trying to determine if the man is van Cromvoirt.

A source said police records indicate that “Natalee told her mom and others she was in love with a blond-haired, blue-eyed Dutch kid.”

Holloway’s mother assumed the youth was van der Sloot, though he has darker hair.

In contradiction, Beth Twitty told Greta van Susteren that she had never heard of the young man identified by Aruban authorities as G.V.C., and that there is no truth to reports that Natalee had become involved with a blond-haired, blue-eyed, Dutch national during her stay on the island.

It might be wise to take the Post’s reports with a grain of salt, but more reliable organizations, such as the Associated Press and CBS News, are beginning to confirm some of what was originally published by the tabloid. Chief Prosecutor Karin Janssen’s office confirms that G.V.C. was arrested on Saturday and is being held on suspicion “of criminal offenses that may be related to the disappearance of Miss Holloway and of offenses related to dealing in illegal narcotics.” The Post, which appears to be getting their scoops from Diario (an Aruban newspaper owned by Jossy Mansur) also reports the possibility of additional arrests.

Van Cromvoirt, who is Dutch, works for his father’s private security company, VCB [Video Camara Beveiliging] Security, which patrols the beaches outside Aruba’s hotels to protect tourists. He was part of the team keeping an eye on the Holiday Inn where Natalee was staying the night she vanished.

Two more members of that security team are expected to be arrested shortly, the sources said.

Van Cromvoirt was picked up Saturday after police seized a white “VCB Security” T-shirt – possibly belonging to the suspect. Sources said the T-shirt has “forensic evidence” on it – believed to be specks of blood. Authorities in Aruba did not disclose what kind of drugs van Cromvoirt is accused of pushing – and whether Natalee had used them.

If anyone can translate Papiamentu to English, I’d be very interested in knowing exactly what this Diario article says. The online translators I’ve tried leave a lot to be desired. All I can make out regarding the T-shirt is that it seems to have been found near a kite surfing area. The area known as “Fisherman’s Huts,” just north of the Marriott resort, is well-known for it’s shallow waters and prevailing winds, perfectly suited for kite surfing. As I understand it, this is the same area where Joran claims to have abandoned Natalee.

In an ironic twist, Fox News is reporting that one of Geoffrey van Cromvoirt’s “friends” characterizes him as being more capable than Joran van der Sloot of doing harm to Natalee, stating that he has a habit of plying young female tourists with alcohol and drugs in order to take advantage of them. The same sort of things have been said about Joran, even as far back to a time when we knew him only as J.V.D.S.

Rumors have been floated as to whether Geoffrey van Cromvoirt has any connection to the former suspects in the case. Joe Tacopina, attorney for Joran van der Sloot, insists that his client does not know him at all. One report has it that Van Cromvoirt may have a passing acquaintance with Satish Kalpoe. It’s also been said that he and Steve Croes are friends. Croes is the party boat DJ arrested last summer for making false statements to police. He came forward to police with the story that he’d witnessed two black security guards escorting Natalee outside the Holiday Inn after she was dropped off by Deepak and Satish Kalpoe and Joran van der Sloot. He claims that he decided (out of the goodness of his heart) to support the young mens’ alibi after overhearing Deepak’s telephone conversation at the Internet cafe where he worked. The possibility of a relationship between Croes and Van Cromvoirt leads me to wonder whom he was truly trying to protect with that falsehood.

In the course of her On the Record appearance, Beth Twitty brought up another important fact. Several of the surveillance cameras at the Holiday Inn were said to be not in working order when Natalee disappeared. Quite a provocative wrinkle, in light of the allegation that Geoffrey van Cromvoirt’s father is in charge of that surveillance system.

Dan Riehl has posted a fascinating interview with an American acquaintance of Geoffrey van Cromvoirt at Riehl World View.

A Curious Development

Over the Easter weekend, officials in Aruba made yet another arrest in the Natalee Holloway investigation — arrest #8, if I’m not forgetting anyone. A nineteen-year-old Dutch national with the initials G.V.C. (variously identified as Godfried or Geoffrey van Cromvoirt) was taken into custody and has since been ordered held for eight days pending another hearing. Reportedly, relevant forensic evidence has been collected from a shirt, belonging to the young man, found on the south side of the island. According to Joran van der Sloot’s attorney, G.V.C. has no connection whatsoever to his client. Joseph Tacopina suggests that police appear to be taking the investigation in a new direction.

This arrest has the potential to be a major development in the case. The New York Post reports:

Aruban cops have arrested Geoffrey van Cromvoirt, 19, who’s father is the security expert in charge of video surveillance at the Holiday Inn where the 18-year-old Alabama student was staying the night she vanished, sources told The Post.

The younger van Cromvoirt works as a member of the island’s High Visibility Team, which keeps an eye on the island’s powder-white beaches 24 hours a day in a bid to thwart crime against tourists.

He was busted after authorities took into evidence a white T-shirt with the beach-patrol team’s name on it from his dad’s security group, the sources said.

For me, the first question that comes to mind is: Where has this t-shirt been for the last 10 months? If it’s been in police possession all this time, why is it just now being connected to someone? If it was only recently discovered, can any forensic evidence found on it be considered reliable and probative of anything?

I admit to having difficulty considering the possibility that Joran van der Sloot and the Surinamese brothers, Deepak and Satish Kalpoe, are without blame in the disappearance/death of Natalee Holloway. They’ve said and done plenty to merit the scrutiny of the hairy eyeball of suspicion. They recklessly and shamelessly pointed the finger at two innocent men, Mickey John and Abraham Jones, as the last to be seen with Natalee. They repeatedly lied to investigators, family and friends regarding the series of events during their time spent with Natalee. They lied so much that if they were to tell the truth now — and perhaps they have — no one would believe them. They have only themselves to blame for that. If it turns out that they are innocent (relatively speaking), they should have no expectations of an apology from anyone, in that regard.

Nevertheless, I must also acknowledge the niggling uncertainty I’ve felt since last August. When Joran first came out with the story that he left Natalee alive and well on the beach, I considered it just another variation in the litany of his lies. As I considered the cell phone and computer evidence that appeared to corroborate his story, I couldn’t shake the notion that he might — just might — be telling the truth. Perhaps someone else came along after Joran abandoned her and did harm to Natalee. Perhaps, we, as well as Aruban law enforcement and the mainstream media have been looking in the wrong direction all along. Mind you, I’ve tamped that doubt down more often than not. Joran’s absurd story about how he lost his shoes and the disparity between his and the Kalpoe brother’s versions of how Joran got home were enough to evoke suspicion. But as the saying goes, truth is often stranger than fiction.

The arrest of G.V.C., to some degree, edifies the niggling doubt. I certainly haven’t written off Joran, Deepak and Satish as suspects, but I’m open to the possibility that they are not the guilty party. It also injects a bit of optimism that the case might eventually be solved. It’s still a longshot but better (I hope) than slim to none. I’m as interested as the next guy or gal in seeing where this leads.

I feel like I have more to say on this subject, but I don’t have time to collect my thoughts just now. I’ve already taken so long to finish this entry that I’m probably way behind in coverage. I’ll update later if necessary, or delete this paragraph if not.

Happy Easter!

Click the pic!

Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me

Jackie Peterson pretended at being the downtrodden .

It failed to attain for her the desired result.

She left in a huff.

Sound familiar?

Jackie Peterson suggested that Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge David Vander Wall look past the fact that she was appearing without a lawyer and that she might not have followed all the correct legal procedures.

“They know I was making the payments, and the estate profited unfairly from these payments,” she said. “The house was neglected and rundown. I’m not looking to prolong the close of this or to profit from it. I just want to be reimbursed.”

Judge Vander Wall was brief in his response. “I don’t think there’s any basis for a creditor’s claim,” he said.

Justice served.

This is my favorite part:

Jackie Peterson had no comment after the hearing. When asked how Scott was doing, his sister, Susan Caudillo, responded: “He’s an innocent man. How do you think he’s doing?”

How deep is denial?

~¤~

Links to more Laci Peterson entries:

Dog and Pony Show

The circus continues in Aruba. In the center ring are the Dutch with a lame re-enactment. In ring #2, we have Aruban police, searching for a man who harassed beach-goers days before Natalee disappeared. And in the third ring are Julia Renfro, editor of Aruba Today, and Joe Tacopina, American attorney for Joran van der Sloot, juggling wild geese. Meanwhile, a new ringmaster is in charge. Gerold Dompig has given up his top hat, whip and megaphone to Adolf Richardson, former second-in-command in the Holloway (farce of an) investigation.

The show must go on!

Good grief.

Doctors Jeff, Anthony, Greg, and Murray

The Australian Catholic University is bestowing the degree of Doctor of the University upon The Wiggles for their contribution to childhood education. LINK to article.

I ♥ The Wiggles. My kids like ’em, too.

A Tangled Web, Part II

Neil Entwistle was arraigned this morning for the murders of his wife, Rachel, and infant daughter, Lillian Rose. Elliot Weinstein entered a plea of not guilty on his client’s behalf. Meanwhile, the Boston Herald has more of the gossamer strands of Entwistle’s tangled web detailed in recently released court documents.

Yesterday, in new court documents released, it was revealed that Entwistle told a different story to friends than he told authorities. He had told authorities he found his wife and baby dead, went to his in-laws’ home in Carver, could not get in, and then flew to England.

‘‘The defendant said to his friends that he had indeed been able to locate his mother-in-law’s place of business, told her of his discovery of the bodies, and then gathered with family back in Carver to mourn the news,” according to the Statement of the Case filed by Assistant District Attorney Michael Fabbri.

‘‘He also told his friends that once back at the Carver home, he began to feel left out,” the document said. ‘‘It was only then that he decided to return to his own family in England, going straight home after arriving in London on January 21, 2006.”

But according to court records, Entwistle did not go straight home to his parents’ Worksop home. Instead, he rented a vehicle, spent a night in a hotel located about an hour away from his parents’ home, and drove almost 800 miles around England before going to his parents’ home on Jan. 23.

This guy lived in a world of his own invention. Did he really expect others to join him there? I wonder if jail has been a rude awakening or if he’s still enveloping himself in fantasy.