Archive for June, 2006|Monthly archive page

No News Is…what exactly?

You know the old saying, “No news is good news.” As with all colloquialisms, there is generally an exception. Which side of the line does the Tracy Tribble case come down on — rule or exception? Aside from reports of the memorial service and the announcement of a new reward offer, there has been no news regarding Tracy’s death since May 25th, when some of the autopsy findings were released and the Tribble home was again searched for evidence of a crime.

Tracy Gostomski Tribble has been dead for more than a month. Her husband Stan reported her missing on May 3rd after returning home from work to find her gone. Her car was in the driveway, and most of her personal effects were accounted for at the house. Her dog was found wandering in a nearby cemetary without its collar; the cat was also missing. About two and a half weeks later, Tracy’s body was found floating in the Missouri River. There was obvious trauma to her body, including a fracture to the left side of her face and several missing teeth, caused by blunt force trauma inflicted by a fist or some unknown (or perhaps, as yet, unnamed) object. Friends of Tracy have said, and Stan Tribble admits, that the couple fought on the evening of May 2nd. Stan, however, insists that it was strictly a verbal altercation and he never laid a hand on his wife. Past incidents resulting in 911 calls do little to bolster Stan’s claim.

At the time of the autopsy and subsequent search of the home, investigators told the press that they were awaiting a final autopsy report before classifying Tracy’s death. There was more investigative work to be done. Another three weeks have passed, and there’s been not a hint as to resolution of the case. Am I being impatient, or is there such a lack of evidence against Tracy’s killer as to hamper the prosecution of the perpetrator? Are they still awaiting test results? If you’ve read my previous entries about Tracy Tribble, I’m sure you’re aware that I’m more than a little inclined to believe that Stan Tribble is responsible for Tracy’s death. Perhaps, I was naïve to believe that he would be behind bars by now. It wouldn’t be the first time.

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Souers: Suspect Arrested in Tennessee

Jerry Buck Inman, wanted for the murder of Clemson University student Tiffany Souers, was arrested in Dandridge, Tennessee after driving past his parents’ home, apparently in the same vehicle he drove the night Tiffany was murdered. The red Chevy Blazer was sealed to preserve evidence and will be shipped back to South Carolina. Inman, 35, a registered sex offender in two other states — Florida and North Carolina — is expected to be extradited back to South Carolina to face charges.

It’s looking like the townhouse construction site nextdoor to Tiffany’s apartment building (mentioned in earlier articles) might be the connecting factor in this crime.

Souers’ apartment building is in the back of a sprawling three-story apartment complex about three miles from Clemson’s campus, which is about 100 miles southeast of Dandridge. A construction site of new townhouses is adjacent.

Inman was a construction worker, but authorities didn’t know whether he had worked near the apartments. Davenport said Inman was fired last week from a construction company in neighboring Sevier County, Tenn., but it was not clear how long he had worked there.

For me, this suspect makes much more sense than the profiled killer dreamed up by SLED. The notion that Tiffany’s murderer was some kid whose sexual advances got out of hand just didn’t make sense. A man who would use his victim’s ATM card to try to steal from her immediately after the murder is not a frightened, broken up, panic-stricken greenhorn. It’s cold and calculating — the mark of a hardened criminal, if not a very bright one.

Authorities have DNA from Inman connecting him to the crime. They also have those surveillance photographs of him and his vehicle in the ATM incidents. Chief Deputy Bob McCoyg, the arresting officer stated, “His vehicle had several items in it that were related to the crimes.” I’m betting that they have other evidence from Tiffany’s apartment that has yet to be made public. It was only released with the announcement of his arrest that Tiffany’s hands and feet were bound. Not suprisingly, it has also been made clear that Inman is a possible suspect in crimes in other states, including an attempted rape in Alabama.

All in all, I’m pleased with the work of South Carolina authorities and wish others would take heed in the way they handled this investigation. Various agencies worked together to identify and apprehend the killer, and the investigators in charge were not too arrogant, self-aggrandizing, or condescending to enlist the help of the public in solving this case. Congratulations to Bob Ariail and all involved. May their diligence pay off in thwarting the defense of Jerry Buck Inman — a defense which has already begun with the statement by his mother that her son is bipolar and suicidal. [To which I say, “So what?”]

Crocs…Ugg!

I generally stay away from commenting on the latest fashion trend because, frankly, I just don’t care much about fashion. But today I am compelled to say: I’m sorry, but Crocs are just ugly. The folks down under are succeeding where many others have failed: selling shoes that look ridiculous no matter who you are — man, woman or child. It just goes to show that anything is sellable; it’s all in the marketing. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about comfortable attire…just not at the expense of absurdity in appearance.

I’d sooner wear UGGs.

Don’t hold your breath.
And as the saying goes…

To each his own.

Souers Case Keeps Getting Stranger

Investigators released a physical description and behavioral profile of the suspect in the strangulation murder of Tiffany Souers this afternoon. Also made public were enhanced surveillance photos of the suspect and his vehicle taken at ATM kiosks where he attempted to use Tiffany’s ATM card shortly after her murder. Fox News Carolina affiliate published the following:

The suspect is a young, white male who was driving a 2-door, light colored, 1982-1994 Chevy Blazer or GMC Jimmy. This information was obtained through photos taken at the ATM machines located at the Sun Trust and Wachovia Banks, both on Tiger Boulevard in Clemson. The suspect tried to use Tiffany Souers’ ATM card a total of six times. The suspect was wearing two bandanas that covered his face. The bandanas have a cross-like symbol on them.

In today’s press conference, Ariail stated that this crime was a “sexually agressive encounter gone bad,” but would not go so far as to say Souers was raped.

Authorities have completed a behavioral profile of the suspect and details are as follows:

– It is the only murder he has ever committed

– He is broken up about the crime

– He may miss work or school

– He may cancel appointments or plans abruptly

– He has an altered behavior patter

– Because of his altered behavior, he may be dangerous

– Shows a change in patterns: sleeping, eating, drug usage, and alcohol consumption patterns

Authorities are asking that if you were in the area on the night of the murder to try to remember if you saw this person or the SUV. In addition, they ask that if a white male has been sexually aggressive toward you or someone you know to please call the police because it may lead to information needed to make an arrest.

Police are asking that if you know this person or recognize this person to please call their tip line at 1-800-422-2746 and press 2.

My question is, if it was a “sexually aggressive encounter gone bad” and the perpetrator is “broken up” by the crime, why was he out trying to get money with Tiffany’s ATM card a couple of hours later? Desperate? Maybe. Broken up? I’m not so sure.

Police scoured the roadside outside Clemson after a man picking up cans along the Highway 76 found Tiffany’s driver’s license this morning.

The owner of a towing business near Pendleton said he called authorities around 10 Friday morning when James Lindsey of Pendleton came in with a driver’s license he had found on the side of the road.

“He wanted me to turn the license in,” Dan Baker said. “He was scared.”
Baker turned in the license as well as a small bag Lindsey found farther down U.S. Highway 76 just inside Anderson County, Baker said.

A reporter saw authorities photographing and bagging a cell phone found in the ditch about five yards from the road, The Anderson Independent-Mail reported on its Web site Friday.

Ariail, who has been the official spokesman for the case, would not comment on the license or any other possible evidence.

WIS-TV 10 has a video clip of the press conference. Let me know what you think. I missed the conference and my computer is currently unable to play videos — time for a new card, I think.

One last thought…

What the heck does that mean — “sexually aggressive encounter gone bad”?

Tiffany Souers: Killer in Custody?

As the mournful sound of bagpipes marked the passing of Clemson junior Tiffany Marie Souers in St Louis, Missouri, investigators in South Carolina were awaiting the DNA results that will profile her killer. Tiffany was found by her former roommate and the roommate’s boyfriend around 1:30 pm last Friday on the bedroom floor of her off-campus apartment. Otherwise clad only in a brassiere, she had been strangled with her bathing suit top. No obvious defense wounds were detected on her body, and there were no signs of forced entry nor of a struggle in her apartment. Results of a sexual assault test have not yet been revealed. Investigators have kept other information and evidence collected close to the vest. They have, however, acknowledged that there are “persons of interest” who are being investigated and expressed confidence that the case will be solved.

In addition to DNA found at the scene, detectives took several items into evidence including Tiffany’s computer and cell phone. Her cell phone records have been acquired and a dumpster at her complex was seized. Early reports indicated that Tiffany did not have a boyfriend, but prosecutor Bob Ariail declined to comment when asked to confirm that detail. It was also reported that Tiffany was believed to have been killed around 1:30 am after having been dropped off around 11 pm at her apartment by friends, whom she allegedly told she planned to stay in and watch tv. I’m curious as to where this time of death originated; the coroner stated that it did not come from him. Working with her computer and cell phone records, investigators have compiled a timeline accounting for Tiffany’s whereabouts until 12:03 am.

The Times and Democrat included in a recent story a good description of The Reserve apartment complex and the habits and activities of its mostly student residents:

Souers’ building is in the back of a sprawling three-story apartment complex about three miles from campus. Orange tiger paws representing Clemson’s mascot are painted on the pavement and students tan at the pool, exercise at the community center during all hours of the night and routinely leave their doors unlocked.”Sometimes we were bad and left keys under the mat,” said Kimberly Perry, 21, who will be a senior in the fall. “It was just kind of shocking. That kind of thing doesn’t happen around here very often.”Souers’ ground-level apartment is down a narrow hallway that is dark even during the daylight hours. It opens away from the complex’s center to a parking lot, which is bordered by a construction site.

It kind of paints the picture of these students as an easy mark for burglary if not more serious violent crimes.

I began this entry more than 48 hours ago, and now it’s taken me so long to complete it that there’s been another development in the case. Being timely is nearly impossible during summer vacation. Bear with me.

Late Thursday, Ariail held another press conference, revealing that photographs of the suspect and his vehicle will be released to the public on Friday. Arial explained that the photographs, candid shots that portray the suspect engaging in a transaction that links him to Tiffany Souers after her murder, are currently being enhanced. Investigators hope that someone will recognize the suspect by physical and/or behavioral characteristics depicted in the photos. Meanwhile, a specialized tip-line is being set up to handle calls regarding the suspect.

Ariail made several intriguing comments throughout the press conference:

  • “I think there’s some indications that this crime is similar to a lot of unreported crimes that may occur on a college campus.”
  • Authorities believe the suspect is young but have no reason to believe he is a student. They believe he is still in the area.
  • Mr. Ariail would not confirm or deny whether anything was stolen from Ms. Souers’ apartment.
  • It isn’t believed that the suspect has much of a criminal record.
  • Questioned about the delay in releasing the photos, Ariail expressed confidence that the suspect wouldn’t flee. When asked why, he replied, “Trust me.”

Maybe I’m misreading things, but it’s looking like the man who murdered Tiffany Souers may already be in police custody. How could Mr. Ariail be so confident that the suspect would not flee? Perhaps, it’s because he knows that they already have their man jailed on other charges. So why the release of the photographs and request for tips from the public? They could be dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s — looking for any and all information that will tie their suspect to Tiffany’s murder and perhaps other assaults. One has to ask where the DNA came from; the coroner said that there was no sign of sexual assault, but a rape kit was done anyway, results of which have not yet been made public. Did Tiffany put up a fight? Were skin cells found under her fingernails? There were no signs of a struggle in the apartment and no apparent defense wounds on her body. Neighbors have stated that they noticed nothing unusual the night of Tiffany’s murder, relating that her apartment was quiet. Did the perpetrator somehow render her unconscious before killing her? Perhaps, the DNA profile came from this other assault in Tiffany’s apartment complex — a rape that occurred in April.

(Greenville-AP) June 2, 2006 – Authorities say a man living in the same apartment complex where a Clemson University student was found strangled last week has been charged with a rape a month earlier.

An arrest warrant says Central Police arrested 25-year-old Stephen David Kudika Junior on Wednesday and charged him with first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges for an attack at The Reserve Apartments on April 20th.

It is the same apartment complex where 20-year-old Tiffany Souers lived. Souers’ former roommate found her body inside her apartment last Friday. Authorities say she had been strangled with a bikini top.

The Greenville News reports on its Web site that prosecutors refused to say if Kudika was linked in any way to Souers.

If that is the case, the prosecutor needs more evidence tying Kudika to the crime. Identification of him as the man photographed making a transaction which ties him to Tiffany Souers after her murder could be a crucial piece. If he is the perpetrator, I certainly hope that they have additional and more conclusive evidence against him.

Update: 2:30 pm

WIS-10 provides a little more information on Stephen David Kudika, Jr., who was released from custody yesterday on a $30,000 bond.

Kudika is a graduate student at Clemson who worked at the campus recreation center. School spokeswoman Robin Denny says he’s on interim suspension and is not allowed on campus.

Bolte Kudikia told The Associated Press the allegations are false and says her son didn’t know to Souers.