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2023 Case Studies

2024 case studies coming soon

The Bad Motives of a “Good” Samaritan - Roya Williamson, Sandra Spriegel

Roya Williamson, Sandra Spriegel

During the early morning hours of a cold and dark February day, a stranger who pretended to be a good Samaritan when the victim ran out of gas, instead, kidnapped and sexually assaulted the victim. This case study will cover the initial investigation, subsequent activity of the offender, and the identification of the offender as well as the collaboration that was needed between law enforcement, the district attorney’s office, and the local women’s center to successfully prosecute the case.

Betrayal Trauma: An Examination of Therapy & Religious Abuse - Amy Nordhues, David Pooler

Amy Nordhues, David Pooler

The role of a therapist and church leader can be a fulfilling profession that deals with compassion, insight, and empowerment. However, it can also be delicately complex as a survivor’s emotional and mental state could hang in the balance. Unfortunately, there are times when a victim’s vulnerability can be preyed upon by an individual in a position of authority. This case study will explore the facets of abuse where the survivor was sexually exploited and abused as an adult by her therapist, a respected leader in her church, who was later convicted allowing her to pursue her healing. The presenters will discuss the aspects of religious trauma through the clinical lens of grooming, and the misuse of position and authority and explore the impact of intermittent reinforcement on betrayal trauma. 

Bringing a Lifelong Abuser to Justice: The Prosecution of Timothy Heller - Rachel Kraker, Jeffrey Schwab

Rachel Kraker, Jeffrey Schwab

When Lacy Krube was found beaten and lifeless in a Saint Paul, MN home, the witnesses on scene reported she overdosed. However, responding officers knew there was more to the story. Soon after, homicide investigators were led to an attic bedroom 25 miles away where Ms. Krube had been staying with Timothy Heller prior to her death. Heller had amassed 13 domestic violence convictions prior to beating his girlfriend to death in February 2021. This case study will describe the investigation, prosecution and ultimate conviction of Heller and discuss the cross-jurisdiction investigation and prosecution of Heller complicated by difficult facts, uncooperative witnesses, and legal challenges. The presenters will highlight the importance of collaboration between law enforcement and prosecutors every step of the way and will provide helpful practice points on how to utilize law enforcement as domestic violence expert witnesses as well as how to effectively establish a past pattern of violence in first degree domestic murder cases. 

Cortez Hill: Serial Rapist or Serial Murderer? - Patrick Moug

Patrick Moug

Between September 2008 and April 2009 five women were heinously attacked and sexually assaulted within a two-mile radius of each other on Detroit’s east side. The assailant’s methodology was extremely brutal and senseless including shooting, stabbing, and dousing gasoline on his victims. He used a finger print-like scheme in his attacks and ten years later three of his victims share an eerily similar scar on their throats.  For a decade these cases went cold until May 2019 when Cortez Hill was arrested for illegally carrying a handgun. The DNA buccal swab taken during his booking would eventually connect him to these five rapes. This case study will reveal lessons learned from dealing with a violent sexual predator and the steps taken to gain justice for multiple victims. Additionally, the actions taken to guarantee that the victims, who while grouped together by a single assailant, were treated as individuals will be discussed. 

Cynthia Hrisco: The Investigation & Prosecution of a Bathtub Drowning - Maria McCarthy, Andrea Zaferes

Maria McCarthy, Andrea Zaferes

Once a case is deemed an accident, it’s never given a second look. The file collects dust on a shelf. “When investigators don’t have witnesses, confessions, video, or believable “grieving” reporting parties; when police are dispatched to benign-looking “accident” scenes, and each person in the investigative chain relies on the opinions of the next person up, homicides are too often ruled ‘accidents’ and killers get away with murder.” This case study analyzes the 19-year investigative and prosecutorial journey of 51-year-old Frank Buschauer, who “found” his 47-year-old wife, Cynthia, dead in their bathtub. The scene didn’t make sense to the novice patrol officer and the forensic pathologist said that the manner of death was “Undetermined”. The case went cold for 11 years until it was re-opened by the then novice officer turned detective. The presenters will explain how to take an “accident” case to a successful homicide prosecution. 

Death & Survival: The Murder of Jonathan Amerault - Scott Hampton

Scott Hampton

Armando and Brittany Baron were both there when Jonathan Amerault died. But who was responsible for the murder? Brittany had a gun, a machete and a saw. But was she a perpetrator, victim, witness or a co-conspirator who helped to conceal a crime? What would you have done if you were in her place?  The case involved multidimensional abuse including several tactics and layers of involvement spanning hundreds of miles of crime scenes and lasting several days. This case study will examine the tactics of abusers and the pressures that are brought to bear on abuse victims by both the abusers and the system trying to bring those abusers to justice. 

Domestic Violence Homicide: The Ultimate Evidence-Based Prosecution - Shannon Archer

Shannon Archer

There are many reasons why crime victims cannot testify against their offender. Often times, accountability in the criminal justice system is organized around a survivor’s testimony in court. Professionals may understand the reasons why crime victims do not want to testify in court, but to what extent are law enforcement officers and prosecutors mandated victim cooperation in order to seek justice? This case study will explore a domestic violence (DV) homicide that went to trial in 2021. The presenters will describe the investigation, autopsy and prosecution to include discussion about the surviving witness who could testify in court. The presenters will also offer tips, suggestions, and tools when investigating DV and preparing for an evidence-based prosecution. The case study will also touch on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Crawford v. Washington where potential arguments for DV cases can be explored. 

Getting Past the Storefront: Investigating & Prosecuting Illicit Massage Businesses & Criminal Enterprises - Lara Mullin, Timothy Goss

Lara Mullin, Timothy Goss

Illicit massage businesses exist all over the country but have been challenging for law enforcement to identify and meaningfully shutter. The intentional lack of transparency about ownership and management of the businesses historically led to VICE enforcement action against the sellers of sex and a “whack a mole” approach. This ineffective approach criminalized and alienated those who were being exploited (the workers). Members of the Denver law enforcement community worked for years to “pull back the curtain” to see who was behind these workers through long term surveillance, creative investigative tactics, and the use of the grand jury subpoena power. The presenters will explore how to build successful racketeering, money laundering, and human trafficking cases against defendants who are running networks of illicit massage businesses as part of a larger criminal organization. This case study will provide details about how these cases were investigated, built, and prosecuted. 

GPS Trackers: The Silent Stalker - Amanda Paris, Kristen Sanders

Amanda Paris, Kristen Sanders

The development of new technology has grown exponentially, providing assistance to everyday life. However, what happens when this technology is utilized for fear and control? The use of technology, like GPS trackers, make it easier to commit the crime of stalking. This case study will describe how a victim was stalked by her abuser since 2017 by using GPS devices and other means to instill fear. The presenters will break down the relationship of technology, pop culture, and social media within stalking and explain lessons learned, best practices, and development in protocols. Additionally, the presenters will touch on stalking investigations, the dynamics of locating GPS devices, and how to successfully bring evidentiary items to court. How law enforcement-based victim services can work closely with the victims from the onset of the crimes through the court process, and illustrating the importance of a team-based investigation will also be discussed. 

Greyhound Pimp: Social Media Tells the Story - Brooke Grona-Robb

Brooke Grona-Robb

Jarente Mitchell trafficked a 16-year-old runaway child and an adult in the Dallas, Texas area and got caught when he took the child on the Greyhound bus to Houston, Texas. This case study will illustrate the ways in which social media and electronic evidence enhanced the investigation and led to the conviction of Mitchell. Strategies on how to investigate crimes through the exploration of social media will also be discussed. 

GSK & Beyond: Using Genetic Genealogy to Bring Closure to All Sexual Assault Victims (Pt. 1 & 2) - Anne Marie Schubert, Gay Hardwick, Micki Links, Kris Pedretti

Anne Marie Schubert, Gay Hardwick, Micki Links, Kris Pedretti

Genetic Genealogy (GG) is the most powerful forensic tool since the fingerprint. In a justice system that still depends on 30-year-old technologies that deliver results less than 50% of the time, GG has the power to solve most, if not all cases. Over the recent years GG has been used to solve more than 500 unsolvable violent crimes, identify the unidentified and exonerate the innocent. Nowhere has its power been more apparent than identifying Joseph DeAngelo, an ex-cop, as the Golden State Killer or exonerating Ricky Davis for a crime he did not commit. The presenters of this case study who led the investigation and prosecution of the Golden State Killer will demonstrate the long-term impact of sexual assault on victims, the criminal justice system, and society. The presenters will also discuss their experience with the Golden State Killer case, the impact of GG on case closure, and healing through trauma. 

Hiding Behind the System: The State of Texas vs. Reginald Kimbro - Allenna Bangs, Tracy Matheson

Allenna Bangs, Tracy Matheson

Reginald Kimbro a serial rapist and murderer, was investigated in connection with several crimes against women and due to failings in the system was never prosecuted for his crimes.  In 2017, Kimbro committed capital murders of two Texas women, Molly Matheson and Megan Getrum. After five years of trial preparation and investigation, eight sexual assault victims had been identified.  In 2022, Kimbro was sentenced to life without parole in two homicides, life for an aggravated sexual assault, and the maximum sentence for three additional sexual assault cases in a negotiation that involved four counties and multiple cities across the State of Texas. The years long investigation into Kimbro highlighted the cracks in the system that led to his ability to continue to victimize innocent individuals.  Some of those systems have been improved, some are still behind. 

“I Just Killed My Dad”: The Challenges of Protecting Children Raised During Post Separation Custody Battles - Maisha Colter, Janet Heppard, Barbara Stalder

Maisha Colter, Janet Heppard, Barbara Stalder

After years of domestic abuse by her common-law husband (the Respondent), in 2007, “TT” retained counsel with Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse and an application for Protective Order and Divorce was filed on her behalf.  The minor son of “TT” was included in the protective order as an applicant. The court also issued an ex-parte temporary protective order for “TT” and her son upon review of the affidavit she submitted with her application where “TT” and her son were hiding from the Respondent in Texas. In 2019, “TT” was contacted by an attorney in Louisiana, who advised her that her son killed his father and was charged with murder.  The presenters will discuss the details of the case, which later became a Netflix docuseries, and discuss legal ramifications and lessons learned when working on DV cases across multiple jurisdictions that involve children with protective orders in place. 

Natural, Accidental or Homicide? Death of a Quadriplegic Woman - Allyson Cordoni, Yoni Fraenkel, Kenneth Rosgen, Andrea Zaferes

Allyson Cordoni, Yoni Fraenkel, Kenneth Rosgen, Andrea Zaferes

In one horrible incident of strangulation by her then boyfriend, Amber Klein’s young life was confined to a wheelchair after suffering from a headache, dizziness, slurred speech and subsequently a vertebral stroke. Questions abound. How does a healthy 24-year-old female become a quadriplegic and subsequently die from a urinary tract infection? The answers to this question would have otherwise gone unnoticed had it not been for an astute medical examiner who reached out and asked that this woman’s case be reviewed. This case study will describe the medical and social history of how this young woman was strangled by her boyfriend, fled back to her home almost immediately after the event, and died 4 weeks later. Questions and inquiries that should have surfaced, clues to look for in strangulation cases, and other investigative strategies will also be discussed. 

No Direct Evidence... No Problem: State v. Jordan Knudson - Ric Hertel, Allen Beneker

Ric Hertel, Allen Beneker

Krissy Asche Jones was murdered by her abuser of two years by being shot three times in the face with a .410 shotgun in the bathtub of a trailer in Ripley County, Indiana on January 10, 2021. This case exhibited many of the traditional hallmarks of a domestic violence relationship and presented a number of evidentiary issues including the admissibility of multiple prior bad acts, medical records, and a protective order. Additionally, the use of expert testimony from multiple disciplines counteracted significant witness credibility issues. This workshop will underscore the volatility of and escalation in domestic violence relationships with an underlying goal of urging law enforcement and prosecutors to charge and try these difficult cases even when they are based solely on circumstantial evidence. The presenter will outline the events leading up to Krissy’s murder, the investigation of the Indiana State Police, charging the defendant, pre-trial hearings, and ultimately the jury trial. 

Operation Miner Problem: A South Florida Sex Trafficking Case Study - Pete Angell, Jennifer Howard, Jason Avidon

Pete Angell, Jennifer Howard, Jason Avidon

Between 2015 and 2017, Robert Miner placed employment advertisements across the U.S. on websites like and, luring dozens of vulnerable and disadvantaged victims to his websites and ultimately to south Florida to work in positions he described as “dancers” or “companions”. Upon their arrival in Florida, Miner compelled these victims to engage in prostitution using fraud, manipulation, and preying on the victims’ lack of financial stability. After a lengthy investigation by the Palm Beach County Human Trafficking Task Force, Miner pled guilty to numerous human trafficking, money laundering, and deriving proceeds charges and was required to register as a sex offender. This case study will highlight Miner’s coercive recruitment and grooming tactics, as well as his use of Bitcoin to fund his escort advertising. Presenters will also discuss the extensive use of ad analysis and the use of money laundering statutes to strengthen this sex trafficking case. 

A Profile without a Name: The 27-year Journey of Justice for Lisa Ziegert - Anthony Gullini, Elizabeth Farris, Noah Pack, Mark Pfau, Diane Ziegert

Anthony Gullini, Elizabeth Farris, Noah Pack, Mark Pfau, Diane Ziegert

Lisa Ziegert was abducted, raped, and killed in the Town of Agawam, Massachusetts in April 1992. Over the course of the investigation, state, local and federal investigators followed several hundred leads documenting what they learned.  While a single source male DNA profile was developed and uploaded to local, state, national and international databases, for over fifteen years, it yielded no hits, and analyses of over 320 additional buccal or blood samples obtained by investigators provided no match to the known profile.  This case study will describe the multi-jurisdictional law enforcement investigation that pursued until her assailant’s arrest in September 2017, and conviction for first-degree murder in 2019.  The presenters will illustrate how they employed strategic multidisciplinary efforts that proved pivotal in the trajectory of this case, leading to the identification, arrest and prosecution of Lisa’s assailant; a near-fifty-year-old resident of a neighboring town who had no known criminal history. 

A Prosecutor, a Forensic Pathologist, & a 45-Year-Old Murder Case - Maria McCarthy, Hilary McGelligott

Maria McCarthy, Hilary McGelligott

“Since we don’t have physical evidence, an autopsy, a confession, or eyewitnesses, we won’t be able to prove that case.” In 1973, Donnie Rudd reported that an oncoming car caused him to swerve off the road, causing his wife’s death. The rookie patrol officer thought the scene was suspicious but relied on his more experienced colleagues. Those colleagues told the ER doctor about the “accident”, and the doctor concluded that the cause of death was a fractured cervical spine without doing a single x-ray. The coroner informed the inquest jury of the ER doctor’s conclusion. The coroner’s jury ruled that the manner of death was “Accident,” so there was no autopsy. Case closed. All evidence from the scene was destroyed. The dust was finally removed and Rudd was convicted of murder 45 years later. This case study will demonstrate how to overcome catastrophic mistakes and achieve a successful prosecution. 

Reward & Justice: Importance of Building Trust Between Survivors & Investigators - Michelle Linn, Frank Fredrickson

Michelle Linn, Frank Fredrickson

Law enforcement and investigators are met with a myriad of barriers and challenges when investigating rape cases. One of those major obstacles is the lack of victim/survivor cooperation. However, in this particular case, the survivor cooperates extensively with investigators that led to the identification of her rapist and an active participation to her quest for justice. This case study will provide an overview of an investigation where a survivor worked closely with the police to identify a serial rapist. Both presenters will discuss the transition from full reluctance to cooperate to later working side-by-side with police. How law enforcement can successfully communicate and trust victims as well as the importance of collaborating with other jurisdictions will be explored. How to work on a legislative level to advocate for better protection for sexual assault and domestic violence victims will also be discussed. 

A Victim is a Victim No Matter the Circumstances: Exploring the Actions of Online Predatory Behavior - Sean Randolph, Lindsay Richards

Sean Randolph, Lindsay Richards

In August of 2020, Tamir Saad sexually assaulted a woman after meeting her on an online “hook-up” website where the implication is sex acts for money.  The investigation revealed additional sexual assault reports that were not investigated fully, two of which also came from online “hook-up” websites.  This case study will explore the investigation and prosecution of Saad, the challenges of presenting a case when sex acts for money are involved, and the possibility of less victims if the early cases were investigated fully.  The presenters will demonstrate that communities are beginning to understand what adult sex crimes actually look like and are willing to withhold judgement of victims and hold offenders accountable. 

When Courtney Went Missing… - Crystal Uhe, Mike O’Neill

Crystal Uhe, Mike O’Neill

Courtney, who had endured a history of domestic violence before being murdered and dismembered by her boyfriend and his fellow biker gang member, disappeared from her hometown of Alton, Illinois in 2013. After weeks of investigation, it was discovered that the investigations of both men involved extensive use of cell tower analysis, cell phone forensics, crime scene forensics, and police interviewing and interrogation as well as use of the local child advocacy forensic interviewers. The presenters will walk through the details of this case and address additional issues that arose during the subsequent prosecution. Use of testimony regarding evidence of gang affiliation as it relates to proving legal accountability, challenges in determining cause of death in a case of a dismembered victim, qualifying and eliciting testimony from experts in digital forensics, and a discussion of the inherent issues that arise with prosecutor’s use of co-conspirators statements and impeachment at trial will also be discussed. 

When a Peace Officer has No Peace: Abuse Within the Ranks - Kimberly Orts, Christina Dail

Kimberly Orts, Christina Dail

It is hard to imagine that those who protect and serve can also be the same individuals who exploit that sense of safety and security that one may envision when they interact with a peace officer. Even more difficult is when the victim of abuse is a peace officer themselves. This case study will chronicle the real-life story of a peace officer’s abusive relationship with a fellow officer and will include details that led to her outcry, the criminal and internal investigations, the high-risk arrest, the criminal case resolution, and the civil proceedings which reinforced the abusing officer’s termination. 

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Jake Pape's Use of Religion to Rape, Lie & Manipulate - Jessica Escue, Brian Baker, Melissa Carter

Jessica Escue, Brian Baker, Melissa Carter

In 2017, Jacob Pape seemed to be a model of a Christian man at Texas A&M University. Serving in leadership roles in the Christian fraternity, Brothers Under Christ, as a Bible study leader, and as a Christian counselor masked a predator who used religion to control and coerce women into what they believed were trusting relationships. Pape then abused that trust by sexually assaulting and manipulating his victims into silence. This workshop will describe the tactics Pape employed to abuse victims and discuss how Pape’s abuse came to light, obstacles that were overcome in the investigation into the sexual assaults, and how prosecutors successfully sought justice for the survivors. Concrete steps for investigators and advocates in uncovering abuse in churches and religious organizations as well as practical steps for prosecutors in educating juries on survivor behavior and presenting a complex sexual assault case will also be discussed.