Friday, July 27, 2012

The Case of Preston Hughes III: Brain Teaser #6

From Officer F.L. Hale's police report, we learn that he collected the following evidence from Preston Hughes' Apartment:
Evidence recovered inside Apartment 138A, ( suspect's apartment ) 
(1) Pair of silver rim percription [sic] eye glasses. These glasses were recovered from the three cushion couch, against the south wall of the livingroom [sic]. Laying between the cushion [sic]. The eyeglasses were recovered and placed inside a clear plastic bag and kept in officer's care, control, and custody until hand carried to the latent lab to be printed. 
(1) Pair of blue jeans: recovered off the southeast bedroom floor, approximately 5 feet south of the north wall and 2 feet east of the west wall, in front of the dresser. The blue jeans were recovered and placed inside a clear plastic bag and kept in officer's care, control, and custody until tagged in the police property room. 
(1) Blue short sleeve shirt; recovered off the southeast bedroom floor,approximately 3 feet north of the south and 6 feet east of the west wall, in front of the chest of drawers. The shirt was recovered and placed inside a clear plastic bag and kept in officer's carem [sic] control and custody until tagged in the police property room. 
(1) Short sleeve blue shirt; recovered on the floor in the southeast bedroom, near the closet. Approximately 3 feet south of the north wall and 5 feet west of the east wall. Inside the left front shirt pocket was a gold wrist watch. The band is broken. The watch is a Bulova, black face with (4) diamond, 12.3,6,9 The watch was left inside the shirt pocket. The shirt and watch was recovered and placed inside a clear plastic bag and kept in officer's care, control, and custody until tagged in the police property room. 
(1) U.S. Army knife, with sheath: recovered from southwest bedroom closet recovered from southwest bedroom closet [sic regarding the repetition], inside cardboard box, found on floor. The knife and sheath were found seperated [sic] inside the cardboard box. At this time I recovered the knife and sheath, both were kept sererapted [sic] and placed inside a clear plastic bag and kept in officer's care, control, and custody until tagged in the police property room. 
(1) Maroon pullover shirt; recovered on the dining room table. The shirt was recovered and placed into a clear plastic bag and kept in officer's care, control, and custody until tagged in the police property room. 
(1) Small clear plastic bag, containing a green leafy substance. Recovered on the dining room table in plain view. The plastic bag was recovered and placed inside a clear plastic bag and kept in officer's care, control and custody until tagged into the property room. 
No other evidence was found inside apartment 138A.
Now here's the property invoice for the material turned over by CSU Officer F.L. Hale to Property Officer F.L Martin. For clarity, the notations in red were on the document when I received it from Barbara Lunsford. Also for clarity, not all the items in the inventory were collected at Preston Hughes' apartment. The other items were collected from the crime scene, from either of two hospitals, or the morgue.

Be aware that this brain teaser has nothing to do with the marijuana found on Preston's desk. That would be too easy. It is clear from Hale's police report that he took possession of the marijuana while at Preston's apartment, and did not relinquish possession until he allegedly turned it over to the property room. It is equally clear from the property invoice that the marijuana (of which Hale claimed sole possession) did not make its way to the property room.

Be aware also that this brain teaser has nothing to do with the eyeglasses recovered by Officer Hale from Preston's apartment. We'll deal with those glasses in detail soon. For now it should be sufficient to note that Officer Hale did not claim to turn the glasses over to the property room. Instead, he claimed to have turned them over to the fingerprint unit. While I would like to see the receipt from the fingerprint unit, there is no reason to expect the eyeglasses would appear on an invoice intended for the property room.

Now you're all set up and ready to go for the brain teaser.

For 10 points, identify which items were taken from Preston's apartment but not mentioned in Hale's report or property invoice.

I suggest you review the photos in The Searchers.

Go.

ADDENDUM (31 July 2012):
Oscar Anon earns the 10 nugatory points for being first with the correct and obvious answer. If you look at the two photos in The Searchers that show Preston's fold out bed, you won't see any sheets or blankets. Preston claims on his blog that there was a sheet on the bed when he left, that he masturbated and the sheet was stained with his semen. He and others suggest the HPD intended to use that stain to plant his DNA in Shandra's rape kit.

I do not believe that is correct. While working on another case, just today, I was reminded that the first person ever exonerated by DNA was David Vasquez of Virginia, and that happened in 1989. The police searched Preston's apartment in 1988. I suspect they were not anticipating that DNA samples would soon be leading to exonerations.

I have no doubt that Preston used at least one bed sheet. The mattress does not appear as if it has been used unprotected. I also suspect that the HPD did indeed take the sheet and sent it directly to the crime lab for testing. That's why the sheet is not included in the invoice of evidence turned over to the property room at 2:58 AM.

I suspect the police were hoping that Shandra was a secretor. That means her blood type could be determined from her other bodily fluids. If they could identify Shandra's blood type on the sheets, and Preston was not a secretor and/or Preston did not have the same blood type as Shandra, then they would have been able to argue she must have been inside his apartment recently.

I suspect that Shandra turned out not to be a secretor. Most people are not. I suspect they then planted the glasses in Preston's apartment so that they could argue she had been in there recently, maybe the very night of her murder.

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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

There was a sheet taken and maybe some shoes

tsj said...

Anon (if I may call you by your first name),
The sheet does indeed seem to be missing? Why do you think that is?

Please expand on your reasons for believing some shoes are missing.

Do you notice anything else that might be missing?

Anonymous said...

According to Prestons blog, there was a sheet on the bed and it was taken to  because PHIII had masturbated shortly before falling asleep and his semen had gotten onto the sheet. 
The police had taken the sheet, without logging it as evidence, to get PHIII’s DNA from it. This way should PHIII choose to pursue DNA testing as a means of proving his innocence the police had a definite match. 
BUT
Assuming there was really a sheet , the simple fact that the police did not log it into evidence indicates that the police would have KNOWN that Shandras bodily fluids were not on the sheet because she was never there. 
The police could not have known just by looking that it was only semen and did not contain any other DNA profile besides Preston's.
So they took the sheet to GET his DNA- perhaps to plant on Shandra?  To say he had seen her that night?
So why didn't they plant the semen if they had it?
It could have made their case stronger.

Will be back when possible with my explanation for shoes- will give other readers a chance to get some points.

Regards,
Oscar Anon

tsj said...

Oscar Anon,
Nicely done. 10 points for the sheets.

I disagree with you, however, that the police were not looking for DNA. This case was in 1988. DNA was not then generally recognized as a forensic concept.

I suspect instead they were hoping Shandra was a secretor, meaning that they could identify her blood type from her other bodily fluids. (Most people are not secretors.) They were hoping that her blood type was different than Preston's and that her blood type could be identified from the fluids found on Preston's sheet.

Alternatively, they hoped that Preston might be a secretor and that he might have a different blood type than Shandra. They could then contaminate the swabs from the rape kit.

tsj said...

Make that "the police were looking for" rather than "were not looking for."

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