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McCanns, Zapata and cadaver dogs - REVISITED  Mm11

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McCanns, Zapata and cadaver dogs - REVISITED

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Post by Tony Bennett on 01.10.10 16:14

These three accounts speak for themselves, I've highlighted relevant passages in red:


Times, September 17, 2007

Kate and Gerry McCann send to US for help against evidence of sniffer dogs

Steve Bird and David Brown in Praia da Luz

The parents of Madeleine McCann have contacted the lawyers of a man charged with murder who successfully challenged sniffer dog evidence. His lawyers claimed it was unreliable and persuaded a judge in the US to throw out prosecution claims that the dogs had detected the smell of a corpse.

Kate and Gerry McCann hope that the case could help them to prove their own innocence.

Two British sniffer dogs, one capable of detecting blood and human remains, were taken to Portugal in early August to help in the investigation. The dog picked up a “scent of death” on numerous items, including Mrs McCann’s clothes and her daughter’s favourite soft toy.

During police interviews the McCanns, both 39, were repeatedly shown a video of the animal “going crazy” when it approached their hired Renault Scenic car.

Mrs McCann could not explain it,
but the scent of bodies remains detectable to the springer spaniel “cadaver dogs” for years and her legal team concluded that the scent could have come from her contact with corpses during her work as a doctor.

Portuguese police believe that the couple may have killed their child accidentally and then disposed of the body using a car they hired 25 days later. Although the McCanns do not know the full details of the Portuguese prosecutor’s case against them, they are concerned that it may rest on the dog’s reaction.

Now their lawyers have requested the case files from the ongoing murder trial of Eugene Zapata in Madison, Wisconsin. His estranged wife, Jeanette, a 37-year-old flight instructor, vanished in October 1976 after taking her children to school. Her body has never been found.

Detectives suspected that Mr Zapata killed her but did not have enough evidence to go to court. Mr Zapata, 68, was charged with murder last year after sniffer dogs were brought in. They allegedly detected the scent of human remains in a basement at the former family home. But Dane County Judge Patrick Fiedler ruled that the evidence was inadmissible, saying that the dogs were unreliable. He quoted analysis of the three dogs’ performance record which showed that they were, respectively, incorrect 78 per cent, 71 per cent and 62 per cent of the time.

The judge told the court: “The state has failed to convince me that it’s any more reliable than the flip of a coin.” The jury is considering its verdict.

A source close to the McCanns’ legal team said: “The court papers, giving the legal submissions, are on their way to the McCann team for consideration. At the moment there are no formal charges and therefore there is no formal allegation against which the McCann team can work. We are having to work a little bit in the dark.
“But given that we understand the central plank of what the police are alleging involves sniffer dogs – albeit British ones, which are said to be particularly good – this is important and relevant, and will be raised with the police and brought to the judge’s attention.”

British millionaires are being sought to fund the McCanns’ legal battle with the Portuguese authorities to clear their names. Sir Richard Branson has donated £100,000 to a fighting fund. A spokesman for the multi-billionaire said: “When the McCanns said under no circumstances would they touch the Find Madeleine Fund and mentioned they would sell their house, Richard felt he had to do something. He is a father and there is a missing child out there.”

Father Haynes Hubbard, the Anglican priest who became close friends with the McCanns when they stayed on in Praia da Luz, said yesterday: “That’s absolutely wonderful. If I had £100,000 I would give it to Kate and Gerry, too.”

Clarence Mitchell will be employed by one of the McCanns’ wealthy supporters to act as the couple’s spokesman. He will resign as head of the media monitoring unit of the Cabinet Office today and take up his new post tomorrow. A friend said he had kept in touch with the couple after handling the case while still working for the Government.

What could happen next

What action will the police take this week?

Portuguese detectives are due to arrive in Leicester to work with a British police team investigating Madeleine’s disappearance. It has been reported that Kate McCann could be interviewed again this week. A Portuguese judge must decide by Thursday whether to approve requests by Portuguese police to secure more evidence.

Who’s advising British police on the case?

Tony Connell, a member of the Crown Prosecution Service’s special casework unit, has been advising the “Gold Group” of senior detectives at Leicestershire Police, which is investigating the Madeleine case. Mr Connell led the review which led to the conviction of Damilola Taylor’s killers.

Could the McCanns be prosecuted in Britain?

It is possible to prosecute a British citizen for a murder or manslaughter abroad under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. This was last done in 2005 when Christopher Newman was convicted at the Inner London Crown Court of murdering Georgina Eager in Dublin.

Can the public support Kate and Gerry McCann’s legal battle?

A fighting fund to help to pay their legal costs is expected to be announced within the next few days. A source close to the family told The Times: “It will be getting set up and formalised as a proper fund. It has to be meticulously thought through.”


Zapata Enters Guilty Plea In Connection With Missing Wife's Death

The Eugene Zapata Case

Eugene Zapata’s wife, Jeanette Zapata was last seen on October 11th, 1976. Her body was never found. Police suspected that her husband had murdered her, but without sufficient evidence to arrest him, her disappearance became a cold case. It was reopened due to pressure from Mrs Zapata’s loved ones, and cadaver dogs were used to locate her remains. The link for this article is:

Jeanette “Jean” Zapata sent her two teenage daughters and 6-year-old son to school shortly after 8 a.m. Oct. 11, 1976. They last saw her as she sat at the kitchen table in their East Side home near La Follette High School wearing blue corduroys and a striped top.

The 36-year-old flight instructor – who was divorcing her husband – was never heard from again.

Madison Police Capt. Tom Snyder said Thursday that the husband, Eugene J. Zapata, is their primary and only suspect. He lives in Nevada with his second wife.

According to a search warrant executed by police in August but kept sealed until Thursday morning, dogs trained to detect human remains reacted to two locations connected to Eugene Zapata – a crawl space in the couple’s former home and a storage locker in Sun Prairie.

Two days after Jeanette Zapata’s children saw her for the last time, Ivan Norton, an accountant at Frickleton School of Aeronautics, reported her missing because she hadn’t come to work.

“If she told you to make an appointment at a certain time, she was there ahead of schedule to make sure it all went right,” Norton, 69, said Thursday. “She was very nice and very prompt and that was the whole thing that was concerning us. She was like a time clock.”

Immediately after she disappeared, her purse and other belongings, including her new car, were found at the home, but a .30-06 rifle was missing.

Officers have questioned Eugene Zapata several times over the past 30 years and he sometimes provided contradictory statements.

Zapata told police he argued with his wife over visitation rights to their children a few days before she disappeared. The day she vanished, they met with the La Follette High School principal to discuss their oldest daughter. One time he told police he called the morning of Oct. 11 to cancel the meeting. On another occasion, he said he went to the house at 9 a.m. to pick her up.

Jean Zapata had obtained a court order that restricted his time with the children in the home to two hours on Saturday mornings.

His employment records at the state Department of Transportation indicate he worked from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. the day she disappeared, was off work the following day, Oct. 12, and then came in to work at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 13.

He told police he took Oct. 12 off to care for his children at home, but investigators verified the children were at school.

Zapata did not respond to messages from the State Journal asking for an interview. In a 1987 State Journal article, he said he believed his former wife ran away.

“It may have been just the pressure of it because I filed for custody of the kids,” Zapata said then. “She was a very strong-willed person. If she made up her mind that she wanted to disappear, she could do it.”
Investigators suspected Zapata, but lacking leads they had shelved the case.

It was reactivated a year ago after one of Jean Zapata’s childhood friends called asking about its status, Snyder said.

New detection techniques, including “cadaver dogs” that can find faint odors of human remains, pushed the investigation forward.

According to court documents, dogs twice signaled that they had found the scent of human remains in an unused basement crawl space at the Zapatas’ former home on Indian Trace, and a human hair was excavated. Police will not say whether test results indicate that it belonged to Jean Zapata.

Eugene Zapata sold the house in 1997. In 2001, he moved to Nevada. He rented a storage facility in Sun Prairie that year and listed its contents as “boxes, mixture of son’s and parent’s stuff.”

On April 13, 2005, police left a message for Eugene Zapata with his wife in Nevada. The next day, the locker’s key was returned to U-Store Mini Storage in Sun Prairie. The empty locker remained locked until Aug. 10 and 11 when police opened it.

Dogs detected the scent of decomposing or decomposed human remains inside and around the locker, the search warrant indicates. That prompted a search of four acres in rural Juneau County owned by Zapata since 1978.

Nothing was found on the land, which was for sale.

Snyder stopped short Thursday of saying he believes Jean Zapata was murdered by her husband and could not predict if an arrest was imminent.

But he did say he believes she met with foul play and her husband is the only suspect.

The McCanns’ lawyers used the Zapata case to indicate an example of how a seemingly innocent man, can be incriminated by the cadaver dog evidence.


Former Madison Resident Plead To Reduced Charge of Homicide By Reckless Conduct

UPDATED: 7:18 am CST February 19, 2008

MADISON, Wis. -- Eugene Zapata entered a guilty plea on Monday to a reduced charge of homicide by reckless conduct in connection to his wife's disappearance 30 years ago and was sentenced to time behind bars.

Appearing in Dane County Circuit Court on Monday, Zapata was sentenced to five years in prison after entering the guilty plea. Zapata, 69, pleaded guilty as part of a deal with prosecutors. The sentence was the maximum sentence for the charge, WISC-TV reported

Old sentencing rules likely mean that Zapata will spend just more than three years in prison, but the judge and prosecutors supported the deal, saying that it would give family and friends closure and let them heal, WISC-TV reported.

Dane County Judge Patrick Fiedler, who sentenced Zapata, said that the important thing is everyone now knows what happened to Zapata's wife, Jeanette. Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard said that the plea deal gives closure to Jeanette Zapata's loved ones.

"Part of what happened after Madison police took over a cold case from nowhere to today is the ability now to have the family and friends of Jeanette Zapata know exactly what happened to her."

Eugene Zapata was to have faced a second trial late next month. A former Madison resident, he was tried last year for the disappearance and presumed death of his wife in 1976. Her body was never found.

He had faced first-degree murder charges. A jury deadlocked on a verdict, and a second trial was scheduled. If convicted on that charge, Zapata would have faced life in prison.

A second trial seemed less likely after reports surfaced earlier this month that a plea deal had been struck.
As part of the agreement with prosecutors, Zapata had to tell authorities how he killed his wife and where her body was hidden, WISC-TV reported.

During Monday's proceedings, Dane County chief prosecutor Bob Kaiser asked the court to accept an amended charge of homicide by reckless conduct. Kaiser earlier told the court that the deal with
Zapata includes a statement to police about why Zapata went to her house, how and why he killed her and what he did with her.

Kaiser said that Zapata confessed to police and that he believes Zapata's statement will be truthful and complete.


Prosecutors said that Zapata told police that he went to his wife's house in 1976, had an argument and "snapped." He told them that he grabbed a metal draftman's tool and hit her in the head multiple times. He said that she then dropped to ground and he strangled her. He apparently told investigators that he "strangled Jeanette Zapata manually until his hands hurt." He also wrapped a cord around her neck.
Zapata said that he wrapped her body in a tent and drove it to an area near Highway 151 and Reiner Road, where he hid it in some underbrush. He transferred her remains a short time later to some Juneau County land that he owed. There, he buried her body -- which remained there for 24 years -- before moving her remains to a Sun Prairie storage locker, where it was eventually cut into pieces and later disposed of at a Mauston landfill. He moved the body from the Juneau County because he planned to sell the land.

Linda Zapata, the youngest of Eugene and Jeanette Zapata's three children, gave a statement in court. She said that she was torn over testifying against her father earlier, but she's glad that he agreed to the plea deal. She said his confession is "a gift."

"By confessing to Mom's murder, you have given me and others a precious gift, a chance to grieve, mourn and heal," she said. "Mom deserved no less than that Mom deserved the truth about what really happened that morning, and I thank you for finally giving her that."

She added that she still loves her father and forgives him, although she doesn't condone what he did.
Blanchard said because Jeanette Zapata's body was dumped in numerous Dumpsters at the landfill, there is no way to recover her remains.

Eugene Zapata declined comment in the court. He was later taken away in handcuffs after his sentence was imposed.

Kaiser said that he thinks the agreement is the best possible option for "truth and justice." Likewise, Blanchard called the resolution to this case a huge achievement for justice.


Do you think the sentence imposed on Eugene Zapata in connection with his wife's death is appropriate? Yes No I'm on the fence. I don't know. I don't care.

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

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Post by aiyoyo on 01.10.10 17:04

@Tony Bennett wrote:
Times, September 17, 2007
The judge told the court: “The state has failed to convince me that it’s any more reliable than the flip of a coin.” The jury is considering its verdict.

The Judge who proclamed that which caused a hang jury should be demoted.
His thoughless statement influenced jury's decision that caused miscarriage of justice was such a waste of human resource, time, taxpayers money, not to mention most importantly deprived the victim and family justice.

UPDATED: 7:18 am CST February 19, 2008

MADISON, Wis. -- Eugene Zapata entered a guilty plea on Monday to a reduced charge of homicide by reckless conduct in connection to his wife's disappearance 30 years ago and was sentenced to time behind bars.

What a difference half a year makes!
Strange the mccanns didnt dispute the dogs findings.
Instead they set themselves up with expensive lawyers and went the extreme length going all the way to USA in an attempt to obtain files on this case to discredit reliability of dog only to have the reality, the damning verdict, fly in their face.
Oh, the irony of it all. This will come back to haunt the mccanns if ever investigation venue is changed.

Could it be safe to hazard a guess that they'd feared prosecution when the dogs marked their possession and was getting ready materials for their defence, but of course they fled home before more evidence can be gained from them, depriving police chances of easy access to interview them, and the media circus worked to their advantage so far.

Appearing in Dane County Circuit Court on Monday, Zapata was sentenced to five years in prison after entering the guilty plea. Zapata, 69, pleaded guilty as part of a deal with prosecutors. The sentence was the maximum sentence for the charge, WISC-TV reported.

Blanchard said because Jeanette Zapata's body was dumped in numerous Dumpsters at the landfill, there is no way to recover her remains.
Just goes to show a body is not necessary for a trial.
The changed venue, and a new investigative team taking over made a huge difference.

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Post by Guest on 27.09.11 8:40

Just stumbled over that article myself, and found that the dogs where right after all in that Eugene case, then I search on here and found Bennets topic about it.

Wonder what the Mccanns says about that case today, if it wasnt for the awful crime the case involved I would be tempted to tongue

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