Real cover-up and corruption by law enforcement.

Real family frustration and heartbreak.

                      A Resource for Investigative Reporters and TV Producers                                             

Professional writers, publishers, and TV producers, with an authentic interest in doing stories about individual cases, can contact the NM Justice Project at to be put in touch with the families through their private investigators. Tipsters can use this same e-mail address to get information to the families.

Bestselling true crime writers Ann Rule (Every Breath You Take; Small Sacrifices, etc.) and Jerry Bledsoe (Bitter Blood; Death By Journalism, etc.) are frequent visitors to this website.

Most recently posted cases have red lettering in the left column; updates are in red lettering in the right column


This web site originated in New Mexico. When the supervisor of the Albuquerque Police Department's Cold Case Squad criticized the mother of a homicide victim for questioning the actions of "an impeccable police department," the families of over a dozen New Mexico murder victims decided to take a long look at that "impeccable" department, as well as other investigative agencies in the state. What that group uncovered was a history of on-going corruption, involving city police, state police, and sheriff's departments, that underscored a headline in the Albuquerque Journal, "THE CITIZENS OF ALBUQUERQUE ARE AFRAID OF THEIR COPS." Honest police officers are almost as intimidated as the public -- afraid to speak out against their colleagues and supervisors for fear of retaliation against themselves or their loved ones. As a member the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department's elite Crime Suppression Unit, told his battered wife when she threatened to call 911: "Go ahead and call. How can you break the law when you are the law?"

As this core group of families began to compile their reports of misfeasance and malfeasance, families of murder victims from other states got wind of that effort and began to contribute their own cases of cover-up and corruption. It is the hope of these families that, by sharing their loved ones' horror stories, they may be able to shine the light of truth on a Justice System that is very different from what is portrayed on TV "cop shows."

A message board is provided to readers for discussion of the individual cases presented below. Click here to view the message board. Click here to enter your comment onto the message board. When possible, the families of the victims will respond to questions and/or comments.

Because of the overwhelming response to several individual cases, we have installed separate message boards for posts that relate specifically to the following:


Tom Stump & Diana Harris Cases:  Click here to review the message board  or here to enter your comment.

Ronda Reynolds Case: Click here to review the message board or here to enter your comment.

John Petrazzuoli Case:  Click here to review the message board or here to enter your comment.

N M Case Kaitlyn Arquette

Albuquerque Police Dept.

Kaitlyn, 18, was chased down in her car and shot to death. The Albuquerque Police Dept. dubbed the shooting a "random drive-by," despite extensive evidence that Kaitlyn was deliberately murdered because she was preparing to blow the whistle on an Asian crime ring whose activities were protected by certain police officers.  Excerpt from the book, Who Killed My Daughter?, by Kaitlyn's mother, Lois Duncan.  Update: Kaitlyn's case was featured on "Good Morning America" and in People Magazine and the Albuquerque Journal.  Psychic Reading by Robert Petro.  New Input  Update: July 16, 2004, APD Cold Case Squad reopens Kait's case.  3/2/09-2/23/09, Kait's case was featured on the "When Justice Fails" on-line radio blog, and in July 09, on "The Gulf Coast Journal with Jack Perkins."  Visit Kait's new expanded site.

JUNE 2010 -- A SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT:  At the time of Kait's death, in 1989, New Mexico had a 15 year Statute of Limitations on murder.  In 1997, that provision was deleted, but law enforcement said the change was not retroactive.  The Albuquerque Police Department cited that as a reason not to further investigate Kait's case.  The Supreme Court of New Mexico ruled that the amendment applies to all capital felonies committed during the 15 year period BEFORE its effective date of July 1, 1997.  In the event that Kait's killers are arrested and indicted, they WILL be able to be prosecuted! 

N M Case Melissa Romero

Roswell Police Dept.

Melissa was killed in her home by a gun shot to either her neck or back (conflicting autopsy reports) either during a fight with her boyfriend or during a drive-by gang shooting later.  Why did the bullet holes in the door of the house not correspond with the placement of Melissa's wound? Was the drive-by staged after the fact to cover up Melissa's murder?

N M Case Paul Fitzjerrell

Gallup Police Dept.

The suspect, Police Officer Mike Brandau's, own department deliberately allowed information from their Internal Affairs Investigation to become mixed with the criminal investigation, thus polluting the case and making it impossible to prosecute.  Read this to learn about the Garrity Law, a device all cops can use to protect themselves from prosecution.  This is a MUST READ!

N M Case Russell Cage

Bloomfield Police Dept.

Farmington Police Dept.

Police assert Russell shot himself in the side of the head, and the bullet exited, made a 86 degree turn, and penetrated a wall. Russell stood 5’10” and the hole in the wall is 4‘ from the ground.  Also, Russell was right-handed, and the entrance wound appears to be on the left side of his head.  Can this really be suicide?  ?  Jan. 24, 2004, Russell's case was featured in Farmington Daily Times.

N M Case Troy Pino

Santa Rosa Police Dept.

New Mexico State Police

Troy died following a brutal assault by his girlfriend’s ex-husband.  The cops who witnessed the assault deny it took place, although there were seven other witnesses.  Is that because one cop is the assailant’s nephew and the other the assailant’s best friend?  Update: March 21, 2003, Troy's case was featured in the Santa Rosa News.  Update: April, 2004, family petitions grand jury to investigate Santa Rosa PD.  Update: June 2004, petition is granted.

N M Case Teresa Reyes

Albuquerque Police Dept.

On the night Teresa Reyes disappeared from her Albuquerque home, she left an unlisted phone number hidden in a hole in a stuffed doll. Whose number is it, and why won't the Albuquerque Police Department follow up on it? Is Teresa alive or dead? Update: July 13, 2002, Teresa's case was featured in the Albuquerque Tribune

N M Case Peter Klunck

Albuquerque Police Dept.

Peter Klunck was shot in the back, allegedly "in self-defense," by an Albuquerque Police Officer whose hobby was robbing banks. Was Officer Matt Griffin's true motive for killing Peter to keep him from turning Griffin in as "The Ninja Bandit."  Psychic Reading by Betty Muench.  Excerpt about this case from the upcoming book, The Tally Keeper, by Lois Duncan.

N M Case Harriet Moldov-Taylor

Albuquerque Police Dept.

The Medical Investigator ruled that Harriet, a disabled woman who lived alone, died from strokes and blood loss due to a violent sexual attack.  So why do police insist her injuries were self-inflicted and refuse to follow up on the OMI’s finding of “homicide”?  Nov. 2003, Harriet’s was featured in the Albuquerque Journal and Albuquerque Tribune.

Killer Convicted!!

NM Case Stephane Murphey

Rio Rancho D.P.S.

Stephane was raped and murdered in her home in Rio Rancho, NM, in April, 1999. It was only after years of relentless pressure by Stephane's family and the intervention of an investigative reporter that police finally agreed to submit DNA evidence for testing. Update: July, 2002. David F. Bologh was arrested and arraigned as a result of that DNA evidence. Bond was set at $1 million. Feb. 2005, a judge declared the key jailhouse statement that incriminated Bologh inadmissible, because police did not have him sign a waiver of his rights and misled him about why they were questioning him.  March 2006, Bologh was convicted and sentenced to 21 yrs. on a plea bargain.  Family statements at sentencing.

NM Case Caroline Ferraro

Rio Rancho D.P.S.

Caroline, 18, was sexually assaulted at knife-point by a man who broke into her bedroom. Other local women were similarly assaulted. Police had a suspect they felt certain was the perpetrator. Why did they tell the crime lab NOT to process the semen on the bed sheets to compare with the suspect's DNA, allow the suspect to leave the state, and destroy all the evidence, including the rape kit?

N M Case Benny Esquivel

Albuquerque Police Dept.

Benny Esquivel, 14, was shot in the neck and survived seven and a half years as a quadriplegic before he died of complications from respirator use. Benny's death has now been ruled a homicide, and his father claims to know the identity of his killers. Is it too late for the Albuquerque Police Department to arrest them?

N M Case Stephanie Houston

New Mexico State Police

Stephanie Houston's jealous and abusive boyfriend ran her over with his truck when he suspected her of seeing another man. Why do the State Police insist Stephanie's death was an accident when the medical examiner has labeled it a homicide? Updates: July 2002, Stephanie's father was charged with "stalking" for attempting to obtain information about his daughter's killer;  March 15, 2003, Stephanie's case was featured in the Albuquerque Journal; May 2003, the case has been reopened and will be investigated as a homicide; Dec. 18,2003, Patrick Murillo was indicted for vehicular homicide.  April, 2004, family petitions grand jury to investigate NMSP.  July 9, 2004, Jury Acquits After Prosecutor Fails To Prosecute.

N M Case April/Spring Miller

Albuquerque Police Dept.

April Miller's body was found in an alley, nine years after the unsolved murder of her sister, Spring Miller. The mother of the two girls has many questions about the circumstances of their unrelated deaths. And why won't the Albuquerque Police investigate the mysterious "Roland," the last person to see April alive?

N M Case Melanie McCracken

New Mexico State Police

State Police told the media that Melanie McCracken died in a car accident. Her husband, (a State Police officer), claimed his wife died of cancer. A medical expert determined the cause of death was "homicidal suffocation." What is the real story? Update: May 3, 2002, Melanie's case was featured on "NBC Dateline" winning the Edward R Murrow Award for investigative reporting.  10/31/03, NMSP Lt. Mark McCracken was indicted for the first degree murder and evidence tampering.  Grand jurors also requested that another grand jury be empanelled to review the conduct of the NMSP investigators.  4/04, family petitions grand jury to investigate NMSP.  12/30/04, McCracken won't stand trial.  1/8/05, outcry for reform in NM.

Killers Convicted!!

N M Case Nathan Romero

Albuquerque Police Dept.

Nathan was stabbed to death in the street and found with a Vietnamese medallion clutched in his hand. Why did the Albuquerque PD not collect that important piece of evidence from the coroner and why did they refuse to arrest the Asian gang members who were identified by witnesses as Nathan's killers - until Nathan's mother threatened the City with a lawsuit?

N M Case Gabino George Venegas

New Mexico State Police

Gabino Venegas was killed by a hit and run driver. Did the State Police drop off the unsolved homicide because a witness identified the car that left the scene as a law enforcement vehicle?  Update: Jan. 24, 2004, Police agree to reopen case after Real Crimes press conference -- Albuquerque Tribune and Albuquerque Journal.

N M Case Ramona Duran

Albuquerque Police Dept.

Albuquerque Police say Ramona Duran died of "an accidental drug overdose." Ramona's family believes that Ramona was murdered, because she was a threat to important people involved in the local drug scene. Who is right?

Killer Convicted of Another Man's Murder!!!

N M Case Stephen Haar

Albuquerque Police Dept.

Stephen Haar died after being shot in the back while lying on the floor on his stomach. Albuquerque Police say they can't charge the admitted killer, because he claims self-defense. Informants told the family that police were involved in the murder. What does the evidence indicate?

Although Stephen's case was never investigated, in 2009, his killer, Travis Dally, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a man named Henry George.  Stephen's mother testified at the trial.

N M Case Sal Martinez

Albuquerque Police Dept.

Sal Martinez was shot to death at a party. Albuquerque Police say they can't charge the admitted killer, because he claims self-defense, although Sal wasn't carrying a weapon, nor was anyone else at the party except the killer. Is the killer being protected? If so, why and by whom?

N M Case Kristopher Gray

Navajo Tribal Criminal Investigators & F.B.I.

Kris's body was found beside a pump jack on the Navajo reservation. Tribal investigators told the family Kris was beaten to death. The OMI report says he "accidentally fell from a height." The FBI says he walked into a revolving pump jack, (although scene investigators stated in their reports that the pump jack was not in operation). The embalmer informed Kris's mother that Kris had a fresh stab wound under his rib cage. How did Kris really die, and why was information about the stab wound withheld from the OMI and police reports?  Jan. 24, 2004, Kris's case was featured in Farmington Daily Times.

N M Case Tyrone Tsosie

Navajo Tribal Criminal Investigators

Tyrone was found brain dead on the roadside.  Police told his mother, “He got tired and lay down and a car ran over him.”  They said the car was so hot that Tyrone’s nylon jacket melted onto his body.  So why did the autopsy describe no injuries except a blunt force blow to the back of the head?

N M Case John Sherman

Sandoval Co. Sheriff's Dept.

John was found, slashed and stabbed to death, in the front seat of his van in Rio Rancho, NM. Sheriff's deputies transferred John's body to the back of the van before taking scene photos, and insisted his death was a suicide, despite a finding of "homicide" by a former head of forensics at the Menninger clinic. What's going on here?  Psychic Reading by Nancy Myer.  Updates: June, 2002, John's case was reopened and will be investigated as a homicide, thanks to the intervention of an investigative reporter;  July, 2002, the lead detective was indicted on 18 charges of sexual misconduct with a 5-year old child;  Jan. 17, 2003, the new sheriff, J. P. Trujillo agreed to reopen John's case and then discovered that his predecessor had removed all information from the case file.  6/1/09-6/29/09, John's case was featured on the "When Justice Fails" on-line radio blog.

Killer Convicted!!

N M Case Crystal Houston

Socorro Police Dept.

Crystal was found dead in her home, severely beaten with blunt force injuries to her head, just 14 months after the death of her sister, Stephanie. A prison escapee, who had been in Crystal's home on the night of her death, was later found in another city with Crystal's car, trying to cash Crystal's checks. Yet police say he can't be prosecuted because Crystal had drugs in her system.  Update: April 2005, As a result of a DNA semen match and the testimony of an eyewitness, the prison escapee, Ramon Lopez, has been charged with murderJuly 12, 2006, Lopez was convicted.

N M Case Josh Vihel

Albuquerque Police Dept.

Josh,16, died at a party, allegedly of alcohol poisoning. But a tipster informed his family that Josh was slipped GHB (date rape drug), beaten and robbed, and his body was removed from the premises. Police say that former DA Bob Schwartz will not allow them to investigate the adult males who threw the party. Why not? Update: April, 2002, the Vihels' civil suit against the men who threw the party was settled for $100,000.

CO Case Julie Andersen

Adams Co. Sheriff's Dept.

Did Julie die of a heart attack or suffocate after being pepper sprayed, wrestled to the ground facedown, and cuffed by police? Why did cops refuse to investigate why she had been running, naked, down the highway, screaming for help? Julie's case is the subject of the book, Untangle the Knots Within, by Cynthia M. Andersen.

MS Case  Nichole LaDue January

Pass Christian Police Dept.

Did Nikki commit suicide?  Was she shot by her jealous husband because she spent the day with another man?  Or was she killed because of her knowledge of organized crime and interstate drug trafficking, linked to the Grand Casino in Gulfport, MS, where she worked? Update: May 2005, PCPD Officer Tom Putsay, chief investigator in Nikki's case, has resigned from the force after being accused of child molestation.  May, 2007, Putsay is convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison.  4/6/09-4/20/09, Nikki's case was featured on the "When Justice Fails" on-line radio blog.

OR Case        Shawn Allison

Deschutes Co. Sheriff's Dept.

Shawn, with half his head blown off, walks across the room to bleed out on a sofa.  Shawn's dog, alleged beneficiary of a $100,000 insurance policy, is confiscated by the man who finds Shawn's body.  The Sheriff's Department does no investigation.  The coroner determines "suicide" without ever seeing the body. Is there something wrong with this picture? 5/11/09-5/25/09, Shawn's case was featured on the on-line radio blog, "When Justice Fails."

TX Case       Joshua Robinson

McGregor Police Dept.

Joshua died at night in a park with a swing chain around his neck.  Police insist it was suicide.  If so, why was Joshua found, not suspended, but kneeling on the ground, and why are police reports filled with contradictions?  Is it possible that Joshua was killed during a confrontation with cops who tried to force him to leave the park, and his alleged "suicide" was a cover-up by the department?

TX Case       Daniel Underwood

Sulphur Springs Police Dept.

Texas Rangers

Daniel died of a gunshot wound to the head during a heated argument with his girlfriend. The girlfriend and an eye-witness gave greatly conflicting accounts of what transpired. Was Daniel's death a suicide? An accident? Or murder? On 10/10, Daniel's case was featured on the on-line radio blog, Crime Wire.

LA Case       Greg Causey

Bossier City Police Dept.

Greg died of a drug overdose in the home of a convicted dealer who was on probation. That dealer identified a second dealer, who had threatened to kill Greg, as the source of the drugs.  A state statute says that if someone dispenses or distributes a CDS that causes a death, that supplier is guilty of second degree murder.  Why were the dealers not prosecuted? 

DE Case      Warren Pritchett

Delaware State Police

Warren died after being run down by a truck while riding his bicycle.  His killer, Gregory Keiser, has a long criminal history and 14 driving violations.  Did the AG’s office change the charge of “criminally negligent homicide” to “careless driving” because of their discovery that Keiser worked as a snitch for the State Police?  Update: June 25, 03, Delaware Senate passed the Warren Pritchett Act increasing the penalty for careless driving causing death.  Dover Post  Keiser and his sons were subsequently arrested on drug charges.

CA Case       Rhonda McClain

San Bernardino Co. Sheriff's Dept.

Is it possible for a healthy, non-sedated, 41-yr-old woman, devoted to her children and busy making plans for her future, who has recently announced to her boyfriend that she's going to leave him, to drown in that boyfriend's bathtub without "assistance"?

CA Case       Brooks Black

Nevada Co. Sheriff's Dept.

Brooks was shot in the back while hunting wild pigs.  Was the shooting an accident?  If so, who was responsible, and why do the members of the hunting party tell such different stories?  Jan. 9, 2004, Brooks's case was featured in Press Tribune.  Mar. 24, 2004, investigative update has been added to this case report.

CA Case  David Dagon Botts

Del Norte Co. Sheriff's Dept.

Dag, 14, was caught in the rapids of the Jed Smith River.  His mother, a swift water rescue tech, towed him to safety.  Then Dag's sister's new boyfriend, James Steele, grabbed Dag under the arms and hauled him back out 30 feet into the rapids and abandoned him.  Police closed this case as an "accidental drowning."  Is the fact that James's mother works for the DA's office a factor in that decision?  Feb. 17, 2007, Dag's story was featured in Poor Magazine.

MD Case    Susan Hurley Harrison

Baltimore Co. Police Dept.

MD State Police

Susan vanished following a fight with her allegedly abusive estranged husband, Jim Harrison.  Two years later she was found in a shallow grave, dead from a blow to the head.  Despite circumstantial evidence implicating Jim, and his failure to pass a polygraph test, the Attorney General’s office refuses to prosecute.  Is Jim guilty?  If not, who is?  Excerpt from the book, Finding Susan, by Susan's sister, Molly Moran.  Update: Susan's case was featured in the Baltimore Sun and Baltimore Magazine.

Killer Convicted!!

MN Case     Gregg Meissner

Clay Co. Sheriff's Dept.

Hawley Police Dept.


Shawn Padden was convicted of Gregg’s murder, but questions remain: Did police try to protect Padden because he was a confidential informant?  Is Padden guilty of other hanging deaths as well?  And, most bewildering, who stole Gregg’s organs and scooped out his brain? 

WA Case    Ronda Reynolds

Lewis Co. Sheriff's Dept.

Ronda allegedly shot herself in the head, after a heated fight with her husband.  The husband, 15 feet away, says he slept through the gunshot, but was awakened an hour later by his alarm clock.  When the Sheriff’s Dept. closed the case as a suicide, the lead detective quit the department rather than participate in a cover up.  Excerpt from the book, Justice for Ronda, by Ronda's mother, Barbara Thompson  Update: More suspicious Lewis Co. "suicides".  New Input  Ronda's mother has filed a civil suit against the coroner.  Update: Jan. 23, 2008, Court of Appeals unanimously reversed trial court decision.  April 2009, Judge Hicks decrees that a jury review all evidence and decide if the case is a suicide or murder.  1/8/10, Judge orders coroner to change death certificate.  2/9/09-2/23/09, Ronda's case featured on the "When Justice Fails" on-line radio blog.  Featured in book, "Where Murders Walk Free," by Jerry C. Berry.  Subject of book "In the Still of the Night," by best-selling true crime writer, Ann Rule. 

OK Case     Curtis Prescott

Mayes Co. Sheriff's Dept.

Curtis was found outside his home with his brains blown out by a shotgun that had a history of malfunctioning. His arms were not long enough to have positioned the gun and pulled the trigger. Did the Sheriff's Dept. close the case as a suicide, with no investigation, because of a history of animosity between Curtis and the investigators?

NV Case     Ricky Dyer

Storey Co. Sheriff's Dept.

Ricky was in the process of trying to disassociate himself from a group of new acquaintances who were involved in drugs, Dungeons and Dragons, and alleged links to the Occult.  Was Ricky’s death a suicide, or was he murdered?  Psychic Reading by Sylvia Browne.  Update: Ricky's case was featured on "Seeking Justice" radio blog, 9/22/09.

MS Case    Nick Swigart

Lafayette Co. Sheriff's Dept.

Nick burned to death in a car fire, at 2:30 a.m., in a vacant field 25 miles from home.  Police closed the case as an “accident.”  Nick’s family asks, “What was he doing there?  How did the fire start?  And why were his car keys and money clip missing?”

SC Case John Petrazzuoli Jr.

Horry Co. Police Dept.,SC Horry Co. Fire Dept., SC

Johnny was shot and then burned to death in his car. Police promptly closed the case as a suicide/accident. But what about the note in Johnny's briefcase, that said, "If you fuck me over, you're DEAD!"?  Psychic Reading by Betty Muench.  Update: May, 2003, an eyewitness has come forward with information indicating murder and arson which has been attached to the case report.  New Input  10/10 John's case was featured on the Internet Radio blog, Crime Wire.

MA Case Valarie Fiorenza

Saugus Police Dept.

Valarie, who was preparing to leave her abusive boyfriend, Saugus Police Officer Paul Bennett, for another man, was found hanged in a closet in Bennett's basement. Was it suicide?  Update: Valarie's case was featured in the Boston Globe and on NBC's news magazine "NOW with Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric."

WI Case Natalie Wagner

Milwaukee Police Dept.

Natalie, who was preparing to leave her abusive boyfriend, Milwaukee Police Officer, Michael Quigley (aka Michael Austin) for another man, had her head blown off by a shotgun. Was it suicide?  Update: Michael Quigley/Austin's ongoing behavior problems were featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September, 14 and December 15, 2004.   New Input

FL Case Shawn McMillan

Tarpon Springs Police Dept.

FL Dept. of Law Enforcement

Shawn was shot in the head with the gun of Dan Nordfork, a drunken cop.  Tarpon Springs Police  immediately sent out the code word "Special Circumstances," meaning the suspect was one of their own.  Is that why they instantly labeled Shawn's death a suicide and pretend that they had conducted forensic tests that were not performed?  ABC 28 Investigates.  Shawn's personal website

FL Case Diana Lynn Harris

Monroe Co. Sheriff's Dept.

Diana vanished from the “party house” of attorney, Mitchell Denker, immediately after telling a friend that a big drug bust was coming down and she was afraid the phones were tapped.  Diana’s daughter has now discovered that subjects linked to her mom’s disappearance are also linked to the disappearance of Tom Stump (see below). Neither body has ever been found.  Can this be a coincidence?  Or did Diana and Tom both become threats to the same people?  Update: Diana's case was featured on "Missing Pieces" radio show and Hot Psychology magazine.  Excerpt from upcoming book, Two Gone Missing -- Chapters 1 & 2Chapter 3

FL Case Tom Stump

Monroe Co. Sheriff's Dept.

Tom vanished while preparing to go on vacation with his family. The case detective concluded that Tom: "Committed suicide, relocated to an unknown area or died as a result of accident, negligence or homicide." What does the evidence indicate?  Updates: Timeline of activities at time of Tom's disappearance; Jan. 31, 2002, Key West the Newspaper featured Tom's case along with two letters.  July 03, Det. Norman refuses to comply with State Attorney request to subpoena Stump phone records; Tom's case was featured on "When Justice Fails" radio blog, 9/7/09-9/28/09.    New Input.  Excerpt from upcoming book, Two Gone Missing -- Chapters 1 & 2Chapter 3

FL Case Kevin McGinley

Florida Highway Patrol

Kevin McGinley was found dead at the junction of Highway 275 and Armenia Avenue in Tampa, Florida. Physical evidence and witness reports indicate Kevin was viciously and brutally attacked for fifteen minutes before being pushed to his death beneath the wheels of an oncoming tractor-trailer unit. Police say Kevin's death was a hit and run accident. Decide for yourself.