Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Michigan Attorney General will examine Mary's case

Update- January 27, 2009-
Marshall Chronicle 01/16/09- Ken Morgan recommended as new Marshall Police Safety Chief

Battle Creek Enquirer- 01/14/09- City Manager Chris Olson recommends Ken Morgan as new police chief

Battle Creek Enquirer- 01/03/2009- Solis Accepts Post of Chief Assistant Prosecutor, Dan Buscher will stay on-

WWMT Channel3 News-11/18/2008

WZZM 13News 11/17/2008

In a very personal and poignant 6-page letter to Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, Clifford & Anita Marshall expressed their years of anguish and frustration concerning the conduct of certain officers in the Marshall Police Department, and a lack of progress in Mary's case. They respectfully requested that the Michigan Attorney General take over jurisdiction of Mary's investigation.

Among numerous issues, their letter described how they were improperly humiliated, subjected to crude comments about DNA, and learned that MPD officers laughed and ridiculed Mary’s case. One senior officer told a family member, "Mary is like an old pair of shoes, she will be back". No official search of Mary's Waldon Pond apartment was made until December 8, 2004, 9 months later. The Michigan State Police requested the search warrant on December 7, 2004. It was approved by a magistrate on the same date, and executed on December 8, 2004.

In October 2006 it was claimed by MPD that Mary's Dodge Durango was being held as evidence although it was stored outside in open public view for over 2 1/2 years at Bud's Towing on 15 Mile Road in Marshall, Michigan. http://justiceformary.blogspot.com/2006/10/if-this-is-secured-evidence-at.html The vehicle was not secured, left unlocked, and could never be considered a piece of evidence in any court of law. When the family asked for the vehicle to be returned it was secretly moved. To this date it is retained at an unknown location and purportedly classified by former Chief Mike Olsen as "evidence" in Mary's case. After questions from the family, Vic Potter, owner of the towing company relinquished his claims for storage and moving charges related to the vehicle. It could appear that Mary's vehicle was not being held for evidence, but to build up storage fees that were in the thousands of dollars. Chase Bank or the Marshall family would have to pay the charges. This could be construed as a larceny by conversion scheme and fraud. The present bill was for a significant amount of money and appeared to be more of an extortion attempt, and one that was condoned by MPD. A Garage Keeper or Mechanic’s lien could be placed on the vehicle and there is no doubt that the bank not willing to pay the high costs and losing more money would sign over the vehicle title to the towing company. It could then be sold by the business for a considerable profit. The family doesn’t believe that this would even be a valid option under the law, but who knows? We are dealing with the Marshall Police Department and they do what they want, not necessarily what is legal and proper. It was the intent of the family that if the vehicle could be released a new loan could be signed with Chase Bank by the Marshall's. The bank would be satisfied and Cliff & Anita would have returned to their possession one of the few remaining possessions of their daughter. During this time the family made several inquiries with the local Chase Bank and the bank contacted MPD. Chase was advised that the vehicle is being held as evidence.
When further questioned about the facts related to the total bill and the "evidence" status of the Durango, who, what, when, and where it was moved, Mr. Potter stated he no longer has any connection to the Durango and does not know where it is presently stored. Shaking his hands, he advised, "I have nothing more to do with that Dodge Durango and there is no money owed to me on Mary's vehicle". For nearly 4 years and 9 months Mary's vehicle has been in the possession of MPD for no apparent legal reason. At least we hope it is in their possession.
December 2, 2008- Chase Bank today contacted MPD & Sgt. McDonald inquiring on the status of Mary’s vehicle? He advised the bank recovery official vehicle that the vehicle has always been held as evidence and it will not be released. It was reported the wheels were off it and the vehicle is under a covering. When asked about a time frame for the possible release, he replied, not any time soon. Chase Bank appreciated learning the information on the location of Mary's vehicle. They were totally unaware of what had taken place? The department handling the loan had no idea Mary was a missing persons, and the loan was written off in 2004. Although Sgt. McDonald claims that someone from Chase calls every six months they had no record in the file that the vehicle was even in the possession of the MPD. Chase asked MPD to keep them advised on the vehicle as they wish to take possession.

Christopher Luke Pratt reported that Mary Denise Lands walked away from their Waldon Pond Townhouse in Marshall on March 12, 2004 wearing medical scrubs and her brown leather jacket. The same leather jacket was recovered from a Homer flea market, 5 months later in the summer of 2004. It was personally being sold by Christopher Pratt with Mary’s other property. The flea-market booth was actually rented in the name of Ken Piski. Mr. Piske resides just east of the Pratt family residence in Albion. He is a close friend of Christopher Pratt and his brother, Jeff Pratt. After the jacket was recovered Christopher Pratt put up a sign at his booth for the remaining property- "Free". He then left the flea-market.
The jacket was immediately brought to the Marshall Police Department, but they took no action. Instead of officers being dispatched to the flea market to verify the situation MPD wanted Cliff Marshall to go there and retrieve any other property. Mr. Marshall told MPD that it was not his job to accomplish, it was a job for police investigators.

In June 2006 the family was investigated for an alleged home invasion, burglary and theft of Mary’s former residence after it was vacated by Mr. Pratt. He signed a criminal complaint after a 90-minute interview with Sgt. Rebecca Ivey, and within a day Cliff & Anita were advised to come into the police department for questioning. The Marshall's were suspects in felony crimes along with others. They complied and after meeting with Sgt. Ivey were asked to waive their Miranda Rights. They declined and requested to speak with an attorney, as did their private investigator on June 19, 2006. The Marshall's were then released. An interesting point during this time is that Chief Mike Olson told the Marshall's "with a wink and a nod" this is nothing, just forget about it. Although the management of Waldon Pond Townhouse was present and granted permission for the family to enter the vacant apartment, Sgt. Rebecca Ivey of the MPD still requested criminal warrants from the prosecutor for these serious felony crimes. The FOIA documentation on this incident includes a very candid hand-written 6-page statement from Debra Farrington, leasing manager of Waldon Pond. The FOIA response did not include a signed waiver of her rights although she was clearly a suspect in these crimes, and she was one of the four persons that Sgt. Ivey wished to charge with the felony offenses. The warrant requests were issued on June 22, 2006. On July 5, 2006 the warrant requests were denied by the Calhoun County Prosecutor's Office against all the persons involved. (FOIA documentation on this incident)- Christopher Luke Pratt, Complainant (06/19/2006) to MPD, 0906-2006- FOIA Request by Jim Carlin- Sgt. Rebecca Ivey requested warrants for home invasion, burglary, & theft allegedly committed by Cliff & Anita Marshall, Jim Carlin & Debra Farrington

Note: Supervisor Sgt. Rebecca Ivey was demoted to patrol officer by former Chief Mike Olsen prior to his firing or resignation in January 2008. However, it is believed her demotion in 2007 had nothing to do with the Mary Lands case, especially since Chief Olsen and other police management would have had to approve and sign off on of Sgt. Ivey's warrant requests.
A FOIA request was submitted to the City of Marshall in June 2008 on her demotion but it was denied by City Manager Chris Olson because a grievance action was pending.

December 2, 2008- Another FOIA Request was submitted to the City of Marshall on Sgt. Rebecca Ivey's demotion to patrtol officer. Information has been rceived was that there is no further grievance and/or court litigation in this matter and the FOIA materials requested for this incident should now be available. We expect a response within ten days under FOIA protocol. City Manager Chris Olson responded on 12/09/08 advising of a 10-day extension to comply with the request.
December 12, 2008- A limited redacted version of 2 separate disciplinary actions in 2007 against former sergeant Ivey was received, however it does make some reference to why she was demoted. Charges include Conduct Unbecoming Departmental Personnel, Neglect or Inattention to Duty, Unsatisfactory Performance, Request for Assistance. A FOIA appeal will be submitted on both discipline actions and the circumstances in those cases. MPD Sgt. Rebecca Ivey-Demotion to patrol officer-10/09/07, Limited FOIA Response, City of Marshall-12/12/08

Michigan Department of Corrections OTIS-Christopher Luke Pratt, Inmate# 673261

As most of you are aware, Christopher Luke Pratt was arrested on June 24, 2007 and remained in the Calhoun County Jail until his convictions by a jury in Circuit Court in December 2007. In January he was sentenced to 5-15 years in prison. http://www.state.mi.us/mdoc/asp/otis2profile.asp?mdocNumber=673261 for Domestic Violence, Unlawful Imprisonment, Interfering w/Electronic Communciations Causing Injury/Death, & Assault with Dangerous Weapon (Felonious Assault). These charges are unrelated to Mary's case and involved his most recent girl-friend. He has been incarcerated by MDOC, at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia and will not even be eligible for parole until February 24, 2012.
Update- December 4, 2008- Inmate #673261-Christopher Luke Pratt was just transferred from Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia and is now incarcerated at Mound Correctional Facility in Detroit.
Inmate #673261- Christopher Luke Pratt, New House- Mound Correctional Facility, Detroit, Michigan

Shortly after March 2007 when the the new city manager, Chris Olson accepted his position the family asked for a meeting, which was attended by Cliff & Anita, and others. It was immediately apparent that Chris Olson did not want to listen to the family’s plight. He stated to the Marshall’s, "you are all part of the problem, not part of the solution." Anita walked out of the meeting and to this date the city manager has never contacted them or even sent a letter expressing his desire to help the family in the tragedy of their daughter’s disappearance. City Manager Chris Olson has never attended a vigil or event for Mary.

Some time in early 2008 the family learned through a FOIA request that Acting Chief-Sgt. Scott McDonald had classified Mary's case as a homicide. No one in law enforcement ever came to the family to explain the new status or why it might have been changed? For the first time in over 4 years the Mary Lands investigation was being called a homicide.

These are just a few of the incidents that were documented and included in the Marshall’s letter to the Attorney General. Almost immediately the family received a reply from the Office of Attorney General, Criminal Division Chief, dated November 20, 2008. In part it stated, the information contained in your letter is compelling and heartbreaking. I am writing to inform you that we intend to examine this case.

On February 12, 2009 it will have been 4 years & 11 months since Mary Denise Lands disappeared. The family has endured five holiday seasons without their beautiful daughter, but this is the first holiday that we all have hope. There is genuine optimism that the Michigan Attorney General will finally be the professional legal entity that can obtain justice for the family, bring Mary home, and hold accountable the person/s responsible for her disappearance and murder.

If anyone has information about Mary's case we ask you to please contact Chief Assistant Dan Buscher at the Calhoun County Prosecutor's Office- 269.969-6980, D/Sgt. Mike Salmen, Battle Creek Post, Michigan State Police- 269.968-6115 or the
Office of Michigan Attorney General- Toll Free- 877.765.8388

Note- On November 25, 2008 the Carole Sund/Carrington Foundation in California was again contacted about Mary's disappearance. Their foundation places reward monies for missing persons. In February of 1999, Carole and Juli Sund and Silvina Pelosso were missing while on a sightseeing trip to Yosemite National Park. While they were missing, Francis and Carole Carrington, Carole Sund's parents, established rewards both for their safe return and for information on the whereabouts of their rental car. They believe that posting the reward money and receiving media attention on their case helped in locating the rental car, which gave them their first break in the case. It was for this reason the Carrington's established Carole Sund/Carrington Memorial Reward Foundation. The Foundation's goal is to safely return missing persons to their homes and to secure the arrest and conviction of violent criminals. The Carrington hope is to turn their tragedy into triumph for other families.

A reward for information on Mary's case was listed for some time however was then withdrawn, as is their policy. The foundation advised us they would consider reinstating a reward in Mary's case. They require a letter from the family, which has already been received. They also require verification from law enforcement that the case is open and a reward might assist police in their investigation. A letter was provided to First Lt. Dale Peet of the Michigan State Police on 12/02/2008 asking that his agency contact Sund/Carrington about reinstating the reward. We hope by the first of the year the Sund/Carrington Foundation will have a new reward available in the Mary Denise Lands case. http://www.carolesundfoundation.com/sections/missing?person=285

Update- January 27, 2009- A special thanks to Michigan State Police Lt. Dale Peet. On December 28, 2008 he completed a compelling letter to the Carole Sund/Carrington Foundation concerning the reinstatement of a reward in Mary's case. We should soon learn more on our request to Sund/Carrington and an announcement is forthcoming from members of law enforcement. We will keep you advised. A special thanks to the Michigan State Police and their professional team for continued efforts to bring Mary home.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Marshall City Manager Recommends New Police Chief

Update- February 11, 2009- Battle Creek Enquirer- 02/11/2009- Chris Olsen Accepts new City Manager job in DeWitt, Michigan
Marshall Chronicle 01/16/09- Ken Morgan recommended as new Marshall Public Safety Chief
Battle Creek Enquirer- 01/14/09- City Manager Chris Olson recommends Ken Morgan as new police chief

The Battle Creek Enquirer featured a story that City Manager Chris Olson has recommended the hiring of Ken Morgan as the new Marshall police chief to lead its 12-member department.
On December 16, 2008 a selection committee including Sheriff Al Byam unanimously made the recommendation. Former Deputy Police Chief Brett Pehrson, a member of the selection committee, confirmed that Ken Morgan was unanimously recommended for the position. "He seemed like he'd be a good fit for the Marshall community," Pehrson said. Morgan was among the final four candidates interviewed on Dec. 16 by Chris Olson, Pehrson, city Human Resources Director Tracy Hall, Clerk/Treasurer Tracy Hovarter, Utilities Director Tom Tarkiewicz and Calhoun County Sheriff Al Byam.
If, in fact, Mr. Morgan does accept the position we warmly welcome him to the community. We hope he will be a beacon of light displaying honesty, integrity and professionalism for the police department. This recommendation by former Deputy Chief Perhson and Calhoun County Sheriff Byam could be the catapult to a successful resolution in Mary’s case.
Positive things seem to be happening and the Marshall family is very optimistic. We are awaiting information on a reward being reinstated in the Mary Lands case by the Carole Sund/Carrington Foundation in California. Lt. Dale W. Peet, Commander of the Battle Creek Post, Michigan State Police recently wrote, "As with any unsolved case, time has an impact on alliances and circumstances have changed. It is believed that there are others who may have information but have not yet come forward and as always the offering of a reward can sometimes be the turning point leading to a successful conclusion and closure for the families of those that have been missing."
It has been an enduring tragedy that has lasted over 4 years and 10 months for Cliff & Anita, but it seems to be coming to an end. We have no doubt that a professional police chief working with our new Calhoun County Prosecutor, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Michigan State Police will indeed bring to justice the person/s responsible for the disappearance and murder of Mary Denise Lands.

From the Marshall Chronicle- January 17, 2009- City Manager Chris Olson issued this statement Friday afternoon: I am pleased to announce that I have selected, with the assistance of an interview committee, one final candidate for the position of police chief at this point in time. His name is Ken Morgan, and he has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, a master's degree in criminal justice administration, and a second master's degree in professional counseling. He is also a graduate of the FBI national academy. Ken has twenty-three years of overall experience in law enforcement, with positions ranging from his start as a patrol officer up to serving as deputy chief (twice) in larger communities. Ken's overall command-level experience (from sergeant to deputy chief) totals 13 years. Ken has been decorated twice with distinguished service awards for risking his life in the line of duty, and is a recipient of the American Red Cross Heroes Award. Ken has worked with three police departments for CALEA national accreditation. He has also volunteered time with an Explorer Post with the Boy Scouts of America, on DARE foundations, with teen alcohol prevention efforts, with the Big Brothers program, Alzheimer's Association and Red Cross. He has also taught criminal justice classes at the community college level.Ken has not yet accepted the position, as he and his family are fully considering their needs in making their decision. We would be fortunate to have him join the City, and we are continuing with the hiring process accordingly.