Test Blog Article
VALLEY INVESTIGATIVE PROFESSIONALS
July 3, 2008
Thompson cleared of killing Merced County girls
Robert Thompson, 43, accused of killing 12-year-old Jodi Ragsdale and 15-year-old Sheila Carter in 1986, wept as a court clerk read the verdicts in his second trial.
Thompson, a reputed Hell's Angel, faced life in prison had he been convicted on first-degree murder charge.
Carter's and Ragsdale's friends and family members cried and gasped as the verdicts were read. Friends held Carter's mother, Pat Gulnac, trying to console her.
"It's sad that two girls are dead and the murderer is going to walk free," said John Wetzel, Ragsdale's uncle. "They are never going to try this case again, obviously."
Thompson's first trial in February ended in a hung jury. The eight women and four men on Thompson's second jury left without comment Thursday.
The killings, which occurred during the early morning hours of Dec. 13, 1986, shocked Atwater residents. The battered bodies of the girls were discovered along the shoulder of Campodonica Road.
Thompson was arrested Aug. 18, 2006. The murder weapon, a car jack, was determined to have blood on it with Carter's DNA. The car jack was found in a white 1965 Mercury Comet that investigators said belonged to Thompson at the time of the murders.
Randy Thomas, Thompson's attorney, emphasized during the trial that no DNA, fingerprints or hair from Thompson were found on any of the evidence.
"You could never put the murder weapon in my client's hands at all," Thomas said. "You couldn't prove who put that weapon in the trunk. You couldn't tie him to this case, scientifically or otherwise, as far as I am concerned. The integrity of the evidence told it all."
Merced County District Attorney, Larry Morse II, expressed disappointment with the verdicts saying Thompson will have to answer to a "higher authority.''
"We remain convinced that we had the right guy."
Deputy District Attorney Mark Bacciarini, who handled the case with Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Moranda, said he respected the jury's decision.
"Of course, we're disappointed, Mr. Moranda and I believed in our case," Bacciarini said. "It's not for Mr. Moranda and I to decide his guilt or innocencem, that's up to the jury."
Prior to their deaths, the girls had been joy riding after midnight and had spoken briefly with Thompson outside a bowling alley.
Thompson said he had told the girls to go home and had not seen them again.
The last time the girls were seen alive was at a 7-Eleven on Winton Way about 4 a.m. Their bodies were discovered about five hours later.
During the two-week trial Thompson's ex-girlfriend, Becky Tilton, testified that she saw him crawl through the bedroom of their residence covered in blood the morning of the murders.
A woman whom Thompson was convicted of abducting 10 days after the murders also testified, saying that he admitted during the abduction that he had killed two girls. Thompson was sentenced to 14 years for the kidnapping in 1987 and served seven years.
Thompson's defense took aim at the murder weapon itself, arguing that Merced County sheriff's deputies botched the chain of custody on the car jack and couldn't produce the warrant that led to the discovery of the murder weapon in the Comet's trunk.
Thomas said there were questions about how the car jack turned up in the Comet's trunk, particularly because the car wasn't in Thompson's possession for 19 days before it was seized by investigators.
Department of Justice investigators never found any blood inside the mobile home where Thompson had lived with Tilton, Thomas said.
Identity Theft Victim Resources
- October 13, 2015
- by Kelly Cory & Lisa Hamoui
For fifteen consecutive years, identity theft has remained one of the top consumer complaints in the United States. An estimated 15 million identities are obtained and fraudulently used in the United States each year resulting in over $50 billion in losses*.
The most effective way to respond to stolen personal information or its unauthorized use is for the victim to face the issue head on. The victim is the primary individual who will be able to restore their identity and take measures to correct damage done by the thief.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there are certain steps one should take in order to limit the potential damage.
1. Contact Fraud Departments.
Contact the fraud departments of the companies where you know the fraud occurred. Explain that someone has stolen your identity and ask them to close or freeze your account to prevent any new charges. Change your PINS, passwords, and logins.
2. Contact Credit Bureaus
Next, contact one of the following three credit bureaus:
- Equifax: http://www.equifax.com/CreditReportAssistance/ or call 1-888-766-0008
- Experian: https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html or call 1-888-397-3742
- Transunion: http://www.transunion.com/fraud or call 1-800-680-7289
Placing a fraud alert makes it more difficult for someone to open new accounts with your information.
3. Get a Credit Report
A credit report should be obtained immediately through a trusted site such as https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Carefully review your credit report for any information you do not recognize.
4. Complete Online Complaint Forms
When reporting identity theft to the FTC, complete the online complaint form at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1. Provide as many details as possible. With this information, the FTC will create your Identity Theft Affidavit. Immediately print and save your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit, as you will no longer be able to access and obtain it once you leave the page. Reports or updates to your affidavit can also be filed by calling 1-877-438-4338.
5. File a Police Report
File a report with your local police department. Go to your local police office with the following items:
- A copy of your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit
- Government issued identification that includes a photo
- Proof of your address
- The FTC’s Memo to Law Enforcement available as a PDF document at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/articles/pdf/pdf-0088-ftc-memo-law-enforcement.pdf
Inform the police that someone has stolen your identity and that you need to file a report. Your local police department is required to file a report. If they appear hesitant to file a report, present them with the FTC’s Memo to Law Enforcement. Obtain a copy of the police report for your records. Combining your Identity Theft Affidavit with the Police Report makes up your Identity Theft Report.
6. Contact Businesses with Fraudulent Accounts
Now that you have an Identity Theft Report, call the fraud department of each business where you believe a new account was opened. Explain your situation and ask to close the account and for a letter confirming that the fraudulent account is not yours, nor are you responsible for it, and that it will be removed from your credit report. Depending on the business, they may have you send a copy of the Identity Theft Report or have you complete their special dispute form. Save the confirmation letter for your own records.
7. Send Letters of Explanation to Credit Bureaus
Contact each of the three credit bureaus with a letter explaining your predicament, specifying which accounts or charges in your name came from identity theft. Note that you want them to remove (or block) this information. Be sure to include the following items with your letter:
- A copy of your Identity Theft Report
- Proof of your identity (name, address, and Social Security Number)
A sample letter is available at https://www.identitytheft.gov/sample-letters/identity-theft-credit-bureau.html. Information regarding the three credit bureaus is listed below:
Depending on the issue at hand and the severity of the security breach, it may be beneficial to consider adding an extended fraud alert or freeze on your credit. A chart describing the benefits of an extended fraud alert or a credit freeze is available online at https://www.identitytheft.gov/. Additional steps may be necessary to prevent any further harm and are also listed on the aforementioned website.
Acting as promptly as possible will be beneficial but know that often it takes years before a stolen identity is discovered. By then quite a bit of damage could already be done. Therefore, prevention is your best safeguard. For more information on how to protect your identity, please check out articles by Keystone Investigative Services, Inc. at www.keystoneis.com
*information gathered from public and private sources