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Josephenum

In November of 2001, my partner Mike Ciesynski and I were notified of a murder in the Josephinum Hotel in Downtown Seattle.  The Josephinum is kind of like the bar in Star Wars.  Full of oddballs and miscreants of various descriptions. I refer to it as Seizure’s Palace.

Diane Pollard had been found dead in the stairwell of the building.  Paul Suguro from our office responded to the scene, but no one saw an injury.

To find someone dead there is not that suspicious. With no obvious injury, they assumed she’d overdosed.  They took her to the Medical Examiner’s office for autopsy.

On the table the next morning, the pathologist found something everyone else missed.  A .22 caliber bullet hole under her arm pit.

Oops.

To have a murder with a scene that wasn’t processed is very bad.  It hurts its chances of being solved exponentially.

We learned that Pollard often hung out with a group of guys who lived at the Josephinum.

She normally walked with a cane, but there wasn’t a cane at the scene.

Ciesynski and I went to the Josephenum to visit her friends.

When we knocked on the door, the man who answered had dark hair, a dark goatee and dark horn-rimmed glasses.  We identified ourselves and he let us in.

The layer of cigarette smoke hovered four feet off the ground when we entered.  Three guys sat around a table.  Though it was just after ten in the morning, a bottle of whiskey sat on the table, with beers all around.

As I talked with the group, Mike looked around. He carried a notepad.  He kept dropping the damned thing.  When he knelt to pick it up, he looked under beds and other furniture, hoping to spot Pollard’s cane.

One guy seemed particularly nervous.  He drank beer and slugged shots of whiskey as fast as he could while I was there.

I spoke to the oddball with the goatee who’d answered the door.

“You know,” I said.  “We checked Diane for DNA.  How would you explain it if we found your DNA inside her?”

I was bluffing.

“Do you mean in her vagina?” he asked.

“Yes.” I answered.

“Well, I can tell you,” he said.   “I have ejaculated exactly three times in my life.  The first time was a wet dream and the other two, I masturbated.”

Okay then.

When we got back to the office, Mike and I discussed the other guy.  The one slamming the beer and whiskey at ten in the morning.

“We need have a heart to heart with that guy.”

Mike agreed.

To prepare for the interview, I made up a phony lab report.  The report listed its author as Russell Weklych, BS MKER.  (Bullshit Maker).

Russ Weklych was a detective in our office.

I wrote in it that Pollard was examined for the presence of deoxyribonucleic acid, and that it was found.  We compared this to deoxyribonucleic acid from Billy, (our guy—not his real name), and it matched.

It said, Conclusion: Billy killed Diane Pollard.

We brought Billy in and placed him in an interview room.

We interviewed him.  There was plenty of room in his skull, so the likelihood of two brain cells bumping into each other was remote.

I showed him the lab report.  He didn’t understand.

“I don’t use acid,” he said.

At first I didn’t understand what the hell he was talking about. Then it came to me:  He didn’t have any idea what DNA was.

“Just read this line,”, I said, pointing out the ‘conclusion,”.

When he read it, his head bent down, and he cried.  We’ve got him, I thought.

“I’ve always heard of this, but I didn’t think it really happened,” he said.

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“I heard of people going to prison for murders they didn’t commit, but now it’s happening to me!” he sobbed.

We helped him to the door.

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