Copyright © MilitaryCorruption.com 2003
NEW CELL PHONE EVIDENCE
UNCOVERED IN COL. SHUE CASE
TEXAS MEDICAL EXAMINER ON
“HOT SEAT” AS “SUICIDE” THEORY
FALLS APART – RECORD OF
QUESTIONABLE TESTIMONY EXPOSED
One of the key elements in Dr. Vincent DiMaio’s specious contention that Air Force Col. Philip Shue committed “suicide” last April in Boerne, Tex. was the Bexar County medical examiner’s claim that the colonel must have killed himself because he failed to summon help on his cell phone after he was tortured and parts of his body mutilated.
Readers of MilitaryCorruption.com are familiar with our previous stories on this case, in which we told of the mysterious car crash on Interstate 10 in which the respected officer and staff psychiatrist at Wilford Hall on Lackland AFB was found dead behind the wheel of his car.
The vehicle was seen by witnesses to “veer off the highway” and crash into a clump of trees. Everyone agrees that Col. Shue was killed in the smashup, but few – except for DiMaio, District Attorney Bruce Curry, and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) – believe Shue’s death was the result of “suicide.”
Well, at least that’s what the “official” version is. We have our doubts as to whether or not DiMaio, Curry and the OSI want to dig too deep into this bizarre case. Could it be they might know ahead of time what they would find?
Labeling suspicious deaths a “suicide” is a well-known practice in the U.S. military. No need to go to the trouble of finding a killer, just wrap up the conclusions under the umbrella of “suicide” and put the matter to rest, high up on a shelf somewhere, hopefully to be forgotten with the passage of time.
“FIGHTING BACK” IN SEARCH OF THE TRUTH
But sometimes that tactic doesn’t work. Sometimes family members “fight back” and refuse to accept the “official” line. Like the wife of Army National Guard CPT Gordon Hess, who was found dead on a running trail at Fort Knox, Ky. The part-time soldier and full-time firefighter from Jamestown, N. Y. was discovered with 26 stab wounds to his torso, several of which would have been enough by themselves to have killed the 38 year-old officer.
The Army’s “investigation” claimed Hess was “depressed,” therefore he “committed suicide” by stabbing himself nearly 30 times! A ten year-old child could easily come to the conclusion that story was “a load of bull.” But the Army stood by it. Anyway, they held all the cards and controlled the investigative apparatus. Bulldozers were quickly called in to erase the crime scene. The excuse given was, the dead officer’s blood “might create a bio hazard on post.” But other observers at Fort Knox guessed the real reason was to forever obscure the spot where Hess was murdered, making it impossible for any clues to remain.
Darlene Hess refused to let the Army blacken her husband’s name. “Somebody killed Gordon,” she told reporters. “He did not do this to himself. He had too much to live for.”
EVIDENCE FOUND OF “MURDER”
So the courageous housewife hired several civilian forensic experts to do an independent autopsy on her husband’s body. They found evidence of murder.
Dr. Sung-ook Baik, for example, discovered cuts on Hess’s body that “strongly indicated a violent struggle.” Baik determined the death was a “homicide.”
So much for the military “cover-up artists” who couldn’t even come up with the victim’s fingerprints from the small pocket knife that was conveniently found lying beside the slain officer’s body. One would think when you are painfully “stabbing” yourself in the neck, heart, lungs, stomach, and other parts of your body, you might just grip the knife’s handle hard enough to leave prints. But then, if CPT Hess wasn’t the one doing the stabbing, his prints wouldn’t be on the knife, anyway, would they?
The killer could wipe or smudge the prints so they couldn’t be detected. Such simple truths were apparently too much for the Army CID. In all fairness, perhaps their hands were tied if the “suicide” scenario was in place from the very beginning. And it probably was.
TRACY SHUE WON’T BE INTIMIDATED
Like Darlene Hess, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Tracy Shue refuses to allow her husband’s memory to be sullied by a “suicide” smear.
With the determined help of investigators at MilitaryCorruption.com and other news media, Shue’s wife won’t let the Air Force, Curry and DiMaio ignore or discount the abduction and brutal torture of her husband.
She has hired famed forensic pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht to do a second autopsy on Col. Shue’s remains. That blockbuster report is due within a matter of weeks.
Col. Shue was missing for more than two hours after he left for work on April 16, 2003 and both his nipples, as well as the end of his left “pinky” finger were carefully cut out with a very sharp instrument. Neither the device used in the cutting, nor the severed body parts were found. An incision was cut into his chest through the colonel’s military T-shirt, before the nipples were removed. Independent investigators believe this type of systematic torture led to a substantial loss of blood prior to the mysterious car crash.
“FAILED TO CALL ON CELL PHONE,” DiMAIO SAYS
It is an undisputed fact that Col. Shue had a cell phone with him in his car when he was found after the fatal accident.
But what the medical examiner uses as the centerpiece of his claim that Shue must have been bent on “suicide,” because the officer “didn’t attempt to call for help,” falls apart under investigation.
“There was a cell phone in the car which was working at the time – it was working, there was no question about that,” DiMaio told Court TV.
“If he (Col. Shue) was fleeing someone, why didn’t he try to get some help? Why didn’t he use the cell phone?”
When asked by Court TV anchor Catherine Crier about the “two hours” that Shue was “unaccounted for” prior to his death, DiMaio chose not to answer that question. He just repeated his mantra of, “Why didn’t he (Shue) use the cell phone or ask for help or something, not just go driving down the road?”
DiMaio didn’t bother to explain to the television viewers that, in all likelihood, Shue’s wounds were so painful and disabling, the colonel would have had all he could do to keep the car on the road (headed back, incidentally, to his home – where he may have feared his wife was being tortured as well), let alone retaining the ability to punch out the number to telephone his wife.
NEW EVIDENCE DISPROVES DiMAIO’S CLAIM
MilitaryCorruption.com, in an EXCLUSIVE copyrighted news report, now discloses that there are two separate witnesses who have come forward to say they saw blood on the cell phone that the Bexar County medical examiner claims Shue “failed to use.”
Texas Public Safety Officer Al Auxier has revealed to Tracy Shue that on the date of the fatal crash he saw “a significant amount of blood” on the colonel’s closed-shut cell phone, which the officer described as lying on the floor of the front seat in Shue’s wrecked Mercury Tracer automobile.
Auxier also observed the cell phone was still plugged into the charger in the vehicle’s dashboard.
This is extremely significant, not just because the “blood” observed most likely would be Col. Shue’s, but it would disprove DiMaio’s chief contention it was “suicide” – that Shue somehow, despite grievously torturing himself and cutting off [with surgical precision] parts of his body – intended to run his car off the highway and into a clump of trees in order to kill himself.
The blood evidence shows Shue attempted to use the cell phone, but was apparently disoriented and physically unable to make the call.
Another eyewitness, Mrs. Nina Woolard of Boerne, Texas tells MilitaryCorruption.com she saw the cell phone “on the front passenger seat” of the wrecked auto, April 17, 2003 – the day after the fatal crash.
“I picked it up and put it in a box in my car as I was asked by Tracy to go down to Five Star (wrecking service) in Boerne to retrieve personal items from the Mercury,” she said. “The sheriff’s office had told Tracy she could come get personal possessions from the car, but she didn’t feel up to it.”
When Mrs. Woolard opened the clamshell-type cell phone, she got the shock of her life. Blood! Someone – Col. Philip Shue, most certainly – had bled heavily on the inside of the telephone.
“There was a minimal amount of blood stains barely visible on the outside of the cell phone,” the Texas woman recalled. “If there had been more, I would not have handled it or picked it up.
“It was one of those flip-style cell phones that tightly closes shut,” she said. “If any blood had seeped in from the outside, it would’ve only leaked onto the edges of the clear plastic that covered the phone’s keypad. But what I saw inside, was a considerable amount of blood stains in the center of the pad. I have no doubt, someone had been bleeding heavily when they attempted to use it.”
So now we have two witnesses who saw blood on the colonel’s cell phone – one on the outside of it, as the device lay on the floor of the smashed-up auto on April 16, and another who found the phone placed on the front seat of the vehicle in the towing garage the next day, and – when she took it in her hands and opened it up – saw “bloodstains.”
THE “COVER-UP” BEGINS
Not only does this information discredit DiMaio’s theory that Col. Shue intended to commit “suicide,” in part, because he allegedly “didn’t use the cell phone” to call for “help,” but it also indicates (1) someone moved the cell phone from where Officer Auxier saw it, and (2) someone wiped blood off the outside of the device before Mrs. Woolard retrieved the phone the next day.
The troubling question is who did that and WHY?
Why would anyone do such a thing, unless they had an ulterior motive? Wiping blood off any evidence at a death scene is akin to tampering and obstruction of justice.
But it might be an understandable action, let us say, if a certain “scenario” needed to be created. A hodge-podge of dubious “facts” that would “seem” to support a verdict of “suicide.” It just wouldn’t do to have blood visible on the very cell phone that the medical examiner went on national television to cite as proof that the dead officer didn’t even try to “summon help.”
What motive could there be in concealing such evidence, we wondered? Was the blood wiped off the outside of the phone in order to “fit” the contention that Col. Shue didn’t use it? What other reason could there be?
STUCK WITH A “SUICIDE” STORY
As we studied the excellent news reporting of Rod Hafmeister, AIR FORCE TIMES, we came across what may be a very good reason for such a cover-up.
In the September 8, 2003 issue of the TIMES, Hafmeister reported DiMaio told him “Air Force investigators decided early in the investigation [of the bizarre death] that it was a suicide. The medical examiner [DiMaio] said that view was a major factor in his autopsy finding the same conclusion.”
Now the picture begins to come into focus. The Air Force and OSI, eager to avoid the bad publicity a homicide investigation would engender – to say nothing of other compelling reasons MilitaryCorruption.com has recently been made aware of – wanted this case wrapped up as soon as possible.
That old stand-by – a “suicide” finding – had worked so often in the past, why not try it here? In most every case, the family doesn’t make much of a fuss. And anyway, few have the financial means or desire to dispute such a ruling. The “official” suicide verdict almost always stands, and the case is soon forgotten by all but the grieving loved ones left behind.
But in this case, neither the Air Force, DiMaio or Curry –the arrogant and powerful county attorney – figured on the tenacity and sheer determination of the widow Tracy Shue to fight to discover the TRUTH in what really happened in her husband’s death.
“Why doesn’t she just take the insurance money and go away?” We can imagine those finding themselves painted into a corner with the “suicide” scenario saying something like that in frustration. Obviously they under-estimated the petite but determined former Air Force nurse.
“I haven’t even had time to mourn my husband,” Tracy Shue said to us back in July. “If someone had told me ahead of time how badly I would be treated by OSI and the others, I wouldn’t have believed it. But I sure do now. This is a cover-up, and I will do everything in my power to expose it. I will clear my husband's name."
A “COZY RELATIONSHIP” WITH THE POLICE
A look into the background of controversial Bexar County Medical Examiner Vincent DiMaio reveals a record of close cooperation with the cops in whatever crime theories they conjure.
In an article aptly entitled “FORENSIC FRAUD,” The TEXAS OBSERVER wrote “serious questions” have been raised “about quality control at the Bexar County Lab – and the forensic science lab’s cozy relationship with law enforcement agencies.”
The article cited the injustice suffered by Sonia Cacy, sentenced to 99 years in prison for the arson murder of her uncle. The Pecos County woman’s conviction hinged on DiMaio’s crime lab identifying “traces of gasoline” on the victim’s clothing. Cacy’s lawyers contended the fire was accidentally started by the elderly uncle who was known to be a heavy smoker who could have fallen asleep with a cigarette in his hand.
Cacy told the OBSERVER her “Uncle Bill” was “a careless chain-smoker” who went through “several packs of cigarettes a day.” She described numerous cigarette “burns” on the uncle’s furniture and how once, through his own neglect while smoking, he accidentally set his house afire. It burned to the ground.
Fire officials in Fort Stockton, Tex. said they had been to “Uncle Bill’s” new home three times in the month prior to his death to put out small fires in that house.
But Vincent DiMaio and his forensic staff went along with prosecutors who contended Cacy had doused her uncle with gasoline while he slept, then set him on fire and crawled out the window.
“Nothing else – no motive, no witness, no history, not even the autopsy – suggested that Cacy had killed her uncle,” the OBSERVER noted. “On the basis of unconfirmed interpretation of a single scientific test, a woman was sent to prison for life.”
The crusading article contended Sonia Cacy was being “sacrificed for what authorities consider a larger principle. A court ruling that throws out the Bexar County lab’s evidence could bring down a whole house of forensic cards, and with it, all the prosecutions secured by evidence that might be questionable.”
There is a happy ending to this story. National publicity on the “DATELINE” television program and on the front page of the WALL STREET JOURNAL resulted in Cacy’s getting out of prison.
Outside experts who reviewed the Bexar County faulty lab findings detected “no gasoline” on the dead uncle’s charred clothing. Cacy was paroled after six years in the slammer. But her life was already ruined. Dr. DiMaio didn’t even say he was “sorry.”
Austin, Tex. attorney Gerry Morris told a San Antonio newspaper “because crime labs crank out these expert results . . . they often go unchallenged.
“The thing I can’t understand,” he said, “is why the lab doesn’t say, ‘We made a mistake,’ especially when so much is at stake?"
“SNEAKER TRACKS” AND THE JAYLA BELTON CASE
In 1997, 14 year-old Lacresha Murray was convicted in a Texas court of beating to death two-year-old Jayla Belton.
Five days after the child’s death, Austin Police Dept. detectives interrogated Lacresha. They knew they weren’t dealing with a “rocket scientist,” rather a dim-witted 14 year-old girl, so they “suggested” a “scenario” whereby Murray “accidentally” kicked the two year old, leading to Belton’s death. Lacresha allowed as to how that “might have happened.” The cops were pleased. Another case closed.
Bexar County Medical Examiner Vincent DiMaio, always eager to make some extra money as an “expert witness” – public records in 2003 reveal DiMaio as the highest paid employee in the county, hauling down over $207,000 a year – testified in this case that two parallel lines on little Jayla’s chest were a “perfect match” with the treads on the tennis shoes Lacresha wore during her police interrogation.
The Austin CHRONICLE reported: “It seems the shoes in question weren’t Lacresha’s at all, but were supplied to her by the Texas Baptist Children’s Home – where she and her siblings were placed by Child Protective Services while the police conducted their investigation of Jayla’s death.” Lo and behold, “Lacresha had arrived at the Round Rock facility barefoot.”
The article continued, “ . . . conveniently disregarded from the trial evidence was a letter from the state’s own forensic experts at the Dept. of Public Safety which stated they were unable to confirm any match between the suspect tennis shoes and the marks on Jayla’s body due to ‘insufficient general characteristics.’”
But it gets even worse for “expert witness” DiMaio. Lacresha Murray’s attorney, Keith Hampton revealed in a court brief that DiMaio made his conclusions about a match “long before he actually examined the shoes.” In fact, Hampton said DiMaio didn’t study the “tread” on the sneaks until the day he testified in court!
“While the DPS Crime Lab had conveyed its opinion about the absence of a match,” Hampton pointed out, “the prosecution only produced the letter after its case-in-chief, thereby precluding cross-examination of . . . DiMaio . . . on this issue.” Lucky him!
Nothing like operating on the basis of pre-conceived notions when you haven’t even looked at the evidence yet, huh, Vinnie? Could it be you’ve been a bit “premature” in some of your suppositions in the Shue case as well?
TE$TIFYING FOR THE DEFEN$E
One of the most sickening cases of wanton indifference to human suffering was the court trial of former Fort Worth nurses aide Chante Mallard.
High on drugs and booze, the 27 year-old Texas woman slammed into a homeless man with her car the night of Oct. 26, 2001, his helpless and broken body jammed into the auto’s windshield.
Mallard didn’t stop or call for help. No, she selfishly kept on going for several more miles until she finally got home. Parking the car out of sight in her garage, ignoring the moans of agony from her victim, she left 38 year-old Gregory Biggs to die a slow, painful death.
The only “expert witness” the defense could find was the well-paid Dr. DiMaio. In all his officiousness, the veteran medical examiner solemnly assured the jury that Biggs “most likely” was “unconscious” the moment the windshield hit him, therefore he couldn’t cry out for help. The impression given was Mallard did a bad thing, but poor Biggs didn’t suffer all that much.
Thank God the jury didn’t believe DiMaio! We know Bigg’s son, who was present in the courtroom during the medical examiner’s performance, wasn’t exactly thrilled at hearing that “testimony.” Nor were several law enforcement officers there, one of whom told a reporter after hearing DiMaio testify, he “wanted to throw up.”
Chante Mallard was convicted of murder, despite the efforts of her sole “expert witness” to soften the legal blow.
Don’t get us wrong. MilitaryCorruption.com would never label DiMaio a “liar for hire,” as some citizens of Bexar County have called him. We have too much respect for his well-deserved national reputation as an expert on gunshot wounds to deride him as a man without principles.
But we are deeply concerned about a disturbing pattern over the years of not so “expert” testimony. Could it be DiMaio’s credibility has been undermined by bad luck or other reasons? A further investigation – hopefully open to the public – of the operations of his office certainly is in order.
LAWSUITS AND PAYOUTS GALORE
You can bet Dr. DiMaio won’t be forgetting the name of Fred Zain any time soon. Zain was the head of the serology department in the Bexar County Crime Lab from early 1989 to mid-1993.
During that time, two independent laboratory auditors who reviewed serology records from that crime lab found “severe and widespread quality control problems,” according to a 1999 report in the TEXAS LAWYER.
Seems Zain gave false testimony that a DNA test proved a Uvalde, Tex. man had committed rape. That landed the accused in prison for five years before it was discovered he had been convicted on tainted “evidence.” In a review of the 1994 case, it was discovered that Gilbert Alejandro should have been “excluded” as the rapist by the very same DNA “evidence” that earlier had been said to have convicted him. The victim sued the county and collected a quarter of a million dollars.
In 1996, the taxpayers of Bexar County coughed up $600,000 to settle a lawsuit by a man from New Braunfels, Tex. whom Zain had lied about during his murder trial.
And the following year, DiMaio’s own chemist, Larry Ytarte collected $350,000 in an out-of-court settlement in a “whistleblower” lawsuit.
When he complained of a myriad of problems, including illegal toxic-waste dumping and falsification of evidence receipts, he was fired.
It’s no comfort to DiMaio, in light of the increasingly controversial Shue case, that Ytarte charged the medical examiner’s office“tailored findings to support police suspicions.” Could it be that DiMaio has done the same to support the OSI’s desire for a “suicide” ruling?
We don’t know, but we’d sure like to find out. So we are publicly offering Vincent DiMaio equal space on these pages to “clear up” any misunderstandings about the operation of his office, both in the past and also the present, specifically the case of the late Col. Philip Shue.
Come on, doc. You love publicity and getting your mug in front of the media. Here’s your chance to enlighten hundreds of thousands of military members around the world who have been following our reporting on the Shue case. If we’ve been wrong in our coverage, we are ready and willing to admit it. If you have been mistaken, will you acknowledge it? The offer is on the table.
“TRASHING” OF TRACY SHUE
BLASTS FAULTY MEDICAL
EXAMINER’S REPORT ON DEATH OF COL.
SHUE – “SUICIDE” FINDING NOT BACKED
UP BY FACTS – TEXAS D.A. & AIR FORCE
BRASS “DESPERATE TO MAKE THIS CASE
GO AWAY” SAYS INSIDE SOURCE
WIFE WON’T BE INTIMIDATED