Now, more than two years after the arrest of the alleged murderer, Mark Goudeau, one of the detectives currently working on the case has come forward with an explosive claim that he says Phoenix police have gone to great lengths to conceal. According to the detective and other Phoenix police insiders, the last seven murders committed by the Baseline Killer could have been prevented if evidence gathered at one of the early crime scenes had been properly processed by the Phoenix crime lab. -- Justice Delayed (Times Publications) by Shanna Hogan.
(Freedom's Phoenix - Phoenix, AZ) A $22,000,000 Notices of Claim was filed today alleging intentional, reckless and grossly negligent conduct by members of the Phoenix Police Department and the Phoenix Crime laboratory that directly lead to 37 year old Romelia Vargas' murder on February 20, 2006 at the hands of the media labeled "Baseline Serial Killer," Mark Goudeau. The Notices of Claim was filed by Attorney Marc Victor on behalf of Alvin Vargas, the husband of Romelia Vargas and five of her six children. No word on whether other injured families are contacting Mr. Victor's Law Office to join in the law suit.
Twins Travis and Anthony were 5 months old at the time of their mother’s death. Anthony is a special needs child; he was born with Down’s syndrome. At the present time, Anthony is enrolled in ACCESS and receives care from Alvin, who provides for both of the twins’ full time care. Anthony will have special needs for the remainder of his life.
Approximately 6 months before her demise, Romelia purchased a catering truck in order to pursue a small business opportunity. She had worked in the catering business for some years before purchasing her own truck. Romelia was was brutally murdered in the truck she hoped to use to provide for her and her family. The loss to the dependents of love, comfort, and companionship is immense. The economic loss suffered as a result of her absence, both as a wage earner and manager of the family, is substantial.
From the statements of facts listed in the Notices of Claim (PDF):
On September 20, 2005, Mark Goudeau (“Goudeau”) approached two sisters who were walking home from a city park. He held a gun to one sister’s pregnant stomach and forced the two into the bushes, where he forced them to strip and continued to hold a gun to the pregnant sister’s stomach while he sexually assaulted the other sister. Phoenix Police eventually obtained two DNA samples. The swabs were taken from one of the sister’s left and right breasts, which Goudeau licked and later rubbed with dirt in an attempt to get rid of his saliva.
At that time, police were not aware that Goudeau was responsible for the September 8, 2005 murder of Georgia Thompson outside her Tempe apartment. Goudeau shot Thompson in the head a single time. Police also did not realize that Goudeau previously committed sexual assaults in Phoenix on August 6, 2005, August 14, 2005, and September 15, 2005.
After the sexual assault on September 20, 2005, Goudeau’s crime spree continued with a September 28, 2005 robbery in Tempe and sexual assault and robbery in Phoenix, then a November 3, 2005 robbery and sexual assault in Phoenix. Goudeau was also responsible for a string of three separate robberies in Phoenix on November 7, 2005. On December 12, 2005, Goudeau murdered pre-school teacher Tina Washington, who was on her way home from the preschool where she worked. Goudeau shot Washington in the face. On December 13, 2005, Goudeau committed yet another robbery in Phoenix.
Two months later, Goudeau brutally shot Romelia and her co-worker, Mirna Palma-Roman, to death inside Romelia's catering truck in Phoenix on February 20, 2006.
On March 15, 2006, he committed yet another double homicide in Phoenix, this time shooting two employees of Yoshi’s Fast Food Restaurant in the head. Goudeau was also responsible for the March 29, 2006 murder of Kristin Nicole Gibbons. As he did with multiple other victims, Goudeau shot Gibbons in the head.
On April 10, 2006, Sophia Nunez's eight-year-old son found his mother, Sophia Nunez dead in her bathtub. Goudeau shot her as well. Next, Goudeau committed a May 1, 2006 sexual assault at gunpoint outside the same restaurants he robbed on November 7, 2005, and finally, he murdered Carmen Miranda on June 29, 2006 in Phoenix. Goudeau abducted Miranda from a self-serve carwash near the scene of his May 1, 2006 and November 7, 2005 crimes. He shot her in the head behind a nearby barbershop, and the murder was captured on closed circuit television. That was Goudeau’s final murder.
Goudeau was ultimately responsible for no fewer than 9 murders, 15 sexual assaults and 11 kidnappings over the span of a little less than eleven months.
The DNA Evidence
Although Phoenix Police obtained DNA samples from one of the sisters Goudeau sexually assaulted on September 20, 2005, they intentionally waited until June of 2006 to send it to the Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) for Y-STR DNA testing. DPS immediately matched both DNA samples to Goudeau, including a sample the Phoenix Crime Lab previously tested without success.
Approximately one month after securing the DNA from the September 20, 2005 sexual assault, the Phoenix crime lab performed a partial analysis of the evidence and determined that saliva was present on both of the swabs. Members of the crime lab tested one of the swabs, the one from the right breast, and decided not to test the left one, which had dirt on it. The test results showed a partial DNA profile which was insufficient to identify a suspect given the DNA technology used by the Phoenix crime lab at the time.
Despite the urgency of resolving the case, and rather than sending the swabs to the DPS crime lab where the newer Y-STR testing was immediately available, an intentional decision was made to forgo testing and store the swabs in an evidence locker until such time as the Phoenix crime lab was equipped with the ability to conduct Y-STR testing. The sole reason for this intentional decision not to send the swabs to the DPS crime lab for immediate Y-STR testing was so the Phoenix crime lab could be the lab to test the swabs and obtain the results of the Y-STR DNA testing on the swabs.
At the time of the decision to store rather than test the swabs at the DPS crime lab, the Phoenix crime lab was aware the DPS crime lab had the ability to conduct Y-STR DNA testing and the Phoenix crime lab had routinely sent other items of evidence to the DPS crime lab for testing in many unrelated cases. The Phoenix crime lab could have easily sent the two swabs to the DPS lab for Y-STR DNA testing had they chose to send them.
While the Phoenix crime lab was unable to perform the Y-STR DNA test, the DPS crime lab had been conducting Y-STR DNA testing since April 2005, months before Goudeau began his crime spree. Although the Phoenix Police Department outsourced a significant amount of scientific testing work to DPS, they decided not to ask DPS for help. Instead, a decision was made to hold onto the swabs and delay testing until the Phoenix Crime Laboratory could conduct Y-STR testing itself.
The reason for the intentional delay in testing the DNA evidence was based entirely on a selfish motive. The Phoenix Police Department wanted to solve the well-publicized “Baseline Killer” case without outside help. Intentional decisions were made to withhold referring the evidence to other police agencies, notably DPS, in order to make sure all credit and accolades went to the Phoenix Police Department.
Sometime after the series of initial attacks, members of the investigative team began to believe that one individual was responsible for the series of attacks. Investigators’ concerns arose before the murder of Romelia Vargas. Only because of the public outcry and a change of management was DPS finally asked to examine the DNA evidence. Claimants believe that this Notice of Claim request was made sometime in late summer of 2006, well after the violent series of murders that included Romelia's murder had ended.
DPS not only found Goudeau’s DNA on the untested left breast swab from the September 20, 2005 sexual assault, but also on the right breast swab from which the Phoenix crime lab only obtained a partial match. After putting the DNA profile into the Combined DNA Index System, DPS matched it to Goudeau, who was immediately arrested in September of 2006. Had the two swabs been tested earlier, the murders in question would not have occurred.
Claimants believe that the above facts are a fair and reasonable description of the events giving rise to this Notice of Claim letter. The basic facts are in the possession of the Phoenix Police Department, and the above information should serve as a reasonable basis for representatives of the Police Department to investigate the allegations of this claim.
The culpable members of the Phoenix Police Department and recipients of this Notice of Claim letter are the following.
Tracy Montgomery, Assistant Chief of Police, Phoenix Police Department: Chief Montgomery was in a position of authority in the “Baseline Killer” case and exercised management and control over the DNA evidence described above. Chief Montgomery participated in the decision to delay testing.
Brett Vermeer, Phoenix Police Crime Lab Commander: Mr. Vermeer was in a position of authority regarding the “Baseline Killer” case, as he managed and controlled the Phoenix Crime Lab and had authority to process or outsource testing of the DNA evidence from the September 2005 sexual assault. His decision not to process the evidence was made for no good professional reason.
Roger Schneider, DNA Supervisor, Phoenix Police Crime Lab: Mr. Schneider was in a position of authority regarding the “Baseline Killer” case, as he managed and controlled the Phoenix Crime Lab and had authority to process the DNA evidence from the September 2005 sexual assault. His decision not to process the evidence was made for no good professional reason.
Allison Sedowski, Assistant to Roger Schneider: Ms. Sedowski was in a position of authority regarding the “Baseline Killer” case, as she participated in the management and control the Phoenix Crime Lab and had authority to process the DNA evidence from the September 2005 sexual assault. Her decision not to process the evidence was made for no good professional reason.
Benny Pina, Lieutenant, Phoenix Police Department: Lt. Pina was in a position of authority regarding the “Baseline Killer” case, as he managed and controlled the investigation of the “Baseline Killer” case and had authority to order the testing of the DNA evidence from the September 2005 sexual assault. His decision not to process the evidence was made for no good professional reason.
Andy Anderson, Assistant Chief of Police, Phoenix Police Department: Chief Anderson was in a position of authority regarding the “Baseline Killer” case, as he managed and controlled the investigation of the “Baseline Killer” case as well as the Phoenix Crime Lab. He had authority to order the testing of the DNA evidence from the September 2005 sexual assault. His decision not to process the evidence was made for no good professional reason.
Jack Harris, Chief of Police, Phoenix Police Department: Chief Harris was in a position of authority regarding the “Baseline Killer” case, as he managed and controlled the investigation of the “Baseline Killer” case, as well as the Phoenix Crime Lab. He had authority to order the testing of the DNA evidence from the September 2005 sexual assault. His decision not to process the evidence was made for no good professional reason.
The Claimants believe that all of the above participated in the decision not to test the DNA evidence gathered from the September 2005 sexual assault long after it was common knowledge within the department that one violent, serial criminal was committing rapes and murders in Phoenix. Claimants believe that any of the above could have decided to refer the DNA evidence to the DPS crime lab for proper testing prior to February 20, 2006, which would have prevented Romelia's death.
Phoenix had reason to believe that the series of violent crimes was being committed by one person before February of 2006. However, this evidence was not subjected to testing until summer of 2006, approximately 1 year and 9 murders later.
Claimants believe the evidence will show that members of the Phoenix Police Department, including those acting in a supervisory capacity as well as managers, purposefully decided not to test the above described DNA samples for reasons having nothing to do with reasonable police practices and procedures. They were motivated by public relations and inter-agency competition. Simply put, members of the Phoenix Police Department and Phoenix crime lab wanted credit for solving the crimes. This decision not to test was an intentional act and outrageous in nature.
Powell: On the surface it looks like the Phoenix police detectives did their job well, and were thwarted by both incompetence at the Phoenix Crime Lab and a gross bureaucratic turf protected by upper management at the Phoenix police department who didn't want to share credit or glory with another law enforcement agency (The DPS Crime Lab in this case). So they contained the evidence within the department despite requests and even pressure brought to bear by their own detectives. The delay cost seven people their lives -- people whom were forcibly taxed with the claim that their government would protect them -- and added several more assault victims to Mark Goudeau's tally.
The Arizona Constitution Article 2, Section 2:
2. Political power; purpose of government
2. All political power is inherent in the people, and governments (sic-note plural and
inclusive) derive their just
powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain
That is it. No other purpose of government is listed. In Arizona at least, government exists to protect and maintain our individual rights. Period. A fundamental right is the right to our life, our liberty and our property (pursuit of happiness).
Officers of the law swear to this when they become employees of the governments and receive their peace officer certification in Arizona. Government officials whether hired, appointed or elected swear a similar oath to the state Constitution. If they do things beyond that which is protecting out rights they are exceeding their duties. When they deliberately fail to protect our liberties for their own benefit that is a crime. Governments are either there to protect our individual rights or they are not. If not, then lets save the money and the aggravation, and we can hire help when we need it.