Evidence in the 1970 Cold Case of the Crewes missing. Are you even surprised to read this? Or, did you expect this to happen?
Regular readers of my blog know that I follow the cold case of the Crewe Murders. Jeanette & Harvey Crewe were murdered in 1970, New Zealand. They left one child, Rochelle. While her parents were murdered, Rochelle was taken care off by someone or, some people. Who killed the Crewes and who fed Rochelle?
In 2010, I was happy to report that these murders were to be reviewed. New Zealand Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope said that police had appointed Northern Region Senior Investigator Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock to conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of the homicide file in trying to answer questions raised by Rochelle Crewe.
The New Zealand Herald has posted that “fingerprint records from the home of murder victims Harvey and Jeanette Crewe have gone missing, police say. The loss of the evidence could be a major impediment to finding the killer, with 10 unidentified prints taken from the Crewes’ Pukekawa house after the 1970 double murder.”
Arthur Allen Thomas was convicted for this double homicide but was also pardoned, and a commission of inquiry found that police planted crucial evidence to get his conviction.
Des Thomas, brother of Arthur, said the loss of the prints meant it would not be possible to rule out two suspects considered separately to be possible culprits in the killing. ”If they had these prints they could go around there and drop them [from the inquiry].“ Mr Thomas said that he had been told that the fingerprints from inside the Crewes’ car, seen driven in the area and outside the house, had also gone missing.
You have to wonder why Lovelock’s team did not catch that when they started in 2010. It makes you wonder whether they really did a thorough inventory as they were ordered to do. If they had, they would immediately have found evidence was missing. Whether they would report that is another issue. If they did not do a thorough inventory and only now found those fingerprints missing you have to wonder how professionally they handled the review from the very start.
Knowing what you have and what you do not have (anymore) is what I call “cold cases 101!”
When I first read that the fingerprints were missing I realized that it was all too convenient. Police reviewing a double homicide investigation where corruption played a role. Despite a glowing eulogy at Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton’s funeral, who, along with a colleague, was found to be responsible for planting a cartridge case from Thomas’s rifle at the murder scene, doubt remained with all who have the common sense to see this for what it really is: a cover-up.
If you look in the book by Chris Birt, All the Commissioner’s Men, you will find in the appendices the exact text of a police conference of October 19, 1970, that lists pros and cons about Arthur Allen Thomas as a suspect and pros and cons against Len Demler (Jeanette Crewe’s father) as a suspect. That text is worth reading. It gives you insight in how these murders were executed, how the bodies were removed from the farm, what equipment was used and, it gives you insight in the mind of the killer.
The Crewes may have been murdered by complete strangers but ask yourself: why would strangers care for an infant in a crib? Because they were human enough to not let the child starve while at the same time, they butchered her parents? Or, was the child cared for by someone who had an interest in her such as a friend, a relative or, a combination of both.
Thanks to corrupt police work in the 70s an innocent man was convicted but thankfully pardoned. Now, sloppy police work in the 21st century might keep us from ever knowing whose fingerprints were not identified years ago.
Police did what was easy in the 70s instead of what was right. An independent review commission should seek justice for the Crewes and their only surviving daughter. An independent commission is better suited to analyze the original investigation and this current review. They have no ties to the Crewes or the law enforcement officers from the 70s. They have nothing to lose. They do not owe anyone.
New Zealand Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope clearly called for a thorough analysis and assessment of the homicide file. I do not think that Lovelock’s team will manage that.