First came the unsettling Ouija board prophesy that Robin Adams would die before her 17th birthday. When a minister was summoned to rid the house of frightening phenomena blamed on the Ouija board, he was taunted and denounced by a neighbor and suspected Satanist. Thus, the die was cast for one of the most bizarre murder cases in Michigan history. In 1976, when Robin vanished without a trace from the village of Caro, police were left without a body, witnesses or anything remotely resembling a crime scene. The case went cold for six years. Then, when a rookie state police detective was assigned to reopen the investigation, what followed reads like chapters from a Stephen King novel -- right down to the claim that the killer's grandmother was practicing black magic to avenge efforts to bring him to justice. FRUIT OF THE POISONOUS TREE-Richard Carson
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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first came the unsettling Weegee Board prophecy that Robin Adams would die before her 17th birthday. When a minister was summoned to rid the house of frightening phenomena, blamed on the Ouija Board he was taunted in denounced by a neighbor and suspected Satanist, thus the die, was cast for one of the most bizarre murder cases in Michigan history in nineteen. Seventy six, when raw and vanished without a trace from the village of Kero police went we're left, without a body witnesses or anything remotely resembling a crime scene. The case went cold for six years. Then we Rookie State police, second was assigned to reopen the investigation. What followed reads like chapters from the Stephen King, novel right down to the claim that the killer's grandmother was Pratt sing black magic to avenge efforts to bring him to justice the book we're featuring
this evening is fruit of the poisonous tree with my spare show gas, journalist and author Richard Carson Welcome to the program and thank you for agreeing to this interview, Richard Carson, thank you for having me it's my pleasure. Thank you very much. I want to make sure that I'm pronouncing the name is it Kero or Cairo? Is the White River? Yes Icarol, okay, now up one the questions. I typically ask him what How did you come to write this book? What without giving anything away? What was it about this story. Or how did you come to write this book? are the poisonous tree. Well, it it I should I should mention fruit of the boys history. Is the e book which derives from the published version
which was called murder in the thumb, and I the reason for title changes, we did some some editing and tried. Make the book a little more presentable to people out the area where the crime occurred. How I How I became interested in I had worked for the small daily is in hearing county which is the northernmost county in the thumb of Michigan, there for fifteen years during that time. I'd covered two murder trials, but I left the the the paper, the small daily in nineteen eighty one and settled in Columbus, Ohio on. I went to work for the Columbus dispatch, our
during that time, I was receiving the newspaper that I have left in Michigan and I became aware that the trial of MEL even Garza the suspect and eventual accused in Robbins Disip. Parents was going to be in here in county, moved from Carol, which is in click on either the immediate SW. So, now I'm aware of the trial, I read the coverage. I I know that we Mcdowell the post Mandarin Carrel, who I knew was a high schooler, in bad axe MI, where the paper was located. He had reopened the investigation and further. I was
close friend of the circuit judge in Hearon County? Who would hear the case so so I have some connections to the story. Our big the coverage of the in the of the two trial really piqued my interest, but believe me, I had no idea what what lay ahead certainly now we talked about Caro Michigan, and so let's do describe this, you talk about it being a village, so, let's describe where it is in, proximity to say yeah, more notable, biggercity and so describe where it is, and what type of play It's really Caro. Mi is an an it's in its size. So tell us a little bit more about Caryl Michigan before we talk about ok, well, care
Zero, a town of under five thousand population- it's located Don't hold me the specifics here, but I'd say it's about thirty five miles due EAST of Saginaw. Okay, karo is an agricultural. I mean Tuscola He is an agricultural county and and Kero obviously, is the county seat Carol. It, of course, is where Robin was working as a live in babysitter when she disappeared and K stuck to the village. It could easily qualify as a city, but the locals wanted to keep it a village, and I think they wanted to keep the village character of the community that I think that is why that moved in that direction,.
They'll tell us about Robin and Danny Adams and they moved from Bay City to this world Karo with end their step. Parents or Bill Millie Timko, so tell us there, official foster parents and so tell us about this arrangement and a little bit more Robin and her other Danny Adams. Ok, let's They were born in in in pencil but eventually sure. Their mother moved the family to to Bay City uh. The. I I don't know if it gets
circuitous here. Vera Adams claimed Two be a widow and seem that her husband, the Father of Dan and Robin, had drowned It is swimming accident or something that that's where we're not certainly not sure about that Shia vera ran into Bill Timko in his travels while she was still in in Pennsylvania and they kind of became an item and the book traces how how they met and and the the time, that they traveled traveled around the country and they worked at county fairs and one thing and another user they. During that time, Robin and Annie were
relatives of you, came from a large large family. So eventually they move. Bay, city and vera was still very much interested in build Tempco and bill by this time, had married and live, had settled and Karel, and so he would build with the visit Vera in Bay City and and he took a liking to two Robin and Danny and took them fishing and camping in one thing and another, and Danny had a real attraction to bill he's a father figure and one of the painful situations of the developed was bill, assured
and that he was not his father, even though he would have liked to think that he was so at that point. The kids are in Bay, city, Robinson and Danny are in high school and Danny, starts, pushing to live with bill and Bill's wife, Millie and and their children in Kero and vera their mother, resist this at first, but then eventually she gives in and that they moved to Kero and eventually that where Robin met, Melvin, Garza and eventually Danny, which is Explains in vivid detail in the book Dan the kind of wore out his welcome with the TIM goes, he
He ended up on They returned him to his mother and she shipped him back to his grandparents in Pennsylvania. So so so that's that's how that's how the kids got to Caroll and. Robin met Melvin sister Nora, who who Eventually, I had a role in Robbins disappearance and we can get into that later, Isn't it great she she introduced Robin to her brother and that's when their relationship started. Now you start this book, and and introduce some characters early on that, of course, very, very important to the entire story into the end into the trial
in every aspect of the story. So Let's, let's talk about uh Dan Miller because you introduce Dan Miller early on and then of course, he is the central figure in this story as well, and also you talk about the Robin and her brother, the other family members in the temp sitting around and fooling around and having an interest in the occult. Satanism Witchcraft, but it starts off with the Ouija board, so tell us a little bit about the we. Keyboard experience because I think it's very important to the story later on. Well, basically Cheryl call Cheryl Tyson is Millie's daughter by a previous marriage.
And she was just a little bit younger than Robin and and they became real, like real sisters once once, the the atoms children moved in with the temp goes, and it was Cheryl who suggested that they it paramount with the Ouija board and uh, it started out innocently enough and I don't want to get too much in to the Paranormal in terms of do. I believe these things are not believe them. I leave that up to the readers but there is no question that problem emanated from the Ouija board. Experience not the least of which was the fact that it one point a a I guess.
Is the best word I can use she identified her. Glenda and she was someone that they could communicate with with the Ouija board, And- and in this I mean- two teenage girls here, fifteen years old. I think at the time Robin me Madden in sixteen and it's kind of a gleeful little adventure that that they were involving themselves in, but it got it got it it to a dark side, and they began to have here steps on the stairs when no one was there and strange. So bones in the attic that they joined their bedroom and the lights flashing on and off, and it just got completely out of hand and during during this extended,
experience with the Ouija board, the girls asked different things about their future. Cheryl about whether she'd marry and have Children- and Robin for some reason, I asked how long she would live and at that point the Ouija board predicted that she would die before her 17th birthday, which was ominous and not totally accurate, because she disappeared six weeks before her 18th birthday. So uh. Once all these phenomena took place in the house. The girls no longer wanted to stay in their bedroom. They were, they were frightened. So Millie called the Local minister and he came to the house to
form. I guess you'd call it a an exorcism of whatever spirits complicating everyone's a life. In this house when, when the minister arrived, the neighbor, and the neighbor was was kind of a strange fellow. His was Aubrey. Vincent He was an artist, painter and sculptor, and he lived us spartan life in a one room, cabin that was property that was right next door to where the typical is lived and he he was friend friendly with the with the the kids and they would sit around the campfire, and there was probably a little bit of pot, smoking and Beard drinking going on it because he,
can't live out of the way and- and he was off the road, so it was there was an element of privacy there for kids that kids typically have questions really L. Look for that. So when when the minister showed up Aubrey notice that the this man that he doesn't recognize and he sees that he's holding a bible, and so he he launch, is a rant and a noun is the minister and it hey the konfrontation of sorts, but the the mister shook it off and Aubrey eventually stopped often that was the end of that. But it my frame of reference by the time you gone through these various steps. This story is
heading to some really a little bit strange and I had, as they say. I have seen nothing yet because there was a lot more down the road that was going to complicate my research and hopefully make the book more compelling and interesting, the you talked about Marvin, Gars and MEL pardon me, Melvin Garza an and you talked about a car accident, and you include this very early on in the book because you it's important so and and people at the time, like Heather Cape said that it made a difference, so tell us about briefly the car accident and call them before the car accident and afterwards and why it might have made a difference in his life. This accident, ok, ok! Well, what happened
Melvin, incidentally, is very intelligent. And very very skilled person, he add a builders license when he was eighteen years old. The car accident occurred, what happened that a group of boys Melvin in his class three of his classmates. Were involved in a home construction project that as part of their high school experience, and this particular home was not built. Carol but in Mayville, which is to the so south of care? Oh, I think it's about eight or nine miles, so they pretty much finished this house and there was going to be a uh
the boys volunteered to come and help their teacher clean up the the the refuse and things that are left after you complete a construction project, the kind of clean up the site, and so they are the boys were through with collapses, and they arranged there rain to go to Mayville and clean up. This house is kind of a really pleased, teacher and so they did that. Well, one of the boys- and I renamed him in the book, for I think good reason What one of the boys drove the other three to make and they did their little project. And they were on the way back, and there was another group of students from CASS City which is
well it would be, let's see to the ne of Karo. Hey and they they too. It been involved in this construction project and they were there and they, of course they were in another car. Well, is it happened the boys kind of the the terrible left I have the cash, city boys, but the CASS City boys caught up with some and pulls along size and kind of challenged him to a drag race and that commenced? and and a high rate of speed, and eventually MIKE Clark is the driver of the car with the cowboys, he sees an approaching car on coming car and he tries to kind of break and
Anne get control the car 'cause you're going so fast, and it's Annie's kids, end of the shoulder and and the car, then he loses control, it crosses the center and and hits the oncoming car it wasn't a total head on. It was more or less one item one guarding the what the side of the other, the woman the car, older woman, was injured, the driver MIKE Clark was killed. He he died. The boys were all thrown out of the car and and he he died it right then, and there Melvin suffered a broken collarbone and some other injuries. And One of the other boys had to get broken leg. Melvin and I
talk to many many of his friends in informing this impression. They said that he took my death really hard that he even went as far in some conversations to say that he wished it had been him. Instead of MIKE whatever reason. LR the people I talked to his classmates to uh each and everyone said that Melvin's personality seemed to change dramatically after that accident and I did mention the Heather Kate's again. A pseudonym it and she injected a bizarre dimension into it, claiming that the
young fellow who was killed in the accident was not not what he seems to be and the This notion was rejected by anybody and everybody. So I I'm Wasn't sure where that was going, but it in as much as Heather Cates. As a high schooler practice witchcraft. Here we go again. And Heather has an experience later on that we may get into that really justifies our place in the story. Mel Melvin Garza comes from big family and his sister. We, you would already men. Nora, had introduced Robin to Melvin. So tell us a little bit more about the Garza family. Mothers, Clara so tell little bit more about the family and and how close Nora and Melvin are in age.
Oh yeah, she was, she had just turned off. She had just turned seventeen and that's significant, and I I don't know how much legal. My new sure you want to get into here, but Nora had just turned seventeen when, when Robin disappeared and I guess the belief was Melvin broke into the House where Robin was after Robin graduated from high school. She took a job is a live in babysitter and after she broke up with Melvin a breakup that he, violently opposed he broke in and beat her up and from
from that point on. That was a little more than I think than two weeks from the time the she disappeared, the fam, the guards of family there's nine children of Alvin was the second eldest his older brother, Augustine in his older brother Augustine was in charge of the family while while the parents were in South Texas, visiting relatives at the time that Robin disappeared Nora is, as I said, she had turn seventeen and there there's actually possibility that that Robin that Robin's disappearance or
all all. As we learned her murder have occured before Nora turn. Seventeen and that would have been significant in terms of the juvenile court jurisdiction and the fact that she might not have been incarcerated, which and we'll get into that of the fam. Bill call bill. It was a self a man he and Clara started a house. I think it was back in the festivities and then one of these deals where they dug a basement and and kind of a cement block. Construction in and resided in that and build up the house as they build The family and it's a good family and and Bill Clara are, are good people and and
Claire, the World of Robin and was completely crashed when the reality of her disappearance came to the floor. Bill and and Melvin or kind of they have some characteristics in common, and I think that is is Melvin became an adolescent, typically father and son didn't know see I die, and but bill was a tip. Goal mexican american patriarch. And and ruled the roost and kept order in with the family that large you pretty much need strolling figure and you're going to be consigned
do eternal keep chaos. They were good people. I got meet them and spend time with them. When we visited Melvin and Southern Maine, in prison, which is a long, long drive, and so I was with them for many many hours and got to learn a lot about family and about them, Now you talk about Bill and Millie: let's go back just a little bit, because this is very important. Of course Melvin Garza as a charming guy, five foot, ten kind well built. One hundred and sixty pounds all accounts. You know pretty sociable guy nothing so early, weird or creepy about this guy but at some point this relation chips hours, and bill and Millie really wanted Robin to stop seeing Melvin yeah so there was that dynamic going on there, so an so said. You also point
couple instances like where there was a Cheryl and Robin Share to die together and one day that tire is missing. So it just maybe you could tell us a little bit about that story which probably indicates quite a bit about Melvin Garza, yes, and and I'm glad you brought that up, because if if we are able to get into some of these other things. You'll see a pattern, but Melvin was Melvin was very, I don't know the exact perfect word to describe it, but he he kept track of people that he knew and he eavesdropped, and he, often times he would be. It's
where he could overhear conversations even tried once to rewire a phone, so he could, he could tap into. And I think that adventure faltered but open it when Robin and Cheryl, as I said, they became almost like real sisters and she Cheryl had a diary and she invited Robin. To share it so that they would both make entries in the diary and among the entries would be their interest in boys and boys, they dated in one thing and another things that you would not necessarily want a current boyfriend to be reading and Melvin was was. Rest of it in the way that it is characterized in the book were
Cheryl and Robin came home from school one day and Cheryl's parents were working and Melvin had invited himself into the house and Is there waiting for them? So It was clear that he was willing to enter the house when no one was there so He became the prime suspect when the diary disappeared and ultimately the diary was returned. It was mailed mailed back in if it in a package to to the rural mailbox without explanation or return address an he. Not admit that it was he him that that had the diary but a pretty well believe that that was the case and the this was this was Melvins MO and
later on and there's an incident that might be instructive. If we can get to it that dealt with the the the key witness that really broke a murder case and and how Melvin was tabs on him, so go ahead, Oh sorry, the The other thing was that that the show is controlling nature in diary the I'd probably talked about the other boys that they had met, but also about smoking and drinking I thought it was ironic that a Melvin, had a real issue with her smoking, cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Yeah send end I've always wondered if that was more just uh. Vehicle for is control of her. I I don't think that he
he did not smoke to my knowledge although I know there was a key occasion of marijuana use which I suspect was involved. Smoking. And that I won't get into that now, but it In his father, his father had probably it was a smoke and then had a it. I think a lawn disease- and I I'm I'm my memory is not perfect on that, but but Bill quit smoking and would not let anyone smoke. It is in his If they were riding with him in his car, so I don't know, Oh, is that kind that trait passed off to Melvin or not? I know Melvin did drink and I'm more inclined than anything to believe that
that was just one of the areas where he wanted to exert control over her and send made email deal out of. That is you realize when you read the the conversation yeah with her mother Now he has. Their relationship deteriorates. They go back, and forth like many young people like many people in love, they go back and forth. I'm going to break up with you, but then they're back together again but there is an incident where she is assaulted. This is very important to the story. So tell us about the assaults and who witnessed it and tell us a little bit about that assault Well, the This was, of course they had broken up, and I think she had pretty well duh I did that it was. It was going to be over her, close friend Chris Chris
me that she thought it at least one of the times that Robin went back with Melvin was more out of fear. Then really wanting to. Weekend all the relationship. What happened is it? She was alone with the with the little boy that she was caring for two year old and the go. The boy's mother was at work and so He was alone in the house. It was during the day it was during the day, and he came to the house and wanted to talk to her. She didn't want to talk to him. She refused so here move. The screen off the window an open window and climbed in the window, and he beat her up and- and he we're Talkin cysts and where talking bruises and
More and can blue and something that you it just explain away, but she did she. She was quite upset by it and I think, I think that I know that after that, she told her friend Chris that she she thought that he was that he was capable of killing her and and she was fearful that he would. So what happened? Is she tried to keep the beating from her mother but eventually her mother, her mother? write it out of and they went to the police and reported the assault and that gave rise.
To the phone cover the intercepted phone conversation, I don't if you want to get into that and we can, but sure, let's, let's get into that phone call yeah. So I had gone to the police, and I I think it's Cigna We can hear a couple. Things are significant about this. The domestic violence enforcement of laws against domestic violence have have changed an. They've been strengthened in recent decades, but this was one thousand eight hundred and seventy six and is it typically a prosecutor would would say well that they would they be coming with the with the kiss and make up period and a lot of women wives girlfriends
initially when when they were subject to domestic violence, they would want to prosecute, then they change their mind and, of course, by now, there's taxpayer money spent in time wasted, and so the the practice at that time was too to allow about a two week. Rock period or whatever our our of to see. If, if the heat of passion to prosecute It was still there so They wouldn't waste the prosecutors time. That's quite significant Becaus, because Robin disappeared. The night before she was to return to the prosecutor's office and go through with an assault and battery charge? Now, the telephone call the telephone call was
damage control, on Melvins part So now he's he's. He, he's beaten Robin and her mothers found out about it. She seen the bruises and she's angry and and she prevails on Robin to prosecute. Then Melvin MRS Adams comes to Karol with fellow she was working for his little girls, and they take route into the county, fair and at that time, Melvin, roaches them he's there and somehow New that they were there. I figured it out and he approaches them. Ann wants to come talk to Robin and
you know, I believe that he could see that he might be in a in trouble and maybe he could- talk his way out of it. Well, MRS, Adams would have no part of that and and Robin kind of stand behind her and she and she announced him and told him to you know, leave them alone. So, the next day, our Melvin called her. She is living in Bay City. Working with this for this gentleman and caring for his his little girls and she was taking sales calls he was a trap. Bling salesman and she would take sales calls and she would tape record them to ensure absolute accuracy, and so she How to tape a tape recorder hooked up to the phone? and when Melvin Calder Her, and he was
I try to justify he is having beaten her daughter. She take the whole conversation unbeknownst to him and there were some the card- incidentally eminent among which were a little plug in here. My. Website dick dot net, website has a link to the the entire conversation and it's kind of kind of scary, because he He makes a lot of veiled threats during this the phone conversation that he doesn't know. What's going to happen to Robin then he's afraid something uh happened to her and he's trying to encourage MRS Adams to take her back to to Bay City, so that that link is on there. As well as a police in
cation of Melvin in the first, the investigation was two phases, and this was the first says. There's a recording of that and also uh recording of I mentioned a key witness who is TIM, Thomas, who was a friend of Nora's and was when she confessed to I confessed her role in them crime and it's it's recording TIM Thomas is testimony of the preliminary hearing where the Norris he tries to throw him off but fails miserably. It's quite dramatic, at least in my view, so there you have the phone call The recorded phone call, which I talked, The jurors will get I'm getting ahead of the story anyway, yeah the phone,
Paul, was critical. A piece of but it's leave it at that for now: okay, let's let's, not jump ahead here and let's he's got she's. Moving around a series of safe houses. That's how much he fears this guy and her fam only fears this guide, other people of intervene, neighbors who have seen- are are concerned for her, so but there's a letter that she receives going into Canada Letter and we won't get into what happens later? But let's just talk about the letter itself. What is it contained? when did she receive it tell ok. She I think she receive, the letter. I think it was the Friday before the the the Sunday night that she disappeared, it was going to get. It became labeled for investigative purposes that going to Canada, letter b
As in the letter, Melvin said that he was going to go to uh. Community and forgive me, but I'm I'm not remembering it's an end here. It's a small town that I bought it. It is gave me of the moment, but it any rate it was. It it was a long ways away. I mean it would be. I think it was five hundred miles or something thing where it would be a really long drive and if you, going to go there on a weekend. You would It would take the whole weekend and then some s so the Obviously he did not go and a baby on interpretations of that. But the
Essentially, the letter was. Melvin sound like a wet puppy, I mean, he was basically going here, how much he loved her and how broken hearted. He was and how they would never be. Anyone like her in his life and that he would he would go to this quaint little village. Age in Ontario and spa. Some time there and try to work work through his his grief at having lauste the love of his life and it was very long letter and it I think, again I'm I'm tending to jump ahead we get into the if we get into the police interrogation. But I'm mention. This is
available on the website, it's quite diametrically opposed to what the contents of that letter were. Okay, now the letter, makes her and her friends briefly and yeah, we won't jump ahead. How she knows this, but what she does is, while she's babysitting this two year old is that she has this letter from David Garza who is Ben, terrorizing her for quite awhile. Now so with that she believes that okay, She believes the essence of the letter in that he is going to be gone for this weekend into crossing the canadian border into Ontario. So have the weekend to herself and that's what she thinks and what other people think yeah. Her friends said that she dropped her guard that that should that he dropped her guard and
that she was a less of vigilant and not looking over her shoulder as much as she had been, so and of course,. Again, I were jumping ahead, but it certain people who will be disgusting later in that may have been a ploy Melvin always said that that he Between the time he wrote the letter and made the decision not to go to know this. Is him talking not to make the trip to Canada? that he found out. He was going to have a job that would start on my early Monday morning, which would have made the trip impractical because
have been hard to get back on time for the job. Now that's you can argue that different ways, but that was that was the story, but but she did think initially. And then there was an observation that you're aware of it, but she did think initially the heat probably meant going to Canada would be gone in that she wouldn't have to be as concerned about something that he might be doing if he had. He remained in the area. They'll. Tell us about the incident itself we we- we will probably not going to be able to cover this entire book, because we've covered this with amount of care here so far, but tell us how
she is discovered. Robbins disappearance is discovered and who they find in the home and what evidence, if any they find at this. What would find later to be a crime scene? tell us about the incident self who Where is Robin First has disappeared. Ok, the first does not disappear, Some of the contents did ah okay, she's she's babysitting, and The the the young woman has worked to shift that around midnight, and so, Marlene, it Marlene Davis was the
It was the mother of the of the little boy and she's working a shift that ends around midnight. So she comes home and she the the house, is locked and she was surprised because, typically when she, I would come home from the shift Robin would be right there and he's let in so. This surprised her so she came into the house, and there was laundry that Robin had been folding laundry when she left to the worker shift when Marlene Lot and the the the right, the laundry, the the job was not completed, which immediately caused her to be concerned. Because that wasn't like Robin Rabbit
would finish the job in the laundry would be put away and it wouldn't be there. So, it's going on here and then the perch purse. Just laying there with part of the can't. It's kind of spelling out of it. So my clean panics initially because she thinks well Robinson, not there. So Little Billy must. Now. Be there either, and so she calls her friend Joan and. Kind of the family starts pulling together for where Robin in the meantime after darling talks to her Joan Joan. Sayers is the name and the then there's a relationship there. Jones husband is, I believe, a cousin of Marlene said. At any rate, there's a relationship for me,
a family relationship there. So then. Marlene goes into the, it will Billy's room and he in fact is there, but there are some things that don't jibe, because he's he's in a diaper the diapers dry, but his pillow is, is kind of wet. I've been crying, and He has no no t shirt Robin without even in the heat, and they had no air conditioning, and it was extremely hot in about August. Marlene, recognized that something it was a miss I mean the laundry is not finished and and and abilities crying himself to sleep, apparently, and he
doesn't have a t shirt, but he normally does something's something's wrong here and so of course they they eventually commence and kind of a family, group search which turns up nothing and and actually they have to Contact Robin's, mother and the disappearance begins to play itself out with the police involved the police aren't initially interested, but the family definitely knows that she's gone, that she wouldn't have just walked away, that you didn't run away to. California, Marlene close, the Garza home around midnight, or so looking for or or tell at the time that she calls and she speaks to Nora and what does Norris say, uh
it is. I recall it and it's been awhile. Since I looked at that deal with specific Time frames, I think it was around midnight and it might have been hi. I'm trying to think that it seems to me. There were two calls. John may have Joan Sayers may have made a call and- and then I I think, maybe Marley, I'm I'm not sure, exactly sure. I think there were two calls and- and I Marlene made made one of them and Nora answered at least one of the calls and said that Melvin was us. I think she said he was sleeping. And we wouldn't want to come the phone or something to that effect, but, of course,
login, when I don't want to get ahead of the story, but she said Nor had said that she did Melvin was sleeping, and what was what was odd in later in retrospect, was that she had said that. That he had been sleeping since one thousand and thirty right, yeah, I'm glad you mentioned that yeah! Yes, because it's that sounded like a the information not asked for sure and in other words it sounded like the building of an alibi and it and that was Joan, Joan, Joan that was Joan Sayers call and she she found that odd it at the time. You know. Why is she telling me you know
giving me times. You know you see there sleeping or he's not or he's either there or he's not, but what value is it to me to know that he's been home for an hour and a half or so I didn't ask that so that was a key point is, and The time frames, of course, again, jumping ahead, become very very significant in this investigation and beyond yes, the other call that you mentioned was, I think you used to talk about Karen good role, called at four, am and spoke personally with Melvin our yeah and yes,
that's right. He said that carry that Karen girl called me in the middle of the night, and you know he was sleeping. Then he was going to have to get up early and you know he kind of passed that off as. Annoying or something to that effect. But. Now. The next day, Melvin Melvin comes and speaks to Vera, and Vera's is boyfriend that time, significant other Bob Cronkite who's, interesting character too, because how involved he gets in this case, all right away as well. So tell us about that. Altercation in what Melvin did say in what Vera said. What tell us about that dynamic the next day. Yeah well. Well, he K. He he came to the house and in this again you know he his Behavior is is always kind of patterned. You know
we went to the fair to try to damage, control the beating. Then he may The phone call for the same reason now he's a her. Heard missing, because that caring girl called at four o'clock in the morning and now he's going to be. The good Guy and he's to come to the house and tell everybody, you know your you and find out where Robin is and just that you know he doesn't know anything about anything and in the car, he met with sharp bob you from from Vera and Bob and They weren't having any of him not knowing anything, and he was Then the village they some the village officer- and I I think that the village officer took Melvin
babies of the state, police, post and brief ITALY and then brought him back as he was he was working then then he was on his lunch hour, so I mean he knew that that that they we're going to accuse him and he is already started his defense, that he knew nothing and was just earnest enough to show up in pine now what was going on. What was his official story initially in terms of having seen Robin that night. Question which was the Sunday night. Why don't why it when the Please talk to him. Initially, he lied and said that he had not seen her that night. At all- and then During the interrogation, the and it's on the website
He corrects that, and he says, the star, around nine hundred and thirty or so, and and of course he it's kind of a bizarre explanation, because he claims that he parked his car some blocks away and G I over there. So the his car wouldn't be there, because he knew that he was persona non grata with the family after the beating and everything, and so he didn't want his car being seen there, which again my my thought on. That is that he was fearful. That somebody might have seen something and he thought he better, not stick to the store. Did he hadn't been there at all right now, the
What was his demeanor, not his demeanor, but how cooperative was he with police. In this investigation initially- and then I want to ask this other question too- is that Explain and you do explain this in your book. Is that even though a lie detector test is inadmissible, at trial but it, but it is still a valuable tool used by police. So again tell us a little bit about how the integral The lie detector test was in this investigation into this case and story. Well, it was. There were two that there were. There were two, Polygraph examinations and the first one, the operator had a feeling that Melvin New ways to make sure that the the The findings would be
records show the by, bodily movements and weaving patterns and different things, so it, but but he was all in for her. Submitting to the polygraph and in fact submitted to the same. Polygraph and that was the one where they, where the deception which Euro then and I will jump ahead here because it's so closely relevant his sister. Tentatively agreed to a polygraph and then balked and and would not submit to it, because in in here, was a mistake on her part, certainly that she didn't want to discuss events between the hours of like one thousand pm and midnight on the. So CALL Dan question so another words. Well, if we're not going to talk about the time when we think we
crime. What good is this test, so I was telling that was telling now tell us about in September again, there's about two weeks later Melvin, close the state police. With a letter he says he purports, is from Robin and postmarked. St Joseph Missouri so tell us about this letter in the contents well uh the letter and, of course, this Joseph Missouri Aspect of it remains a mystery in It was a clever diversion whoever arranged that I have some there but nothing. I could really talk to At any rate, the letter was that wrong even ran away and then she ran away because
she was broken hearted over the failure of their relationship, which, of course, doesn't make a lot of sense because her friends, and the letter that he wrote clear They point out that it was It wasn't her broken hearted this and it wasn't her his decision to break up it was hers. So none of this made any sense. But the fact it was mailed from Saint Joseph. If you were a going to California that might not be the most direct route, but at least it would comport with some sense of here to there and it it falls in between so and, of course, will. The letter gave the police and forensics people that
because it was hard to it- was hard to to tie the writing. To him or anyone that might have been inclined to assist him. Yeah the letter is the letter is in the e book. The three page letter is is in there, so it could be read by anyone who would be interested in that. So this case it's cold Marvin Barbie Melvin seems to cooperate. They find nothing in his vehicle, really substantial at that time. We're not talking about. Its dna guard talking dna really at all being a factor but he seems cooperative. The case goes cold, and then you introduce a central figure in here. A detective Dan Miller, who
who was impressed one day about seeing an officer. Do something make an arrest with a Thompson Submachine Gun and he won. To become a detective, despite his yeah yeah, a small boy, he's a small boy in his family takes a trip to. They lived in in all, which is a small town in the from thumb area in here, county, the same company The trial was in in his family. Takes it up to Jackson. It happened that there was, I believe, either an escape. Or a riot or something that probably an, and so the the police had road blocks and Merry Christmas dances, a small boy, and here's us this officer with this.
Sub machine gun and, and it just kind of He thought it was kind of neat and small boys perception and that that so the things that he said later in life moved him in the direction of of person A career in law enforcement he's this he's a novice, and yet they give him this cold case and he you know attaches himself to this, and the first thing that he does is he reviews all of the Sergeant Walters, investigation, but really what he has is not very much evidence at all. Except a couple cassette. Tapes of the phone calls and the letters so tell us, hello, Dan Miller and why he, this case gets a cry into. You know, it's a cry into him, and he gets so dedicated and involved,
this case well, it was, I mean you have to know Dan he's a very interesting guy he's very focused. He The yeah collect- civil war, memorabilia and quite an authority on civil war battles and different divisions of the Union Army and confederate and so on and so forth. He that Dan is, is smart and and he's cagey he he doesn't are you more than he wants to and he the advantage he had over MELT, Walner an and
tried everything and and one point is in in the book: he almost it look like he almost was going to succeed, but at any rate then used some unconventional approaches and he He spread himself out and made himself known to people. The younger he was younger than milk walner, so that he was able, from a generational perspective too, relate more to the to the young people that you know were parties to this whole, situation, and he the fact that he made himself known and and made himself known to Sean
Zimmerman who had was post. Robin girl friend of Melvin's and she a delivered this child, a daughter of and she she became a link to our person in Karo another young couple. Actually in Karo who we're were friends with TIM Thomas who lived down Near Flint but visited Carol, periodically and had a friendship with Nora. So so that's the fact that damn is aggressive as he was and he left no stone unturned and all this time he's also looking for the body and
to no avail, but so in in that looking for the body and looking for a prosecutor n, I don't know if we'll have time to get into this. But it's interesting. The The local prosecutor wouldn't touch the case in the reason why an how things played out subsequently made him look pretty smart but anyway, but there was an excellent investigator and he was very careful and and low key and he once once he got wind of TIM Thomas. Ultimately in is you're aware he was able to arrange a meeting with TIM and Nora and, of course, I don't know if we've, if we've come
for that. Yet but nor confessed. Her role in the crime to TIM to unburden herself, an that kind of what broke case. Ultimately,. It was interesting, let's, let's fixate on that, a little bit, because this is again the most crucial ask Effect of the story in the end, is TIM, Thomas and Nora. And this first confession. Now you do. You talk about the conversation did elicits this confession, she's mad at him. He laughs at her and then she says some details so tell us about that. Actual conversation, because it's interesting how this all comes about okay, what she was but was she was in.
My community College in Flint become a dental assistant. And I I think it would be typical. Going from zero to that. You hear me that would be not out of the way at all to go through Davison, which where TIM lived and really liked him and I I don't think that TIM ever have a strong romantic interest in her, but I think they they dated and they had fun together and as I recall, she called him and said that, should be coming through Davison and she. Like they have lunch with him, and so they Matt, and they have lunch and Nora.
Normally is outgoing and fun, and she was subdued and just kind of in troubled. State of mine. That was immediately obvious to to TIM and so he's asking her. What was wrong and he was kind of needling or a little bit and eventually you know she said something to the effect of why What would you say if I told you I was involved in a murder and and he didn't he didn't believe her. He didn't believe her at the time, but then and I'm getting ahead a little bit but his kids in Karo they got wind of this and they wanted it was Kim
hurting right right, right, right, regular, wanted she was married to one of TIM's real good buddies. And she wanted to get TIM to meet with Dan, Dan Miller and TIM. Wasn't real interested until she Kim prevailed on him and It said hey, you know this was not some rumored situation this young woman disappeared, and Everyone believes that she was murdered and, so then it reluctantly she arranged a meeting with Dan at her house with her your husband there and, and TIM there and and they they got together.
That way, so that's that's The continuum continue the luncheon at the lunch date in Davison, and now that eventually played out and and kind of made things come together. It's very interesting how He uses an employee's Dan Miller employees, the same kinds of techniques that Melvin garb Gar would use manipulating using inside information against another person taking one bit of information again and using it and revealing it to the other person to create a sort of chaos and see what comes of it so he was. It was great at manipulating these various magical eventually it. They are always that you said in a
pendency who see, who yells kind of one way, that and of you're talking about the two and I'm going to try to try to remember the names there's so many, Tanya gosh. I hope on I. I disagree because I did use the the real names Let's talk about, let's look as we don't have much time Richard. Let's talk about more about the Aspect of Dan Miller, breathing down on these people, necks with eventually him a going to TIM Thomas is you know better nature, his real nature to be. Able to cooperate and and in focused Dan Miller, focus on Nora being this week, link and the key
eight to solving this case, but like. You say with nobody. They mean The rarity of having a prosecution for murder with nobody is very, very rare occurrence. Tan prosecutors are reluctant to do to go hadn't prosecutions like this so tell about the unique situation that was in Michigan. At that time you need to states that allowed for the Secu Shin and how that prosecution came be. It was again some manipulation. It was some influence in the to be able to get this done. Well well, and I can back up just for a second, because I I hate to be time tangible, zeros and Angie Tories were the two gals and date Dan Angie knew something about a procedure that Nora had that was very personal and leave it at that and the
Dan learned that from Angie and then used it to unsettle Tanja in a in an attempt to create pressure. And stress on Nora, because thought. You was probably Nora's best friend in and maybe more so than Angie ok, right. You know you wanted me to you want me to get into how the price Sucu Shun developed. Well how they, how they were able. I mean it's it to me was very unique. Situation, I saw that. Did you when you have a grand jury to have just one person be a grand juror, so that situation is unique. Ok, it well it it's close to unique there. Maybe one other state them in one other state that has a one man grand jury, and there was.
Uh. The one man grand jury was design, to target Nora and to get her. To give up her brother and it didn't work aw and as it turned out the prosecutor, who was in assistant attorney general's in. As I earlier mentioned, the local prosecutor didn't want to didn't, I want to give her immunity and they felt that was the only way they were going to get anywhere so Rumors is a very good prosecutor and left attorney general and went to work in Jackson County as a chief insistent prosecutors very skills and he, but he he couldn't get authorization to take the case until the one of
state police higher ups got to the attorney general and put pressure on them. So. Anyway, the result of the Tandja and Angie situation way, Dan did get a Nora, before the county prosecutor, but he would not give her immunity and less she told him her role and she wouldn't so that ended, that is, so the the once Once she went before the judge this is, this is part of the and for the title of the book Laura was given a It's actually immunity to testify
after she stonewalled and in and exercise their fifth amendment rights to not testify. So at that point she again she stonewalled, even though she had immunity, she stonewalled and the judge obviously knew she was lying, but the judge, made an error and that was- that he was willing to issue a warrant for her arrest. In spite of the fact, she'd been given total immunity and and that that was something that I discovered in my research that had never ever come out, and as a result, they were able to arrest her now for attorney had been on the ball. He was now the attorney that was representing her at the one man grand jury, but who represented or subsequently
If you did on the ball and read the transcript of the grand jury, he would have known that she was immunized. You could got around the jail, but I think he kind of took away. Shortcut version- and he missed that. So they were able to keep her in jail and, of course, that creates an enormous pressure over time and that that led her to the point where she took the to the area where the body been buried right. So am I getting too far off course, or is that kind of where you wanted to well? You know that's where we were going, but we skipped over was the an again. We only have about ten minutes. So what I wanted to talk about was one of the more dramatic things that happens at this trial and what we've. Almost the audience almost forgets an almost as a reader. We forget about the young boy that been was babysitting. That evening the was traumatized
now is a much older boy and he that this grand jury so I thought this was one of the most profound things of your book aspects of your book, Tell us about Billy, Junior, Billy, Timko and okay not understand Billy Billy is not the little Billy that what that Robin was babysitting sitting. It was part of the Timko family and he was with her, the night that he only Tempco was with Robin the week. We again that she disappeared. He was with her. I think it was the night before and he was in the house with her and they He testified that We saw Melvins car driving by the house, therefore he's not in Ontario Bracebridge by
so it was the name of the young right talent into Ontario, so it and Billy gives the they not only did they seem elements or but then they went outside the house. They thought they say. Prowler and Robin thought that Robert actually said they were. It is a little strange. To describe this urgent, a separate garage and the garage door these were open and a more all things in this kind of rare for garages in my experience they was a window on the back wall, though, usually on the sides and so Robin what that she saw Melvin looking through the back window of the garage and then and Billy.
Timco was not able to say that he saw that, but He did know that someone had was Maclaren it run off, so end and in court there was concerted effort by the prosecutor to get Billy to testify that she had said it's Melvin but anyway, so. I have exactly what you wanted, but Billy incidentally, and we haven't touched on near the weirdness in this story. But Kini Garza our in the older brother was in charge of the family, when parents were away and Robin disappeared. Teeny died on the 23rd of February, one thousand nine hundred and ninety three Billy. Core junior died
on the 23rd of February in nineteen. Ninety four, A year apart and that the the book is full of bizarre coincidences that just seemed to to me it's hard to judge A is, as you may want to be it's. Who sings office just happening. I cover that. Well enough for you or. I think so uh the the other thing is that, through the dog get effort of Dan Miller and which you again for in such a hurry. Quick way in this in this book and his I'll get dedication to this case, And finally, we have the conviction many years later of a when Garza, for this first degree, murder
what was the sentence for how it? How do the courts dispose of with Nora Garza? okay, well, that was that was another complicated mess, but they the deal the deal that caused her to be willing to take them to the area, and then she did not by the way actual find the burial site, but is you know, and we all know A wooded area will change it. Characteristic significantly over a period of eight years. So it's it's under. Mandible that you might not be able to walk right to the spot where they at where they had buried the body. But that was the deal the deal was to give her a break if she, you would if she would take them to the area or take them to the body, but they they let her off with at least getting
to the area and ultimately, and I going and all the details, but ultimately they found the body and, and so there or she was entitled of- some consideration, but again there is a judge and rich, going to block was I've known, residency was thirteen rich Well, you know was bound by the by the the law, to make certain dimming ends of her in exchange for accepting her plea. So they they got into a little bit of a. Of a run around there. She bought for a while but uh actually she came around and and told the judge judge what he wanted to know my personal opinion, and I is that she was not totally truthful, but that
Only she and her brother woods really be the ones to know where she wasn't being truthful in terms of her participation in the actual disappearance and and murder. What's again, one of the most profound moments in your book and will use this as to wrap up in this next couple minutes is the they push her on the stand to say that when Melvin arrives. Robin is in the trunk. He she helps him buried the body, but they. Ask her this question that she does not want to answer, and that is was the grave pre dug? Yes it it it it and Mark Bloomer had gone to extraordinary lengths. He had actually brought an archaeologist back to the area and had him re excavate life sized
whole. That would be the same dimensions as the one for which they recovered the body. So the determine how long it would take to not only dig the hole, but too if it had been three dog to Bury the body and be visit bowl in the Karo area, soon enough to kind of begin to form the basis of an alibi, and it is pretty improved. He was very gratified that she was willing to finally give that up, because he had drag this poor guy hi. It's a hundred over a hundred miles in a put in the work Bigham this also, but bill over the archaeologist, a tremendous guy in a fabulous physical condition. It didn't really bother him that he had to dig another woman
If I could mention one thing, uh Dan, that I think readers would find very interesting after Melbourne convicted. Tim Thomas had a series of accidents. They were on characteristic, I'm in terms of Bigg Husky Guy a hunter fisherman. You know he's he's a a man's man and it wasn't like him do it. He cut himself with a chain saw on the if he for that fell through a group glass that garage window and nearly what the deaf, and so he what's happening here I mean I all of a sudden, I'm having all these injuries, TIM was
superintendent of a parts plant in Flint. One of his workers was a mexican, and he was very close to this this. And the fellow said. I don't think this is just happening. I want you to meet someone and he took TIM to this medium. And the medium said that TIM Thomas was a victim of black magic that was perpetrated by the killers. Paternal grandmother and her name was not could be bad Olivera's and she died in and I believe, oh, let me think I think. Was seven or eight living in South Texas. She had lived for years and care and she was known to practice.
Is call brewery which is spanish for black magic she was a full blooded, aztec indian. She was not mexican but her husband or her first husband, who would be Melvin's fathers Father had died, young and she'd remarried, so at any rate, was that aspect, and I knew that How much was kind of up guy. That would not be telling me these things, fantasize sing anything. These things really happened, the way described them and whether or not the medium was dead on accurate I'll, never know, but that's what she said yeah. Well I mean this book. We we just really touched on some. The drama, but
and really didn't go into the really determined, incredibly determined effort by Dan Miller and The police to be able and prosecutors to be able to finally get this Melvin Garza. We it seemed that everybody knew he was guilty from day one to finally br the justice and and also justice for Robin. To find out really the truth of what actually happened at night in August, one thousand nine hundred and seventy six for those that might want to contact you. Could you give your website one more time? Please Richard yeah, it's Dick Carson d I see K C, a r s, o n in lowercase dot net okay. And all pictures of Melvin Picture of Robin the links that where you can hear me Evans, conversation with Robin's, mother and also his fully police in irrigation, and you can hear TIM Thomas is very.
Exceptional examination where the Why are did everything uh is power to confuse and an trip him up and got nowhere Yeah so it Is there anything else? I don't know what what our time frame is here, but I've was enjoyed. This is very good- and I want I want to thank you very much Richard for coming on and talking about fruit of the poisonous tree. It's a fascinating story, and- and we just touched on a little bit of the incredible aspects of the story so again fruit of the poisonous tree want to thank you very much Richard and you have yourself a great afternoon. Ok, Thank you so much Dan, it's been my pleasure. Thank you. Bye, bye, goodnight
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Transcript generated on 2019-11-05.