Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Even So, More Questions Remain

The Gayoso House murder was quickly solved. Thank goodness, and the Memphis Police Department, for that. The reporting on her death leaves a few questions still.

In this Commercial Appeal story, we come into reporting the case through some blather about the climate of fear in the building and downtown, complete with pointless photo of a young white woman looking confused. This is a marked turn from the usual Commercial Appeal reporting about downtown, which is at pains to point out just how safe it is down there. There are big investments and a lot of money down there; can't have the tourists, drunks and creative classes getting spooked and bailing, can we?

Then there's this:
Much of the talk about the slaying this week revolved around questions as to how the assailant entered the secure building.

Residents are required to use a pass-card to enter while visitors must be buzzed in by someone inside.

However, as with many similar systems, it's not foolproof.

"For five years, (my art gallery) was over there," said Pam Craig, owner of the Rivertown Gallery near the apartments. "I would see people come in, hit the buzzer, then come around to talk to us when they couldn't get in. Then they would say, 'Never mind' and follow someone else in."

Wednesday afternoon, a man rang the buzzer in the rear of the building, said he was a Time Warner employee and was admitted, with no guard present.

Kelly said general deliveries are supposed to go to the security desk, but that "regular vendors" like postal carriers and cable workers are an exception.
In other words, the human element foiled all the security.

The side-bar story, which goes into more detail about the crime and its solution, mentions that the perpetrator was a former resident! Think that has anything to do with the above?
Police said Wednesday that Andrews ... knew someone who lived in the Gayoso, and that knowledge may have helped him slip past security Saturday night, police said.

That resident has been questioned, and had no hand in giving Andrews access, police said. Investigators would not identify the person, but said he lives on another floor in the building.
Again, security is only as good as the people who enforce it, and the extent of its deployment.

One thing I had wondered about was the presence of the FBI in the case. It turns out they played an important and revealing role:
...federal agents said there is technology available that makes it possible to trace the location of cell phone users.
I've seen this reported in a story about tracking Al Qaida through their use of cellphones. Apparently, some models come with built-in GPS tracking! It would seem that was the case. Makes you wonder, though....

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