A family's horror— one child murdered . . .another destroyed.
The Crowes’ neighbors in the peaceful middle classcommunity in San Diego’s North County were shockedby the savagery of the crime—a young girl murdered,stabbed repeatedly, in her own bed in the dead of night.The lack of any evidence of forced entry led the Escondidopolice to their inevitable conclusion: someone in the familywas responsible for 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe’s slaying.The investigation quickly zeroed in on the victim’s olderbrother, Michael, and two teenage friends—three lonerswho enjoyed inhabiting dark fantasy worlds of quests andviolence. Through efficient, by-the-book police work, theboys were broken down and ultimately confessed. The onlyproblem was the detectives had gotten everything wrong . . .
Shattered Justice is the riveting and disturbing trueaccount of a horrific tragedy and the terrible crimethat followed—a nightmare of four innocent livesshattered, one by a killer’s blade, three byobsession and twisted law.
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About the Author
John Philpin has been the forensic consultant to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department in their re-investigation of the Stephanie Crowe homicide. He was also one of the first independent criminal profilers in the U.S. and is a retired psychologist with an international reputation as an expert on violent behavior. He has appeared on "Unsolved Mysteries," "Northwest Afternoon," "Inside Edition," the "Jim Bohannon Show," "America's Most Wanted," CBC's "As It Happens," and "20/20 Downtown" and has served as a guest commentator on Court TV's "Prime Time Justice." His published works include Beyond Murder, a true crime book about the Gainesville student murders, and Stalemate, a true story of child abduction and murder in the San Francisco Bay area. He has also written five novels. The recipient of numerous awards recognizing his contributions to murder investigations, Philpin holds degrees in English, clinical psychology, and forensic psychology.
Read an Excerpt
Shattered JusticeA Savage Murder and the Death of Three Families' Innocence
By John Philpin
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 John Philpin
All right reserved.
He paced and talked, jabbed a fist into the air, and waved his arms in wild, wide arcs. His long, disheveled, dirty blond hair fanned when he spun around to walk back to where he had begun.
The man was alone at the bus stop on the corner of Date and Grand. He was one of Escondido's homeless men, many of them mentally ill, drug-addled ex-cons-- scruffy, layered in soiled, shabby clothing. He wore a jacket over a purple shirt over a red shirt, and his legs were bulked with multiple pairs of pants. The southern California days were comfortable enough, but the nights were cold. It was Tuesday, January 20, 1998, late afternoon.
He held something in his hand, a pointed object ten inches long. When he punched the air, the fading light caught the object, but not quite enough to determine what it was.
This guy was a familiar figure at the library on Kalmia where he would emerge from the shadows to panhandle patrons intent only on getting home to crack open the latest by Alex Kava or John Grisham. Usually he asked for a dollar, but took whatever he could get.
This particular evening, he waited for the bus that would carry him into the rural area of Valley Center Road and Orange Glen.
"The Ranch" was a collection of adobe brick buildings off Valley Center Road.
Shortly after seven that evening, Dannette Mogelinski and her three-year-old daughter sat on the sofa watching TV in their living room at The Ranch. Her fiance, Frank Romanelli, used the computer.
Mogelinski responded to a knock on the door. "It's open," she called. "Come in."
A bearded man in a flannel shirt and worn jeans opened the door and stood at the threshold. His eyes bulged like Charles Manson's eyes, Mogelinski thought. He was dirty, grubby, and he frightened the young woman.
There was something not right about the guy. Was he crazy, drugged out? Mogelinski did not know. But she did know she was frightened, and she knew she could not pull her gaze away from his eyes.
She pushed herself from the couch. "Can I help you?" she asked.
"Is Tracy here?" the man asked. "I'm looking for Tracy."
His face and neck were wet with sweat, as if he had just run a long distance.
"No. There is no Tracy here," she said.
"Do you know where I can find her?"
"I don't know of any Tracy."
"But are you sure she's not here? She might come back."
He gazed around the room like he was casing the place, staring at a rifle on the wall above Frank Romanelli's head.
"I don't know who you are talking about," Mogelinski said. "No Tracy lives here." She then made her way over to the man.
He stepped back as Mogelinski closed the door. She returned to her daughter as the door opened a second time.
"Are you sure?" the man asked.
"I'm sorry. I don't even know who you're talking about."
"Tell her Richard stopped by," he said.
This time when she closed the door, she locked it.
Sheldon Homa sat on his sofa watching TV in the one-room modified garage at 22015 Valley Center Road. At seven-thirty twin pit bulls in a pen at the rear began a furious barking. Homa's son Shannon lived in the main house. The dogs were his, and they often became disturbed when coyotes moved down the hills and through the surrounding woods.
In a window beyond the TV, Homa saw a man looking in. His long, unkempt hair gave the guy a wild look. Homa grabbed an ax and went outside.
"What are you up to?" he demanded.
"I was over there," he said, pointing in the direction of The Ranch. "I'm looking for Tracy. They said she might be here."
The man talked fast and gazed everywhere except at Homa. His hands and arms were in constant motion, his eyes darting in one direction then another. He looked as if he had been on the streets for a while-- soiled red sweatshirt, tangled hair, beard--like he was "tweaking," running for too many days on methamphetamine.
"That's bullshit," Homa said. "Tracy don't live here.
They wouldn't have told you that. You got no business here. Get off the property."
Homa watched the man turn and walk slowly toward Valley Center Road, then went to talk to his son.
"There was a squirrely guy at my window," Sheldon Homa told his son, and described the trespasser.
Shannon and his girlfriend Dawn wondered if the guy might be someone they knew, or at least might recognize. They jumped into their pickup truck and drove along Valley Center Road, where they saw the man Sheldon had described--long, stringy hair and a beard, red sweatshirt, undershirt hanging out.
Shannon drove slowly past the Lutheran church as the man ducked into the bushes. He turned and pulled into the church parking lot, where kids were playing. He felt he should notify someone about the man, especially with children outside and vulnerable, so he entered the church and left word.
As Shannon and Dawn drove home, they passed him again, standing on Valley Center Road, arms spread in the air, staring at the sky like he was talking to God, maybe arguing with God. He began to spin in place, taking mincing steps, spinning faster and faster, whirling. His eyes were vacant, like there was something going on in his head, something only he knew about. He looked like a malevolent, dirty Jesus, spinning, his glassy eyes giving way to a glare of fiery rage.
The couple arrived home and called 911. The call was logged at seven-fifty that evening.
Sharon Thomas drove to the Lutheran church to pick up her son. As she pulled into the parking lot, a transient-looking man ran through screaming and cursing. "You fucking bitch," he yelled. "You'd better never do it again."
Excerpted from Shattered Justice by John Philpin Copyright © 2006 by John Philpin. Excerpted by permission.
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