Sunday, February 3, 2013

Marengo homicides in June 2011

Not a week has passed that I have not thought deeply about the events of June 7, 2011. That is the night that Jack and Audrey Feldkamp and Doran Bloom died in the Feldkamp family home in McHenry County, outside of Marengo.

Yesterday I was reading In the Gravest Extreme - The Role of the Firearm in Personal Protection, written by Massad Ayoob and published in 1980. As we approach the date when concealed carry will be the law in Illinois, this book should be read by every person who contemplates carrying a gun. And it should be read by every person who owns a gun.

As early in the book as on Page 12 Ayoob wrote, "A major legal consideration will further prevent the private citizen from shooting: once the threat of assault has passed, and the felon is no longer jeopardizing him, the civilian's shooting of the felon will no longer be considered self-defense."

I immediately thought of the reports I had read that were written by deputies of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department and the conclusion announced by Sheriff Keith Nygren at a press conference less than 24 hours later. This sentence appeared in the Northwest Herald on Thursday, June 9: "Nygren said Scott Feldkamp had “absolute authority” to use deadly force to protect himself and his family." Was Nygren wrong?

According to the only survivor of the four people in the house that evening, Doran Bloom had stabbed Jack Feldkamp near the front door. Then Scott Feldkamp grappled with Bloom and reported being stabbed by Bloom. While Scott was running upstairs to get his handgun, Bloom supposedly went into the Feldkamp bedroom, mortally wounded Audrey Feldkamp and returned to the foyer near the front door.

Scott Feldkamp reported that he retrieved his pistol from his second-floor bedroom and shot Bloom twice from the second floor railing. Bloom turned around, away from him, and Scott fired twice more, and then fired until the magazine was empty. If I recall correctly, 13 shell casings were found, but not all the bullets were found.

The crime scene log indicates Undersheriff Zinke's name after Lt. Lutz at 2110 (9:10PM) and before Paramedic Neilan at 2100 (9:00PM). A note is added - "Disregard - didn't go on scene." Huh???

Page 2 of the crime scene log shows Undersheriff Zinke and Sheriff Nygren on the scene (in the house?) at 2252 (10:52PM) and out at 2308 (11:08AM). They were there only 16 minutes??? As the highest-ranking MCSD members there, the responsibility for the crime scene moved up to them - to Sheriff Nygren. And he left after only 16 minutes?

Two investigators have told me that the "investigation" of this triple homicide was the worst they had ever seen. In my opinion, there really wasn't any investigation. For example, there was no re-enactment. Had there been, important questions would have come up right away. One of the questions would have involved a possible obstructed line-of-sight from the balcony.

The house should have been sealed as a crime scene. M.I.A.T. should have been called. A  re-enactment should have been conducted. Extensive laboratory testing should have been conducted. All the bullets should have been found. One investigator told me you never leave until you have accounted for all the bullets.

The interview with Scott Feldkamp at the hospital the next day and its telephoned summary, before it was ever typed up, apparently gave Sheriff Nygren the basis for his statement at the press conference on June 8. When you read that hospital interview, you just want to shout, "WTH!"

Why wasn't M.I.A.T. called? Undersheriff Andy Zinke is the current coordinator of the County-wide Major Investigations Assistance Team. Was he in that capacity then? Why wouldn't he immediately call out M.I.A.T.? What would 8-10 independent sets of eyes from other departments have seen that MCSD deputies didn't?

When Scott Feldkamp fired at Doran Bloom from the balcony, did he really have a bonafide legal justification for doing so? Jack Feldkamp was dead on the foyer floor, leaning against the wall. Feldkamp said that Bloom was standing on the first floor, facing the balcony. Scott Feldkamp does not say, ever, that he saw a knife. Ever!

What was Feldkamp's legal justification for shooting? Bloom, 18 feet and one story away from him, did not present an immediate threat to Scott. Scott said he shot Bloom twice, but he wasn't sure he had hit him because Bloom turned around. When Bloom turned around, he was then even less of a threat to Scott. But Scott said, according to reports, that he shot twice more, and then he emptied the magazine.

So my questions are:

1. Why wasn't M.I.A.T. called out?
2. Why was there no re-enactment?
3. Was there ever any lab analysis of blood transfers? (There are no lab reports in the case file.)
4. Did deputies or the State's Attorney ever consider whether there may been no legal justification for the shooting of Doran Bloom?
5. Does a civilian have the right to shoot when there is no remaining threat?
5. Why was this case, for all practical purposes, closed in less than 24 hours?


SillyGus said...

How will you feel when Illinois is turned into a "May Issue" which will leave the decision to the sheriff who will get permits. That is outstanding. Your state is undoubtedly the worst in the country

Gus said...

RagingBull sent this comment by email:

"It seems to me that in cases of homicides, motive is key to any investigation. As i understand it, Mr. Bloom had zero motive. In fact, he was excited to begin working at a local animal shelter the next morning. As for the motive of the Survivor, well, it would take up more room in your comment column to state all the reasons he had. Keep pursuing the truth my friend."

Gus said...

Since Nygren would likely find any way to stall on my CWP application, I can only hope that Illinois law provides "shall issue".

On the other hand, if Nygren denies or delays my application, I'll call that guy in Iowa who sued his sheriff for a similar delay, and the MCSD will be on the receiving end of one more lawsuit.

Clem Kadiddlehopper said...

Given the fact that Feldkamp was stabbed by Bloom, who had also stabbed two more people (one to death) and was still in the building, a reasonable person would find that Feldkamp still faced an imminent threat of death at the hands of Bloom.

If I were a trial juror, I would vote for acquittal.

As to the "quality" of the investigation, I can't say. But if the facts are as you presented, then I doubt that the State Attorney could even get an indictment.

Richard W Gorski, M.D. said...

What was the rush to judgement and to close the crime scene so fast to other eyes with fresh perspectives?

Gus said...

Scott Feldkamp said he was stabbed multiple times by Bloom; he heard blood gurgling from his back. Then he ran upstairs to get his gun.

Problem: his father was on the floor in a pool of blood between him and the stairs. No blood on stairs, upstairs hallway or in bedroom.

Scott was upstairs and about 20 feet away from Bloom and did not see a knife. Imminent?

MCSD reports do not indicate that any clothing was ever sent out for lab testing as to whose blood was on whose clothing.

Gus said...

RagingBull provides this additional information by email:

"No that information is incorrect. If you read the interview with Scott Feldkamp, he clearly states that his dad was on his feet by Bloom in the front hallway when he ran up the stairs to the balcony. He also stated that out of the corner of his eye, he saw Bloom run across the living room towards the bedroom where Mrs. Feldkamp was. Mrs Feldkamp suffered 14 stab wounds. According to Scott, Bloom then must have run back to the front hallway (after allegedly stabbing Mrs. Feldkamp) to be beside Mr. Feldkamp before the shooting started. Scott said that "he tried not to hit his dad." That being said, if Mrs. Feldkamp was mortally wounded in the minutes it took Scott to get his gun and unload the entire magazine into Bloom, how then is it possible for him to see his mother standing in the doorway of the bedroom and to tell her to call 911. Obviously, she hadn't been stabbed yet. Not by Bloom anyway."