Throughout history, waste removal and trash has been unfortunately linked to crime. No we are not talking about mobsters controlling garbage collection, but rather criminals using waste removal to dispose of evidence. By the time the criminal’s evidence reaches the landfill it is often too late. However, Budget Dumpster will showcase 3 recent stories that trash played an integral role in solving a crime.
Aspen, Colorado: A ski resort heir named Nancy Pfister was found bludgeoning to death. Although the brutality of the crime was significant, authorities were left with little to go on. After uncovering a Facebook dispute with Pfister’s personal assistant, Katherine Carpenter, the focus of responsibility shifted towards her and she was charged with first-degree murder.
Even with a suspect officially charged, parties involved did not seem content with the outcome. The Facebook dispute happened many days prior to the murder, and according to Carpenter it was resolved. Is the wrong person headed to jail? Well a sanitation worker did not let that happen!
An aspen area garbage collector, who wants to remain nameless, was going about his daily route when he found some suspicious items in a trash bag. Inside were several prescription bottles and a bloody hammer. The forensic evidence, along with a full confession confirmed William Styler, friend of the victim, acted alone in the murder of Pfister.
“If that trash guy hadn’t have been so diligent,” Greg Greer, Carpenter’s Laywer said, “this evidence would have ended up in the landfill.”
Syracuse, New York: For the past 15 years, 21 letters have been sent to various schools, offices, police stations and celebrities throughout the eastern United States. Each letter was relatively the same, filled with threatening hand written messages and a powder assumed to be anthrax that would send those involved into a frenzy. Fortunately, none of the letters contained any anthrax, which is why this story has yet to receive any national attention.
The case started to break when fingerprints were recovered from two letters. The fingerprints matched the records of Brian D. Norton of Cicero, NY. However this was just not enough evidence to charge Norton with with the crimes, so detectives turned to trash.
After couple trips to Norton’s trash cans, federal agents found what they need to put Norton behind bars for 10 years. A newspaper with almost exactly the same writing on it was tossed in his trash. What Norton considered garbage, may be the most valuable piece of his life.
Seaside Heights, New Jersey: Illegal dumping is a serious crime plaguing every part of the world, but especially in New Jersey. The problem has gotten so out of control that the state government started a program called “Don’t Waste Our Open Space” to combat illegal dumping. This program also included strategically placed motion sensor cameras.
Obviously one man named Adam Wardell, did not hear that New Jersey was cracking down. Wardell, working a construction project alone, was paid to properly dispose of 8 trash bags filled with asbestos and other materials. The dumper pocketed the cash and tossed the bags into a state wildlife park. Recently, Wardell was ordered to pay $21,533 for his crime and was the 10th arrest as a result of the new cameras.