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Why are many people unwilling to provide tips to police that could solve a murder?

Author Topic: Dana Bradley - December 14, 1981 - Age 14 - Murdered - St. John's, NL  (Read 58086 times)

Desespere

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Dana Bradley
Age: 14
COD: Head trauma
DOB:
Date found: December 18, 1981
Location found: St. Johns, NL
Date last seen: December 14, 1981
Location last seen: St. Johns, NL
Teen

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20030116/WFIVE_danabradley_20021206/

Sorrow is nothing new to Newfoundlanders. Their history is marked with tragedies, mostly related to the sea. But when 14-year old Dana Bradley was murdered, it left the province reeling.

Even though it happened more than 20 years ago, the residents of St. John's are still haunted by what happened to one of their children.

"She was a bright child and a very social child," says Jeff Levitz, Dana's stepfather.

It's every parent's worst nightmare and the night of December 14, 1981 is still painfully vivid for Dana's family.

Dana had left her friend's place and headed out into the chilly St. John's night for her mother's birthday party and then disappeared.

She told her friends she was taking the bus home. The bus stop was only minutes away on a busy street.

Harry Smeaton and his brother were taking a break from selling Christmas trees when they noticed Dana hitchhiking. They saw a car pull up and the driver offered her a ride.

"We were actually only 25-30 feet away from where she got aboard. She got in and they drove off. We did comment on a little girl like this, hitchhiking, getting aboard with a stranger and never thought no more of it than that."

Little did they know, it would be the last time anyone would see young Dana Bradley alive.

Hours passed and Dana's parents started to sense that this was more than just a teenager's tardiness. They sensed something horrible must have happened to their little girl.

The police did file a report for the Bradleys, but they said that little could be done that night. But as the hours grew into days, Dana's parents knew that their daughter had somehow been taken.

"There was no thought that she might end up not living through the ordeal," says Levitz.

All they could do was hope and pray her abductor would show some mercy. But their prayers went unanswered.

On December 18, 1981, four days after Dana went missing, everyone's worst fears were confirmed. In a remote wooded area, just outside of St. John's, police discovered her body.

There was very little useful DNA evidence for investigators to collect at the crime scene. An autopsy would later reveal that she died from numerous blows to the head.

But when the police first arrived, they did notice something very unusual.

Dana had been laid out carefully, dressed in her school clothes with her schoolbooks tucked neatly under one arm. This led Jack Lavers, the RCMP's chief investigator of the day to a very important clue about the killer.

"It would appear that there was respect for the body... I felt that there was an element of remorse," says Lavers, who is now a lawyer in St. John's. .

Suspecting that the killer was in some way remorseful, the police appealed to him through the media and the public.

The murderer didn't come forward but Harry Smeaton did. He and his brother described the vehicle they saw Dana ride away in and, even more importantly, they gave police a good enough description of the driver for a police sketch.

Other witnesses also came forward, claiming they'd seen a man near the clearing where Dana's body had been found.

"All of us were very confident that it would be solved," says Lavers.

While waiting for some sense of resolution, Dana's family was slowly trying to come to terms with their loss and overwhelming grief.

"After the murder, you'd just be driving along and you'd start to cry for no reason," says Levitz.

As time passed, the investigation into her death grew larger. It became not only the biggest murder investigation in Newfoundland history, but also one of the biggest in Canadian history at the time.

"We probably ended up with 250 prime suspects," says Lavers.

Thousands of people had been interviewed, countless leads pursued. But finally in 1986, there was a glimmer of hope. Lavers received an anonymous note pinning the murder on an ex-con named David Somerton.

"I started telling them where the car was and then I'm telling them where the murder weapon was," says Somerton.

The police felt they had a pretty strong case. Somerton was after all, a convicted criminal with a violent past. Investigators had another reason to be optimistic.

"There is a substantial resemblance between the way David Somerton looked in 1981, shortly after he came back here from doing time in New Brunswick for armed robbery, and the way he looked in '86," says Lavers.

But most importantly, just before he was arrested, Somerton confessed to being Dana's killer. This time, the Mounties believed they had their man.

"His description of how he said he did this was consistent with certain things that we knew," says Lavers.

With Somerton in custody, the police began searching for the two key pieces of evidence to confirm his confession. Somerton had told the investigators he buried the murder weapon at the same place he left the body.

Police had already searched the area, but this time the site was completely cleared of all trees and brush and dug up. However, nothing was found.

Their next hope was at the local dump, where Somerton claimed he left his car. In all, nearly one million dollars were spent digging up and searching those two sites but again nothing surfaced.

"When we couldn't recover the physical evidence, then we had nothing to back up the confession," says Lavers.

To make matter worse, Somerton had recanted. He denied any involvement with Dana's murder. The police didn't have the evidence to hold him any longer.

"We didn't want to go to trial and have him tried and acquitted of murder if subsequent scientific investigations or other investigations were going to be forthcoming down the road that would lead to a better prosecution," says Lavers.

While the police were forced to stay the murder charge in 1986 against him, Somerton was charged with public mischief and sentenced to two years in jail for misleading the RCMP.

After being released Somerton returned to St. John's and in a city that size Dana's parents couldn't help but run into him.

"You'd see him around the odd time. And how do you deal with that?" says Levitz.

Somerton agreed to speak with W-FIVE to give his account of what happened.

"After being there for 18 hours and I knew that I was flipping out on them and on myself because I was in a suicidal state in that room... I was doing anything to get them off my back to make it out of that room... Including confessing, I've been regretting it ever since."

He says that around the time of his confession, he was on heavy medication.

For his part, Somerton hasn't stayed out of trouble. In 1996, he was convicted of indecent assault involving a teenaged girl. Three years later, he pled guilty to sexually assaulting a minor in a separate incident.

But while the case has never been solved, police haven't stopped looking for the murderer. They say they still have a very strong handful of suspects.

A new generation of police investigators has taken over the responsibility of bringing Dana Bradley's killer to justice. For the past seven years, Constable Chris MacNaughton has been the lead investigator in the murder of Dana Bradley.

She has realized that the people of Newfoundland are trusting her to do what no one else had been able to do before, to find Dana's killer.

"The public will always be on our coattails, tugging us on, reminding us through phone calls... That has not let up in 21 years."

As for Dana's family, ultimately they too want to know. But the day the killer is caught is a day they both hope for and dread.

"It's not going to resolve anything. It's not going to bring Dana back. It's not going to make us feel any better or anything. In fact, it'll make us feel a lot worse most likely. But I would still hate to see somebody get away with it," says Levitz.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2009, 04:46:53 AM by Chris »

Adrian

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Re: Dana Bradley ? December 14, 1981 ? Age 14 ? Murdered ? St. John?s, NL
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2008, 08:26:23 PM »


Thanks for the info, it is surprising how the Eastern Provinces have had their share of mysterious homicides. I have wondered, if any of these killers, have come to move to the west for a while. ??? ??? ???

It is heart breaking, what happens to so many women and teens, all over.

debbiec

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Re: Dana Bradley ? December 14, 1981 ? Age 14 ? Murdered ? St. John?s, NL
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2008, 10:45:59 AM »
After having read this I tend to agree with the fact that Dana most likely knew her killer. The fact that he tried to clean her face and took the time to redress her and fold her hands just gives me the feeling that in some sick way he cared for her. This is consistent with things I have read about other victims who were killed by a family member or someone else they knew.

lostlinganer

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Re: Dana Bradley ? December 14, 1981 ? Age 14 ? Murdered ? St. John?s, NL
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2008, 11:26:58 AM »
seems there's a lot of evidence here deb; don't you think? .....she gave hereself an hour to get home.
(wonder how long it would have taken her to get home....what was the usual time to go that far?)
if it would have taken her minutes, she must have planned a little meeting.
was she secretly seeing this guy or did she have a crush on some guy?
seems to me that car should definitely have narrowed it down.
I get the impression of two things:
1.  the police were lazy and lacking at the onset of the investigation.
2.  people don't want to talk about it (as though they already know something)
     wonder what the autopsy report said or if she was pregnant.

I was married to a guy of Newfoundland heritage...all his relatives were in NFLD.
His father taught me one thing that I never forgot about those people - at least his family...that is...when something like this happens, you play stupid, you admit to no realization or interest.  When you ask questions, people will shut up; when you don't want to know, they tell you everything. Then you take care of matters yourself.  That was their belief.

Wonder if some dirty blonde young man with an old dodge product was found dead or disappeared over the years!

lostlinganer

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Re: Dana Bradley ? December 14, 1981 ? Age 14 ? Murdered ? St. John?s, NL
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2008, 01:23:29 PM »
Des; I am familiar with those cars and a lot of them -the door handles don't work after a few years of neglect - and this one had enough rot on the doors and fenders to say it was neglected and had experienced that many years of "east coast" weather.  I believe this car was strictly from the east coast.  I also believe that if the police were even half doing their job, they would have located that car in a wrecking yard or deserted .... guys like that will sell a car for parts or to a wrecking yard .... they could have done a lot to look for that car afterwards.  They could have checked with MVD to get the names and addresses of owners of those two types of car in Newfoundland.  Let's not forget that everybody had to have safety stickers by that time.  There's always the possibility that car wouldn't pass, so would have had a sticker from a "small time" mechanic or garage owner.
Another point of interest is, that time of year a lot of other maritimers go to NFLD hunting.  They make a little vacation of it .... spending a week or so around smaller towns.  It always amazes me how little hotel and motel listings get checked.  I travelled those places years ago and even small seasonal motels take the license #/registration would attach of all guests.
My point is that you can't live anymore without leaving a paper trail one way or another.  Police departments have access and can't be bothered doing their work.....give us guys the same access and I'll wager a lot of criminals would be uncovered.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2008, 01:26:47 PM by lostlinganer »

debbiec

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Re: Dana Bradley ? December 14, 1981 ? Age 14 ? Murdered ? St. John?s, NL
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2008, 09:50:41 PM »
I would really like to know if the person that confessed to this crime and then recanted fits the description of the person in the car that picked Dana up.

D1

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Re: Dana Bradley ? December 14, 1981 ? Age 14 ? Murdered ? St. John?s, NL
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2008, 12:46:31 AM »
David Sommerton was the guy that confesssed. He was not a real close match to the description of the guy who picked up Dana and even less to the decription of the guy dropping off her body. A newfoundland psychic and a newfoundland cop  have both admitted that Shannon Murrin is their prime suspect.
 
quote-  December 1981- murder of Dana Bradley in Newfoundland following Murrin's sudden departure from Kelowna in the fall of 1981. Murrin left Kelowna claiming to have gone home to Newfoundland for Christmas in late fall of 1980.  Murrin claimed he was moving to his sisters in Edmonton In the fall of 1981 following the disappearance of Elizabeth. Did he also go home for Christmas that year? The description of Dana's killer matches Murrin. A member of the Newfoundland Constabulary purportedly admitted that Murrin is the prime suspect.
http://mindytran.com/murrinscrimes.htm

Reading Lostlinganer's post above shows that same pattern of obstuction as seen in all of the other cases in which Murrin is a suspect. That much reported profile of a remorseful killer who cleaned and arranged Dana's body so nicely may be just staging to disguise how well the body and crime scene were cleaned and arranged to hide any tell tale physical or other personal evidence useful to building a profile. Shannon Murrin Sommerton and Dana Bradley are all reportedly from the same community in Newfoundland. Murrin and Sommerton may have been incarcerated together at one point and time. It was an anonymous tip from someone claiming that Sommerton had a lock of Dana's hair in his bible that led Police to look into Sommerton originally. The hair turned out to be Sommerton's wife's. Who would have made up that story and why? The tipster would have to have inside info, Sommerton was in jail at the time. How did that little anonymous tip then turn into a confession? Strangely, this is only one of at least three confessions obtained by the Police for crimes in which Murrin was originally the prime suspect.
from-  http://mindytran.com/murrinreportedsuspect.htm

 quote-A Strange Co-incidence- this same scenario where a person confessed to murdering a child has been seen before in at least two other cases in which Shannon Murrin is also a suspect.
See the Dana Bradley story - This person, also confessed following a police visit to where he was incarcerated at the time. He later recanted.
In Mindy Tran's case, someone else also confessed to her murder while he was incarcerated.
RCMP get new tip about Tran murder (CBS News )
quote: An inmate at a prison in Victoria has allegedly confessed to the 1994 killing, police told a news conference Thursday
see- cyber sleuths report


« Last Edit: August 25, 2008, 02:22:39 PM by D1 »

capeheart

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Re: Dana Bradley ? December 14, 1981 ? Age 14 ? Murdered ? St. John?s, NL
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2008, 08:04:14 PM »
I cannot understand why the follow up on the car was not plastered on TV and on the news back in '81. I feel sure that if this evidence had have been forthcoming along with sketches and a description of the person driving the car that this case would have been solved. It is not everyone that can afford a car these days and if it was a newer model the person had money. Newfoundland at that time was not overly rich and the normal person just did not always have an automobile. I think as lostlinganer said, the answer is in the police files and they should be gone over with a fine tooth comb.This crime should have been solved. Especially where someone had seen this car twice in the same area as where the murder happened. Yes, I too feel that Dana Bradley knew her killer and he felt guilty and washed her and dressed her and fixed her up to look like she was at rest. This was a brutal crime and everything should be done to solve it even at this late date. A private detective should get on the case and ruffle some feathers and get some answers. Heartfelt sympathy to her parents and relatives, which they will never forget this crime of their loved one. :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'(

TrialAndError

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Re: Dana Bradley ? December 14, 1981 ? Age 14 ? Murdered ? St. John?s, NL
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2009, 03:42:32 AM »
I have to say that i have read a lot of good points in this thread! now im going to toss a few points out there lets see what people can come up with...

1/ Shannon Murrin - he is the prime suspect. ok check the DMV records...did he ever own a 1973-1976 DODGE DART or PLYMOUTH VALIANT? or anyone in the close family? a close friend maybe? was he aquainted with Dana's family at all? (This information is missing from everything i have ever read about the case. did the cops forget to check that?)

2/ I Recently checked a profile sketch of Shannon Murrin against a recent picture taken.  http://www.cbc.ca/gfx/images/news/photos/2008/02/06/nl-murrin-shannon-20080205.jpg    <~ recent pic

http://groups.msn.com/ShellysMissingPersonsUnsolvedCrimes/danasmessages.msnw?action=get_message&mview=0&ID_Message=459&LastModified=4675600406433080270         <~ sketch

i was quite supprised how much they look alike? (cops in newfoundland must be blind)

3/ every time murrin went anywhere!!! death and missing people cases follow..... (does this guy have a stocker trying to set him up? that must be the case)


thats just a few of the things that im stuck on.... maybe someone else could help open my eyes a little?

capeheart

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Re: Dana Bradley ? December 14, 1981 ? Age 14 ? Murdered ? St. John?s, NL
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2009, 02:40:06 PM »
Well the police must have all the DNA samples in a file somewhere to exonerate Murrin, if he is the prime suspect. What always gets me as I said earlier on a post, I cannot understand why this car was not able to be traced, because it was quite a distinct description. Every car being driven with that description should have been checked out. I mean it's not like if it was New York city, I mean you're on the rock in Newfy, come on, somebody there knows who drives something miles down the road. That is my opinion, I sure do hope somebody pays for this vicious crime. 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8)

lostlinganer

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Re: Dana Bradley ? December 14, 1981 ? Age 14 ? Murdered ? St. John?s, NL
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2009, 03:22:27 PM »
Quote
Well the police must have all the DNA samples in a file somewhere to exonerate Murrin, if he is the prime suspect.

cape; I think you're forgetting something :)  That is precisely why this crime is unsolved... Murrin is "untouchable"  ... a protected informant.  I don't think the authoritites have any doubt how many Murrin killed.  I believe the opposite.  I believe they know far more deaths he was either involved in or responsible for; as they do other protected informants.  That is why they leave them unsolved...they haven't got a solid scape goat yet.

capeheart

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Re: Dana Bradley ? December 14, 1981 ? Age 14 ? Murdered ? St. John?s, NL
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2009, 03:29:26 PM »
Yes, I do forget about Murrin. I do see the similarity in the sketch that was provided on the link. Such a beautiful young girl she was. Somebody goofed badly in not solving this crime. 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8)

D1

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Re: Dana Bradley ? December 14, 1981 ? Age 14 ? Murdered ? St. John?s, NL
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2009, 04:09:23 PM »
Goofed or deliberately goofed up are two different things. That car should have been found, there are records, unfortunately the public is not privy to all of that. There is a department within DMV, the dead record office which contains confidential information. Privately they will tell you this is where the registrations go for vehicles that aren't suposed to be found. Extremely classified information like ther would be in this case would not even be available to the police investigators.

I am sure there are people out ther who know about this car..a car that had obviously been running around for many years but then something changes..I wouldn't be surprised if old dmv records could be run through a modern database now adays wth search prameters set to pick out which cars of that year and make were never insured again the following year. It would be too labour intensive I would think to do so manually but if the "regular" authorities wanted to, I am sure it could be done. The problem here is how do you trust the results?? A private firm or individual above reproach would have to ensure the process. Point being, this sad sad case could still be solved!

lostlinganer

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Re: Dana Bradley ? December 14, 1981 ? Age 14 ? Murdered ? St. John?s, NL
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2009, 06:03:48 PM »
I really think if people from that area read this thread, somebody would remember that car.... got to get more folks from the NFLD province reading these cases.  Those people are very observant....small towns thing!

mauvelilac

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Re: Dana Bradley ? December 14, 1981 ? Age 14 ? Murdered ? St. John?s, NL
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2009, 06:26:02 PM »
Quote
Those people are very observant....small towns thing!

Tell me about it Ling.Observant and suspicious as all get out. When I was there in 2005, I got the fifth degree wherever I went. Why come here? How long are you here for? Know anyone on the rock? Those people do not miss a trick.
I owned a 73 Dodge Dart at one time. Lime green, my pride and joy. Those cars stuck out like a sore thumb.
I can't believe on the island the size of Nfld it wasn't spotted but I'm wondering if the owner took it up by the cliffs and sent it for a joy ride into the ocean. Minus passengers of course.

 

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