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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Do you have the clue police need to unravel the McVey case?

Friday, September 30, 2011

It is now a month and counting on the unsolved murder of 85-year-old Essie McVey.

Too soon to be an "Unsolved Mysteries" segment. Too short on suspects for "America's Most Wanted." And too routine compared to the Lauren Spierer case to be news de jour in Indianapolis.

So how do you get the public to help?

Say hello to Central Indiana Crime Stoppers (see story, Page 1).

Somewhere out there is someone who must have seen or heard something that could tilt the scales of justice in the favor of the police in this case.

Sure, somewhere there is a smoking gun, but that might not even be necessary to solve the case.

As authorities ponder the big picture, it can often be the little things that turn the tide. Something ordinary might add up to something out of the ordinary for police.

For example, in perhaps the most notorious case in the quest for the perfect crime, two 19-year-old Chicagoans, -- the infamous Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb -- thought they were so intelligent they could commit murder and get away with it.

And they almost did back in 1924, except that Leopold lost his eyeglasses at the Hammond, Ind., site where they dumped the body of their 14-year-old victim.

While the glasses themselves were essentially ordinary, they did have an unusual hinge mechanism. Turns out, only three people in Chicago had purchased glasses with such a hinge -- one of whom was Nathan Leopold.

Game, set, match. All over for Leopold and Loeb.

Not that anything so sensational might occur in the Essie McVey case.

But stranger things have happened, says Central Indiana Crime Stoppers coordinator Steve DuBois, who supervises tips and the tip line that covers 17 counties.

A former homicide investigator himself, DuBois recalled how one suspect's simple slip of the tongue turned a murder case he was working.

Seems the suspect's alibi was related to being caught in a traffic jam resulting from a major traffic accident near the crime scene.

"The problem was," DuBois recalled with just the hint of a chuckle, "the accident had happened the day before. So he had his days mixed up."

And when his alibi went down in flames, so did he, thanks to observant investigators, paying attention to detail.

Essentially what DuBois is saying is that one of us -- perhaps unbeknownst to you -- may have a clue that could loom large in the stalled Greencastle City Police Department investigation.

"It may not mean anything to you," he reasoned, "but all the little pieces together might add up to something. We just need that one little thread to be able to pull on and start the whole puzzle unraveling."

Tipsters remain anonymous, thanks to an interesting and intricate network in which all the identifiers of the caller, text sender or email user are stripped away electronically online somewhere between here and Canada. Think of it as electronic voodoo. Authorities literally never know the identity of the tipster unless the caller wants to be revealed.

In a perfect world, one quick call to Crime Stoppers would solve it all. Finger the culprit and provide some sense of closure and community relief.

But this isn't CSI: Greencastle, where we can wrap things up so neatly in 50 minutes or less, tie a bow on it by 10 pm. and move on to the nightly news.

"You never know," DuBois offers. "Each case is different. At times we have had a tremendous volume of calls relative to a case."

Sadly other times, there may not be any. "No one knows how to tame that animal," DuBois said.

"This one being what it is, with an elderly female victim who lived alone, there may or may not be a lot of calls (to the tip line)."

True. But then again, all it takes is one.

As they say in New York, "if you see something, say something."

If you can't do it for yourself, do it for Essie McVey.