Carelessness of the media...
This information really frightens me. Last night, I saw on the news that the investigators (in Jason and Lindsay's murder case) were questioning locals and were doing ballistics (and other) testing on their weapons. I was immediately startled because it struck me as incredibly illogical to release this information to the public... seeing as how the murderer could see this in/on the news and destroy the murder weapon(s). This ruins the investigators' ability to find the murder weapon... if the murderer is at all paying attention to the news. I couldn't understand why this news would be made public. But then I read up on the Press Releases from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office and discovered that this information SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC! I am very upset with the media responsible for doing this. Anyone who purposefully stands in the way of a criminal investigation... much less a MURDER investigation that still has no clear suspect in view... is using very poor judgement and should be held responsible for their lack of common sense. I am incredibly disappointed by this news. It literally makes me sick to my stomach. There is just no excuse:
Public safety statement regarding Cutshall/Allen murder investigation...
Friday, September 3, 2004 at 5:32, PM
As the Sheriff of Sonoma County, I have the duty to safeguard the public to the best of my abilities. I have been a peace officer in this county for 29 years, and my history shows that, no matter the competing interest, public safety is and always will be where I "draw the line." It is for this very reason that I must speak publicly to a matter that is of grave concern to me, and to the detectives and other personnel who work for both me and for the public.
I believe that the Santa Rosa Press Democrat’s reporting on the murders of Lindsay Cutshall and Jason Allen has been irresponsible, and has compromised not only our efforts and hope for a successful investigation, but also, the public’s safety. Twice in this investigation at the request of my detectives, I have contacted management of the Press Democrat and asked that they not reveal information that they were able to glean from various sources. I made these requests because of the potential harm not only to our success, but also to public safety. On both of these instances, my requests were denied, and information was published that was detrimental to solving this case.
I am not naïve to the adage, "one should never pick a fight with a person who buys ink by the barrel," and I also realize that it will be difficult for me and my organization to publicly have the last word on this issue. However, I feel strongly that the public’s safety requires my stance here. Since I have not been able to persuade the Press Democrat’s cooperation for the safety of our community, I am hoping that this disclosure to the Press Democrat’s readership will.
The simple truth is that we are trying to locate and capture a murderer who may very well still be walking free inside this very community. This case is problematic enough on its own without purposeful compromises. This latest release of our efforts to identify the owner of the weapon used to commit this murder is a great hindrance to us. When contrasted with whatever value that the Press Democrat may receive from reporting this information, the best choice is and was clear: give the Sheriff’s Office the best chance for success.
There is no defensible reason for the Press Democrat’s disclosure of our efforts specifically related to finding the murder weapon. We may have had to eventually ask for the public’s help in this area, but we always need to first avail ourselves to every chance to locate evidence by our own means. Of course, law-abiding citizens who read the Press Democrat will be cooperative with our efforts to find evidence. Our concern is that offenders also use the media’s information to avoid capture and destroy evidence.
I have weighed the consequences of making this issue a public one, however, I feel that doing so is my duty. Obviously, we do not want to be counter-productive to our investigative efforts on this case, but we feel certain that at this point, the damage has been done. My hope is that by making this issue publicly known, the Press Democrat will come to realize that their efforts and motives are harming the community, and law enforcement’s efforts to protect the public. I am asking for the public’s support in helping us in this investigation, and in this particular matter. Despite this setback, the public can be assured that the Sheriff’s Department will continue to make every effort to solve this tragic crime.
As your Sheriff, you have my complete commitment to your safety and well-being. I will never waiver on this issue, no matter the cost. I am always ready and willing to work with the needs of any media source, so long as our investigative efforts are not compromised. Our public’s safety requires it.
Sheriff Bill Cogbill