Friday, November 21, 2014

NBC Dateline "Mystery on the Early Shift" in a Kentucky laboratory (the Michelle Mockee case); suggestions for Dateline (take up the "cold" Powell, Green cases)

NBC Dateline offers a video of a polygraph with Josh Mankiewicz, with a female examiner who speaks with great confidence about their reliability, despite inadmissibility.

The Dateline episode for Friday Nov. 21, 2014 is “Mystery on the Early Shift”.  In a Cincinnati suburb, Florence, actually in northern Kentucky in Boone County, a woman, Michelle Mockbee is found murdered, by blunt force beating, in her administrative office at a company called Thermo Fisher Scientific, on May 29, 2012. The NBC link is here

There were only five people in the building at the time, before 7 AM.  The prosecutor (Linda Tally Smith)  and sheriff eliminated four of the suspects, including the victim’s husband, by the process of elimination that matches the famous board game of Clue (as the prosecutor characterized it).  The person finally arrested and convicted of second degree murder was the janitor David Dooley.

It does seem as though the evidence was circumstantial.  The DNA found on the arms of the victim did not match anyone in the building.

The fact pattern showed an attempted break-in to her office.  The motive was supposedly that she caught him breaking into an office trying to falsify payroll records.  The prosecutor said “desperate people do desperate things.”

All the other original potential suspects had passed polygraph tests, but Dooley did not take one, according to the show.

Dooley received a life sentence according to this story

This was one of the best Dateline episodes lately. The audience could try to solve the case just as in the boardgame.  I wonder if there is a smart phone Clue app. The other famous crime board game from the 1950s was “Mr. Ree”, which is largely forgotten, but it had a nice illustrative layout of an estate.  I remember the pagoda.  I think we played that game summers in Ohio in the 1950s.
I think that NBC Datelines should take a couple of specific subjects.  One is to follow up on the “To Catch a Predator” series, even though Chris Hansen is no longer with NBC.  It would be interesting to know how some of the more prominent community members (like the rabbi David Kaye from Maryland, and a cancer researcher in California) fared in prison and after getting out. Only NBC could easily follow up on this. It could make an interesting independent film documentary.
Another idea would be to do a complete study on the open case of security-related technical workers Kanika Powell and Sean Green at two locations in Prince Georges County MD in late 2008.  There’s a reddit post here. (There are many other sources).  NBC Dateline could go back to the original Washington Post stories and work forward.  In the Powell case, there are questions about how many men actually came to her apartment at different times, what was the escape route, her emails.  There are many bizarre details that a full investigation by a news organization like Dateline could do, but a lot of fact finding would be needed to be redone.  One question would be whether the murders are related.
For the record, I worked for NBC, in IT, from 1974-1977.  It’s still a good memory. 

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