Saturday, October 5, 2013

Shane Truman Todd: Singapore death investigation comes under scrutiny; Murdered or suicide? CBC News 48 Hours this evening: (Saturday, October 5, 2013; 10:00 PM; ET/PT); "Did a son die protecting American secrets? A family's quest for the truth."

STORY: "American secrets? A family's quest for the truth," by Phil LaRosa, published by CBS News on October 4, 2013;

GIST:  "The Todds were savvy and knew the immediate steps they needed to take when a loved one dies overseas - namely, contact the U.S. Embassy. Embassy officials in Singapore arranged for cars and a hotel and the Todds were soon meeting with top embassy officials who helped smooth the way. U.S. Embassy vice-counsel Traci Goins even accompanied the Todds as they spoke to Singapore police for the first time. All the while, the Todds were collecting anything they could find that might help them prove Shane had been murdered. After all, he'd been telling them for at least a month that he feared for his life and was facing pressure from Chinese scientists who he suspected wanted to know about some American technology he was working on. Shane's girlfriend Shirley Sarmiento says Shane told her that "heavy hands" were coming after him. Once inside Shane's apartment, the Todds say they found something that, at the time, seemed insignificant but later proved to be critical. It was, the Todds say, an external hard drive that matched what was on Shane's computer, then in the hands of police. The family began to develop a theory that Shane was murdered because he would not deliver American secrets to the Chinese.Back in the United States, the Todds turned into amateur, but   ingenious, investigators. They had photographs taken of Shane's body at a family-owned mortuary and later had those photos and the Singapore autopsy results analyzed by a top medical examiner in Missou ri, who was a friend of a friend. He provided his services free of charge.The Todds also took that external hard drive they say they found in Shane's apartment to a forensic computer analyst in California, a former police officer who was a member of the same church as Mary's brother. The photos and the information developed by these professionals were used by the Todds to support their murder theory.Even with all of that in hand, the Todds could not - in the first few months after  Shane's death - find anyone in power willing to help them make their case. Not a word of Shane's death appeared in the Singapore press and American and international reporters did not seem interested. Enter Ray Bonner, a former Pulitzer-prize winning reporter for The New York Times. The Todds contacted him through a friend: "The Todds felt that nobody was listening to them, and nobody was," Bonner said. "They said to me at one point, 'We don't want our son to just be forgotten.' You know, he's disappeared." Of course, Bonner did not take the Todds at their word that Shane was murdered - he launched his own investigation, talking to experts in the type of technology Shane was working on and traveling to Singapore to speak to friends of Shane. After that research, Bonner, these days a freelance reporter, was intrigued and was able to sell his story to London's Financial Times newspaper. "Look," he says. "An American has died in Singapore under suspicious circumstances while working on high technology. That is a story." VIDEO: Investigative reporter Ray Bonner on breaking Shane Todd's story Bonner, now a 48 Hours consultant, says he always told the Todds that he had an open mind about whether or not Shane was murdered or committed suicide and even after his story ran in February of this year, he remained "50-50." But Bonner's magazine cover story in February 2013 had its desired effect. "Overnight," Mary said, "our story went viral." Suddenly, the name Shane Todd was on the lips of anchors on virtually every television program, stories ran in newspapers stateside and abroad, and the Todds scored meetings with U.S. senators and congressman. Secretary of State John Kerry met in Washington, D.C. with top Singapore government officials. Singapore officials reacted and agreed to hold an expanded inquest to determine whether or not Shane was murdered or had committed suicide. It was held last May in Singapore and that is the subject of our 48 Hours report on the case."

The story can be found at:

See earlier post from this Blog:  "Shane Truman Todd: Singapore police acknowledge violating protocols in investigation of American's death; No fingerprint dustings; No DNA swabs; Parents question why police examined laptop contents. Industrial espionage implications? Fox News.

Thorough Wikipedia account (with timeline): "The police was quoted saying that Dr Todd "drilled holes into his bathroom wall, bolted in a pulley, then slipped a black strap through the pulley and wrapped it around the toilet several times. He then tethered the strap to his neck and jumped from a chair."[2] However, when Dr Todd's family arrived at his apartment in Singapore after receiving news of his death, they noted that the scene was not as described: there were no holes in the marble walls of the bathroom, and neither were there bolts or screws. The location of the toilet was also not where the police report indicated it was. Furthermore, there were no signs of an investigation at the scene; police had not put up crime scene tape or dusted for fingerprints.[2] The Financial Times reported that Dr Todd's home "looked like a snapshot of a man in the middle of a move". Before his death, Dr Todd was in the middle of doing the laundry. He had packed boxes in preparation for his move back the United States, and had clean clothes folded on the couch. He was also apparently in the middle of trying to sell his furniture, and had been writing out price tags. His airline ticket back to the United States was on the table, but his laptop and phone had been taken away by the police.[2] Police found several suicide notes allegedly left by Dr Todd, but his family and girlfriend told the Financial Times that they did not seem to be Dr Todd's writing. In one note, he apologized for being a burden to his family, but his mother said he had never been a burden; he had excelled at everything, she said. Another note praised the management of IME. His girlfriend was incredulous, noting that Dr Todd "hated his job." After his mother read the notes, she told the police detectives "My son might have killed himself, but he did not write this."[2] Dr David Camp a criminologist from Illinois analyzed the suicide note side-by-side with a collection of Dr Todd’s other writings and told reporters that he held the opinion that the suicide note found by the police was not written by Todd. Dr Camp concluded that it wasn't written by an American and wasn't typical of a suicide, felt the note was detached and unemotional, and did not match up with Todd's personality.[9] He added that "everything about [the suicide note] was different: different format, different cultural backgrounds, different wording, different sentence length, everything about it was completely different, which leads to one conclusion; someone else wrote it.”[10] Employees at IME were reportedly told not to speak to reporters about Dr Todd's death. However, one of Dr Todd's colleagues did reach out to his parents, telling them "After collecting all information available, I cannot believe it is a suicide case. Actually, no one believes it...I truly hope that [the] FBI can be involved and perform further investigation.”[2]
The official autopsy report provided by the Singapore police said that Todd's cause of death was "asphyxia due to hanging." But on his body, Dr Todd's family found bruises on his hands and a bump on his forehead, neither of which was mentioned in the autopsy report. Suspecting foul play, they asked the mortuary to photograph Shane's body before burial, and send the photos to Dr. Edward Adelstein, a county-level deputy medical examiner in Missouri.[11][12] Adelstein's initial theory was that Dr Todd's wounds did not support the suicide hypothesis. Instead, it appeared Dr Todd was involved in a fight with an attacker and died by "garrotting". The original pathologist in Singapore dismissed Adelstein's conclusions, stating that Adelstein had not seen the body and had mistook the post-mortem pooling of blood in the hands for bruises.[2]"


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