OREGON - First the Watergate tapes, now the Mary Jane DVD.
A 13-minute gap in the audio of a DVD of the exhumation, examination and autopsy of an Oregon teenager murdered 58 years ago has drawn the comparison to the gap in the tapes that helped bring about the downfall of a U.S. president.
"I guess the State Police have a Rosemary Woods," Algonquin attorney Jeffrey Hammerlund said.
Hammerlund was referring to Richard Nixon's personal secretary, who allegedly erased an 18 1/2-minute segment of a tape that contained crucial conversation between Nixon and his aids about the 1972 Watergate break-in.
What Hammerlund was more concerned with was a DVD copy of the autopsy of Mary Jane Reed, who, along with Stanley Skridla of Rockford, was found shot to death near Oregon in June 1948. The murders have never been solved.
Warren Reed of Rock Falls, Mary Jane's only surviving sibling, and Mike Arians, a former mayor of Oregon, got a court order to have the girl's body exhumed from its Daysville Cemetery grave in August 2005 and an autopsy performed in the hope that clues would be discovered as to the who the murder or murderers were.
No clues were discovered and Mary Jane's body was re-interred. The proceedings were recorded and, in accordance with a court order, Warren Reed, Arians and Hammerlund, the attorney for the Mary Jane Reed Foundation, were given a copy.
Although most of the video is accompanied by audio, about 13 minutes were taken out, Arians and Hammerlund said. Arians claimed that the missing part includes discussion of possible murder suspects.
Hammerlund and Ogle County State's Attorney Ben Roe met briefly Friday before Circuit Judge Stephen Pemberton.
Hammerlund said he had raised the issue of the missing audio with Roe and Pemberton before the hearing, and the judge asked Roe to look into it. Roe contacted the State Police officer who had done the taping, and the officer said he had shut off the audio because there were too many people in the room at the time and it would be impossible to determine who said what, Hammerlund said.
Later parts of the video were made when many people were present, however, and they could be understood, Hammerlund said. "If you start recording something, then you stop, it makes you wonder, doesn't it?"
The real reason for the missing audio, he said, is "they said something that they don't want us to know about."
Roe declined to comment.
Hammerlund said he will contact the people who were making statements when the audio was stopped and will ask them what was being discussed. Roe will be present. Should he not have full cooperation with the people in the video, Hammerlund will ask Pemberton for a contempt of court order.
"So you have a little mystery within a mystery within a murder," Hammerlund said.
Former mayor provides full transcript of autospy video
OREGON - The DVD in question is 3 hours, 57 minutes in length. It was recorded during the exhumation of Mary Jane Reed's body at Daysville Cemetery, at the south garage of the Ogle County Sheriff's Department where the vault was opened, and in the office of the Ogle County Coroner, where the autopsy was performed.
Mike Arians, who has been aiding Warren Reed in his attempt to find the murderer or murderers of his sister, claims to be an expert in video/audio reports and investigations. He said he has worked extensively in Kane, DuPage and Cook counties for lawyers, law enforcement officials and insurance companies and has testified in federal court.
He provided a partial transcript of the autopsy from the DVD that he reviewed:
At about 3:28:25, an unknown person states, "Rich (Ogle County Sheriff's Detective Wilkinson) ... (not audible) ... I've never seen ... (not audible) ... this ... (not audible) ...."
At approximately 3:29:07, an unknown person states, "... (not audible) ... the murder ... that's OK. Mark's (Illinois State Police Forensic Doctor Mark Peters) got it ... (not audible) ...."
At about 3:19:00, an unknown person states, "... (not audible) ... murder ... neck from back ... Mark has got to ... (not audible) ...."
Reach David Holsted at 284-2222 or (800) 798-4085, ext. 525 or 625-3600.