The Alma Del Real case was never a missing persons case, it was a homicide that was not being investigated
... the less missing and the less dead
Eric LaMont Gregory
Alma Del Real, perished on 12 April 2015
Alma Del Real was 22 years old and weighed some 137 pounds, which was well proportioned on her five-foot-five inch frame.
After a very well attended weeks-long community effort to find Alma Del Real, following her disappearance in the wee hours of 12 April, all hope of her eventually being found safe and returned to her home, family and friends ended when her badly decomposed body was discovered in a culvert in a nearby county six weeks after she vanished.
She had spent the previous evening with friends. A male friend, now the prime suspect in her murder, claimed that he had dropped Alma Del Real off at her home. Over the next several weeks, the same male friend offered police several possible scenarios as to Alma's probable fate, according to South Bend Police Department homicide Detectives.
One of those scenarios suggested the involvement of the Latin King's gang. While another offered by the suspect implied that Alma had become entangled in the machinations of one of the cartels, who without the slightest hint of official corruption bleed millions of dollars from the Michiana area each month. There is no indication that alien abduction was put forth as a possible rational alternate explanation for Del Real's disappearance.
Only time will tell to what extent the police followed these obfuscations and how they impacted the investigation. But, it seems obvious that they did divert the police from a by-the-numbers investigation, which suggests that the people closest to the victim are the mostly likely suspects. And, it begs credibility as to why the phone records of those who saw her that night were not immediately used to corroborate their statements as to their whereabouts. A ping from the phone of one of those individuals originating from rural Marshall County a few hours after her disappearance should had been known within the all important first 48 hours of the case.
The prime suspect's statements to police began to unravel, six weeks after the fact, when police compared cell phone location records to where the suspect said he had been after giving Alma a ride to her Ewing Avenue home at about 3 am the morning of 12 April.
When police confronted the male friend of the then believed to be missing person with the inconsistencies between where his cell phone use placed him (in nearby Marshall County) when he had claimed to be elsewhere. Faced with mounting evidence of his involvement in Alma's disappearance, the suspect then led police to where Alma' remains were in fact found. A location which his cell phone records suggest that he had been in the early morning hours when Alma Del Real supposedly went missing over six weeks earlier. Interestingly, a well respected body location organisation based in Texas, had suggested that her body would be found about 20 miles from her home in a rural area within days of her disappearance.
Nonetheless, this author is of the opinion that the cell phone records should have been known the very first day of Alma's disappearance. With all due respect to the South Bend detectives working the Alma Del Real missing persons' (foul play suspected?) case, admittedly distinguishing a missing person from a homicide can be rather difficult.
A difficulty, which exists not in the reality of the facts of the case, but in the scant attention paid to the disappearance of a member of the less missing / less dead class.
The Alma Del Real case was never a missing person's case, it was a homicide that was not being investigated as such.
In a nutshell, the problem lies in a culture that drives the administration of the police in South Bend, and neither does it reflect a defect in the skills of individual officers specifically, nor in criminal investigatory science and technique in general.
And therefore, the axiom - when the problem starts at the top, there is no one to tell.
There needs to be a fundamental rethink as to how we approach missing persons' investigations.
Based on some investigatory work this writer was privileged to be aware of overseas, I sought to discover how many coeds were missing from major universities in the United States. To make the selection as scientific as possible, I wrote the names of the six or seven big universities in Ohio on three-by-five cards, flipped them over, mixed them up and picked one. It was Ohio State University in Columbus.
There were more than 50 coeds missing from that university. In one case, a female student vanished; all her things were in her dorm room as if she had expected to return. No overnight bag was packed and no messages were left with her room or dorm-mates.
In another case, the purse of a missing coed was found in a nearby quarry situated alongside one of the major interstate highways that crisscross the Buckeye State.
After talking with university and law enforcement officials, I spent some time deciphering what messages those officials wanted me to take away from our discussions.
There were two main messages that 'they' wanted me to understand:
The first, as a university, are we our students' keepers?
And second, in an area where a major university is one of the, if not the primary engine of the local economy, drawing attention to missing coeds is not good for business. I draw the reader's attention to a related article on this site to delve further into several aspects of the Alma Del Real case. http://www.theoxfordscientist.com/the-lists---the-missing-and-unsolved-homicides.html
I will probably have to file numerous 'state' freedom of information requests to get an answer, but, once it is known which probable cause option the police chose initially to file the Alma Del Real disappearance under, it will illustrate how seriously they took her case from the very beginning. It is most often the very beginning of a missing person's case that is the difference between its resolution, and its growing into something else. A protocol needs to be established as to how the police react to a missing person's report in the first instance. Perhaps, the first thing that should be done, is for the police to establish a ping, that is, to ring the alleged missing person's phone and then send a standard text message from the police department itself. It is not beyond the realm of reasonableness to also ping the cell phones of those known to have had contact with the missing person in the hours or even days before the missing persons report was filed. That will give the police a location and since the call and text originated from the police department itself, tracing the tower and zeroing in on the location (triangulating) of the phone(s), will rather quickly establish a location important to the case, whatever the nature of the investigation turns out to be.
In the Alma Del Real case, her body would not have been rotting in a culvert for weeks before the most basic investigation into her disappearance was undertaken.
Should that ping identify some reasonable location of the phone of the missing or those who were known to have been with the missing person around the time of their disappearance, such as, the phone carrier's home or the home of a friend or relative, then a few further attempts to contact might lead to a rather expeditious resolution. On the other hand, if the location of the victims phone or any of those with whom the victim had close contact over the relevant time span, is deemed to be along the banks of the river or the woods in the middle of the night, that would necessitate an altogether different set of responses.
It should be remembered that Desirae Jones of Bremen, like Alma Del Real, was never a missing person's case. She was a homicide that simply was not being investigated for the first seven to ten days after she was killed and her body dumped and set alight in the woods. http://www.theoxfordscientist.com/michiana-murders.html
Michiana is a cluster area of unresolved missing and unsolved female homicides.
Whereas the South Bend Police Department admits there are some vague similarities between the Alma Del Real disappearance and the Nick Sams and Crystal Reyes homicide cases, looking further, we cannot forget that within Michiana, there are a host of unresolved missing females. Again, this author is trying to ascertain if any of the current lists of the Michiana missing are categorized as foul play suspected. And, speaking of similar occurrences, from a crime investigatory perspective, the disappearance of Elizabeth Elena Laguna Salgado might be instructive.
Simply stated, there is a long and growing, alarmingly so, list of unresolved missing and unsolved female homicides in Michiana.
Although numbers cannot speak for themselves, it is customary for policing to mirror criminal activity--if there is a rash of burglaries, resources are allocated to restore public confidence in their safety within their own homes; an accident hot spot is met with increased patrolling in the area and an investigation into why a particular area is prone to accidents, such things as road condition, signing, speed and road markings would all naturally be looked into.
In that frame of thinking, a task force to investigate the cluster of unresolved female disappearances and unsolved female homicides in the Michiana area, is long overdue. Yes, the image of solving homicides and resolving suspicious disappearances might not be good for business, but the promotion of business is only one of the reasons we elect Police Chiefs, Sheriffs, Governors and Attorney Generals.
Again, numbers do not and cannot speak for themselves, therefore, the increase in the number of suspicious disappearances of Hispanic females in all 23 states that filed suit against Obama's immigration executive order, is purely coincidental.
It is high time for Governor Pence, the attorney general and the state police (with the FBI involved for investigatory assistance) to form a task force to investigate the alarming numbers of unsolved females homicides and unresolved missing persons cases in the Michiana area, within the cluster.