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tv   Forensic Files  CNN  June 9, 2014 1:00am-1:31am PDT

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we use all the scientific inputs possible, but there is a point where art kicks in and supplements science. that forensic art allowed the dead to speak, and i think that's a really good thing in today's electronic world, security cameras track our every move. a simple cell phone call pinpoints our location by the nearest cell tower. every minute, gps navigational systems can monitor our vehicles and boats. from other worldly signs to a tear mark on some duct tape, investigators unravel a crime in two cities, a crime of betrayal, lust and greed. selling real estate in florida
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can be very lucrative, since conspicuous consumption is almost a competitive sport. mike garvin was a particularly good real estate agent, which afforded him and his wife, shirley, a lifestyle most would envy. >> they were a fairly prominent couple, the upscale mandarin neighborhood community of jacksonville. he had been president of the mandarin community club and she was very active in local politics down there. >> in january of 2003, temperatures in mandarin got a little chilly for the couple's liking, so they decided to drive down to the island of key west for a mini vacation. >> shirley, once she retired from working, became quite active. we were all very thankful to see that they were doing things together and that they enjoyed it. >> the first morning there, mike went to a nearby drugstore to
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pick up a prescription for his wife. when he returned an hour later, shirley was gone. >> he thought maybe his wife went to a restaurant for breakfast or might have taken a walk down to the beach. >> it was also possible that shirley simply went shopping. >> shirley was a world-class shopper, would spend hours talking and shopping and come home with having purchased absolutely nothing, but we would have considered it a very successful shopping day. >> but when mike found her purse in the hotel room, he suspected something was wrong. after several hours had passed, mike called the police department to report her missing. >> yes, hi, this is mike garvin. i'm calling about my wife. she just went out to walk. she said she was going to walk by the ocean or something. >> okay, so there's someone missing? >> when questioned by police,
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none of the hotel employees recalled seeing shirley leave that morning. family members and friends were shocked to learn that shirley was even in key west. >> i was the last person to see shirley, and we really didn't talk about shirley leaving town. >> shirley told me nothing about going away. nothing. >> they mentioned that shirley liked to wear expensive jewelry and this could have made her a target. >> we told the police that shirley would probably have on her diamond earrings, the rings that she would have on and that she had a rolex watch. >> police brought in a specially trained dog to assist in the search. >> we had the k-9 dog try to track shirley through some of the clothing that was in the hotel room. crime scene investigators collected evidence inside of the hotel and dusted for
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fingerprints. >> but they found no foreign fingerprints in the room, and the dog couldn't pick up shirley's scent anywhere outside the room. the next day, the local newspaper ran the story. >> it was a missing persons story. the story in the headlines and the questions were, what happened to shirley garvin? >> media reports generated several potential sightings, but none were shirley. police continued to search the entire island of key west, which is only 6 square miles, and they found a pair of women's sandals on the beach, which looked similar to ones shirley wore, leading to speculation that shirley may have had a swimming accident. and investigators learned another troubling fact. mike garvin's previous wife had committed suicide by hanging herself in the basement of their home. mike was the one who found her
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body. >> i think this guy's got some bad luck with his wives, that's what i thought.
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when 55-year-old shirley garvin went missing from her hotel in key west, florida, police wanted to know more about her activities. so, they asked mike to retrace their steps and tell them everything they did together since their arrival. mike said they checked into their hotel and that he left to get them both dinner. >> ordered our evening meal. i think it was a ranch chicken sandwich or something like that with french fries, came back to the room, finished our meal, went to bed. >> did you order two meals or just one? >> two. >> two, okay. >> but the bartender said he only ordered one chicken sandwich, and the restaurant receipt confirmed it. >> well, that receipt started making me believe that mrs. garvin never made it to key west. >> a check of mike's credit card activity revealed he stopped at a convenience store in miami on the way down to key west. but the store's security camera
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showed mike was there alone. >> and we just thought it was odd that after driving that long that shirley wouldn't be coming in there to go to the bathroom, get something to drink. you know, we never see shirley coming into the store. >> next, police checked the security videotapes located in the toll booths between jacksonville and key west. they screened hundreds of hours of videotape until they found mike garvin's white jaguar. >> you see the car going through. you see it stopping to pay the toll and then driving on through. >> when they enlarged the picture, they saw an empty passenger seat. >> we ask him where shirley was sitting in the car. he said she was sitting in the front seat. we asked him if she ever got in the back seat. no, she never got in the back seat, she never reclined the seat. so, at this point, we pull out the picture of the toll booth and show it to him. he looks at the picture, and we say, "where is shirley?" >> mike garvin had no
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explanation. >> he said "i don't know," and he at this point starts to get very agitated. >> he was telling lies, and they were starting to be uncovered. and the more they uncovered, the deeper they found it and the harder they looked for shirley. >> next, police interviewed mike's co-workers at his real estate office in jacksonville. >> i went to talk to some of his co-workers who did not know that he was married, seemed very surprised to find out that he was married. >> this was particularly surprising since mike and shirley had been married for close to 16 years. when police searched the garvins' home, they found no signs of foul play. all of shirley's clothes and personal items were still there. crime scene technicians used luminol in every room of the house, but it turned up nothing.
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then, police computer experts looked at the hard drive of mike's home computer and found evidence that mike had a very active social life for a married man. >> michael garvin was living the life of a bachelor. he was soliciting people online. he was sending flowers to women he had just met, arranging dates with women, just as he would if he were single. >> and police found this online ad on a singles website, match.com. it included mike's picture and lists his marital status as divorced. but the question remained, where was shirley garvin? listen up, thunder dragons, it's time to get a hotel. hey, razor. check this out. we can save big with priceline express deals. hey you know what man, these guys aint no dragons. they're cool. these deals are legit. yeah, we're cool. she's cool. we're cool. priceline express deals are totally legit. check this, thousands of people book them everyday
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when shirley garvin's family learned of her mysterious disappearance, not surprisingly, they were desperate for information. >> we were sitting in this restaurant having lunch, and i put my hand on his arm and i said, "mike, how are you getting through this?" and he said, "you know, nancy, i'm the type of person, i never look back, i always look forward." >> a background check revealed even more troubling news. mike had substantial credit card debt, approximately $86,000, and most of the couple's assets were
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in shirley's name. >> to me, it appeared that she was financially stable and he was financially in trouble. >> it wasn't until shortly before she disappeared that i ever heard her say anything even remotely unkind about him. >> and friends told police that shirley was planning to leave mike. >> she felt that he was financially irresponsible. shirley said that she was planning to leave the area and mike would not be going with her. >> to keep tabs on mike's whereabouts, police secretly put a global positioning satellite receiver underneath his car. these days, police no longer follow suspects. satellites do it, instead. >> it is recording constantly and sending a beacon back to a computer, which allowed it to be tracked at all times and allowed for covert surveillance of michael garvin. >> about six weeks after
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shirley's disappearance, the gps indicated mike drove to an abandoned golf course in a state park 20 miles from his jacksonville home. coincidentally, mike received a cell phone call in this vicinity on the morning he left for key west. >> we take cadaver dogs up there, and they hit on a pond close by an area where the gps shows he stopped for several minutes. >> it took park officials about a week to drain the entire retention pond, but they found nothing. >> it was very disappointing. we spent a week doing that and we're still back to square one. >> ten days later, mike made a second trip to the state park. this time, police notified a park official who spotted him with a woman, later identified as a girlfriend he met through the internet. after they left, a police grid
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search found something suspicious very close to where mike had parked his car. >> there was an area that had looked a little bit different. the ground surface looked a bit different than the areas around it. so, we had crime scene probe it, which consists of putting a pole down into the dirt and it can tell you whether the sand or dirt has been disturbed. >> just a few feet below the surface was a human body wrapped in trash bags and sealed with duct tape. it was shirley garvin. on her wrist was the date of her death. >> her watch had stopped. it was just rolling to the 26th. >> january 26th was the day mike left jacksonville for key west. >> we would have never found her if he hadn't led us right to her. >> the autopsy revealed that shirley died from two bullet
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wounds to the head. >> i absolutely thought i was just going to crumble. and i felt greater loss than i've ever, ever felt in my life. >> but police found no evidence that mike owned a .22 caliber pistol. in mike's garage, however, police found three rolls of duct tape which were sent to fiber expert donna wallace. >> i was able to rule out two of the rolls of duct tape, because it had visual differences from the tape on the bags. it was slightly different in color and it had indentations along the surface of the tape. >> but the third roll was another matter. unlike the regular tape, duct tape has a stronger. it takes more effort to rip a piece of duct tape from the roll, and the fibers leave a distinctive tear pattern at the end, which often is as unique as
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a fingerprint. >> it's called a fracture match exam, and it's a type of exam where you -- it's like a forensic puzzle. try to put the pieces back together to see if they were at one time a single piece. >> w wallace used a high-powere microscope to compare the end of the roll of tape found in garvin's garage to the ends of all the pieces found with shirley's body. and she discovered that the ripped end on the roll of duct tape lined up perfectly with the piece found with shirley's body. >> the fact that i was able to fracture match these two pieces of tape back together meant that the tape that was found on the garbage bag wrapped around the victim came from the roll that was found in the garage of the home. >> mike garvin was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. >> we have his inconsistent statements. we have toll booth videos that show that shirley was not in the car. we have the gps that led us right to her body.
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prosecutors believe shirley garvin had planned to leave her husband and that her husband, mike, knew it. >> shirley probably found out sincerely that he was running around.
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and he also was extremely heavily in debt. and this was his way to take care of everything. >> since most of the couple's assets were in shirley garvin's name, mike undoubtedly felt threatened. >> mike went from being a user and a taker to a murderer. >> on the night of january 25th, 2003, prosecutors believe mike garvin waited for shirley to come home from her shopping trip and killed her with a .22 caliber pistol. [ shots ] he wrapped her in garbage bags and sealed them with duct tape. forensic analysis confirmed the tape was from the garvins' home. mike placed shirley's body in
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the trunk of his car, and at 6:21 p.m. spoke with his girlfriend on the phone, something he probably couldn't have done if shirley were alive. the next day, he visited his girlfriend's home, and she told police he stayed overnight for the first time in their dating relationship, another clue that shirley was already dead. in the early-morning hours, mike drove to the state park and buried shirley's body. mike answered her cell phone while there, a call that utilized the cell tower nearby. mike then headed to key west, florida, for his cover story. the cameras in the toll booth and convenience store proved that mike drove to key west
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alone. after he checked into the hotel, records show mike ordered only one chicken sandwich in the restaurant, another inconsistency, one he lied about to police. the next morning, he reported his wife missing. >> that was his alibi. that's what he was going to do, report her missing from key west so that law enforcement would center their investigation in key west and not in jacksonville. >> six weeks after shirley disappeared, the gps showed mike in the state park not far from shirley's grave, probably to make sure no one had found it. a week later, mike drove out there again, this time with a girlfriend who said she knew
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nothing about the murder. mike told her they were going hiking. when they left, police found shirley's body in a shallow grave. it was less than 30 feet from where mike parked his car. >> how could he have possibly ended up 29 feet from the body not once, but twice? >> the great irony of this case is that michael garvin, more than anyone else, solved the murder of shirley garvin. >> some law enforcement officials believe that mike garvin may have had something to do with his previous wife's hanging death 16 years earlier. >> unfortunately for us, an autopsy was never performed and the body was cremated, so there was nothing we were able to do with that information. >> faced with the overwhelming amount of forensic evidence against him for shirley's murder, mike garvin decided he had no choice but to plead
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guilty. >> it made me sick to know that he finally personally had admitted it. it made me absolutely sick, but it confirmed every thought that i had. >> garvin was sentenced to life in prison without parole. >> but there's still a mystery, and the mystery was we'll never really know what happened because he didn't go to trial. >> he never revealed what he did with the murder weapon, other than to say it was irretrievable. >> michael garvin's arrogance caused him to believe that even if he used his own duct tape to seal her body, that science couldn't trace it back to him, and in the end, it sealed his fate. >> the science in this case is better than an eyewitness, because the science doesn't lie or doesn't get confused or forget. >> but it's never going to bring shirley back, and we know that, but at least by leaving that
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courtroom, having him sentenced to life, we knew we had done everything we could for shirley. a mother of two found dead in her bedroom, a pistol in her hand and a suicide note all point to a self-inflicted wound. but a customer in a bar, a jacket on a doorknob and the saliva test raised some interesting questions. ft. lewis in washington state is one of the largest military facilities in the united states. 25,000 servicemen and women are based there, part of a

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