2022

Shawn and I had gone to his office in the basement of his home shortly after 12:00 PM for the zoom meeting that was scheduled for 12:30 pm to wait for the investigators from Cold Case Foundation to come on the computer screen for the zoom meeting. But at 12:11 pm I received an email from Zack Scott (zach@coldcasefoundation.org saying that "Cathie wanted me to clarify that the meeting starts at 1 pm EST." I knew that was not the time she had written to me in her October 30 email. It confused me as to why she changed the time at the last minute. I was so nervous during the wait for the meeting to start and Zack's email intensified my nervousness. As I waited something didn't feel right. I had to ask for the link for the zoom meeting the evening before the scheduled time and now I was being told that the meeting time was extended. But I certainly never imagined what they were going to tell me. Cathie had been so kind and the things she said to me in her emails caused me to believe that they would help me with Mike's murder.
 
Excerpts from Cathie's emails:

July 22, 2022, I received an email from Cathie that said "Your diligence is nothing short of amazing and you have done your son proud. We are doing what we can from our end."

And on August 5, 2022, she wrote that "I am hopeful we can pull the pieces together for you and come up with a resolution. As the saying goes, not even God can change what has happened. You have amassed more information than we usually see and have afforded us the gift of being able to help. You can relax a little...we have your back."

Then on August 13, 2022, she wrote "This is a great team, and I can assure you we are going to give it our all."

And on September  4 2022, An email from Hilary Romig hilary@coldcasefoundation.org said "we are certainly putting our best foot forward on the case."

October 10, 2022, "We are gathering our investigative paperwork together, based on the information you have provided to us. We will be in touch next week and I will give you a Zoom time as soon as we have it completed. I am so sorry another birthday has gone by without Michael. I cannot imagine the pain as each year has ticked by. My respect for you is immense."

There was nothing in all Cathie's emails that warned me of what I would hear from the Cold Case team. 

There were five members of the Unsolved Cold Case Foundation team on the November 10, 2022 zoom meeting. There was Dean Jackson.. Executive Director, Bryan Crumb, investigator, Cathie Vallas McKinzie, advocacy/Case Management Supervisor, and two others, a woman and a man. I don’t know their names.

The meeting started with Cathie saying they had never received the amount of information I had sent from another person they worked with. She praised me for all the work I had done on Mike’s case and thanked me for all the documents I had sent to them.

Bryan Crumb, arson investigator, then gave a rundown of his arson investigation:

He said he said he was surprised to see that Mike’s body was found behind the door.

There is no information concerning Mike's body being found behind a door. The cottage had burned completely down when Maine State Police Cpl. Allen Jamison and 42-year veteran fire inspector Bill Ricker arrived on the scene and found Mike's body.  Photo of burned cottage. ____________________________

Crumb said the glass that was blown out was all jagged.

Maine State Police Cpl Allen Jamison stated that the glass was "even and not jagged" according to his report.


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Crumb said the fire caused the small piece that holds the hydraulic storm door open to be locked in an open position as well as the hinges to the outside door.

Fire inspector Ricker's testimony disputes Crumb's information. Ricker said the fire couldn't slide the little piece across to keep the storm door in the open position nor could the fire cause the hinges to the outside door to change. Maine State Police Allen Jamison's report also says that the door was propped open.


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Crumb said the gas cans were not there to set a fire. He said the fire was an accident and the gas cans were fuel for the furnace.  He said the carpeting was the cause of the fire and when Pollard opened the back door it gave a draft for the fire. He said carpeting would cause a severe fire because carpeting is like gasoline. He didn't explain what caused the accidental fire.  In the information I sent Cold Case Foundation I sent a photo of me holding the gas cans and during the zoom call Crumb said "The cans you are holding you took from of a barn." I sharply responded "I did not!" I got those cans from the United States Federal Court.  I feel like Crumb was laughing at me when he said "You got the cans from a barn." I had sent Cold Case all my years of work on Mike's murder and now he was laughing at me.  In Cathie's Oct. 10 email she said "My respect for you is immense." But now, one month later there was no respect for me. I was in shock.

On July 25, 2022, Cathie wrote me asking "Were you able to find any of the oil inspector reports?" I sent many copies of oil inspector reports. In December of 1980 there had been a fire in the small outside building that housed the oil fired hot water boiler. The hot water boiler didn't use gasoline.  I also had copies of Fire Inspector Bill Ricker's deposition testimony about the gas cans that totally differs from Cold Case Foundation Arson Investigator Crumb's cover-up version. The cans were sent to the Crime lab When I sued Paul Pollard for Mike's death, Fire Inspector brought the gas cans to US Federal Court as exhibits. They were left there. There were also a couple of Ricker's photos left at court. One was a photo of a third can that he found on the ground below the back door with fire debris on and around the can. The court contacted me asking me to come pick them up. Gerald Coleman, a new detective on Mike's homicide in 2002, asked me for the cans. He gave me a receipt for the cans. 
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Crumb said the reason Pollard ran was because he had criminal charges against him and he was scared.

That is the same story the Maine Attorney General's Office has been telling me for 42 years. But Pollard was the only person in the cottage with Mike when he was murdered and Ricker didn't think a man fleeing into the woods away from a raging fire was normal. He said they usually run to them.
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Crumb said the reason most of Mike’s head was missing was from the roof falling in and crushing his head.

When I met the men who were arrested for arson and Mike's murder in 1986 at Richard Sargent's (brother to Percy Sargent, man who sent a call to have Mike taken care of) armed robbery trial they offered me their discovery documents from their arrest in December of 1984. The State dismissed the arson/murder indictments against them when the drug addict with a criminal record recanted and said the lead detective, Barry Shuman, on Mike's case fed her the story she told the grand jury.  April 1986, I received a letter from Percy Sargent who was in Maine State Prison for rape. He was also involved in the armed robberies and he was getting nervous. He thought contacting Mike's family might benefit him in some way. He wrote telling me that Paul Pollard and Lionel Cormier killed Mike. After Derry read Percy's letter he called the prison and asked to speak to Sargent. He called back collect and spoke with Derry. He said that Pollard shot Mike. October 27, 1988, I received a letter from Percy Sargent's brother, Richard Sargent, who also was in Maine State Prison, and in his letter he said as you know "Percy sent that call." In another letter from Richard on November 4, 1988 he said his brother, Percy, Lionel Cormier and Paul Pollard came to his residence shortly after they killed Mike in 1981 asking if Pollard could hide out at his place. He said he refused them. He said Cormier said that Cochran had been taken care of

Now Arson Investigator Bryan Crumb tells me that the fire was an accident and that the roof fell in and crushed Mike's head. What had Crumb uncovered that caused him to say that to me? The Cold Case foundation states "We strategically partner with police departments nationwide in an effort to assist in closing cold cases, with a focus on unsolved homicides ... "
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C
rumb said that the blood near the woods wasn’t tested and that it could have been from someone else.

David Dupray, co-owner of the cottage, told me that there was blood outside the cottage near the woods. In early 1986, Richard Sargent, Percy Sargent and Lionel Cormier were indicted for armed robberies. Paul Pollard was also involved in the armed robberies but he was given complete immunity for his testimony against his brother and the Sargent brothers.  While Richard was out on bail and Cormier was in the county jail they had conversations about Mike's murder. Richard knew Cormier was guilty and he recorded their conversations. He gave me copies. The first conversation was recorded on Feb. 20, 1986. During this conversation Cormier told Richard there was "Gas down there on the other side. Fatso [Percy Sargent] and Paul had put there. Grabs a gun and comes out and wastes him. Flips out that he did it, goes out gets the gas, comes in burns the place down, then splits, waits until the place is burned so bad before he leaves." Richard also recorded a conversation with his brother, Percy, on April 14, 2086, six days after he wrote his April 8, 1986 letter to me. Percy told his brother that Cormier was at the cottage before Mike's death. "What I understood [is] that Cormier had been there and talked to Cochran and Cochran was trying to get him to take him down out of the camp too and he wouldn’t say too much about it. But he was down there I guess, before the fire. … but someone went down there cause Cormier was down there. … It was just that Lionel had come down there to pick him [Pollard] up and Cochran wanted to go with them. Cochran went no place with nobody."
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Crumb said that Mike was on drugs. 

Mike was in bed when Cormier arrived at the cottage but I don't doubt that Mike probably took drugs the evening of Feb. 17, 1981 before he went to bed. The chemist report doesn’t give a level of drugs in Mike's blood. It does give the level of alcohol as  .01 gms/100 ml and 46 % carbon monoxide.  Arson Investigator Bryan Crumb said the fire was an accident. What did Mike being on drugs have to do with his accidental fire other than to denigrate him?
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Crumb said that the fire was an accident and it’s all hearsay with no proof.

Thirty-two-year veteran Fire Chief Norman Herrin saw Paul Pollard fleeing into the woods away from the arson scene when he and his crew arrived at the scene. He said he was on the scene perhaps two minutes when he “caught a view of an individual departing from the rear of the fire structure.” Herrin said he “seemed to be doing something with his hands as he was moving away from the burning structure. I would liken that to an individual who is washing their hands.”
     He said it was obvious to him that the individual was aware of him because “it’s not possible for five pieces of fire apparatus and red lights and sirens and the chief to arrive on the scene without an individual being aware of it, unless he was unconscious.” And at “very nearly the same time that I saw this individual, I recall seeing two 5-gallon gasoline cans that were visible at the scene. Combining the two gas cans, the individual leaving the scene, and the record extent of the burn of the structure, I immediately arrived at the decision that this was an arson fire.”
     Herrin called headquarters again on his radio and asked them to get in touch with (Forty-two-year veteran Fire Inspector) Wilbur Ricker "to proceed to the incident scene as soon as possible. In the meantime, the first due piece of apparatus had arrived on the scene, and I then became involved in laying out hose lines and getting water on the fire.”
     Herrin's Assistant Chief Elmer Alto, who was also a Hancock county deputy sheriff, arrived. He called him to where he was and explained to him that he had “seen this individual leaving the scene.” He asked him to go and determine where that individual had gone. “He went out in the direction I indicated by pointing, and he picked up footprints of an individual leaving and then he disappeared from view.”
     He described the fire as a “heavy fire because the roof would have been collapsing under the fuel load that was inside the structure.”
     Herrin said he was called back to the radio to be advised that Inspector Ricker was on his way to the fire but had been asked to bypass it and go directly to the city of Bangor where there was a fire involving fatalities.
    Herrin said he followed the tracks again through the woods up to a point where they suddenly made a left turn and moved down through the woods towards the old highway. Herrin said there was “no doubt in my mind” that “the tracks indicated that the individual had footwear on both feet. 
     Herrin said “I doubt if Corporal Shuman saw them [Pollard’s tracks] because by the time Shuman arrived on the scene, which would have been several days [six-days] later, the snow had melted.” 
     Herrin said after he and Alto “crossed Highway M, we went down a small ditch, gully if you want to call it, up the bank approaching the present U.S. 1A, and we lost the tracks there.”
      He said “at the time I arrived on the scene, the volume of the fire that existed, I cannot picture any human being exiting from the building. Pinning it down to a definite time frame, ten minutes previous to the time I arrived on the scene, which would have been 3:45; it would have been damn difficult for a human to have exited the building at that time even. ... if he was in the structure, he was unconscious and not physically able to remove himself from the scene.”
    He said he had never responded to a fire that so completely involved a structure as this one and if it began with a vapor explosion it would be less likely that someone could have gotten out or into the building after the explosion.
     During Derry's April 1986 conversation with Percy Sargent he asked Derry to contact the attorney general and tell him that no one had ever spoken with him about Mike's murder. And according to Maine State Police Ralph Pinkham he took a statement from an inmate at the county jail who overheard Percy tell another inmate that he had just sent out a call to have Mike taken care of because he believed he set him up of his drug arrest. The Attorney General's office knew that Percy Sargent sent a call from the jail to have Mike taken care of but they disregarded the inmate's information and arrested three innocent men on the testimony of criminal drug addict who recanted and said that the head detective, Barry Shuman, fed her the story she told the grand jury. The AG's Office also had Paul Pollard's 2-12-1985 6 page statement. And in it Pollard said he, his half-brother Lionel Cormier and Percy Sargent went back to the arson-murder scene after they murdered Mike and kicked around in the rubble trying to uncover Mike's body
    Crumb said it was an accident and all hearsay with no proof. That is far from the truth. I don't know why Crumb made up sthe story he told tell me. Did he think he could make up a story like that and I would believe it?   I also have an affidavit that has information about Mike's murder by Lionel Cormier. He gave Richard Sargent a copy and Richard gave me a copy.

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Crumb said that the arson investigators (Maine State Police Cpl. Allen Jamison and forty-two-year veteran Bill Ricker) didn’t do a good job of investigating the arson. 
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Crumb told me that I need to move on and find something else to do with my life.
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After Crumb was finished telling Shawn and I what his investigation revealed, Cathie then demonstrated by reaching out to the right with both arms and then reaching to the left with both arms while saying “we tried to put it all together but it didn’t fit.”

They all told me I needed to move on with my life and find something else to do. The last one to speak before they signed off was Deputy Executor Director Dean Jackson. He told me again that Mike's death was an accident that I need to find something else to do with my life.