- Posted August 16, 2012 by
kansas city, Missouri
Diary of Killers
Dee Petska photo: OLDSON’S mother, Anne Rasmussen, right, speaks to members of the media following her son’s arraignment Tuesday morning. Also pictured is Oldson’s wife.
Dee Petska photo
SUSPECT JOHN OLDSON is escorted from the Valley County Courtroom Tuesday morning by law enforcement.
By: Nick Hon
By: Nick Hon
The Cathy Beard murder trial took an interesting turn Tuesday morning at the arraignment hearing for suspect John Oldson. Oldson returned to the courtroom with his counsel, and when Judge Noakes asked for his plea, he chose to stand mute. A plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf.
A motion for discovery was made by defense attorney, James Mowbray, and since Valley County prosecutor Glenn Clark had no objections, the motion was sustained with no deadline.
A motion for disclosure on behalf of the defendant was also sustained. The motion moves for "an order directing the prosecuting authority (Valley County Attorney's Office and/or Nebraska Attorney General's Office) to disclose any and all exculpatory and mitigating information in regards to the investigation and prosecution" of the case. The defense told the court that they want full information disclosure from the prosecution in regards to specific elements of the case.
Among the information requested by the defense is detailed disclosure of compromised confidential information gleaned from conversations between Oldson and his attorneys that were allegedly overheard and intercepted by the Valley County Sheriff's Office. According to the defense, Nebraska's assistant Attorney General, Cory O'Brien, who has assisted the prosecution in the Beard case, made note of an instance of breached attorney-client privilege. Both Sheriff Hurlburt and County Attorney Glenn Clark denied the occurrence of any such incident.
Also, the motion calls for disclosure of the complete criminal records of Dwanna "Dondi" Oldson, as well as information proving her physical presence in Ord from May through December of 1989. Furthermore, the motion requests complete criminal and conviction histories for all witnesses brought forth in the preliminary hearing. Also requested are "other examples where the witnesses may have been deemed not credible."
The motion talks about interviews by the defendant's attorneys to a witness who claims to have seen Beard on the night of her disappearance have interactions with two bearded men at the Some Place Else Tavern, and that she was seen getting into a dark pickup with one of the men. Additional witnesses were interviewed who claim to have seen a female that they later identified as Beard by a photo at a gas station by Burwell on the night of her disappearance. The girl was described as "doped up."
Finally, the largest component of the motion's specified requests deals with a collection of over 50 photocopied pages of a diary that were sent to John Oldson's residence in Randolph, MO and given to his attorneys on March 5, 2012 by his mother. The entries, believed to have been mailed by Doug Olson, are allegedly excerpts from the diary of Jean Backus. The supplied pages, which range from 1984 through 1989, go into disturbingly graphic detail of the abduction, rape, and murder of four women at the Backus farm near Chambers, NE. The entries specifically name "Wetzel" and "Chauncey" who were Mrs. Backus' husband and brother-in-law respectively. The entry pages also name four female victims, two by their full names, one by a first and middle name, and one only by her first name. The latter victim, named in the diary pages as "Kathy", is believed for certain by the defense to be Cathy Beard.
One girl named in the diary was Sharon Baldeagle, who was reported missing from Eagle Butte, South Dakota in 1984. The girl referred to in the diary as "Jill Dee" is thought to be Jillian Cutshall, who disappeared in Norfolk in 1987. The final victim named in the diary is Karen Weeks, who was also reported missing in 1987 in South Dakota. In addition, they believe that two of the girls were from Indian Reservations, which would put their cases in the hands and jurisdiction of the federal government.
The diary describes "Kathy's" participation in sexual activities, and talks about police looking for her after her disappearance. According to the diary, "Kathy" wanted to take one of the girls to the authorities after the girl became pregnant. The diary then says that Chauncey tells the writer "I hit her with pickup. Will haul her to some place else as they R (sic) lookin for her."
The other three girls were allegedly buried on the farm.
Defense told the court that they wanted all details made available of the investigation of the entries after they were given to authorities on March 7, 2012. They accused local law enforcement of not being thorough in their investigation, an accusation for which Clark had a strong rebuttal. He referred to the piece of evidence as a whole as a "hoax", and stated that the property in question had indeed been completely searched by authorities to no avail. Furthermore, he discussed the questioning of Jean Backus, who is now in her 80s and living in Ord. Backus claimed no knowledge of the allegations made against her and her late husband and brother-in-law.
Clark pointed out that the diary claimed Beard was hit by a truck, but none of the examiners' reports done on her remains made mention of damage that would have suggested such an event.
"This matter has been investigated extensively, including people from the Attorney General's office. It's our consensus it's nothing more than a hoax," Clark explained. Sheriff Hurlburt later reiterated to members of the press that an extensive search of the farm yielded no results or evidence to confirm the events in the diary excerpts. A search is still under way for Doug Olson, who is believed to have mailed the documents. He is wanted for questioning by the authorities, but there are no charges against him at this time.
Mowbray told the court that the prosecution declares the evidence as a hoax because it is "not consistent with their theory." He stated that they cannot prove that it is a hoax.
After the arraignment, Oldson's mother, Anne Rasmussen, spoke with the attending members of the media in the courthouse lobby, and handed out photocopies of the diary excerpts. She said that she believes that authorities have not exhausted efforts in the investigation of the diary, and that she wants more FBI involvement. She said that she had contacted a sheriff in South Dakota (verified by Sheriff Hurlburt) in the area one of the girls is believed to have disappeared from, as well as the Norfolk police about the diary excerpts. She said that she wants to help the families attain closure on the disappearances, while seeing her own son exonerated.
"They always thought it was him, never tried to find someone else," Rasmussen said. "I'm upset they're not doing anything to find these girls."
She may, however, see repercussion for her action as Glenn Clark told NTV reporter Annie Andrews that Rasmussen's handing out of evidence in a criminal investigation was against the law. He did not say whether charges would be filed against Rasmussen for giving the copies away, but did say it would be looked into.
Dwanna "Dondi" Oldson, John's half-sister, arrived in Ord at the Valley County court house on Tuesday afternoon. Her testimony in the case as well as evidence that she may be able to provide is thought to be crucial to the prosecution.
The jury trial for John Oldson was set for November 26, 2012 at 9 a.m. with a pre-trial conference set for Nov. 6, 2012 at 1 p.m. Prosecution estimates that the length of the trial could be around two weeks.