Monday, December 19, 2011

Cautious Observations

I drove down to Carter Glen Condominiums and Townhomes late Saturday afternoon to poke around Dale Smith II’s neighborhood. When I put his address into my iPad 2 TeleNav GPS Plus app, it only directed me to the entrance of the development. While I had no problem gaining entry, I had no idea where to find his building, so I drove around. Fortunately, I did know the number and it didn’t take long to single it out.
Of utmost importance to me is to remind everyone that, while Smith is OPD’s only suspect in the disappearance of his ex-fiancée, Michelle Parker, he is innocent until (or if) a jury finds him guilty of a crime. Also, I cannot forget George and Cindy Anthony in one sense because, like Smith, they declined to take a polygraph test, and it really caused great consternation and suspicion. A lot of people decided right then and there that they were somehow involved in the murder of their granddaughter and of helping to dispose of the body, none of which turned out to be true. To this day, some still believe it. When people begin to argue with me, and they can be quite adamant and boisterous, I tell them to call law enforcement and the State Attorney’s Office to fight. Tell them they got it all wrong. Include Jeff Ashton please, because he exonerated them, too, in his book, Imperfect Justice. In Smith’s case, I’m not going to proclaim him innocent of anything, but since he is the only suspect, I want to look into whether he could be capable of being involved in Michelle Parker’s disappearance. Wherever it leads, my job at this point is not to be opinionated to any extreme; it is to present the facts for your consideration.
First, here are two overhead views of Carter Glen, Phase 2, where Smith resides. In the close-up shot, you can clearly make out his white van sitting in the driveway.
It wasn’t until I was ready to leave that I noticed a camera mounted near the entrance gate. I did not see one for exiting the complex. If the Orlando Police Department has a copy of the video showing Michelle pulling into the drive and putting in a code, or if she used an electronic gate opener, that would help to establish when she actually arrived.
While shooting the above pictures, I spoke with a man who had been walking nearby. I asked him if he was familiar with the case and he said he was, but not all that much. I was curious about the buildings. It was my understanding that the complex was made up of condos and townhouses. Were there any apartments? No, he replied. The two ends, on either side, are town homes with 2 levels. They have a single car garage. The middle two are condos and they share a two car garage. When I asked him what he thought happened to Michelle, he didn’t really have a clue.
Moments earlier, when I was in front of Dale’s building, there wasn’t much activity, but some children were playing in the driveway of the next building, to the left of his. I wasn’t about to confront them. Driving around, I did observe other people milling about, but for a Saturday afternoon, it was rather quiet. I was trying to see if it would be easy to commit the sort of crime Dale is suspected of, and to be able to escape unnoticed. On the surface, no, it couldn’t be done, but there were other factors at play. For one thing, he lives in a townhome and he has a two car garage, not a single. Secondly, the neighbor directly next to him has a security camera mounted on the small balcony that overlooks the driveway and street. Surely, Dale must have been aware of that camera on the afternoon Michelle dropped off her twins.
The next image is a still taken from the video shot by the neighbor’s security camera. You can see Michelle’s Hummer as it arrives at 3:18 PM on November 17, the time she was last seen by anyone other than Dale. The photo below that depicts the back of her Hummer with the GLOW decals in place. I took that photo where the vehicle was found abandoned, the next day. The last still shows a Hummer driving in the direction of the exit. It also shows the neighbor’s car in his/her respective driveway. The car has a spoiler that helps identify it. There are a few other observations I’ve made…
There is no GLOW decal or any other decal on the exiting Hummer. This is the only inconsistency reported by media, and it directly implicates Dale. However, I observed two more things that may help Dale. Or maybe not. Please understand, my only job is to find facts, and nothing more.
In the first still, the van is not parked on the street. Where was it? In the driveway? In the second still, the van is parked along the street. Why? Where did Michelle park when she arrived? Why was the van moved at all?
You can speculate all you want about it. You can assume that the Hummer was moved into the garage and the door was shut behind it in order to strip it of anything that directly links it to Michelle, but does anyone really know for sure?
Take a close look at the Hummer as it drives away. Do you notice anything other than the missing decals? How about the spare tire cover, as seen in the photo of fliers attached to the tree as a reference. This Hummer has no cover. Why? Was it removed, too, along with the decals? Or was it an altogether different vehicle?
Clearly, OPD has information we are not privy to. How many people living in Carter Glen own a black Hummer? Or are there visitors? How many black Hummers drove into the complex that day? If it’s not Michelle’s, it had to come from one of the buildings abutting the woods on the west side of the development because there’s no other reason why it would be driven past Dale’s, who lives on a corner lot. Assuming it is Michelle’s, 4:40 PM is a far cry from the time Dale gave police - that he and Michelle both left ten minutes after she arrived, around 3:30. It also negates his statement that he was at his parent’s house at 4:30. From the still, we can’t read the license plate. Most security cameras are not that good. Could law enforcement technicians use software to enhance the tag? All I know is that Dale could not drive the Hummer out of the complex alone. In order to dump it on the other side of town, over 12 miles away someone had to pick him up. Or someone else did it. He had no idea his home would be raided, so why wouldn’t he have driven it off the premises after darkness fell, knowing full well that his neighbor had a security camera that would capture it during the day?
When I left, and since I was down in the area of Suburban Drive, I took a ride over there, and I’m glad I did. That should be my next post. Meanwhile, let’s not jump to any conclusions. Not yet, anyway. Refusing to take a polygraph test is not an admission of guilt. Ask the state of Florida about George and Cindy’s involvement in Caylee’s death. As far as any other evidence that surfaces regarding this case, most definitely, have at it.