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Untangling the Gordian Knot
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, 31 January 2006 07:17
In his study, he showed that infants as young as 4 months old are able to recognize a ball moving along a trajectory (a pattern of movement), even when that ball is obscured from their view for a brief period. Johnson notes, "Filling in the gaps in what we see is a fundamental perceptual skill--one that we had to learn to perform subconsciously or we wouldnt have time for anything else."

Indeed. We have an impressive ability to recognize, store, and act upon patterns in our everyday lives. I would even argue that we are quite efficient in this department. Why? As animals of the human kind, we must constantly assess our environment in order to determine the degree of danger, if present, and how to respond. Even for something as simple as walking. We will step up and over an obstacle to avoid tripping. And we do so, for the most part, subconsciously. When moving to a new area, we may find ourselves highly sensitive to unfamiliar sounds. That is, until we have determined they do not represent danger, thereby allowing us to tune them out through acclimation.

Crime scene analysis however, involves conscious pattern recognition. This is especially so for those crimes involving a murder or murders which leave few clues. In such situations, law enforcement is tasked with piecing together the various elements of the crime scene to determine which direction their investigation is to take. This often occurs through a systematic process of elimination. For example, establishing where and when the murder took place, and whether or not forced entry was involved. The likelihood of the perpetrator being a stranger increases when forced entry is indicated, thus prompting investigators to review current and past reported illegal activity in and around the neighborhood. For those murders that do not appear to involve forced entry, the question of someone known to the victim enters the picture. At which point, the investigation will focus upon the immediate family and extend, as necessary, outward. Subsequently, they will attempt to determine activities prior and up to the time of the crime as well as running background checks on those who could be placed at the crime scene around or at the time of the crime. If past criminal activity is present, those records will be reviewed as well as the records of any and all co-defendants. While past criminal activity may not necessarily point to a present crime, it can provide a means for developing a fuller picture of the individual or individuals in question. What kind of person are they? Does their past behavior reveal a propensity toward violent crime? What might their potential motive be? Put another way, investigators are looking for a pattern of behavior. They are attempting to untangle the Gordian Knot

The recent murder of Brandi Dunn of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, is just such a case. It left sparse physical clues, outside of the obvious--she had been brutally murdered and her parents Grove City home, where she had been staying, was subsequently arsoned. In light of the fact that her husband, Scott Dunn, made the 911 call, along with his account of what occurred, it is hardly surprising that those following the case applied Occams Razor. After all, his story leaks like a sieve, and his behavior after his wifes brutal murder has raised more than few eyebrows. Add to that, the fact that female victimization is significantly correlated to domestic violence, it is not the least bit surprising the shadow of suspicion would fall upon Mr. Dunn. And yet, there has been no arrest. Or even hints of pending charges. In fact, the media has become deafeningly quiet where this tragic case is concerned.

While Brandi's fate may be counted among the domestic violence scenes that proliferate our Nations daily news, that it remains unsolved raises several questions. Among which, include the issue of conspiracy. If this is indeed true, what is the motivator? Among the possibilities that come to mind, the nagging thought involves a question of controlled substances. This is especially so in light of the curious comment regarding the alleged " drug gang" along with the apparent statewide increase of drug abuse. Was it a drug deal gone bad? Another, perhaps more plausible hypothesis was proposed to Steve Huff regarding an alleged affair. While the "husband kills wife in a jealous rage" is certainly a possibility and has been played out more than a few times, there is an inherent problem. For example, they claim Mr. Dunn found out about an affair between Brandi and Mr. Keck, murdered Brandi, and then contacted Mr. Keck to help "clean up the mess." If this were indeed the case, one cannot help but to wonder, why an alleged lover would even consider helping with a cover up of the brutal murder of his paramour? Nevertheless, the conspiracy angle along with the aforementioned proposed scenarios are worthy of further consideration.

Although the criminal history angle has been previously alluded to, there are some notable differences between Mr. Kecks criminal history and that of Scott Dunn. For example, Mr. Kecks criminal history consists of some DUIs and a possession charge involving marijuana. Whereas Mr. Dunns criminal history, involves a series of B&Es with conspiracy to commit burglary. His co-defendants, as noted in Court Documents, were Richard Claire Urey II and Aaron C. Byers. Why might such a differentiation matter, you may wonder. As with murder, there are degrees of crime. Possession, by its very nature, is a victimless crime. Even a DUI is victimless. Though some may beg to differ in light of DUI related deaths, and while drinking and driving certainly increases the risk, homicidal intent is rarely, if ever, an aspect. Burglary, on the other hand is a victim specific crime. Furthermore, burglary carries with it the very real potential for violence. Now consider those cases involving two or more criminals. The odds of potential violence increases by an order of magnitude. Even if one of the parties tend away from violence.

In short, Mr. Dunns past criminal history involves at least two incidents with two different individuals in a conspiracy to commit a crime. With this comes an implied alliance. Thus, if the "affair" hypothesis is even close to the truth, and more than one person was involved, I would look to Mr. Urey or Mr. Byers, if they are still in the area, and at the very least, rule them out. After all, they and Mr. Dunn share a rather colorful extended criminal history. Whatever the case, I hope law enforcement will soon untangle this Gordian Knot, so that both family and friends of Brandi Dunn may find the closure they so desperately seek.


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