In 2003, I reported about a missing 16-year old, Karen Mitchell, who vanished without a trace from Eureka, California. Years later, some new leads as Robert Durst's trial finally resumes.
In March of 2015, amid the hoopla following the last episode of HBO's The Jinx, then-FBI director James Comey announced that he was ordering every FBI bureau in the U.S. to review its cold cases and check against the known locations of one Robert Durst amid suggestions that he may very well be a serial killer.
"I know that we are doing a number of things in different field offices to run down leads," said Comey. "That is one of the powers of the FBI. We're everywhere in the United States."
Well, maybe not everywhere.
The truth is that with Durst locked up in Los Angeles awaiting the resumption of his trial this month for the murder of his friend Susan Berman, the press lost interest as did the FBI, which did very little, if anything, to follow up on Comey's grand statement, which followed claims I had long made regarding Durst and the possibility he was a serial killer.
Of course, if you do the math you can say he already qualifies, having killed Morris Black (which he admitted) as well as Berman and his first wife Kathie Durst (both of which he's denied). But there are more. That, I'm certain of. (After all, the man knew how to expertly dismember a human body).
But the one case that's always bugged me is the one involving Karen Mitchell, a 16-year old girl who simply vanished from Eureka, Calif., in November 1997. I reported on Mitchell in 2003 after visiting that beautiful wasteland known as Humbolt County. Known as the pot capital of the world, it made sense that Durst would live there given his lifelong love of marijuana. But its remoteness was also a lure. It's about five-hours north of San Francisco, and his home in nearby Trinidad was on the coast where the ocean views were simply stunning.
I was in Eureka back then and talked about Durst and Mitchell with the police chief, who told me about a witness who, months after Mitchell disappeared, had come in to tell a strange story. It was about spotting a girl that looked like Mitchell getting into a light blue, late model car with an older man. The witness provided a composite that was the spitting image of Robert Durst (right down to the wide-rim glasses). It was so exact the police believed that witness, Randy Gomes, had known Durst. They didn’t know how or why, but they were pretty sure he knew him.
But they never thought to ask Gomes, who quickly took off for Idaho, where he remained for years. When he eventually returned to Humbolt County, it wasn't the FBI that tracked him down for questioning. It was NBC's Dateline program. Gomes, I'm told, became an emotional mess when approached in 2015 by the Dateline producer, who thought he was hiding a terrible secret. Gomes made it through the interview (see above) certain of his identification of the man in the car. And it’s clear to me that the reason he was able to give the stark composite so long ago was because he did know Durst. He simply had to.
So combine that with some of the other circumstantial evidence - such as Durst spotted dressed in drag inside a shoe store that Mitchell's aunt had owned; that Mitchell worked at a local soup kitchen (a place favored by Durst); and that a worried Durst, believing he was going to be charged after I reported the Mitchell connection in 2003, was told by his defense team to put it aside and focus on the upcoming Morris Black trial - and that’s a lot to chew on.
Now, a young documentary producer from the Eureka-area, Joshua Griffin Diaz, has been poking around on Mitchell, and he’s adding to the list of interesting circumstantial evidence. Most notably, an interview with a “tech guy” who helped Durst with his computers places a young woman who looked “exactly” like Mitchell inside of Durst’s Trinidad home working for him as a domestic. That one rang all kinds of bells and whistles for me because Mitchell’s aunt, during her Dateline interview, said her niece often visited Trinidad. "Jen used to go to Trinidad on the bus," said Annie Casper. "I mean, they could have met. It's definitely a possibility."
That leads me back to Randy Gomes, who just a few months after his Dateline interview was arrested in Humbolt County for felony possession of a firearm as well as cultivating and selling marijuana. According to the police, Gomes ran a large pot farm and marijuana, you recall, was Durst’s favorite pastime.
So if there’s a Gomes connection to be had, you can start looking there, and then go catch up with that tech guy.
Can someone tell that to the FBI?
Randy Gomes following his 2015 arrest.
This is going to be a very long trial and my plans are NOT to do a daily play by play, but I already heard a few things during opening arguments from prosecutor John Lewin and Durst attorney Dick DeGuerin that have me scratching my head.
So, for those of you pinging me for my thoughts thus far, here are a few items to consider.
LEWIN: SUSAN BERMAN TOLD DURST THAT THE LA POLICE WANTED TO INTERVIEW HER.
Say what? That was something Lewin referenced to Durst, who said that during “The Jinx.” But it was something Durst spit out under duress, and I knew then he was lying (It made zero sense for the LA police to be involved in a renewed NY investigation, particularly since NY didn’t reach out to interview Berman until Jan. 5, 2001, nearly two weeks after Berman was killed).
How Lewin made the jump to Berman actually saying that to Durst is beyond me. But let’s see if he circles back to it. He has five months.
DEGUERIN: DURST FLED TO GALVESTON IN 2000 BECAUSE OF THE EVIL JEANINE PIRRO.
This one is easy to unpack. It’s from DeGuerin’s 2003 narrative at the Morris Black trial, the one where Pirro relentlessly pursued Durst via the media, forcing him into hiding. Poor Bob, said DeGuerin. IT NEVER HAPPENED. The problem then was the Galveston prosecutors were too dumb, timid or both to lay down the truth, which was Jeanine Pirro didn’t spend much time on the Durst case until long after Durst arrived in Galveston, and AFTER her detective Joe Becerra learned that Susan Berman had been murdered (for those paying attention, yes, that was Jan. 5, 2001). It was learning about the Berman murder when she seized the airwaves and went nuclear on CNN, FOX and every other network and newspaper she could find. Lewin appears to be very competent prosecutor, so let’s see if he destroys this old fairy tale.
DEGUERIN: DURST DRESSED IN DRAG AND PRETENDED TO BE A MUTE IN GALVESTON TO PROTECT HIS IDENTITY.
So, as I wrote in A Deadly Secret, Durst had already had the drag thing down pat, having done it years earlier in Eureka, Calif. For those who read the book, you’ll recall that Durst had a house in nearby Trinidad in the mid-90’s and was seen inside a woman’s shoe store dressed in drag and silent. That store happened to be owned by the aunt of Karen Mitchell, the teen who went missing in 1997 not long after Durst’s unveiling there. Mitchell, who lived with the aunt and worked at the store, also volunteered at a local soup kitchen (one of Durst’s favorite haunts). Durst thought he was going to be indicted when I first reported the Mitchell connection (just look at the police composite of the man she was last seen with and you'll know why). He also stopped wearing the wide rimmed glasses. Lewin knows the truth on this one too. He told me he wasn’t bringing in any of the other missing women linked to Durst, but let’s stay tuned here too.
DEGUERIN: DURST WILL TESTIFY.
I can see Lewin licking his chops over this unexpected treat. Durst testified during his 2003 trial and, thanks to DeGuerin, that crazy (or paid off) jury actually felt sorry for him. That won't happen with Lewin. While the nation has pretty much given a collective yawn to this trial so far, Durst taking the stand would give it some juice.
For the New Year I'm breaking out of my self-imposed social media cocoon, something that was suggested long ago (why not speak to your audience, I'm told. It's easy, and they want to hear from you). I'm not sure about the last part, but given the interest in many of the subjects I've written about, and some news to share that goes with it, why not.
Starting with the news, a mention that I'll be on the Dr. Oz show on Jan. 9 to discuss Robert Durst and my book A Deadly Secret. Ellen Strauss, a close friend of Kathie Durst, also appears.
And speaking of Durst, we begin the blog revival with word today that his attorneys are admitting he authored the infamous and anonymous "cadaver letter" sent to the police back in 2000 alerting them to a dead body in a Beverly Hills home. Of course, the body was his good friend Susan Berman, who had been shot in the back of the head. And yes, we all knew years ago that Durst had written and sent the letter (and had killed Berman). But now on the eve of a five-month murder trial where he's facing forever in prison, Durst's attorneys thought for some reason it was a good idea to finally cop to the letter. And that tells me he's cooked.
I wasn't so sure before (I gave John Lewin, the prosecutor on the case, a 50/50 shot at a conviction). But the latest development tells me the odds on Durst beating a murder charge are not good, and I'm wondering if there's a plea deal in his future (Durst agrees to tell all about the murders of Berman, Kathie Durst, Morris Black and any others, like Karen Mitchell in Eureka, Calif., in exchange for a nice comfy prison hospital, where psychiatrists can probe his brain to see where the wiring went wrong).
That's probably more of a hope on my part than a possibility, given he has a $100 million to throw at his attorneys. But Durst seemed to be OK with the idea of a lush prison environment following his arrest in 2015, and perhaps the realization that he could be stuck in a maximum security cell under 23-hour lockdown is enough to consider the plea. Stay tuned.
And speaking of staying tuned...will have news on the previously announced podcast for A Beautiful Child and Finding Sharon along with some more exciting news about that project. (If you haven't read Finding Sharon yet, I suggest you do so. Ties up all the loose ends of ABC, including the FBI's devastating interviews with Franklin Floyd, Sharon's true identity, Michael's fate, and the emotional headstone ceremony in 2017.
You can order Finding Sharon by clicking here.
Also, for those of you on Instagram, click on matthew.birkbeck and follow me there. Like I said, old dog new tricks.
IT was over two years ago, in March 2016, when I finally met Megan DuFresne. It was for the taping of the Investigation Discovery "20/20 on ID" program, "The Mysterious Life of Sharon Marshall," and I flew down to New Orleans to meet with Megan and her mom Mary. I explain in my new book FINDING SHARON how Mary and I found each other, which was back in 2005. So this was a long time coming. And as you can see in the photo above, with (from left) Mary, Megan, me and Jenny Fisher, we were all pretty thrilled to finally meet in person. A year later we would all get together again in Oklahoma to change the gravestone of Megan's biological mother, who for years we knew as Sharon Marshall but whose real name was Suzanne Sevakis (Megan was the newborn baby given up for adoption in 1989 after Sharon and Floyd, now Tonya and Clarence and married, fled Florida on their way to Tulsa).
These were events (learning Sharon's true identity, finally meeting Megan, changing the gravestone, etc) that for a long time I never dreamed would happen. But they did, and to find out how you'll have to read the new book. Suffice to say this was years in the making, and what made it happen were all of you who read A Beautiful Child.
The story of Sharon Marshall captured so many hearts, and produced so many tears. It was you, the reader, who over the years kept her story alive with all of your emails, questions, postings here and on other websites. And that interest and devotion lead the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the FBI to do the impossible - find Sharon's true identity.
So, to all of you, I want to say thank you.
This is my sixth book, and as a sequel FINDING SHARON tells another remarkable story, so I hope you all spread the word about this new work (and this blog post). There were many lows covering this story over the years. There were also many highs. And as you can see in the photo above, some of those highs were great.
During my time as a correspondent for People Magazine my NY bureau chief Maria Eftimiades would call with an assignment. It wasn't really "do you want to do this story," but more like a command from above (she once talked me into surveilling Jerry Seinfeld's apartment on a Christmas Day because he was getting married. Saying no was not an option, but it did come with the promise of a nice bonus).
I received one of those many calls from Maria in October 2000. This one was about Robert Durst, the heir to a NY real estate fortune who was under investigation, again, for the disappearance of his first wife Kathie. The five-page story (long by People standards) ran on Dec. 5, 2000. A month later, I received a call from a screaming, crying source saying that Susan Berman, a friend of Durst's, had been murdered in Los Angeles. Thus began my 17-year journey with the Durst story. It was Maria who suggested I do a book (my first), and she even connected me with her agent. A Deadly Secret was first published in hardcover in 2002, and then in paperback in 2003, and republished again in 2015 following the airing of HBO's The Jinx.
Thanks to the access I had to Kathie's family and friends and the NYPD files, A Deadly Secret became the bible of the Durst case, read by the various law enforcement agencies that have investigated Durst, Hollywood types (The Jinx's Andrew Jarecki, who I first sat down with in 2005), and by Durst himself, who had two copies in his Houston condo when he was arrested in 2015.
The film version of A Deadly Secret will air on Lifetime on Saturday, Nov. 4. Bettina Gilois wrote the screenplay and it stars Katharine McPhee and Daniel Gillies. It centers on the Kathie/Robert Durst relationship and follows two police investigations and...won't say any more.
BROKEN ARROW - We said goodbye to Sharon Marshall in June. Her name here in Oklahoma had been "Tonya," and that was what was on her tombstone. But I always referred to her as Sharon. It was the name she had used during her high school years at Forest Park, Georgia in the 1980s when she was at her best. Of course, even that name was a fraud, stolen from somewhere like the other names she had been given by the man who had taken her as a child.
I first visited Broken Arrow, Oklahoma in 2003, and it was then when I saw the tombstone that said "Tonya." I had already spent nearly a year doing my research and interviews for what would become A Beautiful Child, and seeing the gravesite here in Broken Arrow with only a first name, and a stolen one at that, left me with a very unsettled feeling. By that time, having visited Florida and Georgia first, I knew Tonya as Sharon Marshall, and throughout the years that's what I always called her.
On June 3, we said goodbye to Sharon, and unveiled a new tombstone with her real name, Suzanne Sevakis. How that came about, the discovery of her real name, and the new friends and family found since the publication of A Beautiful Child, will be told as part of the new book, now scheduled for 2018. Will keep you posted.
Dateline Finds Witness in Eureka
I worked with NBC's Dateline program, which did a good job advancing the Durst story that aired on June 19. One thing I was particularly happy about was the interview with Randy Gomes. He was the eyewitness who years ago gave police in Eureka that startling composite of the man last seen with Karen Mitchell that looked remarkably like Robert Durst. Gomes had fled to Idaho after giving police that composite but recently returned to the Eureka area. I passed along Gomes name to NBC, who tracked him down and, on camera, he ID'd Durst. Great stuff.
DeGuerin Denies Durst Concerns About Karen Mitchell
The other eye opening segment on Dateline was Durst attorney Dick DeGuerin's denial of the story I relayed during the program about how Durst had expressed deep concern that he would be charged in the Karen Mitchell case.
Just before Durst's 2003 trial, I had reported that police were looking at Durst in the Mitchell case along with the disappearance of Kristen Modaferri from San Francisco. At that time I had been hired by CBS to consult on a Durst program. I took them to Eureka, but they weren't interested (years later after The Jinx aired, Inside Edition, ABC's 20/20 and of course Dateline all ran with the story, with special kudos to Dateline for tracking down Gomes).
The CBS producer that hired me pulled me aside back then and said she was told that Durst wasn't concerned about Modaferri, but was so concerned about Karen Mitchell he asked DeGuerin what they would do. DeGuerin's response was to deal with one case at a time. I believed the story because the producer had been close to Durst's defense team. I thought she was just a good reporter, so you don't have to imagine my reaction when I read a NY Post report in 2004 that said she was and had been romantically involved with Chip Lewis, Durst's other attorney. They eventually married. I was floored.
I don't know if Durst is involved in Mitchell's disappearance or not. But if DeGuerin has a problem with that Mitchell story, he should have a talk with his c0-counsel.
Jeanine Pirro to Pen a Book About Durst
You knew there would be other books rising from the Durst story. Former Galveston judge Susan Criss is working on one (which I'd read when published). I heard six weeks ago that Pirro was looking for a publisher, and as of last week she found one with a book due this fall.
She doesn't come off well in A Deadly Secret (probably one of the worst public officials I've ever come across). She later subpoenaed my publisher, sought to have NY State Police Detective Joe Becerra fired (he started the Durst case) in a snit over who was getting more credit, and was despised by every other police jurisdiction with her incessant craving for publicity (one cop, Galveston's Cody Cazalas is the lone exception, but that's a whole other story).
I'm assuming her publisher will assign several fact checkers on this project.
Meet Julie Baumgold, Daily News' 'Special Correspondent'
by Cynthia Cotts
published: September 30, 2003
On September 22, the day of opening arguments at the Robert Durst murder trial in Galveston, Texas, a squabble broke out between two members of the press corps. Author Matt Birkbeck was chatting with other reporters outside the courtroom when a petite blonde charged up to him and said, "If I were a man and as big as you, I'd tell you to step outside, put up your dukes, and I'd take you." Birkbeck, who is 6’3” and broad-shouldered, calmly replied, "Do you want me to get down on my knees?" After the blonde disappeared, Birkbeck recalls, a colleague informed him that she was Julie Baumgold, the same woman who had elbowed him in the courtroom earlier that day. Baumgold is a relic of a past era. After making her name as a feature writer for New York in the 1970s, she married Ed Kosner, who published her work in New York and Esquire for years when he edited those magazines. In his latest incarnation, Kosner, 66, is the lame-duck editor of the Daily News, where his wife is a "special correspondent." Her stories make much of the fact that she was a childhood friend of Durst, the New York real estate heir who is on trial for killing his Texas neighbor.Wait a second! Isn't it a conflict of interest when someone covering a murder trial is the editor's wife and a friend of the defendant? Birkbeck calls this "journalism in its lowest form," and he's not the only one who thinks so. In his 2002 book, A Deadly Secret: The Strange Disappearance of Kathie Durst, Birkbeck recalls how Kosner enraged many News staffers by publishing Baumgold's 2001 front-page "exclusive," "My Friend Bobby Durst," a piece which Birkbeck calls "part love letter, part defense."
Baumgold did not reply to a request for comment. In an e-mail, Kosner defended his wife, saying she has "never proclaimed Durst's innocence." However, she did try to pick a fight with Birkbeck, he said, because Birkbeck's book "disparaged her integrity . . . something no one has ever done in her long career."
Kosner denied giving his wife special treatment, saying, "Any editor would love to have a top writer who has known a murder defendant since childhood contributing to coverage of a headlined trial." He said Baumgold's features and sidebars are intended to supplement the daily coverage (which is being written by veteran trial reporter Richard T. Pienciak). Baumgold is paid a standard freelance rate, according to Kosner, who called her stories "good writing, good reading, good journalism."
If Baumgold is not getting special treatment, why did she get a press pass from U.S. News & World Report? According to Kosner, at the beginning of the trial there was talk that only one reporter from each company would be allowed in the courtroom, and the rest sent to an overflow room. Because two News reporters wanted to be in the courtroom, U.S. News editor Brian Duffy gave Baumgold her credentials. Ultimately, everyone got in, Kosner explained, but Baumgold "would have contributed to U.S. News had the occasion arisen." (Both U.S. News and the News are owned by Mort Zuckerman.)
On September 3, the News trumpeted Baumgold's name on the front page "skyline,” and News staffers joked that it was as if the paper had hired Dominick Dunne to cover the trial. Since then, the editor's wife has published two more pieces and attracted attention for all the wrong reasons. Courtroom sources find it odd that she flies back and forth frequently, doesn't take notes, shows a poor grasp of legal procedure,. and insists on dining at the best restaurants instead of the dives where most reporters have lunch. (Her September 3 piece mentions "the terrific restaurant Rudy and Paco's.")
Baumgold's connection to Durst may be more liability than asset. For example, there was Baumgold's first encounter with Eleanor Schwank, a friend of Durst's wife Kathie, who disappeared in 1982. Upon arriving in the courthouse, Schwank was surrounded by reporters, and the New York Post's Andrea Peyser began interviewing her. Baumgold butted in, asking Schwank, "Who are you?"
"I was a friend of Kathie's," Schwank said.
"I was a friend of Kathie's, too," Baumgold replied.
According to two witnesses, Schwank stared at her and said, "I know you are friends with Bob and the Dursts, and I feel your pain at losing your friend, but you have to understand that he killed Kathie and he must be brought to justice." Though Schwank gave interviews to other reporters, including Pienciak, there is no evidence that she gave an interview to Baumgold. Kosner says his wife "has not interviewed Durst but spoke to him by phone before the trial began."
Baumgold made another scene on the day the district attorney announced that he would be giving the court tapes of Durst's phone calls from jail. As soon as he said that, according to one witness, Baumgold gasped and everyone turned to look at her. She began asking which jail the calls had come from, the Pennsylvania jail where Durst was before or the Galveston jail where he is now. She asked local reporters to find out if calls to the Galveston jail are taped, and when the answer came back no, she let out a loud sigh.
Says Kosner, “Any jailhouse conversations Baumgold may have had with Durst are part of her reporting. Why shouldn’t she be concerned if they were going to be made public?”
While Baumgold was fretting, Peyser was busy obtaining leaked transcripts of the aforementioned tapes, which come from the Pennsylvania jail and are protected by a gag order. On Friday, the Post published excerpts from the tapes, and Peyser followed with another scoop on Sunday.
Baumgold's theatrics might be less objectionable if her connections were producing substantial insight or scoops. Instead, her copy is a thin hash of trivial observations, inconclusive memories, and claims that are contradicted by other sources. Case in point: Baumgold's explanation of how Durst's mother died. In the September 3 story, Baumgold stated that her own mother was the last person to speak to Durst's mother, "before she fell out the long window to her death." But Birkbeck's book reveals that Durst's mother stood for a long time on the roof of their house, while seven-year-old Durst watched with his father and grandfather, and a police officer tried to persuade her to go in. Eventually, Durst saw his mother plunge to her death on the pavement below.
Baumgold herself has written that Durst believes his mother committed suicide. But on September 22, two days after The New York Times' Charles Bagli called the death a suicide, Baumgold wrote, "Bernice walked out her window onto her roof and fell to her death. . . . [Bob] was awakened by the shouts after she had fallen." Asked about the latter assertion, Kosner said Durst was the source. He says Durst was also the source for Baumgold's claim that Durst's friend Susan Berman left Baumgold "pearls and gold earrings" in her will—but an informed source says that Berman left Baumgold nothing in her will.
Perhaps Baumgold is saving all the juicy stuff for a book. An assistant to agent Mort Janklow said that Janklow represents Baumgold and could fax a message to her, then retracted that statement at press time. Kosner says, "Baumgold is not writing a book about the trial."
On September 29, Baumgold was not in the courtroom, but Galveston’s Tremont House, where all the reporters stay, expects her to return soon. Then again, she may not. Kosner has said he will stay on at the News until he retires in March. But the couple’s power may fade after News editorial director Martin Dunn shows up on October 14.
It's been ten years since the publication of A Beautiful Child and the one enduring question that had yet to be answered is "who was Sharon Marshall?"
There are thousands of readers around the world who've asked me that question, while many at organizations such as the Doe Network have tried to conduct their own searches. Readers sent names of missing children wto me, and I forwarded them to either the National Center for Missing Children in D.C. or Joe Fitzpatrick, the retired FBI agent who lead the investigation into the Michael Hughes kidnapping. While we had Sharon's DNA sample, nothing matched.
On Wednesday, Oct. 1, I received a call from Joe informing me that Sharon had finally been positively identified. The details were sketchy, but he gave me the name. I then spoke to her family today (Friday). The news was true. I can't share all the details, but here's what I can say....
Her name is Suzanne Marie Sevakis and she was from North Carolina.
For those who read the book, you'll recall Floyd fled Florida in 1973 after violating his parole. He ended up in North Carolina a year later using another alias and met a recently divorced woman with four children - three young daughters and infant son. Floyd and the woman later married, and in 1975 the woman was sentenced to 30 days in jail for a minor crime. When she was released Floyd was gone and so where her children. She found two daughters at a local social services agency, where Floyd had taken them. The mother went to the local police and FBI and tried to file kidnapping charges but they declined to investigate saying that since Floyd was their stepfather he apparently had a right to take the children.
Three months later, Floyd and Suzanne, then six years old, were in Oklahoma City. Her little brother was never found. The mother and her family, including her parents, brother and sister-in-law, never gave up the search. Alas, there wasn't much to go on.
Earlier this year the FBI interviewed Floyd in prison in Florida and somehow gleaned the info about the woman. They visited with her in June, showed her the photos of Floyd and Suzanne (her sitting on his lap). The woman immediately identified him as her husband and Sharon as her daughter. The agents took a DNA sample and four weeks later (in July) visited with the mother again to inform her the test was a positive match.
The young woman we knew as Sharon Marshall was indeed Suzanne.
The FBI then shared with her some details of Suzanne's sad fate, but recommended she read A Beautiful Child. The woman and her surviving children and family all read the book. Needless to say they are devastated. The agents also told the family not to discuss the case given they were also looking into the disappearance of Suzanne's son Michael.
Floyd apparently was also willing to give some information about Michael but sadly, he admitted to killing Michael and, I'm told, the FBI was resigned to believe him.
The agents called the family this week with the news that Michael was likely dead. They have an idea of the location of his remains and plan to search the area.
Since the authorities in North Carolina didn't take a missing person report, Suzanne was never listed in any missing persons database, which is why it has been impossible to this point to find her. Suzanne's story was heartbreaking and, judging by reader responses, has touched them deeply, which is why many who have read the book and followed this case have kept it alive these years with their sleuthing, web postings and discussions. And that's why law enforcement remained involved for so long, with the incredible work of the FBI that brought it to a close. Others who had always been involved in the search include Gerry Nance of the NCMEC (since retired), Ed Kumiega, Asst. U.S. Attorney in Oklahoma City, Bob Schock and Mark DeSearo of the St. Petersburg, Fla Police Dept and of course, Joe Fitzpatrick.
Joe retired from the FBI in the late 1990s but since our initial meeting fishing amidst the snakes in OKC in 2003, he and I have remained in steady contact. He funneled suggestions from readers to FBI officials, helped facilitate with Gerry Nance a number of DNA tests, and remained an integral part of the search for Sharon. There were some DNA tests where we had our hopes up, only to be eventually dashed. You'll recall Joe had resolved every one of his cases...except for one.
Now there are none.
In addition, our deep thanks and appreciation go to the FBI in Oklahoma City. There are other details I can't share yet but take my word they did amazing work.
Suzanne's family is still digesting all of this and will need some time. In addition, there may be a meeting with Suzanne's surviving daughter (whom you'll recall she gave birth to in New Orleans in 1989).
I'm in contact with the daughter, a beautiful college grad, who's expressed an interest in meeting her biological family. That may now happen sooner than later.
And finally, we can now put Suzanne's real name on her tombstone at the Park Grove Cemetery in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Suzanne Marie Sevakis.
From my book A Beautiful Child, the Investigation Discovery Channel is airing a program on Franklyn Floyd's murder of Cheryl Commeso with tie in to mystery of Sharon Marshall.
I interviewed a couple of months ago and looking forward to seeing the result. Program airs Sept. 29 at 8 pm ET.
Matt Birkbeck's Blogspot