No Physical Evidence Ties Tyrone to the Crime Scene
No Physical Evidence or a single Eyewitness Ties Tyrone or his Friends to the Murders:
The Crime Scene Points to a Killer Who Knew the Hartigs
Not a single eyewitness places Tyrone, or Butch Wolcott, Joey Dalesandro, and Gary St. Clair, at the Hartig home. Not a solitary piece of physical evidence links Tyrone to the Hartig murders. The gun used to kill the Hartigs has never been found, and the .25 caliber handgun Tyrone possessed has been excluded as the murder weapon. [link to ballistics test] With the recantations of Butch’s, Joey’s, and Gary’s false confessions [link to false confession page], the actual evidence in this case points to someone other than Tyrone as the person who killed the Hartigs.
When the testimony of Butch, Joey, and Gary is stripped away, there is nothing left to the State’s case against Tyrone. In fact, the evidence suggests that the perpetrator was not Tyrone. The crime scene is not like the two robberies Tyrone committed in Alliance, Ohio. The distance of the crime scene makes Tyrone an unlikely suspect. The fact that nothing of value appears to have been taken from the house suggests another perpetrator with a different motive. And the fact that the Hartigs seem to have known their murderer makes it highly unlikely that it was Tyrone who committed this crime.
The Killer Knew the Hartigs
Police officers determined that Mr. Hartig had been outside working in the yard prior to the shooting. His lawn mower was parked outside. His lime spreader was by the driveway with the top open and a shovel by a pile of lime. Mr. Hartig’s coat and gloves were found inside the garage, on a wood box near the entrance to the kitchen. These facts paint a picture of Mr. Hartig working on his lawn, when someone he knew arrived, and he walked inside—taking off his coat and gloves on the way—to talk to the visitor with his wife at the kitchen table. “The crime scene indicates that Bearnhardt, Cora, and the assailant were all sitting down in the dining area.” The Hartigs were shot while sitting at their table, with the perpetrator seated across from them. There was no sign of alarm or struggle. Mr. Hartig still had his wallet, with cash inside and, Mrs. Hartig was still wearing a ring. In fact, police could not confirm that anything was missing from the home. [link to crime scene reports]
The Hartigs invited their killer into their home and sat down at the table with him or her. The scene painted by police is far different from the home-invasion robbery that the State claims Tyrone committed, forcing his way into the Hartig home and struggling with Mr. Hartig. The actual crime scene doesn’t fit with the State’s story, and it doesn’t fit with Tyrone as the Hartigs’ killer.
The crime scene suggested a perpetrator who knew the Hartigs. [link to crime scene reports] Crime scene expert Gary Rini has confirmed that the reports strongly suggest the Hartigs knew their assailant. [link to Rini affidavit]
No Physical Evidence Links Tyrone to the Murders
Tyrone’s fingerprints were not found in the Hartig home, despite the fact that the perpetrator touched many items in the Hartigs’ home. [link to crime scene reports] Cigarette butts found at the crime scene were not linked to Tyrone or any of his alleged accomplices. [link to DNA test results report] Further, the bullets used to kill the Hartigs did not match the only .25 caliber handgun tied to Noling. [link to ballistics report]
There was no murder weapon introduced at trial. Butch’s, Joey’s, and Gary’s testimony consistently referenced their possession of only three guns: a BB gun, a shotgun, and the .25 caliber handgun stolen from a home in Alliance, Ohio. [link to transcript excerpt] The Hartigs were shot with a .25 caliber handgun, but it wasn’t the one Tyrone possessed.
Later, however, Joey’s testimony diverged from Butch’s and Gary’s. Joey asserted that the youths actually possessed two small automatic guns—he claimed Tyrone placed the gun used to kill the Hartigs in his glove box and that Tyrone called him from jail and asked him to get rid of the gun. We know today, much like the rest of Joey’s testimony that this was a lie— Joey’s car was searched when Tyrone, Butch, Joey, and Gary were arrested—and no weapon was found. [link to Simakis, Lies put man on death row] Had Tyrone placed a gun in Joey’s glovebox it certainly would have been recovered when the police searched his car.
Joey’s Lost Deal and Butch’s Pleas for Assurance
Having strong-armed false confessions from Joey Dalesandro and Butch Wolcott, the sweet deals they received in return weighed heavily on their minds.
Shortly before Tyrone was re-indicted for the Hartigs’ murders, the State rescinded its plea agreement with Joey. A new sentencing hearing was held. The State argued that Joey had not fully cooperated as was required by his plea agreement. Prosecutors asked the court to sentence him to the maximum of eight to fifteen years. Joey protested saying that the prosecutors were trying to put words into his mouth about the murders. He told the court: “They want to throw words in my mouth and I can’t let them do that. I told them my story once. They want me to go in there, you know, and try to yell at me to say stuff and I ain’t going to say nothing that ain’t true, you know.” After Joey received the maximum sentence, he wrote a letter to the Portage County prosecutor asking to have his deal reinstated and promising to cooperate in Tyrone’s prosecution. His testimony improved to benefit the State and further incriminated Tyrone. [link to Dalesandro trans excerpts]
Similar problems are apparent in Butch’s pre-trial statements. He asked the prosecutor at one point if he was “finally on his side.” [Link to Wolcott trans excerpts] He went on to admit he didn’t know what he was telling the investigators:
For some reason I’m not sure. Like I said, I can remember a garage but I can’t explain it to you. Just seems like for some reason it’s another house and another dream. I don’t know if what I’m telling you is in my mind, I mean, I’m not sure if it’s mixed with other things or not about details of the house and road and so on and so forth. I mean, it could be some other house, some other road I have seen. Do you know what I mean. Just what you told me. [Link to Wolcott trans excerpts]
All that Remains—the Alliance, Ohio Robberies
What remains of the State’s case are two robberies committed by Tyrone in Alliance, Ohio, the town in northern Ohio where Tyrone lived. Tyrone came onto Portage County’s radar because of these two robberies. But the Portage County Sheriff at the time, P. Ken Howe, notes Tyrone and his friends were dismissed as suspects, “it just didn’t fit.” [link to Kuz, The Unlikely Triggerman]
Simply looking at the Alliance robberies, it’s easy to understand why Tyrone and his friends were discarded as suspects in the Hartig murders. Just two-weeks past his eighteenth birthday, Tyrone was hardly a skilled criminal. He committed the first Alliance robbery carrying a BB gun and an unloaded shot gun. He stole a .25 caliber handgun during this robbery [this weapon has been recovered and was not the weapon used to kill the Hartigs] [link to ballistics report] He carried the stolen .25 caliber gun to the second Alliance robbery, where bumbling through the robbery, he accidentally fired the gun into the floor. Tyrone immediately checked on the occupant’s well-being, and she described Tyrone as a “scared rabbit.” [link to ballistics report]
It was easy for the Alliance authorities to figure out that Tyrone committed these two robberies – he left a trail a mile wide. He was quickly apprehended and confessed his involvement in the two crimes. Beyond the fact that Tyrone did not know the Hartigs, and the police reports strongly suggest that the killer did know them, there are significant and distinct differences between the two Alliance robberies Tyrone confessed to and the Hartigs’ tragic murders:
- _ No murder weapon. On April 6, 1990, Tyrone and his friends possessed two weapons, an unloaded shotgun and a BB gun, which were used in the first Alliance robbery. Tyrone stole a .25 caliber handgun at this robbery, which he carried on April 7th to commit the second Alliance robbery. This weapon was recovered and excluded as the gun used to kill the Hartigs [link to ballistics report] A few short hours later the Hartigs were shot to death in their kitchen. If Tyrone had a different .25 caliber handgun, why did he carry a BB gun and an unloaded shotgun to the first Alliance robbery? Why did he carry the gun stolen at the first robbery to the second? The answer—the only .25 caliber handgun Tyrone possessed was the gun he stole during the first Alliance robbery, the gun that has been excluded as the murder weapon. [link to ballistics report]
- _ Lack of violence. There was no violence associated with the two robberies Tyrone committed in Alliance, Ohio. During the second robbery, Tyrone’s gun did discharge, but both he and the victims agree it was accidental, with Tyrone being described as a scared rabbit by the victim herself. [link to ballistics report] The Hartigs were killed only a few short hours after Tyrone’s bumbling Alliance robbery. Is it really plausible that Tyrone went from being a “scared rabbit” who checked on an occupant’s health to a cold-blooded killer in a matter of hours? [link to Kuz, The Unlikely Triggerman]
- _ No confessions until prosecutor’s office took over investigation. Both Gary St. Clair and Tyrone immediately confessed their involvement in the two Alliance robberies. But absolutely no one implicated Tyrone and his friends in the Hartig murders until the Prosecutor’s Office took over the investigations in 1992. [link to false confession page]
- _ Locale. Tyrone committed both of the Alliance robberies in close proximity to the Trandafir home, where he and Butch, Joey, and Gary were staying, unsupervised by any adult. They did not drive to either crime scene, but rather robbed in their own neighborhood and ran through the woods to return home. [link to trans excerpts re Alliance robberies] Tyrone had shown no proclivity to venture out of his own small town, and committing the Hartig murders would have required him to drive through the country to a town a significant distance away.
- _ Physical evidence. Numerous fingerprints were lifted from both Alliance robbery scenes. But if Tyrone committed the Hartig murders, he didn’t leave a scrap of physical evidence behind to link him to the crime.
- _ Property not taken. During the Alliance robberies, Tyrone stole jewelry, wallets and cash, a VCR, and the previously mentioned .25 caliber handgun. At the Hartig home, Mr. Hartig’s wallet remained in his pocket. Mrs. Hartig still wore her rings, cash was found in the house, and no small electronics were listed missing from the home. The kinds of items Tyrone stole during both robberies were left undisturbed at the Hartig home. [link to crime scene reports]
Tyrone did not hurt anyone and showed no tendency to venture outside of his immediate surroundings. The guns were not the same, the manner of entry was different, and there is no indication of stolen property.