(Dunn and Camm on October 24, 2013 after the verdict and release)
By Bill Clutter
Bill started the Illinois Innocence Project in 2001. Earlier this year, Bill formed a new national organization called Investigating Innocence. The core of this organization is made up of private investigators committed to working to free the innocent. Our PI members get listed on a searchable web directory “Find a Private Investigator Near You”. There are nearly 70 members of the Innocence Network throughout the US that have resources to hire private investigators to work with the Innocence Project. To join go to www.InvestigatingInnocence.org.
Although paid by the court for his services, Indiana private investigator Gary Dunn estimates that he donated over 3,000 hours of uncompensated time in the nine years he worked to free David Camm. Threatened with arrest, first for allegedly impersonating a police officer, and then for trespassing when he knocked on the door of another witness, Dunn never retreated.
Dunn was new to the PI profession when he began working on the Camm case in Nov. 2004. Dunn retired from the FBI, in 2003, where he worked 27 years.
Dunn was aware of the Camm case while working for the FBI. The crime occurred in southern Indiana, just across the Ohio River from Louisville, KY. Born and raised in the area, Dunn was acquainted with many of the investigators involved in this high profile case.
On Sept. 28, 2000, David Camm had been playing basketball for several hours at his uncle’s church. When he came home, he found the bodies of his wife Kim, his daughter Jill, 5, and his son Brad, 7, shot to death in the garage of their home in Georgetown, IN. Both children were in the backseat of their mother’s Ford Bronco.
Camm was arrested three days later, after Floyd County prosecutors hired a bloodstain pattern “expert” who interpreted eight tiny specs of blood on the front of his shirt and concluded David Camm had to have been within four feet of the gun when the shot that killed his daughter was fired. The “expert” said the tiny specs of Jill’s blood from Camm’s were the result of high velocity impact spatter, or “blow back” from a fired gun. That opinion would become the cornerstone of the prosecution’s case against David Camm.
“Bloodstain evidence is mostly subjective”, said Dunn. “One bloodstain expert said it’s like looking at the clouds, they all see something different”.
Defense experts testified that these eight pin-sized dots of blood were transfer stains, “painted fibers” from hair soaked with blood coming into contact with his shirt. This occurred, they said, when the father pulled his son out of the car in an attempt to perform CPR.
Police and prosecutors disregarded key evidence at the crime scene that could have solved the case immediately. A grey sweatshirt was found inside the garage, with the nickname “Backbone” written in black marker on the inside collar. No effort was made to find “Backbone” and the sweatshirt was cast aside as an “artifact.”
Dunn was hired after Camm’s first conviction was overturned by an Indiana appellate court because he had not received a fair trial. Dunn went to visit his client, a 10 year veteran of the Indiana State Police, in the county jail. “His primary mission was to find out who murdered his family”, said Dunn. That answer would come a few months later.
An independent DNA expert was hired by the defense team and found an unknown male DNA profile on the inside collar of the grey sweatshirt. “The first prosecutor ridiculed the DNA as belonging to the one armed man”, said Dunn. “All of us knew the importance of that DNA”, said Dunn. “It occurred to me and others on the defense team that the sweatshirt could have been a department of corrections sweatshirt”.
Dunn was right. Almost five years after the crime, the DNA was entered into CODIS after a new team of defense attorneys demanded it. Charles D. Boney a/k/a “Backbone” was identified as the source of the DNA on the grey sweatshirt.
Dunn immediately went to work. He began a search of public records and located court records of Boney’s criminal history. In June 2000, a few months before the Camm murders, Boney had been released from the Indiana Department of Corrections, having served almost a decade in prison for armed robbery, home invasion, and attempted kidnapping. Known as the shoe bandit, Boney was in the habit of robbing woman at gun point for their shoes to satisfy an obsession: a foot and shoe fetish.
There was trace evidence of blue cotton fibers on Kim’s feet, said Dunn, suggesting she had been wearing socks, but there were no socks on her feet. Kim Camm’s shoes had been removed from her feet and had been placed neatly on top of her vehicle. Her pants had been stripped off her body.
Dunn went to the address where Boney had been living at the time of the Camm murders. Boney lived four houses from Leland Lockhart (David’s maternal uncle) who was pastor of the church where Kim served as treasurer. A short walk from Boney’s house was the butcher shop owned by Kim’s sister, where she had shopped that week and where later it was proven Boney was a frequent shopper.
“I immediately called the investigating officer. I said, hey you need to know this. This guy is a violent armed felon, who had committed armed robberies, a home invasion, an attempted kidnapping of three coeds where he threatened to blow their brains out with a gun to their heads, and all at night. And he lived in the vicinity of two locations where he could have come into contact with our victim”.
Dunn said he was “stunned” with the response he got. “I was told, ‘It doesn’t make any difference’”.
“I said, ‘What do you mean?’ The detective told me, ‘The bloodstain evidence is compelling’”.
“Their mind was made up. There was no way they would look at the case objectively” said Dunn.
Dunn was determined. He got a lead on a phone number and called Boney. Boney agreed to meet with him in person. When Dunn arrived to meet Boney, he found the lead detective assigned to the Camm case waiting in the room with Boney. Dunn set up his camera and recorded a three hour interview.
Boney explained his sweatshirt at the scene by saying he had donated his clothes to the Salvation Army after he got out of prison.
Dunn was aware that there was an unknown palm print on the outside frame of the Ford Bronco on the passenger side. Reconstruction of the crime scene would later demonstrate that palm print was consistent with the killer stabilizing himself by holding onto the frame with the left hand while reaching inside the vehicle with his right hand, firing the gun that killed the two children, Jill and Brad.
I asked Boney, “If any prints are matched to you would that mean you were at the scene. And he said, ‘Yeah’. And then I asked him, if you were at scene then you would be the one committing that crime. And his answer to me was a smirk and said, ‘That would be pretty obvious’”.
Four days after this interview, the palm print was matched to the left hand of Charles Boney.
Boney was arrested, brought back in for questioning, and was given a choice: cooperate against Camm or face the death penalty. Boney then changed his story to match the theory of police that had been suggested to him during their initial questioning. Boney claimed he met Camm playing basketball and conspired to sell him an “untraceable gun”. Boney claimed he later ran into Camm at a convenience store near his home. He said Camm told him to follow him to Camm’s house, where he handed Camm a gun wrapped in his sweatshirt.
Dunn believes the only grain of truth to the story is the convenience store, next to the butcher shop. Dunn believes this is where Boney’s path may have crossed, not with David Camm, but with Kim Camm.
Defense attorneys in the second trial were not allowed to call a witness, Carl Colvin, whom Dunn had interviewed prior to trial. Three years after he killed the Camm family, Boney flew into a rage when Boney’s wife refused to sell a rental TV. Boney told Colvin, “This fucking bitch don’t know who I am. I’ve got three bodies on my conscience; one more won’t make a difference”.
Dunn was beginning to lose faith in the system when his client was convicted a second time in 2006. Then the Indiana Supreme Court vacated Camm’s conviction again, for the second time. One of the issues on appeal was that trial judge refused to allow the jury to hear the incriminating statement Boney made to Carl Colvin.
Jury selection for the third trial started on Aug. 12, 2013, in Lebanon, IN. The jury was allowed to hear the testimony of Colvin, who made a powerful witness. A new team of experts presented a crime scene reconstruction, using the palm print on the Bronco, showing how Boney committed the murder. New touch DNA evidence finding Boney’s DNA on the clothing of Jill and Kim also bolstered the defense.
On Oct. 24, 2013, Dunn watched as the jury verdicts were announced: “Not guilty!” Everyone in the courtroom had tears of joy, including Dunn. After spending the last 13 years in prison, David Camm walked out of a courtroom in Lebanon, Indiana, finally free. It was the most satisfying feeling of elation Dunn had ever experienced in his career as an investigator.