By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
That untested swab sat in a refrigerator at the crime lab for months.
Things were getting more positive on the ballistics front. In early June 2006, Phoenix police gunfire expert Danny Hamilton linked shell casings at the Tina Washington crime scene to those found at other Baseline Killer scenes.
Based on the firing mechanism, every weapon leaves distinctive markings on expended shells. Experts actually can tell whether casings come from the same gun, not just the same type of gun.
Phoenix PD is part of a nationwide network with access to data about shell casings recovered at crime scenes and elsewhere. The network, called NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network), enables ballistics experts to compare spent casings by computer and to possibly link crime scenes.
Which is exactly what happened in early June 2006 when Danny Hamilton discovered that the shell casings from the Washington murder matched those found at the scene of Georgia Thompson's September 2005 death in Tempe.
That stunning information not only got goofball James Mullins off the hook for the murder, it also told Phoenix police that the killer they were hunting had killed at least once before Tina Washington.
(Tempe detective John Thompson much earlier had tracked down the location of a cell phone tower where Thompson's missing phone had "pinged" an hour after her murder. The tower was in Central Phoenix, about 200 yards from Mark Goudeau's home. But like his police colleagues, Thompson — no relation to Georgia — wouldn't hear the name Mark Goudeau for many months after her murder.)
By summer 2006, the task force had compiled a list of more than 100 convicted sex offenders who lived in the general vicinity of where the Baseline Killer was striking. (In the end, nine Baseline crimes occurred within three miles of Goudeau's home.) Lots of tips, but little of substance was coming their way, and the thinking was to look hard at each of the ex-cons as at least a longshot potential investigative lead.
But Mark Goudeau wasn't a registered sex offender — remember, prosecutors had dropped the rape charge in 1990 — so his name didn't pop up on that original list.
Goudeau struck again, apparently for the final time before his capture, on June 29, 2006.
That evening, he approached 37-year-old Carmen Miranda as she was about to vacuum her car at a self-service car wash on the north side of 29th Street and Thomas Road.
Miranda and her boyfriend were talking on their cell phones, and he heard her screams as Goudeau overpowered her with his fists, took the wheel of her car, and soon parked a few hundred yards behind a barbershop.
There, he shot her once in the forehead, leaving her body sprawled in the back seat, her eyes wide open in death.
A security camera at the car wash captured the carjacking on video, but the tape recording was too grainy and degraded for the killer to be made out.
The murder of the mother of two, as well as the continuing Serial Shooter mayhem, resonated throughout the Valley. Police held packed community meetings at which they urged calm and caution.
Local television reporters were reduced to interviewing psychics, such as the Valley's Allison DuBois, in search of possible answers.
DuBois, whose autobiography was the basis for the NBC show Medium, confidently told a local NBC reporter that the Baseline Killer was not from the Phoenix area (probably from California) and had long hair and a long juvenile record.
It made for a nice sound bite. DuBois, of course, was wrong.
At first, it was just one of what would be more than 7,000 "tips" from the public to Phoenix police about the Baseline Killer case.
The information came to the cops through a state prison investigator on July 14, 2006. He informed the task force that a woman had seen that composite sketch of the man with hat and the dreadlocks and knew who it was.
She identified him as Mark Goudeau.
It was the woman we're calling Darlene, the victim of the vicious aggravated assault and kidnapping that, in part, had put Goudeau behind bars for 13-plus years.
The task force supervisors took this tip seriously and, within a day, put around-the-clock surveillance on Goudeau.
After his arrest that September, Goudeau told his wife in a jailhouse phone call monitored by police that he had known someone was following him during that stretch.
On July 21, 2006, a Phoenix detective and Goudeau's parole officer knocked on his door. Later, the detective described a pleasant chat with the ex-con, who volunteered to provide any requested DNA or fingerprint samples.
The parole officer poked around the Goudeau residence a little during the half-hour interview but didn't notice anything in plain view that merited further consideration.
Task force supervisors decided to call off the surveillance of Goudeau.
But they didn't forget him.
In early August 2006 (two days, coincidentally, after the Mesa arrests of the two Serial Shooters), Phoenix police sent a list of 75 potential Baseline suspects to the state crime lab.
The list included the top-priority investigative leads that had come their way over the previous months.
Of those 75 men, about 30 were ex-convicts whose DNA profiles would be available in a state database.