Complaint Against Top MPD Officials
The complaint was filed by Milwaukee Police Detective Ricky Burems. It alleges that Deputy Chief Brian O'Keefe, Lt. William Jessup and Capt. Timothy Burkee failed to conduct a full investigation into the death of Debra Maniece.
Maniece was murdered in 1994. The 31-year-old woman was found beaten to death in an abandoned house at 12th and Brown on the city's north side.
Her daughter, who was 14 at the time, still wants to see someone brought to trial. "We still haven't had no closure to it. And you have D.N.A. and all this information and there's still nothing being done about it," Tamara Maniece now says.
That D.N.A. was discovered in 2001. By then the Maniece case had gone cold. Then the state crime lab matched blood found on her body with that of Kelvin Strong.
Police cleared the case, saying Strong was the suspect. But, Detective Burems' complaint alleges officers did not do a complete investigation.
Police took their case to the District Attorney's office. But the D.A. said there wasn't enough evidence to charge Strong.
Burems believes police didn't want to take the time to conduct a thorough investigation and he contends the victim's race and status as a prostitute and drug addict were the reasons.
According to the complaint, Detective Burems and his partner were assigned to look into the Maniece case in 2004. They found new evidence that two other men's D.N.A. was found on Maniece's body.
Burems claims that Jessup, O'Keefe and Burkee tried to stop him from fully investigating the case. He alleges that eventually they had him removed from the investigation.
The timing of the allegations is interesting to note. Burems filed the complaint in late July of 2007. It comes as the Fire and Police Commission is considering O'Keefe for the Chief of Police position.
The District Attorney's office tells TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Lauren Leamanczyk that with three men's D.N.A., they didn't have the evidence to prove that Strong committed the murder.
However, Burems alleges in the complaint that as he pushed for charges Assistant District Attorney Mark Williams told him, "I get the feeling that certain people in your department don't want to see charges issued in this case."
The League of Martin, an association of black police officers, contends that if the allegations are true they are very disturbing. Vice President Kerry Flowers says they have received similar complaints about cases getting short shrift from MPD detectives.
If true, he says, "This just might be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the improper clearing of heinous crimes in the City of Milwaukee," Flowers said.
Milwaukee Police Chief Nannette Hegerty released a statement Wednesday saying, "All homicides are thoroughly investigated, and the race, gender, or other factors pertaining to the victim have no bearing on how the investigation is conducted."
The Milwaukee County District Attorney's office also released a statement saying, "The Milwaukee Police Department's Administration and homicide unit are aggressively and professionally pursuing this matter, and we have never suggested otherwise."
The Police and Fire Commission will now consider this case in September.
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