Black River Technical College Fire Science Instructor Alan Haskins has joined the cold case murder investigative team, American Military University Cold Case Team (AMUCCT).
The AMUCCT team is spear headed by former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Agent and Professor of Forensics at American Military University Jennifer Bucholtz. Other members are Investigative Journalist George Jared, Licensed Social Worker Melissa Sandburg, Podcast Producer Justin Rimmel, and Haskins.
Haskins has a Bachelor of Science in Fire Science and Master of Science in Emergency Management with an emphasis on Homeland Security. He brings more than thirty years of fire service experience to the team, having served as a fulltime firefighter, shift captain and department chief.
“I got involved through George (Jared). He and I have been good friends for several years. They were needing someone who had some experience in fire and George called me. The rest, as they say, is “history,”” said Haskins.
Currently, the AMUCCT is investigating two cold cases/unsolved murders; Judith Petty and Linda Malcolm.
Petty was a resident of Parkersburg, West Virginia. She was 48-years-old at the time of her disappearance. Petty left her grandmother’s house to return books to the local library and was never seen alive again. The night of her disappearance her family looked throughout Parkersburg and her father drove to the family’s farm outside of town and found the farm engulfed in flames. After the fire went out her father found her body in the cellar. The date of Petty’s death was February 6, 2008. The local authorities ruled it a suicide, but evidence points to a possibly more sinister act, according to the Apple podcast “The Unsolved Murder of Judith Petty.”
On Episode 9, Haskins is interviewed about his opinion of the fire reports from the incident. Haskins states he believes Petty was murdered from evidence he saw within the two separate reports of two separate investigations about the fire. One investigation was performed by the local fire department at the time of the fire and another was done by the state fire department after the body was found. He said that the lack of carbon monoxide in Petty’s body, meaning there was zero smoke inhalation, told him Petty was already deceased before the fire was started. And the fact she was in the cellar, not far from the steps and the position in which her body laid suggested she was drug to the location she was found.
He also stated that he believed there was accelerant used to light the fire and it was poured on the body and in the cellar due to streaks in the photographs that showed him an accelerant had been used. He added that he believed the house burning was a radiation fire from the heat of the cellar which was under an old outhouse. The fire simply moved from one building to another.
The team are investigating the case to try and get to the bottom of whether Petty was murdered or if she had a diabetic episode and an accident occurred.
On Episode 13: Diabetic Analysis and Toxicology Report, Haskins defers to research he conducted through an unnamed doctor who said it is possible she had a diabetic episode, however there would probably be evidence in the liver.
The doctor said if she had walked 13 miles to the farm she could have had a diabetic episode, especially if she had gone a long period of time without water or food. Haskins also said though if she did have a diabetic episode, how did she get in the cellar and how did the fire start?
Linda Malcolm was a 47-year-old Navy Veteran who worked as a paralegal in Port Orchard, Washington. Her body was found in the ashes of her home on April 30, 2008. However, Malcolm was found to have perished from over a dozen stab wounds, any of which could have killed her, before her home was set on fire.
In both of the cases, fifteen years have passed and Haskins said the biggest obstacle the team faces is the time that has passed.
“In the time frame we are dealing with in these two cases, evidence can be lost or altered and witnesses may change their stories or even pass away. People also have a tendency to forget details that are key to a case. Someone may get confused on a time they saw someone or forget a name or address they knew back then,” said Haskins. “Another obstacle we have ran into is sharing of information. Some of the agencies we reach out to often times have trust issues with folks outside of their agencies and don’t want to share information. They are very happy to receive anything we give them, but are very hesitant about letting us in on things they may have.”
Haskins says his experience as part of the AMUCCT has, “really been interesting to say the least. The podcast is really a minor part of what we actually do. There are literally hundreds of behind the scenes conversations, email, texts and phone calls with other team members and investigators talking about the incident. It’s really a cool process that we have, in that we can investigate this 15-years after it occurred. We have resources in the private sector that public investigators don’t have. When we find a lead or what we think may be a clue or a piece of evidence, we can research it almost immediately. Using the podcast simply puts us out in the public where the story can be followed by a lot of folks. Our hope is that someone will hear something we discuss and it sparks a memory in them about the incident. Anyone who likes True Crime can join the Facebook group and listen to the pod casts.”
To follow the podcasts that Haskins is apart of you can follow the AMUCCT on their Facebook pages Safe Haven: The Unsolved Murder of Judith Petty and Unsolved Murder of Linda Malcolm, as well as, the podcasts with the same names on Apple podcast.
The AMUCCT has already become well known through their work on the Rebekah Gould case in which their work led to the conviction of William Miller. The case made national headlines as it was an 18-year-old cold case in which Gould was murdered in a horrifying manner in Melbourne, Arkansas.