Monday, December 18, 2006
Help Me Howard: Held Police Evidence
It is a terrible thought: your fiancee murdered while driving your car. Now, one South Florida resident is facing another cruel slap from life. Four months later, police will not release her car from the impound lot, while she still has to make car and insurance payments. How long can police hold evidence? Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser has the answer.
WSVN -- OneAugust night, Prince Gedeon borrowed his fiancee, Kristen's, car to go visit his mother. As he pulled up, another car was sitting in the alley.
Kristen Hanlin: "The other car pulled out of the little alley and started shooting, and they shot him. He died from a bullet wound to the head."
It happened off 79th Street in Little Haiti. Police have no motive and few clues, in part, Prince's father says, because the witnesses aren't much help.
Joseph Gedeon: "The police tell me it's not going to be easy for them because people don't want to talk."
As Kristen grieved for Prince, she had one saving grace: She was pregnant with their baby.
Sally Djeridi: "A month after it happened, she went into labor early, and the baby couldn't survive. So her son died as well."
With all that, it makes Kristen's problem seem small. But to her, it's not.
Sally Djeridi: "We don't understand why they can't be upfront with her about the car."
Detectives took the car Prince was murdered in to check for fingerprints. For four months, Kristen's Chevy Cavilier has sat in the impound lot -- a car Kristen still has to pay for.
Kristen Hanlin: "I mean, I am still paying a lot of money for the car and my insurance every month, and I am not even able to have vehicle at all."
Kristen's insurance company refused to replace the car. Unable to drive to work, she lost her job. And to make matters worse, inside that car are precious momentos of her last trip with Prince.
Kristen Hanlin: "Like some pictures and souvenirs from there.They won't give me any of that either."
The police have told Kristen they need the car the way it is, but they haven't told her how long they plan to keep it.
Kristen Hanlin: "Whenever we do get a hold of them, they are very vague about what is going to happen. 'We can't give it back' -- that's all they can tell you."
Kristen's mother, Sally, is convinced that at some point her young daughter needs to start putting all this behind her.
Sally Djeridi: "She lost everything. She lost her fiancee, she lost her car, she lost her job. She lost her child, and she needs to be able to move on."
The car may be vital to catching the killer, but are there laws that say how long they can keep it? To find out, Kristen called Help Me Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: "The law says victims should get their property back promptly, unless their is a compelling law enforcement reason that would threaten the case. The law also allows for photographs to be taken of the property, and the photographs can be used at trial instead of the actual property so that victims can get their property back quickly and not have to suffer further."
When I spoke to the detective on the case, he told me they didn't have many leads and needed the car in case any new evidence popped up. For example, if a witness came forward and said the killer touched a certain part of the car, they could check again for prints.
But, he told me, since no leads have developed, his supervisor decided to release the car to Kristen.
It has now been taken to be cleaned. Kristen can finally start putting her life back together. But, she still desperately wants one more thing.
Kristen Hanlin: "I want the man or woman or person that killed Prince to be caught."
And right now the killer is still roaming around. If you know anything about Prince Gedeon's murder back in Little Haiti in August, the detective on the case would certainly appreciate a call. Of course, you can always call CrimeStoppers and remain anonymous.
Feel like you have impounded a problem? Want to release it from your custody? Contact us. Solutions are not simple, but we find a way.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: