Sunday Jul 24 2005
Justice elusive 10 years after murder
By: Penne Usher, Journal Staff Writer
Sister still seeks resolution in Whitten's 1995 shooting
Glenn Christopher Whitten was 18 when his body was discovered July 24, 1995 near the shore of Lake Clementine. Today, the 10-year anniversary of his murder, the case remains unsolved. His younger sister, Michaela Whitten, was only 13 years old when her brother was shot to death. In the decade since his murder, she still searches for answers - and justice. Michaela Whitten, now 23 and living in Fair Oaks, said this week that law enforcement officers failed during the initial investigation. "In my eyes they did 1 percent of the 100 they could have," a frustrated Whitten said. Glenn Whitten was found face down, dead, on a bed of rocks on Upper Clementine Road. He died from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest. The murder weapon, believed to be a shotgun, has not been located. The young Auburn man was last seen around 12:30 a.m. the morning of the murder near the McDonald's restaurant on Lincoln Way, said Det. Sgt. Bob McDonald of the Placer County Sheriff's Department. "A couple sleeping in the bed of their pickup truck (at a nearby campground) heard the shots," he said. "This allowed us to place the time as around 3:30 a.m. as the actual time of the shooting." After more than two months with little to go on, Placer County Sheriff Deputies arrested then 23-year-old Howard Scott and Albert "Alby" O'Neal, who was 19 at the time. Whitten said she is confident the two arrested for the murder are guilty. "Alby (O'Neal) and Scott did it. I know," she said. Scott was sentenced to state prison July 27, 2004 for drug possession and possession of stolen property, according to Placer County criminal records. Repeated attempts to locate which prison he is serving his time at were unsuccessful. Efforts to locate O'Neal, who reportedly lives in Auburn, for comment have also been unsuccessful. Just days after their arrest, Placer County District Attorney's Office declined to file a complaint. Auburn Journal newspaper articles from the time of the arrest quoted law enforcement officials who said Scott was a prime suspect, but that a Sept. 20 arrest was "premature." "We believe we had witnesses that could put (Scott, O'Neal and Glenn Whitten) together on the night of the shooting," McDonald said. "Some resources were later checked and it was determined that they were together a week earlier." Basically, there wasn't enough evidence to hold the two men. "They remain persons of interest in the case," McDonald said. Glenn Whitten reportedly left some friends at the McDonald's and began to walk to his home on Fox Run Court, off Luther Road. It is believed that the young man was driven to Lake Clementine, where he was shot and killed around 3 a.m. The three hours are unaccounted for. Whitten said her family has learned to cope with Glenn Whitten's death, but not the way he died. "This county owes us something," she said. Denny Whitten, of Folsom, the victim's father, said Wednesday evening that he had "no comment" about the case and promptly hung up the phone. "He didn't seem like he was there in the beginning and 10 years later he still isn't there for his family," Michaela Whitten said. Jacqui Whitten, 52, of Roseville, said Thursday in a telephone interview her son's murder drastically altered her life. "I lost everything I had," she said. "Mostly because mentally I didn't function for work to support the family." A breakdown after the slaying cost the single mother of two teenagers and a 6-week-old infant to lose her home, her car and fragmented her family. "It's devastating," she said. "The whole family went through hell. It was very damaging to them as teenagers." Michaela Whitten's anger at the unsolved status of her brother's murder is hardly kept under wraps. When asked how she felt that little to no progress has been made on the case in the past decade, Whitten said, "Like it's worth it to be a vigilante." "When you don't get justice, you make sure you get your own," she said. Her mother said she is certain that justice could have been served, but wasn't. "I think that it would have been a lot easier had it gone differently," Jacqui Whitten said. "Had we gotten justice it would have been a lot easier for us." Co-workers and family members described Glenn Whitten years ago as a hard-working and caring young man. To Whitten he was simply her big brother. "My brother's school, Springview Junior High in Rocklin, was in the opposite direction of Rocklin Elementary School, where I went," she said. "He would walk us to our school, go back past our house to his school." Whitten's good friend, Dana Raimondi, 24, echoed the sentiment. "He would either walk me home or make sure someone else did," she said. Brett Whitten, 25, of Fair Oaks, said he lost more than a brother the day Glenn Whitten was murdered. "Losing him was horrible," Glenn Whitten said. "I lost a role model in my life." The murdered young man was reportedly a good student, graduating early from Casa Roble High School in Orangevale. "He was a good kid," Brett Whitten said. "He was at the age that he just enjoyed hanging out with his friends." Her brother's murder was not the only one in the life of Michaela Whitten. She was with Damon Bates, Thomas Harden and Austin Brooks the night transient Sam Wilson was found beaten to death near the Auburn Journal's employee parking lot on Sept 8, 2003. The aggressive police and legal action taken against Bates, who remains in Placer County Jail pending a second murder trail for his part in the 2003 beating death, stupefy Whitten. However, since the court case is still pending, she declined to elaborate. She said someone knows something about her brother's mysterious murder but isn't talking. At the time of the murder some witnesses were apparently reluctant to talk. "Ten years later there's no way witnesses can be that scared," she said. "I'd like to see the case alive again. Please close that door for my family." McDonald said the case is still actively being worked. "We still receive information," he said. "There's a witness in the community that hasn't come forward. We are convinced." The Journal's Penne Usher can be reached at email@example.com.