Leftist rag ProPublica trashed the science of 911 Homicide Call Analysis; conviction was just upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court

Jessica Logan by is licensed under Macon County Police

DECATUR, IL - ProPublica seems to be an anti-law enforcement media outlet that Marxist busybody George Soros sponsors. Last fall, Law Enforcement Today published an expose debunking a series of hit pieces ProPublica published against two respected law enforcement trainers, retired Deputy Chief Tracy Harpster and retired FBI agent Dr. Susan Adams.

Harpster and Adams conduct training for law enforcement investigators called 911 Homicide Call Analysis, which is among a number of tools that can be utilized by law enforcement when investigating suspicious homicides. 

For some reason, ProPublica continues to attack 911 Homicide Call Analysis's use to assist police departments in such investigations, even though the technique has been successfully used in a number of cases. That must mean the program is over the target.

A Nov. 20, 2022 hit piece involved the case of Jessica Logan, a Decatur mother who was recently convicted in the death of her 19-month-old son Jayden. The ProPublica piece not only denounces the research conducted by Harpster and Adams but also questions the professionalism of the detective who investigated Jayden’s death, Det. Eric Matthews. 

From the piece: 

Detective Eric Matthews decided Jessica Logan probably killed her baby before he talked to a single eyewitness or collected almost any evidence. At that point, on Oct. 9, 2019, the coroner hadn’t yet announced a cause of death. What Matthews did have was a recording of Logan’s 911 call from two days earlier. 

Apparently, ProPublica’s writer, Brett Murphy, is not only a left-wing hacker but also a psychic. Imagine writing a piece where you claim a police detective “decided” someone killed her baby before conducting a thorough investigation.

Some people have been sued for making such a biased statement. The ProPublica piece wasn’t journalism…it was an opinion piece, although not framed as such. It was designed as yet another in a series of obsessive hit pieces on Deputy Chief Harpster and Dr. Adams. 

The ProPublica piece makes the argument that Logan was convicted solely based upon the 911 Homicide Call Analysis technique employed by Det. Matthews, as taught by Dep. Chief Harpster and Dr. Adams.

In fact, according to a ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court, the 911 Homicide Call Analysis wasn’t even an issue up for consideration in Logan’s appeal of her conviction. If, as ProPublica alleges, the call analysis was a significant part of the case against Logan, why was that not considered by the Illinois Supreme Court? 

The conclusion of the Supreme Court read:

For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment of the appellate court, albeit on different grounds than those put forward by the appellate court in affirming the judgment of the circuit court. Although we find that a Miranda violation occurred in this case, we hold that it did not amount to plain error because it was not a structural error and the evidence of guilt presented at trial was not closely balanced. [emphasis added]

Understand one thing…the Illinois Supreme Court is not conservative. If there had been an avenue for overturning the case, this court would have found it. 

In fact, the only questions up for consideration surrounded a reenactment of Logan finding her son’s body, which defense counsel claimed should have required Miranda warnings to be issued. They contended that Logan was “coerced” into creating the reenactment and should have received her Miranda rights. The prosecution, however, said she was not in custody, was not being detained, and could have refused to participate. Nowhere was 911 Homicide Call Analysis an issue. 

There was a mountain of evidence against Logan, and the 911 Homicide Call Analysis tool was a portion of that. If Murphy possessed any knowledge whatsoever of law enforcement investigations, he would have realized that. However, that wasn’t his goal when writing this piece. His goal was to explicitly conduct yet another attack on Deputy Chief Harpster and Dr. Adams’ research. 

The death of a 19-month-old child automatically should raise suspicions among responding investigators. This case was no different. A 911 call is but a portion of an investigation, yet it is crucial. Many individuals making 911 calls make spontaneous utterances, which are very important in any investigation. Det. Matthews included his analysis of what was said in the 911 call as part of his investigation, but it was certainly not the only evidence against Logan. 

According to Murphy, Det. Matthews and the Decatur Police Department Chief refused his interview requests, which seemed nefarious. However, since the case was (at the time of the article) under appeal, refusing to grant interviews that could then be used in the appeals process is standard law enforcement practice. 

 Murphy also seems to think that judges are dupes, able to be flummoxed by cagey police and prosecutors, “in some cases slipping it [911 Homicide Call Analysis] past judges to present it to jurors.” As if judges are sleeping on the bench. 

To be fair, Murphy doesn’t only believe 911 Homicide Call Analysis is so-called “junk science.” The piece also questions “roadside drug tests, written statements, polygraphs, and blood spatter,” claiming all those techniques were “later called into question.” In other words, Murphy and ProPublica believe any tools law enforcement uses to arrest and convict bad guys are no good. However, for some reason, 911 Homicide Call Analysis is an obsession. 

The autopsy of Logan’s child was conducted by Dr. Scott Denton, a forensic pathologist whom the coroner’s office hired. It was Denton who asked Matthews to have Logan conduct a reenactment of the night her son Jayden was murdered. He determined the cause of death to be “asphyxia by smothering and compression of the neck.” Again, Murphy alleges that something terrible happened since Dr. Denton refused an interview. 

While Matthews’ 911 call training initially confirmed his suspicions that something about Jayden’s death wasn’t right, it was only a small portion of the prosecution’s case. Yet to read the ProPublica piece titled “How Jessica Logan’s Call for Help Became Evidence Against Her,” you would believe that was all the prosecution had. In fact, they had much more. 

For one, despite Jayden requiring breathing treatments and Logan claiming she had woken up to give him the breathing treatments via a nebulizer, no vials of albuterol were found in her apartment, according to a responding officer, Joseph Sawyer.

 A forensic analysis was conducted of Logan’s cellphone by Officer James Calloway, who concluded she had Googled the phrase “how do you suffocate” on the phone on Oct. 6, 2019, just the day before Jayden’s death. A search warrant submitted to Google confirmed the data he received from the cellphone extraction. He testified that he could not determine if someone had clicked on the link. 

Dr. Denton testified that he had found “white edema foam,” i.e., fluid from the lungs coming out from Jayden’s nose. He also found additional edema foam in Jayden’s mouth, which he said indicated “some form of asphyxia or lack of oxygen in the blood.” He noted that he observed petechia or fine red dots on Jayden’s eyelids, neck, and both sides of his face, indicating compression of the veins. He testified that it appeared pressure had been applied to Jayden’s face or body below the neck. 

Further, Denton testified that he looked at Jayden’s airways, which were open and clear. He tested his organs for microscopic bacteria and viruses, including influenza A and B, which were all negative. He testified he could find no evidence of wheezing or breathing problems, which debunked what Logan told police. 

Evidence was also presented that indicated Logan was suffering from financial difficulties. On Aug. 2, 2019, she took out a personal loan from the Cash Store, which required biweekly repayments of $202.57 deducted from her bank account. The bank refused payments on several dates due to a lack of funds. Multiple messages were left for Logan for repayment arrangements, yet she made only one $100 payment.

Twelve portions of recorded phone calls between Logan and Jayden’s incarcerated father were also included as evidence, during which recordings showed Logan told him she had several hundred dollars in unpaid bills and that her bank account was “overdrawn.” The phone call also revealed a life insurance policy had been taken out on Jayden for $25,000, unusual for a young child. 

That insurance policy went into effect on Dec. 14, 2018, a whole-life policy valued at $25,000, which required $35/month payments. Patrick Delatte, the owner of an American Family Insurance agency, testified that on Oct 7, 2019, the day of Jayden’s death, Logan called him “to let us know that the child had passed away and to turn in the life insurance claim.” This was literally hours after the child had been killed. 

It took jurors only two hours to find Logan guilty of killing her son. 

In his hit piece, Murphy glosses over Logan’s financial difficulties, instead obsessing on the 911 Homicide Call Analysis. But fear not…Murphy won something called a “George Polk Award” for “his work uncovering a new junk science known as 911 call analysis.” Lest you think that is a prestigious award, it is from Long Island University (whatever that is). 

After the Illinois Supreme Court upheld Harpster and Adams’ work, not a word came forth from Murphy or ProPublica. Not that one was to be expected.

After the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed his work, Deputy Chief Harpster told us, “If George Soros is trashing us, we must be doing something right.” 

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