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Breaking their silence


ST. JOHN'S, NL - Jeff and Dawn Levitz haven’t done many interviews since the death of their daughter, Dana Bradley, in 1981.

They didn’t mince words this week, however, when giving their opinion on two buried cars alleged to have been involved in Dana’s murder: they want them dug up.

The couple was equally clear on their reasons why. They support the RCMP’s dismissal of a recent publicized tip as untrue and want the vehicles unearthed to stop the rumours, the social media chatter, the online petitions and a particular Facebook group.

More: Choosing light over darkness - Dana Bradley’s mother, stepfather find comfort in their grandchildren

“Dana’s investigation has been ongoing for over 33 years. Can you imagine the amount of effort and information gathered that has gone into her case by a myriad of officers?” Jeff told The Telegram Friday. He became Dana’s stepfather when she was a small child, and spoke to The Telegram with Dawn’s agreement.

“We have developed a strong relationship and trust with a number of the lead investigators over the years, and rely on that trust to follow their lead. We have faith that the RCMP has a strong desire to solve Dana’s murder, because after 33 years and countless expense, they still refuse to make this a cold case.”

Dana, 14, was murdered in December 1981, having been seen hitchhiking on Topsail Road and getting into a light-coloured car, similar to a Dodge Dart, driven by a man. Her body was found in a wooded area off Maddox Cove Road four days later. Her murderer has never been found.

As The Telegram reported a year ago, a man named Robert (a pseudonym used to protect his identity) went first to former RCMP investigator Jack Lavers and then to current police investigators with his story of having witnessed Dana’s murder.

Related stories:

Dana Bradley murder series

As a six-year-old, he says, he was in the backseat of the car the night she was picked up on Topsail Road and saw the driver, a family friend who had borrowed his father’s car, sexually assault and kill her. The man, he says, transported Dana’s bloodied body in the trunk of the car to the area where it was later found.

Robert says he recovered the memories of the murder, and his own sexual abuse by the same man, after quitting drinking.

The car, Robert says, along with another one, was buried about 30 years ago, as landfill.

Last fall, Lavers, now a lawyer, spoke to The Telegram about his reasons for wanting the cars excavated, saying he felt it was important to have them both forensically and mechanically tested.

Led by RCMP Sgt. Kent Osmond, police investigated Robert’s information for 16 months, concluding that a substantial portion of his memories didn’t match known facts of the case.

Osmond recently told The Telegram, in a series of articles which began at the end of February, that Robert’s memories were consistent with information reported in the media at the time, including some erroneous information that had been reported, and inconsistent when it came to any other established facts.

“Sgt. Osmond and his team spent a solid 16 months investigating Robert’s information and, as explained in your previous articles, came to the conclusion that in the case of witnessing Dana’s murder, he is wrong,” Jeff said. “Unfortunately, Robert won’t accept this, and has subsequently continued to occupy too much of the investigative team’s time that could be spent clearing other leads.”

Although Jeff and Dawn have faith in the police team that cleared Robert’s lead and determined it has no merit, they would like to see the cars excavated by an independent forensic team, overseen by the RCMP, to put the matter to rest in the eyes of the public.

“We have discussed our desire with the RCMP and they are strongly considering our request,” Jeff said. “We realize that it will not stop Robert, but hopefully will stop the rumour mill around the Facebook pages.”

Last October, after meeting Robert, local man Terry Hynes started a Facebook group called “Justice for Dana Bradley,” which currently counts almost 7,000 members.

Through the site, Hynes and group members have been calling for the excavation of the vehicles, encouraging the public to contact the police and provincial politicians with the request, criticizing Osmond and his team as well as The Telegram, and referring to Dana as “Our girl” and “Our angel.”

Jeff and Dawn — who say they have never met or spoken to either Robert or Terry, or ever asked anyone to speak on their behalf — don’t beat around the bush when they speak of their disapproval of things being posted on the Facebook site, although they do appreciate the public interest in Dana and desire for her murder to be solved.

“It is lovely to see how many people are still interested in Dana’s case and I would never want to deter anyone from contacting the police with information that might help in solving her murder. However, ‘if it’s on the Internet, it must be true’ is not the case,” Jeff said. “One should take everything they read on these sites with a pound of salt. I feel the (Facebook) site is no longer about Dana, but rather about Terry Hynes advocating for Robert.

“I can’t stress enough our desire to have Terry Hynes and his co-administrator stop using Dana’s name in order to present biased information on a Facebook site which is supposed to be in her honour. In our opinion, this site is not about Dana, but rather about Robert and his crusade against the RCMP for not validating his accusations.

“As Terry Hynes and (his co-administrator) are so vehemently bashing Sgt. Osmond and others who don’t agree with them on Robert’s behalf, I would like to see Robert come out and identify himself on the site, rather than continue to reside in anonymity, and speak for himself.”

The group’s outcry had no effect on the Levitzs’ desire to have the cars excavated and tested — they’ve always agreed with Lavers in wanting them dug up, Jeff said, as much as they believe Osmond’s conclusions from his review of Robert’s information.

“Dana was our girl, not Terry Hynes’,” Jeff said, when asked how the “Our girl” wording affects him and Dawn. “I don’t think he even knew her. The fact that you feel empathy for someone who is hurt, wronged or even killed does not make them your girl. I feel Terry Hynes has used this Facebook account to present biased reporting in an effort to support his friend Robert.”

Jeff replied when asked if he had anything to say to Hynes.

“Stop,” he said. “This is no longer about Dana, and you are not helping her.”

He also has a message for Robert.

“I’m sorry for Robert and the abuse (he says) he suffered at the hands of his alleged abuser, but he needs to let Dana’s murder go, and pursue his abuse case alone.”

• • •

Since the day Dana’s body was recovered, the Levitzs have had a close relationship with the police investigators working on the case, and have had full disclosure of whatever level of information they’ve wanted.

Over the years, they have chosen not to ask about certain aspects of the case, like graphic details, for instance, but have been kept up to date on all promising tips, including people, connections and whereabouts.

They are aware of Robert’s information, although they haven’t sought his description of Dana’s murder, and they say they are aware of many discrepancies in his account.

“Countless newspaper articles, TV news and a book have made many aspects of the case easily known,” Jeff said. “It’s the withheld information that has to match to corroborate a story.”

He and Dawn trust the police and rely on their integrity, he said. They support the police decision to close the tip, but stress they want the cars dug up “to close the matter once and for all.”

For anyone on social media who might think they have been manipulated by police, Jeff finds the suggestion ridiculous.

“We have worked with eight lead investigators over (the) years, as well as other officers. Several have become good friends with whom we still have contact, now that they have moved on to other positions. We have always felt free to express our satisfaction or dissatisfaction, should it arise, with these investigators who have done their utmost to accommodate us. To suggest we have been manipulated or, worse, brainwashed is, certainly in this case insulting to the RCMP, ludicrous and not worthy of further comment.

“In case some people think my answers or those of Sgt. Osmond are veiled, they are,” he continued. “There are aspects of the investigation that, simply put, cannot be made public in order to not contaminate the investigation. I am trying to be as open as I can and I hope people will understand.”

Osmond confirmed the RCMP is considering digging up the cars, and will make a decision in the very near future.

“We have spoken frequently with the family about this,” he said. “The RCMP and Dana’s family have stood beside each other for 33 years. We will always have their best interests at heart.

“For the RCMP, social media is playing no role in the investigation. However, Dana’s family has told us they are finding the social media comments and activities hurtful, and that it has been a source of personal stress for them. They hope that excavating the cars will bring closure to this part of the investigation.”

 

tbradbury@thetelegram.com Twitter: @tara_bradbury

gwhiffen@thetelegram.com

They didn’t mince words this week, however, when giving their opinion on two buried cars alleged to have been involved in Dana’s murder: they want them dug up.

The couple was equally clear on their reasons why. They support the RCMP’s dismissal of a recent publicized tip as untrue and want the vehicles unearthed to stop the rumours, the social media chatter, the online petitions and a particular Facebook group.

More: Choosing light over darkness - Dana Bradley’s mother, stepfather find comfort in their grandchildren

“Dana’s investigation has been ongoing for over 33 years. Can you imagine the amount of effort and information gathered that has gone into her case by a myriad of officers?” Jeff told The Telegram Friday. He became Dana’s stepfather when she was a small child, and spoke to The Telegram with Dawn’s agreement.

“We have developed a strong relationship and trust with a number of the lead investigators over the years, and rely on that trust to follow their lead. We have faith that the RCMP has a strong desire to solve Dana’s murder, because after 33 years and countless expense, they still refuse to make this a cold case.”

Dana, 14, was murdered in December 1981, having been seen hitchhiking on Topsail Road and getting into a light-coloured car, similar to a Dodge Dart, driven by a man. Her body was found in a wooded area off Maddox Cove Road four days later. Her murderer has never been found.

As The Telegram reported a year ago, a man named Robert (a pseudonym used to protect his identity) went first to former RCMP investigator Jack Lavers and then to current police investigators with his story of having witnessed Dana’s murder.

Related stories:

Dana Bradley murder series

As a six-year-old, he says, he was in the backseat of the car the night she was picked up on Topsail Road and saw the driver, a family friend who had borrowed his father’s car, sexually assault and kill her. The man, he says, transported Dana’s bloodied body in the trunk of the car to the area where it was later found.

Robert says he recovered the memories of the murder, and his own sexual abuse by the same man, after quitting drinking.

The car, Robert says, along with another one, was buried about 30 years ago, as landfill.

Last fall, Lavers, now a lawyer, spoke to The Telegram about his reasons for wanting the cars excavated, saying he felt it was important to have them both forensically and mechanically tested.

Led by RCMP Sgt. Kent Osmond, police investigated Robert’s information for 16 months, concluding that a substantial portion of his memories didn’t match known facts of the case.

Osmond recently told The Telegram, in a series of articles which began at the end of February, that Robert’s memories were consistent with information reported in the media at the time, including some erroneous information that had been reported, and inconsistent when it came to any other established facts.

“Sgt. Osmond and his team spent a solid 16 months investigating Robert’s information and, as explained in your previous articles, came to the conclusion that in the case of witnessing Dana’s murder, he is wrong,” Jeff said. “Unfortunately, Robert won’t accept this, and has subsequently continued to occupy too much of the investigative team’s time that could be spent clearing other leads.”

Although Jeff and Dawn have faith in the police team that cleared Robert’s lead and determined it has no merit, they would like to see the cars excavated by an independent forensic team, overseen by the RCMP, to put the matter to rest in the eyes of the public.

“We have discussed our desire with the RCMP and they are strongly considering our request,” Jeff said. “We realize that it will not stop Robert, but hopefully will stop the rumour mill around the Facebook pages.”

Last October, after meeting Robert, local man Terry Hynes started a Facebook group called “Justice for Dana Bradley,” which currently counts almost 7,000 members.

Through the site, Hynes and group members have been calling for the excavation of the vehicles, encouraging the public to contact the police and provincial politicians with the request, criticizing Osmond and his team as well as The Telegram, and referring to Dana as “Our girl” and “Our angel.”

Jeff and Dawn — who say they have never met or spoken to either Robert or Terry, or ever asked anyone to speak on their behalf — don’t beat around the bush when they speak of their disapproval of things being posted on the Facebook site, although they do appreciate the public interest in Dana and desire for her murder to be solved.

“It is lovely to see how many people are still interested in Dana’s case and I would never want to deter anyone from contacting the police with information that might help in solving her murder. However, ‘if it’s on the Internet, it must be true’ is not the case,” Jeff said. “One should take everything they read on these sites with a pound of salt. I feel the (Facebook) site is no longer about Dana, but rather about Terry Hynes advocating for Robert.

“I can’t stress enough our desire to have Terry Hynes and his co-administrator stop using Dana’s name in order to present biased information on a Facebook site which is supposed to be in her honour. In our opinion, this site is not about Dana, but rather about Robert and his crusade against the RCMP for not validating his accusations.

“As Terry Hynes and (his co-administrator) are so vehemently bashing Sgt. Osmond and others who don’t agree with them on Robert’s behalf, I would like to see Robert come out and identify himself on the site, rather than continue to reside in anonymity, and speak for himself.”

The group’s outcry had no effect on the Levitzs’ desire to have the cars excavated and tested — they’ve always agreed with Lavers in wanting them dug up, Jeff said, as much as they believe Osmond’s conclusions from his review of Robert’s information.

“Dana was our girl, not Terry Hynes’,” Jeff said, when asked how the “Our girl” wording affects him and Dawn. “I don’t think he even knew her. The fact that you feel empathy for someone who is hurt, wronged or even killed does not make them your girl. I feel Terry Hynes has used this Facebook account to present biased reporting in an effort to support his friend Robert.”

Jeff replied when asked if he had anything to say to Hynes.

“Stop,” he said. “This is no longer about Dana, and you are not helping her.”

He also has a message for Robert.

“I’m sorry for Robert and the abuse (he says) he suffered at the hands of his alleged abuser, but he needs to let Dana’s murder go, and pursue his abuse case alone.”

• • •

Since the day Dana’s body was recovered, the Levitzs have had a close relationship with the police investigators working on the case, and have had full disclosure of whatever level of information they’ve wanted.

Over the years, they have chosen not to ask about certain aspects of the case, like graphic details, for instance, but have been kept up to date on all promising tips, including people, connections and whereabouts.

They are aware of Robert’s information, although they haven’t sought his description of Dana’s murder, and they say they are aware of many discrepancies in his account.

“Countless newspaper articles, TV news and a book have made many aspects of the case easily known,” Jeff said. “It’s the withheld information that has to match to corroborate a story.”

He and Dawn trust the police and rely on their integrity, he said. They support the police decision to close the tip, but stress they want the cars dug up “to close the matter once and for all.”

For anyone on social media who might think they have been manipulated by police, Jeff finds the suggestion ridiculous.

“We have worked with eight lead investigators over (the) years, as well as other officers. Several have become good friends with whom we still have contact, now that they have moved on to other positions. We have always felt free to express our satisfaction or dissatisfaction, should it arise, with these investigators who have done their utmost to accommodate us. To suggest we have been manipulated or, worse, brainwashed is, certainly in this case insulting to the RCMP, ludicrous and not worthy of further comment.

“In case some people think my answers or those of Sgt. Osmond are veiled, they are,” he continued. “There are aspects of the investigation that, simply put, cannot be made public in order to not contaminate the investigation. I am trying to be as open as I can and I hope people will understand.”

Osmond confirmed the RCMP is considering digging up the cars, and will make a decision in the very near future.

“We have spoken frequently with the family about this,” he said. “The RCMP and Dana’s family have stood beside each other for 33 years. We will always have their best interests at heart.

“For the RCMP, social media is playing no role in the investigation. However, Dana’s family has told us they are finding the social media comments and activities hurtful, and that it has been a source of personal stress for them. They hope that excavating the cars will bring closure to this part of the investigation.”

 

tbradbury@thetelegram.com Twitter: @tara_bradbury

gwhiffen@thetelegram.com

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