Thrilled to see your book here on our desk in the family room ….. Ben loved it …. Peter and I are looking forward to reading it ….. you need to be on twitter !!!!!
Great hearing from you. I haven’t gotten my mind around twitter, but I’m extremely happy you’re going to read it. It took Ben long enough!! I’ve already sent him the play version. Kidding aside, the issue is a serious one that I tried to leaven with a little humour. You can read it in an evening.
I have definite proof that a few courts witnessed a defendent commit fraud upon the court and the court’s personel aided the defendants to win the case. I have a judgment that was suppose to be done by three judges, however, the judgment is not signed by either of the judges. I brought the fraud upon the court to the attention of the circuit court judge and in every document that I filed in every court. THE COURTS HELP THE DEFENDANTS GET AWAY WITH FRAUD UPON THE COURT. I am not an attorney, but I know that it was fraud upon the court. This is the united states of america, how can this kind of thing still be going on????? 205-777-3501/205-541-6674
Thank you for your response. I’m wondering if your observation (and I have no cause to question it) is more particular than general? Does this happen often? What were the particular circumstances? I have no particular animus against the courts; I admit that they generally ‘get it right’. But no doubt there are as many errors and as much corruption on both sides of the court. Of course my interest is to help defendants get another day in court and am unaware of the situations you are referring to.
Amazing documentary. Very sad. What a great guy, his life has not been in vain as sad as it has been so far. How frustrating. Too bad you could not get any futher “smoking gun” evidence to exonerate David. How the hell the police or courts could have allowed this to happen certainly leaves one with little faith in the criminal system. Hope you or Ray make more documentaries in the future.
Is there any way to write to David?
David McCallum 86B-2336
Otisville Correctional Institute
PO Box 8
57 Sanatorium Ave.
Thank you so much for your feedback, Kevin. I think that my son and Marc did a wonderful thing. The so-called justice system is geared to protecting convictions, wrongful and otherwise. No one wants to shoulder responsibility for the crimes of kidnapping, forcible confinement, and, in the case of Stuckey, forcible confinement causing death. Of course careers should be enhanced by admitting error.
David will be very happy to receive your letter and will write you back.
Ken I am on my iPAD
I don’t know if this will get to you
Otherwise, i will write when I get back to the US
I have repeated watching 48 Hours on Rafay and Burns
Where is the evidence! don’t get this verdict at all
I have been researching for hrs here, and the way the prison is treating Burns is totally inhuman and unforgettable, you see this stuff in gangster fictional movies.
He is going to die at their hands.
Prosecutors are ruthless and just want to convict and the judge that spoke to Burns after the conviction was totally out of order and filled with hate.
Just saw David and Me. Oct 1 2014
What a sin. I just had wished you would be able to find something. You must push this before the courts. With the time frame of 28 yrs. It will be tough. I am going to write to David. It is so unfortunate for many innocent inmates.
Shelley. Toronto. Ont.
Thank you for this, Shelley. Today we learned that David may well be out of prison within a month, almost 29 years to the day he went in. He has survived a terrible injustice because of people like yourself.
If you want to write him (no obligation):
David McCallum 86-B-2336
Otisville Correctional Institute
57 Sanatorium Rd.
PO Box 8
Sir, you have touched the very essence of my soul with your justice work. I have just seen the film David and Me, and I am as yet, unable to fully articulate my overwhelming feelings about it. I do have two questions though:
1. Do you live in Vancouver, BC? I am in BC and would love to connect.
2. I wish to write David a letter via snail mail. Do you have an address for me?
Blessings to you,
Nice to get your note. Did you watch the film on line or were you in Sonoma? (Just curious because the TVO on-line version is the new one, where he gets out of prison.) I do live in Vancouver and my # is 604-221-9404.
David is living with his family for the next short while. His address:
164 Cooper St. #1A
Brooklyn, New York
Your response to the film is gratifying as is your response to the work done to free David. Many, many people have responded similarly. His freedom is a miracle, nothing short of that. Thank you for taking the time.
Thank you so much for the contact information for both you and David. I am in Vancouver at least 1x per month and would love to sit down with you for coffee and conversation! I also wonder if you and your wife ever travel over to the Sunshine Coast? I would like to invite you to come over for a day to visit with my Mom and me, have a late lunch or dinner, and watch a beautiful Davis Bay sunset. I will call you this weekend to see what the possibilities are.
Blessings to you,
PS: I did watch the TVO online version – the new one , where he is released!
I am so sorry I did not call this weekend. I will call you during the week. My next trip to Vancouver will be on April 22nd. Perhaps this may be a good day for us to meet. I will be free after 1pm. For now, my very best to you and your wife. I know we will connect soon!
Thank you, Lena, for the thesis and the kind inscription. I agree with much of what you are saying and I like the way you say it. What’s your view on Burns and Rafay at this point?
I watched the 48 hours on Atif and Sebastian a year ago and I remember thinking they are clearly guilty. The confessions make it seem that way but when you realize the months of denial and all the tactics it took to force that confession especially with no forensic evidence to back it up you realize how railroaded these young men were. Until just recently I happen to flip the channels in TV and found the same program on and decided to watch it again. That is when I began to change the way I saw them. This made me want to read as much as I can on the case and now believe them to be innocent. I admire the work you do for the innocent and have recently heard you speak on injustice radio about this case. I know a lot of people have convicted these boys on their arrogance, behavior and intellect which is sad because that doesn’t make you a killer. In fact I actually thought Sebastian spoke very well at the end. People viewed it as rambling but he spoke better than I have heard some lawyers close arguments. Just wanted to also note my dad passed away in July and I had to be strong for my siblings it was tough because it was so painful and at the services people were trying to cheer me up by telling me funny stories or making me laugh and I remember they were a breathe of fresh air for a split second to make me feel better. If I was being watched by police or whoever I’m sure someone could mistaken my behavior to not caring about my father down to wow she’s cold and without any feeling. Anyways it’s awful what is happening to Sebastian in prison. I actually also with renewed interest for wrongful convictions just last night watched The Hurricane. I know it’s embarrassing that it took me this long but I had no idea who he was. What an inspirational story and also incredible how he advocates for the wrongfully accused. I know my message is all over the place but is there a way to write to Sebastian and Atif and let them know they have support that extends all the way from Beirut Lebanon? Thank you Ken
Thank you for your thoughts, Gigi, and condolences on your father’s passing. Rubin Carter also died last year (April 20) at 77; he was a second father to me. I think you have summed up the problems with the case against Sebastian and Atif very well–at least I agree with what you’re saying. The more people hear about this, the less prone they are to condemn. I’ll send you Atif’s address in a subsequent e-mail.
Hi Ken –
Perhaps this will be of interest to you. (I hope.)
Ken – Here is Robert Meeropol’s explanation why the focus is only on Ethyl’s exoneration at this time. http://www.rfc.org/blog/article/2033
I just saw your doc on netflix……….WONDERFUL WORK!!
Thank you, Jacqueline.
OMG!!! I just watch your documentary on Netflix , I’m inspired, would you mine going into a private chat?? I have a similar situation And need help and guidance please!!! My husband Ben away for 6yrs now
I cannot help you out with your husband’s case, but if you tell me where you live I can suggest people you could contact who might be able to help you. Truly sorry that I’m unable to give more assistance. I’m glad you found the film inspiring.
Is there a new address for David to receive letters? I watched the documentary and it took my breath away. His positive outlook and the way he never gave up was just amazing. Id like to share with him how much this touched me and how it helped me in my current situation.
beautiful movie!! as an aside, you may be interested in “Lost Grandeur of the Grand Jury:” http://www.intrepidreport.com/archives/17564
Sorry, Ervina. I wrote ‘Lisa’ because of your e-mail address.
I just want to thank you and your son, and everyone who was involved in helping Mr. McCallum. Many times my faith in inhumanity is tested. But beautiful stories such as this one are so moving and inspiring to keep seeing the good in life. I want Mr. McCallum to know that he is such a role model, for me and for others; He is genuinely a happy, good person, who remained optimistic through what I am certain was a very difficult and dark time.You all are beautiful people. Truly. Thanks for sharing this story!
Very kind of you, Ariel. It’s really such a bad time we’re going through, so stories like David’s remind us that most people are good and sincerely want to help each other. That’s what the film has come to represent.
I realize that, emotionally, you must be really invested in the belief that Sebastian and Atif are innocent. However despite anything that throws doubt on their guilt if it turned out that whether or not their confessions or Jimmy Myoshi’s testimony, were coerced, one or the other were true then everything else becomes moot, right?
Wouldn’t that cause a lot of cerdibility issues for innocence projects in general?
Perhaps you could check out this site and let me know what you think of what Jimmy has posted here.
I am not emotionally invested in their innocence although you’d have to be made of stone not to feel for anyone who is wrongly convicted. Their innocence rests on reason and experience, not the least of which is the proven track record of the Mr. Big sting operation to induce false confessions. Emotional involvement would be the worst standard for any innocence project to become involved with a prisoner. A sure way to lose credibility. Coerced testimony is not to be trusted…period.
I am not interested in what Mr. Miyoshi has to say. His role in this affair is tragic as well.
thank you for your reply.
Everybody without exception exhibits one or more of certain phenomena of the psyche when beliefs that are dearly held are challenged. These phenomena include denial, cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias (tunnel vision). Confirmation bias is when we lend more weight to information that supports our belief and ignore information that challenges that belief.
Experience tells us that most people killed in their homes are killed by people they know.
It also tells us that the person or persons who claim to have discovered the body of a murder victim are often the killer.
Furthermore it tells us that when there is staging of a crime scene the staging is invariably done to lead investigators away from the obvious culprit.
Reason would tell us that based on the above, it is likely that Atif and Sebastian were the killers of the Rafay family. However likliehood alone does not meet the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt required by the criminal justice system. In fact nothing discovered by the Bellvue police investigation was considered enough to indict them. Nothing was found to exonerate them either.
That brings us to the Mr. Big operation. It is true to say that Mr. Big operations have a proven track record of producing false confessions. They hare also believed to have produced confessions that were true.
I do believe that in the case of Atif and Sebastian the confessions were coerced. That doesn’t mean they were false. To decide whether or not they are true we have to see if there is any corroberating evidence. That is provided by Jimmy Miyoshi and that is why it is necessary to be interested in what he said at different times and why he said it.
His initial deposition was made while he was under the belief that if he didn’t testify against Atif and Sebastian that he would be prosecuted as an accomplice. This means that this testimony was coerced. Again it doesn’t mean that it was untrue. However by the time he testified against them in trial he already knew that the threat to prosecute him was a bluff and that the D.A. had already decided that there was not enough evidence against him to proceed with an indictment. He could have chosen not to testify or even to recant. Recanting would have seriously undermined the state’s case by showing him to be an unreliable witness and left the confessions uncorroberated. Instead he chose to testify. The reason he gave in the link that I provided was that he wanted to do what was ‘righteous’. If this is true, then far from being tragic, it is a hopeful sign that someone who at 18 connived at the murder of three members of a family could at 28 turn around and though obviously reluctant to do so, provide the testimony necessary to bring their killers to justice.
I don’t know if my saying so will mean anything to you but I deeply respect the work that you and the innocence projects do. Apart from the wrongful convictions you have had overturned you provide a lifeline of hope to people who have been unfairly imprisoned and their families at a time when their must seem very little to hope for.
I don’t mean any disrespect I simple think you are wrong in this case.
I appreciate the care you’ve shown in your response. With regard to my comment about Miyoshi, I just find the meanderings on his website to be of no value. You have to interpret everything he says, so while your supposition may be valid, it is just as likely to be invalid. His words are consistently veiled or ambiguous, perhaps by design, perhaps not. His experience with this grisly murder may have destabilized him, as it would many people. Be that as it may, how do you know that “By the time he testified against them in trial he already knew that the threat to prosecute him was a bluff”? What is the source of that information? And what does the word “righteous” have to do with his information? Is he doing what is “right” or what is righteous? You can see where his language is ambiguous.
Your research about more murders being committed close to home (or by relatives) has validity. Your other points about staging the murder in a way to cast blame on others or that he who discovers the body is often the killer sound somewhat to me, in the present context, like a detective in a crime novel. Also “Reason would tell us that based on the above, it is likely that Atif and Sebastian were the killers of the Rafay family” is not the product of reason. Would reason tell you that two eighteen year old youths with no history of violent crime whatsoever would employ bludgeoning as a method of murder? To inherit money with which to make a movie?
The flaws in this case indicate that tunnel vision was operating with the investigators and the prosecutors, and not with three innocence projects that believe unequivocally in their innocence. Those people were using the same kind of suppositions that you use here.
Finally, with respect to the Mr. Big sting, you are absolutely correct in saying that it has proved successful in the past but you are ignoring the current legal situation with regard to the sting. The court has ruled that these stings should not be employed against vulnerable suspects nor should they be used in the absence of forensic (or hard) evidence. (Frankly, I think the sting should not be used at all since it relies completely on fear and coercion.) In the case of Burns and Rafay, the absence of corroborating forensic evidence would have disqualified the confessions had the trial been held today. You are aware that the two of them were thoroughly examined by Bellevue police for several days in a motel room. Had they been malicious schemers, would they have agreed to days of interrogation without contacting a lawyer? Nothing was found to hold them. When they left and returned to Canada, they were said to have fled. To me, that sounds more like tunnel vision than my attempts to defend them.
what I said about people being killed in their homes, the person(s) who found the body and the significance of staging are all criminology 101…literally!
I learnt these fact while I was doing my introductory course to criminology and criminal psychology. We had a guest lecturer at the time who was speaking to us about the initial stages of a murder investigation and unfortunately I can’t remember his name now but what I do remember is that this information came from a manual on criminal profiling developed in Quantico by John Douglas who was one of the founders of the practice of criminal profiling. If you want any more information about this manual I can do a litlle research on it for you.
Just a quick word on criminal profiling. When it is done according to best practice, though not in it self conclusive, it is a very useful tool in guiding the direction an investigation should take. It should always be backed up by hard evidence.
I first came across the case of the Rafay murders three years ago while doing research for my thesis and it is no exaggeration to say that it has haunted me since. There are three reasons for this.
The first is the profile of the victims, a loving mother lured to her death by (if the convictions are sound) her son, her husband a man who had clearly tried hard to do the best he could by his family, bludgeoned to death after he had retired for the night, his face obliterated and his daughter mute and helpless in her bedroom trying to fend off the attack of her killer (my eyes are actually tearing up as I type this).
The second reason it stays with me is the victims left behind. I was very moved as I listened to Sebastian Burn’s mother talk about her three-weekly visits by bus to her son in prison bringing him socks and books, rarely able to talk to her friends about the case because she knew they thought he was guilty and her parents dying in Scotland without ever knowing what had happened to Sebastian because she couldn’t bring herself to tell them. How difficult that must have been. In a situation like hers the people you most want to comfort you are family and friends. I also felt so sorry for Dave Burns each time the camera cut to him during the sentencing period of the trial. How awful for a father to have to watch his son being sent away for life. I couldn’t help but be moved as well by Tiffany Burns who clearly idolises her younger brother. No sister could have done more to aid a brother she believes to be wrongfully convicted, And then there was Tariq Rafay’s brother barely holding back tears as he spoke about the horror of seeing and being unable to recognize Tariq’s body in the morgue (I’m sure the contrast between this and Atif’s affect when he talked to the police about the discovery of his family’s bodies must have made a deep impression on them).
The third reason that this case has weighed heavily on my mind is that when I heard that the innocense project had taken an interest I decided to set aside my preconceptions and take another look at the case this time focusing purely on hard evidence. This meant i would have to disregard the initial profiling which would suggest that the killers were known to the family (for the reasons already given above and the fact that Sultana’s head had been covered by her scarf post mortem) and were highly intelligent (staging of the crime scene and the dearth of forensic evidence not only against Atif and Sebastian but against anybody else, save the single hair found on Tariq’s bed which could have been evidence of another killer, could have been part of the staging or may have been there for a completely innocent reason). Collection of 26 hairs which were matched to Sebastian’s DNA (after a napkin which he disgarded was recovered by the RCMP) and which were collected from the floor of the shower suggested he was the last person to use it, the same shower that the killer used to clean up after the crime. However suggesting it is not enough. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough information about the blood splatter analysis to form any definite conclusions though the interpretaion of blood spatter analysis except at the most basic level is notoriously unreliable as it can be open to many different interpretations and needs to compared against a clear idea of how the crime was carried out which is absent in this case. Likewise the ‘alibi’ provided by the neighbours was of no use to me without more information (for example could there have been an unintentional cross contamination of evidence say for example these neighbours coming together outside the Rafay’s house where one neighbour mistaken in his recollection of the time he heard the noises may have influenced the other’s recollection…impossible to say).
I agree with you that too much was made of Atif’s and Sebastian’s hasty return to Canada though I think this may have been a stratagy of the police to put pressure on those they now considered to be suspects in the case. Atif and Sebastian were well within their right to then consult attorneys and on their advice to refuse to speak to the police. Directing their friends not to do so however was tantamount to interfering with the investigation and only served to raise suspicions,
The confessions, though chilling, I also had to set aside because the demeanor of Atif and Sebastian while creating quite a negative impression could be explained by braggadocio (I thought the defense made a big mistake by not asking that the videos of the confessions be excluded on the basis that they were unnecessarily prejudicial and the transcripts of the confessions be used in court instead. That would have focused the jury more on the content of the confessions which did not provide any information that was not already in the public domain and certainly none that would have been known only to the killers).
That left only Jimmy Miyoshi’s testimony. For a long time I believed it was coerced and that is one of the reason’s the case has remained with me. I felt that had I been on the jury, while on the balance of probability I would have believed them to be guilty, I would have voted to acquit because I would not have felt the case to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt so in my mind their was a slim possibility that two innocent men were in prison. Then I read the book ‘Perfectly Executed’ written by Peter Van Sant and one of the producers of the T.V. show ’48 Hours’. This was the source of the information about Jimmy Miyoshi’s uncoerced testimony that you were asking me about.
In the book the writers tell about how Teresa Olsen and a colleague travel to Japan to speak to Miyoshi. With them they bring a document that they obtained that shows that the D.A. had decided that there was in fact not enough evidence to proceed with an indictment against Miyoshi and that the threat of the indictment was merely a bluff to get him to cooperate. They hope to dissuade Miyoshi from testifying and though he is very guarded in what he says to them they return to the States optimistic about their success. They are dismayed later on when they find out that he has decided to go ahead and testify (I don’t have a copy of the book to hand at the moment to give you page numbers as a reference but I promise to do so within the next couple of days).
Reading that I was convinced that Miyoshi was teling he truth but I was still bothered by the problem of confirmation bias, was I giving too much weight to information provided by a book when I didn’t know how carefully it had been researched?
When i read the post by Miyoshi on the website (that I provided a link to in my previous post) I felt sure Miyoshi, though initially and understandably, having denied any involvement gave a deposition (coerced) stating that he had prior knowledge of the crime. He then testified to this (uncoerced) in court almost ten years later. He then repeated this (also uncoerced and even while trying to minimise his involvement) another seven years later in a public forum. This in any court of law would be considered as consistent and convincing testimony.
The rest of my post is merely my opinion and given that you have been patient enough to read this far you might just want to skip it (it also contains something that you might find personally offensive though it is not intended that way).
My initial take on Sebastian was that he suffered from anti social personality disorder (also known as sociopathy). The more I learned about him though the more I came to believe that he fitted into the mould of narcassictic personality. Atif right from the first moment i heard him speak in his interview with Peter Van Sant, brief though it was, was ticking a number of boxes for anti social personality disorder. When I saw him speak at his sentencing he ticked a few more boxes. I next heard him speak on a radio interview for ‘The Fourth Estate’. In this interview he came across as articulate, thoughtful and intelligent, no boxes were ticked. Then I read his essay after clicking on a link provided on your site. Some of the same boxes were ticked again as well as any others that had been left unticked. I believe Atif is a clever and very dangerous sociopath. I also fear that you through no fault of your own are in thrall to him (I apologise for how patronising and how offensive this must sound to you). i believe that if it suited his purpose Atif would dispatch of you with as little compunction as he lured his mother to his death. Fortunately there is no risk of that as long as he remains in prison. He threw away his life for very little as sociopaths often do, as well as that of his best friend and has blithely brought destruction to his immediate family, untold damage to his extented family as well as to that of the Burns’. This is also typical of dangerous sociopaths. He will, if it suits his purposes bring the innocence propjects into disrepute without a second thought. Sociopaths like him are extremely convincing to people unless they have been schooled in the signs to watch for. And lastly, ironically but not uncommonly amongst sociopaths, he seems to thrive in a prison environment.
I think you have been a little too hard on the investigation conducted by the Bellevue police. For budgetary and other resource reasons there are always constraints put on the scope of any murder investigation and for reasons that would take to long to go into here the idea that the killings were carried out by contract killers or disgruntled moslems would reasonably have appeared far fetched to them.
Their treatment of Atif and Sebastian while probably harsh was no harsher than that commonly used to interview the family of the deceased as the investigation of a murder starts with family and spreads out from there. The same treatment is meted out to those unfortunate enough to have discovered the body or bodies. This harsh treatment is a deliberate strategy of all murder investigations unless it is clear from the outset that the person being interviewed could not have possibly committed the crime.
I accept that you have far greater knowledge than I in regard to the updating of the law re the Mr. Big operations in Canada (as in many other areas I’m sure) but would the categorization of ‘vulnerable persons’ refer to people under the age of 18 or those of limited intellectual capacity in which case Atif and Sebastian be protected by this amendment of the law?
As to Miyoshi, again, since neither of us really know him, our opinions about this man are colored by our conceptions of the crime and the people who were convicted for it. There always remain elements in any crime that are inexplicable to an outsider; I will admit, as an outsider as well, that this case has many inexplicable facts. I don’t consider Perfectly Executed to have a monopoly on the truth but a thesis to which it tends. That’s natural, of course, and I respect the authors for coming to a conclusion, albeit the wrong one.
Take a look at the remarkable Netflix series, “Rectify”. A perfectly reasonable sheriff draws the wrong conclusion about the death of one of the characters; he sees it as a murder where we have seen with our own eyes that it was a suicide. And yet, after hearing his reasoning, I questioned myself: did George really kill himself? I questioned my own perception. So we get led along through logic but logic fills in for the inexplicable; it can’t explain it by its very definition. Something definitely happened: the Rafays were murdered. But something is also missing. We don’t know who did it or why but we have a better idea than if you begin and end with Sebastian and Atif.
I feel very sympathetic towards what you are saying about knowing Atif for ten years and based on that not being able to believe him capable of such a crime however…in all the cases of teenage killers in my post above, none of whom had been previously violent I’m sure the victims would have said the same of their killers right up until the moments of their deaths.
As to what you have said about the limits of logic all I can do is quote you the following which I’m sure you’ll recognise ”All true convictions should proceed from a scientific investigation the results of which can be replicated (and which should be shown to be replicable).”.
The killings I mentioned follow a pattern i.e. they are replicable and the Rafay murders fit into this pattern.
i want you to know how heavy my heart feels typing this post because I know how painful for you it would be to accept my conclusions and yet I will feel it is equally sad if you don’t. I won’t get a chance to see ‘Rectify’ till next weekend but I’ll make a point of watching it then and I’ll let you know what I think. In the meantime take a look at this video, I think it has a bearing on this case. It’s about forty five minutes long. Do you think he did it?
I forgot to mention that i don’t believe that the motive behind the Rafay murders was insatiable greed. I think it was a complex mixture of greed, love, anger and revenge.
I would ask you, Patrick, not to confuse science with logic. Science is provable and, as it says, replicable. Logic is a self-contained system that is not subject to proof but to deduction. Science proceeds from a hypothesis; logic proceeds from a premise. The problem with some investigations is that they occur in a self-enclosed system. If the premise is that Burns and Rafay committed the murders then all the subsequent details of the case must be made to fit that premise. This use of logic is what results in tunnel vision and wrongful convictions. If the hypothesis is that Burns and Rafay committed the murders, then the knowable facts, the forensic evidence, should bear that out.
the reference for the page numbers in Peter Van Sant’s book ‘Perfectely Executed’ where Teresa Olsen talks about contacting Jimmy Miyoshi in Japan are pages 280-283. On page 283 she quotes Miyoshi as saying ”He then told me that he has been led to believe that the government had such a strong case that, no matter what he did, they were going down”, Olsen wrote. ”So, the fact that he saved himself by getting immunity did not change the boy’s fate. But now he realizes that it was different.” (pg 283). His realization was after seeing a letter that Olsen had brought with her and shown to him that RCMP officers had received from the Canadian prosecution. (pg 282). ”The letter said that the prosecuters in Canada did not feel they had enough evidence to charge Jimmy with conspiracy”. (pg 282).
In my last post I forgot to address the question you asked whether I could believe that two teenagers with no previous history of violence would be capable of using bludgeoning as a method of murder to obtain money for a movie. Without doing any further research I can think of four seperate cases of teenage girls who committed matricide, another who killed both parents, a teenage boy who did the same and another teenage boy who killed his sister in addition to his parents..The motives ranged from financial gain, resentment against parental disapproval of the person they were dating or attempts by parents to rein in their behaviour. The methods of murder ranged from knife, gun, and bludgeoning with a rock in a sock. All these killing were unneccessarily savage with signs of overkill. The murder of the Rafay family unfortunately would not stand out amongst these.
As to modus operandi, I guess my knowledge of Atif Rafay, having known him now for ten years, colors my belief in his capability of carrying out such a hideous crime. Do you think he could hide a sociopathic personality for ten years? Could he hide insatiable greed for ten years? I don’t think so, but that’s my considered opinion.
you are of course right. Logic and Science are not the same. If they were, a scientific investigation would be merely an exercise in logic and Sebastian and Atif would have been arrested after a preliminary examination of the crime scene had revealed that the most likely suspects were known to the family, intelligent and most likely (because of evidence of staging) the most obvious suspects. But just as logic can be used to devise a hypothesis to narrow the field of scientific enquiry so logic can be used to narrow the field of suspects to be looked at in a murder investigation. If this were not done then everyone on the planet would have to be considered until they were eliminated. The detectives on the Bellevue police force could rightly be accused of tunnel vision if they had ignored other likely suspects. There were none. They do not have to pursue unlikely suspects. An unlikely suspect would be one who having decided to exterminate a family of four adults, chose as a weapon a bat (how do you control a family of four adults with a bat to the extent that they cannot overpower you or even raise the alarm) was lucky enough then to strike at a time when one member of the family was out of the house, another isolated in the basement, a third already asleep at a relatively early hour leaving the final mute member defenseless in her room, one who then decided to push their luck even further by risking being discovered having a shower after the crime and had another unbelievable stroke of luck in washing away all traces of themselves while leaving behind 26 hairs on the floor of the shower that impliced a visiting friend of the family.
It wasn’t the above however that convicted Sebastian and Ratif. Added to this was testimoney of demeanor and behavior (allowed by courts as evidence of ‘guilty knowledge’) their confessions and the manner in which they were obtained and the testimoney of Jimmy Miyoshi weighed and sifted by a jury of twelve people who deemed them to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If you had been on the jury would you have found otherwise?
What makes you think there are no likely suspects, Patrick? Of course there are (or were, if they are still alive). The police chose to ignore leads that may have proved productive because they got locked in too early on Sebastian and Atif. The boys’ behavior after the killing is proof of nothing. Would you have believed them if they shed crocodile tears at the memorial service? I’ll bet not. How would you behave if your family was murdered? Do you know? Can you know? Is there a behavior manual for such incidents?
Much of what you say is not borne out by the facts, but I’m not going to debate you point by point.
Filmmakers are doing a segment on this case to be aired this summer. You might gain a wholly different perspective when you become aware of the giant gaps in the investigation and the horribly prejudicial rulings of the presiding judge. The jury had no opportunity to hear alternatives or experts because the judge wouldn’t allow it. The defendants were unable to defend themselves. And please don’t tell me that the appeal rulings were in any way dispassionate and fair. Justice has not been done in this case but, if enough of us stay the course, the truth will one day become evident.
It saddens me when you write about no other likely suspects. You’ve swallowed the state’s case and the judge’s prejudice: hook, line and sinker.
Patrick – please just stop with your ignorance. You are the one who has tunnel vision!
Ken – Thank you so much Ken for you and your team’s outstanding work. I have just finished watching the R&B case and I am just gutted. I feel so helpless so I’m now in a frenzy trying to look up ways in which I can help (I’m located in Australia), and what you are doing warms my heart. I am so touched and will be following your work closely to await good news. Good luck x
Many thanks for your e-mail. Yes, the kangaroo court (I know, it may not be an Australian term) was an appalling injustice. You can help by visiting rafayburnsappeal.com and sending an e-mail, tweet or letter (addresses provided) to Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. He is a decent individual, unlike some others in the past.
Remember, 3 different innocence projects have become involved. They, including Ken Klonsky, do not take on a case lightly. These are most often lawyers and judges and such. It doesn’t mean they are correct, but any one of them is important – and 3 is likely to mean there are major snafus having occurred in the pursuit of justice.
You seem to have a good heart, and good intellect, but remember cases like this have a history of obfuscation by the legal system. You must, in any fully rigorous and rational analysis, study both sides extremely well. Maybe analogous to a masters thesis level but studying both sides where you can argue formidably for either.
Good luck in your studies.
Hope you have been well. I think I am up on the Rafay-Burns situation, but not positive. I inevitably get a memory of 5 or 6 cases of probable injustice and check up on them. Theirs is usually top of my list.
Anyway, I just saw some great material that is very relevant by Judges for Justice. Are you familiar with them? You probably are, and you probably have seen this video, but I need to make sure as it addresses major points of tricked up, pressurized or coerced confessions:
It is about the confession of Chris Tapp, analyzed by I believe a judge, and it brings in some major legal precedents and points that seem to make the Rafay-Burns confessions wholly illegal.
However, you and innocence teams may have already known these points … and of the judges efforts. If not, please forward to any Rafay-Burns teams/efforts.
Keep up the food fight and enjoy beautiful BC
Interesting, the Making of a Murderer. In fact, Steve Drizin was indispensable in the McCallum case as well. His major field of expertise is false confessions made by youthful suspects. Sometimes it is alleged, even by appeal judges, that these confessions are the result of the defendant’s low I.Q. The truth is that most young people feel so overwhelmed in a police station that their sole desire is to go home. Sometimes the police play on that by promising the suspect that he will go home as long as he implicates another suspect. Two suspects are ideal for that purpose. Both Rafay-Burns and McCallum-Stuckey were used to implicate each other.
-it is a video down the page a bit
-supposed to be “good fight'”, not ” food” fight
HELLO MY NAME IS LATOYA AND I KNOW YOU DONT KNOW ME AND YOU MOSTLY ARE RECIEVING ALOT OF EMAILS. BUT MY HUSBAND NEEDS HELP WE NEED YOUR HELP. 24 FOR SOMETHING HE DIDNT DO. ABOVE I TOLD YOU HIS STORY BRIEFLY. THERES NOTHING THAT HOLDS HIM THERE. PLEASE HELP US. MY HUSBAND HAS SPEND MORE OF HIS LIFE IN PRISON THEN ON THE STREET FOR SOMETHING HE DIDNT DO.MY HUSBAND WAS WRONGLY CONVICTED OF MURDER. I KNOW PEOPLE SAY THAT. BUT IN THIS CASE IT’S TRUE. HE WAS A 14YR OLD CHILD. HIS LIFE WAS STOLEN FROM HIM. ALL WE ARE ASKING IS SOMEONE TO LISTEN TO HIM AND HELP PROVE HIS INNOCENCES. “WE NEED HELP”…
LET ME TELL HIS STORY. ON SEPTEMBER 21, 1990 A WOMEN WAS MURDERED. THAT DAY HE DECIDED TO SKIP SCHOOL TO CHILL WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND. A NORMAL TEENAGE MOVE! HE AND HIS GIRLFRIEND AT THE TIME HUNG OUT IN THE HOUSE. HE RAN TO THE STORE AT 7:45AM AND RETURNED AROUND 8AM. THEY STAYED IN THE HOUSE THE REST OF THE DAY. AT AROUND 3PM HIS GIRLFRIEND’S FRIEND CAME OVER. STATING THERE WAS COPS DOWN THE BLOCK & SOMETHING WAS HAPPENING. SO WHAT DO KIDS DO THEY RUN TO THE WINDOWS TO SEE & THE PORCH.
THE COPS QUESTIONED THE PEOPLE & KIDS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD NO ONE KNEW ANYTHING. THERE WERE NO WITNESSES, NO WEAPON, AND NO NOTHING. THE POLICE WAS TRYING TO BUILD UP A CASE AGAINST WALIF. THE GUN THAT WAS USE WAS USED IN ANOTHER MURDER IN NORTH CAROLINA BY A KID FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD A FEW YEARS LATER. THE SUSPECT IS THEIR FACES. THEY DIDN’T WANT HIM. THE NEIGHBORHOOD KIDS (HIS SO CALLED FRIENDS) LIE ON HIM SAYING HE TOLD THEM HE DID IT! THREE YEARS LATER THE POLICE CAME WITH A WARRANT ON MARCH 3. AT THAT TIME HE WAS 17YR OLD. LOOKING LIKE ARE YOU SERIOUS. HE COULDN’T BELIEVE WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO HIM. THEY WAIVED UP THE CHARGES FROM JUVENILE TO ADULT. HOW COULD HE BE SITTING HERE FOR SOMETHING HE DIDN’T DO? WHERE IS THE EDVINCE? THEY HAD NONE.
SO TRIAL BEGININGS NOVEMBER 23, 1994 AND HE AND THE FAMILY KNEW HE WOULD BEAT THIS. WHY BECAUSE THEY KNEW HE DID NOTHING WRONG. THE STATEMENTS GIVEN TO POLICE WHERE FALSE, ON THE STAND THE SO CALLED FRIENDS STATED THEY LIED. HIS GIRLFRIEND AT THE TIME HAD STATED FROM THE BEGINNING THAT WALIF ONLY LEFT OUT IN THE MORNING. WOW NOW THE JURY COMES BACK WITH GUILTY. HIS HEAD WAS SPINNING. HOW COULD THEY CONVICT HIM FOR SOMETHING HE DIDN’T DO? HE THOUGH HE WAS LOSING HIS MIND WHEN THE JUDGE SENTENCE HIM TO 30YRS TO LIFE. FOR WHAT IS ALL HIS BRAIN COULD PROCESS. IM NOT GOING TO SAY HE WAS A STRAIGHT “A” KID. HE WAS A NORMAL BOY, WHO DID BOY THINGS.
24YRS OF HIS LIFE HAS BEEN TAKEN FOR SOMETHING HE DIDN’T DO. HE HAD NO CHILDHOOD, DOESN’T KNOW WHAT ITS LIKE TO DO EVERYDAY THINGS WE TAKE FOR GRANTED, AND NEVER HELD A BABY. WE ARE FIGHTING A FIGHT THAT WE DON’T KNOW HOW TO FIGHT.
FOR 24YRS HE HELD HIS HEAD HIGH, BUT DEEP DOWN INSIDE HE CONCEALS THE HURT AND PAIN. HE TRIES TO STAY STRONG FOR HIS FAMILY. AT THE END OF THE DAY HE IS WRONGLY CONVICTED OF A CRIME HE DIDN’T DO. MY HUSBAND’S NAME WAS WALIF SMITH NOW ABDUL WALI. HE IS NOW 41YRS OLD. 24YRS IN PRISON FOR SOMETHING HE DIDN’T DO….
PLEASE HELP US. JUSTICES 4 WALIF
I would not normally put this letter on the site but I wanted to point out a couple of things that might be of interest to those searching for help from an innocence organization. When you ask for help, you need to provide where the crime took place, where your husband is imprisoned, and lawyers who might already be involved in appeals (or if appeals have already been exhausted).
I cannot directly assist you but I can sometimes refer your case to someone who can help. So please provide the missing information.
Just watched the Netflix on Burns and Rafay case and it was chilling. I am currently an intelligence student graduating in Dec. and a combat veteran, so details are very important to me. I have also researched cases similar to these in the past and see almost a pattern of misguided evidence. It shouldn’t be allowed for cases like this to be misinterpreted by the media because it sends out a wrongful message that is challenging to back pedal from. Plus, watching and reading both sides of this case you can almost sense the one sided mind that the detective produces, which in the CJ world creates blinders to truly see the real evidence. If no one looks further into this case, Rafay’s family will never have closure not that should be the key. Great work in presenting the facts and both sides.
Thanks you for this, Mel. I wonder if you’d be so kind to put your response in the section on Burns and Rafay? It will have limited impact in this “Contact” section. I’ll respond to it there.
Thank you again,
I just watched the video on netflix about rafay and burns.. I didnt know what it was about before it started, but when its started, instantly I thought oh this is boring nothing new here..The “media” convinced me in the 1990s that these two were bad apples..They have been guilty, since selling newspapers was profitable. I was alot younger then. My opinion has changed..There was not enough evidence to convict these two of these crimes! Your taking alot of heat, I read for standing up for these two. Good on you and good luck! Rafay and burns and all of us deserve a fair trial! Mr Big is bullshit. Good luck , and thank you for not giving up on people!
Please sign this petition and try to share it with others.
Thanks for starting this, Melanie.
Just a note to say that the prosecutor’s office and everyone else involved with the case will say that they have had appeals and that they’re still ongoing. Hence, you may want to reword the appeal to ask that justice be done in this case because it’s obvious that a miscarriage of justice has occurred.
Sorry I didn’t get back sooner, Melanie.
Dear Ken, I just finished watching the first two episodes of the documentary/series called “the confession tapes”. To put it simply, I am appalled by the case of Sebastian and Atif. I cannot believe that their case is full of inconsistencies and prejudice but that they still got convicted. I honestly can’t quite believe that they are still in prison and that for Sebastian there is almost no chance left to get out of there. I read that Atif has an appeal going so I have some hope that he will get the justice he deserves. I was wondering if there was a way to support these two and maybe an address to write to to let them know that they are not alone. English is not my first language so I apologize for any mistakes and unclarity. Thank you for having this website and responding to all the comments so dedicated.
I look forward to your response,
There is certainly a way to help, Lizzy, and we’d all be thankful if you did. Take a look at rafayburnsappeal.com for contact info to the chief prosecutor of Washington (State), Dan Satterberg. There’s also a fund for legal and investigative expenses listed there.
Thanks for you note. It takes forever and a day to get wrongly convicted people out of prison, so any solidarity is appreciated.
Sorry I accidently posted the comment before I was done.. Lol I would like him to know that I’m on his side and think about the boys everyday. They are not alone.
Thank you very much. If there’s anything I can do to help, please contact me.
I watched Confession Tapes on Netflix because I was hoping to find someone who could offer some type of help or direction for the case of a loved one. The conviction was based upon a confession that was given because he there was an accident in which a child had fallen off his lap and hit her head on a coffee table. He thought this was what killed her, so he told the police what had happened. But the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the back of the child’s head; so his confession didn’t match the C.O.D. but his public defender convinced him to take a deal and when he went before the judge he was shocked to find out it wasn’t his fault, but despite the lack of evidence, him having an alibi at the time the fatal blow had been given to the victim, and the fact that the child had injuries consistent with years of abuse that happened before he ever was a part of her life AND that the mother of the child had 2 other children who are deceased and 2 other men are serving prison sentences for their deaths-the prosecutor went forward with the case and he is serving 25 to life for a crime he didn’t commit. The mother waited 3 days to take the child to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. She served a year for a lesser charge and is free to have more children she might end up killing like she did her others.
His family believes his public defender was on board with the prosecutor from the beginning. It was an election year, so the prosecutor had motive to just convict whoever she could and close the case. He was told by the public defender to take the deal or receive 2 life sentences. The public defender also told both him and his mother that the other wanted to take the deal. He has had a lot of horrible things happen to him because of the nature of the case. And he cared very much for the child, so that haunts him as well. The only thing he did wrong, was not make sure the mother sought medical attention for the bump on the baby’s forehead. He left, she administered the fatal blows to the child 2 days after he left (he had an alibi) and the police arrested him and because he had a drug addiction at the time, they were convinced or determined to pin the murder on him.
This sounds like a very complicated case, Renee. That’s not to say that your loved one is guilty, only that there must be a copious amount of paperwork. I don’t know what your jurisdiction might be but you obviously need a lawyer to petition for this evidence. Have appeals started? Have they finished? Those two questions determine the next step. If they’ve started, then you have to find constitutional reasons for why the trial verdict should be overturned. If he has exhausted his appeals, new evidence, such as medical reports and previous records, need to be gathered. In other words, a long road ahead.
Your jurisdiction must have some kind of innocence project. If you’re persistent enough, they might take up the case. If there’s DNA evidence, they likely will take up the case.
That’s the best I can do for now. The case sounds awful and it’s far from rare.
I am trying to find information on what can be done for those seemingly innocent convicted of a crime whose appeals have been exhausted. Does this mean regardless of video evidence, witnesses or other concerns nothing can be done for these people?
I have no legal knowledge and am aware that documentaries are rarely neutral but it seems to me that based on the Netflix episodes on Mr Big, there were witnesses who mentioned the murder weapon prior to it having been forensically identified. I do not understand what Mr Burns could do to prove his innocence especially with all his appeals having been exhausted and whether this means even if Mr Big gets banned or further evidence were to be brought to light he would still not be able to walk free?
A prisoner who exhausts his or her appeals can be represented by an innocence project. They will try to find “new evidence” that can exonerate the client. The problem with the Rafay/Burns case is that, while innocence projects are working for them, Atif Rafay is still seeking relief in the courts, i.e. he has not finished his federal appeals. Court appeals have to do with trial error, be it a judge’s rulings or an attorney’s incompetence in a particular case. On occasion, after a successful appeal, a defendant will be granted another trial or his case will be thrown out and he (or she) will be released from prison.
If the appeal fails, then the search for new evidence begins in earnest. DNA tests can be ordered, witnesses revisited, people may come forward with previously unknown information. But it’s also something of a game. Many defendants who are obviously innocent and have found evidence to prove their innocence will remain in prison because the system is stacked against reversals of trial convictions. Time limits come into effect. Prosecutors and police have every reason to fight the defendant; their reputations are on the line. Either they fool themselves into believing that the new evidence is faulty or they cynically calculate that their reputations are far more important than the freedom of someone “who would have committed another crime some day” in the future. I’ve seen this line of reasoning so often that I have lost faith in the legal system. Sometimes winning and losing take precedence over the truth.
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