Martin Venezia paces his half of a Lakeview double, stopping to rub a hand over his 65-year-old forehead. He can’t sit now, not around that stack of paper on the coffee table.
He spits curses in a steady flow, F-bombs dropping with the ease of a weary homicide detective or a prison inmate.
Venezia has been both.
He says he’s come to terms with his checkered past: The heavy boozing. The shoot-out with his son that got him fired from the New Orleans Police Department in 1993. The 50 months he spent in the Florida prison system on a negligent homicide conviction.
“I was driving a car. He yanked the wheel. We spun out. He died. I didn’t. He was drunk. How the f--- I survived I have no idea.”
But one thing Venezia says he can’t swallow is the undoing of his record as a homicide detective.
The typewritten document on the coffee table helped free Reginald Adams, a man Venezia had proudly shipped off to prison 34 years ago after drawing a confession from Adams that swayed two juries.
The district attorney himself said Venezia lied, during a stunning apology to Adams in May. The retired detective became a poster child for dirty policing, and the Adams case a cautionary tale of how the New Orleans criminal justice system ran amok.
Found tucked in a file in the District Attorney’s Office, the 40-plus-page report describes an investigation that jurors and Adams’ attorneys never heard about, the previously unreported recovery of a suspected murder weapon and a promising trail to a suspected killer that seemed to stop cold.
On the face sheet, “SGebbia and MVenezia” appears at the very bottom, declaring the report’s authors. The area marked “victim” is filled out too: Ulfers, Cathy. Age 24. Location: Morgue.
Beside it are 20 pages of venom-dripping notes that Venezia scratched out recently over sleepless nights — hours when some turn to reflection, or self-confession.
Venezia confesses nothing.
The document — he refuses to call it a police report — details an investigation by Venezia and Detective Sam Gebbia, who now works under embattled St. Tammany District Attorney Walter Reed, into a high-profile 1979 murder.
Ulfers was a cop’s wife, the daughter of a retired police major and a mother of two young boys. She returned home one October night to her empty house in New Orleans East, across Downman Road from what is now Visions strip club.
She unlocked the side door on Timoleon Street, stepped inside and was shot seven times with a .32-caliber revolver. Four to the body. Ulfers landed face down, her handbag still hooked on her right elbow. Three more to the head.
“Bam, bam, bam!” Venezia shouts, pointing downward as he mimics the final, close-range shots while Ulfers lay moaning. “Mmmhh! Mmmhh!”
That’s how it was acted out to him, complete with hair-raising moans, he maintains, by Adams in a partially taped, early morning admission.
The report’s pages follow a completely different track, many months before the purported confession.
The detectives follow an investigative trail that starts at the Ulfers house minutes after the shooting and leads to a confiscated gun matching the one that killed Ulfers.
It keeps going as Gebbia and Venezia look past the victim’s husband, Officer Ronnie Ulfers, who is now serving a life sentence for killing his second wife. They find evidence of marital strife but nothing suggesting murder.
The trail heads to the gun’s owner, who is hypnotized and reveals details that seem to tie the killing and theft of jewelry from the Ulfers house to a man, Roland Burns, and his drug-addled sister, Alice.
The detectives booked Burns as an accessory to murder. He was released several weeks later. The very next day, someone set the Ulfers house aflame.
Almost a year later, in September 1980, Venezia and a District Attorney’s Office investigator named Sgt. Frank Ruiz — who later went into the Bourbon Street strip club business — secured the murder confession from Adams.
The Innocence Project New Orleans turned up the report in a separate case file in Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office, for the burglary of a seafood joint for which Adams was long ago acquitted.
How it got there, Cannizzaro could only speculate. The suggestion: Prosecutors hid it there to keep it from Adams’ defense lawyers in the murder case.
What it proved, Cannizzaro said, was blatant, intentional misconduct by prosecutors and police. It showed that Gebbia flat-out lied on the witness stand when he told the first jury there had been no other suspects, or recovered valuables from the house, or a murder weapon found. And that Venezia, the only detective to testify at both trials, lied twice.
Except, according to Venezia, he never wrote that report, and he strongly doubts Gebbia did either.
Never even laid eyes on it until this summer.
He calls it a pile of rubbish, a slapdash compendium of lies and errors that proves only that Cannizzaro failed to do his homework before releasing a killer.
Worse, he says, no one bothered to ask him about it before Adams walked down the courthouse steps in new street clothes on May 12 to a throng of TV cameras, headed home.
“Somebody concocted that thing. It’s starts off bogus, with a bold-faced lie, and ends bogus. It’s a total ... fabrication,” he said.
“I did my job by the book. I believed in that. That was my pureness. The yin and yang. This facet of my life I stayed 100 percent pure. I’m high-road, baby,” Venezia says. “Cathy Ulfers is slaughtered by this guy, and he’s now considered a hero? That’s horrible.”
An easy call
For Cannizzaro, sending Adams home “was not a difficult decision.”
Nor, he said in a recent email, was it one that required calling around for proof.
It was right there on paper, in a neat, thick binder that IPNO lawyers and former federal prosecutor Michael Magner presented at a meeting in the District Attorney’s Office on May 2.
Just 10 days later, First Assistant District Attorney Graymond Martin, a former NOPD cop, stood in front of Criminal District Court Judge Laurie White and choked up as he apologized to Adams for his decades stuck in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, stamping license plates and marking the days.
The contents in the missing report “substantially undermined” Adams’ purported confession, Martin said, in a case that was all about the confession.
“We researched district attorney’s files, verified the allegations, and we agreed that this matter represented substantial injustice that must be rectified,” Martin explained. “The reason we’re acting so quickly is because Mr. Adams is entitled to his liberty.”
The quick, unabashed admission was stunning for a district attorney with a history of fighting such allegations as far as the U.S. Supreme Court.
It also seemed to forge a bond between the office and IPNO.
At a news conference Thursday, Cannizzaro credited the Adams case for clearing the often adversarial path for a new project that will team lawyers and investigators in his office with IPNO counterparts to root out other cases of wrongful convictions — whether caused by dirty cops, sneaky prosecutors or just the innocent lapses of an overburdened system.
Both sides said the upstart “Conviction Integrity Project” will be a first of its kind in the country.
“I certainly think it was a catalyst,” Cannizzaro said of the Adams case.
The district attorney previewed the plan Aug. 19 in a speech before the mayor, several judges, interim Police Superintendent Michael Harrison and City Council members.
He cited his quick dismissal of Adams’ conviction as a sign of “the renewed spirit” of “cooperation and collaboration” for his office. He singled out IPNO staff attorney Caroline Milne, who led the push for Adams’ release, for praise and congratulations.
“Because their investigation was thorough and presented in such an organized manner, my office was able to diligently but quickly verify their conclusions,” Cannizzaro said.
Afterward, Cannizzaro made it clear that this wasn’t a case of a possible murderer going free simply because an ancient case could no longer be proven.
“He’s not guilty,” the district attorney said.
Emily Maw, the IPNO director, last week called Adams’ freedom “an example of what can happen.”
What Cannizzaro’s office saw, along with the newfound report, were signs of a confected admission by Adams, whose responses during his hours-long questioning often clashed with the evidence from Ulfers’ murder.
The circumstances themselves were odd. The confession came over several hours in the middle of the night in September 1980, set up at Orleans Parish Prison by two inmates planted near Adams.
It included a drive to the crime scene, where Adams allegedly pointed out the Ulfers house.
Jerry Ursin, then a police officer and now Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s chief deputy, was the driver, stopping for cigarettes, snacks and beer that Ruiz and Venezia both admitted they drank but denied giving to Adams.
Adams maintained they plied him with beer and Valium — two blue pills and a white one.
He identified the wrong type of gun, the wrong number of shots fired, the wrong time of the shooting, the wrong stolen items. He got confused about the gender of his alleged target, then identified it as a woman with dark hair. Ulfers was a blonde.
“Just about every fact Mr. Adams could have gotten right about how this crime happened, he got wrong,” Milne said.
While the case for overturning Adams’ conviction seemed strong, his lawyers admit they were gearing up for a fight.
As an assistant U.S. attorney, Magner had prosecuted Ronald Bodenheimer, the Jefferson Parish judge who served more than three years of prison time after his conviction in the FBI’s “Wrinkled Robe” probe of corruption in the Gretna courthouse. Bodenheimer was one of two prosecutors in the Adams case.
So Magner knew Bodenheimer. Martin, the ex-cop who is Cannizzaro’s second-in-command, needed no introduction to Venezia, or at least his roguish reputation.
“I have no doubt that both Mr. Bodenheimer’s and Mr. Venezia’s histories played some role in the district attorney’s decision to consider this in the manner they did,” Magner said.
“I think they saw enough there that caused them great concern. In light of (their) backgrounds, those facts combined with the facts we were able to present to them made it a very compelling case.”
The ‘real killer’
When he heard the news of Adams’ release, retired lawyer David McCroskey had one thought: Finally. Now they can focus on the real killer.
McCroskey, of Covington, knew Cathy Ulfers well. He dated her close friend, Charlene. McCroskey’s 1967 Mercedes 230 SL had been stolen a month before her murder. He reported it to police and later found that Venezia and Gebbia had impounded it.
During the murder investigation, the detectives had found car parts on properties around the house. Ronald Ulfers apparently had chopped up McCroskey’s car, placing its parts on his own Mercedes.
Ulfers was arrested for receiving stolen things, but the case fell apart, Venezia said, on a bad search warrant.
The 3rd District officer lost his job over the incident but got it back when an appeals court believed his story that he checked a police computer system to make sure the parts he said he bought from a stranger weren’t reported stolen. Ulfers alleged the criminal charge was a “calculated ploy” to pressure him over his wife’s murder case.
McCroskey told police that Cathy Ulfers had come to him about a year earlier, seeking advice on a legal separation from the officer. He said he had drafted a petition for separation several months before the murder, but she called him the next day to halt it.
“I told her a restraining order is not going to protect her. It’s not going to stop him from coming and doing anything he wanted to do,” McCroskey said.
He said he later learned that Ronald Ulfers had asked about his car and had even cased it out.
A few days before she was murdered, McCroskey claims, Cathy Ulfers had recognized the car parts as his and confronted her husband.
“I believe that was the motive for him killing her. It’s been on my mind ever since it happened,” said McCroskey, now 71, who admits he’s been suspicious of him since. “They had to know it was him. I can’t see how, if they were the ones questioning Adams, they didn’t know it was Ulfers.”
“It’s more about justice for Cathy than it is about my goddamn car.”
His ex-girlfriend, Charlene Brazell, said she and Cathy Ulfers were best friends and thought from the moment of her death that Cathy’s husband had something to do with it. They had a tumultuous marriage. Ronald Ulfers would physically abuse Cathy, she said.
“ ‘ I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna leave him,’ ” Brazell recalled her saying. “I think that’s what happened. I think she probably told him she wanted a divorce, and he wasn’t having that. He could walk out on her, but she wasn’t going to walk out on him.
“Ronnie didn’t pull the trigger, but he had her killed.”
He was brazen enough in his infidelity, she said, that he once pulled into his driveway with a girlfriend to run inside for a change of clothes.
In 1996, six years after Adams’ second trial, Ulfers’ second wife, Debra, was found dead in a canal behind their Covington home.
Ulfers had made a missing-persons call on the morning of Sept. 21, 1996, saying he’d just arrived home from a casino.
According to sheriff’s records, she’d been telling people he was abusing her, that she was afraid and needed a divorce. A warrant for his arrest, six years after her death, said she’d moved to a Motel 6 in Slidell, took her husband’s firearms and placed her valuables and jewelry in a safe deposit box.
When police arrived on the missing-persons call, Ulfers told them he had abused her twice, that she’d had an affair but they’d worked it out. As they searched, Ulfers jumped in the water. His wife was face down in the water. He screamed her name and tried to hug her.
In 2002, authorities exhumed Debra Ulfers’ body, found blunt force trauma to her head and arms and reclassified it as a homicide. They booked Ronald Ulfers. A jury convicted him of second-degree murder in 2006.
Charlene Brazell didn’t know Debra Ulfers. She attended the trial anyway.
“I was in there holding Cathy’s picture up in the air. I wanted him to know that I was there and that I hadn’t forgotten.”
According to a 1996 report in The Times-Picayune, police and District Attorney Harry Connick’s office said after Debra Ulfers’ death that they would review the case file on the murder of Cathy Ulfers.
Nothing in the district attorney’s files or police records suggests that ever happened.
It’s all noise to Venezia.
He checked it out, he says, even having Ronnie Ulfers assigned to him while he investigated the murder of his wife, to “keep him close.”
The theory that Ulfers called a hit on his wife just days after she learned about the car parts is ludicrous, he says.
“You can’t put this together in two ... days. He’s wasn’t wired in. He’s not Italian,” Venezia says. “I could have done it in two days, maybe. I’m Italian. I know people from the neighborhood I could go to. He wasn’t that smart. This is elaborately done. If this was a hit, it was really top-notch.”
It wasn’t a hit, Venezia insists, despite Adams’ confession to the contrary. The former detective insists it was a burglary that Cathy Ulfers walked into. Adams fired scared, he said, then tried to burnish his “street creds” by admitting to the murder.
But the jury heard Adams tell Venezia and the other detectives that he got a call from a man named John “Red” Dupart, and they hatched a plan with “Suitcase” Tony Calcagno, a local criminal.
“He says a friend of his wanted somebody hurt,” Adams told Venezia.
“Did he name the sex of the person who was supposed to be hurt?”
“A male was supposed to be hurt?”
“Yes, a female,” Adams said, according to a transcript.
“Male or female?”
“Male. ... In other words, it was supposed to be a man, but it wound up being a woman.”
The hit was for $10,000, Adams told him.
Adams said Calcagno bought the gun for the murder. The interview continues with Adams denying he killed Ulfers but admitting he shot her while she lay moaning.
“What were you shooting her for, what purpose?”
“He just said shoot the lady.”
Venezia says he never believed the hit job part of Adams’ confession. Still, he booked all three — Adams, Calcagno and Dupart — with the murder, before prosecutors dropped the charges against the other two, who had each made $200,000 bond.
Venezia said he ran traps with Calcagno’s brother, Steve, putting the heat on Suitcase Tony. No dice.
“John Dupart and Tony Calcagno are at the top of their profession. They are first-class f--ing top-notch criminals. They are smart. They limit their crimes to property,” Venezia says. “He’s not getting involved in a contract murder with a cop’s wife. Ain’t no ... way on God’s green earth.
Still, “I let (Adams) run with that. ... Now he admits that he’s there. He starts in detail. He’s going to get Dupart and Calcagno. He’s pissed at them. They left him in there to rot. He’s ... abandoned.”
Venezia remains proud of the confession.
“If Reginald Adams doesn’t talk, it’s unsolved, baby. Nobody talks, everybody walks.”
He’d started on the case as a sidekick to Gebbia, the homicide detective who first caught it. The case, though, would became his, he says.
“This is the purest confession I ever took in my life,” Venezia says. “There’s no doubt in my mind Reggie shot her. Zero.”
In a bizarre twist, Calcagno showed up during Adams’ first trial, shouting and screaming in the courthouse hallway, confessing.
The judge ordered a mental competency review. Calcagno had been shot four times in the mouth in Florida. Doctors questioned his mental state but cleared him to take the stand. Then he pleaded the Fifth, remaining silent.
Calcagno recently died.
The other suspect
Don’t get Venezia started about Roland Burns, the erstwhile star suspect. Or the gun.
He points to the beginning of the report, which describes the early days of the investigation, with Venezia and Gebbia showing up at the scene 18 minutes after hearing a complaint of shots fired come over the police radio.
Venezia says he wasn’t assigned to the case until days later and never joined in the initial scene investigation that the report lays out. Gebbia said the same on the witness stand.
The report describes a police criminalist’s certainty that a .32-caliber Arminius revolver confiscated in another case was the gun used to kill Cathy Ulfers. And it details shoe-leather work by the detectives, including a visit to a hypnotist, to get their man: Roland Burns, whom they tracked down to North Johnson and Desire streets and booked as an accessory to murder three weeks after the killing.
The gun’s owner, Linda Jones, recognized a “duplicate” of a ring stolen from the Ulfers house.
Jones had seen it on Burns. She recalled that Burns had asked to borrow, then buy, the gun. She refused but then the gun went missing, she said, after Burns’ sister, Alice, had slept over one night. Later, another woman, Velma O’Dell, backed Jones’ account that Burns tried to sell them the ring.
Burns’ story about the ring also didn’t add up, and they found him with a gold bracelet that resembled one stolen from the Ulfers house.
The detectives made a record of the bracelet, which Venezia then stashed in his “personal locker,” the recently discovered report says. No way, Venezia says.
Police and district attorney records show no evidence of a ballistics report. The criminalist, Allen Tidwell, never testified — a fact that, to Adams’ defenders, suggests an attempt to hide the fact a gun was recovered.
Reached at home recently, Tidwell said he couldn’t recall the case.
“I have trouble remembering yesterday. I remember those two detectives. I remember them well but not the case,” he said. “I would suspect if there was an ID made, matching a gun to a bullet, that there would be a report. That would be customary.”
Venezia said he was convinced all along that it wasn’t the right gun and claims he had it tested surreptitiously through the FBI, just to prove it to himself. It came up blanks.
For it to be the gun used in Ulfers’ murder, Burns would have needed to take it, commit the murder, replace hard-to-find .32-caliber bullets and place the loaded gun back on a shelf in Jones’ house before she noticed it gone, he said.
“This ain’t the gun. ... Allen (Tidwell) wanted this to be the ... gun. It makes him look good. High-profile case. He wanted to see it so badly,” Venezia says. “I completely dismissed it.”
If the detectives had found the gun, Venezia asks, why didn’t he include it in Adams’ purportedly coerced confession?
“If I was putting all this crap in his mouth, I would have put the gun into his mouth too,” he says. “I didn’t cover up the gun because I knew it wasn’t the gun.”
There are other issues with the report, he says, including the lack of any signatures and the numerous hand-written deletions and edits that he said wouldn’t have come from the homicide department.
“We didn’t turn in trash. This was not written in homicide. I don’t know where it was written.”
The report, he acknowledges, is not a total fabrication. They did look at Burns. The hypnotist was real, and many of the details seem to have come from homicide division notes, he said.
It’s just that Roland and Alice Burns, he said, were never really suspects.
And the gun just wasn’t the gun.
Ex-judge a doubter, too
Bodenheimer, too, mocks the idea that he would hide the report in another file.
“If I was going to hide something, I’m not going to hide it in another file in the guy’s same name,” he said. “One of us didn’t have the sense to throw it away? Except for the fact Cathy Ulfers’ killer walked free, this would be funny.”
Bodenheimer says the report has “zero evidentiary value” and couldn’t have been used in court. He also claims he never saw a ballistics report from Tidwell.
“I don’t think we had a ballistics report saying the gun taken from these other people was the murder weapon,” he said. “I don’t think one exists.”
What irks Venezia and Bodenheimer alike is the fact that their tarnished reputations are being used to sell the theory of a railroad job.
The lead prosecutor in the first trial against Adams, Harold “Tookie” Gilbert, is dead.
The second trial came seven years after the first, in 1990, after an appeals court found that the jury shouldn’t have been allowed to review the transcript of Adams’ confession.
Cannizzaro’s office says there’s no indication that the second team of prosecutors — Don Rowan, now a Jefferson Parish judge, and Darryl Roberts — would have known about the report, which turned up in the burglary case that Bodenheimer and Gilbert also handled.
Through a court staffer, Rowan declined requests to talk about the case.
Ursin, who was there while Adams claims he was plied with beer and pills, wasn’t named by Cannizzaro in a lengthy news conference detailing the reasons for Adams’ release.
Nor was Ruiz, the cop assigned to the District Attorney’s Office who rode shotgun in Adams’ confession. Cannizzaro called out Venezia, Gebbia, Bodenheimer and Gilbert, suggesting a four-man plot.
Bodenheimer said it’s naive to think the second group of prosecutors wouldn’t have looked in the Seafood City burglary file where the report turned up, given that Adams had been implicated.
“Why didn’t Cannizzaro have a hearing and ask under oath who wrote this ... report? ‘Did you or did you not write this report?’ ” Bodenheimer asked. “A proper investigation ought to have been done.”
Venezia added that he’s not very hard to find.
“I don’t know why he didn’t talk to anybody,” Venezia says. “Sam Gebbia won’t return a phone call. Frank Ruiz is 75 years old, bent over, he runs a (strip club). And Ronnie Bodenheimer’s a fired judge. Tookie Gilbert’s dead. So it’s a tough haul.
“But nonetheless, he’s got a duty. He’s got a duty to Cathy Ulfers. All of us have a duty to that dead woman. She can’t defend herself.”
Like Venezia, Bodenheimer says he never saw the report.
“I knew about Roland Burns and them, don’t get me wrong. But that police report, if that’s what it is, I have never seen before in my life. It’s hard to hide something you’ve never seen,” Bodenheimer said.
Ursin, who was mysteriously absent for both trials, declined to comment about the case. Gebbia did not return calls for comment.
Ruiz said only: “I have nothing to say. I stand by my testimony and my report.”
Ronald Ulfers did not respond to requests for a prison interview.
In an email response to questions about the case, Cannizzaro cleared Ursin and Ruiz of any wrongdoing.
“In my opinion, Jerry Ursin and Frank Ruiz had no involvement in the misconduct that caused us to dismiss the conviction,” he said.
“With respect to the others, we did not attempt to contact them prior to making our decision because that decision was based exclusively upon the existence of physical evidence — such as the supplemental report — that had not been turned over to the defense. This was not a case in which the conviction was being undermined by a witness whose credibility we needed to examine.”
Neither Venezia nor Bodenheimer can quite explain who would plant the report in a District Attorney’s Office file, or when. Or why.
Milne, the IPNO attorney, acknowledges that the missing report leaves unanswered questions.
Why it was hidden and not destroyed. Why it places Venezia at the scene on the night of the murder. Why the investigation seems to end, and only pick up several months later with Adams.
But it’s not in question that the report was in fact hidden, she said. Or that Adams’ confession was false, or that he deserves his freedom.
“Why didn’t they shred it? I don’t know. It’s just arrogance, or someone forgot. I don’t know why he didn’t burn it,” she said, referring to Bodenheimer.
The idea that the report is a fake is absurd, she said.
A supervisor gave the approval to arrest Burns in relation to the murder, she noted, based on real evidence.
“They’re real people.”
Cannizzaro’s office “pulled these files. They verified everything,” she said. “This is the first one they’ve done a Hail Mary on, and there’s a reason for that.”
Adams’ attorneys gave Cannizzaro’s office the documents, then showed up at the May 2 meeting geared up for conflict.
“We didn’t sit down and argue. We didn’t hardly have to ask. They said, ‘This should be vacated. We can do it next week,’ ” Milne said. “We thought this would be a fight, and it wasn’t. They understood, I think, the severity of the misconduct.”
The evidence seems to point to Roland Burns and his sister, she said. The report shows him fixated on getting the gun from Linda Jones, and on trying to sell the ring.
Ironically, Milne said, the missing report seems to display excellent policework, which no jury every saw, and none likely ever will.
“When you couple that with the confession Reggie gave, where he got everything wrong, you add this into the mix and it wasn’t just a technicality case” that got thrown out, Milne said.
“They got caught in a lie. A very bad lie.”
Outside the walls
Adams always said Venezia fed him what to say, drugged him, mapped it all out.
Almost four months after his release, he doesn’t need any maps, staying close to his mother’s home across the Kenner border.
He keeps the house tidy and rides his bike down the street that runs along the railroad tracks.
“I just don’t like going nowhere,” he says. “There’s nowhere to go.”
Now 61, having spent more than half his life in prison, Adams says he doesn’t want to discuss his confession or respond to Venezia’s strident defense of it.
“I told them from jump street, ‘You got me bad. I didn’t commit the crime,’ ” Adams said. “A lot went into that night we were talking. They gave me Valium, all kind of s---,” he added. “I wasn’t trying to confess to no murder. I wasn’t in for nothing. I was high. I didn’t know what I was doing anyway.”
Adams wears a new Timex wristwatch and a wide ring emblazoned with his initials.
He sat at the table on a recent afternoon with his 78-year-old mother, Antoinette Scott, who is far more vocal than Adams about what they did to her son.
Adams remains subdued, slowly shaking his head when told that Venezia stands by his work.
“I got the Innocence Project on my side, Cannizzaro on my side and the judge. I don’t worry about Venezia,” Adams says. “He got enough problems of his own.”
An open case
Moments before Judge White sprung Adams loose, drawing applause from the courtroom gallery, she pressed Graymond Martin over whether the Ulfers murder would get a fresh look.
Adams’ release happened so fast, Martin said, he hadn’t gotten to it.
“We’re going to meet with NOPD about this,” he said. “We will send it over to the cold case squad.”
An NOPD spokesman said recently: “There is no investigation currently into the murder of Cathy Ulfers in 1979.”
That comes as little surprise.
According to Gebbia’s testimony, the crime scene had been largely contaminated by so many officers roaming through the house.
Roland Burns is dead and so is his sister. She was killed in 1984 in the Florida housing development, shot twice in the upper chest.
“We will never know for certain who killed Cathy Ulfers,” Cannizzaro said on the day that Adams was released.
A box of evidence remains from the murder case, stashed in the courthouse attic. It contains crime scene photos and sketches, a coroner’s report, video and audio tapes.
But no blood or fingerprints, no jewelry or the smashed police commendations that police found stomped into the carpet near Cathy Ulfers’ lifeless body. No spent pellets.
If there was a gun, it’s nowhere to be found.
Staff writer Jim Mustian contributed to this story.