The Birth of Crime Stoppers

Michael Carmen was a University of New Mexico student who was working at a gas station in Albuquerque in July, 1976. He was only two weeks away from marrying his high school sweetheart. On the night he was killed, he was working an extra shift because one of his friends needed the night off.

On that fateful Friday night, two men robbed Michael's gas station and then—for no apparent reason—fired a shotgun blast from less than 10 feet into his abdomen. Remarkably, Michael lived for more than four hours after the shooting. Several times he tried to tell detectives who it was that shot him, but he didn't have the strength. He died on the operating table without being able to make a dying declaration.

Detective Greg MacAleese was one of the detectives working that case. The murder seemed so senseless, and Detective MacAleese told Michael's mother that he would bring his killers to justice. And yet, after six weeks of trying to piece evidence together to solve the murder, they were no closer to a solution than they were the night he was killed.

Detective Greg MacAleese had the wild idea of asking the TV station to reenact the crime and broadcast it. Detective MacAleese approached the general manager of KOAT-TV in Albuquerque and asked if they could reenact the crime for one of their newscasts.

The reasoning for reenacting the crime was simple. There was an eyewitness to Michael's murder somewhere in the community. The only logical approach was to use the media to find that witness. A reenactment of the crime might be able to trigger the memory of a potential eyewitness, someone who might have seen part of the crime committed but not understood what he or she was witnessing.

IT WORKED! On September 8, 1976, the first crime reenactment was broadcast on the news. The next morning a young man called and said that he had watched the newscast and remembered some very important information. The case was solved. The ones responsible were subsequently apprehended and convicted. In addition, police received information that solved a handful of other local crimes. Local business people and citizens quickly volunteered their time, talent, and money to give birth to Crime Stoppers.

Merced Area Crime Stoppers     |     P.O. Box 811    |     Merced, CA 95341

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