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