Crime Trackers: TPD reopens 1957 cold case - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Crime Trackers: TPD reopens 1957 cold case

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TUCSON - A 1957 cold case has reopened. Family members of Franklin Doan said they want justice for their loved one.

Doan was murdered on May 5, 1957. 

Tucson police said Doan was found dead in his home from a gunshot wound to the head. His manager at Valley National Bank found him unresponsive. 

The manager said he went to check on Doan after he failed to show up to work. 

The manager said he had been with Doan just the night before. 

The case made headlines but no arrests were made.

Police reports from 1957 named two suspects. Detectives said they had several theories including Doan’s lifestyle, his work at the bank and possibly mob-related.

Captain Justin Lane told News 4 Tucson, “I’m not suggesting that he himself might have been involved in criminal activity. He might have come cross information about others who were involved in criminal activity that might have resulted in somebody targeting him.”

The case went cold until two years ago when Laurie Doan, his niece, came across a letter her grandmother had written to the Tucson police in 1957. 

It said in part, “Although my son Franklin Mott Doan was buried yesterday I feel he will not rest in peace as long as the dreadful demon that murdered him is still at large…..please do not let it lay and be an unsolved case I just couldn’t stand it. I know it takes time and work and I appreciate all you are doing and have been doing. I just hope you will not give up.”

Laurie said she made it her mission to get justice for the uncle she never met. Her father John was the victim’s younger brother.

She wrote in an email, “This has deeply affected our family. Our sense of well-being. My father doesn’t want to take this unsolved murder to the grave. My grandmother already did. This runs deep.”

Laurie started a Facebook page called “Justice for Franklin Doan”.

She contacted Tucson police about obtaining the files. 

She sent a cashier’s check and a Freedom of Information Act request. It was later returned and TPD told her they no longer had the reports.

Doan kept pressing the police. 

In December 2016, a detective wrote in a police report to Sgt. M. Borboa, that she had found one box in the cold case storage room.

She stated she later found a second box that was misfiled on a shelf.

The report also gave a detailed rundown of when the case was last reviewed.

2003: Detective requested fingerprints be run through AFIS an Automated Finger Print Identification system. No subsequent documentation was ever done

2004: A sergeant requested the 6 foot rope be analyzed for DNA. No subsequent documentation was ever done.

2008: A civilian Cold Case reviewer noted the records file didn’t contain autopsy report photos, or scene photos. It was also noted there was no evidence retained at the Evidence Property Identification Center.

Yet, in a police report dated Oct. 22, 2003, an officer listed in a police report under physical evidence summary: nylon cord, light green cannon towel with powder burns, bullet.

Captain Lane told News 4 Tucson, “We can’t identify exactly what happened to it from the point in time it was collected back in 1957 from that crime scene.”

Reports showed some of the evidence collected in 1957 was sent to the FBI lab. A letter to FBI director J.Edgar Hoover from the Tucson Police Chief Bernard Garmire asked for a bullet to be examined.

Captain Lane added, they had reports the evidence was returned. However, “Our internal investigation revealed that nobody that is currently employed by the agency was responsible or has information about what might have happened to this evidence.”

Laurie said, in her opinion this case had been mishandled from day one. She found a letter from the family attorney written to the Pima County Attorney who at that time was Raul Castro.

The attorney wanted to know about Doan’s personal property.

The response from the county attorney was, “In compliance with Arizona law the coroner would have in his possession all of the personal effects of the deceased and that he would also have an inventory. The acting coroner informed him he never made an inventory and all of the personal effects were in the custody of the Tucson Police Department.”

Doan’s efforts led TPD to reopen the case, and last November, investigators found probable cause and served a search warrant on the home of the two original suspects. 

Captain Lane said no additional evidence was located.

However, the case still remains open.

“I don’t know specifically if an arrest will be made or someone will be charged I don’t have the answer to that yet.”

Over the weekend, Doan said she came across a locket in her grandmother’s sewing cabinet. It’s been there all this time.   

In it a picture of her grandmother and her uncle. She believes she’s on the right track, and the physical evidence is somewhere within the police department.

TPD said the case has been challenging, most of the officers involved have retired, or passed. Witnesses have also left the area or passed. Making it difficult for them to track down the evidence. But they’ve tried and they’re still investigating.

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