Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Slavemaster

Wall of Thugs

Approach from Jemelske's driveway
Approach from Jemelske's driveway

"Our big fear is we don't know how many women he has taken over the years," said Sheriff Kevin Walsh to the press the next day. "Some were very young and some may have died down there, some may have even killed themselves" (April 12, 2003, New York Post). At first, Jamelske wouldn't say much to police, according to Detective Jack Schmidt. "When we walked him over to the county jail up the block," Schmidt said recently, "all he said was 'Can we go bowling?'" After an interview with Jamelske at the Onondaga Sheriff's Office with Syracuse police, a decision was made to enter Jamelske's home. Detective Jack Schmidt and his partner, Detective Eddie Bragg, responded to 7070 Highbridge Road to search for other victims. But what they found was something totally unexpected.

Replica head on pole
Replica head on pole

In the front yard was a ten-foot high wooden cross with a small replica of a human head affixed to the top. "We didn't know what it was supposed to represent," said Detective Schmidt. "It might have been some sort of omen for his victims." Once inside the home, they saw garbage and junk piled almost to the ceilings. Every door, including the bathroom, had a lock and hasp attached. The windows in the garage were covered with refrigerator grating, giving it the appearance of a cage. There were papers, half-eaten food, clothes, books, furniture, pots, pans, broken appliances and all kinds of debris everywhere. Inside the closets, police found boxes of tissues, cereal and cooking items all stacked neatly in rows. Every inch of space was taken up. "It looked like if just one item was moved, everything would tumble out onto the floor," said Schmidt recently. In the basement, the two cops found row after row of metal shelving units that were filled with empty beverage bottles. Each brand, such as Coors, Piel's or Budweiser was separated from each other. The bottles were sorted again by size into groups of eight ounce bottles, then 12 ounces and so on. All the bottles were carefully aligned to the front and back of the shelves so that not one was out of place. A careful count later revealed that over 13,000 empty bottles were stored in the house.

"Wall of thugs" painted on dungeon's walls

Inside the garage behind a shelf of beer bottles, Detectives Schmidt and Bragg discovered a four foot by four foot steel door. They opened it and entered into the cramped space. In the darkness, they found a short tunnel that led to another metal door. When they opened that door, they noticed a drop of about three feet before they could stand. "It was dark and smelled horrible, like some medieval dungeon," said Schmidt. They used their flashlights to survey their surroundings. What they saw made Schmidt's blood run cold. For on the wall directly in front of him, the first thing he noticed was the big, bold words, "WALL OF THUGS," written in red paint. They were the identical words that Jennifer had told Schmidt she had seen during her captivity almost three years ago. "I was stunned. I immediately knew that we had found Jennifer's kidnapper and the concrete prison she described," Schmidt said recently. The officers left the house and secured a search warrant for the entire property.

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