Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder by the Book: The Murder of Karyn Slover

Defense Efforts

In September 2000, Macon County Circuit Judge James Hendrian ordered that Herald & Review editor Peggy Bellows be jailed, citing her for contempt of a court order involving photos she had taken of police searches of the Slover property. None had been published in the newspaper, and Bellows had refused to turn them over to the defense attorney Vigneri. However, the newspaper stated it would appeal, so Bellows remained free.

Vigneri contended that the photos could assist him to prove that the police had compromised the search area when they entered Miracle Motors in 1998. Bellows argued that the newspaper had the right to control publication of its materials, which included photos. Since Vigneri had not exhausted other means to prove contamination at the search site, they claimed they were within their rights to keep the photos private. "We prefer to cover the news," publisher Michael Gulledge was quoted in Associated Press coverage, "not be part of it."

Nine months later, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Vigneri had used the Internet to seek out people who were experts in buttons. There are sites devoted to button collectors, and when his search became part of a discussion board, a participant alerted the Herald & Review.

The button believed to match the designer jeans that Karyn had worn the day she disappeared and the other found at the used-car lot that seemed to have come off her shirt were potentially explosive evidence. Vigneri hoped to find someone to testify that the buttons and jeans rivet were common, taking some force out of the prosecution's theory that they had come from Karyn's clothing. They were ready to challenge the prosecution's claim that only 10,000 pairs of jeans with this rivet had been manufactured. They would claim that over 200,000 had been made.

Both sides made final preparations, although not everything would get into the trial as each hoped.

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