Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Fletcher: A Simple Case of Murder

The Call

Author 's Note

This is a true story. The facts contained in this article have been taken from police and court records and newspaper accounts of the death of Leann Fletcher. In some cases, license was taken to recreate dialogue between participants and some characters have been combined to facilitate the telling of this story. Wherever possible the conversations between characters are taken from actual statements attributed to participants. The author believes that the end product is an accurate representation of the investigation and prosecution in connection with Mrs. Fletcher's death.

Mark C. Gribben

"The boys with their feet on the desks know that the easiest murder case in the world to break is the one somebody tried to get very cute with; the one that really bothers them is the murder somebody thought of only two minutes before he pulled it off."

Raymond Chandler, "The Simple Art of Murder"

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Less than three minutes after the frantic 911 call had come into the dispatcher's console, Hazel Park police officer Ron Lehman had been pulled from his routine patrol route and sent to the normally quiet neighborhood to investigate a report of an accidental shooting.

Incidents involving weapons especially guns are particularly dangerous for the first respondents on the scene. Often the story that gets told over the phone to the dispatcher is incomplete and usually relayed by a panicky, untrained witness whose powers of observation are clouded by adrenaline and fear or even deceit. The actions taken by the first officer on the scene are critical: there may be a crime scene to secure, witnesses to gather, suspects to detain or arrest and when an officer heads into such a situation knowing that there are weapons to be accounted for, instinct and training are critical.

Lehman pulled up against the curb outside a cozy one-story home on the relatively deserted street at about 12:40 p.m. Before he got out of his car, he sent a message via the digital modem that he had arrived on the scene. He could hear the sound of sirens in the distance and he knew that EMS personnel were on their way. It was critical that he secure the area quickly.

A young man, about 30 years old, wearing a green oxford shirt was standing on the nicely groomed front lawn of the home smoking a cigarette and talking on a cell phone. As Lehman opened the door and stood up, using the cruiser as a shield, the young man closed the cell phone and walked quickly toward him. Lehman's right hand instinctively dropped to his hip, ready to draw his 9 mm Glock. In an instant he determined the man was unarmed and the officer relaxed somewhat.

"She's on the floorwe were, we were, we, she was sitting on the bed. I went into the bathroom; I come back out..." the man sobbed. "She's on the floor. There's blood all over. Oh, my God."

"Take it easy," Lehman said, trying to calm the man down. "Who are you?"

"I'm her husband. Mick Fletcher. She's Leann. I... Oh, jeez there's blood on me," Fletcher said, indicating small splashes of blood on his tie and shirt.

"EMS is on the way," Lehman said, pushing past Fletcher. He bounded up the steps to the house, peered in through the storm door and carefully opened it, all of his senses alerted for anything unusual. The entryway was clear; there were signs that the house was lived in, but otherwise it was neat and tidy inside, unlike most of the places Lehman went on weapons investigations.

 

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