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Camm trial ends, but questions, pain remain

A veteran of the New York City homicide squad once said that in cases involving married women, detectives first look at the husband as a suspect. That’s understandable. But it’s the rest of what former Homicide Det. Bill Clark said that’s disturbing.
“A problem a lot of detectives have is they don’t want to believe they’ve got a case to solve so they go to the closest person at hand,” Clark was quoted as saying in the book “True Blue,” the tale of how the popular television series “NYPD Blue” was formed and the basis for some of its stories.
Could that be what happened in September 2000 when a woman and her two young children were found murdered in the garage of their rural Georgetown home?
The husband/father, David R. Camm, who turned 38 on Saturday, was arrested about 72 hours after he called his former co-workers at the Indiana State Police post in Sellersburg to report he had just returned home from playing basketball and found his family slain. Each victim had been shot once at close range.
(Let me interject that I do know police rarely arrest someone without being fairly certain they have the person who actually committed the crime.)
Camm apparently offered a couple of names as potential suspects who may have killed his wife, Kimberly, 35, son, Bradley, 7, and daughter, Jill, 5, but the distinguished expert marksman and former ISP emergency response team member doesn’t think detectives looked beyond him. Prior to his arrest, Camm spent several hours with police detectives, including two separate interviews at the state police post and a trip to Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services in New Albany, where he allowed bodily samples to be taken for a suspect evidence collection kit during what he called an “embarrassing” procedure.
Camm repeatedly denied being the killer, describing his life as perfect.
But a less-than-perfect life was presented by Floyd County Prosecutor Stan Faith and his staff during the nine-week, high-profile trial, which included several Harrison County residents taking the stand. Three potential motives were entwined in the prosecution’s case as to why Camm killed his family: to collect $661,000 in insurance money, to pursue sexual relations with other women and to silence the discovery that Camm may have been molesting his daughter. (No formal charges were filed against Camm regarding molestation, and while witnesses for the state hinted that five-year-old Jill Camm was molested prior to her death, no attempt was made to try to prove that her father was responsible.)
Defense attorney Mike McDaniel probably dispelled almost everything the state presented, including how telephone billing records have been in error during the time of year Southern Indiana is on “fast time.” (One key piece of evidence the state had was phone records that indicated Camm made a telephone call from his home at 7:19 p.m., which would have placed him at the crime scene about the time of the murders. But a Verizon employee testified that the records were incorrect, and that the call was actually placed at 6:19 p.m.)
No, the one piece of evidence that neither McDaniel or Camm could explain away was how Jill Camm’s blood — regardless if it was high velocity impact spatter or contact transfer — got on her father’s T-shirt.
The jurors, who were brought in from Johnson County due to the pre-trial publicity, deliberated about 30 hours before reaching a guilty verdict on all three counts of murder. Some of them later told reporters that their decision was based on circumstantial evidence.
We probably will never know what really happened on that late September evening a year and a half ago. Camm still claims he didn’t take the lives of his family, but rather discovered their lifeless bodies, and McDaniel has indicated he will appeal.
What we do know is that there were no real winners in this ordeal, which seemed to take its toll on the families of both sides. The trial was marked by what should have been joyous occasions, as the dates of all three victims’ birthdays passed.
Frank and Janice Renn, Kimberly Camm’s parents, lost one of their two daughters, as well as the only grandchildren they will have (Their other daughter has multiple sclerosis and cannot have children.) They said the verdict provides them with some relief, and they expressed understanding the Camm family’s pain.
For David Camm’s side of the family, the pain continues. Besides having to endure the long trial and its painful outcome, they were caring for David Camm’s mother, who was hospitalized before the trial’s conclusion. And, on Sunday, Camm’s grandfather passed away.
We can only hope for healing for everyone involved.