Like a good neighbor

LBPD Homicide Detective Todd Johnson apparently did not find it suspicious that a neighbor helped Huck clean up blood at the scene, and provided questionable statements to the police. Further, this neighbor was at the scene prior to the 911 call. She parked her SUV in front of the victim’s house just before 7 a.m. on the morning of March 3, 2014, and drove away from the house just minutes before Huck left to walk the dog.

The neighbor told LBPD Officer Keith Mortensen that she had been an ER nurse for 25 years. Despite her years of experience dealing with blood and other fluids, she was unable to provide any estimate at all regarding how much blood was on the floor of Dana’s house. Mortensen wrote in his report (pdf):

“[Nurse] stated she arrived home on 03/03/14 at approximately 1530 hrs, and was told by a neighbor that Dana was in the hospital. She called [Victim’s Husband], she refers to him as [Huck] and then drove directly to St. Mary’s Hospital and arrived there at approximately 1630 hrs. [Nurse] left the hospital and drove home at about 2030 hrs. The next morning [Nurse] could not remember if she called [Huck] or if he called her. She asked him if he needed anything and he asked her if she could go with him to walk the dog. She agreed and they walked to the park with the dog. After the walk, she asked [Huck] if he needed help with anything else and he asked her if she would help him clean the room where the incident happened and she agreed. [Nurse] stated that she had been an ER nurse for 25 years and that the sight of blood does not bother her. [Nurse] said she was in the house and saw that the door to the Yoga room was closed. She said this was normal in order to keep the dog out of the room. She entered the room and saw that there was a blue yoga mat and a white towel on the ground. She believes there was a couple drops of blood on the yoga mat and stated that she wasn’t paying attention to the towel, so she does not remember if there was any on it.

“I asked how much blood was on the ground and she stated that she was not paying attention to it and just helped clean it. I asked if the blood was already dry and she stated that it was. [Nurse] said that she stayed with [Victim’s Husband] the entire time, and she believes that he made a concentrate of warm water, simple green and bleach. He placed this into a bucket and she thinks she used a sponge to clean it up the blood. [Nurse] said that [Victim’s Husband] helped and he used a brush of some kind. I again asked her how much blood was on the ground and asked her to show me using her hands, and she stated that she really couldn’t say. After cleaning the blood she brought the trash cans to the front of the backyard and [Victim’s Husband] threw the towel and yoga mat away.”

According to the nurse, she used a sponge to clean Dana’s blood off the floor, and Huck used a brush. Huck described it differently to LBPD Officer Edwin Oak. Oak wrote in his report (pdf):

[On March 4, 2014] “…a neighbor, [Nurse], who lives a couple houses down came over and asked [Huck] if she could help him with anything. He asked her if she would take a walk with him and they took a long walk around the neighborhood. When they returned to his residence, he asked her if she would help clean up the blood in the recreation room. Since [Nurse] use to be a nurse, he said the site of blood did not offend her. [Huck] could not bare seeing the blood and being reminded of his wife lying there on the ground. [Huck] and [Nurse] went in and washed the dried blood away. [Nurse] began to scrub very hard and began to remove the black stain that was on the concrete. This caused a brownish/yellowish color to appear and [Huck] stopped [Nurse] from scrubbing any more. There on the ground, he saw a circle on the concrete where the black stain was scrubbed off and it was a constant reminder to him of where her head was lying when he entered into the room. [Huck] stated the cleanup took only a few minutes and he threw away the towels they used to clean up the blood, along with the yoga mat that was in the room. He placed a candleholder where her head was and lit several candles. The trash was picked up that day so the yoga mat and t-shirt used to clean the floor were no longer in his possession.”

The nurse said that they threw away a blue yoga mat that had “a couple drops of blood” on it, and a white towel on which the nurse could not remember seeing any blood at all. Huck said that they threw away towels, a yoga mat, and a t-shirt. (Whose t-shirt?) One paramedic estimated that, at most, there were 20 drops of blood on the yoga-room floor. Why was so much vigorous scrubbing and toweling required to clean mere drops of dried blood from black-stained concrete?

One theory suggests that the nurse helped Huck clean up a large amount of blood in the master bath  prior to the 911 call on the morning of March 3, 2014. A former ER nurse would be able to stanch the bleeding of Dana’s massive head wound. A former ER nurse would know how to stage Dana in the yoga room — before first responders arrived — to allay suspicion. If the first responders had seen a lot of blood at the scene — if Dana’s hair had been matted with blood, for instance, or if her clothes had been drenched in blood, the first responders would have known immediately that she had sustained a severe head injury. As it was, the first responders weren’t sure what was wrong with Dana, and they misidentified the deep, long laceration in her scalp as a hematoma.

The nurse parked her SUV at the curb in front of Huck and Dana’s house on the morning of March 3, 2014, just before 7 a.m. Where had she been at that hour? Why did she park in front of Huck’s house instead of her own house, or in her own driveway? Huck looked out of his front window several times prior to the nurse’s arrival, as if waiting for her.

One theory suggests that the nurse walked two doors down to her own house, continued walking through her back yard, down the public footpath, and entered Huck’s house from the back. Surveillance cameras in the back of Huck’s house recorded only a few minutes of video all morning, suggesting that the cameras were switched off for almost three hours.

The nurse told Officer Mortenson that a neighbor had informed her of Dana’s injury. However, the nurse’s neighbors told a different story to LBPD Officer Tina Icorn. Icorn wrote in her report (pdf):

“[Neighbor M] told me the following: …He was standing in his front yard with [Neighbor F] yesterday around 1700 when his neighbor [Nurse] pulled her vehicle alongside the curb and told them she had just checked her messages and found [Huck] had called saying Dana had fallen and was in the hospital. When she returned around 2100 hours, she told him she thinks Dana will die. Dana had hit her head doing yoga and slipped or blacked out. She hit her head on something…. [Neighbor F] told me the following. …She was in front of their home yesterday with [Neighbor M] when their neighbor, [Nurse], pulled over to tell them she had checked her messages and found [Huck] had called saying Dana was in the hospital.”

The neighbors’ statements contradicted the nurse’s claim that they had told her about Dana’s injury. Instead, the nurse was telling people the story that Huck wanted everyone to believe: that Dana “hit her head doing yoga.”

The nurse exited her house just minutes before Huck left his house to walk the dog, thus setting his alibi in motion. One theory suggests that he walked down the street with Dana’s iPad under his jacket, and entered the public footpath along the golf course. The nurse’s house was likely within range of his own WiFi network. There, he used Dana’s iPad to purchase a purse, and started playing the yoga video.

The nurse put her house up for sale just days after Dana’s “yoga accident,” and moved out of California soon after. None of this information piqued the curiosity of LBPD Homicide Detective Todd Johnson.

Next: Compromised detective

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