Chapter 1: Beware of Trusting Jayden
Jayden is like a kid sometimes. He calls the cadaver dogs “like, you know, murder dogs” in the car after they leave the house and it absolutely killed me–
JAYDEN: There was a hit on the wall where the samples were collected —
CROSSTALK: [–Holy shit]
JAYDEN: These dogs, the detect bodies, they detect blood. They’re basically like, you know, murder dogs. The fact that there was a hit is, is, is significant. They didn’t hit anywhere else, by the way. Whole house was searched. And I mean I witnessed it with my own eyes. So, I mean, I saw the dogs hit on the bed, and on the closet, and on the wall. So, um, uh, that tells me that there- something went on there.
Jayden also says:
The cadaver dog handler really talked it up to Lost Hills PD. That gives me confidence.
Sorry, but because the handler “talked it up” that gives Jayden confidence? I’m slightly confused at this.
Anyway, moving on…
Before I get to my rant, I should put up the CADAVER DOG REPORT… for reference:
On May 6, 2017, I searched the property at as requested by Mr. Jayden Brant. I searched using my two Shepard dogs, both previously certified in human remains detection.
The first dog utilized to search the dwelling showed focused interest in the first bedroom immediately to the left of the front door/entryway. Upon smelling on the outside of the bedroom door, at the bottom, near the hinged side of the door, the first dog smelled, sat, and looked at me, indicating an alert of an odor in which he has previously been trained. He also alerted on the floor moulding in the hallway immediately near this door.
The first dog also showed interest in a small closet with cleaning supplies in the hallway immediately before this bedroom. Inside this bedroom the first dog showed a focused interest in the clothes closet. Opening the closet door, he continued to show this focused interest in the contents, especially the suitcase and other items just inside the closet door.
I then searched the backyard with the first dog, and the only area of additional interest was a covered storage shed which shared a common wall with the property’s back fence. The first dog showed interest inside the shed area but did not localize to a single spot within it.
The second dog was used inside the house and showed focused interest in the first bedroom and the closet, as did the first dog.
So, that’s really four areas of INTEREST by the first dog, and depending on how you count it, one or two areas of ALERT for the first dog. (Because the alert was on either side of the same door.) The second dog didn’t ALERT anywhere, and showed INTEREST in the whole bedroom and the closet, I guess?
— Rant —
“Warrants for everything”
JAYDEN: He’s like, oh yeah, this– this is– where you guys break in and you just, you know, warrant for the whole house. And you start getting warrants for everything. I mean, he said the dog is, is really solid.
Then Neil is like, “there’s just *one* problem.” 😂
Really? You mean to tell me that shooting the shit with your cop buddies who have no jurisdiction in a case has NO AFFECT at all?! (Sad trombone sound.)
ME/SOMBER VO: What this means for “the case” is that Officer Warrants for Everything can’t help us get any closer to justice for Elaine… or her cats.
Before we get to “warrants for everything,” let’s just deal with “warrants for the whole house,” shall we?
I really want to see this warrant. Or what facts Officer Warrants For Everything swears out before a judge to get said search warrants. No Con Law lessons, I swear, but all search warrants must detail specifically what they’re allowed to search for and seize: “upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
So, there are no “everything warrants.” There are no “whole house” warrants. But who gaf? No, I mean it. You want forensics to come in and test random surfaces in Elaine’s room? Like, you’re literally already doing that. You’ve got cadaver dogs searching the whole property, for God’s sake. So, yeah, Jayden kind of gets over excited and doesn’t understand anything, and we should all maybe just think of him as a mostly harmless, super excited 10-year old boy at this point. He’s good color.
Chapter 2: Beware of Trusting Neil, Too?
“Negative for DNA”
So, yeah, about that “lab technician.”
NEIL/VO: “…especially since the lab technician we brought over who collected a sample from a stain on the wall near where the dogs alerted said the sample was negative for DNA.”
After reading the cadaver dogs’ handler’s report and playing Jayden talking about how completely jazzed the Malibu PD — who are not in charge of the case — are about the dogs and how if it were them they would be writing warrants right now, Neil briefly mentions that a lab technician was brought in and did some testing on at least one sample. (This was mentioned in Episode 7, as well. Also briefly.)
NEIL/VO: It’s essential to find out more about the significance of these cadaver dog alerts and interest, how reliable they are and what they may or may not indicate happened in Elaine’s home, especially since the lab technician we brought over who collected a sample from a stain on the wall near where the dogs alerted said sample was negative for DNA.
Was “the sample” even blood? I mean, the first thing even some rando tech would do is a presumptive test, right there, to determine whether “the substance” is blood or not. So, that’s weird. And if they tested one thing, they probably tested every damn thing they could find to test. (Notice how they kick Susan and Jeff out of the entire house and just do what they want? It’s kind of hilarious when you think about it.)
Anyway, whatever, it’s weird to me that Neil says, “yeah, that sample near where the dog alerted was negative for DNA,” which slides by the ears and just kinda subconsciously boosts how suspicious everything else sounds, but tells us soooo little. “Negative for DNA?”
If you tested it for DNA, you know damn well whether it’s blood or not. Right?
And does anyone believe that if they had found some blood up in that girl’s room that they would not be telling us? Like, do you think they would be spending quite so much time yanking my emotions about these cats if they had found themselves some blood? GTFO.
So, they could have swabbed everything that stood still in Elaine’s room, and likely did, and now — I gotta be honest — I’m kind of wondering if Neil Strauss just told us that some chocolate smear — “near where the dogs alerted” — was negative for DNA? I mean, I have really gone to bat for Neil on Reddit. Man, I have literally been stoopid in my defense of him, but right now I am feeling some serious trust issues with my man.
I have been defending his choice to tell the story in a dramatic, and even sometimes melodramatic way. And I still defend that shit… in most circumstances. Like, last season a girl was murdered and he was basically able to figure out exactly how it all happened, all because he gained the trust of the murderer’s family. It was a crazy and dramatic story and Neil Strauss earned the right to tell it however he wanted.
This is not the same thing. We do not know what happened, here. And it’s one thing to dramatize the evolution of the fact-finding process of an investigation. The scaffolding needs to be factual first, though. This doesn’t feel like that. First of all, we don’t know what happened. At all. If they went through that room looking for forensic evidence, and then tested what they were able to find, and discovered some sample of something that’s not blood — because they would tell us if it was blood and because even if was degraded blood, some DNA would be detectable, even if the sample wasn’t good enough for a positive identification — then you know what the headline should have been?
“WE COULDN’T FIND ANY BLOOD OR OTHER FORENSIC EVIDENCE IN A BASIC, SIGHT-SWEEP OF ELAINE’S ROOM. WE TESTED WHAT WE COULD FIND AND IT WASN’T BLOOD OR OTHER IDENTIFIABLE HUMAN SEROLOGICAL MATERIAL.”
Not: “One out of two dogs alerted in two places in Elaine’s room and now Jayden’s cop buddy announces that it’s time for some cowboy shit.”
Nameless “Cadaver Dog Professionals”
Then comes: “I reached out to some local cadaver dog professionals and this is what they tell me.”
Who? It’s really weird that he quotes this guy, and then a woman, without ever naming them. Like, I want to see who these two are. I like Google. I want to check out these “professionals.” It’s kind of weird to me that he couldn’t get any “cadaver dog professionals” to go on the record just to say this pretty tame, very generalized stuff.
But even though these two are strangely nameless, they still say some stuff that cuts against the overall picture Neil is painting with his knock-off Monet impression. Here’s the start of the section he’s going to riff off of, just for context:
FEMALE CDP: “…But if they do a full alert, the chances are that there is something that they’re trained to detect that was there. Or, if a large amount of blood, or human remains that had been there awhile, or somebody had deceased in their bed and was taken to the morgue or whatever it was, that’s possible.
But it quickly becomes clear that “the woman” hinges her whole sort of scary explanation on both dogs showing full alerts in the exact same spot. One dog didn’t alert at all to anything, anywhere. (But did show “interest” in the bedroom and at the closet. “In the bedroom” doesn’t sound super specific to me, but then again, I’m not a “cadaver dog professional.”)
Anyway, the quote from the female half of our team of Local Cadaver Dog Professionals that Neil plays up and uses to expound on with his most seriously damning conclusions, literally says that the possibilities she’s throwing out only apply to full alerts and not just interest. And by both dogs. And none of those caveats apply here:
NEIL: If we’re talking, again, about a localized or a specific area where there’s an active alert, the possibilities are a body? A large amount of blood? Are there other possibilities?
FEMALE CDP: Personally, I would think so. If two dogs did it in the same exact area and had full alerts and not just interest, so that’s when you– the investigators or whoever takes it over, or the crime scene– you know, we’re only there to help. We can’t figure out the crimes, unfortunately…
Then when Neil seems to be trying to get her to really rule out anything like fingernails or anything short of “murder dogs” both Local Cadaver Dog Professionals jump in to kind of inject a little sanity, although it’s not immediately portrayed that way:
FEMALE CDP: Well, if there’s no human remains detection there — and they really want to find that — they’ll be interested in human cells. ‘Cause that’s what they’re smelling, human skin cells. So could be, human feces, like urine, blood–
MALE CDP: Menses–
FEMALE CDP: –Yeah
MALE CDP: Feminine products–
So it seems we went through all that to hear that this could all be really super-duper significant if something that didn’t happen, happened.
I think Susan seems guilty af, but I don’t love so much hype. I don’t love anyone stretching things, or seeming to hide the ball on us. Neil lost some credibility with me this week. I absolutely don’t mind making things dramatic, but I do mind the sleight of hand that attempts to draw conclusions from facts that aren’t actually there. And that’s how Episode 8 felt to me.