When Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Walt Bogdanich, from the New York Times, returned to St Augustine in April, he contacted Historic City News editor Michael Gold as part of his ongoing reporting on the mishandling of the September 2, 2010 homicide investigation of 24-year-old Michelle O’Connell by St Johns County Sheriff David B. Shoar.
Bogdanich has become Shoar’s “white whale”, along with former FDLE Special Agent in Charge Dominick Pape and FDLE Agent Rusty Rodgers, who the sheriff has promised to “spend the rest of his career” holding accountable for exposing O’Connell’s live-in boyfriend, his deputy, Jeremy Banks, as her likely murderer.
“We spent time over lunch and in subsequent telephone calls trying to make sense of how a man I once believed to be honorable and trustworthy could have taken such a dramatic, dark turn; trying to influence witnesses, investigators, medical examiners, even a St Johns County judge, after it was learned how badly his own staff fouled up the investigation of this homicide,” Gold wrote in an explanation of an article by Bogdanich that appeared in Saturday’s New York Times.
“A Mother’s Death, a Botched Inquiry and a Sheriff at War” is the second expose penned by Bogdanich; the first appeared November 23, 2013 and was titled, “Two Gunshots on a Summer Night”. Since that time, national attention has made the local sheriff infamous and cast doubt on his integrity as a law enforcement administrator.
The shooting of Michelle O’Connell has been featured in a documentary on Netflix, on PBS FRONTLINE, in People magazine and on television shows like “Dr. Phil”, and others. Board Certified Psychiatrist Carole Lieberman had two episodes of her nationally syndicated radio program that featured the story — in one she described Jeremy Banks as the “trigger man in a murder”.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Dr. Frederick Hobin, who performed the original autopsy.
To read the full 6,800 word, 23-page article, visit The New York Times.