Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Leanna Warner and the Skydiving trip

Update 2/23- the June 14, 2003 skydiving video made by Joseph Duncan will be available to Cellar Dwellers soon. This will complete the "Joseph Duncan media" from that day.

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Steve Huff has written a new entry about the possibility of Joseph Duncan having been involved in the disappearance of Leanna Warner ("Beaner"). In Revisiting Duncan, and Beaner..., Steve writes of a way Joseph Duncan could have made photos and videos to alibi himself:
How’s this for a theory? Duncan has timestamps on videos of people skydiving, sure. But if his friends were skydiving in a different part of the state, earlier in the day, maybe it makes sense to wonder who was skydiving that same day at the Chisholm-Hibbing airport… so close to where Leanna Warner disappeared. Videos of people skydiving in one place just before noon… and in another place entirely, near 4 or 5 pm. On a tape made on a long summer’s day, they might be virtually identical, and Duncan still has his time-stamped video of skydivers. Only the later tapes are at another airport, one situated closer to his prey. But when Agent Steve from the MN BCA e-mailed me last July 20, perhaps no one—me included, for sure—had thought of that, yet.

I'm with Steve. Nothing has been said about exactly what pictures or videos were Joseph Duncan's alibi in this case. We know he was with a group of people who were jumping that day- I've spoken with one of them- and we know he took some photos of the event. I was told that Joseph Duncan wasn't present "after around lunchtime" on that day. Where was he later that afternoon where he could have been photographed or filmed, providing him with an alibi over two years later? At the supermarket on the shopping trip he also mentioned? Doubt it. It's hard to believe anything he wrote on his blog, but when detailing his alibi in this entry, I'd think he would mention any other place he had been that day. So I assume the photos and videos that are his alibi were from a skydiving event, and he was the one filming.

We can't be sure "around lunchtime" meant around 12 noon to the person I spoke with, but it's a reference point we can use to pull a theory together. The appointment for the group was marked on the skydive company's calendar for 1:00 p.m. on June 14th.

I can't speak for this skydive company, but in my experience, if you show up early and they're not busy, you can go up early if the weather's right. So "around lunchtime" could mean closer to 12:00 than 2:00. Scheduling jumps around the weather (wind) means schedules aren't set in stone for this type of business. Could the group have begun their jumps earlier than 1:00 p.m.? Sure, and I'm thinking they did. Which would have given Joseph Duncan even more time to get to Chisholm, MN. I've found the airport where this took place, and it's about 210 miles from the airport to Leanna Warner's street. About a 4-hour trip. Leanna disappeared around 5:30 p.m.

There were five people in the group, all of whom were scheduled for tandem jumps. (A tandem jump is one in which the "customer" is snugly attached to an instructor- in front of the instructor- so that they jump together.) Since the plane which this company used at the time had a four-person limit, excluding the pilot, only two of the group could go up at a time. It would take three trips for all of them to get their turn.

Joseph Duncan likely took photos of that first jump only- two people from his group- and then left. He didn't hang around to watch the other three make their jumps. The photos I was sent of this event, which Joseph Duncan himself took, seem to bear that out. Several pictures of the plane, the general area, and then two images of separate jumpers coming down. The photos he took also include his "gag" gift of Depends, which he wrote about in his blog (scroll down to the bottom, entry titled "It Begins.") I don't know how many more images- if any- Joseph Duncan took on this day. I have only the CD of images he sent to a person who was there.

I'll add that the shadows in the photos indicate they were taken around 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Certainly not a few hours later, as the shadows are pretty much directly under the subjects casting them.

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Something else I found: a "Joe Duncan" is listed as a student in the Jump School class which was held Friday June 27, around 6:30 p.m. and went on for 3-4 hours. The class resumed the next morning around 8:00 a.m. with the student jumps being made at 10:00 a.m., weather permitting. A search of the calendar (which I won't link from here as it contains an awful lot of personal information about the company's customers) revealed only one mention of "Joe Duncan." Here is a screen capture of that calendar, with the pop-up window of the class list for that day. Click on the image to enlarge. (I have blacked out all other names)

I had to go back through his blog and see if he ever wrote about actually making a jump. I know he mentioned wanting to do it, but I didn't find where he said he had.

Steve Huff will have more on this over at Huff's Crime Blog.


Home Sweet Home said...

It only takes seconds to change the date/time stamp in a camera. He could have taken pics, adjusted the time, taken more pics, adjusted the time and taken more pics- making it appear he was at the airport all afternoon- when in reality it might have taken only moments to do. All of the pics, could have been of the same jumper. And never even had to leave the airport.

thpunishrr said...

Welcome back!

Good post that raise some interesting questions.

Capt. Fantastic said...

Home Sweet Home,

The few jumpers in his pictures clearly have different chutes. There's no pretending a bunch of different jumpers were only one or two, or vice versa. Chutes are quite various and personal in their designs.

Also the position of the sun in the sky is a dead giveaway as to time of day.

As I wrote in the blog, all the outdoor pictures on the CD had shadows pretty much directly under the subject- indicating a sun position of straight-up-12:00 or thereabouts. We'll soon see if the video shows the same.

Thanks for the comments!