Monday, March 21, 2016

Shaking the dust off an old murder case

2003 Surveillance image of Xerox Federal Credit Union
assailant, provided via Webster (NY) Police Dept. web
page at http://ci.webster.ny.us/gallery.aspx?PID=36
I'm a college professor, not a reporter. But I may or may not have had something to do with getting a 13-year-old murder case back in gear.

Eight weeks ago, I dug up details of a 2003 bank robbery and murder at a Xerox credit union branch in Webster, NY. A Xerox employee, Raymond Batzel, was killed. The killer fled and was never found.

My reporting days are well behind me, but I wanted to use the case in a journalism class I teach at St. Bonaventure University. The idea was to get students to think about who they'd call to get updates on a case no one had reported on for almost a decade. (Most of the officers and others connected with the case have moved on.)

During my research, I emailed the police chief in Webster, NY, and the FBI's Buffalo office. The FBI responded first, telling me the Webster Police are the lead agency on the investigation -- and the FBI have no comment. The Webster police chief replied by phone, a few days later, confirming that the case was still "active."

This morning (March 21), the FBI held a news conference announcing a reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the robber/killer. Few substantive details were disclosed; we still don't know how much cash was taken.

This in no ways suggests that either law enforcement agency wasn't on top of the case. I have no knowledge of their investigation, and I doubt they'd tell me anything useful. News media hadn't touched the story since 2008. Remember, I'm a college professor, not a reporter.

However, I'd like to think I helped shake a little dust off a cold case, and that the investigation moves forward to apprehend a violent felon.




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