Justice

“After the Uprising”: Outrageous Police Posts and Danyé Jones’ Time of Death Cast Further Doubt

In the medical examiner’s report on the supposed suicide death of Danyé Jones, one detail was extremely conspicuous in its absence: Danyé’s time of death.

Among the many alleged inconsistencies in the medical examiner’s report on the supposed suicide death of Danyé Jones, one detail was extremely conspicuous in its absence: Danyé’s time of death. According to Dr. Mary Case, the chief medical examiner for St. Louis County, determining a time of death is an unscientific pursuit given too much prominence by television, particularly unhelpful for bodies left outside on a cold night. The predominant science is based on methods devised in the mid-nineteenth century, and while they’re generally accepted as a way to roughly estimate time of death, some investigators are trying to push the science forward for more accurate results.

One such pioneer is Carly Berdan, a medicolegal death investigator based in New Jersey. According to her, time of death is far too important of a factor to leave to rough estimates and shaky science. Frustrated with the myriad of different methods available, Berdan worked to create her own improved equation for determining time of death. By attending numerous crime scenes, incorporating a large data set of temperatures from when the time of death was known, and conducting quite a few calculations, Berdan was able to modify the existing equation to more effectively include ambient temperature. Then, she fed the numbers into Eureqa, an artificial intelligence modelling engine to generate an entirely new, far superior equation.

By comparing her equation to the rigor mortis of the body, Carly could conceivably come up with a time of death for Danyé Jones. That is precisely what podcast investigators asked her to do in 2019. When she ran the numbers, they resulted in a scenario where Danyé, last seen walking out the back door at approximately 9:30 that evening, didn't die until roughly 4:30 a.m.

Berdan’s method is not quackery. It’s used by a variety of different medical examiners across the county, yet the chief medical examiner in Danyé’s case seemed unwilling to take this approach seriously when speaking by phone with one of the podcast investigators.. Why was this St. Louis County official so quick to rule out such a possibility? Why didn’t her office even make an attempt to estimate his time of death using the traditional method, let alone Carly Berdan’s new science? Why haven’t the authorities investigated other factors, like the time of a passing freight train that could have disguised any sounds of a disturbance?

This issue of racially and politically motivated bias in American police departments is one of the most urgent crises faced by our justice system, which is why organizations like the Plain View Project were founded to track and document incidences of police bias online. Through their work, they’ve uncovered an avalanche of memes, comments, and postings by police officers on social media that blatantly erode the trust between civilians and the police who are charged with their protection.

One of the eight jurisdictions investigated by the Plain View Project was the city of St. Louis Police Department, a separate entity from the St. Louis County police department that investigated Danyé’s death. While they are different organizations, they frequently draw from the same pool of potential police candidates in the region, and the views expressed by city police could reasonably be related to the views of county police.

While the Plain View Project found plenty of officers who were working hard to heal relations between the police and local communities, they also found a disturbing amount of posts that glorify violence, discriminate against marginalized groups, and dehumanize individuals by referring to them as animals, savages, and subhuman. A few problematic memes seemed to come up again and again as popular with police. One shows a laughing police and is captioned: “They said ‘f*** the police’ so I said ‘f*** your 911 call, I’ll get to your dying homeboy when I finish my coffee.’”

It’s not a huge leap to think that officers engaging in such rhetoric would not be the most enthusiastic investigators of the death of a young Black man like Danyé Jones.

Danyé’s mother Melissa McKinnies and other family members have long asserted that Timothy Anderer, the lead detective on Danyé’s case, was disrespectful throughout the investigation. Among other things, Danyé’s family has alleged that Anderer was seen laughing at the scene of the crime, gave them a false business card, and slow-tracked the investigation, delaying the final report that would give desperately needed details to Danyé’s loved ones.

These are difficult claims to prove, but a glimpse into Anderer’s internet footprint could provide some clarity on his attitudes towards the communities he is sworn to serve. While no Facebook page for Anderer could be found, his wife Aimee Anderer’s Pinterest page proved illuminating. Herself a St. Louis County police officer who works in training new cadets, her page contained numerous examples of dehumanizing memes that Plain View Project has warned against, including the “home boy” one described earlier. This trail led directly to Detective Anderer’s own Pinterest page, which included several racist jokes. One meme shows a variety of Asian people and lists their actual nationalities, but then jokes that every non-Asian person just sees them as Chinese. Another meme has a screen grab from a soccer match in which Nigeria is playing Germany and the three-letter abbreviations for each country spell out the N-word.

The Anderers’ posts were not atypical for police officers in the St. Louis area, some of whose excitement for beating up protestors have been documented over the years in memes, text messages, and body camera audio. Detective Anderer was approached for comment by podcast journalists via his office and his cell phone. When they failed to get a response, they knocked on the door of his home to offer him the opportunity to speak in person, only for Anderer become upset and ask them to get off his property.

What is there to hide? Why is he, along with so many of the St. Louis County authorities, so reluctant to speak about Danyé Jones’ death? Is it incompetence, one man’s bias, or a system that actively works to silence marginalized voices and sweep their concerns under the rug? Whatever the answer, by mid 2019 it became clear to Melissa McKinnies that if she were going to get further answers about her son’s death, she might need to do it herself, with the help of the podcast investigators with which she was working. They started with one hugely important mystery: Who was Danyé with on the night of his death? And why haven’t they come forward?

For more on the groundbreaking new methodology used to determine time of death, and an in-depth look at the Plain View Project’s work to expose police bias, don’t miss the fourth episode of ‘After the Uprising,’ and make sure to follow ‘After the Uprising’ on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for further updates and insights on Danyé’s story.

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