The prosecution started to draw conclusions about what happened to Jennifer Blagg when a crime scene expert took the stand Wednesday afternoon.
“A stranger offender will want to get in and out of the crime scene as quickly as possible … ,” said Ron Walker, a former FBI profiler and crime scene consultant. “This offender appears to have spent some time at the crime scene.”
Walker, who spent years in the FBI’s behavioral scene unit, said it would take a significant amount of time to carefully wrap and move Jennifer Blagg’s body in a way that wouldn’t leave any blood in the rest of the home. Moving the body also didn’t make sense to him if the crime was a burglary gone bad.
People move bodies to conceal the time of death or other physical evidence from investigators, Walker said.
That’s why he concluded the killer staged the home to make it look like a property crime gone wrong when it was, in fact, a “staged domestic homicide.”
The Mesa County prosecutors allege Michael Blagg shot his wife in the middle of the night, wrapped her in a tent, took her body into the garage, loaded it in the family minivan and threw her a dumpster at his work. The defense alleges a child predator broke into the home through the back door while Michael Blagg was at work, killing his wife and potentially his daughter.
Abby Blagg has never been found, but Walker believes she was killed in the home Nov 13, 2001 along with her mother.
Walker’s testimony Wednesday afternoon was the first time the jury heard a witness draw conclusions about what might have happened to Jennifer Blagg and her 6-year-old daughter. The majority of the testimony in the people’s case has so far centered around evidence collected from the Pine Terrace house and interviews Michael Blagg gave shortly after his wife and daughter disappeared.
Walker also thought it was odd only insured jewelry items taken while three guns were left behind.
When public defender Tina Fang had her chance to ask Walker questions, she didn’t dispute his conclusion that the home might have been staged. Instead, she questioned him about other types of crimes where someone might stage a room specifically sexual predator crimes.
“It can happen, but it’s rare,” Walker said.
She also asked whether sexually motivated offenders keep mementos — like jewelry or photo ID cards — from their victims. He said they do.
This could become important if Jefferson County Judge Tamara decides to let the defense bring up a man named Russell Phillip Bruinsma. He’s a convicted child rapist who had Jennifer and Abby Blagg's names written on sticky notes along with several other missing girls when he was caught in 2015.
The defense tried and failed to convince the judge to let them bring up Bruinsma in late 2017, but she didn’t entirely close the door on it.
One argument the defense wanted to raise — and potentially could still try — is that Bruinsma gave his ex-wife a Gucci watch that matched the description of the one Michael Blagg reported missing.
When asked Walker said the crime scene didn’t look like a kidnapping or child abduction, but he also conceded it was unusual for a killer in a staged domestic homicide to conceal the body.
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Fang also asked Walker whether he knew that Jennifer Blagg’s body was found with male DNA that didn’t belong to Michael Blagg.
“You’re right,” Walker said. “It was not Michael Blagg’s DNA.”
Mahre pointed out that Jennifer Blagg was found in a landfill with human and medical waste. But Fang countered back that the male DNA was lifted from pubic hairs found inside the tent that was wrapped around Jennifer Blagg’s body.
The defense tried to use Walker to undermine the 13 smudges and swipes of blood found inside the Blaggs’ red minivan.
“Blood can get on someone from that crime scene and then that someone can get into the van,” Fang asked.
“Yes,” Walker said.
Fang’s continually pushed the theory that inexperienced investigators from the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office contaminated the crime scene and potentially brushed the blood on the minivan door themselves.
Testimony is scheduled to continue at Jefferson County courthouse Thursday at 8:30 a.m.