Todd Campbell

Often after I place a name on my list I will put something to give me an idea as to what kind of case it is.  Sometimes it will simply say "spouse" or "neighbor."  Next to Todd Campbell's name I had put "acquitted-Fla-cold case."  I was excited when I saw it was next because it already sounded different than those I have done recently.  As I began my research I became more intrigued.  In fact, I was so intrigued that I have already started here before finishing my research, something that only happens on the rare occasion.  I began reading about the case and saw that there had been a DNA match to Todd Campbell, to which led to his charges in the murder of Vickie Long who had been found dead in 1984 and yet despite this DNA match Campbell was acquitted in his 2012 trial.  

It is not unusual to hear cases in which the defense argues semen DNA found as coming from consensual sex.  However, it is unusual to hear that the defense actually worked which is what makes this case interesting.  At the end of the trial it even appears that the family of the victim was not overly upset and was quoted as saying at least they got some information that they did not have prior.  This indicated to me that possibly the family agreed with the verdict of acquittal also.

On September 10, 1984 Donn Ingels reported that his girlfriend, Vicki Long had taken her dogs out for a walk and had not returned that morning.  He would state that he left Vicki's seven year old son at their home Juniper Florida home and went looking for her.  He found her car abandoned but he did not find Vicki, hence his report.  It was said that she had only been gone for about an hour.

Authorities would begin a search that included helicopters and Vicki's body would be found a few hundred yards from where her abandoned car had been found earlier.  She had been strangled and beaten.  There were signs of sexual assault.  Semen was found in her pants but in 1984 nothing more than a blood type could determine who had left it there.  The case went cold.

In October of 2009 Todd Campbell was arrested for growing marijuana.  Campbell had no prior arrests or issues with the law so his DNA had never been collected or entered into CODIS.  Upon this arrest this was done and investigators were informed that it was a match to the Long case.  Investigators questioned Campbell who initially told officers he did not know Vicki Long.  A second sample of his DNA was collected and tested again and once again it came up as a match to the Long case and on January 21, 2010 he was charged with murder.

From that point on, or at least until his trial ended, newspapers announced how the case had been solved.  In the two years leading up to his trial it was widely announced that this was the person guilty of this long, cold murder case.  Of course everyone forgot, as they often do, that one of the pillars of our justice system states that one is innocent until proven guilty.  One particular article bothered me quite a bit because it had described Campbell in 1984 as a "twenty-two year old long haired, pot smoker" who had been living with a relative near where Vicki's body was found.  The description was surely made to incite those who read the article. 

In February of 2010 the prosecutors announced they planned to seek the death penalty, but without any explanation, at least that I could find, the following month they changed their mind.  Campbell was facing charges of 1st degree murder and two counts of sexual assault.

By the time the case went to trial in July of 2012 his defense was arguing that Campbell and Vicki Long had had consensual sex more than a few times at the home he was living in with relatives, hence how his DNA was present.  They also pointed out that Campbell had no previous history with the law.  They were quick to let the jury know that in their minds the most suspicious person in this case was Vicki's boyfriend, Donn Ingels.  They would state that he was a black belt in karate and that he was upset that Vicki would not marry him. They pointed out that Vicki's body showed signs of a beating that included broken ribs and a broken jaw, along with the strangulation and that Ingels had more of a motive for murder than Campbell.  I am unsure just how far that would have gotten them alone but they went on to claim that Ingels had not been consistent in his story as to what transpired that morning.  According to the defense Donn Ingels once stated that Vicki's dogs had returned home alone, hence he went out looking for her and found her car but then later said that he found the dogs with the car at the same time. The defense also argued that while Donn Ingels had indicated to authorities that Vicki Long walked her dogs at the same time, every day, that they had found information that this was not true.

The prosecution claimed that the sexual trauma in which was found on Vicki had occurred within one hour of her death.  The defense had an expert say that it had happened sometime between twelve and twenty-four hours before.  

The jury apparently either believed that Campbell was completely innocent of this crime or believed there was enough reasonable doubt that by law they could not convict him.  I am betting on the latter.  But, surprisingly I cannot tell you a whole lot. While there were several articles on this case I was actually amazed at how few there were compared to other cases. In fact, there was like one article written as the trial was starting and one after with the verdict and nothing really in between.  

Without knowing a bit more of the story I cannot say if I think Todd Campbell is guilty of murdering Vicki Long.  However, it is obvious to me, as apparently it was to the jury that the state either did not prove their case or they left too many holes open.  I question just how close her body was found in relation to her car.  My research just simply said "a few hundred feet."  I also want to know what the area looked like and I want to hear from the boyfriend. What really did happen that day?  Did he simply misspeak when his stories changed out of nervousness?  Was the defense correct that he was angry with Vicki? How much did he look around for Vicki when he found her car?  To be fair it took the helicopter to find her body, but it still leaves questions as to just how much he looked.

The force in which Vicki Long was murdered indicates that it was someone close to her. That does not necessarily exclude Campbell since he claims to have been having a sexual relationship with her.  I would like to say that Campbell's lack of criminal history lead to him not being the murderer and lean more towards Donn Ingels but then again I can find nothing to indicate that he has any criminal history either so that theory may not hold true.

This seems to be a case in which while the DNA was found the prosecutors thought that was the be all and end all of their case and did very little else that would tie him to the crime or to eliminate the idea that someone else was involved.  It is another case of prosecutors being overly confident in my opinion and ended in a case that will likely never be solved, no matter what the prosecutors tell you.  They by the way, have been eerily silent it seems.

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