How thoroughly did Fitchburg police investigate an allegation that a Madison man confessed to stabbing Amos Mortier and feeding his body to pigs?
The witness, whose testimony at a 2006 grand jury hearing was revealed last month in Isthmus ("What Happened to Amos?," 2/13/09), says he's baffled by the police response to his account.
"I don't know why they brushed it off," says the witness, who asked not to be identified, even though the man he's accusing, his former neighbor, knows who he is. The witness says this 41-year-old local man - for whom Isthmus has made up the pseudonym B. Green - has intimidated his family in the past.
"Quite frankly, it makes me nervous that he's a free man," the witness says. "I'm scared of what he's capable of. I don't know about the whole hog-farm thing, but I do know these aren't good people."
Mortier, 27, disappeared from his Fitchburg home on Nov. 8, 2004. Police believe he was murdered.
The witness told police and the grand jury that "Green" owed Mortier $80,000 for marijuana proceeds stolen in August 2004 from another neighbor, whom we'll call John Doe. "Doe" sold marijuana for Green, who in turn got it from Mortier.
Green allegedly told the witness he lured Mortier to an isolated area and, after a struggle, stabbed him to death. Then he dumped the body at a hog farm near Poynette and returned to Mortier's house, emptying his safe and letting his dog loose.
Key parts of this story square with other accounts. Mortier's safe was empty when friends checked it several days later, before calling police. Moreover, Green purportedly told the witness his truck sustained a cigarette burn during his struggle with Mortier. Court records show Green paid for a cigarette burn repair in March 2005.
Still, Fitchburg police detectives appear to have taken Green's denials of this account at face value, even though he made untruthful and contradictory statements. He says police never asked him for an alibi, searched his property or compelled him to take a polygraph test.
Lt. Todd Stetzer of the Fitchburg police tells Isthmus the witness' story isn't credible, declining to say why or comment further until "our entire investigation is complete."
Perhaps police are persuaded that the witness, a petty crook and longtime police informant, is unreliable because he failed a polygraph test administered in January 2006. The witness, then in the Dane County jail on a probation hold, says he had contraband secreted away in his underpants when jail deputies summoned him for the surprise test.
"Thing with that test is that when I gave them my name and age, it showed up that I was lying," he attests. "They asked if I would take it again, but they didn't follow up."
Police reports confirm that the witness was asked if he'd take the test a second time. They do not say whether this was done.
On the day Mortier was reported missing, the witness moved into a second-floor flat on East Washington Avenue. Doe lived downstairs, and Green lived in the house next door. Over the next three months, intruders stormed Doe's residence on three occasions, presumably looking for money and drugs.
In January 2005, the witness says he heard glass break in Doe's apartment. When he went to check, masked gunmen pulled him into the residence. After 90 minutes, the robbers made off with drugs and $7,500, but missed $17,000 stashed in a videocassette box.
The witness says Green was distraught about the robbery. But when the witness tried calling police, Green allegedly told him to keep his mouth shut, saying, "I don't want this to turn into another Amos." The witness says he realized Green was involved in drug sales with Doe.
Police were called three hours later, after Doe's residence was cleared of contraband. The witness tells Isthmus that Green paid him $500 to say he was never there.
On Feb. 14, 2005, Doe's residence was broken into again. Green chased after the intruders, and was savagely attacked with a crowbar, which left him with bone-deep lacerations on his arms. The witness hit the attacker over the head with a dirt-filled pot, and says Green afterward credited him with saving his life. The two men began hanging out together.
When police inquired about the home invasions, Doe blamed them on white supremacists angered by his conversion to Islam more than two decades earlier.
According to the witness, he had increasing contact with Green between February and April 2005.
Inside Green's house, the witness observed a stack of missing-person posters, with Mortier's picture. Green explained how he'd met Mortier, and eventually began selling marijuana for him. At some point, Green allegedly told the witness about the August 2004 home invasion, in which $80,000 owed to Mortier was taken.
One night, Green, high on beer and pills, and gripped by emotion, allegedly told the witness he stabbed Mortier. "He paced the floor, you know, sit back down on the couch, cigarette after cigarette," the witness testified.
But it wasn't until October 2005 that the witness, then in the county jail, spilled the beans about Green's confession.
"When you're doing coke all the time, the last thing you want to do is to talk to the cops," the witness explains. "After sitting in jail a few days, detoxing, it started eating at my conscience."
The witness explained how Green "cried with relief" after confessing, but then expressed regret for talking at all. The witness told him, "You don't have to worry about it. You had to tell somebody."
Police did question Green at least three times, two of which he secretly recorded. Twice he was subpoenaed to give grand jury testimony, but was excused both times after asking for immunity and refusing to take a polygraph test.
Green adamantly denies that he confessed, or that he played any role in Mortier's death. Until recently, he believed a motorist struck Mortier after his dog got loose. "Somebody picked him up, threw him in a pickup truck, rather than wait for a cop," Green speculated in 2007. "It rains for a week, you're not going to see blood.'"
Mortier's mother, Margie Milutinovich, says Green's role needs to be investigated further: "Amos saw him as a friend. Why wouldn't he take a polygraph? If he's got nothing to hide, what's he need immunity for?"