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The Wrong Man
Jeffrey Scott Hornoff  - In His Own Words


The  veteran RI police officer convicted of a murder he did not commit, exonerated by the real killer's confession, speaks out about fellow officers who scrambled to set him up, reporters who have no respect for truth, prosecutors and judges who will not admit when they are wrong, and more ...



Like my brother and  sister officers, I am a warrior who placed my life on the line every night and I loved doing it, but it was very frustrating and difficult to rely on others to fight and advocate for me while I was locked away.  I have so many people to thank: my Mom, my brothers Ronnie, Mike and Dave and their families, my sons Joshua, Zachary and Jacob, my kin down South, Tina and her family and friends- all who visited, wrote or spoke on the phone with me; giving me strength, renewing my hope and reminding me of faith and spirit. I also thank my attorneys, who I also consider friends: Joel Chase and his paralegal Linda Kelly, and Innocence Project attorneys Rob Feldman, Amanda Metts, Barry Scheck and their support staff.

I thank the National Police Defense Foundation and Joe Occhipinti for their support and for establishing a fund to help me recover some of my financial losses; and thanks to their former investigator  Boris de Korczak... Attorney Bill Dimitri...Warwick Detectives Ed Pelletier and Scott Mancini, John Morgan, Bob Bensen, Steve Kenehan, and others from my department who believed in me, as well as those who have been man enough to admit that they were wrong.

One thing that’s bothered me especially is former Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse’s statements immediately following my release, concerning my truthfulness during the Warwick and/or State Police investigations. He said that I repeatedly lied, contributing to my and my family’s ordeal. Mister Whitehouse is either poorly misinformed or he’s been outright lying to you in a sad attempt to justify my wrongful imprisonment. I hope it’s the former.

But I’ve been heartened by the people who continue to approach me with well wishes, who see  his comments for what they are. I think you should know that he mumbled an apology to me in Judge Krause’s courtroom on November 6th, but of course he didn’t proffer one on camera though he wasn’t even the A.G. who was originally involved.

I told one lie, and that was to Warwick Police Detective Captain Ronald Carter and Detective Lieutenant Edward Johnson early in their taped interrogation of me. Though they claim otherwise, I freely admitted to knowing Vicky. In fact, just minutes before I went into Captain Carter’s office I had admitted as much to Detective Mike Babula... When asked if Vicky and I had had an intimate relationship, I told Carter and Johnson no. I lied because they were tape recording my interrogation and if my wife was to find out, it was going to be by my telling her and not by their playing the tape. Of course I didn’t know that they would later lose the tape or tape over it, and then deny the interrogation was taped.

I also didn’t know that Detectives Richard Santos and Kevin Collins were, at the same time, at my home and lying to Rhonda, telling her that I was involved in an altercation at the F.O.P. and that they were investigating it...But that was my one and only lie. And within an hour I owned up to it. I requested a polygraph test, and I admitted in the preliminary interview with polygraph examiner Warwick Detective Sergeant Ed Pierce that I had been intimate with Vicky, and I explained to him why I had denied it at first. At the steak fry fundraiser held last month for me, Johnson and Pierce said they didn’t know of anyone who would have been forthcoming initially.

The Warwick Police Department’s Major Crime Unit and B.C.I. Unit conducted a crime scene and follow up investigation akin to that in the Manson murders-Helter Skelter. The only one at the scene who wanted to do the right thing and treat me like a suspect was Commander John Glendenning. He wanted to go to my home, take me to headquarters, seizing my clothing and towing my car to headquarters for processing. He wanted to treat me like a suspect, but he was ignored. If he had taken control, or if John Coutcher was chief, this never would have gotten this far. But as I so often heard over the years, ‘Everything happens for a reason.’

Mister Whitehouse also said that I am one in a million. Considering the fact that there are approximately two point two million men and women imprisoned in the United States, that would mean that there’s only one other innocent among them. Eddie Joe Lloyd, Mike Pardue, Kenneth Waters, Ron Williamson, Ronald Cotton, Ed Johnson, Roy Criner, Jeffrey Pierce,
Gary Gauger, Rolando Cruz Perry Cobb...these are the names of just a few of the men, now over a hundred, who have been proven innocent of crimes which they were wrongfully imprisoned for. Whitehouse needs to recheck his figures.

And a couple of the scarier thoughts are that, unless DNA evidence exists, the one responsible comes forward or there’s a successful appeal, the innocent are destined to languish in prisons, existing amid horrible conditions and among some dangerous people. Attorney Scheck told me that evidence is lost in 75% of the cases. I believe he said that in 24% of the cases, the person claiming innocence is proven so. So I have difficulty understanding why prosecutors and attorneys general aren’t all in favor of DNA testing. Primarily it’s because they don’t want to admit that they were wrong.

They don’t realize how bad they look by attempting to maintain a position of being free from accountability or of no remorse. Dozens of people have approached me and they all see through it. Judiciaries would raise their level of character and humaneness in the eyes of the citizens who they are sworn to protect if they would only admit their mistakes and apologize. The judge wouldn’t even look at me on Monday. I expected as much, that’s why I took my tie off after Todd Barry’s hearing.

I don’t expect Nye, Santos, DelBonis, Mong, Morrissey, Hurst, Denniston,  Judge Krause, or anyone else to be man enough to apologize and say they were wrong, but I forgive them every day—as much for myself as for them. There are enough bitter and petty people in this world; it’s my way of not letting the anger or resentment consume me. I can forgive them, but they can still be held accountable.

I urge and encourage you all to visit the websites npdf.org, freeingtheinnocent.com, and truthinjustice.org  Unfortunately, I do not believe that there exists one truly great objective investigative reporter in Rhode Island. I do not say this with vindictiveness but with great concern. I hear of reporters in other states helping to free innocent people from prison and of being relentless in asking tough questions of those in authority. There’s some good people among you, including Jack White, Glen Laxton, Jim Hummel, Karen Southern and Cathleen Crawley. Why not look harder into other claims of innocence, or spend a weekend in the protective custody or women’s units at the prison?  Then you’ll see why I filed a federal civil suit. There are other important issues, but this is one of them. What happened to me could happen to all of you or to your loved ones, then you’ll care.

There are others among you who I have little respect for professionally. You are abrasive and void of compassion. There’s a time and place for in-your-face journalism, and some of you haven’t learned how to act otherwise.

I know your bosses need to attract viewers and readers, but you and they have shouldered a huge responsibility. If you are going to report on criminal investigations and trials, I implore you to use great caution. Your words, tones and inflections can and do affect the jury pool. And law enforcement agencies can and do use you to further their agendas. I thank God that Ellen Lieberman is no longer a court reporter for the Providence Journal.

I also wonder why you have been silent in your criticisms of the Rhode Island State Police. Are you afraid of them? Don’t be.  State Police Detectives Richard Hurst and Thomas Denniston conducted a single and focused investigation into Vicky’s murder, freely admitting to those who they interviewed that they weren’t interested in any other possible suspects because they knew I did it. They  threatened criminal charges on those witnesses who tried to offer information concerning others who might have been involved... Don’t be afraid to investigate their actions, but do be wary if they ever ask you to go to their barracks regarding an investigation which they are conducting. My advice to you is not to go without an attorney, or better yet, don’t go at all.

And I wonder if it is merely coincidence that Richard Hurst was promoted to the rank of detective captain and that Thomas Denniston rose from sergeant to detective lieutenant shortly after my conviction? Do the state police rise in rank with successful high profile convictions?  If so, I now call on their colonel to at the least demote them both to patrolman status for their misconduct but I know that will never happen. The state police never admit their many mistakes. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons they aren’t well liked or respected by the real cops who work the cities and towns of Rhode Island.

During my interrogation and many of the interviews he conducted, Hurst told me and others to take our best guesses when we could not recall a particular date, time or action. He and Denniston picked and chose from the answers, what fit their speculation and conjecture, deeming my guesses as lies, and inconsistent guesses of others as irrelevant. I was wrong in placing my trust and faith in their non-existent professional abilities.

It took two grand juries to get an indictment on me. I wonder if the first set of jurors were leaning towards a no true bill and were thus dismissed?

The second grand jury convened at an East Greenwich National Guard armory on Route 2. When I testified it was a festive atmosphere, with plates of food, people laughing, sleeping and snoring. Listen to the tapes yourselves and you’ll hear how Prosecutor White conducted himself and manipulated the proceedings. If you spend any time around a courthouse you’ll hear the phrase, ‘You could get an indictment on the Pope or on a ham sandwich’ Well, with my second set of grand jurors, Randy White could’ve gotten both. He is a man who wields much power over our freedom and he has grown callous and cynical, losing sight of his fundamental mission to protect the innocent, and not of winning convictions at all costs.

And I still can see Jeff Pine’s smug image in my mind’s eye, confidently stating how there was no evidence in my case. Oh yes there was. Take a look at the crime scene photos. Where’s the bloody bandage? the blood on the everted index finger of the rubber glove? and why weren’t Vicky’s fingernails ever DNA tested? How could the Warwick police, State police and F.B.I. fail to preserve certain evidence, and lose and destroy other evidence? They did.

You’ve also been interested in any possible cover up by the Warwick Police, thinking that members may have protected me. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ask Warwick detectives Richard Santos and Thomas Nye if Major Joseph Duquette ever ordered them not to cooperate with the state police any longer in their functions as liaisons. Ask them if he ever said that he would do whatever it took to protect E.J., possibly wanting to cover up Johnson and Carter’s poor investigation and loss of the tape. You’d have to verify this with Nye or Santos, now a CCRI guard; both thought I was guilty and helped initiate the state police’s involvement.

It was widely rumored within headquarters that Duquette and Eddie Johnson aspired together to rise to the ranks of chief and deputy chief. And they both were wrong or outright lied when they claimed I made the derogatory comments about Vicky. I never have and I never will. There was no cover up by my department on my account. Even though I was cleared, it was just an incompetent investigation all around.

And you in the media, as so often happens, have incorrectly described my and Vicky’s relationship. I never called Vicky a temptress... She was not my lover...And I wouldn’t call our intimacies an affair, it didn’t last long in spite of what the state police would like you to believe.  On November 4th, when I entered the room in High Security where Joel Chase, Bill Ferland, Randy White, Thomas Denniston and another state detective were seated, my first thought was, "What are they going to accuse me of now?" Though my guard was up, seeing Bill Ferland and having him inform me of Vicky’s killer coming forward was easier to process. I went to the police academy with Bill and, besides Joel, he was the only one facing me who I consider a stand up guy.

I believe that he is the sole reason I was released so quickly. But they still wanted me to admit to going to Vicky’s apartment the night she was murdered just so it would fit their scenario and I guess so they could feel better about themselves. It didn’t happen so I wouldn’t, even if it meant not walking free.

State Police Captain Michael P. Iarossi’s statements to Journal reporter Cathleen Crowley should make you all shudder. "I can assure you from a state police standpoint, we did nothing different in this homicide investigation than we would do in any other."

Then they should have a really big wall in their museum, a wall of shame for all the innocent people they have wrongfully imprisoned and for those whom they will.

I again ask you in the media not to be so quick to judge. From May of ‘92 I was portrayed as the only viable suspect; just read the Providence Journal editorial from January 14th, 1995.

Be objective. Be good investigators. Whether a suspect is named or charged, don’t be afraid to ask about other leads or suspects. Dare to doubt. Verify your facts. As just one more example, I was wrongfully imprisoned for six years, four months and eighteen days, not five years as incorrectly reported just recently. There are some good cops, prosecutors and judges, and some good reporters; you are one of the defensive lines against all those who aren’t.

Just as they were so quick to judge me, I now also call on the editors of the Providence Journal and Warwick Beacon to print apologies, and admissions that they not only failed me and my family, but their readers as well.

And for future information: In arraignments, at least, I believe, in capital cases, a not guilty plea is the only one allowed to be entered. It’s a formality, but channels 6 and 12 called my mom to ask her what was going on. And your so-called legal analysts didn’t know any more than she did. Call the A.G.’s office or do a little legal research yourselves in a law library. Check out the superior court rules book on criminal procedure.

As Morgan Freeman’s character Red said in The Shawshank Redemption, "Andy Dufresne crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side."

And so did I.

Wrongfully Convicted Cops
Police/Prosecutor Misconduct

Truth in Justice