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7 Cases Where Criminal Background Checks Could've Saved Lives

by Jessica Straight on April 24, 2012

Background screenings are quickly becoming a standard practice in many businesses and companies, which are always looking for new ways to mitigate risk. However, the same caution should be applied to individuals who we may come in close contact with on a daily basis to ensure safety. This may be applied to prospective employees, personal assistants, nannies, babysitters, and service personnel. No matter how you look at it, a background check helps promote safety and minimizes the possibility of violence in your home or workplace. It can even potentially save your life. These following seven cases are great examples of how you can protect yourself and loved ones by getting a background check.

1. Adam "Lux" Sterling
Convicted of first - and second-degree murder on October 13, 2011, 24-year-old Adam Sterling violently struck his landlord, Leo Kohorst, 22 times with a hammer as he was sleeping on the couch in his home. Mr. Sterling (who identifies himself as a woman) was one of Kohorst's tenants and previously risked eviction prior to the incident for breaking house rules. A tenant screening and background check may have revealed Sterling's less-than-stellar tenant record or a history of violence. Whatever the circumstance, the Kohorst family mourns the loss of their beloved son, who was violently murdered by his own tenant and friend.

2. Sue Weaver's story
Raped and beaten to death in her home in Orlando on August 27, 2001, Weaver's killer even set her home on fire in an attempt to destroy viable evidence. Sue's murder was at the hands of two men, who six months prior to the incident were hired by Burdine's (a department store in Florida) to have the air ducts in her home cleaned. Both men had criminal records, including two convictions of sexual offense. There are many other cases where criminal's jobs allow them easy access to their victims. Sue Weaver's story inspired the creation of C.A.U.S.E. (Consumer Awareness of Unsafe Service Employment), which promotes annual background checks on workers entering residences or working with vulnerable populations.

3. Jane Doe vs. TK Pizza
TK Pizza, owned by Domino's Pizza, employed a man named David Taitte who had been in prison 16 times and had a history of sexual assault, both of which would have disqualified him from working for TK Pizza. They did not conduct an employee background check. Mr. Taitte is now serving 25 to 30 years in prison for sexually assaulting a customer in her home while delivering a pizza. The emotional trauma suffered by the plaintiff will remain with her for the rest of her life. She had also been sexually abused as a child and previously raped as an adult.

4. Melissa Danielle Jennings vs. TGM Associates Inc.
Ms. Melissa Jennings was murdered in 1999 by the apartment maintenance man employed by TGM Associates Inc. If the complex property managers had done a criminal background check, they would have discovered that the man had a prior rape conviction and that he spent most of his life in prison. At the time of his employment, he also had a warrant for his arrest due to theft check charges. Ms. Jennings' life could have been saved, as well as much hardship faced by the property management company, who has to pay $13.2 million in retribution for their shortcomings.

5. Dr. Kerry Spooner-Dean vs. America's Best Carpet Care
Doctor Spooner-Dean was a pediatrician living in Oakland, California, where she was brutally stabbed to death by Jerrol Glen Woods, a carpet cleaner employed by America's Best Carpet Care. He had a long criminal background dating back 30 years involving low-rent thefts, robberies, rape convictions, and bank robberies. No background check was conducted and Mr. Woods is suspected of committing similar crimes in other neighborhoods around Oakland. Luckily, after the death of Doctor Spooner-Dean, he is convicted for life without parole.

6. Rebecca Nieto & eHarmony, Ince
Harmony claims to be "America's #1 Trusted Singles Online Dating Site," but Rebecca Nieto claims that sex offenders are taking advantage of the site to find their next victims. Rebecca was sexually assaulted in her home within one week of meeting Dustin Trickett online in 2006. After escaping the incident by screaming and running out of her home for help, Rebecca did some investigating of her own while waiting on a response from eHarmony. She found that Dustin Trickett was a registered sex offender. These cases happen all the time, so people using an online dating service should be extremely cautious in displaying private information such as home addresses and phone numbers online. eHarmony explicitly states it does not do background checks on its members because it would imply a false sense of security.

7. Mary Ruth Bales' Story
Eighty-year-old Mary Bales was beaten to death in her home by an ex-convict who was working as a plumber in Missouri. In this case, had the plumbing company, Reddi Root'r, conducted a background check on Wesley Purkey, they would have exposed that he spent the last 25 years in prison for violent felonies including assault and kidnapping, burglary, and aggravated robbery. It's just not common sense to allow a man with such a history of violence to enter people's homes without supervision or a simple background check. Mr. Purkey collected $90 from Mary Bales after repairing her sink and left to go buy drugs. After clearly being under the influence of drugs, he returned to Mrs. Bale's home, robbing her and then beating her to death.

Copyright 2012

Created on 25-Apr, 2012 by HKCCMA.

Last Edited on 08-Aug, 2012 by HKCCMA.