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Sunday, 3 May 2009

Human remains unearthed in Ste. Genevieve County about 10 days ago were not the first that police have connected to the Invaders motorcycle gang

Human remains unearthed in Ste. Genevieve County about 10 days ago were not the first that police have connected to an "outlaw" motorcycle gang called the Invaders investigators have suspected gang members of killing Randy Greenman, 39, and George Whitter, 36, who vanished in September 2007. Weeks later, their mutilated remains were found miles away and miles apart.The two were not believed to be members, and the motive for their murders is not clear.In addition, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent's affidavit accuses two Invaders members of the 2007 disappearance and presumed murder of fellow gang member Alan Henry Little, 61, of St. Louis County. Investigators theorize that Little was killed for cooperating with authorities. Whether the remains recovered at St. Mary, Mo., were of Little has not yet been determined, authorities said. The remains were found on property that until recently belonged to the parents of an Invader.Earlier this year, police and federal agents in Missouri arrested more than a dozen Invaders and associates on charges of dealing marijuana. Officials seized drugs, cash, hundreds of weapons and more than a dozen motorcycles.
Defense attorneys say they believe that prosecutors filed the marijuana case to pressure defendants into providing information about the killings. Nobody has been charged in the murders.But the brutality of the slayings, coupled with the gang's violent reputation, have given both sides pause. Last year, an Invader with a past murder conviction was charged in Illinois with a federal firearm violation after investigators allegedly caught him with silencers and explosives.Prosecutors are concerned about the safety of their witnesses. A defense attorney has expressed concern about the welfare of his staff. And police told relatives of at least one murder victim to stay clear of the investigation for their own good.
The Invaders Motorcycle Club was founded in Gary, Ind., in 1965, and now has chapters in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Colorado. Its logo is an "angry green monster" in a white vest on a motorcycle. The FBI says total membership is probably fewer than 100.A woman cannot join but can participate if "owned" by a male member, according to court testimony.The Missouri chapter was founded in 1967 and went underground in 1971 because of "pressure from local law enforcement," according to the DEA. The group resurfaced in 1990.Ron Holmes, a former agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who spent two decades investigating bikers, said the Invaders had a long history of drugs and crime.Holmes, postal inspectors and state and local police built a racketeering case against almost a dozen members and "hang-arounds" — including the national president and two chapter presidents — in the mid-1980s. It was called "Operation Gherkin," because officials thought the "monster" looked like a pickle.
Continuing law enforcement pressure started to fracture the gang last year, with federal indictments in Indiana accusing the Invaders of making methamphetamine. A lab raid there netted at least 40 firearms and 10,000 rounds of ammunition, court documents show. Plea agreements show that some of the accused have admitted crimes and agreed to cooperate with authorities.Most of the members who appeared in federal court in St. Louis last month to face drug charges sported long hair, goatees and tattoos on their arms and necks.Their attorneys portrayed them as middle-aged family men with either relatively clean, nonviolent or old criminal records. Attorneys said their clients knew for months that charges were coming, and chose to stay and defend themselves in court.
But prosecutors and investigators apparently see it differently.
At a hearing March 25, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Mummert said in court that two prosecutors had raised concerns with him early on. "There's some scary issues here in terms of people's safety," Mummert suggested.Assistant U.S. Attorney Ed Rogers has tried to block the customary release of some search warrant information to the defense, warning that it could put people at risk.
The attorney for one alleged Invader charged in the marijuana case told Mummert in a hearing that he was not comfortable letting his staff see evidence in fear that their safety would be imperiled if they knew too much.Mummert said he briefly considered ordering defense attorneys not to share investigators' information with their clients. Ultimately, he decided he could not do that.Defense attorneys say Rogers still will not give them information about witnesses against the Invaders until after their testimony at trial — an unusual move.
Not much information is available about the investigation into Alan Little's disappearance May 31, 2007. Neighbors said police and the DEA searched his home in the 10500 block of Niblic Drive in St. Louis County.A DEA affidavit filed last year says that while Little was in jail on unrelated charges, his then-girlfriend found something in his house that suggested he had cooperated with investigators against another Invaders member.The affidavit also says "witnesses have provided evidence" that after the Invaders found out, two members were involved in Little's disappearance and presumed murder. David Rosener, whose client is one of those two members, said his client was now in protective custody. "Emphatically and absolutely, (my client) did not kill anyone,'' Rosener said. "He's not lily white. He's not perfect, but none of us are.''The attorney for the other Invaders member had no comment.
Greenman and Whitter disappeared after leaving the House of Rock bar in Ronnie's Plaza, in south St. Louis County, on Aug. 30, 2007. Police do not believe either was an Invaders member, although the DEA said that Greenman headed a marijuana distribution cell for the gang.
Whitter's family and friends said he worked as a bouncer at a bar Greenman once managed in south St. Louis. They said Whitter was not close with Greenman and had not seen Greenman for about a month before they disappeared.
Greenman, who was separated from his wife and was the father of a young son, had called friends to hang out the night he disappeared.
Court documents show the police investigation into their murders quickly focused on at least one Invaders member in early September, about the time a small wooden yard sign appeared in front of his home accusing the gang of the killings.Phone records showed that Greenman called a phone "commonly used" by the suspect the morning Greenman disappeared and got a call back from a pay phone near the suspect's house in south St. Louis County.St. Louis police interviewed that suspect on Sept. 5, 2007.On Sept. 12, an anonymous caller told St. Louis County police that the suspect and a second Invaders member had killed Whitter and Greenman at the South County house during an "altercation," and that the Invaders had dumped the bodies in Illinois, documents show.Greenman's partial remains were found in Festus in September 2007. Whitter's were found in West Alton two months later. Both had bullet wounds in their heads and appeared to have been mutilated, perhaps with a chain saw, the DEA said.Late that September, a police dog trained to sniff out human blood and bone called its handler's attention to the South County home's front door and a basement window, court documents show.The next day, a contractor started to demolish the house. County officials found out and blocked the demolition. Police searched the home, finding what appeared to be traces of blood. They also noticed that a bathtub and other bathroom fixtures had been removed.
A witness told police the tub and other items had been moved to a used car lot in St. Louis. Police searched the lot that Oct. 29, and seized two tubs and other fixtures.All police agencies involved in the murder investigation either declined to comment or did not return calls seeking comment on the investigation.The home in South County has since been demolished. The driveway now leads to an empty lot covered in grass, with a faint outline where a pool once stood.Attorney Richard Sindel, who represents the home's owner, said his client knew he was on the investigators' "radar screen" because of police interviews and searches. Sindel said he assumed that the murders ramped up the ongoing federal investigation into the gang's marijuana ring.But he was skeptical of the evidence against his client — and allegations against the Invaders.
"I don't see that as going anywhere," he said. "An anonymous phone call?"The other suspect's attorney, Richard Fredman, said, "The only thing that I can tell you is that it's our belief that (he) had no involvement at all in any murders. And to be quite honest with you, the government agrees with me that he has no involvement."
Whitter's widow, Kyrstin Whitter, said she hoped the indictments would lead to answers.When her husband of 17 years went missing, Kyrstin Whitter and her mother-in-law began a frantic search for information. They told anyone who would listen about the night Whitter and Greenman vanished. They posted fliers with his face everywhere they could. And they promised themselves and each other never to give up.But it turned out to be a promise too dangerous to keep.Police told them they suspected the Invaders were involved and asked that relatives, out of concern for their safety, leave the search for answers to the professionals.Kyrstin Whitter said she knew nothing of the Invaders. But, just in case, she cut ties to people she and her husband knew, fearing they could be part of the underground world she said they never knew existed around them.
"It's been a rough year for me, being alone," she said. "If it wasn't for God, I wouldn't have made it. Nothing is going to bring my husband back. But if George's death has taken a lot of really bad people off the streets and out of society, then hopefully he died for a good cause."

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