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Mankato man arrested in 1972 murder case


Robb Murray
Mankato Press
For years he was known around town as the big guy with the red beard who liked to walk his dog and deliver piercing glares.

Now, however, Scott Williams will be known as the guy arrested in Mankato in connection with a 34-year-old California crime that police say began as burglary but ended as murder.

Santa Clara County authorities — who since 1972 have had a hunch that Williams had something to do with the killing of Fred Izzarelli in Los Gatos, Calif. — tracked him down to his North Sixth Street home in 2004 and have been building their case against him ever since.

Authorities interviewed Williams — whose real name is Frank Spencer Harm — on Thursday. Then, while Mankato police and agents from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension kept watch on Williams’ house, Santa Clara authorities discussed the case with their prosecutors. Within a few hours, they arrested Williams without incident.

Williams appeared in court late Friday afternoon where he waived his right to challenge the legal proceedings authorities must follow to transfer a detainee from one state to another. Santa Clara authorities are expected to pick him up next week and take him back to California to face murder charges.

“He adamantly wants to go to California to take care of this,” said Scott Cutcher, an attorney who represented Williams in court Friday.

Court documents filed Friday at Williams’ extradition hearing paint a picture of a man woven deeply into the 1970s California drug culture. He’d worked as an informant for authorities and was known to possess firearms.

The murder

Jim Best came home May 31, 1972 to find his best friend’s dead body in his home. Police figured Izzarelli had seen an intruder in Best’s home and went to investigate, and when he confronted the intruder, the intruder shot him.

The apartment was in shambles, and police believed Izzarelli struggled before being slain. Best told police $1,500 in cash was missing. Left at the scene were three expended bullets and a wristwatch that belonged to neither Izzarelli nor Best.

During the course of their investigation, they contacted Williams, who they’d used in the past as an informant. Authorities had learned that Williams had access to a firearm that was used in a homicide.

They questioned Williams, who turned over a .38-caliber revolver that had one of the serial numbers filed off. Upon further inspection, however, they found a second serial number and were able to confirm the gun was Williams’. Ballistics tests proved it was the gun used in the killing. They also traced the wristwatch back to Williams.

Court documents, however, show that detectives were discouraged by their superiors from pursuing Williams as a suspect because of his value as an informant.

2004-Now

Lt. Pedro Contreras, who until recently was assigned full time to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department’s Cold Case Unit, said that after he began revisiting the case in 2004, it was fairly easy to track Williams down. Despite the name change, Contreras says Williams has continued to use his same Social Security Number.

Attacking this cold case would not involve the complex DNA-testing methods typically employed on cold case investigations. There just wasn’t any. And as for retesting the expended shells found at the scene, that wouldn’t be possible — that evidence was destroyed to make room in the department’s evidence-storage area.

Authorities reinterviewed key witnesses, including Jim Best, who acknowledged — contrary to his story in 1972 — that he sold drugs and that Williams was a client. Jewelers who said they’d repaired a wristwatch band for Williams identical to the one found at the scene told authorities that “the odds are insurmountable that another jeweler would have made a similar repair.”

Contreras and fellow investigator Ron Breuss interviewed Williams at his home Thursday. He told them he’d purchased the gun from a big-time drug dealer named “Mouse,” which contradicted a statement from the actual man police say sold Williams the gun.

“We wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. We wanted to see what he would tell us, what he knew about what occurred in 1972,” Contreras said.

After having Mankato police and the BCA keep watch on Williams house, they discussed their case with prosecutors back home. Prosecutors decided there was enough evidence to file murder charges, and they hauled Williams down to the Blue Earth County Jail.

Nice guy

Neighbor Wanda Haas, who lives in a group home next door to Williams, said she’s never had a problem with him.

“He’s always been real friendly towards me,” she said. “Never bothered us at all.”

Haas said Williams came to her house one day to check on her after he’d seen what he thought was smoke coming from a basement window. It was just exhaust from a dryer vent, but Haas appreciated his concern.

Williams, before moving to the 1400 block of North Sixth Street, lived in lower North Mankato. He was a fixture at the Jack and Jill/Ray’s Market grocery store, and in fact had his picture on the front page of The Free Press when Ray’s announced the closure of its lower North Mankato store.

“You might as well come over and burn a chunk off of my house,” Williams told the Free Press at the time. “Eventually, all of us old farts will just die off, the younger people will all shop at the mall, and everyone will forget what it used to be like around here.”

The Free Press was unable to reach Izzarelli’s family. But Contreras said he’s been in contact with them over the past two years. Giving them good news, he said, after three decades of futility was a nice change.

“I can’t put it into words, but when you speak to somebody on the phone, you sense that there’s some tears, some relief,” Contreras said, “because this is such an old case.”

As for Williams’ family, they declined to comment.



1 posted on 02/20/2006 12:42:29 PM PST by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

Cold Case: Unresolved homicide at Chappaquidik. Senator Ted Kennedy might know some info.


2 posted on 02/20/2006 12:45:37 PM PST by jsk10
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To: martin_fierro; NormsRevenge

ping


3 posted on 02/20/2006 12:49:28 PM PST by nickcarraway (I'm Only Alive, Because a Judge Hasn't Ruled I Should Die...)
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To: nickcarraway

He will fit right in at Pelican Point.


4 posted on 02/20/2006 12:54:07 PM PST by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: nickcarraway
Sounds like the PD is correcting one of their own wrongs long after everyone associated has been gone from the department.

Court documents, however, show that detectives were discouraged by their superiors from pursuing Williams as a suspect because of his value as an informant.

During the course of their investigation, they contacted Williams, who they’d used in the past as an informant...and were able to confirm the gun was Williams’. Ballistics tests proved it was the gun used in the killing. They also traced the wristwatch back to Williams.

5 posted on 02/20/2006 12:59:42 PM PST by Sax
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To: nickcarraway

Now, if they could just nab the Zodiac.


8 posted on 02/20/2006 2:17:47 PM PST by Tulsa Brian
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To: nickcarraway

That is one fugly man.


9 posted on 02/20/2006 2:23:43 PM PST by sully777 (What would Brian Boitano do?)
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To: GregoTX; Larry Lucido
sheriff's detective says Harm was a killer on the lam

Do cops REALLY say "on the lam?"

11 posted on 02/20/2006 7:06:07 PM PST by apackof2 (You can stand me up at the gates of hell, I'll stand my ground and I won't back down)
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