Orange County Sheriffs receive COPSWEST Awards! Congratulations on a job well done!
The California Peace Officers’ Association gave two awards to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at this week’s COPWEST exhibition in Ontario. In addition to receiving Best Badge honor, Sergeant Yvonne Shull was honored for the Best Cold Case Solved.
On Monday October 24, 1988, the Orange County Fire Department and Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies were sent to 16945 9th Street in Sunset Beach in response to a structure fire. After arriving and finding a fully engulfed apartment fire, OCFA extinguished the fire. The remains of a male, later identified as Robert Haugen, were discovered inside the residence.
The initial investigation revealed Haugen had been tortured, stabbed numerous times and nearly decapitated. Evidence was collected and numerous individuals were interviewed but no suspect was identified. Forensic technology was not available at the time to assist in the investigation and the case went cold. Robert Haugen’s family began their vigil and search for justice.
Each year on the anniversary of his death, Robert Haugen’s mother, Janie Perry, called the Orange County Sheriff’s Department hoping the case would not be forgotten. In 2000, she spoke with Investigator Yvonne Shull, expressing that she felt her son would become just another statistic and the case would never be solved. Investigator Shull assured Janie Perry that her son was not forgotten and that forensic technology was changing all the time. Investigator Shull told Janie Perry in 2000 that she (Inv. Shull) was determined to prove her (Janie Perry) wrong.
This phone call began a decade-long relationship and quest to solve the murder of Robert Haugen. The case stayed on Investigator Shull’s desk while she was assigned to the homicide detail as an Investigator.
When she promoted to Sergeant in 2003, Yvonne kept the case with her on subsequent assignments in Jail Operations and North Investigations. In late 2006, Sergeant Shull was assigned to the homicide detail and asked two Investigators to re-examine the case and re-submit evidence collected from the crime scene for analysis using the newest DNA technology. In addition, they began re-contacting both old and newly identified witnesses related to the case. This arduous process involved the research of 30 years of background information on both Paul Smith and Robert Haugen. This research included locating friends, family, school records and yearbooks, medical records, police reports and Department of Motor Vehicle Records.
Evidentiary items were analyzed by the OC Crime Lab and previously unidentified blood was discovered on evidence which had been collected at the crime scene. This newly identified DNA evidence revealed a previously unidentified DNA profile of a possible suspect. This DNA profile was submitted into the nationwide DNA database. In May of 2007, Paul Gentile Smith was arrested in Las Vegas Nevada following a brutal physical attack on his girlfriend. As a result of the conviction, Smith was ordered to submit his DNA to the state of Nevada. Smith was released from custody, placed on probation and moved to the Long Beach area.
In July of 2008, Smith was arrested in Newport Beach on a marijuana charge and probation violation. Smith was eventually transferred back to Nevada on the probation violation. While in custody in Nevada, Smith’s DNA was processed and eventually placed into the nationwide DNA database and in January of 2009, a DNA hit registered, linking Smith to the OCSD Haugen homicide.
This was the first viable lead on this case since it went cold in 1988. Two CSD Homicide investigators travelled to Nevada and interviewed Smith. During this interview, Smith admitted to knowing Robert Haugen and being present at his house the day before he was killed. He denied that his blood would be found in Robert Haugen’s residence. When confronted with the DNA evidence, Smith changed his story and stated he had accidentally cut his finger while at the residence. Based upon this interview, DNA evidence and interviews of additional witnesses, enough information was gathered and DDA Brahim Baytieh filed murder charges against Smith.
On March 6, 2009, an arrest warrant for Paul Smith was obtained on charges of CPC 187-Murder, with the enhancement of using a deadly weapon (knife). Smith was arrested and booked on this warrant in Clark County Nevada on March 12, 2009. On March 16, 2009, Smith pled guilty to his probation violation and received 28 months to 72 months in prison in Nevada. Smith was extradited back to Orange County to face the murder charges. Paul Smith made threats against an Orange County Sheriff’s Homicide Investigator. Specifically, Smith was stating he had discussions with other inmates who had Orange County connections and could “pay a visit” to the investigator.
Smith discussed obtaining untraceable money in order to pay someone to harm the Investigator for bringing these charges against Smith. Tina Smith was identified as a resident of Mission Viejo. On July 1, 2009, Investigators became aware of a Confidential Reliable Informant (CRI) who claimed to have information about this murder case. The CRI stated that Smith gave specific details about the murder that only the killer would know. The CRI advised that Smith had expressed a strong desire to have two people (including an OCSD Investigator) murdered. Smith asked if the CRI could assist him in locating a hit man to carry out the job. In addition to the Investigator, Smith believed that there was a civilian witness who could provide law-enforcement specific details about the Las Vegas assault and an unreported assault which occurred in Long Beach.
Smith wanted a hit placed on this subject also. OCSD Special Operations was notified and took the lead on the murder-for-hire investigation. During the month of July, 2009, the OCSD Special Operations Detail conducted extensive surveillance and undercover operations in order to substantiate this murder-for-hire claim, as well as to protect the OCSD Investigator. On December 7, 2009, the Orange County Grand Jury indicted Paul Smith and his girlfriend Tina Derae Smith for conspiracy to commit assault against witnesses in this case. During this investigation, Paul Smith made it clear that he wanted harm to come to the OCSD Investigator as well as other witnesses in this case.
Negotiations occurred during which a money transfer between Tina Smith and the undercover Investigator was made as payment for these assaults. Tina Smith was arrested and booked into Orange County jail. On November 3, 2010, Smith was convicted by a jury trial for CPC 187-Murder, and enhancement for the use of a deadly weapon and the special circumstances of torture. Smith was sentenced on November 29, 2010 and received a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Smith also pled guilty to the conspiracy to have witnesses and an OCSD Investigator assaulted due to their testimony and/or work on this case.
The successful arrest and conviction of Paul Smith could not have been made had it not been for the unrelenting efforts of the men and woman of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. In particular, Sergeant Yvonne Shull and the Homicide Investigator’s persistence and outstanding efforts in seeking justice on behalf of the Haugen family are highly commendable.
Sergeant Yvonne Shull worked this case in support of the surviving family for more than ten years, trying to ensure justice was served, even when she was no longer assigned to the homicide detail.
The Homicide Investigator put his safety on the line to bring a killer to justice. He had his life threatened as he continued to work this case. Many times, the Homicide Investigator had to adjust his schedule in order to ensure his own safety. He never backed down to threats, was vigilant and relentless in his pursuit of long overdue justice.
The Homicide Investigator displayed a selfless dedication in the face of incredibly stressful circumstances. This case received significant media coverage, but more importantly, the efforts of Sergeant Yvonne Shull and the OCSD Homicide Investigator who worked with her exemplify the vow of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to “never forget” the victims and families of violent crime.
The second award, for the Best Designed Badge, was accepted by Sheriff Hutchens, Lieutenant Tim Finneran and Sergeant John Hollenbeck.
In March 2011, the “9-11-01” Commemorative Badge was authorized for use from May 2011 (Peace Officer Memorial Month) through May 2012 in remembrance of those lives lost in the terrorist attacks on the United States ten years ago.
This is the third special badge issued in the 122 year history of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (est. 1889). This badge has instilled a strong sense of pride throughout the Sheriff’s Department family and it has been complimented by other law enforcement personnel and the public alike.
The concept, design, planning and issuance of the 9-11 Badge has been a cooperative effort among many Sheriff’s Department personnel and is a testament to how “Teamwork” is used to reach a worthwhile goal.
This commemorative 9-11-01 Badge reflects “A Decade of Remembrance” in memory of those first responders and citizens who perished in the terrorist attacks on the morning of September 11, 2001. This highly detailed badge depicts the World Trade Center Towers, along with a Police Shield and Maltese Cross, each inset with the number of New York (PD/Port) law enforcement officers and FDNY first responders who perished that morning at “Ground Zero”. The World Trade Center Towers are the centerpiece of the date (9-11-01) and are emblazoned with a banner which reads “A Decade of Remembrance”. In the background is the waving American Flag honoring all the lives lost in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania on that tragic day. The badge inset is surrounded by the words “Never Forget”.
This badge may be worn and/or displayed by all Sheriff’s Department personnel.
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