Progress Offers Whole Nordenson Story

Reed Williams and Jake Mooney’s front page story in today’s Daily Progress offers the most complete story of the four-day Nordenson saga that has been made available so far. Suspect Craig Nordenson visited the coal tower with police this afternoon explaining what had happened. Though some details remain murky (such as where he hid Monday night, and the motive for the murders), a number of mysteries have been cleared up. Nordenson is charged with breaking and entering, grand larceny, three counts of attempted robbery, possessing a firearm after having been convicted of a felony and two counts of capital murder. He is being held in the local jail, A bond hearing is scheduled for the morning.

33 thoughts on “Progress Offers Whole Nordenson Story”

  1. The case against Nordenson may not necessarily be as rock-solid as we have all believed. This is not to say that I think that he is innocent. But if he were to keep his mouth shut until he sees a lawyer, it’s not impossible that he could skate out of the worst of this.

    As near as I can tell, you’ve got 3 potential pieces of solid evidence against him.

    1. Eyewitness account of the 3rd man

    2. Potential fingerprints on the victims bodies created while moving them

    3. Possession of the murder weapon.

    The eyewitness account is not credible. The witness, whose name I will spare at the moment, has already repeatedly lied about the circumstances under which the murders occured. According to a source close to the case, the man reported that he had called 911 from a friend’s house, while 911 records indicate that the call came from an entirely seperate location. There are other inconsistencies in his story that most likely stem from involvement in illegal drug trafficking and may have direct bearing on motive for the killings. The witness was examined on Friday night by forensic officers and found not to have fired a weapon that night. But it is not farfetched to suggest that his testimony might easily be discredited in the eyes of a jury.

    There may not be fingerprints on the bodies. If the suspect had dragged them by their clothing then it becomes much less likely that prints will be present.

    Possession of the murder weapon could be explained in 2 ways. First, Craig could have been an accessory to murder rather than a culprit. Perhaps the killer handed the gun off to him and then skipped town. Alternatively, Nordenson is known to have spent time at the coal tower periodically. It is therefore ‘normal’ for him to be in the area. He could have found the gun after the real killer tossed it away. There are many piles of trash and debris at the scene of the crime which show no sign of having been searched by police. It is therefore resonable to suspect that a weapon could have been tossed into such a pile, missed by police in their initial investigation of the scene, and later found Craig while scavenging in what everyone acknowledges to be his stomping grounds. We know for a fact that police failed to properly search or secure the crime scene both during and after the incidents which have occured there since Friday night.

    A good attorney will figure out all of these things. It seems to me that better quality police and prosecutorial work could have improved the quality of evidence against Nordenson. An early promise of immunity to drug charges could have resulted in more honest accounts from the witness. Better management of the crime scene could have limited the probability of a murder weapon being hidden by the killer and later found by Nordenson.

    Surely, Nordenson is looking at a number of charges here besides the 2 counts of capital murder. Breaking and entering, illegal possession of a firearm and resisting arrest should all stick. But assuming that he keeps his mouth shut, his ability to plea bargain on the murder charges may have been greatly improved by sloppy handling of the case.


  2. Why would he run and hide if he wasn’t guilty? Why would he fire at the police?

    Put me on the jury, please

  3. Why would an innocent person run and hide from the police? Ask Dr. Richard Kimball.

    Where’s the one-armed man?

  4. First of all, it has not been well established that he fired at police. Not to my knowledge, anyway. The police say that he fired at them from the coal tower during a time when we now know that he had already escaped from it. Police testimony in regard to who fired what weapon when can be cast into doubt.

    He may have ran and hidden because he had drugs in his possession. Considering that he was walking around with a 7 year suspended sentence waiting to reemerge in the event of a new conviction, he had reason to particularly fear another drug conviction. 7 years is a hell of a long time when you’re 20 years old.

    I’m not saying that *I* believe that he is innocent. I think he’s guilty. The question at hand is whether a reasonable doubt could be established in the minds of a carefully selected jury. That potential for doubt among a particularly finicky jury is what a good attorney would try to parlay into a plea bargain.

    Are there any defense attorneys out there that would care to weigh in on this?


  5. Put me on the jury, please

    Um, no. That’s precisely why you can’t be on the jury.

    A jury has to be impartial and unaware of whatever (we) the media have told you.

  6. he police say that he fired at them from the coal tower during a time when we now know that he had already escaped from it.

    Actually, it turns out that’s not the case, at least according to today’s Progress. They report that he was on the roof of Robert’s Oxygen from 8:30 – 10:30 AM, not the previous night as was thought to be the case yesterday. So that may explain that little bit.

  7. I’m glad that little mystery has been cleared up.

    Even if we can establish that Nordenson fired the 9mm at police, that could still be explained by his wanting to avoid capture for drug charges. Granted, it is illegal to fire a gun towards police officers whether or not you say you intended to hit them. But that is still a few steps short of capital murder.

    Come to think of it, it would probably be to Nordenson’s advantage to admit firing at police. Then he could explain any powder residue that forensics officers would have found on his body without confessing to murder.

    Although for all we know, he’s already admitted guilt and this is all moot.


  8. you have no idea who reads this, why offer possible a defense to someone? If he’s innocent, that will come out.

  9. Any lawyer with half a brain has already thought of half of this stuff.

    Believe me, I’ve been witholding some of the best information I have for exactly the reason that you are concerned about (among others).

    The reason that I am saying these things is that I have noticed a definite trend in poor performance from the Charlottesville Police Department and attorneys. The handling of the case deserves scrutiny because it reflects the general state of Charlottesville’s crime-fighting capabilities.

    Every single time that I or someone that I know has had need of police assistance it has been botched in some way. Failure to even attempt to serve warrants. Not bothering to pick up video tapes of a stolen credit card being used to purchase jewelry. Failure to provide information that is considered public under federal law to victims. Being too lazy to write a formal report of shots fired at a motorist. Etc, etc. etc.

    Here we have a somewhat high profile case to use as an example of errors and laziness in investigation. I do not question the bravery or dedication to public service that our officers surely possess. But the devil is in the details and the details are amiss.


  10. If he moved the bodies there may well be forensic evidence of that beyond fingerprints (hairs, fibers, etc.), and that would be very difficult for him to explain away. That depends on how well the bodies were secured and investigated. It does seem odd that the scene wasn’t better secured given that the police know it’s frequented by a lot of people.

    Flight and resisting arrest are permissible as evidence of guilt, and while he can try to say that was because he was scared of drug charges, I think the average person will be more likely to believe he must have been in a truly desperate state of mind – closer to murder than to worrying about a minor drug charge – to shoot it out with the police. The CA is certainly free to argue that it’s unlikely a mere petty criminal would be that crazy.

    We know there were warrants on him for burglary; if it can be proved that he broke into the residence from which the murder weapon was stolen, that would be a solid link between him and it before the crime. If he can be linked to both the murder weapon and the bodies, that’s probably enough to convict, and even an unreliable eyewitness plus forensic evidence is a powerful combination – a lot of convictions are had on less.

    And even if he avoids the death penalty, the other charges could be more than enough to put him away for decades or even life if convicted – felon in possession of a firearm is good for up to 5 years by itself, and if he’s convicted of attempted capital murder of a police officer (for shooting at the cops), that’s a *minimum* of 20 years without parole.

    Disclaimer – I am not a trial attorney, although I have had some experience with murder cases on appellate review.

    – Bruce

  11. I agree with you about him probably being put away for life with or without capital murder charges.

    I will be interested to see what kind of evidence emerges in support of his having broken into the half-brother’s house and stolen the gun. I wonder whether anything else was stolen or ransacked in the burglary (which would be telling). Finding fibers, hairs, fingerprints, etc. may not be useful there, in that as a relative he may have frequently visited the house under ordinary circumstances.

    I think that you are definitely right about possession of the murder weapon both before and after the murders being enough to convince any reasonable person of his guilt. Even without a credible witness.

    Time will tell how well the bodies were examined. It could very well be that investigators were so well-convinced that they had identified their man that they got lax with preservation of evidence on the bodies just as they did with the rest of the crime scene. The fact that Katherine officially died en route to the hospital suggests that there may have been recesutation attempts, etc. that can sometimes disturb evidence. The severity of Marcus’s head wound, however, would probably preclude any attempts at first aid and perhaps evidence would be better preserved in his case.


  12. Let’s put it this way: do you know our Commonwealth’s Attorney? I wouldn’t be suprised if you did end up on the jury.

  13. WVIR says Kate, WINA says Katherine, as does The Daily Progress. Where did you get Caitlin from?

  14. What I meant was that I feel they’ll want this go fast and quietly. What I said was a bit offside and unclear. Sorry.

  15. It did sound to me as though you meant that the Commonwealth’s Attorney was going to try and select jurors who had already made up their minds. I think that Charlottesville’s Commonwealth’s Attorney, Dave Chapman is a very ethical person who will do his best to see that anyone on trial is treated fairly.

    Kevin Cox

  16. Does anybody know for certain what all 3 of the attempted homicide charges are for? I figure that one of them is for shooting at Art. But the best that I can come up with for the other 2 is that they are for shooting at police officers from the tower.



  17. You should really do your homework before doing such speculation. I normally would not comment to such things as this. However, I am so disturbed by the opinions and comments that filter through here. The police have done an amazing job in this investigation. You believe there are 3 pieces of potential evidence. How about over 75 pieces of evidence. You believe that the 911 call came from an entirely seperate location other than the friends of the witness because records indicate this. Again, you are wrong. More than one call came in and one was from the friends. You say that there are many piles of trash and debris at the scene that show no sign of having been searched by the police. Again, you are wrong ! For two solid days the police combed the area. They were on their hands and knees searching for a needle in three hay stackes. Security was at the scene for over 48 hrs. As for the immunity of the witness you are obviously not an attorney. It is abosulutely ridiculous to offer immunity to someone before knowing what he or she needs immunity for. What if he was involved? You sit in your chairs and do Monday morning quaterbacking and have no earthly idea of what actually happend. Think about this your called into work at 0430am for a double homicide. By 1630 on Tuesday afternoon the suspect is in custody. It has been over 80 hrs. since you have seen your family and have slept in your bed. You stink and your beyond sleepy. You have captured an armed subject. You have collected over 70 pieces of evidence. You have interviewed over 45 people. You have attended the autopsy of the victims. You have been shot at by the suspect. You have negotiated his surrender all night and into the day. Finally, after a safe ending with no injuries to the police or the suspect, you can go home to your family. You have a since of pride and relief. The next day you read articles like this and ask yourself why do I even bother ? You have know idea what your talking about. Someone makes an assumption by going back to the scene and discovering a shell casing that the police missed evidence. It’s a shotgun shell from the tear gas the police fired into the tower. All of you need to think about what your doing and saying. The only sloppy thing I see about this case is the lack of good comments from the citizens of Charlottesville. Have a good day

  18. Thank You! I agree 100%. There has been way too much stupid speculation about the Nordenson case on this page, a page which really should be called The police captured the suspect and nobody got hurt. Thank you CPD.

    Kevin Cox

  19. In spite of all the inane speculation it was here on this page that we first heard that the CPD had him cornered in the shed on E. Jefferson Street. For that I am grateful to Waldo.

    Kevin Cox

  20. As someone who burst into tears when she saw the news that her friend’s daughter had been murdered, I cannot tell you how happy I am that this sleez is caught.

    Police are easy targets for snide remarks and fun-poking, which is not fair. As much as I hate getting tickets and fines, I truly appreciate and respect what you do.

  21. I know that parking tickets and fines are just one tiny aspect of the CPD, but unfortunately, that constitutes the majority of CPD’s interaction with the public.

  22. It’s simple, if you don’t want to be fined then don’t park illegaly or break the traffic laws.

    Kevin Cox

  23. No, I’m not saying that at all. Over the years my behavior has caused me to have several run ins with the police. I have been fined but it didn’t have to happen. Fifteen years ago I was fined for speeding. I was doing 18mph over the limit. It was my fault and it hasn’t happened since then. Now I rarely speed and I never go more than 5 mph over the limit (yes, I know that is speeding) because I believe that I won’t get fined if I stick to that rule. I never park illegally. I’d rather walk than park close and risk a fine. Fines are not inevitable. What I am saying is, donít blame a fine on the police.

    Kevin Cox

  24. I agree with pretty much everything that you say, save that there’s no need for Monday morning quarterbacks. A good legal, judicial, and social system requires doubting Thomases, people who are willing to question anything and everything. Public debate and discourse, such as this, require people to play the role of devil’s advocate. Otherwise, we all go into the herd (aka “lynch mob”) mentality, and that will do us no good.

    My interest in creating was to provide a venue through which people can disgree (or agree, but disagreeing is just so much more interesting) with the information put forth in the popular press. If you disagree with what people say here, I think that’s wonderful. But to say that people have no right to disagree in the first place? Well, ironically enough, I just can’t agree with that.

  25. He’s right. The police only enforce the laws, they don’t make them. Instead, blame the people who keep taking away all of the public parking in the downtown area, and upping parking fines as well. Sure, it’s the individual who chooses to break the law, but if the laws are unreasonable (as in this case, where legal parking isn’t always an option), they must be broken or repealed. That *is* the way of democracy, isn’t it? Isn’t the unfair levying of taxes what brought this country into existance?

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