Missing or Murdered

As a private investigator, I know the value of helping others. In this industry, teaching and sharing information is crucial. I am proud to have this opportunity to share my experiences and expertise with the readers of NAIS. I have found great value in the opinions, strategies and recommendations of other private investigators that have shared their knowledge through NAIS.
Heart-rending cases are my specialty - young men and woman who disappear, their loved ones frustrated by law enforcement's perceived heel-dragging, citizens kidnapped and now the perfect pre-meditated murder disguised as a missing persons case.

Of the many images brought to mind when one hears the words missing person, one image not readily brought to mind is that of the perfect premeditated murder; a murder in which no weapon, no evidence, no witnesses and no body is discovered. Although the family identifies the alleged killer to the police and has circumstantial evidence that foul play has occurred, that person is able to retain an attorney and refuse to cooperate outright.
One such case that is public record, which I am presently investigating is the Kristine Kupka Case (www.kristinekupka.com). Kristine disappeared on October 24, 1998. Kathy Kupka, her sister, has been working tirelessly with me in trying to solve the mystery of her sister's disappearance and is the catalyst behind the progress of this investigation. Kathy stated that: Kristine was five months pregnant, an honor student at a Manhattan college and was seeing one of her adjunct professors, Darshanand "Rudy" Persaud. He found out that Kristine was pregnant just days before he was to have his own religious marriage. Kristine was unaware of his other life. He begged and pleaded with her to have an abortion throughout the pregnancy, but she refused.

On October 24,1998 an unseasonably warm Saturday, Persaud picked Kristine up at her Brooklyn home and she never returned.Kathy Kupka believes that the perfect premeditated murder was hence, set in motion.

The police called in the last person seen with Kristine, Rudy Persaud,
but he appeared before the detectives in the presence of his attorney and refused to answer pertinent questions.

Because there was no probable cause, the fourth amendment holds that no warrants can be issued, no search & seizure; therefore, the case was weakened shortly after the 28-year-old female's disappearance. The Miranda Warnings and probable cause have stymied law enforcement investigators, consequently giving the impression of the perfect murder. That is when the private investigator must step in and utilize very skilled techniques in order to bring closure to the family of the missing person.
As one can imagine, a case of this nature is emotionally draining. Dealing with friends and family facing this situation is both heartbreaking and demanding. Kathy Kupka stated, "Mr. Alba was the first one who showed a genuine interest in what we had to say, the first time anyone gave Kristine's closest friends and family a chance to share their views and opinions." In working nearly from the inception of the Kristine Kupka Case, I feel that I am able to bring to light some very important investigative techniques that will help other PI's better understand this type of investigative process.

The Kristine Kupka Case has all the elements, combined in one. Almost every type of investigative process that private investigators, law enforcement officials and attorneys have knowledge of must be utilized, such as:

Conducting interviews, both interrogation and informational
Performing background checks
Gathering evidence
Organizing computer data
Interacting with the media
Communicating with law enforcement
Providing surveillance
Writing up the case
Formulating presentations
Preparing case for eventual trial

By maintaining a vision of the entire case and keeping an open mind
throughout the investigation, other leads and other directions will
manifest. However there are a number of do's and don'ts to be considered:

Conducting an interview without first organizing your thoughts,
preparing your questions, and seeking answers that will lead to other
meaningful intelligence . . . will result in dead ends.

Do not sit back and wait for the evidence, data or information to come to you. Do not be passive, go out and seek information, pursue leads and be aggressive.

Remember to absorb all information, whether it appears important or
not, as it may come to mean something as the investigation proceeds. Do not focus on one suspect, one scenario, one direction, look at all peripheral information. In time, when you start to assemble the puzzle, all of the information gathered will start making sense.

There will come a time in conducting a complicated investigation when things simply seem to fall apart. To the inexperienced investigator, it appears as if there is no hope and all leads are exhausted. This is the time when you need to push the investigation that much harder. Suddenly, new information will appear, not by luck, but by continuous hard work and diligence. In cases of persons who mysteriously disappear, or the perfect premeditated murder, there is most likely an attachment to the victim, boy/girlfriend or husband/wife. A random killing is much more difficult to solve because it is not as likely to be premeditated nor is there an attachment to the victim.

There are a number of very important details that should not be forgotten upon accepting a missing person case of this caliber. First, treat the family with great respect, sensitivity, kindness, optimism, and
professionalism. One should recognize the pain, emotional stress, and
anguish with which they are living. Secondly, I assure each family that I would not have taken the case if I were not confident that there would be some type of conclusion. However, this belief does not come without hard work from the family and a real commitment. Keeping an optimistic attitude and transcending that attitude to the family is vital.

In my experiences in working with families in crisis, I have found that
family involvement is crucial to effective investigation and to bringing a
conclusion to these emotionally sensitive cases. Families must be involved in the actual investigation. This not only benefits the investigation, but the family, as they feel involved and productive. They are also kept apprised of all developments; thereby, feeling control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation. This allows families the freedom to be responsible for some aspects of the case. By providing guidance to the family, I find that I can spend less time actively working the case and the time I do spend on the case is used to advise the family and work on sensitive details.

Therefore, it saves the family money, making it more cost effective for both the family and the P.I.

This is an entirely different perspective than that of the police who must, to maintain the dignity of their investigation, keep their information private. However, in conducting such cases, you must be cautious not to interfere with the investigation of the police department.
Soliciting information and evidence through interviews is the most important part of any investigation. Electronic devices, high-tech equipment and computers are extremely helpful, but they are only support tools. The real payoff is through the interviews you conduct.
My personal preference is to break the interviews into three parts. The first part is a feeling out period. The more homework and information the investigator does prior to the interview, the more likely the questions are to be focused so that the final objective can be achieved. It is critical for the investigator to establish a bond of trust (not to be confused with friendship) with family members/friends of the missing person and/or the suspect.
"Why would the families of the suspect let you in, or even talk to you
without slamming the door in your face? I know I wouldn't," is a logical response. I have total confidence that I will be able to have a conversation with the most unapproachable and hostile person. If that person is involved with or related in some capacity to the alleged suspect, they are just as curious as to what facts they are able to learn from you. Always keep this in mind as not to divulge too much information at this point.

Having a family member of the missing person accompany you on the
interview is instrumental. I have discovered that people are much more likely to listen and to be cooperative when a person related to the missing, in this case, Kathy Kupka is present with me upon conducting the interviews. Mrs. Kupka knocks on the door as I stand back and in this way no one is alarmed. Once Mrs. Kupka begins the conversation, I move in slowly and do most of the talking without being intimidating or sounding accusatory. We explain that Kathy Kupka is the sister of Kristine (missing) and this alone has a profound affect, as it now places a real person, "a sister", behind the anonymous missing person. We describe the pain and trauma that the family is suffering and ask for their help. I ask if they know anything about the case and subtlety ask direct questions that are relevant to the investigation.
It is significant for the investigator to realize that it is human
nature not to tell a stranger (interviewer) everything at the first
encounter, but obtaining trust is critical. At this stage, people are not
candid, however that has to be accepted in order to get on to the second phase.
The 2nd phase is when the interviewee mixes the denials, half-truths or lies with the truth. This is the time where an investigator has to work hard and question cunningly to sift fact from fiction and truth from lies. This helps establish a bond between the person being interviewed and the interviewer, as you are now absorbing, listening and showing interest in everything that the person expresses. With effort, a working bond of trust should come out of this part of the interview process.
Finally, the objective of the third part of an interview is to eliminate the fabrications and less than candid responses, and concentrate on the truth. Decide exactly what you want to get out of the interview. This stage is where the critical information is shared. Give them just enough that they realize that you have done your homework. Be sure that their perception is that you have obtained a great deal of knowledge about the case. Keep in mind that you may only have one chance for an interview and if you alienate that one piece of indispensable communication, there may be no second opportunity. Again, leave the person with a sense that you are able to return and re-interview them. Do not terminate the interview without coming away with other leads and directions.
Bear in mind that no one, including the police, private investigators or
court officials can accomplish what the family of the missing demand. The family is understandably desperate and much of the time has unrealistic expectations. Keep the family focused in reality and aware of your course of action. To maintain a healthy and productive working relationship, the P.I. has to show empathy and learn and understand the personalities and the behaviors of the members of the family.
The Kupka case was given a great deal of media attention. Kristine's
disappearance was featured in the New York Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine, numerous TV shows including the Leeza Gibbons Show, America's Most Wanted, Montel Williams and Maury Povich. The television show, 48 Hours with Dan Rather, is presently filming a documentary on the search for Kristine Kupka which will air in May of 2000.
Without the assistance of a private investigator, the sense of closure will continue to elude families and justice will never prevail.
I retired after 28 years of service in the New York City Police Department's FBI Task Force and reached the highest investigative rank, Detective First Grade. I was involved in many unique cases as a member of the NYPD and now as a private investigator. I helped facilitate the rescue of tuxedo manufacturer, Harvey Weinstein, who was kidnapped, buried alive, rescued and returned to his family along with the 3 million- dollar ransom. I led the search for the 22-year old male Larry Andrews, who left home in Brewster, New York to watch the ball drop in Manhattan's Times Square two New Year's Eve ago only to be found dead some 43 days later. I have worked extensively on bank robberies, corporate fraud, high-profile cases and helped a bereft Dominican mother find her 22 year-old missing son - - - the victim of a kidnapping and drug cartel killing. Out of the search for Larry Andrews, I helped establish a web site that includes all of the experience gained during the search in order to share it with other families who may have a missing family member and not know how or where to begin the search. The web site remains very active and families seeking to find support or guidance regarding missing persons visit it frequently: the web site, (www.iammissing.com), is hosted by volunteers, Ross Glatzer, Jed Freeman and myself.

Call 914-621-4331 or e-mail us at gil@albainvestigations.com

Alba Investigations covers:
New York City - Westchester County - Putnam County
Rockland County - Entire New York City Metro Area