Wrongly Charged Because of a Dog
You've seen dogs used to sniff out bombs and to help search for missing people, but when an Arizona fire department used a dog to help with its arson investigations, two innocent people were wrongly charged for arson. Lisa Guerrero has the story.
Imagine being wrongly charged based on the testimony of a dog?
That’s exactly what Carl Caples and Barbara Sloan of Phoenix, Arizona, said happened to them. They never knew each other but lived about 15 miles apart. They had one thing in common; both their houses burned down and in each case the Phoenix Fire Department said Sadie, the arson dog, signaled that she detected accelerants.
Caples told INSIDE EDITION, “It ruined my life.”
Sloan echoed that sentiment and said, “Every day that I woke up, I didn't know if I’d be a free woman or behind bars for the rest of my life.”
Soon, Phoenix fire investigator, Captain Sam Richardson, pointed the finger at them as being prime suspects for arson.
INSIDE EDITION’s Lisa Guerrero asked, “Were you shocked?”
Sloan replied, “Very shocked.”
Caples can be seen in a fire department interrogation video declaring, “I did not set the fire. I know I did not set that fire.”
No matter how hard he was pressed by arson investigator Captain Sam Richardson, Caples never wavered.
“I will take a lie detector test. I did not set that fire,” Caples told Richardson.
But both Carl Caples and Barbara Sloan were charged with arson.
Sloan spent a night in jail but Caples couldn't post bail, and spent the next 16 months behind bars awaiting trial.
“I didn't set the fire,” he emphatically told INSIDE EDITION.
Luckily for these homeowners, the evidence didn't add up. Laboratory tests showed no proof of any accelerants. That didn’t seem to matter to the dog handler, Captain Fred Andes. He actually thinks Sadie is more accurate than science.
Captain Andes testified, “I believe the dog is far superior to the lab equipment.”
Then, a strange thing happened. As she prepared for trial, Sloan listened carefully to the fire evidence tape. While Captain Richardson was taping, you can hear the dog handler Captain Andes say, “You gotta put your nose down. At least fake it for me okay?”
That’s right, the dog handler muttered to his arson dog, "fake it for me."
Guerrero asked Sloan, “When you heard on tape the investigator say "fake it" what went through your mind when you saw that?”
“It was disgusting!” replied Sloan.
Pat Andler is a private fire investigator hired by the two accused arsonists.
Guerrero asked him, “Are you 100% sure Carl and Barbara are innocent?”
Andler replied, “Absolutely.”
He said his investigation showed that, at Sloan’s house, the fire started in the fuse box of a car parked in her garage.
In Carl Caples case, he says it was a short in the electrical system in his attic.
Guerrero asked Andler, “On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being best, how would you rate the Phoenix Fire Department's investigative unit in this case?”
Andler replied, “Minus one.”
Charges against Carl Caples and Barbara Sloan were dismissed "in the interest of justice" before they even got to trial.
The Inside Edition I-Squad caught up with Captain Richardson outside fire headquarters.
Guerrero asked him, “Both Barbara Sloan and Carl Caples said you ruined their lives. What response do you have for that?”
“Don't be an arsonist,” he replied.
Guerrero then asked, “Do you still say they committed arson?”
“Absolutely, the truth will be out. I can't talk anymore, Thank you,” he answered.
Guerrero then informed Caples of what Captain Richardson had told her, “I just spoke to Sam Richardson today and he in insists that you are an arsonist. What's your response?”
“He's an arrogant idiot,” he replied.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety recommended six felony charges against Captain Richardson and one charge against Captain Andes for false swearing, or lying under oath. The prosecutor, however, declined to charge them. Both men still work for the Phoenix Fire Department but no longer investigate arsons.
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