Saldate's Motive to
Fabricate a Confession of
Debra Milke

Why would Saldate arrest Debra
and fabricate his story against her?

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For those visitors to our website and citizens of the general population who have doubts about the misconduct of the Phoenix Police authorities and the prosecution in this case, we would like to explain in greater detail the actual conduct and motives of former Phoenix Police Detective Armando Saldate, and how the police authorities have hindered proper investigation of this crime, the murder of 4-year-old CHRISTOPHER CONAN MILKE.

We begin by looking at the actual events and the time-frame of things. On December 3rd, 1989 at approximately 3.35 p.m. Phoenix citizen ROGER SCOTT confessed that he knew CHRISTOPHER CONAN MILKE, a 4-year-old boy who had disappeared the day before, had in fact been murdered. SCOTT started by laying the primary blame for CHRIS' death on JIM STYERS : "JIM killed him." (STYERS was a long-time friend of SCOTT and the roommate of Debra Milke, CHRIS' mother. JIM STYERS and Debra - who were never romantically involved - shared expenses, and STYERS watched CHRIS and his own 2-year-old daughter WENDY while Debra was at work and sometimes in the evening when she went out with friends). This confession by SCOTT was told to Detective Armando Saldate. Up to that point, SCOTT had denied any knowledge of what had happened to CHRISTOPHER. He had broken down when the detective threatened to search the house of ROGER SCOTT'S elderly and frail mother, which ROGER feared would kill her.

One central part of SCOTT'S statement was true : CHRISTOPHER MILKE had been shot dead by three bullets to the head. This was confirmed when CHRISTOPHER'S body was found in a desert wash north of Phoenix. Yet, as we will see, the rest of SCOTT'S story kept changing as he sought to distance himself from the murder of CHRIS. SCOTT'S changes in his story included the belated claim that Debra Milke had been involved in her son's death. That happened at least sixty, if not ninety minutes after his initial admittance to knowledge about the crime. And instead of closely examining ROGERS SCOTT'S story and questioning him about its many inconsistencies, SALDATE uncritically accepted the shifting story SCOTT told him. The detective and the rest of the authorities then set out to 'prove' the solution of the case that SCOTT had given them, even if real facts had to be ignored or hidden and confirming "evidence had to be manufactured." This confession of SCOTT served as a perfect tool for the homicide veteran, who had served 21 years with the Phoenix Police Department. Because CHRISTOPHER was later found in a desert area north of Phoenix, this essential part of SCOTT's statement was proven to be true.

Was SCOTT to be believed ? CHRISTOPHER MILKE had been shot, as SCOTT had said, but the rest of SCOTT'S statements were self-serving. As we can see in the report of SALDATE about the interrogation, ROGER SCOTT tried to talk himself out of the guilt, putting the blame for the murder on JIM STYERS. And even before ROGER SCOTT confessed, police knew (according to the report of DET. R. JONES #3025, Suppl. DR# 89-179406) that ROGER was not necessarily a person who could be believed : "I asked ROGER to explain the problem he had on his arrest in Glendale several years ago. ROGER indicated that was a long time ago and at that time he had a drinking problem and really wasn't sure what he had done at the time." Furthermore, as we also learn listening to ROGER SCOTT'S taped-recorded interview with DET. BOB MILLS in the evening of December 3, ROGER'S statements were anything but coherent and logical in incriminating the other two individuals, JIM STYERS and Debra Milke. And instead of closely questioning SCOTT about his inconsistent statements, DET. MILLS tried to feed him facts and ask leading questions to help SCOTT put his story together. Yet SCOTT remained completely unable to tell a remotely logical or coherent version about the alleged participation of Debra.

SCOTT'S story was that he was solely the driver, only taking a minor part in the crime. But SALDATE'S report about this 'confession' reveals a lot more : it tells us that ROGER continued to state where the body could be found, that JIM STYERS never liked the kid (SCOTT was actually the only individual who alleged this) and that he and JIM had been together on several other occasions, trying to kill CHRIS. This self-serving story sounded as if the murder was pre-planned. After that SCOTT talked about the purported preparation of the crime, and how he tried to talk STYERS out of that idea. He next described the events of that particular day (Saturday 2nd, 1989), how he, STYERS, and CHRISTOPHER ran various errands and ate pizza for lunch. SCOTT did not mention the boy's mother, Debra Milke, as a part of the crime during all this time in his original confession. ROGER next explained how he - allegedly solely hired as the driver - behaved at the murder-scene, what he had seen and heard and that JIM STYERS had given him the gun after the boy was killed, telling him to get rid of it, "but that JIM also told him that he could keep it if he wanted it." Hardly a logical statement involving two other participants in a conspiracy to commit murder.

After all these statements -  according to Det. SALDATE'S own report - Detective SALDATE, DET. BOB MILLS and SCOTT entered a police car at 620 W. Washington and drove to the murder-scene. Only during this drive SCOTT suddenly and voluntarily stated : "The baby's mother knew all about the killing and in fact the only reason that CHRIS was killed was because the mother wanted it done." This statement, made by SCOTT as he became increasingly anxious about the consequences of his admitted role in the murder, must have been made sixty to ninety minutes after SCOTT'S initial confession - therefore the time was approximately 4.45 p.m. SALDATE next contacted the police headquarters and told his supervisor about SCOTT'S new statement ["We then noticed that we needed gas and decided to stop at Cactus Park Briefing Station to get gas. At this time I called SGT. ONTIVEROS and informed him about the mother's involvement and he told me that she was now in Florence."]. At that time, either the supervisor ordered the arrest of Debra Milke and JIM STYERS, or SALDATE decided to arrest the two on his own [the detective later made contradictory statements about this point in an interview with Debra's defense attorney and under oath in court.] The homicide veteran actually made no efforts to investigate or examine the incriminating allegations ROGER SCOTT made pertaining to JIM STYERS and Debra at all. When STYERS, MILLS and SCOTT returned back from the murder-scene and the Metro Center mall to the police main station, it must have been approximately 6.15 p.m. The story later claimed by the police authorities and the prosecution was that STYERS refused to talk to the detectives, but that Debra later made a confession during an interview in Florence.

The truth, indeed, was different. The decision to arrest STYERS and Debra must have been made sometime around 4.45 p.m. [shortly before the dead body of CHRISTOPHER was found], because according to the pertinent police records, DET. HAMRICK and DET. DiMODICA left for Florence at 4.50 p.m.. The reason why the detectives were ordered there was "to learn her [Debra's] exact location to (sic) that DET. SALDATE could interview her." At least that's what HAMRICK'S report states. The proximity from the police main station to STYERS' apartment is roughly a 20, 25 minute drive. The report of DET. T.D. CAREY reads : "On 12-3-89 at 1717 hrs. suspect STYERS was arrested at 7734 N. 12 Street." This report doesn't reveal any more information. There were certainly some questions and explanations before the detectives - along with STYERS - arrived back at 620 W. Washington [the police main station], and therefore STYERS arrived probably shortly prior to 6.00 p.m. that day [KAREN STYERS, JIM'S legal wife who had accompanied him, was interviewed at 6.00 p.m.]. Thirty five minutes later the interview with DET. R. MILLS commenced, but STYERS insisted on an attorney, stating he wouldn't say anything more. SALDATE had no facts or evidence against JIM STYERS and Debra Milke, other than SCOTT'S rambling, disjoined accusations and the dead body of CHRISTOPHER MILKE.

Around the same time, at 6.35 p.m. according to the records, the detectives HAMRICK, DiMODICA and LT. YOST arrived in Florence, confirming that Debra had just arrived at the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, together with her acquaintance JANET FROEBE. Pinal County DEPUTY SOULES, who was ordered to ask Debra to come down to the local jail facility, confirmed in his report and at trial, that he had no order to arrest Debra and that he left it up to her whether she would ride with him, or prefer to take a ride with someone else. Also, according to various pertinent trial records, neither HAMRICK nor DiMODICA or YOST talked with the case leading agent SALDATE upon his arrival, yet both 'somehow knew' that Debra was going to be arrested before SALDATE ever met her [see interviews with JANET FROEBE and MAUREEN SADEIK]. None of the Phoenix detectives spoke with either one of the women, Debra or JANET FROEBE, before SALDATE started his interview. Only SOULES offered them to stay in the jail dispensary to wait for the arrival of SALDATE from Phoenix.

Other than SCOTT'S incoherent and self-serving confession to his participation, the only evidence against STYERS was the false missing person report he had made and there was no evidence at all against Debra Milke. There was no basis on which to believe Debra had any role in CHRISTOPHER'S death - much less any foundation to indict and prosecute her. SALDATE'S ruthless efforts to 'solve' the case resulted in a helicopter ride to Florence, to 'interview' the boy's mother, 25-year-old Debra Milke. At trial SALDATE claimed using a helicopter was solely a means of transportation, yet as we question that it becomes apparent how urgent it must have been for SALDATE to get to Florence and take things into his own hands. Upon arriving at the jail dispensary he sent Debra Milke's accompanying acquaintance JANET out of the room, shut the door and commenced the interrogation. After a 35 minute interview he emerged from the room. DET. HAMRICK, who had just returned from the property of Debra's family, met SALDATE in the jail facility, but no mention of a 'voluntarily confession' which the young woman had allegedly made to the homicide veteran. Only three days later, on December 6th, 1989 Phoenix police presented a report about that interrogation, claiming Debra Milke had confessed to a conspiracy to commit murder. This 'alleged confession' was later on reproduced over and over in the media and served to convince Debra's own family members of her role in the crime.

Another point of importance should be noted here. Not only does the timeline prove that two cars left the police main station in Phoenix in order to arrest both individuals, JIM STYERS and Debra Milke. It additionally raises the question why SALDATE didn't order the arrest of JIM STYERS after SCOTT'S first statement, still at the police main station. Why - only after SCOTT had elongated his accusation and included the young mother - did SALDATE either order the arrest of both individuals or suggested that to his superior ? This coherency depicts that the involvement of a young woman in the entire situation - most likely grief-stricken upon hearing the news about the death of her son and inexperienced in her relations with the authorities - would be easy to intimidate and taken by surprise. And indeed, as the cross-examination at trial had shown SALDATE'S first words to Debra after JANET had exited the dispensary room were "We found your son, he was murdered, and you are under arrest." How much more can a 25-year-old mother in that situation be brutally surprised than this ? And in fact, as we look at other cases where SALDATE'S demeanor was criticized and harshly reprimanded, it becomes clear that he had a pattern of ruthlessly taking advantage of people who were injured, traumatized, unconscious or deeply scared or intimidated.

With all of the preceding information, it is proven that the arrest of JIM STYERS and Debra Milke was pre-planned and solely based on ROGER SCOTT'S rambling and unbelievable statements. Therefore SALDATE had indeed a motivation to fabricate a confession in order to justify the arrest and indictment of Debra. His unlawful actions are self-explanatory and close at hand. The 'alleged "confession"', as produced by SALDATE, was his only way to tie both, STYERS and Milke to this crime, the only way to 'sandwich' STYERS between SCOTT'S incoherent incrimination and an 'invented "confession"' of Debra to a conspiracy. No other proof of any participation of these two individuals in this crime ever materialized. No proof against Debra ever emerged at all; the only true evidence against STYERS was his admission in his letters to Debra that he had been at the murder-scene, along with his false report to police (which he claimed was out of fear). Just the opposite : the records reveal a lot about proven lies and falsehoods that had been spread by SALDATE, and which were instrumental in achieving an indictment greatly influencing the reports of the crime in the media. Character assassination, BIG TIME, but no hard facts at all. For more than twelve years, both - JIM STYERS and Debra Milke - have always maintained their innocence. This website has shown how the case against Debra Milke was nonexistent - a complete fabrication propped up with ruthless tactics and character assassination that has left her rotting unjustly on death row since 1991. The case against STYERS is also weaker than reported, though it is not the goal of this website to explore fully the question of STYERS' guilt or innocence.

By the way, for those who still don't believe in the innocence of Debra Milke we'd like to recommend more crucial documents that are available on this website :

  • Interview of ROBERT JOHNSON
    (in this interview JOHNSON, a co-inmate to ROGER SCOTT, confirmed that SCOTT had confessed the killing of 4-year-old CHRISTOPHER MILKE)
  • Telephone interview with JEAN PUGH
    (PUGH, a local resident had obtained information that the police authorities were indeed aware of SCOTT'S self-serving incrimination of STYERS and Milke. She also testified to hearing five to seven gun shots, in the morning of December 2, 1989, which contradicts the prosecutions theory of the case. Her attempt to tell police about what she heard was rudely rejected by the case agent because it conflicted with their neat "solution" to the murder and the accompanied "conspiracy theory")
  • "Justice in Arizona"
    A case synopsis which proves that SALDATE'S decision to arrest Debra Milke was solely based on ROGER SCOTT'S self-serving incrimination and preconceived before the cop had ever laid eyes on her

This page was last modified:
Saturday, 19-Jan-2013 01:37:03 CET
The Debra Jean Milke Case

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