In late 2015, Wisconsin’s criminal justice came to the fore of the nation’s public consciousness with the Making a Murderer documentary series. The series detailed the handling of Steven Avery’s murder case in 2007 and how it related to his exoneration in an earlier wrongly convicted rape case in 1985. Both of his cases fell under a heavy cloud of doubt in the veracity of the investigation, the validity of the charges against him and the trial that imprisoned him.
While Steven’s current post-conviction efforts are on-going, his entanglements with Wisconsin’s criminal justice system are similar to another case in the state’s history: the conviction of Ralph Armstrong for the murder of Charise Kamps in 1981. …show more content…
The unthinkable acts performed against her body left undeniable physical evidence combined with an unwavering eyewitness testimony resulted in her assailant, Richard Armstrong, receiving a life sentence.
On June 24, 1980, the body of 19 year old UW-Madison student Charise Kamps was found shortly after noon in her apartment in Madison, Wisconsin. Her boyfriend Brian Dillman had been trying to reach her for several hours but repeatedly got a busy signal. He called Kamps’ friend Jane May, who was Armstrong’s fiancé, to go check in on her. When May had entered Kamps’ apartment, she testified that the phone was off of the hook when she discovered the corpse of Kamps.
Kamps had been repeatedly raped, with signs of blunt object insertion to her throat, vagina and anus as well as blunt object bruises to her scalp. It was ultimately determined that she had died of strangulation. When she was found, there was a belt from a bathrobe laying on her back, and she was facedown naked on the bed. The primary concentration of blood was found on the bed but there were some samples found elsewhere in the apartment. A bathrobe next to the bed produced semen samples and fingerprints were lifted from some objects in the apartment. Except for the bloody scene on and around the bed, an investigator testified that the bathroom was clean …show more content…
Brian Dillman testified that a vase was missing from her apartment. (The State of Wisconsin v. Ralph D. Armstrong (July 12, 2005)). This vase was never found or tested to prove his suspicions.
Upon examination, her body and clothes produced some viable, testable materials. The robe had two hairs and there was semen matching. The semen and hair would remain untested for over a decade but their mere existence was enough to condemn Armstrong. What could a young college student have been involved with to have been murdered so viciously?
The night prior to her murder, Charise was in the company of the man who would later be convicted of her murder, Ralph Armstrong. He was in Wisconsin, on parole after being convicted of numerous rapes in New Mexico, living with his fiancé Jane May and his brother Stephen. They had had dinner and returned to May’s apartment to drink and consume illegal drugs, among them cocaine. A dispute regarding money owed to Charise’s boyfriend, Brian