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At the wrong time, in the wrong place: the mysterious disappearance of Denise Huber



On the night of June 23, 1991, 23-year-old Denise Huber went missing on her way to her home in the Californian town of Costa Mesa. This story was strange and from the very beginning looked bad, says

Screenshot: Serjio Hernandez / YouTube

On the evening of June 22, the girl visited with her friend Rob Calvert at a rock concert in Los Angeles, after which the couple went to a bar where they spent some time. There Denise and Rob met a mutual acquaintance of Greg Hayer, with whom they talked and drank beer. After parting with Greg, Denise and Rob got into the girl's car and headed north. Denise brought Calvert home at about 2:30 am and headed to her parents' house in Costa Mesa, where she was to spend the night. She had to drive about 18 km, but, however, she never returned home.

The parents were warned by their daughter about their intention to spend the night at home and were waiting for her. When it became clear that Denise had not come, they called Rob Calvert and he said that he had parted ways with her at 2:30. Since the trip on the highway could not take long, the parents realized that something had happened to their daughter. Already at the beginning of the seventh morning, they called the local police station and made a statement about Denise's suspicious absence.

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By this time, the girl's car with a burst rear right wheel camera had already been found. A police patrol noticed an empty car parked on the side of an expressway with its emergency lights on. Denise Huber did not reach the house literally 5 km. In principle, if she had not got out of the car, then the police would certainly have found her and helped to solve the problem with calling emergency technical assistance. But the girl, obviously, decided that she would handle the problem on her own. There were telephones along the highway, to one of which she obviously went.

Screenshot: Serjio Hernandez / YouTube

In principle, the situation did not look particularly frightening or suspicious. Even at night, traffic along the highway was intense, and this place could not be called deserted. Thousands of people in the United States find themselves in similar situations and resolve them safely. The car was unlocked, which meant that Denise did not expect to leave it for long. A cursory examination of the cabin allowed us to make a preliminary conclusion that it was not a crime scene - there were no signs of struggle, blood, etc.

After a cursory examination of the interior of the empty car, the police assumed that no violent actions had taken place in it. There was a rather expensive video camera in the cabin, and this suggested that the disappearance of Denise Huber was unlikely to be connected with a robbery.

The Orange County Sheriff's Service promptly brought a dog handler on duty with a dog to the car, which confidently took the trail of the missing girl. The length of the track was 70 m, it led along the highway, without turning anywhere, and suddenly broke off, as if the girl had disappeared into thin air. Nothing suspicious was found in the place where the track was cut off - no drops of blood, no small objects, no traces of dragging. This suggested that Denise got into an approaching car.

This is how the situation looked at the moment when the girl's parents made a statement about her suspicious absence.

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The story of going to a rock concert immediately captured the minds of the sheriff's detectives. First of all, it seemed suspicious that Robert Culver, with whom Denise Huber spent the evening on June 2, was not her boyfriend at all. Denise maintained an intimate relationship with another young man who could not keep her company that evening, which is why the girl invited Culver. Robert himself innocently admitted that he really liked Denise, and he would like their relationship to become more serious. Understandably, such a statement immediately led the detectives to suspect that what they saw on the highway was nothing more than a staging by Culver. The latter kidnapped Denise, possibly killed and hid the body, and to divert suspicions from himself, drove the car away from his house ...

They firmly seized Culver, interrogated him, examined the house (they did not find anything suspicious). They offered to undergo a lie detector test - the polygraph showed that Robert was not lying in his statements about his innocence in Denise's disappearance. Then the suspicions of the detectives zigzagged, and they took up Gregory Hayer, the young man with whom Denise and Rob met at the bar after the concert. The working version boiled down to the fact that Greg, after parting with a couple, followed Denise and, after her breakup with Rob Culver, kidnapped the girl. Hayer also underwent extensive interrogation and polygraph testing. The result was the same as in the case of Culver - none.

After that, the investigation, as expected, included in the circle of suspects a young man who had an intimate relationship with Denise Huber. The working version was the assumption that he deliberately did not go to a rock concert in order to organize an alibi for himself, but in fact had the intention to deal with the girl. However, a thorough study of his pastime on the evening of June 2 and on the night of June 3 clearly proved the impossibility of his participation in the abduction.

After the investigation for several days quickly checked the most obvious suspects and came to the conclusion that they were not involved in what happened to Denise, it was decided to actively involve the public in the search for the missing media. The girl's parents announced the payment of a reward of 10 thousand dollars to anyone who provides information relevant to the search. A large number of posters and leaflets were printed describing the circumstances of Denise's disappearance and her appearance. Hundreds of volunteers handed out such flyers in crowded places, as well as badges with a portrait of a girl. In addition, large "banners" were made, like advertising, which were placed along the California highways. On them - the contact numbers were indicated by which it was possible to make a "safe" call, ie. one that was not registered with the police and guaranteed the caller to remain anonymous.

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Gradually, the search was expanded to other countries, primarily Mexico. They also tested the assumption of Denise Huber's illegal export to Hawaii and Hong Kong. Private detectives and psychics were involved in the investigation.

However, a year passed after a year, and no information significant for the search did not appear. The investigation believed that the girl was the victim of a kidnapping committed by an accidental motorist. The kidnapping was a spontaneous act, not planned in advance, and the kidnapper had nothing to do with the victim. In such cases, they say that the person was in the wrong place and at the wrong time ... It was not possible to uncover such a spontaneous abduction, committed without witnesses. If one can imagine a “perfect crime”, it should have looked something like Denise Huber's case.

But a breakthrough in the investigation occurred when all those involved in the search for the missing girl were already desperate to succeed. It happened on July 9, 1994, more than 37 months after the girl disappeared. On that day, a certain John Falamar suggested that Jack and Elaine Kurt buy paint from him.

Spouses Kurt. Screenshot: Serjio Hernandez / YouTube

Falamar ran a small business - he owned a special dispenser machine for mixing paints in order to obtain any color scheme and purchased large quantities of initial paints from manufacturers. The Kurt couple owned a small building supplies store in Prescott, Arizona and were interested in purchasing paint. The couple met Falamar by chance at a local fair, where he advertised his services and handed out business cards. In general, an interested conversation ensued, during which it turned out that John Falamar could sell the remains of unused paint for a symbolic amount and, moreover, in large quantities.

So, on July 9, Jack and Elaine Kurt arrived at the indicated address in the wealthy Prescott neighborhood. As it turned out, this was the house of Falamar's mother, in which the son equipped a small warehouse. The couple bought the paint they liked, paid, and began to leave. And at that moment, Jack, who was driving the car, drew attention to a yellow van parked next to Falamar's house. The car was clearly a rented car - there was a car rental company sticker on it, but bushes were growing between the rear wheels, which meant that the van had already been stationary for a long time. It was strange, because this kind of transport is rented for a short time ... Jack Kurt, looking at the car, muttered mechanically: “This van hasn’t gone anywhere in months,” and his wife grabbed a pen and wrote down the license plate.

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Jack and Elayne left, but on the same day they called a police officer they knew and told them about the strange car. He quickly checked it against the database and found out that the van had been hijacked back in February 1994. A patrol was immediately dispatched to the indicated address, which discovered that an electrical extension cord had been inserted into the back of the stolen car, which was drawn from the house of Falamar's mother. The suspicion arose that drugs were being “brewed” in the van - such a trade became very common in the United States in the early 1990s.

According to all the rules of police tactics, a group of special forces stormed the mysterious car. However, there were no “cooks” or a laboratory in the van - there were barrels of paint and ... a freezer connected to the mains. Opening it, the police found garbage bags, which contained a frozen nude female body.

Screenshot: Serjio Hernandez / YouTube

The hands of the deceased were handcuffed behind her back, her mouth and eyes were sealed with adhesive tape. When the tape was removed from the lips, it turned out that a gag was inserted in the mouth. The corpse was in excellent condition, it was possible to fingerprint it. An inspection of the missing persons database on 10 July 1994 revealed that the body belonged to Denise Huber. The distance from the place where the girl was abducted to the place where her body was found was almost 600 km.

The house of John Falamar's mother was thoroughly searched, thanks to which it was possible to find things that belonged to Denise Huber - a dress in which the girl went to a rock concert, her handbag, a hair clip, etc. One of John Falamar's hammers attracted special attention of forensic scientists: although he was thoroughly washed, it was possible to find microtraces of blood on it, the DNA of which coincided with that of Denise Huber.

Screenshot: Serjio Hernandez / YouTube

The forensic medical examination of the corpse of the deceased girl showed that the cause of her death was an open craniocerebral injury. More than 30 blows were inflicted on Denise's head with a hammer - the imprints of the impact surface remained on the scalp, thanks to which it was possible to confirm that it was the hammer with traces of Denise's blood, found earlier, that was the instrument of her murder.

Of course, John Falamar himself was arrested. But sensations - alas! - did not happen. He did not want to explain anything and refused to testify. Until now, John has not changed his position and has not said anything about the abduction and murder of Denise Huber.

Among Falamar's belongings, they managed to find a check for the purchase of a freezer - the same one in which Denise Huber's corpse was found. Thanks to this, law enforcement officers learned the address to which the refrigerator was delivered. It was a large warehouse in California that Falamar rented for his paint trade.

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A careful study of this room by criminologists made it possible to find in one of its corners traces of blood that had flowed under the plinth and a plasterboard wall. Comparison of DNA from blood traces with DNA from Denise Huber's blood showed a high degree of coincidence - this led to the assumption that it was to this building that John Falamar brought his captive on the night of June 23, 1991. The investigation considered that here the girl had been raped by the kidnapper and then killed. Even now, there is no complete clarity in the issue of the sequence of the criminal's actions - he himself did not want to clarify these nuances, and the results of the forensic medical examination allowed certain discrepancies. In particular, it could not be ruled out that Denise Huber was not killed immediately after the abduction, but a day or even more later.

Although John Falamar pleaded not guilty and refused to testify, he was prosecuted in California and sentenced to death in June 1997. The question of whether Denise Huber was his only victim remains open to this day. At the time of her abduction, Falamar was 40 years old, and, as the forensic statistics show, people prone to sexual aggression usually show it much earlier than this age. It is possible that Falamar has been abducting and raping women and girls since the mid-1970s. It is possible that he already began to kill his victims. An indirect indication of this is the skill with which he carried out the abduction and murder of Denise Huber. Even his composure and absolute self-control during the investigation in 1994-1997. is strong evidence that this is an experienced criminal, able to control his emotions and consistently adhere to the once chosen line of behavior.

Following the death sentence, Falamar's lawyers appealed based on the failure of Judge John Ryens to ensure the impartiality of the jury. In June 2011, 20 years after Denise Huber was kidnapped (literally day in and day out!), The California Supreme Court rejected the request for a retrial and upheld the death sentence. At the moment, as far as the authors of know, John Falamar is alive and awaiting the execution of the death penalty. True, almost 60 criminals have been awaiting death in California prisons for many years, but sentences are not carried out.

The story of John Falamar's exposure is an excellent illustration of how his Majesty's case interferes in the investigation of criminal cases, sometimes in the most unexpected way. The kidnapper Denise Huber would hardly have ever been found if Jack Kurt had not paid attention to the van, between the wheels of which acacia shoots sprouted.

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