Read the Charleston Gazette-Mail story & Observations From The Authors

The Charleston Gazette-Mail, on Sunday, January 10, 2021, reported that we have uncovered a decades old report by polygraph expert Dr. Fred Inbau, and a subsequent letter by Charleston Police Chief Dallas Bias, regarding the 1953 murder of Juliet Staunton Clark.

The conclusions reached in the documents are not our opinions, they are the opinions of Dr. Fred Inbau and Chief Dallas Bias.

We gave these comments to reporter Rick Steelhammer:

  • The two documents in our possession shed new light on the murder of Juliet Staunton Clark.
  • They were found in the bottom drawer of Mayor John T. Copenhaver’s office desk following the mayor’s sudden death in 1959.
  • The documents eventually came into the possession of a private party who has given them to us on the condition of anonymity.
  • Our informant is extremely credible and a highly respected Charleston resident.
  • We believe the documents to be unquestionably authentic.

Inbau’s report shows that he believed his polygraph test determined that Arch Alexander, Jr. was not telling the truth when he denied any involvement in the Clark murder. However, Inbau, several times, used the words, “remote possibility”, and, “remotely possible”, that Alexander, Jr. was telling the truth.
Inbau said:

“As the examiner already stated orally to Mayor Copenhaver and Chief Williams, the foregoing opinion regarding Arch Alexander, Jr.’s involvement in the Clark murder must be qualified in the following respect: In view of the lengthy interrogation of this subject prior to the examiner’s arrival in Charleston, it is remotely possible that the subject’s responses which are now considered as significant deception may have resulted from the prior accusations and repeated insinuations of guilt.”

On page one of Inbau’s report he said “Peak of Tension” tests were given to Arch Alexander, Jr. in which an effort was made to ascertain (1) the time of the killing, and (2) the location of the weapon or instrument that was used to kill Mrs. Clark.

  • Inbau said Alexander, Jr. had a significant response when the time of 10 o’clock was mentioned, and when the location of the murder weapon was mentioned.
  • With respect to the location of the weapon or instrument, Inbau said Alexander, Jr. responded to areas “C” and “K”, as marked on a map. The greater of the two responses, Inbau said, was at “C”, which, he said, covered the area near the Alexander stables (where Frontier Communications is now located). “K”, Inbau said, covered the area beyond the bridge near Trivillian’s Drug Store, where Alexander was said to have bought a magazine the night of the killing.
  • Inbau’s report said Alexander, Jr. was advised of these test results and interrogated upon that basis, but Inbau said Alexander, Jr. persisted in his denial of any involvement in the Clark killing.
  • Inbau’s report, on the last page, where a secretary would ordinarily place her or his initials if he or she had typed the report, shows Inbau’s name twice—perhaps indicating that he and he alone was privy to the report to Mayor Copenhaver.
  • This document shows that, among others, Lyell and Buck Clay, Mrs. Clark’s sons, were in fact, polygraphed. We were never able to definitively determine, in our research prior to publication, if they had been polygraphed. This document fills that void—Lyell and Buck were, Inbau said, polygraphed, and the polygraph records, “indicated their innocence of any involvement in the Clark murder.”
  • Inbau’s words are significant in that Lyell was one of two people who had had visited Mrs. Clark the night she was slain.
  • There is no date on the Inbau report. We believe that may be part of Inbau and Copenhaver’s desire to keep the report strictly confidential.
  • In the report Inbau said that his polygraph tests were conducted in Charleston during a six-day period “of September 4 and 5 and September 7,8,9 and 10.”
  • While no year is cited in the report, we believe it to be 1953.

Our assessment of Dallas Bias’ letter:

  • Bias said in his 1960 letter to Inbau that he had been Chief of Police for the “past four and a half years.” That would indicate Mayor Copenhaver appointed him chief of police shortly after the Clark murder in 1953.
  • Bias replaced Chief Dewey E. Williams, who then moved to Chief of Detectives.
  • We have found no reference in our research that Mayor Copenhaver was displeased with Williams and we do not know why Williams was replaced.
  • Bias said in this 1960 letter that Williams gave him the Inbau report—he told Inbau in that letter, “for the first time I have come into possession and been able to read a copy of your polygraph examination of certain suspects in this case, as submitted to Mayor Copenhaver.” We do not know why Williams waited over three years to give Bias the report.
  • Bias said he knew that John E. Reid also examined Arch Alexander, Jr. This is new information—we found no indication in our research that John E Reid had examined Alexander, Jr.—and Bias said he had “not been able to uncover any report from John E. Reid in the files of this case and I do not know what conclusion he came to.”
  • It is obvious that Bias desired to solve the Clark case.

Missing file from 1953 homicide probe surfaces, sheds new light on city’s darkest cold case

By Charleston Gazette Mail’s Rick Steelhammer
Read Full Article is, among others,

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