Brent E. Turvey, MS
329 Harbor Dr., Suite 211
Sitka, AK 99835
Gold Coast, Australia
Queen v. Raymond Ali
September 18th, 2002, Benno Ihle, a student at Bond University
involved in their Miscarriages of Justice Project, asked this examiner, Brent E.
Turvey, MS of Sitka, Alaska to evaluate the skill and motivation evident in the
above referenced case. In order to complete this task, I was provided with, and
examined, the following case material:
Mortem Examination report by Charles Naylor, Pathologist, dated September 10th,
Declaration of Charles Naylor, Pathologist, dated February 1st, 1999.
crime scene photos.
autopsy scene photos.
timeline, and other factual material compiled by Benno Ihle and other Bond
University criminology students.
In August of 1996, 17-year-old Amanda Leanne Blackwell, a former Corinda State High School student, took an office job at a butcher shop in Moorooka owned by then 42-year-old Raymond Akhtar Ali. Part of this business included butchering goats for the Muslim market. In September of 1996, Raymond Ali invited Amanda Blackwell to live in his home with his wife, Bronwyn, and their son, Sonny, as a full time babysitter.
In late November of 1996, Raymond Ali closed the Moorooka butcher shop because the two employees running it (Patrick Gomes and Manawar Khan) had admitted to stealing. In early December of 1996, Raymond Ali moved his business to a property at Logan Village, south of Brisbane. Patrick Gomes also came to live in the Ali home at this time; Patrick Gomes left the Ali home some time in January 1997.
In April of 1997, Amanda Blackwell traveled to Fiji and met Raymond Ali’s nephew, Morbin Khan. Morbin Khan and Amanda Blackwell were engaged to be married within 10 days of her arrival. Amanda Blackwell returned to Australia from Fiji shortly after this engagement, in May of 1997.
At some point between 1996 and 1998, Raymond Ali and Amanda Blackwell had begun having an affair. In July of 1998, Amanda Blackwell began to appear pregnant, looking “pot-bellied”. Between July and September of 1998, various witnesses reported noticing that Amanda Blackwell looked like she was pregnant, including Raymond Ali’s wife, Bronwyn. During this time, Amanda Blackwell denied being pregnant to everyone that asked.
On September 2, 1998, Bronwyn Ali took Amanda Blackwell to the doctor after she complained of stomach pains. Amanda Blackwell explained to Bronwyn that she was not pregnant, but needed to return to the doctor the next day for x-rays. On September 3, 1998, Raymond Ali drives Amanda Blackwell to the doctor for her “x-rays”. On September 3rd, 1998, Amanda Blackwell went so far as to tell Bronwyn Ali that she had begun menstruating.
September 6th, 1998 was father’s day; the Ali family spent the day together, with Amanda Blackwell accompanying them.
On September 7th, 1998 between 6-7am, Amanda Blackwell came downstairs from her room with a bucket; Bronwyn Ali believes that Amanda Blackwell may have vomited.
On September 8th, 1998, Raymond Ali returned home from making deliveries at around 3pm; he noticed blood near a tap at front of house, and near a galvanized water tank next to the house. When questioned, Amanda Blackwell claimed that she had an accident. Raymond Ali claims that he thought she was referring to her period. Also on September 8th, 1998, Raymond Ali did some burning in his yard.
Later that same evening, around 7pm, Bronwyn Ali arrived home. She noticed a few drops of blood on the bathmat in the bathroom, and she also found heavily stained underwear and boxer shorts beside Amanda Blackwell’s bed. When confronted about this, Amanda Blackwell became embarrassed and washed the stained items.
At 8:20am, on September 9th, 1998, Emma and Caroline Flanagan (the Ali’s next door neighbors) discovered the remains of one-day-old baby girl Chahleen Amy Blackwell on their property. The police are called and arrive within the hour.
At approximately 10am, Detective Skillen of the Logan CIB interviewed Amanda Blackwell. She stated to him that she had no children, and that there had been no pregnant females in the area while she had been living there.
Two hours later, however, Amanda Blackwell confessed to having given birth to a male baby two nights earlier (the night of September 7th, 1998). In fact, witnesses report that she referred to the female baby as a male on numerous occasions prior to her arrest. Dr. Charles Naylor even wrote on page 1 of the Post-Mortem Examination Report: “…the mother’s impression was that this child was a male child.” Later, DNA testing confirmed that Raymond Ali was the father.
Near the end of 1999, Raymond Akhtar Ali, then 46, and Amanda Blackwell, then 21, stood trial for the murder of their one-day-old baby girl Chahleen Amy Blackwell on September 8th in 1998.
According to the post-mortem examination report, Chahleen's newborn head sustained severe fractures, likely from being crashed against a hard surface while she was still alive. Nine of her ribs were broken, as well as her left collarbone. In addition, her right leg was severed just above the knee, she had been cut in half at the mid-abdomen, and her uterus, fallopian tubes, cervix, and portions of her vagina had been removed. The cause of death was listed as “1(a) Multiple Injuries 2. Funisitis and Pneumonia.” This includes multiple blunt force trauma to the head and torso.
Chahleen's remains had been subsequently buried in a shallow grave on a neighbor’s property, and then dug up by dogs.
Raymond Ali and Amanda Blackwell pleaded not guilty to murdering Chahleen, and the jury took only three hours to find Raymond Ali guilty of murder and Amanda Blackwell guilty of manslaughter. Ali was sentenced to life in jail. Amanda Blackwell was given three years with her sentence reduced to 9 months.
No reconstruction or physical evidence connecting Raymond Ali to the crime was produced at trial. Rather, the Crown provided a circumstantial case based on the fact that Raymond Ali was a butcher. Medical testimony was given to suggest that the surgical precision with which the baby was dismembered took skill that Raymond Ali possessed as a butcher. According to Crown Prosecutor Paul Rutledge during the trial, Raymond Ali “…had the motive, the skill to cut up the baby” and remove her sex organs.
During the trial, witnesses who knew of the affair between the two testified that they believed Raymond Ali wanted to keep his wife, Bronwyn, but at the same time maintain a sexual relationship with Amanda Blackwell. This was the core element of the Crown’s case; that Raymond Ali and Amanda Blackwell had killed the baby to conceal its birth so that their other relationships would be preserved. However, Crown Prosecutor Paul Rutledge admitted that he could not offer and explanation as to the motive for removing the victim’s sexual organs.
Conversely, Crown Prosecutor Paul Rutledge detailed how Amanda Blackwell's story changed many times during interviews with police -- from denying she was pregnant despite her physical appearance (to everyone save her physician), to claims that she had a still birth (in 2 of 9 police interviews), to repeated statements that the baby was a boy, to confessing that she accidentally killed the baby (in 3 of 9 police interviews). In fact, Amanda Blackwell herself testified that she had lied or partly lied during as many as six of her police interviews, and only claimed that Raymond Ali had anything to do with the murder in the very last police interview.
WOUND PATTERN ANALYSIS
According to the Post Mortem Examination report by Charles Naylor, Pathologist, dated September 10th, 1998, the cut, which severed the victim’s body in half at the mid-abdomen. The description is provided thus (p.2):
abrupt break in the skin running more or less horizontally across the mid
abdomen is actually fairly uneven with a “V” shaped piece protruding
downwards in the vicinity of the right lobe of the liver. And also an almost
detached skin tag measuring about 10 x 5 mm hanging down from the right antero-lateral
This is consistent with Charles Naylor’s declaration on
February 1st, 1999, with the exception that he adds a sharp
instrument appears to have been used. There, he goes on to opine (p.4):
my opinion, a sharp instrument was used to sever the torso just above the
umbilicus and the right leg just above the knee, as well as to remove the
uterus, tubes, cervix, and portions of the vagina… their removal with such
accurate preservation of the anatomy implied purposeful use of a sharp
instrument and probably some degree of anatomical knowledge.
It is this examiner’s considered opinion that the cut
that transected the victim’s mid-abdomen, as well as the removal of the
victim’s reproductive organs, lacked care and recognizable skill. This is
based on the following:
1. All the descriptions of the cuts in this case, as well as the photographs, show irregularity and imprecision, with what Dr. Charles Naylor describes as “tentative knife cuts”. This includes the fact that transection is accomplished with many short, erratic cuts made at angles, as opposed to one or two smooth and deliberate incisions. That is to say that the cut itself is far from representing surgical skill, and certainly does not evidence swiftness and experience.
2. The complete transection in this case is itself evidence of a lack of skill and anatomical knowledge. The cut was made for the purpose of gaining access to the female reproductive organs, to find and remove them from the top. A skilled, experienced individual with anatomical knowledge would know the location of these organs, and need only to make a few external cuts to facilitate their removal.
Dr. Charles Naylor admitted to cleaning off the reproductive organs (removing
dirt and debris) and trimming them up to neaten their appearance before
photographing them for court exhibits. This would suggest that he altered their
appearance to more accurately fit his opinions before presenting it to the
court. This is not a legitimate forensic practice.
Dr. Charles Naylor states in his declaration on February 1st,
1999 “Removal of the reproductive
organs was most unusual.” This suggests his lack of experience with examining
and interpreting this kind of injury and recognizing defeminization.
The above evidences haste, hesitation, and an overall
lack of patience. This represents the antithesis of skill of any kind.
of Anger/ Retaliation
The behaviors most suggestive of motive in this case include the evidence of overkill, the dismemberment, the removal of the victim’s reproductive organs, and the method of disposal.
It was suggested by the prosecution in this case that
Raymond Ali and Amanda Blackwell had killed the baby to conceal its birth so
that their other relationships would be preserved. It is the considered opinion
of this examiner that the available physical and behavioral evidence does not
support this motive in this case. The following facts support this conclusion:
The victim’s body was disposed of in a shallow grave on a neighbor’s
property where dogs were known to be present. In this location, discovery of the
body and the crime were a foregone conclusion. As was the involvement of law
enforcement; if an Ali household member found the body, the authorities might
not have been called given the level denial in the household regarding the
affair between Raymond Ali and Amanda Blackwell, and her clear pregnancy.
There were other means readily available to dispose of the body in a way
that would more thoroughly prevent its discovery. These include the fires being
burned by Raymond Ali, the dam nearby, transportation of the body by vehicle to
a remote location away from the home, the butcher’s mincer, etc…). In fact,
one of the only ways to be certain that the body would be discovered, that
police would be called, and that the crime could be traced back to the Ali home
was by disposing of it on their neighbor’s property.
The concealment motive does not fully account for the removal of the
victim’s reproductive organs, or the extensive injuries that she suffered.
These actions need not have been taken to accomplish mere crime concealment.
Anger Retaliatory behaviors are those that suggest a
great deal of rage toward a specific person, group, institution, or a symbol of
either. They often involve excessive or brutal levels of force with a high
amount of injury to the victim (Turvey, 2002; pp.316-317). They can be
delineated by evidence of overkill, a term used to describe excessive trauma or
injury beyond that which is necessary to cause death (Burgess, Burgess,
Douglas, & Ressler, 1992; p.354). It is the considered opinion of this
examiner that the available physical and behavioral evidence support an anger/
retaliatory motive in this case. The following facts support this conclusion:
The Port-Mortem Examination Report details multiple skull fractures,
multiple rib fractures, and “multiple incised and stab wounds” to the
victims right leg. It also details the removal of the victim’s reproductive
organs. This amounts to evidence of overkill.
The victim in this case was defeminized; her reproductive organs were
removed to destroy evidence that she was a female. Something about the
victim’s sex was important to the offender, and they spent time addressing the
issue by cutting her open and removing the offensive parts. It is possible that
the baby herself was the object of the offender’s anger, and it is also
possible that the act of killing/ defeminizing the baby was intended to cause
pain and suffering to a third party.
The method of disposal in this case insured that the body would be found,
that police would be called, and that the crime could be traced back to the Ali
home. The offender in this case had a clear desire to insure that this child,
and everything she represented, would come out in the open. This offender did
not demonstrate a desire to protect the living arrangement that currently
existed in the Ali home.
At this point it should be noted that in the Post Mortem
Examination report by Charles Naylor, Pathologist, dated September 10th, 1998,
he feels compelled to make the following comment:
“Neonaticide” is defined as homicide of a baby within 24 hours of birth. It differs from homicide of older children in that mothers are much more often responsible than fathers and in that deaths of males do not predominate. Neonaticides typically follow denial or concealment of pregnancy. The mothers involved are younger than those associated with homicides of older children, usually being less than 25 years old with an average age of 20.
is significant because Dr. Naylor is telegraphing to investigators his belief
that the mother should be prioritized as the prime suspect in this case. Only
later does Dr. Naylor tailor his opinions towards the father. This examiner
cannot disagree with Dr. Naylor’s initial assessment in September of 1998.
Brent E. Turvey, MS
Burgess, A., Burgess, A., Douglas, J. & Ressler, R.
(Eds.) (1992) Crime Classification Manual, New York: Lexington Books
B. (2002) Criminal Profiling: An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence
Analysis, 2nd Ed., London: Academic Press