Wednesday, July 16th, 2008
Matthew T. Greenberg apologized anonymously at Wikipedia, but at the time he was not publicly identified as the Benoit hacker. On July 3, 2007, an article in the Stamford Advocate reported on the police interrogation; the story, which noted that the interview had been videotaped, did not name him.
Greenberg was named for the first time in the Fayette County sheriff’s February 2008 report closing the Benoit investigation. The case summary was coordinated and authored by Detective Ethon Harper. The reference to Greenberg, however, is buried in a single paragraph of a “case supplemental” by Detective Joshua Shelton. Here is what Shelton wrote about the matter in its entirety (except for Greenberg’s address, whose deletion is noted by ellipses below):
During the week of June 24, 2007 and June 30, 2007, it was reported in the news that news of Nancy Benoit’s death was reported on the website Wikipedia.com. I contacted Sandy Ordonez at Wikipedia and she advised me that on June 25, 2007 at 12:01AM EDT, an edit was made to the Chris Benoit wikipedia page stating that Benoit missed the WWE Vengeance event due to the death of Nancy Benoit. The IP address that was issued to the person that made the change was a CSC Holdings Inc IP address: 18.104.22.168. It was also found that on June 29, 2007 the same IP address made further edits on the Wikipedia website expressing remorse for posting the news of Nancy Benoit’s death. The user was later identified as Matthew T. Greenberg of … Greenberg’s apology included the fact that his speculation was a “terrible coincidence”. I contacted Det. Tim Dolan of the Stamford, CT police department and requested that he interview Matthew Greenberg about his knowledge of the murders. Det. Tim Dolan informed me after the interview that Matthew was simply speculating as to the reason Benoit missed the event and described Greenberg as “harmless”. A copy of the interview was sent to the Sheriff’s Office and is included in the case file. Det. Dolan also conducted a consent search on Greenberg’s computer and the report from that search is attached to this supplemental.
Last month I filed an open records request with the sheriff for “the interview … included in the case file” and the report from the “consent search on Greenberg’s computer … attached to this supplemental.” For now, let’s focus on the interview. Here, in chronological order, are all of Fayette County’s email responses to me:
JUNE 17. Sheriff’s attorney Rick Lindsey: “I need to forward this email to Ethon as I have no idea what you are writing about.”
JUNE 19. Lindsey: “Let me check on the status.”
JUNE 23. Lindsey: “I’m checking.”
JUNE 24. Lindsey: “Still waiting for the video. As soon as I have it, I’ll alert you.”
JUNE 25. Lindsey: “As I understand it, the Sheriff does not have a copy but is getting it from the law enforcement agency which conducted the interview. I have no doubt it is open records.”
JUNE 26. Lindsey: “The Sheriff is still waiting on those. As soon as we have them, I will get to you.”
JUNE 27. Lindsey: “It was not lost on this end. If I understand what happened, this task (of reviewing the videotape) was delegated by Ethon to another detective. Ethon believed that the review was done when, I believe, the other detective simply discussed the results of the interview with the law enforcement agent in Conn and did not actually view the tape. To my knowledge, FCSO never had possession of the videotape. I have tried to run this down for you since you sent me the request. Ethon is trying to get the tape for you. I’ll let you know as soon as I know. As you noted, we don’t live in a perfect world and mistakes are made. Let me see if we can get this corrected.”
JULY 1. Detective Harper (via Lindsey): “We have had and still do have the video they sent us. The video cuts out after just a couple of minutes, so there is no recorded interview. I used Det. Shelton’s summary for my report. Det. Shelton spoke directly to Det. Dolan and Matt Greenberg and had first hand knowledge from both perspectives.”
JULY 2. Lindsey (in response to my request for the partial video on hand): “It’s subject to open records and I’ll let Ethon respond as to the date he can get it to me.”
JULY 3. Lindsey: “Let me see when the video will be delivered to my office. That is the best I can do. Also, as I understand the situation, the video is basically worthless. I’ll write to Ethon now and see what I can find out.”
JULY 3. Lindsey (in response to my message that I would decide for myself whether the video was worthless): “I’m not basing my response to your open records request on the worth of the tape; I simply was making a statement that will hopefully keep the matter in perspective. While I’ve not seen it, from all that I have heard it is not the proverbial smoking gun.”
I also filed an open records request for the complete video from Stamford PD.
On July 7, Stamford Captain Richard Conklin left me this voice message: “From what I understand, the dupe that we made and sent down south of our video cut off for some reason after some time. But our original is OK. I think they’ve requested a copy of that.”
I asked Lindsey and Harper if they could confirm what Conklin told me. Lindsey replied, “No, I cannot confirm that statement.”
I asked Lindsey and Harper, “What would be the explanation for not having bothered to ask Stamford for a good complete copy of the video at the time of the original investigation?” Lindsey replied, “I have no idea.”
On July 9, Stamford Captain Tom Wuennemann called to tell me that the videotape could not be released to me because Connecticut open records law exempts “voluntary statements.” However, he said a copy of Detective Dolan’s report, summarizing and interpreting the interview, would be sent to me.
On July 15, Lindsey wrote me, “To my knowledge, the FCSO does not have a complete interview. Ethon – please confirm.”
* The statement in Detective Shelton’s supplemental, “A copy of the interview was sent to the Sheriff’s Office and is included in the case file,” is misleading at best.
* The statement by Detective Harper that “there is no recorded interview” is unambiguously untrue. It is not even true that there is no recorded interview on hand in Fayette County. There is a partial recorded interview on hand in Fayette County and a complete recorded interview on hand in Stamford.
* Harper said Shelton spoke directly to Greenberg. If true, that is nowhere reflected in Shelton’s supplemental.
* I am further researching Stamford Captain Wuennemann’s explanation of Connecticut law. If legal experts there disagree with it, I will further pursue access to the complete interview through that avenue.
* Finally, bear in mind that this is not the first example of how the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office has played fast and loose with disclosures that would shed further light on WWE’s Benoit timeline.
– This blog has revealed that the sheriff’s logs of phone calls and voice and text messages to and from the Benoits were doctored, possibly with a view toward diverting attention from the implications of what the complete raw records show.
– Something similarly fishy is going on with the testimony of final-text recipient Scott James (Armstrong). On page 27 of the case summary, Harper writes, “In a statement made by Scott James …” When pressed for a copy of the statement, Harper contended that he was merely referring to something he was told Scott had said to another detective; Harper maintained that he was not referring to a dedicated document that could more intuitively be called a “statement” in this context.