Washington DC November 24, 2017
James Benish, a retired police detective, author and editor of newly created web news site Alpha News claims that pursuant to 28 US Code Chapter 16, 9th Circuit Chief Judge Sidney Thomas refused to investigate his claims that Hawaii Chief Federal Judge Michael Seabright not only squashed Benish’s request for a Grand Jury, but said that Benish’s allegations that Seabright violated the Code of Conduct for United States Judges and committed several violations of Federal Criminal Statutes contained no evidence.
Benish said that he retired from his position as a Detective with the Thornton Colorado Police Department suddenly due to an injury. “I was right in the middle of investigating the cold case murder of 7 yr old Tracey Neef when I had to get out.” He said. Benish said that his prior work on the Neef case resulted in identifying several suspects in the Neef murder. Two of them were Todd Schonlau and his younger brother Aaron. Not only was he interested in these two
young men in the Neef case because there were indications in police files that Aaron Schonlau had committed a sexual assault on anther child when he was about 10 yrs old. He said that in 1993 just before he left he was notified that Aaron Schonlau had been arrested for murdering a 4yr old child, Lacey Woolsey Ruff in Hawaii a few weeks prior. Benish said that Detective Asher of the Kauai Police department told him on the phone that Aaron had been arrested for the Hawaii murder based on statements made by Aaron’s older brother Todd Schonlau. Benish said that he interviewed Todd Shonlau just weeks before he was forced to retire.
“I couldn’t get that case out of my mind.” He said. Several years later he wrote a book about his investigation, “Closed Eyes.” Available on Amazon and most book stores.
“After I wrote the book, the issue was kind of buried as far as I was concerned until 2012 when I received a telephone call from Val Soto who lived in Oregon.” Ms. Soto told Benish that her friend, Tiffany Kaneko had been dating Todd Schonlau and one night they had been drinking and Todd told her that it was he that murdered 4 yr old Lacy Ruff not his brother as he had told the police. “I telephoned the Kauai Police and they were not interested in looking into the matter. I called the Hawaii Attorney General and received the same response. Believe it or not I couldn’t even get the FBI interested in this case.”
Benish said that in his efforts to look into the murder case himself he began to experience low level resistance to his inquiries. “The Police would not release any information until I filed a Freedom of Information request.” He said. “And after I received the documents they were ridiculously redacted, whole pages were missing, there was only one statement, and that was in the form of a formal interview of their suspect, Aaron Schonlau who asked for an attorney at least 5 times and when questioned as to if he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs his answer was yes. “Its important to note.” He said, “That Aaron Schonlau went to prison for life, only on the statement of his brother, and his confession.” Benish said that his review of the police documents that were not given to the Judge at the time the case was filed against Aaron Schonlau contained statements made by two independent witnesses and one police officer that stated that they had seen a man carrying a child into the ocean and exiting the ocean without the child and that this suspect was wearing the same clothing that Todd Schonlau was wearing when he was interviewed.”
“When they interviewed Todd Schonlau his clothing was wet for crying out loud and the coroners report said the cause of death was sea water drowning.” Benish said he also interviewed Aaon Schonlau who was serving his time in prison. Benish said that in his quest to learn why no one was interested in another suspect in the Ruff murder, other victims of injustice in Hawaii contacted him. He said that before he knew it , it appeared the reason he could not get any interest in the Ruff case was due to State wide political, judicial and Department of Justice corruption. “I know its hard to believe but its true and I have enough evidence to comply with the “Probable Cause” requirement to prosecute.”
That’s when Benish prepared and signed a citizens affidavit for a Federal Grand Jury investigation. “In December of 2015 I gave my affidavit and all the evidence I had accumulated since 2012 to HI Federal Judge Michael John Seabright. “
“It wasn’t but a couple of weeks later and I received a letter from Judge Seabright’s clerk.” “It said, if I didn’t come and get the documents they were going to pitch them in the trash.” Benish said that he telephoned Seabright’s clerk Lian Abernathy and asked based on what statute they would not accept his request. “The answer was that it was a general opinion.” Benish said that he tried to pin down Abernathy as to who’s general opinion it was but she would not co-operate. .Benish said that he protested directly to Seabright and a few weeks later he received a voice message from Abernathy that his Affidavit would be passed on to the sitting Grand Jury.
Benish said that his experience as a detective has taught him how to preserve evidence and documents, in the event that anyone questions whether or not this bizarre scenario actually happened.
Benish said that he was relieved and confident that the Grand Jury would do their job, but he said that 6 months had passed and he had heard nothing. Benish said he telephoned Lian Abernathy and asked her which Department of Justice agency was working on the Grand Jury case. Abernathy told him to call the US Attorney. Benish said he called them and they didn’t know anything about it. He also called the FBI and got the same response.
Benish said that months later Abernathy admitted that his request was not processed as required by Federal law, nor was the Grand Jury notified about the allegations also as required by the 5th Amendment of the Constituion and Federal Court Rules that state. “The Judge will convene a Grand Jury when in the best interest of the public.
“I knew I might run into another squash when I filed the complaint on Seabright with Judge Thomas.” Benish said. “But when Thomas found my complaint unfounded he addressed only two of the numerous specific allegations of violations of court rules and Federal Crimes.” “For instance, Title 18, US Code 2071 says that ‘Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates or destroys or attempts to do so or with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed, or deposited with an clerk or officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than three years or both.”
Benish also referred to Rule 6, Title II of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure hat state. (1) In general, When the public inerest so requires, the court must order that one or more grand Juries be summoned.”
Benish said that it appeared that 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Thomas had not addressed these issues when he found Benish’s complaint unfounded.
Benish said that the complaint was filed with Judge Thomas on July 1st, 2017 and he received Thomas’s response in November 2017.
Benish said that two months after filing the complaints with Judge Thomas, he sent a separate Citizens request directly to Thomas. He requested new Grand Juries be summoned in a district other than Hawaii. (a change of venu).
“That was assuming that in the event that Seabright claims there is actually a Grand Jury investigation, a change of venue would be in order but I played both aces when I also asked for new Grand Juries in the event it turns out that there never was a Grand Jury Summoned.“ “So now it appears that this whole mess is in the hands of a higher court. Will Thomas do the same as Seabright did?” Benish asked.
Benish said he has 40 days to appeal Judge Thomas’s order.
James Benish has been actively working on this case since and before July 2017 and a record of everything that has happened is available via Alpha News at Codeforeblog.com. He is available for scheduled interviews.