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Unusual suspect busted for murder Tom Basinski | Sat, Oct 08 2011 12:00 PM

In 1983, the SDPD and CVPD homicide teams investigated two separate murders with the same possible suspects. We worked on the Jan. 6 strangulation of 28-year-old Debbie Hadley whose body was wrapped in a blanket and dumped behind Southwestern College.

Six weeks after Hadley's murder, SDPD officer Kirk Johnson was shot while sitting in his patrol car in Kate Sessions Park on Feb. 20. The two cases became intertwined when SDPD received word that the people who killed Hadley had killed Officer Johnson.

The Chula Vista cops were looking at two possible bikers, Glenn Armstrong and Keith Jenson, who lived on booze and crystal methamphetamine. Our informants supplied Armstrong and Jenson's names, but never supplied any proof. We interviewed the two several times, to no avail.

When SDPD told us about the possible connection we gave them all the information we had. They shared what they had.

SDPD was in a quandary. Unbeknownst to us, the evidence at Johnson's crime scene revealed a set of tire prints next to the driver's side of Johnson's car. It is common when cops have a "meet" to pull up facing opposite directions to facilitate conversation. The San Diego investigators learned about the tracks early on, but kept quiet that the tires were high performance and sold almost exclusively to law enforcement.

San Diego investigators only shared the tire tread information with the brass from SDPD. They quietly began checking SDPD cop cars to look for a match. They were incredulous that the killer might have been a fellow officer.

They grappled with the possibility that a fellow officer killed Johnson. Yet they kept getting word that Jenson, Armstrong and possibly other bikers were responsible.

Evidence and witness statements can't be ignored. All leads must be pursued until they are disproved. San Diego developed a good lead for us when they arrested someone who said he was in the car that dumped Hadley's body. He took us to the exact remote spot. Things heated up after that and we had enough information to arrest Jenson and Armstrong.

Jenson seemed relieved to unburden himself during the interview. He explained in detail how he killed her. He said they were at a party and Glenn told him to "get rid of her." To you and me that would have meant to escort her from the party. It didn't mean that to cranked up Jenson. He took her to his house and strangled her. He vehemently denied knowing anything about Johnson's murder.

Jenson was sentenced to 15-to-life for second degree murder and Armstrong got a year for accessory. Jenson is still in.

Meanwhile, SDPD received a phone call telling them to look at the stepson of a sheriff's sergeant. Sixteen-year-old Charles Tyberg was home alone that weekend. He dressed up in his stepdad's uniform, complete with .357 magnum, climbed in the take-home patrol vehicle and did some patrolling of his own.

While in Kate Sessions Park, the unsuspecting Johnson pulled in. Seeing a sheriff's car he drove over to shoot the bull. Fearing he would be in big trouble, Tyberg shot Johnson in the head.

Physical evidence of tire tracks and ballistics linked him to the crime. He is now over 40 years old and in prison. Yes, while the killers in the Chula Vista case weren't unusual, Charles Tyberg is among the most "unusual suspects" you could imagine.

"Unusual Suspects" will air details about this case Sunday at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Investigation Discovery Channel, Cox Channel 104. Basinski is a retired 35-year police veteran who lives in Chula Vista.

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Bob Krumweide Says:

Sun, Oct 09 2011 05:57 AM

A very interesting 'true' story about two murders that were solved. I have been waiting for the second half of this story. Good writing Tom.....can't wait for your next article.

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