Our Crime Stoppers program got its start in 1979, when reporter Neil Murray, who had been working for a Hubbard broadcasting affiliate in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was transferred here to work at KSTP-TV Channel 5. Station owner Stanley E. Hubbard wrote into Neil’s contract that he was to help create a Crime Stoppers program to mirror the one started in Albuquerque.
Initially, this was accomplished through the cooperation and participation of the Minneapolis and St. Paul Police Departments. Because of the wide spread need and evolution of technology, our program has expanded to serve, assist and benefit law enforcement agencies throughout the entire State of Minnesota.
When a young college student, Michael Carmen, was shot to death during a robbery at an Albuquerque, New Mexico gas station in July 1976, Detective Greg MacAleese had no idea who was responsible for the killing. No witnesses came forward, and it appeared the senseless and brutal shotgun slaying would remain a mystery.
MacAleese, who worked for a newspaper before joining the Albuquerque Police Department, knew something innovative would be necessary to encourage the public to get involved and help solve the murder.
He conceived the idea of producing a video re-enactment of the homicide, guaranteed anonymity for anyone who was willing to call him with information and put up a reward from his own pocket to encourage someone to provide a lead that would help identify those responsible for the murder of Carmen. It seemed almost unnecessary to take such extraordinary steps to solve the killing of Carmen. It was a case that should have outraged the community and brought forth many witnesses.
Carmen was only two weeks away from getting married and had taken an extra shift at the gas station to give a co-worker the night off. When police responded to an emergency call, they found Carmen gravely wounded. He had been shot in the abdomen at point blank range with a 12-gauge shotgun. The medical staff kept him alive for four hours and during that time he tried to tell detectives who was responsible, but he just didn't have the strength to form the words.
At that time Albuquerque had one of the highest per capita crime rates in the country and people were afraid to help the police.
MacAleese’s plan to identify those responsible for killing Carmen worked. Within a few hours after the recreation of the murder was broadcast on television station KOAT, he received a phone call. The video image had triggered the memory of a person who heard a loud bang in the vicinity of the gas bar and then saw a car driving off. The caller told MacAleese the vehicle belonged to a resident in a nearby apartment complex.
Through investigation MacAleese and a team of detectives arrested two men within 72 hours and charged them with the murder of Carmen and a string of armed robberies. MacAleese received other calls following the reenactment, including one that allowed police to solve the rape of a young woman. Realizing that this type of program might be useful in fighting crime, MacAleese convinced the Albuquerque Police Department to allow a group of citizens to establish the first Crime Stoppers program.
With naming of the program, there is a connection to the fictional detective, Dick Tracy, where cartoonist Chester Gould produced a Crimestoppers textbook and became part of his weekly cartoon strip providing hints to young readers and members of his Junior Crimestoppers Club on how to fight crime in their neighborhoods. Detective MacAleese met with Chester Gould when the initial Crime Stoppers program was being formed and received permission from Mr. Gould, however, that the words Crime Stoppers be separated so as to protect the trademark that Mr. Gould had established. Therefore, Crime Stoppers programs when naming their programs should recognize that the two words need to be separated by a space to avoid any trademark infringement.
For his efforts, Detective MacAleese was named one of the people in the 1970's who changed the face of the United States and was also named the country's Police officer of the Year. It is also interesting to note that since adopting Crime Stoppers Albuquerque's crime rate has dropped significantly and no longer is ranked in the list of 20 cities with the highest per capita crime rate.