The Widow and the Nurse, Part Two

Page 5 of 8

When Snyder first spoke to New Times about Bridget Garcia, he almost immediately referred to a key piece of evidence Cumbie had generated. "You know she failed a lie detector test, don't you?" Snyder asked. This exam, which Bridget did fail, was one of the main reasons Aventura Police Chief Tom Ribel was so certain Bridget was extorting money from Regina and lying about being sexually assaulted by Daniel Greenhill. In fact the chief was confident enough in his belief to suggest New Times conduct a corroborating test. "You guys could probably spend a couple of hundred dollars to get your own [polygraph] test done," he recommended, "then you'd feel a whole lot more certain, too."

The results of the polygraph are included in the Aventura police case file. New Times took a copy of these results to noted polygrapher Warren D. Holmes. When questioned about the reliability of lie detector tests, Holmes often stresses that a polygraph machine is only a tool, and its results are only as reliable as the operator of that tool.

With 45 years of experience grappling with the truth, Holmes is widely considered one of the most reliable polygraphers in Florida, if not the United States. He has tested more than 68,000 people, most at his modest office on Flagler Street in Little Havana. The FBI and the CIA have invited him to teach his interrogation techniques at their academies. He has worked on more than 1000 homicide investigations and has examined individuals associated with Watergate, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. Using his lie detector machine as a tool, Holmes helped exonerate Freddie Pitts and Wilbert Lee, two innocent men incarcerated on Florida's death row.

The Aventura polygraph was administered by Rolando Baldomero of Miami Polygraph Associates. Baldomero declined to discuss the examination with New Times. "I'm sorry," he said. "That would be confidential." Holmes, flipping through the Florida Polygraph Association's membership directory, noted that Baldomero has three years of professional experience and is not a member of the American Polygraph Association. (Holmes is a lifetime member.)

Bridget remembered that Baldomero, after a couple of false starts, completed his test, though he never told her the final results, which are included in the police report: "It is the opinion of this examiner that the polygrams in above test showed strong and consistent unresolved responses to the following relevant questions: #5, #7, #10, and #11. The chart tracings were consistent with those of an untruthful person."

On question number nine, Baldomero asked Bridget if Dr. Lotspeich gave her a due date for the birth of her baby. Bridget answered no, and there was no indication she was lying. Of the 11 questions asked, this was the only one that concerned the pregnancy. Yet in the final police report, Detective Cumbie summarized the polygraph exam in one sentence: "She showed deception on several questions on the subject of being pregnant."

Examiner Holmes was disturbed by Baldomero's conclusion that Bridget had for all intents and purposes lied on questions five, seven, ten, and eleven. "Yet," Holmes said, "he does not have her lying on question two, which was: "Do you intend to answer my questions truthfully?' She said yes with no indication of deception to that question. That's the whole issue. He could have ended the test right there. That's the only question that had to be asked."

Holmes continued, "He has her being deceptive to [question] five when she says she was sexually assaulted by Daniel. Yet he has her telling the truth on number six, when she says she has never teased a man for sexual purposes. On seven she's supposedly lying when she said Daniel didn't have sex with her prior to October of 1999. He's inferring that this is an ongoing thing. Now on eight -- "Did you ever consider having sex with Daniel?' -- she said no and there is no indication that she lied to that, according to Baldomero. Yet how could she be telling the truth to eight and be lying to seven?"

Even after questioning Baldomero's exam, Holmes remained far from convinced that Bridget was telling the truth. "Sometimes the police can screw up and still catch the right guy," he quipped. "There are just too many problems with her story. Why did she take the gifts? Why did she wait so long to report the rape? It just doesn't add up." Largely to satisfy his own curiosity, Holmes agreed to test Bridget the next day, without charge.

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Robert Andrew Powell