Why are police withholding information on trail deaths? Dave Bernard knows

Dave Bernard is retired now, but the former Kansas City homicide sergeant has a pretty good idea what’s going on inside the trail investigations.

The search for answers, he said, must include examining the victims’ habits and behaviors as well as ascertaining those of suspects.

“You have to look at what we call victimology,” said Bernard, who has investigated the murders of Angel Lee Hart, Precious Doe and prostitutes found in the Missouri River. “You have to get into the victim’s life. ... You see if there is something in common, a place in common that these people shared.”

The trail murders clearly share a vicinity in common. But police have not acknowledged any other commonalities besides the victims’ demographics and that dogs were present — and apparently unharmed — in three cases.

The canines themselves factor into the mystery, Bernard said: Could a killer approach and pet the dogs to strike up a conversation?

Another riddle: While a firearm is known to have been used in some cases, was the manner of killing similar in all? Close range or long? And did any of the murders involve robbery?

Police aren’t telling. And that’s wise, Bernard said.

“You have to hold back a lot of stuff” so investigators can determine if information they turn up is truthful, he said. “When I was on the department in homicide, one of the things I didn’t release, either, was the cause of death.”

Glenn E. Rice: 816-234-4341, @GRicekcstar

Related stories from Kansas City Star