May 3, 2023

Federal Inmate Escapes, Hawaiian Floaters, and a Foreign Leader Murder Suspect

This week we are talking about what happens when a federal inmate escapes from prison, a body in Hawaiian waters, who handles the investigation if a murder victim is found in a visiting world leader’s hotel room.

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This week we are talking about what happens when a federal inmate escapes from prison, a body in Hawaiian waters, who handles the investigation if a murder victim is found in a visiting world leader’s hotel room.

Link to Federal Criminal Complaint for inmate that escaped from jail.
Link to Federal Criminal Complaint for co-conspirator sister that assisted with jail escape.

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I am Adam Richardson, and this is The Writer's Detective Bureau. Welcome to episode 132 of the Writer's Detective Bureau, the podcast dedicated to helping authors and screenwriters write professional quality crime-related fiction. This week we are talking about what happens when a federal inmate escapes from prison, a body in Hawaiian waters.

And who handles the investigation if a murder victim is found in a visiting world leaders hotel room. Before we get to this week's questions, I wanted to mention that we still have seats left for COP Camp. Come join me along with Sergeant Patrick O'Donnell and RJ Beam and other guests for the first Cops and Writers Interactive Conference.

Cop Camp's happening June 1st through the fourth at Fox Valley Public Safety Training Center in Appleton, Wisconsin, and I hope to see you there. To learn more, go to writer camp. This week's first question comes from Chris Kratchman. He writes, Hey Adam. I was wondering what would happen if an inmate escaped from one of our federal penitentiaries.

Would it make a difference if the escapee was El Chapo versus say, someone who's serving time for a white-collar crime? PS. I know El Chapo can't escape from his prison. Thank you, Chris. Well, as I record this at the beginning of May, 2023, there is actually an active manhunt going on for inmates that escaped from Piedmont Regional Jail in the state of Virginia.

If you've listened to this podcast for some time, you're probably up to speed on the differences between jail and prison and the differences between state crimes and federal crimes. In case this is new to you, jails are intended for pretrial detention and short-term sentences. In prisons are where inmates are sent to serve their punishments after felony convictions, usually for sentences longer than one year.

Also, state crimes are tried in state level courts, and if convicted defendants become state prison inmates and federal crimes similarly are tried in federal level courts, and if convicted defendants become inmates of a federal facility like a United States Penitentiary or U S P. Or a Federal Correctional Institution or F c I think of a U S P as a serious prison and an FCI as the lower security risk type of facility, which you might hear jokingly referred to as Club Fed upon on the term club med.

As a quick aside, you may hear certain federal prisons being called an A D X or an Ad Max, uh, like A D X Florence or AD Max Florence. A D X stands for Administrative Maximum, or what is more commonly referred to as a supermax prison. These are the most secure federal prisons we have reserved for the worst of the worst, in fact.

It is where El Chapo is currently housed a dx. Florence, uh, is where El Chapo is and a dx. Florence is still technically a U S P, um, a United States Penitentiary. So the official name would be U S p Florence Ad Max. So why bring all this up in relation to the current manhunt for the inmates that escaped the local jail in Virginia?

Because the inmates that are still currently on the run, as I record this, are actually federal inmates that were being temporarily housed at a local county jail. Think of local jails as being locked down hotels for inmates that are in transit, and the federal system will pay the local jails to house their inmates if they're in the process of being moved from one federal facility to another.

One of the federal inmates currently on the run is. Alder, Alfonso Maren Sotello, that's his full name. Um, and I found the criminal complaint in support of an arrest warrant that was filed by the FBI in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia two days ago. In it, an FBI special agent has petitioned a United States magistrate judge to begin criminally charging Mar uh, Marin Satello that we'll call.

Using the two last names, charging Marin Satello with the federal crime of escaping from custody, which in this criminal complaint, the charge is for a violation of Title 18 US Code Section 751 (a), meaning a little "A" in parentheses when I say paren A. So, Title 18, section 751(a), so in that criminal complaint, the F B I agent states quote on December 9th, 2022, Marin meaning Marin Satello pled guilty in the middle district of North Carolina to illegal alien in possession of a firearm.

The United States Marshall Service had Marin in custody pending sentencing pursuant to the order referenced in paragraph four at the Piedmont Regional Jail located in Farmville, Virginia. So where they say, Paragraph four. That's a little, um, further up in this charging document that I'm reading from, uh, continuing on Farmville is in Prince Edward County, which is within the Eastern District of Virginia.

Now, the agent included that last sentence to establish that this federal court for the Eastern District of Virginia is the appropriate court to handle this criminal complaint. Okay, back to it. The Piedmont Regional Jail has a contract with the United States Marshall Service to house federal prisoners detained on pending charges.

Maron was housed in the Piedmont Regional Jail pursuant to the detention order referenced above. So what does this all mean when it comes to who is doing what? As Chris asked, meaning which agencies, which, uh, investigators or cops or whatever are doing what? Uh, so in this real world example, we have the f b i conducting an investigation as to who escaped and how, um, in seeking charges for that.

As well as the United States Marshall Service conducting the active hunt to recapture the suspects. I'm sure the FBI and all the local police and um, sheriff's agencies and all that stuff are involved in this manhunt as well. But the Marshall Service would be the lead agency for the manhunt, think Tommy Lee Jones', deputy US Marshall, Sam Gerard in the movie The Fugitive.

But the investigation of what happened and who was involved is being conducted by the fbi in fact. As part of this investigation, the F b I determined that Marin Ella's sister was a conspirator in the escape as she helped get a red Mustang placed near the jail for the inmate to use as an escape vehicle.

Um, I found that criminal complaint. As well. So if you're interested in reading either of these criminal complaints, the actual complaints that the F B I filed with the court, that they were essentially in support of arrest warrants, basically applying to the court to get arrest warrants for these folks, you can find them by going to

That will take you to the show notes page and you can view both of those PDFs. Now as to the difference in response, uh, based on it being El Chapo versus a white-collar criminal, both will definitely trigger an active investigation by law enforcement, but the driving factor as to how intense that manhunt becomes would really hinge upon the immediate threat to the community.

If the inmate has a history of violence like these folks do, um, in Virginia, you are going to see a much larger scale effort to recapture the inmate. Thanks for the question, Chris.

Our next question comes from Jade Sullivan, who writes, how long would a human body last in Hawaiian waters before the decomposition made it hard to recognize as human? Well, according to BBC's science focus, and I'll link to that in the show notes as well. "Even a weighted body will normally float to the surface after three to four days, exposing it to seabirds and buffeting from the waves.

Putrefaction and scavenging creatures will dismember the corpse in a week or two and the bones will sink to the seabed." Now the skeletal remains would still allow an investigator or pathologist to visually determine any found bones to be human. And of course, mitochondrial DNA, uh, would be a big telltale for that as well.

Um, but that requires bones to be found in the first place. And. In the science article that the b bbc, the one I just referenced, they were actually talking about, I believe it was the Adriatic in this case. Given that Hawaii is completely surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, uh, the tides themselves might be the biggest factor in never finding a body here in California.

We have tides pushing, um, you know, floaters as we call them back up against the coast. So occasionally we will find these bodies. Um, but when you're an island and there's no established giant coastline to kind of play catcher, uh, to find those bodies, um, you know, I think there's a greater likelihood that the body will never be found again.

But thank you so much for the question.

This next question comes from author BG Weins, who rides. Hi Adam. I've got a situation that I hope you can help me with. A dead body is discovered in the Canadian Prime Minister's hotel room while visiting the United States who has jurisdiction over the investigation. Would the hotel room be considered Canadian soil, like an embassy or consulate, and have the RCMP lead the case or would local or state law enforcement investigate as a potential homicide?

Uh, would be the state crime? Does the international situation require a federal agency to be a part of it? Sorry, if the question lacks detail, but I'm still working out the basics of the story. I've been loving listening to the podcast since the single digits of episode numbers. Garth. Oh, great question, Garth.

And thank you for listening. For so long now, it is only the embassy or consulate that would have the foreign soil concept apply. Um, the dead body would most likely be the jurisdiction of the local police department or sheriff's office, depending on where the hotel was located. However, things would get sticky very quickly because the sitting Canadian Prime Minister would have a United States Secret Service Protection detail assigned to him or her around the clock.

In addition to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's protective service officers that would be traveling with the pm. The R C M P has a protective policing service section that is the Canadian counterpart to the US Secret Service. And yes, those RCMP Protective Service Officers would most likely be armed while in the United States.

Uh, and that would be approved by the Secret Service and through the Department of State. Given that the PM would've had around the clock, security and access to the hotel room would've been controlled by both the Secret Service and the RCMP's PPS. The list of suspects in theory should be relatively short, especially if the death is determined to be suspicious.

The progressive complications to your story could easily escalate when local police are trying to get statements from secret service agents or copies of entry logs or that kind of thing. You can certainly have fun with that as far as creating conflict. Now, if push came to shove on the locals versus Feds thing, um, let's say for argument's sake, I'm the local police detective getting stonewalled by the Sacred service.

I might go to the FBI for help in getting a federal judge. To court order the US Secret Service to comply and assist with my homicide investigation. Lastly, let's say at the end of Act two, we discovered that the Canadian Prime Minister is the prime suspect in a murder that happened here in the United States in that hotel room.

Yes, diplomatic immunity is a real thing. Uh, and no. For the time being, I would not be able to arrest the PM for murder. Assuming I had sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Prime Minister committed a murder, we could wait to charge him or her with murder once they have left.

Their role as a foreign leader or diplomat. It would look something like me going to the FBI and the US Department of State to get the pm uh, the Prime Minister sent home, uh, providing the Canadian government with sufficient evidence to have the Prime Minister removed from office for being a murderer.

Now, that might be through articles of impeachment or who knows what the process is. I'm not a Canadian citizen, so I'm not all that familiar, um, but. Once the person is no longer the Prime Minister, we could then seek the arrest of that suspect. Now, whether he or she ever stood trial would hinge upon a few different factors such as existing extradition treaties between the two countries.

Whether the prosecutor in the US was seeking capital punishment for this case, um, that may be a factor where they have to take. Capital punishment off the table in order for a foreign country to give their national to us. Um, if they don't recognize capital punishment, which most of the Commonwealth countries don't, and the European Union, um, we may, may have to basically agree to not seek capital punishment because they're not going to send one of their nationals to their death potentially.

Um, but those are the kind of things that would have to be. Ironed out before the extradition from Canada to the United States might even possibly occur. Um, as well as all sorts of other things. But, um, at the very least, I think it's a really engaging topic and I hope this helps with plotting your story.

And thanks so much for being a longtime listener, Garth. I really appreciate it.

Great questions this week, which leads me to wonder what are your questions? Send them to me no matter how small a question by going to writer I'd also like to thank my Patreon patrons for sponsoring this episode, Especially, my Gold Shield patrons Debra Dunbar from, C.C. Jameson from, Larry Darter, Natalie Barelli, Craig Kingsman of, Marco Carocari of, Rob Kerns of, Robert Mendenhall of, Kayleigh, and the Puget Sound chapter of Sisters in Crime… for their support along with my Silver Cufflink and Coffee Club patrons. You can find links to all of the patrons supporting this episode in the show notes at 

Thanks again for listening. Have a great week and write well.