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Police hold suspect in 20-year-old homicide

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Police hold suspect in 20-year-old homicide

By David Madrid

The Arizona Republic

March 27, 2002

Diligent detective work and the refusal of a Glendale police sergeant to let a case go led to the arrest last week of a murder suspect in a death that occurred almost 19 years ago.

Harley Spencer, 59, formerly known as Eugene Colomvaro, lives in Clinton, Utah, and was arrested by that city’s police after Glendale police determined he was responsible for the death of a 6-yesr-old boy.

The death occurred Sept. 27, 1983, at a Glendale apartment complex.  Police investigated a call that a child, Adam Clark, wasn’t breathing.  Adam had been left in the care of Spencer, a friend of Adam’s mother.

Additional evidence and new medical science allowed Glendale Detective Bruce Foremny to link Spencer to the homicide.  Police would not give specifics about what evidence had changed to implicate Spender.

Adam was born with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, which left him severely retarded.  He faced numerous medical challenges and had a short life expectancy. When he died, it was assumed the death was due to his illness, Detective Brian Wilkins of the Glendale police said.

In the past, he said, a lot of children’s deaths were chalked up to reasons such as sudden infant death syndrome or natural causes, but now, with medical science improving all the time, those deaths are being looked at more closely.

Wilkins said Sgt. Mark Campbell, the first officer on the scene, didn’t believe Adam’s death was due to natural causes, and he never gave up on the case.  “He just had one of those feelings,” Wilkins said.  “Something just didn’t seem right to him.”  When detectives were looking over old, unsolved cases, Campbell suggested they look at this one again.

Foremny, who has extensive child-abuse investigative experience, followed through on the case and with the help of the medical examiner and new ethnology, police now believe Spencer was responsible for the death.

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