1993 Murder Case file of Lacy Wolsey Ruff

James Benish filed this request with the Kauai Police Department of Kauai County, HI.
Status
Completed

Communications

From: James Benish

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to Hawaii's Uniform Information Practices Code, I hereby request the following records:

Original Police Report, Witness Statements, Arrestee Statement, coroner report, Report pages that document the recovery of the body.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

James Benish

From: Mary Daubert

Aloha James,
In order to formally respond to your request, we ask that you fill out the attached form and email it to me or to our Public Information Assistant Sarah Blane, sblane@kauai.gov, who normally handles media requests for the Kaua‘i Police Department and the Kaua‘i Fire Department.

Upon receipt of the form, we will process your request accordingly.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact Sarah via email or phone at 808.241.4914 or me.

Respectfully,

Mary Daubert
Public Information Officer
County of Kaua‘i
4444 Rice Street, Suite 235
Līhu‘e, HI 96766
808.241.4909

From: MuckRock

Hello,

Thank you for your message. Please find attached the requested form.

Thank you so much for your help.

From: Mary Daubert

Aloha James,
Thank you for returning the request to access a government record form.

Sarah Blane will be handling your request.

Sincerely,
Mary

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Sept. 7, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Mary Daubert

Aloha James,
Sarah said that she has responded to you via email and telephone, and is working closely with KPD to fulfill your request. I am certain that she will get back to you as quickly as she is able to.

Sincerely,
Mary

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Sept. 7, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Sept. 7, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Sarah Blane

Hi Jim,

The report has been pulled and is currently under review by our Records clerks and legal counsel to redact any private & confidential information from the file.
As a reminder, we are still within the estimated three-week timeline (from the date of the OIP opinion that we received to clarify what is/isn't public record in this case).
Please feel free to contact me at 808-241-4914 should you need further assistance.
Mahalo!
Sarah
Sent from my iPhone

From: James Benish

Hi Sarah, is there anything new with this request? As you recall, I wanted to review the files before deciding which ones I needed actual copies of and schedule this review at the same time I review the court records. The courts are ready willing and able to comply. There is really no hurry at this point because I dont think Ill be able to travel to Hawaii until January but I would like to get the Kauai public information people ready to go.

Thanks

Jim

From: Sarah Blane

Aloha Jim,

Please call me at 808-241-4914 at your convenience.

Mahalo!
Sarah

From: James Benish

Hi Sarah, when we last spoke I gave you the specifics that I was looking for. Have not heard from you. Is there a problem?

Jim

From: Sarah Blane

Hi Jim,

We just received today some additional guidance from our Office of Information Practices. OIP advised us that we are unable to produce for you the specific witness statements that you requested, in the interest of those individuals’ privacy rights.

However, I can and will be sending you redacted versions of the initial police reports/statements, the statement from Mr. Aaron Schanlau, and a summary of the decedent’s (Alicia Ruff) autopsy report.

I have a copy of those files on my desk and am redacting as we speak. Upon completion, I will be sending you an estimate of any costs that would be owed, should you wish to receive a copy.

Will be in touch.

Mahalo,
Sarah

From: James Benish

OK, Sara. You cant send me witness statements with personal information blacked out?

Jim

From: Sarah Blane

Hi Jim,

According to the Office of Information Practices, we are not able to release witness statement in this specific case, as the information provided in the content of the statements would make it obvious who was making the statement – therefore compromising that individual’s privacy rights. It’s possible statements could be provided through the court , but I don’t have access to those records so I’m not sure what it contains.

That said, we have completed your packet of requested information that IS public record, and we are able to email that packet to you upon receipt of payment. To specify, this packet would contain initial police reports, transcripts of Aaron Schanlau’s police interview, and a summary of Aleisea Woolsey-Ruf’s autopsy report.

Attached is the invoice. You will note that we honored your $60 waiver for public interest.

Again, should you choose to move forward with your request, we can make these documents public via email and/or hard copy upon receipt of payment.

Please advise.

Mahalo,
Sarah Blane
Office of the Mayor
808-24-4914

From: James Benish

Thank you Sara. What method of payment ? A check is not a good choice for me.

From: Sarah Blane

Aloha Jim,

Payments can only be made via money order or certified checks, made out to the Kaua‘i Police Department. Credit and debit cards, personal or business, checks are not accepted.

Thank you,
Sarah

From: James Benish

OK, where should the check be sent? Is there a reference Name or number for the account?

Jim

From: Sarah Blane

Hi Jim,

You can send it to the address listed on the invoice and reference your file number, also on the invoice. I’ve attached it here in case you need another copy.
Thanks,
Sarah

From: MuckRock

To Whom It May Concern:

Please find enclosed a check to satisfy the fee with the associated public records request.

Thank you very much for your help.

From: MuckRock

Hello Ms. Blane,

A check has been placed in the mail.

Thank you very much for your help.

From: James Benish

Ms. Blane,
Have your received payment and are the documents available ?

From: Sarah Blane

Hi Jim,

Nice timing! Yes, we received the check last week Friday and our legal counsel is giving your document packet a final review now. I hope to email it to you by end of day.

Standby….

Mahalo,
Sarah

From: James Benish

Thank you.

From: Sarah Blane

Aloha Jim,

Please see attached the publicly available information you requested from the Kaua‘i Police Department regarding the murder of Aleisea Woolsey-Ruf, including:

- Initial police reports/statements

- Transcript of Mr. Aaron Schonlau's interview with police

- Portion of Aleisea Woolsey-Ruf's autopsy report which summarizes the decedent's major injuries and cause of death

Please confirm receipt of this email so that we may close this request on our records.

Mahalo,

Sarah Blane

From: James Benish

Hello, The documents have been received. I am discouraged by the amount of missing material. I know additional information that has already appeared in the new media. (no names of course ) I fail to agree with your assumption that just because I read a witness statement Ill know who it is , unless you are talking about Mr. Todd Schonalau. I interviewed Mr. Schonlau myself in 1993 and recently provided this interview statement to the Kauai
DA's investigators and did not blank out his name to protect the guilty. I simply want to know if Schonlau's statements differ. I also know that there was a witnesses who lives in the area and have been contacted after all these years by even more witnesses. I'm getting the idea that your refusal to provide documents that are over 20 years old are significant overkill. Is the public going to read that police information that was public in 1993 is not public now? I may want to appeal your decision to not include all the documents in this request for information. Ill decide later.

Thank you.

From: Sarah Blane

Hi Jim,

The Kaua‘i Police Department spent many hours providing you with all publicly available information on this case. That included continuous communication with both you and the state Office of Information Practices (OIP). In fact, the determination to withhold witness statements of the individuals you specifically requested was based on guidance provided by the OIP directly.

Furthermore, as I stated at the onset of your request – the Kaua‘i Police Department and the courts are held to different standards when it comes to protecting an individual’s privacy rights. If a case goes to trial, all of the statements and documents provided during that trial will become public record through the courts. Again, while we are not affiliated with the courts – nor do we have access to their records database - it is my assumption that because this case involves a conviction, that most of the information you requested would have been discussed at trial.

It would behoove you to request the documents you are seeking from the Hawai‘i Judiciary.

Sarah

From: James Benish

Please provide me with KDP form 364 signed by Aaron Schonlau. Also please explain why the entire transcribed interview is riddled with redactions .

Please explain why the first page of the report that states the reason for the arrest is redacted.
Page one of 3 of police report signed by officer number 124 is missing.

Please explain why the last paragraph of report signed by officer 90 is redacted.
Explain why numerous paragraphs on page 2 of Lt. Hurley's report is redacted.
Explain why the information about the deceased, (ie: clothing) is redacted.
Please provide the appropriate report that relates to the location of the deceased when found.
Please provide the individual names of the persons actually doing the redacting, and their authority to do so.
Thank you.

From: Sarah Blane

Hi Jim,

I will be happy to work on this request when I return to the next Tuesday, Jan. 20.

Will be in touch.

From: James Benish

After further evaluation of the reports I make an additional request for witness statements, specifically statements made by Todd Schonlau , Timmy Woolsey (the maternal father of the victim), and Tracey Woolsey ( the maternal mother of the victim) for the following reasons.
Per: the Hawaii Freedom of Information act. Todd Schonlau does not have reasonable expectation of privacy in matters of this case. His expectation of privacy has diminished because in 1993 he provided this journalist (then a police detective) with a verbal (transcribed ) statement of his activities involving the murder of Lacey Ruff. This statement was recently provided to Mr. John Burgess of the Kauai Prosecutors office. Additionally Todd Schonlau's expectation of privacy has diminished because he may have been culpable in the murder of Tracey Ruff (HFIA pg 14- "possible violation of a criminal act) and in addition this culpability was made public on February 11, 2013 via a blog post on Codeforeblog.com/?p=1307, titled "Woman says her boyfriend confessed to killing a 4 year old girl".

In addition, the redaction of the items in the coroner's report is not applicable because according to the HFOI (pg 15)deceased persons do not have the expectation of privacy .
I specifically request the statements of Timmy and Tracey Woolsey for the following reasons. (written authorizations signed by Mr. and Mrs. Woolsey will be forwarded to your office once you acknowledge that their statements will be provided upon receipt of these authorizations.
In addition I request the documents provided to me that were redacted because of their reference to Timmy and Tracy Woolsey, and Todd Schonlau be provided a second time without these reactions.

I request the arrest booking paperwork for Aaron Schonlau and any and all other reports that describe Aaron Schonlaus and his brother Todds clothing when contacted at or near the scene of the crime.

I also request that statements of witnesses, other than Todd Scholnau, Timmy and Tracey Woolsey be provided or an explanation as to why (specifically the witness who saw an individual carrying what looked like a body) and and other witness.

Thankyou.

From: Sarah Blane

Jim,
You will have to submit this appeal to the Office of Information Practices. Again, the decision to withhold requests for specific witness statements was made under their direction.
Thank you
Sent from my iPhone

From: James Benish

OK, I will submit everything.

From: James Benish

what about the questions about information provided and additional information I asked for?

From: Sarah Blane

If it's a new request, I will process it. But anything regarding your requests for specific witness statements need to be appealed through OIP.
Sent from my iPhone

From: Sarah Blane

Good morning, Jim:

I believe I responded to this email. The questions below, regarding what and why certain information must remain confidential and therefore was redacted from the provided documents, was explained in detail in prior emails. As previously stated, if you would like to appeal your request, you would have to do so through the state Office of Information Practices.

Thank you,
Sarah

From: Sarah Blane

Aloha Jim,
It is the Kaua‘i Police Department’s belief that is has provided you with all requested documents from the police report concerning the murder of Lacey Ruff that is considered public record. The justification for redacting particular statements or information contained in those documents has already been provided to you on numerous occasions.
Should you feel documents or information from the police report was withheld in error, you may submit an appeal to the State of Hawai‘i Office on Information Practices.
Thank you,
Sarah

From: Sarah Blane

Resending…
________________

From: Sarah Blane
Sent: Thursday, March 05, 2015 8:51 AM
To: requests@muckrock.com
Subject: RE: Freedom of Information Request: 1993 Murder Case file of Lacy Wolsey Ruff

Aloha Jim,

It is the Kaua‘i Police Department’s belief that we have provided you with all requested documents from the police report concerning the murder of Lacey Ruff that is considered public record. The justification for redacting particular statements or information contained in those documents has already been provided to you on numerous occasions.

Should you feel documents or information from the police report was withheld in error, you may submit an appeal to the State of Hawai‘i Office on Information Practices.

Thank you,

Sarah

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