Archive | May, 2011

Toni Fratto Recants Murder Confession?

Posted on 27 May 2011 by Howard Copelan

Ex-Jr. Miss Wendover Having Second Thoughts?

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Toni Fratto will probably recant her bombshell confession that it was she and not Kody Patten who killed 16 year old West Wendover high school girl Micaela Costanzo either before or during her preliminary hearing next week said sources close to Fratto.

“I think it will be pretty clear from the evidence that Toni could not have been at the scene of the murder when it supposedly took place,” said an investigator who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Fratto’s attorney David Lockie confirmed that his clients where abouts between 5 pm the time Micaela Costanzo was last seen alive and 6 pm when Toni Fratto appeared at a West Wendover Recreation District meeting have been documented.

“We have that pretty well covered even without any surveillance video,” he said Tuesday. “There could be an alternative time line.”

Fratto’s confession was released in early May in the form of an audio tape during a hearing for Fratto’s lover Kody Patten.

Patten had been arrested six weeks before in the early morning hours of Monday March 7th, 2011 after he confessed to the crime following an all night interrogation by West Wendover police.

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According to the police report, Patten in a borrowed SUV somehow got Costanzo into the vehicle shortly after she emerged from the girls locker room after practice at around 5 pm on Thursday March 3rd. Instead of driving her home, Patten drove out to the gravel pits about five miles west of town. There he told Police Detective Donald Burnham they fought. At just under 6 feet and weighing 190 lbs, Patten towered over the barely 5 foot tall Costanzo and outweighed by over 80 pounds.

According to the report Patten confessed to shoving the girl who then fell hitting her head on the cars bumper. Patten then told Burnham he pushed Costanzo again, and again she fell down and hit her head on a rock. Patten then said he panicked when Costanzo went into convulsion and struck her with a shovel that happened to be in his hand. The shovel sliced through the young woman’s neck. Patten then buried the young woman, drove home, went to bed and went to school the next day.

Nothing in Patten’s statements indicates that he was accompanied by Toni Fratto before during or after the murder. And according to the minutes of a March 3rd Recreation District meeting Fratto’s whereabouts from 6 pm to 6:53 pm were documented as being in the audience during the meeting.

According to confidential sources, Patten is now claiming that he was protecting Fratto. That was then now Patten is claiming that Toni Fratto was the one who not only planned the murder of Micaela but who also dealt the lethal blow cutting Costanzo’s throat after Patten had beaten the young girl unconscious.

Fratto’s confession supports all of Patten’s new story and even gives details about the crime that were not generally known to the public.

Patten’s attorney John Ohlson told the court at the time he released Fratto’s confession that is was taken on April 22 in the offices of Ohlson’s co-counsel in the case Jeff Kump.

Fratto, Ohlson said, gave her statement in Kump’s conference room while Ohlson listened by phone from his Reno office.

Fratto’s confession had huge implications not only for the defense but also for the prosecution. By admitting to the planning and the killing of her schoolmate Fratto not only became a codefendant in the crime but also the lead defendant.

Kody Patten had been looking at a possible death sentence if he and he alone was found guilty of the crime. Now with both his girl friend and his own protestations that he was simply following orders the odds of him winding up on death row have diminished considerably.

In fact Fratto may have saved Patten from a Murder #1 conviction altogether. If she maintains her insistence that she was the black widow in the crime, Patten could reasonably charged with second degree murder. The deference between facing the death penalty or life in prison without parole to a 25 year sentence with the possibility of parole after 10 years served.

But while her lover’s future was made brighter by her confession, Fratto herself could be looking at a death sentence herself or much more probable a life sentence in prison. Never in Nevada history has a jury sentenced an 18 year old girl to die.

Whether Patten gets a much lighter sentence or Fratto spends the rest of her life in prison depends largely on if Fratto sticks to her confession. And after three weeks being held in the Elko county jail her conviction to stay on with her story could be cracking.

Although her attorneys refuse to comment on just what she is telling them, their efforts in at least establishing her alibi could indicate she is not as ready to sacrifice herself for Paten as she was on April 22.

“The longer she is kept away from him the less and less, she will stick to that ridiculous story,” said a friend of the girl.

Before she made her confession Fratto was in almost daily contact with Patten. Fratto visited him as often as twice a week making the four hour round trip to Elko on Wednesdays and Sunday ever since Patten was arrested March 7th.

She also talked to him at least once a day thanks to a collect calling plan purchased by her father. The frequent and continued contact the girl had with Patten also

Far from the black widow who directed Patten to kill a romantic or social rival, friends and acquaintances of both Fratto and Patten describe her as a mouse of a girl who was “barely there”.

Until her confession ealier this month Fratto’s only claim to fame was winning the Little Miss Wendover Pageant in 2006 when she was 13.

At the state finals she won the award for writing the best thank you note. Indeed some friends relate the Patten held the whole Fratto family in thrall and what official records exist tend to support the allegation.

He moved into the home after his own parents threw him out and bragged to classmates how he verbally and emotionally abused his benefactors.

So complete was his domination of the family, friends relate, that even when Patten was caught on school grounds strangling Toni Fratto just months before the murder, Claude and Cassie Fratto refused to press criminal charges and allowed the very disturbed young man back into their home.

By all accounts Fratto’s parents were oblivious to the point of denial that there was anything wrong with the future killer.

Then a juvenile Patten was suspended and than readmitted to the high school where he was put on probation.

According to one well placed source Patten was just one infraction away from being expelled at the time of the murder and like his girlfriend Patten also withdrew from the school’s social life in his senior year.


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WWHS #22 Will Now Always Belong To Mickey Costanzo

Posted on 27 May 2011 by Howard Copelan

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There will never again be a number 22 on the West Wendover Girl’s basketball team.

In what is sure to be a poignant ceremony this week, Mickey Costanzo’s number will be retired as tribute to the young girl so cruelly murdered this March.

“The students and her coaches thought it was the right thing to do,” said West Wendover High School Principal Terry Carsrud. “We think it will be a fitting tribute. We are also retiring her track uniform.”

While not numbered all track uniforms are handed down from year to year until they are replaced. Mickey Costanzo’s togs as well as her basketball jersey will now hold a place of honor forever at the school.

Founded in 1996 the school has never retired a number of any athlete in its history.

*From left to right: Tyler Petersen,Trinity Smith, Miranda Roland, Tiffany Rasmussen, Jacquee Giovo, Cassandra Roland, Sadie Brooke

The ceremony took at the traditional final assembly of year. In addition to the retirement of her jerseys the school’s annual “Spirit Award” has been named in her honor.

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In a related development the school will enforce the policy of banning news trucks from the parking lot during graduation itself.

“We will do just like we did in March,” Carsrud said. “If TV news crews want to show we can’t stop them. But they will have to park on the street and not the parking lot.”

Several television crews from Salt Lake, Elko and Reno have expressed interest in covering the WWHS graduation as a follow-up piece to the murder story.

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Spring Creek Girl Loses Grad Speech To Cat Fight

Posted on 27 May 2011 by Howard Copelan

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A cat fight in the girls’ locker room at Spring Creek high and its viral video is causing no end of headaches for the girls involved, the school and the Elko County School district.

The incident occurred on May 2nd and was uploaded to a variety of websites may 3rd. By mid month it had received well over 100,000 views and one of the girls involved Savannah Amberson was in deep trouble.

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A senior of SCHS Amberson was supposed to have given a speech next week when her class graduated. No longer. Despite an appeal from her father Ward Amberson Elko Superintendent Jeff Zander stood behind the school board’s decision  to ban Savannah Amberson from speaking at graduation.

In addition to losing that honor Amberson as well as the school district may be sued by the other girl’s identified as Sadie Baker mother, Kara Hansen.

“You know you are just going to get in trouble,” says Sadie Baker to Amberson in the video.

“No, you’re not going to hit me? Do it,” says Baker with her arms folded.

Amberson much taller and heavier with dark hair throws the first punch and the fight goes into full swing.

Other students, including boys in the locker room start to cheer.

“Keep it going! Keep it going! Come on yea!” they yell.

Sadie’s mother, Kara Hansen, told that day her daughter went to school administrators for help and they failed to keep her safe.

“The school had an opportunity to protect my daughter which she went and asked for help and told them she was scared and felt unsafe,” said Hansen. “They absolutely did not take that opportunity or take it seriously.”

Hansen said she is pressing charges against the other girl and going after the Elko County School District.  She wants to see someone fired and wants the district to change its policy on bulling.

“That’s unacceptable behavior,” said Zander. He added the school did all it could to try and prevent the fight from happening.

“I have faith in the administrators out there they are going to be compassionate to any student who has concerns,” said Zander. “I’m disappointed it ended up in a fight between two students.”

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3 Killed In Area Crashes

Posted on 27 May 2011 by Howard Copelan

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Three people lost their lives in two separated crashes on Eastern Nevada’s highways this weekend.

On Saturday, May 21, a McCammon Idaho man and an Aloha Oregon woman were killed in a two vehicle head-on crash on US 93, approximately 21 miles north of Wells, Nevada.

According to the Nevada Department of Public Safety – Highway Patrol Division, “the first fatal crash occurred around 12:55 pm, Saturday, on US 93 when a southbound 2002 Cadillac and a northbound 2001 Honda Accord collided.  Preliminary investigation reveals that Nicholas T. Call, age 27 of McCammon Idaho was driving the Cadillac when he attempted to pass other southbound traffic in a no passing zone.  As the Cadillac was southbound in the northbound lane, the Cadillac driver reacted to the northbound Honda by applying the brakes. The Cadillac skidded and rotated in a counter-clockwise direction.  The other driver, Daniel V. Nelson, age 50, of Aloha Oregon, reacted by swerving to the right.  As the Cadillac skidded broadside, the passenger side of the vehicle was exposed to the northbound Honda.  The Cadillac and the Honda exited the east road edge where the Cadillac was struck in the right side by the front of the Honda.  Both vehicles came to rest on their wheels on the east dirt shoulder of US 93, facing a northeasterly direction.

The Cadillac driver, Nicholas T. Call, was using his seat belt; however improperly.  He sustained fatal injuries and died at the scene.  The Cadillac passenger, Nicholas M. Tarbett, age 27, of McCammon Idaho was not wearing a seat belt.  Mr. Tarbett sustained critical injuries was flown to the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The Honda driver, Daniel V. Nelson, was wearing a seat belt and sustained serious injuries.  He was flown to St. Lukes Hospital in Twin Falls, Idaho.  The Honda passenger, Daniel V. Nelson’s wife, Christy J. Nelson, age 49 of Aloha, Oregon was wearing a seat belt; however, sustained fatal injuries and died at the scene.

On Sunday, May 22, a Clinton Utah woman was killed in a single vehicle roll-over crash on Interstate 80 approximately 21 miles east of Battle Mountain, Nevada.

“At around 2:20 pm, Sunday, a 2008 Ford Focus was traveling eastbound on IR 80 when the driver apparently swerved to avoid a coyote, lost control and overturned south of the interstate.  Preliminary investigation reveals that, Rodney P. Musgrove, age 55, of Clinton, Utah swerved to the right to avoid a coyote in the roadway and lost control.  The Ford rotated clockwise, crossed the slow lane, the right shoulder and exited the south road edge and onto the dirt shoulder where it overturned.  The Ford came to rest on its right side, south of the interstate facing a southwesterly direction.”

Mr. Musgrove and his wife, Susan C. Musgrove, age 55, were wearing seat belts and sustained injuries.  Both were transported to Battle Mountain General Hospital where Mrs. Musgrove died from injuries sustained in the crash.

These crashes are currently under investigation and anyone who witnessed either crash or has information is encouraged to call the Highway Patrol at (775) 753-1111.

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Rosie Doherty 1949-2011

Posted on 27 May 2011 by Howard Copelan

Long time Wendover resident Roselyn Doherty died Monday surrounded by family and friends.

Roselyn was born on July 9, 1949 in Schurz, Nevada to Dannie and Lillian Millet. The family lived on the Duckwater Shoshone reservation until she met “Big Jim Doherty” in Ely. He swept her off her feet and they married two months later. Rose and Jim moved to Wendover in 1968 which they called home and raised their two children Vicky and Jimmy.  Rose (Rosie) was an amazing woman with the biggest heart and gave to all even when she may have been struggling herself. Rose was always very compassionate towards others, especially her grandchildren. She loved the Lord with all her heart. She had such a huge sense of humor, always had to be making jokes, trying to make others laugh or smile.

Rose is preceded in death by father Dannie Millet, mother Lillian Millet, sister Lorene Millet, sister Geraldine Millet, brother Dannie Millet Jr,  Husband James Patrick Doherty and son James (Jimmy) Daniel Doherty.

She leaves behind daughter Vicky Doherty, grandchildren Adam Haws (Tina), Ashlee Haws, Chase Haws (Whitney), Austin Overturf. Great-grandchildren Saleece Nichols, McKenzie Haws, Knyla-Reigh Smith, Knoshon Smith and Brelin Haws.  Sisters Betty (Bill) Robinson, Florence Millet, Norma Allison, Marylou (Kip) McAlexander, Brother Jerry Millet as well as many nieces and nephews

Funeral services will be held Saturday noon West Wendover High School.

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IAP Kicks Off Special Election

Posted on 27 May 2011 by Howard Copelan

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The race to replace Dean Heller kicked off this week with the announcement of Independent American Party that Tim Fasano is their man for the job.

Heller vacated his congressional seat when he was appointed by nevada Governor Brian Sandoval to serve out the term of John Ensign. Ensign resigned last month to avoid an ethics trial regarding his affair with a staffer and  its subsequent cover-up.

Fasano, a Fernley businessman won the IAP nomination at a special convention in Reno.

“The honor and confidence that the Independent American Party has instilled upon me with the trust associated with such a responsibility is appreciated.” He said in a press release.  “I say thank-you to our executive committee for your unwavering support and consideration.”

Fasano last ran for senator against Harry Reid last November. He finished a distant third behind Reid and Republican Sharron Angle. And he may have to face off against Angle again who expressed interest in the job.

This is the first time a special election has been held to fill a congressional seat calendar of important dates is reprinted below.

The Independent American Party of Nevada is the Nevada affiliate of the Constitution Party of the United States. It is not to be confused with the national party of the same name. It was founded in the 1960s. It is one of four Constitution state parties that has not changed its name to “Constitution Party” since the national party adopted that name. As the Nevada party’s name predates the national Constitution Party by decades, the Nevada membership has no current desire to change the name.

In November’s election the IAP supplanted the Democratic Party as the second largest vote getter in rural Nevada.

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New Civic Group Formed For White Pine County Voters

Posted on 27 May 2011 by Howard Copelan

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The White Pine Community Forum is much like a town hall meeting where everybody in the community is invited to attend, voice their opinions, and hear the responses from public figures or liaisons from local advisory boards and elected officials about shared subjects of interest.  The Forum meetings will be held to give the community a chance to feel that their voices, opinions, concerns, and suggestions are being heard and to ensure community members feel informed of current events in that affect our area.  The members of the Forum are all volunteers who rely on the generous donations from local businesses, agencies, and community members. A large percentage of the population feel as if they don’t now what’s going on in local government when it is the City and County decisions that directly affect our way of life the most. The members of the Forum are excited for White Pine County to begin to experience the benefits of a community that is involved and works together to better itself. The White Pine Community Forum will hold their first meeting on July 5th, 2011 with the topic being the Community Swimming Pool.  Members of the Pool Committee, as well as board and council members from local government will be invited to attend.

Thank you.



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You Are Remarkable

Posted on 27 May 2011 by Howard Copelan

About a year and a half ago when our son Ari was playing high school football a team mate got hurt on a play bad enough to merit an ambulance ride to the local hospital.

The team took a knee while he was being carted off and the coach suggested they pray for their friend’s well being.

Our son was picked to say the prayer.

So far nothing in this story is remarkable.

And most of readers would not find it remarkable if we added the facts that Ari was  the sole Jew on his team and in his school and also an orthodox Jew who went everyday to high school wearing a yarmulka and prayer fringes.

Now that is truly remarkable.

It is so remarkable that when we tell that story to friends or family on either coast or abroad especially to our European family and friends they simply don’t believe us or at the very best think we are exaggerating.

You dear readers know we aren’t and are probably wondering why we are making such a big fuss about it right now.

Well we will tell you.

Thursday late morning we got a phone call from a former teacher of our other son Chalom. She called us to express her outrage at President Obama’s speech about Israel going back to the 1967 suicide borders.

She wasn’t the only one.

Since that speech we have been approached by friends and acquaintances and complete strangers all expressing the same sentiments.

We don’t think that much of ourselves or even of our children to believe that it was our influence that somehow changed peoples mind about Israel. We know there was nothing to change.

Whether we or our children deserved it or not we find ourselves the most convenient recipients of the good will the people of the American hold for Israel. It is a humbling experience and one we treasure.

It is not that we or our children have never felt the sting of anti-Semitism but those incidents are few, far between and so universally condemned as to affirm rather than deny how truly different the people here are from any place else in the world.

We will leave the why the people of middle America are so different, so remarkable to sociologist or perhaps theologians.

The fact is that they and not just in regards to Israel.

On every moral issue over at least the past century and a half middle America and middle Americans have been light years ahead of politicians in the halls of power and professors in the ivory towers of academia.

Issues and ideas can be debated ad nauseam, but right is still right and wrong is still wrong.

Thus we come to this conclusion, that while President Obama can talk and talk and talk about his vision his answer to the Arab/Israeli problem we know the American people won’t buy it.

Lost in the President’s perception of the conflict is a fundamental understanding of right and wrong.

And that is something our truly remarkable friends and neighbors will never lose.

So thank you, it is a privilege and an honor to live amongst you.


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West Wendover Court arraignments: Mitchell D. Vernieu; Jeffery Wayne Sharp Jr.

Posted on 26 May 2011 by Howard Copelan

[MEDIA not found]

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Elko District Court hearings May 23, 2011

Posted on 26 May 2011 by Howard Copelan



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Mon 5-23






CR-FP-10-1881 Stratz, John Preston (DA/Mierins) Sentencing (Possession of a Controlled Substance)

CR-FO-10-2267 Robbins, Heather Marie (DA/Stewart) Sentencing (Conspiracy to Commit the Sale of a Controlled Substance and/or Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Sale)

CR-FP-10-2005 Rentner, Aimee Lynn (DA/Stewart) Sentencing (DUI)

CR-FO-11-341 Richards, Tanna Marie (DA/Kilpatrick) Arraignment (Unlawfully Using the Personal Identifying Information of Another for an Unlawful Purpose (Identity Theft))

CR-FP-10-2495 Gutieres, Isaias (DA/Leddy) Sentencing (Transportation of a Controlled Substance)

CR-FP-09-1171 Robles, Rick M. (DA/Kilpatrick) Probation Violation Allegation Hearing


CR-FP-09-2237 Tucker, Ryan (DA/Macfarlan) Sentencing (Possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Sale)

CR-FP-09-1171 Moebes, Amber Nicole (DA/Green Probation Violation Allegation Hearing

CR-FP-10-2457 Aberman, Dar Erin (DA/Hillewaert) Arraignment (Conspiracy to Violate the Uniform Controlled Substance Act)

CR-FP-10-1123 Persson, Derrick James (DA/Green) Sentencing (Possession of a Controlled Sub)

CR-FO-10-1725 Miller, Rexilane Doris (DA/Green) Arraignment (Burglary) (Theft by Control of Property of a Value of Two-Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($250.00) or More)

CR-FP-10-1851 Kusener, Jared Keith (DA/Kump) Arraignment (Conspiracy to Commit Battery Resulting in Substantial Bodily Harm)

CR-FP-10-2101 Jimenez, Juan (DA/Whiteside) Arraignment (Trafficking in a Schedule I Controlled Substance)

CR-FO-11-12 Draper, Jeffrey Alan (DA/Macfarlan) Arraignment (Theft/Attempted Theft)

CR-FO-11-472 Draper, Jeffrey Alan (DA/Macfarlan) Arraignment (Burglary/Uttering of a Forged Instrument)

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