Chapter 11: Bad news for Tim

Date: 2007-12-12
Source: freep.com

Chapter 11: Bad news for Tim

BY JACK KRESNAK
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

The break that triggered the collapse of Tim and Lisa Holland's house of cards came in a letter on Jan. 20, 2006.

The Army was firing Tim. Not only was Tim's professional life disintegrating, his marriage was about to blow up as well. His job loss became the tipping point in the investigation of Ricky's death.

In the three months since police had searched Tim's office in Troy, investigators had found more than 2,000 pornographic images on his government laptop. He'd been fighting to get back his security clearance and keep his civilian job with the Army's 902nd Military Intelligence Group. He'd even given a 2-page statement to his superiors blaming Lisa for his use of the laptop to surf adult-oriented Web sites.

"I discovered my wife had been visiting Internet Web sites pertaining to meeting other adults for the purpose of sex," Holland wrote Dec. 14. He said he tracked Lisa with the laptop and joined the same Web sites. He denied ever following through with liaisons.

"I know that my actions using the laptop to search for and view pornography is against regulations. I know I made a mistake, but I never let it interfere with the performance of my duties," Tim wrote.

'I can't afford to lose my job'

On Dec. 15, a desperate-sounding Tim e-mailed the unit's legal counsel in Michigan, asking for a chance to speak to the 902nd's commander, Col. Gregg C. Potter.

"I can't afford to lose my job at this point in time," the e-mail said. "My son is missing and without any source of income, I will have no hopes of finding him on my own. I will take a reduction in grade, suspension without pay, seek counseling, pay for additional training, or whatever Col. Potter wants me to do. All I ask is that Col. Potter not punish my family for my error in judgment."

On Jan. 20, John Barnett, special agent in charge of the 902nd's Detroit office, handed Tim a letter:

"This serves as notice that I am proposing your removal from your position ... based on violations of Army Regulations, including misuse of government property and a security violation. ...

"You placed yourself, and therefore the security of sensitive Army activities, in jeopardy. Integrity and judgment are essential to the accomplishment of our mission. Your conduct represents a complete failure in this regard."

Tim had 10 days to respond.

He came home from work with a packet containing his dismissal letter and told Lisa to stay out of it. He admitted losing his job but said it happened because the Army wouldn't give back his security clearance.

Three days later, Lisa opened the packet and found his memo accusing her -- falsely, she would say later -- of surfing porn sites and finding sex partners online. The two argued, and Tim claimed that Lisa backhanded him, cutting his face with a ring.

More suspicions from school

The next morning, Nancy Deal, Trevor's preschool teacher at Discovery Elementary School in Williamston, called State Police Sgt. Frank Mraz and Child Protective Services to make her third report of suspected abuse of Ricky's brother, now 4.

Deal said Trevor had large scratches on the back of his neck and back and had told her "Mommy did it."

Mraz, Ingham County Sheriff's Detective Paul Nieusma, Child Protective Services investigator Kathleen Daugherty and Ingham Department of Human Services supervisor Gail Cacciani went to the school the next day.

Deal kept saying that she knew "in my heart" that the Hollands had killed Ricky and she couldn't understand why CPS had not removed the other four children. She was increasingly concerned about Trevor, who was developmentally delayed and had trouble articulating.

The CPS investigators and Mraz differ on what transpired when they tried to interview the boy. To Daugherty, his answers made little sense. When asked his age, Trevor said, "Big." When the question was repeated, he said, "Thirty-three," and held up three fingers twice. But Mraz thought the boy was able to answer "baseline questions" and indicated that his mother had hit him.

Mraz, trying to build a criminal case, saw an opportunity to increase the pressure on Tim. The detective asked Daugherty to hold off talking with Lisa and contact Tim first.

Daugherty called Tim that afternoon to let him know that she'd interviewed his son. Was this about the scratches? Tim asked. He said he'd already talked with Lisa and she told him Trevor came home that way from school.

But Tim said he didn't believe Trevor's teacher had scratched him. He agreed to take the boy to Dr. Stephen Guertin at Sparrow Hospital's Regional Children's Center. An appointment was made for Jan. 27, two days away.

Tim files complaint against Lisa

After leaving Trevor's school, Mraz also called Tim and asked him to come to the State Police post in Lansing to talk about the boy. Tim arrived about 5 p.m. after dropping the other kids at his sister's in DeWitt; Lisa was away, visiting her parents in Williamston.

Tim signed a form acknowledging his right to remain silent, then told Mraz and Nieusma that he saw the scratches on Trevor's neck that morning. Tim said first the boy blamed the teacher, then Tim. Finally, Trevor had said, "Mommy did it."

But Tim said Lisa denied knowing anything about the scratches and insisted they happened at school.

Tim said he never saw Lisa abuse the children, but as they talked, his façade began to crack.

At one point, Nieusma asked about the cut below Tim's left eye and was told Lisa had hit him during an argument.

Had it ever happened before?

Tim acknowledged past incidents and said his life had been hell for the eight years of his marriage. Lisa had cut up his shirts, chased him with scissors and, recently, thrown a plugged-in hair dryer into the shower in an apparent attempt to electrocute him. His wife was controlling and jealous, he said. She often talked about leaving, he said, and was "so frustrated with her children that she has threatened to return the adopted children back to the state."

After agreeing to file a domestic violence complaint, Tim was sent home.

Lisa Holland is jailed

At 8:45 p.m., when sheriff's deputies arrived at the home of Lisa's parents to arrest her, she was talking to Tim on the phone. Deputies ordered her to hang up, then handcuffed her and put her into the patrol car. During the ride to the sheriff's department in Mason, Lisa repeatedly asked why she was under arrest. She was told the detectives would let her know.

By the time Lisa was read her rights and agreed to talk, it was close to 10 p.m. She admitted having a disagreement with Tim over his firing but said there was no physical violence. She admitted cutting up his shirt once, but emphatically denied throwing a hair dryer into the shower.

Lisa was locked up for the night, pending her arraignment on an assault charge the next day.

The next morning, Lisa sent a message to her jailers, saying she wanted to talk with a detective. Tim left a voice mail for Daugherty that day, saying his sister would take Trevor to the doctor the next day because Tim would be meeting with police.

Finally, investigators were close to getting some answers.

Contact JACK KRESNAK at 313-223-4544 or jkresnak@freepress.com.

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