Real Name: Eagle
Case: Animal Skills/Cadaver Dogs
Date: 1999 to 2001
Details: Eagle is a Doberman Pinscher owned by Sandra Anderson, an expert in training dogs for search-and-rescue work. He is a special kind of dog known as a "cadaver dog". He has the amazing talent of locating human bones, murder weapons, and other clues that archaeologists and detectives cannot. He has helped law enforcement solve puzzling cases. A cadaver dog's sense of smell has been estimated to be up to 200,000 times more powerful than any human. Sandra claims that he is even more special than that, preferring to call him a "death investigation dog". She thinks that his gifts transcend the bounds of science.
One day in 1999, Sandra and Eagle were at Mill Creek in Lapeer County, Michigan, teaching Canadian police officers how to search the riverbanks for human remains. Suddenly, he began sniffing and barking at the edge of the water. An investigator went to the area and found a fleshy human clavicle. The discovery triggered an exhaustive search of the area by Lapeer County Sheriff's deputies. Over the next two days, Eagle and the investigators found eight more human bone fragments, all belonging to an unidentified adult male. Since then, investigators have tried to identifying the man by comparing his DNA to those of known missing persons. However, no matches have been made.
Unsolved Mysteries was at the creek when Eagle returned to search for more evidence. Incredibly, he was able to detect bone fragments beneath the water and thick sediment. Investigators say that the small pieces of bone suggest that the man was murdered; they suspect that the fragments are so small because the body may have been run through a wood chipper. Lapeer County investigators are still hoping to identify him. If it weren't for Eagle, however, the remains likely would have never been found in the first place. His achievements at the site are especially remarkable because the area is a dumping ground used for wildlife poachers. The soil is saturated with bone fragments of deer and other animals. Somehow, he was able to distinguish the human remains among them.
Another case Eagle has worked on involved thirty-seven-year-old Tracy Islam and her husband Azizul. In December of 1999, the couple's marriage was disintegrating. However, during a trip alone to Europe, she found a new sense of self-assurance. On December 20, Azizul told their children that she had gone back to England. On December 22, a set of severed arms and legs were found in a Dearborn restaurant dumpster. A week later, a bag of trash was found in a field with the torso from a heavyset woman.
Police suspected that the remains belonged to Tracy, who had been reported missing by her sister. They believed that she had been murdered by Azizul. However, since they could not determine that she was even dead, the police had no evidence a crime had ever taken place. Unable to obtain a search warrant, detectives sought out Azizul. To their surprise, he confidently invited them into his house. While there, he took them into the basement. They noticed that the basement floor had been painted in an erratic and haphazard fashion. He claimed that he was preparing to sell the house.
Detectives were certain that Tracy had been murdered and dismembered in the house. They believed that the painted floor was an attempt to cover up the crime. Though they suspected Tracy's blood was beneath the paint, they still had no search warrant to pursue it. Somehow, without one, they had to determine that the basement was the crime scene. Confidently, Azizul gave detectives permission to allow Eagle into his home. If he could detect any trace of the body's remains, the police could then obtain their search warrant. In every state, cadaver dogs are legally recognized as reliable experts.
As they entered the basement, Sandra detected a strong odor of bleach. She was uncertain as to how Eagle would react to it. After walking around the basement for a few minutes, he laid down next to a paint tray and began barking. As Eagle barked, Azizul appeared quite nervous. Eagle continued to indicate in several other parts of the basement, including on the floor, a rug, and a wall. According to Sandra, Eagle was declaring that there was a large amount of blood in the basement.
Thanks to Eagle, a search warrant was issued. When police pried up the concrete floor, they discovered traces of Tracy's blood. Amazingly, Eagle had been able to distinguish its scent despite the masking layer of bleach and paint. DNA testing later determined that the torso, arms, and legs belonged to Tracy. Paint chips found in the basement were also found to match paint chips on her body. Azizul Islam was arrested and charged with her murder. Police believe that he killed her after he overheard a conversation between her and her new boyfriend. He was later convicted of first-degree murder. Detectives do not believe that the case would have been solved without Eagle's help.
Along with Azizul Islam, Eagle has found evidence that has helped lead to the convictions of: Peter Kupaza for the murder of his cousin Mwivano Mwambashi Kupaza; and Robert McCann. Eagle has also been able to help find missing people in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and Panama and continues to help law enforcement agencies. Nobody knows how Eagle or other cadaver dogs have such a special ability.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the July 11, 2001 episode. The case was documented on episode of The Investigators after Sandra's deception was exposed. The Mwivano Kupaza case was documented on Cold Case Files(which featured footage of Eagle) and The New Detectives.
A similar dog featured was Yogi the Bloodhound.
Results: Solved. Investigators became suspicious of Sandra and Eagle after they learned that some of the DNA from the bones "found" by Eagle did not match the missing persons to whom they supposedly belonged. A woman came forward claiming that Sandra had distracted some investigators and then planted several bones. In April of 2002, a police investigator saw Sandra planting human bones, and she was arrested. When police officers searched Sandra's house, they found several human bones that she obtained from a local medical examiner.
Sandra Anderson pleaded guilty to planting evidence at a crime scene and making false statements. She was sentenced to twenty-one months in prison and has since been released. Sadly, although Eagle's skills might have been genuine yet exploited, he has since passed away due to heart disease.
Dr. Azizul Islam appealed his conviction, claiming that evidence planted by Sandra influenced the jury's verdict. Indeed, a hacksaw with blood on it was found in the Islam basement; the blood belonged to Sandra. However, other blood and physical evidence found in the basement was found to match Tracy. Furthermore, the jury never heard about blood being found on the hacksaw in the first place. Other physical and circumstantial evidence linked Dr. Islam to his wife's murder and his conviction was upheld.
- Eagle on Unsolved Archive
- This Dumpster not marked for severed limbs ! (Contains two articles on the Azizul case)
- Prosecution uses dog to show blood in Kupaza's apartment - June 17, 2000
- Cadaver dog handler charged with rigging evidence searches - August 20, 2003
- Bones of Contention - November 17, 2003
- An Eagled-Eyed Investigation? Police Dog Is Brought In To Crack A 20-Year-Old Murder March 11, 2004
- Dog-handler sentenced for planting fake evidence - September 29, 2004
- Michigan dog handler gets 21 months for planting evidence - September 29, 2004
- Dog-handler pleads guilty - October 6, 2004
- People v. Azizul Islam (2007)
- Mwivano Kupaza on Find a Grave