It doesn’t matter whether Jeffrey Abramowski had 18 years to get his story straight, or 18 seconds. It has not changed once!
· It hasn't changed since Brevard County Sheriff's homicide agents interrogated him for hours, exaggerating what evidence they had in a failed attempt to convince him to admit killing a 78-year-old man.
· It hasn't changed since prosecutors told the jury that Abramowski's DNA was found under the victim's fingernails even though it wasn't an exact match, and it wasn't the only DNA evidence they found on the victim's body.
· It hasn't changed since a defense attorney suffering from bipolar disorder and not taking her medication persuaded Abramowski into letting her take his case to trial. She'd only met him 17 days earlier, had never tried a homicide case or a case involving DNA evidence. I didn't do it. I'm not going to sit here and say I did it when I didn't," Abramowski repeated over and over, hour after hour as homicide investigators tried to persuade him to confess to killing a drug dealer in a Melbourne trailer park in 2002.
He's still saying the same thing 18 years later, only now behind the walls of Martin County Correctional Institution.
As you read about this case, you will be led to believe Crandall was beaten to death, due to Abramowski’s drug addiction. Brevard County, had no evidence that Abramowski had been with Crandall the whole weekend of the murder.
Still, the arresting homicide agent, retired detective Gary Harrell of the Brevard County Sheriff's Office, is convinced the right man was arrested and is serving a life sentence for the murder of Cortney Crandall.
This is an odd tale with no clear-cut answers and no easy resolution. The more you dig, the more you find.
This is the story about a father of two, addicted to prescription painkillers, who insists he's not a killer – even as police and a jury concluded he was. It features a cast of characters that includes heroin addicts, methadone users, a jailhouse snitch who claims detectives fed him information about the case, a relative of the victim who thinks police erred and, ultimately, a lawyer with a mental illness who is trying to do the right thing by talking now in the hope that it might help win Abramowski his freedom.
His case is currently being appealed by attorney Paul Bross in Atlanta Federal Court.
This is Jeffrey Abramowski's sad story.
Jeffrey Abramowski E28200 A-1 109-U
Martin Correctional Institution
1150 S.W. Allapattah Road
Indiantown, FLORIDA 34956
Alternatively, you can write to Jeff using JPay emails
VICTIM OF THE CRIME
Cortney Crandall, a 78 year old man was murdered in 2002.
Crandall lived with his girlfriend Judy Foley, and her son Michael Bruce Foley (Bruce Foley). Crandall and Bruce Foley were always fighting and arguing. They were all on drugs, Crandall sold drugs to make money on the side. Judy Foley and her son were addicted to pills. Bruce Foley was also on heroin, and they would all take anything they could get their hands on to get high.
Crandall was in the middle of moving into a new mobile home he had just purchased, because it was larger and had separate bathrooms. Crandall and Bruce Foley were always arguing. Crandall would be furious having to clean up after Bruce Foley had used the shower, as he always left it in such a mess, even though he had his own bathroom on the other side of the mobile home.
Crandall made the comment that he would not allow Bruce Foley to use his bathroom any longer, because he now had his own bathroom. Crandall’s master bedroom had an en-suite master bathroom and Bruce Foley’s was on the other end of the mobile home with his room.
Crandall always talked down to the Bruce Foley, calling him names and letting him work for him for little pay. Crandall would verbally abuse Judy Foley, her son would get mad and pace back and forth when Crandall was out. Bruce Foley would tell how he hated Crandall and he was tired of how he treat them both. He threatened to beat Crandall, often saying he was going to hurt that old man if he didn’t stop.
Crandall was a friend to Jeff Abramowski. He would call Abramowski to go places with him, when he wanted to go out and play bingo, or just hang out with him at the local VFW. Crandall asked Abramowski if he would help him collect a jacuzzi he had just purchased a few weeks ago. Of course, Abramowski had to find a truck to pick up the jacuzzi, and then he installed it at Crandall’s home.
Crandall and Abramowski got on well, and sometimes he would help Abramowski if he needed money, or whatever and Abramowski did things for him in return. There was a time where Crandall took Abramowski to see his doctors, when he had no way to travel. Abramowski‘s truck had broken down, and Crandall drove Abramowski to Orlando, several months before Crandall’s death. Crandall would also drive Bruce Foley to see doctors, and split the pills that he was prescribed as payment.
Abramowski had a car wreck, and had to take pain medication. He was badly injured, dislocating the tendons and muscles away from his ribs, and had good reason to take the pain medication. Over time the doctors increased the dosage. Abramowski became addicted to OxyContin and was a functional addict.
MOTHERS DAY FIGHT
The Mothers Day fight was a physical altercation following an argument when Crandall accused Bruce Foley of stealing his pills. Bruce Foley and Crandall had been drinking that day. Bruce Foley assaulted Crandall, leaving him with black eye. The events of the day were witnessed by neighbors, and this was recorded in the Police Report.
Bruce Foley told Crandall that he would be back to get him, before jumping the fence to flee the scene when he learned the police had been called.
After this altercation Crandall told Judy Foley that she and her son could no longer live with him, and told her she needed to get their belongings and move in with her sister Rita Akridge. Which she did. However, before leaving with their belongings they stole a necklace that was given to Crandall, which was custom made by his grand-daughter.
During the week after Mother’s Day, Crandall went to all of the local pawn shops, and described the necklace to them, asking them not to accept the necklace if it was offered to them.
Crandall thought that Judy Foley would try and pawn the necklace to get money, to go back to Alabama.
Also, during that week, Crandall visited Judy Foley’s apartment telling her that if he didn’t get the necklace back, he was going to take Akridge’s dog and cut it’s tail and ears off, and mail them back to her in a box. They continued to fight and argue during that week. Akridge called the police and made a report about Crandall coming to her apartment and threatening to kill her dog.
Crandall was moving boxes to vacate they place they had been living. He had to move out that weekend, for the new owners to move in.
The new mobile home had boxes against every wall, and left only a small area of walking space. Everything was in boxes and nothing had been unpacked, nor even the bed slept in. Judy and Bruce Foley never stayed one night in the new mobile home, nor did they help Crandall much with the move. Crandall had moved everything, but needed Bruce Foley to help him move the TV.
On Monday morning, a neighbor needing to borrow a shovel, noticed Crandall lying on the floor of his home, as she pushed his door open, to see why he wouldn’t answer her when she was calling his name. When she noticed Crandall on the floor, she ran back to her home and told her husband to call 911.
The ambulance and police arrived and discovered Crandall was covered in blood, with a claw hammer above his head, and a clothing iron shattered in pieces. His body was found around 8.45am, and he was pronounced dead. Crandall was wearing his jewellery, had money and OxyContin in his pockets.
The weekend after Mother’s Day, Judy and Bruce Foley and Akridge fled to Alabama their home State, without prior arrangements being made. They were in such a hurry they left without sufficient money to make it there. They left without informing any of their family they were coming home to visit.
The police started looking for Judy and Bruce Foley and Akridge, who could not be found. The police put out a BOLO of the Akridge’s car, and found them in Alabama. The police pulled them over and took Bruce Foley to the Birmingham jail in Alabama, due to him having an outstanding warrant, leaving the two sisters to talk with the police.
Two Florida Detectives drove to Alabama to talk to the sisters. They separated them asked when they last saw Crandall? When was the last time they spoke to Crandall? Why were they travelling to Alabama? Where did they stop along the drive to Alabama? What time did they leave Florida?
When Judy Foley was asked do you know what happened to Crandall, she said no and asked what has happened? The police told her that Crandall was dead. He did not tell Judy Foley what caused his death, just that he was dead. Judy Foley reacted by crying without tears and said Bruce had nothing to do with his death. He had nothing to do with this. She continued to cry without tears, then she told the police that Crandall had left her a Will, and that she got everything due to the fact that he loved her. She didn’t know why he did, but he did and had made sure he left her everything, if something happened to him. Strange huh? The police made a statement on the recording, that Judy
Foley’s crying looked fake.
The Detective started interviewing Akridge, asking the same questions. Both sisters responded with different answers. Akridge told the Detective that they left on Friday night for Alabama, and got lost, and that it took them 3 days to make the trip to Alabama. When asked if she knew what happened to Crandall, she said no, what? The Detective told her that he was dead. She reacted in the same manner as her sister, with fake crying and no tears. Then she was asked why they came to Alabama and she told the Detective that they were bringing Bruce Foley to Alabama, due to Crandall putting out a warrant on him from the Mother’s Day altercation, and she told the Detective that Bruce Foley was coming back to Alabama to turn himself in, on the warrant he had there. She told the Detective that he was tired of running, and wanted to come back home. The Detective asked her why he had two suitcases full of clothes, that made it look as if he was running away from something, saying you do not need two suitcases of clothes to turn yourself in on a warrant. The Detective told her that Crandall didn’t place a warrant out for him. The Detective said that shouldn’t be a reason to flee from Florida. Akridge then said that after Bruce Foley worked things out there in Alabama, that he was going to stay since that was his hometown. The Detective asked for receipts of their travel and she could only give him two receipts dated May 18, 2002 from a gas station and one receipt from Jacksonville, Florida which is only an hour away from Melbourne, Florida, which is out of their way, when driving to Alabama. It was also dated May 18, 2002. The Detective then asked which places they had stayed overnight, since it took them three days to get to Alabama, when normally it would take only 10 hours. This was their hometown, and had driven this route a thousand times before – so why did it take them 3 days? Akridge didn’t have a receipt for any of the places she claimed they stayed. She told the Detective that they had no money to rent a motel room, and that they had talked a motel maintenance man into letting them pay him $40 to stay in a dirty room, since there wasn’t any other rooms, and the front office was closed.
The two sisters told so many lies, it was hard to make sense from anything they said. Akridge told the Police they left late Friday night, whereas Judy Foley told them that they didn’t leave until between 1-3am Monday morning. The Detectives then went to the Birmingham Jail in Alabama to question Bruce Foley and asked him what happened to his head? Where did he get all those cuts and marks on his head and other parts of his body? He responded from the Mother’s Day altercation which was a week ago. When asked if he knew what happened to Crandall, he said not since the weekend argument when he blacked Mr Crandall’s eye. Then they ask him why did he have Crandall’s necklace, when stopped by the police? He told them that Crandall gave it to his mother, and she gave it to him to wear. Before the Detectives closed the interview to head back to Florida, they asked him if he knew of anyone that may have wanted to harm Crandall? And he replied that Crandall hung out with a guy named Jeffrey Abramowski. He had trouble pronouncing his last name. The Detective asked why he thought that this guy may have wanted to harm Crandall. Bruce Foley replied that Crandall had left Abramowski in Orlando on a doctor’s shopping trip, where Crandall took off with Abramowski’s pain medication, and acted as if he was with them when this took place. He told the Detective to go talk to Abramowski, because Abramowski was mad that Crandall had left him on foot, to find his own way back to Melbourne. He also told the Detectives that Abramowski was nothing but a dope head, and his wife had kicked him out of their house due to him being messed up all the time. He told the Detectives that Abramowski had been staying with a guy, since he had been kicked out of his home, and that’s who they needed to go and talk to. Bruce Foley told the Detective that they left early on Friday, and they stayed at a motel in Lake City, Georgia or Lake City, Florida - he couldn’t remember due to they all were messed up on pills, and he wasn’t sure which it was. Also he explained it took 3 days to get to Alabama, due to them being messed up and he couldn’t remember, but knew they had stopped and a guy let them stay in a dirty room, but didn’t know the name of the motel. They didn’t sign in at the front office, or even on the books as checking in, due to they paid a guy $40 to stay in a dirty room. Also, he told the Detective that his mother had to call Akridge’s boyfriend, and ask him to send them money, so they could get back to Florida. So why go to Alabama when you have no money they asked? Then he Bruce Foley lied, saying he had money, but had spent it on the way up to Alabama, but had no receipts - nothing showing any money was spent other than the two receipts for under $5 purchases.
Judy and Bruce Foley and Akridge all lied. The Florida Detective told the sisters to head back to Florida, and go to the Police Department so they could get more information about what happened to Crandall, and who may have done this.
Both sisters told the Detective that Crandall hung out with Abramowski and they needed to talk to him, both had trouble pronouncing his last name.
The sisters drove back to Florida after Akridge’s boyfriend sent them money to get back to Florida. They returned to Forida, in the usual 10 hours trip. They went straight to Crandall’s mobile home.
They took his car that was sitting from outside the mobile home, and drove and hid it at Akridge’s apartment where her sister was staying. The two sisters then return to Crandall’s home to find the door locks had been changed, and Judy Foley broke a window to gain entry into the home.
The police were called by neighbors. Both sisters were looking for a copy of the Will, but also took all of the rental receipt books and information on the mobile homes that Crandall rented out to make extra income every month.
The police came and arrested both Judy Foley and Akridge. Both was arrested and taken to jail on two counts of grand theft auto for taking his car, and two counts of breaking and entering in addition Judy Foley was also charged with possession of marijuana, as it was discovered while she was being searched. The Detectives interviewed each of them, and the lies were so many they couldn’t keep up with the lies they told last. The Detective made each one a deal that they took and agreed to work with the Detectives to convict Abramowski with the murder of his friend.
The Detective told both sisters that the charges would be dropped against them.
Meantime the Detectives went to interview Abramowski and told him they knew he was the one who murdered Crandall and that his hair was clutched in Crandall’s hand. They also told Abramowski that his DNA was all over the crime scene and his blood was in the bathroom sink. They added, they knew he did this, due to the argument that happened in Orlando, when Crandall left him and took his pain medication, leaving him to find his own way back to Melbourne.
The Detectives told Abramowski to be a man, and tell the truth for the first time. They told him to tell them, he went over there and Crandall broke bad on him.
The Detectives continually told him that he was a cold killer.And kept telling Jeffrey that he was a cold killer.
When Abramowski asked to see the evidence they had against him, the Detective just got worse. They got so heated, because Abramowski kept telling them that he had nothing to do with what they were accusing him of, that he was innocent and they had the wrong man.
They were so mad, because Abramowski wouldn’t fall into what they wanted him to say. They jumped the gun and charged Abramowski with second degree murder with enhancement. Abramowski was charged even before any DNA results came back. When the DNA results came back, it was Judy Foley’s hair that was clutched in Crandall’s hand, and it was Bruce Foleys blood that was found in Crandall’s master bathroom sink.
After Detectives saw that they had no evidence against Abramowski, they made false evidence. The Detective coerced two inmates that were in the same jail, and took them both to the crime scene. They told both what weapon was used, and showed them all about the way everything was discovered at the murder scene. One of the two inmates agreed to write up a false statement back at the station. However, when this inmate refused to write the statement as it was directed, stating that Abramowski had beat Crandall with a hammer, and about a clothing iron, the Detective got mad, and told the inmate that if he didn’t write the statement the way he wanted it written, that he would have wished he had done so. The Detective threatened to make his life hell, as he has done over the years.
Jeffrey Abramowski's first trial ended in a mistrial when one of the state's jailhouse snitches changed his mind and said he had been coerced by the state. He refused to testify.
Then fate tragically intervened. Defense attorney Laura Siemers, whose husband Public Defender, Steve Wisoker represented Abramowski during the mistrial had an idea. She, being in private practice and with more resources and time to dedicate, offered to represent Abramowski free of charge. She believed in his innocence and told him she would be able to get him cleared of the murder charge.
She had Bipolar disorder and was not taking her medications. She said she believed she was the best attorney in the world. She believed there was no one smarter.
She never told Abramowski that she had no murder trial experience, no experience with DNA and that she had only tried one felony case.
Siemers, who knows her admission also jeopardizes her career, said she was suffering from a manic psychotic delusion. He behavior during the trial was erratic.
She first revealed her condition to Abramowski on December 8, 2011. Four months later, Siemers hired an attorney to prepare a motion for "post-conviction relief" claiming ineffective counsel due to her medical condition and the fact that she had not been treating it. The motion was supported by a letter from board certified forensic psychologist William Riebsame.
The court denied the motion without a hearing. The claim of ineffectual counsel had come too late.
With few options remaining, Siemers contacted FLORIDA TODAY a couple of months ago with her story.
"I was manic and delusional, throughout the entire trial," she said. "In my psychotic mania, I believed that I was so brilliant, that it would be easy to win the trial; even though I had never before tried a murder case, I had never before tried a DNA case, and I had convinced Jeff to let me take over his case ten days before his trial was set to start. My manic psychosis kept me from understanding simple legal concepts, left me bereft of even common sense, and caused me to be almost constantly antagonistic toward Judge (Tanya) Rainwater. My behavior resulted in the judge continuously reprimanding me in front of the jury, and in the judge taking what one appellate lawyer called a “prosecutorial stance” in the trial. The trial was a crazy circus, and Jeff did not receive effective assistance from me as his trial counsel."
Siemers approached a family member of the victim during a moment of recess and even chased after jury members after the trial was over.
Her behavior did not get lost on prosecutor Rob Parker, who has since retired. "What struck me is that she took on such a serious case on the eve of a trial, with her experience and background," Parker said this week, adding that he did not notice anything in her behavior that raised serious flags, but did say the trial "wasn't the most pleasurable experience."
The jury deliberated for two hours, including a lunch break, before convicting Abramowski of 2nd-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.
These days, Abramowski is nearly out of hope and appeals. “I’ve never killed anyone, absolutely not, no” he said. “I wasn’t there. I didn’t have a single scratch on me”
DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF INNOCENCE CAN BE OBTAINED BY CONTACTING EITHER JEFFREY ABRAMOWSKI OR KIM DOLLAR.
I am Kim Dollar, the half sister of Judy Foley and Rita Akridge. Michael Bruce Foley is my nephew.
My family had no idea about the real story, until John Torres made his podcast public. We always felt they committed this crime. From the way they acted when I asked any questions about Crandall’s murder. I knew when they were telling lies, I knew their actions and the way they would act when guilty of something.
I know that before the Mother’s Day altercation, Crandall had asked Judy to marry him. She had no idea that Crandall had remarried his disabled wife whom was in a nursing home. Judy learned that Crandall couldn’t marry her and had lied to her. All three of them had a love for money.
Crandall left my sister money, the rental homes, the home they were moving into before the Mother’s Day altercation. I believe his daughter caused a lot of anger between Judy and Crandall by informing her that he was already married, and if he married her he would be a bigamist.
When Crandall threw them out of his home, and told Judy and Michael to live with her sister, she became resentful and started to doubt he was going to leave her anything. She had to kill Crandall before he changed his Will.
With all my heart, I believe that’s what all of this was over, and what caused Crandall to be beaten to death. I’ve never had much to do with them, since they were all on drugs and was into suing anyone they could to get more money.
That’s my true feelings and I just can’t wrap my head around how the Lead Detective turned from them as main suspects, to Jeff. I know they made deals with the state. They chose to blame an innocent person for their crime.
Believe me, if I had known all that I learned from the podcasts, I would have stepped up and told everything I knew. They made it sound like a stranger killed Crandall.
After Judy’s death, I went to visit Rita at her apartment in Florida. She always slept in a rocker/ recliner. When I arrived, I noticed she had a claw hammer within reaching distance, so she could grab it fast. I remember asking her what was she planning on doing with that hammer? She said so calmly, “Oh that’s my defense in case someone decides to break in on me.” Now that I look back, I see all of the things that once didn’t add up in my mind.
It’s hard to say that you think your family members did this, and could bring themselves to kill someone over money and material things. But as I said, and I will say it again, they are guilty. Jeff Abramowski needs to come home. He has already being blamed for their crime long enough.
I will fight like hell to bring him home because he is an innocent man.