How Police Detective David Peifer
Framed Robert Rivera

Shovel Evidence
Shoe and Sock Evidence
Alleged Self-Incrimination

Robert Rivera was convicted of murder of his daughter Katelyn due largely to physical evidence found by prison informant William Lively.  On Aug. 23, 1999, Lively reported that Rivera confessed the location of the shovel he used to bury Katelyn.  This shovel was then found at the location specified by Lively.  It indicated that Katelyn must have been buried near Elkton, Maryland sometime between 11 p.m. on Aug. 10, 1999 and 9:30 a.m. the following morning.
On Aug. 31, 1999, Lively reported that Rivera removed Katelyn's clothes upon burial, so her body would decay faster.  He also reported that Rivera threw the clothes out his car window onto the medial strip of southbound Route 202, in Delaware, just past the Pennsylvania border.  Upon a subsequent search of the medial strip, a sequined shoe and yellow sock were found that were identified as belonging to Katelyn.  When combined with the known timeline of Rivera's whereabouts, this evidence indicated that Katelyn must have been buried near Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania between 7:20 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Aug 10, 1999. (See Timeline)
This contradictory evidence on where Katelyn was buried implies some fraud has been committed.  The following two sections examines the shovel evidence and the shoe and sock evidence in greater detail.

Shovel Evidence

A week and a half into the investigation when no real evidence of wrongdoing by Rivera was emerging, evidence indicates that lead investigator David Peifer decided to begin framing Robert Rivera. Peifer had been to Thomas Whittaker’s property and presumably noticed that Whittaker kept some tools in his outside boathouse, including possibly a shovel. An obvious means of framing Rivera is to claim that Rivera stole Whittaker’s shovel, the implication being that he used the shovel to bury Katelyn. Whittaker was a parolee, and apparently was willing to cooperate with Peifer to avoid being jailed for a parole violation. If Rivera killed and buried Katelyn, he obviously would have needed a shovel. However, a mere claim that Rivera used Whittaker's shovel might be dismissed. Peifer would have to prove that Rivera stole Whittaker’s shovel.
To prove this claim Peifer planted (or conceivably had Whittaker plant) a shovel at a construction site a few miles from Whittaker’s residence. Peifer then told prison informant William Lively to call him back at a prescribed time to say that Rivera confessed that he had taken the shovel left it at the chosen site.
On Monday Aug. 23, 1999, at 10 a.m., Lively called Peifer about the allegedly missing Whittaker shovel. Lively told him it is at a construction site in Maryland near Whittaker’s.1 At 1 p.m. that day the shovel was located at a construction site off of Rt. 40, just south of the Delaware state line. (geographically west - see map). The shovel was found and Whittaker identified it as his own.2 (Despite Whittaker’s apparent cooperation, he was later jailed in Delaware County for a parole violation in Mar. 2000.3)

Inconsistency with Report of Katelyn Missing

John McCabe, an attendant at a gas station in Chadds Ford, PA, had seen Rivera with Katelyn4 when he stopped for $2 worth of gas at 7:17 p.m. on Aug. 10.5 Rivera later stopped at 9:16 p.m. for more gas6, at which time McCabe noticed that Katelyn was missing.7 If Rivera murdered Katelyn, she was likely murdered by 9:16 p.m. It would not have made sense for Rivera to murder Katelyn prior to having a shovel and a location to bury her body. Rivera would not arrive at Thomas Whittaker’s house until 10:15 p.m. that night.8 Even if, for some reason, he did not want Whittaker to know that he was with Katelyn, it would have made more sense to kill Katelyn just before arriving at Whittakers. Even then he would have no guarantee that he would be able to obtain Whittaker’s alleged shovel. Rivera would then be stuck with a dead body and have no shovel with which to bury it.
Detective Peifer was apparently aware of this inconsistency and planted it simply because Tom Whittaker kept tools that could have been stolen. Evidence addressed in a later section indicates that Peifer also planted a child’s shoe and sock. The story, which accompanied that evidence, corrected the inconsistency by reversing the alleged location of Katelyn’s burial from Maryland to Pennsylvania.

No Police Report of Missing Shovel

The prosecution submitted to Rivera’s defense all created police reports related to its investigation of Rivera. The law requires such a submission. However, no report indicates that Whittaker ever reported that his shovel was missing. Presumably, Detective Peifer did not concoct the idea of using a missing shovel, until close to Aug. 23, the day it was found. Had Whittaker reported his shovel missing shortly before Aug. 23, the the finding of the shovel would likely have seemed concocted. During trial questioning, Whittaker claimed to have reported that his shovel was missing to an FBI agent on Aug. 129, but this agent was not named.
According to police reports, FBI Special Agent Kibbie, who worked closely with the case investigation, had an agent from the Wilmington FBI office go to Whittaker’s residence on Aug. 12 to interview the Whittakers.10 Following the interviews, the agent reported back to Kibbie. Kibbie then issued a long police report on the interviews11, which includes mention of a “search,” but which includes no mention of any missing shovel. One would think that if Whittaker told the agent that his shovel was missing, the obvious significance of his statement would have been recognized and his statement would have been mentioned in Kibbie’s police report. At trial, Agent Kibbie testified for the prosecution12, and also never mentioned any missing shovel. She could not have witnessed Whittaker’s apparent perjury, because she testified two days after Whittaker, and would not have been allowed to listen to prior witness testimony.

 Thomas Whittaker's Unlikely Trial Testimony

An average person who had his shovel stolen from him might not be aware of the theft. He might think that he misplaced it. Many people who use tools lose them all the time and have little idea what happened to them. Whittaker claimed to be a rare exception to most people’s experience. Although he did not claim to witness any theft, he claimed to know positively when his shovel was stolen, and could positively identify it after it was stolen.13

Prior Use For Roots or Posts? 

Whittaker claimed to have used his shovel on August 10, just hours before Rivera’s visit. In his opening argument, the prosecutor told the jury that Whittaker had used the shovel on August 10 to dig up roots.14 But during his trial testimony, Whittaker said he used the shovel to dig up posts and move the holes around.15 So Whittaker may have changed what he told law enforcement in 1999 or prior to the trial and what he testified at the trial. Perhaps Whittaker would not have said “posts” in 1999 as people could examine his property for recently dug up posts.

Unlikely Use of Shovel 

Most people who own a shovel do not use them every day or even every week. If Whittaker was undertaking a construction project that required many hours or days of shovel use, it is not likely that would use a shovel that had a worn tip as his did.16 Also, August 10, 1999 was a Tuesday. It seems somewhat probable that Whittaker may have gone to work that day to his job at Meineke Mufflers.17 He went there the following day.18 However, he claims to have put the shovel away around 2 p.m. that day.19

Marked with Paint?

At Rivera’s trial Whittaker claimed that his shovel was marked with blue paint prior to its theft, to allow him to identify it as his if it was stolen and then later found.20 The found shovel, was, of course, marked with blue paint. Whittaker’s claim is possible, but unlikely. Whittaker did not live on a commune. If a thief stole it, he would not likely ever see it again. Even if Whittaker once owned a shovel that Rivera could have taken, it seems more likely that he was willing to perjure himself to help police by overstating evidence against Rivera.

Law Enforcement’s Ability to Coerce Whittaker 

Thomas Whittaker may have moved from Boothwyn, PA to Maryland in June 1999 in order to flee a warrant for his arrest. If so, and if he had chosen not to cooperate, Pennsylvania authorities could easily obtain an arrest warrant in Maryland to have him extradited to Pennsylvania. He was probably mad that Rivera inadvertently brought him to the attention of Pennsylvania law enforcement. Even after cooperating, Whittaker admitted that he was incarcerated in Delaware County Prison in March of 2000.21 He said he was incarcerated on a parole violation for an old DUI charge, so he was presumably a parolee when authorities began investigating him and his property in August 1999. Somewhat revealingly, he obtained a job in the prison law library22, where a known prison informant named Vincent Card23 also worked. The law library is shared by all prison cellblocks and to obtain legal help some inmates talk to library staff about their cases. Thus it is an ideal place for would-be informants to work. It seems highly unlikely that a new inmate like Whittaker would obtain a job there unless law enforcement felt they could count on him.

Timeline Question 

Conceivably, Rivera could have used the shovel during the early morning hours when Whittaker was asleep.  However, if he had done so, it seems likely that he would put the shovel back where he found it to avoid anyone suspecting its use. If Rivera had taken the shovel to use later, he did not have much time to use it. He had reportedly left the Whittakers at 9:00 a.m.24 and was known from a telephone trace to have been in Claymont, DE (1 mi. south of Boothwyn, PA) at 10:35 am.25  Since the travel time between the two locations was approximately 1 hr., Rivera had only 35 min to scout out a good location, dig a hole, place Katelyn's body in it, and cover it up. Since the shovel was allegedly found at a construction site in Maryland a few miles from Whittakers, it implies Rivera must have buried the body nearby in Maryland, perhaps along the way. However, Whittaker's land and the construction site were heavily searched using dogs, as well as nearby areas with the result that no body was found.

Convenient Date of Finding 

Prison informant William Lively reported the location of the shovel on August 23, 1999, which was a Monday. If the shovel was planted, it seems likely that the planter would prefer to plant it on a non-workday, like Sunday, the day before, when the construction site was presumably not occupied. If Rivera had put it there, he would have put it there after 9 a.m. on Aug 11, a Wednesday when the construction site was presumably occupied and he risked being seen.

Rivera’s Statement 

In response to the question, “Did you take or borrow a shovel from the Whittakers in the days prior to your arrest?”, Rivera answered:
“No! The DA [had] an expert witness who ran test on dirt, soil, and mud samples. The shovel in question was said not to have been used in any crime by the DA’s witness.”26

Shoe and Sock Evidence 

Police reports and trial testimony indicate that the lead case investigator, Lt. David Peifer, planted shoe and sock evidence to frame Robert Rivera in the murder of his daughter, Katelyn. Peifer also induced prison informant William Lively to make false statements relating to this evidence.
Upper Chichester Township Police Reports document how information and evidence was allegedly found:
“On Tuesday 08/31/99 at 1815 hours Lt. Peifer received additional info from Brandon Hickey thru the informant [William Lively], indicating the location of the clothing of the child. The info was that Rivera threw the clothing out the car window along Rt. 202 in Delaware before you get to the Pep Boys in Tallyville. Det. Reardon (UCPD) and Det. Kelly (CID) responded to this area and requested assistance from DSP, UCPD, and Bethel PD.”
This clothing implicates Rivera in Katelyn's murder because according to Lively's testimony at trial, Rivera removed Katelyn's clothes upon burying her, so her body would decay faster.27
“On Tuesday 08/31/99 at 2050 hours, the search along Rt 202 began with the assistance of Cpl. Pam Martin of DSP Troop #1, Ptlm. Mitchel (UCPD), and Ptlm Murphy and Ptlm. Fields (Bethel PD). At 2145 hours, at Rt. 202 south at Helzberg Diamonds, Cpl. Martin located a yellow infant sock on the grass median about 1 foot from the left lane. Det. Walsh (CID) responded to take sock as evidence. At 2245 hours, at Rt. 202 south at Precission Tune, Cpl. Martin located a white size 4 infant sneaker (with a design on the front). Det. Welsh responded to take the sneaker as evidence.”

Rivera Portrayed as an Original Thinker

Peifer quoted Lively as saying, "[Rivera] told me that he had removed Katelyn's clothing prior to burying her so that her body would decompose faster."28 However, it is difficult to believe that Rivera would ever come up with such a theory.  Rivera is illiterate and has difficulty stringing together even a short chain of reasoning.

Origin of the Shoe and Sock 

According to Rivera the found clothes (shoe and sock) were Katelyn's hand me down clothes given by Jennifer and him to their neighbors, the Whittakers, for use by their daughter, Victoria, who was five months younger than Katelyn.  This gift apparently occurred in June 1999, just prior to the Whittaker's move to Elkton.  Thomas Whittaker confirmed this gift in his trial testimony, although he suggested his wife did not accept shoes, as Victoria's grandmother liked to give her granddaughter shoes.
During his investigation Lt. Peifer acquired a photo of Katelyn reportedly taken in April 1999 wearing the same sequined shoes and yellow socks as the shoe and sock later located by William Lively.  He apparently recognized these while at Whittakers.  He probably began thinking it would be helpful if he could match up for a jury the found shoes to the shoes in the photo.29 It would look as though he is proving something. But normally a murdered victim’s clothing is found with the body. So he had to create the decomposition theory to explain why the clothing is separated from the body.

Coincidence of Shoe & Sock Finding with Lt. Peifer Visit to Maryland 

Lt. Peifer worked for the Criminal Investigation Division, a law enforcement agency that worked closely with the Delaware County District Attorney's Office.  According to a UCPD Report CID personnel were at Whittakers on Aug. 31, the same day that Lively reported the location of Katelyn's clothes and after which they were later found. Lt. Peifer is not mentioned by name but in his trial testimony30, he confirms being there:
“On Tuesday 08/31/99 at 0730 hours, investigators responded back to 34 Wood Duck Lane in Elkton, Md. For the purpose of a more extensive search and rescue mission. Law enforcement on location were UCPD, CID, FBI, and Cecil County Sherrif’s. … The search yielded negative results.”
According to police reports, CID with Lt. Peifer visited the Elkton site on 08/13/99 and 08/17/99. But except for the CID visit on 08/31/99, no other visit is recorded on UCPD reports that extend to 10/18/99. In trial testimony, Lee Wray confirms that August searches of the Elkton site were limited to these dates.31 Since the CID apparently did not visit the Elkton site for two weeks, it seems quite improbable that the prison informant, William Lively, would suddenly come up with the information of the shoe and sock evidence at 1745 hours (5:45 pm) that afternoon.
This coincidence is important in implicating Lt. Peifer. Lt. Peifer could not afford to wait a few days to be informed of the evidence because grass cutters or clean-up crews might visit the Route 202 medial strip and destroy or dispose of the evidence. Nor could he wait to deposit the evidence there because if the grass was cut, one would wonder how the allegedly three week old evidence ended up atop freshly cut grass. During the day, Peifer presumably contacted William Lively to relay a story. Lively used his prison counselor, Brandon Hickey, to relay the story to Peifer possibly to help confirm the story.  Lively may not have been allowed out of his cellblock at the time and have had to get a correctional officer to walk a written note down to Hickey's office.

Lt. Peifer Created an Alibi 

In order to defend himself against any possible accusation of planting evidence, Peifer went to the trouble of creating an alibi. A half-hour prior to Lively contacting him about where Rivera allegedly threw Katelyn’s clothes, Lively had contacted him with another piece of information. According to the police report:
“On Tuesday 08/31/99 at 1745 hours, while inviestigators were still on location at Wood Duck Lane, Lt. Peifer received info from Prison Counselor Brandon Hickey that he (Hickey) learned thru an informant (William Lively) that Rivera placed the child in a pit about 100 yards from the rear of Whittaker's house at about 10 o'clock. He placed cinderblocks, leaves, sticks, and dirt on the body. Investigator sectioned off this area and searched same (using the dogs) with negative results.”
It seems unlikely that Rivera would give this obviously false information to Lively. The information also had no use in incriminating Rivera, as it was quickly shown to be false. Both Rivera and Lively knew Whittaker’s property and surroundings had been searched twice before so it was unlikely that Lively would even provide this information as a guess.  Lively presumably talked to Peifer many times, but the calls never resulted in the issuing of a police report unless Peifer felt the call was important.  Even though Peifer had to have known Lively's information was bogus from the start, he issued a police report anyway to put it in the record.
The report indicated that Lt. Peifer was still on location at the Whittaker residence on Wood Duck Lane at 1745 hours (5:45 p.m.).  Therefore, when Lively called again, a half-hour later, at 1815 hours (6:15 p.m.), Peifer could not have possibly planted the shoe and sock as the location where they were found was 45 minutes away.  While it is possible that the times on the police reports were doctored, as they were self-reported by Peifer, they could be checked against Peifer's cell phone records and against prison phone records.  It seems likely that the shoe and sock were planted after Lively called to report their location.  This strategy might seem risky as individuals looking for the evidence might see Peifer planting the evidence. However, Peifer did not necessarily make Lively’s 6:15 p.m. report known to other police until 6:45 p.m. or later, giving him time to safely plant the evidence.

Minimally Necessary Evidence 

According to Lively, Rivera reportedly threw all of Katelyn’s clothes out of his car window along the mentioned section of Rt. 202. Presumably he tried to throw them onto the grassy medial strip. Aside from a shoe and sock, none of the remaining clothes were ever found. It is noteworthy that just the minimal evidence was found; enough to reasonably show that found evidence was Katelyn’s without including extra unnecessary evidence. Lt. Peifer had a photo of Katelyn wearing the same shoe and sock, and a shoe and sock was all he needed to convince a jury. Searchers did not find two shoes or two socks, but just one of each. They did not need to find any upper body clothes as the hand-me down clothes that Whittaker’s daughter possessed presumably did not match those that Katelyn was wearing. According to Rivera, at the time he gave Katelyn away, she had been wearing a pair of shoes identical to the shoe that was found.  However, she was wearing size 5 shoes32 while the found shoe was a size 4.  Both her size 4 and size 5 shoes were bought at the same Payless shoe store.33

Lively’s Lack of a Storyline 

In prison informant William Lively's testimony, he never gave a story of how he came to find from Rivera the location of the shovel or the location of the shoe and sock. He never said Rivera first confessed to murdering Katelyn, or related how he found out that Katelyn was buried using a shovel. He never said, “Rivera said this, and I said that, and Rivera replied such-and-such.” He never stated what discussion led up to Rivera telling him about the clothes he allegedly removed from Katelyn and tossed on a highway medial strip. Lively never stated whether Katelyn was buried in Pennsylvania or Maryland, in a wooded area or an open field, when it was light out or dark out.
Did Rivera bury her near his car, or did he walk a distance? Did he have trouble digging a hole? Did he bury her in a shallow grave or a deep one? Did Katelyn watch him dig her grave or did he murder her beforehand? Did he murder her at a different location and drive around with her corpse? Was Katelyn dead or buried by the time Rivera stopped at Longwood Gardens? Chadds Ford? Tom Whittaker’s? At the time he left Whittaker’s? Was she still alive or unburied at any of these places? If Rivera gave Lively critical information on the location of alleged physical evidence, he must have been willing to give him some non-critical information in the context of providing it. Lively never gave any non-critical information presumably because he never received any information from Rivera that pertained to the alleged murder.

Lively Gives Peifer a Second Alibi 

Prior to trial, Peifer was apparently worried that the shoe and sock evidence would be linked to Katelyn's hand-me-downs he took from Whittaker's house.  To throw possible suspicion away from himself, he had Lively provide him with a somewhat ridiculous alibi that threw suspicion on Whittaker.  Lively's testimony of this alibi during questioning on pages 204 and 205 of the Jan 17 trial transcripts is as follows:
"Q. Now did [Rivera] say -- did he give you an area on Route 202 as to where he had thrown out the clothing?
A. He had told me to ... tell my attorney that -- to describe that it was thrown out of a black pick-up truck that he said would match -- he wanted me to frame the Tom guy.
Q. All right.
A. Tom and Sissy."  (Sissy was Tom Whittaker's wife.)

Alleged Self-Incrimination

Lt. Peifer’s Fabricated Confession

In order to understand Lt. Peifer's fabricated confession, it is perhaps easier first to view a similar "confession" that occurred in a different criminal case. In the 1980's Harold Coleman Hall was on trial in Los Angeles for the 1985 murder of Nola Duncan and her brother David Rainey. A fellow inmate of Hall got him to answer questions about his case in his own handwriting. This two-page document incriminated Hall at trial, but after Hall was sentenced to life without parole, the inmate admitted it was a forgery. The inmate had erased his original innocuous questions and substituted incriminating ones above Hall's answers. Lt. David Peifer acted similarly but he forged an allegedly spoken discussion rather than a written document.
In November 1999, Robert Rivera sought out Lt. Peifer to offer his help in locating Katelyn. Although Robert had tried to give Katelyn back to her mother on August 10, 1999 (he was required by court order), he was upset that her mother had sexually abused her and was unfit in other ways, and did not think Katelyn should go back to her mother. Robert did not really know where Katelyn was as he gave her to strangers, but perhaps he knew more details about this couple or their car or the bird on its license plate that might help locate them. Investigators had not been able to contact Robert, as Robert’s attorney did not allow them.
In return for his help, he wanted a guarantee that Katelyn would not be returned to her abuser. Lt. Peifer taped his meeting with Robert. Lt. Peifer indicated that if found, Katelyn would be held in custody until a court decided her fate. But he avoided stating directly that he had no authority to make a guarantee. Lt. Peifer already had located alleged shoe and sock and shovel evidence against Robert so it is strange that Lt. Peifer did not seem to believe his own evidence. During their meeting Lt. Peifer tried to argue alleged facts of Robert’s case with Robert. Robert’s mind was on getting a guarantee. Robert tried to be polite, but told him “I don’t want to argue.” Peifer tried to confuse the purpose of the meeting for any future audience of the tape by stating to Robert that he wanted to tell his side.
During the meeting Robert was upset and crying when he started discussing that he had been abused and he did not want Jennifer abusing Katelyn. He asked for the tape to be turned off, apparently because it was recording his emotional state rather than out of a desire to speak confidentially. Lt. Peifer then claimed in court testimony that Robert told him off the tape, “If I tell you where Katelyn is, I'll spend the rest of my life in jail.” Peifer is implying that Robert is confessing to the murder of Katelyn since murder is the only relevant charge that would carry a life sentence. When Peifer turned the tape back on, Peifer had already decided on this made up statement that he was going to say Robert confessed to. He got Robert to say yes to some long-winded statements that would make it appear that Robert had actually made such a statement. He knows Robert only has a third grade education and is not going to splice up his statements and give different answers to different parts of each statement. One must credit Lt. Peifer, who testified he participated in “well over 100” homicide investigations, with ingenuity.
Even back in 1982, Peifer testified during the murder trial of Nick Yarris and helped to put him on death row.34 Yarris was freed in 2004 after DNA Evidence made it plain that he was innocent.
To accept Lt. Peifer’s alleged confession, one must ignore the context in which Robert approached him. Common sense would indicate that Robert did not approach him because he was worried about Jennifer gaining custody of Katelyn’s corpse. He was worried about Jennifer abusing a living Katelyn. If Katelyn were dead, Robert would have no chance of proving his innocence, and would have no reason for approaching Peifer. Below is the remainder of the tape that Lt. Peifer contends supports his testimony that Rivera confessed to him off the tape. It was not played at Robert’s trial because the trial transcript shows that Mr. Smith, Robert’s court-appointed attorney was deceived by it or thought the jury would be:
Mr. Reilly (Prosecutor):
Your Honor, there is a stipulation between myself and Mr. Smith that after the defense said that, Lieutenant Peifer turned the tape back on. And the Defendant confirmed on the tape what he had said to Lieutenant Peifer off the tape.
Mr. Smith: Agreed, Your Honor, stipulated.
If one read the tape transcript without knowledge of Lt. Peifer’s inserted off tape assertions, the tape is quite innocent. When Robert is asked a long winded question that includes some alleged discussion Robert does not recall or understand with the statement that he does not want to spend the rest of his life in jail, Robert is not going to answer, “No, I do want to spend the rest of my life in jail.”
[From Pages 80-82 of Sept 13, 2000 Court Transcript]
[Playback of Audiotape, as follows:]
Lt. Peifer:
Okay, the time is 4:20 p.m. and we are back on tape. Robert, you had asked the tape to be stopped, and then we had a conversation. I know that you were concerned about saying where Katelyn is because you indicated you didn't want to spend the rest of your life in jail, and that you want to wait for an attorney before speaking with me and telling us where Katelyn is, is that [081] correct?
Mr. Rivera: Yes.
Lt. Peifer:
So the only issues that we dealt with really off of the tape were the fact that you want to wait until you talk to an attorney, so that when you tell where Katelyn is, it doesn't hurt you, so that you end up spending the rest of your life in jail. Is that correct?
Mr. Rivera: Yes.
Lt. Peifer:
Is there anything else that we discussed off of the tape that you want to add now that I forgot to say?
Mr. Rivera: No.
Lt. Peifer: You are sure?
Mr. Rivera: Yes, I am sure. [082]
Lt. Peifer: Let the record reflect that the time is now 4:22 p.m. This interview is concluded.
[Audiotape playback concluded]
Even the prosecutor seemed to know the confession was bogus. Normally when a defendant confesses to a crime, the prosecutor will highlight it at trial. He will repeatedly tell the jury that “[the defendant] confessed to the crime!” At Rivera’s trial this “confession” was presented in a low-key way as though it was a counterfeit bill that its passer did not want to call too much attention to.
Robert Rivera’s version of events is as follows (from Mar. 24, 2004 letter):
As to Peifer’s Transcripts, what he testified—I never said. What I remember is that they put me in several rooms with different people asking me questions. At one point he brought me into his office and showed me pictures of his three sons. They then brought me into the interrogation room where they had a two way window/mirror and cameras in the corner videotaping. When I was in that room I was not handcuffed at all. When he and his partner were questioning me, I knew they were up to something. His partner left and that is when he pulled out the tape recorder. I knew he was trying to trick me into saying something, but I didn’t fall for it. I did tell him to turn the machine off because I was done talking to him. He got up and left the room to go out into the hallway to talk to his partner. When he left, I got up and went to the door and got down on my hands and knees. The door had a vent in the bottom of it and I put my ear up to it to listen to what they were saying. He didn’t have one on earlier. He came back in with his jacket on and sat closed to me when we talked. He kept leaning into me when he asked question, bumping right up against me. I told him he was up to something and I didn’t know what he was trying to do. My exact words to him were, “ I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in Jail for something I did not do.”
Other than the shoe/sock and shovel evidence, no other physical evidence was presented against Robert. Lt. Peifer and inmate William Lively were the only witnesses who gave testimony implying that Robert confessed to murder. But both of these witnesses were involved with the finding of both sets of physical evidence and are clearly guilty of fraud if it is admitted that any of this evidence was fabricated. In his trial testimony, William Lively admitted to creating a phony document addressed to Robert and forging his (Lively’s) attorney’s name on it.


1 Police Reports, 08/23/99 at 1000 hours.
“On Monday 08/23/99 at 1000 hours, Lt. Peifer advised Det. Reardon that he received informant information about a possible location of the missing Whittaker shovel. This info indicated that the shovel was at a construction sight in Md. near the Whittaker's.

2 Police Reports, 08/23/99 at 1000 hours.
“At 1300 hours, Det. Reardon received info from Lt. Peifer that the shovel was location at a construction sight on Rt. 40 in Elkton, Md. just south of the Delaware state line. This shovel was positively ID’d by Tom Whittaker and was taking as evidence by Cecil County Sherrifs.”

3 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 16, page 148.
Questioning of Thomas Whittaker:
“Q. Mr. Whittaker, there was a point after you had identified this shovel when you wound up in Delaware County Prison is that right?
A. Yes sir.
Q. When was that?
A. March of 2000.
Q. And why did you -- how did you wind up in Delaware County Prison?
A. It was an old violation charge.
Q. You violated your parole?
A. Yes sir.
Q. What was the charge?
A. It was an old DUI.
Q. And you wound up in Delaware County Prison?
A. Yes sir.”

4 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 16, page 105.
Questioning of John McCabe, gas station attendant:
“Q. Was there anyone else with [Robert Rivera] at that time?
A. Yes, there was a young child.
Q. Where was the young child?
A. She was sitting on the passenger seat, the passenger seat was reclined all the way down. She was on her hands and knees facing the back of the car.
Q. So she was in the front of the car?
A. Yes.
Q. In the passenger seat?
A. Yes.”

5 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 16, page 113.
Questioning of John McCabe, gas station attendant:
“Q. Okay. Mr. McCabe let me show you first this portion of C43 between the paper clips there. Would you tell us what that is, what is that a record of?
A. That is the record of the $2 gas that I pumped at pump number five at 7:17.
Q. Is that the pump that you pumped the gas into his car from?
A. Yes.
Q. And what time was that?
A. 7:17:23 that night.
Q. On Tuesday, August 10, 1999?
A. Yes.”

6 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 16, pages 113 - 114.
Questioning of John McCabe, gas station attendant:
“Q. I knew this wasn't going to be easy, Your Honor. Now we have moved further down the tape, Mr. McCabe. Would you tell the jury please what is the transaction that is there at the paper clip, what does that say?
A. It is at 9:16 almost 9:17 the same night on pump number five. [114]
Q. Again is that the pump on which you pumped his gas?
A. Yes, and there is $10 worth of gas.
Q. That is the $10 worth of gas that you pumped for him?
A. Yes.”

7 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 16, page 111.
Questioning of John McCabe, gas station attendant:
“Q. Did you see the little girl?
A. No.
Q. No little girl in the car?
A. No.
Q. When he pulled back over to the car what did you do?
A. Pumped him with ten dollars. He stood out the whole time while I was pumping.”

8 Police Reports, 08/18/99 at 0800 hours.
“Tom Whittaker approached Det. Reardon and advised that he is sure of the time Rivera came to his home on 08/10/99. Whittaker advised that he now recalls that he was at his neighbor's house (Joe) visitinq on Tuesdav 08/10/99. Joe's wife teaches a class in Elkton and leaves class and 2200 hours. It takes her 10 minute (or so) to get home. Whittaker advised that when Joe's wife got home, he left and walked to his house. Upon his arriyal at his home, Rivera arrives, which is about 2215 hours. This info was provided to Lt. Peifer for Time Line purposes.”

9 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 16, page 145.
Questioning of Thomas Whittaker:
“Q. When is the next time that you went into the boathouse?
A. The next time I went into the boathouse was the day after, when the FBI agent that was down there.
Q. What did the FBI agent ask you to do?
A. The FBI agent asked me if he could go into the boathouse, and he asked me to look around to see if there was anything missing.
Q. So did you go into the boathouse?
A. Yes I did.
Q. And what did you notice?
A. Well I looked around and I noticed that my spade shovel was gone.”

10 Police Reports, 08/12/99 at 1650 hours.

11 Police Reports, 08/12/99 at 2200 hours.

12 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 18, pages 009-027.

13 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 16, pages 143-148.

14 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 15, page 30.
“He [Rivera] stayed with Tom Whittaker who owns this shovel. Tom Whittaker used this shovel that very day to dig up roots in his yard. When the Defendant left Tom Whittaker's house on August the 11th, the shovel was gone. How did we find it? We found it because the Defendant's own words led us to it. I told you about that inmate [William Lively] just a few minutes ago, that the Defendant confided in.”

15 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 16, page 146.
Questioning of Thomas Whittaker:
“Q. When is the last time you had seen the blue spade shovel before that morning when you were in there with the FBI agent?
A. It was actually the day of the 10th, the morning I was out in the yard digging and moving the picnic table around. So I had to dig posts up and move the holes around and that is the day I used it.”

16 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 17, page 46.
Questioning of Detective Robert Jones, Cecil County CID:
“Q. Tell the jury what Tom Whittaker told you.
A. He told me it was spade shovel with a wooden handle. He advised me that the end, the tip of the shovel had been worn off over a period of time so it was flat and that the metal area of the shovel had been spray-painted blue.”

17 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 16, page 147.
Questioning of Thomas Whittaker:
“Q. Where were you working?
A. Meineke Mufflers.”

18 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 16, pages 138 - 139.
Questioning of Thomas Whittaker:
“Q. What time did you get up the next morning, August 11, 1999?
A. I would say about 7:30, 1 didn't have to be to work until ten o'clock, so I would say about 7:30 I got up.”

19 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 16, page 146.
“Q. And when you were finished using it [the shovel] on the 10th, what did you do with it?
A. I put it back in the boathouse with the saw.
Q. What time was that, what time did you put it back in?
A. I would say about two o'clock in the afternoon.”

20 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 16, page 147 - 148.
Questioning of Thomas Whittaker:
“Q. When the police officer brought that shovel to you, tell the jury how you knew that it was yours?
A. Because it is a blue spray paint. My father spray paints all his tools one color. This way he knows is isn't the neighbors, and it isn't anybody else's it is his. And this is the blue paint that he sprayed onto the handle.”

21 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 16, page 148.
Questioning of Thomas Whittaker:
“Q. Mr. Whittaker, there was a point after you had identified this shovel when you wound up in Delaware County Prison is that right?
A. Yes sir.
Q. When was that?
A. March of 2000.
Q. And why did you -- how did you wind up in Delaware County Prison?
A. It was an old violation charge.
Q. You violated your parole?
A. Yes sir.
Q. What was the charge?
A. It was an old DUI.”

22 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 16, page 148.
Questioning of Thomas Whittaker:
“Q. Did you see the Defendant when you were in Delaware County Prison?
A. Yes I did.
Q. Where did you see the Defendant?
A. In the Law library.
Q. Why were you in the Law library?
A. I got me a job working in the Law library.”

23 Vincent Card was a scheduled prosecution witness who was planned to testify that Rivera had confessed to him in the law library in April 2000. According to Rivera’s trial attorney, G. Guy Smith, Card was never called because two witnesses were prepared to discredit Card’s testimony.

24 Police Reports, 08/12/99 at 2200 hours.
“Rivera … then returns to the inside of the residence. Rivera talks some and then leaves about 0900 hours.”

25 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 17, page 128 - 129.
Questioning of Detective James Reardon:
“Q. Now tell me what was your next contact, what was the next thing that you did on the Rivera case that day, August the 11th?
A. At about that 1030, 1035 hours we were at the police station and we received a phone call, a direct-line phone call from Jennifer.
Q. At 10:35 in the morning?
A. Yes, sir. The context of that phone call was Jennifer had told us that she had just received a phone call from Robert. And that he was pleading with her to run down the street so they could meet.
Q. What did you do then?
A. At that time, we were trying to ascertain the location of where he was making the phone call from. And it was learned several minutes later that the phone call was made from a pay phone by Naamans Road and Peachtree Road in Claymont, Delaware.”

26 Rivera reply to posed question in letter postmarked 5-26-03.

27 Trial Transcripts, Jan 17, page 204.
Questioning of William Lively:
"Q. Okay. Tell the jury what he told you about the clothes.
A. That after he buried her...
Q. Speak up, Mr. Lively.
A. After he buried her and he threw the shovel, that he threw the clothes on Route 202. And tell him he could find them on 202. That if he went further than I believe it was a Pep Boys, that he went too far. And that the -- that that's where he dumped the baby's clothes.
Q. Did he tell you why he took the baby's clothing off?
A. Because he felt that it would make it harder for them to find the body, to sniff the body out and it would make it decay quicker. The same with putting sticks and stuff in the grave with her and the rocks to hold it down. Or if it rained or ..."

28 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 18, page 102.

29 The photo or picture was later matched at Rivera's trial to Katelyn's shoe and sock.  According to the trial prosecutor "The picture was very important ... because it eliminated any doubt that the sneaker we found on Route 202 was Katelyn 's. It was a key piece of evidence." (Delaware County Daily Times 1-27-02)

30 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 18, page 93.
Questioning of Lt. Peifer:
“Q. The next time that you had -- that you got any information from William Lively was August 31, is that right?
A. That's correct.
Q. Where were you at that point?
A. I was in Cecil County, Maryland.”

31 Trial Transcripts, Jan. 18, pages 62 - 63.
Lee Wray, Search and Rescue chief: “Okay, August 12, '99, we started Longwood Gardens. We do a search of the parking lot area. And across the road there's an old cemetery and a small wooded area. On 13 August, we moved to Blair Shore Road [street of Whittaker residence] ...” “On 17 August, we go back to that location.” “The 31st of August we go back to Blair Shore Road.”

32 From letter postmarked 5-26-03.
In reply to the question, “Did you dispose of any of Katelyn’s clothes out of your car window in Delaware in the days prior to your arrest?”, Rivera stated:
“No! I found out later that Tom Whittaker gave clothes to the DA. Jennifer and I gave clothes of Katelyn’s to the Whittakers for their younger daughter. William Lively told me the night before David C. Peifer found the clothes he was out there. Tom Whittaker gave clothes to David C. Peifer. The next morning David C. Peifer told a female state trooper to go to Route 202 in the state of Delaware. Early in the morning. And that’s when she found the clothes. They took pictures where they found the clothes. I was never there. The clothes were said to be there about 3 weeks. Yet they had no dirt, mud, or debris on them. My lawyer said he put in a motion to have them DNA tested. To this day the DNA test has not been done. That’s why I believe he sold me out! The main thing is the shoe found was a size 4. She wore a size 5! They used an old picture of Katelyn when she was wearing a size 4 at my trial. That’s why they’re afraid to give me a polygraph. They set me up.”

33 Rivera’s reply to questions, dated 08/27/03
“Q: To the best of your knowledge, who bought Katelyn’s found shoe(s) and when were they bought? When was the picture taken of her wearing the size 4 shoes?
A: Jennifer’s aunt bought them. March of ‘99 they were purchased. March ’99 is also when the picture was taken. In June we bought a size 5 of the same style. In the same Payless Shoe Store.”

34 From Letter by Nick Yarris:  "On May 12th at the hearing in Philadelphia the Prosecutor committed perjury by lying to the judge and assuring his honor the gloves were never used or testified about before my jury in 1982, thus the results from the gloves didn't mean anything.  But June 28, 1982 testimony of Detective David Peifer proves otherwise. He testified before the jury that he found the gloves in the victims car, 12-15-81.  These people manufactured evidence, coerced witnesses, and put perjured testimony before a jury.  Careers were 'made' on my case. Do you really think they are going to back down now?"

The information that Peifer testified at Yarris' trial was originally on a website maintained by Yarris.  It is presumably in Yarris' book, Seven Days to Live, which unfortunately was only published in the United Kingdom.  Peifer is also mentioned in Commonwealth v. Yarris (1995).