True Crime Stories – Alabama Cold Case

One evening in 1980, Carolyn James and her children were at her mother’s range in Mobile, Alabama when her jealous ex-boyfriend showed up unexpectedly during a fit of rage and began pounding on the front entrance. Ms. James attempted to secure the wooden door, but the assailant used a shotgun to blast it open and force his way inside, injuring her within the process. He then chased her around the house, shooting and wounding her mother within the process. He finally pinned Ms. James down by her throat, placed the shotgun to her forehead, and shot her point-blank as her terrorized mother and little children screamed in protest.

The ex-boyfriend, John Edward Pulmas, was eventually arrested for the murder of Ms. James and therefore the assault on her mother. However, the suspect was inexplicably allowed to travel free on bail before the trial began. After leaving jail, Plumas disappeared. Time went on and police weren’t ready to locate him. From now forward, the James family was forced to measure during a constant state of fear — especially because Pulmas had threatened that he would be back for them later.

An unbelievable 29 years glided by with no progress on apprehending Plumas. it had been in 2009 when Cassandra James, Carolyn James’ niece, called the Mobile local department to precise her frustration and see if she could get some attention placed on the case. There was no cold case unit at the department then Detective Ron Wallace took the decision. Wallace worked in Financial Crimes and Compliance Detail but started reviewing the case, hoping that he might help the family have some closure.

Things began to get interesting when Wallace began reviewing a criminal history report on Plumas. There was an alias by the name of Johnny Robinson with an associated Social Security number. There was also an arrest record from Wichita Falls, Texas in 1989 for a violence charge booked under the Johnny Robinson alias.

Detective Wallace obtained a replica of the fingerprints taken within the 1989 arrest of Johnny Robinson from the Wichita Falls local department and had them compared to fingerprints taken from John Edward Pulmas during an arrest in Mobile from 1976. The fingerprint examiner informed Wallace that the prints matched, confirming that Johnny Robinson and John Edward Pulmas were one within the same.

Detective Wallace then contacted the IRS to ascertain if there was a current address on file for Johnny Robinson. From the IRS he learned that the “Johnny Robinson” identity was created in Illinois around 1981 or 1982, which was a year approximately after the murder of Carolyn James. Over time, Johnny Robinson lived and paid taxes in Chicago, Wichita Falls, and Alexandria, LA. He also learned that Johnny Robinson was deceased as of November 6, 1999.

Things became even more interesting when Wallace learned from the Alexandria local department that Johnny Robinson moved to Alexandria within the mid-1980s, found a girlfriend, and have become a deacon at a church. After the girlfriend left him in November of 1999, Plumas attempted to win her back. Her refusal enraged him, and he went on the attack — shooting her within the back of the top and the cheek. After the attack, he fled to a friend’s apartment complex where he then took his own life.

After Detective Wallace completed his due diligence, he was ready to definitively confirm that John Edward Pulmas (a.k.a. Johnny Robinson), was, in fact, deceased. Detective Wallace relayed his findings to the James family, which was likely the foremost information that they had received about the case in over 20 years.

John Edward Pulmas was a violent man. His jealous-fueled rage forever changed the lives of Carolyn James’ family on the day he murdered her ahead of her children, shot her mother, and threatened to return for any survivors. Sadly, Plumas evaded the law and went on to measure the remainder of his life as a free man, dodging any consequences that he should have faced.

Today, Plumas couldn’t have achieved such antics for therefore a few years. Electronic fingerprint technology has evolved tremendously since 1980 and is now widely used across many facets of our society. Fingerprints lifted from crime scenes, collected during criminal bookings, submitted for job applications, then forth, can all be cross-referenced because of databases like the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). Because fingerprints are unique to a private, results from the IAFIS and other similar databases identify one person, no matter any false names or other misleading identifying information used. We sleep in a safer society today due to technology.

Even though the James family didn’t get the chance to face Pulmas in court and see that he was justly punished, they were ready to experience a way of relief in knowing that he was not a threat to their family.

Explore HID’s solutions for criminal justice to find out more about today’s biometric technology that would have brought justice for the James family much sooner.

Stacy currently provides technical writing services for the Extended Access Technologies business area of HID Global, which specializes in biometric hardware and software. She has been writing for technology companies for over 20 years and features a passion for presenting complex information and concepts in a way that’s easy for broad audiences to consume. Stacy joined HID in 2017, where she has focused exclusively on biometrics.

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