Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Keith Hunter Jesperson

A Battered Woman

Laverne Pavlinac (AP)
Laverne Pavlinac (AP)

Meanwhile, armchair detective Laverne Pavlinac, 57, read the news reports surrounding Taunja Bennetts death with great interest.  An avid reader of mysteries and true crime books, as well as a devoted fan of televisions Matlock, Laverne was familiar with police procedures.  As more information became available about Taunjas murder, Laverne continued to read the newspapers and watch the television news reports, taking in as much information about the case as possible.  She eventually decided that Taunjas case could serve as the perfect vehicle to end her abusive 10-year relationship with her live-in boyfriend, 43-year-old John Sosnovske.

Before she put her plan in motion, Laverne first did her homework and learned that Oregon State Police Detective Alan Corson and Multnomah County Sheriffs Detective John Ingram were conducting the Taunja Bennett murder investigation.  After working out a scenario in her mind, she called the detectives and told them that she had important information about the case.  Corson and Ingram, both eager to solve the Bennett case, promptly went to Lavernes home to hear what she had to say.

By the time the detectives arrived, Laverne thought she had it all figured out, a foolproof way to get Sosnovske out of her life for good even if it meant that she might have to spend some time behind bars too.  She told Corson and Ingram of her stormy relationship with Sosnovske, and how she had been roughed up at his hands for years.  She also said that she was turning him in for the rape and murder of Taunja Bennett.  The detectives, interested, listened as Laverne told them that she had been forced by Sosnovske to help him rape Taunja Bennett.  She explained in seemingly intricate detail about the rape, right down to the placement of the rope around Taunjas neck and her subsequent strangulation at, she claimed, Sosnovskes hands.  She also told the detectives that Sosnovske had forced her to assist him in disposing of the body and covering up the crime.

Corson and Ingram didnt know quite what to make of Lavernes statement.  Although eager to close the books on this case, they left Lavernes home that day without making any arrests, as they needed time to digest what they had been told.  They also needed to talk to Sosnovske, and when they did he denied what Laverne had told them and claimed that he was innocent.  Over the next several weeks Corson and Ingram continued to interview Laverne about the case, sometimes of their own initiative and sometimes due to calls that Laverne had made to their offices claiming to have additional information.  On still other occasions the detectives took Laverne out to the Columbia River Gorge to see if she could point out specific locations that only the police and the killer would know about.  She did very well and passed the test with regard to where Taunjas body had been dumped, but she was unable to point out other important things, such as where Taunjas personal belongings, purse, and so forth might be located.

As the investigation continued, with Laverne and Sosnovske clearly the prime suspects in the case, Corson and Ingram conferred with Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Jim McIntyre and turned over copies of their case materials to the prosecutor.  As a result, Laverne and Sosnovske were eventually arrested and charged with Taunjas death.  Although he had originally claimed that he was innocent Sosnovske, facing a possible death penalty, pleaded guilty.  Using Lavernes detailed confession, McIntyre was instrumental in getting both Laverne and Sosnovske sentenced to prison in February 1991, life for Sosnovske and a minimum of 10 years for Laverne.  It turned out to be more than she had bargained for, and before long Laverne began claiming that she had made up the entire story to end her relationship with Sosnovske.  However, no one believed her now that she was behind bars.



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