Tracknum: 13798.
Pubdate: Thu, 01 Nov 2001
Source: South Bend Tribune (IN)
Copyright: 2001 South Bend Tribune
Author: Adam Jackson, Tribune Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Rainbow Farm Campground Shooting)


Families Left To Deal With Legal Aftermath Of Deaths

CASSOPOLIS -- Grover "Tom" Crosslin was shot to death by FBI agents
Sept. 3.

His companion, Rolland Rohm, died a similar death Sept.

But the questions surrounding the shootings, and the legal fallout
that accompanied them, have refused to die.

Crosslin and Rohm were killed during a standoff at Rainbow Farm
Campground in Vandalia.

Beginning today at 11 a.m., the first in a series of Cass County
Probate Court hearings will be conducted to determine the outcome of a
custody battle over Rohm's son Robert, who was placed in state custody
following the death of his father. Robert's grandmother, Geraldine
Livermore, is seeking visitation rights and eventually custody of her

To that end, the family and supporters, including two activist groups
called Parents for Children and Jail for Judges, will be staging a
support rally today at the courthouse, 110 N. Broadway, beginning at
8:30 a.m. and another in the same location on Friday at 10 a.m.

"We haven't had any contact with (Robert) since he was taken into
state custody," Rohm's stepfather, John Livermore, said. "We're just
trying to bring the family back together."

But that's just the beginning.

On Friday, two hearings, which will be closed to the public, will be
held to determine what will be done with the estates left behind by
Crosslin, who owned and operated Rainbow Farm Campground, and Rohm.
Both men listed Robert as the intended recipient of their property.

However, because the two men left no adult representatives for their
estates, a court-appointed representative, attorney Peter Smith of
Niles, may also be selected to oversee the estates until Robert turns
18, since the 13-year-old is in state custody.

Both Rohm's and Crosslin's families are fighting that possibility. And
they're going to have some help.

Dan Wilson, who heads up Parents for Children, a statewide action
group, said he and his wife, Janet Frederick-Wilson, who is an
attorney in Warren, Mich., are going to assist the families in
fighting the state's actions.

"We feel that the best interests of a child should be the first
consideration in any case like this," he said.

"We need to bring to light a lot of information that is missing from
this case," Wilson added. "But getting the authorities to give up this
information has been impossible."

The legal troubles at Rainbow Farm started in May, when Crosslin, 46,
and Rohm, 28, were charged with felony drug offenses following a
lengthy undercover investigation of the campground. Investigators said
that drug use was rampant at many festivals held at the property. Crosslin

The investigation also opened the doors for a potential civil
forfeiture of the property, which is still a possibility. But when
police showed up to arrest the men after they allegedly failed to
appear at a scheduled Cass Circuit Court hearing Aug. 31, they refused
to leave the property.

In the ensuing standoff, which lasted through the Labor Day weekend,
police said the pair burned down several buildings on the property in
an effort to keep them out of the hands of the authorities. Police
also said that someone on the campground fired shots at a WNDU-TV,
South Bend, helicopter flying over the property.

Because shooting at an aircraft is a federal offense, FBI agents were
called in to assist during the standoff.

It was FBI agents who shot Crosslin after he allegedly pointed a gun
at them. Then, a Michigan State Police trooper shot Rohm the next day
in similar circumstances.

Friends and families of the men claim that Crosslin and Rohm were shot
without provocation, and that authorities' version of the events --
attributing both men's deaths to single gunshots -- are not factual.

Mr. Livermore said requests for copies of the original autopsy
reports, which were conducted by Dr. Stephen Cohle in Grand Rapids,
have been denied.

A spokeswoman for Cohle's office said Wednesday that the release of
the autopsy report had not been authorized.

Mr. Livermore also claimed there is evidence showing that Crosslin was
shot five times, and that a second autopsy conducted on Rohm by
Oakland County Deputy Medical Examiner Kanu Virani, showed that Rohm
had been shot two times.

FBI Special Agent Hank Glaspie of the agency's Detroit office, said
his agency regrets the loss of life resulting from the operation, but
he was not well-versed on the operation and could not comment further.

"It would be really inappropriate at this time," he

Mr. Livermore also alleged that when he tried to get copies of the
original police reports and autopsy records from Cass County
Prosecutor Scott Teter, the requests were denied.

Teter is on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment
Wednesday. Joann Sepic, an investigator with the Cass County
prosecutor's office, said Teter still intends to release a full
report, but has not set a date for the release of the

But Mr. Livermore, who was preparing signs Wednesday night for today's
rally, said he had filed state Freedom of Information Act requests for
the missing information and will continue to appeal until all his
questions are answered, and then decide whether a wrongful death suit
will be filed.

"We haven't buried (Rohm) yet. We have him in a mausoleum in Elkhart,"
he said. "It's shameful that a body has to be treated like this, but
we won't put him underground until we know all the answers."