Officers find the lifeless body of furniture salesman behind the wheel. But Faast didn’t die in the wreck – he was shot point-blank in the temple. Lt. Joe Kenda must track a killer whose promising career took a dark and deadly turn. -Death Grip, Homicide Hunter (S4, E4)
On February 16, 1979, police found Michael Faast shot and killed in his vehicle in a parking lot at an apartment complex in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They also found a traumatized Lori Firth in the vehicle who was transported to the hospital for treatment. After an investigation, Lt. Joe Kenda learned from Lori Firth that Air Force Captain Ronnie Ball was the shooter. Captain Ball was an up and coming military officer stationed at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) at Peterson Air Force Base. Lt. Kenda learned from Lori that she started dating Ronnie about three years prior and followed him out to Colorado. After realizing that Ronnie was married to his career in an attempt to make rank and not really interested in marrying her and creating a life, Lori dumped him. Apparently this is what triggered Captain Ball’s downward spiral. Ronnie was devastated by the break-up. This was the first time he had ever been rejected and he didn’t like it. Ronnie tried to propose marriage to Lori over the phone and left her a couple letters saying that his life was not worth living without her. Ronnie just didn’t get it; Lori was done with him.
On February 16, Ronnie showed up to Lori’s apartment. Lori described his behavior as erratic and he smelled of alcohol. His behavior was scaring her. Ronnie accused her of sleeping with her friend Michael and Lori told him to get out. Shortly after that encounter Michael Faast showed up to Lori’s place to pick her up. They jumped in the vehicle and were confronted by Ronnie Ball on the driver’s side of the vehicle with a gun in the apartment complex parking lot. Michael rolled down his window in an attempt to make peace. Ronnie asked Lori to get out of the vehicle, she refused. Ronnie told Michael to leave Lori, he refused. Lori asked Michael to get out of there and that’s when Ronnie Ball shot Michael Faast from about a foot away in the head. Faast died instantly. Michael’s vehicle then crashed into the side of the apartment building and rolled back into the parking lot with Lori in it. Ronnie Ball took off. Ronnie Ball was arrested after police secured a formal statement from Lori Firth.
The Colorado Spring Police Department never found the murder weapon therefore they needed a confession from Captain Ball to make the first degree murder charges stick. Right from the get go, Ronnie Ball exercised his right to remain silent and asked for an attorney. While he was waiting for his attorney, Lt. Kenda observed unusual behavior, extremely bizarre behavior; Ball was talking to himself and going on and on. Captain Ronnie Ball never admitted to committing the crime and despite exercising his right to remain silent was discharged from the US Air Force before he was even left the police station where he was being questioned and fingerprinted. Captain Ball then hired one of the best defense attorneys money could buy. He was found guilty but insane for the murder of Michael Faast by the civilian justice system. Ronald Ball was sent to a treatment program and given no prison time. He has since been released.
Captain Ronnie Ball’s case is an excellent example of the value of exercising the right to remain silent in an attempt to help protect a defense. Lt. Joe Kenda and the court systems definitely protected Ball’s due process rights. But the Air Force on the other hand ended his career before they even knew the facts of the case. They learned that he had been charged with first degree murder and made a decision to end his career without providing him with any due process rights as a military officer or a government employee. At the time of the charge, they had the testimony of an ex-girlfriend and that is it. In a fair, just, and ethical world, the Air Force should have waited until he was found guilty before they discharged him from the service. According to military leadership at NORAD, Captain Ronnie Ball was admired and his work was admired. He was bright and intelligent. It wasn’t until after Ronnie was rejected for the first time in his life that he began to downward spiral. The obsessive, erratic, and paranoid behavior is indicative of a personality disorder triggered by rejection which may be why Captain Ball was deemed insane. This is what justice looks like in the civilian courts; the injustice lies in the hasty actions of the US Air Force.
Source: Death Grip, Homicide Hunter, Investigation Discovery
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Death Grip | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery (S4,E4)
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Air Force Capt. Ronald Ball Fatally Shot Michael Faast; Exercised Right to Remain Silent, Plead Temporary Insanity, Found Guilty But Insane (February 2, 1979)
Homicide Hunter Premiered ‘Death Grip’ on ID: Peterson Air Force Base Military Officer Fatally Shoots Michael Faast Because Jealousy (September 9, 2014)
Homicide Hunter: 10 Active Duty Military and Veteran Murder Cases Featured on Investigation Discovery