Confronting her son’s killer, the mother of one of the men slain by Michael Dauber was too overwhelmed to finish speaking Friday at the Ada County Courthouse.
“He got sawed up and chopped up like a deer,” Salmon resident Vera Pohto said of her son, Joshua Reddington, who was 25 years old when he disappeared in 2000.
Pohto implored an unemotional Dauber to look at her, then began sobbing and hyperventilating. Boise County Prosecutor Ross Pittman asked Judge Patrick Owen if a victim/witness coordinator could read the rest of Pohto’s statement, and Owen allowed it.
Stella Kalogerakos is the mother of Dauber’s other victim, Steven Kalogerakos, who was 42 when he went missing. She stood and wailed plaintively, “Why? Why? That’s all I want to know.”
She pleaded for Owen to send Dauber away for the rest of his life.
“If he’s gonna come out, he’s gonna kill more people,” she told Owen. “And more people are going to come and say, ‘Where is the body?’ ”
Dauber, 48, was sentenced Friday to serve 17 years to life in prison for killing his friends, who had worked with him in logging. He struck a deal with Boise County prosecutors in June and pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder.
He will get credit for time served.
About 30 people were in the courtroom Friday for the sentencing, including family members of both victims.
Dauber gave only a brief statement: “I would like to thank everybody that has been there for my children and my wife.”
His plea agreement allowed him to ask for a reduced sentence of 13 to 15 years if he told authorities where Reddington’s remains are. But he did not do so.
It was another painful turn in a saga that dates back to when Reddington vanished. Reddington’s mother and family had held out hope that they would be able to give him a proper burial.
Only a fragment of hip bone from Reddington was recovered from the crawl space of Dauber’s cabin in Idaho City. That was in 2014.
Pittman, the Boise County prosecutor, said the DNA from that bone fragment was compared with Reddington’s baby tooth. It was found to be “5.6 trillion times more likely to belong to Josh Reddington than any other human being on the planet,” Pittman said.
Steven Kalogerakos, a childhood friend of Dauber’s from Chicago, was found dismembered inside a bag buried in a shallow grave in the desert outside Idaho City in 2013. He had been missing for six years.
Pittman said Dauber likely shot Kalogerakos while they were out in the woods and then dismembered the body, leaving it buried under a snow bank. In the spring, he decided to move the body and enlisted the help of a friend from the Army.
“The friend from the Army did not know he was helping transport the dismembered remains of Steve, until he saw into the bag, and saw a torso that was severed ... But by that time, it was too late to back out,” Pittman said, noting that Dauber was “armed and persistent.”
Dauber told the friend that the remains were that of Kalogerakos, Pittman said. It was that friend, not named in court, who led authorities to the body.
In February last year, Tom Tiffany, who previously lived with Dauber, testified in court that Dauber roused him from sleep and asked him to help move Reddington’s body out of the loft of the Idaho City cabin they shared. Tiffany said Reddington had a bullet hole in his head.
Tiffany said he refused and then heard the sounds of a saw cutting through bones downstairs.
Dauber, the son of a Chicago hitman who was gunned down in 1980, took Alford pleas in the deaths of both Reddington and Kalogerakos. That means he pleaded guilty but didn’t actually admit guilt.
Dauber’s name has come up in connection with a third death — that of David Fishback, an Idaho City man who died of a drug overdose in 2011. His family told the Statesman last year that the FBI was investigating Dauber’s possible involvement. Authorities have not confirmed that, and it’s unclear where that investigation stands today. But Boise County Coroner Pam Garlock previously said she couldn’t state whether Fishback’s death was suspicious because it was tied to the investigation of Kalogerakos’ death.
In court Friday, Dauber attorney Elisa Massoth shared details of her client’s childhood, work history, service in the military and fatherhood — he has two teenage children.
She said that as a child, Dauber was unaware that his father, William Dauber, had been imprisoned, and also didn’t know the violent circumstances of the elder Dauber’s death.
Michael Dauber worked in logging, attended nursing school and served in the Army twice, Massoth said. In 2004, he was injured in Iraq when the Humvee he was traveling in was hit by another Humvee; he was knocked unconscious for six hours. A month later, the convoy he was traveling in was hit by an improvised explosive device, and he was again knocked unconscious.
Within months of his injuries, he lost his memory, began to stutter and had headaches, Massoth said. He was later removed from combat and diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, she said.
Prosecutor Pittman said Dauber had blamed his victims by making serious, unsubstantiated claims about them. He also noted that Dauber’s head injuries during combat occurred years after Reddington went missing.