BALTIMORE - Anastacia Oluoch is spending her 59th birthday Monday in a Baltimore jail. And the woman who helped put her there spent the day talking to ABC2. Baltimore Detective Julie Pitochelli chased the fugitive around the world and finally brought her back to see justice served, making history with the police department.
You don't have to tell Julie Pitochelli it's a man's world. As one of the 702 women in the 3,300 member Baltimore City Police Department, she already knows. She explains, "When I first got here I felt like I really had to prove myself."
That was 19 years ago. But Detective Pitochelli's latest move has left no doubt about her abilities. She brought back the first international extradition suspect in the department's history, something no man on the squad has ever done. Pitochelli says helping the department hit that milestone isn't about her gender, "I like people to judge me based on the work that I do, not because I'm a woman or anything else. I like my work produce to speak for itself."
In this case, it did and it wasn't easy. Pitochelli's crammed case folder is evidence. With help from the FBI and Interpol, it took the detective five years to bring Anastacia Oluoch back from Africa.
Oluoch fled Baltimore and the U.S. in 2007; accused of beating 90-year-old John Taylor, a patient she was caring for. It was a brutal attack caught on tape by the victim's daughter, Jaki. Pitochelli says, "This one was personal. We don't usually connect with family members as much as I did with Jaki. Five years working with her day in and day out, I consider her a friend now."
It is a friendship forged in mutual motivation: righting a wrong and serving justice. Jaki pushed and Julie responded, showing the strength to lead a case from halfway around the world, but never losing the sensitivity it required at home. She tells ABC2, "I have a way of making people feel at ease. They talk to me. They can tell me things they might not tell other police."
Pitochelli helped convince Oluoch's family in Delaware to tell police where Anastacia had gone. She says she also helped build the case that had a Nairobi court send her back, "They had to believe we had enough evidence against their citizen to bring her back."
The dedicated detective had collected more than enough over the years. Baltimore Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says, "It's refreshing to see how one case inspired her for the last five years to work so hard to bring this woman back to justice."
And when it came down to Oluoch's return, it was Julie who got to escort her into Baltimore Police Headquarters. It was an emotional conclusion to an investigation half a decade in the making. Pitochelli says, "It was shocking and relief. I thought, ‘Oh my God, it's finally over'."
But even after Oluoch's return, there were some tense moments. Once back on U.S. soil, Pitochelli had concerns the fugitive would be released on bail. She was eventually held on no bail. Oluoch will be arraigned October 12 th in Baltimore.