Monday, May 20, 2019

NEW BOOK *** Guns and Self-Defense *** NEW BOOK

Guns and Self-Defense: 23 Inspirational True Crime Stories of Survival with Firearms
by Robert A. Waters and Sim Waters

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – The wrong house
Chapter 2 – “Officer down!”
Chapter 3 – “Go get the cannon”
Chapter 4 – Psycho neighbor
Chapter 5 – Going viral
Chapter 6 – Strangers in the night
            I – “Her life was being choked out of her”
            II – “Justified use of deadly force”
            III – How does thirty years in prison become five?
            IV – Shootout at the Stop & Go
Chapter 7 – Death in the afternoon
Chapter 8 – “He failed crime school”
Chapter 9 – Dial 9-1-1 and pray
            I – “Did you think you could beat me half to death?”
            II – “Graveyard dead”
Chapter 10 – “Please don’t shoot. It’s a fake gun.”
Chapter 11 – “Ducking Bullets and Throwing Lead” and Other Stories
            I – “Ducking Bullets and Throwing Lead”
            II – The man in the wheelchair
            III – Milwaukee County Shootout
            IV – “Stop! I have a gun!”
Chapter 12 – “She had no option but to use deadly force”
Chapter 13 – “Please shoot him!”
Chapter 14 – Demise of the Cutthroat Committee

            None of the would-be victims written about in this book lived life on the edge.  All were normal citizens living normal lives when they were viciously attacked by hardened criminals or psychos or dopers.  The stories of how these violent assaults came about and how they ended should be the stuff of legend.  In the end, if those targeted by predators hadn’t had access to a gun, they would be dead or severely injured.
            That’s why concealed carry is so popular.  That’s why many people keep guns in strategic locations around their homes.  That’s why, when gun-owners hear presidential candidates raving about how they will restrict or ban most or all firearms, we look at them with contempt.  That's why we don't care when we're criticized for owning weapons.
            Read Guns and Self-Defense.  It’s an eye-opener.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

NEW BOOK***Guns and Self-Defense***NEW BOOK

Guns and Self-Defense: 23 Inspirational True Crime Stories of Survival with Firearms
by Robert A. Waters and Sim Waters

I’ve often wondered why ID Discovery, the self-described true crime television network, rarely, if ever, features a story of “righteous” armed self-defense.

Here’s a case they could use, directly from the new book, Guns and Self-Defense: 23 Inspirational True Crime Stories of Survival with Firearms, co-written by myself and my son, Sim Waters.  (All these stories are dramatic, poignant, and inspirational.  Using police case files, one-on-one interviews with would-be victims, transcripts of 9-1-1 calls, court documents, and local news stories, this book provides the “inside scoop” on what happened in nearly 2 dozen riveting cases.)

In “Demise of the Cutthroat Committee,” we describe the violent invasion of the home of Foster and Pam Coker in Jacksonville, Florida.  The “Cutthroat Committee,” as they called themselves, was a makeshift gang—they’d all been in prison and each member’s life was spent preying on others.  The Cokers, on the other hand, were hard-working Christians whose seven-year-old grandson happened to be spending the night.

Early on the morning of August 15, 2014, Marquise Trevel Yates, armed with a Beretta .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun that held a “30-clip,” kicked down the door of the Coker home and brutally attacked Pam, who was dressing for work.  Foster, still in the bedroom, heard the commotion and ran out to help Pam.  A brutal physical fight ensued, with Pam and Foster both eventually shooting Yates, killing him.  While the homeowners suffered life-altering injuries during the struggle, their grandson was physically unharmed.  Cops chalked it up as just another case of “justifiable homicide.”

Other members of the Committee had been involved in the attempted heist and were quickly rounded up and arrested.  Fortunately for Jacksonville, the Cokers’ defense of their lives resulted in the destruction of the so-called Cutthroat Committee.

This story, based on an interview with Foster as well as police reports and local news sources, will leave you in tears.  The violence inflicted on this law-abiding family will amaze and anger you, but their courage will inspire you.

Oh yeah, one other little detail.  Had the family no had guns in the house, they, and probably their grandson, would be dead.  And yet, this is not the whole story.  In this and other cases in our book, the dramatic “story behind the story” is often as exciting as the climax.

Now here’s a word to the producers of ID Discovery: forget your tired, standard fare and try something new and exciting, like filming the story of the cop whose life was saved because an armed passerby shot his murderous attacker dead.  Or the woman who single-handedly stopped a carjacking ring in Milwaukee.  Or the wheelchair-bound invalid who ended a violent home invasion.

If you produce it, they will come. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

New Book *** GUNS AND SELF-DEFENSE *** New Book

     Today, Robert A. Waters and Sim Waters launched a new book entitled Guns and Self-Defense: 23 Inspirational True Stories of Survival with Firearms.  This much-needed book, the first in a coming series, will help balance the record since the so-called mainstream media rarely documents these types of stories.

     For instance, have you ever heard of Harry and Janet Lodholm?  This Lakewood, Washington couple survived a brutal home invasion by a gang that mistook their house for that of a drug dealer they planned to rob.  Crashing through the front door, the gang pistol-whipped Harry and slashed Janet with a knife.  When the assailants finally realized they had the wrong house, they fled, leaving the bound and tortured victims bloody, permanently disabled, and stunned.  In their haste to leave, however, the robbers forgot they’d left their backpack in the house.  Worse yet, the backpack contained all their cellphones.  The group broke into the house once again, determined to murder the victims who could identify them and retrieve the evidence that would send them to prison.  But this time, their targets were prepared.  The couple had broken free and retreated to their bedroom where Janet called 9-1-1 and Harry grabbed his handgun.  When the gang kicked down the bedroom door, Harry and his 9mm firearm made quick work of the robbers.

     This exciting story is just one of twenty-three described in dramatic detail.  Based on interviews with victims, police reports, court documents, media sources, and other public records, this true crime book recounts the courage and resourcefulness of armed citizens who refused to become victims.  By the way, for those who fancy identity politics, the would-be victims represent a microcosm of America: liberals, conservatives, independents, whites, blacks, minorities, male, female, able-bodied, and disabled.

     You’ll get the “inside scoop” on two cases in which concealed carry permit holders saved the lives of lawmen.

     You can read about two cases that went viral—then, since they’re still online, you can view the events as they occurred in real time. 

     There’s the story of Gary Wroblewski, whom predators considered an “easy mark” because he lived most of his life in a wheelchair after losing both legs.  In a brazen home invasion, one assailant knocked Wroblewski’s wheelchair over, throwing him onto the floor.  The victim, however, was armed and things quickly went bad for the robbers.  When it was over, one criminal lay dead and two others were sentenced to long prison terms.  Without his gun, the “easy mark” would likely have been murdered.

     If you’ve never heard about these (and other such cases), that means the media is not doing its job.   Broadcast and print media have a duty report both sides of the gun issue, mass shootings and self-defense shootings.  If they don’t, they portray a skewed version of the reality of gun ownership and use.

      My son, Sim, and I plan to write a series of similar books, in order to publicize the “other side of the story.”  We’ve developed an archive of several thousand cases from which to choose (with more coming every day). 

      In 1998, I published a well-received book entitled, The Best Defense: True Stories of Americans Who Defended Themselves with a Firearm.  Our new book is similar, with brand-new, formerly untold stories of violent encounters stopped only because the victim had access to a firearm. 

     Guns and Self-Defense is available in paperback or Kindle on  These dramatic stories will inspire you and touch your soul. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

“Hard, wind-scraped Wyoming”

Review of Ron Franscell’s Alice & Gerald: A Homicidal Love Story
by Robert A. Waters

Dreams come to Wyoming to die.  At least, that’s what happened to Claire Martin when her daughter, Virginia, and grandsons, Richard, 11, and Reagan, 10, vanished.  The trio had scheduled a bird hunting trip with Virginia’s former husband, Gerald Uden, but he claimed they never showed up.  A month later, Claire’s car, which Virginia had driven to the meeting, was found hidden in a ravine part-way down a cliff. 

From that day, Claire Martin’s heart died.

For decades, Claire fought with local and state authorities, urging them to search harder for her missing family.  And for decades, she longed to see Gerald arrested.  It didn’t happen during her lifetime.  Before her death at 90, Claire wrote a touching letter to her grandchildren (in case they ever returned home), expressing her love for them and their mother. 

Finally, in 2013, thirty-nine years after the disappearance and years after Claire’s death, Gerald Uden confessed to the murders.  Even though his wife, Alice, was suspected of being an accomplice, he refused to implicate her.  For his heartless, brutal crime, Gerald received a life sentence.

Alice, convicted of murdering one of her former husbands and dumping his body in an abandoned gold mine, was also sentenced to life in prison.

Ron Franscell is among the elite in true crime writing.  In addition to a gripping story with many bizarre twists, Alice & Gerald is a story of place, of lonesome highways and long-gone memories.

Ron told me that “in Alice & Gerald, place plays kind of a conspiratorial role.  It is, in my mind, a distinct character that aids and abets evil by giving these bad guys a place to hide their behavior and their victims.  So I wanted to bring Wyoming to vivid life, as I might for any pivotal human character.

“Wyoming is my heart-earth.  In summers I worked construction and in the oilfields with the kinds of people in the kinds of places I describe.  I know the landscape and the mindscape intimately.  It’s not only a metaphor for challenge and loneliness, but it’s also as mythic as the West’s history and as real as a rattlesnake.

“Out here, the landscape shapes us as much as we shape it.  No Manhattanite who thinks Cleveland is rural understands the endless emptiness that starts at the end of every Wyoming town’s main street…”

Ron Franscell was an Edgar Award finalist last year.  This year, Alice & Gerald should win the grand prize.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Firemen are Coming

Goodbye Dr. Seuss, Goodbye Sherlock Holmes
by Robert A. Waters

So the great books aren’t great anymore. At least that’s what the shallow-minded book-banners would have you believe.

Little House on the Prairie is out because Laura Ingalls Wilder was allegedly a racist.  A couple of her characters happened to be “stereotypical Indians,” so we’re no longer allowed to read her books. Tom Sawyer, another supposedly racist book, is likely to be replaced by some politically correct author who can’t hold a pen to Mark Twain. Sherlock Holmes should be killed off (again) because Arthur Conan Doyle believed in British colonialism.

Even more surprising is the deep-sixing of the much-beloved Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel). A political progressive, Geisel worked in the war department during World War II and designed “propaganda” cartoons that stereotyped Emperor Hirohito and Japanese officers. Because of this, the author of classics such as “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” can’t escape the razor-sharp stilettos of today’s book-banners. For them, everyone has to believe exactly the same things they do, even if an author wrote 100 years ago when the world was a different place.

American leftists invented political correctness for one reason: to suppress divergent thought.

In Ray Bradbury’s book, Fahrenheit 451, the book-burners were called “firemen.” They roamed everywhere, weeding out “dangerous” books and creating huge bonfires to destroy ideas. This is the mantra of today’s leftists who fear thought that contradicts their own.

I can’t stand these people.

Think I’m gonna go into my personal library and pull out my dog-eared copy of “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” and read it through and through. Then, on Sunday, I plan to attend church and study the Holy Bible, the most hated book and most banned book in America. Later, when the grandkids come over, we’ll turn on the TV and have a Dr. Seuss marathon.

After that, maybe we'll discuss the concept of freedom. And the ignominious philosophy of suppression. And, just maybe, our grandchildren will grow up reading the great books of the past, the books we read and enjoyed when we were growing up. Can't be anything wrong with that.  

Monday, February 25, 2019

Mystery, Millions & Murder in New Jersey Book Reivew

Mystery, Millions & Murder in New Jersey: The Tragic Kidnapping of Exxon’s Sidney Reso

By John E. O’Rourke

The History Press (2019)

I recently read Mystery, Millions & Murder in New Jersey, and loved it.  The story of how Sidney Reso, a New Orleans native, who worked his way up the Exxon ladder to a high-level management position only to be kidnapped and murdered, is told in electrifying fashion by author John O’Rourke.  Reso’s last days in a wooden box with no food or water and boiling in the heat were horrifying.  The fact that the kidnappers didn’t care shows their lack of humanity and all-consuming greed.

I highly recommend this work.  The following online interview with Mr. O'Rourke will help introduce the author to my blog readers.

Describe your experiences in law enforcement What made you want to become a cop?

The only thing I can remember is wanting to be a cop.  As a young boy I used to watch the TV show “Adam 12” and that was it for me.  Then, my next-door neighbor Ed Roll was like a big brother to me as he was 6 years older.  Ed wanted to be a New Jersey State Trooper.  From there on my goal was to become a trooper.

I graduated the academy in June of 1985.  I began my patrol up in Sussex County, NJ, where troopers are responsible for most of the towns.  I believe there were 12 towns we patrolled when I was there. When you graduate, new troopers are given a couch to teach while on the job.  My couch happened to be my next-door neighbor Ed Roll, who became a trooper 7 years prior.
In my 26- year career I policed in rural and urban settings and did some highway work as well. Moreover, I did some undercover work but very little.  Most of my time was in uniform.
In my many years in law enforcement I have conducted numerous investigations. I like to say I have investigated anything from motor vehicle accidents to murder. Through those years my investigations led to nearly a thousand of arrests and the incarceration of approximately 300 criminals.
What made you decide to write about the Reso kidnapping and murder?
After I retired from the state police, I began doing security consulting work and training.  The Sidney Reso incident is a good case study in situational awareness and the methodology of kidnappers.  After studying the case I realized this would be a great true crime book.  I did some research and found out a book had never been written about the investigation.  Although having been covered on Discovery ID, and American Justice TV shows, nothing had been written about the crime.
That being said, I set out on my research and interviewed FBI agents, local law enforcement officers and people that knew the kidnappers.
This was truly an “innocence vs. evil” case.  Can you briefly describe the three main characters: Sid Reso, Arthur Seale, and Jackie Seale?
It’s interesting you put it that way. It is a story of innocence vs. evil. Sidney Reso was the International President of Exxon and a power broker in the energy field.  However, through my research, I have come to know the man himself.  He was a nice guy who lived a modest life despite his wealth and position.  He had a wonderful wife and five children.  He and his wife Patricia attended church regularity and helped at food shelters from time to time.  They were warm loving people.
Arthur and Jackie Seale on the other hand were cold-callous people. They were filled with greed and envy.  Whereas Sidney Reso was a man who believed in hard work and perseverance to provide for his family, Art Seale was lazy and unambitious.  His wife Jackie got fired from just about every job she had because of talking too much and lack of a work ethic. Art was an ex-cop from Hillside, NJ who, besides his lack of ambition had anger issues.  He left the force due to an on the job injury.
The case was a logistical nightmare for the FBI and local law enforcement agencies.  To their credit, they kept at it until it was solved.  Do you believe Art and Jackie Seale would have been caught had they not attempted to collect the ransom one last time?
The case was the largest the FBI had at the time of its occurrence. During the 57- day duration of the investigation the FBI had a profile on the suspects. That profile was dead on.  However, if Art and Jackie Seale just walked away from the crime odds are they would have never been caught.  DNA analysis was not what it is today and without that there just wasn’t enough evidence to pin the crime on them through investigative means.
Are you working on a new book?  If so, can you give readers a hint?
It so happens I am finalizing the narrative of my next book. The book is a fiction story about a Private Eye working in the city of Hoboken on a political corruption case.  I am presently seeking a literary agent to represent me with this endeavor.
Also, I have began researching true crime cases in the hopes of identifying a story I feel is worthy of writing about.  It needs to be a case that is interesting and hasn’t been written about before.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Kindle Edition of Guns Save Lives

GUNS SAVE LIVES: 22 Inspirational True Crime Stories of Survival and Self-Defense with Firearms
by Robert A. Waters

In 2002, I published my second book.  GUNS SAVE LIVES described more than twenty stories of Americans who used guns to defend themselves and others from armed robbery, rape, murderous rampages, as well as other violent attacks.  I used interviews, police files, court documents, and other public sources to get the “inside scoop” of what happened during these violent encounters.

I recently retained the full rights to this book.  Because of this, I have revised it slightly, added a new cover, and published it on Kindle.  For the next 3 days, it will be available for free.  I would encourage all who read my blog to click into Amazon and upload the book.  And, if you read it and like it, I would like to ask you to publish a review of the book on Amazon—25 to 50 words will be fine.

I have been publishing my crime blog for ten years now and am thankful for the many readers who have made the writing of it a satisfying and fulfilling experience.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Reanimating the Killer

Thora Chamberlain

The sad case of the vanished bobby-soxer
by Robert A. Waters

After school let out on that sun-drenched afternoon in November, 1945, hundreds of excited teens tromped toward the football stadium.  The Campbell (California) High School Buccaneers would soon be in action and school spirit was high.

Thomas H. McMonigle, 30, an ex-con from Illinois, trolled along in his car, watching. After a few minutes, he spotted his target—cute fourteen-year-old Thora Chamberlain. Walking on the sidewalk with several girlfriends, she wore her school colors: a red skirt and blue sweater, along with two pairs of bobby socks, a red and blue one on each foot.  In addition to her schoolbooks, Thora carried a cowbell.

McMonigle pulled up to the curb and motioned Thora over.  Rolling down the passenger window, he asked the girl if she’d like to baby-sit for him and his wife.  The fact that he was wearing military clothing (Navy grays with several medals, including a purple heart) may have made her less cautious than she normally would be.

Thora told him she was headed to the football game, and didn’t want to miss it.  He insisted that he’d pay her double, and it would only be for thirty minutes.  She’d be back in time for the game, he said.  Several classmates said they saw her get in the car and watched it drive away.  Before leaving, Thora called to a friend to “save me a seat.”

The teen was never seen again by anyone except her killer.

The FBI became involved in the search, and quickly honed in on the career criminal.  But by that time, McMonigle had fled.  He hitchhiked to his father’s home in Illinois, trailed by agents, staying a step ahead as he crisscrossed back and forth across the country.  The Feds finally caught up with him in San Francisco.

Thora’s classmates identified McMonigle as the man who had driven away with Thora, and he soon confessed.  He said he had shot her with a .32-caliber revolver, then driven her to “Devil’s Slide” in San Mateo County where he dropped her off a 300-foot cliff into the ocean.

The FBI and other agencies launched a massive search of the area, but never found Thora’s body.  However, they did locate her socks in a rock crevice about two-thirds of the way down the cliff.  The poignancy of that find came home to investigators when Thora’s parents identified the socks.  Their inconsolable grief touched the agents.

While digging up a construction site where McMonigle had sporadically worked, agents discovered Thora’s shoes, schoolbooks and papers, zipper binder, and cowbell.  They also located a .32-caliber pistol in the suspect’s luggage.  The Navy uniform McMonigle had worn during the abduction was also found, and proved to have been stolen from a former serviceman.

McMonigle made numerous confessions, all different.  For instance, he asserted that after Thora got in his car, he drove at breakneck speed, causing her to become frightened.  She jumped out, injuring herself.  McMonigle stated he picked her up, intending to take her to the hospital, but she died on the way.  He said he didn’t know what to do so he stopped and buried her.

Tall tales aside, and even though Thora’s body was never found, a jury convicted McMonigle and sentenced him to die in the gas chamber.

During his interviews with the FBI, McMonigle confessed to murdering Dorothy Rose Jones and burying her at Devil’s Slide.  Although he led agents to her grave, he was never tried for that crime.

Enter Dr. Robert Cornish, 42, a Berkley scientist and revivification “expert.”  The scientist informed reporters that McMonigle had contacted him, offering his body for “reanimation” after he was executed.

Cornish had made headlines, although in a negative way.  After trying unsuccessfully to resurrect humans, the UCLA scientist had gone to the dogs, literally five fox terriers.  Cornish named these animals Lazarus I, II, III, IV, and V.  Unlike the Biblical character, none fared well, even the last two, whom he succeeded in resuscitating after killing them.  When the public heard about the experiments on the innocent little terriers, they were horrified.  Cornish was summarily kicked out of his UCLA lab and sent packing.

Still, he continued his experiments.  He inferred that he had perfected his method, which was to inject the dead with a concoction of adrenalin, blood, and liver extract, then place the corpse on a teeterboard, rocking it back and forth to thoroughly mix the potion.  That, Cornish claimed, was the key to reanimation.

The mad scientist was sure he could bring the killer back to life.

McMonigle petitioned California authorities to allow the procedure, but officials denied his request due to concerns that the murderer would have to be freed if he succeeded in coming back to life.

During all this mess, the lost girl who just wanted to cheer on her high school team was rarely mentioned.

On the morning of February 20, 1948, McMonigle ate two hearty meals, smoked several cigars, joked with his guards, then was escorted to the gas chamber.  At about 10:13 A.M., a prison doctor pronounced the unrepentant child-killer dead.

Really dead, unlike the now pathetic, still-alive but invalid terrier zombies, Lazarus IV and V.    

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Murdered Mailman and the Palm Print

The Jarbidge Stagecoach Robbery
by Robert A. Waters

December 16, 1916 rode into the Nevada mountains on a snowstorm.  It was not a pleasant time to be transporting mail in a buckboard wagon pulled by two horses.  Fred M. Searcy, the driver, shivered through the late evening on his route from Three Creek, Idaho to a remote mining town called Jarbidge, in Elko County near the state line.

Searcy’s route wound down Crippen Grade, a steep, dangerous pass.  With icy winds sweeping across the ridges, most residents stayed inside their homes.  A few hardy (or desperate) souls braved the elements to down a few at watering holes such as “The Northern” saloon.

Gold had been discovered there in 1909.  Soon the boomtown bustled with restaurants, hotels, saloons, stables and other businesses catering to miners.  While the weather was balmy in the summer, deep winter snows and nasty storms drove many miners away for the winter.  (Before closing in 1932, the mines extracted somewhere between 10 million and 50 million dollars-worth of gold.)

Postmaster Scott Fleming waited nervously.  He knew the Three Creek mail wagon carried $3,000 in cash, as well as a registered bag filled with first-class mail.  Before dawn the next morning, townspeople began searching for the missing driver.  Nell Burbarger described the scene: “Defying the storm that was now wailing through the dark streets of the mountain mining camp, a volunteer searching party, lighted by kerosene lanterns, began combing the canyon…”

A few hours later, they found a gruesome scene.  Tucked back in dense woods a quarter of a mile from town, the wagon sat motionless.  Sitting against it was the corpse of Searcy, a bullet in the back of his head.  According to Burbarger, “the sack containing the first-class mail—including $3,200 in cash consigned to Crumley & Walker’s Success Bar and CafĂ©, and other smaller amounts to a total of nearly $4,000—was nowhere to be seen.”

Suspicion immediately settled on a ne’er-do-well named Ben Kuhl.  He’d recently been fined $400 for “jumping a claim,” and was out on bond.  Before coming to Jarbidge, he’d been jailed in California for petty theft and served a year in the Oregon State Prison for horse theft.  His torn coat was found at the scene of the murder, and he had access to a .44-caliber pistol, the type used to kill Searcy.  Kuhl was arrested and placed in the Jarbidge jail to await trial.

Part of the evidence against him consisted of bloody letters found at the scene.  One had a near-perfect palm print on it.  Authorities hired two fingerprint experts from California to examine the letter, and both testified that the print belonged to Kuhl.  (This was the first time palm print evidence was allowed in an American court.)

Kuhl was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.  On appeal, the courts commuted his sentence to life in prison.  After spending 27 years in prison, he was released in 1945. Kuhl later died of tuberculosis in San Francisco.  One accomplice, Ed Beck, was convicted of providing the murder weapon and sentenced to life in prison, but was paroled six years later.  A third accomplice turned state’s evidence and walked free.

Western lore, never much concerned with truth, soon transformed the mail heist into a “stage coach” robbery.  In fact, it allegedly became “the last stagecoach robbery in the wild west.”  Guy Rocha, Nevada State Archivist, dismisses that claim.  He writes that “the embellished robbery story converted a buckboard wagon into a stagecoach the likes of the Overland Stage.”

And what’s more western than a good lost treasure story?  Legend has it that the $3,000 was not in paper money but gold coins, and that it’s still buried somewhere near Jarbidge.  Treasure hunters continue to roam the mountain with metal detectors in hopes of finding that box of dreams.

NOTE: Pictured is a saloon token from Jarbidge.  For many years I collected tokens, (also called scrip) which were used almost from the founding of America to the present day.  Caroline Augustine writes: “Saloon owners returned change for their patrons’ payments of real money for goods and services with tokens, which were ‘good for’ drinks only at that saloon.  Saloon patrons returned to use the tokens in lieu of real money.  Many times, they never returned, thereby earning the saloon owner an even nicer profit.  By the way, if you don’t find that box of gold, a second-best option might be a jar filled with saloon tokens.  Their value may not equal gold, but if you’re lucky, you might be able to pay off your house, and maybe even your car.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Crime that Wasn’t

Selfie Clears Suspect
by Robert A. Waters

Cristopher Precopia was arrested on September 22, 2017 by detectives from the Bell County Sheriff's Office in Texas.  When he asked why he was being cuffed, one of the cops said, “You know why.”  Only problem was he didn’t know.

But there was this written statement from his unnamed accuser.

“I had just gotten home from dropping off the kittens I rescued with their new mom.  I was in the kitchen and I heard the door jiggling and then open.  I walked in the room and [Precopia] charged at me knocking down the table and I fell over the vase in the middle and tried to get away.  He then grabbed me and started punching me and said ‘three strikes and this will happen to your sisters’ and cut an X into my chest and then cut lines in my face.”  She told investigators that she could “hear the slices being made.”  According to the alleged victim, the crime happened exactly at 7:20 p.m. on September 20.  A nasty-looking cut, an “X” sliced just beneath her neck, solidified her statement to investigators.

Surly cops transported Precopia to the Bell County jail and charged him with “burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit other crimes.”  He was told he could be sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Now that’s an eye-opener.

Precopia learned that a former girlfriend he'd dated in high school had made the accusations.  Cops told him they had a slam-dunk case with an attractive witness and fresh cut marks to prove their case. 

Precopia said he barely remembered her. 

His frightened parents borrowed $150,000 to pay his bond and hire an attorney, Rick Flores.  Even though Cristopher bonded out of jail, he was forced to wear an ankle monitor.

During all this, cops never even bothered to get Precopia’s side of the story.

Then his mother, Erin Pinkston Precopia, remembered a Facebook post she’d made on September 20.  She and Cristopher had attended a conference in Austin, more than an hour away from Bell County, and she had taken a selfie of herself and her son.  The time stamp on the photo read 7:09 p.m.  The background showed the Renaissance Hotel in Austin.  There was no way Precopia could have been in Bell County at the time of the alleged assault. 

Lawyer Flores hired an expert to document the selfie to determine if it had been faked.  It hadn’t, it was the real deal.  Flores handed the photo over to prosecutors who hired their own forensics expert to confirm dates and times.

When confronted, the alleged victim admitted she made up the story and inflicted the wounds on herself.

After nine months, prosecutors dropped charges.  County DA Henry Garza’s lame response answered no questions as to why an innocent man had been arrested without even so much as a police interview.  “We are always willing to listen and examine new information,” he said, “and that’s exactly what we did in this case.”

The case left some cops shaking their heads.  According to experienced detectives, one of the first things police should do is to interview the suspect to determine whether he or she has an alibi.  That didn’t happen in this case.

Until (and unless) the accuser’s name is released, we’ll never know why she made up her story. 

Before being arrested, Precopia had spoken to a recruiter about enlisting in the U. S. Army, but was turned down after his arrest.  His parents lost thousands of dollars.  And it’s likely Precopia's own concept of truth, justice, and the American way changed.  That might be the saddest part of all.