Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kidnapped and Murdered: Five-Year-Old Skeegie Cash

My brother Zack C. Waters spent decades researching A Small but Spartan Band, about Florida’s Confederates in the War Between the States.  This book is now a classic in the genre.  He has also published a novel, and is currently working on another Civil War book.

Zack and I are co-authors of The Kidnapping and Murder of Little Skeegie Cash: J. Edgar Hoover and Florida’s Lindbergh Case.  This poignant true tale is set in rural Florida in the late 1930s.  Within a few months of the execution of Skeegie's killer, World War II erupted in all its tragic fury and the Cash case was largely forgotten.

Zack and I researched 4,000 pages from the original FBI files.  We were also able to obtain nearly a thousand pages of court documents, beginning with the trial of Franklin Pierce McCall, his appeals, and his execution.  We also gained access to a previously unknown archive of material about the local sheriff who fingered the suspect.

The kidnapping and murder of James Bailey “Skeegie” Cash, Jr. lead to tragic consequences for all involved—except J. Edgar Hoover.  The FBI had nearly run out of money and Hoover needed a successful case that would pressure politicians to allocate additional funding.  He found his case in the kidnapping of Skeegie.  In his usual head-on, bullying style, Hoover flew down to the swamps of south Florida and turned disaster into a victory for himself and the Bureau.

Zack and I would like to invite everyone to purchase this book and read it.  It would also make a great gift for the crime reader in your family.  (NOTE: While the book is well-researched, it is written in a readable dramatic true crime style.)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Death for the Boston Bomber

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces execution if convicted of the Boston Marathon bombings.  Massachusetts has no death penalty, so the United States Department of Justice will try the suspected terrorist.  I’m no fan of our bloated, corrupt Federal government, but they’re right on this one.  If Tsarnaev is found guilty, he deserves nothing less than death.

The mutilated bodies of three victims were located in the wreckage after the attacks.  Krystle Marie Campbell, 29; Lingzi Lu, 23; and Martin Richard, 8, died of horrific injuries.  Just days later, Sean Collier, 27, an MIT police officer, was shot to death in his police cruiser.  Investigators claim that in addition to the bombings, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar killed the campus cop.  (Tamerlan later died during a shootout with police.)

Krystle, 29, a native of Medford, Massachusetts, lived in Arlington at the time of her death.  She was near the finish line with a friend when the first bomb detonated.  An employee of Jasper White Summer Shack restaurants, Krystle managed the catering division.  Her family stated that she worked 70 to 80 hours a week.  Krystle’s grandmother, Lillian, said, “She was so cute.  She was just full of life.  She loved being around people.  She was a people lover, even as a little girl.  She always had a lot of friends around her.  She loved music, and she loved life, Krystle did.  She was always bouncing and always happy.”

There was no reason for Krystle Campbell to die at that moment in time.

Lingzi Lu, 23, was a graduate student at Boston University.  Born in China, Lingzi always dreamed of immigrating to America.  She seemed happy in her adopted country.  Seeking a career in international business, Lingzi had just completed a difficult statistics course and applied for several internships.  She was an only child.

There was no reason for Lingzi Lu to die at that moment in time.

Martin William Richard, 8, became the face of the murder victims.  In the aftermath, Martin’s innocent smile, blown from his lips by a home-made bomb, graced newspapers and television sets across the country.  Every member of Martin’s family suffered extreme injuries and psychological damage from the explosion.  Their child’s brutalized, lifeless body will haunt Martin’s mother and father for life.

There was no reason for Martin Richard to die at that moment in time.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Police Officer Sean Collier sat in his cruiser when the terrorists allegedly shot him dead.  The popular cop loved the outdoors, and belonged to a hiking club.  A “technological geek,” he fit into the campus culture.  A memorial to his life is currently being erected on the MIT campus.

There was no reason for Sean Collier to die at that moment in time.

In addition to the dead, hundreds suffered horrendous life-changing injuries.

The Tsarnaev brothers had every opportunity America has to offer.  Many people are threatened by freedom, and maybe this was part of their motive.  Or maybe Islamist extremists won’t be satisfied until they’ve destroyed the freedom that makes this country great.  It was said that the brothers had become increasingly radicalized in the year leading up to the attacks.

Whatever the motive, if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is convicted, death is too good for him.  But it’s all our system has to offer to express our repugnance for the acts that took four innocent lives.      

Sunday, April 6, 2014

New York Boy Kidnapped, Murdered

On February 24, 1938, twelve-year-old Peter David Levine disappeared from New Rochelle, New York.  While walking home from school with a companion, Peter stepped into a store to buy candy.  He was never seen alive again.

The New Rochelle Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a massive search.  Soon Peter’s father received a note demanding $60,000 in cash for the return of his son.  He could raise only half, and offered that to the kidnappers.

On May 29, after weeks of silence, Peter’s torso washed ashore behind a home on Long Island.  An Associated Press story described the scene: “One hundred local police and G-men searched nearby shores today for the remnants of the body of kidnaped 12-year-old Peter Levine, whose wire-trussed, headless torso was yielded up last night by the waters of Long Island Sound…”

The night before Peter’s body was found, another kidnapping occurred.  James Bailey “Skeegie” Cash disappeared from his Princeton, Florida home.  For two weeks, the cases ran simultaneously in newspapers across the country.  The difference between the modestly wealthy parents of Peter Levine and the “obscure country merchant” father of Skeegie was stark.  But both parents did all they could to bring their sons home.

The inside story of these cases is told in a dramatic new book by Robert A. Waters and Zack C. Waters.  While the Levine case was never solved, the Cash abduction reached a horrifying conclusion in the swamps of the Everglades.  The Kidnapping and Murder of Little Skeegie Cash: J. Edgar Hoover and Florida’s Lindbergh Case breaks new ground in the history of child abduction. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A True Crime Story from the Bible

It’s now the chic thing to deride God.  Biblical references are no longer allowed in any public forum, and secularism has washed into our culture like a toxic fog.  For those of us who grew up studying the Bible, it’s a heartbreaking event.  But it’s not surprising.  As a civilization declines, the spark of life that produced it is often abandoned.

For readers of this blog who are unfamiliar with the Bible, here is a true crime story from 2,500 years ago, back before the advent of criminology and forensics.  (I’ve used the Good News Translation for easy reading, and have eliminated verses—numerical units weren’t placed in the original text by the scholars who penned the Bible.)

The Rape of Dinah
(Genesis, Chapter 34)

One day Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, went to visit some of the Canaanite women.  When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, who was chief of that region, saw her, he took her and raped her.  But he found the young woman so attractive that he fell in love with her and tried to win her affection.  He told his father, “I want you to get Dinah for me as my wife.”

Jacob learned that his daughter had been disgraced, but because his sons were out in the fields with his livestock, he did nothing until they came back.  Shechem’s father Hamor went out to talk with Jacob, just as Jacob’s sons were coming in from the fields. When they heard about it, they were shocked and furious that Shechem had done such a thing and had insulted the people of Israel by raping Jacob’s daughter.  Hamor said to him, “My son Shechem has fallen in love with your daughter; please let him marry her.  Let us make an agreement that there will be intermarriage between our people and yours.  Then you may stay here in our country with us; you may live anywhere you wish, trade freely, and own property.”

Then Shechem said to Dinah’s father and brothers, “Do me this favor, and I will give you whatever you want.  Tell me what presents you want, and set the payment for the bride as high as you wish; I will give you whatever you ask, if you will only let me marry her.”

Because Shechem had disgraced their sister Dinah, Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor in a deceitful way.  They said to him, “We cannot let our sister marry a man who is not circumcised; that would be a disgrace for us.  We can agree only on the condition that you become like us by circumcising all your males.  Then we will agree to intermarriage. We will settle among you and become one people with you.  But if you will not accept our terms and be circumcised, we will take her and leave.”

These terms seemed fair to Hamor and his son Shechem, and the young man lost no time in doing what was suggested, because he was in love with Jacob’s daughter.  He was the most important member of his family.

Hamor and his son Shechem went to the meeting place at the city gate and spoke to the people of the town:  “These men are friendly; let them live in the land with us and travel freely.  The land is large enough for them also.  Let us marry their daughters and give them ours in marriage.  But these men will agree to live among us and be one people with us only on the condition that we circumcise all our males, as they are circumcised.  Won’t all their livestock and everything else they own be ours? So let us agree that they can live among us.”  All the citizens of the city agreed with what Hamor and Shechem proposed, and all the males were circumcised.

Three days later, when the men were still sore from their circumcision, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, the brothers of Dinah, took their swords, went into the city without arousing suspicion, and killed all the men, including Hamor and his son Shechem.  Then they took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left.  After the slaughter Jacob’s other sons looted the town to take revenge for their sister’s disgrace.  They took the flocks, the cattle, the donkeys, and everything else in the city and in the fields.  They took everything of value, captured all the women and children, and carried off everything in the houses.

Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have gotten me into trouble; now the Canaanites, the Perizzites, and everybody else in the land will hate me.  I do not have many men; if they all band together against me and attack me, our whole family will be destroyed.”

But they answered, “We cannot let our sister be treated like a common whore.”

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New True Crime Book Now in Stock

The Kidnapping and Murder of Little Skeegie Cash: J. Edgar Hoover and Florida's Lindbergh Case is now in stock on Amazon.  Robert A. Waters and Zack C. Waters delved into the massive archives of the FBI to bring this little-known true crime story to light. 

In a tale clear and gripping, Robert and Zack Waters have deftly chronicled a crime that was as significant to FBI history as all the public enemies that came before. The crisp narrative exposes J. Edgar Hoover’s bold political machinations and an urgent grassroots effort to save a missing child. This is true crime at its best: unembellished, dramatic, and authoritative.
—Ron Franscell, bestselling author of The Darkest Night
Robert A. Waters and Zack C. Waters have crafted a masterpiece of detective work and analysis, detailing the tragedy of the kidnapping and murder of Little Skeegie Cash in Princeton, Florida.  They place this tragic event in the context of the machinations of J. Edgar Hoover to claim credit for the eventual arrest of Franklin Pierce McCall in a desperate attempt to reverse severe budget cuts for the FBI by Congress. Based on newspaper research, examinations of the trial records, and 4,000 pages of FBI records, secured through the Freedom of Information Act, The Kidnapping and Murder of Little Skeegie Cash highlights one of the most infamous criminal episodes in Florida history. It is also another in the damning indictments of Hoover and his tenure as head of the FBI.  It is an excellent read.
—Nick Wynne, Executive Director Emeritus of The Florida Historical Society

Monday, March 10, 2014

What’s Happening in Detroit?

Detroit Police Chief James Craig
Law-abiding citizens fight back…
by Robert A. Waters

In the last two weeks, home invaders in Detroit have gotten the worst of it when attempting to rob homeowners.  And, in a surprise, the police chief supports armed self-defense.

When two teenage thugs attempted to break into a man’s home, he heard them and opened fire, killing one of the intruders.  After the shooting, Detroit Deputy Police Chief Rodney Johnson said, “As a homeowner, he had a right to protect himself inside his home.” (None of the homeowners in these stories were identified because of possible retaliation.)

Police Chief James Craig told reporters that burglars may think twice if they know their intended victim is armed.

A few days later, three armed teenagers kicked down the door of a grandmother.  Using a semi-automatic rifle (or what reporters like to label an “assault rifle”), the woman routed the invaders, killing one.

In another case, a woman pulled into her driveway and was accosted by a carjacker.  Throwing her keys to the ground to distract the robber, the victim drew her gun and killed him.

In a south Detroit neighborhood, two men used a crowbar to break into an occupied home.  When the men tried to attack the homeowner with the tire iron, he drew his pistol and shot them both.  One thug died on the scene—the other was taken to the hospital with severe injuries.

Chief Craig stated his thoughts on the benefits of law-abiding citizens owning firearms.  He said that years ago in California, he’d been against concealed carry permits and was reluctant to give them out. But after taking a job as a police chief in Maine, he was required by law to dispense permits to law-abiding citizens.  Thousands of permits later, Craig changed his mind.  He told reporters that Maine is one of the safest states in the union.

As soon as Craig made his comments, a writer at Huffington Post belittled him for “wanting more guns on the street, not fewer.”  Undeterred, the chief continues to sing the praises of concealed carry laws.

And in Detroit, defenders continued to ignore the pundits.

A homeowner heard his back window “shatter” and, arming himself, went to investigate.  He found an intruder inside his home and fired.  Another career criminal lay dead, and another homeowner was not charged.

In yet another case, a woman on Grove Street heard noises coming from her rear window.  Investigating, she saw a man entering her home.  The woman retrieved a handgun, fired, and hit the intruder in the chest.  He ran out of the house and was found dead on a nearby street.  

The desire to feel safe is a primal need.  In America, gun ownership crosses party lines.  Large numbers of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and Libertarians own firearms.  Even as the “sophisticated” elite denounce guns, the great unwashed throngs keep firearms and use them for self-protection.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Kidnapping and Murder of Little Skeegie Cash

James Bailey "Skeegie" Cash
The Kidnapping and Murder of Little Skeegie Cash brings to light a long-forgotten story from the annals of FBI history.  The sensational 1938 murder of the five-year-old son of a merchant rocked America, reaching from the wetlands of southern Florida to the White House itself.  In a rare move, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover flew from Washington, D.C. to a rain-drenched hamlet on the edge of the Everglades.

What prompted Hoover to abandon the confines of power to actively investigate a missing child case?  Why did President Franklin D. Roosevelt allocate thousands of tax dollars to the FBI to investigate this specific case?  Why did Hoover whitewash the FBI files to eliminate all mention of the lawman who really solved the case?  Why did the case disappear from the public record almost immediately after it was solved?

In this explosive new book, Robert A. Waters and Zack C. Waters delved into thousands of pages of FBI files and court documents to unearth the true story.  The authors recount the abduction, the payment of a $10,000 ransom, the hunt for James Bailey “Skeegie” Cash and his kidnapper, the arrest and confession of Franklin Pierce McCall, and the killer’s trial and execution.  The poignant story of Skeegie’s heart-broken parents contrasts with the cut-throat intrigue of Hoover’s sometimes extra-legal methods to bring the killer to bay.

The Kidnapping and Murder of Little Skeegie Cash, set against the backdrop of a psychopathic killer matching wits with J. Edgar Hoover himself, will add a new chapter to the long and storied history of the FBI.