Sunday, May 18, 2008

Death Row Dr. Jekyll

On Saturday, March 20, 2000, at exactly 11:50 a.m., Heather Young was brutally murdered and Marisha Scott’s life was changed forever.

A few minutes earlier, Heather and Marisha were completing their last-minute assignments before closing the United Southern Bank of Mt. Dora, Florida. They were the only employees in the bank when Fred Anderson, Jr. walked in. He held two loaded handguns: a .22-caliber revolver and .357-Magnum semi-automatic. “I want you to go to the vault and don’t set off any alarms,” Anderson calmly told the women.

Marisha assured him that they would comply. She opened her drawer and got out the keys. Anderson, Marisha, and Heather then walked to the vault. Upon entering, Anderson forced the bank employees to open the cash drawers and put the money in a trash can he’d found. They retrieved $ 72,500 in cash and gave it to him.

Then time froze for the clerks.

“Which one of you wants to die first?” the gunman asked.

Marisha screamed, “Please don’t shoot...” But before she could complete the sentence, Stewart opened fire.

Heather Young, 39, was hit first. Seven bullets, three .22-caliber rounds and four .357 rounds, slammed into her. She was shot in the head, the chin, and the chest. Tests showed that the guns were less than eight inches from her when fired. According to an autopsy report, she bled to death as she lay on the floor of the vault.

Marisha Scott was hit three times. One bullet entered her neck and blew out the top portion of her spinal cord. Although she survived, she would be a paraplegic for the rest of her life.

After shooting the defenseless women, Anderson walked to the manager’s office and yanked the video recorder from the credenza where it sat. It was, he thought, the only witness to the crime.

He was wrong.

Sherry Howard and her two children had entered the bank at the same time Anderson was robbing it. She noticed that the inside of the bank was dark and no one was in the lobby or at the teller windows. According to her later testimony, she heard a woman shout, “Please don’t.”

Then she heard gunshots.

Sherry grabbed her children and ran from the bank. At a nearby grocery store, she asked someone to call 911.

Mt. Dora police arrived in less than a minute. Two officers peered in the bank’s front window and saw Anderson removing the VCR. Quickly entering the lobby, the cops ordered him to lay face-down on the floor.

Anderson, caught completely by surprise, looked wide-eyed at the officers. He dropped the trash can full of money and the VCR. “I’ll do whatever you want me to do,” he said. “Please don’t shoot me.”

The irony of his plea wasn’t lost on investigators who discovered the victims in the vault.

Anderson was arrested and charged with Grand Theft, Robbery with a Firearm, and First Degree Murder. The evidence was overwhelming and he was convicted.

At sentencing, his defense attorneys brought out another side of Fred Anderson, Jr. In high school, he had been designated “most talented” and was active in many school functions. He was a member of the Christian Athletes and Future Business Leaders of America. After graduating, Anderson worked as a cook at a Boy Scout camp and later as a convenience store clerk. He also performed odd jobs as a caregiver to the disabled. He was highly praised by co-workers and supervisors.

Anderson was active in the Piney Grove Baptist Church in nearby Umatilla. He sang in the choir and helped decorate the church bulletin board. His mother was in advanced stages of cancer, and he was her sole support. By all accounts, he loved her deeply and had provided excellent care throughout her illness.

In fact, he seemed to be a real-life Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Just as Jekyll couldn’t escape from Hyde, Anderson couldn’t escape his own evil impulses. Despite the glowing praise from those who knew him, the jury voted 12-0 to give him the death penalty. The judge concurred and Anderson now sits on Florida’s Death Row.

One reason that the court ruled the death penalty appropriate was because the robbery and murder had been carefully planned. Anderson, calling himself “John Stewart,” had come into the bank the day before claiming to be a college student writing a research paper on the banking industry. While talking to the bank manager, Anderson learned that the video recorder was not in a secure place. It was simply sitting on a credenza in the manager’s office.

Anderson was desperate for money. He needed to pay restitution to his victims from a previous theft. (In a year, he’d paid just $ 96.00 of $ 4,000 owed.) His parole officer had been ordered by the courts to arrange for him to be sent to a half-way house so they could monitor his employment and work out a payment schedule.

Anderson dreaded going to the half-way house. He figured if he could rob the bank, steal the video recorder, and leave no witnesses, he could pay his restitution and have money left over. In fact, the day before the robbery he had opened a small savings account at another bank.

Heather Young became yet another statistic, another victim of the psychopaths who inhabit America. Despite my efforts, I was unable to find any additional information about her.

Marisha Scott hired a law firm to sue Foreline Security Corp., the company that had installed the video recorder. Marisha received a record 26.9 million dollar award because, as attorney Raymond Bodiford said, "We had a criminologist testify that Foreline made the bank a soft target by placing the VCR in an unsecured place."

Fred Anderson, Jr. is currently housed in Florida State Prison at Raiford. He has been a model inmate as he waits out his appeals. It will be years before he’s executed, if ever.

6 comments:

anointedspirit said...

I will always have a special place in my heart for you Marisha...So sorry that we lost contact with each other. It was such an honor to care for you, and I wanted to thank you for the opportunity once again. Friends forever, Cynthia Miller

Mr.Young said...

I will only speak briefly. My beautiful aunt was Heather Young. I know she loved me dearly, i was only in elementary school at the time. Its sad her life was taken short where i did not get time to know her. Kinda traumatizing. We have kept intouch with Marishsa Scott and unfortunately she passed away last week. May both of their beautiful souls rest in peace.

Mr. Young

Mr.Young said...

I will only speak briefly. My beautiful aunt was Heather Young. I know she loved me, i was only in kindergarten at the time. Its sad her life was cut short before i head time to know her. Kind of traumatizing. We kept in touch with Marishsa Scott over the years she is a Strong woman. We were told last week she had passed away. May both of their beautiful souls rest in peace

Joe Schmidt said...

And the piece of trash that took both their lives is still living...

Joe Schmidt said...

And the piece of trash that took both their lives is still living...

anointedspirit said...

So sorry for your loss.