Sunday, July 13, 2008
Whatever you think about death row inmates maintaining an Internet presence, one thing is clear: the claims they make on these sites stink like a Nigerian Internet scam. www.JailMail.net is a fairly typical gallery of inmate web-pages. Among the inflated educational claims, the lying resumes, and the constant whining about the horrors of Death Row, one thing always seems to be missing from these pages. Rarely is there ever any mention of the victims.
When John Buzia’s [Photo above is of inmate Buzia] web-page pops up on www.JailMail.net, two images appear. One is a photo of a clean-cut, smiling gentleman in a non-threatening pose. The second portrays a muscular athletic young man lovingly posing with his two dogs. Beneath the photos, the Florida death row inmate has composed the following title: “Let’s Get Connected.”
Here’s a sampling of the text from Buzia’s web-page: “Being separated from the ‘little things’ that truly matter in life is incredibly frustrating...especially from ‘equally stimulating’ adult attention/companionship. I seek a friend who accepts at face value, realizes just how short/precious life is, understands the joys of the ‘little things,’ steers clear of false pretenses!”
After mentioning that he is “college-educated (4 years)” at Florida State University, Buzia assures the reader that he worked “exclusively at Disney/Universal Studios.” Then he claims that he was a skipper on the “Jaws cruise/adventure” boat before graduating to management. As a manager, he “met/mingled with numerous celebrities.” He ends with the following appeal: “If you’re curious/open-minded or just down-to-earth, please take 5 minutes/1 stamp and say ‘howdy.’ I feel I’m worth it, and besides, I don’t bite...but I do nibble, in friendship.”
Nowhere are the names of Charles and Thea Kersch mentioned. That’s a shame because John Michael Buzia sits on Death Row for the ax murder of 71-year-old Charles and has an additional three life sentences for his brutal attack on Thea.
On March 14, 2000, Buzia took a local transit bus to the gated community of Riverwalk in Oveido. For the past few weeks, he’d performed odd jobs around the home for the retired couple. This day, however, he planned to rob and kill them.
When Thea returned home from shopping, Buzia attacked her. While pretending to hand her a dish on the patio, he sucker-punched her, shattering her nose. He beat the defenseless 71-year-old woman until she fell unconscious. Buzia then kicked her a few more times for good measure. Finally, he dragged her to a back bedroom and covered her with a blanket. After stealing eighty dollars and rummaging through the house, Buzia walked to the garage and retrieved an ax. He returned to the bedroom and hit Thea in the head with the flat edge. He left the room thinking she was dead.
According to court documents, “When Thea regained consciousness, she was lying on the floor in the back bedroom...She could feel and hear that her head was cut. The sound was a crunching noise. She blacked out again and regained consciousness. There was a puddle of blood where she was lying. She crawled through the bathroom into the office and called 911.”
A few minutes after the attack on Thea, Charles returned home. Buzia met the elderly man at the door with a barrage of punches. Charles fell, but attempted to rise. Again using the flat end of the ax, he smashed Charles twice in the head, killing him.
Buzia stole one hundred dollars, a checkbook, and credit cards from Charles. Then he fled the scene in the victim’s Toyota just before the police, responding to Thea’s 911 call, arrived.
Between passing out and regaining consciousness several times, Thea explained to investigators that a handyman named John Buzia had attacked her and her husband. She was transported to the hospital while officers put out a BOLO for Buzia. Thea would later recover enough to testify against her assailant at trial. Charles was dead when officers arrived.
The next morning, Buzia, driving Charles’ car, pulled into the drive-through at the National Bank of Commerce in Winter Park. A teller became suspicious when he attempted to cash a check for eight hundred thirty dollars. She called police and John Michael Buzia was arrested.
The evidence against him was overwhelming. DNA from both victims was on various items of clothing the suspect wore; bloody shoe prints on the victims’ tile floor matched Buzia’s sneakers; a palm print on a bloody cabinet in the garage belonged to the suspect. In addition, Buzia had possession of the stolen car and documents belonging to the Hersches. With the positive identification of Thea, there was little doubt that he committed the crimes. After his arrest, he quickly confessed.
As far as I can tell, Buzia’s web-page originally appeared on “The Pampered Prisoner” website. That site eventually closed down. The page now appears on the Jail Mail site.
Here are a few observations about the web-page. According to court documents, Buzia attended Florida State University but never graduated as he implies. Despite his claims, although he did work at Universal, he didn’t work there “exclusively.” For much of his adult life, Buzia was a job-jumper. By his own admission, he would work for a brief period at any job, putting in just enough time to earn money to buy beer for a drinking binge, then he would quit. He lived on the streets in the months leading up to the murder, and before that he lived in a tent behind his brother’s home.
The lies and half-truths and omissions might be comical if they weren’t so serious. Inmate web-pages are designed to gain sympathy and money from gullible people on the outside. So on John Buzia’s web-page, Charles and Thea Hersch must forever remain invisible.
Posted by Robert A. Waters at 3:11 PM