Monday, October 31, 2011

Two Abortion Workers Convicted of Murder

Women's Medical Society

Snipping
by Robert A. Waters

“By day it was a prescription mill; by night an abortion mill.” So read the 286 page grand jury report concerning the Women’s Medical Society in West Philadelphia.

The report went on to describe conditions at the clinic. “[It] reeked of animal urine, courtesy of the cats that were allowed to roam (and defecate) freely. Furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Instruments were not properly sterilized. Disposable medical supplies were not disposed of; they were reused, over and over again. Medical equipment--such as the defibrillator, the EKG, the pulse oximeter, the blood pressure cuff--was generally broken; even when it worked, it wasn’t used. The emergency exit was padlocked shut. And scattered throughout, in cabinets, in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and plastic jugs, were fetal remains. It was a baby charnel house.”

None of the staff had the credentials to do their jobs, including the clinic’s owner, Dr. Kermit Gosnell.

So it should have come as no surprise when Karnamaya Mongar died a horrible, unnecessary death.

Or when investigators learned that hundreds, if not thousands, of babies may have been born in the clinic and murdered by “snipping.” The word was coined by Dr. Gosnell to describe how he and his staff killed children. The grand jury report states that “[they] regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy--and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.”

On the afternoon of November 19, 2009, Mongar’s daughter brought her to the clinic to have an abortion. She and her family had come to the United States just four months earlier after spending 20 years in a Nepal refugee camp. She’d been pregnant for about 19 weeks.

When she entered the clinic, Mongar initialed several forms (even though she didn’t understand English), including one which stated that Dr. Gosnell had counseled her concerning the hazards of having an abortion and stating that she had waited 24 hours before continuing with the “procedure.” (State law mandates the 24-hour waiting period.)

Dr. Gosnell wasn’t even at the clinic. As usual, he didn’t arrive until nearly nine o’clock, so his staff administered the pre-surgical medications. Sometime during the afternoon, Mongar died of a drug overdose. Although staff attempted to cover up the type and amount of medicine given to Mongar, an autopsy revealed that she had deadly levels of Demerol in her system. Promethazine and diazepam were also found.

"The evidence presented to the grand jury established that Karnamaya Mongar died of cardiac arrest because she was overdosed with Demerol," the grand jurors said.

Last week, Sherry West, 52, pled guilty to third degree murder for her role in the death of Mongar.

Adrienne Moton, 34, pled guilty to third degree murder for killing a baby born in a toilet at the clinic. A co-worker said the baby was moving and looked like it was swimming. "Moton reached into the toilet, got the baby out and cut its neck," the grand jury said in its report.

Seven more staff members, including Dr. Gosnell, are to be tried for Mongar's death and a series of gruesome baby murders. West has agreed to testify against Gosnell.

Those responsible for the death of Karnamaya Mongar should be punished severely.

No punishment, however, is harsh enough for those proven to have “snipped” the spinal column of a baby.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Stabbed to Death in Broad Daylight

Wendy Sue Wolin

After forty-five years, case is still unsolved
by Robert A. Waters

March 8, 1966

On a sunny afternoon in the heart of Elizabeth, New Jersey, a man walked up to seven-year-old Wendy Sue Wolin, crouched down, and thrust a knife into her stomach. She doubled over and cried out, telling onlookers that the man had punched her. Several bystanders picked up the young girl and rushed her to a fire station across the street.

No one thought to follow the assailant as he shuffled down the sidewalk.

Firefighters who examined the child found that she was bleeding. They rushed her to Elizabeth General Hospital where, a few minutes later, Wendy Wolin died. The cause of death was a punctured liver.

There seemed to be no reason for the crime, no motive, just another random attack in a decaying city. (Columnist Robert J. Braun later wrote that Wendy's murder "was the beginning of the end of Elizabeth as a livable city.") Witnesses said the assailant was wearing a green fedora, a corduroy coat, and tan baggy trousers. His weapon, a hunting knife, was found at the scene.

Wendy and her mother, Shirley Fleischner, had left their apartment moments earlier. Shirley told her daughter to wait at the corner of Irvington Avenue and Prince Street while she got her car from the rear parking lot.

The entire Elizabeth police force launched a massive search for the face behind this monstrous crime. Witnesses said he was a white male in his mid-to-late-40s. He had white hair and a muscular frame. He walked with a "stiff leg." Door-to-door searches yielded no clue as to the killer's identity. Thousands of people were questioned, including a boat-load of Vietnam-bound troops aboard a ship docked in the Port Elizabeth harbor.

Cops even went so far as to use Police Chief Michael Roy to illustrate wanted posters. Witnesses said he looked similar to the attacker. Professional makeup artists whitened the chief's hair and lightened his complexion to represent a likeness of the killer. The chief took it gracefully. "What the heck, if this helps," he said. Thousands of posters with the police chief's face were distributed.

The killer was never found.

Wendy Sue Wolin. Another beautiful child whose life was snuffed out by a monster in human clothing.

Questions remain. Who murdered Wendy? Why was she killed? Why did the killer choose a crowded city street to commit the crime?

It's likely that this case will never be solved. Her killer is one more among the millions who have gotten away with bloody murder.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Unsolved Murder of Pluma Bell Sanford


Fourteen years and counting...
by Robert A. Waters

Sometime between Aug. 12 and 15, 1997, 73-year-old Pluma Bell Sanford was murdered in her home near Fort Walton Beach, Florida. A widow, Sanford was a creature of habit. She attended the Sanctuary of Praise Assembly of God Church every time the doors opened. Each Wednesday and Thursday she volunteered at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. She loved to tend her garden and go for walks in her neghborhood.

In short, Sanford didn't fit the profile of many murder victims. Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Keith Matz told the media that “there wasn’t anything she was doing to provoke any of this, as far as we know.”

Yet someone came into her home, bound her hands and feet with her own stockings, savagely beat her, and strangled her to death. Investigators collected a DNA sample from an unknown male and said the elderly woman may have been raped.

The sheriff's department has obtained DNA from convicted offenders in the area as well as friends and neighbors of the victim. Samples were also placed in the FBI's CODIS database (Combined DNA Index System). So far, there has been no match.

Sanford was featured as the six of spades on the third edition of Florida's Cold Case Playing Cards. Detectives hope that an inmate in the state's prison system might see her picture and provide information about her murder.

This is the kind of case the death penalty is made for. Someday Pluma Bell Sanford's killer will slip up and get caught. Here's hoping he ends up on the short end of a long needle.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Two Virginia Clerks Gunned Down Decades Apart

Murder victim Jayeshkumar Brahmbhatt
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Killer targeted businesses for drug money
by Robert A. Waters

On November 17, 1970, in Troutville, Virginia, a young woman was found near death in the Purity Bakery Thrift Shop where she worked. Ruby Moran, 27, had been shot twice in the head with a .38-caliber handgun. The crime took place between 5:35 and 5:50 p.m. Six hours later, Moran died at a local hospital.

Police said robbery was the motive and the take was slightly more than $200.

Investigators found a check lying on the floor of the business. Police speculated that it fell out of the cash register as the robber was taking the money. Fingerprints found on the check belonged to a sixteen-year-old thug named Beverly Ricardo Mangum. Already well-known to police in nearby Roanoke, Mangum skipped town shortly after the murder. He was arrested in New Jersey and extradited back to Virginia.

At trial, Mangum pleaded not guilty. A high school dropout, he spent most of his time playing basketball or pool with friends while his mother worked to support him. On the day of the crime, he admitted that he stopped by the bakery late in the afternoon but denied killing the clerk.

Found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison, there is no indication that Mangum ever showed any remorse for the murder. In fact, he was known to brag about his crimes.

Fast-forward to February 28, 2008. The manager of One Stop Market, a convenience store in Roanoke, was murdered during an attempted robbery. At around 4:45 p.m., Calvin Bond Watson shot Jayeshkumar Brahmbhatt as he held his hands in the air.

Watson had a partner-in-crime. He was none other than Beverly Ricardo Mangum. For two decades after his release from prison, the killer of Ruby Moran was arrested at regular intervals on drug and robbery charges. Mangum met Watson while serving one of several prison sentences.

After being released from their latest imprisonment, they hooked up again at a half-way house in Roanoke. Since both drug addicts were always in need of quick cash, they decided to team up and revert to Mangum’s old pastime of robbing convenience stores. Twenty-eight years after killing Ruby Moran, Mangum planned the One Stop Market heist and acted as the getaway driver.

In addition to that robbery, they were suspected of holding up ten other businesses in Roanoke.

Brahmbhatt initially struggled with the robber, then raised his hands in submission. Watson fired two shots into the store manager's chest, killing him instantly.

The take was exactly zero. Watson couldn't get the cash drawer open. He fled the store and ran to Mangum’s car, but the getaway driver panicked and drove away without him.

Within an hour of committing the murder, Watson was arrested. The gun he used was found in some bushes near his home. He quickly confessed to the crime, though he expressed surprise that the clerk had died. Inside the store, detectives located a surprisingly clear surveillance video. The images of the senseless murder stunned even hardened detectives.

Brahmbhatt had moved to America six years earlier to seek a better life for his wife and two daughters. They lived in an apartment until he saved up enough money to purchase a new home. The family had just moved in moved in a week before he was murdered.

An article in the Roanoke Times described the store manager’s pride in his accomplishment: “Just before Jayeshkumar Brahmbhatt was killed, the family had been getting ready for the Vastu, a Hindu ceremony to bless them and their new house on Wood Haven Road, just off Peters Creek Road near the airport.

“They'd invited more than 100 people, and Jayeshkumar was getting worried.

“Where would the out-of-town guests stay? Where would everyone sit? Would they have enough food?”

His employer and friend, Atul Patel, said that Brahmbhatt was anxious to “show what he had done in this country.”

He never got the chance.

Watson, who confessed to three other armed robberies, was tried, convicted and sentenced to three life terms plus 43 years.

Thirty years after murdering Ruby Moran, Mangum once again faced a long prison term. This time he got 30 years.

Monday, October 3, 2011

1920s Child Murders Unsolved in New Jersey

Kluxen woods
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Murder in Kluxen woods
by Robert A. Waters

On October 6, 1921, in the northeastern United States, the bloody murder of twelve-year-old Janet Lawrence supplanted the World Series as the lead headline of the day. (The Yankees, with an injured Babe Ruth, had won the first two games but would eventually fall to John McGraw’s New York Giants.)

An International News Service article described the murder of the Madison, New Jersey schoolgirl: “A state-wide alarm was sounded today for the maniacal slayer of little 12-year-old Janet Lawrence, whose body, pierced by 25 stab wounds, was found in Kluxen woods, near here. [She] was found lying in a pool of blood. Her heart had been pierced and her throat slashed by the unknown slayer. After school hours, Janet frequently took a walk in the woods.”

In the jargon of the day, newspapers reported that the child had been “criminally assaulted.” Lieutenant W. J. Ryan of the Madison Police Department stated that in addition to the stab wounds, a handkerchief had been tightened around Janet's neck and her hands and feet were tied. The victim’s face, neck, arms, and body had been slashed with what police believed was a pocketknife. Ryan informed the press that investigators believed “a greenhouse worker was responsible for the murder” because the rope used to tie the knots was the type of hemp used in tying rose-bushes.

It was indeed a heinous crime, but police seemed lost in their efforts to apprehend the killer. Having no real suspects, investigators took a shotgun approach and began arresting anyone who may have been close to the scene as well as those who had no connection to the case at all.

First there was Francis Kluxen, 14, who admitted that he had been target shooting in the woods at the same time Janet was murdered. However, he stated that he’d been far away from where the girl’s body was found and had heard nothing. There was no blood on his clothing, and no rope was found in his possession. He did have a Boy Scout pocket knife, but there was no blood on it. The county prosecutor quickly released the boy, citing a lack of evidence. In an unusual indictment of the police department, the jurist accused investigators of arresting Kluxen simply because he was the only person known to be in the area at the time.

Police released a statement saying that they were looking for a “wild, roughly dressed” man seen near the site of the murder. Frank Felice fit the profile and was arrested. He was homeless, squatting in a hut near Glenridge, New Jersey. A neighbor told police that based on the description, he looked like the suspect. There was no other evidence against the “wild man” and he, too, was quickly released.

A reward of $1,000 was offered by the Madison town council for the arrest and conviction of Janet Lawrence’s killer.

Frank Ruke, described as a “ragged wanderer,” was the next in line to be arrested. He’d been seen walking near Kluxen’s woods and acting “suspicious.” He refused to speak to detectives, so in an effort to get him to talk, investigators took the vagabond to the scene of the crime. As he was led into the woods, Ruke fought against the cops. News reports stated that “the officers tried to induce the man to look at the spot [where Janet was murdered], but he struggled and turned his face away.” He screamed for the police to kill him, and was lucky they didn’t. He was eventually released for lack of evidence.

On October 27, headlines sounded an alarm: there had been another crime against a child. United Press reported that “the mysterious disappearance of Stella Ostrosky, six years old, Thursday, led to fresh reports about a New Jersey wild man who is suspected of carrying off children. Stella vanished during recess at the country school she attends near Fresh Pond last Tuesday. Her disappearance came at a time when the mysterious murder of little Janet Lawrence in Kluxen woods near Madison, where she was hacked with a knife, was still unsolved: and where the people of Westwood were hunting a wild-looking man who attacked a young woman there and cut off her hair. Investigators believe all these crimes may have been committed by the same man.

“One man is in jail as a result of the epidemic of crimes against women and children. He is Louis Lively, negro, accused of murdering a little girl at East Moorestown, N. J. But the latest hair clipping and the disappearance of Stella occurred after Lively was locked up.”

The Madison police arrested Frank Jancarak after a former co-worker told investigators that he’d confessed to the murder of Janet Lawrence. (The former employee had been fired from his job at a greenhouse managed by Frank’s brother and was likely seeking revenge.) Even though there was no other corroboration of Jancarak's guilt, the case actually went to trial. He was acquitted. Members of the jury told reporters that there was no evidence against him except his co-worker’s dubious claim that he’d confessed.

One year after the murder, Madison police re-arrested Francis Kluxen. This time they weren’t going to back down. The teenager's trial lasted a full week. Kluxen took the stand and gave the jury a minute-by-minute account of his whereabouts on the day Janet was killed. After a short deliberation, the young man was acquitted. Once again, jurors told reporters that the state had presented no evidence against Kluxen.

Madison police had already convicted Kluxen in the media and when he was found not guilty, the town exploded in anger. Investigators were furious and threatened to have him tried again. They were stymied only when the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that a new trial would be unconstitutional.

After his release, Kluxen was subjected to horrific abuse. In one instance, four men in a passing car fired several shots at him. He could go nowhere without his neighbors taunting him. The local police not only would not protect the teen, they added to his misery by continuing their media attacks on him.

Kluxen's parents were poor, and his plight caught the attention of a millionaire banker named Monell Sayre. Originally from Madison, Sayre, a bachelor, had taken an interest in the case from the beginning. As he watched the boy's persecution, the kindly businessman felt the need to do something. He invited Kluxen to stay in his mansion for a few days. The bachelor and the beleaguered teen got along so well that those days turned into weeks, then months. Still, Kluxen’s troubles didn’t end.

When Sayre took the teen to the Episcopal church that he attended near his home in Convent Station, they were both sent packing. Sayre was told that he could come back, but not with the “killer.” Townspeople threatened Kluxen so that he became a prisoner inside Sayre’s mansion. Sayre, enraged, publicly declared that he would adopt the boy and leave his inheritance to him. He told the press: “On account of four attempts to assassinate the boy within two weeks of his acquittal, I deemed it my Christian duty to take him to live with me.”

Two years later, with the Janet Lawrence case still unsolved, another girl was murdered. Bricksboro high school student Emma Dickson, 15, was stabbed to death and hidden in a patch of woods near Port Elizabeth, New Jersey. A farmer who lived nearby was arrested after Emma’s father told authorities that the man had invited her to take a ride with him. But he was quickly released and the case went unsolved for several months. Then, in a stunning sequence of events, her father, Thompson Dickson, was arrested. Tried for the murder of his own daughter, Dickson was acquitted.

The Madison Police Department had attempted to railroad several innocent men for the murder of Janet Lawrence. Had either Francis Kluxen or Frank Jankara been convicted, the case would have gone down in the books as having been "solved." History would have been written differently, and, as it often is, it would have been wrong.

Francis Kluxen was adopted by Monell Sayre. The old man was able to provide a luxurious, if lonely, life for the once-poor farm boy.