Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 NFL Outlaws of the Year

Role models for our sons and daughters
by Robert A. Waters

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver

A few NFL players are so out-of-control they need a special set of guidelines just to survive.  The so-called "Dez Bryant Rules," instituted by the Cowboys, would be funny if they weren't so serious.  There's a midnight curfew--you know, the kind parents place on teenagers--and a rule that forbids Bryant to drink alcohol.  There's bi-weekly counseling and a personal security detail. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, Dez can't visit strip clubs, those seedy joints where slutty crack-heads dance on poles.  After Dez beat up his mother, Jerry Jones figured he'd better come up with something or his star receiver would be toast.  While NFL teams aren't known for drafting choirboys, Bryant's off-the-gridiron college record should have raised red flags.  He's been in trouble almost since the day he was born.  If Dez is convicted of pummeling his mom, he could face a year in the clink.  Meanwhile, Dallas continues to be the laughingstock of the NFL, both on and off the field.

Jovan Belcher, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker (posthumously)

It wasn't enough to shoot his girlfriend once.  Or twice.  No, Belcher was really mad, so he pumped fifteen rounds into her body.  He and Kassandra Perkins had been out partying most of the night while Belcher's mother baby-sat their three-month-old daughter.  At some point, the couple argued, then separated.  The football star took up with a tall blonde, and Perkins attended a Trey Songz concert.  Belcher got home first.  When his girlfriend finally appeared, he smoked her.  Then he drove to Chiefs Stadium and spoke with coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli.  As he heard police sirens approaching, Belcher blasted himself to Hell.  News reports claimed the troubled linebacker had questioned whether he was the father of his and Perkins' daughter, although his mother denied it.  It is known that the couple had been in counseling. 

Josh Brent, Dallas Cowboys nose tackle

At least Dez hasn't killed anyone.  Yet.  But Josh Brent has.  Driving like a maniac down a residential street, he clipped a curb and flipped his car.  He was so drunk he walked away unscathed.  But his passenger and teammate, Jerry Brown, wasn't so lucky.  Brown, on the Cowboys' practice squad, died of massive injuries.  After testing Brent's blood for the presence of alcohol, police arrested him.  A few days later, in a surreal moment, television cameras showed the happy, smiling suspect on the sidelines.  Like Dez, Brent doesn't learn from his past actions.  In 2009, he was convicted of DUI and sentenced to 60 days in jail.  In fact, he'd just completed his probation for that crime.  If convicted of manslaughter, Brent's football career will be gone with the wind. 

 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mystery of the Lost Babysitter

Unsolved after 60 years
by Robert A. Waters

The disappearance and probable murder of fifteen-year-old Evelyn Hartley defies logic.  The studious, disciplined, straight-A student simply vanished, leaving behind the child whom she was babysitting and wide smears of blood all over the house and yard.

The Wisconsin State Journal summarized what happened: "It was on [the night of October 24, 1953]...that the daughter of Prof. and Mrs. Richard Hartley was abducted while babysitting at the home of Prof. and Mrs. Viggo Rasmusen. The Rasmusens had gone to the homecoming [football] game where more than 8,000 saw La Crosse State College demolish River Falls 34-6."  Still others attended a Central High School gala and pre-Halloween bash.

The screams of Evelyn died among the festivities of the night.

At 7:00, Evelyn put twenty-month-old Janis in her crib.  Police speculated that someone attacked Evelyn a few minutes later.

Evidence at the scene indicated that an intruder had removed a window screen from the side of the house.  He climbed through a basement window, up a set of stairs, and likely assaulted Evelyn in the living room.  The teenager had turned the radio on to a local station, and it's possible that she did not hear the invader until it was too late. 

In the living room, a violent struggle ensued.  Furniture was knocked over, and blood swaths covered the walls.  One of Evelyn's shoes and her broken glasses lay on the living room floor.   Her second shoe was found in the basement.

It was obvious to investigators that the assailant snatched Evelyn from the living room, dragged her back through the house, and down into the basement.  He then took her outside, carrying her to the street, where a waiting car likely drove off with the girl.

In the book, Getting Away with Murder: 57 Unsolved Murders with Reward Information, Ed Baumann and John O'Brien wrote: "Stunned neighbors watched from their yards that Saturday morning [as] police discovered an ominous trail of blood leading from the Rasmusen home.  The crimson splotches cut a zigzag path for a distance of one block, leading past homes and garages.  A hideous red smear defiling the side of a neighboring house bore mute evidence that someone bleeding badly had lurched against the wall."

Police questioned everyone in the neighborhood.  Several people claimed to have seen a man and young woman walking through yards as they made their way to the street.  The girl, staggering, was being led by the man.  Because of the revelry going on in town, neighbors thought the couple was inebriated and paid no attention to them.  Another witness claimed to have seen the man and woman enter a waiting car, driven by a second man, and drive away.

As news media gathered from all over the Midwest, the small police department worked feverishly to solve the case.  Cops discovered footprints leading from the Rasmusen home to the road.  Several tracking hounds followed the prints, described as having been made by tennis shoes, but the dogs lost the scent at the street.

Weeks later, a road grader spotted a "well-washed" denim jacket in a ditch.  After several days, he turned it over to the police.  One thousand feet away, searchers located a pair of heavily-worn tennis shoes.  Investigators thought the shoes matched the footprints found in the yard.  The jacket, possibly belonging to a steeplejack, may have been worn by one of the kidnappers.  But these leads eventually dead-ended.

Six months later, the La Crosse County Board hired a full-time professional investigator to work the case.  For more than four years, Alma M. "Joe" Josephson, a former insurance investigator, doggedly pursued the killer.  One of his first acts was to order a mass lie detector test--all male high school and college students were to be tested. Hundreds of men and teenagers came forward to take the polygraph, but no one stood out.

Josephson described his theory of the events that took place on the fateful evening Evelyn went missing:

"There had to be two men, based on a very obvious deduction.  One man forced his way into the Rasmusen home by tearing off the screen and entering through the basement window.  He crept up the stairs and surprised the frightened girl in the living room.  We know that because his shoes left mud on the carpet.

"There was a struggle and Evelyn's eyeglasses were knocked to the floor.  Her shoes, one left behind on the living room rug and the other found in the basement, fell off as the intruder dragged her, kicking and screaming, through the house.  When they reached the basement, she was grabbed around the waist and shoved up through the window and out into the yard.

"Why didn't she run?  Simple.  The second man was waiting outside to pounce on her.

"The individual with the size 11 tennis shoes--the one who had gone inside the house to get the girl--picked her up and slunk between houses and garages with the semi-conscious girl slung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.  The blood on the jacket shows that.  The second individual, meanwhile, doubled back to get the car and bring it around to meet his accomplice.

"As the man in the size 11 sneakers neared the road, where he might be seen, he put his burden down, held her around the waist, and semi-dragged her upright at his side."

According to Josephson's theory, the abductor placed Evelyn into the back seat and climbed in beside her.  With that, the kidnappers sped away.

While this theory may or may not have been accurate, it didn't help identify who took the babysitter.  Or why?

After four years, La Crosse County cancelled Joe Josephson's contract.  He left the area, a defeated man.

In the end, no real suspects ever emerged.

Serial killer Ed Gein has often been mentioned as a possible perpetrator.  He allegedly had been in the area that day.  But no evidence was ever found to tie him to the crime.

Someone got away with murder, and the mystery of the lost babysitter remains.
 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Surviving Another Apocalypse

Bell Rock

New Age Lies
by Robert A. Waters

December 21, 2012 faded out with barely a whimper.  The child-sacrificing Mayan priests, who couldn't even save their own culture, got it wrong.  Or more likely, New Age prophets misinterpreted the Mayan calendar.

So now the "Save-Your-Ass" mantra has begun.  It goes something like this: There never was an apocalypse, just a new cycle in the Mayan calendar that will usher in a kinder, gentler era. 

Yeah, right.

So does anyone feel stupid?

Like those administrators in the U. S. who shut down their schools?  Or the doomsday preppers who spent tens of thousands to build and stock shelters?  Or Peter Gersten, the face of New Age nonsense, who at the last moment canceled his much-anticipated leap of faith from Bell Rock into a cosmic portal?

All my life, I've heard these doomsday predictions by pseudo-religious leaders, mad scientists, and insane people masquerading as bloggers and YouTubers.  I have to admit--the Mayan Apocalypse was sexier than most.  You had the Planet Nibiru hurtling close enough to Mother Earth to destroy it.  You had other rogue planets heading for a colossal cosmic collision with our doomed planet.  There were disastrous sun spots and planet alignments and pole shifts, all coinciding on December 21.  A recipe for disaster unlike anything we've ever seen.  

Only thing is, the Mayan Doomsday apocalypse was just another lie.

 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Guest Post by Ron Franscell

Bath Elementary School Bombing in 1927, 45 Dead
We'll always have mass murders
by Ron Franscell

This is America, dammit, and we have a God-given right to fool ourselves.

The bodies of dead children hadn’t even been cleared from the classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary before various lobbies began trumpeting their end-all solutions to mass murder—just as they have since 1949, the dawn of mass murder’s modern era.

Not all of these fixes are bad ideas, but they simply won’t halt mass murder.  At best, we can hope to thwart some massacres and save some lives, but determined, angry killers will still exist and occasionally wreak havoc.  At worst, we could surrender a lot of freedoms--and still not stop these horrific, frustrating massacres.

Since 1900, America has suffered about 150 public mass murders. Some are now code words for national tragedy: Columbine, Texas Tower, Luby’s, Sandy Hook.  The death toll has been less than 1,000 people, accounting for less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all murder in America in the same period.  Statistically, we have much bigger problems.

Yet mass murder grabs us by the throat every time.  It’s partly because it often happens in familiar, “safe” places … a McDonald’s restaurant, a church, a shopping mall, government offices, schools, festivals.  And its victims are almost always innocents who, like us on any ordinary day in any ordinary place, were not expecting to die.  We can easily imagine being in their place.

Plus, we’re always flummoxed by the enigma of mass murder.  Too often, nobody’s left to explain why it happened.  And in those rare times when we’ve gotten answers, they are historically confusing, irrational, and disappointing.  We spend a lot of energy trying to explain the unexplainable.

Mass murderers tend to be angry young men who are retaliating against personal rejections, failures, slights both real and imagined, and a perceived loss of independence.  They are usually loners but not necessarily unsociable.  Most are disturbed, but not necessarily psychotic.  Their crime is usually triggered by a major loss or disappointment, such as a break-up or job loss.

The revenge-oriented mass killer is trying to get even with specific people, particular categories or groups of individuals, or society at large. He is trying to regain some measure of control over a life he sees spiraling out of control.

So we know plenty about mass murderers … but we have not yet developed any science that can foil a murderous rampage that leaves no trace until too late. Sadly, most mass murderers -- right up until they kill -- do nothing that would cause a reasonable society to identify and restrain them.

The default “fix” has always been gun control.  Ignoring that seven of the 10 deadliest mass murders in American history were not committed with guns, this isn’t as much a rational debate as an uncivil war. The trenches are dug deep and the battle lines shift by inches, not miles.

Yes, we should be more pro-active about preventing lunatics and criminals from owning guns. But we already know that will be an uncomfortable process in a country where even being scanned by an airport machine is considered an intolerable intrusion by many.

And taking away guns won’t remove the root causes of mass murder, merely limit one of the killers’ tools, which have also included fertilizer bombs, knives, fire, poison, water, cars, boats, crossbows, and woodworking tools.   A determined killer might be slowed down, but not stopped by  more gun laws, but even if guns were outlawed completely, determined killers have always found ways to kill.

More/better/cheaper/quicker mental health care?  Certainly.  But very few of America’s most prolific mass murderers – or the people around them -- believed they had mental-health issues. Few would have voluntarily sought help, and the mere suggestion that they were crazy would have exacerbated their feelings of rejection, failure, and loss of control.

Fortifying schools?  That might have stalled Adam Lanza, but most school massacres have been done by students who were already inside, not monsters from the outside.

A crappy economy, desensitization to violence in the media, and deteriorating civility are also contributing factors.  “Fixing” those things poses more daunting challenges than mass murder.

Another unique obstacle is our collective social ADD.  When the next massacre happens, we’ll be shocked.  In time—maybe a week or two—we’ll be distracted.  Soon enough, we’ll forget altogether.  Time erodes feeling and creates indifference.  Americans are condemned to be shocked, to grow complacent, then to forget … then to be shocked all over again.  It keeps us from the long, arduous work of solving a complex problem.

Is it not fascinating that one of America’s deadliest public rampages—a madman’s 1927 school bombing in Bath, Michigan, that killed 45 people, mostly children—is all but forgotten in the Twenty-first century?

Yes, we owe it to the innocent dead to seek answers.  We should devote ourselves to saving as many lives as possible while protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding people.  It’s a delicate balance that won’t lend itself to 144-character Tweets or glib Facebook updates.

But no matter what “fixes” we introduce, we should not fool ourselves that we have ended mass murder.

Journalist Ron Franscell is the author of DELIVERED FROM EVIL, a vivid exploration of the lives of 10 mass-killing survivors. He lives in San Antonio.

Monday, December 17, 2012

On Hiatus for a Few More Days



I have a deadline (January 1, 2013) for turning in the manuscript for my latest book.  My brother and co-author, Zack, and I are busy with editing, referencing, and all the other things that go into getting a book published.  I'll be up and writing my blog again shortly after the first of the year.  Many thanks to all the readers who drop by here occasionally, and I wish you all a great holiday season.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Mysterious Vanishing of Lindsey Baum

Young girl disappears without a trace
by Robert A. Waters

Lindsey Baum was terrified of the dark.

Just ten, the child had begun to experience the troubles that often come with life.  Her parents had recently divorced, and the separation upset her.  She lived with her mother in McCleary, Washington, while her father, a National Guardsman stationed in Tennessee, prepared to leave for Iraq.  On June 26, 2009, Lindsey had a spat with her brother, then left home to visit a friend.  Later that evening, at around 9:15, she left to go home.

Within blocks of her residence, the young girl disappeared.

As with many missing children, police at first thought Lindsey may have run away.  However, she had no history of such behavior, and she left her cell phone, money, and clothes behind.  A  check of her computer revealed no suspicious activity.  As the days wore on with no trace of Lindsey, investigators searched homes in the area, checked out registered sex offenders, and mounted searches in nearby forests.  No trace of Lindsey has ever been found.

When she disappeared, Lindsey Baum stood four-feet, ten inches tall and weighed about 90 pounds.  She had colored fillings in her teeth.  Her hair was dark blonde, and she wore a bluish-gray hooded shirt, jeans with the knees cut out, and American Eagle brand shoes.  Beneath her outer clothing, Lindsey a red, white, and blue mismatched bathing suit.

If you have any information about this disappearance, call Gray’s Harbor Sheriff’s Office at 866-915-8299.  A reward of $30,000 is being offered.
 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Delia's Gone"

Blind Willie McTell
The True Story of Delia Green
by Robert A. Waters

Many folk songs are based on real events.  However, as in "Delia's Gone," the truth can get lost along the way.  Fortunately, Robert Winslow Gordon, who worked as a song collector for the Smithsonian Institute, tracked this murder ballad to Savannah, Georgia.  There he obtained records of the court case.  (Thanks to the website Murder by Gaslight for much of the information in this story.)

On Christmas Eve, 1900, two lovers, Delia Green and Moses "Cooney" Houston, both 14, attended a party at the Savannah, Georgia home of Willie and Emma West.  The lovers got into an argument, and Green called Houston a "son of a bitch."  This so enraged him that he took a gun from Willie West's night-stand and shot Green in the groin.   As Houston fled, West chased him down, captured him, and turned him over to the police.

Delia died the next day.

At his trial, Houston claimed he brought the gun to the West home and placed it under a napkin.  Another party-goer found it, Houston said, and picked it up.  As he attempted to get the gun back, Houston claimed it went off accidently.  Unfortunately for him, numerous people witnessed the crime.  Willie West testified that the shooting had been a cold-blooded killing.

The jury convicted Houston, but recommended mercy (probably because of his age).  The young killer was sentenced to life in prison.

Houston served twelve years of his sentence before being paroled.  His crime-filled life continued until he died in 1927 in New York.

Shortly after the murder, local musicians began singing about "poor Delia." The refrain, "Delia's gone, one more time, Delia's gone," became the one phrase that stuck in all the various renditions of the song.  Georgia blues singer Blind Willie McTell, who wrote the classic "Statesboro Blues," had a version called "Delia" which was sung from Houston's point of view--this version blamed Delia for consorting with gamblers.

Blind Blake (Alphonso Blake Higgs) also claimed to have written the song.  The title of his version is "Delia's Gone."

Many country and folk artists recorded the song, including Bob Dylan, Peete Seeger, and others.  The lyrics to Johnny Cash's classic version is printed below.  Click the link to hear the song.

http://youtu.be/Y1iKEPzF1Js

Delia's Gone
(As recorded by Johnny Cash)

Delia, poor Delia, Delia all my life,
If I hadn't of shot poor Delia, I'd have had her for my wife,
Delia's gone, one more round, Delia's gone.

I went up to Memphis and found poor Delia there,
Found her in her parlor and tied her to a chair,
Delia's gone, one more round, Delia's gone.

She was low-down and triflin', she was cold and mean,
Kind of evil made me want to grab my sub-mo-chine,
Delia's gone, one more round, Delia's gone.

First time I shot her, shot her in the side,
Hard to see her suffer, but with the second shot she died,
Delia's gone, one more round, Delia's gone.

Jailer, oh Jailer, Jailer, I can't sleep,
Cause all around the bedside I hear the patter of Delia's feet,
Delia's gone, one more round, Delia's gone.

So if your woman's devilish, you can let her run,
Or you can bring her down and do her like Delia got done,
Delia's gone, one more round, Delia's gone.


NOTE: Of course, I don't condone domestic violence in any way, shape, or form. 
 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Murder of Linda Slaten

32-year-old cold case still unsolved
by Robert A. Waters

September 1, 1981 dawned like every other day in Lakeland, Florida.  Many of the 47,000 residents filtered from their homes and headed to work, school, or the many recreation sites in the area.
On North Brunnell Parkway, outside Apartment 31 in a federally-subsidized living complex, Judy Butler noticed a screen had been removed from her sister's bedroom window.  Investigating, she discovered the body of Linda Slaten.

Officers from the Lakeland Police Department soon arrived.

In a separate bedroom, Slaten’s sons Jeff, 15, and Tim, 12, slept soundly.  Officers rushed them from the apartment.   

Slaten lay on the bed, half-clothed.  She’d been raped, and a wire coat hanger placed around her neck and twisted tight.  Her death must have been horrifying.

The crime went down on a slow week for news.  Even so, local newspapers only used the homicide as filler for the back pages.  Slaten, unemployed and living in the projects, mattered little to the rest of the community.  The Lakeland Ledger reported the story on page 29 of 29.

Few suspects emerged during the investigation.  Police interviewed those who knew Slaten, including a boyfriend, but no one stood out.  The case quickly went cold.

Raised by their grandmother, the loss felt by Jeff and Tim overwhelmed them.  While they were teenagers, the brothers grew up thinking LPD had a crack team of detectives working the case, and that it would be solved.  Later, they learned that little had been done after the initial investigation.  Linda Slaten was just another in a long list of unsolved murders in the area.  Jeff and Tim eventually contacted a detective and got the case jump-started.

By 1997, DNA had advanced so that items collected from the crime scene could be tested.  After obtaining a profile of the killer’s DNA, detectives checked several people close to Slaten, including her ex-husband and boyfriend.  All were cleared.

Investigators placed the DNA profile in state and national databases, hoping for a cold hit.  So far, there have been none.

Who murdered Linda Slaten?  32 years later, it’s still a mystery.

Could the killer have been someone she knew? 

Could he have been an opportunistic predator who noticed the pretty young woman as he passed by her bedroom window? 

Did Slaten have a stalker, someone who watched until the time was right, then stole in for the kill?

At the time, it’s thought that one or more serial killers were plying their gruesome trade in the area.  For instance, in 1980, Cynthia Clements, 19, was kidnapped from the convenience store where she worked, her brutalized body found weeks later.  Because of evidence discovered at the scene, detectives who worked the case are convinced her killer had committed sexual homicides many times before.  “Once he gets started doing this type of thing, it usually progresses,” an investigator said.

In 1982, the remains of sixteen-year-old Leandra Hogan, found in nearby Hillsborough County, bore the marks of a serial killer. 

These, and other cases, have never been solved.

With DNA, there’s always a chance that the killer of Linda Slaten will be caught.  Here’s hoping he makes a mistake and his DNA profile pops up in some database. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

An Act of Kindness


NFL player replaces stolen Christmas
by Robert A. Waters

In this era when criminals and convicts dominate the National Football League, it’s nice to see a player give back.  Indianapolis Colts right guard Mike McGlynn did just that when the Grinch stole one family's Christmas.
It started on Black Friday when Lori Diehl, of Shelbyville, Indiana, set off on a shopping trip.  Lori’s family includes her husband, Matthew, and three children.  Matthew has Hodgson’s Lymphoma, having undergone twelve treatments of chemotherapy.  Lori and Matthew are both teachers, but they’re currently on leave because of his illness.  Money in the family is tight, so this Christmas, family, friends, and members of the church Lori attends chipped in with gift certificates to several area stores.

After shopping at K-Mart, Target, Kohl’s, and Sears, Lori stopped at Menard’s.  When she came back to her mini-van, she found it had been broken into, and all her gifts stolen.  Police arrived on the scene, and a local television station reported the story on the evening news.

Megan McGlynn happened to be watching the broadcast, and she told her husband.  The next day, Mike donated $500 to cover the cost of the presents.

“He truly was wonderful,” Diehl said. “We were just amazed. He was exceedingly generous.” 

The player even spoke to her young son.  “He (her son) was over the moon excited,” Diehl said.

The NFL needs more players like Mike McGlynn.
 

Friday, November 23, 2012

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Nadia Bloom
The Rescue of Nadia Bloom
by Robert A. Waters

The doubters, naysayers, and skeptics stormed from the sidelines when a Good Samaritan rescued little Nadia Bloom.  Joy Behar ridiculed the rescuer, bloggers accused him of everything from kidnapping to child-rape, and letters to editors across the country denounced him.

On April 9, 2010, the ten-year-old Winter Springs, Florida girl went for a bicycle ride.   Wandering into the swampy Lake Jesup Conservation Area, she became lost.  For three days, police and volunteers used machetes to chop through the heavily-canopied forest in a desperate search for Nadia.  Finally, on the fourth day, as hope was fading, James King found her.

King then used his cell phone to call other searchers to the spot where he’d located Nadia.  Because of the impenetrable terrain, a helicopter couldn’t land, so rescuers loaded her on a gurney and hacked their way back to a waiting ambulance. Transported to Arnold Palmer Hospital, Nadia was treated for bug bites, scratches, and a blood infection.  Six days later, she was released.

James King, a church-going military contractor, claimed that God led him to the missing girl.  After several interviews on national television, a hurricane of suspicion descended upon him.  A feel-good story suddenly turned into a nightmarish blur of accusations.   

Here’s a sampling of the vitriol.

advocateForThe Abducted wrote: "That is about the creepiest thing I have ever heard.  Creep factor at a 10 on the scale!  Hopefully they will interview this guy again.  (I have heard they plan on it) And, check Nadia out to see if she has been violated in any way while she is in the hospital…I feel this guy drugged this girl and had her held captive elsewhere for purposes such as molestation (remember Elizabeth Smart and her sick religious captors) and then took her to that spot waist high in swamp water, possibly to finish her off, and possibly she came out of her drugged state, and he re-thought his plan.  Then he thought he could be the ‘hero’.  Wonder if there was a reward.  He drives an old suburban...Her parents should be aware that this is highly unlikely ‘God told him’ to walk 3 hours in alligator infested swamps to find there (sic) alive daughter.  I will bet anything - the truth will come out soon!  That guy is a creep and this is another attempted child abduction."

Local authorities checked out James King’s story.  They concluded that the rescuer was who he claimed to be: a concerned volunteer who searched in a different area than the main searchers. 

King’s continued claims that he walked through the swamp praying that God would lead him to the girl rankled many.  Skeptics seemed to take his comments as a personal affront.

A blogger wrote: “This guy and his ‘give glory to the Lord’ routine are sickening.”

An Internet critic named TOMSUTTON wrote: “what a bunch of BS. This guy obviously held her till yesterday after abducting her friday. Then he finds her and say ‘THE LORD LED ME TO HER!!!’ Dumb jesus freaks.”

Joy Behar, on ABC's “The View,” said, "Who needs an Amber Alert now?  You know you don't need an Amber Alert anymore.  Why doesn't God tell every other person where to find all these other missing children?"

King, to his credit, shrugged off the criticism.  “It doesn’t affect me at all,” he said. “I just take it in stride.  It doesn’t affect who I am.  They can believe what they want to believe.”

Personally, if I was lost in the woods, I’d love to have James King searching for me. 

The sideline-sitting naysayers have proven how useless they are.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Evil and Incompetency

The violent career of Scott Malsky
by Robert A. Waters

Scott Christopher Malsky is the monster you see in horror flicks.  Today, he sits in a Florida prison doing life.  He’s lucky he didn’t get the death penalty.

In July, 1993, Pauline Farrington lived on Ednor Street in Port Charlotte.  Seventy-nine-years-old, she’d been a widow for many years.  After no one heard from her for several days, a neighbor checked her home.  Farrington lay in her bedroom, stone-dead.  Police determined that she’d been raped, stabbed, and strangled to death. 

Malsky, 17, quickly became the prime suspect.  He lived a few doors down from the victim, and already had a long history of deviancy and violence.  At the time, however, investigators were unable to conclusively link their suspect to the murder.

Malsky left Florida and headed back to his home state of Massachusetts.  In New Bedford, two prostitutes claimed he raped them.  In two separate trials, Malsky was acquitted.  A prosecutor implied that the juries did not believe the victims because of their “occupations.”

After his acquittals, Malsky split Massachusetts, ending up back in Florida.  A walking time-bomb, it didn’t take him long to explode once again.  He abducted fourteen-year-old Jennifer Wolfgang from Punta Gorda.  Beating her with a baseball bat, he raped her, stabbed her 40 times, dumped gasoline on her, and set her on fire, leaving her for dead in a Florida swamp.  Eighty hours later, Wolfgang emerged on a rural road where she was rescued by a passing motorist.  Despite numerous injuries, the teen survived and identified Malsky as her attacker.

This time, the much-tattooed suspect would not escape punishment.  His victim testified against him and Malsky received 25 years in prison. 

In 2003, while the rapist was serving time, cops tested evidence found at the scene of the Farrington homicide. DNA matched Malsky.  He admitted killing the elderly widow and plea bargained a sentence of life in prison without parole.

A few months later, residents of south Florida were shocked to read that Malsky would be eligible for parole after 25 years. 

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported that “the fatal stabbing of Pauline P. Farrington happened in 1993, two years before the passage of a state law that denies parole to criminals sentenced to life imprisonment.  Malsky's prison sentence, the state discovered, should have been guided by pre-1995 statutes.  Life prisoners then were granted eligibility for parole after serving at least 25 years of their sentences.  In 1995, state lawmakers passed the Stop Turning Out Prisoners legislation, which required that inmates serve at least 85 percent of their sentences -- effectively ending ‘early release.’ Prisoners given life terms would get no parole.”

It’s frightening to realize that Malsky might actually get out of prison someday.

And what’s almost as frightening is the fact that the bureaucrats we hire to save us from such people are incompetent.
 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Victim Bludgeoned, Strangled, and Burned to Death

22 years later and still no justice for Marlys Sather
by Robert A. Waters
Marlys Sather worked for a living.
Chadwick Willacy, her crack-head next-door neighbor, stole.

On September 5, 1990, their lives intersected in a violent encounter.  At around noon, Marlys unexpectedly returned home from work.  As she walked through the door, she saw Willacy burglarizing her house.

Court documents describe what happened next: “Willacy bludgeoned Sather and bound her ankles with wire and duct tape. He choked and strangled her with a cord with a force so intense that a portion of her skull was dislodged. Willacy then obtained Sather's ATM pin number, her ATM card, and the keys to her car; drove to her bank; and withdrew money out of her account. Willacy hid Sather's car around the block while he made trips to and from the house. He placed stolen items on Sather's porch for later retrieval, took a significant amount of property from Sather's house to his house, and then drove the car to Lynbrook Plaza where he left it and jogged back to Sather's home. Upon his return, Willacy disabled the smoke detectors, doused Sather with gasoline he had taken from the garage, placed a fan from the guest room at her feet to provide more oxygen for the fire, and struck several matches as he set her on fire.”

When she didn’t show up for work that afternoon, Sather’s employer notified her family.  Her son-in-law entered the house to check on her, and located her body.  He immediately called police.

Willacy’s fingerprints were found on the following items: a fan that lay at the feet of the victim; a gas can; and a tape recorder inside the residence.  Several witnesses testified that they saw Willacy driving Sather’s car to the ATM machine she often used.  The suspect’s wife called police and informed investigators she’d found a “check register” belonging to Sather in a trash can inside their home.  After obtaining a search warrant, officers found other items belonging to Sather, as well as clothing that contained Sather’s blood.

Cops arrested Willacy.  After he confessed to being inside the home when Sather was slain, investigators charged him with first-degree premeditated murder, burglary, robbery, and arson.

An autopsy revealed that Marlys had died of smoke inhalation.
Willacy was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death.  Two years later, his conviction was overturned on a technicality.  Once again, the killer was convicted and sentenced to death.

Over the last 20 years, Willacy has had dozen of appeals, all turned down for one reason: the evidence of his guilt is overwhelming.

This case meets my criteria for putting a killer to death: obvious, undeniable guilt, and a heinous murder.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Unsolved Murder in Louisiana


The Cruel Death of Stephanie Lynn Hebert
by Robert A. Waters

Thirty-five years ago, an unknown killer abducted a child from Waggaman, Louisiana. 
On a blazing hot summer day in 1978, six-year-old Stephanie Lynn Hebert left her home to play with a neighbor.  Late that afternoon, her parents, Donald and Joyce Hebert, reported her missing. 

The New Orleans Times-Picayune described the child: “Stephanie, whose 6th birthday is June 30th, was last seen wearing pink shorts and a pink checkered top, her father said.  Also, she was barefooted and wearing blue framed glasses, he said, adding that she had blond hair, is about four feet tall and weighs about 45 pounds.  Last month she graduated from kindergarten at Live Oak Manor Elementary School near her home.”

An ice cream vendor told detectives from Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office that she’d sold cotton candy to a child and an older woman sometime between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m.  The vendor claimed the little girl looked like Stephanie.  (Despite a massive search, the two were never located.)

Thousands of searchers scoured the surrounding country-side, including a heavily forested area near the missing girl’s home.  Helicopters buzzed overhead, focusing on the nearby Mississippi River.  Investigators, including FBI agents, meticulously searched the Hebert home while Stephanie’s parents met with reporters to plead for their child’s return.  Psychics opined on where to locate Stephanie, but those avenues proved unsuccessful.

Finally, on November 29, 1979, twenty-one miles from Waggaman, a hunter found the child’s skeletal remains.  Stephanie, tied to a tree, had been dead for approximately six months, likely since the time she went missing.  Ropes had been secured around her remains, and her clothing and eye-glasses lay on the ground nearby.  Animals had scattered many of her bones.

The child’s killer was never found.

Numerous questions remain.  Why did the kidnapper tie Stephanie to a tree?  Was she still alive when left in those lonely woods?  Did she succumb to the elements or animal attack?  

After 35 years, is the killer still alive? 

NOTE: Stephanie Lynn Hebert’s sad case lay cold, dormant, and forgotten for twenty-five years, until an amateur online sleuth began researching it.  Here's hoping the murderer will be caught, and will face the justice he so deserves. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Armistice Day Remembered

                     Zack A. Crumpton, far-right on second row

The Heroes of an Ancient War
by Zack C. Waters

This is my brother’s memorial to our grandfather, Zack A. Crumpton. Farmer, mechanic, patriot, Southern story-teller, and thinker, Grandpa made a lasting impression on all he met. 

The old men began arriving in the middle of the afternoon. I knew something important was happening, because my grandfather had changed out of his work clothes after lunch. He wore suits on Sundays, but I had never before seen him “dressed up” on a week day.

The day was November 11, and back then Americans called it “Armistice Day.”

The first time I saw the Armistice Day gathering there were 12 “buddies.” Why they had picked my grandfather’s ranch in north-central Florida for their mini-reunion I don’t recall, but it had become something of an annual event. My grandmother brought pitchers of lemonade and homemade cookies to the front porch and then quietly excused herself, leaving us “men” to our important discussions.

Being eight years old, I thought the men were incredibly old (though they were probably no older that I am now). One was missing an arm, his long-sleeved shirt neatly rolled up to the stump of his arm and safety-pinned in place. He spoke with a Northern accent and had either been a member of the “Lost Battalion” or had been part of the force that relieved the “Lost Battalion.”

Two of the men were occasionally shaken with coughing spasms. They sounded as if they were trying to retch up a lung, their gaunt bodies shaking like spastic puppets. My grandfather later explained that they had breathed mustard gas.

They all wore red plastic poppies in the button-holes of their coat lapels.

                                        Zack A. Crumpton

I don’t now remember the combat stories they told. I’m sure there were tales of machine-gun fire and battles fought across grassy plains dotted with red flowers, because I drew pictures of that scene in my notebook over and over, when I should have been listening to my math or science teachers. My lined paper was crammed with more violence and contorted bodies that any painting Otto Dix ever created.

My grandfather explained that he had been a lowly truck driver during the Great War, now generally known as World War I. He had carried ammunition to the front, and the dead and wounded to the rear, from places like Belleau Woods and Chateau Thierry. He was my hero, and I felt certain he was just being modest. I was pretty sure that when “Black Jack” Pershing had faced a particularly trying problem he stopped by the motor pool to ask “Old Zack” what to do. People in western Marion County often came to ask for his advice, so why not General Pershing.

More than anything, though, I remember the songs the old vets sang. Some were sentimental, some silly, and others heartbreakingly sad. I particularly loved this one:

“Goodbye Maw, goodbye Paw,
Goodbye mule with your old hee-haw.
I’ll bring you a Turk, and a Kaiser, too,
And that’s about all one old boy can do.”

It was the bawdy version of “Mademoiselle from Armentieres” that got my grandfather and me in trouble. The next day at lunch I innocently asked my grandfather what was the “clap”? My grandmother hit the roof. She shouted that I would never attend another of those meetings with a bunch of dirty-mouthed old men, but my grandfather must have calmed her down, because the next year I was back on the front porch humming along with their songs.

I missed the last Armistice Day reunion. I was busy with teenage concerns (girls, sports, and food), but my grandmother said there were only four vets at the last meeting. My grandfather was blind by then, and one of the other doughboys was in a wheelchair. Grandma said his “spinster” daughter complained the whole time about having to bring the old man “all the way out to Fellowship to grumble about the government and sing smutty songs.”

So the next November 11, no one showed up. I think my grandfather knew they would not come. Still, he sat on the front porch in his Sunday suit with a red poppy in the lapel, sipping lemonade and keeping a lonely vigil. The hero of an ancient war spent the afternoon humming tunes that only the dead could hear.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lady Wonder, the Talking Horse

A horse is a horse, of course...
by Robert A. Waters

In September, 1952, various newspapers across the country reported the following dialog, not between two humans, but between a woman and a horse:

Claudia Fonda: “Is Gary Hayman alive?”

The horse, named Lady Wonder, touched rubber discs with her nose until the letters H-U-R-T popped up.

“Where can the little boy be found?”

T-R-U-C-K.

“Where is the truck?”

Lady Wonder touched the discs again.

K-A-N-S-A-S.

“Can Gary Hayman be found?”

Y-E-S.

This bizarre scene might have seemed comical except for the seriousness of the occasion. Gary, a nine-year-old mute, had vanished from his neighborhood in Exeter, Rhode Island. Weeks of searching turned up only one clue: his clothes, neatly folded, lay beside a small stream near his home.

Soon after, Gary’s distraught mother, Mrs. Benjamin Hayman, heard about Lady Wonder. Some cops claimed that the mare could read minds, having helped to solve at least one case concerning a missing child. Mrs. Hayman called Fonda and implored the woman to ask her horse a series of questions about the vanished boy. Fonda, from Richmond, Virginia, agreed, prompting the newspaper articles quoted above.

Fonda asked the horse a final question: “Is Gary with good people or bad people?”

G-O-O-D.

Based on this information, Mrs. Hayman requested that the Kansas State Police search for her son in that state.

Claudia Fonda bought the two-week old filly in 1925. Three years later, she said, she discovered its psychic powers. After some experimentation, Fonda built a “typewriter” on which the letters of the alphabet were spread out in front of Lady Wonder. The horse operated this device by lowering her muzzle onto levers that flipped up, showing letters to the audience.

Fonda charged $1.00 for three questions. Over the years, more than 150,000 paying customers dropped by to question the horse.

Several college professors studied the horse, concluding that Lady Wonder did indeed have psychic powers. At least one egg-head journal, “Abnormal and Social Psychology,” published an article about the horse. The authors (whose names I will mercifully not publish) concluded that the horse had “telepathic” powers through “the transference of mental influence by an unknown process.”

A skeptic named John Scarne decided to check out the talking horse. He later published an article concluding that Claudia Fonda was a fraud.

Scarne visited Fonda and, after giving her various clues, asked the mare several questions. He then carefully observed Fonda and Lady Wonder as the horse answered.

Scarne wrote the following paragraph describing how Fonda manipulated the horse to pick out certain letters: "Mrs. Fonda carried a small whip in her right hand, and she cued the horse by waving it. I detected Mrs. Fonda doing it every time the horse moved the lettered blocks with the nose. This method of doing the trick might have puzzled me if I hadn't known that the placement of horse's eyes on either side of the head gave them wide backward range of peripheral vision. Therefore it offered no problem for me to detect. Mrs. Fonda, when cueing Lady Wonder, stood about two-and-a-half feet behind, and approximately at a 60-degree angle to Lady's head. The shaking of the whip first time was the signal for Lady to bend her head within a couple of inches to the blocks. A second shake of the whip was the cue for Lady to continuously move her head in a bent position back and forth over the blocks. When Lady Wonder's head was just above the desired block Mrs. Fonda made the horse touch the block with her nose by shaking the whip a third time. It was as simple as that."

Alas, the case of Gary Hayman did not turn out as predicted by Lady Wonder. In December, 1953, hunters discovered a skull found in the woods near his home.  A coroner identified the skull as that of the boy, and ruled his death accidental.

Unfortunately, Gary Hayman was not in Kansas being cared for by “good” people.

In 1957, Lady Wonder died of a heart attack. Buried in a local pet cemetery with about thirty mourners in attendance, a minister read the poem, “An Arab’s Farewell to His Horse.” 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Why We Own Guns


Twelve-year-old girl shoots intruder
by Robert A. Waters

In Calera, Oklahoma, Stacey Adam Jones allegedly broke into a home and was shot for his trouble. After ringing the front doorbell several times, he walked around back and kicked in the back door. Making his way through the house, the intruder had no idea that twelve-year-old Kendra St. Clair [pictured] had barricaded herself inside the master bedroom closet.

Jones, who’d allegedly abducted a 17-year-old girl just a year before, made his way into the bedroom.

Undersheriff Ken Golden described what happened next. “[From] what we understand right now,” he said, “[Jones] was turning the [closet] doorknob when the girl fired through the door.”

A few minutes earlier, Kendra had called her mother and stated that a stranger was attempting to enter the home. Debra St. Clair told her daughter to get the family’s .40-caliber Glock and hide in the closet.  She did so, all the while using her cellphone to speak with a 911 dispatcher.

Police arrived at the home a short time later and found Jones outside. He’d been shot in the shoulder, the bullet exiting his back.  He was transported to a hospital for treatment.  After spending a day in the hospital, Jones was released, then arrested

Golden told reporters that “[the girl] did everything she was supposed to do and more. And we're absolutely so thankful that she is fine. And I admire the little girl a lot.”

Imagine what may have happened had the girl not had a gun.



Saturday, October 13, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Three Week Hiatus

I'm currently completing my fifth true crime book.  The manuscript is due November 1, so I'll be taking a hiatus from writing my blog until then.  Thanks to the many readers who visit here.  More about my new book later.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Don’t Tell Mama I was Drinkin’



Memories of music past...
by Robert A. Waters

One of the constants in my life has been hillbilly music. My earliest memories are of listening to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights. Like many Southern families, in the early 1950s, we’d gather around the radio and thrill to the fiddles and banjos and faraway voices singing of home--both here and in the afterlife.

My grandfather, a World War I veteran, farmer, and mechanic, loved to sing: gospel songs, Jimmie Rodgers’ blues and train songs, and what are now called folk songs. “Life’s Railway to Heaven,” “Waiting for a Train,” and “Trouble in Mind” were a few of his favorites.

In those days, hillbilly music wasn’t politically correct. God existed. People sinned: they drank too much; cheated on their wives or husbands; and were quick to take lethal revenge on being wronged. But God stood over it all, ready to forgive our transgressions.

Hillbillies loved their guns, their freedom, and their country. While intellectuals looked down on their lifestyle and religion and music, with its Rebel twang and steel guitars and broken-life lyrics, songwriters continued to turn out songs that are now recognized as classics.

Like most teens of the time, I went through a rock and roll phase. But my real love was always country--real country, not watered-down Nashville pop. As far as I’m concerned, you can send Shania back to Canada and Keith Urban back to Australia.  Then tar and feather all the Nashville producers and give them a one-way ticket to New York City.

If you’re still reading, here’s one of my favorite songs. It combines three of old-time country music’s constant themes: God, family, and booze. It’s a tear-jerker of the best sort. The singer is Gary Allan.

Don't Tell Mama I was Drinkin’
Written by Buddy Brock, Jerry Lassiter, and Kim Williams

I was headed north on Highway Five
On a star-lit Sunday night,
When a pick-up truck flew by me out of control.
As I watched in my headlights,
He swerved left, then back right.
He never hit the brakes as he left the road.

I found him lying in the grass
Among the steel and glass
With an empty whiskey bottle by his side.
And through the blood and tears
He whispered in my ear
A few last words just before he died.

CHORUS: Don't tell Mama I was drinkin’
Lord knows her soul would never rest.
I can't leave this world with Mama thinkin’
I met the Lord with whiskey on my breath.

I still think about that night
And how that young man died,
And how others sometimes pay for our mistakes.
The last thing on his mind
As he left this world behind
Was knowing someone else's heart would break.

CHORUS: Don't tell Mama I was drinkin’
Lord knows her soul would never rest.
I can't leave this world with Mama thinkin’
I met the Lord with whiskey on my breath.

Don't tell Mama I was drinkin’.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weirdest of the Weird

2 of the strangest people ever…
by Robert A. Waters

Marshall Applewhite

A pasty-faced weirdo with bullet eyes, Applewhite spoke incessantly about catching a spacecraft and riding it to heaven. Somehow this bizarre creature, who re-named himself “Do,” actually found 40 followers willing to ascend to what he termed the “Next Level.”

In 1996, as the comet Hale-Bopp came hurtling into the view of astronomers, Applewhite convinced his entourage that he could see a spaceship following behind. Even though it was 92 million miles away, the creepiest guy on earth decided that Heaven’s Gate (official name for the creepiest cult on earth) could catch it and ride it to the next world.

Only one problem--you had to die so your soul could board the alien vessel. Which meant you had to commit suicide.

Seems like that would have sent most of his flock fleeing for the hills. But no, 39 of the 40 actually took the poison and…well, died. Were their souls beamed up to the spacecraft? The one survivor who chickened out from taking the Kool-aid cocktail seems to think so. Everybody else is just glad Applewhite isn’t around to convince other lost souls to join his demented journey into weirdness.

This guy was hard-core New Age nuts and it showed at first glance. How he could have influenced anyone to believe him is beyond me.

John Mark Karr, a.k.a. Alexis Valoran Reich, a.k.a. Delia Alexis Reich

John Mark Karr, or whatever name he calls himself now, made news a few years ago by falsely confessing to the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. The former substitute teacher was cleared when his DNA didn’t match blood found on the six-year-old beauty queen’s panties. That's bizarre enough, but after he was released from jail, he became even weirder.

First, Karr allegedly underwent a sex change operation, and changed his name to either Alexis Valoran Reich or Delia Alexis Reich, or both.

Next, according to one of his former students who spoke to Fox News, Karr "has been trying to create a cult of JonBenet Ramsey look-a-likes he is calling 'the Immaculates'—blond girls as young as 4 years old with small feet." His purpose is supposedly to "get close" to the young girls.

He seems to flit from state to state, or country to country, always with his trusty computer, sending out the strangest emails.  He once wrote: "The end of 9 years old is usually the stopping point for me due to the physical height and development of the child. In some parts of the world however I have been highly attracted to girls who were 12 though they were the size of the girls who were 8 in the U.S. I cannot say I was actually attracted to the 12-year-olds but it was a little more tempting. I am attracted to dolls. When they get past the doll stage I am no longer physically attracted."

Where is Karr now?  Rumor has it that he's gone underground, maybe in Thailand.

Wherever he may be, anybody who spends 24/7 obsessing over a murdered 6-year-old girl he never even knew has issues.

Here’s my advice to Karr. Stay far away from little girls.  Also, any time you get the urge to write an email, hit the delete button. And get another hobby to keep you busy: like maybe collecting stamps or comic books or murderabilia.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kimberly McCarthy Scheduled to be Executed

The dead are never victims...
by Robert A. Waters

Kimberly McCarthy would do anything for crack. Anything. On July 22, 1997, the Lancaster, Texas addict called her neighbor, seventy-one-year-old Dr. Dorothy Booth, and asked to borrow a cup of sugar.

On arriving at Booth’s home, McCarthy attacked her with a candelabrum and two butcher knives. As Booth lay dead (or maybe while she was still alive), McCarthy cut off her finger. Removing Booth’s diamond wedding ring, McCarthy then pawned it for $200. Police arrested the killer at a liquor store while she was in the act of using Booth’s credit cards.

Court records describe the evidence against Kimberly Lagayle McCarthy: “We first note that the State offered ample evidence of appellant's guilt...The victim's caller ID records showed that she received two calls from an anonymous number on July 22, 1997, at 6:19 a.m. and 6:29 a.m. [on the day of the murder]. Harry Wilkins, Jr., aka, ‘Smiley,’ testified that appellant was driving the victim's white Mercedes Benz station wagon when she met him on the morning of July 22, 1997, to inquire about buying crack cocaine. The State further showed that appellant pawned the victim's diamond ring on July 22, 1997, and that she used the victim's credit cards at several locations on July 23, 1997. When appellant was arrested on July 24, 1997, she attempted to take with her a tote bag containing the victim's driver's license and several of the victim's credit cards. The State's strongest independent evidence of appellant's guilt was produced when the police executed a search warrant at appellant's home on July 24, 1997. Officers found a large knife stained with Dr. Booth's blood in appellant's kitchen cabinet above the refrigerator. The bloody knife matched other knives found in the kitchen drawers of appellant's house. [DNA tests confirmed that the blood on the knife was consistent with Booth’s blood.]”

In Texas, as in all other states, it’s exceedingly rare for a female to be sentenced to death. The pre-meditated and gruesome nature of this case convinced the judge to sentence McCarthy to the ultimate penalty.

McCarthy’s execution is scheduled for January 29, 2013. Texas is serious about justice, and so, unless there is a surprise ruling by an appellate court, she will receive her reward. As she trudges toward the gurney, will McCarthy remember the frail neighbor who tried to help her by giving her sugar? Will she feel remorse for her savage and lethal attack on Dorothy Booth? Will she think of her victim’s still-grieving family?

I think not. More likely, she’ll see herself as the victim. And the sad thing is that there are those who will agree with her.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Execution Files 3

Too Fat To Die: Killer's Attorneys Complain That Needles Might Hurt
by Robert A. Waters

In an attempt to stop his execution, scheduled for January 16, 2013, Ronald Post’s lawyers filed the following brief: “There is a substantial risk that any attempt to execute him will result in serious physical and psychological pain to him, as well as an execution involving a torturous and lingering death.” Post, who murdered a motel clerk thirty years ago, now weighs 480 pounds--according to his lawyers, it sometimes takes up to three tries with a needle to find a ripe vein.

Of course, the real victim wasn’t Post. It was Helen Grace Vantz, a 53-year-old clerk at an Ohio motel. Post executed her for $100 as she worked to support herself and her family. Two bullets to the back of the head weren’t pleasant, but his lawyers never mention that.

The victim’s son, William Vantz, recently wrote an open letter addressing the issue:

“To the Editor: residents of Lorain County and the State of Ohio: In the late ‘70s, early ‘80s, the residents of the apartment complex of 148 David Dr., Elyria, enjoyed the manger scene my mother would display in the bay window of her apartment. Every year she would show her love of Christmas to that neighborhood. That is, until 1983 when her life and love was taken as if she [was] just a piece of that plaster display.

“Helen Grace Vantz’s life was not fancy. She was not rich. She was just a working mother of three who didn’t miss work. She would volunteer to work holidays so her co-workers could spend time with family and friends. In 1983, she was encouraged to take Christmas off and spend it with my brother, his wife and only grandson. That Christmas never came for them.

“On Dec. 15, 1983, a non-feeling, low-life piece of human scum put two bullets into the back of her head, execution-style, taking her life. Ronald Ray Post, by his own admission, was the person who pulled that trigger and ended the life of a loving, caring woman at 53 years of age. Why? For his efforts, he walked out of the Slumber Inn Motel’s lobby with approximately $100 and a 13-inch black and white television. She would have given him the money and not put up a fight, but he did the cowardly thing, shooting her from behind while she worked on the nightly receipts. She probably didn’t even know he was behind her.

“Now, 28 years later, it seems that justice will finally be served. Post was convicted and sentenced to death by a three-judge panel in 1985. Numerous appeals were filed and all of them denied by the higher courts. His defense attorneys in the original trial gambled on a no contest plea that had never been tried before. This was in an attempt to save him from the electric chair. It seemed to work for 28 years.

“I am now 54 years old, a year older than my mother at the time of her murder. We, my family and friends have waited too long for the day that he is executed for this heinous crime. Some did not live long enough to see the day that justice is served. The passing of her sister Clara Duffield Payler is the most regretful. My aunt suffered a stroke not long after the murder due in part by the strain and anguish she felt in the loss of her younger sister. The day that he was sentenced Clara turned to my wife and I and said, ‘I just hope I live long enough to see it.’ She did not, and neither did my mother-in-law and other friends and relatives. They might have if the Lorain County Prosecutor’s office hadn’t lost a file for eight years!

“My children, Jessica Grace and Robert John, never got to know either of my parents. My father had passed away three years prior to my mother’s murder. He took that from them when he pulled that trigger. They have middle names in respectful memory of my parents.

“Some have said that since it’s been so long just let him stay in prison for the remainder of his natural life. No! I am as committed to this as the day he took her life. I will never forgive or forget what he took from us. We all have recourse to the law and it’s time he paid his debt to society. It’s way overdue!”

I have no sympathy whatsoever for Post.  He's sat in prison gorging his body with food, growing fat and waiting for this moment to attempt to sabotage justice.  Here's hoping the senseless murder of Helen Grace Vantz will be not be forgotten, and that neither the state nor the courts will shirk their duty.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Two Girls in an Ice Box

Did a child-killer go free?
by Robert A. Waters

On April 25, 1962, an Associated Press headline read: “Police Press Hunt for Sex Slayer of 2.”

Two days earlier, Stephanie Hanna and Paula Cram, both 6, went out to play after dinner. The peaceful San Fernando, California neighborhood in which they lived was a backdrop for middle-class America. When they didn’t return home, the girls were reported missing.  The San Fernando Police Department soon  arrived and launched a massive search.

Five hours later, a neighbor contacted police and reported that the door of an old refrigerator she’d left open in her garage was closed.

Officers rushed to the scene and Chief W. E. Slaughter opened the refrigerator door. He was met by something out of a horror movie. The girls were dead. Chief Slaughter told reporters that “the children were there, clutching one another.” A sad-eyed officer said: “They looked just like little dolls huddled together.”

As shocked parents and neighbors gathered at the scene, police began searching for answers. The coroner spent several hours conducting an autopsy. He emerged from his lab and reported that both girls had been raped. Death had come by suffocation, he said. Newspapers across the country informed readers that the hunt for a sex killer had begun.

Police found fingerprints on the refrigerator that didn't match anyone in the house. (Those prints were never identified.) Detectives combed the city, interrogating known sex offenders. Several suspects were eliminated when they passed polygraphs.

Frustrated cops ratcheted up the search. A police spokesman said: “We're doing everything we can. We're hoping for a break. This is one we feel we have to solve.” During interrogations of neighbors, a 72-year-old man admitted that he’d fondled Paula. He was arrested and charged with child molestation, but the neighbor had an alibi for the time Stephanie and Paula went missing.

Then, a week later, another headline rocked the San Fernando Valley. This is an excerpt from the Associated Press story:

Murder ruled out in girls’ ice box deaths

SAN FERNANDO – "Authorities say it was apparently an accident--not a double murder--which claimed the lives of two six-year-old girls who died in a refrigerator.

Stephanie Hanna and Paula Cram--foster sisters--disappeared from their San Fernando home on April 23. They were found late that night, suffocated, in an empty refrigerator in a neighbor’s garage.

Blood stains and injuries led coroner’s aides to believe the children had been murdered. An extensive investigation resulted in one of the neighbors being accused of molesting one of the girls earlier--but police couldn’t find clues indicating he or any other adult had been in the vicinity when the children died.

Then, belatedly, a 4-year-old girl told her parents of seeing Stephanie and Paula climb into the refrigerator by themselves.

Authorities had the child re-enact the event Friday. Then Coroner Theodore J. Curphey met with Sheriff’s Captain Floyd Rosenberg and San Fernando Police Chief W. E. Slaughter. Their decision: the deaths were apparently accidental.

Curphey said that the girls probably injured one another in their attempts to get out of the refrigerator and the heat developed in the small place caused excessive bleeding."

So, did the police get it right? Or did someone get away with a monstrous crime? How can two children be “raped” one day, and not raped the next day?

Rgardless of what really happened, the horror suffered by girls is unimaginable.