Sunday, November 24, 2013

White House Blues

Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers
The assassination of President William McKinley
by Robert A. Waters

“White House Blues,” first recorded in 1926 by Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, quickly became popular among country and bluegrass singers.  The lyrics provide a straightforward timeline of President William McKinley’s assassination, as well as the aftermath.

McKinley, who’d just been re-elected to his second term, was meeting and greeting crowds at the World’s Fair in Buffalo, New York when anarchist Leon Czolgosz shot him.  Doctors, unable to find the bullet, left it in his well-endowed stomach while McKinley succumbed to an agonizing gangrenous death.  (The first verse in Poole’s version of the song describes this scene in gruesome detail: “McKinley hollered, McKinley squalled.  Doctor said, ‘McKinley, I can’t find the ball.  You’re bound to die, you’re bound to die.’”)

Like many assassins, Leon Czolgosz had few, if any, friends.  He fixated on President McKinley as the source of his financial woes (he’d lost his job due to union agitation). Milling among the crowd as the President stood shaking hands, Czolgosz hid his pistol beneath a handkerchief that covered his hand.  He fired twice, the first round grazing McKinley, the second hitting him dead-on in the belly.

After McKinley died, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt became president.

Charlie Poole was a boozer of the worst sort.  Born in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, he developed a unique three-fingered style of plucking the banjo.  In 1925, Poole, his brother-in-law and fiddler, Posey Rorer, and guitarist Norman Woodlieff, traveled to New York and signed a record deal.  His song, “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down,” is credited with being the first recorded country music “hit.”  The success of the North Carolina Ramblers allowed Poole and his band to escape the back-breaking labor in the cotton mills where they worked.  

In 1931, a Hollywood studio signed Poole up to play background music for a movie.  This was enough to start him on a drinking binge that lasted for 13 weeks.  He never left North Carolina, dying of heart failure.

As with all folk songs, there are numerous versions to this one.  It’s sometimes called “White House Blues,” “McKinley’s Gone,” or just “McKinley.”  My favorite version is this old Greenbriar Boys recording done in the 1960s.


Say Mr. McKinley, why didn’t you run?
See that man a-comin’ with a Johnson 41
From Buffalo to Washington.

Doctor, oh Doctor, do all you can,
A man just shot my husband with a handkerchief over his hand

From Buffalo down to Washington.

Doctor comes a-running, takes of his specs,
Says, “Mr. McKinley, you’ve done cashed your checks”

From Buffalo to Washington.

Mrs. McKinley in Brooklyn dressed all in red
Weeping and a-mourning ‘cause her husband was dead

From Buffalo to Washington.

Roosevelt’s in the White House doing his best,
McKinley’s in the graveyard taking his rest,

He’s gone a long, long time.

Hush little children, don’t you fret,
You know you’ll draw a pension at your pappy’s death

From Buffalo to Washington.

Jailer said to Czolgosz, “What you doing here?”

“Done took and shot McKinley, gonna take the electric chair.”

From Buffalo to Washington.

Czolgosz told the jailer, “Treat me like a man,
You know that when I die I’ve got to go to Dixieland.”

From Buffalo to Washington.

Say Mr. McKinley, why didn’t you run?
You saw that man a-coming with a Johnson 41,

From Buffalo to Washington.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Florida Executions in 2013

Child-Killer Larry Mann
The Florida legislature recently passed the Timely Justice Act which “requires the governor to sign a death warrant within 30 days of review by the Florida Supreme Court; and it requires the state to execute the defendant within 180 days of the warrant.” Suddenly, child killers, serial killers, and other violent offenders actually face justice for their crimes. Governor Rick Scott has already signed more than a dozen death warrants.  So far this year, seven have been carried out.

Larry Mann (Executed April 10) – On November 4, 1980, Mann kidnapped Elisa Nelson off her bicycle as she rode to school.  He murdered her when she attempted to escape.  There was no doubt about his guilt.  His fingerprints were found on Elisa’s bike, and he confessed that he strangled Elisa and smashed her head in with a cement block.  Mann had previous convictions of sexual assault, including the rape of a seven-year-old girl.  The killer spent 30 years on death row avoiding justice for killing Elisa.  Finally, on April 10, Mann received an injection containing pentobarbital and went to sleep peacefully.  After the execution, Elisa’s brother Jeff Nelson said, “It is glaringly apparent that there is something fundamentally flawed with a justice system that takes over 32 years to bring to justice a pedophile who confessed to kidnapping and murdering a 10-year-old girl.”
Elmer Carroll (Executed May 29) – Twenty-three years after murdering Orange County youngster Christine McGowen, Carroll died for his crimes.  On October 30, 1990, he raped and strangled the ten-year-old in her own bed as her stepfather slept in another room.  Christine lived next door to the halfway house where Carroll, who had just been released from prison, was staying.  Carroll had two previous convictions for lewd conduct with children. Although there was no doubt as to his guilt, death penalty opponents rallied to stop the execution.  “[The death penalty] is a destructive tool rather than a preventive tool,” said Bishop John Noonan of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando.  Julie McGowan, Christine’s mother, said, “Thank you to all that have worked so hard [to bring justice to Christine].”
William Van Poyck (Executed June 12) – Van Poyck was executed for the 1987 murder of a correctional officer.  In West Palm Beach, Van Poyck and Frank Valdez ambushed a prison van in which their cohort, inmate James O’Brien, was being transported for medical treatment.  Guard Fred Griffis died in a volley of gunfire after he threw away the keys to prevent O’Brien’s escape.  Van Poyck claimed that Valdez fired the shots that killed Griffis.  During his 26 years on death row, he wrote a prison blog and published three books.  (Valdez was later stomped to death, allegedly by prison guards in revenge for Griffis’ murder.)  On June 12, Van Poyck died peacefully, unlike Griffis.  Lisa Van Poyck, sister of the convicted killer, said, “He’s finally free from those prison walls.”  Norman Traylor, Griffis’ cousin, expressed frustration at the news media for always focusing on Van Poyck instead of his victim.  “It's been a very traumatic experience,” he said.
John Ferguson (Executed August 5) – Ferguson murdered at least eight people in the Miami area.  The victims of a drug-fueled mass shooting were: Livingstone Stocker, 33; Michael Miller, 24; Henry Clayton, 35; John Holmes, 26; Gilbert Williams, 37, Charles Cesar Stinson, 35.  In a separate crime, Ferguson murdered teenagers Belinda Worley and Brian Glenfeldt.  The killer sat on death row for 35 years, claiming to be the “Prince of God” and convincing many that he was crazy.  Michael Worley, Belinda’s brother, told reporters that he felt Ferguson’s so-called mental illness had been “fabricated and coached.”  After the execution, Worley said, “I think he got off easy compared to what he did to the victims.”
Marshall Lee Gore (Executed October 1) Serial predator Gore raped 14 women in the Miami area.  He murdered two others, Susan Marie Roark and Robyn Novick.  He was also convicted of the attempted murder of Tina Coralis and the kidnapping of her two-year-old son.  Gore’s death warrant was for Novick’s murder.  He attempted to cheat the needle by feigning mental illness, and actually spent 23 years on death row, filing appeal after appeal.  Finally, facing his own death, he cringed on the gurney and refused to open his eyes.  Retired Miami-Dade Detective Dave Simmons, who investigated Gore’s slew of rapes, may have said it best: “[Gore] played the system for years faking insanity, saying outlandish things to judges and witnesses, and in his moment of truth, he had nothing to say for himself.  He was the ultimate coward in the end.”
William Happ (Executed October 15) Minutes before his execution, Happ made a final statement: “To my agonizing shame, I must confess to the crime.  I wish to offer my most sincere, heartfelt apology.  I have prayed for the good Lord to forgive me for my sins.  But I understand why those here cannot.”  The world’s media made a big deal out of Florida’s new choice of a death drug, midazolam hydrochloride, claiming it might cause undue pain.  The drug did take a few moments longer to work, but the killer didn’t seem to be in severe pain.  Happ kidnapped, raped, and murdered Angie Crowley, dumping her body in a canal near Crystal River.  Crowley’s brother said: “[Happ] killed my sister, he took her life.  But when he took that life, he created so many other victims.  What he did affected everybody.  It ate my mother up.  I changed jobs and moved all within three months.  He took away the potential.  There were seven kids in that family and she had the greatest potential of everybody.  She had the personality, she had the looks, she had the smarts, and she had the attitude. She really, really accomplished things and he took that.  We were never able to see it.”
Darius Kimbrough (Executed November 12) In 1991, Kimbrough climbed a ladder and broke into the second-story apartment of 28-year-old Denise Collins.  After raping her, he beat her so severely that he broke her jaw and fractured her skull.  Then he strangled his helpless victim to death.  Blood and semen samples taken from the scene matched Kimbrough.  Collins’s mother, Diane Stewart, told the media that “there’s no closure [and] there’s no forgiveness for him...No forgiveness whatsoever. Twenty-two years is outrageous. It’s just outrageous.”  After the execution, she said that Kimbrough “went out a lot cleaner and neater” than her daughter.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Help Identify Jimmy the Pedo

The following pictures are from child sex videos that have been on the Internet for quite some time.  The FBI needs help in identifying the man shown allegedly abusing children.

He is a white male who speaks with a Southern accent.  He looks to be between 40 and 50 years of age, and has graying sideburns and brown hair with a bald spot.  The man who calls himself “Jimmy” wears glasses and a ring on his right hand.

A distinctive plaid chair shown in the videos is pictured below.

If you know who this man is, call 1-800-CALL-FBI.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Monster on Death Row

Innocent Victim Courtney Wilkes
Justice for Courtney?
by Robert A. Waters

Steven Cozzie didn’t look like a monster, but a strange aura encircled him.  The 21-year-old unabashedly lusted for girls in their early teens.  And he had violent fantasies toward those weaker than him.  Two weeks after nearly killing a 14-year-old girl, he raped and murdered Courtney Wilkes, 15.

Courtney, a Georgia resident, seemed to be the polar opposite of her killer.  A straight-A student and a standout soccer player at Toombs County High School, Courtney was a well-adjusted young teen.  She loved animals, and was a leader in the local Future Farmers of America (FFA).  She was also active in the Bible Baptist Church in Vidalia.

Courtney and her family were visiting Seagrove Beach on Florida’s Gulf coast when Cozzie befriended them.  While walking along the beach with Courtney, he forced her into a wooded area where he beat, raped, and strangled the young student. She fought hard for her life, but in the end was overpowered.

On October 17, 2013, a Walton County, Florida judge sentenced Cozzie to death.

In the penalty phase of his trial, Cozzie’s attorneys admitted his guilt, but attempted to get the jury to spare his life by—you guessed it—whining about his rotten childhood.  Oh yeah, you guessed it again—he had an IQ of “only” 83.  Oh yeah again—he was homeless because his parents had kicked him out of the house.

If those tired, lame excuses were supposed to sway the jury’s sympathies, it didn’t work.  The jurors understood that millions of people grow up in less than perfect environments, but few commit heinous crimes.  And not everyone is a genius, but few IQ-deficient people kill for pleasure.

Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson summed it up.  “This is nothing more than pure evil,” he said.

Now the do-gooders will spend decades helping the killer bob and weave through the criminal justice system.  If they’re lucky, some court will give Florida’s death penalty a knockout punch.  Or some judge will overturn Cozzie’s verdict on a technicality.  Justice in America is an elusive thing, and the odds are that the killer will die of old age.

In the meantime, Courtney’s family has been sentenced to a life of pain.  Day after day, their hearts will ache.  Each time the case is brought up again, the hurt will throb in their souls.  The pain will last until each family member passes on.

Courtney was buried on the family farm, near the animals she loved.  Her tombstone carries a reference to Joshua 1:9.  The verse reads “Remember I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don't be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”