Monday, April 8, 2024

The Dollar Tree Murder

Random Machete Attack Stuns Law-Abiding Citizens in Middle America

By Robert A. Waters

Twenty-two-year-old Keris Riebel (pictured above) died on the cold floor of a Dollar Tree store in Upper Sandusky, Ohio on New Year's Day, 2023. She'd been slashed numerous times with a machete. As far as investigators could tell, she had no relationship with her killer.

Below is a partial transcript of the 9-1-1 call that came in at 4:25 P.M. As happens often in a state of panic, the caller seems confused, or maybe even in denial.

Dispatcher: 9-1-1. What is the address of your emergency?

Unidentified female caller: The Dollar Tree in Upper Sandusky.

Dispatcher (to responding officers): They're saying there is a guy there with an axe.

Dispatcher (to caller): Did he hurt the cashier?

Caller: She fell straight to the ground. He hit her in the back of the neck. I didn't know if it was for real or not because he walked in and said something to her and hit her and she fell to the ground and he ran out. But he didn't like try to come after us. It didn't look like a real machete.

Dispatcher: Is the guy still there or did he leave?

Caller: He walked out and is wearing all black...

The Dollar Tree where the murder occurred sat on the corner of River's Edge Lane and East Wyandot Avenue. In 2023, Upper Sandusky had a population of about 7,000 souls.

According to police, Bethel Bekele, 27, (pictured below) entered the store and "struck Riebel numerous times with the machete." She fell to the floor and Bekele continued to strike her. Within minutes, police arrived and found the young cashier dead.

Police arrested Bekele within an hour of the attack. Detectives said he quickly confessed to the crime. In addition, the murder was captured on surveillance video cameras.

What was the motive for the attack? Cops don't know. The crime seemed to be about as random as you'll get. It was likely not robbery, since no money or goods were taken. Investigators said the killer had no known criminal record. Maybe he just wanted to kill somebody. Anybody.

For many years, Dollar Tree sold all items in the store for a dollar. It was the go-to place for many working class citizens. Customers could shop for silverware, greeting cards, dinnerware and dish sets, pottery, groceries, washcloths and towels, party supplies, as well as thousands of other goods. Alas, in today's economic climate, the store has been forced to raise prices to $1.25.

Keris Riebel was well-known and well-liked in her community. According to her obituary, "Keris was a 2019 graduate of Wynford High School who actively participated in cheerleading. Her classmates remember seeing her walk through the halls with a huge smile and a Bible in her hand. Keris attended Cedarville University and later transferred to Franklin University where she received a BA in [Human Resources] Business Management." She was a member of the Antioch Christian Church.

Keris met her husband, Jordan Riebel, while working at Rural King, a retail hardware store. They had been married for only two months when Keris was murdered.

Bekele was indicted on six felony charges, including aggravated murder, and pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Court documents state that he was placed in the Twin Valley Behavioral Health Care Hospital. A judge issued the following statement: "The court finds the defendant is competent to stand trial insofar as his ability to understand the nature and objectives of the proceedings against him; however, the court finds the defendant is incompetent to stand trial at this time due to his inability to assist in his own defense." 

Whatever that means.

The killer will be evaluated every six months to determine whether he has improved enough to stand trial.

The victim had a full life in front of her. She set goals and worked hard to achieve those goals--only to be savagely murdered by a random killer. 

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Convicted Sex Offender Stabbed to Death by Victim

Woman Speaks About Attack
By Robert A. Waters

"I knew I was being attacked," Bre Morgan (pictured above) said. "I knew it was something...uh, it was sexual."

On Sunday afternoon, March 3, 2024, in Lacombe, Louisiana, Nicholas Tranchant was prowling for yet another victim. He'd been out of prison for less than three months after serving 15 years for Attempted Aggravated Rape and Aggravated Burglary. Five years before that, he'd been convicted of Indecent Behavior with Juveniles.

More than six feet tall, Tranchant (pictured above), a registered sex offender, towered over his would-be victim.

Brecan "Bre" Morgan, 27, had gone to The Laundry Room, a local coin laundry, to wash clothes for her two children. She was having trouble getting the automated washer to accept her dollar bill when Tranchant sidled up, supposedly to help. At the time, they were the only people in the business.

Bre, a single mother of two, works as a mental health technician and plans to attend nursing school.

In order to focus public attention on the numerous sex offenders living in Lacombe, she decided to identify herself and give interviews to reporters from WDSU News and WWLTV. (NOTE: I've compiled statements given by the victim into sequential order.) 

"He came up to me ," Bre said, "and he pretended like he was trying to help me put my dollar in [the automatic washer] and he got right up behind me. That's when he made it clear like he was, his intentions were to assault me. I actually didn't see the weapon at first. He said, 'Give [it up] and you won't die.'"

The predator wasted no time. Tranchant grabbed her hair and attempted to drag her into the bathroom. Bre fought back, grabbing anything she could to keep from moving toward the back room.

Bre explained that "I was hanging onto the wall at one point. My shirt and my jacket came off. I was just trying everything like to get away. My biggest fear was my kids would have to grow up without me."

As they struggled, Tranchant pulled out his knife and stabbed her in the side. By this time, he had dragged her into the bathroom. That's when the attacker set his knife aside.

Bre wasted no time in grabbing the blade and stabbing her assailant--twice. She then fled to the parking lot and called St. Tammany's Parish Sheriff's Office. Deputies quickly responded. They found the lifeless body of Tranchant on the floor of the laundromat.

As Bre ended the interview, she said something that seemed to startle the reporter: "If you don't believe in God, you should. As soon as I got done asking God to help me, [Tranchant] put the knife down. That's when I picked it up and used it against him."

Bre was transported to a local hospital for treatment of her wounds.

St. Tammany's Parish Sheriff Randy Smith said, "I want to compliment this woman on the courage and strength she showed in fighting back against her attacker and ask for prayers for her continued recovery."

This story might have ended differently. Deputies could have found Bre dead inside the laundromat. Without her heroic actions, Nicholas Tranchant would almost certainly have targeted other women. Rapists rarely stop until they're caught, become disabled, or die. Bre's actions no doubt saved many women.

Reporters soon learned that in the small town of Lacombe, Louisiana, there are numerous registered sex offenders. WGNO reported that "according to data from the National Sex Offender Registry, there are more than 200 sex offenders living in Lacombe. That's something residents say needs to change." Bre is calling for local officials to reduce the number of offenders living in one area.

Some residents think there may have been other rape attempts or unreported assaults by Tranchant in the three months he lived there.

A friend started a gofundme page to help Bre Morgan with her medical bills until she can recover. If you're interested, click here:

Saturday, March 16, 2024

"Righteous" Self-Defense Stories

By Robert A. Waters and Sim Waters

Here's a little-kept secret: tens of millions of liberals, independents, and conservatives in America own firearms. Gun ownership is one of the few issues that crosses all sides of the political spectrum. The book,
Guns and Self-Defense: 23 Inspirational True Crime Stories of Survival with Firearms, describes exciting stories in which a cross-section of every-day citizens used guns to fend off violent assaults.

These are real-life stories most media outlets chose not to report.

Have you ever heard of Harry and Janet Lodholm? This Lakewood, Washington couple survived a brutal home invasion by a murderous gang that mistook their house for that of a drug-dealer they planned to rob. Crashing through the front door, the gang pistol-whipped Harry and slashed Janet with a knife. When the assailants finally realized they had chosen the wrong house, they took what valuables they could find and fled, leaving the bound and tortured victims stunned and bloody. In their haste to leave, however, the robbers left their backpack in the house--worse yet, the backpack contained their cellphones. In the meantime, the couple had freed themselves and relocked the front door. The frustrated gang broke into the house for the second time, determined now to silence the victims who could identify them and retrieve the evidence that would send them back to prison. But the robbers hadn't counted on the couple's resilience. Harry and Janet had retreated to their bedroom. As Janet dialed 9-1-1, Harry grabbed his firearm. When the gang kicked down the bedroom door, Harry and his 9mm semiautomatic made quick work of the robbers.

What a story! But the mainstream media never reported it, likely because it didn't fit their anti-gun narrative.

Based on police reports, interviews with victims, court documents, media sources, and other public records, Guns and Self-Defense recounts the courage and resourcefulness of armed citizens who refused to become easy prey.

Each story is set in a time and place. Characters are delineated in depth, both would-be victims and attackers. The aftermath of many of these stories are poignant. In some cases, the victims suffered life-altering injuries, as well as lingering mental trauma. Without a weapon, most would have been murdered. Many of the assailants were hardcore drug users; others had mental health issues. In still other cases, street gangs, unconcerned with any sense of right and wrong, preyed on the innocent. The majority of attackers had been in prison, and most had been released early.

By the way, for those who fancy identity politics, the would-be victims in this book represent a microcosm of America: liberals, conservatives, independents, white people, black people, other minorities, males, females, the able-bodied, and the disabled.

What kinds of weapons did these would-be victims use? A woman home alone used a shotgun. Several used semiautomatic handguns. Others used revolvers. In one case, a wheelchair-bound victim used a pistol loaded with 16-gauge shotgun shells. In two cases, convenience stores had a "house gun," a weapon stashed beneath the counter that employees could use in case it was needed.

All these cases involved "righteous" self-defense--meaning the would-be victim acted legally and was not charged with any crime. In many of the cases, law enforcement officials praised the citizens' actions.

You'll read about the drug-addled thug who tried to rob two disabled old ladies in a low-income retirement home. (It might have been funny if it wasn't deadly serious.) After being severely injured by the assailant, one of the women used a small .22-caliber handgun she called a "derringer" to stop the violent assault. The "derringer" did its job: it paralyzed the assailant so he can never hurt anyone else.

You'll read about the nurse who helped police capture a gang of carjackers that had been terrorizing the city of Milwaukee for months. The night before, they shot an innocent victim in the jaw, nearly killing him. The nurse, however, had a concealed carry permit, and put an end to the crime spree when they attempted to carjack her. (One member of this gang also ended up partially paralyzed.) Sometimes what goes around comes around!

The last chapter in the book involves a street gang that actually named themselves "The Cutthroat Committee." One summer morning, in Jacksonville, Florida, as Pam Coker got ready to go to work, she heard a loud bang, then the back door exploded open. Her husband, Foster, didn't have to be at work until later, so he was sleeping. An intruder raced toward Pam and pummeled her to the floor. Foster heard the commotion and ran out to help his wife. He engaged the much younger home invader, and the two fought a horrific hand-to-hand battle in the middle of the living room. Finally, Foster, bloody and about to pass out, told Pam, "Honey, you've got to get my gun." The intruder, armed with an Beretta Centurion (pictured above) that had a "30 clip," kept hitting Foster with the butt of the gun. Blood flowed all over the home as Foster and the invader fought from room to room. While Pam, with severely injured legs, stumbled to the bedroom to retrieve her husband's gun, the wild fight continued. Pam returned with a five-shot revolver and handed it to Foster. The homeowner emptied it, hitting the assailant three times. That's when the intruder fired a shot that grazed Foster's head. With his gun empty, Foster realized the attacker still wasn't dead. He jumped back onto the invader, pinning down the Beretta to keep him from shooting again. Pam once again hobbled back to the bedroom, grabbed a second pistol, came back, and shot the invader twice. This intruder, like the Lodholm gang, had mistakenly pegged the Coker home to be that of drug dealers. Because of the actions of Foster and Pam Coker, the Cutthroat Committee was disbanded by police. All the members of the gang ended up in prison. Their attacker, a founding member, ended up in the graveyard.

I like stories that uplift my soul. Maybe you do, too.

NOTE: For more than 30 years, Robert A. Waters has researched and written about armed self-defense cases. If you enjoyed Guns and Self-Defense, co-written with Robert's son, Sim, you might also like Guns Save Lives: 22 Inspirational True Crime Stories of Survival and Self-Defense with Firearms.

Monday, March 4, 2024

GI Lost Four Limbs in the Battle of Okinawa

The Man who Wouldn’t Die

By Robert A. Waters

On June 2, 1945, Frederic Hensel, born in Virginia and raised by an uncle in Kentucky after he was orphaned, found himself on a small Pacific island called Okinawa. A tank battalion master sergeant with the 77th Infantry Division, Hensel soon learned that Okinawa was a miserable place for tank warfare. Relentless rain, rugged terrain, a doggedly determined enemy, and a vast network of cleverly formed defenses slowed advancement to a crawl. It took American GIs 82 days of brutal fighting to capture the island. 16,000 Americans would die there, and a staggering 40,000 would be wounded. 

The Associated Press wrote that "for four days prior to being injured, Hensel led a detachment of men through the mine-infested clearing on Okinawa where they were repairing [tanks] to go into battle.

"On June 2 he was working on a Sherman tank and decided to go back to headquarters for more repairs, taking another soldier with him. Realizing they were walking over dangerous ground, he ordered his companion to keep a good distance away.

"They hadn't gone far when Hensel stepped on the mine. The sturdy soldier didn't lose consciousness while his companion gave him first aid, nor until medics arrived with drugs."

"Hensel’s injuries were devastating," Time reported. "The explosion blew off both legs above the knee, his left arm above the elbow, [and] mangled his right hand…" While on the ship carrying him back to the states, his crushed hand developed a "gaseous gangrene infection" and had to be amputated.

Once Hensel arrived at Percy Jones Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, the media got wind of his arrival. No one, even the battle-numbed doctors and nurses, had seen injuries this severe. They quickly informed newsmen that Hensel was the only living soldier during all of World War II who had lost every limb. (NOTE: Before the war ended, four more soldiers would endure the same type of wounds.)

He was fortunate to have physicians and nurses familiar with rehabilitating soldiers who had grievous wounds. Time reporters wrote: "Eventually Sergeant Hensel will be far from helpless. After operations on all four stumps, he will get artificial limbs and be able to walk again. Last week, still suffering from shock and slightly deaf from concussion, he was thinking of starting a little chicken farm when he is discharged. He told reporters, 'This sure changes things a lot…I’d make an excellent propaganda photo to end all wars.' His dark-haired wife, at the hospital to greet him, said, 'We’ll get along fine.'"

Jewel, his wife, charmed reporters. A photogenic woman with a captivating "Southern accent," they had been married for three years. Newspapers raved about her beauty and her loyalty to her husband. 

Before he joined the army, Hensel had known only farming. As a child, he toiled on his uncle’s Kentucky farm. He informed reporters that, except for war, farming was all he knew. The plucky soldier’s determination to overcome his handicap resonated with Americans on the home-front.

Out of the blue, someone sent a small check to Hensel to help him buy a farm. Newspapers quickly joined forces with everyday citizens and soon Hensel found himself deluged with donations. Many checks were for only a dollar or two, but they added up. The Associated Press wrote that Sergeant Hensel and his wife, Jewel, "received some $60,000 in cash gifts today as they celebrated their third wedding anniversary. Hensel captured the admiration of the public when he arrived here from Okinawa five weeks ago and announced that he was going into the chicken farm business despite what seemed like insurmountable handicaps." 

That money would buy him a nice farm. While many men may have quickly blown through the cash, Hensel and his wife did not. Eighteen months after entering the hospital, Hensel left in a wheelchair. He now had two new artificial arms and hooks, as well as prosthetic legs. He did indeed buy a chicken farm in Kentucky, but a couple of years afterwards, sold out, moved to Alabama, and bought a dairy farm. He hired employees to do the milking and physical work he could not do.

Hensel prospered and became known as a successful businessman. He and Jewel had four children. Eventually, they retired to south Florida. Jewel died in 1987 at sixty-seven years of age.

Hensel outlived his beloved wife, but I have been unable to locate the date of his death. (NOTE: If anyone knows when he died, please let me know and I’ll add it to this story.)

Sunday, February 25, 2024

"Corpses of the drowned"

Stalin, Mao, Communism, and their 21st Century Aftermath in Russia and China

Dr. Miguel A. Faria, Jr.

Cambridge Scholars Publishing


Review written by Robert A. Waters

"To choose one's victims, to prepare one's plans minutely, to slake an implacable vengeance, and then go to bed...there is nothing sweeter in the world." Joseph Stalin

In his far-sweeping book about communism, Dr. Miguel Faria, Jr. describes a hellish nightmare. Almost every page drips with the blood of victims, most unknown, but many high-ranking, or even famous. My thought at the end of the book was, who in his or her right mind would wish to live in such a society? And yet, many who thrive under freedom in today's world seem to have a yen for communistic-style governments.

So what is communism? Faria writes: "To paraphrase Mao Tse-tung, communism is the attainment of political power by the barrel of a gun and complete control of all services and the methods of production, distribution, and consumption of goods by the omnipotent state." 

The oppressors and killers who rule totalitarian dictatorships care nothing for the people they rule. Joseph Stalin, an unredeemable psychopath, murdered or caused the deaths of at least 20-40 million of his own people. Mao Tse-tung also killed 20-40 million. (These staggering numbers are low--there were likely millions more unknown victims.)

Because he murdered friends and enemies alike, as well as millions of anonymous souls caught in his web, Faria calls Stalin's reign the "meat grinder." This is an apt description. The author writes that "Stalin would use terror indiscriminately as a matter of course, not only against the civilian population but also most ominously and unflinchingly against his former comrades, and without sparing the families of political opponents (including his own)."

Nickolai Yezhov, chief executioner for Stalin, is an example of what happened when an insider knew more than he should. Yezhov was no innocent: he may have been responsible for a half-million torture-murders orchestrated by the Russian dictator. But he ended up being labeled a "traitor" by Stalin and was dispatched with a bullet to the brain.

Maria A. Spiridonova (pictured above) suffered for decades at the hands of both Lenin and Stalin. In 1918, she criticized the Bolsheviks, saying, "I accuse you of betraying the peasants, of making use of them for your own ends." Faria writes, "Spiridonova was persecuted for years, arrested, harshly interrogated, released, resentenced repeatedly, sent to various labor camps and settlements in the Gulag and in exile. Finally, she was executed in 1941."

Life was not pleasant for most Russians.

Faria writes that Russian "citizens died from privations, neglect, and mistreatment; of starvation from government-orchestrated famines; diseases due to malnutrition; and mass executions or a simple shot to the back of the head. They died in prisons, in their homes, during mass deportations, and from overwork and exposure while slaving away in the Gulag system of destructive labor camps."

Arthur Koestler, a former communist and author of the anti-communist book, Darkness At Noon, wrote: "I went to Communism as one goes to a spring of fresh water and I left Communism as one clambers out of a poisoned river strewn with the wreckage of flooded cities and corpses of the drowned."

Communism in Russia was a total and complete disaster for its people. Faria has covered it all. From the well-known overthrow and murders of former Tsarist government officials, to the Great Purges, to rounding up and assassinating almost all the old Bolsheviks, to Stalin's brutal war on intellectuals and Russia's Jewish population, to his deliberate starving of millions of Ukrainians, and much more...the list of victims continues through Faria's book. 

Years after communism in Russia failed, former President Boris Yeltsin said, "Our country has not been lucky...It was decided to carry out this Marxist experiment on us...It has simply pushed us off the path the world's civilized nations have the end, we proved that there is no place for this idea." (NOTE: my italics.)

Eastern-style communism under China's Mao Tse-tung was no better.

Faria writes that "Mao committed whatever crimes were necessary to attain and preserve supreme political power. For him, democracy, justice, equality, fraternity, and freedom were merely words to be used for propaganda purposes--not ideas to be pursued."

Anyone unfortunate enough to be born into a political system where one individual has complete power will be subjugated to the leader. That was true under Stalin, and true under Mao. Communism is an easy system for tyrants to manipulate. 

The research done by Faria is amazing. In Stalin, Mao, Communism, and their 21st Century Aftermath in Russia and China, the author quotes from numerous works about Russian and Chinese history. He has published more than a hundred high-quality photos of many of the players involved. He has tied together disparate parts of a massive jigsaw puzzle of events and framed them into a terrifying whole. With so much going on in secretive societies such as Russia and China, that's hard to do.  

After Mao won the Chinese civil war against President Chiang Kai-shek, he ruled as a ruthless dictator. Faria writes: "Tragically, the significant and historic events in communist China were not peaceful socio-economic advances, but militant initiatives begun by Chairman Mao to destroy the bourgeoisie, wipe out traditional mores, erase and rewrite Chinese history, and construct a fully self-sufficient communist state..."

Unfortunately, Mao's policies "only brought social upheaval and violence, economic disaster, devastation, suffering, and death."

Faria juxtaposes the former Chinese communist government with the current government. President Xi Jinping is slicker and craftier than Mao, but his goals remain much the same, i.e., domination of all who fall into his orbit.

Because of its historical significance, this book will find an audience. But will the modernists of our generation learn from the past? That, to me is the critical question.

If anyone has seen the true face of communism, it is Dr. Miguel A. Faria. He and his father barely escaped Fidel Castro's Cuba. He arrived in America and became a neurosurgeon. He has dedicated a vast portion of his life fighting to retain the freedoms we have in this country. Check out his website:

Thursday, February 15, 2024

"This type of violence will not be tolerated..."

Jugging Victim Paralyzed in Brutal Assault – Attacker shows no Remorse

By Robert A. Waters

Note: Jugging occurs when an individual withdraws cash from a bank or ATM and then that person is followed by a robber who attempts to steal the money, usually after the victim stops his or her automobile. Jugging has become common in many crime-ridden cities.

On the morning of February 13, 2023, forty-four-year-old Nhung Truong (pictured below) drove to the Bank of America on Blackhawk Boulevard in Houston, Texas. She withdrew $4,300 in cash, money she’d saved working at a nail salon for seven years. Truong planned to use the cash to fly her family back to Vietnam to visit relatives.


As she drove to the Belleair shopping center where she worked, the petite mother of three didn't realize she was being followed. Long-time criminals Zy’Nika Ayesha Woods, 19, and her boyfriend, Joseph Harrell, 17, trailed Troung for 24 miles.

After parking, Truong took the family's passports and the envelope with her money and walked toward her place of business.

A surveillance camera caught the robbery in living color.

At about 11:30 A.M., while Woods waited in the car, Harrell stalked his prey. He approached Truong as she walked down the sidewalk. Sensing that Harrell had invaded her space, Truong attempted to move out of his way, but he suddenly seized her around her waist and flung her against a wall. The items she carried, including the envelope with her money, flew from her hand and were strewn across the sidewalk. Truong then collapsed onto the concrete.

DailyMail reporter Lewis Pennock wrote: “In the video, the thief could be seen snatching an envelope that police believe he thought was Truong’s cash from her scattered belongings. He began to flee but then [turned] around and body slammed Truong to the ground and fled with the [envelope containing her] money.” 

The attack was over in seconds.

The city of Houston reeled in shock. It’s sometimes hard to ascertain why some cases go viral while others don’t, but this one had all the ingredients that terrorize people. An innocent victim and mother of three lay hospitalized with broken ribs and a fractured spine. Unable to walk, doctors opined that she might never make a full recovery. 

Harrell, already out on bond for a weapons charge, would later be charged with yet another robbery that occurred just days after this assault. In one of the dumb things criminals sometimes do, he posted a photo of himself on Tik Tok wearing the same distinctive shirt he wore during Troung’s assault.

A few weeks later, Harrell was identified and arrested. A judge initially set his bond at $200,000.

Authorities routinely record jailhouse telephone conversations, and the public got an earful from Harrell. “We was snatching purses,” he told a friend. “I snatched a purse. Basically when I snatched the purse the lady ran with the money. I grabbed her and slammed her and she’s paralyzed.” Harrell can be heard chuckling as he recounts the crime.

When the friend explained that Truong had received $230,000 from a “gofundme” page, Harrell brightened up even more. He opined that he shouldn’t be charged with any crime because the victim would now be okay.

But the victim would not be okay.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner held a press conference and said, “This type of violence will not be tolerated in our city. It is just senseless. I just spoke to Ms. Troung…and assured her, and I want the city of Houston to stand behind us. These are very serious injuries. The recovery is very long. And I want her to know the love of our agency but also the great citizens in this city.”

Citizens did respond and raised more than $250,000 to help the injured woman pay her medical bills.

Then Houston's completely broken criminal justice system struck back against law-abiding citizens...again. Yet another Houston judge, this time a Republican, reduced Harrell’s bond by half. Judge Kristin Guiney reset his bond to $100,000. Fortunately for the Houston community, though, Harrell was still unable to make bond and get out of jail.

At trial, Harrell pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated robbery causing serious bodily injury. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Insiders familiar with the Texas justice system, however, say it’s likely he’ll be out in 15. (Watch out, Hustletown, when a fully matured and even meaner Joseph Harrell returns to your fair city.)

His accomplice, Ny’Nika Woods, pleaded guilty to a downgraded charge of robbery causing bodily injury. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Speaking in Vietnamese, Troung told reporters that “I’m feeling very horrible and sad at the same time. They don’t know when my leg can walk again. I need to practice, try to walk and stuff. I’m very sad that this happened to me and I just want to let other people know to be careful.”

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Crazed Killer Strikes Again in "Hustletown"

(Above is a photo of the McDonald's where Andrew Williams murdered Martha Medina. Also pictured is the convicted killer. It's hard to believe but Williams was out on bail after being arrested for a previous murder. He was even wearing an ankle monitor. The Medina family not only blames Williams, but also the judge who set bond for this violent career criminal.)

The Jugging Murder

By Robert A. Waters

On the morning of September 23, 2021, Martha Medina, 71, pulled up to a Chase Bank ATM in Houston, Texas and made a small cash withdrawal. She then drove to McDonald's at 430 Uvalde Road, parked near the entrance, and walked inside to purchase takeout breakfasts for her family. As she walked back to her car holding a bag of food and her purse, she had no idea she'd been followed from the bank by three career criminals. On the streets, they call it "jugging." 

Unlike Martha, a productive, well-respected member of her community, 41-year-old Andrew Williams had been a violent felon for most of his existence. In 2000, he spent time in the state prison for aggravated robbery. In 2014, Williams served time for fraud and feloniously using another person's identification. After being released, Williams ran down his girlfriend with his car but served little jail time.

And in 2019, he shot a bystander during an armed robbery, killing her. Doug Wylie wrote: "Williams...[was] involved in a 'drug deal gone bad' when Chima Ogbonnaya was shot in the back of the head and left for dead in a darkened, desolate parking lot." After Williams was arrested, the prosecutor urged 248th Criminal District Court Judge Hilary Unger to deny bond. However, the judge disagreed and soon the lifelong criminal was back on the streets of Houston, i.e., Hustletown. 

At the time he murdered Martha Medina, Williams wore an ankle monitor. This helped police seal their case against him.

On that fatal day in 2021, Williams followed Martha to McDonald's. Two accomplices, Lawrence "Dirty" Earl Thomas and Felton Fordallegedly assisted him. A police spokesperson said Thomas served as a lookout while Williams and Ford committed the robbery. Williams ran toward Medina as she was getting into her car. He quickly wrested her purse away and, in the scuffle, Medina fell to the ground. The robbers rushed back to the getaway car and climbed in. Williams, driving, sped through the McDonald's parking lot and ran over Medina, who was lying on the pavement.

Wylie wrote: "Williams waited for his victim to emerge from the eatery with take-out food in hand. Then, he began his assault with a strong-armed purse-snatching, got into his car, and during his attempted escape struck Medina, running her over and dragging her some distance beneath the vehicle."  

Bystanders attempted to give Medina aid, but she was pronounced dead when she arrived at a local hospital. 

The court recently convicted Williams of murdering Martha Medina and sentenced him to life in prison. (The other alleged suspects are awaiting trial.)

Judge Unger narrowly won reelection against Republican challenger Julian Ramirez. During her campaign, she made no bones about her beliefs. "Courts should find alternatives to incarceration with an eye towards rehabilitation," Unger wrote on her website.

It would have been an amazing transformation for Andrew Williams to go from a past riddled with drugs, violence and murder to becoming a model citizen. Elections mean something. If you don't believe it, look at this case. Had Ramirez been elected, he likely would not have let Andrew Williams bond out for murdering Ogbonnaya.

Martha Medina would likely be alive today.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

There's a $20,000 reward waiting if you can identify this killer

Teenage Girl Murdered in Road Rage Shooting

By Robert A. Waters

Do you know this man? $20,000 awaits you if you turn him in.

On Sunday morning, December 10, seventeen-year-old Louise Wilson (pictured below) was traveling from Whitney, Texas to Galveston. Two passengers, one in the front seat, the other in the back, traveled with her. On the Pierce Elevated on I-45 in Houston, she swerved to avoid a braking vehicle in front of her. In doing so, she accidently cut in front of another car.

The unidentified driver (pictured above) of the vehicle that was cut off sped up beside Louise and opened fire. After being shot through the heart, the teenager heroically pulled her car to the side of the road, avoiding an accident. However, she died at the scene. A passenger, also shot, survived.

Louise, much-loved, had just graduated from high school. Her father addressed the media. "To my daughter's killer," he said, "I want to say that you're a coward. But unlike how you've taken Louise's life, we have taken yours. We've just given you up to 20,000 reasons to doubt and not trust everyone in your world right now. You will have to live with that doubt for the rest of your life, having to wonder who might turn you in--your mom, dad, brother, sister or friends, [and] those who [you] bragged to about what you did to our little girl."

Please view the following video interview with Louise's parents:

If you have any information about this case, or know who the shooter is, please contact Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-521-4600. Or you may dial Houston Police Department directly at 713-884-1331.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Armed Robbers Got What They Deserved

California Storeowners are Literally Up in Arms
By Robert A. Waters

On January 1, 2024, at about 10:00 A.M., two armed robbers burst into the MSM Jewelry Store in Oakland, California.

The owner, who wished to remain unidentified, told police he saw two men park their car in the wrong direction outside the store. When they exited their car, he noticed they wore masks and held semiautomatic weapons. As they entered the business, the owner opened fire with a 9mm handgun. He said, "They told me, 'don't move or we'll shoot.' So I started shooting at them because they had guns pointed at me. They were shooting back."

Both robbers quickly realized they were facing a determined foe, so like cowards, they turned and scampered for the door. One fell and lost his shoe as he was slipping and sliding across the slick the floor. The owner insists he hit one in the shoulder.

The store owner was not charged with any crime.

Maybe the California authorities will get DNA from that lost shoe. And maybe they'll arrest the robber. And maybe they'll charge him with something like, say, attempted murder. Or maybe, like usual, prosecutors will let him go with no indictment and no punishment. California's criminal justice system under Governor Gavin Newsom is becoming a joke for the rest of the country to laugh at. Unfortunately, it's not funny for the people who live and work there.

Robberies in Oakland are so prevalent that some city council members are calling for a meeting with police to discuss how to reduce the mayhem.

I have one suggestion: in the next election, vote for prosecutors who will take crime seriously.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Smash and Grab Robbers Routed by Armed Store Owner

"It's Terrifying Living in California"

By Robert A. Waters

On December 11, 2023, a gang of smash and grab robbers stormed into the Estates Consignment store in Pleasant Hill, California. It was the middle of the day when a "scout," a woman dressed in a colorful dress, wandered around the shop eyeing surveillance cameras and speaking into her cell phone. A security guard stood at the locked door, allowing customers to enter and exit.

When the woman left the building, she held the door open long enough so the group of thieves could force their way inside. Two robbers threatened the unarmed security guard, holding him at bay, while five men raced straight toward the jewelry section of the store. One robber carried a sledgehammer. Expensive rings, watches, necklaces and high-end gems sat in glass cases near the rear of the store.

As the men neared the jewelry cases, a clerk screamed, alerting business owner Albert Marcu.

The brazen attitude of the thieves struck him. They acted like they owned the store. Marcu pulled a .38-caliber revolver from his pocket and moved to confront the men. "I told them to 'watch it' and they saw the gun and ran away," he said.

That's an understatement. As they neared the counter and noticed the gun, they stopped dead in their tracks. It was if all five men hit a brick wall at once. They halted, turned and sprinted for the door, kicking over chairs in their panicky flight.

In thirty seconds, the thugs were gone.

Albert Marcu is a remarkable man. He grew up in communist Romania, but fled when he was 19. He landed in Germany and obtained a degree in architecture there. Immigrating to America, Marcu worked for a few years in that profession. However, his passion was making and repairing jewelry and he soon opened his successful Estates Consignment shop.

After defending his store, the storeowner gave interviews to several networks.

"I feel very, very bad for this country," he said, "which is one of the best countries in the world. We beg the politicians to help us small businesses and help communities all over California. I'd say about 99% of my customers complain about crime."

Marcu told reporters he had a premonition his store might be hit "as large-scale retail thefts have become synonymous with the Bay area."

In an interview with Fox News, Marcu was asked about Governor Gavin Newsom's claim that San Francisco outperformed other areas in the state in reducing thefts. "Not true," Marcu said emphatically.

"I didn't want to shoot anybody," he said. "But I have to make a statement. Too many bad things have happened. Stores get robbed left and right. I have a message for all business owners, to take example and fight for themselves, because if you don't fight for yourself, nobody will."

"It's terrifying living in California," Marcu said.

As of this writing, none of the would-be robbers that attacked Albert Marcu's consignment store have been apprehended. If they are caught, they'll likely be released and face no charges. (In the Golden State, many prosecutors refuse to indict criminals except for the most violent crimes.)