Sunday, September 30, 2018

"Where I come from, it's kill or be killed"

Permit Holders Stop Crimes
by Robert A. Waters

“In all honesty, if he didn’t die this way, he would have ended up dying.  He would have ended up killing himself on drugs.”  These heartbreaking words were spoken by the sister of William Smith, 29.  Smith had attempted to rob the Prime Food Store in Orange Park, Florida when he was shot by a clerk.  Cops said the robber staggered outside and died in the parking lot, his hand next to a pistol he’d been carrying.  The family member’s reaction uncovers a lifetime of pain and dashed hopes that their loved one might someday kick his addiction and go straight.  The clerk, who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, was not charged.

Sixty-three-year-old Bennie Sideboard grew up on the dangerous streets of New Orleans.  He joined the navy, became a merchant marine, and later moved back to his hometown.  One evening, as he and a friend got out of his car to enter his home, two armed teenagers attempted to rob them.  Sideboard, a permit holder, shoved the assailant’s gun away, then drew his own firearm and opened fire.  A few minutes later, Andrew Spikes turned up at a New Orleans hospital with a bullet in his belly.  Spikes and his accomplice were arrested and the shooting was ruled self-defense.  “It happened so fast,” Sideboard said, “but I’m used to bad stuff going down.  Where I’m from, it’s kill or be killed.”

Andres Herrera died in a blaze of gunfire while attempting to rob customers at a San Antonio, Texas Popeyes Restaurant.  KOAT News reported that “Herrera, 19, approached Carlos Molina, 32, who was eating with his family.  Herrera demanded money, but Molina said he didn't have any because he spent it on dinner…Molina asked if Herrera would let his family go, and the gunman agreed.  Molina's wife and two of his children left the restaurant, but two more of his children were still in the bathroom.  Herrera spotted the remaining children walking out of the bathroom and pointed his gun in their direction.”  At that point, Molina drew his firearm and killed the robber.  Police found items stolen from a pawn shop in Herrera’s motel room, and identified him as the suspect who had recently robbed a Dollar General store.  Molina was not charged with any crime.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Review: In the Name of the Children

In the Name of the Children: An FBI Agent’s Relentless Pursuit of the Nation’s Worst Predators by Jeffrey L. Rinek and Marilee Strong.

Review by Robert A. Waters

I’ll admit it—I have a case of serial killer fatigue.  Serial murderers seem to be deeply disturbed and conscienceless individuals, yet much of film, fiction, and even non-fiction portray them as fascinating and romantic rebels.  Sometime ago, I grew tired of reading about such characters, particularly when their victims, many of whom came off as far more interesting, were given short shrift.

Then I picked up In the Name of the Children and couldn’t put it down.  One of the reasons I liked this book is that the authors give the victims as much attention as they give the killers.  Jeffrey Rinek is a retired FBI agent who specialized in obtaining confessions from some of the nation’s worst predators.  His most sensational case was the Yosemite murders.  Cary Stayner kidnapped and murdered four innocent women: Carole Sund, Juli Sund, Sylvina Pelosso, and Joie Armstrong.  The murders of these women were brutal, heartless, and random.

Stayner, whose younger brother had been kidnapped and held as a sex slave for seven years, nearly got away with it.  The killer’s surprise confessions to Rinek and his partner revealed a warped, twisted soul.  Did the ordeal of his brother play a role in developing his psyche?  Read the book and find out.  There’s little doubt, however, that Stayner would have killed again and again had he not been caught.  The authors delve deep into the case to flesh out a sometimes flawed investigation.

Other cases the authors describe include the kidnapping and torture of an eight-year-old boy, a throwaway child, and a group of children used as sex objects by a notorious cult.  These cases, as would be expected, took a toll on the author.

The book is well-written and I found no typos, the sign of a well-constructed package.

If you have any interest in true crime at its finest, read In the Name of the Children.  The authors have done a good job of bringing each case to life.