Monday, February 27, 2023

El Paso Mall Shooter Taken Down by Concealed Carry Holder

Investigation Continues on Shooting at Cielo Vista Mall

(The following is a news release published by El Paso Police Department - February 15, 2023)

El Paso, Texas - The El Paso Police Department continues the investigation of the shooting that took place Wednesday at Cielo Vista Mall. Investigators are able to confirm that an individual that is Licensed to Carry shot the suspect responsible for the murder.

Investigators have learned that at 5:05 P.M., a confrontation ensued between two groups near the food court area on the second level. The first group consisted of 17-year-old Angeles Zaragoza, a 17-year-old Hispanic male, a 14-year-old Hispanic male who was seriously injured, a 17-year-old Hispanic female, a 16-year-old Hispanic male, a 14-year-old Hispanic male, and a 14-year-old Hispanic female. The second group consisted of a 16-year-old male, who has been identified as the shooter in this incident, a 20-year-old Hispanic male who was injured, a 17-year-old Hispanic male, and a 15-year-old Hispanic male.

The confrontation between both groups escalated into a physical fight. As they fought, the 16-year-old pulled out a handgun. The suspect fatally shot 17-year-old Angeles Zaragoza and seriously wounded a 17-year-old Hispanic male who was part of the first group. In the shooting a 20-year-old Hispanic male of the second group was shot.

As soon as the shooting ended, the 16-year-old suspect began to run and was pointing the gun towards the direction of bystanders, including 32-year-old Emanuel Duran, a Licensed to Carry Holder. As the suspect ran towards Duran and bystanders, Duran drew his handgun and shot the suspect.

At that time, an off-duty El Paso Police Officer arrived at the area of the shooting and together with Duran rendered aid to the 16-year-old suspect and the others that were injured. Investigators found that there were at least two other legally armed citizens in the area of where the shooting took place, but were not involved. The investigation continues and charges are pending against the 16-year-old suspect. The 16-year-old suspect was last listed in stable condition. This is the 4th Murder for 2023 as compared to 2 at this time last year.  

Sunday, February 12, 2023

The Paperboy Murder

 Joseph "Joey" Didier

The sad slaying of Joey Didier
By Robert A. Waters

Joey's last words hung in the air like a nightmare: "Please don't hang me." 

Robert Lower kidnapped Joseph "Joey" Didier at about 6:30 a.m. on March 4, 1975, as the fifteen-year-old delivered the Rockford Morning Star newspapers to homes in the city. Lower, living out a fantasy, drove Joey sixty miles away to the deserted Apple River Boy Scout Camp between Stockton and Rockford, Illinois. There he molested the young boy before murdering him.

Lower set up an elaborate system of death. As always, ropes played an important part in his fantasies. The Rockford Register-Republic reported that Lower "tied a rope to a small bench on which young Joseph Didier stood with a second rope around his neck, walked out the door of an isolated cabin, then pulled the rope knocking over the bench and hanging the boy."

Twelve days later, two Boy Scouts found the frozen, nude body lying on the floor of the cabin, a rope still about his neck. The coroner ruled strangulation to be the cause of death and, according to court documents, "there were evidences of rope burns on the wrist and evidence of sexual molestation."

Robert Henry Lower
With his record of attacks on young boys, the killer should never have been at large.

In 1958, while serving in the United States Air Force, Lower had been arrested in Sparks, Nevada for kidnapping and molesting a young boy. The pedophile was dishonorably discharged and sentenced to prison for his crime.

Six years later, Lower was free. In 1964, he raped another teenaged boy. Committed to Menard Psychiatric Center in Freeport, court documents relate that "the Freeport police files indicated certain bizarre conduct with the young boy in question involving tying him up with ropes and a simulated hanging." A psychiatrist, John G. Graybill, warned that Lower was dangerous and should be kept in prison for as long as possible.

By 1973, he was free again and stalking paperboys. (Children who delivered news to residents in many cities were plagued by "chicken hawks," as they were called. Rape, molestation, and even murder was the common fare for young paperboys, most from poor backgrounds who worked to help their families survive.)

Beginning in 1973, Rockford police found a pattern in several bizarre sexual assaults of young boys. Court documents record the following unsolved cases: "On February 3, Scotty Johnston*, aged 12, had been assaulted while delivering his morning papers by a man who struck him, took him two blocks away to a church, took off his clothes and spray painted his groin area. Johnston described the man to the police as wearing a gold snowmobile suit with a face cover.

"On that same date, another paperboy, Ricky Alstott*, was followed persistently for several blocks while delivering his papers but he managed to elude the man who was following him. The man was also wearing a snowmobile suit...On April 12, 1974, Brett Dorset*, a paperboy, was abducted by a man while delivering his morning route. Dorset said the man jumped from behind a bush, placed a hood over his head and put him into the trunk of an automobile. He was then taken to a cemetery and suspended from a tree by ropes. He was then disrobed and tied to a post where he was sexually abused and then was forced to run in circles at the end of a rope tied to his wrist. He was left tied to the post with his face covered until he freed himself sometime later. His genitals were also painted..."

After Joey Didier disappeared, a massive search began. The Decatur Daily News reported "that police said Joseph's newspaper sack, with only four newspapers delivered, was found in the same block where, about two hours earlier, a woman reported hearing a scream and a car sped away. Near the sack, police said, there were footprints in the snow other than Joseph's."

For the next twelve days, hundreds of police and volunteers scoured the countryside for Joey. Ground and air searches produced no leads. Truckers banded together to hand out thousands of flyers to customers and local businesses. Cops spoke with every neighbor in the area, including known pedophiles, but still could not gather any solid clues.

Then, on March 24, 1975, The Daily Sentinel reported that "Robert Henry Lower, 36, is being held without bond for the murder of Joseph Didier, 15, son of Rockford Alderman Joseph Didier, Jr. He was arrested Friday while leaving his job as a truck driver for a Rockford firm and charged with murder and aggravated kidnapping."

Lower was swiftly moved to the Winnebago County Jail and surrounded by guards for his protection. Described as a loner and a snowmobile enthusiast, investigators said a tip led to his arrest.

Within hours, Lower had confessed to the kidnapping and murder, writing a four-page long statement. In his confession, he said Joey had begged Lower not to kill him. The kidnapper told his captive that he would have to kill him because Joey could identify him (Lower). Joey responded that he had a "bad memory" and could not remember who abducted him. As Lower walked outside the cabin to pull the rope, Joey uttered his last words.

In October, Lower was sentenced to 100 to 150 years in prison. Unfortunately, he would be eligible for parole after only 19 years. He was housed in the Menard State Prison, the same penitentiary where he had been imprisoned after raping an 11-year-old boy. Joey's father spoke to reporters, saying, "The hate I have for this man, I cannot express in any way."

On February 19, 2017, after a long illness, the infamous killer died in Graham Correctional Center. No one claimed his body and he is buried in the prison cemetery.

The Winnebago County State's Attorney's Office released the following statement: "Our thoughts and focus have always been and remain with the family of Joey Didier. They will continue to feel the loss of Joey as his life was cut short by Robert Lower's brutal and cold-blooded actions 42 years ago. For years, the State's Attorney's Office has joined together with the Didier's and this community to keep Lower in prison, and while it's comforting to know that this part of the fight is over, we will continue to grieve the loss of Joey and hope for continued healing for his family."

* Not their real names