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Monday, January 23, 2012

Random Acts of Crime: Snapshots 2

January 15, 2012
Dorset Township, Ohio

     Police arrested 34-year-old Angel Brown after she had given a man $4,000 to kill her husband's former wife. The potential hitman informed the police who arrested Brown on the charge of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder. The mastermind's husband had been killed in a bizarre car accident caused by an Amish man's runaway horse. The dead man's first wife put herself in Angel Brown's cross-hairs when she filed a claim for a share her ex-husband's estate. This case, in terms of the people involved, is not unusal. It serves to remind us that you don't have to be in the Mafia to become the target in a murder for hire plot.

January 9, 2012
Logan, Ohio

     Darlene Gilkey was dying of cancer. Confined to a hospital bed set up in her living room, the 59-year-old was being cared for by hospice, her husband Paul, and her two sisters. Earlier in the day, she had been served a light meal of toast and tea by her sisters. This angered her husband Paul who had peeled her an orange. During a heated argument next to the sick woman's bed, Paul shot both sisters to death, then turned his gun on his 38-year-old son, killing him as well. (Another son escaped, unhurt.) Sparing his stunned wife, the 62-year-old stepped out onto the front porch, sat down, then used his gun to kill himself. Nine shots were fired in this tripple murder-suicide.

     Leroy Gilkey, the 38-year-old murdered by his father, had taught Spanish at a Columbus area high school. As for his father, a relative described him as unpredictable and unstable. Before the shootings, Paul Gilkey had been drinking, and had taken some kind of medicatation. This case reveals the disturbing truth that most violence occurs within the family, and often involves alchohol, drugs and mental illness.

January 15, 2012
Fresno, California

     When residents of the Silver Lakes apartment complex heard 23-year-old Aide Mendez arguing loundly with Eduardo Lopez, the 33-year-old father of her two children, they called the police. Officers arrived at the scene and found Lopez outside the apartment. He was alive but had been shot and stabbed. As officers attended to Lopez, they heard gunshots coming from within the Mendez's apartment. Upon entering, the police found Lopez's 27-year-old cousin, Paul Medina, shot dead. In the bathroom, officers discovered the bodies of Mendez and her two children. The 3-year-old had died at the scene. His 17-month-old sister passed away at a nearby hospital.

     Prior to the shooting her boyfriend, his cousin, her two children, and then herself, Aide Mendez had recorded, on her iPad, herself and Medina smoking methamphetamine. Police recovered 10 grams of meth, worth $8,000, from the apartment. They also seized three firearms.

     While even tripple murder-suicide cases are no long uncommon, this one is unusual because murder-suicides are almost always committed by men. And when a female does commit such violence, they usually spare their children. But in America's exploding culture of drugs, there will be no such thing as an unusual crime.

January 17, 2012
Anaheim, California

     The district attorney of Orange County filed four counts of murder against Itzcoatl Ocampo, a 23-year-old former Marine from Yorba Linda who had served six months in Iraq. Ocampo stands accussed of stabbing to death, over a period of a month, four homeless men in Anaheim.

     After graduating from Yorba Linda's Esperanza High School in 2006, Ocampo went straight into the Marine Corps. When he returned from Iraq in the summer of 2010, he showed signs of mental illness. He also started drinking. During his killing spree, Ocampo had been living with two younger siblings. His fatehr, Refugio, educated at a lawyer in Mexico, immigrated to the U.S. with his wife and Itzcoatl in 1988. Refugio became an American citizen, got a job as the manager of a warehouse, and purchased a home in Yorba Linda. But after he and his wife divorced, Refugio himself became homeless. Mr. Ocamp told a reporter that after his son left the Marine Corps, he became isolated, and trusted no one. The suspect is being held, without bond, in the Orange County Jail.

January 16, 2012
Los Angeles, California

      Young Lee, a kick-boxer turned successful architect who co-founded the Pinkberry Company, a low-calorie yogurt chain with more than 100 locations in the U.S., Mexico, and the Middle East, was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport. The 47-year-old South Korean entrepreneur is accused of chasing down a homeless man in June 2011 after the transient approached his car and asked for a hand-out. Lee and a passenger in his car allegedly beat the homeless man with a tire iron. Lee is currently out of jail on bail awaiting his trial. The condition of the homeless man is unknown.

January 14, 2012
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

     Philadelphia is a violent city. Last year the police shot 16 people, and so far this year, there have been 20 homicides. Last week, a 30-year-old man gunned-down seven teenagers in a car. Three of the boys died.

     Keven Kless, a May 2010 graduate of Temple University, and an employee of a Philadelphia insurance company, yelled at a cab driver in the tourist district near the Liberty Bell didn't when the taxi didn't stop for him, his girlfriend, and her companion. Four men in a vehicle behind the cab though Kless had shouted at them. Three of the men got out of the car, punched Kless to the ground, then repeatedly kicked him. The 23-year-old died a few hours later at a local hospital. The city and the Fraternal Order of Police posted a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of these killers.

     On January 20, the police arrested three hispanic men in their twenties who had been bragging about beating up a white guy on the old city part of town. A tipster hoping to get the reward money had turned them in. One of the suspects has already confessed. None of the arrestees posses a criminal record.

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