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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Dawn DaLuise Murder-For-Hire Case

     Dawn Melody DaLuise moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s to become a model. Ten years later she enrolled in beauty school and eventually opened her Skin Refinery salon in West Hollywood. On her company website DaLuise advertises waxing and what she calls Electrical Muscle Stimulation facials that supposedly eliminates dry skin, wrinkles, and damage from chemical peels.

     At the Skin Refinery an electrical stimulation treatment costs $125 a pop, a regular facial $80, and a wax job $90. Billing herself as "the skin specialist to the stars," DaLuise claims to have worked on celebrities Jennifer Aniston, Christian Slater, Alicia Siverstone, Christina Ricci, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. (Because I don't read People Magazine, I'm not familiar with the last three Hollywood stars.)

     On March 4, 2014, detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's fraud and cyber stalking bureau were investigating a cyber stalking complaint when they stumbled upon a murder-for-hire plot that allegedly involved the skin specialist.

     The murder scheme in question allegedly unfolded between January 22 and February 12, 2014. It centers around three text messages DaLuise sent to a friend named Edward Feinstein. In those messages DaLuise bragged that she had hired a hit man to rub out a young business competitor, Gabriel Suarez.

     In August 2013, Suarez opened a skin salon next door to the Skin Refinery. He calls his shop Smooth Cheeks. In one of her text messages to Feinstein, DaLuise wrote: "I found someone who is going to take Gabriel out. His name is Chris Geile and he's an ex-Detroit Lion quarterback. He's six-foot-seven and 315 pounds. He's on my Facebook page. (In the contract killing business, the size of the hit man really doesn't matter. It's the size of his gun that counts. Also, DaLuise didn't have her football facts quite straight. In reality, Geile had been an offensive guard whose NFL career involved playing three games with the Detroit Lions in 1987.)

     When the suspected murder-for-hire mastermind learned that detectives had questioned Feinstein, she allegedly sent him text messages coaching him on how to mislead investigators.

     On March 5, 2014, Los Angeles County detectives booked Dawn DaLuise into the county jail on the charge of conspiracy to commit murder. She was held on $1 million bond. If convicted as charged, the 56-year-old would spend up to nine years in prison.

     In January 2015, a jury sitting in a Los Angeles Superior Court, after deliberating one hour, found DaLuise not guilty as charged. She walked out of the courtroom a free woman.
    

Governor George Wallace Predicted Being Shot

Somebody's going to get me one of these days. I can just see a little guy out there that nobody's paying any attention to. He reaches into his pocket and out comes the little gun, like that Shirhan guy that got [Robert] Kennedy.

George Wallace [The governor of Alabama who was shot by Arthur Herman Bremer on May 15, 1972.] Detroit News, 1972 

Dennis McCauley's Six-Month Cohabitation With a Corpse

     In November 2012, 72-year-old Ann Marquis died of natural causes in the trailer house she rented in Long's Mobile Home Court in Redford Township just west of Detroit. At the time of her death Marquis resided with Dennis McCauley. The 64-year-old had been living with Marquis for two and a half years.

     Mr. McCauley, instead of notifying the appropriate authorities of Ann Marquis' death, told her friends and neighbors that she had moved out of the trailer park. In reality, the dead woman, laid out on a living room sofa bed, hadn't gone anywhere.

     Over the next six months, as Dennis McCauley cashed Marquis' social security checks and used her credit cards, she decomposed on the sofa bed. (That's one piece of used furniture that will not end up in a Salvation Army store.)

     Mr. McCauley should have used some of his dead roommate's money to pay the monthly trailer rent. On April 22, 2013, Redford Township police officers, accompanied by the landlord, showed up at the trailer with an eviction notice. When the landlord opened the front door, she and the officers were assaulted by the smell of death. The gruesome discovery terminated McCauley's six-month postmortem relationship with Ann Marquis.

     A Wayne County prosecutor charged Dennis McCauley with nine felony offenses related to his macabre relationship with a dead woman. These crimes include larceny, social security fraud, illegal possession of a credit card, failure to report a death, and mutilation of corpse. The latter charge related to the discovery that the dead woman's right arm was separated from her body. (The arm may have come off when McCauley, months after Marquis' death, moved the corpse.)

     Dennis McCauley was incarcerated in the Wayne County Jail under $250,000 bond. If a judge threw the book at him, he could spend the rest of his life behind bars. Had he ripped-off a woman who was alive, he'd be looking at probation. Theft and fraud were crimes against property. Living six months with a dead woman was a crime against nature.

     In December 2014, Dennis McCauley pleaded no contest to mutilation of a corpse in return for probation and community service. Under the circumstances, he got off light.

The Biographic Hatchet Job

Almost every eminent person leaves behind an abundance of personal data which skillfully manipulated can prove him to have been a fool or a knave. Innocuous personal details and casual episodes, if sufficiently emphasized, described with archness and placed in misleading context, can be as damaging in their effect as plain evidence of dim intellect or villainy.

Richard D. Aftick

Monday, November 19, 2018

James Wells and the Kodiak Island Coast Guard Double Murder Case

     There are locations in the country where murder, while still shocking, is commonplace and therefore predictable. This is true in cities like Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. In the sparsely populated regions of the United States, criminal homicide is usually an uncommon event, and double-murder is unheard of. But wherever there are people, even if just a few of them, murder can raise its ugly head. That's what happened in Alaska at the Coast Guard Base on Kodiak Island, 250 miles southwest of Anchorage.

     Home to Coast Guard cutters, helicopters, and rescue swimmers who come to the aid of mariners on the Bering Sea and Pacific Ocean, the base is populated by 1,300 Coast Guard and civilian employees. The Base is located near Kodiak, a town of 6,300. The Base's Communications Station, the Coast Guard's "ears in the sky", monitors radio traffic from ships and planes.

     At eight in the morning of April 12, 2012, a civilian employee of the Communications Station, upon entering the rigger building where radio antennas are repaired, found the bodies of two fellow employees. Both men had been shot to death. The victims were identified as 51-year-old Richard Belisle and James Hopkins, 41. Belisle, a former Petty Officer, had stayed on at the station as a civilian employee after his retirement. Petty Officer 1st Class Hopkins was an Electrician's Mate.

     Because the men had been murdered on U.S. Government property, the FBI has investigative jurisdiction in the case. Agents are working on the double-murder with Alaska State Troopers. Investigators believe that the victims had been shot to death as they arrived for work sometime between seven and eight that morning. The obvious suspects were employees of the base who had access to the secured rigger building.

     One of the Communication Station employees who came under suspicion was 61-year-old James Michael Wells. Wells lived with his wife Nancy in the community of Bells Flats on Kodiak Island located six miles from the base. Wells' blue 2001 Honda SUV was seen near the murder scene on the morning of the crime. He also owns a white Dodge Ram pickup truck. A week after the murders, FBI agents searched Wells' house. They did not, at that time, take him into custody.

     On May 17, 2012, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, feeling the heat over the still unsolved double murder, issued one of those meaningless press statements to the effect that her department has put its full weight and resources behind the investigation.

     FBI agents, on February 2013, arrested James Wells on two charges of federal murder. The U.S. Magistrate denied the suspect bail. Two weeks later, Wells' wife Nancy, in speaking to an Associated Press reporter, said, "I have faith in my husband's innocence. I have faith in the quality of the investigation."

     In April 2014, a jury found James Wells guilty of double murder and related crimes. The judge sentenced him to four life prison terms. Wells appealed the conviction on grounds that the prosecution testimony of a forensic psychologist describing the personality characteristics of workplace killers should not have been admitted into evidence.

     In December 2017, a three judge panel on the 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed James Well's conviction on grounds the forensic psychologist's testimony was unconstitutionally prejudicial.

     As of November 2018, James Wells has not been retried for the murders. 

The Thomas J. Lee Mass Murder Case

     Thomas Jesse Lee, 26, resided with his 33-year-old wife Christie, her 16-year-old daughter Bailey, Christie's parents, and an 18-year-old friend of the family, Liaona Green. The clan lived in a suburban home outside of La Grange, Georgia, a town 80 miles southwest of Atlanta.

     On Saturday January 31, 2015, after 69-year-old William Burton, Thomas Lee's father-in-law, didn't show up for work for three days, and didn't answer his phone, his employer asked the Troup County Sheriff's Office to check on the family.

    Deputies went to the Burton home but didn't get a response when they knocked on the door. Because the dwelling was locked, the officers obtained a warrant to enter the dwelling. Once inside, the deputies encountered a murder scene comprised of five bodies.

     Deputies found Mr. Burton in the kitchen. He had been severely beaten then shot to death. Shelia Burton, his 67-year-old wife, lay dead in the master bedroom. She had been shot in the head. Thomas J. Lee's wife Christie had been shot to death to death in their bedroom. The teenage girls, Bailey and Liaona, had been murdered in their room. Liaona had been shot, Bailey strangled to death.

     The authorities immediately suspected that Thomas J. Lee had committed the mass murder. A local judge issued a warrant for the arrest of the six-foot-three, 190 pound fugitive. He had been last seen driving an olive green Mazda Tribute.

     On Monday afternoon February 2, 2015, Thomas J. Lee walked into a church in Corinth, Mississippi 250 miles from the scene of the murders. He told the pastor he had car trouble and needed a lift to Opelika, Alabama. The minister gave Lee money for a bus ticket and a member of the church drove him to the bus station in Tupelo, Mississippi.

     A few hours later, the pastor saw a news report about the Georgia murders on television. The reportage included a photograph of Lee. Realizing he had just helped a fugitive in a mass murder case, the pastor called the police.

     At five that Monday afternoon, police officers took Thomas J. Lee into custody at the Tupelo bus station where he was still waiting for his bus. The next day he was back in Georgia where he was booked into the Troup County Jail on five counts of malice murder. The judge denied him bond.

    On August 12, 2015, Thomas J. Lee pleaded guilty in Troup County Superior Court to five counts of first-degree murder. The judge sentenced the mass murderer to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

Flying Drones into Prison

     On January 20, 2015 a judge in South Carolina sentenced Brandon Lee Doyle to fifteen years for trying  to fly contraband over the fence at the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville. In April 2014, officials found a crashed drone in the bushes outside the prison fence. Officers also discovered items inmates are not allowed to have such as phones, tobacco products, marijuana and synthetic marijuana.

     The drone never made it over the 12-foot-high razor-ribbon fence. Corrections officials believe this was the first known attempt to use a drone to smuggle contraband into a South Carolina prison.

"15 Years For The Man Who Tried to Fly a Drone Into Prison," Associated Press, January 20, 2015 

Death By Gaming

     A 32-year-old man was found dead in an Internet cafe in Taiwan after a marathon three-day gaming binge. This was the island's second death of an online gamer this year. The man, surnamed Hsieh, entered the cafe in Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second largest city, on January 6, 2015…An employee found him motionless and sprawled on a table at ten in the morning of January 8. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors pronounced him dead from cardiac arrest…

     Hsieh had been unemployed for some time and Internet cafes were the only places he could go. According to his family, he would disappear for two to three days on end…

     It was not known exactly how long Hsieh lay dead in the Internet cafe but police said his body had begun to stiffen so he must have been dead for several hours before the police arrived...Gamers in the cafe continued playing as if nothing had happened…

     Surveillance camera footage showed that before he collapsed Hsieh was involved in a minor struggle. Cold temperatures and over-exhaustion from the long hours spent playing games likely contributed to his death…

     According to the Taipei Times, Hsieh had been a regular customer who often played online games for consecutive days. When tired, he would sleep face down on the table or doze off slumped in his chair…That is why employees were not immediately aware of his condition.

     Taiwan is no stranger to deaths from marathon sessions of online gaming. Hsieh's death came after a 38-year-old man was found dead at an Internet cafe in Taipei on January 1, 2015 after playing video games for five days straight. And in 2012, the corpse of a man who died playing online games went unnoticed for ten hours by other gamers and staff.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Roger Bowling Murder Case

     Around the first of July 2012, Danielle Greenway's 39-year-old ex-boyfriend, Roger K. Bowling, asked if he could stay with her and her fiancee until he got back on his feet after a run of bad luck. The 32-year-old Greenway and Chris Hall, ten years her senior, lived on a well-kept, tree-shaded neighborhood in Allen Park, Michigan, a suburban working class community south of Detroit. She was employed by a cleaning service and Hall was an electrician. Although Greenway and Bowling had broken up five years ago (he was the jealous, controlling type), she agreed to let the beefy, bald ex-boyfriend move into their basement.

     On Thursday, July 17, 2012, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer on routine patrol saw a body, missing its head, hands, and feet, floating in the Detroit River. A U.S. Coast Guard boat crew discovered a second nude body floating in the river on the east side of Detroit. The hands, feet, and head were missing from this corpse as well. Later in the day, a fisherman saw four hands, four feet, and two heads lying in the sand beneath two feet of water along the shore of an abandoned park. The fisherman also discovered a suitcase lying in the water near the body parts.

     The next day, Chris Hall's sister, who hadn't had contact with him and Greenway since July 14, went to their house in Allen Park and pounded on the front door. When she didn't get any response, she reported the couple missing.

     Later that day, officers with the Allen Park Police Department entered the house. Inside, detectives found evidence that someone had tried to clean-up large amounts of blood. In the garage, the police discovered two spent bullets and a bullet fragment that had been fired from a .40-caliber pistol. They also recovered a .40-caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun registered to Roger Bowling.

     The dismembered remains were those of Danielle Greenway and Chris Hall. The forensic pathologist who performed the autopsies estimated they had been shot to death sometime between the 14th and 16th of July, 2012.

     The Wayne County District Attorney's office charged Roger Bowling with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of mutilation of a body. On Tuesday night, July 24, 2012, officers arrested Bowling at the Greenway/Hall residence. Two days later, detectives recovered the couple's missing 2005 GMC Safari van found parked a few blocks from the house. The vehicle contained physical evidence linking Bowling to the double murder.

     As officers escorted Bowling out of the Wayne County courtroom following his arraignment, Danielle Greenway's mother yelled, "burn in hell."
 
     At the defendant's preliminary hearing on August 20, 2012, Assistant Wayne County medical examiner Jeffrey Jentzen testified that Hall was shot six times, including twice in the head. Greenway had been shot once, through the mouth.

     Roger Slick, a 35-year-old who has known Roger Bowling since first grade, testified that Bowling was angry because Greenway was dating someone else. "We would talk about how we could get rid of our problems--get rid of our women," the witness said. "I talked about taking my wife to the swamp. We'd drink beer and talk about it. I didn't do it. I had the thoughts. I was very upset at that time in my life." This witness testified that when he heard about the deaths of Greenway and Hall, after thinking about it for a few days, he decided to tell the police about these conversations with Bowling. Slick said he believed Bowling used his father's boat to dispose of the bodies. "That was the boat we used to go on. We talked about dropping bodies off in Lake Huron."

     Bowling's attorney, Mark L. Brown, pointed out that there are no eyewitnesses linking his client to the murders. He said that without a confession or an eyewitness the case against his client was entirely circumstantial.

     On September 17, 2014, following a five-week trial, the Wayne County Circuit Court jury found Roger Bowling guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of corpse mutilation. The judge, on October 10, 2014, sentenced Bowling to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The Presumption of Innocence Myth

     Probably the least questioned and most believed government lie is also the most famous maxim of the American judicial system: that all persons are presumed "innocent until proven guilty" beyond a reasonable doubt. This presumption of innocence is a standard taught to the youngest of school children and which the government hails as a founding principle of justice because it presumes that, like the oft-repeated Lord Justice William Blackstone ratio, "Better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer."

     Of course, "innocent until proven guilty" has been at the core of Western judicial systems since biblical times. We are indoctrinated so thoroughly that the average person rarely considers whether the phrase is true or not. Yet when we carefully examine the system, we find that it does not function as the government would like us to believe. Beneath the surface of various platitudes, the falsity of the presumption of innocence becomes readily apparent.

Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, Lies The Government Tells You, 2010