More than 5,540,000 pageviews from 160 countries


Monday, June 21, 2021

Annette Morales-Rodriguez and the C-Section Murders

     In October 2011, Annette Morales-Rodriguez, a 34-year-old mother of three, lived with a boyfriend who expected that she would give birth to their baby within a matter of days. But that wasn't going to happen because she had been faking her pregnancy. Morales-Rodriguez had lied to this man twice before about being pregnant, and in the past, to avoid exposure as a liar and a fake, had falsely reported a pair of miscarriages. Running out of time and desperate, Morales-Rodriguez decided to kidnap a woman about to give birth, and steal the fetus by performing a crude Caesarean section using knowledge she had acquired from watching a show on the Discovery Channel.

     In search of a victim and her baby, Morales-Rodriguez showed up at a Hispanic community center in Milwaukee where she encountered 23-year-old Maritza Ramirez-Cruz who was in her 40th week of pregnancy. Morales-Rodriguez lured her intended victim into her car by offering her a ride home. Along the way, Morales-Rodriguez stopped at her house to change her shoes while the unsuspecting Ramirez-Cruz waited outside in the car. When Morales-Rodriguez didn't make a timely return to the vehicle, her passenger walked up to the house, knocked on the door, and asked if she could use the bathroom.

     Shortly after letting the pregnant woman into her home, Morales-Rodriguez smashed her in the head with a baseball bat, then choked her until she passed out. After binding the victim's hands and feet and covering her nose and mouth with the duct tape, Morales-Rodriguez sliced into the pregnant woman's body with a X-Acto knife exposing the fetus. After removing the baby boy from his dead mother, Rodriguez realized she had killed the newborn as well.

     After she deposited Rameriz-Cruz's blood-soaked body in her basement, Morales-Rodriguez called 911 and informed the dispatcher she had just given birth to a baby that wasn't breathing. Paramedics who rushed to the scene confirmed that the infant was dead. At this point, the emergency responders had no reason to suspect foul play. They cleaned off the infant, wrapped it in a towel, and handed it to the woman who had just murdered it.

     When the medical examiner performed the autopsy, it became obvious that the baby had been removed from its mother's body by an amateur. This crude procedure had caused its death. A police search of Morales-Rodriguez's house resulted in the discovery of the disemboweled corpse with the duct tape still in place. According to the forensic pathologist, Ramirez-Cruz had died of blood loss and asphyxiation. The baby had been stillborn.

     Following her arrest, in a videotaped interrogation at the Milwaukee police station by detective Rodolfo Gomez, Morales-Rodriguez explained in Spanish how her boyfriend's expectations had caused her to kidnap and home-C-section the young pregnant woman. In other words, she had murdered a pregnant woman to save her relationship with her boyfriend.

     Charged with two counts of first-degree murder, Morales-Rodriguez went on trial in early September 2012. She pleaded not guilty to the murder charges on the ground it had not been her intention to kill the mother and her baby.

     On September 20, 2012, the jury of six men and six women found the defendant guilty as charged. Because Wisconsin doesn't have the death penalty, Annette Morales-Rodriguez faced a mandatory life sentence. It was up to the judge to determine if she would be eligible for parole.

     Given the fact this woman had brutally murdered a stranger and killed the victim's baby through a crude C-section, Judge David Borowski, on December 13, 2012, sentenced Rodriquez to life in prison with no chance of parole. 

What is Fentanyl?

     Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid, a respiratory depressant that can restrict the user's ability to breathe. Created in the 1960s to manage pain after surgery, clinical use expanded in the 1990s with the extended release patch for chronic pain, typically caused by cancer. The pain relief is immediate. 

     Fentanyl is now illicitly made in labs and sold as powder or tablets or mixed with a variety of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. It is cheap and easy to produce and is ten times more likely to cause an overdose than other opioids. 

     Huge quantities of fentanyl from China are smuggled into the United States through Mexico. In the last year, 900,000 Americans overdosed on drugs and died. About half of those deaths involved fentanyl.

Serial Killer Belle Gunness

     She was never arrested or charged with a single crime, but Belle Gunness is recognized as one of the deadliest serial killers in criminal history. Born in Norway in 1859 to a family always teetering on the brink of ruin, she immigrated to the United States at age twenty-one, married, and seemed to be content. In 1896, her husband's confectionary business was failing when two disasters struck the family: their oldest child died suddenly and mysteriously, and the sweet shop was destroyed in a fire. Both were insured.

    Two years later, the family's new home burned to the ground and another child died mysteriously. In 1890, Belle's husband died. She collected benefits on all three occasions. Belle moved her children to an Indiana farm, where she continued her murders for money. Her second husband met with a fatal accident, and many of the farm workers who answered Belle's advertisements were never seen again.

     In 1908 the Gunness farmhouse was destroyed by fire. The bodies of Belle's three children and the decapitated corpse of a woman were found in the basement. Within a month, investigators had started digging up the remains of at least sixteen people and possibly twelve more. Most of the females had been buried, but some of the males had been fed to the hogs. [Belle Gunness escaped accountability for her crimes by dying in April 1908.]

The Monday Murder Club, A Miscellany of Murder, 2011

Charles Bukowski On Not Selling Out

Writing can trap you. Some writers tend to write what has pleased their readers in the past. Then they are finished. Most writers' creative span is short. They hear the accolades and believe them. There is only one final judge of writing and that is the writer. When he is swayed by the critics, the editors, the publishers, the readers, then he's finished.

Charles Bukowski, The Captain Is Out To Lunch And The Sailors Have Taken Over The Ship, 1968

Writing Students Who Can't Take Criticism

     I have had creative writing students who could neither give nor take criticism without getting fiery red in the face and rough in the voice--so sensitive to personal slight that they could neither take it themselves nor dish it out, without a heavy component of hostility. Untreated, that disease can be fatal; even treated, it is uncomfortable.

     If criticism affects you that way, you are very unlikely to "make it" as a writer, because there is no way to learn, except through criticism--your own or someone else's.

Wallace Stegner, Teaching and Writing Fiction, 2002 

Sherlock Holmes Would Have Ridiculed His Creator

Sir A. Conan Doyle's detective Sherlock Holmes was the epitome of rationalism and logic. However, Doyle himself was not. He believed deeply in ghosts, fairies, and other spiritualistic claptrap, and was duped over and over again by charlatans and hoaxers.

Erin Barrett and Jack Mingo, It Takes A Certain Type To Be A Writer, 2003 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Nicolas Holzer Mass Murder Case

     Some of the most disturbing and puzzling murder cases are ones that, even from the killer's point of view, make no sense. The good-boy Eagle scout who murders his parents in their sleep or guns down teachers and students at his school falls into this category. A young mother who drowns her baby in the bathtub or a longtime employee who shows up at work one day with mass murder on his mind, are cases that defy understanding.

     Out-of-the-blue murders committed by noncriminal types who didn't exhibit symptoms of mental illness are frightening because they can't be predicted and therefore prevented. The murderers in these cases simply blindside their victims. Such cases are insidious in their straightforward banality. The feeling they create is this: no place is safe and no one can be trusted. We are all in danger.

     In 2004, after he and his wife Juana were divorced, Nicolas Holzer gained custody of his two sons who were one and three-years-old. Three years later, Holzer and the boys moved into his parents' house in Goleta, California, a town of 30,000 ten miles northwest of Santa Barbara.

     Just after elven o'clock on the night of Monday, August 11, 2014, 45-year-old Nicolas Holzer called 911 and without emotion informed the dispatcher that he had just killed his family.

     When deputies with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office rolled up to the Holzer house on Walnut Park Lane not far from the University of California at Santa Barbara, they were met at the front door by the composed but bloodstained 911 caller.

     Inside the dwelling deputies discovered the blood-covered bodies of William Holzer, 73, Sheila Holzer, 74, and their two grandsons, Vincent, 10 and Sebastian who was thirteen. They had been stabbed to death by a pair of large kitchen knives.

     A calm and collected Nicolas Holzer informed the officers that he first murdered his father in the den. He then stabbed the boys to death as they slept in their beds. He said he killed his mother last. Officers found her body lying in the hallway outside the boys' bedroom.

     When asked why he had wiped-out his family, Holzer simply said, "I had to." He added that in killing them he had fulfilled what he believed was his destiny. This, of course, makes no sense whatsoever.

     Also dead in the house was the family pet, an Australian Shepherd.

     The Holzer residence had not been visited in the past by police officers responding to domestic violence calls. And detectives, at least in the initial stage of the investigation, found no evidence of prior mental illness.

     Charged with four counts of first-degree murder, Nicolas Holzer was held in the Santa Barbara County Jail without bond. Because California had recently abolished the death sentence, Mr. Holzer, if convicted as charged, faced life behind bars. His attorney, a month after the killings, said he planned to plead his client not guilty by reason of insanity.

     Holzer's ex-wife Juana, in August 2016, filed a wrongful death suit against the mass murder suspect.

     In August 2018, a jury in Santa Barbara County, after rejecting the insanity defense, found Nicolas Holzer guilty of four counts of first-degree murder. At his sentencing hearing, Holzer's attorney said, "Nicolas Holzer is not evil or heatless and he loved his family very much, but when his delusional beliefs escalated they overtook his ability to be rational.

     The judge sentenced Holzer to four life sentences without the possibility of parole.

The Uncharted Mind of the Serial Killer

     Over the years several convicted serial killers, before they died, bragged about murdering more victims than they had previously confessed to killing. Ted Bundy said he had killed more than a 100 women. Robert Charles Browne claimed to have killed 48. Glen Rogers raised his death count to 70, and Henry Lee Lucas between 60 and 100. Only a few of these post-confession admissions led to the discovery of more bodies.

     Detectives were left wondering if these dying sociopathic killers were fantasizing, intentionally misleading investigators, or coming clean before dying. One thing is certain, no one has ever been able to unlock the mystery of the serial killer's mind.

Public Executions

     For almost 5,000 years of human history, public executions have been an excuse to party, from the mass stonings of biblical times to the drunken festivities at Tyburn gallows in England all the way to the wine-and blood-soaked mobs at the guillotine, that "National Razor of France"…

     America was of course not exempt. Back in 1693 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, a bargeman convicted of murder was scheduled to be hanged on July 3. The Colonial Records of Pennsylvania matter-of-factly stated, "There were too few people there to make the affair enjoyable."

Richard Zacks, An Underground Education, 1997

Truman Capote: The Master of Setting

This is the opening paragraph of Truman Capote's first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, published in 1948 when he was 24-years-old:

     Now a traveler must make his way to Noon City by the best means he can, for there are no buses or trains heading in that direction, though six days a week a truck from the Chuberry Turpentine Company collects mail and supplies in the next-door town of Paradise Chapel: occasionally a person bound for Noon City can catch a ride with the driver of the truck, Sam Radclif. It's a rough trip no matter how you come, for these washboard roads will loosen up even brandnew cars pretty fast; and hitchhikers always find the going bad. Also, this is lonesome country; and here in the swamplike hollows where tiger lilies bloom the size of a man' head, there are luminous green logs that shine under the dark marsh water like drowned corpses; often the only movement on the landscape is winter smoke winding out the chimney of some sorry-looking farmhouse, or a wing-stiffened bird, silent and narrow-eyed, circling over the black deserted pinewoods.

Truman Capote (1924-1884)