More than 5,740,000 pageviews from 160 countries

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Politics As A Confidence Game

All politicians, to one degree or another, are BS artists. But when it comes to painting a dishonest tableau, Joe Biden is a modern day Rembrandt. As a career politician this talent has served him well. But being served a steady diet of bull all these years from Biden and his fellow con men has not served the American public. Enough with the BS already.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Death By Knife In D.C.: One Week, Two Random Street Murders

Lance Ammons

     On the afternoon of August 22, 2019 in Washington, D.C., 62-year-old Robert Bolich, a contractor from Alexandria, Virginia, was working on the pedestrian walking lane to the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge in the northwestern section of the city. Lance Ammons, a 42-year-old homeless man who lived in a wooded area near the bridge, approached Mr. Bolich, and with a knife stabbed him to death for no reason.

     When D.C. police officers arrested Ammons at the scene, he said he had killed the man on the bridge on orders from the Devil. Ammons told officers he had moved to the spot where he was currently camped to prepare for the end of the world.

     A local prosecutor charged Lance Ammons with first-degree murder. Through his public defenders office attorney, Ammons pleaded not guilty.

Eliyas Wendale Aregahegne

     Twenty-seven-year-old Margery Magill, a 2015 graduate of the University of California at Davis with a bachelor degree in International Agricultural Development, worked in Washington, D.C. as a program coordinator for the nonprofit organization Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship.   

     At nine in the evening of August 27, 2019, while walking a dog in the 400 block of Irving Street NW, she was set upon by a knife wielding man who stabbed her several times and left her bleeding to death on the sidewalk. Witnesses heard her scream, "Oh, no? Help me!"

     Medical first responders rushed Margery Magill to a nearby hospital where she died from her wounds.

     The day following the random knife murder in the quiet D.C. residential neighborhood, detectives arrested an unemployed 24-year-old man named Eliyas Wendale Aregahegne. Accused of killing a complete stranger for no reason whatsoever, the prosecutor charged Aregahegne with first-degree murder. Aregahegne pleaded not guilty to the charge.

     According to his Facebook page, Aregahegne had attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison for one semester in 2013. The self-described Ethiopian, in July 2017, had been reported missing from his last known address on the 3000 block of 14th Street NW. Based on his numerous Facebook postings, Mr. Aregahegne had a high opinion of himself.

     As potential victims of violent crime, Americans most fear being attacked in public by someone they do not know. Because Robert Bolich and Margery Magill were killed in separate incidents by mentally ill men with knives instead of guns, these two atrocious and frightening murders were essentially ignored by politicians and the national media.

An Editor Can't Save A Bad Novel

Maxwell Perkins, dead these many years after he by Herculean effort transformed Thomas Wolfe's undisciplined outpourings into actual novels, did a disservice to novelists today who believe in the notion that all they need to do is get something on paper and some editor somewhere, most likely wearing a green eyeshade, will toil upon the novel until it is fit to print. They are mistaken,

George V. Higgins, On Writing, 1990 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Richard De Wit Murder Case

     Sarah Groves, a 24-year-old hotel fitness instructor from the English Channel Island of Guernsey, was visiting her boyfriend in India's northwestern region of Kashmir. A former student at the Catholic St. Mary's boarding school in Ascot, she was a friend of Princess Beatrice. The boyfriend, Saeed Shoda, had arranged a room for Groves on his father's houseboat "New Beauty" on Dal Lake in Srinagar, Kashmir's capital.

     At two in the morning of April 6, 2013, 43-year-old Richard DeWit, an unemployed Dutch man with a room on the houseboat, broke into Grove's suite and allegedly stabbed her 45 times. At the time of the murder, Mr. Shoda was spending the weekend with his friends. Miss Groves had remained with Shoda's parents who told reporters she had been like a daughter to them.

     Leaving everything behind on the "New Beauty" except for his passport and $2,500 inside his underwear, the barefoot, 7-foot-tall DeWit fled the houseboat in a stolen rowboat that capsized before he reached the shore. Once on land DeWit boarded a taxi.

     Shortly after members of the houseboat staff found Sarah Groves dead in a pool of blood, Kashmir police arrested DeWit on the National Highway 50 miles away in the town of Qazgund.

     Later that day, the murder suspect confessed to the police. He admitted having "violent tendencies" and said he had been under the influence of drugs during the 15-minute knife attack. DeWit explained that he had been overtaken by the devil. "The Devil took over my body," he said.

     DeWit's 31-year-old wife, Uma Rupanya, informed the authorities that DeWit had left her and their two daughters in November 2012. She said he had become "increasingly paranoid and irrational." According to the murder suspect's wife, "He believed the government was out to get him, that spies were following him, that his house was bugged."

      A prosecutor in Srinagar has charged DeWit with first-degree murder. At some point after his arrest Richard De Wit took back his confession and pleaded not guilty.

     In February 2015, the De Wit murder trial got underway in Srinagar, India. In October 2015, following 29 trial delays, the defendant fired his attorney and the trial came to a halt.

     Sarah Grove's parents, in the spring of 2015, publicly expressed concerns that the authorities, in going after Mr. De Wit, had targeted the wrong man. They characterized the aborted De Wit trial as a farce, and indicated that they suspected the victim's boyfriend, Saeed Shoda. According to the victim's parents, the police had badly mishandled the murder investigation.

     As of August 2017, the De Wit case, after more than four years and 90 hearings, remained on hold. De Wit, from his jail cell, requested to speak to Grove's parents. According to the suspect, he had knowledge about the murder he wanted to pass on to them. The authorities denied that request.

     By August 2019, after countless delays, it appeared that the Richard De Wit would finally get his day in court. Then suddenly that changed when the prime minister of India stripped Kashmir of its statehood and semi-autonomous status. Due to the complete lockdown in Kashmir where phone, cable TV, and Internet services were suspended, Sarah Groves' parents were unable to maintain contact with their legal counsel. As a result the murder victim's parents had no idea what was happening in the case. They feared the political unrest in India would destroy the chance their daughter's murder would be resolved. 

Mystery Writer P.D. James (1920-2014)

     Mystery writer P.D. James, who brought realistic modern characters to the classical British detective story, has died. She was 94. James' books, many featuring sleuth Adam Dalgliesh, sold millions in many countries and most were just as popular when adapted for television. James died Thursday November 27, 2014 at her home in Oxford in southern England.

     Because of the quality and careful structure of her writing--and her rather elegant, intellectual detective Dalgliesh--she was at first seen as a natural successor to writers like Dorothy L. Sayers, creator of Lord Peter Wimsey in the between-the-wars "Golden Age" of the mystery novel. But James' books were strong on character, avoided stereotype and touched on distinctly modern problems including drugs, child abuse and nuclear contamination…

     Although there was nothing remotely "genteel" about P.D. James' writing, she was criticized by some younger writers of gritty urban crime novels. They accused her of snobbery because she liked to write abut middle-class murderers, preferably intelligent and well-educated, who agonized over right and wrong and spent time planning and justifying their crimes. Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard, hero of more than a dozen of James' novels, is a decidedly gentlemanly detective, who writes poetry, loves jazz and drives a Jaguar.

     Phyllis Dorothy James was born in Oxford on August 3, 1920. Her father was a tax collector and there was not enough money for her to go to college, a fact she always regretted…She did not start producing her mysteries until she was nearly 40, and then wrote only early in the morning before going to the civil service job with which she supported her family. Her husband, Connor Banty White, had returned from the war mentally broken and remained so until his death in 1964…

     James' first novel, Cover Her Face, was published in 1962 under her maiden name and was an immediate critical success, but she continued to work in the Home Office until 1979…

     James was often spoken of as an heir to Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, icons of the classic British mystery, but her admirers thought she transcended both.

Jill Lawless, "Mystery Novelist P.D. James Dead at 94,", November 27, 2014 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Leading Criminologist On Mass Murder

There is no evidence that we are in the midst of an epidemic of mass shootings.

James Allen Fox, Northeastern University, August 2019

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Lonely Women, Empty Wallets: The Nigerian Diamond Scam

     In March 2016, two Nigerian men living in Los Angeles using the name Terry Garcia, reached out to a Japanese woman (referred to in court documents as FK) on an international digital pen pal site. The scam artists' fictitious character--Terry Garcia--claimed to be a U.S. Army captain stationed in Syria. The e-mails became personal and FK believed she had found a soul mate.

     In the course of their online correspondence, Captain Garcia confided in FK that he had found a bag of diamonds in Syria and needed her help in smuggling the diamonds out of the war-torn nation. He claimed he had been injured and couldn't do it himself.

     Having secured FK's willingness to help smuggle the diamonds, the con man introduced her to a pair of associates who said they would help her with the clandestine project. The first so-called associate held himself out as a Red Cross diplomat who could arranged the shipment. The second swindler brought into the scam posed as an employee of the shipping company. But here was the catch--the shipping clerk needed bribe money to make sure the package containing the diamonds wouldn't be searched by customs officials.

     After FK fell for the scam and sent the money, she was hooked. Over the next two months she made fifty more payments, a total of $200,000. She borrowed the money from friends, her ex-husband, and relatives who were happy for her and wanted to help her maintain her romantic relationship with Terry Garcia.

     As it turned out, FK was a small piece of a sprawling international confidence game. In August 2019, United States Attorneys across the country charged 80 Nigerians with conspiracy to defraud hundreds of women out of $6 million. Seventeen of the subjects were living in the United States and were taken into custody by FBI agents. The arrests included the two Los Angeles Nigerians who had scammed FK out of $200,000.

     According to the Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles division, the Nigerian Diamond scam artists, in 2018 alone, had swindled 21,000 victims out of $142 million. More arrests were forthcoming. 

Job Priorities For Officials In Charge Of Jails And Prisons

It's really quite simple. If you are in charge of a jail or prison, it's your job to make sure no one escapes, is killed or injured in custody, starts a riot, or sets a fire. Everything else is secondary.

Monday, August 26, 2019

The Prestigious College: A Nightmare For Working And Middle Class Students

     Authors Elizabeth A. Armstrong and Laura T. Hamilton, along with a team of researchers helping them produce a book that came out in 2014 called Paying For The Party: How College Maintains Inequality, embedded themselves in a freshman dormitory at an unnamed high-profile midwestern state school. The authors and their researchers kept up with a group of female students through college.

     While according to the conventional wisdom that higher education is a form of upward mobility that is an economic and social equalizer, the authors of this book found otherwise. They believe that a college education from a prestigious, expensive school rewards upper-middle class and rich students while treating their working-class counterparts more cruelly, often leaving these students isolated and adrift.

     The inequality manifests itself in the campus party/sorority scene referred to by the authors as the "Party Pathway" through the university experience. Many kids from well-to-do families select a college or university because of its rich party/social environment. (So, when a university is labeled "a party school," that's good for recruiters.)

     Rich kids, while not necessarily academically prepared for college, get accepted into these expensive schools because the institutions need their parents' money. Many of these less than academically gifted students navigate the university experience by taking bonehead majors like speech communication, criminal justice, elementary education, broadcasting, and women's studies. They don't learn anything useful, but they get their degrees, have a good time, and establish important social relationships. Because their families have connections, they also acquire good jobs.

     The poorer, more academically prepared students struggle to afford sorority fees, clothing costs, spring break trips, and bar tabs. These students are referred to by the rich kids as "wannabes." Students who can't keep up socially end up humiliated and unhappy. According to the authors of Paying For The Party, the most successful working-class students end up transferring to less prestigious, expensive institutions where they are happier and get a better education.

Thornton P. Knowles On Political Dexterity

To succeed in politics, the practitioner must be ambidextrous. While patting a constituent on the back with one hand, the politician needs the other hand to pick the voter's pocket. And while applying this two-handed simultaneous maneuver, the politician has to sweet talk his victim with a litany of lies such as "I'll fight for you, I'm my own man, and I'll put the country above politics." It takes a lot of practice to pull this off, but for the career sociopath, the economic rewards are great.

Thornton P. Knowles

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Keeping Pedophiles Released From Prison Off The Street: Kansas v. Hendricks

     While no one knows exactly how many pedophiles roam our streets and inhabit our institutions, anyone who is paying attention knows there are many of them, too many. Not only that, each pedophile is a serial offender with dozens of victims. And these sexual deviants cannot be rehabilitated. For them there is no cure, no treatment.

     So, what can be done to protect potential victims against these sexual predators? Just catching them and sending them to prison isn't enough because they eventually get out and go right back to seducing and sexually violating children. Laws requiring convicted pedophiles to register as sex offenders, and restricting where they can live, doesn't deal with the problem either. These measures are legislative window dressing to make us think our political leaders are dealing with the problem.

     In 1994, lawmakers in Kansas concerned about children passed a controversial law called the Sexually Violent Predator Act that allowed the state, following a pedophile's release from prison, to involuntarily commit violent sex offenders to mental institutions through a process known as civil commitment.

     The procedure for committing pedophiles and other violent sex offenders under the Kansas law required notifying the local prosecutor handling the case 60 days before the prisoner's release. The prosecutor, upon such notice, had 45 days to file a petition with a state court requesting the involuntary commitment of the offender. Under this law, the prosecutor had the burden of proving that the person in question suffered from a "mental abnormality" that made him or her a "sexually violent predator." If a psychological professional found sufficient evidence to support civil commitment on these grounds, a trial would follow.

     If the defendant was found, beyond a reasonable doubt, to be a sexually violent predator, the trial judge would order his or her commitment to a mental institution. Following the commitment, the law required the court to conduct annual reviews to determine if the committed person should remain in custody for another year.

Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 347, (1997)

     In 1995, convicted pedophiles Leroy Hendricks and Tim Quinn were scheduled for prison release. Both men had extensive histories of sexually molesting children. As a result, a Kansas prosecutor filed a petition under the Sexually Violent Predator Act to involuntarily commit Hendricks and Quinn to a state mental institution.

     At the Hendricks/Quinn commitment trial, the defendants took the stand and agreed with the state psychiatrist's diagnosis that they were pedophiles who continued to experience uncontrollable sexual desires for children. Based on this testimony, the jury found that Hendricks and Quinn qualified as sexually violent predators. The civil trial judge ordered both men committed to the state mental facility.

     Leroy Hendrick's attorneys asserted that the involuntary commitment of a man who had served his time in prison violated the ex post facto and double jeopardy clauses of the United States constitution. The circuit court judges ruling on the appeal did not address those specific issues, but found the Kansas law unconstitutional on grounds the "mental abnormality" requirement was too vague to satisfy the constitution's due process clause.

     Attorneys representing the state of Kansas appealed the circuit court's ruling to the United States Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision, the high court justices reversed the appellate court ruling, finding that the Kansas Violent Sexual Predator Act did not violate the U.S. constitution's ex post facto, double jeopardy or due process clauses.

     Because only a few states have violent sexual predator laws, and prosecutors in states that do don't have the time or will to go through the civil commitment process, only a few prison released pedophiles remain isolated from society. Moreover, even if there were more laws like this, and prosecutors who cared enough to go through the process, there are fewer and fewer institutions where these predators can be confined. As a result, Kansas v. Hendricks was a hollow victory that has not solved the problem of what to do about our pedophiles. Children are still at risk.

     If our political leaders where serious about protecting children, convicted pedophiles would be subjected to mandatory life sentences.

The Ten Safest Cities In The U.S. (2018)

In 2018, the ten safest cities in the country were: Virginia Beach, VA; Honolulu, HI; Lexington, KY; Anaheim, CA; San Diego, CA; El Paso, TX; San Jose, CA; Austin, TX; Mesa, AZ; Tampa, FL.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

More People Go Off To Jail Than College

     There were 2.3 million prisoners in the U.S. as of the 2010 Census. It's often been remarked that our national incarceration rate of 707 adults per every 100,000 citizens is the highest in the world, by a huge margin.

     Much of the discussion of prison population centers around inmates in our 1,800 state and federal correctional facilities. But at any given time, hundreds of thousands more individuals are locked up in the nation's 3,200 local and county jails…We have slightly more jails and prisons in the U.S.--5,000 plus--than we do colleges and universities. In many parts of America, particularly the south, there are more people living in prisons than on college campuses…[Here's a bumper sticker: MORE JAILS, FEWER COLLEGES]

     Florida, Arizona and California stand out as states with sizable corrections populations in just about every county. States in the midwest, on the other hand, tend to have concentrated populations in just a handful of counties…

     In many instances, large correctional facilities are located in sparsely populated regions like northern New York. In some of these counties, prisons account for 10, 20 or 30 percent of the total population….

"The U.S. Has More Jails Than Colleges,", January 6, 2015

Friday, August 23, 2019

Joe Biden In 2011 Revealing His Misunderstanding Of Policing And Crime Prevention

     On October 19, 2011, Vice President Joe Biden told a reporter from Human Events that if Congress failed to pass President Obama's Jobs Act, "...murder will continue to rise, rape will continue to rise, all crimes will continue to rise." When confronted by the reporter's skepticism regarding rising crime rates, Biden told him to check the crime statistics for Flint, Michigan, pointing out that when police officers were laid off in that city, rape rates went up.

     According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, the number of rapes in Flint, Michigan declined from 2009 to 2010. In 2008, the city employed 265 sworn police officers. In 2010, there were 144. So, in Flint, as more and more officers were laid off,  the incident of rape, according to the FBI's statistics, dropped. Flint's chief of police, Alvin Lock, said this in September 2010: "A smaller police force doesn't automatically mean more crime. There's been years when we had 300 officers and we still had more homicides."

     Because police officers generally react to crime rather than prevent it, there is little relationship between policing and crime rates. This is particularly true with regard to crimes like rape and homicide. If an escalation of police manpower and weaponry affected crime rates, we would have won the drug war twenty years ago.

     Let's assume that the Obama administration had given the city of Flint enough federal money to double their police force. How would the police department have used those funds? They probably would have hired more patrol officers and bought more expensive weapons and SWAT gear. The money would not have been used to solve rape or other cases. The crime lab would still have had a two to three year DNA analysis backlog, and there still would have been a shortage of forensic nurses, rape kits, and trained sexual offense investigators.

     Rape is primarily a crime committed behind closed doors involving people who know each other. Having ten heavily armed patrol officers on the street in front of a house where a rape is being committed would not prevent the assault.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Lack Of Impatient Treatment For The Mentally Ill

     A severe shortage of impatient care for people with mental illness is amounting to a public health crisis, as the number of individuals struggling with a range of psychiatric problems continue to rise....A study published in the journal Psychiatric Services estimates 3 to 4 percent of Americans--more than 8 million--suffer from serious psychological problems.

     The disappearance of long-term care facilities and psychiatric beds has escalated in the past decade, sparked by a trend toward deinstitutionalization of psychiatric patients in the 1950s and 60s....

     A 2012  report by the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit organization that works to remove treatment barriers for people with mental illness, found the number of psychiatric beds decreased by 14 percent from 2005 to 2010. That year there were 50,509 state psychiatric beds, meaning there were only 14 beds available per 100,000 people....As a result, many people who experience a serious mental health crisis end up in the emergency room....Between 2001 and 2006, 6 percent of all emergency department patients had a psychiatric condition.

Samantha Raphelson, "Here and Now" NPR, November 30, 2017

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

America's Fifteen Most Corrupt Cities

In 2018, the top fifteen most politically corrupt cities were: Washington, D.C. (no surprise here); Chicago, Il; Philadelphia, PA; Baltimore, MD; Miami, FL; Houston, TX; New York, NY; Detroit, MI; New Orleans, LA; Newark, NJ; Richmond, VA; Los Angeles, CA; Wichita, KS; Cleveland, OH; and Las Vegas, Nv.

California's New Deadly Use Of Force Law

In 2017, police officers in California killed 162 people. (In 2016, the number was 157 and in a study I conducted in 2011, California police killed 102.) In August 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom sighed a bill into law that only justifies deadly force in cases where it is necessary to prevent the suspect from killing or seriously hurting the officer or another person. The old law also allowed the use of lethal force to prevent an armed suspect from resisting arrest or fleeing apprehension. The new legislation is one of the most restrictive laws of its kind in the country. Given the number of legally justified but unnecessary police-involved shooting cases in the United States over the past several years, other states will probably follow suit.

The Classic Short Story

There is something about the pace of the short story that catches the tempo of this country. If it is written with sincerity and skill it portrays a mood, a character, a background, or a situation. Sometimes it is not only typically American, it is universal in its feeling; sometimes its inherent truth is not a thing of the month, but of the years. When this is true, that short story is genuinely a classic as any novel or play.

Edna Ferber, One Basket, 1964 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Ahmed Elgaafary: The Uber Driver From Hell

     In February 2018, Uber driver Ahmed Elgaafary, an Egyptian citizen, picked up a heavily intoxicated young woman at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in eastern Pennsylvania's Chester County. At two-thirty that morning, the 27-year-old driver from Lansdale, Pennsylvania, instead of directly delivering his alcohol impaired passenger to her home fifteen minutes away, detoured to a dimly lit road in Charlestown Township. At that remote spot, Elgaafary climbed into the back seat of his GMC Yukon and raped the unconscious woman.

     While sexually assaulting his victim, the Uber driver kept the meter running.

     Fifty-three minutes after the rape, Elgaafary dropped the woman off at her residence. In addition to the taxi fare, the driver charged her $150 for vomiting in his SUV.

     When she awoke later that day, the Uber rape victim discovered bruises on her thighs. She didn't remember what happened in the SUV, but suspected the driver had violated her sexually.  For that reason, she went to a hospital where a nurse used a rape kit to gather and preserve the physical evidence of sexual intercourse. The kit was submitted to the authorities for forensic analysis.

     When questioned by detectives, Ahmed Elgaafary denied any sexual contact with his accuser. However, when confronted with physical evidence that contradicted his denial, he changed his story. Elgaafary said that while he had sex with the passenger, it had been consensual.

     Charged with sexual assault, indecent assault, and the rape on an unconscious woman, Elgaafary went on trial in August 2019. The prosecution's case rested primarily on the testimony of the victim and the rape kit evidence connecting him to the act.

     Ahmed Elgaafary took the stand on his own behalf and claimed that he had been seduced by the accuser. He said the sex had been consensual. He did acknowledge, however, that his passenger had been intoxicated at the time.

     The jury of eight men and four women didn't accept the Elgaafary defense, and after only three hours of deliberation, found the defendant guilty as charged.

     Following his sentencing, Ahmed Elgaafary will be deported to Egypt where he will serve his time.

What The Jeffrey Epstein Case Has Taught Us About Criminal Justice In America

Perhaps the most important lesson of the Jeffery Epstein sex trafficking case is that the American criminal justice system does not come close to our founding fathers' concept that we are all equal under the law, and that no one is above the law. Moreover, it reminds us of the decadence of the rich and powerful in this country. Unfortunately, it has always been this way and will probably remain so. This criminal justice double standard will continue because the rich and powerful control our politicians. In other words, certain privileged criminals and degenerates will always avoid justice.

The Black Market For Pot In California

In California, the black market for marijuana in 2019, notwithstanding the legalization of pot, continues to flourish. That's because, due to hefty sales taxes and marijuana distribution fees, illegal pot can sell for 40 percent less than the legal stuff. Politicians, in pushing for legalization, lied when they promised that legalization would put an end to the illegal drug trade. But that shouldn't surprise anyone. When did a politician ever tell the truth about anything.

The Rhyming Children's Picture Book

Rhyming! So many writers think children's picture books need to rhyme. There are some editors who won't even look at books in rhyme, and a lot more who are extremely wary of them, so it limits a literary agent on where the manuscript can go and the likelihood of it selling. These books are also particularly hard to execute perfectly.

Kelly Sonnack in 2013 Children's and Illustrator's Market, edited by Chuck Sambuchino, 2012 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Murdered in Honduras

     Beauty queen Maria Jose Alvarado, as Miss Honduras, represented a country that has the world's highest murder rate for a place not at war. From 2005 to 2013, the murder of Honduran woman and girls increased by 263 percent. The 19-year-old university student resided in Teguigalpa, the Honduran capital. She had been participating in beauty pageants since she was a young girl.

     In Latin America, where beauty pageants are popular, winners often become celebrities and TV personalities. While Alvarado hoped to become a diplomat after graduating from the university, she worked as a model on the popular Honduran television game show "X-O Da Dinero." In her spare time she played volleyball and football (soccer).

     On the night of November 13, 2014, Maria Alvarado was at a resort/spa outside of Santa Barbara, a city 240 miles west of her home. She was there to attend a birthday party for her sister's boyfriend, Plutarco Ruiz.

     That night, after the party, Alvarado, her 23-year-old sister Sofia Trinidad Alvarado, and Plutarco were seen getting into a champagne colored car.

     The next day, when Maria failed to board a plane for London to participate in the early rounds of the  120-contestant Miss World pageant, she and her sister were reported missing.

     On Tuesday November 18, 2014, officers with the Honduran National Bureau of Investigation arrested Sofia Alvarado's boyfriend, Plutarco Ruiz. Pursuant to the arrest, the officers seized a champagne colored car and a pickup truck. They also recovered a .45-caliber pistol.

     Under police interrogation, Ruiz confessed to murdering his girlfriend and her sister, the beauty queen. After he and the women left the party, Ruiz and Sofia got into a heated argument regarding the fact she had been dancing with another man. At some point, out of a jealous rage, Plutarco pulled the .45-caliber handgun and shot her in the head. He shot Maria twice in the back as she tried to flee the scene.

     Ruiz and an accomplice loaded the two corpses onto the back of a pickup truck and hauled them to a remote spot along the banks of the Aguagual River near the town of Arada 25 miles from Santa Barbara.

     On Wednesday November 19, 2014, police officers recovered the bodies lying on top of each other in a shallow grave near the river. Maria Alvarado was wrapped in a brown plastic sheet.

     Officers with the Honduras National Bureau of Investigation, on the day they arrested Ruiz, took five suspected accomplices into custody. The officers arrested Aris Maldonado Mejia, Antonio Ruiz Rodriguez, Ventura Diaz, Elizabeth Diaz, and Irma Nicolle.

     In June 2017, after a jury found Plutarco Ruiz guilty of double murder, the Honduras judge sentenced him to 45 years in prison.

Making The FBI's Top Ten

Things I wonder about the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" criminals: When they catch a guy and he comes off the list, does number eleven automatically move up? And does he see it as a promotion? Does he call his criminal friends and say, "I made it, Bruno. I'm finally on the list?"

George Carlin

Teen Horror Fiction

     Horror is an extremely popular genre in teen fiction. It's easy to see why. A good horror story will take a relatively normal individual, Our Hero, and pit them against a malevolent, often mysterious enemy, The Monster. Our Hero must struggle to understand this monster, its strengths and weaknesses. Then he must face it. Often, Our Hero conquers the unknown beast, sometimes not, and until some understanding of The Monster is found, Our Hero, faced with the unknown is often powerless against it. Teens deal with parents, teachers, peers, and a world full of rules they have yet to fully understand.

     Teen fiction, at its best, examines these confusing emotional issues; therefore, the coming-of-age theme is essential. Characters face the unknown and take steps to gain power over it. They are forced to make life-defining decisions by examining who they are and taking actions that set the stage for the adults they will become.

     This is what makes horror so compelling for a teen audience (besides the cool monsters, of course). Horror looks at issues of death, alienation, insecurity, physical changes, loss of faith, and the inherent fear of the unknown. On some level, horror fiction shows teens that even the greatest obstacles can be faced and survived. The most well-known example of this comes from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which the idea presented is that high school is, quite literally, hell.

Thomas Pendleton in On Writing Horror, Mort Castle, editor, 2007 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

"Evil Evan" Ebel: The Violent Death Of A Dangerous Parolee

     In February 2011, the governor of Colorado appointed Tom Clements to the position of Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections. Clements left his job as Director of Operations for Adult Correctional Facilities in Missouri to head up the 6,000-employee department. The 58-year-old corrections administrator, his wife, and two daughters resided in Monument, Colorado, a rural, upscale community in El Paso County 45 miles south of Denver.

     At 8:37 in the evening of Tuesday, March 19, 2013, a member of the Clements family called 911 to report a shooting at the Monument Colorado home. Deputies with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office found Tom Clements lying dead in his front doorway. According to the family member, he had been shot when he answered the doorbell.

     Sheriff's lieutenant Jeff Kramer told reporters that the Clements murder didn't appear to be the result of an attempted robbery. Moreover, it didn't have the markings of a random act of violence.

     On Thursday night, March 21, 2013, a Montague County Sheriff's deputy in northeast Texas near the Oklahoma line, pulled over a black Cadillac with Colorado plates. It was a routine traffic that turned into a violent crime. The driver of the vehicle, a 28-year-old paroled Colorado gang member and white supremacist named Evan Spencer Ebel, shot the deputy twice in the chest, and with a third bullet,  grazed the officer's head. The downed deputy had been wearing a bullet-proof vest therefore was able to call for help and describe Ebel's car.

     Following a high-speed police chase, Ebel slammed his Cadillac into an eighteen-wheeler in Decatur, Texas thirty miles south of the traffic stop and shooting. The Colorado parolee bearing the tattoos "hopeless," and "Evil Evan," climbed out of his damaged car firing at the police. The officers gunned him down on the spot. He died at a hospital in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

     Homicide detectives in Colorado believed that Evan Ebel had murdered Tom Clements. Inside the wrecked Cadillac, police found a Domino's Pizza uniform jacket and a cardboard pizza box. This discovery suggested that Ebel had murdered a 27-year-old pizza delivery man named Nathan Leon in Denver on March 17, 2013.

     Evan Ebel, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, was scheduled for parole on April 13, 2013 but was released early to the custody of his father, Jack Ebel, a Denver area lawyer. The parolee's violent crime history dated back to 2003 when he was convicted of robbery. In 2008, he was found guilty of assaulting a prison guard. 

The Execution Of Walter Storey

     Missouri carried out its first execution of 2015. The state executed 47-year-old Walter Storey who was sentenced to death for the murder of 36-year-old Jill Frey, a neighbor. Storey murdered the victim with a knife on February 2, 1990. He received a lethal dose of pentobarbital just after midnight on February 11, 2015 in the execution chamber of the Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre.

     As the lethal injection took place, Storey turned his head toward family members and began to sing or chant until his breathing stopped.

     Storey, on February 2, 1990 had received a divorce petition from his estranged wife. At the time he was living with his mother in a St. Charles, Missouri apartment complex. After a heavy night of drinking, Storey ran out of alcohol and decided to rob his across-the-hall neighbor, Jill Frey, a special education teacher.

     Storey grabbed a knife from his kitchen and climbed up to Frey's balcony and entered her apartment through an unlocked sliding glass door. He brutally beat Frey to death, inflicting no fewer than twenty blunt force blows. He broke the victim's ribs, stabbed her in the abdomen, and slashed her neck. After the murder, he stole the victim's purse and car.

     The next day, Storey returned to Frey's apartment and attempted to wipe down the scene to cover up evidence. He cleaned under the victim's fingernails using her own toothbrush. Storey tossed physical evidence of the murder in a dumpster and threw Frey's car keys in the lake behind the complex.

     The day after the crime scene clean-up, co-workers discovered Frey's body after she failed to show up for work….

"Missouri Carries Out Execution of Walter Storey,", February 11, 2015

Thornton P. Knowles On Exploratory Surgery

I asked my doctor if he could recommend a good surgeon. "For what?" he asked. "I want him to open me up to see if I have any more books in me." Without cracking a smile he replied, "If you do, do you want them removed?"

Thornton P. Knowles

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Jessica Hernandez Police-Involved Shooting Case

     In Denver, Colorado at six-thirty in the morning of Monday January 26, 2015, two police officers responded to a call about a suspicious vehicle. The officers knew that the parked car, occupied by five people, had been reported stolen. According to the police version of the story, as the officers approached the vehicle, it lurched toward them. Both officers opened fire, hitting and killing the driver who turned out to be 17-year-old Jessica Hernandez. The car struck one of the officers in the leg.

     Bobbie Diaz, the mother of a 16-year-old girl who was in the stolen car at the time of the shooting was in bed when she heard four gunshots followed by a man yelling, "Freeze! Get out of the car! Get down!"

     When Diaz went outside to investigate, she saw police officers pulling young people from the car. They yanked Jessica Hernandez out from behind the steering wheel and handcuffed the unresponsive girl. One of the teens in the group screamed, "She's dead! She's dead!"

     Another witness to the police shooting, neighborhood resident Arellia Hammock, told a reporter she heard three gunshots that morning. In referring to the teenagers involved, she said, "They shouldn't have stolen a car. But the cops are too fast on the gun. You've got stun guns. You've got rubber bullets. Why do they have to shoot all the time?"

     One of the occupants of the stolen car offered a version of the incident different in a very important way from the official police account. According to this witness, the vehicle didn't move toward the officers until after they killed the driver.

     The Denver chief of police, pursuant to departmental policy in such matters, placed both officers on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation into Hernandez's death. The inquiry was . conducted by three separate agencies: the Denver Police Department, the district attorney's office, and a civilian oversight organization called the Office of Independent Monitor.

     At a vigil held that night for Jessica Hernandez, residents of the neighborhood critical of the police  held signs protesting the shooting. One of the signs read: "Your Badge Is Not a License to Kill."

     Two days after the fatal shooting, 200 angry protestors gathered outside Denver's District 2 police station. An official with the independent civilian oversight organization reported to the media that in the past seven months Denver police officers had fired four times at vehicles they perceived as threats.

     According to the Denver Police Department's use of deadly force guidelines, officers in cases like this are urged to step out of the way of approaching vehicles rather than to open fire. Moreover, if the driver of the vehicle is hit, the car or truck could become an unguided missile.

     Because Denver police cars were not equipped with dashboard cameras, shooting investigators would have to rely on witness accounts of the incident. It would have been helpful to detectives if the incident had been caught on a neighborhood surveillance camera.

     Not long after the fatal shooting, Jessica Hernandez's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

     In June 2016, Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey decided there was not enough evidence to file criminal charges against the police officers involved in Jessica Hernandez's death. The officers were returned to duty.
     In April 2017, the city of Denver and Jessica Hernandez's family settled the wrongful death lawsuit for $1 million. 

Thornton P. Knowles On Cruelty To Animals

I am soft on animals, particularly pets. Defendants convicted of animal cruelty should be punished as though they have committed their crimes against children. There is no moral or legal justification for animal cruelty. A person who intentionally hurts an innocent and helpless animal is capable of physically abusing a child. While these sadists belong in Hell, very few of them even go to prison. As one of the few people from West Virginia who could never shoot a deer, the sentencing of animal abusers is a criminal justice reality that brings out the vigilante in me.

Thornton P. Knowles

The Mystery of Evil

The concept of the psychopath is, in fact, an admission of failure to solve the mystery of evil--it is merely a restatement of the mystery--and only offers an escape valve for the frustration felt by psychiatrists, social workers, and police officers, who daily encounter its force.

Janet Malcolm, The Journalist and the Murderer, 1990

What is Literary Narrative?

Narrative is the representation of an event or series of events. "Event" is the key word here, though some people prefer the word "action." Without an event or an action you may have a "description," an "exposition," an "argument," a "lyric," some combination of these or something else altogether, but you won't have a narrative. "My dog has fleas" is a description of my dog, but it is not a narrative because nothing happens. "My dog was bitten by a flea" is a narrative. It tells of an event. The event is very small one--the bite of a flea--but that is enough to make it a narrative.

H. Porter Abbott, The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative, 2002

Keep Common Experiences Out Of Your Memoir

If you write about your father hitting you on the head, you're up against a lot of competition with people who are writing about exactly the same experience. I used to tell students not to use certain subjects they seemed to gravitate to almost automatically at their age, such as the death of their grandparents--grandparents tend to die when you're in high school or college. I at least want to read about something I don't already know about. [How about: "Why my father hit my dead grandfather in the head." Just kidding.]

John Ashbery in Ian Jackman's The Writer's Mentor, 2004

Friday, August 16, 2019

Police Officer Suicide

In 2017, there were 47,000 suicides in the United States, the highest rate in 50 years. In 2018, 159 police officers took their own lives. On August 14, 2019, in New York City, the 9th officer in 2019 committed suicide at his home in Queens, New York. The day before, a NYPD officer shot himself to death in Yonkers, New York.

Thornton P. Knowles On Reality

Humans will never comprehend reality. What the hell is it, and why do so many people want to escape it?

Thornton P. Knowles

Charles Bukowski's Dislike Of His Fellow Writers

There is something about writing that draws the fakes. What is it? Writers are the most difficult to take, on the page or in person. And they are worse in person than on the page and that's pretty bad.

Charles Bukowski

The Great American Novel Myth

The Great American Novel is as elusive as the Lock Ness monster…Mythical beasts, the both of them, but that won't stop us from setting up our telescopes and yardsticks, or from speculating: where will it surface?

Peter S. Prescott, Never in Doubt, 1986 

Finding Your Fiction Voice

The thing you are trying to find is the voice. This is the single most important thing in any novel. The voice. How it will sound. Who is telling the story? Why is he telling it? If you're sixty years old and writing in the first person singular about a sixteen-year-old high school student, beware of the voice. It may be your own, and that is wrong.

Evan Hunter in The Writer's Handbook, Sylvia K. Burack, editor, 1986 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Gary Dotson Exonerated By DNA Thirty Years Ago

     Gary Dotson was convicted in May 1979 of raping 16-year-old Cathleen Crowell. The jury found him guilty on the basis of her testimony. He denied having any sexual relations with her. In 1985, after Crowell became a born-again Christian, she recanted. She said she had made up the accusation as a cover story for her parents in the event her boyfriend impregnated her. Prosecutors claimed that the recantation was the product of Crowell's mental derangement. As a result, Dotson stood convicted until 1989 when he was exonerated by DNA analysis. He became the first person in the United States to be so exonerated.

     Since Gary Dotson's historic exoneration, 364 people have been exonerated by DNA science.

Thornton P. Knowles On Never Getting Old

A few months before my father went out to the barn to hang himself, he said, "Son, never get old." I was fifteen and thought he was crazy, and weak. Now I'm beginning to think that maybe he was right.

Thornton P. Knowles

Why Serial Killers Kill

The notion that male serial killers kill only for sexual purposes and that they kill only strangers is long outdated. Serial killers will also kill for power, profit, belief, and politics and some will kill friends, neighbors, and family members. And female serial killers can kill for the same reasons as males do.

Peter Vronsky, Female Serial Killers, 2007

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Arturo Gatti's Sudden And Violent Death: Suicide Or Murder?

     On July 11, 2009, police in Ipojuca, Brazil discovered the body of 37-year-old Arturo Gatti lying in his underwear on the bloodstained floor of the villa where he was vacationing with his wife Amanda Rodrigues. The blood originated from a blunt-object wound to the back of his head. Gatti's sudden, violent death grabbed headlines due to his prominence in the world of professional boxing. Born in Italy, raised in Canada and relocated to Jersey City, New Jersey, Gatti, with a lightweight/welterweight record of 40 wins and 9 defeats, is best known for this three bouts with Mickey Ward.  Ring Magazine named the rubber match between Gatti and Worcester, Massachusetts' welterweight Mickey Ward, "Fight of the Year."

     The Brazilian authorities quickly charged Gatti's wife with first-degree murder. That she had waited ten hours before reporting his death, the fact the strap of her purse was stained in his blood, and other factors led to her arrest. However, on July 30, 2009, after ruling his death a suicide--he had supposedly hanged himself from a wooden staircase with the strap of the purse--the authorities released Rodrigues from custody.

     Twenty-four days before his death, while living back in Montreal, Gatti had changed his will, leaving his entire estate to his wife. Following the release of his widow from Brazilian custody, the Canadian government promised a thorough investigation of the death. Instead, a team of private investigators took up the case.

     In August, 2009, at a news conference in New Jersey, the private investigators announced that they believed that Arturo had been murdered. Among other evidence that didn't support the suicide finding, the purse strap was incapable of holding his body weight from the staircase. Dr. Cyril Wecht, the prominent forensic pathologist from Pittsburgh, called the Brazilian autopsy "horribly incomplete" to the point of being "deliberately bungled" in an attempt to support suicide as the manner of death.  The press conference coincided with a civil trial underway in Montreal where Gatti's mother and brother were contesting Rodrigues' claim to his $6 million estate.

     In December 2012, Arturo Gatti was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

     As of August 2019, the official manner of Arturo Gatti's death remained suicide.

Creating Crime Myths

In order for the momentum of a crime myth to be prolonged…myths must be accompanied by certain characterizations. Momentum is achieved if the crime problem has traits that either instill fear or threaten the vast majority of society in some appreciable way. Not unlike Greek mythology, modern crime myths must follow certain themes for success. There must be "virtuous' heroes, "innocent" victims, and "evil" villains who pose a clear and certain threat to the audience. Only then can a crime myth reach its potential . [There were two crime myths that dominated the 1980s: hundreds of serial killings running loose and an epidemic of stranger kidnappings of children. More recently there was the myth that a growing army of zombie meth and bath salts addicts were roaming our cities.]

Victor E. Kappeler, Mark Blumberg and Gary W. Potter, The Mythology of Crime and Criminal Justice, Third Edition, 2000

An Eye For An Eye

The biblical precept, "An eye for any eye and a tooth for a tooth" belongs to an era that predates courts. It enjoins the injured party not to wreak vengeance beyond the injury he has suffered. In this sense it is the beginning of the idea of justice.

Ronald Irving, The Law Is An Ass, 2011 

The Biographer's Fascination with Their Subjects' Sex Lives

One respect in which modern biography resembles fiction is its fascination with its subjects' sexual lives. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the novel was the literary genre above all others to which readers turned for the representation of sexuality. Biography restricted itself to the public lives of its subjects--or, insofar as it dealt with their private lives, did not intrude into the bedroom.

David Lodge, The Practice of Writing, 1996 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A Senseless Murder And Double Suicide

     Nickie Ann Circelli and her husband Sal were divorced in 2010. Due to years of drug abuse, the 36-year-old lifelong resident of Suffern, New York, lost custody of her four children. That year, police in the town of 12,000 in the foothills of Ramapo Mountains, arrested Nickie and a man named Michael Chase in connection with the theft of $4,800 worth of power tools from trucks in a Home Depot parking lot. She pleaded guilty and spent a few months in jail.

     Nickie Circelli, a former employee of a local insurance company, moved in with her mother when she got out of jail.  But when her mother died in 2013, Nickie took up residence with her 70-year-old uncle, William Valenti. Mr. Valenti owned a house in Suffern.

     Another local drug addict, 40-year-old Gary Crockett, had also moved in to "Uncle Bill's" house. For 19 years, Gary had worked at the Mahwah Warehouse and Delivery Company in Mahwah, New Jersey. But a year earlier he quit his job after having an argument with the co-owner. Crockett didn't like being criticized for "moving too slowly." At the time, Crockett was living downtown in a apartment above the Suffern Furniture Gallery.

     Circelli and Crockett, while residing under Mr. Valenti's roof, had been passing forged checks to withdraw small sums of money from his bank account. Mr. Valenti gave the couple a deadline to pay back the $1,500 they had stolen. If they didn't return his money, he threatened to report them to the police.

     On Monday morning, April 28, 2014, during an argument over the stolen money, Crockett murdered William Valenti. The Rockland County Medical Examiner determined that the victim had died of suffocation. His body was discovered in his bed.

     Following the murder, the couple took dead man's Chevrolet Malibu and drove it to the Bronx, New York. They parked the vehicle and walked to the George Washington Bridge. Just before noon, about half way across the span, Circelli and Crockett jumped to their deaths.

     At the Suffern murder scene, investigators found two suicide notes signed by Circelli under her maiden name, Hunt. In the note addressed to her family, Circelli wrote: "To the four most amazing kids who the world has ever seen and ever will. I beg you to remember the Nickie that I used to be, before I was introduced to heroin."

     The second suicide note read: "I know that I'm taking the cowardly way out. I just don't want to hurt people anymore. Anything that goes into the paper, please make sure my last name is Hunt; I don't want to hurt my kids anymore than I already have." 

The Emotional Makeup of a Serial Killer

After speaking at length to more than eighty [serial killers], I have found that serial murderers do not relate to others on any level that you would expect one person to relate to another. They can play roles beautifully, create complex, earnest, performances to which no Hollywood Oscar winner could hold a candle. They can mimic anything. They can appear to be complete and whole human beings, and in some cases are seen to be pillars of society. But they're missing a very essential core of human relatedness. For them, killing is nothing, nothing at all. Serial murderers have no emotional connection to their victims. That's probably the most chilling part of it. Not only do they not care, but they also have no ability to care.

Dr. Helen Morrison, My Life Among the Serial Killers, 2004

The Language Of The Law

The minute you read something you can't understand, you can almost be sure it was drawn up by a lawyer.

Will Rogers in The Law is An Ass, Ronald Irving, editor, 2011

William Noble on Writing Styles

     When I speak of good, clean prose, of grammatically correct phrasing, I'm talking about writing that has no redundancies and no awkward, self-conscious parts. You're carried forward by the lilt of the writer's style where words and phrases have purpose, and where the music of words will create a harmony of word sounds. In simple writer-editor language, writing such as this "works."

     But remember, it's style you're really considering, and you don't want to get bogged down in a maze of rules and procedures. Your individuality makes itself known through your style, and sometimes the techniques that don't work for one writer might work for another.

William Noble, Noble's Book of Writing Blunders, 2006

Writing Humorous Dialogue

Wordplay itself is not usually funny, only clever, unless it is attached to some other psychological force in the narrative…Most of the humor I'm interested in has to do with awkwardness: the makeshift theater that springs up between people at really awkward times…Bad jokes may be an expression of that awkwardness, without being inherently funny themselves. Of course, in including humor in a narrative a writer isn't doing anything especially artificial. Humor is just part of the texture of human conversation and life. In real life people are always funny.

Lorrie Moore, The Paris Review, Spring/Summer 2001 

There's No Such Thing As A Little Funny

Humor is difficult. Other kinds of stories don't have to hit the bull's-eye. The outer rings have their rewards too. A story can be fairly suspenseful, moderately romantic, somewhat terrifying, and so on. This is not the case with humor. A story is either funny or it is not funny. Nothing in between. The humor target contains only a bull's-eye.

Isaac Asimov, I, Asimov, 1996

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Home Invading Ex-Mennonite

     While ordinary crime in America has been on the decline, pathological, irrational offenses against persons seem to be on the rise. Crime has become largely inexplicable. Young men have shot up schools, shopping malls, theaters, and even hospitals. A man in New York City was pushed in front of an oncoming subway train, while in a small town in Pennsylvania, a music teacher shot his ex-wife to death as she played the organ in church. Every week there's a new murder-suicide case in the news. To write about crime today is to write about mental illness, personality disorder, and drug abuse.

     The changing nature of crime and criminal behavior in this country reflects a population of people who are losing the ability to cope with modern life. Politicians, desperate to appear honest, competent, and useful, fall all over themselves with ridiculous, feel-good laws that are irrelevant to the sources of these social problems. Instead of more cops, SWAT teams, and gun restrictions, the country needs more psychiatrists. America is mentally ill.

     At nine in the morning on Friday, December 14, 2012, two elderly Mennonite sisters invited a nice looking young man, who said he was an insurance salesman, into their house. Both in their late eighties, the sisters lived in a brick, ranch-style home on Indiantown Road in rural Lancaster County in the heart of southeastern Pennsylvania's Amish country. (Mennonites, devoted to the plain, simple life, are more modern that their old-order Amish counterparts. Unlike the Amish, they do not practice shunning.)

     Dereck Taylor Holt, the 22-year-old man who entered the Clay Township house that morning, was not an insurance salesman. The former Mennonite, with no fixed address, chided the frightened sisters for being members of the church, and railed angrily against the religion. He then repeatedly shocked the elderly women with a stun gun, and between periods in which he read Bible passages to his victims, slapped, kicked, and punched them. Holt used duct tape to bind his captives' hands and feet, then ransacked the house in search of cash and valuables.

     During the bizarre, sadistic home invasion, an elderly Mennonite friend of the sisters came to the house and knocked on the door. Holt pulled this woman into the home where he shocked and assaulted her before binding the visitor in duct tape. Following the two-hour ordeal, Holt used household cleaning substances he took from the house to remove his latent fingerprints from the scene. Before leaving the ransacked house and the terrified women, Holt destroyed their Bible.

     At 4:20 that afternoon, the three Mennonite victims were discovered by a relative of the sisters who called 911. The women were rushed by ambulance to Ephrata Hospital. One of the victims had an heart attack, the other a broken shoulder, and the third was treated for bleeding on the brain. (The victims would survive their ordeals.)

     The next day, officers with the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police arrested Dereck Taylor Holt. Officers booked him into the Lancaster County Jail on charges of burglary, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, theft, and a Pennsylvania hate crime called ethnic intimidation. The judge set Holt's bond at $1 million.

     In May 2013, Holt pleaded guilty to all of the charges except ethnic intimidation. At his August 2013 sentencing hearing before Lancaster County President Judge Joseph Madenspacher, Holt, in a five-minute statement, said: "I'm not a heartless being. I'm not an empty carcass incapable of contributing to society. But I can't defend my actions. This was the culmination of a long, two-year addiction to substances. These actions wouldn't have happened without my alarming abuse of mind-altering prescription medication."

     Judge Madenspacher sentenced Holt to 12 to 40 years in prison where he would receive psychiatric treatment.

Is There A Causal Relationship Between Video Games And Violent Behavior?

When it comes to actual criminal violence, there's virtually no evidence that video games matter...I think we like to point to video games because we don't want to talk about other things we know that are much more likely to be relevant.

James Ivory, research director, Virginia Tech, 2019

Cooperating With the IRS

We'll try to cooperate fully with the IRS, because as citizens we feel a strong patriotic duty not to go to jail.

Dave Barry 

Charles Bukowski On Living To Write

I never wanted fame or money. I wanted to get the words down the way I wanted it, that's all. And I had to get the words down or be overcome by something worse than death. Words not as precious things but as necessary things.

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

Thornton P. Knowles On Becoming a "Literary Figure"

The moment a writer becomes a so-called "literary figure," narcissism and all that goes with it dries up the creative juices that brought this writer to prominence. This is particularly true of novelists who are not known for their mental stability in the first place. In other words, as a fiction writer, you can't win.

Thornton P. Knowles

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Mass Murderers Are Evil, Not Insane

    In the summer of 2012, James Holmes' shooting rampage in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado marked the twenty-first mass murder involving six or more fatalities since Colorado's Columbine shootings in 1999. In the wake of these killing sprees, the worst being the 32 shot to death in 2007 at Virginia Tech, TV talking heads--psychiatrists, psychologists, and defense attorneys--tried to explain why someone would do such a thing. Surely a college kid like James Holmes who murdered twelve and injured 70 people in a movie theater must be insane. No person in his right mind would commit such a cruel, cold-blooded crime.

     People who called James Holmes insane were equating deviant behavior with crazy behavior. Horrible crimes that cannot be rationally explained, or understood by a normal person, are not necessarily committed by individuals who are psychotic, that is, out of touch with reality. The old law school example of psychotic, homicidal behavior is the man, who while strangling his wife, thinks he's squeezing an orange. Indeed, to be legally insane, the killer must be so mentally impaired that he's incapable of appreciating the criminal nature and quality of his actions. The popular term for this legal standard of insanity is called the right-wrong test.

     To avoid criminal culpability for a criminal homicide on the grounds of insanity, the defendant has the burden of proving (people are presumed sane), by a preponderance of the evidence, that he was so mentally ill he didn't know right from wrong. For defendants raising the insanity defense there is a problem: in reality, even in cases where the defendant at the time of his crime was suffering from some form of schizophrenia, the killer was still aware of the consequences of his act, and that it was wrong. In other words, there is no such thing as a mental sickness that produces a state of mind that meets the legal definition of mental illness. The paranoid schizophrenic who strangles his wife not only knows he is not squeezing an orange, he is aware is he killing his wife. And although the devil may have told him to do it, he knows it's wrong because the devil doesn't tell you to do good things.

     In mass murder shooting spree cases involving six or more victims, all of the killers, including James Holmes, carefully planned the attacks. Holmes had prepared for weeks before carrying out his military-style assault. This is not how seriously mentally ill people behave. James Holmes and the other killers, when they committed their mass murders, were sharply in touch with reality. They reveled in their crimes because they knew they were doing something so wrong it would shock the world. In essence, that is the motive for these atrocities, to shock and terrorize.

     James Holmes and his murderous counterparts are known as sociopaths. They are angry, sadistic, narcissists who have no empathy or feelings of guilt. While usually loners, they can be superficially charming, and are often, like James Holmes, extremely intelligent. They possess personality disorders that cannot be fixed through counseling or medication. They are probably born that way, but who knows? Because sociopaths don't walk around in baby-steps looking at the ceiling and talking to themselves, they are hard to spot. The world is full of jerks. How do you know if one is a sociopath? This is what makes these people so dangerous. Moreover, we seem to be developing into a nation of sociopaths.

     Because criminologists, psychiatrists, psychologists and other helpists hate to admit there are people they can't rehabilitate, they don't buy into the notion that some people are just bad. But that's what they are, evil. And that's how the criminal justice system should deal with them. 

Thornton P. Knowles On Mental Illness

Regardless of your race, religion, gender, or class, mental illness can hunt you down and destroy your life. It can visit God fearing people and nonbelievers; the educated and the unschooled; important people and ordinary folks; Democrats and Republicans; no one is immune. You can't buy your way out of it, talk you way out of it, pray your way out of it, pretend it doesn't exist, or kill it with pills. Mental illness comes in many forms and and strikes down the young, the middle aged, and the old. Mental illness does not respect the human race.

Thornton P. Knowles

Prison as a Lifestyle Choice

Often I meet prisoners who have committed the most terrible crimes, but repentance is rare, except in front of the parole board where it is quite common. Of course, the majority of prisoners have committed only petty offenses, small (but repeated) crimes against property, or rather against the people who own the property. They are often pathetic and inadequate individuals, thoroughly accustomed to prison life; the warmth and three square meals a day provided unconditionally in prison are for them an incitement for further crime. As for the loss of freedom, they welcome it: being told what to do all their waking hours obviates the need for thought and decision, processes which are infinitely painful for them.

Theodore Dalrymple in Crime and Criminals, 1995 edited by David Bender and Bruno Leone

The Failure of Parole

     The huge gap between the nominal sentence given and the real time served is dishonest, and is bad policy. It is dishonest because the public--especially victims of crime--is often under the impression that the sentence will be served in full, when in fact no such thing happens. It is bad policy because it puts the public at risk.

     There are several reasons why states should restrict parole practices. First, parole is based on the mistaken idea that the primary reason for incarceration is rehabilitation (prisoners can be released as soon as they are rehabilitated, so the argument goes), and ignores the deterrent, incapacitative, and retributive reasons for imprisonment. A clear and truthful sentence increases the certainty of punishment, and both its deterrent and incapacitative effects.

     Second, in too many cases parole simply does not work. Studies of the continuing failure of parole obscure the terrible human cost to law-abiding citizens.

Mary Kay Cary, in Crime and Criminals, 1995 edited by David Bender and Bruno Leone [I believe this is true today.] 

Charles Bukowski On 1990s Popular Music

Every day as I drive to the track I keep punching the radio to different stations looking for music, decent music. It's all bad, flat, lifeless, tuneless, listless. Yet some of these compositions sell in the millions and their creators consider themselves as true Artists. It's horrible, horrible drivel entering the minds of young heads. They like it. Christ, hand them shit, they eat it up. Can't they discern? Can't they hear? Can't they feel the dilution, the staleness?

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

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Serial Killer And Rapist Joseph Naso

     On April 11, 2011, police officers in Reno, Nevada arrested 77-year-old Joseph Naso on four first-degree murder charges filed against him in Marin County California. The former commercial photographer stood accused of raping and murdering four Bay Area prostitutes between 1977 and 1994. The victims, Roxene Roggasch, Carmen Colen, Pamela Parsons, and Tracy Tafoya ranged in age from 18 to 38, and each had first and last names that began with the same letter.

     Forensic scientists had connected Naso to two of the victims through DNA. A search of his house produced several nude photographs of women who appeared unconscious or dead. Police officers also found a so-called "rape diary" containing narrative accounts of women and girls who had been picked up and raped. The murder suspect's house was also littered with female mannequin parts and women's lingerie. In Naso's safety deposit box, searchers found a passport bearing the name Sara Dylan. (A skull, found years earlier in Nevada, matched Dylan's mother's DNA.) Naso's safety deposit box also contained $152,400 in cash.

     The Joseph Naso serial murder trial got underway in San Rafael California in June 2013. The prosecutor, in her opening statement to the jury, said the state would prove that Naso had drugged, raped, and photographed the four victims. He strangled them to death, then dumped their nude bodies in remote areas in northern California.

     Naso, who represented himself at the trial, told the jury that he was not the monster the prosecution was trying to make him out to be. The defendant said the nude women he had photographed had been willing models. "I don't kill people, and there's no evidence of that in my writings and photography."

     Following two months of evidence that featured the defendant's rape diary, the nude photographs, and the DNA evidence linking Naso to two of the murder victims, the case went to the jury. During the trial, Naso, as his own attorney, made a courtroom fool of himself and tried the patience of the judge. On August 19, 2013, after deliberating seven hours over a period of two days, the jury found the defendant guilty of the four counts of first-degree murder. The verdict also included a finding of special circumstances that made Naso eligible for the death penalty.

     While the jury recommended the death penalty in the Naso case, there was no chance the state would put him to death. In 2006 a federal judge had put California's executions on hold until the state modified its execution protocols. That has not been done. Naso would join 725 inmates on California's death row at the time. While some politicians and judges threw roadblocks in the path of the state's death penalty procedure, juries in California continued to imposed the death sentence.

     Homicide investigators believed that Naso had raped and murdered three 11-year-old girls between 1971 and 1973 in Rochester, New York. Naso had been living in the city when these murders occurred. These victims also had first and last names that began with the same letter. One of the girls, Carmen Colon, had the same name of one of the women Naso killed in California. Detectives also believed that Joseph Naso had murdered at least ten other women. Naso, following the verdict, insisted that he had not raped or killed anyone.

Crime in American Life and Politics

The founders [of our nation] would be astounded and alarmed at the level of serious crime in contemporary society. They could not have imagined that crime, and the fear of it, would so dominate people's daily habits and the political life of the nation. By their standards, they would certainly be gravely worried about the fate of the democracy they had worked so hard to establish.

Samuel Walker, Popular Justice: A History of American Criminal Justice, 1998

A Criminal Profiler on Mass Murderers and Serial Killers

     There are two kinds of mass murderers. There are the kind who go to a public or semipublic place (like a business or a school) and open fire, for example. These types are making a statement, a statement that is so important to them, has taken on such significance in their lives to get the point across....

     If the crime is committed in private, or away from witnesses, on the other hand, there is more chance the killer is thinking about getting away....

     With a serial killer, we generally don't know the UNSUB's [unknown subject's] identify until or unless he's captured....

John Douglas and Mark Olshaker, The Anatomy of Motive, 1999

Are Murderers Born or Made?

     [Psychologist Adrian Raine] makes a good case that certain genetic, neurological and physiological factors do predict violent behavior. Some of these findings might be obvious. Few will be shocked to hear that being born a man is linked to later bad behavior--indeed, almost all of the horrific crimes Raine describes [in his new book] are committed by men. Anyone familiar with research in behavioral genetics will be unsurprised to learn that the propensity for violent crime is partly heritable. And it makes sense that certain forms of brain damage, particularly to the parts of the brain that govern impulse control, make people more likely to commit violent acts later in life.

     Other [physiological] predictors [of a violent personality] are more surprising. A low resting heart rate correlates with antisocial behavior. Certain insults to the developing brain, like smoking and drinking by pregnant mothers, have pernicious effects on behavior. And there is evidence that eating a lot of fish leads to a decline in violence, possibly because of the positive neurological effects of the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids.

Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology at Yale in reviewing Adrian Raine's 2013 book, The Anatomy of Violence for The New York Times Book Review  

Charles Bukowski On A Life Of Drinking

Well, I couldn't drink myself to death. I came close but I didn't. Now I deserve to live with what is left.

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

Sherlock Holmes on The Power of Observation

The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.

Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Hounds of the Baskervilles" 

Friday, August 9, 2019

The Cyntoia Brown Murder Case

     In 2004, in Nashville, Tennessee, 43-year-old pimp Johnny Allen turned a 14-year-old runaway named Cyntoia Brown into one of his working girls. (The young prostitute's mother had allegedly consumed alcohol during her pregnancy which resulted in Cyntoia Brown's mental impairment. This made the girl particularly vulnerable to sex trade child abusers like Johnny Allen.)

     One nightmare ended for Cyntoia Brown and another began when, in 2004, she killed her pimp by shooting him in the back of the head at close range. She had intended to rob him.

     The authorities, in 2006, tried Cyntoia Brown for first-degree murder as an adult. The jury rejected the defendant's claim of self-defense and found her guilty as charged. The trial judge sentenced the 16-year-old to 51 years to life in prison.

     In 2012, the United States Supreme Court ruled that states could not impose life sentences for juveniles convicted of murder.

     In January 2019, then Governor Bill Haslam granted Cyntoia Brown clemency. The move to commute her sentence had been supported by a number of Hollywood celebrities who had taken up her cause.

     Cyntoia Brown, in August 2019, was released from prison after serving 15 years behind bars. As part of her release arrangement, she would be subjected to supervised parole. Given the circumstances of this case, the commutation of Cyntoia Brown did not create public outrage.

The Teacher Who Lied Her Way Out of the Classroom

     Ashley Barker started teaching first grade at the Laurel Elementary School in central Florida's Polk County in the fall of 2011. In November, just two months into her first year at the school, Barker began asking, through emails to her principal, for days off due to illness. At first Barker reported a problem with kidney stones, then later that month, informed the principal that she was undergoing a medical treatment for a cyst.

     In January 2012, Barker, via email, informed her boss that due to a brain infection, her body was shutting down. After reporting to the school that she was dying, and probably wouldn't make it through the night, Barker made a remarkable recovery.

     The elementary school teacher's next series of emails requesting paid sick leave involved the declining health of her father. According to Barker, her dad suffered from a heart problem that was life threatening. At one point she reported that he didn't have much time to live. By November 2012, Barker had sent 120 illness related emails to the principal who had authorized 35 days of paid sick leave.

     In January 2013, Barker reported to her principal that one of her fellow teachers had threatened to kill her. (The accused teacher strongly denied the charge.) A week after the accusation, Barker claimed that a man wearing a ski mask had threatened her life if she pursued the case against the other teacher. She said the masked man had ambushed her in the school parking lot.

     Detectives with the Polk County Sheriff's Office investigated Barker's accounts of the threat by the teacher and the masked man, and were unable to confirm, through other witnesses and various leads, that the crimes had taken place. In May 2013, when confronted by skeptical detectives, Barker confessed that she had made up the threats against her life. She also admitted that her requests for sick leave had been based on lies. She was never ill, and her father had not been dying of a bad heart. She had made these stories up to get out of work.

     The superintendent of the Polk County School District suspended Ashley Barker without pay. The school administrator also planned to recommend dismissal. Barker acquired an attorney and warned that if they fired her from the Laurel Elementary School, she would fight the dismissal in court.

     Ashley Barker was dismissed from the Laurel Elementary School.

Disagree With A Decision? Get A Lawyer And Sue

     The idea of freedom as personal power has been pushed aside in recent decades by a new idea of freedom--where the focus is on the rights of whoever might disagree with a decision. There were good reasons why we went in this direction, but now the momentum has carried us to a point where we no longer feel free in daily interaction. Almost any encounter carries legal risk. Lawyers are everywhere, both literally--the proportion of lawyers in the workforce almost doubled between 1970 and 2000--and in our minds, sowing doubt into ordinary choices. Americans increasingly go through the day looking over their shoulders instead of where they want to go.

     What's been lost is a coherent legal framework of right and wrong. A free society requires that people generally understand the scope of their freedoms. Without reliable legal boundaries, distrust will infect daily dealings. People start to fear each other, and they start to fear law. That's what happened in America, particularly for teachers, doctors, managers, and others with responsibility.

Philip K. Howard, Life Without Lawyers, 2009 

When a Novelist Throws In The Towel

Nothing more horrible, no failure of nerve more acute, than to be a novelist and not write, to never write, perhaps to stop, to decide to stop, not to hope for writing or want it, to let go of writing, to swear it off like drugs or sex with the wrong person, or some other terrible compulsion that will finally tear one apart. The writer not writing is a wholly guilty party, like someone who through anger or neglect has killed off his own life's mate, counterpart, reason to live.

Jayne Anne Phillips in Eleventh Draft, edited by Frank Conroy, 1999

Thornton P. Knowles On The Village Idiots

They say that every village his its idiot. From what I've seen, most villages have several. Unfortunately, many of these people end up running the town.

Thornton P. Knowles

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Did Frederick Hengl Murder His Wife?

     In 2002, Frederick Joseph Hengl and his wife Ann Faris moved into a two-bedroom bungalow on North Ditmar Street a block from City Hall in Oceanside, California. Ten years later, residents of the neighborhood considered the 68-year-old Hengl, and his 73-year-old spouse, more than a little odd. Bearded, bespectacled, and bone-thin, Hengl regularly appeared in public dressed in women's clothing and wearing make-up. Ann Faris often walked the streets armed with a butcher's knife. Neighbors wondered why she always wore the same outfit, a blue sweater and denim-like pants. The fact people could smell her suggested she didn't bother much with personal hygiene. Occasionally Faris would stand in her front yard and take off her clothes. (Not being residents of San Francisco, many neighbors found this display of public nudity off-putting.)

     On November 11, 2012, the odd couple's neighbors began detecting a foul odor coming from the Hengl house. They also heard, from inside the dwelling, sounds of a power saw. The stench grew unbearable after Hengl, to draw the odor out of the house, installed a window fan. A neighbor called the police.

     On November 16 at eleven o'clock in the morning, Oceanside police officers pulled up to the Hengl bungalow. An officer knocked on the front door but no one answered. Assuming that the place was at the moment unoccupied, an officers climbed into the dwelling through a window at the rear of the house. As the police officer entered the foul-smelling bungalow, Frederick Hengl slipped out the front door and walked away.

     Inside, amid the stench of rotting flesh, the police discovered three pans of meat cooking on the kitchen stove. In the freezer compartment of the refrigerator, they came upon a plastic bag containing a human head. (Later identified as Anna Faris.) A meat grinder that had been recently used sat nearby. In the bathroom, the police found a power saw, a boning knife, and other cutting instruments. It didn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out what had taken place under this roof. Scattered throughout the first floor, officers found pieces of freshly cut bone.

     Shortly after the gruesome discovery in the bungalow on North Ditmar Street, police officers found and arrested Frederick Hengl. From his house he had walked to a local bar. Perhaps he was enjoying what he knew would be his last alcoholic beverage.

     According to a forensic pathologist with the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office, Anna Faris had died on or about November 1. Crime scene investigators reported that they found "no evidence of cannibalism." (Then why was Hengl cooking the meat?)

     A San Diego County prosecutor charged Frederick Hengl with murder, willful cruelty to an elder, and committing an unlawful act with human remains. If convicted of murder, he could be sentenced to 25 years to life. On November 21, the day before Thanksgiving, Hengl pleaded not guilty to all charges before a superior court judge who set his bail at $5 million. Hengl's attorney advised the court that his client had a bad heart, and required medical treatment.

     On September 27, 2013, while in the San Diego County Jail's infirmary, Frederick Hengl died of prostate cancer. From the day of his arrest, Hengl denied killing his wife who reportedly suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

     To make a case of criminal homicide against Mr. Hengl, the state would have had to prove she did not die a natural death. Under the circumstances, this would have been difficult. With Hengl's passing, no one will ever know the exact circumstances of Anna Faris' death, or why her husband had butchered and cooked her body. While they were a strange couple, they were not necessarily a killer and a murder victim.            

How Many Serial Killer Victims Are There?

The total maximum number of all known serial killer victims in the United States over a span of 195 years between 1800 and 1995 is estimated at 3,860. Of this total, a maximum of 1,398 victims were murdered between 1975 and 1995, at an average of 70 victims a year. Even if we account for unknown victims, that figure is nowhere near the 3,500 annual number [of serial killer victims] so often bandied about.

Peter Vronsky, Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters, 2004

Criminal Intent

The acid test of murder is intention and what the law calls mens rea or guilty mind. Guilty intention is described as malice aforethought and it is this which distinguishes it from manslaughter. The classic definition of murder based on malice aforethought goes back to English Common Law and takes account of the age and mental status of the offender. This was set out by Lord Chief Justice Edward Coke (1552-1634) when he referred to "a man of sound memory and at the age of discretion." In practical terms, this meant an individual who was not insane and aged at least ten years.

Robin Odell, The Mammoth Book of Bizarre Crimes, 2010

Thornton P. Knowles On Childhood Possessions

Growing up in West Virginia I had four prize possessions: a few baseball cards, a harmonica, a pocketknife, and a Duncan yo-yo. I liked the bubblegum more than the cards, couldn't play the harmonica, didn't have a practical use for the knife, and stunk at yo-yoing. Still, I loved those things.

Thornton P. Knowles

Charles Bukowski's Disdain For His Fellow Poets

All the poets I have met have been soft jellyfish, sycophants. They have nothing to write about except their selfish non-endurance. Yes, I stay away from POETS. Do you not blame me....Maybe there's a hell. If there is I'll be there and you know what? All the poets will be there reading their works and I will have to listen. I will be drowned in their preening vanity, their overflowing self-esteem. If there is a hell, that will be my hell: poet after poet reading on and on.

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

Literary Hit Jobs: A Moral Dilemma

     "If you want to be a writer, somewhere along the line you're going to have to hurt somebody. And when that time comes, you go ahead and do it," Charles McGrath said when he was an editor at The New Yorker. "If you can't or don't want to tell that truth, you may as well stop now and save yourself a lot of hardship and pain."…

     A novelist wrote a withering account of her recent marriage. Soon after the book came out, the author's ex-husband killed himself. Was she correct to write that novel?

Bonnie Friedman, Writing Past Dark, 1994 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

A Cold-Blooded Poisoner Gets Off Light

     In May 2018, Terese Kozlowski, after being married to Brian Kozlowski for 29 years, filed for divorce. She did not, however, move out of their home in Macomb County, Michigan.

     During the month of July, 2018, after consuming her morning coffee prepared by Mr. Kozlowski, Terese felt tired, nauseous and extremely drowsy. After almost falling asleep at the wheel on a busy highway, Terese, suspecting that her estranged husband had been spiking her coffee, set up a hidden surveillance camera above the counter where Mr. Kozlowski prepared her morning drink.

     When the surveillance footage revealed that Mr. Kozlowski was pouring something into her coffee, a substance he was not adding to his cup, Terese Kozlowski went to the police with the evidence. To save her life, she moved out of the house.

     A toxicological analysis of the suspected substance revealed that Mr. Kozlowski had been adding diphenhydramine, an ingredient found in Benadryl, to his estranged wife's coffee. Each morning's dose of the drug equaled about eight sleeping pills.

     After detectives took Brian Kozlowski into custody, a Macomb County prosecutor charged him with poisoning. The defendant, in June 2019, pleaded no contest to the charge.

     Prior to Kozlowski's sentencing, a pre-sentencing investigator recommended that the defendant serve between three and fifteen years behind bars. As a criminal act, to intentionally and with malice poison someone's food or drink is as cruel as it is cold-blooded. Moreover, it is not a crime motivated by insanity. but by hate, greed, or both. Teresa Kozlowski, under the influence of her husband's poisoning, could have easily killed herself or a fellow motorist.

     In August 2019, at the sentencing hearing, the 46-year-old defendant told Visiting Judge Antonio Vivano that he was in a state of "profound remorse" for what he had done to his wife. He said he had been in a "deep state of depression" over the pending divorce. The defendant also pointed out that he had been receiving psychological counseling.

     Judge Vivano responded to Kozlowski's pre-sentencing statement by remarking that he found it "moving."

     In a ruling that shocked everyone connected to the case, judge Vivano sentenced Brian Kozlowski to spend 60 weekends in the Macomb County Jail followed by five years probation. Apparently the judge didn't want Mr. Kozlowski to lose his job just because he had tried to kill his wife.

     Assistant prosecutor Darra Slanec called the sentence "a slap in the victim's face."

     This judge should be removed from the bench.

History's Obscure Serial Killer

Henry Lee Moore, between 1911 and 1912, was a traveling serial killer who murdered more that twenty-three people--entire families. But little is known about him--he is a mere footnote. In September 1911, using an axe, Moore killed six victims in Colorado Springs--a man, two women, and four children. In October [of that year] he killed three people in Monmouth, Illinois, and then slaughtered a family of five in Ellsworth, Kansas, the same month. In June 2012, he killed a couple in Paola, Kansas, and several days later he killed seven people, including four children, in Villisca, Iowa. Moore then returned home to Columbia, Missouri, where he murdered his mother and grandmother. At this point he was arrested and prosecuted in December 1912. [I presume he was hanged.]

Peter Vronsky, Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters, 2004