- John List on Wikipedia
- CrimeLibrary article referencing List
- Excerpts from the sentencing hearing for list in 1990, from the New York Times.
Filed under: attempted homicide
Family annihilator John Emil List died on Friday. List was serving a life sentence for his crimes in the New Jersey State Prison. He’d been moved to a medical facility in Trenton, NJ shortly before his death at the age of 82. John List spent Nov. 9, 1971 murdering his family. He started with his elderly mother and infirm wife, then shot each one of his 3 children as they came home from school. List, a staunch Lutheran and methodical accountant, wrote a letter confessing all to his pastor. Then he vanished. List managed to stay on the run for 18 years. He was only captured after his crimes were featured on America’s Most Wanted. List began serving his sentence in 1990. It’s only happenstance, but it seems strange that the welcome news of List’s passing comes today, when there are reports of yet another family murder committed by another father who worked with money, this time in Iowa City, IA. The suspect in this case, Steven F. Sueppel (who may himself be dead at this point), was facing decades in prison on charges of bank fraud and money laundering. Here are links to more info about List and his haunting crimes:
Some people can’t get jobs if they have bad credit. Then there’s accused rapist Shawn Wuertley, age 29 (link goes to his MySpace page). Wuertley was arrested today in Panama City Beach, Florida for false imprisonment, rape and attempted felony murder. According to multiple media sources, Wuertley was working as a security guard at the Sandpiper Beacon Beach Resort when he dragged an 18-year-old resort guest from Tuscaloosa, Alabama into an unoccupied room on the 6th floor at the resort and raped her. They struggled after the assault as the girl tried to get away. In the process, Wuertley allegedly shoved the victim off a balcony. The girl fell onto a 2nd floor stairwell. Her injuries were said to be serious but not fatal. Wuertley was questioned by police and allowed to go. He fled, only to be arrested sometime today in Bay County, Florida. The Panama City News-Herald reports:
Wuertley has been running afoul of the law for some time now, you see. He had a long rap sheet from his home state of Indiana, and as recently as 2006 was in a Mooresville, IN correctional facility.Yes, the police should have run a check on Wuertley as he sat with detectives answering questions — but let’s admit it: the real pressing question is how a guy with Wuertley’s record got a job working security at a beach resort. The real scrutiny should be on hiring practices here, now that police in Bay County (FL) have Wuertley safely behind bars. There are plenty of jobs, particularly positions involving any kind of security work, that require full, exhaustive background checks. Even bad credit or bankruptcy can torpedo an applicant.
Even if Shawn Wuertley’s prior criminal history was non-violent, the News-Herald reported that it included “burglary, escape, auto theft,” as well as shoplifting and possession of marijuana. There was also an outstanding warrant for burglary in Indiana. How was that missed during the hiring process? No one can convince me that there are that many Shawn Wuertleys from Mooresville, Indiana out there. Investigators have indicated that Wuertley may have simply lied on his application for the position at the resort. That’s all it took for him to snag a job? Amazing. A double failure, and for the family of a young woman from Tuscaloosa, a tragedy. Even though the victim survived the attack, she now may face a lifetime of physical and emotional trauma, the likes of which few of us can imagine. This post may be revised and updated. Additional links:
Shawn Wuertley’s Yahoo 360 profile
Discussion of this crime at Websleuths.com
Several people have been wounded in an incident at the Westroads Shopping Mall in Omaha, Nebraska. There have been at least two fatalities. A nursing supervisor at a local emergency room known to be receiving wounded from the Mall said nothing specific about casualties so far, but she stated that it sounded “bad, very bad.” A witness interviewed by local media stated that she’d heard up to 12 shots. Other shoppers reported higher numbers — maybe as many as 30. Speaking live on the air to WOWT-TV, a witness said that the shooter was using an M-16 assault rifle. There were reports of shells spinning over the railing of the third floor as the shooter opened fire. Another witness reportedly witnessed a victim being shot in the head. It appears as though this was a random spree. One fatality has been reported at the customer service center of the Von Maur Department Store in Westroads. The wound may have been self-inflicted. Current speculation is that the deceased inside Von Maur may have been the shooter. Police scanner communications initially seemed to indicate that the shooter was a young black man clad in camouflage and carrying a rifle. The accuracy of this report is doubtful. (NOTE: It now appears — at 5:55 p.m. ET — that the reports as to the man’s race were incorrect.) Additional coverage: KETV.com. UPDATE 1, 5:04 PM ET During a press conference broadcast on several cable news outlets, an Omaha police spokesperson said that nine people were killed today, 14 injured. Most of the victims were inside the Von Maur Dept. Store. One witness interviewed by KETV stated that the shooter was “very tall.” She witnessed him standing in the childrens’ clothing department inside Von Maur, firing his weapon straight into the air. Police say the gunman was indeed among the dead. UPDATE 2, 5:31 PM ET The gunman has not been named, but he has been identified as 19-year-old from Sarpy County, NE. He allegedly left behind a note stating that he was “going out in style.” WOWT television reported that the man’s vehicle was found in the Westroads Mall parking lot. UPDATE 3, 6:18 PM ET The gunman was Robert Hawkins, age 19. He was facing several misdemeanor charges in Sarpy County. The note with the quote about “going out in style” was delivered to Sarpy County authorities by Hawkins’s mother. This entry will be revised and updated throughout the day.
On Halloween Night a convicted killer and sexual psychopath is released from prison. Even though the man killed two people in cold blood 31 years ago, even though he tried to kidnap young girls in the 80s and was convicted of sexually assaulting and almost murdering a teenager in the early ’90s, he is on the streets again. On Halloween Night in Rochester, Minnesota, what’s a murderous psychopath to do, fresh from 15 years in the pen? The preceding isn’t the beginning of a pitch for a new horror film. The scenario presented above may become reality in Rochester about two weeks from today. Daryl Alt is 49 now. His father Jack and step-mom Dorothy were 49 when he murdered them in late February, 1976. Daryl was a skinny, blond 17-year-old boy at the time. Police found the couples’ remains on March 2, just after Daryl reported them missing. Jack and Dorothy Alt had been shot to death. Alt was tried as an adult for those murders. He worked a plea bargain and got the charge related to his stepmother’s murder dismissed. Alt was convicted, and he served 6 years in prison. Upon release in 1983, Daryl Alt began his career as a sexual predator. After several attempted abductions of young teen girls, he kidnapped and raped a 14-year-old girl. He went to trial in 1984 for that assault and was convicted. In 1990, just months after his release from prison for the assault in 1983, Daryl Alt struck again. He kidnapped Jammey Schick, age 15. Jammey told her story on a message board attached to the site JaneDoeNoMore.org. This is a quote from the site’s Mission page: “The Jane Doe No More initiative will create awareness about the crime of sexual assault to ensure proper treatment of the victim.” From Jammey Schick’s post at JaneDoeNoMore.org:
Another user wrote a supportive response and asked a question. Jammey answered:
Neither Jammey Schick nor her family have been happy with the way the justice system handled her case. In 1993 Jammey came forward and allowed her name to be published in Minnesota papers. She was quoted in the Star-Tribune after Alt’s conviction. Jammey said she was happy about the verdict and that she hoped Alt would never be free “so he can do this again.” About the many delays in the trial, she said: “I think they should give victims more rights […] I feel I have been treated very unfairly.”In the same article, Olmsted County Attorney (at the time) Ray Schmitz talked about the danger Daryl Alt presented to the community: “Mr. Alt is among the most dangerous people that we’ve prosecuted here and he’s simply someone who needs to be removed from the streets…” Olmsted County (MN) prosecutors began seeking civil commitment for Daryl Alt earlier this year. In July they managed to get him held at a secure hospital in St. Peter, MN until his official release from the Department of Corrections. A civil commitment for Alt after October 31, 2007 would declare him dangerously mentally ill and put him in a secure medical facility, perhaps for the rest of his life. Since Dru Sjodin was murdered by level III sex offender Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. in November, 2003, prosecutors in Minnesota have been averaging more than 60 requests for civil commitments a year. Fewer than 15 such applications were made the year Sjodin was murdered. Jammey Schick seems to feel that the question of whether or not Alt should be civilly committed should never have been asked. To TV station KSTP, she said, “We were told he was never getting out.” Minnesota press might naturally compare this case to the high-profile Sjodin murder, but plenty of incredibly vicious criminals started young, showed plenty of recidivism and still hit the streets to rape, to kill again:
These are not the only killers who followed this broad pattern — early acts of violence followed by incarceration and then even more vicious acts. Arthur Shawcross also came to mind. Shawcross murdered two children in 1972 and spent 14 years in prison for manslaughter. After he was released from lockup, Shawcross began killing prostitutes. Profilers trying to catch Shawcross when he was the unknown Gennessee River Killer underestimated the killer’s age by almost the exact number of years he’d spent in prison. Arthur Shawcross seemingly picked up exactly where he left off in his maturation cycle as a killer.If Daryl Alt is allowed to walk free on Halloween Night, it seems a stretch to believe he won’t just go right back to doing what he probably likes best — hurting other people. Alfonso Rodriguez was an old-looking 50 when he kidnapped vibrant, athletic young Dru Sjodin. Daryl Alt is just 49, and he looks like prison has been good to him, in photos. Rochester, Minnesota better hope along with Jammey Schick for a civil commitment in this case, because there’s plenty of violence left in a man like Daryl Alt. The worst may be yet to come. Sources not otherwise linked:
(CHECK FOR UPDATES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE ENTRY.) Authorities have not said that human remains found in Calumet City, Illinois are Nailah O. Franklin’s, but her family has come to the area where the unidentified body was found on Thursday. The nude body was found in the Wentworth Woods Forest Preserve, very close to Hammond, Indiana. Nailah’s Chevy Impala was found parked at a vacant house in Hammond after the 28-year-old pharmaceutical rep’s disappearance on or about September 18, 2007. Some of Nailah’s personal effects had also been found in Calumet City after she vanished. A reader commented on the first entry about Nailah’s disappearance that the website set up to help further the search for the missing woman was no longer accessible as of Thursday morning. The possibility that the dead body in the Wentworth Woods Preserve is Nailah Franklin unfortunately seems pretty solid. Google Maps seems to indicate that the preserve is less than one mile from 6311 Blaine Ave. in Hammond, where Nailah’s car was discovered. CrimeBlog.US is seeking further information about Nailah’s disappearance and any potential suspects in the case. If you have any additional tips or information, please use this contact form. Updates will be posted below as needed. UPDATE 1, 12:01 p.m. ET MSNBC has reported that Nailah Franklin’s family has confirmed that the body found in the Wentworth Woods Forest Preserve was Nailah’s. Their source for this information was apparently a Chicago-area TV station. Reporters there say they received the confirmation from Nailah’s uncle, who has been acting as a spokesperson for the Franklin family. Additional source(s):
KIRA SIMONIAN’S HUSBAND ARRESTED
Thirty-two-year-old Kira Simonian was found brutally murdered in her apartment in South Minneapolis late last June. Her husband Matthew Gretz, age 34, was out of town at the time, on a business trip. As local Minneapolis media seemed to drop the story and police didn’t seem concerned that a mad-dog killer was on the loose, some suspicion fell on Matthew Gretz. After all, as far back as 2004, Gretz wrote the following on one of Kira’s personal profiles:
A joke between lovers, or an ugly streak in Gretz coming out in a random comment?Might have been the latter. Matthew Lawrence Gretz is now being held in the Hennepin County Jail in Minneapolis on a murder charge. Police have found, after two months, probable cause to arrest and hold Gretz in connection with his wife’s murder. No bail has been set. Commentators on the first CrimeBlog.US entry who claimed to know Matt couldn’t believe he’d murder anyone. Quoting from “wondering”:
It might be easy to roll your eyes at posts like that now that Gretz has been arrested, but it is likely he did seem to those who thought they knew him like the last person in the world who would brutally murder another. Killer spouses break down into several subtypes, and one type is almost always outwardly likable, easy to know, and hard to accuse. Scott Peterson fit that bill pretty well. To this day, even though Peterson is on death row, he has legions of defenders.Reading Matt’s comment on Kira’s Friendster profile from 3 years ago, one gets the impression of a burst of passive-aggressive anger on his part, one he dealt with by making that comment. He could have told Kira later that he was just joking — the comment can be read that way. If that was the case then, a pattern of passive-aggressive outbursts from Matt wouldn’t have changed. He would have continued to store up anger, hurt, resentment, only to perhaps explode on his wife when he had no space left inside. Kira’s art, even the brief video of her on the first blog entry give an impression of real personal force, charisma. Theirs may have been a passionate match, but one ultimately more volatile than anyone knew, until it was too late. Thanks to CrimeBlog.US commentator “lackman” for the heads-up about Matt’s arrest.
*UPDATE 1*From KARE-TV — emphasis was added:
A crime, from the sound of it, of unbridled rage. Or perhaps it might be more accurate to say rage finally unleashed.
*UPDATE 2, 9/09/07*
I’ll never claim to be an expert profiler, but I have made some damned good conclusions in the past. I won’t bother linking the proof — long-time readers of my crime-related blogging will know what I’m talking about. So… I’m no expert, but the quote above, if true, gives me the impression that Matthew Gretz (if he did indeed kill Kira Simonian) may have had an intensely passive-aggressive personality. Bludgeoning and stabbing Kira to death was overkill, and the number and severity of wounds described indicated immense anger. That someone may have heard him shouting, “Do you love me?” is both chilling and further indication that Kira’s murder may have been the result of a long-simmering explosion.Kira Simonian may have been a forthright, outspoken woman. The comment Matt left on her Friendster account (see above) years ago suggested part of the way he viewed her, at least sometimes — as superior, arrogant, a snob. If no one ever saw any real signs of trouble between the two, it may have been because it seemed to outsiders that Kira “wore the pants,” and Matt went along with her, thinking life was easier that way. I am reminded of a high-profile crime from my hometown, Nashville. Janet March vanished in 1996. She’s never been found. Still, her husband Perry March is now serving 56 years in prison for her murder. His own dad ratted him out, in the end. In the March family, it was said that Janet called the shots. She designed the home she and Perry shared in West Nashville, Perry even worked for the law firm run by Janet’s father. But it seems that in the end, Perry just lost it on her. Police in Nashville think he may have killed her with a karate blow — Perry was a blackbelt. I have to wonder if the dynamic in the Simonian/Gretz home was similar to the Marches’. And perhaps something between them finally broke Matt down, and he erupted. After reading the words Matt Gretz was allegedly shouting, I recalled this comment by “Interested” left on the first entry I wrote about Kira’s murder. Part of what “Interested” wrote on August 31, 2007:
It is sometimes easy for other blog readers, and admittedly the blogger himself (me) to not take blog comments too seriously. It’s a hazard of blogging a lot — one becomes jaded about statements made by anonymous folks who may or may not have an agenda. Here, it seems that “Interested” had an inside line into the real story more than a week ago, and the “love me” statement was already known.You have to wonder what made Matt say those words, if he did. I have a feeling that what went on between Matthew Gretz and Kira Simonian was far more complicated than anyone around them really knew. Thank you to everyone who posted on that entry and this one (so far), including “Interested.” For reading, participating, and inadvertently reminding me that I can get a little numb to all the words that come my way daily. CAMILLE CLEVERLEY Camille Cleverley, 22, was preparing to start the school year at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT when she disappeared on August 30, 2007. Even though no one has seen Camille since the 30th, her bank card was used the next day to buy doughnuts and energy drinks. By all accounts, Camille Cleverley has always been a responsible young woman and a good student. No one in her family thinks 5’5″, 110 lb. blue-eyed blond would leave with only her purple and silver Schwinn for transportation. Camille was dating a man named David Sperry, and there hasn’t been any suspicion expressed in the traditional media towards Mr. Sperry. He’s appeared on NBC’s Today and his behavior seemed appropriate. Sperry seemed as worried as Camille’s relatives, just as any boyfriend would be. There is, however, a message board discussion taking place here that contains some interesting statements about Mr. Sperry. It’s a message board. I read many message boards, and often enjoy posting to them, but… it’s a message board attached to the web site for TV station KSL in Salt Lake City. Take anything posted there with a full shaker of salt. A MySpace has been set up by Camille’s friends and family: http://www.myspace.com/helpfindcamille. Mainstream media link: Fox News/AP, “Police Eye Debit Card Transaction in Case of Missing Brigham Young University Student.”
THE MURDER OF MIA HENDERSONA strange story is coming out of Tucson, Arizona tonight. Two 18-year-old female freshmen fought in a dorm room at the University of Arizona on Wednesday, September 5. Both were from the Navajo Nation. One was treated at a hospital for mild injuries. The other died. The deceased was identified as freshman Mia Henderson. In the fight with her former roommate, Mia was allegedly stabbed to death. The young woman who now stands charged with Mia’s murder is Galareka Harrison. The fight may have been the end result of tension that developed between the pair in their first week or so rooming together. Mia Henderson believed that Harrison was stealing from her. She’d reported the alleged thefts on August 28. Mia’s MySpace profile has already been referenced in various reports about the crime: http://www.myspace.com/mighty_mia. Galareka Harrison’s own profile: http://www.myspace.com/231429967. Galareka also had a personal profile at Tagged.com, as well as a Flixster account:
Mia Henderson may have referred to the conflict with Galareka Harrison in the blog attached to her “mighty_mia” profile. Article about Mia Henderson’s murder on the website for KOLD-TV in Tucson.
All of this was apparently an outgrowth of enmity between Harrison and Henderson that began when Henderson accused Galareka Harrison of stealing. These accusations are detailed in the same article:
[A personal, non-crime-related note: I am in mourning. Luciano Pavarotti has passed away in Italy at the age of 71.]
The poem read:
Why the 32-year-old Spokane (WA) stay-at-home mother of two chose to trot out this bit of doggerel on the 9th was a mystery. Earlier the same day, she’d blogged in a much happier vein:
Adriana’s weblog entries, the poem of old heartbreak notwithstanding, gave no indication whatsoever that she and her husband Jonathan Lytle, age 28, would be accused child abusers and killers by March 11.Jonathan Lytle brought his 4-year old daughter Summer to Deaconess Medical Center that Sunday. Summer wasn’t breathing, and she was covered with bruises. Court documents issued later would indicate that Summer Lytle also was covered with “human bite marks.” It was determined that Summer may have drowned in a tub in which someone made her wash pee-stained clothing. However, with injuries over most of the child’s body, investigators were hedging on the cause of death pending a complete autopsy of the girl’s remains. Spokane police Sgt. Joe Peterson, from the major crimes unit, was quoted by the Associated Press in an article published Monday evening: “It’s probably the worst case of abuse that any of us in hundreds of combined years in this unit have ever seen.” Summer, Jon Lytle’s daughter by a previous relationship, was said to be developmentally disabled. Court documents referenced in the AP article indicated that Summer was made to wear a ‘shock collar,’ a device typically used to train dogs. This appeared to be the Lytles’ solution to disciplining their 4-year-old. The court documents also said that Summer Lytle may have been beaten with spoons, and a belt. Jonathan David Lytle II, the couple’s 8-month-old boy, was placed in foster care. The first news article that named the Lytles contained the following interesting information:
To some degree, then, the couple’s sadistic ideas about how to handle a “developmentally disabled” toddler may have been a known quantity.The piece published in the Spokane Spokesman-Review on March 12 had further details about the night Summer died that painted an even more revolting portrait of Adriana and Jonathan Lytle. Adriana had tried to revive Summer before she was taken to the hospital, and as she did so, Jon Lytle reportedly left the room to have a cigarette. Worse yet, the Spokesman-Review article made it clear that if Summer’s biological father was callous and selfish, her stepmother seemed to hate the child with a psychopathic intensity. Quoting:
Here is part of what Adriana Lytle wrote in the “About Me” section of her MySpace profile:
Adriana’s gallery of photos associated with her MySpace profile showed images of her, her husband — a slim, homely red-haired man with a mild expression — one blurred Christmas photo of the family, another of Jon with Jonathan II and Summer, and several more images of the baby. Summer was thin, with dark red hair like her father. Little Jonathan appeared to be a bright-eyed, happy baby — at least in photos.If Adriana Lytle hated her stepchild, it wasn’t apparent shortly after she married Summer’s father. Adriana posted a blog entry on March 15, 2006, and in it she wrote:
As happy as Adriana seemed to be with Jon, she still maintained a profile at a dating site that she’d created in early 2005. There wasn’t much there, but her last login was on January 5, 2007, and she’d updated the site in some manner in October, 2006. There were 2 photos and the usual skeletal run-down of traits and station in life: She was looking for “friendship”; Adriana was an “active smoker”; and her job was “stay at home mom/housewife.”So, between (allegedly) beating and biting her 4-year-old stepdaughter, Adriana Lytle wanted to be sure she kept one little line in the vast online sea, if only for new friends. Back in her MySpace blog, Adriana had posted in January of last year one of the ubiquitous surveys seen on so many MySpace profiles (hell, I even have one). Her answers revealed a few new details about the woman who now sits in a Spokane jail cell, her bond (and her husband’s) set at a half-million dollars. The 5’7″ green-eyed, auburn-haired California native was already thinking about the child she was carrying. Her goal for 2006 was simply to “Have a healthy baby.” The first thing Adriana thought about on waking up in the morning was her then-fiance, Jon. Though Adriana wanted a healthy baby, she still smoked. Weirdly, to the question asking the survey user if they swore, Adriana gave an answer that made it seem like she was more concerned about using foul language in a home with an infant than she was about smoking: “Yes- Need to work on that before baby is born!” Adriana also liked to sing — her answer to a question about that was “Yes- I karaoke a lot.” And to the question asking survey takers if they’d “Ever shoplifted,” Adriana Lytle gave a frank response: “Yep- but busted at Payless Drugs on Grand Ave.” There were only two questions to which Adriana gave no answers: “Your fears,” and “Your weakness.” Psychos typically fear nothing, and do not perceive any of their failings as weaknesses. Consider that statement a non-sequitur in the context of this story if you want. But I don’t feel as though such an observation comes from nowhere. I have, of late, been trying to take a different tack from the usual steadfast first-person blogger’s voice. For some crime stories, the neutral reporter’s voice is simply more appropriate. But I responded to this story as the red-haired father of a difficult (but not disabled), complicated, gifted, zany, loving red-haired daughter. Usually, I tend to avoid crime stories where children are victims — because as a dad, I just find most of them a little too hard to handle. But I felt such outrage when I read about this poor, 4-year-old child and the stepmother who casually pushed her with a foot into urine-filled water. Looking at Adriana Lytle’s web posts only honed the edge of that outrage. Her narcissism and banality underscored the abuse alluded to in the news articles, in the court papers. Adriana’s lip-service in her MySpace profile towards her stepchild juxtaposed with what appeared to be adoration of her biological child nauseated me as I thought about how she might have doted on the little boy even as she was beating Summer with spoons and belts. I will continue to try to move into a more neutral narrator’s voice in stories I blog about here, but there was no way I could do that in writing about Summer Lytle. She deserved so much better than a pair of chain-smoking mouth breathers who treated her like trash. To hell with the “neutral” voice when it comes to a story like this. And let’s hope hell is all Adriana and Jonathan Lytle know from hereon out. Kudos and a great big thanks to the tipster (who requested anonymity) who sent me notice of the story and a link to Adriana Lytle’s personal profile. Lost in Lima Ohio also weighed in on this horrific story: “‘Beyond Abuse.'”
Katie MacDougall, age 23, was about three months pregnant when she was allegedly murdered by her 24-year-old boyfriend, Louisiana native Taylor Hurst.Katie’s body was discovered by police in Worcester, Massachusetts on March 4, 2007. Katie’s mom was worried. She hadn’t heard from her daughter in a few days, and decided she would go to the apartment Katie and Taylor shared at 90 Elm Street that Sunday to see if everything was okay. As she arrived, she saw Taylor Hurst exiting the building. She tried to get his attention, but he drove away, at “a high rate of speed.” A police spokesman told the Worcester (MA) Telegram & Gazette that “When officers got there, the place was in darkness — all locked up.” Once inside the apartment, officers found a “well-kept” space, personal touches here and there, family photos on the wall. They also found Katie MacDougall dead in the bathtub, face down, partially clothed, with apparent “blunt trauma” to portions of her upper body. A description of Katie’s car went out to local cops. Taylor Hurst was found soon enough. He was sitting in the parked Pontiac Grand Prix, sipping a Budweiser. Taylor was taken down to police headquarters. The Worcester PD reported that Taylor confessed to strangling Katie with his bare hands. This apparently happened on Friday, March 2. Taylor spent the next couple of days in the apartment with his dead fiancee. Taylor apparently found it difficult to use the restroom. Court papers indicated that police found a ‘nearly full’ 128-ounce bottle of urine in the residence. Investigators found a handwritten note, apparently from Taylor Hurst. Police reports stated that the note was “an apology.”
Joel Fisak, a neighbor, described Katie and Taylor as ‘quiet loners.’“We rarely saw them,” Fisak told the Telegram & Gazette, but he also indicated that there wasn’t much socializing in the apartment building as a whole. About the couple Fisak also said,”… I just found it strange that she was 23 and never had any friends over. Neither did he.” Joel Fisak did recall what he felt was odd behavior on the part of Taylor Hurst at one point. It was in the early a.m. one night in mid-February, and Taylor Hurst was pacing in front of the building, a cab idling in the street. Fisak told the Worcester paper that Hurst didn’t knock on the door to try and get Katie’s attention, didn’t make a cell phone call. Ultimately Katie opened the door, and asked her boyfriend where he’d been. Worcester police had no records of domestic calls to the residence in the past. No one knew of any history of violence between Katie and Taylor. Taylor Hurst is currently being held without bond. He won’t be back in court until March 30. Like so many other adults in her age group, Katie MacDougall had a MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/irisheyes22143. Photos found there showed an appealing auburn-haired young woman who resembled actress Laura Prepon, best known for her role as Donna Pinciotti the long-running sitcom, That ‘7os Show. Most of the photographs of Katie showcased a broad, winning smile and impish, knowing gaze. Taylor was in 3 of the 8 photos in her gallery. In images where they shared the frame, they made an appealing couple. Photos of Taylor after his arrest showed a scowling, blank-eyed young man, but in the pictures made with Katie, the couple looked well-matched. Attractive, but not in a conventional way. More than that, they looked happy. Under “About Me” on her MySpace profile, Katie simply wrote, “I am the coolest person you will ever meet! Enough said.” On a MySpace page, the section below “About Me” asks users who they’d “like to meet.” One of Katie’s responses was musician Dave Matthews, frontman for the eclectic and popular Dave Matthews Band. Katie MacDougall was serious about Dave Matthews’s music. A Web search done using Katie’s MySpace screen name, “Irisheyes22143,” yielded a user profile at www.antsmarching.org, a Dave Matthews Band (DMB) fan site. If Katie MacDougall was really a “loner” in any sense offline, she was chatty, funny, and a bit of an open book online. In the 305 posts Katie made at the user forum associated with the DMB fan site, she didn’t just discuss attending DMB concerts or past recordings. Using the seemingly appropriate moniker “NewEnglandCutie,” Katie MacDougall chatted about many things with other forum posters. Of course she posted the typical short responses to queries and statements left by other fans, the kind of chatter you can find ad nauseam on any message board. Her last post before her death was made on March 1, and it was a single sentence in response to an obscene joke by another poster — the overall thread was a bunch of kvetching about student loan woes. Katie and other message board denizens also discussed the Boston Red Sox. In a post left on a long thread about the Sox in April of 2006 Katie gave other female Sox fans advice about where to find womens’ restrooms at Fenway Park: “for all you girls….there is a HUGE ladies bathroom near yawkey way, if you go into the park by gate D….theres NEVER a line because theres sooo many stalls…” Other discussions in which Katie participated were quite silly — one asked posters what “DUMB” thing bothered them most, and Katie responded, “people who chew gum like cows….the popping and snapping irritates the hell outta me…” In another discussion about Red Sox games, Katie posted a message that seemed indicate that she and Taylor Hurst did not yet live together. On June 13, 2006, she wrote:
A post made in response to a query as to whether anyone from New York (and presumably north) was coming to Virginia for a Dave Matthews Band concert seemed to reveal at least one difference between Katie and Taylor. As “NewEnglandCutie,” Katie wrote the following on September 20, 2006:
There were times Katie MacDougall used her posts in the same way another person might use a weblog. Another forum member started a message thread simply titled, “Tell a Story.” On October 26, 2006, Katie told her story. Within the anecdote, she revealed something significant about her view of the relationship she had with Taylor Hurst:
(Emphasis was added).Posts Katie made last November were more informative about her relationship with the man who is now alleged to have murdered her. Another user noted that Katie was in Massachusetts and her boyfriend in Louisiana. Her response came on November 3:
Further discussion followed, and Katie elaborated, including her feelings that day:
Another board user, “dmbgodagirl41,” commiserated, bringing this response from “NewEnglandCutie”:
On January 18, 2007, Katie began a message thread of her own. It was titled, “Question about the military.” “NewEnglandCutie” wrote:
Katie MacDougall’s question elicited helpful responses, and some truly ugly commentary. One poster even brought up the issue of abortion. Katie stated she would not do that in one reply, then later wrote:
The messages ended up mostly positive, and Katie simply signed off saying, in essence, that she and Taylor had a lot of thinking to do. Her responses to new discussions began to include references to her pregnancy. On January 25, she wrote, “Taco Bell is God’s gift to [a] pregnant woman.”On February 2, a DMB forum member using the screen name “wnderwoman” began a dialogue asking others if they themselves had ever “cheated,” apparently meaning in a relationship. “NewEnglandCutie” answered the question the same day:
Near the end of February, Katie posted a message that made it seem as though she’d long ago forgotten the girl who once thanked God that her boyfriend was not asking her to marry him.Another poster was critical of Cape Cod, and Katie replied, “I have to disagree with you there. I LOVE the cape. My fave place ever! I am getting married here http://www.linnell.com/.” Katie MacDougall sounded perfectly happy with living in Worcester in a few forum messages written near the end of 2006, but now that she was pregnant, her feelings were different — “Worcester sucks ass. I am sick of the homeless people. I am sick of the crack whores and their skank asses at Price Chopper. Fun for college kids, but once I have this baby I’m soooo out of here! We are probably gonna move to Mississippi!” Later the same day, Katie expanded on her mention of Mississippi:
Her last substantial post at AntsMarching.org, and Katie MacDougall was thinking about raising her child on farm land in Mississippi.That was Monday, February 26. The end of Friday that same week saw Katie dead in the bathtub in that “shit hole apt.” There are two sides to every story, and any online presence left by Taylor Hurst was either more well-obscured than Katie’s or quite possibly erased by him. While Katie had once told others at the DMB forum that she had no Internet connection at home, Taylor still had more than 48 hours to find a computer and delete anything he might have left online. Yet a young man strangling the woman who was allegedly carrying his baby and leaving her face-down in the bathtub in the apartment they shared has no real defense, short of insanity. And that defense rarely works. Had Taylor shown signs of instability before? If he had, it wasn’t apparent in anything written by Katie. Some old hands at reporting crime news have stated that straightforward stories of domestic horror like the murder of Katie MacDougall are not widely read. There is a jaded point-of-view at work among some mainstream journalists that says such a story doesn’t interest readers beyond the sphere of the city where the crime occurred. Perhaps that is true. But the Web is changing that, sometimes. Here, the story was not that Katie MacDougall had a MySpace page. In her age group, it is sometimes more surprising if the young adult doesn’t appear to have a profile. Bored at work, with time to indulge herself on the Web, Katie found a community at the Dave Matthews Band fan forum. There she could unwind. She could joke, or just commune with others who might be as bored as she was. Those who were friendly to Katie knew her as New Englad Katie, the cutie, and eventually, she opened up to them — about her life, her relationship, her flaws and the flaws in others. She even weathered ugly insults and criticism from trolls (one of them appeared to target Katie specifically), and kept on posting. It’s a story told every day, all day on the Web, and most of the time it’s really all tales told by poor players who strut and fret behind the masques of cheeky, silly, or even mysterious made-up names and then they are heard from no more. When a real life is attached to one of those names, reading through the words they left behind, the shreds of stories they told becomes eerie, and moving. Since Katie MacDougall shared some of what was going on in her life before it ended Friday, March 2, it is as close as we can come to talking to her, to an interview, and getting to know the victim. In short form crime stories, such as you find in weblogs or newspapers, that is still far too rare. This entry may be updated, if needed. Mainstream media articles used as sources for this entry: “Woman found strangled,” The Worcester Telegram & Gazette, March 6, 2007. “Boyfriend seen fleeing slaying site,” The Worcester Telegram & Gazette, March 8, 2007. All other research independently done.
Keep an eye on “The Lineup” tonight on Fox News. It’s a 2-hour special, starting at 9, Eastern Time. Late in the second hour, between 10:30 and 11:00, there may be a discussion of the murder of Michelle Young, a still-unsolved case in Raleigh, N.C. My original blog entry mentioning the Young murder is here: “Of Janet Abaroa and Michelle Young, and Murder…“ Hopefully I’ll be on the show for a bit, but remember always — it’s live TV. The comprehensive entry about the recovery of Ben Ownby and Shawn Hornbeck is here.