Filed under: homicide

Longtime Publicist Ronni Chasen Murdered, Casting Directors Threatened: What the Hell is Going On in Hollywood?

Earlier today the entertainment world was shaken by the murder of 64-year-old Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen. Chasen died of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest received as she drove through Beverly Hills a little after midnight. Responding to calls about gunfire in the area, police arrived at the scene to find Chasen slumped in her Mercedes, which had struck a lamppost.

Chasen, who had represented the likes of composer Hans Zimmer and producer Richard Zanuck, had just attended the premiere and after-party for BURLESQUE, a new film featuring Cher.

Little is known about Chasen’s death at the moment, save that she was shot at least 5 times and police have yet to determine a motive for the crime.

The events are probably unrelated, but this item was published today by Backstage.com: “Casting Directors Receive Death Threat.” An excerpt from the article, written by Daniel Holloway:

On Nov. 7, five casting directors in the Los Angeles area received death threats via their office telephones. The recipients reached out to Teamsters Local 399 and were encouraged by the union to alert security personnel at the studios where they work and the local police.

Teamsters business representative Ed Duffy, who confirmed to Back Stage that the threats had occurred, sent a mass email to members of the L.A. casting community warning them of the phone calls and encouraging anyone else who has been threatened to come forward. On Monday, Duffy was contacted by a sixth casting director who had been threatened.

So just over a week ago, a number of LA-area casting people receive death threats. (Is this common? It’s hard to tell from the article.) Then very early on Nov. 16, Ronni Chasen, a high-powered publicist, was brutally murdered.

Again–the chances are these things are unrelated. Casting directors and publicists often deal with opposite ends of the movie-making timeline–the beginning of shooting and the premiere, respectively–but at the moment the death threats seem at the very least like an interesting coincidence.

[NYT]

Jennifer Mee, the Hiccup Girl, Accused of Murder

Hey, you remember Jennifer Mee? Kind of a creepy, flat demeanor, uninflected speaking voice, constant hiccups, a very annoying 15 minutes of fame in 2007? She’s been arrested for murder.

Mee, now 19, allegedly lured 22-year-old Shannon Griffin to an apartment where he was robbed and murdered by Laron Raiford, 20, and Lamont Newton, 22.

Police say Mee, Raiford and Newton have all admitted to their roles in the crime. The charge: 1st-degree murder.

At least the hiccups cleared up.

[MyFoxTampaBay]

Female Shooter Barricaded in NE Philly Nabisco Factory

A woman has allegedly shot 3 people, killing two, in the Kraft Foods Factory in Northeast Philadelphia. The alleged shooter is said to be barricaded in an office inside the building. Police have surrounded the facility.

UPDATE

CBS Philadelphia reports the armed woman started shooting around 9 o’clock tonight inside the factory. It took police about 40 minutes to bring her into custody. Via Twitter it has been reported that the assailant is 43 years old. Her motivations are unknown.

Female workplace shooters are pretty unusual.

[NBC Philadelphia]

Police In Washington State Seek Violent Felon John Allen Booth Jr. For Triple Homicide

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John Allen Booth Jr./Lewis Count Sheriff

Authorities in Lewis County, WA are seeking convicted felon John Allen Booth Jr. as a suspect in a triple homicide. The Onalaska resident is believed to have killed 3 and wounded 1 earlier this morning in Salkum, WA.

Deputies went to the 100 block of Wings Way in Salkum around 2 a.m. Saturday, answering reports of shots in a residence there.

Police reports indicate they found 3 dead on the scene and another victim in critical condition. Local news outlets report the survivor was “airlifted to a secure, undisclosed location where they are listed in critical condition,” indicating fear for the survivor’s safety while John Allen Booth Jr. is on the run.

Police say Booth is armed and dangerous. A $1000 reward has been offered for information that might lead to Booth’s arrest.

Booth, 31, has spent time in prison for assault convictions, which he was appealing as recently as the fall of 2009. Prior to that Booth was convicted of first degree burglary and second degree assault–in addition to several juvenile convictions, which he once contended had been unfairly used against him once he was an adult. A close reading of the court decision vacating a lower court’s findings against Booth in 2003 indicates he is a criminal of long-standing, having committed the juvenile crimes in question before he turned 15.

Booth may be in a blue/teal 1988 Dodge Diplomat, Washington license 550 YFA. He’s the kind of guy you just run from if you see him, calling 911 as you go.

Guede, Knox, Sollecito May Finally Face Charges in Kercher Murder

UPDATE, 7/14/08

I received a message from Chris Mellas that clarified the “Mr Anonymous” message below. Chris Mellas did not send the message — that much is clear from the message he did send tonight. He doesn’t seem to realize that I sometimes shed a journalistic stance in this blog and express subjective opinions, but overall his message was well-considered and clearly explained some things. In short, he had no idea I’d received such a note. As I surmised — and I could have made this even more clear than I did — someone who thought they were perhaps doing Amanda Knox and her family a favor did the opposite. I will make amendments to this post later today. I’d do it now, but it’s simply very late and I’m not at my best. I wanted Mr. Mellas and readers who followed this post to know that I’d received some clarification. I owe it to Mr. Mellas to acknowledge that, and I appreciate him taking the time to write to me. I’d write him back personally, but the same caveat about me being tired and not good for more than this paragraph applies there, too.

Original blog post

From The Seattle Times/AP: Prosecutors in Perugia, Italy are formally requesting that Ivory Coast native Rudy Hermann Guede, Seattleite Amanda Knox and Italian student Raffaele Sollecito be sent to trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher in November, 2007. The trio may also be formally charged with “sexual violence” and theft.

Now that these indictments have been requested, a judge will decide on granting the prosecutor’s request. If the decision is against the defense, the trio will be ordered to stand trial. Hearings may begin in September.

The Italian prosecutors believe Guede, Knox and Sollecito participated in strangling and stabbing Meredith Kercher. The Associated Press has reported that court documents state that Guede “engaged in sexual violence” against the victim, and was assisted by Knox and Sollecito.

Prosecutors believe Knox and Sollecito later tried to cover everyones’ tracks by making it look as though the residence Kercher shared with Knox and two other women was burglarized.

I dread writing any more about this case. But I feel somehow obligated, in spite of the fact that the people who want to talk about it online often seem to come a little unhinged about the whole thing. For example, Amanda Knox’s stepfather, Chris Mellas, owns his own ISP — it shows up in web statistics as “Chris Mellas.” Either Mellas or a co-worker, or both, have been all over blog comments and related message board discussions every day, sometimes all day long, for months. And while I’ve asked other commenters to be civil with Mr. Mellas in the past, they aren’t.

Then again, neither is he. For instance, I recently received this message, from “Mr Anonymous,” with a fake e-mail address:

I have seen several messages on your TC Message blog that covers the Meredith Kercher murder.

I intend to make more information available to the appropriate people that such slanderous remarks are being made and/or implied on your site in hopes that their on going action against other media outlets will include yours. Those who reside in specific locations who continue to make slanderous remarks apparently believe that they are protected based on the form of your blog. Apparently they find this to be an untruth.

I will further support any action taken against such remarks. Steve Huff has allowed this site to carry on without regard to proper oversight which he as well as his moderators will be held liable.

First, I have no idea what a “TC Message blog” is, but I’m pretty sure the writer meant the The True Crime Weblog Message Board, which in spite of its generic name really seems only devoted to discussion of the murder of Meredith Kercher. It’s also not a weblog at all, but a message board. The difference between a blog and a message board are pretty clear to anyone who has been using the Internet for a while. At least I thought so.

Second, the writer should have written “libelous” if they wanted to be clearly understood, not slanderous. That said, the very savvy admin of that board — I set it up and am still an administrator, but she handles the day-to-day, for which I am eternally grateful — Skeptical Bystander, is acutely aware of libelous language and what constitutes a libelous remark online, and she’s worked mighty hard to delete any posts that might be taken as libelous off that board. From what I’ve seen, she has succeeded. (I set the board up with the Kercher murder case in mind. I got really tired of open threads about it — you can’t “close” a Haloscan-hosted comment thread without hiding all the previous comments.)

Third, it’s rather pointless to try and be “Mr Anonymous” in a contact form submission if your IP address tracks back to this:

CustName: CHRIS MELLAS
Address: [Redacted] 108TH AVENUE NORTHEAST SUITE [Redacted]
City: BELLEVUE
StateProv: WA
PostalCode: 98004
Country: US
RegDate: 2005-11-30
Updated: 2005-11-30

Anonymous, vague threats just make you look sneaky, Mr. Mellas. If someone else sent that message without your knowledge, you should have a talk with them. If you or anyone else in Amanda Knox’s circle of family and friends are truly concerned about her plight (and I am sure you are), you might want to reconsider moves like that, in general. I think it’s loathsome that something like PR ever enters the equation in cases like this, but it does. Yammering, snarking, arguing, and threatening online is bad PR. The way that “anonymous” message was written in general was bad PR. I sure as hell would not want the IP address on something borderline incoherent like the message quoted above to track back to an ISP with my name on it.

Then again, I’m still flummoxed that people bother with online discussions at all, but I’m the blogger who generally doesn’t like blogs anymore and rarely takes them too seriously, so what do I know?

Here’s the funny thing about me calling out Mr. Mellas or one of his associates above: I haven’t been solidly plunked down in the “Amanda did it” camp for quite some time. When I wrote this article for Radar Magazine I wasn’t too sure about Amanda. By the time I was done with the article and the blog entries I wrote around the same time, I was pretty damned suspicious. The fact is, Amanda Knox does seem unbalanced, possibly mentally ill. Rudy Guede comes across as just plain nuts, and Sollecito, of the three, comes across as the most cold and calculating. But none of those things make them killers.

I believe the intense focus on the pretty college girl from Seattle has been unbalanced and overheated. It started with the British tabs and Italian papers going bananas over her made-for-a true-crime TV movie web persona: Foxy Knoxy, Amanda’s own screen name, self-chosen, was like a gift to the tabloid editors in London. Saved them the trouble of coming up with something similar on their own (and make no mistake — given time, they would have come up with something very close to that nickname). Amanda’s strange, over-written short stories in her blog dug the hole deeper, even though taken in context there’s nothing really that strange about them.

Basically, in the 8 months since Meredith Kercher was brutally murdered in her room in Perugia, all sense of direction in the media coverage of the case has been lost. Even a prominent newsmagazine I have worked with in the past did a piece about Knox that seemed heavily skewed in favor of the argument that Knox has been railroaded. The thing was, they made a pretty convincing case — enough for me to wonder.

So here’s where I stand: I have no idea what happened that night in Perugia. At the moment, I feel the possibilities are too many to list here. This is a reasonable question: has Amanda Knox been unfairly singled out in the coverage of this case? My answer is yes. Also reasonable: do the allegations of orgies, of sexual violence, play a role in the public interest in the Kercher murder? I certainly think so. To me, that automatically knocks all media coverage of the case off-balance. And it will never be balanced again (if that was even possible in the first place).

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating — I have no idea if I will write about this again. I don’t like the contentiousness that pops up in the comments (which is saying something, considering just how contentious comments can truly get on this blog in general), I don’t like the sneaky crap I detailed above. I’ll put it this way — I may not write more blog entries here about the still-mysterious and horrifying murder of Meredith Kercher. Frankly, it’s the kind of case that could consume both me and blog space — space I could devote to talking about other crimes of interest.

From here on out, I’ll consider doing paid writing about the case, but that will likely be it. I do admit I’d be interested in following events as they unfold if and when this goes to trial. “Circus” may be far too weak a word to describe that kind of media frenzy.

Comments are always welcome, but you can also just go register for the True Crime Weblog Message Board and post your thoughts, opinions, and ideas there — you have more room to format text and just pontificate in general, there.

And to Chris Mellas or his “friend” (quotes intended, since I don’t think any friend who would send such a note was actually doing Mellas a favor) — if you have a problem with any post on that message board, it’s really simple: send me a link, quote the offensive portion, and ask for it to be removed. If it meets the definition of libel, it will damn sure be gone. If any posters are repeat offenders, they will be banned. That goes for comments on this post as well.

Missing From Fort Bragg: 2nd Lieutenant Holley Lynn Wimunc

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The soldier currently missing from Fort Bragg has been identified as 2nd Lieutentant Holley Lynn Wimunc, age 24. Holley Wimunc was part of Charlie Company and assigned to Fort Bragg’s Womack Army Hospital. Wimunc vanished Thursday morning. Her apartment was burned; authorities have determined that the fire was set. Wimunc’s car was still in the complex parking lot.

She was known to be going through a divorce. Early Friday, Raleigh’s WRAL-TV reported that Wimunc had once filed papers with the court to protect her from her estranged husband, John Wimunc. On her Facebook account, accessible only to her friends, Wimunc had begun calling herself Holley James (presumably her maiden name).

Wimunc claimed that her Marine Corporal husband “held loaded 9mm to my head; choked me. Threw me around living room…” While her allegations certainly make her husband a good suspect, the Fayetteville Observer published an article that stated, in part:

Wimunc’s husband, Marine Cpl. John Wimunc, was questioned by police Thursday, according to a Marines spokesman.

Maj. Cliff W. Gilmore, spokesman for the 2nd Marine Division, said Cpl. Wimunc was released back to his battalion Thursday after the Marines made him available for interviews.

The Marine Corps is keeping tabs on Wimunc’s whereabouts, Gilmore said…

The Observer also reported that Holley Lynn Wimunc was educated in Iowa, at St. Ambrose University. She was in the Army Nurse Corps and had been at Fort Bragg for nearly a year.

There are some elements in this missing persons case that make it difficult to ignore any possible connection with the June, 2008 murder of Spc. Megan Lynn Touma:

  • Both Touma and Wimunc were in the Army, and both were medical specialists — Touma worked in dentistry.
  • Touma was from Kansas. Wimunc was from Lafayette, Louisiana, but was educated in Iowa — a tangential Midwest connection.
  • Holley Wimunc and Megan Touma shared the same middle name, Lynn.
  • Wimunc was just one year older than Touma.
  • Touma and Wimunc were in perilous situations where their personal lives were concerned. Megan Touma was divorced and pregnant by another man who was already in a relationship, and Holley Wimunc was estranged from husband John, whom she alleged to be abusive.

The map embedded below illustrates another interesting detail of the Wimunc disappearance — Google indicates just 1.4 miles between Cross Creek Mall and Wimunc’s apartment complex at 142 Wayah Creek Drive in Fayetteville.

View Larger Map

John Wimunc, based on the claims made by Holley when she filed for court-sanctioned protection, might be an excellent suspect in his wife’s disappearance. But he’s not in custody right now, simply under observation. That could show a lack of convincing, hard evidence pointing towards a domestic answer to the riddle of Holley Wimunc’s disappearance.

Does Fayetteville, North Carolina have a serial killer, after all?

If there is a calculating serial at work, targeting women of a certain age, appearance, and profession, did he send the mysterious, Zodiac-like letter to the Observer?

If he did, I expect another letter soon.

The Touma murder and Wimunc disappearance may only be connected by the singular motivation of men who think murder is the best way out of a relationship. A single serial killer would be easier to deal with, in a way — all the possibilities are focused in one phantom psycho. Take him off the street, and that particular deadly path is at an end. Domestic homicide, however, is a much larger problem, one as old as human relations. We can’t put it away and remove its power to wipe loved ones from the face of the Earth. A serial killer is, at the very least, a concrete answer to the huge question of why such things happen.

Violence between two people who once pledged their love to one another is far more widespread, and ultimately, a problem that seems to elude any easy answers.

Links:

Holley’s MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/hollister024. Not much there anymore, if there ever was. Her “About Me”: “Hey, i’m your all american girl. funny bitchy and crazy. I’m 24, in the army…and hoping to get deployed soon :)”

This post will be updated and revised as needed.

Something is Going On in Fayetteville, NC…

Something strange and disturbing may be afoot in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Either a killer who harkens back to Northern California and the late 60s is truly at work, or a number of men have decided now is the prime time to rid themselves of troublesome women. Both possibilities are pretty damned spooky, in their ways. WRAL in Raleigh is reporting today that a Fort Bragg-based female soldier is missing and her apartment was burned.

Spc. Megan Touma, the pregnant soldier found murdered in a Fayetteville motel on June 21, was associated with a medical specialty. The newly-missing soldier’s name and rank have not been released, but according to WRAL, “she was believed to be assigned to Womack Army Medical Center.”

The missing soldier didn’t show up for work on Wednesday, and members of her unit went to check on her. They discovered a burned-out apartment. The fire was determined to be arson. In fact, cops were already processing the scene when the apartment building was evacuated for fear a new fire might break out, perhaps from accelerants still on the scene.

This missing soldier was going through a divorce, and authorities are seeking her husband for questioning.

The immediate question that may come to mind if you’ve read about the Zodiac Killer-like letter that accompanied the murder of Megan Touma is whether or not this is perhaps a second salvo in a serial killer’s war on the public in general and young military women, in particular.

Logically, though, another possibility presents itself: another psychopathic male has been following events in the Touma case and found himself “inspired” to take a novel and homicidal approach to his own problems with a woman in his life, perhaps hoping that the drama surrounding the Touma investigation might serve to help cover his tracks.

At the moment, my money’s on the latter explanation for this new Fort Bragg female soldier in peril. If another letter arrives in the mailroom at the Fayetteville Observer, I may change my mind. I’ll update and revise this post as needed.

[Hat-tip to Mysteriew at Websleuths.com.]

The Ramseys Have Been Cleared. Now Shut the Hell Up About It.

I’m not a total idiot. The contingent of people on these here Internetz who believe John, Patsy, and Burke Ramsey conspired 12 years ago to rape, murder, and then conceal little JonBenet — for that is essentially what most Ramsey-haters seem to think, in a nutshell — is large, vocal, and relentless. They will try to shoot holes in any evidence that points away from John, Patsy, or Burke. They will do whatever they can to perpetuate their argument. In part, I’m convinced, this is because some people just freaking hate to be wrong.

Where the December 26, 1996 murder of JonBenet Ramsey is concerned, some people also just don’t want to believe what will eventually be revealed as the truth of the matter: someone slipped into the darkened Ramsey home and killed the little girl as the family slept in their beds. That’s a true American nightmare, and to accept that it could happen to the Ramseys is to accept that it could happen to anyone.

I made it clear some time ago that I believed the Ramseys were innocent. This was significant, for me. The boy who grew up poor in South Nashville tends to be suspicious and cynical about rich folks. My cynicism made me want to believe the overly made-up and histrionic mother was the agent of her child’s demise. My cynicism made me suspect the withdrawn and stone-faced father was perhaps a sub rosa molester, that perhaps the mother’s dysfunctional and unstable nature combined with his perversion to bring about their pretty little girl’s death.

Then I really looked at how the Ramseys lived before and after JonBenet. John Ramsey’s profile in the community, his success as a businessman. I examined Patsy’s successes as a young woman and beauty queen in her own right. I’m not a profiler or criminologist, but I truly believe that past behavior will predict future behavior — and in the Ramsey case, there was no known past behavior that might predict this child would end up dead in a basement. Police flew here to Roswell, GA, where I live, to interview past associates of the Ramseys. They went to Michigan, and of course they talked to anyone and everyone they could think of in Colorado. They did what cops do — they tried to build a story of the family prior to the child’s murder, and that story held no foreboding.

Were the Ramseys dysfunctional? Probably. A lot of people might say all families are dysfunctional. Was Patsy’s hobby of inserting JonBenet into pageants a little weird, to most outsiders? Hell, yes, it was weird. But not that kind of weird. If anything, it was, at worst, incautious. It probably didn’t really occur to Patsy at the time just how much the kiddie pageant milieu attracts pedophiles and weirdos. That alone said something about the woman — she probably had a very different, and much more positive view of humanity prior to December 26, 1996.

The Ramseys had problems like everyone else, they had issues like everyone else. If I had known Patsy or knew John in real life, I doubt I would like them, personally. But they did not kill JonBenet.

The Boulder County District Attorney’s Office has published a letter online detailing why the Ramsey family — John, Burke, and Patsy — are no longer suspects in the murder of JonBenet. From that letter:

In early August of 2007, District Attorney Lacy attended a Continuing Education Program in West Virginia sponsored by the National Institute of Justice on Forensic Biology and DNA. The presenters discussed successful outcomes from a new methodology described as “touch DNA.” One method for sampling for touch DNA is the “scraping method.” In this process, forensic scientists scrape a surface where there is no observable stain or other indication of possible DNA in an effort to recover for analysis any genetic material that might nonetheless be present. This methodology was not well known in this country until recently and is still used infrequently.

In October of 2007, we decided to pursue the possibility of submitting additional items from the JonBenet Ramsey homicide to be examined using this methodology.

The Boulder D.A. finally settled on using Bode Technology, located in Washington, DC, to perform the new tests.

The Bode Technology laboratory applied the “touch DNA” scraping method to both sides of the waist area of the long johns that JonBenet Ramsey was wearing over her underwear when her body was discovered. These sites were chosen because evidence supports the likelihood that the perpetrator removed and/or replaced the long johns, perhaps by handling them on the sides near the waist.

On March 24, 2008, Bode informed us that they had recovered and identified genetic material from both sides of the waist area of the long johns. The unknown male profile previously identified from the inside crotch area of the underwear matched the DNA recovered from the long johns at Bode.

Emphasis was added to the preceding quote.

The Boulder D. A. wasn’t done. Again, from the press release:

We consulted with a DNA expert from a different laboratory, who recommended additional investigation into the remote possibility that the DNA might have come from sources at the autopsy when this clothing was removed. Additional samples were obtained and then analyzed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to assist us in this effort. We received those results on June 27th of this year and are, as a result, confidant [sic] that this DNA did not come from innocent sources at the autopsy. As mentioned above, extensive DNA testing had previously excluded people connected to the family and to the investigation as possible innocent sources…

The DNA in question didn’t come from accidental contamination. It came from the killer. The District Attorney: “It is therefore the position of the Boulder District Attorney’s Office that this profile belongs to the perpetrator of the homicide.”

For the Ramseys, the most important paragraph of the letter was this one:

The Boulder District Attorney’s Office does not consider any member of the Ramsey family, including John, Patsy, or Burke Ramsey, as suspects in this case. We make this announcement now because we have recently obtained this new scientific evidence that adds significantly to the exculpatory value of the previous scientific evidence. We do so with full appreciation for the other evidence in this case…

One of the final grafs in the statement was just as significant. It began with this: “For reasons including those discussed above, we believe that justice dictates that the Ramseys be treated only as victims of this very serious crime.”

As I said, I know this won’t change the view of anyone who has been discussing this case online since 1996 — and make no mistake, Ramsey case threads probably marked the first truly widespread discussions of crime on the Web. Too many people have practically built a reputation on the argument that Patsy (and/or John, maybe Burke) did it. It won’t change those peoples’ minds, but it should.

It just affirms what I’ve thought for a while now, and been criticized for thinking. A stranger, or at the very least a non-family member crept into the Ramsey home the night of December 25/26, 1996. He probably had a plan of attack — hence the infamous ransom note. The goal may have been to molest JonBenet, but it may have actually been to kidnap the girl. Whatever it was, it didn’t work out the way the intruder planned.

JonBenet ended up dead in the cellar, and the killer ended up scot-free. The killer may have even escaped suspicion entirely at the time.

I’ve been asking this question for a while, so I’m asking it again: the parents didn’t do it; the brother didn’t do it; who did kill JonBenet?

Someone moved around that labrynthine house unseen. They were calm enough to write the fake ransom note — likely an indication of a psychopathic mind at work.

Has this person killed again? Has JonBenet’s real killer committed other crimes and been convicted of those?

If JonBenet’s murderer killed again, were the crimes similar in nature? Did he target other children, and was he still just as comfortable creepy-crawling through occupied homes?

I’ve wondered for a while if the State of Colorado has an unknown serial killer at work, one who has ranged from Denver, up to Boulder, and down to Colorado Springs. There are several unsolved crimes from that state’s recent history that are truly troubling and spooky. One example: The Bennetts. On January, 16, 1984, someone entered the home of Bruce and Debra Bennett in Aurora, CO, a suburb of Denver, and viciously murdered Bruce, Debra and their older daughter Melissa. Debra and Melissa were also raped during the commission of the crime. Vanessa Bennett, the youngest child, barely survived. My wife, Dana, was a kid living in Aurora at the time, and much like the Marcia Trimble case for me, the Bennett murders had a rather profound effect on her. It’s even crossed my mind — could the Bennett killer, 12 years older and not quite as motivated, have been in the Boulder area on Christmas night, 1996? Boulder is less than 40 miles from Aurora.

My reasons for asking if such a killer is at work in Colorado are purely intuitive at the moment. After all, I’d think that mystery DNA matches might have already indicated such a thing — DNA was how California found out a few years ago that the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker was at work across that state for a decade, between 1976 and 1986. But in that case, it was happenstance that a DNA tech made the connection. Maybe that moment of serendipity hasn’t come to Colorado, yet.

The Ramsey case is officially wide open, now. Chances are good that short of a precise DNA match, it will never be solved. If it is solved, though, I can guarantee one thing, at least — the killer will have some allies among those folks who refuse to ever let go of the idea that John, Patsy and Burke all conspired together in some manner to kill the Ramsey’s youngest child. And if he’s a good little psychopath, he’ll manipulate the hell out of such folks whenever he can to try and get away with it.

Hans Reiser Saves Himself From the Absolute Fiery Pit of Hell

Make no mistake about it: Hans Reiser is going to hell. I mean, if you believe in that sort of thing, then the one-time boy genius and innovator in super-duper special computer filing systems is definitely a prime candidate for the worst Satan and his imps can offer. But Reiser may have saved himself from the very worst depredations Lucifer can offer a calculating, malignant narcissist like him by helping authorities in Oakland, CA recover the body of Reiser’s murdered wife, Nina Reiser. 

The Russian-born beauty vanished in September, 2006. We now know that her then-estranged husband Hans killed her. According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, Reiser strangled his wife during a fight. After a good deal of wrangling, Reiser recently took a plea deal: second-degree murder, 15 years to life, as long as he cooperated with investigators.  

On Monday, Reiser led police to Nina’s 4×4 grave. From the Chronicle:

The remains that Reiser revealed Monday were found about 4 p.m. buried on the side of a steep hill off a deer trail between Redwood Regional Park and the Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve, less than 200 yards behind a house on Skyline Boulevard…

I didn’t follow the Reiser case all that closely because it took so long for things to happen. But if you clicked the link in Hans’s name in the first paragraph above, you know I did follow it. As much as anything, I was curious as to how a man as bright and successful as Reiser could do something as profoundly stupid as murder his wife. You’d think I’d learn. I’ve been reading true crime since the 70s, and writing about it since at least 2004. 

I mean, most people can understand great anger, to some degree. ‘Crimes of passion’ do occur, and our legal system even acknowledges this. But Reiser apparently put some thought into what he did, buying true crime books, concocting a back story, an alibi, and a barely-plausible explanation for Nina’s disappearance — he said she’d fled back home to Mother Russia.

This was a guy who was completely at home on the Internet, who fancied himself not just a groundbreaking programmer, but a writer, even a poet. Evil didn’t seem to be a big feature of his past behavior — prior to marriage, that is. 

The chances are good some of these seemingly positive qualities — the pretensions towards poetry, etc. — also reflected Reiser’s overweaning self-regard. There are vain people and then there are viciously narcissistic people, who can’t begin to grasp why they are not rulers of all they survey; I suspect Hans Reiser was one of the latter, since a fully psychopathic killer would have had some trouble really achieving some of the things Reiser was known for. People throw the word “narcissist” around a lot, use it to describe a wide variety of behaviors, but in this context it has a very clear meaning.

Other examples of the kind of narcissist I’m talking about might be Neil Entwistle, Scott Peterson, or Rabbi Fred Neulander. The conundrum of narcissists is this: most of them don’t kill, and to most who know them, they aren’t just nice people; they’re great people. Funny, charming, seductive, charismatic. A good number of famous people probably fit the narcissistic template to a T. It is only when a narcissist begins to lose that which is most important to them that things fall apart. That’s why so few celebrity meltdowns are big surprises. Those frequently come after a celebrity’s career has faltered, their star faded — what happens then is the components of the fuel most precious to a narcissist are gone — adoration, approval and love.

Hans Reiser’s marriage to a beautiful woman had failed, big time. He didn’t snap. I doubt there was anything impassioned about the murder, at all. He simply decided to exact a form of revenge, because no one was going to take what he saw as rightfully his — his children, his money, perhaps even some of his reputation. He would eliminate the problem, much as he might delete a line of code. Reiser was trying to debug his life, and get the narcissist’s operating system up and running again. In doing this, he revealed how such vanity makes idiots of everyone who gives into it — Reiser thought his background as a wunderkind primed him to go up against a police force. He probably thought he was smarter than every cop he ever spoke to.

Maybe he was, if it came to knowing the arcane ins and outs of the Linux operating system’s file structures. Reiser’s IQ was probably higher than any one cop’s, true. But one cop never puts the case away, in the real world. There might be a main actor, or the cop who gets a big break in a case, but in the end, Hans Reiser was actually up against the entire department. I once wrote that “Nina Reiser Couldn’t Win” because both the men in her life were all whacked-out in some way or another.

Fortunately, in the end, it was Hans Reiser who couldn’t win. He may have saved himself from perdition by giving those who loved Nina a chance to give her a proper burial, but still, one can only hope that if there is a hell and levels of horror therein, Hans Reiser still makes it to one of the levels where the flames do indeed burn hot, and eternally slow. 

Cabin 28: The Keddie Murders Movie

First things first: HAPPY 4th OF JULY, Y’ALL!

Okay, now that’s out of the way.

This blog receives a ton of hits from people searching for information about the Keddie Murders. Lately that’s been because there was a claim that the movie The Strangers was partly inspired by the massacre in Cabin 28, but I think that was a load of bullshit cooked up by some viral marketing idiot.

You can click this link to read the blog entries I’ve written about Keddie, but my stronger recommendation is for you to visit KeddieMurdersMovie.com and watch Josh Hancock’s documentary about this chilling unsolved crime. He’s posted it in 6 parts on this page.

I’ve embedded part 1 above to encourage reader interest, because part 1 hooked me right away, and I know a good deal of the story. This post will be short for now because I’m going back to watch the rest of it.

I’m already wondering why Hancock’s documentary hasn’t seen wider distribution — part 1 was professionally-rendered and compelling. The documentarian’s art is in letting the subject speak for itself. It’s clear to me just 7 minutes in that Josh Hancock knows how to do that.

I will update this post after I finish watching Cabin 28: The Keddie Murders.

UPDATE

Josh Hancock’s documentary is stripped-down, straightforward, and it hits home. Make no mistake — if your interest in true crime documentaries or anything else true crime-related is more towards the macabre, gory end of the spectrum, you will be disappointed by Cabin 28: The Keddie Murders. Actually, if you’re that sort of true crime fan (you should see some of the disgusting search strings that somehow bring people here), you can just get the hell off my blog right now.

I digress.

Anyone who appreciates a respectful, measured approach to telling such a terrifying story, a human approach, will be impressed by this documentary. I certainly was.

I truly hope more attention comes to Mr. Hancock’s work, as he managed to use minimal resources to create a full, living portrait of the people and the place impacted by this unsolved family murder. Bare-bones as it is, Cabin 28: The Keddie Murders still manages to leave the kind of lasting impression true-crime centric shows with massive budgets (48 Hours, Dateline) strive to make. Those shows go for broke with sonorous voice-overs, graphics and editing. Hancock’s cleverness is in his minimalist approach: simple, understated music and well-framed shots of key people in natural light. Sometimes, that’s all you need. The story then tells itself.

If the Keddie case is one of those unsolved mysteries that plagues you, this account will leave you truly unsettled, haunted, and perhaps a bit sad. Peaceful pine forests and remote, quiet mountain retreats will never look the same again.

One more plug for the site:

KeddieMurdersMovie.com.

See also:

http://www.youtube.com/user/keddiemurdersmovie.

UPDATE: Josh Hancock notes in the comments left on this entry that there’s a new website for this film:

http://www.keddiemurdersfilm.com/

Take a look, and watch the movie. Great work on the site(s) and the film, Josh.