Filed under: mass murder

Stanley Neace Was Particular About Eggs

Police rural Breathitt County, KY have a massacre on their hands. The AP reports it started over eggs.

Stanley Neace, age 47, killed 5 people today, then turned the gun on himself. A relative of two of Neace’s victims say everything began when a fight erupted between Neace and his wife over the way she was cooking eggs.

His wife fled to a nearby trailer. Neace followed, 12-gauge in hand. He shot his wife, stepdaughter and three others. Then he returned to his mobile home and took his own life. Neace allowed one potential victim to run away.

The rugged part of Kentucky where the murders occurred is no stranger to violence.

A search for past news about Stanley Neace revealed an odd coincidence. In 1941 another Stanley Neace from Hazard, KY, just up the road from Breathitt, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for murder. In that case the motive was revenge, not eggs.

[AP, see also]

John List Dead at 82

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:

7 Shot in West Palm Beach Wendy’s

WPTV in West Palm Beach, Florida and MSNBC are reporting that 7 people have been shot inside a Wendy’s Restaurant at 1366 Military Trail in West Palm. MSNBC has aired footage of victims being removed from the scene, and the cable news network has reported at least 2 fatalities. WPTV reports that 3 victims are in critical condition. One of the fatalities was said to be the gunman.

Local authorities told NBC News that the shooter walked and started firing at random. The shooter walked in and went to the restroom. He then came back out, turned his back to the counter, and began firing. The killer committed suicide when he was done. On its website, WPTV described the shooter as a “well dressed black male in his thirties.”

A later update to the WPTV story revised information about the well-dressed black male; he was actually a man in his sixties named Alburn Blake.

Blake’s name had been in the Palm Beach news before. In August of 1996, Blake was pulling his white Chevy van out of a parking space at his apartment complex when he accidentally ran over then 18-month-old Kiandra “Kiki” Garner.

Blake spoke to the Palm Beach Post about the accident: “I was just driving out to go to the barber shop very, very slowly… I know I felt the rear wheel run over something, but exactly what I don’t know.” Later Blake said, “I did not hit her intentionally.”

A late afternoon press conference revealed that a lieutentant with the West Palm Fire Dept was killed during the rampage. The still-unnamed Lt. had returned to the restaurant briefly to retrieve a toy for his child when the gunman opened fire.

This post will be updated and expanded as details become available.

Kirkwood, MO: City Council Meeting Massacre

A gunman named Charles Lee Thornton walked into a city council planning meeting in Kirkwood, Missouri tonight and opened fire. At least six people were dead by the time the shooting was done, as was the gunman.

Among the wounded taken to a local medical facility were two councilmen and Kirkwood Mayor Mike Swoboda.

Kirkwood police opened fire on Thornton, killing him.

Thornton apparently had a long-lived beef against the city of Kirkwood. He’d even once filed a restraining order against the city, which was denied.

In an article published just today, first amendment scholar David L. Hudson Jr. referenced an ongoing beef between Mr. Thornton and the council and related legal actions. Hudson wrote:

A federal judge in Missouri has rejected the First Amendment claims of a man removed from Kirkwood City Council meetings for “repetitive, personal, virulent attacks” against council members.

Charles Lee Thornton had sued the city of Kirkwood after he was arrested twice (and later convicted) for disorderly conduct at two council meetings in 2006.

Thornton spoke more than once at council meetings about what he felt was harassment from the city, ignoring whatever was on the agenda at the time. According to Hudson, Thornton once began his address to the council by saying, “Jackass, jackass, jackass…”

Kirkwood City Council minutes posted online from a meeting held in February of 2007 give a weirdly muted account of one of Mr. Thornton’s visits to the council chambers: “Cookie Thornton, 351 Attucks, delivered a subpoena and made remarks.”

A column from an August 29, 2003 edition of the Webster-Kirkwood Times provided another portrait of Thornton’s strange behavior:

Cookie Thornton refuses to obey certain laws out of a belief that they are discriminatory […] He shows up at each Kirkwood city council meeting and uses disruptive street theatre tactics to voice his displeasure. A lot of his anger is apparently directed at Ken Yost, the head of Kirkwood’s department of public works, whose job it is to enforce Kirkwood ordinances.

I don’t particularly like such stories. But I have to agree with the editors that persistent disruption of public meetings, violations of the law and threats of lawsuits make news…

Thornton would name Yost in an unsuccessful suit he filed in 2005.

Ken Yost was among those targeted by the man called “Cookie” at tonight’s fateful council meeting.

According to the archives of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Thornton even had minor political ambitions of his own at one point. A list of “Candidates seeking Mayoral seats, spots as trustees, aldermen,” and “council members” published on February 14, 1994 listed “Charles “Cookie” Thornton, 351 Attucks Street” as a candidate for one of the three seats then open on the Kirkwood City Council.

This entry will be updated.

Sources:

Hinterkaifeck

(The following was originally published under the same title at StevenHuff.net on September 23, 2007. I decided to post it here to have a truly fascinating and old-school unsolved crime as the top story on the blog while I’m on hiatus.)

Cäzilia plucks.

Weißt du, wieviel Sternlein stehen
(Do you know how many little stars there are)
An dem blauen Himmelszelt?
(In the wide blue sky?)

One tuft of hair, two tufts of hair.
Pluck. Sting, pain.
Grandfather to one side, mother on the other.
They are silent. They are still.

Weißt du, wieviel Mücklein spielen
(Do you know how many little flies play)
In der hellen Sommerglut?
(In the clear heat of Summer?)

Pluck. Sting, pain.

It is cold, the straw is sticky, and something warm is in her eyes.
She pulls her hair, it reminds her that she is alive.

Pluck. Sting…

Weißt du, wieviel Kinder frühe
Stehn aus ihren Bettchen auf,

(Do you know how many children,
Get up early from their bed,)

Daß sie ohne Sorg’ und Mühe
Fröhlich sind im Tageslauf?

(That they’re without worry and sorrow,
Happy all day long?)

Cäzilia dies.

*****

In 1922, World War I had already brought Germany to its knees. War would come again in 1939. The Nazis would scourge the pages of history with their crimes. Horrors such as the massacre at Hinterkaifeck would seem minimal by comparison.

But the deaths at Hinterkaifeck were not forgotten. The mystery was never truly solved.

German true crime fans still puzzle over Hinterkaifeck. English-speaking true crime fans who hear of it can’t help but want to know more. And there isn’t much out there in English about this particular mass murder.

Few true tales of murder are as strange or chilling as this one.

*****

Hinterkaifeck was the name of a little farm located in the forest, 43 miles or so north of Munich, not far from Ingolstadt.

Andreas Gruber, the 63-year-old owner, was not too well-known to his neighbors. An odd, taciturn man, he was not well-liked, either.

Living with Andreas at Hinterkaifeck were his 72-year-old wife, also named Cäzilia; his widowed daughter, Viktoria, age 35; the younger Cäzilia, Viktoria’s 7-year-old daughter; Viktoria’s young son Josef, age 2; and a servant, Maria Baumgartner, age 44.

On March 30, 1922, Maria Baumgartner was the newest resident of Hinterkaifeck. A servant named R. Kreszenz had quit the farm in 1921, claiming a “strained atmosphere.” Kreszenz even hinted that the farm might be haunted.

Strange things did seem to happen there. Equipment broke down. Crucial rings of keys went missing. At some point prior to March 30, old man Gruber found a newspaper in his house that wasn’t typically distributed in the area. The postman had no knowledge of the paper being delivered.

The day Maria Baumgartner arrived, Andreas Gruber noted something so odd that the usually retiring man told a few neighbors about it.

Gruber found tracks in the snow, leading from the forest to his house.

Gruber saw no evidence that the owner of the tracks ever returned from house to wood.

Strange as this was, Gruber apparently saw no need to tell the local authorities.

Four days after Gruber spoke of the tracks in the snow, some concerned citizens headed out to his farm. The young Cäzilia had been inexplicably absent from school.

There they found a scene from a nightmare.

Everyone, the 5 members of the Gruber family and Maria Baumgartner, had been hacked to death.

Autopsies were done in the barn, where Gruber, his daughter, wife and little Cäzilia were killed (possibly NSFW). Maria Baumgartner was murdered in her room. Josef was hacked to death in his bassinet (link is safe for viewing).

The murder weapon was determined to have been a Kreuzhacke, or pickaxe.

It may have taken little Cäzilia two hours to die as she lay on the straw, pulling out handfuls of her hair.

Dr. Johann Baptist Aumüller removed all the heads of the dead, as the worst damage had been done there. The 6 victims were buried headless.

The skulls were ultimately lost during confusion and chaos at the end of World War II.

The following year, the farm was torn down. Today all that remains is a field and a monument reminding any passers-by of the crime.

*****

The local police were overtaxed at the time, but they worked hard to solve the murders at Hinterkaifeck. Still, hysterical residents near the farm tried to take matters into their own hands, hunting for wild-eyed tramps, starting for some time at every rustle in the forest. Any stranger on the road was considered suspicious.

Police established a reward, and questioned some solid suspects. No arrests were ever made.

One logical suspect was the man who was listed on little Josef’s birth certificate as his father, a nearby farmer named Lorenz. Viktoria, who was said to be beautiful, had been briefly involved with the man.

The motive? Josef was believed by most familiar with the Grubers to be Andreas’s child.

In 1919, both Andreas Gruber and his daughter Viktoria were imprisoned for the crime of incest. After all, the old man had publicly declared after his son-in-law’s death in the trenches during World War I that his daughter didn’t need another man — she had him.

Other suspects included Viktoria’s husband, Karl Gabriel. He’d supposedly been killed in France, but his corpse was never found. The theory was that Gabriel had found out about the incest and committed the murders in revenge. Police even attempted to find some trace of Karl Gabriel in the French Foreign Legion.

The investigators into the massacre did, over time, come to some concrete conclusions about the killer or killers of the Grubers and Ms. Baumgartner. These conclusions only added to the eerie aura that has always enveloped this crime.

The killer(s) of the Grubers did not intend to rob the family. The Grubers had money — a good deal of cash was found in the farmhouse. It was untouched.

The killer(s) stalked the family. There was some evidence of someone hiding out in the attic of the house, in addition to Andreas Gruber’s haunting report of a one-way set of tracks leading from forest to dwelling.

A truly strange determination was made about events immediately following the murders. As six people lay dead or dying in the barn and in the farmhouse, the killers ate a meal. Then they fed the cattle.

*****

Some sources say that the last investigations into the murders at Hinterkaifeck took place in 1986.

However, an article was published in several U.S. papers in June of 1955 indicating that the authorities in Germany had closed the case.

MUNICH, Germany, June 13. The state prosecutor has closed the records without a conviction on one of the most gruesome crimes in Bavarian history — the pick-ax slaying of six persons 33 years ago.

One of two suspected slayers is dead. The other cannot be brought to trial under the German statute of limitations…

In 1941, in the middle of World War II, a woman made a deathbed confession to a priest. She said that her two brothers committed the murders at Hinterkaifeck. A Bavarian-based newspaper published a story about this admission in 1952, but it gave no source.

The priest was questioned, but he only confirmed the names of the brothers, nothing more.

One brother had died in France in 1944. In the early ’50s the remaining brother was an elderly man living on a pension. He spent several weeks in custody, but his story as to what had transpired that night in 1922 changed each time he told it. He was released without charge.

Motive? Again, it was allegedly the incestuous relationship between Viktoria and her father. The 1955 English language article stated that one of the brothers had been enraged by this, and his rage drove him to kill the family.

In 1978, author Peter Leuschner published (in German) a book about Hinterkaifeck.

In his book, Leuschner apparently mentioned a man named Friedrich Haarmann, a criminal who certainly had it in him to kill 6 people.

Haarmann became known to history as Fritz Haarmann, a truly vampire-like serial killer who terrorized Hanover (5 hours from Ingolstadt) in the early 1920s.

But Haarmann tended to kill a very specific type of victim, and none of the victims at Hinterkaifeck fit the bill. Fritz Haarmann killed male prostitutes and vagrants. He apparently got a sexual thrill from drinking the blood from his victims’ throats. It was even alleged that Haarmann (he was dubbed “The Butcher of Hanover”) made some of his victims into sausages that he sold on the black market.

While Haarmann’s preferred victims were young, good-looking men, he was nothing if not a versatile criminal. He cheated other criminals, informed on them to the police, and generally did what the most complete psychopaths usually do — anything evil that comes to mind.

Something about the idea that Haarmann might have killed the Grubers and Maria Baumgartner just doesn’t make much sense.

Then again, nothing about such crimes ever makes much sense.

*****

Ultimately, Hinterkaifeck is one of those crimes that will remain unsolved and maintain its mystery and ability to chill as a result. It is the stuff of horror films, after all. The scene could have been scripted by Poe. Many reports indicated that it was storming the night of the murders. Theories of the crime state that those killed outside were lured by the sound of an untethered farm animal, perhaps a cow with a bell on its neck.

Taken in with the evidence of someone stalking the family, possibly peering down on them from the attic, and you have a scenario that may never lose its power to raise gooseflesh.

And then there is the coda to the murders. A little girl laying on a gory bed of straw between two dead bodies, snatching out clumps of her hair as she bleeds to death. The power inherent in the story of this particular long-unsolved multiple murder may be there, in that imagined swing of little Cäzilia’s hand through the dark.

Pluck. Sting, pain.

Such a detail conducts a chill from the the skin into the bones.

The bones, where memories of evil so often abide.

Sources not otherwise linked:

http://www.geocities.com/hinterkaifeck/;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinterkaifeck;
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/6865/hi.html;
http://www.newspaperarchive.com/;
http://www.mamalisa.com/?t=es&p=454&c=38 ;
The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers, by Michael Newton;
As is stated in the English Wikipedia article, there does appear to be a new movie about the murders currently in production (link goes to German-language site).

Two Church-related Shootings in Colorado **UPDATED**

(The following entry has been cross-posted to blog.myspace.com/truecrimeweblog.)

(SUBSTANTIAL UPDATES MADE ON 12/11/07. SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM OF THE ENTRY.)

(UPDATE MADE 12/12/07 WITH NEW INFO, LINKS.)

Early Sunday morning a bearded, bespectacled young man started shooting in a missionary training center in Arvada, Colorado. The twenty-something white male wounded two staffers at the Youth with a Mission center and killed two others. The victims in Arvada (a suburb of Denver) were 26-year-old Tiffany Johnson, a young woman from Minnesota, and Phillip Crouse [Crouse’s private MySpace profile], age 23, from Alaska.

One of the victims in the incident in Arvada was said to still be in critical but stable condition.

Police said that the gunman had tried to gain admittance to the center earlier in the evening and was denied. He may have returned later and opened fire.

He was described as wearing dark clothing, a jacket and a skull cap of some sort.

This blogger just posted an entry yesterday about the work being done at the YWAM training center. The young people staying there were gearing up for a mission trip to Argentina. A friend left a comment for the blogger today. In reference to the shooting, the friend wrote, “[We] are with you in prayer as you deal with the loss of Tiffany and Phillip, injuries to Dan and Charles, and the feelings of terror you must have felt in those moments…”

Several hours after the attack on the Youth with a Mission facility, shots were fired again, in Colorado Springs, CO, an hour and a half south of Denver.

This time the target was the New Life Church, former home of infamous fallen pastor Ted Haggard.

Gunfire broke out at New Life around 1:30 p.m. Mountain Time.

As many as four victims were shot outside the New Life Church. Authorities reporting from the scene say there may be two gunmen in Colorado Springs. Fox News has also reported that police are searching for a car loaded with bombs. CNN has said that one suspect in Colorado Springs is now in custody. New Life Church is on lockdown.

Witnesses described at least one gunman as a young male wearing all black and carrying what appeared to be an assault rifle.

Fox News anchors have repeatedly pointed out that if these shootings targeted faith-related facilities on purpose, they could be hate crimes under Colorado statutes.

365Gay.com, however, has noted that both Youth with a Mission and New Life could be considered “anti-gay.” Before becoming enmeshed in his own gay scandal, New Life founding pastor Ted Haggard had been an “outspoken critic of homosexuality.” According to 365Gay.com, Youth with a Mission “has been involved with the so-called ex-gay movement. It was one of a number of conservative Christian youth groups brought together by Exodus International, said to be the largest “ex-gay” organization in the country.”

No one knows yet if the shootings in Arvada were related to the incident in Colorado Springs.

UPDATE, 7:38 p.m. ET

The AFP is reporting a chilling quote from El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa on the shootings at New Life Church in Colorado Springs:

Maketa told AFP there was “one gunman down” and “four deceased, possibly one wounded” in the incident but said the toll was “preliminary.”

There are reports that an armed security guard at New Life may have killed a gunman there. The number of gunmen involved in the second shooting is still unclear.

UPDATE, 12/10/07 7:24 a.m. ET

(Note: I’m still not feeling well. Some readers know that I have MS. It has been well under control for most of the last year or so, but a relapse began last week and has carried over into this week. This wouldn’t usually affect blogging or writing, but this relapse has brought with it some balance problems, and I can only look at a computer screen for so long before the dizziness and vertigo make it hard to do. I bring this up only to make it clear as to why there hasn’t been more active blogging on this story in particular.)

Arvada police chief Don Wick has told reporters that the shootings in Denver and Colorado Springs may be related, after all.

The Denver Post published an address now under investigation in Englewood, Colorado. The address was sneakily inserted in a photo caption:

A Centennial Sheriff officer makes a phone call as nvestigators enter and leave a home at 10929 E. Berry Pl. (visible in background) in Englewood. (Glenn Asakawa, The Denver Post)

According to Arapahoe County, CO property records, the 4-bedroom, 2-story home at that address is owned by a family named Murray. The male owner has the same name as a neurologist who has done studies of multiple sclerosis with the Colorado Multiple Sclerosis Center, which is located in Englewood.

Police may have already confiscated two vehicles from the property.

The overall death toll in the Colorado church shootings is up to 5 — 4 victims and the gunman himself. He was reportedly dispatched by a female security guard at the New Life Church after he’d opened fire in the parking lot.

I feared there would be another mass shooting somewhere in the U.S. after the Westroads Mall murder spree committed by Robert Hawkins on December 5. I still worry that before Christmas is over, we may see more.

UPDATE, 11:24 a.m. ET

The Associated Press has reported that the victims of the New Life Church shooting spree were sisters Stephanie and Rachel Works, ages 18 and 16, respectively. Also injured was a David Works, age 51, the girls’ father.

UPDATE, 1:44 p.m. ET

The gunman was 24-year-old Matthew Murray, of Englewood, Colorado, according to multiple sources, including MSNBC.

With a name as common as that, I wish the websleuths out there luck in tracking Mr. Murray online. I don’t have the energy to do it myself, today.

I’m just as curious about Jeanne Assam, a volunteer security worker at New Life Church, who took Mr. Murray down with her own weapon. She is a true hero.

UPDATE, 12/11/07, 7:26 a.m. ET

Posting as “nghtmrchld26,” Matthew Murray hashed out his experience as a homeschooler as well as his loathing of evangelical Christians at a message board for ex-pentecostals.

According to multiple sources, including Fox News, Murray made a threatening post the night he began his rampage that duplicated in some respects words written by one of the Columbine killers, Eric Harris. The post has been either removed or made private due to the investigation into Murray’s actions last Sunday, but other messages by the church shooter were still available Tuesday morning.

Murray wrote at length about what he claimed was his experience with Youth With a Mission in Denver. The following was posted on May 8, 2007:

I did my DTS at YWAM Denver and Dale Lambert was my DTS school leader. I witnessed all kinds of insanity. Men would be making out with other men in the hallways, listening to all kinds of “metal music”(non-christian), smoke pot with each other while off base, there were rumors of sexual activity, both hetero and homosexual.

Not that any of those things are bad…but…….
Why was I told that I couldn’t be a missionary because I wasn’t “social enough”? I was told that I was “an introvert.”

Murray continued:

The fact is, in YWAM, and christianity, it’s all about the Beautiful People. No, it’s not just “one group of bad christians” but rather….almost every group of christians except for a few open minded non-evangelical churches. If you’re an extrovert, and popular, then yes, there is plenty of love waiting for you in christianity. If you ask questions and want to understand things and/or desire a real and deep spirituality, or if you’re just not popular…well…….you are considered as one of the horrible people and are either going to be abused or kicked out by “holy spirit love filled” christians. it’s all about……
the Beautiful People……..

On December 1, 2007, Murray made a post titled, “Insane things we went through in Christian homeschool.” Murray wrote:

I remember the beatings and the fighting and yelling and insane rules and all the Bill Gothard bull**** and then trancing out…sh**……I’m still tranced out. I remember how it was like every day was Mission Impossible trying to keep the rules or not get caught and just….survive every single f***ing day. My mother’s a f***ing psycho too, her and her whole church and christian family.

Of course people will say the usual fake answers “just stop being this way and be happy from now on…” “we don’t have the time and the energy to give a s*** about you…” “you’re not the only one who has it bad” “I had it a lot worse than you and I’m happy and doing great” “you’re not popular you know…no one likes you very much”

Murray’s words grew ominous:

I’m not getting any younger and it’s time for the abuse to stop. Just because I’m not one of the “Beautiful People,” just because other people don’t understand or because I’m not “popular” does not mean I need to take any more s*** from anyone…

Like many antisocial personalities, Murray seemed to have a vast reserve of self-pity. This was expressed in lyrics he posted to the forum. One was published on August 5, 2007. He didn’t say directly that he was the author. Murray posted other poems or lyrics in the thread that were actually from an album by the “melodic funeral doom band from Finland,” Shape of Despair. Elsewhere he cribbed from American death metal rockers Deicide. nghtmrchld26’s August post read, in part:

Crying all alone
The tears flowing down my face in a beautiful stream
The lovely misery and lonely darkness surrounding me
As I see everyone going on with their meaningless vain fake lives
All the posers and wannabes
All the abusers

Crying all alone
Cutting myself
High off the pain and darkness
Seeing so many fakers hating me
So many of my friends who have abandoned me
So many spiritual pretenders who failed to help me.
I���m your nightmares come true
You think you can punish me but you fail to see
That I���ve lived through a thousand nightmares
And all your worst Christian fears are coming true…

And so on. Further down the same message thread, “nghtmrchld26” posted another message, this one dated Oct. 1. Like much of his writing on the board, the content of the post is chilling, referencing depression, pain and hatred. The following part of that message was eerie because it reflected his ongoing hatred of YWAM:

This is also the downward spiral here….no one has any real answers, only lame answers and fear of what me and my friends grew up in, and fear of the depressing aftermath.
On the positive side, that fact that we’ve survived this long means we’re a LOT stronger than most people, especially these lamers who are terrified of my poetry. We’re stronger than these pentecostal Youth With A Mission assholes who said “you can’t be writing down your feelings, especially not about depression.” We’ve proven that we’re a lot stronger than these sick bastards in the charismatic and pentecostal movement.

Welcome to the Nightmare

The message signature read, “You can’t kill me because I’m already inside you.”

Perhaps one of the strangest posts by nghtmrchld26 was made on September 7, 2007. The post title was “Prophetic Child.” The message in its entirety:

Since I was at least age 6 my mother and her church friends have always told me about how my birth was “foretold.” They say that while I was still in my mother’s womb a “prophet” told my mother that I was to be, quote, “a prophet to the nations” and something along the lines of the next Billy Graham/Peter Wagner.
They said that the following verses applied to me:
Mat. 12.18 and Ezk. 36:26-28

Basically, they believe that I am their “chosen one” for “the end times” and according to the Ezekial passage they believe that I am going to go back to their church/system.

The problem right now is the fact that it appears that they are always going to pursue me throughout life(and they have said so), as I am supposedly the “chosen one.” As far as I can tell they did not treat the other youth the same way.

Well, I don’t want to be their “chosen one” at all. I just wish I could find some way to wake up from this nightmare.

Murray’s words were accepted without question or criticism due to the nature of the forum — most members seeming to feel that they were going through a kind of recovery. There were some replies that might be interpreted as sarcastic, but Murray didn’t seem to catch the sarcasm. Later in the “Prophetic Child” thread, Murray elaborated on his “chosen one” story:

In this prophecy, they also believe that it was “prophesied” that I would rebel, but then RETURN to their church and that’s helping to drive me crazy.

They will always be targeting me,hoping and praying I’ll come back, waiting for some weakness(financial, health, or otherwise) so they can move in and re-convert me. Sometimes I fear I’ll end up going back. Sometimes the depression gets so dark, and trying to live in the “real unsheltered world” gets so hard I start to think about returning back to what is at least “familiar,” into a system I at least know how to behave and live in. I know there is a way out of this nightmare

It’s just so f***ed up that this is the whole reason I was born.
The virgins are feeling cheated and there is an exit here,
Don’t say it isn’t it’s true……

I went to God just to see………

His words at the end of that Nov. 4 message indicated some sort of belief in the “prophecy,” even though he’d first seemed skeptical.

Posting song lyrics by death metal bands as if they were his own words, using emoticons to indicate “crying” on certain messages… it’s hard to believe he wasn’t just a psycho gaming even other “ex-pentecostals.”

It was in a thread improbably titled “Cabbage Patch Dolls” that Matthew Murray left a message where he mentioned both Ted Haggard — the founding pastor of the New Life Church — and Youth With a Mission (YWAM). A quote from Murray’s post, made June 16, 2007, with emphasis added:

Harry Potter was considered to be “the new age satanist training manual for children that witches are trying to use in these end-times to promote satanism”

Interesting that Methamphetamine use and pedophilia were never on any of those lists……(maybe that’s how Ted Haggard and other un-named christians excuse their various christian activities?)

I’ve since realized that these things were all based on fear and that the REAL evil and abuse was/is to be found in these pentecostal dominionist churches and authoritarian groups such as Youth With A Mission.

So, as far back as June of this year, Matthew Murray was alluding in an online message board post to the exact groups he ended up targeting on December 9, 2007. How long was his plan in place, after all?

UPDATE, 1:49 p.m. ET

A reader has pointed out via email that Matthew Murray may have posted on a separate forum entirely under the screen name, “Chrstnghtmr.” (Link takes you to a site-specific search of the screen name.)

“Chrstnghtmr’s” posts at IndependentSpirits.net were identical in tone and similar in content to the messages published on the ex-Pentecostal forum by nghtmrchld26.

Read what this person said two days after Robert Hawkins’s December 5 shooting spree at the Westroads Mall in Omaha, NE (scroll to the bottom of the page linked):

Sounds like one of the Nobodies became a Somebody…sure he’s still hated by everyone, that is obvious, but at least now he’s a somebody…..and he’s left a world that didn’t give a sh** about him to begin with…

If Chrstnghtmr was indeed Matthew Murray, it appears he was most immediately inspired by Hawkins’s spree. This is not a surprise, as these types of mass shootings sometimes seem to come in clusters.

Chrstnghtmr’s last post was apparently made in the early a.m. December 9. In his message he referenced Ricky Rodriguez, an ex-cult member who went on a more personally-directed killing spree in 2005, taking out people he’d known personally in a sexually-abusive cult called “The Family.”

Before quoting at length from a video left behind by Rodriguez, Chrstnghtmr wrote the following:

This kid went through abuse in christianity just like me and my friends…..he was even intended to be their next “prophet”…just my church said to me…….that I was going to be a “prophet to the nations” for their christianity
We’ll have to see how accurate their prophecy really is

If Matthew Murray was posting from both the nghtmrchld26 and Chrstnghtmr screen names, he was probably referencing what nghtmrchld26 had said was his mother’s prophecy for him — an ex-pentecostal forum quote found in the previous blog update above. Murray claimed that part of that prophecy was that he’d return to the church after rejecting it.

I strongly believe both posters were Matthew Murray. Others do, as well, including one who chose a chilling screen name to use when leaving messages of mourning for Murray on the IndependentSpirits forum: Chrstnghtmr2.

UPDATE, 9:53 p.m. ET

A discussion is already occurring in the comments left on this post about a MySpace found by a commentator using only the initial “A.”

The profile and blog attached to it reads like a rubric for every post found online by a screen name associated with Matthew Murray. The last login was December 8, the last blog post was made that day. The profile’s headline reads, “You raised me up in your christian hell…..who’s mistake am I anyways?”

It appears, though, to be owned by a 23-year-old woman using the name “Sarah.”

A 23-year-old woman from Englewood, CO.

Many posts in the MySpace blog are identical to posts left by both nghtmrchild26 and chrstnghtmr at two message boards, posts quoted in previous updates. The same death metal song lyrics are quoted without attribution to the actual source.

Truly telling is the “About Me.” Quoted in its entirety, with emphasis:

Abused and tormented by christians for many years growing up in christianity. Christians, if you want to preach/witness to me, please keep in mind: I know all the apologetics stuff, all the evangelism and pentecostal stuff. I was forced to memorize bible verses 5 days a week growing up 11 years in christian homeschool. I was involved with and taught the ideas of C. Peter Wagner, Mike Bickle, Bill Gothard, and many others. I went to all kinds of fundamentalist/pentecostal/evangelical bible studies, conferences, prayer meetings, and even a missionary school/ministry called Youth With A Mission Denver. Of course, LOTS of hypocrisy and NO REAL love to be found at YWAM Denver. I know the bible better than most christian pastors. Oh, and I’ve already been baptised, received “the baptism of the holy spirit”, spoke in tongues and all those other games christians love to play. I’ve lived the christian life, did all the faith stuff, confessions of faith, the baptism stuff, the prayer stuff, and all the rule stuff. If I’m not changed, well, it aint my fault. I did my part of the deal. Christians thought they could get away with abusing me and others, they thought the Truth and Light would never be found out. They were wrong. Even though many christians have tried to oppress and control the lives of many, even though many christians serving darkness have tried to carry on their fascist agenda of bigotry, intolerance, tyranny, and hatred, the Light ever shines, even in the darkness though the darkness comprehendeth it not. The Light is available for all who have eyes to see. Read our blog for more

I believe this MySpace profile was a sock puppet for Matthew Murray. Why he used a young woman’s photo and name is anyone’s guess, though his MySpace groups might be a hint — one was for “ALL REAL LESBIANS & BISEXUALS & BEATIFUL (sic) GIRLS.”

Seems like the sort of group that might appeal to an immature, withdrawn young man like Murray.

The link for the profile, which is, incidentally, also named “Chrstnnghtmr”:

http://www.myspace.com/69684771.

UPDATE, 12/12/07, 8:26 a.m. ET

In an article noting that the ex-Pentecostal forum owners warned the FBI about Matthew Murray’s violent posts on Sunday, Dec. 9, a new possible screen name for Murray was revealed: “DyingChild-65.” (It was actually “dyingchild_65” — note the underscore.)

This is significant because I believe it provides another link back to the Chrstnghtmr persona he may have also created. Both the poster on the IndependentSpirits.net forum, and the female MySpace profile owner, who called herself “Sarah” and used the same screen name, adding only an “n” — Chrstnnghtmr. The reason why the connection seems solid is simple — the profile for Chrstnghtmr at IndependentSpirits, which can only be viewed by registered users, contained the Yahoo e-mail handle Chrstnghtmr_65.

There is a certain consistency here that is compelling, even in the simple addition of an underscore and a number to a screen name. There is a ton of repetition on the Web, but people still make unique and easily identifiable choices, too. That Murray was said to have spent countless hours online only makes it more believable that he’d have a complex and widespread presence on the Web.

As usual, the multiple contributors to the article mentioning “DyingChild_65” screwed up not only the formatting of the screen name (on the Web, the difference between a dash and an underscore is important), but their understanding of where this alleged Matthew Murray nick could be found online — the posts he made were to the oldest public part of the Internet, the Usenet. Specifically:

http://groups.google.com/group/alt.suicide.holiday/.

This is the post that DyingChild_65 left on Sunday, December 9, at 9:33 a.m. MST. The message was titled, “Christian America…..this is YOUR Columbine.” The message read:

I am DyingChild_65
[. . .]
I was raised in the the teachings of C. Peter Wagner, Bill Gothard,
Charismatic and Pentecostal movements and all that other bullshit.
Homeschooled for about 11-12 years. I was a staff member of Kings Kids
Denver, Ronny Morris is the director there. I was also put through a
YWAM Denver “DTS” school….both those places rejected me and wouldn’t
let me be a missionary because…….I was “too shy”(translation:not
popular enough, a Nobody)
Me I’ve heard all the sermons on salvation and shit…I’ve looked
everywhere for spiritual truth….all I found in christianity was
hate, abuse(sexual, physical, psychological, and emotional),
hypocrisy, and lies….I’m just one of the Noodies who just wants to
be loved and accepted somewhere……I just want to be one of the
somebodies

Like Cho, Eric Harris, Ricky Rodriguez and others, I’m going out to
make a stand for the weak and the defensless… this is for all those
young people still caught in the Nightmare of Christianity…for all
those people who’ve been abused and mistreated and taken advantage of
by this evil sick religion….Christian America….this is YOUR
Columbine

DyingChild_65 also left another message half an hour later. He appeared to quote Eric Harris at length as he’d done in the messages removed from the ex-Pentecostal forum. The post was titled, “You Christians brought this on yourselves.

The message read, in part:

I’m coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the fucking teeth
and I WILL shoot to kill. ….God, I can’t wait till I can kill you
people. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame, I don’t care if I live or
die in the shoot-out. All I want to do is kill and injure as many of
you … as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the
problems in the world…

Additional alt.suicide.holiday posts by DyingChild_65:

YOUR Christian Nightmare,” posted 12/09/07 at 9:33 a.m.

Disturbing quote in which the writer may have even forecast his death later in the day:

By now it’s over. If you are reading this my
mission is complete. I have finished
revolutionizing the neo-euphoric infliction
of my internal terror. Your children who
have ridiculed me, who have chosen not to
accept me, who have treated me like I am not
worth their time are dead. THEY ARE FUCKING
DEAD. Surely you will try to blame it on the
clothes I wear, the music I listen to, or
the way I choose to present myself- but no.
Do not hide behind my choices. You need to
face the fact that this comes as a result of
YOUR CHOICES. Parents, pastors, christians, YOU
FUCKED UP. You have taught these kids to be
gears and sheep. To think and act like those
who came before them, to not accept what is
different. YOU ARE IN THE WRONG. I may have
taken their lives and my own- but it was
your doing. Teachers, Parents, LET THIS
MASSACARE BE ON YOUR SHOULDERS UNTIL THE DAY
YOU DIE. Am I insane? Maybe. Is it my fault?
No. I did not choose this life, but I have
indeed chosen to exit it. You may think the
horror ends with the bullet in my head- but
you wouldn’t be so lucky.

*********************

We are the Nobodies,” posted 12/09/07 at 9:49 a.m. MST.

Disturbing quote in which the writer reveals he was the inadequate, antisocial loser we’ve all assumed he was since Sunday:

So many people don’t have any clue about The Nightmare we’ve grown up
in. I mean, it’s not my fault I was raised in homeschool for 12
f***ing years and that I’m not able to “socialize normally.” How am I
supposed to socialize and make new friends when I’m always left out of
everything, and always made to be the outcast? I’m nice, I’m
considerate, a lot of people tell me I’m intelligent and kind….so
why the f*** must everyone think they have some right to abuse and
reject me?

I hate you people for leaving me out of so many fun things. Never
inviting me to all your fun parties, never inviting me to hang out.
And no, don’t say, ‘Well, that’s your fault’ because it isn’t. You
people had my phone number, and I asked and all, but no no no no no
don’t let the weird kid come along, oooh f***ing nooo

Right now I’m trying to get laid and to finish up some sh**. Why the
F**k can’t I get any? I mean, I’m nice and considerate and all that
s***, but nooooo…. it’s not my fault I was sheltered my whole life
and wasn’t given a f***inkg clue about sex and dating…

*********************

This post will be updated and revised.

Links, Sources:

LINK TO HALOSCAN COMMENTS, for reference. Please use the new commenting system otherwise.

Mall Shooting in Omaha, Nebraska *UPDATED*

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.

Two Mass Shootings, 2000 Miles…

PHILADELPHIA

Four people were found dead in a Philadelphia office this evening.

A fifth person was said to be wounded and in the hospital.

The AP reported that a gunman shot four people before turning the gun on himself. All this took place at a location close to the old Philadelphia Navy Yard. A 911 call came into Philly police around 8:30 p.m. Gunfire had been heard in Building 79 of the Philadelphia Naval Business Center.

Some reports indicate that the gunman engaged police before committing suicide.

The AP also quoted a Philadelphia police official who stated that the shooter “appeared to get upset at a board of directors meeting for a company that may have been an investment firm…”

CNN has reported on their website that the shootings took place at ZigZag Net. The website associated with that business name indicates that ZigZag Net specialized in “Creative and Strategic Marketing, Web and Interactive and Web Application Development…”

Updates will follow.

PHILLY UPDATE, 2/13/07

The names of the deceased in the office shootings in Philadelphia have been released:

  • Mark Norris, 46, of Piles Grove, N.J.; president and CEO of Zigzag Net, the building’s primary occupant.
  • Robert Norris, 41, of Newark, Del., vice president of business development for Watson International, the company having the meeting.
  • James Reif, 42, of Endicott, N.Y. and a high school friend of Robert Norris

source: Philadelphia Inquirer.

The killer was identified today as Vincent Dortch, 44, of Newark, Delaware.

SALT LAKE CITY

A very reliable source in Utah writes to me about the mass shooting that has taken place in a mall in Salt Lake City tonight: “Random, one end of the mall to the other… Mall is a 1 square block redone trolley barn/rail station (…) directly in downtown… White Male, early 20s, random shooting, officers cornered him in a clothing store and killed him… He was wearing a black trench coat… carrying a shotgun…”

My source in Utah also was not yet clear on the number of fatalities at the Trolley Square Mall. MSNBC and the Associated Press report:

The man entered the mall about 6:45 p.m. and began shooting randomly…

(…)

An antique-store owner, Barrett Dodds, 29, said he saw a man in a trench coat exchanging gunfire with a police officer outside a card store. The gunman was backed into a children’s clothing store.

“I saw the cops go in the store. I saw the shooter go down,” said Dodds, who watched from the second floor…

There may be as many as 5 fatalities in the Mall shooting, my source is guessing fewer, at the moment.

That the gunman wore a trenchcoat might have more to do with concealing a weapon than making a statement… but at the moment, no one knows.

A strange coincidence where these mass shootings in two cities on different sides of the U.S. are concerned is the fact that they actually took place within minutes of one another. Salt Lake City is on Mountain Time, Philadelphia on Eastern. The Philadelphia shootings were called in at 8:30 p.m., ET — just 15 minutes later, at 6:45 MT, the trenchcoated shooter opened fire at Trolley Square, over 2000 miles away.

Updates will follow.

Also see Bonnie’s Blog of Crime.

SALT LAKE UPDATE, 2/13/07

When I asked my source in Salt Lake if it was possible that the shooter at Trolley Square was a devotee of the Columbine Killers (and yes, those do exist — just read Trench Reynolds’s site to see what I mean), the response was elliptical — I was told the killer at Trolley Square “didn’t fit that mold.”

In a press conference held in SLC about an hour ago, I realized what my friend meant; it was revealed in the presser that the shooter was a Bosnian refugee living in Salt Lake, 18-year-old Solejman Talovic. At the moment, that’s almost all anyone knows, including Salt Lake City law enforcement.

Talovic apparently got out of his car and simply started shooting everyone he saw.

The victims, according to the Salt Lake Tribune:

  • Jeffrey Walker, 52;
  • Vanessa Quinn, 29;
  • Teresa Ellis, 29;
  • Brad Frantz, 24;
  • Kirsten Hinkley, 15.

I added links in names where I could find something relevant.

I was 16 in 1984 when a terrible massacre in San Ysidro, California hit the news. A soulless bastard named James Huberty went “hunting humans” on July 18 that year. He found his prey in a McDonalds in San Ysidro, and by the time a police sniper took Huberty down, he’d killed 21 and wounded 19.

Perhaps I was mildly insane when I was 16, but for several years after the mass murder in San Ysidro, across the country from where I lived in Nashville, I refused to go inside any fast-food restaurant for a sit-down meal. I’m not kidding. I made exceptions, but one place was never an option — McDonald’s. I’d go through the driver-through any time. But you couldn’t have dragged me inside a Mickey D’s after I’d sat glued to the awful news from California.

I won’t be that way about malls, now. I’ve outgrown a lot of the strange anxieties and paranoias I had as a kid. But I can’t say for sure that the next time I enter a mall that I won’t at least think of Trolley Square.

(NOTE: In a skim of the major cable networks looking for something about either story above, I saw nothing but wall-to-wall Anna Nicole. And I apologize to my friends in the msm, but that’s just wrong. Any other time these stories would merit major national news cut-ins. Astonishing. For another crime news story that actually matters, but you haven’t heard about, check out the Crime Scene Blog, and Stephen McCaskill’s comprehensive post about the NorCal Rapist.)