From Huff’s Crime Blog: Rachel, Neil and Lillian

Briton Neil Entwistle, age 29, will soon be on trial for the January 20, 2006 murders of his wife Rachel and their baby girl, Lillian. I’ll be commenting regularly on the trial for a Boston-area publication (actually, the news outlet in question is in Framingham). More on that later this week.

I’ve decided to re-post some of the original Huff’s Crime Blog entries about the case here. Some links will be broken. Where ever possible, I have used the Wayback Machine to reproduce those links.

I also wrote about the case for Court TV’s (now TruTV) CrimeLibrary.com.

“Rachel, Neil and Lillian” was first published on January 23, 2006. The original can be read here. I wince a little now when I read some of the things I wrote 2 years ago, so I’ve done some minimal editing. Please note that the entry you are about to read was originally written when very little was known about the Entwistles. It wasn’t even public knowledge at the time that Neil Entwistle was from the UK. He was in the wind and could have even been dead.

*****

The Boston Herald reported the following on January 23, 2006:

Police are looking for the husband as a “person of interest” in the murders of his wife and infant daughter, according to Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley.

Rachel Entwistle, 27, and her daughter, 9-month-old Lillian, were found dead in their rental home at 6 Cubs Path Sunday at 6:30 p.m. after police responded for a well-being check.

Relatives went to the home Saturday for a planned dinner party but no one answered the door. On Sunday, relatives called police (…)

…[A]s the bodies were being moved, police discovered the wounds from what is believed to be a single small-caliber bullet that passed through both the mother and daughter’s torsos, according to Coakley (…)

Coakley said Rachael’s husband, Neil, also 27, has been traveling since Friday. She said police have some leads as to where he may be.

Relatives had last spoken to Rachel on Thursday.

The family had lived in the house for just 10 days on a short-term lease.

Coakley said Neil Entwistle was an unemployed computer worker who had moved to Hopkinton looking for work with a local tech company. He had several interviews planned.

Neighbors said they had not yet met the couple, who had been married since 2003…

In photos, the Entwistles are a handsome, approachable pair. Both of them, Neil and Rachel, have winning smiles, and Lillian is cherubic.

The Entwistles had a family webpage, the address is here — http://www.rachelandneil.org/. Lillian Entwistle’s page can be found here — Lillian Rose Entwistle.

I found the story of Rachel and Lillian being found murdered in their newly-rented home, when it was only a couple of hours old, in terms of public awareness. Even as I write this, there could have been developments in the story.

It would appear that one or both the Entwistles were British nationals, or at the least lived in the UK. From the page about their wedding day, in 2003:

Wedding in America:

Priscilla and Joseph Matterazzo request the honour of your presence at the marriage of

Rachel Elizabeth Souza and Neil Entwistle

On Sunday August tenth two-thousand and three at five o’clock in the evening, Second Parish Church of Plymouth, Manomet, Massachusetts.

Reception to follow the ceremony at Plimoth Plantation, Gainsborough Hall.

England Reeption:

Novemeber 1st, 2003…

Photos of Neil and Rachel can be found on this page — Mediterranean Cruise, Christmas, 2004. There you will find photos of the couple looking happy and rested. Rachel is petite and slightly round, Neil appears to be tall and fit. Neither of them seem to have a worry in the world.

The following quote from the Entwistle’s homepage emphasized my own impression that one or both of them were British:

The three of us are doing well and are looking forward to the coming holiday season. The Baptism was wonderful and Lilly looked perfect. She even managed to recite the Lord’s Prayer with us.

Lillian is now crawling with confidence. She’s enjoying three meals a day of her Mummy’s homecooked food and is already eating a variety of finger foods.

Enjoy the newest photos from Lillian’s Baptism and the build up to Christmas. Be in touch….we love hearing from you! Love, the happy family…

Neil Entwistle’s computer acumen shows in the webpages if you visit that site — they are all elegantly designed and easy to navigate. In the Firefox web browser, if you right-click while on the page and select “page info,” you will see that the page was either created or last edited on Christmas Eve, 2005.

The Entwistles had a guestbook for their tastefully-rendered webpages. There are notes there like the following, from “Mum and Dad” Entwistle:

Hello darlings, the wedding was elegant. Neil you were the perfect gentleman. Rachel you were stunning. We are very proud of you both. We love you from mum and dad…

The first question is always, ‘how could such a thing happen?’

Even though Neil Entwistle is a “person of interest,” that in and of itself does not mean he actually murdered his wife and child — it could simply mean they were found dead on the scene and he was nowhere around — and the police are interested in making sure he is still alive and not in danger himself.

This story is still developing, and will be updated as needed on the bottom of this blog entry…

UPDATE, 11:07 p.m., 1/23/06

A reader pointed out new comments found in the guestbook at rachelandneil.org. These comments have obviously been made since the news of Rachel and Lillian Entwistle’s deaths came out:

NEIL, YOU COWARD, EITHER OFF YOURSELF OR TURN YOUR [Sorry Ass] IN AND FACE UP TO WHAT YOU’VE DONE. WHY BRING A LIFE INTO THIS WORLD JUST TO TAKE IT AWAY? WHY, “DADDY?”

I found the comment striking because it showed me that perhaps one person seemed to accept rather quickly the idea that Neil Entwistle should be the person of interest in this case. There are later comments that are more even-handed, not seeking to assume anything yet. Then again, this person may not know the Entwistles at all, and simply be assuming because the police are seeking Entwistle that he is the culprit.

Though Neil Entwistle’s career was said to be in computers, so far his footprints on the Web are few, and what is to be found doesn’t tell much. There are postings to discussion groups about coding, javascript, etc. There is an interesting post in a discussion group named scam.com. Both Dan Riehl and I discovered this, and I don’t know about Dan, but I’m not sure what to make of it. The first post, made on January 18, 2005, asks others if they think this URL is scamming people — www.millionmaker.co.uk. The link will take you to an archive.org file for the site, as it appears to no longer be online. Someone posting to scam.com did a whois on the domain and here is the information their search returned:

Domain Name:
millionmaker.co.uk

Registrant:
Neil Entwistle

Registrant’s Address:
Friar Street
Office 270 79
Worcester
WR1 2NT
GB

Registrant’s Agent:
Schlund + Partner AG [Tag = SCHLUND]
URL: http://registrar.schlund.info

The reason this site is interesting is because of the possibility that it is scamming people, and also because of the kind of opportunity it offers. From millionmaker.co.uk:

We are offering you the opportunity to make this dream a reality by tapping into the multi-billion dollar adult internet business.

With MillionMaker you can be sure your investment will pay off, and best of all, there’s no waiting years for your return on investment (ROI). We will show you, step-by step, how to successfully promote your adult internet business and generate at least $6000 per month, within the first six months…

So far, mainstream media reports indicate that Neil Entwistle and his wife and child were living in a $2700 a month rental home and that Entwistle may be driving a BMW. Though Rachel Entwistle was a teacher in the U.K., she was not yet employed here in the states.

Neil had an eBay profile (big thanks to Kathy for that find!) and the only item one can easily determine he bought recently was a high-end Sony/Ericsson mobile phone. He appears to have bought items in the past users there who are “no longer registered,” with names like femuk02 and webbsthelenscouk, but there could be no significance to Neil Entwistle’s eBay purchases at all. Additionally, the Neil Entwistle who registered the millionmaker.co.uk domain name could be a different man, entirely. The registry agent is the same for Entwistle’s known domains, however it is a very large agent. The Entwistle who registered rachelandneil.org has different contact info from the registrant for millionmaker.co.uk.

But if it was the same Entwistle, and it was a scam that had made him enough money to come to the U.S., could the site now being offline indicate that Entwistle’s scam was known to either authorities in Britain or the United States? When police seem to believe a man like Neil Entwistle could have murdered his wife and child in cold blood, does the possibility that he was living a kind of double-life enter the picture? On a messageboard discussion I began about this case, someone quickly made the observation that Rachel Entwistle’s pleasant smile made them think of Laci Peterson. My first response to that was sarcasm, since the Peterson case seems to come up any time a young mother disappears, or is murdered, but then it hit me that there could be a kind of pattern, one embodied in the Peterson case, at work here. A handsome and intelligent man, one who can ably attract smart and good-looking women, who himself is never really the same person twice when he looks in the mirror. A man who has learned to mask the inner void with charm, until one day the rage subsumes everything — that, or the vanity. When Christian Longo killed his wife and children in the Pacific Northwest a few years back, it was a case of a smooth-talking, highly presentable young man letting his usually well-concealed psychopathic self make one decision too many. Longo had a history of seemingly minor crime. The factor in Longo’s criminal history that never changed was that his crimes were always for his own gain, and his remorse was never sincere. His killing his family wasn’t that strange if one considered that he’d always tried to do things to make his own life easiest and most pleasant of all, and if that ultimately meant getting rid of the wife and kids, permanently, then to a psychopath like Longo that was a no-brainer. A handsome psychopath, whose legitimate talent in the business world was sales. John Emil List, who murdered his family in the early 70s and then was on the run for almost 3 decades — not the glad-handing narcissist that Christian Longo seemed, but still, a man who reduced everyone else in the world to abstractions, problems to be dealt with. List erased his family from the balance sheet like the accountant he was.

If Neil Entwistle is not dead somewhere himself, I suspect he will prove to be some combination of the men above, with his own wrinkles born of apparently being a native Briton thrown in the mix. Perhaps, given the legendary emotional restraint the British are so often teased about, the cultural wrinkle may prove to be a talent for hiding his antisocial side, his antisocial actions. If Entwistle is the person who killed Rachel and little Lillian, I would be surprised if he does not also prove to be the webmaster for millionmaker.co.uk, and surprised if that site does not somehow figure into the back story here.

The Lost Girl, by Larkin Vonalt

(True Crime Weblog contributor Larkin Vonalt is a writer living in Ohio.)

The woman is screaming into the television camera. There are words coming out of her mouth, but all you really hear is rage. Rage, and despair. The pain is writ so large upon her face that even at a distance one cannot help turning away out of respect. The camera pans from the shattered woman back to a twenty-something television reporter. The reporter smiles, embarrassed, and with a tilt of her head, brightly offers her reprise to the night’s top story.

Hours before, Tammy Walker trod the hallways of the city morgue, her own green mile, to identify the body of her daughter. Seventy-seven days earlier she and her husband filed a missing person report for Heather Nicole Walker, age 18. The police, by their own admission, never looked for her. Heather’s family and friends ran off flyers of the missing girl, posting them everywhere they could think of. Now it was all for nothing. When they’d turned out the lights the night before, there had still been hope, dangling on a string. There was still a chance that Heather would come banging through the door of the house on Gummer Street. Today, with the rising of the sun, that string snapped.

This evening Tammy Walker has returned to the alley where her daughter was found in a trashcan. Surely screaming can be the only reasonable response.

Dayton, Ohio is a city of 157,000 people. The crime rate falls somewhere between that of Baton Rouge and Rochester, though violent crime in Dayton is significantly less than both those cities. Last year the Chief of Police was pleased to tell the media that Dayton had enjoyed its second straight year of diminishing crime.

In the days following the discovery of Heather Walker’s body, the police defended their lack of action.

“Many adults go missing throughout the year,” Sgt. Chris Williams told the Dayton Daily News. He added that “very few” turn out to be victims of foul play. They offer this information without apology. They are just cogs in a slowly grinding machine, one with no capacity to look for the needle in a haystack that is a girl lost in the streets.

Heather wasn’t the high school valedictorian. She wasn’t an accomplished coed at a prestigious university. When the media speaks of her they don’t use words like “gifted” or “promising” or “popular.” As if death wasn’t insult enough, they drop labels on her like stones: Troubled. Habitual. Runaway.

Heather’s parents had reported her missing six times before. This time Robert and Tammy Walker were emphatic with the police: she had not taken her cell phone, or her wallet. In the past she had always called to let them know she was okay. Not this time. It didn’t matter that Heather’s absence was more sinister this February than on past occasions. She had passed that magic age, 18 — you can’t buy a beer, but you can be tried as an adult, serve your country and be liable for your own debts.

And the police won’t look for you anymore.

Mary McCarty, a Dayton Daily News columnist, chastised the police in a May 1 editorial for arbitrarily dismissing reports for missing individuals over 18, citing her own son, a 19-year old High School senior, as evidence of how childlike we still can be at that tender age, suggesting that the “cutoff” might be a little later. McCarty quoted Kettering, Ohio Police Sgt. Craig Moore as he deftly sidestepped the issue: “That’s a societal thing; we’re simply following state law as it is written,” Moore said. “That would be a change for the state of Ohio to make.”

Early on, the Walkers’ coltish daughter had seized the privileges usually reserved for adults, and did not bridle easily to the very adult responsibilities of raising her young son. She began running away when she was pregnant. After Devin was born, this problem reached epic proportions . The sixth time the police brought Heather home, just over a year ago, she left again ten minutes later. There would not be a seventh time.

Though suburbanites fear the predominantly black west side of Dayton, these blocks — east of Keowee, north of US 35 — these are really Dayton’s mean streets. But like the natives of South Boston and the Bronx, the residents of East Dayton take pride in their gritty neighborhood, wearing survival like a badge of honor.

The largely white area is plagued with vandalism, theft, prostitution, homelessness, drug abuse and murder. Kids there ape black culture, posing on their MySpace pages and in YouTube videos with rolls of cash, guns, and bottles of Jagermeister. They imitate the speech, the dress, the swagger of the ‘hood. It would be funny if it wasn’t so deadly. They’ve got the rims, the grills, they throw the signs, pose for photos at the gravesites of their friends.

It isn’t just Heather they mourn. Andy Rush died Easter Sunday last year, accidentally shot in the head by his best friend, Tommy. His “Moms” died just a few days before that, of cancer. Younger brother Mikey eulogizes all of them on his My Space profile. A few days ago there was a reference there to Heather, he called her his “future wife;” but to look at the profile now you’d never know they were friends. A guy’s got pressures, you know.

Heather wasn’t much of a diarist; she started four or five MySpace pages, but was never a regular presence there. Even so, the media noted that those pages were “laced with obscenities.” On both the pages that she got off the ground, she fusses about Devin’s father, Justin James Holbrook. “And for those bitches who want my baby daddy, go ahead and have him. He may look good to you and everything, but the thing is he has nothing to offer you, he don’t even have anything to offer his own son.”

On one of Heather’s abandoned profiles, Justin commented “hey if u ever get on here n check ur shit delete me from ur friends cause i dont want u to know nething bout wat i do so do me a favor n delete me k.” Their son, Devin, was about three months old then, and Heather was out the door as often as not.

The pictures on Heather’s profile finally provide a real glimpse of the girl behind the pose. Heather, laughing. Heather scowling, and yes, Heather (and a friend) stacking gang signs. Heather vibrant, her arms bare and smooth, a curtain of shiny hair, a wide, wide grin, goofing for the camera. Heather alive.

As a juvenile, Heather Walker had brushes with the law; shoplifting a pair of shoes, joyriding in a stolen car. The details were carefully spelled out in the local newspaper days after her body was discovered. There is no record for her as an adult. She dropped out of Belmont High, but four out of every ten students there don’t make it to graduation. On “academic watch,” the Dayton public high school features a “computer technology theme,” but has no school website. Ninety-three percent of its students are considered “economically disadvantaged.”

On Wednesday, February 6, Heather is thought to have been on her way to a birthday party for her older brother, Rob. She is seen about 7:30 in the parking lot of Sam’s Market, a down-at-the-heels corner grocery on East Third Street, two miles from home, three blocks from where her body will be found. By Saturday morning, she has still not come home and her parents turn to the police. The police follow procedure as for any missing adult, other than those considered “endangered.” They issue a 72-hour alert, and when it expires, they forget about her.

Eleven weeks later, on a warm April morning, three passersby wend their way down an alley half a block off East Third. One of them spots a pair of shoes hanging out of a city-issued trash bin. Deciding to take the shoes, they cross thirty feet from the alley to the edge of the abandoned building where the green plastic can rests. Reaching for the shoes, they make a horrible discovery. The shoes are still on Heather’s feet.

Heather’s friends bring balloons to the site. Balloons, and stuffed toys. Letters, poems, photographs of their lost friend. It is raining, the notes run, the photos smear, the candles flicker. In the rain, in an alley in a gin-soaked neighborhood, her friends weep, stunned with grief. A photograph of Devin visiting Heather’s shrine shows a beautiful and bewildered little boy.

Heather’s father has mapped his grief upon his chest, an image of Heather; peaceful, contemplative, is newly tattooed there. Two dozen of his Mixed Martial Arts students file past, their heads bowed. Bushi Combat, where he teaches, honors Heather on their website. All that combat training, and no one to save her. Robert Walker does not rage into the television camera as his wife does, but it is clear that the death of his baby girl has broken him.

The coroner issues a statement that Heather Nicole Walker had been dead “for a while,” yet her parents identify her in the hours immediately following her discovery. While her father concedes there was decomposition, he ventures that “her head hadn’t been bashed in or anything.” It’s unlikely Heather spent eleven weeks in the trash can, as the mild Ohio spring would have rendered her to state that no one would ask a parent to contemplate.

On the box that houses her ashes, the date of death is March 1, 2008; an estimate arrived at with the help of the medical examiner.

Where was Heather for the 23 nights between February 6 and March 1? Was she captive? Was she frightened? Was she cold?

No cause or manner of death has been established. There were no signs of trauma on her body. She was not stabbed or shot or strangled. There was no blunt force trauma. Determining asphyxiation after a certain point of decomposition is very difficult. Life isn’t like CSI: lab tests take weeks, sometimes longer, to complete. Sometimes the answers never come.

As if rushing to pre-empt the media’s speculation, Robert Walker muses to a Dayton Daily News reporter that his daughter might have died of a drug overdose. Without the toxicology reports, the Montgomery County Coroner is not willing to make that leap yet.

The Coroner’s office director Ken Betz told the paper that he “cannot support that, because pathologists have not officially determined when and how Heather Walker died.”

If the cause of death is revealed in the toxicology report, it may well put an end to any homicide investigation. Without evidence of having been dosed against her will, the best the D.A. can offer her parents in that circumstance is the possible charge of “abuse of a corpse.” That is, if they ever find anyone to charge.

Drug overdose or not, no one is buying that Heather climbed into a trashcan on her own. Why would someone go to such lengths to conceal an accidental death? Or was their means of disposing of the body some kind of cruel joke? Though the house near the site is empty, the grass is mowed. Heather’s father said he talked to the people who had cut the grass just a few weeks before his daughter’s body was found. “They said that trash can was not there when they mowed,” he told the Dayton paper. “Someone killed Heather. I am staying on this.”

Heather Walker: daughter, mother, sister, friend. Not just lost, but stolen.

*****

Heather’s June 2007 MySpace Profile

http://www.myspace.com/188737285

Heather’s October 2007 MySpace Profile

http://www.myspace.com/265791001

Heather’s Memorial MySpace Profile

http://www.myspace.com/374370762

Mikey Rush’s MySpace Profile

http://www.myspace.com/184211666

Justin Holbrook’s MySpace Profile

http://www.myspace.com/112129717

Bushi Combat Site

http://www.bushicombat.com/

anarchy for beginners: blog by a suicidal pedophile… with a twist *UPDATED*

Is anarchy for beginners another stunt, like 90 Day Jane, or is Jocelyn for real?

On the “about” page, anarchy blogger Jocelyn writes:

I’m 24, work in book publishing, and live with one cat in an overpriced studio, in a nice neighborhood in Brooklyn full of hipster delights. My name isn’t really Jocelyn, but it’ll have to do. I have to conceal my identity, because – though you’d never guess from looking at me – I’m a pedophile.

The point of this blog is that I’ve planned to commit suicide soon. October 16th, 2008. I’m going to chronicle my last 150 days here…

She goes on to list her reasons for what she’s doing. One reason? Jocelyn thinks “it would be a meaningful gesture to exploit the crassness of the 90-day-jane project, which itself exploited the seriousness of suicide.”

Jocelyn says she’s never molested a child. In an entry posted May 15 she explained the nature of her pedophilia: “… by age 14 and even younger, what turned my head, what spurred extended daydreams, what made me swoon – was nothing normal. Only young girls. Age seven, at the low end, and maybe 12 at the top. That’s who populated my erotic dreams.”

Jocelyn went on to write, “For ten years I’ve known for sure that I’m evil, and I hate it. And, anyway, now you know why I want to kill myself.”

Jocelyn’s voice as a writer is self-assured. She’s comfortable with words, expresses herself well. Publishing seems to be a perfectly plausible business for her to be in, considering how cleanly she writes.

But there’s an arc to her blog posts already — a completely intentional, writerly approach to unfolding a narrative that makes me suspicious.

Frankly, I have to wonder if someone has once again taken to the Web to flesh out their idea for a novel.

There are female pedophiles, and there are female molesters. If they happen to be teachers, we end up hearing about them, especially if they like young boys. The concept of a female pedophile is not nearly as exotic as it once was.

There are also bloggers who like to work on ideas for fiction in blog form first, before braving the printed page. After all, if you develop an audience for a fictionalized blog, then you may just have an audience for a book. It’s market testing.

I’ve posted about this odd and disturbing blog here because it touches on a typical true crime subject — pedophilia. But I’m not remotely convinced that anarchy for beginners is real. I feel it is yet another project designed to exploit the Internet Hate Machine, perhaps an “artistic” attempt to make others examine their behavior towards that which they don’t understand, may even revile. I’m convinced that this sort of thing never really works on the Internet.

What do you think?

(BTW — the blog is safe for work.)

UPDATE

Yeah, there’s definitely some b.s. going on here. This scanned image of Miley Cyrus from a Disney magazine is hosted by AnarchyForBeginners.com. However, it is embedded in this page, at DoubleHack.com. And check out this cached page from AnarchyForBeginners.com, recorded by Google on May 10.

I’m now certain that this is just another 90 Day Jane type hoax. (I was already 99% sure, now I’m 100%.)

A lot of people who own more than one domain will embed images loaded on one server into blog posts under a different domain. I’ve embedded images hosted at StevenHuff.net or TrueCrimeMagazine.com in posts here. Not unusual at all.

Somehow, anarchy is actually a little more creepy now.

Downtime

I didn’t intend to put this blog on a brief hiatus, but it kind of happened anyway. I’ve been dealing with a health issue (nothing I can’t handle) and it’s made it difficult for me to do paying work or just plain, everyday blogging.

I have been updating my tumblelogs:

Tumblelogs (also called tumblogs, even tlogs — how you pronounce the last one is a mystery to me) look like a relatively new thing, but they really harken back to what blogging was like when barely anyone even knew what a weblog was — no sidebars, no long-form, magazine-style articles. Just links, brief comments, etc. Matt Drudge has never liked the term blog, but his site is a great example of what blogs once looked like. (I’m surprised I’ve been on the Web long enough to know this. Weird.)

Think of this blog as music composed on staff paper, crafted by hand at the piano, and the tumblelogs as improvisations, riffing. Tumblelogs don’t even have to have comment sections. I chose to add commenting to the Crime Tumblelog, but for the moment I’m leaving it off the RandomLunaticNews log — not too many readers, and they can just e-mail me if they have something to say.

Tumblelogs are ridiculously easy to use, and that’s another reason I’ve been updating those sites — I can do it quickly. I can update from my phone and pretty much as I surf the Web. I’ve just about made the Random Lunatic tlog my main personal, non-crime blog, but I won’t do that with the Crime Tumblelog.

I’ve been able to develop new ideas with the tumblelog format, which has been pleasing, because I’ve had some days recently when I felt like my brain wasn’t working all that well. If you check out the archives of the Crime Tumblelog, you’ll see what I mean — I did a whole series of riffs on mugshots last month. It may have been silly, but I enjoyed the heck out of it. At least one post here on The True Crime Weblog was first created on the Crime Tumblelog. Then I realized it was better suited to this site — I deleted the Tumblelog entry and re-posted it here. I may do that a lot, so if you want to get some idea as to my editorial process, check both.

The pace should pick up here shortly. I’m not considering any changes to this blog’s appearance, but I must admit I’m growing frustrated with the Haloscan commenting system. This is very difficult to deal with, because reader feedback on comment functionality means a lot, and I am fully aware that many readers love Haloscan. It is much more stable than it used to be (I first tried Haloscan years ago, and it was pretty terrible) and very straightforward.

It isn’t half as good as the commenting system that comes bundled with WordPress, though, and that’s caused me some headaches. I hate trolling, and on some blog entries, I get a ton of it. If I continue to get a lot of trolling, I may have to institute a new commenting system that gives me much more control over who can and cannot leave a comment on a post.

I didn’t intend to write this much, so let me just say again that the posting frequency will go back up in the coming days. Thank you, as always, for reading and participating.

The Murder of Ira Yarmolenko

[A version of the following was first posted to the True Crime Tumblelog. I decided it was more appropriate to this site.]

UNC Charlotte student Irina “Ira” Yarmolenko has been found murdered in Mt. Holly, NC. The pretty 20-year-old student’s body lay beside the Catawba River, her vehicle close by. The Ukrainian-born Yarmolenko had lived most of her life in the U.S. She was a writer, poet, and photographer.

Readers of Dreamin’ Demon have turned up Ira Yarmolenko’s online journal:

http://a-new-pen.greatestjournal.com/;

Her photobucket account: CtrlCopy;

and her Facebook: Ira_Yarmolenko.

I found what may have been Yarmolenko’s running profile at FavoriteRun.com.

Death has no sense of fair play. And it is perhaps wrong that we take notice sometimes of a particular death if it is violent, if the victim was young, and beautiful.

If I get a glimpse of what the victim was like in life it sometimes stings, no matter how objective I’m supposed to be. That brief vision lodges in my head, unsettling me.

Ira Yarmolenko was unique. Of course I didn’t know her, but I feel certain she was special. In a blog entry posted on 8/17/2006, Yarmolenko wrote the following — the passage supports my feeling that a bright spark has been extinguished:

this is me swimming in de nile. this is me being hyrogliphic (sic). this is me, trying a balancing act of trying to figure out what to do for the rest of my life, and how not to complain, and how to get excelent grades, and how to keep my family intact. it is not my job, of course, but someone has got to do it. this is me thinking about how to be someone worthy of my own respect…

Authorities say Yarmolenko was asphyxiated. The investigation is ongoing.

This post will be updated and revised.

[Big hat-tip to Morbid, Imp, etc. at DD.]

DC Madam: Let’s Just Cut the Crap, Shall We?

Deborah Jeane Palfrey probably had every intention of killing herself. She may have actively planned her exit from at least April 15 onwards. In an earlier post I noted arguments for Palfrey having been murdered, and attempted to remain neutral. I can no longer do so.

There is a concerted effort afoot to re-cast Palfrey’s death as a homicide. I wouldn’t normally bother addressing this, but even a site as high-profile as the Huffington Post has given it some play, which is a bad sign. This conspiracy theory is going — has probably gone — viral.

On April 30, 2007, I wrote about the DC Madam scandal for the site then known as CrimeBlog.US. I titled my post, “D.C. Madam Madness: Just say, Anal sex!

I noted some reasons why Palfrey seemed less than truthful when she said through her lawyer that her escort service, Pamela Martin & Associates, was an “adult sexual fantasy [service] which stayed within legality, much like going to a strip club.”

For Palfrey, it seemed a crucial argument to make — she had no knowledge of sexual activities between her employees and their clients. If it happened, she contended, it was between the customer and the escort.

When she was convicted of racketeering and money laundering last month, Jeane Palfrey officially lost her argument. But in my post made in April, 2007, I cited easily-found statements on the Web, statements made years ago, that clearly described the nature of Palfrey’s business from a customer’s point of view:

Please don’t ask Ms. Julia [Palfrey’s pseudonym when booking appointments by phone — Ed.] if she has anyone who speaks Greek. Some of them do, and you just have to ask them when they are with you! Funny thing, if you use the terminology “Greek”, most of them don’t know what you are talking about. Just say: “Anal sex”. I am sorry the one I used to see which offered Greek, is no longer there. And, some of the Ladies are there only for a short time (few months!).

Message board posts from dudes calling themselves “Capt. Fred” were not used in court. They were interesting, though, because Jeane Palfrey began to paint herself as some sort of martyr soon after the government shut her down, maintaining a pained and studied pose of complete innocence at all times. It was a pretty hard act to buy when it looked as though the nature of her business was an open secret to the guys reading USASexGuide.info 5 years ago.

After this story first broke, Palfrey worked to re-direct attention back to the men who partook of the services she offered. This made sense — prostitutes aren’t prostitutes unless they have customers, and it’s illegal to purchase sexual favors in many states — but it was self-defeating; if Jeane Palfrey’s services were legal, as she insisted, then why would anyone care about the numbers found in her “42 pounds of customer phone records?” Such information might be valuable gossip, of course — but it wouldn’t always end a politician’s career.

Of course Pamela Martin & Associates was a high-class call girl service. Yes, the service had some high-profile customers. Jeane Palfrey was inadvertently admitting this by making her phone records an issue in the first place. She may have believed that some names behind that list of numbers would come forward and defend her, say, ‘of course it was on the up-and-up’ — even though such a notion would run contrary to the typical behavior of most politicians.

Given that Palfrey was running an escort service aimed at DC power players, another question comes to mind. Were any of those power players motivated enough to kill her?

Palfrey made the 42 lbs of phone records available more than a year ago. Ever since the day DCPhoneList.com went live, reporters and bloggers have been eagerly plugging every possible combination of numbers they could find into the thing. At one point I found a list of politicians’ phone numbers on a Usenet post made in 1995 or 1996 and systematically entered each one into the site — I had no significant results at all. I can’t recall a story since April, 2007 about another blockbuster phone number in Palfrey’s phone records. There have been hints and allegations about politicians as prominent as current VP Dick Cheney, but no one has produced conclusive proof.

Politicians in the U.S. don’t usually have someone covertly killed over rumors that can’t be substantiated through hard evidence. If they did, a lot of political bloggers and a goodly number of print and broadcast journalists would be dead right now.

Considering how high profile the DC Madam story was in the Spring of 2007, the fact that Palfrey’s conviction in April this year was a page 2 item at best in most papers made one thing clear — the story didn’t really have legs anymore. Jeane Palfrey’s phone records have yet to really yield a killer set of digits. In the grand scheme of things in Washington, she was a minor, faceless player at best, without much to offer the news outlets that initially seized her story with gusto.

To anyone in power in Washington, Jeane Palfrey wasn’t important enough to kill.

Alex Jones doesn’t believe that. Jones is a conspiracy theorist. He believes that 9/11 was an inside job, that a globalist cabal used Al Qaeda to ram the planes into the towers in order to decimate the old world order and bring about a new one, where national boundaries were erased, among other things. Everything that points back to Jones’s worldview — or the one that he is selling to his audience — is grist for his mill. To that end, he’d interviewed Ms. Palfrey quite a bit in the past year or so, and considered her a friend of his radio show.

For it seems like it might make perfect sense to Alex Jones that the monolithic, evil government might have some sort of Kafkaesque plan afoot to off poor ole Deborah Jeane. Conspiracy theorists are egosyntonic in nature — their beliefs are often in complete harmony with their outlook, and to question what they believe is anathema to them. Conspiracy theorists are bent towards justifying and defending their theories, not questioning them. (The HuffPo post about this tragedy gave surprisingly uncritical play to Jones’s site in reference to the then-developing “homicide” angle.)

Today, writer Paul Joseph Watson published this article on Jones’s PrisonPlanet.com:

Overwhelming Evidence Points To Murder Of DC Madam.”

That’s right — overwhelming evidence. More evidence than mere mortals can truly comprehend.

Read the article’s subtitle: “‘She insinuated that there is a contract out for her and I fully believe they succeeded,’ says Condo manager…”

Yep. Watson’s (and presumably Jones’s) overwhelming evidence comes in part from statements made by Palfrey’s condo manager.

Quotes from the article, emphasis added:

The manager said that Palfrey had told him of her fears that a contract hit was out on her life.

“She insinuated that there is a contract out for her and I fully believe they succeeded,” he stated.

[…]

Palfrey is on record as warning that any “suicide” would just be a cover-story for murder as far back as 1991.

“If taken into custody, my physical safety and most probably my very life would be jeopardized,” she wrote in August 1991 following an attempt to bring her to trial, “Rape, beating, maiming, disfigurement and more than likely murder disguised in the form of just another jailhouse accident or suicide would await me,” said Palfrey in a handwritten letter to the judge accusing the San Diego police vice squad of having a vendetta against her…

Watson doesn’t linger over this point, yet it is crucial. Jeane Palfrey was specifically referring to what she feared might happen if she were jailed for the charges she was facing in 1991. She wasn’t playing Pretty Woman meets Nostradamus, referencing a possible conviction 17 years in the future. Palfrey feared that the San Diego police were out to get her and that they could do it while she was incarcerated. Her assertions from 1991 are meaningless when referenced now. They’re irrelevant to her suicide on May 1, because Jeane Palfrey didn’t know what would happen to her in 2007 and 2008.

And even though her time in prison surely wasn’t a picnic, Palfrey did indeed serve 18 months on the California charges. No suicide, no homicide. She got out, and went right back to doing what she’d done before.

Jeane Palfrey probably found a kindred spirit in Jones and those who might agree with him, like Mr. Watson, who ended his article with this:

The knowledge that Palfrey had about members of Washington’s elite being involved in and using her escort service for the purposes of hiring prostitutes would have been enough to end scores of careers and wreck the lives of countless influential power brokers. This alone, allied with Palfrey’s on the record statements, demand an immediate and thorough investigation in an attempt to bring to justice the murderers of Deborah Jeane Palfrey.

Palfrey was in her fifties and facing decades in prison. She was probably indigent, or nearly so — the government surely confiscated any assets she acquired through her business. Her conviction told the world that the court believed she was lying all along. She wasn’t an innocent businesswoman, she was a madam running an illegal prostitution service.

Forget what she told Alex Jones about not committing suicide or what Palfrey may have said to author Dan Moldea about doing the deed — look at her circumstances, and what little we know about her past and personality. She had previous convictions for similar crimes. Even after suffering what must have seemed the worst to her at the time, a prison sentence, Jeane Palfrey went back to running an escort service. When the authorities moved in on her for this, she became, for a time, one of the most high-profile accused criminals in the news. Always self-contained, poised and articulate, she spoke to major news magazines, to print journalists. In addition to Alex Jones’s radio show, Palfrey even went on Coast to Coast AM, the internationally popular paranormal-themed radio show made famous by Art Bell, currently hosted by George Noory.

Then it all fell away, as she was pronounced guilty on April 15. She’d do no more guest spots on Coast to Coast about being bullied by the feds; probably no more newsmagazine segments would be devoted to her. Jeane Palfrey would face a prison cell and a number. It’d be a grim prospect for anyone, and drive the most sturdy personality to the edge. To a vain personality, someone who believed herself to be so important that the government might even bring its covert forces to bear against her because she might know a dirty secret, or be some kind of threat — to someone like that a slow fade from the public eye to gray obscurity behind prison walls would be worse than hell on earth.

I think Jeane Palfrey just couldn’t face it. Though I’m not aware at this writing of them being made public, notes she left behind probably said something to that effect. It is difficult to give much credence to those who say she ‘seemed fine’ prior to May1. The psychological mechanisms that influence suicides are still hard to figure out, but a few common patterns have turned up over the years.

With people who make a decision to take themselves out and then begin to plan for the day, something unusual frequently happens — they seem much happier. In a way, someone who commits this kind of suicide is happier than before. Frequently, they put their affairs in order — sell things, give items away, write wills, etc. This kind of suicide can be particularly cruel to the loved ones left behind — they have been lulled by the change in demeanor into thinking things are improving. Jeane Palfrey’s behavior may have matched this type of suicidal pattern. Nothing seemed wrong to others because in her mind, nothing was wrong. She knew what would happen next. Her organizing, cleaning, putting affairs in order was easily interpreted as Palfrey getting ready to go to prison, when it is just as likely that she was doing what someone resigned to self-slaughter often does — take care of business to minimize the mess they left behind.

No, this was most likely a straightforward tragedy, born out of a personality disorder, frank mental illness or a combination of both. And Palfrey mostly created her own circumstances. There are select places, after all, where prostitution is legal. Palfrey never went to those places. She chose to try and run under the radar and trade where the feds were thicker than any other place on this continent — Washington DC. She played with fire and ended up badly burned. So this self-made woman stayed true to form. Rather than go to prison, she left on her own terms.

It won’t happen, but I say let Deborah Jeane Palfrey and her damn phone records lie. It’s over.

Additional link/resource: ::Hopeline:Suicide::

(NOTE: It’s inevitable that some people may think they know my politics after reading a post like this. Be assured the chances are you don’t. In some respects, in fact, my politics may be closer to Alex Jones’s — who appears to be a libertarian — than to your own. On an unrelated note, I’d feel remiss if I didn’t point readers to a recent guest post by new contributor Larkin Vonalt. If you’d rather not deal with the politically-charged nature of this post, check out Larkin’s achingly well-rendered portrait of a modern American tragedy.)

Does the number of unsolved murders in the White Mountains strike anyone as odd or disproportionate?

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A very short post. Here’s the link someone raised in a Franconia/North Country topix forum just now. Frankly, I’m overwhelmed. Sixteen (16) above the Laconia parallel? Given the population density and the nature of what most of these people were doing — you know, like hiking as opposed to gang warfare — it doesn’t seem right to me. Could be a deeper problem up there. I know of more than these too, including last fall’s Kelly Gorham, in which a Grand Jury convened but apparently no indictment issued and no more news available. Here is the 2005 TrueCrimeWeblog coverage on Maura Murray’s case from Steve that considers a possible nursing link and more about Maura and a bloody knife from Reporter Maribeth Conway here or you can visit my blog and run a word search for “bloody knife.”

TrueCrimeMagazine.com: What do I do?

All the content that was formerly at CrimeBlog.US — including comments from readers — is now at TrueCrimeMagazine.com. There’s a couple of extra posts there, made since I began using that URL, detailing a couple of my favorite historic true crime stories, too.

As some regular readers might know, that site is currently not being updated, partly because I don’t usually have the time. This nags at me, because I own the space, and because even without my paying the site much attention, it still can get up to 1,000 visitors a day. Bloggers and webmasters can tell you that typically, a site that’s not updated is a site that loses visitors. TrueCrimeMagzine/CrimeBlog.US simply didn’t lose that many, which does make me kind of proud.

Today one idea for further use of TrueCrimeMagazine.com occurred to me — I would make the site a repository from here on out for only what I thought was the best stuff I or any contributor had to offer. With the writers’ permission, for instance, I might post Seamus McGraw’s recent, stunning guest entry, “The Executioners’ Song.” I’d also add Larkin Vonalt’s excellent piece published earlier today, “The End of the World.” I’d add entries of my own that I feel really live up to the standards I set for myself.

In addition to that, I might put out a new call for submissions — from journalists who want to flex some crime writing muscle but can’t find a paying taker for the story, for instance.

Those are just stubs of ideas, though. This post is to ask for reader recommendations, suggestions. Leave them in the comments, or send me a brief message through the contact form, including your correct e-mail address (brief for the first message because there is a character limit in the contact form’s text box). I’ll write you back and you can give me your feedback via regular e-mail, then.

The End of the World, by Larkin Vonalt

(Larkin Vonalt is a writer living in Ohio and until today she was simply a long-time reader of the True Crime Weblog. This well-written contribution is thoughtful, detailed, and tells one of the saddest true crime stories you may ever read. Though her first post here is sad, Larkin’s jump from the comments section to a blog post is truly most welcome. I’m sure you’ll see why I say that once you read the following. ~ Steve Huff)

On a warm spring afternoon, Maple Hill Avenue is alive with activity. A man edges his lawn, a small boy pedals his Big Wheel the length of a short driveway, a woman up the street is planting flowers. Somewhere a radio is playing and Brenda Lee’s voice floats on the soft spring air: “I can’t understand/I can’t understand how life goes on the way it does…” The winding tree-lined street is home to well-kept houses set in tidy yards. Number 642, near the crest of the hill, is not unlike its neighbors in that respect. Less than two years ago, it was a very different story.

July 13, 2006 was a warm and damp Thursday. Just before one o’clock the young mother living in the small brick ranch house ran outside to the neighbors’. Her house was on fire; her children were trapped inside. When the afternoon was over, her baby girl was dead, her young son airlifted to a Cincinnati hospital. The boy died two days later. By that time his parents had been arrested — his mother for murder and aggravated arson, his father for rape of a child under ten. A juvenile court judge allowed the father to remain free just long enough to see his young son draw last breath.

*****

Heather Boyd of Kokomo, Indiana and Doron Silverman of Indianapolis met online in 2001. Heather’s mother, Debra R. Boyd, in an interview with the Dayton Daily News, described the young couple as “soul mates.” Kokomo is only 60 miles from Indianapolis, the couple soon met in person. In July 2001, they married at the courthouse and moved into the Indianapolis home of Doron’s adoptive parents, Martin and Deanna Silverman. He was 20; Heather had just turned 19 and was two months pregnant.

Only 4 foot 11 inches tall, and a little plump, Heather Silverman is childlike. Classmates at Taylor High School describe her as “really nice” and “sweet.” Doron Silverman had a juvenile conviction at age 13 for molesting a 5-year-old child. His adoptive sister, Batya, had leveled an accusation of rape against her brother. There is nothing to indicate that Heather was aware of her husband’s history. However, Batya’s enmity towards her brother and his wife is evident in statements she made to the press.

“They lived in my parents’ home while they were married and while she was pregnant with Mikel,” Batya Silverman, 22, told the Dayton Daily News. “My parents provided them with everything.” Her infant nephew, Mikel, born February 2002, shared her bed at the Silverman home.

“From the day I got back from Israel [where she had spent her freshman year of college — Ed.] Mikel was sleeping in my bed. Heather blamed not wanting to be with him on postpartum depression. But she did not bond with that child.”

Doron Silverman had worked at Chuck E. Cheese’s Restaurant in Indianapolis, where he repaired and maintained computer games. Doron was hired when the same job opened at a Dayton franchise, so the little family moved there.

They settled on the south edge of Dayton in the predominantly white West Carrollton. Though considered a suburb, West Carrollton, established 1815, retains its own identity and small-town atmosphere. Many young families make it their home. Doron and Heather bought their house on Maple Hill for $93,000.

Heather found a job at Meijer’s grocery store a few miles away. She worked until August 2005, when morning sickness from her second pregnancy forced her to quit. Heather developed an online presence, creating profiles on MySpace as mystic_kitten82 and on Grab.com and health.exercisefriends.com as babkitten7. She also had a largely unused profile on stupidvideos.com. Her favorite video was of a dancing cat.

On the Grab.com profile, she posted that she was “A stay-at-home mom with one child and one on the way. I also sell Avon.” In one section, she detailed her desires to “Support our troops, save animals, eat vegetables, sing, Be a Great Mom, relax, cook, find friends, play computer games.” The site also reveals that she was looking for friendship and that she hoped that “The world will one day realize that we are destroying our children’s only chance for life by destroying the world.” She posted five photographs of her son, Mikel. The couples’ daughter, Keylee Selena, was born March 6, 2006 in Dayton.

On Memorial Day weekend, Doron, Heather and their children went to Indiana to visit family and attend the Indianapolis 500. Arrangements were made for Mikel to stay overnight with his Aunt Batya and her boyfriend, Joseph Farber.

Court documents allege that after spending the afternoon swimming at the pool in his Aunt’s apartment complex, Mikel was getting ready for a shower when Batya Silverman noticed him “pulling on his penis.” Batya claims that the child, while pointing to his penis, said “Poti, put your mouth on it.” “Poti” was the child’s nickname for his aunt.

Farber was called into the room. When he asked the child about the remark, Mikel did not answer. Farber launched a series of questions: had Mikel seen that behavior in a movie, or had he seen his parents engaged in “such behavior?” In each instance, Mikel said he had not. When Farber asked the boy where he’d learned the behavior, Mikel is reported to have said, “Daddy did it. No more talk.”

Batya Silverman was an undergraduate student in social work and had just completed a class on techniques for interviewing children. The next day she sat Mikel down with pens and a notebook, serving him lunch while she questioned him about the events of the day before.

Batya testified at an evidentiary hearing that after revisiting the queries her boyfriend made, she and Mikel had this exchange: “‘Do you do it to daddy too?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ And I said, ‘Well, what do you do to daddy’s pee pee?’ And he didn’t respond to me. So, I asked him, ‘Do you kiss it?’ And he very clearly replied, ‘No, I lick it.'”

Batya Silverman asked her boyfriend to watch Mikel, and went to her parents’ house to await her brother’s return from the Indianapolis 500. Heather and Doron arrived to an impromptu “intervention” with Batya, Deanna Silverman, Cindy Rottinghouse (Doron’s biological mother) and Pam, a friend of Cindy’s.

According to court documents, Batya confronted her brother with what Mikel said. When Doron didn’t respond, she accused him of molesting her years before. Doron said that he didn’t remember molesting Batya and he fled the house with Heather following, Batya on their heels. Heather asked Doron if he had “done anything” to Mikel.

“Maybe I did, I don’t remember these things,” he said.

The Dayton Daily News reported that the day after the “intervention,” Heather Silverman characterized her mood as “angry” on her MySpace blog.

“If I collected my tears thru my life they would fill the Grand Canyon,” she wrote. “Be kind to others, be good, don’t lie, don’t injure, always ask before accusing, always love and care, never ever yell it never helps.”

In a collective decision, Cindy Rottinghouse took Keylee and Mikel for a week, intending to hand them off to Deanna and Martin Silverman for ten days “so that the children would be safe, and Doron could get help,” Batya Silverman testified. However, on June 5 Batya discovered that the children had been returned to their parents rather than following the prescribed plan. She called Childrens’ Services in Montgomery County, Ohio.

Based on Batya Silverman’s complaint, Childrens’ Services enacted a “safety plan” for the Silverman family, which forbade Doron Silverman’s presence in the home, and also stipulated that he “not be around children.” Silverman continued to work at Chuck E. Cheese, as his job maintaining gaming systems didn’t require interaction with children. He moved from the Maple Hill house to a Red Roof Inn in a neighboring town.

Five days after her call to Childrens’ Services, Batya Silverman complained to the West Carrollton police department. Detectives Mark Allison and Robert Bell launched an investigation, starting the next day with a visit to the Silverman home. They spoke with Heather, who agreed that she and Doron would appear for questioning at the West Carrollton police department the next day.

Heather and Doron were interviewed separately, Heather first. Some specifics of the interview with Doron Silverman have been contested in Silverman’s appeal to the state Supreme Court, though initially both parties agreed that Doron Silverman “admitted to having Mikel’s penis in his mouth while in the bathtub with him and to fondling his son.”

Bell testified in a hearing in the Montgomery County Court that Mikel “would crawl over (Silverman’s) naked body like ‘a jungle gym’ and sometimes touch his father’s genitals.” Silverman told the detectives he was so distressed by his behavior with his son that he sought counseling and avoided seeing his son naked. He also offered that he would have to resign his job at Chuck E. Cheese as he was “sexually interested” in the children he observed there.

Doron Silverman left his job the very next day, June 14. He met with the restaurant manager, explaining that he was under investigation, due to a “child abuse” complaint made by his “in-laws,” and that Childrens’ Services stipulated that he was “not to be around children.”

Later that day, detectives appeared at the Silverman’s motel room, wanting to search his laptop computer. They were rebuffed, according to an affidavit filed in the case. On June 21 a search warrant was issued and police searched the couples’ house, vehicles and motel room. Among the items seized were cell phones, a computer, a video recorder, computer disks and a “nanny-cam” that was in one of the bedrooms.

Twice the West Carrollton police department interviewed Mikel Silverman. Jeffrey Rezabek, Heather Silverman’s attorney in the child abuse case, stated that after both interviews there were allegations that the boy was being “coached.” The “safety plan” put into place by Childrens’ Services was due to expire Thursday night, July 13. Rezabek believed Childrens’ Services planned to seek custody of the children at a hearing, as caseworkers felt that Heather would not sign another “safety plan.”

In the days leading up to the July 13 deadline, Heather went online to ask for prayers. The Dayton Daily News quoted writing from her My Space page: “I ask of any (and) all to pray for our family. It is being ripped apart and I’m gonna lose everything.” She did not disclose exactly what was going on, but her distress was clear.

On a rainy Thursday a caseworker from Childrens’ Services visited the Maple Hill house to tell Heather that a hearing was scheduled in Juvenile Court that afternoon at 3 p.m. The agency would be seeking custody of the children. Heather was reported to be “cooperative” and mentioned that she might bring her attorney to the hearing.

Heather Silverman then set out candles in the bathroom. Later she told investigators she was preparing to take a shower. Wrapping gasoline soaked rags around the lit candles, she closed the door. The Dayton CBS affiliate reported that she closed the children inside the bathroom, but this was never confirmed in print media or in any court document; it may have been a leap made by the television station.

News reports state that Heather helped her son to the front door, where he was rescued by J.W. Lunsford, a mover working in the neighborhood. Lunsford grabbed the boy and ran across the street with him. Mikel sat on the grass in shock, his body and clothing smoking. Heather Silverman was treated at the scene for burns on her hands, said to have occurred while she was trying to extricate Keylee from her infant seat. Sarah Busby, a neighbor, tried to get into the house to save the baby, but was prevented by flames and smoke. Her mother, Pattie, across the street, made a desperate call to 911.

Mikel, 80 percent of his body covered with second and third degree burns, was airlifted to Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati. Despite many attempts, no one could get to Keylee Silverman and she burned to death inside the house. Her tiny body was removed after the fire was extinguished.

On Friday, the police department issued an arrest warrant for Heather Silverman. She was taken into custody at her son’s hospital bedside. On Saturday, a warrant was issued for Doron Silverman on the child rape charges, but he was allowed to stay with Mikel in the child’s last hours. He was said to be holding Mikel’s hand when the boy died.

Batya Silverman learned of her nephew’s death by reading about it online, even though Cincinnati is only 110 miles from her residence in Indianapolis. She told Dayton reporters that she believed Heather had killed her own children to prevent Batya from “getting” Mikel.

Cathy Mong, of the Daily News, wrote that Batya “painted a picture of Heather and Doron as parents who were cold and aloof, manipulative and emotionally needy, a mother and father who never bonded with their children.” Along with unsubstantiated charges that the children were malnourished, the aunt told the reporter “Neither of them deserved a child so exceptional,” and that “(she) would have gone there and died for him.”

In sharp contrast, Debra Boyd remembers her daughter and son-in-law as attentive and interested parents. Her recollections are of a doting couple, devoted to their son, and thrilled with their new baby girl. Though both families saw the couple frequently, and Batya Silverman described her family as “supportive” of her brother, all were absent when the chips came down.

In the months after the fire, numerous Internet groups turned their attention to the Silverman tragedy. One group, VOCA (Voices of Children Alliance) engaged in ending what they see as Gestapo tactics of childrens’ welfare organizations, decided that Heather Silverman had killed her children ‘pre-emptively,” to prevent their loss to the system. A white supremacist group blogged, “Jewish Parents Rape and Kill Children.” (Doron Silverman’s adoptive parents are Jewish, but Heather and Doron are not.) On sites like Websleuths and Mydeathspace, posters called for the rape, mutilation and murder of both Silvermans. The D.A., Mathias Heck, issued a statement calling the Silvermans “evil and twisted” and cast aspersions on the media for their “sensationalist” coverage.

Heather Silverman’s case was assigned to Christopher Tucker, a public defender. She was examined by two independent psychiatrists, found to be not competent to stand trial, and remanded to Twin Valleys Behavioral Health Center for six months.

Doron Silverman stood trial in December 2006 and was found not guilty of rape, but guilty of gross sexual imposition on a person under thirteen years of age. He was sentenced to five years in prison. In February of this year, the state Supreme Court heard his case on appeal, overturning his conviction on the basis that the testimony on Mikel’s behalf was hearsay made by an admittedly hostile witness. He has been released from custody.

Heather Silverman was re-examined a year ago and found to be competent. Her trial was to begin this week. However, on April 23, she went before the court and pled guilty to the murder of her two children.

Now there are only questions. Was Heather Silverman planning to immolate herself in the fire as well? Were her actions some kind of terrible manifestation of post-partum depression? Did she kill her children to save her husband? Even if we know the answers, it doesn’t change the facts.

Two small children are dead. A woman who wanted to be “a great mom” has committed a terrible crime and will say no more. A man convicted of gross sexual imposition on his four year old son walks free.

And in the Silvermans’ old neighborhood, the radio plays Brenda Lee:

Why does my heart go on beating

Why do these eyes of mine cry

Don’t they know it’s the end of the world

It ended when you said goodbye.

Links:

DC Madam Suicide… or not?

In the previous post I took a skeptical view of the so-called Smiley Face Gang, a hypothetical cabal of serial killers supposedly taking out fine young men all over the country by dunking them in local bodies of water.

This time I’m not going to give an opinion. I’m just going to present what’s out there, and see what you think.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called DC Madam, was found guilty of racketeering and money laundering on April 15 of this year. She faced serious prison time. [Be sure to follow the links for back-story.]

Palfrey apparently committed suicide on or about May 1, 2008. Her body was found in a shed next to her mother’s residence in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Using nylon rope, Palfrey hanged herself from the ceiling of the shed. The Associated Press reported that Palfrey left at least two suicide notes for family members. The wire service also quoted a Tarpon Springs PD spokesperson who indicated that Palfrey’s mother saw “no sign that her daughter was suicidal, and there was no immediate indication that alcohol or drugs were involved.”

I am not the first to notice the following, or think it was worth noting.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey said in the early 1990s that she feared for her physical safety if incarcerated.

In 1991 Palfrey was facing trial in San Diego, charged with pimping, pandering and extortion. She didn’t show for her trial and sent the judge a letter that read in part, “If taken into custody, my physical safety and most probably my very life would be jeopardized […] rape, beating, maiming, disfigurement and more than likely murder disguised in the form of just another jailhouse accident or suicide would await me.”

Jeane Palfrey felt that the San Diego vice squad responsible for her arrest had “a vendetta” against her.

In that case, she was eventually sentenced to 18 months in jail anyway, and she survived.

And anyway — her “prediction” of being suicided was in relation to the pending charges in San Diego. It was based on her apparent fear of the San Diego PD vice squad. It wasn’t some mystical forecast of her death today, made some 17 years in advance. That much seems obvious.

Since Palfrey’s suicide was reported earlier today, PrisonPlanet.com has claimed that Palfrey pointedly said she would not commit suicide after the racketeering trial in April. The site posted mp3s to that effect. PrisonPlanet says the mp3s are of Palfrey “clearly” stating “she would not commit suicide.”

As PrisonPlanet notes in the article linked above, no less than Time magazine has published an article online in which author Dan Moldea stated that Palfrey told him “wasn’t going to jail, she told [Moldea] that very clearly.” Moldea said that Palfrey said “she would commit suicide.”

I can’t vouch for the veracity or the accuracy of what is published on PrisonPlanet.com. It’s quite popular, but it is also run by Alex Jones, who is a noted conspiracy theorist. One of Jones’s pet obsessions is the idea that 9/11 was part of a globalist effort to establish a new world order. Jones has also worked to repeal the Patriot Act, a worthy cause to anyone who believes in the freedom of speech. Still, I do think that you should take everything published by Jones with a grain of salt.

Was Deborah Jeane Palfrey a paranoiac and narcissist with an antisocial streak? Her efforts to avoid jail in the early 90s might support such an assessment. While cops can certainly have a vendetta against an accused criminal, Palfrey seemed to believe a large portion of the SDPD was against her. That would be a pretty paranoid yet vain view of things, since there were surely plenty of other, more serious lawbreakers to be found in San Diego at the time.

Or could Palfrey perhaps have something in common with Russian journalists and whistleblowers like Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko? Many felt that Palfrey had more dirt on high rollers in DC than anyone truly knew — even though a lot of sleuthing has been done in her phone records for quite some time now with no truly stunning results. It is widely believed that the Putin regime has been behind the murders of several journalists, especially investigative reporters seeking the truth behind Putin’s policies and goals.

Even though Deborah Jeane Palfrey was certainly not a journalist, she still was in a position to know the secrets of some truly powerful people. Did one of those powerful people seek to shut her down once and for all?

Or is that exactly what she might want us to think?

Post your thoughts below. Please keep it civil, sane, and on-topic. Personal attacks and verbal abuse will not be tolerated.

Additional links:

‘D.C. Madam’ Is Found Dead, Apparently in a Suicide.” [NYT]
DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey Dead in Suicide.” [HuffPo]
Added on 5/02/08 — Many thanks to Willoughby Mariano at the Orlando Sentinel for linking this post from her Orlando Homicide Report.