Arsonist Sought in Connection with SoCal Wildfires

The worst natural disaster to strike the U.S. mainland since Hurricane Katrina may not be entirely natural, after all. At least one of the major fires decimating woodlands and suburbs in Southern California in the last week or was allegedly set on purpose.

FBI agents and California law enforcement have already served a search warrant on one Orange County home, seeking evidence in relation to the Santiago Canyon wildfire.

The LA Times reports that the Santiago fire covers almost 20,000 acres. MyFoxLA.com says the fire is about 30% contained. According to an on-air report by CNN, authorities have identified and secured 2 possible ignition points for the blaze, which began Sunday. KNBC out of LA stated that there were 3 possible places where the fire was deliberately set.

The stunning scope of the fires in Southern California and some of the apocalyptic images arising out of the coverage of the event (a fire tornado, for instance, videotaped near a military base) make the hunt for the arsonist even more intense that it would normally be. After all, in less than 5 days nearly 3000 homes have been destroyed or damaged in Orange and San Diego Counties. Most watching the progress of the wildfires are certain the destruction isn’t over.

These wildfires arose out of a combination of extremely dry weather and severe Santa Ana winds. Wind gusts have reached hurricane force several times in recent days.

At least 6 people, maybe more, have died since the fires began.

To see just how massive this disaster truly is, follow this Google Maps link set up by TV station KPBS.

This entry may be revised and updated.

UPDATE

And then things got weird.

The LA Times reports that a man in Hesperia has been arrested for arson — he was apparently caught in the act — and another man, described only as 27 years old and from Arizona, was caught trying to set a fire in San Bernadino. Police gave chase. The man was cornered in his vehicle, and he attempted to ram a police car. So San Bernadino PD shot him.

No word yet on whether either man was connected to any of the current fires making life hell in Orange County or San Diego.

Additional references:

AMBER ALERT in North Carolina: Harmony Jade Creech *UPDATED*

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(Edited on 10/22 to correct Harmony’s middle name. It was given out incorrectly by several sources over the last few days as “Jude.” Her middle name was “Jade.” My sources for basic information in this blog entry are listed at the bottom of the entry. Otherwise, sources are referenced in the body of the blog post. If you want something corrected, I need more than an allusion to what might be wrong. Also, you may want to employ a bit of middle-school reading comprehension skill and check and see where I may have gotten information before you go blaming this blog for anything. I make it a point to cite sources for a reason.)

An Amber Alert has been issued in North Carolina for a missing 11-month-old baby girl named Harmony Jade Creech.

Harmony’s father, Ronald Earl Creech II, has never met his baby. A soldier with the 82nd Airborne out of Fort Bragg, Creech was in Iraq when his daughter was born. Ronald Creech came home to find that the child had vanished.

Creech met his mom Friday morning and the pair went to the home where Harmony was living with her mom, 25-year-old Johni Michelle Heuser, and three other pre-school-age children.

Harmony’s grandmother discovered that the child was gone.

A screen was missing from the window to the baby’s room. Most of her clothes were gone as well.

By noon on Friday the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office was involved. They searched the home and the surrounding neighborhood with no success.

The 3 other kids in the house were unharmed. They are not related to Harmony’s father.

In-home abductions of very small children like Harmony Jade Creech by strangers are rare. While there are sexual predators who might target infants, there aren’t that many. An insane female who wants to take another woman’s child for her own is probably rarer still.

The outlines of this mystery seem familiar and sickening, at the moment.

According to WRAL-TV, Johni Heuser was still being questioned Friday night.

The FBI is assisting local authorities with this investigation.

Harmony Jade Creech was last seen around 11 p.m. on Thursday night at 1680 Ray Road, near Spring Lake, North Carolina. She was clad in pink footie pajamas. “Daddy’s Girl” was written on one arm of the jammies. Harmony reportedly has small dark birthmark on the back of her head.

If you think you have info about the disappearance of Harmony Jade Creech, call the Harnett County Sheriff at (910) 893-9111.

*UPDATE*

Harmony Jude Creech has been found deceased in the attic of the home on Ray Road.

According to WRAL TV, Harmony’s mother told police that she’d found the baby dead in her crib weeks ago and decided to hide the body. Johni Heuser said she made her decision out of fear.

Heuser put on an interesting act, if she is telling the truth. Some early reports about the baby’s disappearance stated that Ron Creech’s mother discovered the baby was missing, but others, like this article in the News & Observer, said that Johni Heuser was entering the baby’s room to introduce her to her father when she found her baby missing. Heuser may have been the one who called the police.

Her description of the child wearing a jumper with “Daddy’s Girl” on one sleeve is unsettling as well. She knew the baby was dead in the attic, yet she carefully geared the story to play upon Ron Creech’s emotions, by the sound of it.

A user posting in this thread about Harmony Creech’s disappearance at Websleuths.com, “dimples37398,” found Johni Michelle Heuser’s MySpace account:

http://www.myspace.com/chellbell1982.

There may be much to discuss in that profile, or not. Under this photo, apparently of Harmony, Heuser had posted the caption, “Mama’s lil girl.” Ron Creech left a comment on that photo in June. He wrote, ” i’ll take credit for that lil one.”

Charges haven’t been filed against Johni Michelle Heuser yet.

Any parent trying to conceive of sleeping under an attic for weeks with your dead infant locked away above you will wonder how that can be. How one could sleep at all.

If Harmony Creech died a natural death, what caused Heuser’s fear? And how could that fear override grief?

In her MySpace photo gallery, Johni Heuser had two albums. One was 10 photos of Heuser, her children, and friends. The other was 25 screenshots of characters from the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), Final Fantasy XI. Heuser’s character was named “Chellbell.”

Which was more important to Heuser, the 10 photos of family and friends, or the 25 pictures taken from a game? And is there a connection between “Chellbell’s” investment in an online fantasy world and the death of her child?

There may be more than one “Chellbell” playing Final Fantasy. If that community, however large, is like most other online communities, it probably doesn’t allow exact duplication of user names. So it is potentially interesting to note that a “Chellbell” was bidding online for Final Fantasy game play items as recently as October 18.

**UPDATE 2**

Johni Michelle Heuser has been charged with her daughter’s murder. She is being held in the Harnett County Jail without bail.

News 14 Carolina (linked above) reports that neighbors were suspicious Heuser’s story:

“Initially, I felt there was foul play involved but I felt also that it was someone they knew,” said Stacie Siebert. “I felt it was an inside job from the beginning.”

Authorities think Harmony lay decomposing in the attic for at least two weeks.

Neighbors had noted a terrible odor for weeks. The smell faded as temperatures dropped. The odor was surely strongest inside the home Johni “Chellbell” Heuser shared with her other 3 kids. Yet did she continue playing Final Fantasy? Did she keep talking with friends on the phone, e-mailing?

It’s hard to imagine.

For the record, anyone with a lick of sense should understand that Heuser playing a MMORPG had no connection with this other than how she used it — to distract herself from an otherwise lonely and mundane life. It gets tiresome, how the media sometimes approaches such a thing, and how the online communities react. Final Fantasy as an entity had nothing to do with this child’s death. Its only connection was in how Harmony Creech’s mother may have used the game as her “drug of choice.”

Anyone truly concerned about this case should be concerned for Johni Heuser’s other children and for Ronald Earl Creech II. He thought he was coming home from the War to greet his baby daughter. Instead he came home to unimaginable sadness and tragedy.

Sources:

David Copperfield and the Nasty Accusations

Agents from the Seattle, WA FBI field office raided illusionist David Copperfield’s (born David Seth Kotkin) warehouse in Las Vegas on Wednesday. They took away $2 million in cash, a computer hard drive and an additional memory storage device, and a digital camera.

Brian Haynes of the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote about the raid:

FBI agents raided the Las Vegas warehouse of magician David Copperfield on Wednesday in an investigation of possible sexual misconduct by the illusionist, a source with knowledge of the investigation said.

Copperfield’s accuser said the misconduct occurred outside the country, but the case came under the FBI’s jurisdiction because the accuser was a U.S. citizen, the source said…

Another FBI investigation was conducted this week at MGM-Grand in Vegas, where Copperfield has a standing bi-monthly gig.

Fox News published an article online that clarified the allegations against Copperfield. A woman in Seattle has accused Copperfield of rape:

The woman told Seattle police the magician raped her while she was in the Bahamas, sources said. Because the alleged incident happened abroad and the woman did not report it until she returned to the United States, Seattle authorities turned over the case to the FBI…

The warehouse raided Wednesday is owned by one of Copperfield’s companies, Boy Magician Inc., and space there has been used for rehearsals and prop storage. It is also a kind of personal museum for Copperfield, who has in the public eye since the early 70s, when he entered the world of entertainment as a kind of magical wunderkind.

Copperfield began working on illusions in his early teens, and he was teaching a college course in magic by the time he turned 18. By age 21, he was a TV star. Anyone who watched a lot of network television in the 70s or 80s in particular probably saw a David Copperfield special on either ABC or CBS.

Some of his most famous illusions included walking through the Great Wall of China and causing the Statue of Liberty to ‘disappear.’

Copperfield has avoided major controversy in the past. He dated supermodel Claudia Schiffer in the mid-90s and had to deal with allegations that he was gay and Schiffer was his paid “beard.” Copperfield sued a gossip rag based in Paris (Fr) for defamation over these rumors and won.

Most recently Copperfield was in the news for stating that he’d found a real “Fountain of Youth.” And that discovery was made in the Bahamas. In August of 2007, Inside Edition reported the following:

…Copperfield says he might have found the fountain of youth.

“I found certain waters there that actually have rejuvenating qualities not in humans yet but in simple organisms have amazing reactions leaves that turn from brown to green,” Copperfield told INSIDE EDITION.

Copperfield says the fountain of youth is located somewhere on a chain of four islands in the Bahamas that he bought last year for $50 million…

The blogger at Katerfelto’s Cat is fascinated with Copperfield’s mysterious warehouse. “Dragonslayer” happened to write an entry about attempting to get inside the facility on May 10, 2007. Here was the blogger’s conclusion about the museum/archive:

It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s a distraction. It doesn’t exist. It makes us believe one thing is going on, when something else entirely is happening (like taking over the world, perhaps). I think when we read “International Library and Museum of the Conjuring Arts,” we should really be reading “Secret Lair of Fancy Magician: Nogrls alowed.” If he’s going to advertise it for chrissakes, then frickin’ make allowances for people to actually use it. Sheesh.

A friend or friendly reader left a comment encouraging “Dragonslayer” to complete the quest, saying in part, “… you could pay off some little kid to accuse Copperfield of being a pedophile and then demand the museum in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement. 😉

It was obviously a joke, but it probably seems less funny now. The comment is instructive, however. Though the person who left it was just being silly in this instance, celebrities like Copperfield (unmarried, intensely private males) are prime targets for false or embellished accusations designed to net the accuser recognition, money, or both.

However, what they said at CrimeRant.com about this case is true: “When the Feds are involved in a rape case it’s pretty darn serious.”

“Dragonslayer” wrote yesterday about the raid on Copperfield’s warehouse. Quote: “And I thought I couldn’t get access because…? Remind me again.”

This entry will be revised or updated as needed.

Sources not otherwise linked above:

Accused Pedophile Christopher Paul Neil Arrested *UPDATED*

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(Click image to enlarge.)

Alleged Canadian pedophile Christopher Paul Neil has been arrested in Bangkok, Thailand.

Showing the Thai affection for legal theater previously seen when John Mark Karr was arrested, police paraded the 32-year-old Neil before the press after his capture in Nakhon Ratchafima, a town located 130 miles from Bangkok. He looked like an unhappy, accused pedophile version of the electronica star Moby.

Neil may have been in the process of securing new victims, according to a report published online by CNN International. He was reportedly staying with a boyfriend, a Thai transvestite who goes by “Ohm.”

The True Crime Weblog may have been one of the first online publications to make Christopher Paul Neil’s MySpace addresses public. Those have since been taken offline, but rudimentary mirrors of both Neil’s profile and his weblog can be seen here:

http://mirror.huffsblog.com/cpasianeilmyspace.htm;
http://mirror.huffsblog.com/cpasianeilmyspaceblog.cfm.htm.

When the main profile page was saved, one of Neil’s remaining friends was indeed a 25-year-old male using the screen name “Ohm.” His page is still up: http://www.myspace.com/ohm335.

The London Times Online says that it was through his connection to Ohm that Neil was ultimately tracked and captured:

Thai police tracked down Ohm’s real name and monitored his mobile phone calls, finally tracing the pair to a rented property in Nakhon Ratchasimam where they were both held.

According to CNN, Thailand may have first dibs on prosecuting Neil. He will then be extradited to Canada to face prosecution there.

Happy Halloween, Rochester, Minnesota

On Halloween Night a convicted killer and sexual psychopath is released from prison. Even though the man killed two people in cold blood 31 years ago, even though he tried to kidnap young girls in the 80s and was convicted of sexually assaulting and almost murdering a teenager in the early ’90s, he is on the streets again.

On Halloween Night in Rochester, Minnesota, what’s a murderous psychopath to do, fresh from 15 years in the pen?

The preceding isn’t the beginning of a pitch for a new horror film. The scenario presented above may become reality in Rochester about two weeks from today.

Daryl Alt is 49 now. His father Jack and step-mom Dorothy were 49 when he murdered them in late February, 1976. Daryl was a skinny, blond 17-year-old boy at the time. Police found the couples’ remains on March 2, just after Daryl reported them missing. Jack and Dorothy Alt had been shot to death.

Alt was tried as an adult for those murders. He worked a plea bargain and got the charge related to his stepmother’s murder dismissed. Alt was convicted, and he served 6 years in prison.

Upon release in 1983, Daryl Alt began his career as a sexual predator. After several attempted abductions of young teen girls, he kidnapped and raped a 14-year-old girl. He went to trial in 1984 for that assault and was convicted.

In 1990, just months after his release from prison for the assault in 1983, Daryl Alt struck again. He kidnapped Jammey Schick, age 15.

Jammey told her story on a message board attached to the site JaneDoeNoMore.org. This is a quote from the site’s Mission page: “The Jane Doe No More initiative will create awareness about the crime of sexual assault to ensure proper treatment of the victim.”

From Jammey Schick’s post at JaneDoeNoMore.org:

I was 15 years old when a man came up to me and took me and was about to change my life for ever. He took me in his truck and put a knife to my neck and told me i will do what ever he told me or he would cut me in many little pieces. as you can [imagine] i was very scared and listened to this man and begged for my life […] he took me to a corn field were he drove into it far enough so we could not be seen my on coming cars and he brutally raped me, took me further in the corn field were he put a rope around my neck and strangled me till i passed out the kicked me and beat me till he thought i was dead. when i woke sometime later i could not feel any part of my [body]. i did not know if i had any clothing on or if i did.

[…]

somehow i did it, i got to the road were i was finally picked up and taken to the hospital. i had to go through lots of tests because i was [paralyzed] and had to learn everything over. At the trial the doctors and… a [coroner testified] that there is no medical reason for me to be alive. that looking at pictures that were taken they all thought they were looking at a dead [body]. but i survived…

Another user wrote a supportive response and asked a question. Jammey answered:

[I] will be notified about everything and anything regarding his release. The only thing they can not tell me is were he sill be living. I have also been thinking of [different] things I will need to do to protect myself and my children as he has made threats towards me while he has been in prison. If he was convicted of the same crime today he would be serving more time but the laws were not as good as they are not 17 years ago.

Neither Jammey Schick nor her family have been happy with the way the justice system handled her case. In 1993 Jammey came forward and allowed her name to be published in Minnesota papers. She was quoted in the Star-Tribune after Alt’s conviction. Jammey said she was happy about the verdict and that she hoped Alt would never be free “so he can do this again.” About the many delays in the trial, she said: “I think they should give victims more rights […] I feel I have been treated very unfairly.”

In the same article, Olmsted County Attorney (at the time) Ray Schmitz talked about the danger Daryl Alt presented to the community: “Mr. Alt is among the most dangerous people that we’ve prosecuted here and he’s simply someone who needs to be removed from the streets…”

Olmsted County (MN) prosecutors began seeking civil commitment for Daryl Alt earlier this year. In July they managed to get him held at a secure hospital in St. Peter, MN until his official release from the Department of Corrections. A civil commitment for Alt after October 31, 2007 would declare him dangerously mentally ill and put him in a secure medical facility, perhaps for the rest of his life.

Since Dru Sjodin was murdered by level III sex offender Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. in November, 2003, prosecutors in Minnesota have been averaging more than 60 requests for civil commitments a year. Fewer than 15 such applications were made the year Sjodin was murdered.

Jammey Schick seems to feel that the question of whether or not Alt should be civilly committed should never have been asked. To TV station KSTP, she said, “We were told he was never getting out.”

Minnesota press might naturally compare this case to the high-profile Sjodin murder, but plenty of incredibly vicious criminals started young, showed plenty of recidivism and still hit the streets to rape, to kill again:

Joseph Edward Duncan III — spent 20 years in prison for a violent sexual assault committed when he was 17. Duncan was on supervised release in the mid-90s when he kidnapped, molested and killed at least 3 children. He went back to prison, but only for absconding from parole. Upon completion of his sentence in 2000, Duncan went to college and seemed to be a model citizen. Until he disappeared in May, 2005, killed 4 people and kidnapped two children whom he repeatedly raped before killing one of them. Go check out his blog if you think your psyche can handle it. (NOTE: Many readers of The True Crime Weblog will be familiar with Duncan. Those who are not familiar with this serial killer need not worry about Duncan’s Fifth Nail weblog — it is safe for work and if you only skim, it seems normal. Don’t read it at night, or you’ll feel pretty creeped-out.)

Carl Edward “Charlie” Brandt — at 13, Charlie Brandt killed his pregnant mother as she sat in a warm bath, and he nearly killed his father. The only thing that saved his sister’s life was her telling Charlie she loved him. Charlie did one year in a psychiatric hospital. Some people who observed the boy at the time feared it would happen again. It did, but no one knew what was going on inside Charlie Brandt until he murdered his wife and her niece in 2004. He carefully dismembered the niece, 37-year-old Michelle Jones, before he finally committed suicide by hanging himself in her garage. After this appalling murder-suicide, police began to examine upwards of 30 unsolved murders all over the country with the idea that they may have been committed by Charlie Brandt. His M.O. may have been the careful evisceration of his victims, in particular the removal of the heart. Brandt, to most who thought they knew him, was the classic unassuming guy whom no one could imagine ever doing such horrific things.

Edmund Kemper — big Ed Kemper, a 6’9″, 300-lb serial killer, was declared to no longer be a danger to society by two psychiatrists while a couple of co-ed’s heads sat in the trunk of Ed’s car in the parking lot outside the doctors’ office. Kemper began his career as a killer with a seemingly non-sexual crime — at age 15 he murdered his grandparents. Kemper reportedly said he “just wanted to see what it felt like to kill Grandma and Grandpa.” He spent a few years in a mental hospital before he gulled psychologists into letting him out. Once in his overbearing mother’s care, Big Ed started killing college girls. He’d pick up hitchhikers, disarming them by playing the “gentle giant,” then he’d kill them and rape their corpses. Ed’s murderous rampage ended with his mother and her best friend. He raped his mother’s dead body and put her voice box in the garbage disposal. Kemper was likable and very intelligent. Many of his friends were cops, and when he finally called the police to turn himself in, Kemper actually had to convince authorities that he was telling the truth.

These are not the only killers who followed this broad pattern — early acts of violence followed by incarceration and then even more vicious acts. Arthur Shawcross also came to mind. Shawcross murdered two children in 1972 and spent 14 years in prison for manslaughter. After he was released from lockup, Shawcross began killing prostitutes. Profilers trying to catch Shawcross when he was the unknown Gennessee River Killer underestimated the killer’s age by almost the exact number of years he’d spent in prison. Arthur Shawcross seemingly picked up exactly where he left off in his maturation cycle as a killer.

If Daryl Alt is allowed to walk free on Halloween Night, it seems a stretch to believe he won’t just go right back to doing what he probably likes best — hurting other people.

Alfonso Rodriguez was an old-looking 50 when he kidnapped vibrant, athletic young Dru Sjodin. Daryl Alt is just 49, and he looks like prison has been good to him, in photos.

Rochester, Minnesota better hope along with Jammey Schick for a civil commitment in this case, because there’s plenty of violence left in a man like Daryl Alt. The worst may be yet to come.

Sources not otherwise linked:

* KSTP.com;
* KTTC.com;
* Olmsted County Attorney press release regarding Alt’s Civil Commitment (.pdf);
* Ironwood (MI) Daily Globe, 1970s articles accessed via NewspaperArchive.com.

Interpol Hot on Trail of Pedophile *UPDATED*

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MAJOR UPDATES AT BOTTOM OF ENTRY.

He may have sexually abused a dozen Asian boys, some of the boys as young as 6. The abuse was captured in 200 images posted on the Web. Recently, investigators in Germany managed to undo the method the man used to try and hide his face in the photos and on October 8, his unnamed mug went up on Interpol’s website for the world to see.

Now he’s on the run.

Interpol believes this man, who represents at the moment the face of complete creepiness all over the world, recently traveled from South Korea to Thailand. The AP published the image on the left — a photo made of the man shortly after landed in Bangkok on October 11, 2007. Click the image to see full-size or go to the AP article. That’s what he looks like now.

He was allegedly teaching English at a school in South Korea.

While the alleged pedophile has not been arrested, Interpol knows his nationality, birthdate, passport number, and most importantly, his name.

Whoever this man is, he has been recording these alleged crimes against children since at least 2003. Has he been teaching or tutoring in Asia all that time as well?

Upon first reading of Interpol’s hunt for this man, I thought of John Mark Karr.

Karr came to infamy by claiming he murdered JonBenét Ramsey in December, 1996. DNA testing ruled him out as a suspect in the Ramsey case and in as a total whackjob.

I thought of Karr because when his name was first made public as a “suspect” in the Ramsey murder, a trail of posts and profiles he’d left on the Web came to light. They were all for either teaching, tutoring, or male nanny type positions. In some of his profiles, Karr claimed he’d worked for wealthy families in the Netherlands and Europe.

When he was arrested, Karr was about to begin a job teaching in — where else? — Thailand. Thailand, one of the more well-known hotspots for sex tourists seeking children to rape.

Now it turns out that the man being hunted by Interpol may have had more in common with Karr than I could have known at the time.

If he was teaching English in South Korea, he is either:

* American;
* Australian;
* British;
* Canadian;
* Irish;
* (added at a reader’s suggestion) New Zealand;
* South African.

and quite possibly fleeing allegations about his conduct in his home country.

Researching Karr, (who has since been in local news here in Atlanta several times, but thankfully fallen off the national radar) I discovered that many Westerners who teach English abroad have substantial presences on the Web — they blog, they chat on message boards about their experiences.

This means the likelihood of this man having had a web presence that was outwardly normal and presentable is pretty high. If you have a bit of the cyber (or web-) sleuth in you, why not start looking? I’ve already found an English school in South Korea whose website is mysteriously offline at the moment, making me wonder — but no reason to actually connect this man to that school.

This entry will be updated in the “old-style” as needed, as the story is unfolding in a way that might be better served by appending new content rather than re-editing the entry.

UPDATE 1

Here in the U.S., an alleged pedophile who apparently recorded his crimes has been captured in Nevada. Chester Arthur Stiles was arrested yesterday during a “routine traffic stop.” Stiles was arrested in Henderson, NV, his vehicle pulled over because it had no license plate. Stiles then told the cops that he was the guy they were looking for, and that he was “tired of running.”

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The exhibitionist alleged pedo being sought by Interpol is a Canadian national and former chaplain named Christopher Paul Neil. True Crime Weblog reader “C from Vancouver” says that Neil has been identified at Dave’s ESL Cafe as a poster there who used the screen name “Peter Jackson.” Jackson/Neil’s profile for the site was sent to Interpol, and some moderators at Dave’s ESL Cafe are apparently actively assisting Interpol in the manhunt. (Click the images of Neil on the left to enlarge.)

This message thread at the ESL Cafe purports to quote a post from Jackson/Neil where he said the following:

In Thailand I had:

Supapich (sounded like super bit* ch)
Kiddyporn

Emphasis added. For reasons that should be obvious, Jackson’s original post was deleted by a board moderator soon after it was made.

The blogger at Raincoaster.com was on top of the Jackon-Christopher Neil connection. Raincoaster linked to a Dave’s ESL discussion containing a post by Jackson/Neil where he said the following about background checks for ESL jobs in Asia:

Police checks are NOT needed to get a visa. Public schools will want one but you should be able to stall them. Often they want teachers SO quickly that they will “wait” for some things. I never gave a police check for my last public school job. I was in Vietnam at the time and getting one wasn’t easy. I delayed and never heard about it again.

From Jackson/Neil’s post above it was easy to find a listing of all his posts since he joined the forum in 2006.

On July 31 of this year, the man alleged by Dave’s ESL Cafe mods to be Christopher Paul Neil posted the following message on the subject of having cameras in the classroom. His next to last paragraph is especially interesting:

I LOVE cameras in the classroom! Here’s how I have handled them in the past:

I did a lot of acting in high school and college. I once thought about becoming an actor. That is until I met so many poor actors and I wasn’t that good…

This being said, I have always used a bit of drama in my teaching. I tend to do better when I have an outside audience, too. So for the camera, I make sure I NEVER look at it but do all kinds of busy work. Check students’ work individually, praise and instruct lots, clean up trash! All for the camera. I treat it as my own little TV show and if someone wants to watch me, well, I’m kind of flattered!

There are some really good reasons for having cameras. One is REALLY good for teachers: If a student or parent makes an accusation of some sort, it is extremely easy to prove or disprove if the lesson is on film. Think of it as safety.

And ham it up as well!

Considering how this man may have been outed to the world as an alleged pedophile, a message like that could haunt him later. Why would it even occur to him that any accusations might be made? It looked like the sort of thing that crosses the minds of many teachers when Jackson/Neil posted it, but now it seems like it may have been a thought that was never far from this man’s mind, in particular.

Christopher Paul Neil was teaching at the Kwangju Foreign School. This appears to be his listing from their staff page (link goes to Google cache, as his listing has been or will be removed shortly, I’m sure):

Grade 7/8-English, Social Studies : Mr. Neil

B.A. History; Seminary of Christ the King; British Columbia , Canada
Canada Teaching Certificate

E-mail Address : cpasianeil@hotmail.com

Christopher Paul Neil’s MySpace page was last accessed in mid-September:

http://www.myspace.com/25501756 [mirror here].

His headline read, “Loving Asia….. will I ever go home again??!”

Under ‘About Me,’ Neil wrote:

Been kicking around Asia for the past five years, teaching mainly and finding other forms of mischief. I like writing and am currently trying my hand at poetry…I may feel obliged to post some pieces here. All criticism is wanted and encouraged…I want to get better. I love teaching, can’t get enough of it really. Enjoy drama, musicals and when in Korea you’ll find me in the Norae Bang (Song room) on many occassions…can’t say I sound very good but it’s all fun.

He also blogged on MySpace: http://blog.myspace.com/25501756 [mirror]. There he blogged about eating dog (EDIT: I personally find the idea of eating dog appalling, as do many in the “Western” world — Neil seemed both amused and bemused by his experience), and he posted examples of his execrable attempts at poetry. He posted a poem in a blog entry titled “More…” on September 13, 2005. It read, in part:

I’ve got to get out of myself
Free this slave, endure this trial no more
I’m running as fast as I can
My only hope is to let this go
Be alone
Escape this entrapment
The circle’s getting smaller
The tunnel narrower
Flexing on with a string
Tied amidst my waist
Holding on to a desperate feeling
Enslaved love
Forgotten reality
Bitter estrangement
Lonely entanglement…

For further narcissistic verbal torture from accused international pedophile Christopher Paul Neil, I refer you to his blog. It’s only a few entries long, but it does give a glimpse into the mindset of a man who would rape little Asian boys, no doubt children from terribly poor homes, then post the images as weird cyber-trophies online.

UPDATE 2, 2:23 p.m. ET, 10/16/07

If you discover any of the ESL Cafe links are broken, this update may explain what’s going on.

A moderator from Dave’s ESL Cafe wrote in to let me know that they “have disabled ‘Peter Jackson’s’ account (possibly belonging to Christopher Neil Paul) so he cannot log in and delete any of his posts.”

The mod went on to say, “Personally I wouldn’t mind if he goes into a corner with a firearm and eats it.”

A lot of people would agree with such a sentiment.

(Incidentally, that was me on Fox News at about 1:20 p.m. Eastern Time today, if anyone saw it — I’ve received one e-mail already from a viewer of that show who found this website through that appearance. I was discussing a case you can read about here, since I’ve never blogged it. But I might.)

Sources:

* The Associated Press.
* The Dept. of Justice page on “Child Sex Tourism.

I’ve made very rudimentary mirrors of Chris Neil’s MySpace profile and MySpace weblog. If you click “View All Blog Entries” from the mirrored profile, it will take you to the mirrored blog:

* Christopher Paul Neil’s MySpace Mirror.
* Neil’s MySpace blog mirror.

If you steal the code I’ve saved to make your own mirror, I’ll know. It’s no big deal because I don’t own the code, but I would appreciate the courtesy of letting me know you’re doing so.

Suburban Gothic: A Standoff in Dallas

An abusive husband and father’s last stand went on for at least 7 hours in Arlington, Texas on Friday. The stand-off ended with water rather than gunfire.

NBC 5 in Dallas reported that prior to the standoff, Arthur Jackson IV took his daughter to the Mayfield Road Baptist Church in Arlington. The 4-year-old little girl was said to be covered in blood but otherwise unharmed. Jackson stated while at the church that he’d ‘committed a crime.’ He was also drenched with blood.

The crime the man allegedly commited was the murder of his wife, Lisa Ford-Jackson and his stepchildren: a 13-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy. The children have not been named. The three were found in a home near Lake Arlington, 10 miles or so from the site of the standoff.

Tarrant County (TX) property tax records showed that the couple owned a home at 2101 Mims Street. Other Tarrant County records showed that Lisa Lynette Ford married Arthur Jackson IV in March, 2003. The murdered stepchildren were Lisa’s kids from a previous relationship, the 4-year-old was the product of Arthur’s and Lisa’s marriage.

The Dallas Morning News reported that police in Fort Worth had been called to the Jackson residence at least twice in recent months. One call was from Arthur, who said he was worried about his kids being left by themselves, the other call was from Lisa, who said that her husband was harassing her, knocking on the door and repeatedly ringing the doorbell.

Arthur Jackson IV finally forced an ending to his confrontation with police. As noted by Jules in the comments left on this post, he pulled out of the driveway where he’d been since early in the afternoon and led the police on a short chase that ended with his vehicle sinking into Lake Arlington.

Reader KatK left this link in the comments below this entry. MyFox Dallas reported that Arthur Jackson shot himself as the vehicle sank into the lake.

An AP story about the standoff contained a statement that seemed weirdly familiar. The kind of thing neighbors so often seem to say when men commit astonishing acts of violence. A man who lived near the Jacksons said the following about the allegedly murderous Arthur: “He was the friendliest guy around [. . .] He was a happy go lucky guy. Every time I saw him, he had a smile.”

Seems like they always do. A smile makes for excellent camouflage.

*****
This post marks the introduction of two new ideas for The True Crime Weblog: An active use of the term “Suburban Gothic”; and a possible change in the way certain blog entries are written.

I certainly didn’t invent the idea of “Suburban Gothic.” But I have often felt that I had a unique take on the meaning of that term. I was raised in a strange situation. My family lived in a home set well back from a rural State road. Our nearest neighbors until I was 16 or so were all family. I knew other boys and girls in the area and even played with them, but the point is this — I didn’t live in the suburbs. They were just across the road, for a long time through a half-mile wide stretch of woods. Riding my bicycle through a field to the road where the suburbs began was for me like entering a completely different world just a mile from my home. From perhaps 7th grade onwards I entered the suburbs as a stranger in a strange land much of the time, and that perception has never left me. It informs how I view certain crime stories — therefore, it will become for the purposes of this weblog a label (or category, if you think in terms of the WordPress blog publishing program) that I use whenever I cover certain crimes in the news.

The change in how entries are written isn’t big, but it will be noticeable. Rather than doing as so many bloggers do and posting sometimes numerous updates, I will simply begin editing and adding to entries as I go. Therefore the blog entry you are reading now may look very different tomorrow. It may contain a great deal more information on the crime being covered, as well as re-written passages. Other portions may be removed, redacted, etc. This is similar to the system certain newswires and newspapers appear to use for online articles.

At a certain point, of course, new entries for a given subject will be necessary. And updates can’t be completely abandoned, style-wise. Sometimes they make sense.

I decided to make this slight change because looking back over old posts I sometimes found updates distracting, even confusing. Hopefully using re-writes and add-ins instead will make for a reading experience that ages better — that is, if someone is reading this post a year from now, it will make more sense and be more coherent than it might be if it were a bunch of updates. I also got tired of ending each entry on a developing story with some variation on “this entry will be updated.” This is one where you can assume that will happen if you are reading the post within an hour of its publication. Otherwise, I may no longer add that note to each post I plan to add to later.

Klutzo the Clown and his International Travels

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Springfield, Illinois resident Klutzo the Clown was arrested October 9, 2007 and charged with possession of child pornography. Authorities allege that Klutzo, who is actually named A. (for Amon) Paul Carlock, Jr., took photos of nude little boys at an orphanage in the Philippines.

It’s tempting to make some sort of joke relating to Krusty the Clown and that other Springfield, but there’s really nothing funny about this story, if you just stop and think about it.

On paper, Paul Carlock Jr. looked like a true pillar of the community, the kind of guy you might actually want to be around your kid: he’d worked over 2 decades in law enforcement, as a Juvenile Counselor for the Illinois Department of Corrections; he’d been a patrolman and then a Youth Division detective for the Springfield PD; he was an ordained minister.

Carlock frequently performed as a clown with his wife — he was Klutzo, she was “Smilee.” No hint of anything inappropriate could be gleaned from the couples’ website (his wife is not charged with anything and may have even filed for divorce):

clowncapers.esmartkid.com/index.html [link goes to archived version, original site down].

If the charges against A. Paul Carlock Jr. are true, he was a predator. Hindsight makes some messages that Carlock left on the Web look more suspicious than they probably seemed when he made them.

According to the complaint filed against Carlock by the feds, he was stopped at the San Francisco International Airport on June 12, 2007 in part because he was coming from the Philippines, and that country is “considered high risk for child sex tourism and child pornography.”

Carlock said he’d been there to visit an orphanage named “House of Joy.”

He also said he’d been there before.

This appears to be the home page for the “House of Joy.”

A guestbook could be found here. A third of the way down the page was this message, left sometime prior to 2006 — emphasis has been added:

I hope everyone is fine there. From your site it seems that all is well.

I hope to come again sometime in 2006. Would love to clown at the schools while there.

If it is possible, I would like to stay busy by helping your house parents. Maybe they could take a few days off with pay while I fill in for them free of charge.

God Bless
Paul Carlock “Klutzo”
Springfield, Illinois USA

The next mention of Klutzo associated with the “House of Joy” was found halfway down this web page:

House of Joy has a visitor from Illinois, USA. He is Paul Carlock, a policeman and a professional clown. He will stay for 3 weeks.
His daily schedule was very busy because he go to one school to another to share his talent to the children.
Mr.Paul Carlock, thank you for entertaining the children of House of Joy and the Children of San Isidro.

The photos accompanying the blurb about Klutzo were all uploaded in February, 2004.
Paul “Klutzo” Carlock Jr. had photos with him when the authorities stopped him in June, too. They were, according to the complaint, “numerous images of nude young males,” who were between 5 and 10 years of age. The boys were shown “playing, showering, and sitting clothed but with genitals visible.” Some children were aware of the camera, others were not.

A. Paul Carlock Jr. from Illinois also had an Amazon profile. He said he was a “filmfanatic,” and he’d reviewed 10 movies. The movies are interesting by themselves, but it is more illustrative of where Carlock was coming from to note the “tags” he used for the movies he liked. Again, emphasis has been added:

boy (3), devotion (2), loyalty (2), bonding (1), child (1), coming of age (1), comitment (1), commitment (1), crafty (1), endearment (1), goofy (1), hope (1), kidnapping (1), love (1), miracle (1), mischievous fun (1), moving (1), parenting (1), relationship (1), silly (1), socialization (1), trickster (1)

It isn’t the sort of evidence that would make it into a court case against Carlock, but again, in hindsight, it is hard to read the list of tags above and not nod and think, “it figures.” To read Paul Carlock’s reviews of various DVDs, most of them with children prominently displayed on the covers, click here.

Carlock tried to explain his way out of the situation in San Francisco. He said of the nude children, “That’s how they live.”

But by mid-September, the jig was up for Klutzo. Authorities in the Philippines interviewed three children, a 9-year-old and two 10-year-olds. From the October 9th complaint against Carlock:

All three minors made sworn statements in which they stated that they woke up to Paul Carlock fondling and caressing their penis and that he walked out of the room when they awoke.

Back in the States, Carlock’s wife told investigators that Klutzo had been in the Big Brothers program for about 2 months. A 6-year-old boy was assigned to Carlock.

The boy was interviewed. He had not been molested, but one of the two DVDs he’d been given by Carlock held photos of nude filipino boys and girls.

Investigators had seized computers and other media from Carlock by the end of September. The complaint stated that they found more than 20 movies on various items taken from Carlock’s home — all of it child pornography.

The feds will have the last laugh on Klutzo the Clown.

Consider, though — Carlock was born in 1949, and by his own account, he’s been “involved in pastoral ministry, Christian education, Christian camping and evangelism since 1967.”

Reading about how Paul Carlock was into “Christian camping” (whatever that is) 40 years ago was enough to induce some queasiness. After all, how long could this “orphan toucher’s” (thanks, BelchSpeak) trail of victims be? Surely he didn’t start “touching” in his 50s?

If Carlock is guilty of molestation, child-sex tourism, and the child porn charges against him, he has been a demonstrable hypocrite for more than 20 years. The Peoria Journal Star reported the following on October 10:

In December 1986, Carlock wrote a letter to the State Journal-Register complaining about a cartoon. In it, he said he was a conservative Christian and not ashamed of the fact.

“I am not in favor of censorship, but do feel that far too much ‘smut’ has been poured into the minds of Americans by all forms of media,” he wrote.

“I have spent the past 16 years in law enforcement and related professions. I have spoken with victims and offenders and have read many case histories in which pornographic materials played an overwhelming role in the events that have left lives shattered and homes broken.”

Later in the letter, he wrote: “Why is it so unreasonable to assume the government has the right to protect the public from the harmful effects of pornography (especially in light of the vast amounts of evidence to support this claim)?”

There are plenty of adults who have an appropriate interest in children. Coaches who just want to teach kids to love a game, to enjoy sports. Teachers who feel called to mold young minds: Ministers, rabbis or [even] priests who feel led to teach children spiritually.

When people want to bemoan a culture of fear, where a normal adult male might walk away from an unfamiliar child crying and alone in a shopping mall for fear of being viewed as a predator if he speaks to the kid, they are forgetting the reason that fear has grown — stories about guys who play the clown.

Tubby, funny, surely endearing, and just waiting for the time when the orphans finally fall asleep.

Magnanimous in their casual offers to help beleaguered single parents, foster parents, house parents, always “free of charge.”

UPDATE, 10/12/2007

The Springfield (Il.) State Journal-Register has a new article about Carlock up today. The lede is a statement that should come as no surprise:

One thing appears certain. Wherever A. Paul Carlock Jr. was, children were not far away.

Go figure.

UPDATE 2

Word to the wise: Know which Klutzo is which, people. Some poor schmuck named Jerry Kautz had been using the same clown moniker for ages, and naturally (since the world is chock full of incredibly stupid people) after Amon Paul Carlock Jr. was arrested, poor old Jerry started getting hate mail and death threats.

*Sigh.* I just hope none of those nimrods read any of my blog entries.

Other Source: “Christian Clown Busted For Kiddie Porn,WaPo’s OFF/beat Weblog.

This entry has also been published at In Cold Blog.

***UPDATE, 11/19/07***

The story of Klutzo the Clown ends strangely. Go here to see what I mean.

Carnival of the True Crime Blogs #97

Let’s begin the 97th edition of the Carnival of the True Crime Blogs with the pros, and a fascinating post made October 8 at In Cold Blog, by author Ron Franscell. Ron asks a question in his post that surely has occurred to a good number of true crime writers, from beginning crime bloggers to pros with books on the bestsellers lists: “Natural or Nurtured? Are Sociopaths Born?

Next up are the guys at Crime Rant, commenting on the tragic mass-murder in tiny Crandon, WI: “Tyler Peterson: Wasted (Lives) in Wisconsin.

Here at the True Crime Weblog, I’ve done a follow-up on the shocking case of Missouri pedophile Michael Devlin and the young people he abused: “According to Michael Devlin, Michael Devlin is Guilty.

Crime, Interrupted has an unsettling story about an alleged female pedophile who sometimes calls herself “Pixiedust” (ew!): “Four Corners Creep of the Week: Michelle Tufts.

At CLEWS, The Historic True Crime Blog, leading true crime historian Laura James interviews a British true crime author who has written a book about one of the most fascinating serial killers of the 20th Century, Austrian-born Jack Unterweger: “CLEWS Interviews True Crime Author John Leake.

Finally, the ever-eclectic and interesting 1947 Project tells us about “Those Monkeys in City Hall” and the hapless owner of a simian who partied in the palm trees one day in downtown L.A. in 1927.

That’s it for this week’s Carnival of the True Crime Blogs — click away, and follow links from the other weblogs. You’ll find that True Crime online can become a scarily addictive pursuit, and the links above are just gateway “drugs.”

By Popular Demand: Open Thread for Madeleine McCann

There is no end to public fascination with the disappearance of the little British girl from Praia da Luz early last May.

Because several requests have been received, the purpose of this post is to simply start the discussion and let readers go.

To give some focus to the discussion, this article could be considered suggested reading.

The piece relates the news that Portuguese police may be looking for DNA and fingerprints the Britons who were at the Mark Warner-owned resort when Madeleine disappeared.

Apparently there were samples found there that investigators would still like to identify.

Detectives may be chasing signs of a kidnapper, after all.

If they are… well, what the hell happened to pointing the finger at Madeleine’s parents, physicians Kate and Gerry McCann?

If you prefer to read comments in-line — beneath the entry, on the blog itself, do the following once you’ve entered your comment:

* Instead of clicking “comment”, click the title of the post (“By Popular Demand…”), then scroll down and enter your comment in the box. Some people seem to find the pop-out box that comes when you simply click “comment” from the blog’s main page confusing;

* After you press “publish”, press “F5” on your computer keyboard. You may also click the “refresh” button on your browser — usually a looped arrow
.

Comments have a 3,000 character limit, and the Haloscan format doesn’t like overly-long URLs.

I am considering opening a thread to discuss the murder of Chicago-area pharmaceutical sales rep Nailah Franklin, but there were a few trolls following those entries before. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem, but while I’m adding old entries to this site and making other improvements I don’t have the time or patience to mess with that sort of nonsense.

As always, please keep the discussion civil and on-topic. Any off-topic, offensive, or frankly, just plain stupid posts may deleted and the user banned.

The way you close comments with Haloscan doesn’t really close them. The previous thread at this blog (TrueCrimeWeblog.com) can be reached here.