UPDATE AT THE END OF POST
This is an editorial about the so-called “Smiley Face Gang,” and the murders they may have committed. So far, I’m not buying it.
I get tips regarding crime stories in the news all the time. Recently, I’ve received a number of e-mails with links to variations on this story:
“‘Smiley Face Gang’ Linked to 40 Murders.
I linked that story because it is more concise than many of the articles I’ve read so far. Quoting:
As many as 40 young men believed to have accidentally drowned may actually have been murdered at the hands of a vicious gang of killers.
That’s the conclusion reached by a group of retired New York City detectives who have spent the last 11 Years connecting the deaths…
Retired NYPD investigators Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte, working in concert with Prof. D. Lee Gilbertson of St. Cloud State University, believe they’ve uncovered a pattern of murders going back to 1997. That was when young Patrick McNeill vanished after a night out drinking in New York City. McNeill’s body was eventually pulled out of the Hudson River, his death declared a suicide.
Gannon, Duarte, and Gilbertson believe that as many as 40 similar deaths in the 11 years since McNeill died may be connected.
Gilbertson told NBC that “This is a nationwide organization that revels in killing young men.”
Kevin Gannon said that he believes this organization is “specifically targeting a small, narrow group of individuals,” namely healthy young college guys in their 20s. Race isn’t an issue for the killers, if they exist. Most of the victims have been white, but not all.
Generally, this gang is just going after young dudes out on the town. They supposedly use drowning as a method to both kill and conceal. Then they sometimes leave a smiley face spray painted somewhere nearby. Gannon and Duarte say they’ve found this surreal signature in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana.
Another reason this story is getting attention is the fact that at least one of the mysterious deaths possibly attributed to the Smiley Face Gang
has indeed been declared a homicide.
Univ. of Minnesota student Chris Jenkins vanished on Halloween night, 2002. His body was found in the Mississippi River in February, 2003. Jenkins’s death was initially declared “undetermined” and the case closed. However, after tests were done in 2006, the Minneapolis PD re-opened the case as a homicide and apologized to the Jenkins family.
Other families who lost their sons and brothers in a similar way are beginning to support Gannon and Duarte’s theory.
This is a compelling story, no doubt about that. How could you ignore it? Fine young fellows in the prime of life meet their end in the night, in the water, at the hands of a shadowy cabal of killers. In the morning, only a macabre smiley face somewhere near the scene of the crime marks what happened there.
Sounds like a short pitch for a new suspense novel, doesn’t it?
That’s part of my problem with what Gannon, Duarte, and Gilbertson propose. It sounds too much like fiction. Granted, there will always be crime stories that are even stranger than fiction. It’s rare when one sounds perfectly suited to the work of Thomas Harris or Jonathan Kellerman. I guess in one sense, I’m just talking about the smell test. For me, this story hasn’t passed it, yet.
Two retired NYPD cops certainly lend weight to the tale. After all, both Gannon and Duarte have investigated everything on their own dime — that’s impressive and lends them further credibility.
At the same time, though — serial murder isn’t typically a group activity. There have been couples, of course — Paul and Karla
, Doug Clark and Carol Bundy
— but there is a lot of truth to the stereotype of the loner working in the shadows and the dark. Serial killers keep their counsel and they blend into society. Dennis Rader
was a family man who was a bit prickly and obsessive-compulsive, but he remained free from police scrutiny for 30 years after he began killing as BTK. Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, was a typical schmoe working at a factory job. He kept to himself and a had a penchant for prostitutes, but DNA outed him for the monster he truly was.
Neither man (and there are many other examples I could cite) was what you’d call much of a team player. While Rader was involved with his church and the Boy Scouts, he wasn’t necessarily the guy on the team — he was usually in a leadership position, which likely suited his pathological narcissism just fine (in fact, it may have kept him from killing more than he did). Rader didn’t want to be the guy who passed the ball. He wanted to be in charge, making all the jump shots and calling the plays.
Serial murder seems like a pretty poor choice for a team sport. Eventually, someone has a little more vestige of a conscience than other members of the team, and they talk. That was how Charlie Manson
and his Family were brought down — they were the closest thing to a serial killing team in modern history. But someone not in on Charlie’s grand plan did some talking, and the Family’s house of cards fell down.
But so far, I’m just talking about my gut reactions and what I know of serial murder in general.
Another problem I have with this story is that it resembles other stories from the past that were eventually debunked to one degree or another. If not debunked, at least subject to a lot of skepticism.
In 1988, Maury Terry published The Ultimate Evil
. He linked The Process Church
— an outfit some see as Satanic (click the link to read the better-than-average Wiki on this “church”) — with the Son of Sam, David Berkowitz
, the Zodiac Killer
and Charles Manson. While Terry’s book was well-written and seemed thorough, it never made it out of the true crime/conspiracy theory pigeonhole — meaning that only those already disposed to believe in far-reaching and terrifying conspiracies among evil people think Terry’s work is the gospel truth. Most others take it with a grain of salt. Has it been thoroughly discredited? I don’t know. I know Terry’s theory has never been proven.
When Dennis Rader decided to resurrect BTK in 2004 and he began sending out new letters and packets of evidence to police, a slew of theories about BTK and his possible connections to other killers could be found all over the Web. Frequently they incorporated BTK into Terry’s wide-ranging band of killers. A guy named Ken Mosbaugh even managed to get Wichita TV station KSN to buy into his theory (mostly borrowed from Terry and some Zodiac theorists) that BTK was linked to Zodiac, Son of Sam, and Manson. Eventually Mosbaugh must have been debunked (Dennis Rader’s arrest probably helped), and KSN removed all trace of their report from their website. You can still read the article in question here, on a message board
where someone copied it into a post.
Some folks were even sure BTK and Zodiac were one and the same. Dennis Rader’s arrest scotched all of that speculation. His real status as a Lutheran dog catcher in Park City, Kansas lacked a certain glamor. He’d never been part of any group of like-minded psychos at all. Rader might have admired what the Zodiac did, emulated the still-unknown California psychopath, but that was as far as it went.
One thing that made earlier theories of bands of killers using similar methods seem untenable was the lack of easy, fast communication. Were they burning up the phone lines, chatting about the next kill? Were they passing coded messages through classified ads? Possibly, but common sense really said no.
That’s one element in favor of the theory of the Smiley Face Gang — communication.
If this theoretical gang of killers exists and they began working in 1997, they had a still-new tool to work with: the Internet. People had been dialing into online bulletin boards since the 1980s by 1997, and the message board format was already hopping. Kansas serial killer John Robinson
started seeking victims online in 1993, and he did it with chat rooms and message board posts.
Robinson could draw victims into his web from California and Indiana, and do it in relative anonymity.
The Web’s capacity for instant communication across great distances (chat rooms, forums) would permit the formation
of a gang of killers. That doesn’t mean it has happened, yet.
I have some issues with the linking of the smiley faces to the crimes, too. How far away were the faces from the victim’s point of entry into the water? Was there a way to determine when the faces were painted? How was each dead man’s actual entry point into the river or body of water determined? In Chris Jenkins’s case, the water in his body was tested to find out where he’d been thrown (or fallen) in.
Television interviews with Gannon and Duarte are sometimes confusing. They frequently allude to knowing much more, even mentioning “witnesses,” only to turn around and say they can no longer afford to fund their investigations and the FBI needs to take over. They’ve gone public, yes… but the story remains maddeningly vague.
Overall, this may be a case where I will learn more and realize that something immensely strange and unprecedented truly is going on.
In fact, you could come back to this site and find I’ve come around completely to Gannon, Duarte and Gilbertson’s way of thinking.
After all, here in the South, we’ve recently had strikingly familiar disappearances — familiar to anyone who has followed the deaths now allegedly linked to the Smiley Face Gang:
“Missing in Georgia: Justin Gaines” — Justin, age 18, vanished after a night of drinking on November 1, 2007. He hasn’t been found yet. If I had to guess, I’d say someone whom Justin thought he knew caused his disappearance. Still, he was athletic, a college student, and he vanished after a night of drinking.
HelpFindKyle.com — Kyle Fleischmann, age 24, disappeared November 9, 2007 after a night of drinking at the Buckhead Saloon in Charlotte, NC. Like Justin and most of the victims now attributed to the Smiley Face Gang, Kyle was athletic, attractive, and had been out drinking.
Could this “gang” have moved South? Branched out? Or is there something more basic at work — something having to do with youth, inexperience, and perhaps too much alcohol, on occasion?
For me, the jury is still out on the theory of the Smiley Face Gang. Count me among the skeptics, in general.
But my mind is still open. Hell, even as I was writing this, it occurred to me that one of the smiley faces found in Gannon and Duarte’s investigation had a cross between the face’s button eyes. That triggered a mental image from news footage of Charles Manson’s trial in the early 70s in LA. At one point, Manson and all his followers who were not incarcerated shaved their heads and carved crosses in their foreheads. After I imagined that, I remembered Manson saying in interviews since he was convicted that his followers were still out there. Who the hell knows? Manson tends to speak in vaguely menacing terms most of the time, but perhaps he’s been stating more concrete truth than anyone has realized. Maybe his followers have gone deeper underground than anyone realizes.
See? It isn’t hard to go down certain roads, once you start.
case, your thoughts in the comments below. Lively discourse is welcome; flaming and insults are not.
If I had time I’d write another post, but for now I wanted to make a note:
“FBI disagrees with river drownings theory.“
The following is a quote from the article:
The FBI says there’s no evidence to support a reported link between serial killers, and the river drownings of 40 college-age men in the Upper Midwest…
FBI Agent Richard Kolko told reporters that the Bureau took a look at information provided by Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte and concluded that most of the deaths in question “were alcohol-related.”
Let’s admit it — even the FBI’s skepticism won’t dissuade die-hard conspiracy theorists.
“The (smiley) face of a killer?
” by Mike Celizic, for TODAYShow.com.
The Old Bailey, London’s main criminal court, has published all court proceedings between 1674 and 1913 online. True crime historians everywhere have begun to salivate as surely as Pavlov’s dog drooled at the ring of a bell.
I’ve already taken a “found poetry” approach to a few recent posts in the True Crime Tumblelog. This is in no way intended to be frivolous, but a re-structuring of how one might look at a given story. A found poem is all about taking existing text and presenting it in a way that alters the reader’s view of the subject. Where a crime story is concerned, it can be a route to deeper meaning, learning something more profound about the human experience in general.
Just in case you think this is an odd approach coming from a true crime blogger, well, it isn’t. Not from me, at least. My first published work was poetry. Three pieces were published in an anthology of Nashville-area poets who congregated around an iconic downtown establishment for many years (only paid in copies of the book, but that’s par for the course, much of the time). Another poem I wrote 20 years ago was once highlighted in the Poet’s Market by one publisher as an example of precisely the sorts of submissions he wanted from others.
I first published this in the TC Tumblelog, but I felt it was a bit long for that site — I try to keep tumblelog entries brief, in keeping with the format as most people understand it.
Here’s some found poetry from the Old Bailey proceedings referenced in the title of this entry — in keeping with my understanding of the form, I’ve made no alterations to the text short of leaving out some words and punctuation — enjambment sometimes takes the place of punctuation in what you’re about to read…
I knew the deceased, Charlotte Whale,
She lived with me last summer
She arrived that day with the prisoner
I had seen the prisoner before
but did not know much of her
She said she would rather
Be in the same place as Charlotte Whale
Half past 8 on the Tuesday morning
my wife came into my room
in cones sequence of what she said
I saw Whale lying on the bed
with her head
very much injured;
she was alive,
lying on her left side
with her face towards the wall
I saw that the skull
had been injured
I at once dressed
saw the prisoner
sitting on a chair
She said I done it,
I meant doing it;
I owed her a grudge,
I know I shall swing for it
GUILTY of the act charged,
but being insane To be detained during Her Majesty’s pleasure.
Here is the BBC coverage.
My buddy Columbian Cokane blogger shows us how they handle a similar situation with a white guy in Rhode Island when he goes to score cocaine and rams his car into a police cruiser. As noted in the comments section, No shots fired.
UPDATE: “I could have been Sean Bell.”
Exactly. And any one of us could have been Brian Noakes
in Corvallis, Derek
in Wilmington, Liko Kenney in Franconia or Michael Isreal
in Hamilton, Ohio. Sometimes we extract some measure of Justice by working together. Just real people trying to get to and fro.
Let’s get real:
First, Police have the toughest job in the World. As a former AAG and even as a private practice attorney involved in litigation for them and against them, no one is going to tell me otherwise.
Let’s keep it real:
Sometimes they make mistakes, and when they do, the government, from the top down (it was a bench trial of course) almost always protects them, coddles them unless the conduct is sooooo extreme as to shock the conscience. Think of the rape and sodomy
of Abner Louima, with a side of Perjury to boot.
After the verdict a spokesman for a police union, Patrick J Lynch, told reporters it proved that police officers could expect “fairness” when in court.
He said that Bell’s death had been a “tragedy”, but said that for police officers out on the streets there “is never a script – they deal with circumstances as they come” and sometimes made mistakes.
KingCast says 50 rounds ain’t no mistake. They were shooting to kill. And as I recall from reading early accounts of this tragedy they were plainclothes officers trash talking Bell and his friends and when they opened fire Bell having only a vehicle to defend himself with, tried to ram a car and do whatever he could to stay alive. Mr Bell was no troublemaker, he was a hard-working father and lover.
Here is a comment from Sean Bell’s father, William Bell.
Below is a solid comment from someone who is probably an LE in that story:
All police officers are trained before being issued a gun. No where does the training call for an officer to empty and reload his side arm without first assessing the situation before continuing to fire. These guys followed and attempted to execute the occupants of that car. No backup was called prior to the shooting. Why couldnt they box in the car and wait for backup? They deserve to hang. No ones life is worth more than another. No special treatment for cops.
As far as it not being a race issue…i think no one knows what its like to be black or hispanic in this city unless they are black or hispanic. Racial profiling is real. Whites dont believe it because they are not the victims of it.
Similarly, a rogue cop like Franconia, New Hampshire’s Bruce McKay “made mistakes” forever and got away with bloody murder, look at his legacy
, and the NH Goverment, led by Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, is there to try (and thankfully fail) to name a road after him. Then they cover for a dangerous instrumentality
named Gregory W. Floyd, whom I believe murdered Liko Kenney. This was after Kenney, forcibly backed into a corner with a 3-ton Tahoe and a can of mace — all against Police procedure
— shot McKay. Then Floyd goes home with Liko’s Kenney’s live round in his pocket and the AG tells us
they have no fingerprint analysis that could tell us whether Floyd actually was the one who loaded that clip in Liko’s gun.
Thankfully we have won the right to inspect the original dash cam video
to see if that provides us any more information in this tragedy and we will be doing that just as Liko would have turned 25 years of age.
needs little introduction to most true crime aficionados. Seamus was a prolific contributor to The Crime Library
, and he’s also written for Radar
. Seamus was a greater influence on me than he probably realized when I was a Crime Library
contributor. His advice on writing ledes and structuring news articles was invaluable, and his skill as an editor unmatched — he turned some pretty dry CL submissions from yours truly into news worth reading.
Currently, Seamus is seeking a publisher for his new novel, Men In Granny Panties
, which he describes as “a raucous political and social satire that looks at the current American landscape through the eyes of a cross-dressing U.S. Senator.”
I’m honored to bring you the following article from my fellow CL “alum.” It is one of the finest, most thought-provoking guest contributions I’ve ever had the pleasure of posting to any of my sites. ~ Steve Huff
She shuddered, gave out one last long gasp of breath and it was over. Everything had all gone according to plan, and the old woman had been cooperative. In the hours after she had been brought to “the Walls,” the notorious Texas death chamber at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, Betty Lou Beets had been a model prisoner. “She wasn’t any kind of gabfest,” retired Captain Terry Green recalled of the woman who, at 62, was about to become, at the time, the oldest person and only the third woman put to death in Texas. “But she wasn’t surly or had any kind of attitude toward us.”
And when it came time, on the evening of Feb. 24, 2000, for the woman to make her way to the death chamber where she would be strapped to a gurney and wait for Warden Jim Willett to give the signal — he would always take off the reading glasses he wore specifically for such occasions — Beets went along quietly.
Green and the guards didn’t touch her. They didn’t have to. They simply formed a cordon around her as they usually did, two in front, two behind, and began the long walk to the death chamber, letting the gravity, the solemnity, the ritual of what was about happen carry them along. On the team this time, there was a young woman, a guard who like everyone on the tie-down team, had volunteered for the duty. The warden had asked her to, Green recalled, and she had said; “Yeah, I’ll do it, because it’s a female inmate.” She could have refused the duty. They all could have.
A guard instructed Beets to climb up on the gurney and she did it without complaint. The guards moved in, each with their own specific and limited task. As he would do 102 times throughout the six years he spent working inside the Walls, Green secured the strap on her left arm, another across her upper torso and a third across her lower torso while the remaining guards secured the other restraints. Technicians swabbed the old woman’s clammy skin with alcohol. There was no sense of irony in taking such hygienic precautions for a woman who was about to killed — it was all part of the coldly medical ritual. Then the needles were inserted into her veins, one in the left arm closest to the heart, another in the right arm, just in case.
The signal was given. From behind a wall, faceless functionaries — also volunteers — strictly followed the state’s execution protocol, pushing three plungers in their prescribed order to fill the woman’s veins with the lethal cocktail. First came the thiopental sodium, a powerful barbiturate that supposedly induces a near-coma in the condemned, then pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes the inmate, and finally potassium chloride to stop the heart.
And then, with a shudder and a last long gasp for breath, it was over.
“She took it like a man,” Green said in a recent interview.
Green and the team again stepped in. They unbuckled the restraints in precisely the same order they had fastened them and hefted the dead woman from the state’s fixed gurney to the mobile one brought by the mortician and helped as her body was wrapped in the purple shroud reserved for such occasions.
It was then that Green glanced over at the young woman guard. “The guard was kind of backing away from us… I could tell that she was crying,” Green recalled. “I… didn’t say anything and went back and told the major. He walked over there and we come to find out the lady reminded her of her mama. I don’t think she ever did any more executions. It was traumatic for her.”
This piece is not a polemic on capital punishment. There have been plenty of those in the 31 years since a series of rulings from the United States Supreme Court opened the door for the death penalty to resume in the U.S. It is not a review of the arguments for or against capital punishment; not a study of whether it works as a deterrent to violent crime; or whether the nation is justified in taking lives in the name of justice.
Instead, this is a simple piece that takes a look at one question that has largely been overlooked: How do the people who are charged with carrying out capital punishment cope with the immense responsibility of their jobs?
It is not a question that most of the states that perform executions are eager to have answered. The 38 states that permit capital punishment, and the federal prison system, have cast an almost-impenetrable veil of secrecy around those guards and technician and medicos who participate in executions. The wall of silence is so dense that even anonymous interviews with execution team members are prohibited. In preparing this piece, we contracted officials at every state that has conducted an execution since 1976, requesting “blind interviews” with team members in which not even the magazine would know the true identities of the people involved — we had agreed to rely on the assurances of the states that the people we would be talking to were actually team members, and offered to provide transcripts of the interviews to state officials. In lieu of that, we offered to provide written questions and agreed to accept written responses. In every case, we were turned down. In a handful of cases, the states cited pending litigation as the reason for their silence. In other cases it was just a matter of policy.
As Jeffrey Ray, a spokesman for the Idaho Department of Corrections, put it, “the team members’ identities are so closely guarded that the folks here don’t want to discuss anything even remotely connected with them…. The warden said he feels it’s his responsibility to protect the anonymity of the team members, and he doesn’t think that having them answer your questions would or could assist our department with any portion of our mission.”
There are those, like Green, who retired in 2005, who are both willing to talk and critical of those who aren’t. “I guess maybe this gives me up in terms of being simple-minded, but if you’re gonna do it, don’t deny it,” Green said.
In one crucial way, Green is unique among those have been involved in executions and are willing to talk about it. Plain-spoken and gregarious, with a Texas accent as thick as sausage gravy, he is quick to laugh, but deeply thoughtful about the role he served for half a decade. Still, Green says, he has never been haunted by his actions. “I’ve always had a clear conscience about it, a clean heart about it. I still do….never had second thoughts,” he recalled, though he once received a hostile postcard from a death penalty abolitionist in Italy. “It didn’t bother me, or offend me or nothing else,” he said, though Green remembers wondering how the man learned his identity and his address. “It wasn’t like, okay, ‘here’s who will be serving at the execution table tonight’…It wasn’t public knowledge, per se.”
In fact, he now says, serving on the tie-down team, “is the only thing I miss in terms of being employed with TDC. Not because I’m a death-monger or whatever but because it’s so unique. It was something just a few people were involved in, and I miss that part of it.”
Green was already a veteran guard in 1999 when he transferred to the Walls, and almost immediately, he says, he volunteered for the tie-down team, the cadre of guards who are responsible for condemned prisoners from the moment they are picked up at death row for the 43-mile ride to the Walls, to the moment that their bodies are loaded into the hearse at the death house door.
“I knew when I transferred to the Walls…that the executions took place there because they always have and it was something I wanted to be involved in,” Green said. “I’ve always been pro-death penalty. Even as a non-correctional person I was.” Volunteering for the team, he said, was the most natural thing in the world for him. “I’m the kind of guy personality-wise I want to be in the mix if anything’s going on that’s not too danged dangerous.”
Though he was committed to the concept of capital punishment, he still approached his first execution with a degree of trepidation. The condemned man’s name was Martin Vega. He had been convicted and sentenced to death for murdering a man, firing seven shots from .22-caliber pistol at close range in order to collect a $250,000 insurance payout.
It wasn’t that Green questioned the sentence. But he had received little formal instruction on what to expect, he says. The truth is, his most extensive primer came during a casual conversation with another member of the team. “I said, ‘Okay tell me, is the dude…gonna make noises or what?” Green recalled. “I didn’t want to get startled, you know? It wasn’t about being scared, I wasn’t scared, but I didn’t want to go, ‘Oh my God, what was that?’ I wanted to have an idea.”
“And he said, ‘Aw hell, he’ll take a real deep breath and blow it out and that’s basically when he dies. And that’s…the only noise you’re gonna hear.'”
As the years passed, Green says he found that generally was the case. He also found himself becoming a more integral part of the team. In time, he found himself driving the van that brought the condemned from death row in Livingston to the death house in Huntsville. “We had a special minivan that had two cages in the back, that’s the only way to describe them, and I would be the officer that drove the thing, along with another officer,” Green recalled. Often, as the inmate sat in the van, waiting for the escort vehicles that would travel with the van, Green would pop open the rear door and chat with the inmate. “I’d…tell him actually what he was looking at and this and that. It wasn’t an official conversation. It was my own doing. It wasn’t something I was supposed to be doing per se, not that there was anything wrong with it.”
Sometimes during those chats, a prisoner would try to convince Green that he did not deserve to die. It never worked. He had been a guard long enough to remain unmoved. “There wasn’t anything…that made me think….any different from what I knew…and read about him on paper,” he said. “He was just another dude who had been in the joint, made a bunch of bad decisions and he done made the very worst decision he could have ever made and got himself in this position.
“And that wasn’t a defense mechanism. That was just the way I read it,” Green said.
Sure, on one or two occasions, Green said, he had his doubts. “I can recall the thought crossed my mind if this cat wasn’t figuring to get executed he’d probably be okay…but that certainly wasn’t my call, and wasn’t something I ran and told (then-Warden) Jim Willett, ‘Hey Jim, we need to let this guy off.'”
The way Green saw it, “We had to see that the order of the court was carried out. So in that sense, we were doing our job.”
Once back at the Walls with the soon-to-be-executed prisoner, Green and his fellow guards faded into the background, he said. That was the warden’s time, and the chaplain’s, and most of all, it was the prisoner’s time. They’d sit in their cell just outside the death chamber and talk on the phone, or to the warden or the chaplain. Some would pray. Some would sing. Most were quiet. A few put up some brief show of resistance, but in the end, they all gave in to the inevitability that Green and his teammates represented. “On three…four occasions we had to use physical force to get the person out of the cell and put them on the gurney. But that was certainly the exception. Most of them just accepted it,” Green said. “Put yourself in that position. You can’t beat it no matter what you do. I mean you might sock Captain Green in the eye three times — what difference is it going to make? They still gonna kill you. I think it’s just a high wall to climb over and they knew they couldn’t get out of it. Most of them went to it and took it like men.”
He’s only in his late fifties, now, but there’s something in Jim Willett’s voice that makes him sound years older. Soft-spoken and polite, he spends his time nowadays guiding tourists through the Texas Prison Museum, a sometimes macabre, sometimes enlightening collection of artifacts from the Texas prison system. Surrounded by everything from balls and chains to the electric chair the state abandoned in favor of the antiseptic tools of lethal injection, Willett has developed a museum curator’s bearing.
But there’s something else in Willett’s voice. It’s a weariness that he believes was carved deep into him during the three years he served as warden at the Walls. In those three years, from the spring of 1998 to March 2001, Willett gave the signal to execute more convicts that he can remember.
“The media says 89,” Willet said. “I’ve never really counted, but I guess that’s close to it.” In fact, at the time of his retirement, Willett had presided over more executions than anyone else alive, a record that is all the more astounding when you consider that Willett is anything but a hard-core supporter of capital punishment. “I have never really had a notion one way or the other; I understand both sides of it. I went into it that way and I guess [I] left the same way,” he said, and then added even more quietly, “I didn’t really care for doing that part of my job. I never found it easy.”
The truth is, Willett was always ambivalent about the death penalty. His ambivalence deepened from the first moment he walked into the death chamber in April of 1998 to oversee the botched execution of convicted killer Joseph Cannon.
“We had a real bad mess-up on my first one,” Willett recalled. “They…never found…. a good vein and so we decided — I decided — to go with one [intravenous line] instead of two.
“It was placed in the right arm, farthest from the heart. Right after the executioner started to push the drugs, the needle popped out, and we had to close the curtains, (hiding him from the view of witnesses) which they’d never done… before. It was terrible for me because not only was that my first one, I had never witnessed an execution and I was doing it all from what people had told me.”
None of the executions that followed were as dramatic for Willett, who in one year alone sent 40 convicts to their deaths. But every one of them took a toll on the warden. Part of it was the fact that his job required him to meet with each condemned inmate, to fill them in on the arcane and deadly ritual they were about to face, but also to assess their needs and make sure that their last few hours were as comfortable as possible.
“I felt like my job was to make sure that this whole process went smoothly,” Willett said. “I mean, I’m the guy in charge of all of it; I’m the one responsible for that.”
He inoculated himself against any feelings of bias, he said, by learning as little about the inmate’s crime as he could. “I found out early on that if I pulled these fellas’ files and I found out the details of the crime I had a little problem wanting to even stand there and have a conversation with them….so very early on I quit reading anything about it. I knew he was there for probably a horrible crime — that’s all I knew until after it was over with — but that night or the next day I’d usually pull the folders and see what the crimes were. That’s how I dealt with it.”
In the end, he said, “My dealings with those inmates were largely based on how they were that day. If they wanted to talk, well, we spent some time talking. I always went back — if I wasn’t there when they arrived I got there shortly thereafter and we started up a conversation. If the inmate wasn’t very talkative and he didn’t have questions, those conversations were short. I guess maybe five minutes. If he was talkative, I might be back there 20 or 30 minutes, and on those occasions a lot of times I’d go back and check on those guys later in the afternoon.”
And when the time appointed by the courts came, it was always Willett who was the ultimate public face of the execution.
The identities of the technicians and the guards were all concealed, and each of the members of the team, in keeping with protocol, had only limited responsibilities so that no single one of them could be said to be truly responsible for the execution.
The warden had no such protection, Willett said. “I was the person who said, ‘Let’s go ahead with this.'”
It was, and remains for Willett, an awesome burden. He coped with it, he said, by convincing himself that he was just “a cog in a great big wheel.”
There were times, of course, that he had his doubts. His last execution was an example. Dennis Thurl Dowthitt and his 16-year-old son Delton had been charged with the 1992 sexual assault and slaying of two young girls in Conroe, Texas. Until moments before his execution, the elder Dowthitt maintained that his son – who testified against him and had been sentenced to 45 years in prison – had been the real killer. But just before Willett took off his glasses to signal the start of the execution, Dowthitt confessed.
Willett is still not sure whether he believes him.
“I’m not saying it was true in this one, but given that situation and being a father I can certainly see how a parent would take the blame for what a child did to keep them from dying. And nothing, any rules or laws where you have no witnesses, is gonna change that.”
Three weeks later, Willett retired from the prison system.
In the years since, Willett, who in 2001 narrated the Peabody Award-winning radio documentary “Witness to an Execution,” has tried not to dwell on his past as the man who gave the green light for 89 people to be executed. “Until somebody like you calls me or comes by and asks questions, I don’t hardly ever think about it. And I don’t keep up with it. I can’t tell you how many executions they done this year. I don’t keep up with it. It doesn’t interest me.”
Last year alone, Texas executed 26 people.
The Killer Doctor
Jose High struggled against the restraints that had been fastened securely over his arms and chest and legs. He winced in pain and cried out as the nurses and emergency medical technicians poked and probed and pierced him again and again. After years of hard-core drug abuse on the streets of Atlanta, the 45-year-old convicted killer’s veins were burned out, and now, as the clock ticked past the time the state of Georgia had decreed for his execution, the scars left from his ancient addiction were becoming an obstacle to his death. The nurses and the EMTs were becoming more desperate. More than 30 times, they had swabbed his skin with alcohol and plunged in the needles. Each time they failed to find a good vein.
From his station a few rooms away, surrounded by a battery of clinical machines calibrated to gauge the progress of High’s execution, the doctor was becoming concerned. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Execution by lethal injection — the preferred method in the federal prison system and in 37 of the 38 states that have the death penalty — was supposed to be cold and methodical, clinical, almost medicinal.
It didn’t matter to the doctor what atrocity the condemned man was convicted of (High had been sentenced to die for the murder in 1976 of an 11-year-old witness during a gas station holdup). All that mattered to the doctor was that the execution be carried out humanely. And when it became clear, on the night of Nov. 7, 2001, that High’s execution was anything but, he stepped in.
Calmly, and with all the medical detachment his years in practice had taught him, the doctor entered the death chamber and approached the man he euphemistically calls “the patient.”
“I went and took his permission to put the catheter in,” the doctor told me in a recent interview, conducted on condition that he not be named. It was a 7 French triple lumen central venous catheter, 20 centimeters long, which he deftly inserted into the subclavian vein right between the”patient’s” left shoulder and his neck. Moments later, the warden gave the prearranged signal. From behind a wall, the technicians pushed in their plungers and a few minutes later, High was dead.
Though the doctor’s actions that night are considered by some to be wrong — they have triggered a lawsuit filed by retired New York-based psychiatrist, medical ethicist and self-described death penalty abolitionist Dr. Arthur Zitrin and are in direct violation of the American Medical Association’s ban on physicians assisting in executions — he remains convinced that he did the right thing. He has, however, stopped participating in executions in response to the lawsuit.
“I didn’t know (that) the AMA is against it and though I am not a member of AMA I still regard it as one of the principles I go by because it’s an organization of long standing and I still have a respect for them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t have my own ideas about it and my own opinion about it.”
The way the doctor sees it, his role in the six executions he monitored and the one he helped carry out were all done in accordance with the public will, and his role, as he described it, was a strictly humanitarian one.
“The Supreme Court says (lethal injection is) one of the punishments that is approved,” he says, and the doctor believes that there is evidence that the majority of people, at least in his home state of Georgia, support capital punishment.
“The question is: What is the most humane way of its being done? I don’t think there should be a lot of hesitation, even for the AMA, to let the doctors do it, because that will be much more humane than somebody else doing it,” the doctor said.
That, of course, is open to debate. As Zitrin put it, “there’s no guarantee that doctors participating in these executions will avoid errors,” a point he says is dramatically underscored by the case of Dr. Alan Doerhoff, a Missouri physician who was barred from participating in executions after it was disclosed that he was dyslexic, had on several occasions altered the dosages of drugs used in the execution protocol and had been sued 20 times for malpractice during his career as a doctor.
But there is something else in the doctor’s demeanor that seems to go beyond the ethical questions that surround his role in executions. It’s something visceral that come through when he talks about his feelings toward the men and women whose crimes — at least under the current law — warrant death.
He ticks off a list of cases that he believes deserve death: the 1993 slaying of Polly Klaas in California; the slaying of Jessica Lunsford, who was kidnapped from her Homosassa Springs, Fla., home in 2005, raped and murdered by John Evander Couey — now sentenced to die for the crime; and the case of Brian Nichols, who allegedly killed four people, including a judge, a sheriff’s deputy, a court clerk and an off-duty Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent during a spectacular escape from an Atlanta courthouse in 2005.
“I don’t even know animals who do that,” the doctor says.
And while he no longer participates in executions, he has no regrets that he once did.
“We should be a civilized society and the things that we do should be more civilized, but…that doesn’t bar me from having absolutely a very definite opinion about people who do that kind of atrocious thing to children. I mean how can we just tolerate them?”
Carroll Pickett knew how to tolerate the condemned prisoners. More than that, he knew how to comfort them. During the 15 years he served as chaplain of the Walls, Pickett, a man who, even now, more than a decade after he left the death house, still speaks always in the hushed tones of a confessor, choked back his own revulsion over capital punishment as he gently guided 95 people to their deaths.
It ate away at him, of course, emotionally, spiritually, even physically. Just a few months after his retirement, in fact, he underwent triple bypass surgery. His surgeon chalked up his heart problems to the anguish he had experienced doing his job. “He said that’s probably one of the most stressful situations anybody could be in.”
It wasn’t a role that Pickett sought. He had just given up a job as a small-town pastor when, in 1980, he was invited to bring his ministry to Texas’ maximum security prison at Huntsville. “I had a daughter who was going to be a senior the next year and it wasn’t fair to move her, so I agreed to go to work for a year. I went to work at the Walls unit. They weren’t doing executions…so I didn’t even think about it,” Pickett said. “Two and a half years later we did our first one since 1964. It just fell as one of my ministerial responsibilities.”
Pickett was no supporter of the death penalty, not then, not now. It was fundamental to his personal theology that the state had no right to take a person’s life in payment for crime, regardless of the offense. But he kept his opinions to himself. The way he saw it, he had to. “I could never say to anybody I’m for it or against it,” he said. “Being the first state to ever do it, lethal injection…we were in the spotlight all the time and I learned very, very quickly that anything I said…had to be cleared.” He had been warned that any statement on his part would jeopardize his ministry.
“If you come out and say you’re in favor of it then the people on death row won’t talk to you,” Pickett had been warned. “If you say you’re against it, you can’t work here.”
“I actually felt like God had placed me there for a more important reason than just executions,” Pickett said. “There were 2,200 inmates that needed spiritual help and guidance, what we call restorative justice….and and I felt like God had called me to service to help them get there.”
Pickett held his tongue.
In time, Pickett says, he developed a pattern, but it never became a routine. He’d spend time with them, talk with them, and sometimes, to his surprise, he’d even draw comfort from them, “Like the one man who changed his whole life and he sang all day,” Pickett said. “He had done his repentance and he felt like God had forgiven him and he was able to sing. He was not afraid of dying. These were people who could go through their last day and me with them and show me that they’re pretty strong people, that their faith had changed their lives, their lives had changed, they’ve developed a good reputation…they had gone from convicts to inmates, there’s a distinction…I felt they were honestly and truly saved by the grace of God.”
There were others, he said, who struggled against their pending deaths, and it was up to him to calm them. “I had one….he was about to lose it,” Pickett recalled. “Most of them would be tough enough to say, ‘I don’t need anything, I can face this.’ But this one particular guy, he was really nervous…he was showing all the physical symptoms and I said, ‘Let me go see if I can get something.’ I went up to the warden’s office and he reached down in his desk and give me this little white pill,” Pickett said. “I went down and I said, ‘just lie down’ and I give it to him. I said, ‘They gonna work, just lie down and take them and close your eyes, start relaxing your legs and start relaxing your feet’ After about 20 minutes of talking to him, he relaxed. It wasn’t nothing but aspirin.”
There were some he believed might have been innocent, or at least not guilty enough to warrant death, some who he had believed had redeemed themselves in prison, and certainly there were others about whom he was not so sure. But he treated each one of them the same way, he said, sitting with them in their cells as they awaited the moment of execution, walking with them to the death chamber, and then sitting with them as the needles were inserted. When the execution began, Pickett would be by their side, his hand always resting on their legs, just below their knees.
A psychiatrist he had spoken to after one particularly grueling execution had told him that everyone involved in the process, whether they admitted it to themselves or not, suffered as a result of it.
“He said, ‘Everybody feels it. You just keep putting drops in and drops in and finally you get enough. The last drop is the one that makes it overflow’,” Pickett said.
Pickett had seen that firsthand. He had seen it among the technicians and with the wardens – he served with three during his years at the Walls. He especially saw it with the members of the tie-down team, the rugged guards who had volunteered to take on the responsibility. They would burn out, he said. “One had a complete breakdown,” he said. Others simply quit and left the system.
“We’ve had people on the tie-down team that would…freeze,” Pickett recalled. “It’s one thing to be with a guy all day long and get him coffee and juice and whatever it is…to help him out. It’s another thing to strap him down. I’ve seen lots of them with big old tears in their eyes. And I knew, this was their last one.”
For Pickett, the final drop came on the night of Jan. 31, 1995, when he had to guide two men to their deaths: Clifton Russell, who had been convicted of a 1979 murder and robbery in Abilene, then Willie Williams, who had been sentenced to die for a similar crime in 1980 in Harris County.
“We did Clifton Russell and as soon as he was finished then they brought the other man in, Willie Williams in, and when Willie got there [the warden] said, ‘Take all the time that you want, and whenever you get ready let’s go.'”
“It was hard on everybody to go right in and then right back out,” Pickett said. Still, he and the warden and the members of the tie-down team and the technicians did what they were ordered to do. But by the time it was over, Pickett had made up his mind. “I was getting near the end of my 61st year…getting tired. It wore me out.”
A few months later, Pickett retired.
Even now, a decade and a half after his last execution, there is still a good deal of pain in his voice when he talks about his years at the Walls. “Always will be,” he says. “Is. Was. And will be. That’s a lot of people.”
He comforts himself in believing that he performed a valuable service, not to the state, but to men and women he helped console and who sometimes helped console him, and most importantly, he says, to his god.
“To me it was a ministry, a ministry of presence, to listen and keep them calm. If they wanted to listen to the radio, or a Dr Pepper or something that wasn’t…technically legal, then I’d help them do that,” he said. “Little things like that mean a lot on the last day. But I don’t forget them. I can’t.”
Related link: “Supreme Court lethal injection ruling a setback
No matter what he was like in life, the chances are pretty good that James Bargy didn’t deserve to die the way police say he did. Authorities in Columbia, Tennessee say Bargy, age 29, died from suffocation.
Police found Bargy deceased inside his Columbia home on April 19.
Bargy’s wife Rebecca, age 25, told police she and her husband were playing a sex game.
A game that involved tight bindings on Bargy’s legs and arms, and wrapping an ace bandage around his head. Under the bandage, Bargy’s eyes and mouth were covered with duct tape and a ball gag was in Bargy’s mouth.
Apparently, the game also involved leaving James Bargy in his trussed-up state for 20 hours.
Police think Rebecca “Becky” Bargy may have spent some of those 20 hours staying in a Maury County (TN) motel with a man she met online. The man reportedly flew in from California.
Nashville’s CBS affiliate reported that James Bargy’s sister believes Becky fully intended for James to die, even though Becky is only charged with reckless homicide at the moment. The sister, Lisa Brady, wrote the station an e-mail in which she said that Rebecca had been engaged in extramarital affairs “for months.”
Brady believes Rebecca Bargy “made sure she got [James] out of the way so she could have her single life again.”
If investigators find evidence to support Brady’s contention that this was a particularly cold-blooded execution rather than sexual misadventure, the charge against Becky Bargy could be upgraded to murder.
Becky’s MySpace page could be found at:
[Click here for an easy-loading pdf version of the site
There wasn’t much to see, save photos of Bargy herself — a short, heavyset woman with a sullen gaze — and friends and family. None of the photos of others appeared to be of Becky’s husband.
Her top friend — MySpace users choose the positioning of their top friends — was a 29-year-old male who listed his home city on his own profile as Glendale, Arizona. A private profile that tracked to James Bargy’s name
was also in Rebecca’s top friends, but there were no comments from him and no references to him to be found on his wife’s page.
A friend of Becky’s using the screen name Gerald did leave her an interesting comment on April 10, 9 days before James died. Gerald wrote, “Hey Baby Girl, your looking better with that load off your shoulders !!”
Gerald could have been referring to a number of things — quitting a job, a health issue, you name it. It may be though that the Bargy’s marriage had been on the rocks for quite some time. Another blog reported
that James Bargy was thinking of leaving her and moving to New York State.
Someone using the exact same screen name as Rebecca Bargy, “shorty187blr,” could be found on several webpages relating to MMORPG
s (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games). Judging by the distribution of the screen name across the Web, shorty187blr was deeply involved
with the MMORPG Runescape
and “clans” of players connected to that game.
There was further evidence that shorty187blr had posted on message boards related to Runescape game play, and been banned from at least one of those boards.
An avatar profile for a 25-year-old “Becky” from Tennessee
with the same “shorty” screen name was also found at IMVU.com. IMVU
allows users to download an instant message program with a twist — they can converse using avatars they create “in animated 3D scenes.” All the digital versions of Becky from Tennessee could be seen on this page
. They didn’t seem created to chat with girlfriends, based on the avatars’ manner of dress, but who knows?
The blog referenced earlier, Dreamin’ Demon
, called Rebecca Bargy a “kinky bitch” in the entry posted there about James Bargy’s strange and terrible death.
If charges against her are upgraded because her sister-in-law’s accusations are true, Bargy isn’t just kinky — she is, as her photos already suggest, a dead-eyed, stone-cold psycho.
UPDATE #1Why P. 42 of NH AG Kelly Ayotte’s report is the weakest link.
(New True Crime Weblog contributor Christopher King is an attorney and civil rights activist. He lives in Nashua, NH. You can learn much more about Christopher by reading his blog: Chris King’s 1st Amendment Page. ~ Steve Huff)
Not quite one year ago — on May 11 — two men died on Route 116 in Franconia, New Hampshire. One of them, Liko Kenney, was murdered. One of them, Bruce McKay, was killed out of fear, or manslaughter — even justifiable homicide. The State got it all backwards, however. The key to that is in the trajectory of the bullet hole in the barn in the picture above.
But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
To understand this story you first need to read the ABC News story
, (strongly recommended if you want to understand what follows ~ Ed
.) which contains this passage from a woman who tried to save Corporal McKay’s life as he died at the end of her driveway:
“People didn’t trust Bruce McKay and they didn’t like him. Heck I was afraid of him. You know when a police officer gets shot, it’s a big deal. I understand that, but I want people to know that we loved that boy Liko. He was our native son. I don’t want him to go down as just a cop killer. He was full of life and articulate and funny.”
I have been covering this case since Day One. Ironically I started that May day off praising New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte for her actions in a First Amendment case. Then a comment posted in that entry tipped me off to this tragedy.
I eventually sued the AG Ayotte and the Town of Franconia and among other things, uncovered more of McKay’s personnel file as summarized herein
, including the Restraining Order by his ex-wife and complaint letters from his peers on the Firefighter staff. Peers who say he threatened them, too. Newbies note:
Franconia is a small town, I think 1,200 residents. Thus, based on my interviews it is likely that Liko was aware of most of the things in McKay’s personnel file and then some on 5/11. This is crucial and goes to Liko’s state of mind as not having mens rea
to kill McKay but being scared of him to the point that he felt that he had no other choice.
Speaking of harassment, Gregory W. Floyd, the 3 time felon whom Ayotte proclaimed as hero, has quite the criminal in the past and the present. That led me to say that even a Harvard Law Graduate and U.S. Senator shouldn’t draw a pass in one day, much less a guy like this who even lied during the investigation. Watch him lunge at me in the videos linked here
with some pics I took in the hallway. Nice.
More specifics will be posted later as requested by newbies, but for now there are lots of links in this Scribd.com letter to Steve. The letter is a modification of the KingCast letter to the Honorable Lou Stokes, who was of course Counsel in the seminal Fourth Amendment case of Terry v. Ohio, which was about 2 miles from my house as a kid.
Which brings me to the posts of today, written as Ayotte rejected a common sense assertion that just maybe Gregory W. Floyd committed murder. Read my responses here
, outlining four key things:
1. The Windshield bullet shot from the south
without any word from Floyd that blocked Liko from driving south to Tamarack after he shot McKay, just after McKay violated three (3) pursuit policies and at least two (2) OC Spray policies.
Look at her documented history of lies and coverups
regarding her erstwhile hero, Gregory W. Floyd.
Kelly lied to Attorney X/Harold Burbank and there’s no two ways about that, when she said the “witness statements were all consistent” regarding Floyd’s actions. I wish the Union Leader would run a copy of THAT email, which is right here
The fingerprint analysis that she owes me pursuant to Piper v. United States DOJ, 294 F. Supp. 2d 16 (2003) and my pending RSA 91-A request that is now two (2) months old as noted in this reminder post
. It would be good to see the Union Leader
In the second post, you can clearly see that Floyd cut off Liko Kenney’s egress to the south with two bullets to the barn. He then advanced toward Liko to kill him, all the while acting crazed, one to the cowling of Liko’s windshield and then Liko ran into McKay and then Floyd murdered him with that temper of his. Floyd’s own son said in investigative file pdf 745 Liko’s car never struck McKay until AFTER his father shot at it. But don’t let me tell it. Caleb Macaulay can tell it. Listen to him describe how scared Liko was on this WBZ-TV interview.
This means that Liko may have used his car as a DEFENSIVE weapon and not an OFFENSIVE weapon:
At the top photo is about where Floyd was standing
when he fired the first round that caused Liko to freak out. Then he ran up to the car, still blasting away and fired the windshield bullet as McKay is already down in the driveway. Liko is now blinded by the OC spray after 15 seconds (it takes that long) and so it’s of little wonder that he drove straight onto McKay. And turn your head sideways until I can get this photo
flipped to see by the blood spatter that McKay had made it all the way across 116 so there was no need for Floyd to start shooting, yet shoot he did.
Note that the vantage point is indeed South of where Liko was pulling out from and corroborates Caleb’s statement, Page 687:
“That guy I thought pretty much had the gun pointed at us before we even got on the road.”
“He was laughing and stuff. The guy was very, very it was almost like crazed….”
“And he kept, like, ‘Oh I shot him good and stuff like that….'”
Kind of fits well with the observation of Easton Police Chief Every but despite that and despite this partial rap sheet Kelly gives Floyd a pass in one day. That’s why she should be disbarred it’s such patent BS. Anyway here’s another bullet
in the barn and note that the windshield bullet in the bottom scrolling picture came from almost the angle you see it from, so Floyd clearly had Liko hemmed up from the south and that’s what you would expect someone with “43 kills” under his belt to do. He seriously said he killed 43 people to the investigators yet no one has investigated THAT.
As time goes on certain things come into perspective for you. I have mentioned this issue on several occasions but never put it all together until now.
So that “Official Report” that says at p.42
that Floyd was unarmed when Liko Kenney struck McKay with the car is a total lie.
“Floyd was unarmed at the time he witnessed Liko Kenney shoot Cpl. McKay and then strike Cpl. McKay with his vehicle.”
But now we clearly see that’s yet another lie told by Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire’s highest law enforcement officer because as this ballistics post proves, Floyd was up and shooting before Liko and Caleb even got on the road.
And look at the trajectory
of Liko’s Toyota and the blood spatter from McKay. Never the two meet until the grassy knoll, making Floyd a complete liar but that’s nothing new.
Remember Floyd’s own son that the Liko’s Toyota only struck McKay once. Then, In the Union Leader story
Floyd told police he served in the Marine Corps during the war in Vietnam. He has owned many guns since then, though he said he had not fired one in close to a year.
Hah, first he never was in Vietnam, and second, he admits violating 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1) right there!
Floyd ripped at least three (3) rounds from the south/east of Liko before his Toyota struck McKay, and that would pretty much keep a thoroughly OC-Sprayed brother from turning south down Rte 116 and tend to make him go blindly forward, at which point Gregory W. Floyd executed him.
Then Kelly gave Floyd a badge of honor. Nice. Still confused? Check the angle
of the new windshield bullet picture. Would YOU
drive south into that?
UPDATE #2: Down, down, down, Kelly Ayotte is going down.How is it that Liko Kenney’s gun was wiped clean at the scene?
Hey wild man Floyd why were you bustin’ caps up in Connie McKenzie’s crib? Nice to see that no matter which way Liko looked to run you had him covered with your truck half way out in the street and stuff. You indeed are a pro, what it’s as if you’ve killed 43 people or something. And how in the hell does Liko’s gun not have a clip in it in this picture when it’s locked and loaded in the next?
Excuse me, but shouldn’t that sorta’ thing be done at the LAB?
And doesn’t that kinda’ show that Liko didn’t even have his second clip in the gun when Gregory W. Floyd murdered him, oh yah. And it look like it been done wiped clean, don’t it? Shawl ’nuff do…. You saw it first on KingCast
That’s why Kelly doesn’t want to give me the fingerprint analysis, but she will
. Accord Piper v. United States DOJ
, 294 F. Supp. 2d 16 (2003) and New Hampshire’s own Trooper Cooper
You’re going down, Kelly. Down, down, down.
UPDATE #3Petitioner’s Notice of Bad Faith in 07-E-268 KingCast v. Ayotte et al.
Well here’s today’s Notice of Bad Faith
to Judge Vaughn in KingCast v. Ayotte/Franconia, 07-E-268 as he prepares to issue his assessment of Costs. See with Franconia dragging their feet it delays the Court ordering the Defendants to give me my money as owed pursuant to his March ORDERS, then it’s harder for me to do what I have to do to keep this case on the boil. Not to mention the other implications of their responses on Attorney Troy Watts’ Ethics Complaint against Bruce McKay.
Franconia court-ordered file review finds Troy Watt’s Complaint is missing and AG’s office says there are allegedly no fingerprint analyses on Liko’s gun.
1. Chief Montminy’s Affidavit review
Troy Watts’ 2006 Ethics Complaint on Bruce McKay is missing. Did the AG’ office seize it? I’ll have to inquire of Kelly.
2. Senior AAG Strelzin and Ayotte lying again?
So we’re supposed to believe that they conducted no fingerprint analysis and/or maintained no fingerprint files.
And we’re not supposed to wonder how in the hell Gregory W. Floyd wound up with Liko’s live round in his pocket
Who the hell
writes a Memorandum Contra over documents they don’t have? Think about it. They just say “We ain’t got nothin’ the point is moot.”
Who the hell
conducts a homicide “investigation” without fingerprinting the guns in a situation like this? That would fall below minimum standards for police efficacy but then so too does letting Floyd go home with a live round in his pocket. What were they too busy giving him attaboys to search him?
Trooper Cooper said it was important.
Or does Troop F have the fingerprint analysis and Kelly and Jeffery are playing the shell game? Strelzin is good at that
) but in the end I revealed that they had a mountain of information
about Gregory W. Floyd that they withheld from the public. Information that shows him to be a dangerous man, as AJ Boisvert will tell you. As Liko Kenney cannot.
The State provides responses to the Court, claims it has no fingerprint evidence and destroyed emails pertaining to a failed attempt to name a road after McKay that involves elements of Forgery.
In this post
there are links to the post the contains JPEGs of Franconia’s Chief Montminy Affidavit
and AG Fingerprint responses
). They are both interesting in their own right because the town comes up with a brand new explanation for not having relevant documents and because the AG now claims that they have no fingerprint information from the guns of 5/11 — even as Gregory W. Floyd went home with one of Liko Kenney’s live rounds in his pocket.
Whoa. Whoa. Whoa Nellie.
But more than that, if you read the first link you will see the NH House Counsel David Frydman’s response to a request written by me and seconded by Liko Kenney’s Uncle, Bill Kenney which sought information and fraud counsel to determine who forged the name of one of Liko Kenney’s friends to a Union Leader (largest paper in NH) forum in support of HB 1428 to name a major Highway after Bruce McKay. Obviously this was forgery and the victim of the misappropriation and false light testimony will file suit soon but we expected some kind of substantive response.
Here is what we got as Attorney Frydman:
1. Said “an individual legislator’s emails are not a public record and not available pursuant to a Right-to-Know request,” and that “[Speaker Noreli] deleted those e-mails after reading them and they are not longer available in the office’s computer system.”
2. He did not address the request for Fraud Counsel so I will send him a copy of this post asking for a response to that request.
3. He did not address my request to file this post with the Interim Study Committee so this post also therefore asks for a substantive response to that.
Here is what Bill Kenney and I sought
; read it in the comments.
The problem with his response is that it cites no legal authority whatsoever. Now then, compare generally the $42,000 question in Pulaski County v. Ark. Democrat-Gazette,
Inc., 370 Ark. 435, 2007 Ark. LEXIS 436; 35 Media L. Rep. 2089 (2007) (except in this case none of the emails incoming or outgoing are “personal” so they are ALL
public records); see Concurring and Dissenting Opinion at Pulaski County v. Ark. Democrat-Gazette, Inc.
, 371 Ark. 217, (2007), Brian D. Lamy v. NH PUCO
, 152 N.H. 106 2005, rehearing denied 2005 N.H. LEXIS 92, Hawkins v. NH DHHS
, 147 N.H. 376 (2005), Ark. Ins. Dep’t v. Baker
, 358 Ark. 289, (2004), Judicial Watch, Inc. v. United States DOC,
29 Media L. Rep. 1146, (2000).
It further appears to stand in opposition to HB 1408
which had already been in motion well before she deleted the emails…..
So I do plan to sue over this
because you cannot have a situation where incoming emails about a public issue, a public employee, and a public road someone disappear within weeks. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with Liko’s position, KingCast’s position, Kelly Ayotte’s position etc…. what matters is OPEN and RESPONSIVE government.
County Prosecutor doesn’t play the game; instead produces proof that Franconia did in fact receive a 2006 Ethics Complaint against Bruce McKay from Attorney Troy Watts.
Okay, Rome is still burning. Perhaps the Franconia Collective can build it back stronger though, with some integrity. I told you back in this post about why it was so important that the town knew of the 2006 Ethics Complaint against Bruce McKay: It supplemented years of abuse and foreshadowed the potentiality of future abuse, as McKay violated at least six (6) major police procedures on 5/11 against Liko Kenney. A cop is seldom unethical once, folks. Once they go there they stay there.
Remember how the Town of Franconia “released” McKay’s background/complaints and whatnot last year and you had papers like the Concord Monitor editorializing “McKay file sheds light on why officer died?”
And remember how just the other day Franconia Police Chief Montminy said that there was absolutely no memorialization in the files about the Watts complaint that pertained to this OC Spraying
of Sarah and McKay’s Court actions? Read his Affidavit
To my knowledge I (with the help of the Franconia Collective) was the only
media entity to stand up and say “There’s more…. Rome is burning…. the Emperor has no clothes….”
Now read this post
to see that there is indeed “more” and Attorney Hilaire is about to help us publish it where no other media outlet has dared to seek or publish these facts even though they most certainly are Public Record. Nope, everyone else sat on their hands, as the town did all throughout the Reign of McKay. And when you sit on your hands in a situation like this…. people can and will die.
about the AG’s office not being in receipt of a VERY crucial Ethics Complaint (cover page here
) against Bruce McKay too, the one where he brandished that penis-shaped knife
near a woman’s labia without Probable Cause, according to Judge Peter Cyr.
“Chris what they did up there is no better than what the Catholic Church did when they overlooked the abuse of the children.”KingCast:
SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF ENTRY.
Carmine Edmund Baffa, 52, ran seminars across the country, stalking through starry-eyed crowds hanging on his every word, wearing a headset mic as he instructed others on how they could achieve “life improvement.” Baffa was all about “Human Performance Engineering.” He tacked Ph.D. at the end of his name
, and apparently, plenty of people bought into what Baffa was selling.
Baffa, a resident of Lawrenceville, GA, was arrested April 9 and is in the Gwinnett County Jail, charged with raping two teen girls, aged 13 and 19. While local Atlanta media has referenced
“two separate incidents,” Baffa’s charge sheet, available online
as of April 17, shows multiple charges. They include aggravated sexual battery, aggravated child molestation, and rape.
While Baffa traveled nationwide for seminars, his alleged crimes occurred in a private setting at his Georgia residence. The victims told police that they were raped during therapy sessions. Though Baffa was supposedly a hypnotist, his alleged victims were not under any kind of hypnotic spell. Police believe Baffa committed rape as part of furthering the patients’ “treatment.”
Gwinnett County Police Department spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman told local reporters that adults being treated by Baffa “[S]aid they knew what was going on, but were convinced that it would help their treatment.”
Spellman also said that legitimate therapists referred patients to Baffa, who presented himself as a psychotherapist. In reality, Carmine Baffa was “not a licensed therapist” in any way, according to Cpl. Spellman.
For his “Mindsight” seminars, Baffa traveled to Chicago and Los Angeles in addition to holding seminars in the Atlanta area.
Baffa’s website, Carmine.net
, appeared to be “under construction,” but at one time it contained a great deal of writing by Baffa, some of it quite creepy in light of the recent charges against him. He’d posted many of the articles as responses to various discussions in Usenet groups, message boards that have been online in one form or another since the 1980s. Some were still online as of April 17, 2008, but it looked as though any links to the writing from the main page of Baffa’s website had been severed.
One “Internet Response From Carmine Baffa, Creator of Human Performance Engineering,” was titled, “NLP and Sex
.” NLP referred to “neuro-linguistic programming
.” Wikipedia described NLP as “an interpersonal communication model and an alternative approach to psychotherapy” that was “based on the subjective study of language, communication and personal change.”
In “NLP and Sex,” Baffa wrote the following:
This, by far, is one of my favorite subjects. At least that’s the way I feel today. I often wonder about how so many people could experience anything other than wanton desire that moves toward passionate sexual arousal. My question has been the opposite. How do I turn it off?
Of course, the results of having internalized the skills of NLP has only added to my misery. Now, not only do I live in a state of heightened sexual arousal, it has become very contagious. Or is that contiguous, as the feelings have connected to everything else. I can’t go anywhere without profoundly eliciting in those I come into contact with deeply felt arousal and attraction…
Baffa paused the slithery digression into his “heightened sexual arousal” to explain some things:
Putting the fun aside for a moment, let me seriously answer your question. First, you learn, in so far, the entire skill set called NLP, then you elicit anything you want, period…
Later, Baffa expanded on what NLP had done for him when it came to getting “anything” he wanted:
For me, the process of learning NLP/DHE(TM) has been an adventure. One that has enhanced every single area of my entire world. Life for me is fantastic! I continue having the ongoing experience of being able to do what ever I want to do. I only work an average of three hours a day while making as much money as I want to. I am involved in the most enjoyable, caring, fun, loving, dynamic, pleasurable, intimate relationship imaginable. I do what I want, learn what I want, go where I want, get what I want, experience what I want to experience – always! In fact, my life while awake is far better than any dream I have ever had. And since I only need about three hours of sleep in every twenty-four hour period, I have plenty of time to enjoy it all.
Why stop at just sexual arousal and attraction when you could live all of your dreams? Every single one of them!
Carmine Baffa’s words described an ideal existence for a predatory, antisocial personality — little to no work and constant self-satisfaction. In light of the charges against him, his words about neuro-linguistic programming and sex induce some queasiness. The message — for it was originally posted in a newsgroup that by and large loathed him — seemed to hint that he’d been doing what he wanted for some time.
A similar “Internet Response” from Baffa addressed “Kids Learning NLP
.” Baffa wrote:
Pretty much as a rule, when people have attended one of my trainings their children were always invited for free. I have had children ages seven to over sixty attend trainings.
As I think about it, when there were children in the trainings, they always wound up becoming my assistants. It was as if they were learning the information by osmosis…
Baffa is now charged with multiple counts of child molestation, so there was no small amount of irony in a later part of the same “Response”:
Some of the side effects, if you will, that have materialized through the children who have attended these trainings are: 1. the automatic ability to effectively calibrate how far a particular person can be trusted, 2. accelerated learning abilities – where actual study time was cut to a fraction while comprehension increased (not only that, but how they were able to usefully utilize what they were comprehending was uncanny), 3. the automatic ability to make better decisions about the choices that were offered to them in all contexts…
If the charges against Baffa are true, those children who learned how to “calibrate” a level of trust for another through NLP should have run screaming from the seminar leader himself.
Because Baffa traveled a great deal and had other potentially vulnerable patients, anyone with more information about the phony therapist and alleged rapist should Gwinnett County investigator Diane King at 770-513-5356.
I’ve started a thread about this case here
Carmine Baffa was also a freelance videographer
with a full set of camera equipment.
One of Baffa’s confirmed e-mail addresses led to this private MySpace:
Note the age given on the profile. Baffa is 52. Public records indicated a marriage in Texas to a woman in her thirties in 2001, but she would be approaching 40 now.
Other blogs: The Dreamin’ Demon has a post up about Baffa
UPDATE, 6:18 p.m. ET
Carmine Baffa’s birth date, according to the list of inmates
currently in the Gwinnett County Detention Center (he was first on the list as of 4/17), is 02/15/1956
In Broward County, Florida court records, partially available online
, there was a felony case involving a defendant named Carmine Baffa from October, 1985. That
Carmine Baffa’s birthdate was 02/15/1955
. The charge was for “dealing in stolen property.” The case’s status read “disposition entered.” Here’s how the Broward County Courts website explains that status:
Case and count status of “disposition entered” signifies that although either a Court ruled on or disposed of the underlying case or count, or it was otherwise disposed of by operation of law, it nonetheless allows for the possibility that there may still be other actions or matters pending or due on or related to that case or count, including but not limited to, fine, fee or cost payments due; probation, restitution or special conditions pending; attorney’s fees motions pending; defendant declared unable to stand trial and committed to a hospital; appeals pending; and others…
This post may be updated and revised.
(The video below was another promotional video Baffa posted on his website. He titled it “Changing Personal History.” Something he’d probably like to do right now.
(New True Crime Weblog contributor Tamar Silverman is a writer and sleuth residing in the Pacific Northwest. ~ Steve Huff)
Kaelin Rose Glazier vanished from tiny Ruch, Oregon on November 6th, 1996
. The 15-year-old sophomore at South Medford High left a friend’s house that Wednesday to go to a church youth function. She was never seen alive again.
On Thursday, April 8th, 2008 Kaelin’s remains were discovered in an open field less than 100ft from the one time residence of her friend and the last person to see her alive, William (Billy) Frank Simmons.
Kaelin had stayed the previous night at a friend’s house and was expected to walk from there to a youth meeting at Applegate Christian Fellowship on Route 238. Simmons claims she dropped by and watched a video at his grandparents’ house instead. The movie they watched, Heat
is a violent police thriller, which runs 159 minutes (two and half hours). Kaelin left after the movie and was last seen on Haven Road headed toward the church around 7:40 pm. Youth groups do not meet late on a school night, so it is likely she was only going to catch the end of the meeting. Kaelin’s mother was waiting for her at the church that night, but Kaelin never showed up.
Simmons, a former classmate of Kaelin’s, lived with his grandparents at the 100 block of Johnson Road. A high school drop out at 15 who was later arrested for identity theft and probation violation, Simmons led a troubled life. Police have always considered Simmons a suspect. In fact, he is the only suspect named in the investigation. It was reported, however, that another male friend left Simmons’s residence minutes before Kaelin. Could this friend have been lying in wait? Could the neighbor (on whose property Kaelin’s body was found) have kidnapped and killed her? The fact that she was found so close to the last place she was seen points to a killer who knew Kaelin, but why was Billy Simmons singled out?
When Jackson County Sheriff’s Department officially named him, “a person of interest” Simmons complained that he was being harassed by police who were, “just not smart enough to go anywhere else and find other leads.” Kaelin’s friends and neighbors have also accused the local authorities of bungling this case and questions linger regarding the 5 day delay in an organized search.
Kaelin’s disappearance has haunted the Jacksonville area for nearly 12 year now. Though statistics say the murder may not be solved or a perpetrator brought to justice, the discovery of Kaelin’s body has brought some closure to the community and to her long suffering family.
I wanted to introduce readers to some works in progress. It’s important that I make it clear that the following two features are experiments and not stuff I’ve set in stone. There are several reasons I’m calling them experiments at the moment — one is my own ability to keep up with them, depending on my health and/or professional workload.
Another reason it’s important to note the ‘work in progress’ nature of these sites is reader confusion. Whenever I do something new, there are inevitably a number of people who react with something like panic, or at least confusion. I know this is mostly my fault, but to some degree it’s a problem with people just not liking change.
I have to admit, that’s always confused me, and at first, it annoyed me. Then I realized that for some folks, this site is a daily destination, and when I muck with it, it messes with their groove. That’s a nice thing for a blogger, though — realizing you have regulars.
Anyway, because the sites I’m about to link are experiments, you must NOT consider them new destinations in lieu of reading The True Crime Weblog
. If there is ever a new destination where my energies will be focused, I’ll let readers know in no uncertain terms.
You should still come to this site for in-depth treatments of crimes in the news. Especially now, because I’m adding some excellent new contributors.
Okay — the new stuff.
- http://truecrimeweblog.freeforums.org/ — The True Crime Weblog Message Board. I set up this classic forum/message board/what have you with a particular set of readers in mind — those who like to utterly dissect a subject, chew the fat about it, parse each detail. I also think a message board presents a nice opportunity for some folks to do something like blog about a particular issue themselves. Because when you leave a comment on a blog post on any weblog anywhere, you are NOT BLOGGING. A message board, however, can provide a somewhat blog-like environment. I consider forums/boards to be more like a community than a weblog (there are notable exceptions, the left-wing Daily Kos, a weblog, also functions like a chaotic message board). If we keep the board, I can see it morphing into a platform for generating story ideas for this blog, as well as research and discussion. One forum I set up as soon as I got the thing is already fairly active. If interest and membership grows, we’ll add more forums devoted solely to one case. For now, if you want to use it, you need to register. Then, if there is a crime in the news you want to discuss, you can start here. Ideas for permanent forums on the board can be generated from the “general” crime news thread. Any simple questions about the board, you can post ’em in the comments on this entry. I am the admin for the board — I’ve already made a steady, stalwart poster from open threads here about Meredith Kercher, Skeptical Bystander, a moderator.
- http://truecrime.tumblr.com/ — The True Crime Tumblr. Okay, my new true crime tumbleblog is bound to confuse people, because it basically looks just like a blog. A really stripped-down blog. No sidebar. No links to other blogs. But if you really examine tumbleblogs, they aren’t like a classic weblog at all. One key way a tumbleblog may differ from a site like the one you’re reading now is not obvious to the reader at all — tumbleblogs are designed to be published on the fly. I can basically publish links, posts, photos, audio, whatever, as I surf. That’s not the case with the blog you’re reading right now — when I sit down to do something for this blog, or for my professional work at Radar, it’s a project, and my main focus. An in-depth entry can take hours to create. Still, why the tumbleblog? Well, when I realized how easy it is to use, I began using it as a kind of online notepad. What you’ll read there are short, quick takes by me on crimes in the news today, yesterday, whenever. I don’t edit much, and I try to cover a lot. While I try to use a more formal voice when I blog here, you’re getting a straight shot at the True Crime Tumblr. I’ve added a comment function to the tumbleblog as well. Look at the difference between this blog and the tumbleblog as being the difference between a composed piece of music and a riff. I’m just riffing with the tumblr. It’s pretty fun for me as a blogger, incredibly easy to do, and surprisingly non-time-consuming.
If any of the above has confused you, befuddled you, well — don’t worry about it. Just stick with this site. I should note though — if you check out TrueCrimeMagazine.com — the site that now holds all the content from CrimeBlog.US — you will see that the main page is a feed-through of the True Crime Tumblr. To find entries you’ve read in the past at True Crime Magazine, just use that site’s search page, which is powered by Google. Everything that was on CrimeBlog.US is still there, as is the content I’ve added since I changed URLs.
(NOTE, 4/11/08: I’m going to keep this post at the top of the blog’s main page for a few days. Scroll down to see any new entries.)
For a lot of reasons, most of them positive, I would like to have some co-bloggers on this site.
There are already a few other folks listed as authors for The True Crime Weblog
, but they are friends who have access if they need it, and they all have their own fish to fry elsewhere. I’ve never expected
any blogging from them in this space, and have rarely asked them to do anything here.
So I’m putting out a call for contributors to this blog, but this call for new writers is very
different from any I’ve made before.
Here’s much of what I’m seeking in bullet list format:
- First and foremost, you must write well. Excellent spelling, subject-verb agreement, good grammar in general — they matter. So do pacing, voice, and cadence.
- That said, you will need to set your ego aside to some degree and understand that I always reserve the right to edit submissions to this blog. I don’t care if you’ve got 5 books on the market, I still may tweak what you give me. Part of me hates to be this way, but when I had contributors to my blog in the past I didn’t make this explicit and regretted that.
- You need to understand that this isn’t a paying gig. Most blogging isn’t, unless it’s supported by a media company or publisher.
- I really want a contributor who understands that sometimes the mainstream media gets basic facts about a case wrong. Be ready to fact-check your mainstream sources.
- Know how to dig deeper. Be able to fact-check yourself. Sometimes that’s as simple as using basic logic and strong web research techniques.
- About web research techniques — if you think Google is the only search engine and the AP is the only wire service out there, don’t bother looking into becoming a contributor here.
- If you trust everything you find via Google, don’t bother.
- If you have no idea what Google Groups or the Usenet are, don’t bother seeking a spot as a contributor to this blog.
- If your interest in true crime has more to do with the horror and gore aspect of the subject, we probably won’t get along.
- I shouldn’t have to put this here, but I’ve learned that people can have surprising holes in their knowledge — so, please have some basic knowledge of html. Know how to link other sites.
- If your interest in true crime is somehow bound up with a political agenda, I don’t want to hear from you. I don’t mind if you vote Democrat or Republican — I’ve voted both since I turned 18. I do mind if you constantly seek out stories that slant towards one set of beliefs or another and want to post them here. A true crime blog is a terrible place to try and create a bully pulpit, so don’t even bother. If you think you know my politics from reading this blog, consider the following — a little judicious searching of the blogosphere will reveal right wing blogs who have labeled me a loony liberal for something I posted here and at least one left-wing feminist blog that was convinced I was some sort of pocket Hitler. I’m proud of the fact that no one really knows my politics.
- I really don’t mind if you have a blog of your own and think contributing to this one may be a good way to promote that blog. That’s fine. But please be on the up-and-up.
- Pursuant to the preceding bullet point: YOU MUST BE WILLING TO USE YOUR OWN NAME OR A PSEUDONYM THAT SOUNDS LIKE A REAL NAME. I won’t post any entries here from ‘happypuppy69’ or ‘ferretwarrior5000.’ I really prefer real names, but completely understand the need for some anonymity, on occasion.
- But — and this is a big one — you must be willing to let me know your real name. It’s a trust issue, and I won’t budge on it.
- To contribute to this blog, you must be willing to post 3-5 entries a week. Think about that — it’s more work than you may realize.
- You must be willing to interact with the people who leave comments on this site. I used to hesitate to leave comments on my own posts, but now I just dive right in. I’d like contributors to be okay with doing the same.
- Another imperative — I admit this is a pet peeve, but I think it’s a logical one — KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACTUAL BLOGGING AND LEAVING COMMENTS ON A BLOG. I’m not going to take up space listing the differences here, but they are many. Leaving a comment on a post is not blogging. I like all the ‘usual suspects’ who make comments on various posts here, but they aren’t contributors. They can write 10,000 word screeds on anything they like in a comments section — they’re still not writing a blog entry.
Just so we’re totally clear, here’s a list of some of the things I would find unacceptable from a contributor to this blog:
- Plagiarism — PLEASE understand what this is. This is a good overview. The blogosphere is full of it. It’s sometimes done by accident, but not often.
- This is related to plagiarism — I find quoting entire news articles from traditional media sources thoroughly unacceptable. I used to be much more loose about this, but I think doing work as a paid journalist has changed how I feel about it. It isn’t precisely plagiarism because bloggers who will quote entire articles from newspapers may often link to the source. But it may well be copyright infringement. It’s pointless, to me. Either quote a paragraph and give a link or summarize and add in your own research.
- Excessive Snark — Some crime stories invite sarcasm and dark humor. To me, those are usually as plain as the nose on my face. Most crime stories are a million miles from funny, though. If you want to post here, I need to be sure you know when it’s appropriate to snicker at what you’re discussing, and when it’s not. A big flaw I’ve found in some other parts of the blogosphere is how some people don’t seem to get that it just isn’t right to take a humorous stance towards certain stories. To see an example of a blog that’s nailed incorporating humor into a true-crime discussion, just check out CrimeRant.com. If you can’t do it like Gregg and Matt do it, then don’t even try.
The bullet lists above could go on quite a bit, but in the interest of brevity I’m stopping here.
I fear I’ve set the bar pretty high, but I’m searching for someone who will be committed to the blog and be able to bring in original, interesting content. I don’t think I need to be casual about that.
If you are interested, if you have further questions, please contact me via this page.
To be considered, you need only send me a link your own blog or send me a sample post via e-mail. Please don’t
try to send the sample through my contact form
— there is a character limit in the text box. Wait till you’ve heard back from me and send the sample post via e-mail.
I’ve disabled comments for this entry only to encourage communication via the contact form.