On Tuesday, July 29, 2008, a well-respected scientist named Bruce Ivins died in Maryland, an apparent suicide. Doctors say Ivins may have ingested an overdose of Tylenol mixed with codeine. If the Federal Bureau of Investigation is right about Bruce E. Ivins, he may have had good reason to go.
In June, 2008, the United States Government paid a scientist named Steven Hatfill nearly six million dollars. For 6 years or so Hatfill had been the FBI’s main suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks.
The attacks started shortly after September 11, 2001. Letters containing a finely milled, powder form of the toxin were mailed to NBC, the New York Post, and the National Enquirer. When all was said and done, five people were dead and the public was terrified. The anthrax scare served to ratchet up the national level of paranoia over terrorism to a true fever pitch. It briefly crippled even the venerable U.S. Postal Service.
Steven Hatfill’s payday came about because by 2006 the FBI had begun to move away from him as a suspect in the case. They simply couldn’t connect the man to the weaponized anthrax. Nothing would stick.
By the time Hatfill received his money and an exoneration on June 27, 2008, the feds had another suspect in the crosshairs. The Los Angeles Times reported early Friday that soon after it was clear that Steven Hatfill was safe to take his money and sink back into blissful anonymity, 62-year-old U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) scientist Bruce Ivins began to sweat.
Crimes as savage and public as the murder that took place on a Greyhound bus traveling the Trans-Canada Highway from Edmonton, Alberta, to Winnipeg, Manitoba on Wednesday night (already mentioned here) are truly rare. Hearing the details of the bus murder also bring home how surreal the attack must have seemed to those who witnessed the event.
Garnet Caton was a passenger on that bus, and he has been extensively quoted in the press. No wonder. The tale he tells of the attack on the as-yet unnamed young, male passenger by a knife-wielding maniac is the stuff of nightmares.
* Casey Anthony, at the Bottom and Digging — (Orlando, FL) Casey Marie Anthony‘s story is that her little girl Caylee vanished on June 9, after Casey left her with a babysitter named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez. Casey then tried to find her daughter, even going to clubs she thought Zenaida might frequent. I guess that’s how Casey ended up in a series of good-time party-girl photos made on June 20, smiling as if she didn’t have a care in the world. Wonder what her mom Cindy (who has been great with coming up with excuses for Casey since prompting her daughter’s arrest) will say to explain those? And did Casey Anthony break into a shed in her parents’ yard to steal gas cans some time early in July? Her parents reported a burglary around that time. Whatever happened, it looks like no one should expect the truth from Casey any time soon. [Fox News]
* Illinois Gothic: Mother Allegedly Kills Newborn, Burns Home (Champaign, IL) Illinois authorities say Cayla Wheeler, age 23, gave birth to a baby on July 2. They believe she drowned the child and hid the remains in a hole in the woods near her home. Wheeler wasn’t done with mayhem, though. One week later Wheeler allegedly burned her and her husband’s home to the ground. Wheeler’s recent pregnancy came to light during the investigation into the house fire. Cayla Wheeler has been charged with arson, concealing a homicide, and murder in the first degree. [AP/MSNBC]
* Former NBA Ref Sentenced to 15 Months — (Brooklyn, NY) NBA referee Tim Donaghy took part in a betting scandal that sent shockwaves through the NBA. On Tuesday Donaghy learned his fate: 15 months in a federal pen. Donaghy gave a brief statement in federal court. He said, in part, “I brought shame upon myself, my family and the profession.” Donaghy could have been sentenced to nearly 3 years in prison, but he earned the less lengthy term by cooperating with authorities during the investigation. [NYDN]
* Blue-Clad Men Rob Armored Truck in West Palm — (West Palm Beach, FL) A robber shot a Loomis armored truck guard outside a Wachovia Bank branch about 10 a.m. this morning in suburban West Palm. It sounded like a pretty organized robbery. A group of robbers with handguns and an assault rifle arrived as the Loomis guard was re-stocking an ATM. Shots were exchanged and the guard was hit in the leg. He was in good enough shape to take himself to the hospital. Police say they have one suspect in custody, but they’re looking for at least four others. Witnesses report that the robbers all wore blue and they left in a blue van. [WPTV]
* Boyfriend of Woman Stuck to Toilet Gets Probation — (Wichita, KS) It was one of the weirder stories in recent memory: a woman discovered on the toilet in her boyfriend’s bathroom, where she’d been stuck on the john for a month. Her muscles had atrophied and her skin basically glued to the seat. Her boyfriend, Kory McFarren, was arrested and charged with mistreating a dependent adult. McFarren was sentenced yesterday to one year of probation and a mental evaluation for his part in the whole thing. [KAKE]
* THIS DAY IN TRUE CRIME HISTORY: Jimmy Hoffa — (Oakland County, MI) On July 30, 1975, labor leader (and pardoned ex-con) Jimmy Hoffa vanished from the parking lot of the Machus Fox Restaurant in Bloomfield Twp, MI. Hoffa’s disappearance and presumed murder — still unsolved, to this day — soon became part of American pop culture. Jimmy Hoffa has been joked about during late night talk show monologues, been the central figure in pop songs and the subject of numerous books and movies. [TruTV]
* No, Seriously, Who the Hell is Clark Rockefeller? — (Boston, MA) Call him J.P. Clark Rockefeller, James Frederick, Clark Mill Rockefeller or Michael Brown. Call him that crazy rich dude who putters around town on a Segway. Whatever his real name and family history, the man known as Clark Rockefeller is on the lam today, and he’s taken his blond, blue-eyed 7-year-old daughter Reigh (say it like RAY) with him. Boston Police say Clark Rockefeller was on a walk with Reigh and a supervising social worker during a court-mandated visit in Boston on Sunday the 27th when a friend in a SUV helped Rockefeller kidnap the little girl. The social worker tried to give chase and was dragged for a bit along Marlborough St. for his trouble.
Clark Rockefeller may have taken Reigh to Long Island, N.Y. intent on escaping aboard his yacht, “Serenity.”
A warrant has been issued for Rockefeller’s arrest. He may be charged with assault (on the social worker) and custodial kidnapping.
There are mysteries within mysteries here, for Rockefeller could be anyone. Though he is a man of means, the storied, wealthy Rockefeller clan has flatly denied any relation to the man. Rockefeller himself has been cagey about the association in the past, once telling a reporter that his blood ties to the Rockefellers were not something that he “would either confirm or deny.”
Aside from being the proud owner of a Segway, Rockefeller is well-educated and is said to have “a European accent,” whatever that means. I found one peculiar post on the Web that may have been written by Rockefeller in late 2007. It only seems to underscore reports that Rockefeller is an eccentric, for “Clark Rockefeller” from Boston, MA wrote in part, “The book reads like a journey through the human soul with no signposts along the way. To stay on the path requires firm reason, so we think, but when the signs fall down, only faith guides the reader’s way. Corporation well understood the limitations of reason as an infallible guide in maintaining our faith in humanity.” He wrote the preceding about a book filled with numbers. Specifically, the RAND Corporation’s A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates.
Even if it was an attempt at humor, Rockefeller’s review of the book was worded in such a dry and blank-faced way that it veered from humor into sheer, inexplicable weirdness. Perhaps no surprise, since someone familiar with the details of Rockefeller’s divorce from wife Sandra Boss told the New York Daily News that he was “a very [expletive]bizarre guy.” [AMW; NYDN]
* Casey Anthony Doesn’t Meet With Parents; Has New Hearing Today — (Orlando, FL) Cindy and George Anthony, grandparents of missing Florida 2-year-old Caylee Anthony and parents of Caylee’s jailed mom, Casey Anthony, arrived at the Orange County Jail around 9 this morning to meet with their daughter. Even though Casey doesn’t have a hearing at the Orange County Courthouse until 1:30 this afternoon, her parents were told she was ‘unavailable.’ During Casey’s hearing today, her attorney is expected to request the judge to block the release to reporters of Casey’s jailhouse phone convos. Lawyer Jose Baez filed his motion around the same time the Orange County Jail released a 15-minute phone call between Casey and her brother Lee. During that call, Lee asked Caylee if she thought Casey was okay. Casey said, “In my gut, she’s still okay […] It still feels like she’s, she’s close to home. That’s still my best feeling at the moment.” [Orlando Sentinel]
* Stepbrother, 15, Arrested for Murder of Stepsister, 14 — (Tucson, AZ) Late Monday Pima County Sheriff’s Deputies answered a call at the home Sheldon Andrew Pruitt, age 15, shared with his family, including his 14-year-old stepsister, Alexandria Salinas. According to authorities, Salinas was on the phone earlier that evening when her stepbrother came into her room and shot her in the head. No adults were at the home at the time. [KOLD Tucson]
* Georgia Scout Leader Charged With Molestation — (Lawrenceville, GA) Lawrenceville Cub Scout leader Harry Brett Taylor, age 44, has been charged with child molestation. He’s accused of fondling a child in his care. Taylor may have been molesting a relative for what the Atlanta Journal Constitution described as “an extended period of time.” An 8-year-old boy was spending the night with one of Taylor’s kids when Taylor allegedly fondled him. The boys knew each other through Cub Scouts and Taylor was their leader, but the sleepover was not a scouting event. Taylor is being held without bail in Gwinnett County detention. [AJC]
* King Cuyahoga to be Deposed? — (Cleveland, OH) In January, 2007, Jared Klaus wrote “King Cuyahoga” for the Cleveland Scene. Klaus’s article detailed the wheeling and dealing that was afoot in Cuyahoga County, OH government, and its central character was portly county commissioner, Democrat Jimmy Dimora. Klaus’s portrait of egomaniacal back-slapping pols may have been prophetic in tone, at least — it was clear by the end of the story that something shady was up in the halls of Cuyahoga County power.
Yesterday, at 9 a.m., a major corruption probe was launched with a bang in Cleveland. Two hundred agents from the FBI and IRS raided Cuyahoga county offices, businesses and homes. One of the main targets: Jimmy Dimora. A good deal of evidence was gathered from several locations, including a U Haul truck’s worth of stuff from Dimora’s home. At this time, no charges have been filed and no arrests have been made. [Cleveland.com]
On August 19, 1982, David J. Steffen murdered Karen Range, of Roselawn, Ohio. Steffen came to her door under the pretense of selling cleaning products. He forced his way in, intent on assaulting the 19-year-old woman.
The ensuing crime was so gruesome that some jurors from Steffen’s murder trial would later tell of knots in the stomach, of nausea and queasiness. Others described feeling faint, shaky or nervous. After all, jurors were subjected to images of Karen Range’s beaten and bloodied body, her slashed throat. They ended up handling her bloodstained clothing.
The jury found Steffen guilty of aggravated murder and rape. They gave him the death penalty.
David Steffen seems to have been a peculiarly honest killer. He has admitted that he beat and stabbed Karen Range. Steffen admitted that he tried to rape her.
But he always insisted that he never actually raped the victim. The semen found inside Range’s body in 1982 wasn’t his.
Turns out he was telling the truth.