* 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]
Someone, possibly the killer of 23-year-old Army Spc Megan Touma, sent a letter to a Fayetteville, NC paper. In it, he tried to imply that he was the second coming of a legendary, still unknown killer. All the letter-writer had to do to make his message clear was sign the letter with a circle quartered by crosshairs. That symbol could only bring to mind the Zodiac Killer.
Authorities have arrested someone in connection with Touma’s June, 2008 murder, and the truth may be this: there never was a new serial killer. There was only a young man who didn’t want to be a father. Only a soldier named Edgar Patino Lopez, who happened to be studying psyops at Fort Bragg when Touma was murdered.
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.
During a press conference in Knoxville today, police revealed troubling new details about the Sunday morning shootings at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.
Jim David Adkisson, the alleged shooter, apparently hated liberals. In a letter found after his arrest, he pledged to strike out against the “liberal movement.” The Unitarian Universalists are about as liberal as you can get, as churches go.
According to Knoxville police, Adkisson entered Tennessee Valley Unitarian intending to kill just as many people as he possibly could. The congregants who tackled Adkisson and held him until the police arrived saved a good number of lives.
What was one of Adkissons supposed triggers, aside from TVUUC’s perceived liberalism? What could have caused this military veteran to strike out in authorities are now investigating as a hate crime?
* Rhode Island Couple Killed With Hoe, Stowed in Septic Tank — (Warren, RI) James A. Soares Sr., 60, and wife Marian Soares, 53, were reported missing July 15 when they didn’t attend a family reunion. Police in Warren believe they were murdered July 9 by their 24-year-old son, James Soares Jr. The younger Soares may have used a grub hoe to do the job. After they were murdered, the Soareses were hidden in a cesspool. Police found the probable murder weapon under James Soares Sr’s body. Junior was a suspect early in the investigation, and the worst fears of the Soares family were confirmed when police finally dug the couple up on Saturday, July 26. James Soares Jr. was charged Sunday with killing his parents and concealing their bodies.
Soares Jr. had a MySpace at one point. It was virtually blank save for his photo album, which seemed a little telling — two images were from the movies Scarface and Goodfellas, respectively. Other images showed Soares partying with friends, two young women, one scantily clad, and Soares in front of a vehicle in his parents’ backyard, a man (possibly his father?), standing in the background.
While James Soares Jr. may have identified with movie gangsters in the past, his previous crimes were mostly minor. His alleged murder of his parents was a significant leap forward for his gangster aspirations, but also his undoing, since it’s hard to run some kind of Rhode Island-based vice empire from the lifer’s row in a state prison. [Fox News]
* Dustin Patterson — A Creep to Watch? (Tulsa, OK) Cops in Tulsa think Dustin Patterson, age 23, kidnapped a 6-year-old girl early Saturday, July 26, 2008. Patterson, who knew the girl’s family, allegedly took the little girl through her bedroom window. Cops say Patterson also threatened to stab the girl if she made any noise. According to the victim, Patterson held her in his lap and drove around for a while before he finally stopped and let her out of the car at a street corner. Police don’t think the little girl was sexually abused, but Patterson has been charged with kidnapping and burglary.
Dustin Patterson had a couple of personal profiles on MySpace, and he last logged in to this one in February this year. The day prior to his last login, Patterson made what looked like his only blog post on that account, and it indicated that he’d already been in trouble with the law this year: “jail,$1500,3 days,court,cops,$137got stolen.but the worst most stressfull part of it all is not being able 2 be with my girlfriend & her cool lil boy all because i was being a dumbass!!!!”
Lesson apparently not learned. Unless the current charges against Patterson carry severe penalties, though, he’ll be back out sooner than later. He may just be a creep to watch. [NewsChannel 8]
* Wills and Insurance, As Usual — (Brooklyn, NY) The mystery of the July 16 double-murder of attorneys Mark Schwartz and his wife, Christina Petrowski-Schwartz has kept NYC abuzz for nearly two weeks. Police now believe the key to unlocking the puzzle of the couples’ murder may lay in an insurance policy and last will and testament. While he is not considered a suspect, police have their eye on a former business associate of the Schwartzes, Robert Delvicario. [NYDN]
* He May Have Just Hated Churches — (Knoxville, TN) Jim David Adkisson, age 58, allegedly walked into Tennessee Valley Unitarian in Knoxville on Sunday morning carrying a shotgun, ammo and a grudge. When all was said and done, two people were dead and several more injured. Adkisson’s alleged attack came as the children of the congregation performed the musical, Annie Jr.. [WBIR]
* Celebrity Trainwreck 101? — (Hollywood, CA) Shia LaBeouf is courting Britney Spears-style press of late. Early Sunday morning, LaBeouf was arrested on suspicion of driving drunk. The LA County Sheriff’s Dept. says it was about 2:30 a.m. when LaBeouf took a wrong left turn and ran into another vehicle. LaBeouf rolled his truck and injured his hand. His passenger suffered minor injuries, as did the driver of the other vehicle. Looks like someone might be doing PSAs for MADD, soon. [LAT]
* SMCC Shooter May Have Been Punched — (Phoenix, AZ) The first person allegedly shot by Rodney Smith in the computer lab at South Mountain Community College last Thursday may have struck Smith first. Apparently Isaac Deshay Smith, age 19 (no relation to Rodney), the most seriously wounded of the three victims, was sentenced to jail for striking Rodney Smith late last year. The AP reports that the men had clashed verbally every time they encountered one another ever since. During the confrontation between the two that led to the gunfire, Isaac Smith allegedly punched Rodney Smith, prompting the 22-year-old to open fire. [AP]
* ON THIS DAY IN TRUE CRIME HISTORY: Mary Rogers — (New York, NY) On July 28, 1841, the body of Mary Cecilia Rogers was pulled from the Hudson River. For a time, the questions surrounding the death of “Beautiful Cigar Girl” galvanized the nation. It also inspired the Edgar Allan Poe short story, “The Mystery of Marie Roget.” The real mystery of what happened to Mary Rogers was never solved, but theories range from gang rape to a botched abortion. [TruTV.com]
The second victim killed today during the mass shooting at Tennessee Valley Unitarian in Knoxville, TN was Linda Kraeger, age 61.
Knoxville Police say the shooter was 58-year-old Jim Adkisson. Adkisson has already made an appearance before a Knox County judge. His next hearing is on August 5. His home may be searched tonight.
Authorities say Adkisson has yet to say anything of consequence regarding the crime he’s accused of committing.
A report published by the Knoxville News Sentinel leaves the impression that there was an element of sheer hatred in Adkisson’s alleged assault on TVUUC this morning. A quote from one of Adkisson’s neighbors seems pretty telling: “We were talking one day when my daughter graduated from Bible college, and I told him I was a Christian, then he almost turned angry.” Adkisson, says neighbor Karen Massey, was forced to go to church by his parents.
This post will be updated and revised.
[WBIR; Knoxville News Sentinel]
The gunman’s timing seemed particularly tragic. Nearly 200 parishioners inside the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church [website] in Knoxville, TN were listening to children sing a song from Annie Jr. in service this morning when all hell broke loose. According to church member Steve Drevik, a 40-something man with long blond hair walked in and started shooting. The weapon of choice was a shotgun, and the man was firing at random.
Before the man was tackled by three men from the congregation, 6 people were critically wounded. A seventh person was killed.
The dead man was named Greg McKendry, and according to witnesses, McKendry lost his life in an act of sheer heroism.
I really did throw up in my mouth a little when I read today that the attorneys defending serial child killer Joseph Edward Duncan III in his death penalty proceedings want to make a certain video public.
See, I knew about this video long before most folks. I was one of the first people to break the story, alluding to it in a blog long before I wrote the article found at the other end of the preceding link. It was so inflammatory when I first broke it on my blog that I actually removed the post for a while.
The blogger who runs this site covering Duncan probably knew before I did, and may have known more about the content.
Duncan made the video during the time he held young Dylan and Shasta Groene captive at a remote cabin in a national forest.
The video is said to show Duncan doing his thing to the boy. Duncan’s thing was, as the Associated Press noted, “sadistic sexual torture.”
Duncan’s lawyers seem to think that closing the courtroom and only showing the video to jurors and officers of the court somehow violates the First Amendment. They also contend that a closed showing might violate Duncan’s right to have a public trial.
I can’t muster a single objective thought on this subject. Only the word “violates” seems appropriate. That the horrific videos this monster made still exist at all simply violates all that is decent in the world. One can only hope Duncan’s videos are under heavy lock and key. And that when they are finally no longer needed, they meet their appropriate fate in the hottest incinerator available — a fate that would also be fitting for Duncan himself.
[LocalNews8.com; Jet Duncan’s blog, The Fifth Nail.]
Three years ago a methodical monster stalked two small children he’d first spotted as they played in front of their home just outside Coeur dAlene, Idaho. The monster had night-vision goggles, firearms, restraints, transportation — everything he needed. He’d bought it all on a big shopping trip at Wal-Mart in Fargo, North Dakota.
Then, on the night of May 15, 2005, Joseph Edward Duncan III killed Brenda Groene, her oldest son Slade, Brenda’s boyfriend, Mark McKenzie, and Duncan kidnapped Dylan and Shasta Groene. For the next several weeks he kept them in the woods, repeatedly raping and torturing both children. Dylan was ultimately killed. Shasta walked into a Coeur d’Alene Denny’s with Duncan on the night of July 2, 2005. Someone recognized the little girl, the cops were called, and we all learned what the Boogeyman looked like.
It called itself Jet. It kept a blog.
Over a year ago a pretty young thing named Kelsey Smith vanished from a department store in Overland Park, KS. She’d only just graduated from high school. She was just running into the store on an errand, on her way somewhere else.
She ran into a creep named Edwin Hall. He was arrested on June 6, 2007, 4 days after Kelsey vanished. Investigators found Kelsey’s body that day by Longview Lake in Jackson County, MO.
Today, in a Johnson County, KS courtroom, Edwin Hall unexpectedly pleaded guilty to all the charges against him: murder, rape, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated criminal sodomy.