There’s just no good way to spin the story police are telling about the murder of ABC Radio newsman George Weber. The New York Daily News is reporting today that the long-time journalist and anchorman was killed during a “drugged-up date” with a 16-year-old male Weber met via Craig’s List. The teen has reportedly confessed to the crime.

Police arrested the teen, whom the Daily News described as “emotionally disturbed,” early Wednesday. From the paper:

[The teen] admitted to cops that he had answered an ad Weber placed on the Internet looking for a partner in rough sex, police and law enforcements sources said.

“He saw the victim’s ad looking for violent sex and said “I can smother somebody for $60″ but it got out of hand,” a source said…

Cops tracked the suspect via Weber’s Internet activity and cell phone records.

The attack on Weber was so vicious that his blood sprayed the walls of his Brooklyn apartment. He did try to fight his attacker; as a result, the teen’s blood was also found in the residence.

The story will be hard to “spin” because media types tend to want to give their own the benefit of the doubt in these situations. It’s natural, if you think about it. And while some will judge Weber for being gay or seeking sex online – the first type of judgment is prejudice, the second would have normally been Weber’s business and no one else’s – he might be judged more harshly for the age of the person whom he met for what was apparently intended to be a sadomasochistic assignation.

According to at least one source, had Weber’s tryst proceeded as he apparently intended, he could have conceivably been guilty of at least three 3rd-degree sex offenses, under the laws of the State of New York.

It’s a lose-lose story. George Weber’s life was lost in the most horrific way imaginable. A troubled teen’s life has essentially ended, since he may spend the rest of it in prison. And for those who worked with or just listened to Weber on the radio, a difficult reckoning with what was most likely a secret life that the otherwise respectable newsman never intended to come to light. 

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George Weber

NOTE, 3/25/09: A post about Weber’s confessed killer, 16-year-old John Katehis, can be read here.

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Former WABC Radio personality George Weber was found slain in his apartment early Sunday. The following comes from the New York Post:

Weber, who would have turned 58 tomorrow, was discovered in his bed shortly before 10 a.m. today with multiple stab wounds to his neck after his bosses, concerned that he hadn’t shown up for work, called cops.

Police told the Post that Weber was probably murdered on Friday. There were no signs of forced entry into Weber’s apartment, but the Post reported that the radio man’s residence was ransacked and a water faucet was still running when police entered the premises.

George Weber worked for years as a radio news anchor at WABC in New York and then for ABC News. According to his website, he started his broadcasting career in high school, and radio work would eventually take Weber to Colorado and California before he headed back east to a gig in NYC.

As noted by the Post, Weber kept a blog:

http://georgeweberthenewsguy.blogspot.com/.

His last post was published on March 20, and it was about his trials and travails with a major bedbug infestation. Other recent musings included one post about his take on the AIG bailout scandal and another about email scams.

Police were originally called to check on Weber around 1 a.m. Sunday, but were not able to gain entrance to the building. They finally entered his apartment around 10 this morning.

This post will be revised and updated as needed.

Many zoophiles recently looked up from their sticky, well-thumbed copies of Cat Fancy

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Magazine to find themselves dismayed by this news out of the Sunshine State:

The act of bestiality is a step closer to becoming illegal in Florida now that a Senate committee voted to slap a third-degree felony charge on anyone who has sex with animals.

Florida is one of only 16 states that still permit bestiality – a fact that animal-rights activist and Sunrise Sen. Nan Rich learned to her horror when a Panhandle man three years ago was suspected of accidentally asphyxiating a family goat with which he was copulating…

It’s true, sickos – Florida would prefer you no longer violate and suffocate family pets on their swampy, beer-soaked ground or cocaine-whitened beaches. Even though certain legislators aren’t entirely sure as to just what this whole sexing the puppies thing is about:

[Miami Democratic Sen. Larcenia Bullard asked], “People are taking these animals as their husbands? What’s husbandry?”

Based on completely unreliable information gleaned from this online petition for stopping bestiality, it would appear that if you want to fiddle with Fido or go down on Rover you will eventually have to take the party to one of the following states instead of Florida (where, really, they have enough trouble as it is): “Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut […] Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.”

One important thing to remember about getting your freakier than freaky freak on in those states, though – don’t videotape it. Aside from the tidal wave of karmic justice that will one day sweep you down into the fiery pit to be eternally assaulted over and over by rabid hyenas wearing clown masks, videotaping the schtupping of an innocent animal is a federal crime that will net you federal time, no matter where your barn of destiny may be.

I sometimes chafe against the fact that my primary subject blogging-wise is so inherently serious. If you’ve ever seen my Twitter feed, you know I’m not, in general, a very serious person – unless I’m writing about crime.

So that’s why I really enjoyed the blog post that my friend Michael Ian Black wrote about

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Charles Manson

Charlie Manson’s most recent photograph, which was released earlier this week.

Why did I like it? Because while Charlie is a monster, nowadays he’s really only worth a laugh. To laugh at Charlie Manson is not to take anything away from the memory of his victims. Lauging at Charlie puts him in his place. And Michael Ian Black, who is perhaps most well-known these days for his snarky and dry commentary on VH 1’s “I Love The [70s/80s/90s],” certainly had some funny things to say about Crazy Charlie:

We finally got a new look at Charles Manson today, and I for one am disappointed with this year’s model. Where are my beloved crazy eyes? Where is the scraggly Mennonite beard? What about the groovy hair? Sure he’s got the swastika carved into his forehead but it’s looking a bit perfunctory these days, like the polo playing guy on Ralph Lauren shirts. (Note: that faded swastika is a textbook case for why you need to put sunscreen on tattoos!) The craziest thing about the new Charles Manson are his eyebrows, which could use a good waxing.

Michael goes on to explain how Charlie has been “America’s pre-eminent bogeyman” for the last 4 decades. Manson has been, in Michael’s words, “the Cal Ripken Jr. of crazy.”

According to Michael Ian Black, Charlie Manson is also the “undisputed heavyweight of psychopaths.” That’s debatable, but here Michael shows his pop culture acumen by making his case for why Charlie has the place that he does in true crime – and American – history:

Manson pretty did it all: hippie, cult leader, murderer of Hollywood actress, interpreter of Beatles lyrics, one-time auditioner for “the Monkees.” Who is going to top a resumé like that?

Michael points out that “today’s supervillains” are just “stealing money,” and acknowledges that compared to the acts of a Charlie Manson, that’s rather boring:

Manson didn’t give a shit about money. He was having orgies. He was writing songs. He was dropping acid. He was smearing the word “Pigs” on the walls in blood. Manson was a guy who knew how to be fucking crazy!

What did Bernie Madoff ever do compared to that?

Not much, except commit the additional sin of looking grotesquely like the guy on the dollar bill.

Michael Ian Black is going for the funny in his discourse on Charlie through the years, and that’s the sort of thing that frankly, might fly right over the heads of a lot of true crime fans. Most of us approach this particular subject with a great deal of seriousness, and funny stuff catches us unawares. We don’t expect it in this context.

But I found a deeper point in Michael or anyone else making fun of Crazy Charlie Manson. It was in that photo of the bald, wizened man who now looks nothing like the nightmare hippie from hell seen on snarky t-shirts or in chilling (and sometimes strangely madcap) videos of Manson interviews through the years.

The Monster has become a joke. In a very real way, all his power is gone. Charlie the symbol, the crazy creeping evil hippie in the night, has become a punchline. Charlie the man is a very old, sad-looking man in a lonely prison cell.

And that’s just as it should be.

This comes from the Broward-Palm Beach New Times blog “The Juice“:

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Natalee Holloway

A Miami-based flight attendant for American Airlines tells The Juice that a cadaver dog was aboard a Miami-to-Aruba flight. The officer with the dog told the flight attendant that the dog was going to search for the remains of Holloway.

“They think they’ve found where Natalee Holloway’s remains are, and they’re taking the dog down to confirm that,” said the flight attendant, who lives in Fort Lauderdale. “They’re not telling anybody because Aruba is trying to keep this quiet.”

If this is true, it would obviously be the biggest break yet in this most high-profile of international cold cases. Who knows? It might even send Joran van der Sloot back to jail for what, the 15th time? “The Juice” is waiting for further details. They’ll also be highlighted here when and if they become available. If you’ve been in a coma since 2004 and have just awakened and are catching up on news, read more background on the 2005 disappearance of this pretty Alabama teen here.

UPDATE – RadarOnline.com has picked up this story, though they make it clear that their source is the New Times, since the post is basically a re-write of “The Juice’s” blog entry.

UPDATE 2 – Aruba’s Police Commissioner Strantan has told CNN that the news of a body being discovered in connection with Natalee Holloway’s disappearance is false. It may be that the dog is just going to do a typical cadaver search.

Extreme skepticism always pays in this case.

Recent NBC news segment about a 911 call regarding the Grim Sleeper.

When and if the Grim Sleeper is caught, it is hard to not hope that the work done by LA Weekly writer Christine Pelisek will be recognized with some kind of award, or least a book deal. Pelisek and the Weekly broke the story and have pursued it with a consistency and breadth of detail that puts Los Angeles daily papers to shame. The paper’s most recent ‘get’ – a compelling interview with the lone surviving victim of, in Pelisek’s words, “the longest-operating serial killer west of the Mississippi.” The victim, using the fictional name Enietra Margette, provided a fascinating look at this otherwise faceless killer: “He looked neat. Tidy. Kind of geeky. He wore a black polo shirt tucked into khaki trousers.” Margette sensed no danger from the killer at first; they bantered in a good natured way. An interesting quote from Margette’s attacker, one she took as a playful jab: “‘That is what is wrong with you black women. You think you are all that.'”

[LA Weekly]


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Alleged Replogle conspirator Kaushal Niroula

SF Weekly‘s “The Snitch” is covering the whacked-out story of Attorney David Replogle, 3 alleged accomplices, and their alleged schemes to bilk older, wealthy men out of money and property. The supposed schemes concocted by Replogle & company would be amusing were it not for a decidedly dark turn in the plot that took place in December of 2008. From “The Snitch”:

Cliff Lambert, 74, was reported missing Dec. 7 after a friend failed to reach him. On Dec. 11 his Palm Springs home was fraudulently sold for less than $300,000, according to police accounts and real estate records. Lambert’s house was also looted of artwork and other valuables, police said. A court has subsequently halted the home’s sale, police said.

Madcap details in the case suggested that a group of long-time artless, yet lucky con men may have finally met their due in Palm Springs. After one of the suspects forged documents to facilitate the sale of Lambert’s house, he realized that a thumb-print taken by a San Francisco notary public might be used by police. So he returned to the notary’s office and unsuccessfully attempted to steal the notary’s copy, police said…

Read the rest of the post at “The Snitch” for further details of this bizarre and disturbing story. The post is just one in a series of pieces tracking this crew’s alleged shenanigans.

A British report on the South Alabama shooting spree.

Yesterday, in South Alabama, a 28-year-old man named Michael McLendon went full-blown psycho. He killed a number of his own family members, but it looks like Michael didn’t really discriminate after a while – anyone was fair game. When all was said and done, 11 people were dead by his hand – including the killer himself. The following is brief timeline of McLendon’s spree:

* Around 4 p.m. – Michael McLendon kills his girlfriend, mother Lisa and Lisa McLendon’s 4 dogs at the residence he shares with them. He sets the house on fire.

* 4 to 4:15 approximate – McLendon, driving his Mitsubishi Eclipse, travels east to the town of Samson, in Geneva County. He is extremely well-armed, weapons include an automatic rifle and a shotgun. Just outside Samson, McLendon shoots his grandmother, grandfather, aunt and uncle.

* McLendon also kills a man who lived in a mobile home on his grandparents’ property

* 4 to 4:15 approx. – McLendon goes to his grandparents’ neighbor across the street. He shoots and kills 31-year-old Andrea Myers, the wife of a local sheriff’s deputy, and her toddler daughter. Another child is injured and taken to a Florida medical facility. [Andrea Myers’s MySpace profile. One of her posted songs: Blue Oyster Cult, “Don’t Fear the Reaper.”]

* 4:15 to 4:30 approx. – McLendon has a confrontation with a State Trooper while traveling down Highway 52 into Samson proper. The Trooper suffers only minor injuries. Seven bullets hit the Trooper’s vehicle.

* Same timespan – McLendon kills two people, apparently at random: woman a the Big-Little Store on Hwy. 52 and a man at the Samson Pipe Supply.

* 4:20 to 4:30 approx. – McLendon fires shots at random into a Wal-Mart on Hwy. 52. A local sheriff rams his vehicle. The sheriff is shot in the shoulder. He drives himself to the hospital.

* Around 4:30 – Michael McLendon is in the parking lot of Reliable Metal Products, where he once worked. He fires at least 30 rounds at law enforcement. McLendon enters the business, commits suicide. Twelve people dead in less than an hour.

This timeline may be updated and revised for accuracy.

Sources: CNN, CNN.com, AFP.

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UPDATE

Based on a report from CNN, the death toll in the shootings in Winnenden and at a mall about 20 miles from the school may be as high as 17. At least 15 have been confirmed.

Original Post

This morning’s true horror story is the tale of a school shooting at the Albertville school in Winnenden, Germany. According to the Winnender Zeitung, 11 people were killed, 9 of them students at the school. A spokesperson at a psychiatric hospital next to the school told Der Spiegel that the gunman took another victim on the hospital grounds as he fled the scene. A police spokesperson later stated that the killer ‘shot indiscriminately around.’ [Auf deutsch: “Der Täter hat einfach um sich geschossen.” – many thanks to reader Frieke for correcting the translation.]

The killer, who graduated rom Albertville 2 years ago, was allegedly clad in ‘black combat gear’ when he began his assault around 9:30 in the morning. Some German media sources have stated that he focused his assault on two classrooms inside the facility.

Der Spiegel reported that special police units stormed the shooter’s home after the massacre. They found at least 18 weapons. His father, a wealthy businessman, and his mother are under interrogation.

There are conflicting reports as to the shooter’s fate. Der Spiegel stated the killer was still on the loose, but Bild.de reported that he was killed at the Wendlinger shopping mall after shooting two people there.

This post may be updated and/or revised.

MSNBC coverage of the shooting spree

UPDATE 2

The Associated Press reports that the gunman was a resident of Kinston, Alabama named Michael McLendon. The majority of his victims were his own relatives, including his mother and grandparents. Others victims were strangers, chosen at random.

McLendon may have been a former employee of Reliable Metal Products, the facility where he committed suicide at the end of his murderous spree.

UPDATE

The following comes from The Southeast Sun:

A 30-year-old man apparently set fire to his mother’s home in Coffee County before traveling to Samson and Geneva on a shooting spree that left at least 10 people dead. Coffee County Sheriff’s Department deputies, District Attorney Gary McAliley and Enterprise firefighters are on the scene at the woman’s home near Kinston, where her burned body has been discovered. Officials have not confirmed if she was alone in the house. They said witnesses saw the gunman, whose name has not been released, leaving the home earlier today before he drove to Samson…

Original Post

The spree began in Geneva County, Alabama, with gunshots inside a house in the town of Samson, just off Highway 52. Local reports indicate that the gunman killed 5 people in that house, 4 adults and a child. They were said to be his relatives. Two more were found dead at two other residences in the area. Then the gunman headed into downtown Samson. He shot a man walking down the sidewalk there, killing him. He entered the Big/Little Store where he killed one person. A local report indicated that the victim was a woman. She was found face-up behind the counter inside the store.

Law enforcement swarmed the area as the reports came in. Meanwhile, the killer traveled a quarter mile or so up the highway to a True Value Hardware Store, where he again opened fire, shooting an assault rifle out the window of his vehicle. The killer then headed towards the town of Geneva, allegedly shooting at vehicles along the way.

An investigator named Ricky Morgan spotted the shooter near a Wal-Mart, still firing away. Morgan barrelled into the maniac with his own vehicle and was shot at for his trouble Then Geneva Police Chief Frankie Lindsey confronted the shooter, who fired at Lindsey, striking him in the shoulder. Lindsey was not seriously injured.

The final showdown with the still-unnamed gunman came in the parking lot of Reliable Metal Products on Alabama Highway 27. There he exchanged gunfire with a Geneva County Sheriff’s Deputy and a local conservation officer. The killer managed to flee to the building, where he shot himself.

After the killer took his own life and the investigation began, some reports suggested that the number of dead may rise.

According to local media, the FBI, Alabama Bureau of Investigation and multiple county sheriff’s departments are investigating. 

This is a developing story. Updates and revisions will follow.

[The Southeast Sun, NBC15Online.com, DothanEagle.com. Also: an online guest book has been created for the victims of the spree.]

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Map of approximate locations where shots were fired.