* 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.
Tireless true crime scribe M. William Phelps has let me know that he’s got a new book in the works, and if you’re into historic true crime like I am, you might want to mark your calendar now.
Phelps’s new book is tentatively titled, Thunder of Heaven: The True Story of Money, Murder, & Disaster in the Progressive Era. It tells the story of Amy Archer-Gilligan, a serial killer at large between 1906 and 1913. Matt Phelps will explore Archer’s efforts to establish the first elder home health care business, her killing spree, trials, and how a legendary heat wave played a major role in Archer’s one-woman crime wave.
Phelps says that even if they know about Amy Archer’s crimes, most people don’t know that “at the peak of Amy Archer’s serial killing, between July 1 and July 11, 1911, a heatwave moves into New England and begins killing people at an unprecedented rate—some 2,000 lives.” As a result, says Phelps, “you have two silent killers working simultaneously, side-by-side. The heat wave makes for a compelling canvass to tell Amy’s more complete story, not to mention the innovation and turmoil surrounding the Progressive Era itself.”
Thunder of Heaven is slated to hit bookstores in the Spring of 2010.
On the Web: CrimeRant.com — funny and topical true crime blog run by Phelps and author Gregg Olsen. Crime Rant is no longer being updated by the authors, but a good read if you trawl through the archives. See also — M. William Phelps’s books on Amazon.com.
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.]
Cindy Anthony’s 911 calls made on July 15 just keep coming back to haunt her. A third conversation was released today.
It reveals Anthony as anything but her daughter’s defender. On July 15, she was worried sick about her granddaughter, 2-year-old Caylee, and contemplating taking the child away from Casey Anthony if Caylee was found.
The most tell-tale portion of the newly-published transcript (which you can read in full by clicking the link at the bottom of this post) was a conversation recorded between Cindy and Casey, when they thought the 911 operator was switching them over to another operator.
Speaking to Casey, Cindy Anthony said, “My next thing will be to file a child thing and we will get her […] If that is the way you want to play, we’ll do it.”
Casey Anthony responded, “That’s not the way I want to play.”
Cindy said, “Well then you have…” and Casey cut her off, saying she wanted “one more day.”
Cindy Anthony said something then that seemed to express just how bizarrely patient she’d been with her daughter, “No,” she said, “I’m not giving you another day, I’ve given you a month.”
* Murder Comes to Reinholds — (Reinholds, PA) Until this week, West Cocalico Twp. PA has never had a murder. Then Jan Roseboro, age 45, was found dead at the home she shared with husband Michael. The mother of 4 was severely beaten and then drowned in the Roseboros’ swimming pool. Michael Roseboro called 911 on Tuesday, July 22. When emergency services arrived they found Roseboro performing CPR on Jan. No arrests have been made, but 41-year-old Michael Roseboro, a funeral home director in Denver, PA, was home at the time. Still, police say they have no person of interest or suspect at this time. [Lancasteronline.com]
* Spam King Murder-Suicide — (Bennett, CO) Edward Davidson ran a spamming outfit called Power Promoters. Between 2003 and 2006 he racked up millions of dollars in profits from his spam ads, but then it all caught up with him. He was ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IRS and sentenced to nearly 2 years in prison. Davidson had just begun serving his time at a minimum security facility when he basically just left, possibly assisted by his wife, Amy. He wasn’t really going on the lam, though. Davidson, his wife, and their 3-year-old daughter were found dead Thursday. Apparently the “spam king” (and Kim Zetter at Wired is right, every spammer ever caught and tried seems to get that nick) killed his wife and child and then committed suicide. [Threat Level/Wired.com]