Top 10 quotes from Shaq, via YouTube.
Having a stalker is scary enough. If you think you are being stalked by someone who is 7’1″, 300+ lbs. and very, very wealthy, it’s probably worse.
Rapper Alexis Miller, a.k.a. “MaryJane,” claims that NBA star Shaquille O’Neal began stalking her last July.
Miller, who lives in the Atlanta area, filed a petition this week for a temporary protective order against the basketball star. Through noted Atlanta defense attorney L. David Wolfe, Miller requested that Shaq “stop harassing and intimidating” her. Miller also wants her towering ex to have no further “direct or indirect contact” with her or her family and stay at least 300 yards from her and her residence.
Alexis Miller claims that Shaq sent her an e-mail on or about July 17 in which he said he might get Miller blackballed from the recording industry. Miller alleges that Shaq said he’d pay artists she’d worked with in the past up to $50,000 if they never recorded or performed with her again. In the papers she filed with the court Miller also quoted an e-mail she allegedly received from Shaq: “I dnt no who the fuk u think u dealin wit u will neva be heard from one phone call is all I gotta make now try me. Sho me.”
After Miller’s attorney made Shaq (or his lawyers) aware of the situation, she allegedly received some spooky phone calls. Quoting from the court documents: “[Alexis Miller] began receiving late night harassing phone calls from a private unlisted telephone number.” Miller says some calls were wordless, just heavy breathing, but in another call, someone with a low voice called her a “bitch” and a “ho.”
One of Miller’s creepier claims is that she observed a man in an unfamiliar black sedan park across the street from her house late one night and perform “what appeared to be surveillance of her personal residence.”
The rap artist says she’s suffering from “anxiety and acute stress” as a result of the alleged harassment, and she fears staying alone in her home at night.
The next court date in this case is September 4.
I’m pretty skeptical about this story. I don’t follow basketball — I’m more of a football or baseball kind of guy — so I’m not a fan of any one NBA player. But I know Shaq’s rep, and it’s pretty squeaky clean. He also has a long-term and serious interest in law enforcement — he’s even joined some law enforcement agencies on drug raids in the past. I have to wonder how much of a publicity stunt this could be on the part of a lesser-known performer like “MaryJane.”
But you know — stranger things have happened. [Courthouse News Service and WSB TV]

(Disclosure: I’ve been a member of the Websleuths.com true crime forum since late 2004. I just wanted to make that clear and also thank my fellow forum members who spoke with me for this post.)
To Maricopa County Medical Examiner death investigator Suzi Dodt, she was 99-305. To many in the Phoenix area, and more folks studying crime via the Web, the young woman was Maricopa Jane Doe.
Writing for the Phoenix New Times in late July this year, Paul Rubin described what happened to Maricopa Jane:

[She] died on January 27, 1999, the day after she jumped, fell, or was pushed out of the Cadillac in which she was riding on Interstate 10 with a man and another woman.
It happened during the afternoon hours at milepost 173, heading east from Phoenix on a desolate, straight stretch of road near Casa Grande.

The couple in the car said they didn’t know the girl’s name. The driver was Alonzo Fernandez, from Phoenix, and Fernandez claimed he’d only just met the girl who would become 99-305 outside a convenience store.
Ultimately, Fernandez pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. He made a statement about the death of Maricopa Jane: “all three of us were on the freeway smoking marijuana. She started freaking, saying her boyfriend would get mad if she left, and she jumped out of the car. I saw her in the rear-view mirror, and people were stopping to help her. I was scared and kept going. I never knew her name. I’m still haunted by this ’til this day.”
tmazzone.jpgFernandez skipped out on probation in 1999. He was in the wind for 8 years. Fernandez was finally arrested on a bench warrant a week ago.
Fernandez’s talk of being haunted by the nameless girl could have been glib, something said to his probation officer in an effort to appear repentant. But there’s no doubt that the real identity of Maricopa Jane Doe was a mystery that plagued many other people. Some of them lived a long way from Phoenix and mile marker 173.
But beginning in 2006, a number of Websleuths started putting their heads together with a single, selfless goal in mind — give Maricopa Jane Doe a name.
It was crowdsourcing the solution to a mystery. Amateur sleuthing. Cyber-sleuthing. It was the kind of pursuit that might cause significant others to shake their heads as they spied on loved ones hunched over a computer keyboard late in the night, parsing all the small details known about a young woman who died in 1999. Journalists might roll their eyes at soccer moms and stay-at-home parents chatting on a message board, ‘investigating’ (quotes intended) such a seemingly intractable mystery. If the cops or the death investigator couldn’t give Maricopa Jane a name, why would these strangers from everywhere and nowhere think they could help? Who did they think they were?
Collectively, they were Websleuths. And they helped give Maricopa Jane Doe a name.
Maricopa Jane Doe was Tawni Lee Mazzone, from Massachusetts. She was 17 when she died.
Websleuthers kept the story of Maricopa Jane Doe alive, and helped to link her to the missing teen.

fifthnail.jpgThe jury in the sentencing trial of confessed serial killer Joseph Edward Duncan III saw into the heart of hell today. Three videos Duncan made when he had Dylan and Shasta Groene captive in the Montana woods in 2005 were show to the jurors. Reports from the courtroom indicate that while there were no breakdowns from the members of the jury, many were clearly revolted by what they saw.
Collectively, the videos are said to show Duncan whipping Dylan with a belt and sexually assaulting the little boy. The first two videos were a couple of minutes a piece, but the third video was about 10 minutes long, and even accounts of the words said by Duncan on the tape give some idea as to how soul-rending, how horrific the experience must have been for the 12 people in that courtroom today.
In the last tape, Duncan was shown hanging Dylan Groene from the ceiling of a remote cabin. As the little boy struggled to breathe, Duncan screamed at God. He masturbated. He sang.
Duncan was heard at the beginning of the tape saying, “If there is a God, then I pray, with all the love I can muster, if you’re not real you know why this is happening, that doesn’t even make sense, God, this child, this boy, does not deserve to die.”
Later, after Dylan was gasping for air on the floor of the cabin, Duncan said, “Listen boy! I just saved you! I saved your soul, okay? […] God isn’t the only one who can forgive me. God made everything that just happened happen.”
Duncan continued, saying, “I killed you. I got it on videotape if you want to watch it […] God, what is going on here? I don’t understand. I’m getting sick of your games.”
To Dylan, Duncan said, “Boy, you’re special. God is protecting you. It was the devil who stood here. The devil himself, not just a demon.”
At some point later in the tape, Duncan moved away from the camera, and according to the AP, he could be heard “singing the Lord’s Prayer.”
The AP reported the most chilling words heard on any of the tapes inflicted upon the jury in that Idaho courtroom. It wasn’t clear when Duncan said the following, but that didn’t really matter. At some point, Duncan shouted, “The devil is here, boy, the devil himself. The demon couldn’t do what the devil sent him to do so the devil came himself […] The devil likes to watch children suffer and cry.”
Duncan’s first victim, the man whom he assaulted in 1980 when the victim was just 14, took the stand at the end of the day. His story, unsurprisingly, was similar to the one revealed by the videotapes viewed by the jury.
Always a demon, with Duncan. Or the Devil himself. Never the killer, admitting that he’s an animal who enjoys the suffering of children. Duncan has probably never said, ‘hey, I just like hurting people. That’s what really gets me off,’ even though that’s exactly what he is — a sexually sadistic psychopath.
Someone remind me why I’ve become less and less pro-death penalty again. This story alone is making me forget. [KXLY.com and the Associated Press.]

rmcdonald.jpgShortly after 8 o’clock this morning (Eastern Time) a student was shot in the cafeteria of Central High School, in Knoxville, TN. Local media reports say the victim was 16-year-old Ryan McDonald.
Police responded quickly to the scene, and the shooter was apprehended before 8:30 a.m. The suspect is Jamar Siler, age 15. Siler invoked his right to an attorney while being questioned by police. He may already have a record, because Knoxville station WBIR reported that he was “already an existing client of the Knox County Public Defender’s Office.”
Knoxville PD Deputy Chief William Roehl told local media that this was not a random school shooting. The suspect and victim knew each other, and Roehl termed this morning’s shooting “an isolated incident.”
One witness said Siler shot McDonald in the chest and “casually walked away.” He was picked up walking down a road near the school.
The 14-year-old daughter of Rev. Chris Buice attends Central High. Buice is the pastor of Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Two members of that church were killed and 6 wounded when a man named Jim Adkisson allegedly walked into a morning service earlier this summer and opened fire.
It isn’t as if it was my old high school, but I’ve been inside Central High, several times. Somewhere in a photo album here in my home, I have a 20-year-old pic of me in a tuxedo, (with a full head of hair), singing an Aaron Copland song in the choir room at Central High. The school is located in a pleasant suburb of Knoxville, near quaint whitewashed churches and shopping areas. I don’t know about today, but 20 years ago, Central High appeared to be — for a large high school — one of the more tight-knit school communities you could imagine. Anytime gunfire erupts inside school halls it is a tragedy — I suppose this is an instance where I have a slightly better sense than usual of how great an impact the murder of Ryan McDonald might have on the community at large. A community that is still trying to come to terms with the shooting that took place inside Tennessee Valley Unitarian. Knoxville has always been a mid-sized city with a bit of a small-town vibe. Surely, that will change now, and not for the better. [WBIR.com and KnoxNews.com.]

findingcaylee.jpgA half-million dollar bond was posted Wednesday for Casey Anthony, the 22-year-old mother of missing Orlando-area toddler Caylee Anthony. The bail was provided by bounty hunter Leonard Padilla and his nephew Tony. Casey may be home by Thursday night.
Leonard Padilla is a well-known character from Sacramento, California, where he has been tried and convicted of tax evasion and run for political office. He is currently featured on the reality show Bounty Hunter, on the National Geographic Channel.
Speaking to local Orlando media, Padilla said that Casey is “going to her home with her parents, and hopefully somewhere down the road she’ll decide, ‘Hey this is the truth of the matter, this is what happened.'”
Padilla also said, apparently without a trace of irony, that he and his nephew had had to contend with “bondsmen from other companies that didn’t want this to happen and they kept injecting themselves into the situation.”
Yeah. About that “injecting” thing… why would a bounty hunter who happens to have his own reality show want to involve himself in any way with the most high-profile missing child case in the country at the moment? A case where the Florida media has done a bang-up job of making all sorts of court documents available to the public?
Why would a man who (obvious penchant for self-aggrandizement aside) has a rep for being a pretty good bounty hunter buy what the Anthony family and Casey’s lawyer, Jose Baez, are selling?
I think it’s all about injecting one’s self into a certain situation, in the end. I imagine reality series producers are in the background, and cameras are rolling, constantly.
And it all makes me sick. (Hey, this is blogging, after all — I’m going to just put it out there sometimes.)
Blogging about the disappearance of Caylee Anthony makes me sick. So much seems so obvious — her mother Casey has lied to the police, repeatedly, apparently with no trace of shame or remorse. Every “tip” reported in the case, every alleged sighting of the little girl, has been blatantly bogus. The police long ago cleared anyone in the Orlando area named Zenaida Gonzalez of any involvement in Caylee’s disappearance. Time and again, Casey Anthony’s behavior seems to point back to her as having much more knowledge about what happened to her daughter than she will ever reveal.
Now this bounty hunter circus comes to town, and further enables a young woman who seems to have benefited from quite a bit of enabling in her life. People seeking a few episodes and higher ratings for their shows — and in the end, more money and fame — bail her out of jail. Casey will be able to sleep in her own bed, watch TV, eat fast food, you name it. Her family and her attorney will keep the cops at bay, and the bounty hunters completely obfuscate the press coverage. It all begins to look like misdirection, sleight-of-hand performed not with a coin or playing card, but with the truth. The story has been about George, Cindy, and Casey Anthony. Now the Padillas have injected themselves into the story. And people can make all the winsome looking images they like with the little girl’s face — but at the moment, Caylee Anthony is an afterthought. The circus is in full swing. Soon enough it will be like the murder of JonBenet Ramsey — all the leads will be exhausted, and there will only be clowns in the ring, constantly thrusting themselves in front of the camera, as a little girl watches from the shadows, alone. [Local6.com]

jeremynoyes.jpgThe FBI says that Jeremy Noyes, a 30-year-old med student living in Erie, PA planned to create a sex farm or private island retreat stocked with female slaves. The feds also say Noyes had child porn in one of his e-mail accounts. So they arrested him on August 18 and charged him with two counts of possessing child pornography.
Authorities were tipped off when Noyes’s ex became concerned about Noyes’s interest in kids. Elizabeth Fleming, who was enrolled with Noyes at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, gave the FBI e-mails from Noyes in which he outlined a sick desire to begin a “new society.”
The messages also described Alex and her child Abby, who allegedly lived in New Zealand. Noyes said he met Alex via collarme.com, a fetish site for folks with an interest in BDSM (Fleming got to know Noyes through the site as well).
The FBI’s affidavit filed to support the charges against Jeremy Noyes states that Noyes would IM with Alex and instruct her in the proper preparation of her 4-year-old child “for sexual activity.” The same affidavit told of a conversation during which Noyes told Fleming that he had a long-term plan to put together what he called a “family” of sex slaves. Alex and Abby from New Zealand were to be the seeds of that family. According to Fleming, Noyes stated that he’d wait until Abby was between 8 and 14 years old, then impregnate her. Her offspring would be the fulfillment of this sick plan. The affidavit states that Noyes planned to purchase “a farm or an island where he could” form his new society.
Jeremy Noyes is in the Erie County jail. His next hearing is Thursday. If he’s convicted on the child porn charges, Noyes could face anywhere from 10 to 40 years in prison.
The affidavit published by The Smoking Gun leaves out many other allegations made by Elizabeth Fleming, including her statement — made in a blog entry — that Noyes claimed he’d committed murder — and gotten away with it.

bmendenhall2.jpgPolice in Nashville, TN believe Bruce Mendenhall has killed people in Tennessee, Indiana, Georgia and Alabama. He’s been charged with 3 murders so far, including the June, 2007 murder of Sara Nicole Hulbert, in Nashville. Mendenhall is also suspected of committing murders in Lake Station, Indiana and Sewanee, GA.
After Mendenhall’s arrest in the summer of 2007, blood evidence began to tell a gruesome story — the long-haul trucker may have killed at least 5 women, maybe many more. He allegedly targeted victims in straitened circumstances; prostitution, drug abuse and poverty seemed to connect many of the names connected with Mendenhall since his arrest.
Mendenhall was arrested after one of Nashville’s more storied detectives, New York native Pat Postiglione, went to a Nashville truck stop seeking more evidence in the Hulbert case. Postiglione knew that he might be seeking a trucker with a distinctive yellow semi. That trucker was Bruce Mendenhall. Postiglione happened to spot Mendenhall’s truck that day, and he spoke to the driver. Seeing blood on one of the cab doors to the truck, Postiglione got the driver’s permission to search the cab. Among the items found in the search: plastic wrap, a knife, sex toys, bullets, a razor blade, latex gloves and a nightstick. Nashville police were thorough; Mendenhall was done. He’s been in jail ever since.
But when a man gets into the habit of murder, it may be hard for him to stop. So that may just be why Bruce Mendenhall recently had some new charges slapped on him, for five counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder. Nashville’s Metro PD say Mendenhall tried to “arrange the murders of Metro Police Homicide Sergeant Pat Postiglione, Homicide Detective Lee Freeman, and three witnesses” against him. A press release from the department quoted Chief Ronal Serpas: “Allegations of retaliation or planned retribution against police officers or witnesses are extremely serious and will be immediately and vigorously investigated […] Such conduct cannot and will not be tolerated by this police department.”
Since Mendenhall is 57 and has been driving for years, he may have a long trail of victims stretching back across the years. If police manage to hang at least one on the trucker, it will probably be enough to put him away for the rest of his life. [WSMV and Nashville Police]

Bounty hunters Tony Padilla and his uncle, Leonard Padilla, have come to Florida from their home base in California to bail out Casey Anthony and help find her missing daughter, Caylee.
caseymanthony.JPGThat’s what they say, anyway. Leonard Padilla, speaking to Fox News: “There’s a reward out there; I’m not interested in the reward […] If the person that has the child contacts me, they can have the reward — I’m not law enforcement, I’m not interested in the prosecution or sending somebody to prison — my only interest, myself and my nephew, is to get that child back.”
Leonard Padilla obviously isn’t law enforcement. He appears to buy the Anthony family’s line — that Caylee is alive out there, somewhere, and can be brought home to her mother and grandparents, safe and sound. It’s hard to believe that anyone with a lawman’s instinct could examine the many publicly-available court documents in this case, the transcripts of phone calls between Casey and her family, phone calls from Casey’s mother, Cindy, to 911, and not conclude that Caylee is long gone, and that her mother may have had something to do with her disappearance.
Actually, Padilla couldn’t be law enforcement if he wanted — according to archived articles from the Sacramento Bee, he served a year in federal prison in the early 90s. Bee reporter Denny Walsh wrote in 1991 that though Padilla had “a widespread reputation as a wily and successful tracker of bail jumpers,” he was also, according to a Sacramento prosecutor, “the largest non-filer [of federal income tax]in the history of the sprawling, 34-county federal judicial district based in Sacramento.”
Being in federal prison for a year for tax evasion didn’t stop Padilla from running for Mayor of Sacramento in 1992. He lost, but he surely got points from the public at large for sheer ballsiness.
News articles from Sacramento reveal one thing — Padilla and his family, many of them also in the bail bondsman biz, are no strangers to publicity, and not shy about seeking the same.
Tony Padilla and his Uncle Leonard may truly believe they can help crack the case of the disappearing little girl from Orange County, Fla. Perhaps they’ll bond Casey Anthony out of jail tomorrow, and the $500,000 of trust they show the young woman will be enough for her to finally help someone unravel the mystery of what happened to her daughter.
The cynical truth here is more likely that Padilla and Co. see a major opportunity for publicity. Perhaps a chance to eclipse the likes of Duane “Dog” Chapman, the bemulleted, ex-con bail bondsman based in Hawaii who has his own television show.
The cynical truth is that the story is still about anything but what really happened to Caylee. The story here isn’t about finding a missing little girl. If the Anthony case wasn’t a circus before, it certainly is, now. As more and more clowns enter the picture, the little girl fades further into the background. [Fox News]

anthraxenvelope.jpgThose who have strong doubts about the case against the late Bruce Ivins being the Amerithrax killer have new grist for the mill. The FBI has admitted that they had possession of the correct strain of anthrax shortly after the deadly letters were sent in late 2001. They have also admitted to destroying the samples.
According to the Associated Press, FBI Assistant Director Vahid Majidi said Monday that an anthrax sample Bruce Ivins provided to the Bureau in February, 2002 was destroyed because of concerns that it might not be allowed into evidence if the case went to trial. In hindsight, said Majidi, the Bureau would have done things “differently.”
The FBI made this admission as they tried to publicly reinforce their case against Ivins. They did make one positive, interesting point about the investigation as a whole — according to associate lab director James Burans from the National Bioforensics Analysis Center at the Dept. of Homeland Security, the Amerithrax investigation “helped to found the field of bioforensics.”
Speaking to the media, Asst. Dir. Majidi implied that critics of the investigation would never be fully satisfied. He said that it would come to resemble the elaborate culture of conspiracy that still swirls around the Kennedy assassination. [Reuters and the AP/NY Sun.]

Where her social networking profile asked what books she liked, Melissa Nichols wrote, “When I do read I like to read murder mysteries. Anne Rule [sic]is my favorite author cuz she includes pictures from the actual crime scenes she writes about and her stories are all true!!!!”
Not that there’s anything wrong with that — I wouldn’t be writing this post right now if I hadn’t read everything Ann Rule ever wrote.
mnichols.jpgThen again, unlike Ms. Nichols, I’ve never become part of a story that might make it into one of Ann Rule’s books, either.
According to witnesses, Nichols, age 23, and ex-boyfriend Anthony James Payne — also 23 — were having some sort of conversation before everything went wrong. The conversation ended, and the exes went their separate ways — at first. Nichols headed one way in her Pontiac, Payne rode in the other direction on his Honda motorcycle.
At some point, Payne turned around, and witnesses say Melissa Nichols purposefully drove into the oncoming lane and ran head-long into Anthony Payne.
He was thrown more than 100 feet and died at the scene.
Melissa Nichols was arrested on suspicion of murder.
People who like to mine MySpace pages for insight into crimes in the news might find Nichols’s profile pretty interesting: Melissa0095.
There you could find a graphic in black and neon blue, a woman’s silhouette with the legend, “CAUTION […] This Bitch Does Not Play Well With Other Bitches.”
Most of Nichols’s page graphics tended to run in that vein.
The blurb that might have best served as some sort of warning to Anthony Payne was posted under “About me.” There Nichols wrote, “Im a nice person till you fuck me over then you will wish you never had met me. Treat people how u want to be treated and there should be no problems. Active Druggies and loosers dont bother going any further with urself on this page!!”
It’s hard to imagine what Anthony Payne did to his ex-girlfriend that merited an allegedly purposeful head-on collision. Whatever it was, he didn’t even get the chance to wish he’d never met Melissa Nichols. [News10.net]