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.

CBS News report on the shooting of Pastor Fred Winters.

Terry Joe Sedlacek, age 27, has been named as the suspect in the murder of First Baptist of Maryville (IL) Pastor Fred Winters during a church service early Sunday. Police have not confirmed that Sedlacek, a resident of Troy, Illinois, is the man in custody. Sources have confirmed to St. Louis-area media that Sedlacek is the suspect in this dramatic assault. Sedlacek suffers from Lyme Disease, and it has affected his brain. A July, 2008 post on the St. Louis Lyme Foundation website indicated that Sedlacek suffered “temporal lobe damage” from the disease. According to Wikipedia, the temporal lobe “is involved in auditory processing and is home to the primary auditory cortex. It is also important for the processing of semantics in both speech and vision. The temporal lobe contains the hippocampus and plays a key role in the formation of long-term memory.” [CBS]

Welcome To all my friends

Murder victim Jeri Lynn Cole in a video she posted on a MySpace profile she abandoned after meeting Scott Abbott.

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Jeri Lynn Cole and Scott Lamar Abbott

Quadruple homicide suspect Scott Lamar Abbott, age 24, will be in court today in Bessemer, Alabama. Police in Hueytown, AL believe Abbott murdered William Chad Gilbert, 31, Nika Sandlin, age 24, 26-year-old Joshua Gilleo and Jeri Lynn Cole, age 27.

Scott Abbott lived in the residence where the murders occurred up till a few weeks ago, when he was told to leave.

Authorities believe Abbott wasn’t happy with that arrangement, to say the least. They think the 6’7″ male stripper entered the home where the murders occurred around 3 a.m. Saturday. He stabbed each victim several times, creating what one veteran cop termed “one of the most horrific” crime scenes he’d ever seen.

Then, fortunately for justice, Abbott pulled an idiot move and showed up at a hospital in Gadsden, Alabama. Hospital staff found his excuse for his own knife wounds a little suspect and called Gadsden police. The Gadsden PD eventually delivered Abbott to the Hueytown cops.

Based on reports that Abbott dated one of the victims and was a “jilted lover”, as well as evidence found on MySpace.com, it looks as though Scott Abbott was dating Jeri Lynn Cole, aka lyricsmom27.

On February 25, Cole’s profile headline read “~Happy with Scott~.” By her last login on the 6th of this month, it said, “~Having fun~.”

A slideshow of photos showed Cole in alluring poses, nothing truly exposed, but clearly topless. In her “About me” section she wrote:

MY NAME IS JERI I AM 27 I AM FROM HUEYTOWN BESSEMER AREA I LIVE IN HUEYTOWN AL ***U CAN FIND ME ON YAHOO MESSENGER “LYRICSMOM27” I HAVE A WEB CAM ALSO :) ADD ME IF U WANNA CHAT*** I LOVE SHOOTING POOL AND HAVING FUN! I LOVE THE OUTDOORS AND SPENDING TIME WITH THE ONE I LOVE. I LIKE TO FISH,JET SKI,MOVIES,GOING OUT TO EAT,SINGING AT BARS SOMETIMES,MUD RIDING,AND SWIMMING.I LOVE BEING A MOM TO 2 HANDSOME LITTLE MEN […] SINGLE MOM TRYING TO MEET THE RIGHT PEOPLE TIRED OF DRAMA!!! I LOVE EATING OUT I LOVE ALL TYPES OF PLACES LIKE:CAJUN STEAMERS…YUMMY VOO DOO CHICKEN!SHOGUNS,YENGS ASIAN GRILL YUMMY,COSTAS ITALIAN..OH YEAH!,HABENEROS IS SO GOOD!,SHANGHI AWESOME CHINESE FOOD,AND JOHNNY CARINOS..HA HA ALOT OF DIFFERN’T ONES. I LOVE THE BEACH AND LOVE ROMANCE, I AM A BIG CUDDLER AND LOVE TO BE AFFECTIONATE,I LOVE JUST HAVING FUN!

In contrast to that inviting bio and the come-hither photographs, Cole once wrote the following under “Who I’d like to meet”:

FRIENDS ONLY I HAVE FOUND A AWESOME MAN SCOTT YOUR AWESO ME THANKS FOR GIVING ME A CHANCE I KNOW YOU WILL NOT DO ME WRONG I ♥ YOU BABY! CAN’T WAIT TO START OUR LIVES RIGHT AND GROW OLD WITH U

By March 6, that blurb had been changed to this:

I AM READY TO MEET A REAL MAN WHO IS NOT ABOUT GAMES AND DOES NOT LIKE A KID… WHO LIKES TO PARTY AND HAVE FUN AND LOVES ROMANCE.. I AM TIRED OF THE BULL SHIT 24-35YRS WHITE ONLY! MUST BE ATTRACTIVE HIT ME UP.. I LOVE MUSCULAR BUILT MEN

On February 19 this year – about two weeks ago – Scott Abbott left this almost indecipherable comment on Jeri Lynn Coles’s profile:

Hey baby yea it is hard but there will be times like this but they just make our love stronger and us closer so just hang in there with me and it will get better im just waiting on a unanswered prayer impen god will hear my call but he you love you got to respect my word and what i say more often i dont say no to be mean i say it cause i wont the best for us just pence i love you always and soon you will have my last name and not just my heart

On March 1st, Abbott left these comments, the top at 9:09 p.m., the bottom just 4 minutes before:

you erased our pics but please not our love […]

hey i am not much 4 words but these 3 i love you and all i wont is you just the way you are plase for give me

In January and February, Abbott left longer comments for Jeri Lynn Cole, and they seemed to reflect some kind of ongoing turmoil between the two. Read them here.

Abbott’s own personal profile was private, but beside a photo of himself and Jeri Cole he posted these words: “in love with my woman and future wife.” His boldface headline read, “scott hoping to get married soon to my beautiful little ladie.” His last login was on March 1st.

Scott Abbott was no stranger to violence. A 2004 press release from police in Fort Payne, Alabama listed an arrest for a then-19-year-old Scott Lamar Abbott for “domestic violence.” Abbott pleaded guilty that year to a charge of child abuse and was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

The three remaining victims – Nika Sandlin, Joshua Gilleo and William Chad Gilbert – also had private MySpace profiles. Sandlin’s and Gilbert’s emphasized their love for their children.

Police have said that though there was evidence of drug use in the home, these murders were not drug-related.

It sounds like they had much more to do with a 6’7″ psychopath who couldn’t handle rejection.

[Birmingham News]

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Logo of First Baptist, Maryville

It happened during early services this morning at the First Baptist Church in Maryville, Illinois. A gunman mounted the stage and opened fire on the pastor and congregation. Up to 5 people [Fox News reports 6 people] were transported to nearby medical centers by helicopter, including the pastor, who was hit by at least 3 bullets. Early televised reports stated that the gunman was stabbed after he was bum-rushed by church members. It has since been reported that the attacker stabbed himself. 

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Pastor Fred Winters

CNN reported that one person died from their injuries. Multiple sources including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have indicated that the deceased is pastor Fred Winters. There are conflicting reports that another victim has passed away as well.

The injured gunman is in custody.

The following quote from an article on MSNBC’s website tells more about how the events unfolded:

Church Member Ashley Shank, interviewed by KSDK, was not in the church at the time of the shooting but she did talk to others who said the gunman was wearing a hoodie and pulled the weapon out of the hoodie.

Just before the shooting, the pastor had reportedly asked the gunman, who was standing in the aisle of the church, whether he needed help with anything.

The following statement comes from the website for the church: “A prayer service will be held tonight at 6:00pm, March 8, 2009, at Metro Community Chuch in Edwardsville, IL.”

Updates and revisions to follow.

According to The Birmingham News, a quadruple homicide occurred sometime overnight at

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Photo of living room at 225 Woodland from real estate website

225 Woodland Drive in Hueytown, Alabama. From Blog.al.com:

The victims are two men and two women, all believed to be in their 20s, [Police Chief Chuck] Hagler said. He would not reveal their identifies. A man described as a person of interest has been taken into custody, he said…

Few other details are available at the moment, but I was able to find a listing online for the residence where the murders occurred. It included photos of rooms inside the house, and seeing them cleaned up and camera-ready was eerie.

I’m going to beat the shit out of you when we get home!” – According to court papers, a statement from Chris Brown to Rihanna on the night he allegedly beat the crap out of her.

Singer Chris Brown has been hit with a double dose of felony charges for his alleged assault on his girlfriend, Rihanna, aka Robyn Fenty.

The LA Times posted the court documents here.

I know that writing about crime seeks in part to re-tell the stories found in court documents in an interesting manner, leaving the dryness of legal reportage behind, but sometimes the plain facts of what allegedly happened are just as compelling as anything cooked up by any journalist. Go here to read the court papers in a format that may load a little more easily than the pdf posted by the Times.

Looks like Elmo was lucky to get away unscathed.