fifthnail.jpgJust in case we forgot this particular psychopathic animal with no shred of decency, serial killer Joseph Edward Duncan III has decided to remind folks he is still alive and unrepentant. The former computer student and registered sex offender filed papers on Monday stating that he will appeal all the sentences on his head: three life terms and three death sentences. Duncan will appeal his conviction as well. I kind of knew this monster wasn’t going anywhere, but even now, after writing about guys like Duncan for a while (and quite a bit about Duncan himself) one can still hope. Hopefully he won’t get very far with his appeals. [WDAY]

genericrimescenephoto.jpgBilli-Jo Smallwood was portrayed as a hero when she rescued two of her children from her burning Fort Campbell, KY home in May, 2007. Now Smallwood has been charged with starting the same fire that killed two of her children, Samuel Fagan, age 9, and Rebekah Smallwood, age 2.
Authorities in Kentucky believe Smallwood “maliciously” set the home she shared with her children and husband ablaze, and that she was trying to destroy the complex she and her husband Wayne Smallwood shared with several other military families.
Billi-Jo Smallwood was badly injured in the fire. Husband Wayne had an ankle injury from jumping out of a second-floor window, but was otherwise okay. Little Nevaeh Smallwood, less than 2 years old at the timeof the fire, also survived.
Billi-Jo received skin-grafts at Vanderbilt University’s Medical Center in Nashville, and at the time, friends said she was injured as she tried to save her children. The story was that Billi-Jo was aware something was wrong that night, and she allegedly tried to carry the children who died up to the roof of the building. But Sam was “unconscious” and she couldn’t lift him.
Billi-Jo made a MySpace page just to memorialize her son by a previous relationship. The page is private, but this quote was posted beside Sam’s photo: “SAM FAGAN….a boy who is truely [sic]missed and remembered by all who ever met him…..WHAT AN AWSOME [sic]KID!”
Billi-Jo’s page was private as well. There she wrote, “SPEND EVERY MOMENT AS IT WAS YOUR LAST…” and “PRAY OFTEN……talk to God.”
Not long after the fire at Fort Campbell hit the news in May, 2007, someone began a discussion about it on a Topix Message board. Much of the discussion after authorities revealed that the fire was intentionally set seemed to express suspicion that Wayne Smallwood had something to do with the fire.
Several people claiming to be in Smallwood’s family eventually posted messages defending him. Then in mid June, 2007, someone with the screen name “rakkasans_frg” posted this message:
“This is Billi-Jo Smallwood the mother who was in the fire…….wife of Wayne Smallwood……I can’t say much as it is very difficult to even think about what happened. I will say that my husband did love his children as much as I do. We always will. For those of you who were not there need to get off the internet and have some respect for other people. If you were not there then think of this, do you REALLY know what happened. Stop gossiping and spend some time with your family. Show them how much you love them because I from experience will tell you……you never know when God will take someone away from you. We can’t change the past so let’s focus on finding who did this and try to make the best of what we have. I beg you to please stop, pray and live right. Would you be sayin g these things if you were on public television where everyone can see you??????? Have some respect if not for us, for our children.”
“rakkasans_frg” created a Topix profile. Curiously, the person using that screen name only posted one other time on one other forum: “Fatal Fort Campbell Fire Ruled Arson.” There the commenter simply wrote, “God bless the family.”
“rakkasans_frg” could have been anyone, but it is worth it to note that Wayne Smallwood was stationed with the 101st Airborne’s Third Combat Team, aka the Rakkasans. Was Billi-Jo trying to find a way to monitor the investigation into the fire that killed two of her children? Wouldn’t be a big surprise, now would it?
According to the Associated Press, Billi-Jo Smallwood will have a hearing on Friday in a federal court in Gainesville. She will face another arraignment on December 10 in front of a U.S. magistrate judge in Kentucky. []

nataleeholloway.jpgIt’s hard to write about Natalee Holloway, anymore. I don’t really think the case will ever be solved. But writing about this stuff has made me pretty pessimistic in general. I hope one day my skepticism about any ‘new developments’ related to the search for Natalee is rendered unfounded.
Here’s the new stuff: Aruban prosecutors are reporting that they have a new witness who says that Joran van der Sloot confessed that he dumped Natalee Holloway at sea the night she disappeared in May, 2005. This comes on the heels of Dutch reporter Peter De Vries taping van der Sloot making similar admissions and broadcasting those hidden-camera recordings earlier this year.
This is an interesting development, yes, but Hans Mos, the Aruban prosecutor, has said that he wants more evidence if he is going to try and finally put the tall young Dutchman behind bars for good (in the Dutch system, probably 20 years, tops).
Personally I think Joran may just enjoy his bad boy rep. He is no doubt an egotist, a narcissist, maybe even an antisocial personality — but how much of his talk is just him trying to look like a badass?
Joran van der Sloot is pretty detestable, but you have to wonder if he will ever actually answer for any alleged crimes — the sex trafficking accusations that emerged over a week ago, or the disappearance of the girl from Mountain View. [ ]

smusilbuehler.jpgHolmes Beach, FLA — The main office building at Haley’s Motel burned down Sunday evening. The establishment is partly owned by missing woman Sabine Musil-Buehler, who vanished on November 4. By the time firefighters made it to the motel, the building was fully engaged.
There were no injuries. The Holmes Beach Chief of Police told local reporters that there was “speculation” that there was some connection between Musil-Buehler’s still-unsolved disappearance and the fire, but “it’s just speculation.”
Musil-Buehler’s boyfriend, William Cumber, is considered a “person of interest” in connection with the fire — he has been convicted of arson in the past. He has also been interviewed about Musil-Buehler’s disappearance. A man named Robert Corona was arrested and charged with stealing Sabine Musil-Buehler’s car. Police found blood in the car and evidence that fabric had been cut from the car’s interior.
The fire at Haley’s Motel is under investigation by police and fire officials. []

View Larger Map
Three people have been murdered in an office park in Santa Clara, California. The gunman is still on the loose. The shootings occurred around 4 p.m. PT today, and police say the shooter is a 47-year-old man from Mountain View named Jing Wu. Police don’t know if the Wu is still in the office park or not. Wu is 5’7″, weighs about 170, and he may be driving a silver SUV.
The victims were two men and a woman.
The AP and other sources report that the shooting occurred inside Building #7 at 3255 Scott Blvd. According to this page, Siport Incorporated is the name of at least one business located inside Building 7. Siport “is in the Semiconductors and Related Devices industry” and “currently has approximately 1 to 5 employees and annual sales of Under $500,000.”
According to this LinkedIn profile, a Jing Wu lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area and has in the past been a process engineer working for a company that makes semiconductors.
Google’s Street View of the general location can be seen at the top of this entry. This post may be updated as information becomes available. In the meantime, see what people are saying about the crime on Twitter. [ — see also: The San Francisco Chronicle.]

***UPDATE, 12/11/08*** Go here for a post about the newest find, made the morning of December 11, 2008.
findingcaylee.jpgLooks like Leonard Padilla may have stepped in it, this time. The bounty hunter has a long history of proactively seeking attention related to various high-profile crime stories in the news, and much of the time, Padilla has been basically trying to do the right thing. But the supposed “find” of bones in a bag today (see original post, below) during the search for Caylee Anthony may have put Padilla in the doghouse with the media.
And with the cops.
In spite of Padilla’s insistence that a shamrock was found with the bones and toys and the fact that shamrocks are important symbols to Caylee’s mother Casey, the Orange County Sheriff has stated that the bones and toys were simply not related to the case at all. And they spanked Padilla and cast suspicion on his connection to the find. From the Orlando Sentinel:
“‘Law-enforcement should have been the first to be called and not the media,’ sheriff’s office spokesman Capt. Angelo Nieves said. Nieves asked Padilla to take a lie detector test and Padilla agreed.”
Orange County authorities will likely ask Padilla if he planted the bag, since that seems like the first, most obvious question.
According to the Sentinel, Tim Miller was also irritated with Padilla. Miller, who heads Texas Equusearch, has worked hard to maintain his group’s reputation. The Orlando paper reports that Miller “was aggravated with Padilla’s efforts and called them a media stunt.”
I had a feeling this story was too good to be true, and was careful with how I worded the original post below. It just seemed too damned easy. Turns out my cynicism was merited this time.
I hate it when that happens.
Original Post
Will a bag of bones put the final nails in Casey Anthony’s coffin? […]

vtech.jpgIf there is one university in America where even the most preliminary reports of gunfire are worth notice, it is Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, VA. The following is from the Virginia Tech website, a message posted today at 1:40 p.m.: “Police are investigating reported sounds of gunshots in Pritchard Hall. Building is secured. No access in or out. Police are searching room by room.” More information will be posted as it becomes available. Keep abreast of new tweets about this developing story on
From WSLS Television: “[Virginia Tech] Police have found no evidence of gunfire from within or outside the building and believe the noises likely came from something other than gunfire.” [ — see also:]

News story from earlier in the summer, when Linzy Earles’s case first hit the news.
Zane Earles was partially eaten by a puppy. The sick story of baby Zane’s demise first hit the news this summer, and it was one of those things I tend to read about and think, “I really can’t deal with that,” and just move on.
Here’s what may have happened in the home Zane shared with his mother Linzy Earles (17 at the time) and other family members on July 28 in Tulsa County, OK. Around half-past 8 in the morning, Baby Zane was placed in an infant swing by his grandfather. His grandfather then left for work.
A little less than 2 hours later, someone called 911 to report that something had happened to Zane Earles. The 2-month-old baby had been attacked and mauled by a black lab puppy. Zane’s mother was asleep the entire time. Zane was dead.
Police officers questioned Linzy Earles, asking why she’d left the baby and then gone to sleep in a room at the other end of the house. She reportedly became defensive, cussed them out, and told them she didn’t “need this shit.”
Last week, Linzy Earles was charged with second degree manslaughter. Investigation into her son’s death showed that no one in her family could remember the last time the puppy had been fed. After the puppy was euthanized, a necropsy was performed, and no sign of food of any kind was found in the animal’s stomach.
Linzy Earles may have smoked marijuana the night before her son was mauled, as well. Police reports related to the case stated that she “had a history of drug abuse.” Linzy was taken off probation for a drug offense on June 2, 2008.
In a MySpace profile she last used in 2007, Linzy Earles wrote the following: “Im a girl who cant seem to get my life straight. im currently on house arrest. partying used to be my life. but it cought up to me. and im learning the hard way….. i still love to “have fun” but to an extent. my life currently revolves around my best friend Tyler Ogden cuz hes the only person who truely cares and understands me. i love everybody and it doesnt seem like it cuz i can be kinda shady. so if your reading this ….I LOVE YEW!”
(Yeah — there were too many spelling errors to bother with [sic].)
Should Linzy Earles have even been allowed to keep her baby in the first place? Even she called herself “shady.” I guess there are no laws against such a thing. Still, when I read stories like hers, where it is clear that there were constant problems with the young person for years before they ended up in jail, I find myself asking questions like that. Zane Earles didn’t have to die such an awful death.
Here’s the thing — because she was 17 when her baby was mauled, Linzy Earles will be tried as a juvenile. She’ll be out of jail and ready to have more babies before you know it, if she is convicted of the manslaughter charges against her.
Linzy will be back in court on December 3rd.
[ See also: Affidavits and warrants, via Etc:]

genericrimescenephoto.jpgToday’s high school tragedy comes from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where 15-year-old Amanda Collette lost her life after a confrontation with another girl at Dillard High School. Collette was found unresponsive on the floor in a hallway this morning, around 11 a.m. No one heard gunshots and at first no one could find a wound on the teen’s body. Witnesses said, however, that Collette was arguing with the other girl, 15-year-old Teah Wimberly, when the assailant produced what may have been a small caliber handgun and shot her. Wimberly fled the school and was later arrested at a nearby restaurant. While this story doesn’t really have much in common with this one (aside from the female victims and the assailant being arrested somewhere nearby later), you still have to wonder what the hell is going on. Everyone says that when there’s any kind of violence in school, but they ask such questions because there’s never any satisfactory answers. I wish I had some, but I don’t. I just know I’m more nervous about my kids going to school each day than my parents ever were, and that’s just sad.
NOTE: A person claiming to know both Amanda Collette and the person accused of shooting Amanda writes the following in a comment on this post: “amanda was seen by me alive walking to the restroom at 10:45. 11:00 we heard gunshots during ‘A’ lunch she was anounced dead at 1:00.” Also — the Orlando Sentinel reports that Teah Wimberly has been “charged with first-degree murder and discharging a weapon on school property.” []

Serial killer Arthur Shawcross died Monday. He was 63. The man known as the Genesee River Killer claimed 11 victims between 1988 and 1990. Shawcross targeted women in high-risk professions such as prostitution. A textbook sexually sadistic serial killer and psychopath, Shawcross usually dumped his victims in the river, sometimes returning to the scene of the crime to masturbate.
Shawcross was serving 250 years to life in prison when he died.
Good riddance to the very worst sort of rubbish. If there’s a hell, Artie is surely frying there, right now.