Those 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.
Then 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]
The story was easy to miss, what with the Olympics, the presidential race in the United States, you name it — but on July 28, a little boy named Valentin Cremault was viciously murdered in the little French town of Lagnieu. The wounds were so horrific that first responders initially thought they were dealing with a fatal dog attack.
The dog bites were actually stab wounds. Someone had slashed and punctured the little boy’s body at least 50 times.
By August 7, the Gendarmerie had arrested Stephane Moitoiret, age 39, and his female companion, Noella Hego, 49.
Both had been homeless off and on for years, living in their own little world. In that world, Moitoiret was the “King of Australia,” and Hego was his “divine princess.”
In the real world where Valentin Cremault died under the slashing blade, Stephane Moitoiret’s DNA was found at the crime scene.
Now it looks as thought Moitoiret may have killed in the past. Paris newspapers reported Saturday that Moitoiret was a suspect in the 2005 murder of Marine Boisseranc, age 20. Speaking to Le Parisien, Marine’s father Eric detailed some of the commonalities between his daughter’s murder and that of Valentin Cremault. Boisseranc noted that his daughter had been stabbed at least a dozen times. The killer in both cases was right-handed and determined to be about the same height as Moitoiret. There was a homeless shelter not far from the Boisseranc murder scene, and authorities believe they can place Moitoiret in the area at the time of Marine’s murder.
There are a large number of unsolved murders that appear to match Moitoiret’s M.O., as well. Victims include a priest, a transvestite, and men and women of varying ages. So far, the links seem to be in how victims are displayed after death, and in the way the knife was used to kill them.
French authorities still have to figure out whether or not Moitoiret is sane enough to go to trial. If he is, he may face 30 years in prison and permanent detention in a secure facility afterwards. [smh.com.au, MonstersandCritics.com, Le Parisien.]
As I was thinking about the sentencing trial for serial killer Joseph Edward Duncan III, which began earlier this week, I couldn’t help but wonder why I was avoiding the subject in this space. After all, I’ve been blogging about Duncan since he was arrested, little Shasta Groene in tow, on July 2, 2005. I was one of the first people in the blogosphere or the msm to catch on to the scope of Duncan’s Web presence. Others ended up doing a better job of finding it all and laying it out there, but I was on top of the story from the beginning.
So, you’d think I’d be accustomed to writing about the hideous details of Duncan’s crimes. I’m not. In a way, that’s good — it means I’m not as jaded as I thought I was, and am still capable of feeling shock and disgust; writing true crime stories hasn’t left me numb. But from a crime blogger’s perspective, it isn’t that good, because it means I still have to make myself cover some stories, even if I fear they may one day filter down into my nightmares.
I finally figured out a way to approach the subject of Duncan today — list some reasons I think he should be executed.
Mind you, when I began blogging about crime in late 2004, I was ardently pro-death penalty. My attitude was basically this: set up electric bleachers and get rid of one whole cell block, if needed.
In the 3 and 3/4 years since I started this endeavor in earnest, I’ve actually become more liberal on the subject. I cannot say that I’m anti-death penalty yet, but I can say I’m getting there. There are many reasons, a few of them personal and spiritual, but one big reason has to do with my understanding of the types of personalities who commit crimes heinous enough to put them on death row. For many of them, spending their lives behind bars really is a worse punishment than death. The very nature of the psychopathic criminal is such that he or she cannot abide one thing, almost above all else — they can’t stand the loss of liberty. Psychopaths are laws unto themselves, and the most important thing in the world to them is whatever they want at any given moment. The confinement of prison, the hard rules, the enforced discipline; all these things are anathema to the typical psychopath. Life in prison is one of the only effective punishments you can really give someone who has no conscience, no remorse, no feelings for anyone but themselves.
But here in the South, we have a joke-y saying. Call it gallows humor, if you want. Some folks, well — they just need killin’.
It’s hard to review even a short list of Duncan’s crimes and not conclude that he’s one monster who really, in the end, just needs killin’. Here’s what I’m getting at:
1. Duncan plotted his crimes against the Groene family on a spreadsheet. He made a list of pros and cons. When he finally decided to put his “bohemian underground” into effect, he went on a big shopping trip at Wal-Mart. Items purchased included night-vision goggles. He was a hunter, preparing for the kill.
2. Shortly after Duncan abducted Dylan and Shasta Groene, he pointedly told the children that he’d just killed their mother, brother, and mother’s boyfriend.
3. Duncan had Dylan and Shasta in the Montana woods for weeks, torturing and raping them both. More than a month into the ordeal, he took Dylan to a cabin, where he videotaped himself performing sexually sadistic acts on the little boy.
4. In videos shown in court this week, Duncan taunted Dylan and Shasta. At one point he narrated images of a log burning on a campfire, saying “All of our wishes being burned […] My wishes for forgiveness, your wishes for…” The children responded, talking about going home and other, more prosaic things. Duncan then cut them short. He said, “Lots of luck, people. At least my wish is something I might get.”
5. Duncan made it a point to show Shasta Groene the video he made of Dylan’s torture.
6. A few days later after the torture session in the cabin, Shasta heard gunfire. She turned to see her brother clutching his belly. As she watched, Duncan went over to the boy and shot him in the head — or he tried. The gun misfired the first time. So Duncan reloaded, fired once more. According to Shasta, her brother’s head “exploded.”
7. Duncan is incapable of remorse. He feels none. This is a man who wrote (supposedly as a joke) that “Sociopaths rock!” He also wrote a little about remorse in a blog published by proxy after Duncan was already in jail:
I feel remorse for every time I rode my bike and didn’t think about people who couldn’t walk. I feel remorse for all the times I went to work but did nothing to help a “third world country.” As a matter of fact, I feel remorse for all the times I forgot about God and thought only about myself! So, yes, I do feel remorse. Don’t you?
Basically, remorse about crimes he committed didn’t enter into the picture.
8. In the same vein — if his own words are any indication, Duncan takes no real responsibility for his crimes. In a letter found in Duncan’s coat pocket after his arrest, Duncan wrote the following to his mother: “I have once again become a medium of violence in the world…” Note the phrasing — Duncan didn’t commit the violence; he was just a “a medium of” the violence.
Jet Duncan feels no remorse, and he feels no sense of responsibility for his actions. To him, society will always be to blame for what he has done to others. The death penalty is what he probably expects to receive, for it would fulfill his delusion that society created the monster he is today. That point-of-view is deeply embedded in Duncan’s very being — just read his original blog. It’s all there, in just about every other post he wrote. So if the chair or needle is what Duncan expects, I say this: I hope the jury in Idaho fulfills his every expectation. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy. [KOMO.com, the Seattle Times.]
It should be no surprise to anyone that the FBI has confirmed that the man who first came to public notice as Clark Rockefeller is actually a German immigrant named Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter.
Basically, the feds matched prints from immigration papers Gerhartsreiter filed in the 80s to prints left by ‘Rockefeller’ on a wineglass around the time he allegedly abducted his daughter, Reigh Boss, in July of this year.
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, Gerhartsreiter’s lawyer continues to float his client’s defense that he can’t remember much before 1993. Gerhartsreiter does seem to remember the couple to whose disappearance he’s been linked, John and Linda Sohus, and he remembers living in their guesthouse under the pseudonym Christopher Chichester. But attorney Stephen Hrones insists Gerhartsreiter can’t recall much more than that.
And the reason for the Chichester name? Hrones says Gerhartsreiter “was aspiring to be an actor” in California.
By the way — as far as I can tell, I was the first to report the man’s full name, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, and the fact that he was once married to an Amy Jersild, in Wisconsin. At the time I figured it was the man in custody, but couldn’t say for sure. A few days later, Boston newspapers confirmed what I found in public records accessed through an online database.
I’m beginning to wonder who will write the script when this becomes a movie, or at the very least, a made-for-cable miniseries. [BBC NEWS | Americas]
The story that brought Joyce McKinney back to the public spotlight.
Who could forget Joyce Bernann McKinney, her cloned Booger puppies, the past allegations that she raped a hunka hunka Mormon Missionary man back in the 70s? I know I couldn’t — she’s a crime blogger’s dream subject.
Well, from my home state of Tennessee comes the latest wrinkle in the always entertaining and original saga of the former beauty queen and international fugitive — turns out Joyce’s long and winding path from her tabloid heyday in the 70s eventually led, in 2004, to Carter County, TN.
This time, McKinney was concerned about a horse she owned. Seems he had just three legs, and the thing Ms. McKinney most desired was to fit her steed with a prosthesis.
Her alleged solution? Burglary, via a 15-year-old male proxy.
Couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.
Anyway — according to reports rolling out of Tennessee and the old AP, Ms. McKinney acquired a black wig, gloves, and the aforementioned 15-year-old boy.
There was one problem — the kid was wearing a wire.
And so, our Joyce — or whatever the hell she was calling herself then — fell afoul of the Tennessee law, and in short order she was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, and, for good measure, I guess, speeding.
Carter County authorities aren’t sure how Ms. McKinney decided on the residence in question, and in keeping with what appears to be her usual M.O., Joyce McKinney denied everything, declared herself completely innocent — this according to McKinney’s Tennessee lawyer David (don’t you dare call him Davey) Crockett.
Crockett was going to negotiate some sort of plea with the courts in this case, but McKinney missed the court date and thereby managed to add felony failure to appear to her list of alleged offenses. Crockett decided he was done with the case 2 years later.
Carter County, TN, however, is a lot like England in this respect — it seems as though folks there don’t have much interest at the moment in extraditing Ms. McKinney. Unless, that is, she shows up in North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Georgia, etc. Then, they might think about it.
The award for understatement in this story must go to former Carter County Sheriff investigator Laverne Julian. Regarding McKinney’s arrest in 2004, Julian said, “She was mentally not all there.” [nbc4i.com ]
Joel Matthew Cupp thought he was talking with 3 teen girls. Underage teen girls. The Trinity Oaks Elementary School teacher from New Port Richey, FL allegedly became so hot for his cyber-Lolitas that he exposed himself to his online friends.
As fate would have it, Mr. Cupp’s alleged junk-flashing was actually done over the Web for the disgust (and perhaps cynical amusement) of investigators from the Citrus County (FL) Sheriff’s Office.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum announced the arrest of Joel Matthew Cupp on Thursday. Cupp has been charged with four third-degree felonies: three hits for soliciting someone he thought was a juvenile over the Web and a fourth count of lewd and lascivious exhibition.
Cupp could face 2 decades behind bars if he’s convicted.
Joel Cupp’s story so far would be disturbing enough as it is, but it looks as though the good Mr. Cupp kept a blog. Normally that might not be so significant, but if Cupp is found guilty as charged, his blog might be viewed as a truly ripe example of creepy hypocrisy.
In his blogger profile, the owner of JoelMCupp.blogspot.com said he was 29, and a teacher in New Port Richey, FL. Joel M. Cupp posted a photo as well, showing a man whose appearance matches the photos published online by Tampa Bay media. If that wasn’t enough proof that it was the same man’s blog, he had this link on the side of the page: “Trinity Oaks Elementary School- The school I work at!”
Though early reports about the disappearance of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony gave the date of the Orlando toddler’s vanishing as June 9, authorities have determined that Caylee actually disappeared on or about June 16, 2008.
Caylee’s mother Casey made an unusual number of phone calls on June 16 and June 18. According to Fox News, Casey Anthony made close to a dozen calls in just over 4 hours on June 16. That’s the day police think something happened to Caylee, though they aren’t sure exactly what that something might be.
Everything was going well for Ryan K. Widmer, age 27. He was newly married, and he had received a promotion. Previously the sports marketing manager for the Warren County, OH Convention & Visitors Bureau, Widmer was bumped up to sales manager in January, 2008.
It all fell apart on Monday, Aug. 11. That was when Widmer called 911 in Lebanon, OH to report that he’d found his 24-year-old wife, Sarah Widmer, dead in the tub.
During his call to emergency services, Ryan Widmer said that his wife “fell asleep in the bathtub,” and that he thought she was dead. “I was downstairs,” said Widmer, “and I just came up here and she was laying face-down in the bathtub.”
An autopsy by the Warren County Coroner revealed that Sarah drowned. Apparently, authorities immediately suspected the drowning was anything but an accident. There was additional trauma to Sarah Widmer’s body and according to county prosecutors, signs of “violent force.”
The Associated Press reports that Widmer is being held in the Warren County jail.
[msnbc.com/AP and the Dayton Daily News.]
The first day of the sentencing trial for convicted serial child killer Joseph Edward Duncan III ended with only a handful of words from the killer himself. Duncan, who was found competent to represent himself during the trial, simply said he would not contest the government’s view of his crimes. Duncan said, in part, “I debated whether or not to do an opening statement, simply because I didn’t want to get in an argument with the government about what happened.”
While both sides had an hour and a half to speak to the jury, only United States Attorney Tom Moss used the allotted time.
In the process he detailed some of Duncan’s most vile actions, including the videotaped torture of Dylan Groene. Moss said that Dylan’s “last days on this Earth were filled with experiences no child should ever experience.”
Moss also detailed the cold calculations behind Duncan’s spree, which resulted in the violent deaths of Brenda, Slade, and Dylan Groene as well as Mark McKenzie. Duncan, said Moss, used a spreadsheet to plot the pros and cons of what Duncan once called in a blog post his “Bohemian Underground.”
Still to come: the jury will likely be subjected to the evidence of Duncan’s vicious crimes, including the tapes Duncan made of his acts; they may also hear the testimony of surviving victim Shasta Groene. [KXLY.com and The Seattle Times. On the Web: Duncan’s blog, Blogging the Fifth Nail.]